Standing Out

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Why blend in when I was born to stand out?” The actor’s words cut deeply.  Isn’t it just like God to use a line from a movie to mold your heart!?!

How often have I blended? Too often.  When someone treats another wrongly, and I failed to speak up. Blended.

When I know that someone is spreading lies, and I do nothing.  Blended. When someone says something about another, and I failed to speak up.  Blended.  When I get pleasure from someone’s failure, justifying in my mind that “they deserved it”…Blended.

When my motivations for being and doing are based upon my own fears, jealousy, covetousness, etc., and I do not repent, turning from this way to God…Blended.

When we look, sound, and think like the world, we have blended.

When we fail to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ…Blended.

Our Great God saved us to shine brightly for Him, allowing us to not only be His work but do His work.

We, the followers of Christ Jesus, are to stand out like stars in a dark night.  The darker the night, the brighter the light appears.  As light bearers, we are to reflect the Lord’s glory, showing Jesus to the world.

Our obedience is at stake, which shows the world our Great God.  Greater still, someone’s eternity with OR without God through Jesus Christ by Holy Spirit’s power is at stake. For (in Christ) we are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness.We are children of the light (1 Thessalonians 5:5).

Friend, are you blending or standing out for/to the glory of God? Let’s encourage each other to stand out!

Standing out,

~Shelly

…that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, (Philippians 2:15)

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Faith or Stress?

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June 2nd, I lost my job! Without question or doubt, I KNOW God gave me the job. I saw him pave the way for me to have the position. In my mind, it was to serve as a means to an end of using the gifts He gave me. His ways are not our ways. I can now see His purpose for me having the position where there was a mutual love and respect for the members of the team. His purpose, for me having the position, was over! I gained knowledge and additional skills that will only enhance my gifts! Now what?

I know He did not bring me this far to leave me. I trust that! Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “.“Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In ALL thy ways, acknowledge Him, he SHALL direct your path” . He also said Deuteronomy 31:8 … It is the LORD who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. …. I have seen it, know it, and trust His Word!

A week later, I received an email from a company that said they have been trying to reach me to be a trainer for them!  I completed the certification last week.  Again, I saw God’s hand throughout the experience!  It is an opportunity that will enable me to make a difference in the lives of our children, teachers, and families!  In addition, the training took place in Florida.  My brother and I have really not spent much time together.  He is a dynamic man of God and the opportunity to spend quality time full of laughter was just what I needed!  Growing up, just looking at him made me laugh!  His humor has been uplifting and his life an inspiration!

I say to you today, walk by faith and not by sight!  As believers, it is important we trust and obey.  The other point, family is so important.  While visiting my brother he lost his neighbor of 20 years.  It was unexpected and he leaves a wife and 15 year old son.  Life is too short and full of twist and turns.  I encourage you to live each day as though it is your last.  Love is all there is.  Starting today, commit to live, love, and laugh!

No matter what your circumstance remember, God is control! Stress Free!

 

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The God of Safety

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“In peace I will both lie down and sleep, For You alone, O LORD, make me to dwell in safety.” Psalms 4:8 NASB

Two weeks ago, my husband and I moved to a new state. We are not too far from our families, but we are farther than we have ever been. The idea of being in a brand new area, knowing no one, can be scary to think about. We’re on our own, literally. But I have hope and assurance in my God, the God of safety.

The above Psalm assures me that I can lie and sleep peacefully at night for the Lord makes me dwell in safety. He keeps me safe. I can have peace in His safe arms. I praise my loving Father for this adventure in my life and that He gave me courage to step out in faith; furthermore, I praise Him that He keeps us safe, despite the circumstances. The Lord is faithful, moreso than we’ll ever be able to comprehend.

I hope, dear sisters, that you can feel safe in Jesus Christ. I pray that you will seek the Lord above all, even if you’re hurting and scared. Jesus Christ is right for whatever is wrong in your life. He will guide and protect you from the evil one. He alone is faithful. Trust in Him, beloved ones, and dwell in safety.

~Lauren Ray

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A Double Blessing

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On Mother’s Day, our family was excited to announce to our church family that we were being obedient to God’s calling on our life as we moved to bring a baby home through adoption. The support we received from everyone humbled us but gave us strength in our new journey. The very next day, I very surprisingly discovered that I was almost 8 weeks pregnant, but had a hysterectomy scheduled in three weeks. To say we were shocked is definitely an understatement, since our doctors informed us that our circumstances could not lead to this outcome.


Our story of my daughter’s birth is of the trauma I experienced after she was born plus surgeries and unknowns for almost four years.  This had led us to the decision to have a hysterectomy and be at peace with moving forward in a new journey. Adoption papers had been turned in, part of our adoption money had already been paid, and our hearts were already praying for the sweet little one who needed a new mommy, daddy, and big sister.


After an immediate appointment with our OB, questions being unanswered, and an anxiety from not only my husband and I, but our doctor too, our fears increased, re-invited old memories, and halted what we had made to be our own plans. The last eight weeks have been a whirlwind of emotions, questions, and doctor visits. Our risk of miscarriage is very high, along with many other medical factors for this pregnancy.


BUT as surely as God is faithful….”–2 Corinthians 1:18

We want this to be our motto as we walk through the next few months with a pregnancy and upcoming adoption. We go ahead knowing that if God wills, we could have 2 babies very soon.

God led me to this verse.
“Since I was so sure of your understanding and trust, I wanted to give you a double blessing.”–2 Corinthians 1:15
A double blessing. We are excited and know that all of these circumstances are totally out of our control. We pray that our faith is strengthened through this process so that no matter the outcome, we can in turn strengthen the faith of someone else.

“Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.”–2 Corinthians 1:21-22

Now, we ask for your prayers, your support, and your encouragement as we will continue to share our story on our two babies and how God’s double blessing will take place.
“As you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.”–2 Corinthians 1:11

P.S. Our hysterectomy was cancelled.

Posted in At Home, Devotional, Moms, Prayer, Women's Ministry | 1 Response

A Disciple who makes Disciples

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The women’s ministry in our church has been life-changing. When I began coming to Grace Baptist Church in 2000, I had little to no experience in church life. The ladies of Grace were quick to scoop me up and disciple me. It began as an invitation to join them in Sunday School, then the choir. The weekly Bible Studies were my favorite and as time went on I too, began to disciple others. That’s why I adore Women’s Ministry. The heart of Women’s Ministry is being a disciple who makes disciples.

It was through Sunday School and weekly Bible Studies that I began to connect with other women in different seasons of their maturity in Christ. I gleaned the power of their testimonies and saw how they used God’s Word for every day life. Also, I witnessed their faith when husbands and children ran to heaven ahead of them. They clung to Jesus through prayer and the promises in Scripture to be able to navigate the loss. Those ladies and a I have lived lots of life together. Many see me more than they do their own families.

What about you? How are you making disciples? In what ways are you reaching out to the ladies in your church and communities? I would love to hear your insights and testimonies!

Till next time!

Making Disciples,

~Shana

 

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Celebrate!

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As I sit here listening to fireworks going off in my neighborhood, with the sky sparkling and the scent of smoke all around, patriotism is in full force. Yankee Doodle is even being sung on a 4th of July special on TV. We’ve enjoyed a day of hiking and eating with family. I’m thankful for a day to enjoy how we want, a day off work of course, and time to spend with friends and family.

We Americans love our freedom almost as much as we love our country, and I’m truly thankful for that freedom. But the freedom that Christ provides is worth celebrating every day!

Galatians 5:1  For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.

 

Sara

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All of the If’s, And’s, and Then’s

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Nehemiah 1:1-11

It was late autumn; Nehemiah was at the fortress of Susa. His brother Hanani along with some others came to visit him. They had just come from Judah so Nehemiah asked them how things were going in Jerusalem. They said to him, “Things are not going well for those who returned to the province of Judah. They are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem has been torn down, and the gates have been destroyed by fire.” When Nehemiah heard those words, he sat down and wept. He mourned for many days, fasting and praying before the God of heaven.

This was what Nehemiah prayed to God:

He began with praising God for His greatness. Thanking Him for His awesomeness and how He keeps His covenant of unfailing love with those who love Him and obey His commands.

Nehemiah confessed not only his own sins but the sins of his family and the sins of Israel.

Then he began to call out their sins of disobedience to the commands, decrees, and regulations that God had given to Moses.

God had told Moses that if he was unfaithful to Him, He would scatter them among the nations. But, if they returned to God and obeyed His commands, then even if they were exiled to the ends of the earth, God would bring them back to the place He had chosen for His name to be honored.

God says:

IF: we confess our sins before Jesus Christ…

AND: turn from our sin…

THEN: no matter where we are in this moment, He will forgive us!

 

Till next time!

~Shana

 

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Choosing Perfect Peace

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Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why are you disturbed within me? Psalm 43:5a, NASB

Have you all recently heard the Casting Crowns song, “Oh my soul”? The song is so beautiful and so biblical. Why are we distressed? Our fear will have to face the God we know and He will prevail! But there’s a key element here: we have to TRUST that God will prevail. We have to CHOOSE to trust in Him. Sisters, it is our choice to have perfect peace.

Isaiah 26:3, KJV says, “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee; for he trusteth in thee.” Really read that verse. You (God) will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is on You (God) at all times, for he trusts in You (God). God will give us perfect peace, but we have to CHOOSE to trust in Him and keep our minds stayed on Him. We need to spend time with Him daily: praying, worshipping, and reading His Word. To simply put it: it is our choice, beloved.

We can choose perfect peace. I don’t know where you’re at today, but I do know that our God is bigger than all of your fears. I know that if you trust in God and keep your mind focused on Him, he will give you perfect peace: not as the world gives, but only as He gives. Choose perfect peace, dear sisters. Trust in God today.

~Lauren Ray

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Obedience

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How easy is obedience?  We know what we are supposed to do and yet because of selfishness, fear, apathy, or even lack of faith, we choose to do just the opposite.  I get so very frustrated at my 3 year old sometimes.  She knows what is right and wrong.  She understands that mommy and daddy are the boss and that her job is to follow our directions.  However, at least a handful of times a day I find myself getting onto her about her listening skills.  I know she hears me.  I know she understands.  But she would rather at that moment in time choose to do something else.

What a reflection of my obedience to what God asks of me daily.  I have my own agenda, my own plans.  How often does God get frustrated with me and my lack of ability to follow through with what I already know that God has asked me to do?

In the Old Testament, we are reminded that obedience is better than sacrifice.  So, no matter what I offer to God, if my life does not reflect obedience, my offering is worthless.  Today, I want to be obedient.  I want my faith to reach new heights.

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Giving Glory to God

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Glory, Glory, Hallelujah!

Think of a time when something great has happened, or you’ve accomplished an impossible task. Did you pat your back and say, “Go me! I just did this great thing! I did it all by myself!”? I have done this more times than I can count. I love to take the credit and pretend that I deserve all the glory! Any other sisters? Well, let’s take a seat, beloved, because we don’t deserve anything!

King Herod and All His Glory

Today we’re looking at King Herod from the book of Acts who was an ungodly king. He persecuted the Christians and laid claim to every good deed. But look at what happened to ole King Herod:

“On an appointed day Herod, having put on his royal apparel, took his seat on the rostrum and began delivering an address to them. The people kept crying out, “The voice of a god and not of a man!” And immediately an angel of the Lord struck him because he did not give God the glory, and he was eaten by worms and died.” Acts 12:21-23 NASB

He did NOT give God the glory. An angel of the Lord struck him down and he was eaten by worms and died! KING HEROD DIED BECAUSE HE DID NOT GIVE GOD THE GLORY!!! Sisters, we need to give God the glory in ALL situations, because God is worthy of it all! He has saved us, He created us, He loves us beyond measure. And what will happen if we don’t give God the glory? Our gracious heavenly Father may strike us down as He did King Herod. Maybe we won’t be eaten by worms, but our Lord will deal with us.

Praise Where Praise Is Deserved

Praise God for His merciful ways! Praise Jesus for His loving sacrifice! When you obey God, praise Him for allowing Him to use you. When you are in the midst of a storm, praise Him that Jesus is in the boat with you. The Lord is worthy of all our praise and glory, so let’s glorify God with all our hearts!

~Lauren Ray

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