Saturday, December 29, 2012

Eyes Open to See {Something to Think About}

You hold your hand up high, God, but they don’t see it.
Open their eyes to what you do,
to see your zealous love for your people.
Isaiah 26:11 The Message
Without eyes open to see,
we miss God’s amazing works and ways.
                                               
I’m honored to be hosting The Sunday Community this week for my friend Deidra Riggs at Jumping Tandem! Please join me in linking up below with a picture, Scripture, and if you choose, a few words of inspiration.

All are welcome, so please add The Sunday Community button (found here) to your post so others know where to find us. Oh, and if you’re new to The Sunday Community, you can find more information on Deidra’s blog Jumping Tandem.

Thanks for joining me here! Next week, we’ll be back at Deidra’s.

In Christ,
Laura

Also linking with Fresh Brewed Sundays and Spiritual Sundays.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Coming in 2013

Welcome and Happy New Year! (a few days early)

There is a lot in store here to start off 2013, and I’ve been busy getting ready. Here is some of what you can expect…



I’m so pleased to be a part of author and speaker Holley Gerth’s God-sized Dream Team.

Each week, our encouraging team of 99 women will be writing about dreams—those audacious ones that make you a little nauseous in an excited and terrified way.

The dreams God plants in your heart…not for you to accomplish alone, but with Him walking along side you.

The dreams that seem impossible without Him—the God-sized dreams.

Do you have one—a dream in your heart?

Maybe you’re not even sure where it came from or when it started. God’s been planting it there, just for you. The size of the dream doesn’t matter. He carefully plans each dream personally for us, and in His time the dream unfolds.

Maybe now is the time for your dream...

If you’re wondering where to start, let me direct you to Holley’s blog where she’s been introducing us to God-sized dreams.
To help and encourage us to take that first small step toward our God-sized dreams this year, Holley’s e-book releases on January 1!


What’s a better way to start 2013 than with a new online Bible study?

John 8:36 says, “If the Son sets you free, you are truly free.”

So many don’t know about the freedom God has given us. While others of us know, but still live in bondage to fear, addictions, the past, and so many other issues that hold us back from all God offers. During this study we will journey with Kim Tabor to lasting freedom.

This 6-week study starts on Jan. 6, with only one chapter to read per week.

For more information, click here: Finally Free. 



I’m looking forward to sharing my One Word for 2013 with you soon.

Last year was the first year I decided to focus on one word throughout 2012. Instead of making New Year’s resolutions, the idea is to choose a word to focus on all year, keeping it in front of you every day.

My word was Trust. You can read about my year of complete and unquestioning trust in God here…Trust—My One Word 2012.

It’s not too late! Care to join me in choosing One Word for 2013?


Along with these new adventures, you can still find me monthly at 5 Minutes for Faith, and as a guest contributor for Gloria Dei Lutheran Church.

Last, but certainly not least, I’m happy to be hosting The Sunday Community this weekend for my friend Deidra Riggs at Jumping Tandem! Join me to link up a photo, Scripture, and a few brief words of inspiration.

May you see God’s blessings all around you as we move into 2013!

In Christ,
Laura

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Thank you for visiting me here this year 
and for your encouraging comments. Time seems so limited in our busy lives and I am honored that you would share some of your time here with me.
May you have a blessed Christmas!

In Christ,
Laura

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Monday, December 17, 2012

My Top Ten Scripture Verses of 2012

Last year I wrote My Top Ten Scripture Verses of 2011. Some were favorite verses I cling to and some took on new meaning throughout 2011. That list is my most viewed post, with weekly views almost a year later.

So, I decided to pull together my top ten verses from this year. These are verses I rely on, and ones I felt drawn to during my time with God—verses I may have read in the past, but God showed them to me in a new and powerful way. 
(All verses are from the New Living Translation,
unless otherwise noted, and listed in Biblical order.)

My Top Ten Scripture Verses of 2012…

1) Lamentations 3:22 (NIV)
Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.

2) Job 11:18
Having hope will give you courage. You will be protected and will rest in safety.

3) Psalm 31:24 (NLT)
So be strong and courageous,
all you who put your hope in the 
Lord!

Psalm 31:24 (The Message)
Be brave. Be strong. Don’t give up.
Expect God to get here soon.

4) Psalm 138:3
As soon as I pray, you answer me;
you encourage me by giving me strength.

5) Isaiah 43:18-19
“But forget all that—it is nothing compared to what I am going to do. For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.”

6) Matthew 6:34 (The Message)
Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.

7) Romans 8:38
And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.

8) 1 Corinthians 10:13
The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.

9) Philippians 2:13
For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.

10) Philippians 4:13
For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.

May you see God’s blessings as 2012 comes to a close and we enter into 2013!

In Christ,
Laura


Monday, December 10, 2012

Trust—My One Word 2012

Trust.

To place confidence or depend; to commit or place in one’s care or keeping; to rely on the truthfulness or accuracy of. (Tyndale NLT Study Bible)


As the days of December fly by, I feel like I should write a recap of my year focused on trusting God. But a recap might imply that my year of learning to trust Him is complete, or that I’ve learned all there is to know. But nothing could be further from the truth.

Learning to trust God with everything, all the time, is an ongoing process because it’s so easy to fall back into depending on myself.

It takes a conscious effort every day to give it all to Him—and then leave it with Him. Not taking it back to worry a little more about it. Not snatching it away when He doesn’t act as quickly as I’d like.

Trusting God means waiting on Him, knowing that His Way is best.

It means seeking His Will for my life, asking Him for guidance and wisdom in every decision and situation.

It means spending time in God’s Word, growing closer to Him and learning all that He wants to show me.

Some days are easier than others. And some days feel like a test.

I’ve learned that when I depend on myself, I find myself confused, stressed, worried, distraught, and far from God.

But when I depend on God, He walks with me every day. He comforts and gives me peace.

Trusting myself leads me to act on emotions and feelings that are so often mixed up and out of control.

But trusting God leads me to wait on Him and act with His guidance and in His Truth.

Trust in God doesn’t mean everyday will be happy or a good day. But trust brings joy found only in the Lord.

I’ll have a new One Word for 2013, but my focus on trusting God first; instead of after I’ve exhausted myself will continue. Indefinitely.

You will keep in perfect peace
all who trust in you,
all whose thoughts are fixed on you!
Trust in the Lord always,
for the Lord God is the eternal Rock.
Isaiah 26:3-4 NLT

Did you have a One Word for 2012? How did focusing on one word impact your daily life?

In Christ,
Laura

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Life Changes…God Does Not

I’m excited to be at 5 Minutes for Faith today kicking off a December series of Christmas traditions, as shared by our team of writers.

However, before we get started with the traditions, I feel it’s important to address the fact that for so many, the Christmas season is not filled with joy and happiness, but instead heartache and loneliness. If this describes you, I want you to know that you are not alone.

There is One who understands our heartache and promises to never leave us. He is the One who brings hope to our hurting world.

Below is the beginning of my message. I hope you will follow me over to 5 Minutes for Faith to read more.

Life changes…God does not. 
Christmas family traditions bring smiles and warm memories of time spent together. For some, it’s hot chocolate by the fireplace and smiles as their children open gifts. For others, it’s the singing of familiar Christmas carols.

But for some, the Christmas season not only brings sadness, but also imagines of the joy and happiness everyone else is experiencing. Behind warm smiles are empty hearts and aching souls. Maybe that someone is you.
Life changes. 
Children grow older. They lose interest in family traditions or move away.

Hardships come and take over all we wish we could do. 
Loved ones are gone. 
Many times, traditions evolve over the years, adapting to family changes. 
But for many, the traditions are no more. Instead of warm memories, there are “remember whens” and “if onlys.”
Life changes whether we want it to or not. I don’t want to be depressing, but instead would like to go beyond the facade to tell you this… 
Life changes, but God does not.
Please join me at 5 Minutes for Faith to read more of my post. And if you know someone struggling this Christmas season, would you pass this message on to them? God works in so many wonderful ways to reach the hurting.

Thank you and God bless!

In Christ,
Laura
Photo: Matthew 12:19-21 NLT

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Finally Free Online Bible Study Starts Jan. 6

Plans are under way to start 2013 with a new online Bible study!


This 6-week study begins on January 6, 2013.

For more information on the study, click on the 2013 Studies tab.

To sign up for the Finally Free online study, send an e-mail to: laurajrath@gmail.com with your name and e-mail address, as well as your city and state. By signing up you will receive the weekly reading schedule via email.

Trusting, studying, and growing in God’s Word together!

In Christ,
Laura

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Judging Sin {Something to Think About}


Everyone has sinned.
No one measures up to God’s glory.
Romans 3:23 NIRV


How often do we judge others because they sin differently than us?

Have a blessed day!

In Christ,
Laura


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thanks and Praise

Perhaps it takes a purer faith to praise God for unrealized blessings than for those we once enjoyed or those we enjoy now.”

Dear Heavenly Father,

I thank You for everyone You bring into my life—some for a life time and some only for a while.

Thank You for all that You provide for me—my daily needs and all the blessings You surprise me with.

I thank You for the gifts and talents You’ve given to me, and I ask that You would continue to guide me in where, when, and how to use them for Your glory.

And, Lord, I thank You for the ways You work in my life while I’m totally unaware
…all the unwanted situations You keep me from having to deal with
…the mountains You shrink into molehills
…situations that seem bad at the time, but turn out alright
…and all of the trials You allow me to go through in order to draw me closer to You.  

Love,
Your Daughter,
Laura
Happy Thanksgiving!
In Christ,
Laura

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Faith of a Child

Welcome! I’m guest posting at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church today where, as a congregation, we are reading through The Story. Today I’m looking at the first time God called Samuel, who was only a boy at the time.
Then Eli realized that the Lord was calling the boy. So Eli told Samuel, “Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place. 1 Samuel 3:8b-9 
Did you catch that?
Samuel went back to bed. He didn’t question Eli on why God would be talking to him—a child.
Perhaps that is why I’ve always liked the story of young Samuel. It’s not long, but as I read it, I see his innocence, his obedience, and his unquestioning acceptance that God may indeed be trying to get his attention. Read more…
To read this entire post, please join me on the Gloria Dei blog, and feel free to leave a comment here or there so I’ll know you stopped by. J

When have you felt God speaking to you? Are you open to hearing from Him?

In Christ,
Laura

Thursday, November 15, 2012

When It Feels Like God is Silent

Welcome! I’m over at 5 Minutes for Faith today reflecting on the times in my life when God seems silent. Here’s the beginning of my post…
He says, “Be still, and know that I am God.”
Psalm 46:10a NIV
Sometimes I just don’t hear Him. I know He’s there. But for reasons unknown to me, He’s choosing to remain silent.
I wonder if I’ve done something. 
I wonder if He’s testing me.
And…I wonder if, for now, the silence is okay.

Maybe there’s nothing more to it than knowing God is always with me, even when I don’t hear Him and can’t feel Him.
I keep talking to Him and spending time in His Word, and I know He hears me.
Maybe I’m like a child who learns to trust her mom is there when she calls to her… Read more.
To read the rest of my post, join me at 5 Minutes for Faith. And if you would, please leave a comment so I’ll know you stopped by!

In Christ,
Laura



Saturday, November 10, 2012

Modern Day Idols {Something to Think About}


Modern day idols...anything we put before God.

“Do not put your trust in idols or make metal images of gods for yourselves. I am the LORD your God.”
Leviticus 19:4 NLT

Have a blessed day!

In Christ,
Laura

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Will You Still Love Him?

A few weeks ago, I wrote about our lower stories and God’s upper story. The lower stories are our day-to-day lives—families, jobs, paying the bills, the good, the bad, the joys, and the trials. God’s upper story is His grand plan of something larger—bigger and better than we can imagine—His eternal plans.

Sometimes, through prayer and looking back, God lets us see how our lower story fits into His upper story.  

Other times, life doesn’t make any sense at all. Prayers go unanswered, dreams die, and we don’t know why.

It leaves us with a question to wrestle with.

If the dream you’re praying for with all your heart is not answered the way you’re asking for, will you still love God?

The quick answer is of course I will.

But think about it. What are you praying for with all your heart?

A spouse?

A child?

A change in a particular situation?

For a child to come home or a loved one to come to faith?

Healing?

I don’t know what you may be going through, or if you’ve wrestled with this question. I have, and I can tell you, it takes continued prayer and looking to Him for all that I need. It takes laying down what I want and accepting God’s Will.

If you never find that perfect someone…

A child isn’t in God’s plan for you…

The situation does not change…

The child doesn’t return home or the one you’re praying for doesn’t come to faith…

If the disease and pain persist and healing doesn’t come…

Will you still love and follow Jesus?
Can you accept God’s Will in your life over your own?

More than just nodding your head and agreeing, will you tell Him?
Jesus, you know my prayers, my dreams, my greatest desire…I lay these before you now. If it is not in your plan for me to have __________, I will still love You. I will still follow You. If my dream dies and my prayer goes unanswered, I will not turn away from You. Even if __________ never happens, I will always love You. Amen.

This is our last chapter “Home…I Have a Future” in our study of Sheila Walsh’s book The Shelter of God’s Promises. Whether you’ve followed the study or visited on occasion, please feel free to leave any feedback you may have in the comments section.

 In Christ,                                                                   
Laura


Sunday, November 4, 2012

The Shelter of God's Promises-Wk 10

Here we are in the last week of our study of Sheila Walsh's book The Shelter of God's Promises. If you've been reading the book and/or following the study here on my blog, I'd like to hear feedback.

What did you think of the book and the online study? 
Was it what you were hoping for when the study began?

I'm planning for a new study to begin around the first of 2013. As soon as I have details, I'll have them posted here on my blog. There are many authors and books I've been looking at, but I love to hear of new authors and authors I may not be familiar with. Feel free to leave a comment, or email me, with any feedback you have on the study and your favorite Christian authors.

Have a great week!
In Christ,
Laura

Week  10– Nov. 4-Nov. 10, 2012
The Promise
In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. – John 14:2 NIV 1984

Monday/Tuesday Read Chapter 10 “Home…I Have a Future.”

Wednesday/Thursday – Work on the Bible study for Chapter 10 (pgs. 203-204)

Friday – Spend time in prayer and reflection. Catch up on the reading and Bible study, if necessary.

During the week
·         Continue to journal your thoughts and make notes in your book. What has this study meant to you?
·         Visit Laura Rath ~ Journey in Faith and Discouraged by Sheila Walsh.


Thursday, November 1, 2012

God Offers Us More

Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. Matthew 7:7-8 NLT

God says…

Keep on asking…because we’re going to go through this together. You and Me.

God wants to hear from us, not just when we’re asking for something, but about everything throughout the day. Yes, we can keep asking, but He doesn’t just give His response so we can be on our way. He wants to spend time with us.

I think there is a difference between what we think about “keep asking” and what God thinks, and the difference is where our focus is.

If I’m focused on my prayers and what I want, then I’m asking and asking for the purpose of getting an answer. Preferably the answer I want to hear.

But when my focus is on God Himself, He offers so much more than just answers. He offers a relationship with Him.

Moses experienced this close relationship with God. Even when God was so angry with the Israelites that He was ready to destroy them, Moses interceded for them.

Then the Lord said, “I have seen how stubborn and rebellious these people are. Now leave me alone so my fierce anger can blaze against them, and I will destroy them. Then I will make you, Moses, into a great nation.”

But Moses tried to pacify the Lord his God. “O Lord!” he said. “Why are you so angry with your own people whom you brought from the land of Egypt with such great power and such a strong hand?...Turn away from your fierce anger. Change your mind about this terrible disaster you have threatened against your people!...”

So the Lord changed his mind about the terrible disaster he had threatened to bring on his people. Exodus 32:9-14 NLT

Moses didn’t pray for the sole purpose of getting an answer from the God he didn’t really know. Moses spent time with God—so much time that he knew he could ask God to change His mind. That’s not an easy thing to ask if you have to reacquaint yourself with God first.

In fact, Moses and God were so close, after God told Moses He would go with them, Moses made sure…and then he even asked to see God!

The Lord replied, “I will personally go with you, Moses, and I will give you rest—everything will be fine for you.”

Then Moses said, “If you don’t personally go with us, don’t make us leave this place. How will anyone know that you look favorably on me—on me and on your people—if you don’t go with us? For your presence among us sets your people and me apart from all other people on the earth.”

The Lord replied to Moses, “I will indeed do what you have asked, for I look favorably on you, and I know you by name.”

Moses responded, “Then show me your glorious presence.” Exodus 33:14-18 NLT

That’s a pretty gutsy request. But the relationship between God and Moses was so close God responded quickly and favorably. (Exodus 33:19-23) How close of a relationship did God and Moses have?

…the Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend. Exodus 33:11 NLT

Moses didn’t keep asking God just because he wanted something. He was talking to a very close friend. He included God in all parts of his life.

That’s what God offers us—not just answers to prayer, but life with Him.

God says keep asking...because we’re going to go through this together. You and Me.

Thank you for visiting here today. If you’re following our online study of Sheila Walsh’s The Shelter of God’s Promises, we are in Chapter 9, “More…I Know There’s Something Better.”

Are you comfortable to keep asking? Where is your focus when you ask? If you’d like to share with us, please leave a comment.

In Christ,
Laura

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Trust…Proverbs 3:5-6 {Something to Think About}


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.
Proverbs 3:5-6 NLT
Lord, thank You for teaching me to trust You…forgive me for the days I struggle and don’t do so well.

Please give me Your patience to wait on You.


You know I feel like I should be “doing” something while I wait. Remind me that trusting and waiting on You is doing something.
Help me to remember that You’ve got this…I don’t need to understand it.
Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track. Don’t assume that you know it all.
Proverbs 3:5-6 Msg

Have a blessed day!

In Christ,
Laura

The Shelter of God's Promises-Wk 9

Have a blessed week!

In Christ,
Laura

Week  9– Oct. 28-Nov. 3, 2012
The Promise
Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. - Matthew 7:7-8 NIV 1984

Monday/Tuesday Read Chapter 9 “More…I Know There’s Something Better.”

Wednesday/Thursday – Work on the Bible study for Chapter 9 (pgs. 201-203)

Friday – Spend time in prayer and reflection. What do you want to remember from Chapter 9?

During the week

Thursday, October 25, 2012

I’m Here for You

Welcome, if you are reading Sheila Walsh’s book The Shelter of God’s Promises, we are in Chapter 8 this week, “Strength…I Feel Things Are Crashing Around Me.”

I struggled as I wrote this post. I knew what I wanted to say, but didn’t like how it was coming out. Every time I went back to my notes, I read them as if God was talking to me. Finally, I decided that’s how it should be written. I believe He wants to share the same with you.

Dear Laura,

I miss hearing from you. Talk to me. Tell me what’s on your mind and in your heart. Don’t be afraid to tell me anything and everything…You won’t surprise me or shock me—I already know and it’s okay. So come to me. Share with me. Let me help.

When you feel weak, I will strengthen you.

When you feel sad, I will hold you and comfort you.

When you are broken, I will put you back together…….better than new.

When you feel you are alone, you are not. I am with you. Always.

Please don’t go it alone. Life is so much harder that way.

If that’s what you choose, I will respect your decision. I will not force myself on you. But it doesn’t mean I like it……it just isn’t what I want for you.

What I want for you is to have a relationship with Me. Personal. One-on-one. You and Me. I know you intimately. I formed you. I know everything about you. Now get to know me.

Know that my promises are for you. All of them.

In this world, you will have trouble. Let me strengthen you. I will walk beside you and help you. (John 16:33, Psalm 18:32)

In the struggles you face, I am refining you. I am teaching you to depend on Me. I have big plans for you. But you need to trust Me. (Proverbs 3:5-6, Jeremiah 29:11)

In My time, I will let you see where I am leading you. But don’t rush ahead of Me. My plans work better if you let me go before you. (Deuteronomy 31:8)

Remember that I will not leave you. Don’t be afraid. Don’t be discouraged. Be strong and courageous through Me. (Joshua 1:9)

Whatever you need, ask Me.

All My love, today and always,
God

What do you feel God sharing with you?

In Christ,
Laura