Search

Women in His Presence

by Erica Salazar

Tag

personal relationship

Mountain and Joy of Motherhood

This was actually my notes to a message that I gave at a Mother’s Day brunch in 2016.  For some odd reason, it was showing up in my email to edit.  Two years later, a lot has changed but not the truths that God revealed to me in preparing for that event.  It was a great reminder to me about moms and spiritual moms within the church and how important their walk with the Lord is to their children.

Intro

When I got the call from Gracie about speaking this weekend I was really excited. I had prayed to God that Saturday before, that he would need to make it clear about being called to speak. The call that Monday was an answered prayer.

However, as she was giving me details I was faced with a big uncertainty.

I had said yes to the date, but then she mentioned that it was Mother’s Day weekend. Inside my brain I had a quick panic and then I remembered that she knew that I wasn’t a mom. RELIEF.

II. Dog Mom

Savannah
The closest I’ve come to being a mom is having my three labs, well now two. I remember the day my Savannah swam across a water hole for the first time. I would take her to the local golf course as a puppy and let her learn how to swim. She always stayed close to the edge, but one time she ventured out toward the middle. By the time I realized what was happening I was struck with fear. What if she can’t make it across she is just a puppy? What if she gets scared and is in the middle of the water trying to figure out what to do? Do I or don’t I swim to her rescue. As a “mom” I only had one choice. I had to stop being afraid. It was obvious that she wasn’t. So I ran to the other side and started encouraging her to keep swimming. I was so proud of her.
Watson
My other dog mom situation was when I took all three labs to the pool at the local Navy base. It was the last day of summer and they opened it up for dogs to swim. Getting out of the car with two full grown labs and my newest addition, my baby Watson, was what I would call a safety hazard. I was holding onto three leashes and each dog had a mind of their own. I was getting pulled, wrapped, and almost tripped as we, or I struggled up to the entrance. Once inside the fence, I could let the two oldest swim and run freely while I got in the pool with my baby Watson. This was going to be Watson’s first swim. He was not a natural like his mom, but he sure did draw a lot of attention from everyone else. He looked like a clydesdale swimming with his body straight up and his paws hitting the water as if he was galloping. There was nothing graceful about it. However, everyone thought he was so cute and adorable and I was totally loving it. Again, a proud mom moment.
Sam
The last “dog mom” memory I want to share is when my husband and I took all three labs to Bark in the Park Hooks game. By this time all three were full grown. When we arrived, we let each of them go out and to the restroom. I told each of them to make sure you go “out” before we get inside. Some listened…some didn’t. Just like my pool situation, my husband and I struggled with the three dogs on the leashes. Their excitement and leadership skills had us stumbling and tripping all the way to the outfield berm area. Once there, we had to have a strong hold on the leashes and constantly tell them to sit down. Since the getting to the outfield berm area was a struggle, my husband and I decided to take turns getting our food so one could stay with the dogs. I remember how stressful it was because most of the time we were trying to get the dogs to behave and sit down and eating was almost impossible. When it was my husband’s turn. He was too stressed to eat. I tried getting a family picture, but that was nearly impossible to get all three of them to face me at the same time. We decided to leave early since it wasn’t the fun we had envisioned. As we were walking out our oldest dog Sam decided to do #2 on the walkway behind the outfield. Of course, the other two were going in different directions. We felt helpless.

They just wouldn’t listen.

So, as moms I’m sure you can relate, that with the joys there are also the struggles despite your guidance.

III. God as Our Guide

Just like moms, God experiences the same things with us…..joys and moments where he shakes his head because we are not listening.
The reason I’m not a mom is because when I was in college I faced the mountain of motherhood.
Looking at my situation and looking up that steep mountain wall I was afraid and I panicked. I panicked because I had this dream and a vision of what my future what look like and it was blocked by this circumstance.

Genesis 3:1-6 States
Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say You must not eat from any tree in the garden.”

The woman said to the serpent we may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, “You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden and you must not touch it or you will die.”

“You will certainly not die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be open and you will be like God knowing good and evil.”

When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye and also desirable for gaining wisdom she took some of it and it shows I gave it to her husband who was with her and he ate it.

IV. Transition-Mountain of Motherhood

In this passage God clearly gave GUIDANCE, but Eve let her guidance be directed by the enemy. Notice, the serpent made God’s guidance seem illogical and his logical. So taking all the factors, she allowed herself to be misguided.

I did the same thing. My Guidance before the situation was God. But when confronted with the circumstance I let the world’s logic be my guide because I thought it would ruin the dreams I had of having a husband, family, good job, and nice house. Sure I wanted to be a mom, but I didn’t plan on it happening then. So this mountain, was blocking my dream, and I was too afraid to climb the mountain with God and see what he had in store for me on the other side. So, I walked in a different direction to avoid the trial.

Why did I do this?

I knew of God, but my relationship was minimal. So, when crisis struck, I didn’t know what the Bible said. I didn’t have those experience of turning to the WORD and letting God direct me. I hadn’t heard His truths for all circumstances.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

Today, I face another personal mountain. Learning from the past, I don’t want to take things into my own hands. I have spent probably seven years kneeling at the bottom of the mountain praying for God to move it. It has been frustrating, because it hasn’t moved. It tremors sometimes and I think it is going to crumble down, but it hasn’t yet.

I’m sure all of you are facing mountains right now. You could be dealing with the stress of being a single parent. You may be struggling to watch your children go through mountains. Maybe your child is your mountain. You tried your best to raise them, but they are being very defiant. Maybe your adult child is your mountain. For some maybe your mountain is how to move forward in life with the loss of a child.

No matter what your mountain is as a mom. God is calling you to really trust him and CLIMB

You have made your way around this hill country long enough; now turn north. Deuteronomy 2:3

V. What to Expect-

At the Bottom of the Mountain
When we are at the bottom of the mountain we can be gripped by fear. We stare at that mountain wall and wonder which way is the best way to tackle it. We stand paralyzed in worry and anxiousness. At some point we start climbing, but it is rough. We stumble up and we are constantly strategizing how to navigate our way. We become so mentally and physically exhausted that we end up right back at the bottom. The burden is too big for us to carry, and we end up crying in despair broken. After multiple attempts and multiple fails, you will realize that you are trying to do it alone. You may be praying about it and trying to do all the right things, but your heart is not truly trusting in the Lord. You are still wanting to know that if you climb this mountain, you will get your desired outcome. This does not work. At some point, you have to CHOOSE to CLIMB and let God be your Guide. This means you trust him every step of the way, pray that this be used for his purpose, and go up no matter what the outcome will be. In a sense you climb blind allowing the Holy Spirit to lead.

When you make this decision, you will feel peace.

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

 

Middle of the Mountain
The middle of the mountain is where you start to really lean into God. Your focus is on him, knowing whatever step you take, he takes it with you. It’s a time of some trials, but more progress. Your confidence builds because of who you are with. It is faith in action every step of the way. Not everyday is easy and at times you will have setbacks. But overall you grow closer to the Lord.

Many nations will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the temple of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths.” The law will go out from Zion, the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. Micah 4:2

Approaching the Peak
This becomes a very dangerous time. You have journeyed for quite some time now. You are more exhausted than before. The enemy tries to send forth unpredictable elements to get you focused off God and onto the hardships.

It seems unbearable at times the closer you get. It becomes tempting to quit because of the difficulties. You have to stop more often to pray, refocus on the Lord, and dig deep. You need that oxygen to stay alive and to continue going. You look back at how far you have come and remember the beauty in the pain that you are experiencing. You are reminded that Jesus has been there too. You push on and persevere in Him as he continues to guide you up.

God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day. Psalm 46:5

Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!” Luke 1:45

The Peak and the Descend
When we get to the top, we will see his will. We will have a new perspective and a testimony of how the Lord guided us through it.
Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10

The descend will be like this:

You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands. Isaiah 55:12

 

Why is This Illustration Important to Being a Mom and a Woman?

Your Children will Look to you as Their Guide
It is really important that you know what it takes spiritually to make it up a mountain, so you can be there for your children as they face their ascend. The less involved you are in reading the Bible, praying, and fellowship, the more likely your advice to them will be based more on the world’s guidance instead of God’s guidance. It’s important for that internal compass to be calibrated to God, that way when your children lean on you, your guidance will be in line with the Holy Spirit.

This is easier said than done for all of us. It is a daily challenge when we let life pull us in all directions.

When you have chosen to climb a mountain with God, you are a great testimony to your kids. You can relate to their struggle and yet testify about God’s goodness no matter what you face.
Everyone Needs a Mom
No matter how old you are, you need a mom. Some of you your mother’s have passed away. For some women, their mother had struggles of her own and couldn’t show love or make the best decisions as it pertained to her children. Some moms live far away and can’t be there on hand in a crisis. For the women of the church, each of you are a mom. Someone that another woman may need to call on when faced with a mountain. Someone who can help her lean on Christ and encourage her as she begins to climb.

You see all of us climb mountains. Some are bigger than others, but every time we get over one, there is someone else about to start. The mountain wall looks a lot less intimidating when you have support at the bottom cheering you on, reminding you to pray, is praying for you, sending you scriptures, and reminding you of God’s truth.

Closing

The definition of joy is
1: a feeling of pleasure or happiness that comes from success, good fortune, or a sense of well-being
2: something that gives pleasure or happiness <It’s a joy to have you visit.>

Whether you are a mom of natural children, playing that role within your church, encouraging a child’s or woman’s relationship with Jesus Christ, you will have joy.

No matter what you are going through, there is always joy in nurturing others. There is always joy in showing God’s love and there is always joy when others see God’s guidance in you.

I want to leave you with this last scripture.
Proverbs 3:13-18
Blessed are those who find wisdom,those who gain understanding, for she is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold. She is more precious than rubies;
nothing you desire can compare with her. Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor. Her ways are pleasant ways,and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her; those who hold her fast will be blessed.

To God be the Glory

Erica

 

 

Advertisements

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!

 

 

 

Being FOCUSED Brings SURPRISES

Saturday was a beautiful day.
Moving from a much smaller town in Texas to Houston, I had been getting a little homesick in my heart lately. I was missing my house. I was missing the trail to the creek. I was missing “my” creek and I had been missing the birds that I use to see all of the time: kiskadee, green jay, and the belted kingfisher to name a few.

Birding was a hobby I dabbled in while living in Kingsville, Texas. However, there was one bird I was always searching for and could never find that was present. It was a bird I should have seen in my 12 years of living there being a birder, but oddly enough I never did.

The one exception was the dead one I found at work right before I moved. That wasn’t the most uplifting moment and I felt it symbolized my dead marriage and that chapter in my life. A beautiful covenant dead. I never got to experience it the way God intended.

Yesterday, while at a church day retreat in La Grange. I set out with another church member to go birding to focus on God’s beautiful creation. As we entered a more dense area off the path, there were a lot of birds calling. I saw one land low on a branch ahead. With my bare eyes, I could see a reddish color on the breast. I first thought that maybe it was a robin, but it seemed too small. As I lifted my binoculars, it looked dark but had a yellow section close to the back of its neck. Immediately, I realized that this was a different bird and the rolodex of bird markings ran through my mind as I tried to figure it out getting my binoculars into better focus.

As I got into focus, it turned around parallel to me and I saw it. The red, blue, green, and yellow.

It was THE PAINTED BUNTING.

For twelve years I had waited to see this bird. I would think, “What a shame to leave Kingsville and never see it.” I had longed to mark it off my list and here it was…..but not where I was expecting.

*I wasn’t even looking for it.
*I didn’t realize I could see it here.
*It hadn’t even crossed my mind to look for it when setting out.

God was speaking to me in that moment and was reminding me to stay FOCUSED on HIM and he will bring what I’m searching for, looking for, working towards, and longing for.

He will present it to me.
Again.
He will present it to me.

There is no need to seek it out.

Scripture
Matthew 6:33 NIV
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

Psalm 16:11 NIV                                            You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

Prayer

Dear God,                                                    What a blessing to be in communication with you. Thank you for the conversation and the surprises. You truly are the God of everlasting love. Thank you for calling me to refocus my eyes and attention on you

To God be the Glory

Are You Empty?

This week while on the tollway, I heard a familiar yet rarely heard sound. It was a certain ring that politely alarmed me that something was wrong. Since I have heard it only one other time in my vehicle, my mind and eyes wondered, “What is that?”

Then of course it clicks.
I look down and see my gas tank warning.
Empty.

This alerted me not only that I was empty, but with perfect timing that I had just passed the nearest exit. Eventually, I was able to depart, but onto bumper to bumper traffic on the feter and the location of the nearest gas station unknown.

Once I pulled into a gas station, I began the search for my wallet. Of course, I found that I had left the wallet at home.

I was too far from home to risk driving back and I had no money.

What is a single girl to do?

Luckily, I could call mom and dad to save the day and use the wait time to read the Bible.

I tell this because it is a very relatable situation. However, in our day to day routine we can be so distracted that we start running on empty spiritually. Because God loves us, he gives us a warning sound, light, sign, or whatever when we are driving through life away from Him.

It is very important that we take heed to the warning and pull off, slow down, and stop. It is also important that we refuel. How do we do that? By opening up the Bible. That is where the Father is waiting for you to call on Him to save the day. Notice though, I said for YOU to call on Him.

I didn’t say read a book that a Christian author wrote after he/she called on Him.

I didn’t say, listen to your favorite pastor online or podcast after he called on God.

I also didn’t say for you to phone a friend and ask them to call on Him on your behalf.

None of the above things are bad. In fact I do all three. BUT, they cannot be your primary source of spiritual fuel. They are secondary sources.

Why depend on someone else when you can get it first hand?

You need to get it first hand because God wants to have a conversation with you directly. He has specific information for you. He longs to hear you submit your prayer requests to Him. His love for you is what refuels you authentically and intimately. He longs to come to your rescue when you are empty and weary.

Go beyond believing in God.

Open your Bible and be One with God. You will feel complete, refueled, ready and equipped to drive forward.

Dear God,

Thank you for your patience and your continual wooing of our hearts. We all fall short of going to you first for our source of fuel and satisfaction. Let us continually be aware of what steals our intimacy with you. I say no to counterfeits and yes to your authentic love, protection, and security. You are my hero.

2 Timothy 3:16
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,

Heart Transplant Bible Study: Week 1

A Heart for Jesus

Worship: King of My Heart

Memory Verse:
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

Day 1: Introduction
Heart a transplant Eligibility:
According to the Mayo Clinic website, people with serious heart conditions leading to heart failure may be most appropriately treated with a heart transplant if other treatment options have been considered or tried. Heart failure may be caused by many medical conditions….

Reading this I immediately identified with why I needed Jesus in my life. Jesus has always been there by my side. But where I had him was not in my heart. He was in my mind. I believed in Jesus. I believed, that going to heaven meant I needed to be an overall good person. Of course, the deeper my sin, the lower the bar of “good” fell. I believed in going to church and when I didn’t I felt that I should.

This seems pretty normal and from the outside even put together. But the truth is, I was broken. Like the serious heart condition above, I was going about life applying treatments trying to fix this brokenness that I was blind to. I tried to heal it with relationships, accomplishments, and competitiveness. But those treatments were not meant to heal my heart.

God knew this self-treatment was ineffective.

He knows this about all of us. This is why he offers us a “Heart Transplant.” It is an opportunity to let Him perform a mighty spiritual surgery on us that brings us salvation. Will you agree to the operation? It requires your consent.

Day 2: Read Acts 9:1-9 three times https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Acts+9

In verses 9:1-9 there are three types of blindness occurring. First, Paul is blind to the fact that he is persecuting the one true God. I love the line, “breathing out murderous threats.” It really showed his zeal and passion to exterminate who he saw as the enemy. It is pure, fervent, and an unwavering passion that would later be used to save instead of kill.

The second blindness occurred after his conversion. His physical blindness required him to depend on others to get to Damascus. How humbling this must have been for him.

Third, he was blind to his future. Suddenly what he thought his tomorrow would be like was no longer going to be the case.

Reflection:

1. Do you relate to Saul’s blindness in any way?
2. Did Saul choose the day of conversion?
3. When Jesus told Saul to get up and continue to Damascus in verse 6, did he force Saul to go?
4. What words would you use to describe Saul’s decision to follow the Lord’s instructions?

When you agree to let God perform a heart transplant, He has called you to let you know something is wrong. He tells you He has the remedy that will fix it. You have to agree that you need Him in your heart. Then you have to just close your eyes and lay on the operation table and trust God with it.

Day 3: Read Acts 9:10-19 three times

The University of San Francisco Medical Center describes the initial heart transplant recovery below:

“After your surgery, you will wake up in a special sterile room to ensure that you aren’t exposed to infection. Staff and visitors must take measures to make sure that they do not bring in bacteria and infections by scrubbing their hands and wearing protective masks and gowns.
Once you are able to breathe on your own, the ventilator will be removed. However, you will continue to be hooked up to various monitors and catheters for awhile.”

Reflection:
Just like a medical heart transplant, there are “staff” and “visitors” that God brings into your life to assist you. These people will understand the protection you need. They will not be people who will entice you to go back to your old ways. These people don’t want you sick or infected anymore.

1. Who were the “staff” and “visitors” that the Lord brought into Saul’s life to help start and walk along side him in his new journey?
2. Who are people in your life that have a heart for Jesus that can walk along side you?
3. Who can you walk along side?
4. Is there anything that you are doing that could “infect” you or others?

Day 4: A Heart for Jesus

Read Acts 9:20-22 three times

In this passage we witness two things occurring as a result of Saul’s, “Jesus hating heart,” being transplanted with a heart for Jesus. First, people were shocked because it was not in line with his past. Second, we witness that with his new heart, he was becoming more powerful because he not only believed, but trusted the one true Messiah.

Below is the rest of the initial heart transplant recovery according to The University of San Francisco Medical Center.

“When you are stronger, you may be moved to a more general hospital room.
You will have to take precautions to prevent your exposure to infection for the rest of your life. Much of the rest of your hospital recovery will include education and training about taking care of yourself. This includes learning about the anti-rejection medications you will need to take, how to follow a heart-healthy low-fat diet and other changes.”

Reflection:

1. It is normal for people to be shocked at the “new” you. The “You” on the road to spiritual recovery. However, sometimes we are our own worst enemy. Sometimes, we won’t forgive ourselves or forget the sin even after we have confessed it and acknowledged that Jesus died for our sins. Do you feel you or anyone else is focusing on your “old” self? Explain.
2. Where can you be trained and educated on living a life that reflects you have a heart for Jesus?
3. Why would this be important as you enter a more “general” room?
4. Does a spiritual heart transplant mean that you can continue your previous lifestyle or is it a complete lifestyle change?

Prayer:
Lord, I want to thank you for calling me. I want to thank you for coming into my heart. I became alive in Christ the night I asked you into my heart. The days before were purpose less. My heart had no reason to beat. But, you gave me a new heart. A kicking beating heart that stirs up and desires your will all the days of my remaining life.

To God be the Glory
,

My Testimony

I’ve always felt that I didn’t have a clear testimony. I’ve always thought a testimony had to be a sudden miracle or personal transformation.

Looking at my Bibles that I have had since becoming a follower of Christ, they tell a different story.

My first one on the left is used, but when I look inside, the pages reveal the hunger and curiosity I had when my personal relationship began with Jesus Christ. Inside was this burning fire to know HIM more, learn his wisdom, and know how I should be shaping my life.

image

It taught me how to STAND on God’s truth and conformed my mind.

The second one has definitely been through the fire and more. You can see from the outside and inside the scars, broken dreams, and uncertainties I had taken to Him. This Bible has seen many things and has been what I had clung to in order to endure the fire.

image

It taught me how to KNEEL and hold tight to the only One that could save me.

The last one is my newest one. I didn’t want a new one. It was hard to let go and start over when I had been through so much with the other Bible. But, it had been damaged and I needed one. Picking it, required much thought. I had to like the cover and what was inside. It had to “calI” me too. The cover shows its newness, but the inside shows where I left off.

image

This one I can tell is going to teach me to walk in faith, WALK out my calling, and SPREAD the fire  

(Side note: I’m writing and laughing to myself because it’s like I’m writing about a relationship with a guy. Which I guess is a good thing when Jesus is my guy and the Bible is how he talks to me.)

So, looking at these three Bibles side by side, I realize I do have a testimony over time. The enemy has tried to crush my heart, silence my spirit, and steal my calling. But, I have come out with a heart still able to love, a spirit still full of joy, and a calling being confirmed.

image

I can testify….
Let God be the Glory

Daniel 3:24-25 NIV
24 Then King Nebuchadnezzar leaped to his feet in amazement and asked his advisers, “Weren’t there three men that we tied up and threw into the fire?”
They replied, “Certainly, Your Majesty.”
25 He said, “Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.”

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: