Creating A Purposeful Season of Thanks: Study 4

“Have you seen the news?” was the question that echoed through my phone as I was talking with my mother in-law.  Our family had been across town for the better part of the evening and the nightly news was the furthest thing from my mind!

Once we hopped back in the car I pulled up the news on my phone and shock and devastation instantly washed over me.

Bombings in Paris.  Shootings.  Attacks.  Innocent lives lost. Souls entering eternity!

The despairing news caused millions of people across the world to mourn for the people of France.

Evil had shown it’s face once again in such an inhuman way.

As I hear chatter across the world, as I listen to people in our country, and even in the community in which I live, one word sums up what is reverberating from all corners of the world.

Fear. Im not perfect but im always me: Living in Fear!

Because let’s face it, suicide bombers, criminals, “bad guys”, they are downright scary!

If we let it, our imagination will run wild with vivid imagery’s of what could be or “what if” scenarios.”  As questioned on social media the other day, “Someone rang my door bell and I was afraid!  How do I know if I can trust the person on the other side of my door?”

Fear can get such a choke-hold on us!  It can weigh us down and make it hard for us to even gasp for air!

In the quiet of this moment, can I share some truth and comfort with you, sweet friend?

In this purposeful season of thanks, we can be grateful that our HOPE is safe and secure in Christ!  It does not lie with our President, nor any man for that hope is a good challenge... - chrisprefontaine.commatter!  Our HOPE is found and secured in CHRIST!

Psalm 43:5, “Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.

It does not matter what is going on in life, we can cling to Him and have HOPE!  Why?  Because ultimately God is in control!  There may be battles on this earth but He has ultimately won the war!!  Read the book of Revelation!  He WON!

Check out the praise that Hannah prayed in 1 Samuel 2:9-10, “He will keep the feet of his saints, and the wicked shall be silent in darkness; for by strength shall no man prevail. The adversaries of the LORD shall be broken to pieces; out of heaven shall he thunder upon them: the LORD shall judge the ends of the earth; and he shall give strength unto his king, and exalt the horn of his anointed.
She was confident that God is in control, and we can too!

Our enemy knows his time is limited and with the time he has left he is resolved to cause as much devastation as possible and attempt to cripple us with fear.  Remember, the spirit of fear is from our enemy, not God.  Our enemy feeds us everything that God opposes.  {2 Timothy 1:7, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

Let’s not give our enemy that power over us!  When he tries to tempt us with fear, let’s remind him of what his future holds!  Cry out to God and sink deep into His Word feeding your soul on His truth.  God has won and we are victorious through Him!  Thank God for the HOPE we have in Christ!

Be encouraged sweet friends!

Many blessings,

Wendy

Ps: If you have been encouraged by this post, please feel free to share it with others!

 

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Creating A Purposeful Season of Thanks: Study 3

It was a Wednesday evening and my husband and I were getting ready for church.  We had just returned from our dreamy honeymoon a few days prior and we were beginning to settle into life together as man and wife.

That’s when the phone rang.

I checked the caller ID and when I saw it was my mom I picked up with a cheery, “Hey Mom!”

Sniffles on the other end were all I could hear.

“He’s gone, Wendy.  Your Dad is gone.”

Gone? Gone where? My mind raced to understand what she was saying.

“Your dad, he, he’s died.”

My heart instantly sank to my feet as I collapsed on our hand me down couch. How is this possible?  What happened?  At the time no one knew, an autopsy would need to be done in the coming days.  All we knew was that while my mother was out running an errand, my dad took his last breath in his living room and was now in eternity.

Now I was left to deal with the memory of the last words my dad ever spoke to me on this earth. Though he was a believer, he had not walked with God for many many years. Sadly, rage and bitterness had indwelt his very being.

The very last words my father ever spoke to me on this side of heaven were, “You are the biggest disappointment in my life.”  He then turned around and walked away.

His words stung deeply and sank into my heart and that was now the last memory I would ever have of my dad here on earth.  Disappointing anyone goes against my very being, how was I ever going to get past this?

I found myself in the coming days and weeks faced with a decision.  Would I forgive my dad and move forward?  Could I forgive and move on?

Forgiveness is an interesting thing, isn’t it?  Some of us have been profoundly wounded and the thought of forgiving is just inconceivable.  Though it may not be painless, forgiveness is essential for the Christian life.

Oh how grateful we can be for forgiveness!  Christ saw us, and all of the sins we would ever commit, and still said, “You are worth it!” as He died on the cross to pay the penalty for your sins, and mine!  Making a way for us to have legitimate, honest, true forgiveness!

And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;” Colossians 2:13-14

Christ has set the ultimate standard for how we are to forgive, but sometimes in our sinful nature we feel like saying, “Enough!  You have wronged me one to many times! I’m over it! No more!!”

I think Peter in the New Testament could relate.  Let’s look at Matthew 18:21-22, “Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.”

This passage causes me to wonder if Peter had been hurt by someone again and again, and he was looking for a justifiable reason to stop forgiving.  I mean, if Christ says it’s okay to stop forgiving, it must be alright!

I love Christ’s response!  No, He was not telling Peter to go begin making tally marks against all those that had offended him.  He was simply saying, “Keep on, Peter, keep on!”

I love what Stormie Omartian says in her book 30 Days to Becoming A Woman of Prayer. “Forgiveness doesn’t make the other person right, it makes us free!”

The person who wronged us may never come asking to be forgiven, but it is imperative that we forgive anyway!  Unforgiveness tends to lead to bitterness and God tell us in Hebrews 12:15b, “lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled;“.  Bitterness will always effect more than just us. 

If we choose to not forgive, the only person we will end up hurting is ourselves. Matthew 6:14-15, For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses”  Our decision to not forgive will be what keeps us from receiving forgiveness from Christ! 

What better way to show God our appreciation for His forgiveness of us, then to forgive others!

So there I was, reeling in the shock of my fathers sudden death and faced with a decision,  was I going to forgive him of the hurtful words he spoke?

Because of the grace of God, I have been able to forgive.  I can live my life in peace, knowing that God is not disappointed in me!

Praise God for the gift of forgiveness!  Praise God that we do not have to live a life of unforgiveness and be bound up with bitterness!  He has made a way for us to be forgiven and has shown us how to forgive!  Oh how good our great God is!

Many blessings,

Wendy

ps: If this has been an encouragement, please feel free to share it with others!

Creating A Purposeful Season of Thanks: Study 2

“Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mineWhen thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon theeFor I am the Lord thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour: I gave Egypt for thy ransom, Ethiopia and Seba for thee. Since thou wast precious in my sight, thou hast been honourable, and I have loved thee.”  ~Isaiah 43:1b-4a

Labels.  They are often a necessity, and when in the right context they are SO helpful!  I  for one am thankful my hairspray has a label on it!  If it didn’t, I would end up accidentally picking up a can of something else and instead of having a hairstyle that stays in place, I could have a radical new hair color!

What about labels in the kitchen?  Labels on spices are helpful aren’t they?  The dinners in our household would  quickly turn into something awfully peculiar if we suddenly had WB0933574nothing on the bottles to distinguish one seasoning from another!  We rely on labels to be correct, true, real!

When it comes to many household products, brands of clothing, labels on groceries, etc these can be so helpful and very needed.  Yet, how often do we carry false labels around that we or others have placed on us?

When we stand in front of our mirror, instead of seeing ourselves the way God sees us, we are often blinded by false branding.

“Failure”, “Incompetent”, “Ugly”, “Loner”, “Introvert”, “Perfectionist”, “Messy”, “Unworthy”, and on the list goes.

We consistently find ourselves so busy believing those descriptions, that we are unable to quiet our minds and hear what God calls us.  I’ve been there, have you?

The past several weeks or so I found myself in this battle.  I would look in the mirror or lie in bed at night and only see the headline, “Wendy, also synonymous with failure!”

 I felt as if I was falling so short as a wife, making far to many mistakes as a mom, inundated with the sense of failing in my role as Pastor’s wife, and then when it came to getting my book published, goodness what was I thinking?  How could God ever use this book in the life of someone else?  There I sat in my defeat, having an early Thanksgiving feast on the lies that my enemy willingly fed me by the spoonfuls!  Failure was etched loved_newacross my forehead, or so I thought.

Oh friend, how thankful we can be that God takes the time to remind us, He calls us different names then we call ourselves.  When we look in the mirror and see “failure”, God says, “No, you are victorious through Me!”  Romans 8:37, “In all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.”

When we lay in bed engulfed by loneliness, He says, “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee”, Hebrews 13:5b.  Then reminds us He is, “a friend that sticketh closer than a thumb-forgivenbrother.” Proverbs 18:24

We tend to be so hard on ourselves, berating ourselves again and again with sins we have already been forgiven for.  God says, “And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;” Colossians 2:13-14

God has a whole other set of names He calls us and all of them are the complete opposite of what the enemy shouts to us.  God speaks in a still small voice, the enemy does not.

Believe what God calls you and says about you!  Cling to the names He has given you!  Remember, when Satan begins to heap doubt on us, when he begins to bring up the labels that are not ours to begin with, remember, the enemy is a liar!  Let Christ speak truth to your heart!

Be encouraged!

Many Blessings,

Wendy

ps: If this has been an encouragement, please feel free to share it with others!

Images courtesy of this website.

Creating A Purposeful Season of Thanks: Study One

Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice. Philippians 4:4

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!  At least, that’s how the song goes!

It is hard for me to even wrap my mind around the fact the holidays are upon us!  Thanksgiving is only a few weeks away, can you believe it?  The year flew right on by!

This is the time of year we tend to see our schedules really pick up and take on a life of their own, don’t we?  Meals to plan, parties to throw, get-together’s with family and let’s not forget about all those trips to the grocery store because we forgot those one or two crucial ingredients for our Thanksgiving meal!

During this crazy and at times chaotic part of the season, I want to provide a place of rest and encouragement for you.  A soft place to land, where you can bring your cup of coffee {or cocoa!}, sit for awhile, and enjoy the calm and quietness found in this space as we focus on intentional gratitude.

At the beginning of this year the Lord began to impress on my heart the need I had to be more thankful.  My perspective needed some changing and a healthy dose of gratitude would certainly help.  So I made a checklist of books to read throughout this year and cracked open my first one just before we rang in the new year.  I didn’t get far into my first book, One Thousand Gifts, when I was overcome with how ungrateful my heart had truly become.  It wasn’t purposeful, but then again, neither was my gratitude.  gifts

I poured over those pages and underlined sentences and paragraphs that captured my attention.  I even began my own list of 1000 Gifts and found myself scribbling additions to it as the days went on.

It fascinated me how one small habit of purposeful gratitude began to change my entire perspective on life.  God was using gratitude to teach me I have reasons to always rejoice in Him, no matter my circumstances.

Gratitude. Gratefulness. Thanksgiving. Joy. Yes, these have the ability to truly change how we view life!

Gratitude will not just happen, it will take some practice but that is the great part!  The more we practice the better we will get!  It will take some purposeful focus and intentional time, but it can become a daily habit!

As we begin our series on gratitude for the month of November, I want to encourage each of us this week to take some time and make a list of things we have to be thankful for.  A simple task indeed, but as we find ourselves focusing on all we have to be grateful for, we will soon find ourselves absolutely surrounded by reasons we have to be thankful!  We will be reminded yet again that there really is a reason to rejoice in the Lord always, and not just one day out of the year we call Thanksgiving!

Heaping doses of gratitude will change our focus from being internal, and place it where it always belongs, on Christ!  Because of Christ we always have reason to be thankful!

I’m looking forward to this study and hope you will too!

Many Blessings,

Wendy

Ps: If you have been encouraged by this post, please pass it on to others!