Jeremiah 29:11

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.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Lord is my Shepherd

Once again, it's been a long time since I've written anything on here. I've had my ups and my downs like most of us do...but mostly ups :) This month has been amazing to see how God provides and blesses! This month God provided me with a $1000 scholarship from BBC called the Sarah McLeod Scholarship...I had applied for two other scholarships and didn't receive either of those, but a few days before Awards chapel BBC called my parents saying a new scholarship opened up which I qualified for and would receive! What an amazing blessing from God that can go towards my bill next semester! Then, I found out that my internship will be paying $10/hour! Most internships don't even get paid and I'm so blessed to be getting a very generous pay!!! God is so good all the time! I've made some new great friends this month and continued to closer to the wonderful friends I've already been blessed with. I do not know what I'd do without any of them! God definitely knew what kind of people I needed in my life. He also blessed me with an amazing tax return!!!! $1600...which has helped with many bills!

Something else that has really been great to see in my life over the past month is failing my driving test twice! I know...that sounds weird that I would say it has been great to see, but really it has helped me to put all my trust and faith on God. I cannot do it on my's only a small thing but we need to depend on God for ALL things, big and small! After each time I failed, I wasn't angry and I didn't cry about it because I knew that God will provide it for me when I absolutely need it! He knows my need to have it for my summer jobs so I trust that He will provide it before I start them. And He will also bring a car my way to buy. I know this is such a small and petty thing to most, but it has been huge to me! It's been a chance to grow because I've really had to surrender, trust and ask for God's strength. It's really the parallel parking that gets me every time and I haven't practiced much at all because we don't have a DMV close enough at school to just go practice so I have to trust God to get me to pass it. Only He can do that! My next test is Thursday, May 5 at 2:15 (if you could think to say a quick prayer for me) which is about a week away so I'm just going to keep praying and trusting God. If I don't pass this time then I have to get a new permit so I really have to trust God to provide!

My devotional today was really good. It was called "Mary Had a Little Lamb" by Mary Southerland. She went from the passage, Isaiah 40:11, "He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young" She talks about how dumb sheep are and their lives depend upon following and listening to their shepherds. They are totally dependent on them! The same is true of us as sheep of the Great Shepherd, Jesus Christ. Good shepherds do not push, no matter how great the temptation. A good shepherd stands in front of his sheep, gently calling their names, leading them to a place where he has already been, positioning himself between danger and his sheep. When I am tired and ready to give up, I tend to withdraw from the other sheep and even from my Shepherd. Many of us have somehow bought into the lie that they can make it on their own or that the rules, the commandments of God, do not necessarily apply to them…just those other sheep. The longer I serve God, the more I realize just how much we need each other and how much we need Him. Our lives are dependent upon Christ. His path is best...He knows best. We may think that at times we have a better way or better plan but then we just end up in a ditch crying out for help. Yes, God promises to help us out of those pits when we call on Him but how much easier and greater would our journey be if we just followed our Shepherd, knowing it's the best path for us to take? This concept really encouraged me because I know that sometimes I'm that dumb sheep that thinks I know better than my Shepherd and each time (without fail) I get myself into a dark pit where I have to call for that help! And praise the Lord He has always come and lifted me out.

My Shepherd Will Supply My Need
My Shepherd will supply my need:
Jehovah is His Name;
In pastures fresh He makes me feed,
Beside the living stream.
He brings my wandering spirit back
When I forsake His ways,
And leads me, for His mercy's sake,
In paths of truth and grace.

When I walk through the shades of death,
Thy presence is my stay;
A word of Thy supporting breath
Drives all my fears away.
Thy hand, in sight of all my foes,
Doth still my table spread;
My cup with blessings overflows,
Thine oil anoints my head.

The sure provisions of my God
Attend me all my days;
O may Thy house be my abode,
And all my work be praise!
There would I find a settled rest,
While others go and come;
No more a stranger, nor a guest,
But like a child at home.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

In Your Eyes

I feel like I haven't written on here in a long time! Don't get me wrong--God has been teaching and showing me A LOT! In fact, I've grown immensely since the last time I've written on here! I've come to know what it really means for God to be my Father and Best Friend! I go to Him for everything--I used to only go to Him as a final resort when I wanted or needed something or would utter some prayer to say that I had prayed for that day, but now my time with God is much more than that and I look forward to it everyday and feel incomplete if I miss it! It feels so amazing to have a growing relationship with my Savior! I've also learned how to completely surrender everything to Him--I've never been able to bring myself to handing everything over to Him, but I've come to the point where I have been able to do that now. I've laid it all at His feet and gave Him total control of each part of my life! It's been a real joy and blessing.

Today's devotional was called, "Wooed, Won and Wed" by Sharon Jaynes. She used Song of Solomon as her key passage and talked about the King who fell in love with a Shulammite woman whom he saw tending to vineyards. He wooed her by telling her everything he loved about her and how beautiful she was, but she couldn't see it! She just saw the flaws, but he never ceased telling her and finally won her and she agreed to wed him! Song of Solomon paints a beautiful picture of beauty and Sharon Jaynes gave a list of all the ways the King admired/wooed this woman:
  1. Your cheeks are beautiful with earrings, your neck with strings of jewels. (1:10)
  2. How beautiful you are, my darling! Oh, how beautiful! Your eyes are doves. (1:15).
  3. Like a lily among thorns is my darling among the maidens. (2:2)
  4. Your hair is like a flock of goats descending from Mount Gilead. (4:1)
  5. Your teeth are like a flock of sheep just shorn, coming up from the washing. Each has its twin; not one of them is alone. (4:2).
  6. Your lips are like a scarlet ribbon; your mouth is lovely. Your temples behind your veil are like the halves of a pomegranate. (4:3)
  7. Your neck is like the tower of David built with elegance (4:4)
  8. Your two breasts are like two fawns, like twin fawns of a gazelle that browse among the lilies. (4:5)
  9. Your lips drop sweetness as the honeycomb my bride; milk and honey are under your tongue (4:11)
  10. How beautiful your sandaled feet, (7:1)
  11. Your graceful legs are like jewels, the work of a craftsman’s hands. (7:1)
  12. Your waist is a mound of wheat encircled by lilies. (7:2)
  13. All beautiful you are, my darling; there is no flaw in you. (4:7)
He loved every part of her--the good and the "bad"! She then correlated this with Jesus and His bride! It's said that when guys look in a mirror they focus on their best features (whether that's true or not--I do not know since I'm not a guy), but when a woman looks in a mirror they focus on their worst features! I know that's true because I tend to do that exact thing. But why do we do that? We could use the excuse that we're girls so it's just what we do but if we're children of God we can know that we are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14) and that to Christ we are so beautiful and really that's all that should matter. That still won't necessarily make it easy to be content with how we look, but hopefully it can give us a new perspective on it! Jesus sees our true beauty and is captivated. Jesus desires to hear our voice and see our face. Both are His delight. “My dove in the clefts of the rock, in the hiding places on the mountainside, show me your face, let me hear your voice; for your voice is sweet, and your face is lovely” (Song of Solomon 2:14).

"Lord, help me see myself as You see me, no matter how beautiful it is!"

Monday, March 14, 2011

Some Things Never Change

How Deep the Father's Love For Us

How deep the Father's love for us,
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure

How great the pain of searing loss,
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the chosen One,
Bring many sons to glory

Behold the Man upon a cross,
My sin upon His shoulders
Ashamed I hear my mocing voice,
Call out among the scoffers

It was my sin that helf Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I knoww that it is finished

I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no power, no wisdom
But I will boast inJesus Christ
His death and resurrection

Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom

Sharon Jaynes gave a wonderful devotional today! It was all about the unfailing love of God! UNFAILING, NEVER CHANGING LOVE ("hesed") for us! That is really what all of us are looking for and God is the only one that can offer that to us. Sometimes we can feel that everything in our world is coming out from under us, people are leaving, we lose jobs, finances are overwhelming us and we wonder where God is during all this! Why is He not helping? Does He not care? Of course He is there and He does care! 1 John 4:8, "Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love." That alone says it all but there are 240 mentions of this kind of love just in the Old Testament! Should that not tell you that there must be some truth to that? Even if there was just 1 mention of it--there should be no doubting the Word of God but God put it in that many times so that we would know and never forget that God loves us with an unfailing love. Psalm 136 reminds us that His love endures forever...26 times!

Now, I'm 21 years old and single. I have never had a boyfriend in my lifetime, but I always longed to have one and to meet that "special someone" God has in mind for me. I desire to have someone to love and to be loved by. I still do long for that but before that's all I desired! I didn't consider God and His love for me sufficient until that time when Mr. Right comes along. I wanted someone right then! I wanted the earthly and physical aspect of a relationship. That mindset got me into a lot of trouble on more than one occasion! No, I didn't compromise my purity for it or anything--but I allowed my guard to go down for a time in my life where I didn't care how I talked with guys (and no--we never did talk in God-honoring ways) which I greatly regret now! But as of lately I have come to rest in a great truth! God's love is sufficient for me. He really is my first love! And I value that loving relationship more than ever before! He's given me great hope and joy in these last few weeks and months. Like I said, I still do long for a man to spend the rest of my life with, but now I'm willing to wait for God's timing and His will to be done because He's sufficient for me...and will continue to be even when Mr. Right does come along!!

God's love is amazing to think about--we cannot always comprehend it and it will take an eternity to do so! How can such a Sovereign and amazing God love us and our sinful selves? Why? Because that is why He created us and more importantly--that's why He died and rose again for us! Because He loves us...we are His creation! We may not feel loved down here on earth, but we can rest assure that God will always love us with an awesome love! The greatest love we could ever ask for....hesed love! It's unfailing, never-ending, cherished love! Even during the hardest times...our most sinful moments...He still loves us with this love! Amazing! That is something to praise the Lord for today! I wanted to include the lyrics to one of my favorite songs about God's love but couldn't narrow it down to just I put a few up :)

O the Deep, Deep Love of Jesus

O the deep, deep love of Jesus, vast, unmeasured, boundless, free!
Rolling as a mighty ocean in its fullness over me!
Underneath me, all around me, is the current of Thy love
Leading onward, leading homeward to Thy glorious rest above!

O the deep, deep love of Jesus, spread His praise from shore to shore!
How He loveth, ever loveth, changeth never, nevermore!
How He watches o’er His loved ones, died to call them all His own;
How for them He intercedeth, watcheth o’er them from the throne!

O the deep, deep love of Jesus, love of every love the best!
’Tis an ocean full of blessing, ’tis a haven giving rest!
O the deep, deep love of Jesus, ’tis a heaven of heavens to me;
And it lifts me up to glory, for it lifts me up to Thee!

Here is Love

Here is love, vast as the ocean
Lovingkindness as the flood
When the Prince of Life, our Ransom
Shed for us His precious blood
Who His love will not remember?
Who can cease to sing His praise?
He can never be forgotten
Throughout Heav'n's eternal days

On the mount of crucifixion
Fountains opened deep and wide
Through the floodgates of God's mercy
Flowed a vast a gracious tide
Grace and love, like mighty rivers
Poured incessant from above
And Heav'n's peace and perfect justice
Kissed a guilty world in love

No love is higher, no love is wider
No love is deeper, no love is truer
No love is higher, no love is wider
No love is like Your love, o Lord

Thursday, March 10, 2011

God Will Come Through

Today's devotional was very encouraging. It talked about trusting God in every situation of our life. Sometimes we go through things and wonder where God is in all of it..."if He was there then why wasn't He stopping this from happening?!" can sometimes be our thoughts. I posted this on my Facebook wall but on March 8th my friend and RA from my freshman year here at BBC was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) at the young age of 24. I was completely shocked as I am sure she and her husband, Chris were too when they heard the news. But, what surprised me (mostly because I do not think I would have been able to respond as she did) was the total trust and dependence they had on God from the moment they heard the news. She and her entire family came around her and recognized God's hand in this situation. They are very positive and trust that God will take care of Chelsey. I honestly do not know if I could have that kind of trust if the same thing happened to me! But she did and I am very encouraged by her testimony and pray for her daily now. She could have easily questioned if God was even there during this time! But she knew He was and is there as she walks through this with her family.

I personally have walked through many trials--deaths, relationships and personal struggles where at many times I wondered where God was during them all. But now that I am through them I see that God was there all the time and I just "had my eyes closed" and couldn't see Him there and at work. So often we have our eyes closed during these times and God is right there in front of us saying, "I'm here--I've got you!" but we're so focused on the problems that we do not hear Him. God knows about everything that happens to us and is there to help us through if we trust and depend on Him! We need to let Him carry us through each trial. For some of my situations I regretfully did not let God carry me through them and thought I had to get through them on my own and for some I did trust Him, but every time He was faithful to get me through when I finally saw that I needed Him! God is always present in your life and is directing your life according to His will if You follow Him. There will be some hard bumps along the way but that is what our awesome and mighty God is there for--to help you through! Trust Him to get you through...for only He can!

Proverbs 3:4-6
"Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths."

Trust in the Lord-Point of Grace
Trust, trust in the Lord
Lean not on your own understanding
In all, all of your ways
Acknowledge Him
He'll make your path straight

You'll be my guide for life
I'll walk by Your side
With Your hand in mine
I'll go where You lead me

My eyes can only see
The ground beneath my feet

Your dreams are greater
Your ways are higher
O Lord please show me

Bless my thoughts
My dreams my imaginations
Step by step
Your delight, Your creation

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Failure is Not Final

Today's devotional was very good! Mary Southerland talked about failure in our lives and it was something I needed to hear. I've failed a lot in my life (and I will continue to do so throughout life) and no one likes to be a failure, but God still offers us hope! The verse she based her devotional from is Job 14:7,

"At least there is hope for a tree. If it is cut down, it will sprout again, and its new shoots will not fail"

What an encouragement it is to know that those sins and failures are forgiven by God once we ask Him for forgiveness! It's ours--that's His promise! We do not have to let those failures hover over us to haunt our every day...we can have our lives move on and continue in our service to God. I don't know what I'd do if God didn't forgive our failures and I had to deal with the guilt and shame of them each day--I wouldn't be able to live with myself! But praise the Lord that He does offer that forgiveness for each of us. But, we also have to remember that if we fail it is not the end of our lives--we all will fail! It's part of our human sinful nature. But Mary Southerland points out that failure is a necessary part of our growth and maturity as a follower of Jesus Christ. Failure can interpret the unconditional love and forgiveness of God like nothing else can - if we let it. Desperation can be our friend if it makes us crave God and long to see His power unleashed in our lives. Failure is not final but God's grace is. What an awesome promise that is for each of us as children of an Almighty and Sovereign Father!

Mary Southerland puts some interesting people that were considered failures--

Beethoven's music teacher once told him that he was a hopeless composer.

Abraham Lincoln campaigned for a seat in the Illinois General Assembly and failed. He then opened a general store which failed after only a few months.

Walt Disney was fired by the editor of a newspaper for lacking creativity.

The Ford Motor Company was Henry Ford's third business. The first two didn't work out.

A teacher told Thomas Edison that he was too stupid to learn anything.

Babe Ruth struck out 1,330 times.

Now even those people that were considered failures went to prove that they were quite the opposite--they all became famous for their great successes in life! Shouldn't that give us even more hope as children of the King of Kings that even through our failures, He will work it all out for good! Romans 8:28 came back up in this devotional and it is becoming another one of my favorite verses.

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose"

God promises that He WILL work everything out for our good when we love and obey Him and His will for our lives--even our worst failures in life! Now that is something we can praise the Lord for!

**And just an update on how God has provided for me over the past few weeks:

1) He allowed my old flute to sell on Amazon providing me with $270 for bills!

2) He provided me with my driver's permit on Saturday and I have been doing well!

3) He is going to provide me with $650+ in tax returns

4) He allowed me to take my two business classes during the fall and spring of next year (independent study) in order that I can graduate next year!

5) He provided me with a summer internship at Something Better, Inc. with Margaret Mantel

He really is doing so much in my life and providing greatly!!! I'm excited for my present and future and my #1 desire is to love God, serve Him and let His light shine from my life!

Friday, February 25, 2011

What Kind of Book Are You Writing?

My devotional today was pretty powerful and very convicting! It was about the words we say and use to others. I never realized how powerful the tongue can's almost scary what it can do. In my devotional, Mary Southerland says this,

"God gives us "spiritual radar" so we can assess a situation and speak the right word for that circumstance, but how often do we speak before we check the radar?
    A judge utters a few words and a guilty man is taken to death row.
      A friend speaks a word of encouragement and a desperate heart finds hope.
        A mother lashes out with angry words and the light in her child's eyes is gone.
          A wife offers a word of forgiveness and a marriage is saved.
            A gossip makes a phone call and a reputation is destroyed.
              A teenager says "no" and changes the course of her life."

              Those were just some of the positive or negative effects of how we choose to use our tongue. I know I struggle with what I say to others, especially in the form of gossip! Each of us have something inside of us that makes us feel we "need" to gossip but the Bible says specifically that it is a sin
              Proverbs 1:29-32
              "They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them"

              These statistics were given, "It has been estimated that most people speak enough words in one week to fill a large book of 500 pages which, in the average lifetime, would amount to somewhere around 3000 volumes or 1,500,000 pages" That is insane!!! That each and every person could write a book that big with just the words they speak! Shouldn't that motivate us to be speak with kind and uplifting words? Who would want to look in their book after their life and see all these mean and derogatory remarks to others? That would shame us and we would certainly be embarrassed if God read that book to everyone--so why do we talk like that to and about others?

              The Bible says, "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me" (Matthew 25:40, KJV). Now if nothing else said convicted you then this one should! God says that when we speak or do wrong to others we're really also doing it Him! That alone should make you "think before you speak" and even before you do! Words are like seeds. What we plant will grow. The words we speak are powerful and will either build up or destroy. Words can diffuse anger and turn tragedy into triumph. The right word, spoken at the right time and in the right way can bring peace in the midst of confusion. What kind of book are you writing today with your words?

              Thursday, February 17, 2011

              We Walk By Faith

              "Without faith no one can please God. Anyone who comes to God must believe that he is real and that he rewards those who truly want to find him" (Hebrews 11:6 NCV).

              Today's devotional was on faith. Some might say that the topic of faith is overused and of course they have faith in God...but do you really? The devotional was by Mary Southerland and it was called "Step Away From the Shore". She based it off of the story in Matthew 14 when the disciples are "lost at sea" in a huge storm. They probably were so scared and wondering where in the world Christ was! Why wasn't he there with them and helping them? Then Christ comes onto the scene and in verse 25 it says, "And in the fourth watch of the night (between 3-6am) He came to them, walking on the sea" (parenthesis mine). Christ did come to them but I think He wanted to test their faith in Him by waiting until they cried out to Him for help...they put their faith in Him alone to save them! Did they cry out in fear? Yes! Did He come? A huge resounding YES!

              God is waiting for us to cry out to Him. He is willing and waiting to bless us. Southerland pointed out though that blessings from God aren't necessarily always easy, effortless, painless or expected. Sometimes blessings from God are wrapped in darkness. She says, "But I am learning this truth - anything that makes us cry out to God can be counted as a blessing. Why? Because when we are desperate and in pain, when we have no answers and the darkness is closing in, we cry out to God, just as the disciples did - and He comes! Not because we have earned His presence or His mercy, but because we cried out with a tiny seed of faith, as His children, knowing He is not only able, but willing to come." Now that can be hard to grasp...a "bad" blessing? But is it really bad if it gets us to cry out to our God and Savior? It may be hard but it's not bad!

              Faith is definitely not an easy thing to practice in our lives! Especially when the hard times do come...we have the head knowledge that God is all-powerful and that God can get us through and work it out for good (Romans 8:28) but we don't have the "heart knowledge"...we don't believe it with all our heart, soul and mind! That is the point where we all need to get to. At the end of her devotional she had a little exercise to record in a journal. Read and copy down Psalm 86:15, "But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness." Then go through the verse and write down all the words that describe God. What do these words tell you about God's willingness to bless you? What is the first step of faith you need to make today? Are you willing to take it right now?

              By Faith
              By Keith & Kristyn Getty/Stuart Townend

              By faith we see the hand of God
              In the light of creation's grand design
              In the lives of those who prove His faithfulness
              Who walk by faith and not by sight

              By faith our fathers roamed the earth
              With the power of His promise in their hearts
              Of a holy city built by God's own hand
              A place where peace and justice reign

              We will stand as children of the promise
              We will fix our eyes on Him our soul's reward
              Till the race is finished and the work is done
              We'll walk by faith and not by sight

              By faith the prophets saw a day
              When the longed-for Messiah would appear
              With the power to break the chains of sin and death
              And rise triumphant from the grave

              By faith the church was called to go
              In the power of the Spirit to the lost
              To deliver captives and to preach good news
              In every corner of the earth

              We will stand...

              By faith this mountain shall be moved
              And the power of the gospel shall prevail
              For we know in Christ all things are possible
              For all who call upon His name