Saturday, June 30, 2012

Through Christ {Something to Think About}

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

When I think I can’t take one more thing laid upon me or stand a situation one minute longer…

I can, because the strength I need comes from Christ.

When I feel I’m at the end of my rope…

I’m not, because all I need comes from Him. He lengthens the rope so I can hang on a little longer and go a little further.

Through Christ I can do what He asks, and go where He leads, no matter the obstacles.

Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am.
Philippians 4:13 The Message

In Christ,
Laura



Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Small Does Not Mean Unimportant

“Small things matter in ministry too.” –Angela Thomas, Do You Know Who I Am?
Have you ever felt that what you’re doing doesn’t matter because it’s smaller or reaches fewer people than what someone else is doing?

Small does not mean insignificant.

Take our online Bible study for example. There are many other online studies going on throughout the year. One in particular has hundreds, if not thousands, of participants for each book studied. Our current study has 18 women involved.

Quite small in comparison, but not unimportant.

This is only one example. Maybe…

Your family is smaller than you hoped and you wonder if what you’re doing is as important as the parent with a larger family.

You don’t serve as a ministry leader or a speaker at conferences, but you provide childcare for those who attend.

You’re a teacher without a classroom, but you have the opportunity to tutor one student.

You tell one person about Jesus…and then another…and another, one at a time.

Let me assure you…small is important—to God and to others.
Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ. Colossians 3:23-24 NLT
Wherever we give of ourselves, God deserves our best.

He has a plan for each of us and each plan is different. He knows our strengths, our weaknesses, and our potential, and where each of us can best serve Him. It is possible God has more for us to do, but it’s now in the small things where He’s preparing us for what’s to come. And when the time is right (His timing, not ours), He will guide us there.
“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.” Jeremiah 29:11 NLT
You might be wondering if I get caught up in the numbers—how many women sign up for the studies or the number of comments on my blog. Not really, but I could. After all, 18 and hundreds are not even close. But on occasion, through an e-mail or a comment to a post, God reminds me that He’s at work—even in what seems small.

Any time I spend comparing what God has given me to do with someone else, my focus shifts from Him to me. And it’s not about me. It’s about Him.

All about Him.

Thank you for visiting today! If you are studying Do You Know Who I Am? by Angela Thomas, we are in Chapter 9 this week “Do You Know I Am Hesitant?...He is Generous.”

In Christ,
Laura


Saturday, June 23, 2012

Do You Know Who I Am? Online Study-Wk 9

Welcome and thanks for joining me here! We're in Chapter 9 this week of Do You Know Who I Am? by Angela Thomas.

Just a note for the first week of July...we're going to take a short break over the 4th of July week. We'll start again on July 8 and continue with the last three chapters of the book.

Have a wonderful week!

In Christ,
Laura

Week 9 – June 24—30

Monday/Tuesday— Read the first half of Chapter 9 “Do You Know I Am Hesitant?...He Is Generous.”

Wednesday/Thursday—Read the second half of Chapter 9.

Remember to visit my blog during the week at Laura Rath ~ Journey in Faith.

Friday— Spend time in prayer and reflect back on key parts of the reading that made an impact on you. Catch up on the reading, if necessary.

Questions to Ponder
  • Of Angela’s fruit stand lessons, are there areas you need to work on?
  • Is there a time you used to be more giving of yourself? Maybe before being hurt or taken advantage of? Is it time to go back to giving more?
  • Are you a “cheerful giver?”

Friday, June 22, 2012

Relying on God for Self-Discipline

Thanks for joining me here today! If you’re reading Do You Know Who I Am? by Angela Thomas, we’re in chapter 8 this week, “Do You Know I Am Undisciplined?...He Is My Strength.”

Self-discipline.

This is the word that kept coming to mind as I read and thought about the chapter this week.

Followed by…self-reliance…self-control… and self-confidence.

What they all have in common is each one depends on one person—me. While the world says the only one I can depend on is myself, I have to admit I’m uncomfortable with that.

Please don’t misunderstand—I firmly believe we are each responsible for our own actions. So, I agree that I need to have some self-discipline and self-control over my behavior.

But to be dependent only on myself? That’s not going to work.

I don’t have the strength or wisdom to be perfect. I’m going to mess up. Repeatedly.

My feelings and emotions are like a roller coaster, which means I may act based on the mood I’m in.

So, how can I discipline myself when my thoughts, emotions, and moods fluctuate? I can’t, I need God’s help.
My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. Psalm 121:2 NIV
God is never changing, always consistent, always present, and always a firm foundation.
I am the Lord, and I do not change. Malachi 3:6a NLT
We have a God who understands, and He is always ready to help me when I turn to Him.
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are —yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrews 4:15-16 NLT
God promises to give us strength…
He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless. Isaiah 40:29 NLT
For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13 NLT
I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. Ephesians 3:16-17 NLT
He promises to show us a way out of temptation…
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. 1 Corinthians 10: 13b NLT
He promises us the power for self-discipline and self-control…
For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1:7 NIV
For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him. Philippians 2:13 NLT
In Christ,
Laura

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

I Was Clueless…But God Knew

I’ve always wanted to be a writer, but never thought I would be one unless I was published. In print. By a “real” big-time publisher.

So, I never considered myself a writer. That is, until the fall of 2011 when KatieOrr and Stacey Thacker co-hosted the first Write It, Girl—a weekly challenge to write, with confidence, whatever God laid on my heart, without worry of perfection. And…to make the declaration I Am a Writer.

Their excitement and honesty was contagious, and I took the challenge. Each week, I linked up what I wrote, and for the first time, I had the confidence to call myself a writer.

I’ve still never been published in print by a big (or small) publisher. But what has happened instead is bigger and better than what I thought I wanted. Isn’t that always the way with God? {big smile}

When I heard “No,”…He was saying, “No, not yet.”

When I released the dream of writing children’s fiction…He planted a new dream in my heart and said, “You’re going to write for me instead.”

Fast forward to today…It’s been one year since I followed God’s lead and started this blog to host online Bible studies for women. Despite my kicking, screaming, and dragging my heels, He led me into social media…knowing that Twitter would lead me to Write It, Girl and Five Minutes for Faith, where I have the privilege of being a monthly contributor.

I was clueless. But God knew.

I wanted to write…and God said, “Now. Write now.” So I do.

I write because…

God gives me the ability to express myself in a way that honors and glorifies Him. He doesn’t need my assistance in speaking to His children, but like a small child who wants to “help,” He gives me something to do—a way to be a part of His work.

I write because…

I have to. I’m an emotional person and writing gives me a place to pour myself into. Some I share with my readers and some I keep to myself. But either way, nothing compares to the feeling of elation and/or exhaustion when a piece comes together and I’ve left a part of me in the words.

I write because…

God has put me on this journey. I can’t see what’s up ahead, but I can see where He’s taken me, and it’s been amazing. So, I’m sticking with Him as He leads and walks beside me.
Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Ephesians 3:20 NLT
Thank you to Katie and Stacey, and the Write It, Girl community for your honesty, encouragement, and friendship.

In Christ,
Laura

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Contagious Attitudes {Something to Think About}

I recently read this on a sign outside a small church…

Attitudes are contagious.
Is yours worth catching?

Have you ever noticed how little time it takes for a negative attitude to spread? Trying not to catch it can feel like a losing battle, but once I’ve caught it…then I’m also spreading the undesirable germs.

How about you? Is your attitude worth catching?

May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Romans 15:5-6 NIV

In Christ,
Laura

I'm linking up today with Deidra at The Sunday Community, Barbie at Fresh Brewed Sundays, and Wendy at Scripture Sunday.

Do You Know Who I Am? Study-Wk 8

Have a great week!

In Christ,
Laura

Week 8 – June 17—23

Monday/Tuesday— Read the first half of Chapter 8 “Do You Know I Am Undisciplined?...He Is My Strength.”

Wednesday/Thursday—Read the second half of Chapter 8.

Remember to visit my blog during the week at Laura Rath ~ Journey in Faith.

Friday— Spend time in prayer and reflect back on key parts of the reading that made an impact on you.

Questions to Ponder
  • Where do you desire discipline in your life?
  • Are there bad habits you need to replace with healthy habits?
  • What is a first step you can make to training yourself to become self-disciplined?
  • Do you look to God for your strength or yourself?

Friday, June 15, 2012

God’s Path…Not Mine

Lord, please keep me on the path You’ve laid out for me. Continue to guide and lead me and keep me from straying off Your path.
This is a prayer I’ve prayed many times for myself and for others.

God has a plan and He has placed me on the path He wants me to be on.

Sometimes the path is straight and I can see ahead.

Other times, the path twists and turns. I can’t see what’s coming in front of me, and that makes me nervous. I can’t control what I can’t see.

And that’s the point. I can’t control what I can’t see, but God can—He sees it all.

He knows where He’s leading me and where I’ve been.

He knows how the past will prepare me for the future.

God knows how my path will intersect someone else’s path. Maybe the two paths will run parallel for a time, or maybe they cross for what seems like only a moment.

He knows because the plan is His, and when I lay down my will for His, I can fully experience all He has prepared for me.
“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. Jeremiah 29:11 NLT
It’s Five Minute Friday today where Lisa Jo offers a writing prompt and we write for…you guessed it—5 minutes. No editing or overthinking. Just fun and free writing. Join us by clicking on Five Minute Friday.

Today’s prompt: Path

In Christ,
Laura

Linking up today with my friends at Five Minute Friday and Spiritual Sundays, and Sharing His Beauty.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Never Alone

“Someone has said that the word loneliness was created to express the pain of being alone. The word solitude was created to express the glory of being alone.” -Angela Thomas, Do You Know Who I Am? (pg. 112)
I don’t know about you, but I can relate to this description.

There are times I feel lonely—like a huge emptiness has taken up residence inside my heart. It doesn’t matter how many people are around me or who I am with, I feel like I’m by myself in a great big world.

Other times, I crave some alone time—time to be by myself to regroup and reenergize. The time by myself helps me to be a better person—better equipped emotionally, spiritually, and even physically to deal with what comes my way.

Being alone and feeling lonely are very different, and yet both can bring us closer to God. He can and will use both, alone time and feeling lonely, to draw us into an intimate and personal relationship with Him.

I know this, and yet I’m not always there with Him. So, I’m turning to Scripture to remind myself. Will you join me?

God promises He will always be with us…
I can never escape from your Spirit! I can never get away from your presence! If I go up to heaven, you are there; if I go down to the grave, you are there. If I ride the wings of the morning, if I dwell by the farthest oceans, even there your hand will guide me, and your strength will support me. Psalm 139:7-10 NLT
He promises He will not leave us…
What’s more, I am with you, and I will protect you wherever you go. One day I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have finished giving you everything I have promised you. Genesis 28:15 NLT
And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Matthew 28:20b NLT
He desires to spend time with us…
For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears He will rejoice over you with joyful songs. Zephaniah 3:17 NLT
And He wants us to spend time alone with Him…
Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. Mark 1:35 NLT
He comforts us when we are alone…
The LORD is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed. Psalm 34:18 NLT
And He hears and answers us when we call out to Him…
But in my distress I cried out to the Lord; yes, I prayed to my God for help.He heard me from his sanctuary; my cry to him reached his ears. Psalm 18:6 NLT
Our Lord is everything we need…
Why am I discouraged? 
Why is my heart so sad?
I will put my hope in God!
I will praise him again—
my Savior and my God! 
Psalm 43:4-5 NLT
Will you share a Scripture verse that reminds you of how much God loves and cares for us?

We’re in Chapter 7 this week “Do You Know I Am Lonely?...He Is Here” of Do You Know Who I Am? by Angela Thomas. Whether you’re reading the book or not, I thank you for joining me here today and hope you’ll stop by again.

In Christ,
Laura

Leave a Legacy of Faith

Welcome! I’m over at 5 Minutes for Faith today talking about the best gift we can leave behind. Here’s an excerpt from my post…
How do you hope to be remembered someday? Whether it’s your children, family, co-workers, or the person you met one time, what would you like them to remember about you?
I know I’ll be remembered differently depending on how close that person was to me. For example, my daughter and I have always spent a lot of time baking together. She will remember me in personal ways from our time together that a co-worker would not know about me. At the same time, a co-worker might remember me from working on team projects, which is a side of me my daughter has not seen.
As I’ve thought about this, I’ve come to the conclusion that the greatest legacy I can leave my family, friends, or someone I meet once in my lifetime is my faith.
To read the rest of this post, please join me at 5 Minutes for Faith. And would you leave a comment? I’d love to know you stopped by!

In Christ,
Laura

Linking up with my friends at Just WriteOn Your Heart TuesdaysWomen Living Well Wednesdays, and Life in Bloom.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Be Thankful {Something to Think About}

Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:18 NLT

I was reminded today that there is always reason to thank God. No matter what is going on or how I’m feeling, God is faithful and He is with us. Every day, He is worthy of our thanks and praise.

Whatever happens, keep thanking God because of Jesus Christ. This is what God wants you to do. 
1 Thessalonians 5:18 CEV

In Christ,
Laura

Do You Know Who I Am? Online Study-Wk 7

Have a blessed week!
In Christ,
Laura

Week 7 – June 10—16

Monday/Tuesday— Read the first half of Chapter 7 “Do You Know I Am Lonely?...He Is Here.”

Wednesday/Thursday—Read the second half of Chapter 7.

Remember to visit my blog during the week at Laura Rath ~ Journey in Faith.

Friday—Spend time in prayer and reflection, and journal your thoughts.

Questions to Ponder
  • Have you felt the difference between being alone and being lonely?
  • Do you have a favorite Scripture verse you turn to when you feel this way?
  • When you feel lonely, what can you do to change your focus and keep busy?

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Saved From Sin

The law of Moses was unable to save us because of the weakness of our sinful nature. So God did what the law could not do. He sent his own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have. And in that body God declared an end to sin’s control over us by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins. He did this so that the just requirement of the law would be fully satisfied for us, who no longer follow our sinful nature but instead follow the Spirit. (Romans 8:3-4 NLT)
God knows our sinful nature.

He knows our human weakness.

He knew we could never keep the law perfectly.

And God knew that by our own efforts, we could never be right with Him again.

So in His immense love for us, God did what only He could do—He sent His own Son Jesus to pay the price of our sins.

I love how powerfully these verses read in The Message translation, especially the beginning of verse 3…
God went for the jugular when he sent his own Son.
To go for the jugular means to attack fiercely in order to have no doubt about winning. (TheFreeDictionary.com)

God wasn't just giving this a try to see if it worked. He wasn't just hoping for the best. He meant business—He finished it.
God went for the jugular when he sent his own Son.
Once and for all, God put an end to the power of sin over His children. Through Jesus, we have been saved. Through the strength of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit, we can turn away from our sinful desires and live our lives for Him.

He gives us strength. (Philippians 4:13)

He gives us the desire to do what pleases Him. (Philippians 2:13)

He gives us a way out of temptation. (1 Corinthians 10:13)

He showers us with His mercy and grace. (Hebrews 4:16)

And He desires the personal relationship with us that only He could make possible.

Thank you for joining me here today. We are in chapter 6 “Do You Know I Am a Sinner?...He Is My Savior” of Angela Thomas’ book Do You Know Who I Am? And Other Brave Questions Women Ask.

If you don’t usually read The Message translation, I urge you to read more in Romans 8.

In Christ,
Laura

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Do You Know Who I Am? Study - Wk 6

Welcome and thanks for visiting! We are in Chapter 6 this week of Do You Know Who I Am? by Angela Thomas.

Blessings on your week!
In Christ,
Laura

Week 6 – June 3—9

Monday/Tuesday— Read the first half of Chapter 6 “Do You Know I Am a Sinner?...He Is My Savior.” Journal your thoughts in your book or a notebook as you read.

Remember to visit my blog during the week at Laura Rath ~ Journey in Faith.

Wednesday/Thursday—Read the second half of Chapter 6.

Friday—Spend time in prayer and reflection. Is there anything you want to go back and review in the first half of the book?

Questions to Ponder
  • How can you be sure, even on a bad day, not to forget God’s goodness?
  • How can you show thankfulness, even when you don’t feel happy?
  • Is there something in your life you feel you need to change to stay away from sin?
  • What does God’s grace mean to you?

Friday, June 1, 2012

Versatile Blogger Award

When we get together, I want to encourage you in your faith, but I also want to be encouraged by yours. (Romans 1:12 NLT)
Last week, I was honored to be nominated for (received) the Versatile Blogger Award (VBA) by my blogging friend Charina at Pondered Thoughts. The VBA is a way to acknowledge those in the blogging community for who have been a blessing to others. Although I have not been able to trace the origin of the VBA, (those who know me knew I would research that!) I am humbled to know that the words I write here have touched the lives of others.

In receiving this award, the “rules” are:
  • In a post on your blog, nominate up to 15 fellow bloggers for The Versatile Blogger Award. (Include the VBA button and this set of rules, although there is no obligation to participate.)
  • Thank the blogger who nominated you and link back to them in this post.
  • Share 7 things about yourself that most people don’t know.
  • Inform each nominated blogger of their nomination by posting a comment on each of their blogs or by e-mail (I added the e-mail part.)
Seven things about me:
  • I like to bake, but I don’t like to cook.
  • My family and I watch a lot of the Food Network.
  • Breyer’s vanilla ice cream is a weakness of mine.
  • I’d rather read than watch television.
  • I grew up in the Chicago area.
  • I’ve always wanted to be a writer.
  • I’m not good at small talk.
Some of my nominees have received the Versatile Bloggers Award before and are not obligated to participate again. However, they have touched my heart with their writing, and I feel my list would be incomplete without them.

My nominees (in no particular order) are:
If you haven’t before, would you take a moment to visit these uplifting blogs?

In Christ,
Laura