Sunday, October 12, 2008

Questioning or Trusting

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. Psalm 139: 23-24

Ever since I surrendered my heart to God, I’ve been focused on living in His reflection. I seem to look at everything with different eyes. I seem to hear things with different ears. I’ve also become very mindful of my actions, my words, even my thoughts. The more time I spend in the Word of God, the more I find myself harbored in its pages, absorbing the comfort of His promises.

It is said that this life can take us from deserts, to valleys, to the foot of the mountain, to the top of the mountain, and then back down into the desert. Lately, I think I’ve traveled through each area; however, when I get to the foot of the mountain…I have difficulty getting to the top. In the midst of climbing, it seems as if I keep grabbing the loose rocks that cause me to slip and sometimes anxious thoughts of falling are revealed.

I researched “rock-climbing” to see if there was an appropriate term for the parts of the rock that you’re suppose to grab in order to pull yourself up. Well, I got sidetracked when I read that it is wise for rock climbers to climb in pairs to utilize a safety system. This is how it works: one person will keep climbing while the other person “belays” (manages and controls the safety rope attached to the climber so that if the climber were to fall, he/she wouldn’t fall very far.)

I know you can see where I’m going with this, but hold on a second….it gets better. I also learned that rock climbing is a sport that tests a climber’s strength, endurance, agility, balance, and the climber’s mental control. So… that got me to thinking. Well, if I’m the climber striving to reach the summit, and the Lord is my partner who is belaying, then why is it that can’t I seem to make it up the mountain? Then I remembered what the Lord spoke over my heart a few nights ago.

I must tell you that I look forward to praying right before I go to sleep. I have different prayers each night, but there is always one request that never changes. I’m always praying for God to search my heart, to refine me and remove all my impurities that don’t allow His reflection to show through. I think an objective for all Believers is to be able to reveal the image of Christ, and it is a constant request I make each night.

Well, a couple of nights ago, I had a heart to heart with God while I was praying. I broke down and questioned God’s motives for my circumstances. I just had to tell Him where I stood over a certain situation and that I couldn’t help but wonder why things revolving around this situation kept crumbling. I just didn’t understand. I pleaded for Him to either deliver me from the situation or hold me up, because I was becoming discouraged in what to do next.

After a moment of being still, the Lord spoke very clear to my heart. He told me that He was fulfilling my request and pulling to surface the ungodly ways of my heart. Then it was as if He was questioning me, “Miranda, why do you ask for me to refine you… then ask me to deliver you from the process of refinement? Do you not trust that that this momentary affliction is preparing for you an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison? (2 Cor 4:17) Once the dross is removed from the silver, does the silversmith not have material for a vessel? (Proverb 25:4) Can I just tell you that I really didn't like it when the Lord questioned was very convicting. I wanted to do to Him what I do to my Mama when I cause her to question me. I wanted to hug His neck, sit in His lap and say I'm sorry a million times.

He then reminded me that in order for dross to be removed from silver, the refiner must first place the silver over the fire so that it may be melted down. Then when the silver is no longer in an unyielding state, the dross or the impurities will rise to the surface. The refiner can then burn away the dross, which leaves the silver pure and allows the image of the refiner to reflect from it.

Wow... The Lord sure knows how to stand you upright, doesn't He? So just like the goal for the sport of rock climbing, my challenges in the climb are there to test my strength, endurance, agility, balance, and faith. Then when those anxious thoughts, offensive ways, and areas of sin in my life rise to the surface and cause me to lose balance… that gives God the opportunity to burn them away, so that He may mold me into the vessel He wants me to be and I may be led in the way everlasting.

But if the climb becomes long and difficult to endure, God is so gracious to have sent us His Son to be our partner who belays while we climb up the mountain. As long as we put all of our trust in Him and let Him control the rope that attaches us together, we can climb without ceasing…..even when it’s hard and even when the loose rocks we grab cause us to slip, we can persist with faith…because His Word tells us that the promises of God are “Yes” and “Amen” in Christ (2 Cor 1:20), and He is the One who Saves us from falling. Praise Him...for He is Good.

The "Light" at the Traffic Light!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Do you know those times when you're riding around, the weather is just perfect, not too hot... a nice breeze.... the sun is setting.... so you are just excited to ride with the windows down? (It's the end of the day, so you don't care if you wind up with windblown hair, Amen?)

So you just ride around listening to the radio and enjoying the end of the day....beginning of the weekend and just relaxing. Well, this was me a little while ago. I was riding around thinking about lots of things, and while I was thinking I was listening to an audio Bible Study that was speaking about what seemed to be going on in my life currently.

Do you ever have those moments, where you're going through something and after you FINALLY bow down and present your request to God, you'll recieve a devotional, hear a song on the radio, or listen to something in Church that seems to be speaking right to your heart? I LOVE THAT!!!! That seems to happen to me all the time!!!! I'm smart enough to know by now that it's not coincidence... it's PROVIDENCE!!!

So I was really "in tune" listening to my Bible Study and lining my heart up with God's, when I pulled up to a traffic light and I stopped. (Cause that's what ya do....ha!) You'll know exactly what I'm talking about when I say.... the proper procedure is to pull up to the red light, stop, and then you look at the car next to you to see who has followed the law with you. Right?*wink*wink* OF COURSE!! WE all do.... it is just about impossible to stop at a traffic light and not glance at who is beside you! HA! You just can't do it. Curiousity is our nature, I'm almost postitive I don't stand alone on that. HA! So there I was stopped at the traffic light and I looked to the right of me, and there was this pickup truck with two older gentlemen in the truck. They looked like they had just came back from construction work or something.

Well, when I made eye contact with them, I immediately looked away (again, that's what we do.. we look and then hurry and turn back! LOL). So I was engaged back into what I was listening to... and I couldn't help but let my womanly presumption take over... "should I roll my windows up?...Those guys are really close... I don't know if they are...but I can just feel them staring at me....but I then ignored those thoughts... I just kept looking forward... waiting patiently for the light to turn green.

Then I heard, "Ma'am... pssst....Ma'am....Excuse me? Ma'am?"

It was the guys next to me. And you can bet.... my presumption set back in and the first thing that crossed my mind... "I sure hope their not going to try and flirt with me and say some crazy pick-up-line." So I hestitated as I turned my head to look back at them.

Once they had my attention....Then the driver said, "Ma'am... who is that preaching?"....

(THEN I GOT EXCITED!!!).... I smiled and said, "It's Beth Moore"

(Enter into conversation- the second guy in the passenger seat)

"Beth Moore?" "Yeah, she is an awesome Bible teacher!! I'm studying how to LIve BEYOND myself, ha ha!, It's VERY Awesome, I LOve studying God's Word and applying it to my life!"

The second guy, "You're a Christian?..... I think I'm a Christian too."

*PAUSE!!!! When the passenger said I THINK I'm a Christian too,I ALMOST WET MY PANTS, I got so excited!!!!

I immediately knew the Lord stopped us at this red light together for His glory!!!!!!! Bless Him!!! He just makes me stand in awe at how He makes things happen!!! I knew that this was one of those times that would bless Him and me! He's SO Good!!!*

So I said back to the men, "I asked Jesus to come into my heart almost 9 months ago and He has turned my life around for the better, and I found out how to live abundantly through Him, He's just amazing!"

Then the light turned green and it was time to drive on, and the guy hollered..... "I'll have to look into that!!!" and while we drove side by side for a second as we were starting to get going, I hollered back... "Y'all do that!!! Blessings!!!!"

It all took a matter of maybe a minute, but I was able to sow a seed at the traffic light. I must say that I have witnessed to people in lots of different places, but a traffic light was a first for me. I would have never expected that to be a God-moment.... had I not been willing to take a moment to listen to them.

It just makes me stand in awe at how the Lord perfectly places everything together when He knows He is going to make a stir somewhere!! I almost didn't ride with my windows down, but looking back...I remember just feeling like I had to.. that it would feel good to me... and I usually take another route home, but today I took a differnt route... It's just amazing to me how he "sets" it all up. I

t also makes me just melt when I think about this...when we're open and willing to be a light for Him, and offer ourselves completely to Him for that reason, He REALLY does use us. He uses us to shine the light in us to others, and that is just awesome!! We're REFLECTORS!!! Reflectors of His image! So that people will see us and ask us questions... much like the gentleman did tonight!! I was so incredibly blessed, and I pray that those gentleman are drawn to seek His face more and more!!!

So.. next time you're at a traffic light... and you make eye contact with the other person... before you're quick to turn your head... smile at them, and if the window is down... make conversation..... you'll never know where it will lead!!!!

For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ." 2 Cor4:6 (NIV)

Remember, our Message is not about ourselves; we're proclaiming Jesus Christ, the Master. All we are is messengers, errand runners from Jesus for you. It started when God said, "Light up the darkness!" and our lives filled up with light as we saw and understood God in the face of Christ, all bright and beautiful." 2 Cor 4:5-6 (The Message)

Love y'all lots!!!

In His Light,

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Patience Waits

Sunday, Augusta 24, 2008

I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. Psalm 40:1

I went home over the weekend to visit my family. Today is Sunday, so naturally I had to drive back to my apartment in my college town tonight. It use to be that when I'd get ready to go, my 4 year old niece would start to cry (and occasionally she still will)… but she would ALWAYS cry when I got my things together to drive back.

It was about 5 o'clock this afternoon when I gathered my things to go home...I had been waiting for the rain to pass… and finally it had stopped, so it was time to head out. Natasha, my niece, had just awakened from a nap. So I gathered her tightly in my arms and began to kiss all over her darling little face and I said, "Aunt Ran has to go now."…. She said calmly, "Ok, Aunt Ran…I love you."… No tears.

Now, it's not that I wanted her to cry for me…. after all, I don't want to make my baby sad… it's just that when she cries... I KNOW that I'm still wanted there.

Well, I went to hug my Mama goodbye, and she hugged me back and told me the usual… "drive safely". Well… THAT WAS IT… no one was going to cry over me. So guess what…. I BEGAN TO CRY!!!!

I just started to weep, and I fell back into my Mama's arms and I told her how much I didn't want to go back to school. Then the truth of my life came pouring out. I cried in my Mama's arms and I told her how I'm just DONE… I'm SO tired of school; I'm getting so burned out…. I've already been in school 17 years of my life, and although I've got just one more year left... JUST ONE MORE left… I'm so ready to be finished.

It's not that I want to stop… I don't, I WANT TO FINISH...I WANT my degree… I just WANT it to be NOW….

After I gathered myself together I hugged my mom and my niece again (because, if you're from the South.. a goodbye isn't a goodbye unless you've hugged a minimum of three times. ) Then I went and got in my car…. And before I could go I had to just talk to God. It was DIRE that I let Him know where I stand. So I began to pray to Him. After I felt content again, for the most part, I turned the key in the ignition and then I backed out of the driveway…..honked my little horn to say "goodbye" ONE more time…. and began my three hour drive back to my apartment. And on my drive back…. God responded to my cry.

I must tell you, I had the most Brilliant idea of getting an audio Bible Study, because it just ROCKS on my long drives. So, I'm listening to a Beth Moore Bible Study called Living Beyond Yourself... it's awesome. But, what's more AWESOME, the Lord used the message today to speak to me.

Beth's been teaching over Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

The lesson today was over Patience…..and, wow.... let me tell you,… that is the flavor of the fruit that has been sour instead of sweet in my life. I'm just gonna be honest, I am an impatient person. In fact, when I heard this message today, I KNEW I wanted to write about it, because it was convicting and blessing me both, and I KNEW I had to write my thoughts about it…
AND DO YOU KNOW that the Lord had THE NERVE…. To give me the urge to "write" about this…30 minutes into my drive!!!!!! I still had 2.5 hours of driving to go, and here I was about to pop, because I was just itching to write my thoughts down, but I had no choice, HE was MAKING me wait!!!!

Patience……was the lesson He was speaking over me.

I want you to check this out with me….By doing some research (from my mental notes that I took in my head)….. I've learned that there is a Greek word that translates into the English word patience… the Greek word is Hupomone which has a meaning of inspired by hope. Isn't that awesome?!?!? Patience that is INSPIRED BY HOPE!!!!

There is another important Greek word that Beth taught over called makrothumia, which is patience inspired by mercy (which is the one, in context, is the type of patience that is require in the Fruit of the Spirit). But in my case and the one that is most often associated with patience… the one that spoke to me was Hupomone.

After researching ... I've learned that Hupomone is perseverance, endurance, and putting up with different circumstances because we know that there is some type of beneficial expectation, so it inspires us to endure….to press on.

Do you LOVE that?!?!.... Well, it's gonna get better…hold on to your horses for a second…When you relate that with the Lord it just BLOWS you away. It did me!!

The Lesson referenced back to the testing of Job. Job had the patience inspired by hope… as we remember in Job 19:25, Job states "I KNOW that my Redeemer lives, and he goes on to say in Job 23:10… that when He [the Lord] has tested me, I will come forth as gold.

So, when I heard that, I remembered the analogy of a Refiner and gold. I remembered that I'm still in the refiner's fire. I WILL BE FOR A WHILE!! In fact, I may not ever get out of the fire until the returning of Jesus. In fact, I don't want to get out of the refiners fire until I see a reflection… but if I see MY reflection in the gold…. I know I'm not finished yet….. His work won't be finished in me until I look into the gold and see Jesus staring back at me. Until I see THE REFINER'S reflection!!! Isn't that great stuff?!?!?

So, going back to my lack of patience......and relating it to what the Lord is speaking over my personal situation with school. …. He speaks James 1:4 to me.

Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

Did you catch that with me? Time makes us mature and complete. Perseverance calls for patience… hupomone is inspired by hope….the practice of patience helps us to persevere in circumstances, which allows us to complete something that has been lacking in us.

I know that I am READY to graduate and move on with the next step of my life… but God wants me to know that He has set this year before me for a reason. A Godly purpose. Who knows what He has planned for me…..but I've been given the inspired hope to know that His will….will be done.

Now, just because I've written this... doesn't mean that I feel 100% more patient about getting through this next year. After all, it takes "practice." That is because society today doesn't know what it's like to just wait. In fact, WAITING is the hardest work we've ever done. But we must never think for a moment that our "waiting" is just idle…. God has chosen us all for something bigger and "He who began a good work will be faithful to complete it" Phil 1:6. We have to just do the work of being still and trusting God to lead us in His path to righteousness. There is a season for everything, and I have a strong feeling that this season of waiting will be building my character in Christ more. In fact…I'm convinced.

I've learned over the past 8 months that we have to look to the Holy Spirit to guide us in every situation. Particularly in this situation, because the world has lost all sight of patience….. just look at the self-checker outers and the pay-at-the-pump gas stations. It's funny…even with the convenience of those we still will tap our foot if we have to wait in line. Convenience never produces character…. The Fruit of the Spirit does ….we just have to have patience to continue on…to persevere. As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. James 5:11
I said in the beginning that before I left my Mama's house, it was storming and I was waiting for the rain to pass. How PRECIOUS is the Lord to reveal Himself to me, to touch my heart in such a wonderful way!! Because…I'll tell you, I waited for the rain to pass, and as I was driving…the Lord blessed me with the beauty of a Rainbow.

So it is best to have patience and just go through the season…because when it finally passes…. The Rainbow of the Lord will shine through, and we shall be blessed.

Therefore, as God's CHOSEN people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and PATIENCE. Col. 3:12

There was a Noble King...

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Do you remember the childhood song "The Noble Duke of York"… (I never knew the name of it, but I googled it just a second ago…and it appears to be the correct title...Ha!)

Although the song would probably start "The Noble Duke of York, he had ten thousand men…" I remember singing it this way…. (feel free to sing-a-long... you know you want to!!!)…

There was a Noble King, He had ten thousand men
He marched them UP to the top of the Hill
Then He marched them DOWN again

And when you're UP…you're UP
And when you're DOWN…you're DOWN
And when you're only halfway up
You're either UP or DOWN

Remember the song? Well… I was studying my Bible this evening with a video series instructing me and came upon 2 Corinthians 1:3-4…Praise be to the God and father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us IN all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.

There are lots of "comforts" in that verse! If you are like me and you have A.D.D, if you're not careful, you can miss the beauty of the message in that verse.

My studying revealed an important thing. See the word "in" in that verse? Pull out your Bible and circle it, because it is essential to know that God does not always choose to keep us from troubles, but instead He will ALWAYS comfort us IN our troubles, because we WILL have them in order to grow spiritually.

Destitution, hardships, and sufferings flourish in us to fulfill His purpose, so that we may rise above and comfort others. He soothes over our hearts so that we may be able to console others in our lives that are going through troubles. We're able to reach out to them by the comfort we have with God!!!

Paul is the apostle who penned 2 Corinthians, and through his epistles, we know that Paul has had many hardships scattered around his life, but Paul chose to live his Christian life, not unto himself, but unto the Lord. He chose to live as a living testimony to others…that whether you're UP or DOWN God is there working in your life. It's emphasized that adversity works towards a blessing.

That's when I suddenly remembered the tune from my "Barney and friends" days. ….I can clearly relate the song with the Lord, especially with the words that I use to sing it with!!! Ok, are you ready??? Check this out!!!!

*There was a Noble King, He had ten thousand men*
Noble King (can represent God)…ten thousand men (can represent Christians)

*He marched them UP to the top of the Hill*
He marches us up, so that we may rise above and feel His comfort through the blessings we've been given in life.

*Then He marched them DOWN again*
Then, to teach us perseverance, He'll march us down…and take note of the word "again"; he doesn't just bring us down once... He does it over and over, so we are able to learn how to deal with our failures and difficulties through His Love for us.

*And when you're UP…you're UP*
When we're "up"…we're up!!! We're living in abundance of His grace! But through receiving comfort from the Lord, Paul teaches that we should reach down and comfort those who are down. We're to encourage them and uplift them, in order to pull them up with us, so that they see the blessing from the hardship God's allowed upon their lives.

*And when you're DOWN…you're DOWN*
Nobody will be "up" all the time; we have sins that will sneak up on us while we are in the flesh. The times of struggle are the times we should fix our eyes upon God. We're able to do so, through the comfort of Him and the work He's done in the lives of other believers, who are able to reach out to us. We're able to learn to let God work in our lives and deal with our failures and comfort us in our troubles and difficulties, so that we may reconstruct, re-develop and rebuild our spiritual lives… that the pattern may repeat itself and when we're marched back up to the top of the hill…we may reach out and minister to others. It's all a work in process!! When you really think about it… I mean, how awesome is that?!?!?

*And when you're only halfway up…you're either UP or DOWN*
I love the significance that can be drawn from this line in the song!!! Check this out!….This line reflects the spiritual choice that we have through Jesus. When we are only halfway up…we are in the midst of suffering….so we're given a choice. The choice is to both accept His love and receive His comfort or to fall back into the pits of despair, and ignore the deliverance that has been granted through Christ.

Where are you today? Maybe you're living in abundance at the top? Maybe you're praying for mercy at the bottom? Or maybe you're in the middle and are faced with the choice of choosing which way to go. One thing is for sure, no matter what depth of life you are in, God's grace is sufficient for us and His strength is made perfect in weakness. 2 Cor 12:9 When God spoke those words to Paul, Paul realized that when he is weak, he is strong.

My studying taught me that, as Christians, we should look up and heed Paul's Christian walk. Paul was so convinced of His salvation and He was sure of Heaven. He was so guaranteed of eternal life that he was not afraid to stand up for his faith, he wasn't afraid to take any kind of persecution or rejection. He wasn't afraid to suffer or ultimately give up his life…..all because he knew that the message of the Gospel was TRUE and it could change the lives of individuals and it could ultimately become the HOPE of the world.

Dear Heavenly Father,
Thank you so much for the different areas of life that you've taken me through. I know that whether I'm at the top of the hill or at the bottom you're going to be right there with me. Today and always, I choose to receive the comfort you've blessed me with through Jesus, and I am thankful for my moments of weakness…as they always bring us closer together in our relationship. In Jesus' Name I pray. Amen.

May God bless you through His choosing!!
Love, Miranda