purpose of living

Forty

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reading through the bible
Reading Through the Bible

Forty, the number, is commonly used in reference to a milestone, achievement or a set of things like years of a lifetime, even degrees of temperature. Today, forty is referring to a number of times.

Twenty-nine years ago when my life was full of challenges as a wife, mother of small children and a demanding career I found myself at a fork-in-the-road that seemed to give me a new perspective on time and purpose of living. A challenging childhood can make you aware of things that others may not even consider and not wanting to miss God’s will for my life through the busyness of life caught my attention.

I began asking Him for insight, specifically what I was placed on this earth to accomplish. Growing up, my mother spoke frequently to me about how God had a plan for my life which naturally created curiosity around how His plan would play out in my life. And so I began to ask Him specifically.

“Study My Word,” was always His response. This instruction seemed like a small thing to apply myself to and not very significant when it comes to impacting the lives of others. After all, I was great at taking my bible to church and following along with the teaching, even taking notes most of the time. But, God’s voice kept reminding my heart that His instruction was to study His Word. Eventually, I surrendered to His command and made a commitment to make studying His Word on a regular basis. I promised God that I would read through the Bible one time, believing that would result in a great achievement and spiritual growth. How little did I know!

One time through the Bible turned into six years of on-again, off-again attempts before finally accomplishing the promise that I had made to God. Obviously, it took me a minute to make studying God’s word a priority. I had to learn how to overcome the distractions of daily life by creating space in my life for the more important things before I found a way to maintain the pursuit of keeping God first in this world we live in everyday.

The first time through God’s word exposed how little I actually knew about God and His heart for me. It also exposed how little I knew about the teachings of Jesus and His will for my life. How in the world could I fulfill God’s call on my life without knowing what He had to say about the valleys and mountaintops that we will encounter on our way towards fulfilling His call on our lives? Most of all, how in this world would we know how deeply we are treasured and esteemed in His heart, to the point of sending His Son, Jesus to rescue us from all the issues of life by learning to lean on Him when life takes a turn toward hopelessness and sorrow. God knew that I needed to be taught how to become a warrior, how to run my life race as a winner.

My first time through the bible can be compared to reading a cliff note version of a book, it was too much to take in with one reading, (which of course God knew this way before I did). He worked through my circumstances and my desire to “grow in His grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” (2Peter 3:18) while serving/volunteering in leadership roles in the local church, eventually teaching and mentoring women.

The number forty is a significant reference in the Bible, often used as a season of preparation or duration of service to God for the benefit of others, even those who don’t acknowledge Him.

“…For He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” (Matthew 5:45)

Today marks the completion of my 40th read through the Bible representing 29 years of my life. It is true that “In Him we live and move and have our being.” (Acts 17:28) I have been transformed in the process. By God’s grace I can honestly say “…that He who began a good work in you (me) will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6)

Knowing God through His Word was a crucial element in fulfilling His call (or assignment) on my life and will continue to be.

What has God been whispering to your heart lately? If you heed His voice by making it a priority in your life (no matter how long it takes to accomplish it), you will fulfill God’s call and your obedience will not only transform you but will also change your world.

Leading Well

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wisdom, leadership, God's promises

How would others assess your leadership qualities if based on a standard established centuries ago by God? Apparently, leading well requires paying serious attention to what God requires of those who lead although He graciously leaves it up to us to choose His way, that promises success, or our own way to lead, that promises eventual disaster.

“…he shall write for himself in a book a copy of this law…and it shall be with him, and he shall read in it all the days of his life…” (Deut. 17:18-19)

Leading well begins with knowing God’s word for ourselves, not knowing it based on what others have to say about it. In other words, God knows how much a leader, in order to be successful in leading needs to know Him through knowing His word in order to be led properly in his/her leadership role.

“…that he may learn to fear the Lord his God by keeping all the words of this law and these statutes, and doing them…” (Deut. 17:19)

Learning to fear the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 9:10). The wisest person who lived on this earth (King Solomon) knew he needed wisdom to lead the people of Israel and it pleased God so much that He not only gave him wisdom but added to it riches, possessions and honor! (2Chronicles 1:12)

“…that his heart may not be lifted up above his brothers…” (Deut. 17:20)

God is all-knowing, and He knew that leadership, left up to us would lead to a prideful heart with little to none accountability to anyone.

“…that he may not turn aside from the commandment, either to the right hand or to the left…” (Deut. 17:20)

We are warned ahead of time that without embracing God’s standard of leading well, we will turn aside and adopt our own style of leadership that is anchored by a prideful heart which moves us from being successful in God’s economy to a place of unfruitfulness.

“…so that he may continue long in his kingdom, he and his children, in Israel.” (Deut. 17:20)

Successful leadership maintains a lasting effectiveness on those impacted by a leader after God’s own heart, and not just those corporately but the family of those who lead well.

Great leadership starts at home with a loving servants heart and the humility to know your need for godly wisdom for the stewardship that you have been entrusted with.

“He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble His way.” (Psalm 25:9)

 

New Beginnings

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God's promises, blessed living

Do you live with an awareness that your days are numbered on this earth and that it is unwise to believe that you will always have another day to get on with the business of living with purpose?

“So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.” (Psalm 90:12)

This was a prayer of Moses who was encouraging us to make the most of our lives since our days on earth are so few in the light of eternity which is God’s perspective.

No one but God knows the number of days that have been appointed to each of us therefore, we must view life through the lens of His wisdom, purpose and fulfillment of His call on our lives.

“Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in Your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there were none of them.” (Psalm 139:16)

Jesus, while on earth embraced this teaching as well. He lived a life focused on fulfilling the call of God on his life to the point of being able to say at the end;

“I glorified You on earth, having accomplished the work that You gave Me to do.” (John 17:4)

What have you been given to do while on this earth and are you focused on accomplishing it? Living and walking in this truth is the mark of wisdom. May this year be a year of new beginnings for better living in all arenas of your life.

Lord, teach us to number our days!

 

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God & Holiday

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Gods promises, holiday trends 2018,2019

Have you ever wondered about how the holidays have evolved into such a frenzied and hectic time of year? Well, celebrating Christmas did not start out this way, it began as a proclamation of peace and wonder to the whole world.

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6)

When it came time for the fulfillment of this prophecy the people who received the announcement were so moved with awe and wonderment that they stopped what they were doing to go and see this newly born Savior.

“Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that happened, which the Lord has made known to us. And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger.” (Luke 2:15-16)

Celebrating Christmas began with receiving a gift from God in the birth of His Son, Jesus and it caused the people to pause from their daily routines to take time to worship and praise God for sending a Savior into a needy and lost world.

This holiday let’s join in with the multitude of the heavenly hosts who praised God by saying;

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom He is pleased.” (Luke 2:14)

Take time to celebrate the Gift of Jesus more than the gifts we expect to receive this Christmas!

“He is the radiance of the glory of God…” (Hebrews 1:3)

 

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Success

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blessed living, success

So often we think of success in terms of attaining wealth, position and honors but what does it take to build a lifestyle of success that has a lasting effect on those around us and possibly the world? It is in how we choose to go about achieving the outcomes we desire.

King Solomon, arguably the most wise, successful and wealthiest man on earth, understood the importance of seeking wisdom from God in how to live a successful life.

“Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.” (Ecclesiates 12:13)

Solomon understood that every deed of man would come under the scrutiny of God’s judgement, not that we should live in fear but that we would be encouraged to embrace the wisdom of God’s definition of successful living. That by choosing His ways over our ways and living our lives in fellowship with Him rather than away from Him, we would live a life of lasting honor and not one resulting in judgement.

“He stores up sound wisdom for the upright; He is a shield to those who walk in integrity.” (Proverbs 2:7)

If we walk with God He promises to be a shield of sound wisdom in our lives that will protect us from straying from His best for our lives.

“Guarding the paths of justice and watching over the way of His saints.” (Proverbs 2:8)

Your life may not appear all that successful at the moment but if you choose to trust in God, to live according to His ways, your life will be honored and the people around you will be blessed in ways that wealth and position can not, even though these may be a byproduct. God’s way of living is the most successful decision you will ever make. His way of living is purposeful and fulfilling, a faith journey of discovery that teaches us true success. Our greatest accomplishment and goal is to live a life with no secrets and no evil deeds that will bring us into judgement at the end. (Ecclesiates 12:14) This is successful living.

“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33)

 

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The Name

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There is power in a name based on what it represents. The name of God is no exception.

“O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens.” (Psalm 8:1)

God declares that His name is established forever and so powerful that whatever we perceive to be the greatest enemy in our lives is weak before Him and will have to acknowledge the incomparable name of God.

His name is representative of all creation set in place by Him and yet He cares about and for all mankind.

“…what is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You care for him?” (Psalm 8:4)

Mankind is a picture of God’s loving-kindness and grace. He has crowned us with glory and honor and given us dominion over the works of His hands, putting all things under our feet. (Psalm 8:5,6)

How then are we to live in such a way that honors this magnificent gift of dominion to rule and manage all that God has entrusted to us? We are to glorify His Name with the understanding that we have only what has been given to us to manage here on earth. To do this properly we must agree with God and His purpose for creating mankind. We must believe by faith in the name of His Son Jesus, the Savior of the world.

“Therefore God has highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the Name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:9-11)

Magnifying the name of God happens when we fulfill His purpose for our lives. Are you living in the light and power of Your namesake? If not, choose today to live and walk in a manner worthy of your calling. (Ephesians 4:1)

“O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth!”

 

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Pray About Everything

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blessed living, Gods promises

Cultivating a lifestyle of prayer takes intentionality and an awareness that God is always with you. Jesus promised that He would be with those who would choose to follow Him.

“And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20)

He also promised that if we pray in secret to guard against hypocrisy and insincere desires to be seen by others (pride) that He would reward us openly.

“But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” (Matthew 6:6)

Growing up under the influence of my mom taught me how to cultivate a lifestyle of prayer. In our large family it was hard to have a secret place to pray but I eventually noticed that she routinely rose early in the morning when the house was quiet or found a corner in the house very late in the night.

Her prayers were sometimes quiet and at times fervent and passionate, often with tears and always on her knees. It was as if the more she prayed the more she realized her need to pray. She came to know that God was with her.

As I began my young faith walk and would face difficulties of my own she began saying to me; “honey, pray about everything.” She knew that cultivating a prayer life was the greatest assurance of knowing God for myself and mom was right.

“You will seek Me and find Me, when you seek Me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13)

“And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him.” (Hebrews 11:6)

(Reposted in honor of my mom’s life – 1933~2020)

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Hearing God

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true followers of Jesus, blessed living

 

The ability to hear causes us to take notice, to observe or pay attention to what we are being informed of. Hearing is listening.

Are you a good listener? Whether you believe you are a good listener or not, God has plenty to say about the art of being a good listener. The word is used so often in the Bible God must have known we would be challenged in this area.

“Listen diligently to Me…incline your ear, and come to Me; hear, that your soul may live…” (Isaiah 55:2,3)

The livelihood of our souls depends on how great a listener we are to not only what God speaks into our lives but how well we apply it. God tells us that it was because the Israelites refused to hear His words they turned back to the sin of their forefathers.

“They have turned back to the iniquities of their forefathers, who refused to hear My words.” (Jeremiah 11:10)

Listening and believing go hand in hand with God. He promises to bless those who believe what He speaks.

“And blessed is she who believes that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.” (Luke 1:45)

Listening and obedience go hand in hand with God who entrusted an entire nation under the leadership of Moses to bring them into the promised land.

“…He is faithful in all My house.” (Numbers 12:7)

Hearing God can’t be done well in a noisy and hectic lifestyle. We must learn to guard our hearts for the quiet times that are needed to hear and grow in our knowledge of God and the daily fellowship and blessings that knowing Him offer.

“Let me hear what God the Lord will speak, for He will speak peace to His people, to His saints; but let them not turn back to folly.” (Psalm 85:8)

“Be still, and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10)