Friday, July 27, 2012

Beyond…

Beyond my wildest dreams, God has a plan for my life.
“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
Beyond all of my own planning and organizing, God knows the details of my life. Every little one.
All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely. 1 Corinthians 13:12b
Beyond any amount of sleep and relaxation I seek, He offers true rest only found through Jesus.
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
Beyond anything I can try to do to make up for my sins, Jesus did it all. On the cross. In the grave. Risen again.
In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us. Ephesians 1:6-8 NIV
Beyond any amount of love I have for another, Jesus showed what love truly is.
We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. 1 John 3:16 NLT
I’m joining Lisa-Jo today for Five Minute Friday, where she offers a writing prompt and for 5 minutes we write, without editing or over thinking. Today’s word prompt: Beyond.

In Christ,
Laura

Linking up with Faith Filled Fridays and Spiritual Sundays.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Leave Room for God

Many years ago I had the dream of writing children’s fiction. I had it all planned out. I was going to write, which would allow me to stay home with my young daughter, and once I was published I would also be contributing to the household income. I even planned to be able to give books away at schools, libraries, and churches.

The plan was in place and I prayed about it, asking that if it pleased God it would happen.

So, I wrote, rewrote, and submitted to publishers, all the while praying and researching. The rejection letters were numerous, but I knew it came with the territory. I reminded myself that many famous authors went through years of rejection before their first big break. I received some encouraging hand written comments and even won 3rd place in a writing contest. My hope was kept alive.

For a while.

Meanwhile, my daughter was getting older and when she started school, it was time for me to go back to work. Around the same time, a final rejection came—the one where the editor asked to see the complete manuscript. I thought it would be a perfect fit for the magazine. But the editor thought otherwise and didn’t use the story.

The disappointment ran deep. Although this was my plan, I decided it wasn’t in God’s plans for me. I let the dream die and eventually forgot about it.

Fast forward to this past year when God led me to start an online women’s Bible study. I had never thought of writing for women before, and the idea of leading was not a welcomed one. And yet, God had been laying it on my heart.

I was now leading Bible studies through which other women and I were growing closer to God. I was writing on a regular basis, and other opportunities to write opened up. It was fun and amazing, and I knew it was God’s work.

And then one night He reminded me of my past dream—the one I let die when it didn’t happen how I expected or when I wanted.

It was like God said, “See? I’ve been working all this time.”

I realized I had put a time frame on my dream. I had decided how my plan to write would happen, step by step. In my mind, I even left myself open to God’s leading. I was willing to write Christian non-fiction books for children. You know, to stay flexible, so God could work. Ahem.

So when it didn’t happen in the years I’d planned, I decided it wasn’t meant to be. What I see now is that it just wasn’t time yet, but it wasn’t wasted time either. In those years, a lot happened. It was a time of growth in my personal relationship with God and within my family. 

He worked in ways I never imagined. And in His time, not mine.

God was changing me and growing a new energy and excitement in my heart. Those years were necessary to move me where He wanted me—to find my hope in Him, rather than people, plans, and goals.

I think that’s why I love these words from Angela Thomas so much…
“Would you leave the door open for God?...Would you leave room for hope? For the miraculous? For what God has beyond anything you dream for yourself?” –Angela Thomas, Do You Know Who I Am? (pg. 198)
I’ve seen God’s work in my past, and I have the confident expectation He will always be there in my future.

And now I ask you…

Will you leave the door open for God?
“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. Jeremiah 29:11 NIV
Thank you so much for spending some time here with me. This week we are in the final chapter “Do You Know I Am Disappointed?...He is My Hope.” of our online study of Do You Know Who I Am? by Angela Thomas. If you’ve participated in the study, I pray it’s been a blessing to you. God bless!

In Christ,
Laura


Saturday, July 21, 2012

Full and Overflowing {Something to Think About}

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Romans 15:13 NIV

Full and overflowing…with joy, peace, and hope.
May God bless you with this today.

In Christ,
Laura

Do You Know Who I Am? Study-Wk 12

Welcome! This is the last week of our study of Do You Know Who I Am? by Angela Thomas. If you have been reading with us, I hope the study has been a blessing to you.

The Shelter of God’s Promises by Sheila Walsh will be the next study book. It will be a 10-week study, beginning Sept. 2. For more information, click here: The Shelter of God’s Promises.

Have a wonderful week!
In Christ,
Laura

Week 12 – July 22-28

Monday/Tuesday— Read the first half of Chapter 12 “Do You Know I Am Disappointed?...He Is My Hope.”

Wednesday/Thursday—Read the second half of Chapter 12.

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— (from the back of the book)
·       Think about your struggles, needs, weak places and insecurities. How has reading Do You Know Who I Am? helped you face and overcome the obstacles in your life?
·       Which chapter do you relate to the most? 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

God Can’t Use Me…Can He?

“It seems like some would want you to believe God can’t use broken people.” – Angela Thomas, Do You Know Who I Am? (pg. 182)

Have you ever noticed how quick our culture is to apply labels?

Labels that identify us by race, age, ability, character traits,

…and our past.

So often it seems that our future is determined by what’s behind us…

Poor choices of our own or someone else’s.
Illness and death of loved ones.
Broken promises and broken hearts.

Whatever pain and brokenness you and I have gone through in our past, it affects us deeply, but it doesn’t have to define us. And it doesn’t mean God can’t or won’t use us in His work.

In fact, He has a history of using broken individuals, even those with a shady past, in the work of His Kingdom. Allow me to share some examples.

Rahab was a prostitute who hid Joshua’s two spies in Jericho before the fall of Jericho. When the walls of Jericho fell and Joshua’s army went in, they spared Rahab and her family just as the spies promised her they would do. Rahab went on to be King David’s great-great-grandmother. (Joshua 2, 6:22-25, Matthew 1:5-6)

David we know for being anointed by God as king and for bringing Goliath down with a sling and a stone. (1 Samuel 16, 17) Later, he sinned against God when he had an affair with Bathsheba and then ordered her husband, Uriah, to be killed in battle. (2 Samuel 11) David repented, received the Lord’s forgiveness, and the line of David continued on…with Jesus being a descendent of David.

Peter, Jesus’ disciple, denied knowing Him, not once but three times. And yet, Peter was the foundation of the Christian church. (Acts)

Paul, formerly known as Saul, persecuted the early church. He approved of Stephen’s death by stoning and imprisoned believers. (Acts 8:1-3) But God had plans for Saul.

But the Lord said, “Go, for Saul is my chosen instrument to take my message to the Gentiles and to kings, as well as to the people of Israel.” Acts 9:15 NLT

My friends, why do we accept the labels society applies to us? More importantly, why do we apply them to ourselves, so sure that God doesn’t have a place for us?

God, who sent His very own Son to die for us, does have a place for us. He has a plan for each and every one of us, and can bring good out of anything we go through.

We know that in everything God works for the good of those who love him. They are the people he called, because that was his plan. Romans 8:28 NCV

Thank you for joining me here today. If you are reading Do You Know Who I Am? by Angela Thomas with us, we are in Chapter 11 this week “Do You Know I Am Broken?...He Is My Redeemer.”

In Christ,
Laura

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Do You Know Who I Am? Study-Wk 11

Have a great week!

In Christ,
Laura

Week 11 – July 15-21

Monday/Tuesday— Read the first half of Chapter 11 “Do You Know I Am Broken?...He Is My Redeemer.”

Wednesday/Thursday—Read the second half of Chapter 11.

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

Friday— Reflect back on the reading and spend time in prayer.

Questions to Ponder— (from the back of the book)
·      Think about a trying time in your life. How has it shaped you into the person you are today?
·      Have you allowed tragedy to change you for the better? 



Thursday, July 12, 2012

Faith, Trust, and Wild Animals

“If we have learned anything over the last 22 years it's this: God is able to do the impossible! We have seen it time and time again.” -Tom and Allie Harvey, Safari Zoological Park.

I like to hear and share faith stories—stories of miracles and of God’s provision. Tom and Allie Harvey are living a story of faith through their Safari Zoological Park in Caney, Kansas.

This zoo is different from any other I’ve been to. Tom, Allie and their staff interact with the animals, including tigers, wolves, and lemurs, just to name a few. Personal stories invite visitors into the lives of the animals, making you feel like you know them.

The best part of the experience for me is the strong Christian faith of Tom and Allie. Every day they trust God will provide for another day. Read more…

Join me at 5 Minutes for Faith to read about the miracle that saved the zoo from having to close and their daily dependence on God to provide. And if you would, leave a comment,  I'd love to know you stopped by.

In Christ,
Laura

Disclosure: I was not asked to write this on behalf of Safari Zoological Park, nor did I receive anything in return. I simply love this faith story—a story that continues each day, each year as they trust and rely on God to provide.

Quote and information used from the Safari Zoological Park Web site with verbal permission from Tom Harvey 7/2/12. Pictures © Laura Rath.

Linking up with Life in Bloom and Thought Provoking Thursday.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

What Others See in Us

So often I don’t see myself the way others see me.

When someone takes the time to tell me something they like about me—how I look, a talent I have, or the way I handled a situation, I don’t always receive it graciously.

May I ask, how do you receive a compliment?

Do you say “thank you” and allow the kind words to seep in and warm your heart? Or do you dismiss the praise and offer reasons why it cannot be true?

For example:

“You look nice today.”
(eye roll) “Ugh, my hair is a mess.”

“You handled that meeting well.”
“Yea, right. I didn’t know what I was doing.”

I’ve done both, but until recently I didn’t realize what the second one, the denial, says to the other person.

When someone makes a point to tell me something they like about me and I respond by pointing out my imperfections, I’m basically telling the other person that what he or she thinks is wrong. It’s like saying, “Your opinion doesn’t matter because this is the way I see myself.”

So, what are we telling God when we can’t or won’t receive and believe what He says about us?

I hate to think of the times I’ve questioned what God sees in me. Have I really been telling Him what He thinks doesn’t matter?

God doesn’t tell us what He thinks we want to hear. When He makes a promise, He keeps it. Always. When He says something, it’s Truth. Period. His Word backs it up.

God says He loves us—so much so that He sacrificed His Only Son for us. What are we saying when we think we’ve gone too far and He must no longer love us?
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. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39 NLT)
He says we are His children—chosen and adopted into His family. How can we continue to live otherwise?
…you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.” (Romans 8:15 NLT)
He says we are forgiven—washed clean through His Son, Jesus, yet we continue to live in sin and guilt.
…if anyone does sin, we have an advocate who pleads our case before the Father. He is Jesus Christ, the one who is truly righteous.  He himself is the sacrifice that atones for our sins—and not only our sins but the sins of all the world. (1 John 2:1-2 NLT)
I am writing to you who are God’s children because your sins have been forgiven through Jesus. (1 John 2:12 NLT)
God’s Word says we are created in His image, but we disregard this and continue to criticize ourselves.
So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. (Genesis 1:27 NLT)
My friends, God sees in us what we don’t see. He knows what we don’t know about ourselves. Will you join me today in accepting what God says about you? Don’t dismiss it or turn away. Soak it in, believe it, and say “thank you.”

Thanks for joining me here today. We are in Chapter 10 “Do You Know I Am Ordinary?...He Is My King and Father” of Do You Know Who I Am? by Angela Thomas.

In Christ,
Laura

Saturday, July 7, 2012

We Are Not Consumed {Something to Think About}

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.

They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him."

The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him. 
Lamentations 3:22-25 NIV


Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed…
by guilt
grief
temptation
anger
sadness

What in your life have you not been consumed by because of the Lord’s love, compassion, and mercy?

In Christ,
Laura

Do You Know Who I Am? Online Study-Wk 10

Welcome! We're in Chapter 10 this week of Do You Know Who I Am? by Angela Thomas.

I am working on plans for the next study and hope to have the information posted in the next couple of weeks.

Blessings on your week!
In Christ,
Laura

Week 10 – July 8—14

Monday/Tuesday— Read the first half of Chapter 10 “Do You Know I Am Ordinary?...He Is My King and Father.”

Wednesday/Thursday—Read the second half of Chapter 10.

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

Friday— Reflect back on the reading and spend time in prayer.

Questions to Ponder
·         What do you do when you start feeling the enemy’s attacks on your confidence and self-worth?
·         Are you able to reject him quickly and turn to the promises of God?
·         “Satan preys on your weakest place.” (p. 170) How can remembering this help when you feel his attacks coming?

Monday, July 2, 2012

When God Goes With You on a Road Trip

When God goes with you on a road trip, He gives you a feeling of peace and excitement as you start out.

He makes sure you’ve already picked up your sister at the airport before you have car trouble.

And He sees that it happens while still in a major city, not on a small rural highway where you’re headed.

God keeps you safe by allowing you to get the car pulled over without stalling or causing an accident.

Then He slowly, but safely gets you and the car to the dealership service department 10 miles away…

The one that is open until 5 p.m.—on a Saturday…

Where you don’t have an appointment…

But are told “we’ll get you in,” even though it is a busy day.

God allows the diagnostic analysis to be completed in an hour, instead of the predicted hour and a half.

And “You can’t drive the car back to Iowa without the part being replaced” is followed by “I have the part.”

Once again, God makes His presence known when you’re ready to go in an hour, instead of another hour and a half and the cost is less than quoted. You’re told, “I don’t know what we would have done if we hadn’t had the part.” They had two.

You set out on the second half of your journey—two women and a girl.

On a narrow two-lane highway, the van in front you blows a tire. But God makes sure the driver stays in control, as do you while avoiding the debris.

And you know, without a doubt, God is traveling with you that day.

For when God goes with you on a road trip, you may be delayed, but you are not stranded.

You may be interrupted, but you’re not stopped completely.

You may be unnerved, but you are safe and taken care of.
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. Deuteronomy 31:8 NLT
Thank you God! You get the driver’s seat on every road trip we take!

In Christ,
Laura