Saturday, September 29, 2012

Colossians 2:7 {Something to Think About}

Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.
Colossians 2:7 NLT

Have a blessed day!

In Christ,
Laura

The Shelter of God's Promises Study-Wk 5

Welcome! We are nearing the half way point in our study and have 94 women who have let me know they are participating! I'd like to hear how the study is going for you. Would you leave a comment to share? 

Have a wonderful week!
In Christ,
Laura

Week  5– Sept. 30-Oct. 6, 2012
The Promise
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. - Romans 8:38-39 NIV 1984

Monday/Tuesday Read Chapter 5 “Love…I Don’t Believe That Anyone Could Really Love Me.”

Wednesday/Thursday – Work on the Bible study for Chapter 5 (pgs. 196-197)

Friday –Spend time in prayer and review the reading. What do the promises from the first half of the book mean to you?

During the week
·         Visit Laura Rath ~ Journey in Faith. Share your thoughts in the comment section.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

But the Lord is with Us

Welcome! I’m contributing at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church today where we, as a congregation, continue to read through The Story.

Today I’m talking about Joseph. His lower story certainly didn’t make sense as one thing after another happened to him. But as part of God’s upper story, Joseph’s story has a purpose.

Here’s a sample of what you’ll find…
Coat of many colors Joseph…
Family tension…Jacob (Joseph’s father) with two wives, who are also sisters…
Older brothers who are jealous of Joseph (Jacob’s favorite son)…
Joseph’s not doing too bad though…he’s got Jacob’s approval, a beautiful ornate robe, and he’s sharing dreams of others bowing down to him with his family.
And then the rug gets pulled out from under him.
I wonder if he ever saw it coming.
Do we?
When life takes a turn we didn’t anticipate, what do we do?
In times of trials, we can choose to turn one of two ways…toward God, where we grow closer to Him and learn to trust, depend, and rely on God and His promises. Or, away from God, often blaming Him for our circumstances.
Joseph certainly could have turned away from God in this lousy turn of events…
To read my post in its entirety, please follow me over to the Gloria Dei blog. And if you would, leave a comment. I’d love to know you stopped by!

In Christ,
Laura


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

A Blessing by Design

Thank you for visiting today. If you are studying Sheila Walsh’s The Shelter of God’s Promises with us, we are in Chapter 4 this week “Confidence…I Can’t See God’s Plan in this Pain.”

A blessing in disguise.

Are you familiar with this term? It means something that seems bad now or is unwanted may actually turn out to be a good thing.

I’ve had it said to me before, and I’ve said it to others. But as I read this chapter, every time I thought of someone saying, “Maybe it’s a blessing in disguise,” I immediately thought “And maybe it’s not.”

Now, before you think I’m kind of a downer today, hear me out.

Romans 8:28 says…
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. (NLT)

I don’t believe in coincidence or luck. I believe God has a plan and is at work in each of our lives. No matter what I’m going through and how many mistakes I’ve made, God can and will bring good from them.

To me, a blessing in disguise feels like it’s left up to chance. Maybe it will be a blessing, or maybe it won’t. Maybe it’s just a lousy situation that has no purpose.

But it’s not without purpose. God leaves nothing to chance. God never says, “Maybe something good can come out of that, but maybe not.” God knows.

He knows the plan and He knows if I’m going to mess it up by trying to do it my way. And if when I do, He knows how to bring something good from it anyway.

“In God’s hands, even the things that have broken us can be used by Him to make us whole again. There are no accidents in God’s kingdom.” –Sheila Walsh, The Shelter of God’s Promises

There is a confidence that comes from knowing God is in charge. I know that if He allows it in my life, then He will get me through it.

That doesn’t mean it will be easy or without pain. And it doesn’t mean it will be something I want to happen (or not happen). What it means is that God will walk me through it—alongside of me, every step of the way.

Through it, He’s working on me, drawing me closer to Him in ways that can only happen when I’m broken. He’s preparing me for His future plans, and teaching me to see His work in everything.

One of the sections in this chapter is titled “Resting in the Confident Assurance that God is in Control.” I underlined it and added asterisks.

I’m using it as a definition of trust.

To trust God is to rest in the confident assurance that God is in control. (Sheila Walsh)

Sometimes the good that God brings out of my circumstances affects someone else, and I might never know about it. But I know that even when I don’t see it, God is in control.

He is at work in each of our lives, and if He allows me to be a part of it by working through me—well, that sounds like a blessing to me. But it’s not a blessing by chance or in disguise. It’s a blessing by the Lord’s grand design.

In Christ,
Laura

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Grace Poured Down {Something to Think About}

The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.
1 Timothy 1:14 NIV

Grace – God’s free and unmerited favor toward sinful humanity
(NLT Study Bible, Tyndale)

God’s gracious kindness…
God’s merciful compassion…
God’s undeserved love…poured down over us.

Have a wonderful day!

In Christ,
Laura

The Shelter of God's Promises Study-Wk 4

Have a wonderful week!
In Christ,
Laura

Week  4– Sept. 23-29, 2012
The Promise
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. – Romans 8:28 NIV 1984

Monday/Tuesday Read Chapter 4 “Confidence…I Can’t See God’s Plan in This Pain.”

Wednesday/Thursday – Work on the Bible study for Chapter 4 (pgs. 195-196)

Friday –Reflect back on the reading and spend time in prayer. This day can also be used to catch up on the reading and study, if needed.

During the week
·         Visit Laura Rath ~ Journey in Faith.

·        Journal your thoughts &/or make notes in your book of Scripture and points you want to remember. What stood out for you in Chapter 4?

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Faith, Trust, and Hope

Welcome! I’m guest posting for Gloria Dei LutheranChurch today. As a congregation, we are reading through The Story, a chronological abridged version of the Bible. The Story uses Scripture from the NIV and reads as a seamless story.

Periodically, I will be a guest contributor during this sermon series. Today I’m there talking about Abraham and how through faith, trust, and hope he waited for God’s will in his life. And maybe even more difficult, Abraham waited on God’s timing...
It seems God’s timing rarely matches the time frame we would prefer. We’re an instant gratification society. From fast food to drive-thru everything, we don’t like to wait. Does anyone besides me get impatient if the internet is a few seconds too slow?
So, reading about Abraham and Sarah reminds me that the patience to wait on God’s timing comes through faith, trust, and hope. But better still is God’s grace for them as they struggled with impatience and took matters into their own hands.
Abraham (known as Abram at that time) was 75 years old when God told him to leave his country, his people, and father’s household, and go to a new land, where God would bless him and make him into a great nation.
By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. Hebrews 11:8 NIV
Faith, as defined in The Story, is complete trust. True faith is much deeper than mere intellectual agreement with certain facts—it affects the desires of one’s heart. (The Story pg. 14)
In Abraham’s lower story, he didn’t know where God was taking him. He didn’t know how his obedience fit into God’s upper story, but he didn’t need to know. Abraham trusted God and wanted to be faithful, so he packed up and went.
Trust is the assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something. (NLT Study Bible, Tyndale)
Trusting God is knowing that what He says will happen. We might not know when or how, but we can be sure that God will always keep His promises.
Abraham trusted God, but the waiting and longing for a child had to be awful. What did Abraham think every time he saw the pain in Sarah’s eyes? How did Sarah respond when surrounded by the children of family and friends, knowing that a family was not in her future?
To read more of my post, please join me at the Gloria Dei blog. And if you would, leave a comment. I’d love to know you stopped by!

In Christ,
Laura


Monday, September 17, 2012

Peace Taken, Peace Given

Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” Genesis 3:1 NIV
One question.

One question from the enemy to Eve was enough to create doubt, cause second guessing of God’s guidance, and make Eve justify her actions.

One question ushered sin into the world…and took away our peace.

Think about it. Adam and Eve had no worries. They didn’t have to wonder where their next meal would come from. They had no concerns about clothing, shelter, or making a living. They lived with God in the beautiful Garden of Eden.
When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. Genesis 3:6 NIV
They were at peace with God, each other, and within themselves. But one question made Eve doubt, wonder, and want something she thought she didn’t have…and when that happened, her peace was gone.

Peace (as defined in my New Living Translation Bible, Tyndale)
-is a state of tranquility or quiet;
-harmony in personal relationships, especially with God;
-freedom from disquieting or oppressive thoughts or emotions.

I think it’s fair to say all of these descriptions of peace were gone when sin entered our world.

Adam and Eve now had the same concerns many of us have—food, shelter, and supporting a family. They now worried about the “what-ifs” and “how-will-I’s.” They now knew the feelings of anger, regret, shame, and sadness.

In one sinful decision, peace was taken away.

And in one loving sacrifice only He could make, God gave us the way to find peace once again through His One and Only Son, Jesus.
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7 NIV
In this life of storms and trials, I don’t understand the way God gives me peace. I can’t explain it. But I know it’s real. And I know it’s from Him.
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27 NIV
Peace comes when we trust God and focus our thoughts on Him.
You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you! Isaiah 26:3 NLT
He promises strength and peace…
The Lord gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses his people with peace. Psalm 29:11 NIV
He offers love and compassion…
So the Lord must wait for you to come to him so he can show you his love and compassion. For the Lord is a faithful God. Blessed are those who wait for his help. Isaiah 30:18 NLT
Each time the enemy tries to steal my peace, every time worry and anxiety wrap around my insides, Jesus promises the help I need…exactly when I need it…                                                                 
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. Matthew 6:34 The Message
And that gives me peace.

Thank you for joining me here today. If you are studying Sheila Walsh’s book The Shelter of God’s Promises with us, we are in Chapter 3 “Peace…I’m Afraid and Feel Alone.”

In Christ,
Laura

Sunday, September 16, 2012

The Shelter of God's Promises Study-Wk 3

Welcome and thank you for joining me here today! Below you will find the suggested reading schedule for week 3 of our online study.

I'm so pleased to let you know that we now have 92 women studying together! (representing 6 countries, and 27 states) Praise God!!

Blessings on your week,
Laura

Week  3– Sept. 16-22, 2012
The Promise
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. – John 14:27 (NIV 1984)

Monday/Tuesday Read Chapter 3 “Peace...I’m Afraid and Feel Alone.”

Wednesday/Thursday – Work on the Bible study for Chapter 3 (pgs. 194-195)

Friday –Reflect back on the reading and spend time in prayer. What from Chapter 3 do you want to remember?

During the week
·         Journal your thoughts &/or make notes in your book of Scripture and points you want to remember.
·         Visit Laura Rath ~ Journey in Faith. Share your thoughts in the comments section.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

In the Light of the Lord {Something to Think About}

Happy are those who hear the joyful call to worship,
for they will walk in the light of your presence, Lord.

They rejoice all day long in your wonderful reputation.
They exult in your righteousness.

You are their glorious strength.
It pleases you to make us strong.

Yes, our protection comes from the Lord, and he, the Holy One of Israel, has given us our king.

Psalm 89:15-18 NLT

Have a blessed day!

In Christ,
Laura


Thursday, September 13, 2012

Spending Time with Him

Welcome! I’m over at 5 Minutes for Faith today where I’m talking about how, or more importantly, with Whom, I spend my time. I hope you’ll join me there. Here’s the beginning of what you’ll find…             
One of my most remembered time management lessons came from my 7th grade homeroom teacher, Mr. Mariani.

He always told us that if we waste our 10-minute homeroom period, twice a day, we were wasting 20 minutes a day—time that could be spent on homework or studying. By the end of the school week, we would waste one hour and 40 minutes. I don’t remember exactly, but I imagine he calculated it out further—he was also my math teacher for two years.
Now, I’m pretty sure I didn’t view talking with my friends for 10 minutes as a waste of time, but somehow, the lesson stayed with me all these years. (Too bad the math didn’t!)
For years, I’ve thought about not wasting 10 minutes here and there—sometimes to the point where I can’t give myself a break. I’m starting to wonder if making sure I’m not wasting time is just stressing me out!
Then it occurred to me...how I spend my time is not as important as with Whom I spend my time.
Follow me over to read the rest of my post at 5 Minutes for Faith. And if you would, leave a comment. I’d love to know you stopped by!

In Christ,
Laura


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

God’s Provision

Welcome! This week, we are in Chapter 2 “Provision…I Don’t Have Enough” of The Shelter of God's Promises by Sheila Walsh.

I remember as a child learning the difference between something I need and something I want. It’s a lesson I’m passing on to my daughter, although our opinions of need vs. want are not always the same. Go figure.

I imagine the same conversations between me and God. And I have a feeling our opinions of what I need are often different as well.

God knows our needs. But when I’m caught up in the pressures of each day, I’m often focused in the wrong direction. I’m looking at the demands of the day—what I have to provide, what issues I can fix, how many things I can get done at once. But what I need is less of me. I need more of Him.

Don’t get me wrong, the demands each of us face in our lives are very real. He knows that and He promises to provide for us. Many times that will be in ways we don’t recognize.
“Each of us can get to the point where we are worn out stewing over how God will provide for us. But when we come to the end of ourselves, Jesus…calls. 'Come away with Me,' He says. 'Find a quiet place with Me. Rest here with Me.'” –Sheila Walsh, The Shelter of God’s Promises
Jesus offers us rest when we’re so tired we can’t think straight anymore.

He offers us time away with Him when we need the worldly pressures lifted from our shoulders.

Although I shouldn’t, I think sometimes I need to give myself permission to escape and let other things wait, while I allow myself time to recharge with Jesus.

I want one-on-one time with Jesus to be a priority in my life. But I’ll be honest with you…I need to work on it. A lot.

I could name plenty of excuses, but I won’t, because it doesn’t matter what they are.

When I don’t spend time with Him, I miss out on His provisions. Provisions I need to get through the day—His rest, His strength, His energy, His patience, His peace. The list goes on.

Jesus promises to provide what I need daily, but to enjoy it, I need to go to Him and let Him take care of me—spiritually, emotionally, and physically.
I pray that God will take care of all your needs with the wonderful blessings that come from Christ Jesus! Philippians 4:19 CEV
Do you find it easy or difficult to get away with Jesus? To put life aside for awhile and let Him take care of you and provide for you?

In Christ,
Laura


Saturday, September 8, 2012

The Shelter of God's Promises Study - Wk 2

Welcome! What a great first week we've had in our online study of The Shelter of God's Promises by Sheila Walsh! 

We are now a group of 91 women, representing 26 states and 6 countries. 

91 women studying God’s Word together! Praise God!

Comments on the posts have been ongoing. If you visit toward the beginning of the week, try to stop back again later in the week and join in the conversation. J

Have a great week!

In Christ,
Laura

Week  2– Sept. 9-15, 2012

The Promise
And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 4:19 NIV 1984

Monday/Tuesday Read Chapter 2 “Provision…I Don’t Have Enough.”

Wednesday/Thursday – Work on the Bible study for Chapter 2 (pgs. 192-193)

Friday – Spend time in prayer. Reflect back on the reading—what from Chapter 2 really stood out for you?

During the week
·         Visit Laura Rath ~ Journey in Faith. Share your thoughts in the comments section.

·         Journal your thoughts &/or make notes in your book of Scripture and points you want to remember. 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

My Lower Story in God’s Upper Story

Welcome! I’m guest posting for Gloria Dei Lutheran Church today. As a congregation, we are reading through The Story, a chronological abridged version of the Bible. The Story uses Scripture from the NIV and reads as a seamless story.

Periodically, I will be a guest contributor during this sermon series. Today I’m there talking about how our lower stories fit into God’s upper story. Here’s a bit of what you’ll find…
“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
This is one of my favorite verses in Scripture, but sometimes I want to ask, “God, my life doesn’t seem to be going all that well right now. Is this what you have planned for me?"

Everyday life often doesn’t make sense. I don’t understand why things happen, why people act the way they do, or why something doesn’t work out when I did my very best. I don’t know why some days are so difficult.
But here’s the thing…my life isn’t the complete story. It’s only a piece of God’s story.

Author and pastor Randy Frazee says to understand the Bible, we need to view it with a dual lens, one that allows us to see the Upper Story and the Lower Story. The Upper Story is God’s grand story of something larger—His eternal plans.
The Lower Story is our individual stories of everyday life—the struggles, the joys, the getting through the day-to-day. God’s Upper Story encompasses our Lower Stories.
To read more of my post, please join me at the Gloria Dei blog. And if you would, leave a comment. I’d love to know you stopped by!

In Christ,
Laura



Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Security in the Promises of God

Welcome and thanks for visiting! We are in chapter 1 “Promises, Promises…I Need Something to Hold On To” in Sheila Walsh’s book The Shelter of God’s Promises.

Savings and retirement accounts.

Life insurance.

A home, preferably paid for.

I don’t know anyone who’s not concerned about one or more of these, including myself. Why? Why do we spend so much time and effort striving for these?

Security.

We want to know that we will have something to live on in our retirement years. We want to be sure our families will be taken care of and have a home base to come back to.

We want to feel safe. And protected.

Yet, as much as we need to pay attention to these things, we’ve learned in the past few years that they are not fool-proof.

The economy spirals downward. Jobs are lost. Homes are foreclosed on. People feel lost and unsure of the future, even after we think we’ve taken the necessary precautions.

Life happens and the solid foundation we thought we were on suddenly doesn’t feel so stable any more.   

Can I tell you something? We’re looking for security in the wrong places.

Christ is the One place where we will find absolute security. No matter what happens in this life, He is our shelter from the storms.

Security in Christ can’t be built up like our IRAs. It’s already there. God, in His immense love for us, did it all through the death and resurrection of His Son Jesus.

When sin entered our world in the Garden of Eden, it separated us from God. And even though we don’t deserve it, God promised not only to never leave us, but to bring us back to Him. And He did. He kept His promise through Christ.

God is the only One who can and will keep every promise He makes. Even when we don’t keep our promises, God does. If He says it, we can count on it. Every. Single. Time.

Promises like…

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 [emphasis mine]

The Lord says, “I will rescue those who love me. I will protect those who trust in my name. When they call on me, I will answer; I will be with them in trouble. I will rescue and honor them. I will reward them with a long life and give them my salvation.”
Psalm 91:14-16 NLT [emphasis mine]

”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.”
Isaiah 43:2 NLT [emphasis mine]

I—yes, I alone—will blot out your sins for my own sake
and will never think of them again
.”
Isaiah 43:25 NLT [emphasis mine]

“And I will forgive their wickedness, and I will never again remember their sins.”
Jeremiah 31:34b NLT [emphasis mine]

We may not be able to believe promises made by others, but we can absolutely believe God’s promises. And not only believe them, but believe that His promises are for you. And for me. And He will keep them.

Which of God’s promises do you find comfort in? Which do you turn to in times of trouble or distress? Leave a comment to share your verses.

In Christ,
Laura


Sunday, September 2, 2012

The Shelter of God's Promises Study - Wk 1

Welcome! This week begins our online study of The Shelter of God’s Promises by SheilaWalsh.

This is our largest online study to-date with 70 women (representing 24 states and 3 countries) currently signed up to study God’s Word together.

If you are visiting, but not participating in the study, please know that you are welcome to visit any time. Read, comment, and stay as long as you like.

Have a great week!

In Christ,
Laura

Week 1 – Sept. 2-8, 2012
The Promise
For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God. – 2 Corinthians 1:20 NIV 1984

Monday  Read the Introduction “In The Cleft of the Rock…A Night Alone in the Story.”

Tuesday/Wednesday – Read Chapter 1 “Promises, Promises…I Need Something to Hold On To.”

Thursday/Friday – Work on the Bible study for Chapter 1 (pgs. 191-192)

During the week -
·      Visit Laura Rath ~ Journey in Faith

·      Journal your thoughts &/or make notes in your book of Scripture and points you want to remember. What from Chapter 1 really made you think and stayed without you throughout the week?

·      For extra reading, visit On The Cross by Sheila Walsh

Saturday, September 1, 2012

God’s Word is Active {Something to Think About}

For the word of God is living and active…alive and powerful.
Hebrews 4:12 NIV 1984, NLT

God’s Word guides.

God’s Word gives strength.

God’s Word gives comfort.

God’s Word reminds us of His love for us.

Happy Sunday!

In Christ,
Laura