Such a Time as This

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I live a mile from what locals call “Lincoln Farm”, a small rolling farm that was once owned by a man named Thomas Lincoln.  There, on a cold day in February, a baby named Abraham was born in a tiny cabin…a baby destined for history.  President Abraham Lincoln is one of the most recognizable presidents in our country’s history, yet his humble early years were lived just down the road from my home.

Each of us is living now for a reason. We weren’t born a hundred years ago or thousands of years ago.  We were destined to live now and each of us have a purpose for our lives.  Our names may never be famous or be chronicled in history books, but we have a purpose nonetheless!

….I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth. Romans 9:17  is in reference to scripture in Exodus where God is speaking to Pharaoh.  God had a purpose in raising Pharaoh to his station of power.  It was all part of God’s plan.

In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will.  Ephesians 1:11

Our lives are part of God’s greater plan.  It is no surprise to him that you are living in 2017.  He knew you before you were born and he’s had a purpose for you since the beginning of time!

In the book of Esther, her uncle, Mordecai, persuades her to act on behalf of the Jewish people before they all perish. He tells Esther and who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this? Esther 4:14b

We each have a reason for our lives ordained by God.  God has plans for your life.  Have you asked him to reveal your divine purpose for life?

Who knows, maybe you have been placed in your current position for such a time as this!

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You Can Be Anybody You Want

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I have heard so many times spoken to me or those around me, as a slogan for a motivational speech or a pep talk from a teacher, a parent’s encouragement to their child and a mantra for this generation: You can be anybody you want to be.  Even just reading those words now may make you feel invincible. The problem with this mottos is that they are contrary to Scripture but very relevant to our culture today.

Our generation reiterates this over and over again to boost our self-esteem, increase our pride, and cause the world to revolve more around my own desires.  Go ahead and boost your self-esteem if needed, but Scripture gives a somewhat different directive when it comes to who we are meant to be.  “But God wants to give me the desires of my heart!”  And that thought is actually found in Scripture.

“Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires.”–Psalm 37:4

This verse actually does say God will give you the desires of your heart.  However, we too often forget the beginning.  “Take delight in the Lord.”  When what delights us originates from the One who created us, then our desires become His rather than ours.

When referring to our sinful nature, the Bible alludes to our desires as being stubborn, evil, lustful, shameful, and covetous, just to name a few.  So, then back to the question, can you be anything you want to be?  My answer to you if you are a Christian is no.

“It is the one and only Spirit who distributes all these gifts. He alone decides which gift each person should have.”–1 Corinthians 12:11

First, God created each and every one of us with a purpose and a plan. We are created in His image, not our own.  The first step as a Christian is to look like Jesus, and most of our desires make me want to be anything but look holy and righteous.  God also made us to represent Him in the talents and abilities He bestowed upon us.  The design he used when making me would not have been successful or even safe to have been a professional NFL football player.  My talent would not be that of a medical occupation or even a famous chef.  As much as I wanted to be one of these things or a multitude of many others, God did not create me to have those abilities.   When we stop to realize who it is that He wants us to be, then we stop trying to be someone that we are not.  I am reminded of this verse in Isaiah that says it so simply.  Can I be anything I want?  I can try, but His way are always higher than mine.

“‘My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,’ says the Lord.  And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.  For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.'”–Isaiah 55:8-9

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Following God, Even When We Don’t Want To

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My whole life I have been trying to follow God’s will. It has always been relatively easy since, from a young age, I have known that God has called me to teach French. In following God’s will, there have been ups and downs, as there usually are, but I finally graduated with a degree in French Education this past December. Immediately out of college, I received a job offer at a company I interned with and it was an offer I absolutely could not refuse. So I didn’t. After my first week at this new job, I felt the Holy Spirit speaking loudly, “This isn’t where you belong.” I tried really hard to ignore Him because I loved this job. The people are very nice, the pay was amazing, and the work was not hard. It was the ideal job to get me on my feet financially. But it was not what God had called me to do. The third week of my new job, I had an interview for substitute teaching. It was not a French teaching position but I would be able to see my kiddos from student teaching. I walked out of that interview knowing what God wanted me to do. I needed to quit my job immediately or I would be in direct disobedience to God. I cried, I prayed, I cried some more, I mustered up some courage (all from God, I assure you), and I gave my two week notice the day after my interview. It was hard, but since I quit I was given a long term sub position at the school I student taught at and God has given me peace that only He gives. All the glory goes to God! Beloved, following God’s will can be heartbreaking at times, but let’s hold onto His promises of prosperity, for Christ alone is faithful. “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord. ‘Plans to prosper you and not harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future.’” Jeremiah 29:11 [emphasis added]book-pages-2021302_640

~Lauren Ray

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Settling for Less

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I remember the last family reunion I attended where several young families stopped for fast food for their children on the way to the gathering.  I understand the issues with picky eaters so I’m not judging, just observing!

I come from a long line of great cooks and there were tables loaded down with dish after dish of mouthwatering, mostly homemade goodies….fried chicken, ham, chicken and dumplings, casseroles……and oh my, the desserts!!! Such a feast to be enjoyed by generations of family!

However, those children were perfectly satisfied munching on their processed chicken and fries, which contain limited nutritional value, having no idea of the feast that was only steps away!

This reminds me of the parable of the king who prepared a huge banquet and those invited turned down the invitation. (Matthew 22: 1-14)  God invites us to share at His table.  He wants to bless us endlessly.  Have you accepted His invitation?

How many times do we settle with crumbs when we are so close to the bountiful banquet table of God’s blessings?  As His children, God wants us to share in His plans, His love, His blessings.  How can we partake of these?  Through prayer and following His Word, seeking Him with all our heart!

“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.  Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:11-13

May we be found feasting with the Master, not settling for meager morsels, but enjoying the abundant blessings He has in store for us!

Donna Coffey

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Suffering to Resurrection

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“Everybody wants resurrection, but nobody wants suffering!”

I read this quote recently in an article I was reading, and it caused me to stop in my tracks and ponder its truth.
What a revolutionary quote, especially for our world today! In the Easter season that we just celebrated, we are reminded overwhelmingly of the suffering that Jesus endured as he was mocked, made fun of, spat upon, whipped, beaten, forced to carry his own weighty cross, crucified, and left to die. So much more suffering than we can even comprehend warranted the Resurrection that nobody deserved. For there to have been the resurrection of Jesus, there must have first been His suffering.
Now, what does this mean for my life?
You can’t have healing without first having been sick. Improvement does not happen before decline. Neglect is the precursor for a restoration.
Everyone wants the story of a miraculous healing or a powerful awakening or a triumphant return without having to endure disease, trip and fall, or crumble under the weight of life.
Just like God will never leave us or forsake us, He will also not allow the trials of life to be unused to proclaim His glory. In James 1, we are reminded that when trials come our way we should consider it an opportunity for great joy. The great joy is in knowing that our faith will grow and His glory revealed. Resurrection from suffering.
In your suffering, look at it through this lense of Christ who sees the resurrection that is coming.

–Jill Pendergraft–

Posted in At Home, Christian Living, Devotional, Evangelism, Leadership, Ministers' Wives, Moms, Prayer, Single Women, Women's Ministry, Working Women | 1 Response

A Good Good Father on Good Friday!

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It’s Good Friday and today marks the day our Savior willingly chose to give Himself up for us! All of us, or one of us, Jesus died on the cross so we could have the opportunity for redemption. A love that holds that much immeasurable depth truly boggles my mind because in my broken, human state I’m so incapable of loving like that. With Christ’s Spirit in me, I still have trouble surrendering to that kind of love sometimes.

Peter shows that very example of humanness and struggle too.

We all know about Peter denying Jesus not once, but three times before the crucifixion. How could he? How could we? In our daily lives we are constantly faced with circumstances that call our faith to the carpet. Do we stand firm or do we waiver when we know better?

Matthew 26:75

Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken: “Before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly.”

As Christians, I don’t think any of us like to think about how we might intentionally deny Jesus, but given the right circumstances, none of us are exempt.

Romans 5:8

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

That’s what makes the work on the cross even more mysterious to me. The mystery of Christ runs so deep and countercultural I’m taken aback at how my best days are still filthy revealing my significant need for a redemptive Savior.

Last night, my husband and I were chatting about different people in our lives that ask for prayer over their various circumstances. Interestingly, the circumstances in which they choose to live are often laced with intentional sin. Sin that our culture would have us dismiss as no big deal. Wrestling with how to pray for those people can be challenging. Processing how to pray for people who ultimately want God to bless their sinful mess is tough. But then, I stop and recognize how subtle this can be in all of our lives. It’s the big stuff that sticks out so obviously, but we are all one poor choice away from denying Jesus on some level.

Thank you Jesus for enduring the pain and humiliation of the cross, for ME. Thank you for going in my stead because your love runs so deep, for ME. You have a compassion and love for ME that would NOT stop you from going all the way to the finish of that cruel, cruel cross, just for ME. He did it for YOU too!

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Tears and Oil

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Luke 7:36-50

The Pharisee invited Jesus over for dinner. A sinful woman from town heard He was going to be there, so she came with an alabaster jar of perfume oil. As Jesus spoke to the Pharisee, the woman’s tears wet Jesus feet. She wiped them with her hair, kissed His feet then poured perfumed oil on them. When the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he said in his heart, “If He is a prophet, He would know this woman is sinful!”

Then He turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give Me any water for my feet, but she wet My feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give Me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing My feet. You did not put oil on My head, but she has poured perfume on My feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”

It was tears and oil that day.. this woman, who had lived a life full of sin was grateful for Jesus’ forgiveness. She went into the house of a Pharisee, uninvited by the owner but welcomed by the Savior. Her sin was BIG but Jesus’ grace was bigger. It’s the same for us. As Satan would have it, he leads us to thinking that we have done too much and gone too far.. forgiveness is out of our reach, he would like us to believe. This Scripture shows us otherwise, the cross has defeated Satan’s lies. You can be forgiven.

If you don’t know Jesus, it’s simple. Romans 10:9-10 tells us,

“If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved.” (NLT)

 

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DON’T EVER FORGET WHERE YOU’VE BEEN!

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I have NO lies to tell! I got a little excited AND nervous this week when my friend, Becky McCoy published her 35th podcast episode and tagged me on Facebook because I’m the one being interviewed!!!   In this episode, I’m sharing my journey from addiction to sobriety as an RN from nearly 20 years ago.

Becky McCoy began her podcast called, “Stories of Unfolding Grace” a little over a year ago. She interviews ordinary people with extraordinary transformations in Christ to encourage others who need to know they too can survive hard stuff! You should really subscribe to her Podcasts because they are awesome and she it too!

As a pastor’s wife, I’m constantly being faced with people who are going through hard stuff. It is so helpful to keep a fresh perspective on where I am now compared to where I’ve been. God’s word is pretty clear about sharing our testimony and the power our story holds.

 

Revelations 12:11, “They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.”

 

I encourage you to share your testimony often. We sometimes forget that we constantly have new people all around us that need to hear the powerful story of God’s work in our lives!

If you or someone you know is battling addiction, please share Episode 35, Stories of Unfolding Grace!

 

http://beckylmccoy.com/iTunes

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Frozen Blooms

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It was going to be beautiful. The Jane Magnolia that sits some 30 feet from my living room window, the window where I daily drink my coffee and study my bible, was covered in buds. With the backdrop of the neighbor’s white picket fence, and the lake beyond, it was going to be stunning and I was anticipating the joy of it. This was going to be it’s third and best spring. I had walked out to it on warm days and grinned at how lovely it would be in full bloom.

Then there was the forecast and three nights in a row of temps in the teens. All those almost-open buds turned brown instead of pinkish lilac. I gave up and thought we’d have to wait until next year.

And now, not two weeks later, it is beautiful! Oh there are fewer blooms, and a few frozen brown petals still hanging on. But the blooms and new-green leaves are the prettiest sight.

Our lives, our work or ministry sometimes isn’t the beautiful we had hoped for. Expectations can get the best of us. But God (aren’t those two of the sweetest words!?) is still at work even when we might want to give up. Wait for Him. Pray as you wait. Trust that He is at work in even the cold dark times. The beauty He brings may not be what you had hoped for, but it just may be better! He brings beauty from ashes and redeems even the darkest of times.

Trusting Him to make all things beautiful,

Sara

Ecclesiastes 3:11 He has made every thing beautiful in its time: also he has put eternity in men’s hearts, so that no man can find out the work that God does from the beginning to the end.

Posted in Leadership, Ministers' Wives, Prayer, Women's Ministry | 4 Responses

Dinosaur Eggs produce Patience!

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We are a homeschool family, our weeks are full to bursting with spelling bees, math drills, and geography trivia for fun learning! When our kiddos do really well, we treat them with a few dollars and drive out to our local Dollar General. They get their own little yellow basket and scan the isles for that perfect shade of glittered nail polish or the loudest toy on the shelf. This particular shopping trip was extra fun for our little man, Jacob. He had $6.00 AND a friend with him. Those two boys were thrilled, they found a dinosaur egg! All they had to do was bring it home, immerse it in water, then in the next few hours the mystery dinosaur would hatch out of the melon sized egg! We came straight home and carefully placed the egg in a large bowl of water. Then we waited. And we waited some more. Nothing. As bedtime came, they were so disappointed. Early the next morning, they ran into the kitchen to see if there was any progress. Sure enough, there was a green beak poking ever so slightly from the egg! They were jumping up and down, so excited to see it had begun! They watched and watched, waiting for this dinosaur to make its appearance!

I noticed as time went on, they would give the water a little stir. Then they took a pencil and gave the egg a little spin. It wasn’t long before they asked me if they could just help it out a little bit and maybe pull a few pieces of the shell back to see what kind of specie they had. Their impatience was getting the best of them! They had to know! Before leaving for church, they were so discouraged and just knew it had done all it was going to and they would never see the results that were promised to them in the manual.

That’s just like me. Many times, I only see a sliver of what’s coming up next in ministry. There are other times when I get so excited and watch expectantly for the next step. On occasion,  I become discouraged and want to help Him along. I will try to give the water a little stir! You know, try to pull a few pieces off of the promise, a tiny bit here and there! Just like those little boys, I want to know! Impatience has to be one of the hardest obstacles in this life. In James 5:7-8 we are told to be patient, like the farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil, until it gets the early and the late rains. Patience will strengthen our hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near! Maybe you’re waiting on that marriage proposal, the positive pregnancy test, the job you just interviewed for, or like me that next step in ministry. All of those are exciting and overwhelming when you just see a tiny piece! Wondering what will this look like when it finally hatches? But, we must be patient and wait on the Lord! I know, I am right there in the seat of impatience with you! The Lord is ever faithful! But, I am finding, He doesn’t work on my time schedule, but only His! When I look back, I am grateful for the pauses, commas, and the waiting rooms! How about you?

 

Till next time, friends!

Shana

 

 

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