Monday, February 23, 2015

I Am

I have been hanging out in the book of Exodus this week because while researching Ramona's word, stretch, I found the words, "Stretch out my/your hands" many times.  But a single verse is one that spoke to me today.

This verse is found after Moses discovered God in the burning bush and was asked by God to lead the  people of Israel from oppression.  Moses questioned God.  When I tell them "The God of your Fathers has sent me to you, and they say to me What is His name?  What shall I say to them?" ~ Exoduxs 3:13

God answered with:

 ..."I Am who I Am." ~ Exodus 3:14

I am sure Moses was confused because I know I would be.  How can we possibly wholly define who and what God is?  How can we explain God?

We can't.

Stormie Omartian says in her book,  Praying God's Will for Your Life, "The Lord has many names in the Bible, and each one expresses an aspect of His nature or His attributes.  When we acknowledge Him, we invite Him to be those things to us.

He is everything I need at any given moment.

On those days I feel hopeless, He is my Hope.  (Psalm 71:5)

When I am weak, I ask him to be our Strength (Isaiah 12:2).

When I have a difficult decision to make, I ask Him to be our Wisdom.  (1Corinthians 1:24)

Stormie has a list of thirty attributes of the Lord.  I have listed here just a few:

He is my Restorer (Ps. 23:3)
He is my Helper (John 14:16)
He is my Patience ( Rom. 15:5)
He is my Refuge from the Storm (Isa. 25:4)
He is my Healer (Mal. 4:2)
He is my Shield ((Ps. 33:20)
He is my Light (John 6:35)

I know the more I accept that He is all of these things, the sooner He will become them in my life.  Walking through scripture is helping me to open my heart to everything He is and to everything I need.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

The Giver of Gifts

Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; 
and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; 
and there are varieties of activities, 
but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. ~1Corinthians 12:4

I am my own worst critic and my worst enemy.  I think most of this scrutiny comes from my childhood and my relationship with my father.  In my mind, I was never good enough for him, and those thoughts have carried over into adulthood.

This first verse reminds me that we all have different gifts, services, and activities, but we all share the same God who is the Giver of gifts.

I am a mom.

I am a wife.

I am a sister.

I am a daughter.

I am a teacher.

These are my gifts with which I have been blessed, and I need to use these gifts to give glory to God ~ the Giver of gifts.  In God's eyes, I am gifted in my own special way, empowered only by Him.

I just need to remember this today, tomorrow and everyday.

Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, 
let us use them... ~ Romans 12:6

Friday, February 20, 2015

The Plan

The heart of man plans his way,
but the Lord establishes his steps. ~ Proverbs 16:9

This verse has been talking to me lately.  I know there are many nuggets of wisdom in the Book of Proverbs, but to me it seems like a list of things I am supposed to do in order to obey and be pleasing to God.  Many of these verses make me feel like a Christian failure, but this verse is different ~ it gives me strength.

Many of us, especially teachers, set goals.  Some are long-term and some are short-term.  Most goals revolve around some type of achievement.  We want to lose weight, or exercise this many times a week, or save this much money.  Most goals have a point of destination, a place to end.  In a sense, our desire to achieve these goals gets us going and allows us to take action.

But I think God calls us for a bigger goal or a mission.  My spiritual journey is a mission; it is an action.  I have no point of destination, only a focus ~ to grow closer to God and live my faith the way He wants me to. (Takes me right back to Proverbs!)  It is only through action, as simple as a prayer for help, that God can guide us.  I can't sit idly and wait on Him.  I must create a plan and let Him guide me along the way.

Yes, my heart has a plan or a call to action, but I know He is there guiding me, establishing my footsteps.  And that is a comforting thought.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

The Cross

I decided to take this time during Lent to reflect on a scripture verse each day.  This new endeavor was inspired by Ruth Ayres who wrote 40 Stories of Lent last year.  Thank you Ruth for your inspiration and for sharing your faith so that others can learn and grow through your words.  

And He said to all, "If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.  For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it." ~Luke 9:23

Several days ago, 21 Egyptian Christians died at the hands of evil.  The picture of them kneeling with evil standing behind them is one that replays in my mind over and over again.  They took up their crosses and lost their lives for their belief in God.

Before this verse in Luke's Gospel, Jesus had just fed thousands of people with only five loaves of bread and two fish.  Jesus was praying with his disciples and he asks them.

"Who do the crowds say that I am?"

They reply with John the Baptist and state that others believe that one of the prophets of old had risen.

Then he said to them, "But who do you say that I am?"  and Peter answered, "The Christ of God."

Those 21 men died because they answered the same as the disciples, because they believed in Jesus.  They died for their faith, while I am still trying to figure out how to live mine.  

This act of martyrdom makes my faith seem small and weak, but I want it to be strong.  I want to not only find the love of the cross, but to fully live it for all to see.  That is what this journey is all about.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

DIVE Into Scripture

Today is Spiritual Journey Thursday, a day for me to spend some time turning toward God.  Please feel free to join me on this journey each Thursday with Holly Mueller and friends.  For the next several weeks, Holly will be featuring our one little words.  Today's featured word is DIVE from Greg Armamentos at Dash - Life Between the Numbers.

Today is Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent for many of the world's religions.  It is a time of penance, fasting, and prayer for forgiveness.  As a cradle Catholic, many discussions in our house at this time of year was about "What are you giving up for Lent?"  I don't necessarily agree with this because I don't think giving something up changes me.  Instead, I always wanted to add something or do something to change me to help me grow closer to Jesus and to deepen my faith.

Keeping this in mind and reflecting on what this spiritual journey really means to me, I have decided to focus the next 40 days on scripture.  Or to keep with the theme of the OLW - I am going to DIVE into scripture.  As a Catholic, I am not as well versed in scripture as I would like to be, which is another reason for me to DIVE in.  

"All scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in the righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work." ~ 2Timothy 3:16-17

Each day I want to spend time reading the Bible and focusing on one scripture verse.  My routine will consist of the following:
  1. Prepare my heart and my mind to listen to the voice of God.
  2. Call on the Holy Spirit to help me pray (because this is another weakness of mine.)
  3. Read the scripture, taking time to think and meditate on how I can respond to the verse.  
  4. Finish with a prayer and a resolution to follow Jesus more closely each day of Lent.
  5. Write in my journal or on my blog my thoughts and response.
Please check back during the next 40 days and DIVE into scripture with me.  I would love for you to join me.  

Outstretched Hands

Today is Spiritual Journey Thursday, a day for me to spend some time turning toward God.  Please feel free to join me on this journey each Thursday with Holly Mueller and friends.  For the next several weeks, Holly will be featuring our one little words.  Today's featured word is REACH by Margaret at Reflections on the Teche.

I opened my laptop, ready for inspiration.  But the words didn't come.  

I took a shower, hoping for inspiration.  But the words didn't come.

I perused through my "faith books" on my shelf, searching for inspiration.  But the words didn't come.

How was I going to write about reaching for God, when the words just wouldn't come?  

I picked up The Power of Praying Through the Bible by Stormie Omartian.  I was getting desperate now.  As I began reading, I noticed that verse after verse was not about me reaching out to God, but Him reaching out to me.  

From the beginning of time, God reaches out through His breath. "The Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being." ~Genesis 1:26-27

He reaches out by sending us the Holy Spirit.  "But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you." ~ John 14:26

He reaches out by telling us simple stories, by teaching in parables.  "This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, not do they understand." ~Matthew 13:13

He reaches out through His Word.  "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. ~John 1:1

My thoughts today center around God reaching out to me, 
                       his hands outstretched, 

                                        calling me to reach out to Him.