Celebrating the Special Women In Our Lives

If you are a mother, Happy Mother’s Day!

Whether or not you are a mother, you are definitely a daughter, maybe a sister, or an aunt, and surely a friend. Whoever you are you have a sphere of influence. You have opportunities everyday to have an impact on someone else’s life, and it doesn’t have to be someone you know. Even just a smile in a stranger’s direction can lighten their heart and turn a frown upside down. Who are the women in your life that have had an impact on who you are? Is it mom, grandma, auntie, a mentor, friend, co-worker, Sunday School teacher…? How have they made a difference in your life? Have you told them how much they mean to you?

Let’s take a look at Ruth and Naomi. These two women had an impact on each others lives. Naomi moved with her husband and sons to Moab to escape the famine in Israel. One son married Orpah and the other married Ruth, both Moabites. Moabites didn’t worship the God of Israel. They worshipped an idol name Chemosh. When Naomi’s husband died and then both of her sons, it left the 3 women widows without sons to take care of them. Naomi found out there was food back home and she decided to go home. The girls started to go with her, but Naomi knew there would be a better chance for them to get married again if the stayed in Moab, so she tried to get her daughters-in-law, to go back to their mothers’ homes. Orpah went home, but Ruth refused saying, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me” (Ruth 1:16-17). Naomi’s influence caused Ruth to embrace the God of Israel as her God and the people of Israel as her people.

When the two women arrived in Bethlehem Naomi told her friends, “Don’t call me Naomi. Call me Mara, because the Almighty has made my life very bitter. I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi? The Lord has afflicted me; the Almighty has brought misfortune upon me” (Ruth 1:20-21). Although Naomi felt bitter, she still had her faith in God. She used wisdom and sent Ruth to glean in the fields, to provide food for them. Ruth took care of her mother-in-law. She gleaned in the fields every day. When Naomi found out Boaz owned the fields where Ruth was gleaning, she knew it was God’s provision. Boaz was a kinsman-redeemer to them from her husband’s family. Ruth found favor in the eyes of Boaz and he blessed her with extra grain and food.

Eventually Boaz married Ruth redeeming the property of Naomi’s husband, and providing for both women for the rest of their lives. This could not have happened if Ruth had stayed in Moab. Ruth had an impact on Naomi’s life and Naomi had an impact on Ruth’s life. Ruth gave birth to Obed, who fathered Jesse, who fathered David, making Ruth an ancestor of our Savior, Jesus. Who would ever have imagined that a Moabite woman would become an ancestor of the Son of God? Yet God has a plan and purpose for both Naomi and Ruth, and He has a plan and purpose for your life, too! Don’t ever doubt it! As a woman you have a unique opportunity to speak love and life into the lives of the people around you – whether they are our own children or not. I thank God for all the wonderful women, who throughout my life, have been there in love to be a friend, mentor, teacher, nurturer, prayer warrior, challenger, discipliner, comforter, and encourager. Most especially, thank you to my mom! I love you!

Blessings and peace,

Julia

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#ISaidYes

My last Blog Hop entry for the online Bible study, “What Happens When Women Say Yes To God” by Lysa TerKeurst.

I just made up a new word, God-incidence. Definition: What some would call coincidence. But I know God is in control and He is the one that makes it all work together.

This new word came to me as I was finishing the last chapter of the Bible study book. Just that morning I was thinking and praying about how I am sometimes too concerned with my own comfort – whether it be physical comfort (I hate to sweat) or social comfort aka a situational comfort zone. Then I read in the book,
    “Life isn’t about being comfortable and taking the easy route. It’s 
    about living to give our lives away and make a real impact in this
    world.” -Lysa TerKeurst, What Happens When Women Say Yes To
    God.
I was once again reminded that this life is not about me, it’s about Jesus. “He must increase, but I must decrease” John 3:30 NASB. Saying yes to God is a continual thing. Each day, each moment brings opportunities to say yes to something God wants to do in us or through us.

When we started this study I was at a point where I had lost my passion and lost sight of my vision – the dream God had given me. I had already been praying for God to renew the passion for writing and the vision He had given to me. I had been staled and feeling overwhelmed by the feeling that I need to get this book finished. I would get frustrated waiting for God to show me the next step toward fulfilling His vision for me. I kept hearing, “finish the step you’re on,” which IS the book. That added to my anxiety, because I just wasn’t feeling it. Then I heard Him telling me that I needed to take a step and start working on writing again and THEN He would show up and renew the passion. We always have something to do, some step of faith to take, before God does His part. He want us to put that faith and trust to work even when we can’t yet see or feel Him working. That is the essence of faith.

God has used the opportunities to blog and comment during Facebook parties and daily emails to stir up the writing desire within me once again. God showed up just as He said He would. I am feeling much more peace in my heart and a renewed passion for writing. One day as I was commenting on something I was re-posting on my own Facebook page I realized that what I was writing was the answer to the part of the book that was just not working. I had started what I was writing with, ” Yes Lord. Here I am Lord.” And did He ever show up. When we say Yes to God with humble and sincere hearts God shows up in amazing and unusual ways.

Taking a step of faith requires us to get out of our comfort zones. I have started noticing that when God is leading us to step out of our own comforts He will start making us less comfortable in that “zone.” I have to admit I watch too much television. Even if I’m not sitting in front of it I often keep it on for “company.” The trouble is with that worldly noise filling the air it makes it hard to hear the still small voice of the Lord. He has been making me less comfortable with TV and shows I really like are not as interesting to me as they once were. As I keep saying yes to God, He keeps changing me and my priorities. I am turning off the TV more, and listening for God’s voice even more. When I want to sing and dance and praise the Lord I put on Christian music and when I need a little background noise to help me concentrate (I’m sure I was not the only teen who had to listen to music while I studied), I have been putting on the light classical Music Choice channel softly in the background. I’m not sure why this works for me, but it does. I have a tendency to be easily distracted. I guess the music occupies that part of my brain, so I can concentrate better. Anyway, changing things up and yielding to the promptings of the Holy Spirit may take me out of my “comfort zone,” but it leaves me with a feeling of peace and rest in my heart when I have completed the task, as though my heart is hearing my heavenly Father say well done my child. Welcome to the new comfort zone – Radical Obedience.

I was already planning to lead this study with my small group this Fall when I saw the opportunity to do this study online with y’all. I was led to say yes to this amazing adventure. You wonderful ladies from all over this country and around the world have prayed for me and encouraged me through comments on my blog and the life stories you’ve shared on your own blogs. I’ve learned new things, like verse mapping, which I can share with my group. And I know that God is going to do amazing things in and through each of us – the 24,000 women from every corner of this world – as we continue to say YES to God each day. Our radical obedience to a God who radically loves us will lead to many radical blessings, which will equip us even more to be a blessing to others. I’m looking forward to doing “A Confident Heart” by Renee Swope with y’all next.

Much love to all my sisters,
Julia

http://proverbs31.org/online-bible-studies/current-study/

What Can A Christian Do In The Face Of America’s Moral Decline

1I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— 2for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 3This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. 5For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, 6who gave himself as a ransom for all people. This has now been witnessed to at the proper time. 7And for this purpose I was appointed a herald and an apostle—I am telling the truth, I am not lying—and a true and faithful teacher of the Gentiles. 8Therefore I want the men everywhere to pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or disputing (1 Timothy 2:1-8 NIV).

 

These are troubling times. Our country as a whole no longer clings to the faith of our fathers, to the Word of the Lord. Instead, our values are being corrupted. Many people are working through the courts and legislatures to make what is sin, acceptable in the eyes of man. When Christians point out the sin as being wrong we are called intolerant, bigots, etc. It does not help that some Christians are going about trying to reform the “sinner” in a very combative manner. This gives all Christians and especially God a bad name. It also puts the “sinner” on the defensive. 

The Holy Spirit may very well already be at work convicting a person of their sin, which is why I feel they are so determined to put laws into place to validate their behavior as good and normal. We must work in cooperation with the Holy Spirit in God’s timing and direction to make changes in our country, see souls save, and lives changed. We will not win the battle of right and wrong with arguments and criticism. It will only bring about fear and lashing out from the “sinner”. 

Christians are being too confrontational instead of loving toward those who are openly sinful in their lifestyles. We cannot back down from the Word of God and make allowances or accept sinful lifestyles as right and normal, BUT if we use the Word to bash people over the head it only serves to drive them farther away from God. We are supposed to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). Even if you consider someone an enemy, we are commanded by Jesus to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us (Matthew 5:43-48, Luke 6:27-36). “A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare” (Proverbs 15:1 NLT, see also 15:18 & 25:15).

So, what should we be doing in the face of the decline of our country’s moral fiber? Our response should be:

Keep praying for America and confessing our country’s sins before the throne of God.

Pray also for the Holy Spirit to touch hearts, preparing the ground for the seed of the Word to bring souls to a harvest of repentance and new life in Christ. 

Live our lives every day in love with grace and mercy. Do not persecute the “sinner”, but proclaim the love of Jesus to a lost and hurting world (love the sinner hate the sin). Reach out in love to lead others to the cross. The Holy Spirit is the one that will convict their hearts to bring repentance.

Pray generally for our country, but also specifically for our leaders from President Obama on down, to the local mayor and town council, that they would give their lives to Jesus and live to honor Him and bring glory to His name.

Pray for and talk to your neighbors, co-workers, unsaved friends and family. Share with them the testimony of how you were saved and how you have seen God work in your own life.

When it comes time to vote, pray over the ballot and vote according to the Word of God and the leading of the Holy Spirit.

If we want to see revival and true repentance as a nation, we need to spend more time on our knees “standing” in the gap for those who are lost. It is the only way. Prayer is our offensive weapon in spiritual warfare (Ephesians 6:18).a

Philippians 4:4-7 NIV, 4Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 8Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

Colossians 4:2 Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.

1 Thessalonians 5:17 pray continually

We are at war, but not with the sinner, for we are all sinners made righteous only through the grace of God and faith in what Jesus did to redeem us at the cross. We are waging spiritual warfare:

10Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people (Ephesians 6:10-18NIV).

Notice that all the armor is on the front of the body. We are meant to face the battle and never turn our back to the enemy. We need to equip ourselves for these battles by: 

Being sure of our salvation (Romans 5:3-5; Philippians 1:6, 2:12; Hebrews 5:9; 1 John 1:9)

Speaking and believing the truth. The Word of God is trustworthy and true (Psalm 33:4, 40:10; Titus 1:2; Hebrews 6:18). 

Living in the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus and doing everything in His name (Romans 1:17, 3:21-26; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Colossians 3:17). 

Keeping the faith and never losing hope. God always keeps His promises (Psalm 145:13, 1 Corinthians 1:9, 2 Thessalonians 3:3).

Knowing and memorizing the Word, so we can wield it as a weapon against the lies and tricks of the enemy (Psalm 37:31, 40:8, 119:11; Matthew 4:1-11).

Let the peace of Christ rule in our hearts to keep us from fear and doubt (John 14:27, Colossians 3:15, James 3:17-18).

Pray continually and in all things seek God’s presence and release His power in our circumstances (1 Chronicles 16:11, Daniel 6:10, Matthew 6:33, Acts 1:8, Romans 15:13, 1 Thessalonians 5:17). 

Pray for all God’s people to remain firm in their faith (Ephesians 1:15-21, 3:16-19; Colossians 3:3-14).

Stay alert and resist temptations, so we are not deceived by the ways of the world (Ephesians 4:26-32, James 4:7-8, 1 Peter 5:6-11).

Blessings,

Julia