What is the IT?

What is the IT?

For the past few years, a group of friends and I have been challenged in December to ask God to give us a word for the coming year. My word for 2017 is JOY. I began the year thinking ‘awesome, my year is going to be filled with joy!’ It has been in many ways that I am so thankful for. The year began with the birth of a baby boy into our family and has ended with the birth of a second baby boy into our family. That is JOY! In addition, I was able to complete a year-long contract of radio hosting. God provided messages and interviews throughout the year that brought great joy. We have a new church home. That, too, is great joy. However, among these joyful events, there have been trials, disappointments and discouragement as well. But God is reminding me at the end of this year what true joy is all about. This month the Lord has taken me time and again to James 1:2 which says in part, “…count it all joy when you encounter various trials knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.” In reading this verse, I think we have a tendency to believe that God is telling us to consider the trial all joy. We ask, ‘how can I consider this cancer joy, or this death joy, or this divorce, or this loss of job’ and so forth. You get the picture. But as I have studied this, I have asked the question, ‘What is the IT of this verse?’ Could it be that the IT is not in reference to the trial, but rather in reference to that which we are to consider – all joy? Could it be that the IT is the Good News delivered by the angels to the shepherds who were watching over their fields at night? The angels appeared to the shepherds and said, “…Behold, I bring you tidings of GOOD NEWS of great joy which will be to all people.” Luke 2:10. Could it be that the IT is the same GOOD NEWS described in Isaiah 61:1 – the good news of Jesus Christ? If that is the case, it changes how we would think when in the midst of trials. Count it all joy is only one phrase of the sentence. The word ‘count’ in the Greek means to consider, think about, rule over, to command, to have authority over – to be a leader. What this is telling us is that we have authority over the choices we make in our thought process. This phrase is joined to the rest of the sentence by the word ‘when’ meaning...

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Journey of Faith

Today, November 28th, is Global #Giving Tuesday. Would you join others in giving to Majestic Inspirations today. You gift will help us to share God’s Word through radio, books (2 to publish in 2018 with funding), an updated website ($750), speaking and teaching that they may grow in their faith. In my story below, you will discover that I didn’t know the Lord until I was 29 years old. It’s never too late but how much better if we learn to know Him at a younger age. Will you help me spread the word so that others may know… As an Alliance Partner with the Women’s NonProfit Alliance, your gifts are tax deductible in accordance with the law. GIVE On this Thanksgiving Holiday, the thing I am most thankful for is my salvation and relationship with God through Jesus Christ. So, on that note, I am sharing with you how my personal journey of faith began… “Virginia, what is wrong with you?” That question was asked of me by a coworker many years ago. My answer was “I don’t know what is wrong with me. I just know I am miserable.” She laughed and said, “Oh I know. God has you under conviction.” Conviction – what does that mean? I was too embarrassed to tell her I had no idea what she was talking about. But that is where my journey of faith began. I was 29 years old. And so if you are like me and don’t know the meaning of conviction, let me share with you that at the time I needed to know, there were no computers much less the internet or Wikipedia. So, the old fashioned way of finding a word definition was a Webster’s paper dictionary. This is the meaning I found at that time: being convinced; strong belief. To be convicted. Well, gee – that is certainly helpful. But with that definition, I had to ask myself the question, being convinced of what? I had to begin examining what I believed about God and faith. And as I searched, God led me until I found Him through my Savior Jesus Christ. But let me back up a few years. The 20’s were very difficult years for me and my young daughter. As a single Mom I struggled with all the normal things a single Mom struggles with – time, money, relationships and parenting. But in addition to those things, I struggled with grief. My own Mother died when I was 24 and my Dad when I was 27. Since I did not have faith in God to keep me grounded, I was a miserable, angry, hurting person. In the meantime, I had met...

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Sit With Me in the Rain

Sit With Me in the Rain

“Let us strive to know the Lord. His appearance is as sure as the dawn. He will come to us like the rain, like the spring showers that water the land.” HCSB We have a promise from God that as we strive to know Him better, His presence in our lives is a sure thing. And by His presence, He will teach us in a way that we flourish and grow. We have His promise that He will stimulate growth in us as we open our hearts and minds allowing Him to make conditions right for learning. Many years ago, I went with friends to a retreat in Colorado that was held on a ranch. The theme was “Loving Jesus”. On the last day, the speaker challenged us to take our Bible outside, find a place of solitude and listen for the Lord to speak through His word. Being a ‘girly girl’ back then, I didn’t want to get my hair messed up or my clothes dirty so I looked and looked for just the right spot. Finally I saw a slab of concrete and prepared to open my Bible. But just about the time I was settled, it began to rain. Oh my goodness, you can’t believe the grumbling and complaining coming out of my mouth and God heard every word. As I gathered my things to go back inside, the Lord spoke through a still small voice as if He were standing right there in front of me. He said, ‘Virginia, don’t you love me enough to sit with me in the rain for a moment.’ Whew! My knees gave way and I immediately sat again knowing I had heard a word from the Lord. The funny thing is that as soon as I opened my Bible again, the rain stopped! But funnier still is that the passage I opened to was Hosea 6:3. As I look back on that occasion, I realize that God was testing my love and obedience to Him.  He wanted me to recognize that my priorities were messed up; that I was more concerned about my appearance, my hair and clothes than I was spending time in solitude with Him. God wanted to stimulate spiritual growth and maturity in me. Even though it has been at least 20 years since then, I remember it as if it were yesterday. God wants us to love Him enough to sit with Him in the rain if that’s what it takes to get our attention so we can listen, learn and grow. God got my attention that day. In James 4:8, it tells us that when we draw near to God, He will draw near...

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Perspective

Perspective

Putting Things in Perspective “…should I not have compassion on Nineveh?” Jonah 4:11 This is an excerpt from “Facing Fears, Quenching Flames”, a devotional book on overcoming fear and anger. Available on amazon.com and christianbooks.com.     Scripture Reading: Jonah 4:1-11 “Do you have good reason to be angry?” Jonah was so angry that he wanted to die. But what God recognized in him was an outburst of anger for a surface issue that covered a deeper problem. The surface issue was a plant that had died. The real issue was Jonah’s attitude toward God over circumstances that he could not control. He was still angry that God showed mercy instead of judgment for Nineveh, but the anger he expressed was related to taking away his comfort. His attitude was so resentful and despondent that he no longer wanted to live. But what purpose does it serve to be angry at God? I think we learn from Jonah’s example that it serves no purpose other than to make us miserable. There was a pattern of behavior in the life of Jonah that God was trying to get him to acknowledge and change. His attitude led him to a place of despair and self-pity. Jonah was trying to control God and His actions, so the results would be the way he thought they should be, rather than according to God’s character of mercy and compassion. God’s point to Jonah was the value of life. He pointed out that Jonah was angry over the death of one insignificant plant, but God was concerned with the lives of 120,000 people. This story is a picture of how anger distorts our thinking until we have unrealistic expectations of others and of God. When those expectations are not met, emotions plunge to despair. As difficult as it may be for us, God wants us to put things in perspective. Whatever it is that has caused our anger, we may never know the why or the circumstance which caused it. And so, in order to survive this frame of mind, there are several things to do that help in getting our emotions to a place of healing.   Acknowledge that God is wiser and more powerful that you are – Isaiah 40:21-27   Identify the root of the anger before you become bitter – Hebrews 12:15   Give your emotions and circumstances to God – Psalm 55:22, Psalm 69:19   Be forgiving and merciful – Ephesians 4:32   Re-join the land of the living – Matthew 22:32, 37   Hold every thought captive to the obedience of Christ – 2 Corinthians 10:5 This book of the Bible ends in a very strange way. It just...

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Can I Be Worry-Free? (Part 1)

Can I Be Worry-Free? (Part 1)

Reference Text: Matthew 6:24-33 As women, we worry about our bodies. We’re too tall, too short, too big, too small, too old, too young; or our health, obsessed with our weight, diet, exercise, and so on and so on. What is at the root of all that worry? It is what we look like to others. What others think about us. Yes, we need to be concerned about our bodies for the sake of our health. But to be obsessed with our body for our looks is to put undue anxiety and worry into our minds that distract our focus away from what the real concern is for our bodies. And that is to understand that our bodies are a temple of the Holy Spirit of God who is in us, and are therefore to be treated as such. It is not how we look on the outside that is most important. It is what we look like on the inside that matters to God. Jesus said “do not worry about your body”. Don’t become fixated on the constant physical improvements to your body. But be concerned with healthy choices for the body that replenish and refresh the spirit. Paul said in Romans 12:1 that we are to offer our bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – “this is your spiritual act of worship”. Wow! How did I not catch this before? We are to bring our bodies before the Lord, giving ourselves to Him saying something like, “Lord, I am giving my all to you.” To truly worship God is to say “I am yours” “My body is yours to do with as you will” I surrender all… Jesus said “do not worry about what you will wear”. Let me just stop right there for a moment. Really! Who didn’t stand in the closet this morning and worry about what to wear today. Ok, maybe worry is a little strong. Who didn’t have to make a choice this morning about what to wear? That is a constructive concern. It moved you to make a decision. But sometimes, we can take that a little too far and the choice becomes a concern that grows into anxiety that causes panic that steals our joy. Jesus said “Your life is more important than food, the body and clothes.” These things; money, food, physical body and clothing are temporal, they are not eternal; but life in Christ is eternal. Our life is most important, therefore we are to be concerned with our spiritual life in a way that prepares us for our eternal future rather than be so caught up on the things of this world that they weigh...

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Return of the Ring

Return of the Ring

 Once there was a 12-year old girl who had a cute freckled-faced, redheaded boyfriend. He delivered newspapers and she twirled a baton. Each day as he delivered the paper to her house, she would be in the yard twirling. They would talk for a while every day. One day, he gave her a ring. She didn’t recognize the ring for what it was. It was a high school senior ring. All she knew was the 12-year old boy liked her enough to give her a ring. She couldn’t wait to show it to her girlfriends the next day. The problem was, she had two brothers who were in high school. One saw the ring and looked closely at it to see the initials of the owner. Not only did he know who it belonged to, but the owner played football with the other brother. So, he told her Daddy. He called the owner who came to pick up the ring. The girl was shy and embarrassed and hiding in her room, but her Daddy told her to go and give the ring back herself. With her head hanging and her face red, she walked into the room, but what she saw on the young ring owner’s face was not anger. She saw compassion. As she handed him the ring, he reached in his back pocket, took out his wallet and handed her a $20 bill. That high school senior bought back something that already belonged to him… something that had been stolen. That young girl was me. It wasn’t until years later that I realized God had given me a beautiful real-life picture of what redemption looks like. The innocence of humanity that was stolen in the Garden of Eden has been bought back through Jesus. He is our Redeemer and paid the price in order to buy us back for God. How could I know then the value of what God was teaching in those moments in a 12-year old life. What a great hope we have in our Savior who knows all things and uses the situations in life to remind us of His great love, mercy and grace. In His compassion, He paid the price for our sin that we can be drawn into the presence of God as clean as Adam and Eve before sin entered in. That’s what took place on what we now call, Good Friday. The blood of Jesus was shed on the cross to pay the price once for all to redeem us. Then, on Easter morning, He arose! Praise the Lord, Christ arose! “For He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of...

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