Friday, August 30, 2013

Sandpaper Blessings

“I just had the most wonderful day. Everything seemed to go right.  It was great, every minute of it.”

Wouldn’t we all like to have days or even a day like that instead of feeling a bit frazzled?  Someone did, and they shared it on Facebook this week.  It was refreshing to read.

This person had been through several years of rough road, and that day was like a cool breeze from God giving him some relief.  Everyone that read the post was so happy for that person, understanding where he was at this point in his life journey.

Early on in the week I surely needed a day like that, you know the kind where you need a break from things and hope for a peaceful day.  There’s a woman I counsel that each time she comes, her life is in such turmoil that anyone who is near her needs a time out so that they don’t get angry. She is continually asking God for peace in her life, but seems to be the one that steals it from others.

Roughing it Out
Do you have people like that in your life?  You know what I mean … the ones that bring storms with them all the time?  I have a term for those types of personalities called, “sandpaper people.” 

There are several kinds of these individuals or should I say, “levels” instead.  Just like there are different grades of sandpaper, there are levels to these personalities.  They range from smooth to really rough and abrasive.  If we had to be around sandpaper people I would venture to say that we would all prefer the easier grade, right?  But that’s not how it works.

God sends (allows) people in our lives that will ruffle our feathers as a test of our faith and integrity as believers in Christ.  He uses “sandpaper” personalities to refine us in becoming better servants and leaders for the Kingdom of God.  Believe it or not, if you don’t have anyone in your life that rubs you the wrong way, then either you aren’t being molded for greater things or you are the sandpaper.  At times, you can even be both!

Life as a Christian isn’t supposed to be a bed of roses and easy going all the time.  We should expect good and even great days, but as long as we are here on earth there will be trials that try to form against us.  Knowing who you are in Christ Jesus takes care of the sandpaper people.

“No weapon that is formed against you shall prosper, and every tongue that rises against you in judgment you will condemn.  This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is of Me,” says the LORD. (Isaiah 54:17 NKJV)

Thankfully, we have a weapon in the Word of God to shield us from the work of satan. God has promised us victory over circumstances, but who needs a victory if there isn’t a battle?  So, come on sandpaper, take your best shot!

“These things I (Jesus) have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace.  In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 NKJV)



Jesus told us that in this world we will have tribulation (all sorts of sandpaper people) coming against us.  He went on to give us good news, “but be of good cheer I have overcome the world.”  Whenever you read the word “but” in the Bible it is a term that cancels out or changes what you previously read.   In knowing this, we should be looking for the “buts” in scripture, because something else is coming.

When the Sandpaper is At Work
This week my husband had to meet with a county board over an upcoming event.  His appointment was at 11 am, but the people were late. While he was waiting all sorts of things went through his mind.  The meeting was merely one of courtesy, because everything we were doing was legal.  It was out of respect for those in other positions of authority that we wanted to follow protocol. 
When he called me to say that he would have to wait, I planted some unwanted seeds in his head.  He called me on it and I responded, “Someone needs to stir the pot.”  Then as soon as I hung up I asked God to give him the patience and boldness he needed to speak with authority. 

Within the hour he returned home with a totally different countenance.  He went on to share what took place and that we were also granted the privilege of using the electric for free  for the occasion. 

So who was the sandpaper or abrasive spirit?  The person setting up the appointment in the first place, my husband, me or the other gentlemen?  We all had a part in it.  Some of us were lightly sanding while others were heavy duty, attitude removal sandpaper people.  All were needed I suppose, but not all were wanted or welcome visitors.

The bad thing about sandpaper is that it can do some damage if not handled properly. Harsh sandpaper personalities rub us the wrong way, and no one wants their outer skin removed!  Sometimes they don't even know they are getting to you, but they do because of how they handle a situation or it comes out in their tone of voice.  Then there are others who know what they are doing and do it intentionally.

However, the good points about this kind of attitude adjuster, is that it removes the tough outer layer of our hardened heart, and refines the surface making it smooth for us to receive correction.  Picture it like this. After a board goes through the sander, it comes out looking entirely different and new. When it is painted the surface is something to be desired and ready to be used.  The sanding process made it a better piece and more functional.
That's what the Lord wants to do with us.  A little sanding here, maybe some extensive blasting at times and then the finishing polish.  God gives us the grace to endure the sanding.  There is a catch though. Unless we have had some refining we cannot live or give what we don’t possess.  Peace comes from obedience ... ours to God.

When Grace = Peace
Do you remember the passage in scripture where the apostle Paul asked God to remove the thorn from his life that caused him continual suffering, anguish and pain?  What did God say, “My grace is sufficient for you.”  He didn’t say, “OK Paul, I know how much this hurts you so I’ll do what you say and let everything come to you easily.”  God told Paul, “No.”

 “And He (Jesus) said to me (Paul), “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.”  Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (2 Corinthians 12:9 NKJV)

What exactly was the thorn that got in the way of Paul’s ministry and living a life in continual peace?  There has been much debate over this one.  Some believe it was an actual health issue, while others say it was a certain “sandpaper” person that continually caused problems for him wherever he went.

Abrasive people will cause your true personality to surface.  It’s where our humility is tested. 
Was Paul asking God to remove the sandpaper people from his life so he could get on with his work and living?  Don’t we do the same thing?  God’s grace however, allows us to keep going even while we are being refined. If we let God work in our hearts, we will see His power shine through and change the situation around us.  He provides what we need, all we have to do is take it.

Last week I expressed to someone something similar when she was being pushed to the limits at her job.  If God wanted to elevate her into a position of authority, she had to learn to get along with people without arguing or becoming offended.  This really takes God's grace for us to hold our tongues, but we have to in order to be effective Christians.
 
Believers in Christ are called to be leaders no matter what field it may be. Leadership positions require us to swallow our pride, understand abrasive behavior and channel it into another direction while remaining calm.

Anyone can blow up when they get ticked off.  Explosive behavior won’t win anyone to the Lord.  If we truly want to be used by God, we need to welcome the sandpaper personalities as a challenge, knowing that we are about to receive something special from the Lord.

When this lady explained the behavior of this person at work, I asked her if she ever confronted the individual and questioned if she could do anything for them.  Perhaps she was going through something and didn’t know how to handle it, and you might have a word of comfort you could give. 

Wouldn’t you know I would have to walk out my own advice, when the very thing happened to me at the check-out on Tuesday.  The cashier was in a really nasty mood.  Although I don't usually spout off, I actually noticed my temperament starting to change. Instead of getting angry at the lady I asked her if she was all right.  Her attitude changed and she explained the details of what she needed to get done before she could leave for the evening.  I’m glad I didn’t follow my emotions and become the sandpaper in her day.

Even if someone plum doesn’t like you, God can turn the situation around for your good, if you let Him refine you by removing your rough edges.  We need to have soft, compassionate hearts in order to be effective as Christians. That doesn’t mean we are to be door mats, but open to the situation so God can use it for His glory.  Ask the Lord to reveal to you His truth so He can work in your life and give you the grace to withstand the test.


This week when you run into a situation where the sandpaper personalities start to do their work on your emotions, recognize what it is.  Let God work on the obstacles that come gift wrapped in sandpaper, so that you come out with a blessing.

Now don’t say this out loud, but think it when you see sandpaper people approaching:

“Hello sandpaper. Let’s see, what part of me needs to be removed and refined?  You may be here to do some damage, BUT, (remember what it means) I’m coming out of this better and with a more beautiful heart. 
God’s grace and blessing surround me. I live a life of daily favor and I’m going to have a really great day!”  
 
 
Have a great week! 
Until next time ...stay blessed and favored!

Maybe you don’t know the Living God that I know, but would like to have this kind of favor in your life also.  Click on the above tab “Tell Me” for more information on becoming a child of the Savior.
 
 


Content and Image Copyright from Favored1. Do not copy.
Image credit if not listed by Google Images Creative Common License
Scripture reference was taken from the New King James Bible Version provide by
Gateway Bible

 

Friday, August 23, 2013

Ten Steps to Turning Your World Around


Did you know that “You ARE an Overcomer?”

Has your faith had such a workout that you feel you’re fighting for your life?  Well, not to put a damper on things friend, but you are.  There is good news though; someone has made sure you won’t go down for the count.

Lately I have been receiving messages and counseling a lot on starting over when you’ve been through something traumatic or life altering.  For some of you, so much has happened that you have given up on hope, therefore, your faith has nothing to support it.  Like my husband would put it, “your armor can’t take another hit.”

I wish I could say that I haven’t experienced that kind of feeling, but I can’t.  Job changes, losses, health, injuries, death, friendships broken, moving across country and other things have stolen joy from my life. Just like you, I could name these instances and gain sympathy from most people, because they have also been through these tragedies.

Hold on - Help Is on the Way

Over the years I’ve been on a quest in search for answers on how to press on when nothing made sense or was going right. 
Continuing in my education I had taken classes, read books, listened to spiritual messages and they have either led me nowhere or to the same place … God’s Word.  There is a ray of hope after all!

After a traumatic brain injury, normal became foreign in our way of living, so I've walked this road in my own life.
I’d like to rekindle the fire of God inside you and bring back hope into your life, with what I have learned throughout the years along my journey. 
 
Help is on the Way- Michael W. Smith Updated Version
 

Leaving Normal Life Behind
How do you start over when everything is different? 
Is there something to help us cope with life when there is no spouse or family around, health seems to be in jeopardy, jobs are scarce and the world seems to be falling apart? 

Someone asked me this question, “It hurts too much and I am so lonely.  How do I laugh and live life again?”  Another person said to my husband after a Sunday church service, “I had nothing to do with my birth, I know how to die, but how do I live?”  They weren’t trying to be negative, but were truly grasping at living a “normal” life as God intended, full of blessings, joy and favor.

What we need to understand is that through Christ, we are overcomers. It may not look like it now, but we are. Jesus said so.

 For whatever is born of God overcomes the world.
And this is the victory that has overcome the world, our faith.  Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?”
(1 John 5:4-5 NKJV)


The New Normal: A Lesson in Survival

Let me explain that what you are experiencing right now is called a "new normal."  After we have experienced something traumatic in our lives, we have to learn to live a normal life completely different than we have in the past.  We have to have the boldness to step out without the help of those we once had.

Is this possible? Yes, but it may be hard and take some time.  If you can hold on to this phrase, you will survive and come out better than you ever expected ... “It’s a process.”  Meaning, it won’t happen overnight, but by faith it will come to pass.

For some the problem lies with “self”, that is, expecting too much too soon.  We become impatient with ourselves or other people become insensitive to our feelings and situation.  There have been people that have said, “You should be over this by now.”  Who says?

Let’s face it, “normal” life in your world has been snatched away and not everyone will respond the same way as you do.  Don’t let that get you down.  “Normal” as it was in the past, is never going to happen.  Coming to grips with that takes courage given from God and good support groups in a godly atmosphere. 
So to answer that lady, “How do I live this New Normal Life?” here are some things you can do.

Ten Steps to Your
"New Normal"

Start slow, you don't have to do them all at once, but at least start.
1) Trust God's methods.  Pray and trust God no matter what.  I can tell you from experience; without that trust, you won’t make it.  Don't let fear stop you from making a change. You must have complete trust in the One that is greater than all circumstances.

2) Take a mental break. Allow yourself a chance to heal without questioning everything. Enjoy the little things that come moment by moment as you learn to cast your cares on the Lord.  Remember, you are starting a new way of living, so you don’t know the ropes yet.

“Cast all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.”
(1 Peter 5:7 NKJV)

3) Sing, sing, and sing some more.  Music is the most effective way to stir the heart of man and God.  There is no higher adoration to God than praise, and that’s easy when you sing. I can always tell when my music quota needs to be refilled by the way I react to things.  If you are re-acting and not acting to daily situations, turn on some Christian music and sing.  It will change the way you think and act.

4) Spend time in the Word other than your daily devotions.  Look up passages in the Bible that specifically talk about what you are experiencing.  If you’re not sure how to do that, use a Bible concordance to help you. Study, write the verses down and mediate on them until they become part of your thinking.  I have done this; it works!
Doctors told my husband I would never recover, don't believe them. Get angry enough to believe God's Word over all naysayers. This is what I learned:

  “If we change the way we think,
we change the way we live.”

5) Find a Christian support group geared for that situation. People want to give encouragement, but because they aren't living your problem daily they forget about what you are battling.

Understand that sharing your feelings and experiences in a support group is good, but only if it is within a group of people that have experienced your kind of pain.  Just any support group won’t cut it.
 
6) Give yourself credit where it is due. You have probably made more headway than you realize.

7) Do something new.  To help us regain our joy, my husband and I purposed in our hearts to do new things.  We have tried projects, ideas and activities we never did before, and found new paths in our journey that were not explored. 
This has opened new doors and friendships into our lives, because we stepped out in faith letting God lead us to the “greater things” He has promised in His Word.  If you allow God to lead you through the valley you will be refreshed.

8) Change your environment.  This may or may not be a dramatic change for some, but literally move.  A new location won’t remove the pain, but a new environment may encourage you to step out in faith so God can work on your behalf.  Pray and ask God if this is what you should do.

Another change may simply be in the furniture or colors of a room.  It has been scientifically proven that colors make a difference in the way we think and operate in life.  What the world doesn’t understand is that colors have an aroma designed by God for our benefit.  We need to use them to encourage calmness, not rage into our emotions.  Remember this sentence, “If you go light (in color selections), you will feel bright.” 

This one may be tough, but God could lead you to leave your job (even in this economy), in order to help you through the healing process.  Be open to the prompting of the Holy Spirit and trust God to give you favor in another position.

9) Surround yourself with positive Christian people who make you laugh.  Sure you don’t want to talk to strangers or even feel like socializing, but that’s what you need to do if you can’t find any positivity in your friends. Don’t discuss issues, but just “be” part of the Body of Christ.  Learn to laugh all over again and healing will come.  The Bible says it is like medicine, so take a good dose of laughter daily.

“A merry heart does good, like medicine,
 but a broken spirit dries the bones.” (Proverbs 17:22 NKJV)

10) Get involved with something.  Dip into your bucket list and go for it. Whether it’s singing in the choir, Bible study, karate lessons, ceramic classes or a night course ... do something.  Get outside of your home and area. Focusing on a new skill will take your mind off the situation and help you deal with your emotions when you are alone. Plus, it will make you physically tired causing you to sleep when you couldn’t in the past.

 
Whatever you are going through, you can’t give up or give in to the feeling of hopelessness.  I’m proud of how far you have come. You’re going to make it.  How do I know that you will, because Jesus said you ARE an overcomer.  You have inside you what it takes to get through this, no matter what it may be.

Through Jesus, stay in the fight... the good fight of faith.  God said you are not going under.  It’s not hopeless.

The thing is that we forget the promises of God and that He is holding our hand all the way.

“You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” (1 John 4:8 NKJV)

The Great I AM is living inside you, so how can you lose?  Jesus is the one Who will bring you through.  Let Him!

Your job: stay in the fight.  satan knows you’re not going under, but do you?  This is your victory … to be an overcomer like Christ said you were.

Don’t quit!
Don't give in!
Stay strong!
It's not hopeless!
  
Mandisa - Overcomer (Lyric Video)
 
 Did you listen to the words in that song?  The scriptures declare that "You’re an Overcomer" by faith.  It is a title given to you by Jesus courtesy of the cross.  Child of God, heir, righteous, saint, forgiven, blessed …overcomer.  Believe it.

“For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world – our faith.” (1 John 5:4 NKJV)

You are exactly where you need to be in this process, and are coming to the other side of “normal.” Be patient.
With each new day that God gives you grace and mercy (unmerited favor), find a way to share what you have learned through this.
Take notes so you see how you progressed and before you know it, you will have overcome.  You have the promise of Jesus that your tears will be wiped away and turned into gladness.
Everyone has reached a low point somewhere along their life’s journey.  You’re not alone.  Someone besides Christ knows what you’re feeling.  God will use your pain for His glory to help others and draw them to Him.  In the process you will be healed and your new “normal” will become a stepping stone to the daily favor of God.
 
 
Maybe you don’t know the Living God that I know, but would like to have this kind of favor in your life also.  Click on the above tab “Tell Me” for more information on becoming a child of the Savior.
*Note: The word "satan" is intentionally in lower case, for we give him no authority.
Content and Image Copyright from Favored1. Do not copy.
Image credit if not listed by Google Images Creative Common License
Scripture reference was taken from the New King James Bible Version provide by Gateway Bible
Image source: Help is on its way sheet music.  Leaving Normal sign  Define Normal sign  Christ in you overcomer  Ten Steps sign  Fight of Faith sign  It's A Process sign
 

Friday, August 16, 2013

Does God say “Shut-up?"

Here it is, 11:45 Friday morning and I’m having a hard time focusing.  My mind has been all over the place this week trying to put everything into perspective as I anticipate what the Lord is doing in my life.  Oh, the Lord and I have had rounds this week. You know the kind where you want Him to hurry up as you run ahead of Him.

All week long I have been trying to be still like the Bible says in Psalm 46:10, so I could hear from God. 
At times it seemed a bit funny even though I wasn't trying to be.  Early in the week I set myself apart to hear from Him and quietly sat still.  I tried to do nothing and think nothing, but it just wasn’t happening.  This is so hard, especially for me.  I’d be quiet for a few minutes and then I would talk to the Lord, praise a little and be quiet again.  “You’re not being quiet.” I heard in my spirit.  Some people have said God has told them to shut-up, but He has never spoken to me that way.  He knows our personalities, so maybe He does speak like that to some, I can’t say that He doesn’t.  I did get the point though.

Anyway, I felt like a toddler who had the fidgets sitting in a church service.  When my nephews were little I would gently tap them on the leg and quietly whisper “Be still.”  They calmed down for a few minutes and were back at stirring.  So this behavior was happening all week long.  “Shush, be quiet, stop talking …. Just sit there.”
Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.” (Psalm 46:10 KJV) 

“My cup overfloweth, well something did.”

In my quiet time Wednesday morning I wanted to sit at the table and have a cup of decaf coffee with God.  Obviously, that’s not what the devil had in mind and he would try to distract me using whatever device he could.  It almost worked.

As I sipped from my cup, one of our cats decided to chase the other.  They chose to use the table as the escape route and jumped on it to run to the other side of the room. 
My cup got knocked out of my hand.  Three fourths of the hot coffee spilled on me, the table and the floor.  Thankfully I hadn’t placed my notebook or Bible on the table yet. 

Quickly I scampered about looking for something to clean up the spill, as the cats continued on their way not having a clue of the mess they left behind. My robe was soaked, and when I went to change it I realized I was wearing the only clean one.  Right before I sat down I had put a load of laundry in the washer with my other robes.  I had to wear my wet, coffee stained robe until my morning chores were completed.  That didn’t put me into the best of moods, and that’s when I realized where my emotions were about to take me if I let them. 
With everything cleaned up from the coffee episode, I attempted to have another go at sitting still, when what did I see out of the corner of my eye?  Water. 
Turning my head toward the washer I notice a big puddle.  The washer was overflowing from the bottom.  Did I jump up immediately and do something?  No, I just sat there and watched water run out of the bottom of the washer.  I was looking for an overflow of blessings, but this surely wasn’t what I had in mind.

By then I had my tablet and had jotted down some things.  My pen kept skipping and in my frustration this is what I wrote as it began to quit on me: “…the washer overflowed, and THIS STUPID PEN WON”T WRITE!”  Yes, I was writing in large letters which demonstrated I was getting angry. 

Determining not to shipwreck my faith, I stood up and quietly said out loud to my guest for coffee, “Yes, (speaking to God) I am angry.  I’m allowed to be angry, I am not sinning.  I’m not yelling or acting out … I’m just ticked off.  How is this favor?”  Yep, I went there. 
 

Back it up …

Flags went up, whistles blew … my inner spirit was sending me some signals to guard my heart.

Spirit Thing (Newsboys)

Walking around in circles in the kitchen while talking I began asking myself questions.  “OK, what’s going on here?  Why is this getting to you?”  What I was doing was examining myself like the Word of God tells us to do daily, but I wasn’t thinking on that level at that time.  In actuality, I was wondering why a little water on the floor got me mad.  Normally I would have thought of it as a way to clean the floor and brushed it off as not a big deal.  (You can probably tell, I don’t like housework.)

So what was happening?  I was tired.  That’s all it was.  Over the past four nights I hardly had any sleep and it had caught up with me.  Instead of finishing the morning duties and starting work, I went back to bed for a few hours.  Do I normally do that?  No.  Did I feel guilty?  No, even though satan tried to make me feel guilty I didn’t give in to his tactics.

“But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.”      (1 Corinthians 9:27 KJV)
“I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.” (1 Corinthians 9:27 NLT)

In order to hear from God for direction, we have to be clear minded and ready to listen.  If I gave into my emotions it would have followed me throughout the rest of the day (perhaps the week) and affected everything and everyone around me.  Not putting my emotions under (control) would have led me into sin and acting out of the flesh.  That would have cut off all the blessings and favor God was about to pour out on me.  Selfish emotions easily stay God’s hand and cancel blessings.

“And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” (Romans 12:2 KJV)

“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”  (Romans 12:2  NLT)


While I was sleeping …

This morning before getting out of bed, I joyfully said out loud, “OK Lord, show me the good things you have prepared for me while I was sleeping.” 
I expected to wake up to God's new mercy (unmerited favor) and for it to follow me like the Bible says.  By faith I hoped to see a change.
As you know it’s been raining for about a month.  The yard is overgrown and looks out of control.  We have had to be patient not being able to do anything in the garden or even mow.  It was like we were being told by God, “You can’t touch this.  Let Me work.”

The sun was shining … it’s a beautiful day.  I wanted to see what God had done while we waited, so my husband and I went outside to see.  “Where is favor leading and taking us today?”  I said as I went outside with a container in hand.  We intended to collect a harvest, and we did.

In being still while God worked, the gardens grew, morning glory flowers came up all around the yard and I didn’t plant any seeds this year.  Our Rose of Sharon and Crape Myrtle bushes were in bloom; peppers and cantaloupe were ready and we had corn about 7 feet tall.  The only thing missing was the rainbow.

Are you having a hard time being still while waiting on God to perform His promises?  Don’t give in to your feelings or try reasoning with God (He’ll listen, but still does things His way).  Be still and know God hasn’t forgotten about you.  Recognize that something is causing you to question or doubt, but don’t let it steal the blessings that God is preparing for you.

I want to encourage you to practice being still before the Lord God so you can hear from Him. It's not going to be easy, and all sorts of things will try to distract you, but don't give in to them. Make yourself be quiet (even if you have to tell yourself to shut your mouth.) It may look like things are taking a long time, but be assured God is busy working on His good plan for your life.  He’s not holding back. You may not see anything happening, but don’t be fooled.  Something is growing and your favor harvest may be right outside your door. 
"For the LORD God is a sun and shield: the LORD will give grace, mercy (unmerited favor) and glory: no good thing will He withhold from them that walk uprightly." (Psalm 84:11 KJV)


Be Still
 

Maybe you don’t know the Living God that I know, but would like to have this kind of favor in your life also.  Click on the above tab “Tell Me” for more information on becoming a child of the Savior.

 
Content and Image Copyright from Favored1. Do not copy.
Image credit if not listed by Google Images Creative Common License
Scripture reference was taken from the New King James Bible Version provide by
Gateway Bible