Saturday, December 31, 2011

Focus on Jesus {Something to Think About}

Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we're in. (Hebrews 12:2 The Message)
As we begin a new year, where is your focus? Remember Peter? He stepped out of the boat, focused on Jesus, and walked on water. When he panicked and took his focus off of Jesus, he sank.

What will 2012 be like if we look to Jesus before anyone or anything else? Will you turn to Jesus for guidance? For strength? For comfort? Will you ask yourself each day, “Where is my focus?


I'm linking up with Fresh Brewed Sunday and Thought Provoking Thursday!

In Christ,
Laura

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

My Top Ten Scripture Verses of 2011

Every year between Christmas and New Year’s, I see Top Ten lists—some to recap the year and some to start the next year. I’ve never written one before, but decided to give it a try.

Of these ten Scripture verses, some are favorites I turn to often and others are verses that took on new meaning for me throughout 2011. They are all special to me, so they are listed in no particular order, except as they are in Bible. (All verses are from the New Living Translation.)

1) Deuteronomy 31:8
Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor abandon you.

2) Proverbs 3:5-6
Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.

3) Isaiah 40:31
But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.

4) Isaiah 43:2
When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.

5) Jeremiah 17:7-8
But blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence. They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green, and they never stop producing fruit.

6) Jeremiah 29:11
“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”

7) Matthew 11:28
Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”

8) Matthew 14:31
Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. “You have so little faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?”

9) Romans 8:28
And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.

10) Hebrews 11:1
Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.

Do you have a special Scripture verse that speaks to you? As you read God’s Word, allow yourself to be open to God’s leading. (<=Tweet this!) He speaks to us through Scripture, and leads us to what we need to hear at the perfect time when we need to hear it. 

In Christ,

Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas!

That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them.

“Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”

Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.” (Luke 2:8-15 NLT)

Merry Christmas! Thanks be to God for the greatest gift we could ever receive—Immanuel, God with us!

If you’ve joined me in an online Bible study this year or been a visitor to my blog—I thank you! No matter what your plans may be, I pray you have a blessed Christmas!

I hope you’ll join me again as we start the New Year with a new online study of An Untroubled Heart by Micca Campbell.

In Christ,
Laura

Saturday, December 17, 2011

God’s Ways Are Not Our Own {5 Minutes for Faith}

I am excited to be at 5 Minutes for Faith today talking about faith and God’s promises. Here is an excerpt of what I wrote:

I want to have that unwavering confidence that God hears my prayers and keeps His promises. The Bible says I can—through faith.

“Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.” Hebrews 11:1 NLT

When we look back at how God has kept His promises in the past, we see that He has proven Himself time and time again.

Please stop by 5 Minutes for Faith today to read the rest of my post. If you have a minute, leave a comment so I know you stopped by!

Have a blessed day!

In Christ,
Laura

Rest {Something to Think About}

It’s been a long week and my emotions are getting the better of me. I’m tired—physically, and yes, emotionally. I’ve been searching Scripture for my favorite verses that meet me where I am and pick me up. I keep coming back to one I’ve clung to so many times before.

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28 NLT)

Life seems harder when I’m drained. I need the Spiritual and physical rest Jesus gives.

What Scripture verse do you turn to when you need recharged?


I'm linking up today with Fresh Brewed Sunday and Grace Cafe.

In Christ,
Laura

Friday, December 16, 2011

Pray for the Future

Pray for the Future is part three of a three-part series. It was my first series, and because they are so personal, they are three of my favorite posts I've written. I've been excited and honored to be able to share them with Write It, Girl!

In case you've missed the first two...
Part Two—Pray for Strength

Pray that you would accept the situation. Pray for strength to get through the situation. Pray for the future.

To me, it feels like if I accept an unpleasant situation, it’s final. Maybe it’s a doctor’s diagnosis, a rebellious child, an empty marriage, or another situation I never thought I’d be in. If I accept it, is this the way it will be for the rest of my life? Sometimes it feels like it. But is it?

It was God’s will for Jesus to go to the cross for sins that were none of His own. While He didn’t spare Him from the situation, He did send an angel from heaven to strengthen Him. Jesus accepted the situation and was crucified for our sins. But we know that’s not the end of the story. Accepting the situation did not mean it was final.

“But very early on Sunday morning the women went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. They found that the stone had been rolled away from the entrance. So they went in, but they didn’t find the body of the Lord Jesus. As they stood there puzzled, two men suddenly appeared to them, clothed in dazzling robes.

The women were terrified and bowed with their faces to the ground. Then the men asked, ‘Why are you looking among the dead for someone who is alive? He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead! Remember what he told you back in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be betrayed into the hands of sinful men and be crucified, and that he would rise again on the third day.’” (Luke 24:1-7 NLT)

Jesus rose from the dead and now sits at the right hand of God the Father, just as it was foretold. God had a plan, and His plan came to pass, just as He said it would. God has a plan today—for you and for me. Though He may take us through circumstances we don’t want to be in, He doesn’t just leave us there. He promises to always be with us.

Through prayer, God will help us accept a situation we don’t want to be in. If it’s not His will to take us out of the situation, He will strengthen us to walk through it. And if He allows us to go through it, that doesn’t mean it’s forever, even if it feels like it.

This is part three of a three-part series.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Pray for Strength

I'm excited to be linking up again with Write It, Girl: Round 2! This is a 3-part series. Last week: Part One–Pray for Acceptance Next week: Part Three—Pray for the Future.


Pray that you would accept the situation. Pray for strength to get through the situation.

There are situations in life we simply do not want to experience—illness, unemployment, divorce, and so many others. Often times, God will spare us from these situations. Other times, He will allow us to go through them…but He doesn’t require that we tread through them alone. He promises to walk the road of life with us. After praying to accept the situation, we can pray for strength to get through it. Jesus did.

When Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, He asked God if there was another way, but prayed for God’s will over His own.

“‘Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.’ Then an angel from heaven appeared and strengthened him.” (Luke 22:42-43 NLT)

Jesus accepted that the situation was God’s will, but God didn’t let Jesus go through it without help. He sent an angel to strengthen Jesus for what was to come.

I need God’s help to accept a situation I don’t want to go through. I also need His strength. I can’t do it on my own, but trust in God and prayer will give me the strength to face the situation. Like He did for Jesus, God will also strengthen us for what is to come.

A situation I don’t understand and can’t control feels impossible to get through. Some days I am depleted of strength and energy. If I rely on myself, there is none to be found. But God never tires and never grows weak.

One of my favorite passages is found in the book of Isaiah.

“The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth. He never grows weak or weary. No one can measure the depths of his understanding. He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless. But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. The will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:28b-29; 31 NLT)

The strength we need to endure a situation comes not from ourselves, but from the Lord. He has an abundant supply and wants to share it with us. Through our dependence on Him, we are strengthened.

This is a three-part series. Part One – Pray for Acceptance. On Friday…Part Three—Pray for the Future.

In Christ,
Laura

Monday, December 12, 2011

Pray for Acceptance

I'm excited to be linking up Pray for Acceptance for the March 2012 Write It, Girl: Round 2 Part Two—Pray for Strength next week. 


Pray that you would accept the situation.

I recently heard these words in a sermon and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about them. Pray that I would accept the situation? Doesn’t whether or not I want to accept the situation depend on the situation? For example, a good health report, a new job or the promotion I wanted, a secure and happy marriage—those are acceptable situations. But cancer, loss of a job, divorce, death of a loved one—those situations are harder to accept. I don’t want to accept them.

I decided to look up the definition of the word accept.

accept – to take or receive, to receive with approval, to tolerate or accommodate oneself to. (Dictionary.com)

accept – to receive willingly (NLT Study Bible, Tyndale)

I don’t know if I can willingly accept something I don’t want or something I know will be painful or final. On second thought, I know I can’t. Not on my own. I need God’s help.

When Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, He asked God if there was another way…

“‘Abba, Father,’ he cried out, “everything is possible for you. Please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.’” (Mark 14:36 NLT)

“Then Jesus left them a second time and prayed, ‘My Father! If this cup cannot be taken away unless I drink it, your will be done.’” (Matt. 26:42 NLT) 

Each time, Jesus expressed His feelings to God, but God’s will was of most importance to Him. Jesus accepted the situation and did what He had to do.

God will always listen to us. He wants us to express our fears, disappointments, and confusion. Sometimes He will change our circumstances, and sometimes, He will change us instead.
        
Accepting a situation doesn’t mean pretending I’m happy about it, but maybe it frees me from the anger, hurt, and resentment I feel. Especially if I’m feeling this way towards God, accepting it allows me to move on with what I have to do. Accepting it enables me to receive God’s guidance and His help in getting through the situation.

This is Part One in a three-part series. Stop back on Wednesday for Part Two—Pray for Strength.

In Christ,
Laura

Sunday, December 11, 2011

For Such a Time as This {Something to Think About}

“…And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14 NIV)

I don’t know many people pondering their royal position, but I do know some, including myself, who wonder “What’s going on here?!?” Why do I have to be involved in this situation? Why is everything around me changing? Why can’t someone else take care of this?

Like Esther, sometimes God leads us to a place we don’t want to be in. We’d rather stay where we are comfortable, doing things our own way. We can resist and drag our heels, or even refuse by continuing on our own path. But what will we miss? What if God wants to use us in His work and we refuse the opportunity? We may never know why or see the outcome of His plan, but what if God is moving us to a place for such a time as this?

I’m linking up today with Fresh Brewed Sundays. Please visit again tomorrow when I begin a three-part series on acceptance. On Monday, I’ll post Part 1—Pray for Acceptance.

In Christ,
Laura