Acknowledge

When I write and email or send a card, I have to enter an address of the receiver of my message. Without the address, the letter would just be a draft and never arrive to its intended receiver. I have to acknowledge whom I want to receive my message.

We like to post our messages and pics on social media platforms to let the world see what’s trending with us. I wonder, though, if God sees our interactions online and shakes His head. He would say, “They want to acknowledge each other, important topics and interests, but they don’t always acknowledge me.”

So, what does it mean to acknowledge God in Proverbs 3:6? In Genesis 22:1, God called to his servant, “Abraham!” “Here I am,” he replied. First of all, God called then Abraham acknowledged God. It always is in this order. God’s Holy Spirit calls us and as people, we have a choice to make. Either it will be a “Here I am” or “I’m not here right now” or “I’m not listening”. Abraham would soon be facing a journey down a path that he didn’t choose, but one that would show God Abraham’s heart. I kind of think that God sets us out on a journey at times to see what we’re really made of too.

The scripture tells us that in “ALL OUR WAYS” to ACKNOWLEDGE God and he will make straight our paths. God knew that our path would appear crooked and out of sorts. He knew we’d need a little or a lot of help in choosing which path to take. In the case of Abraham, God provided a miracle baby, Issac, but then told old Abe to walk an unexpected path to make a sacrifice to the Lord. It became Abe’s path to obedience which led to generational blessings. God saw the kind of actions in Abraham that showed the value of preparation to pursue God and Abraham saw God’s Provision. I believe we’ll see God’s Provision in His time as we prepare our hearts by reading His Word and praying then pursuing Him.

In Genesis 22:3, I see the actions of Abraham before he ever set out on the path to make a sacrifice to God: “Early the next morning Abraham got up and loaded his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about.” I notice the words from this verse: early, got up, loaded, took with him, had cut enough wood, set out. In Verse 2, God had told Abraham to go to the region of Moriah to a mountain that He would show Abraham. Abe didn’t have an exact address, but he knew the general direction. He first prepared for the journey then started the trip on the designated path.

God has designated a path for you and me but first we need to load our minds with His truth. We have to prepare our minds and our hearts to be ready for our daily journey into the world of work. Once he had heard from God, Abraham cut the wood then set out on the path. I have often wondered why he took two servants. Clearly, he would need Issac since God had told Abraham to offer Issac as a sacrifice, but I think he knew the value of having supportive people in his life too.

In my life, God has placed the support of my family to surround me and build me up. Likewise, I am in their lives to speak life and truth while savoring moments with them. We’re walking the journey of faith and enjoy love, joy, peace, gentleness, faithfulness, kindness and self control but, occasionally, our path is crooked and winding until the Holy Spirit straightens us out. I know I’ve needed Him to straighten me out especially when I was headed down a path leading to no where or when my mouth was about to speak words that didn’t edify my family. In fact, the words that I have spoken in error, I’ve had to repent of and ask God to redeem them.

The words I speak are internalized by my husband and children. They will pick up on the irritation, on the kindness, on the humor, on the silly, on the hangry, on the whatever. I’m so bad about beating myself up about what I said or how I said it when it’s clear that Jesus just wants me to acknowledge Him. He didn’t say, “Acknowledge that you were wrong.” He says to acknowledge Him. If a mistake is made, I think it is right to apologize and make it right, but I also know that sometimes, only God can redeem the words spoken in error. He knows how to redeem; I have to know how to acknowledge Him and pray. His Spirit always confirms or convicts my choices.

When I acknowledge Him by reading His Word, He always notices. When I sent Christmas cards last month, I wasn’t always sure if the card was delivered before Christmas since I didn’t get them sent until the Saturday before the Wednesday Christmas. I was thrilled to hear of a friend who received the card before Christmas. When I pray and send my requests to our Father in heaven, I know that He hears and desires to answer my prayer to make the path that seems unclear to become clear.

Taking steps down the path of life is usually done by walking at a steady pace, but sometimes, I’ve stood still. I’ve waited. I’ve cried. I’ve even stomped on the path. Sure, I’ve laughed and loved on my path. I haven’t always known what to do, what to say, when to move, where to go next and why I should change course, but I know the God who sees. He made every inch of planet earth. He placed trees in the Garden of Eden and needed a caretaker to look after the Garden. He caused the waters to flow and know where to go. I think if He can create light, dark, stars, water, air and people, He can guide us along our paths in life.

Acknowledging God means to answer Him with a “Hear am I” and a willingness to do what He says. It’s my actions that will show God my heart, not just my words to Him. I want to be led into all truth and trust the words in Isaiah 30:21: “And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.” (ESV)

Pursue – My Word for 2020

Colossians 3:17 “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” 

In whatever I say or do, I am to do it in the name of the Lord Jesus and give thanks to God. My pastor shared the wisdom in this Scripture to my section of the church after our New Year’s Eve Service. It is supposed to be a theme Scripture for the new year.

Prior to the special church service where the congregation prayed for families, the church, schools, teachers, government, our city, our leaders and many other things, I had been pondering a new word for the year. My Word for the year is Pursue. The Colossians 3:17 special Word for me confirms that I chose the word Pursue. Here’s why.

First, I have a desire to pursue God by daily Bible reading and prayer. I love that pursue is a verb that shows action on my part to not just be a Christian but to also follow God in an intentional way.

Second, I discovered that the pursuit of peace is mentioned several times in the Bible. For example, in Hebrews 12:14, we see this truth: “Pursue peace with all men and holiness without which no man shall see the Lord.” In Romans 14:9, it says this: “So then we pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another. In addition, 1 Peter 3:11 tells us: “He must turn away from evil and do good; he must seek peace and pursue it.” The call to me is clear: do whatever I need to do to seek peace, pursue it and in so doing, it will build up others.

Third, the Bible tells me to not just pursue peace to also focus on other important traits. 2 Timothy 2:22 says, “Flee youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith love and peace.” It’s interesting that fleeing and pursuing are mentioned in this Scripture because these verbs are actions to turn away from and head toward something.

I love this idea of heading into the new year with the call to do everything with thanks to God and in the name of the Lord Jesus. I am asking God to help me with what I say verbally and in writing on my blog and in other writing areas. As I pursue the Word of God and pray, I know that God will reveal what He wants me to share.

I am pursuing God and have asked Him to protect, provide, prepare and proclaim His truth to those who know Him and to those who don’t yet have a relationship with Him. I am so excited about 2020 and look forward to my pursuit of God. I plan to write as He gives the inspiration and know that if I remain in Him and He in me, I will bear much fruit.

The Possibility of Blessing

Do you remember being in your school’s cafeteria as a child? I remember being in 2nd grade and standing in line outside of the cafeteria as I would wait my turn in line for lunch. My parents would send me with four quarters which would buy my meal as a child in the late 1970s. I would squeeze my oval shaped, thick but bendable plastic pouch as I waited in line to be sure that the quarters hadn’t escaped. The shiny coins would always look back at me through the opening in the pouch. I knew that if I would eat lunch, I would have to have the right amount of money to give the cashier. Being able to eat lunch and pay was the first experience I remember having where I paid because normally, at age 7, my parents always would pay at a store.

These days, as a teacher, I am sometimes summoned to monitor the cafeteria as students arrive in the morning and eat breakfast. We are fortunate to have universal free breakfast now. I am grateful that anyone can come to eat breakfast without having to remember their coins. Someone funded the breakfasts for kids. It helps start their day on a positive note with tummies full of muffins, milk and juice.

This morning, a six year old needed help opening her bag of cranberries. One Kindergartener had managed to poke an opening in his foil covered orange juice lid and was placing his spoon in the juice to get some out. He didn’t realize that he could have poked his straw through the foil lid and been able to drink it through the straw. Instead, he continued to dip his spoon in the crooked place to get out just a little juice.

When I saw the child trying to get into his juice cup in an inefficient way, I wanted to help so I asked him if I could show him how to place the straw in the juice. He loved being able to not have to spoon it out but instead drink it out! The little boy enjoyed getting to drink his juice to wash down his food instead of sipping it out of a spoon.

I feel that many times I’ve sat at the table, grateful for what had been provided for me, but unable to enjoy the meal. Kind of like the little boy who had fumbled with the orange juice lid, I have tried to enjoy my blessings, but somehow, something wasn’t just right. Instead of directly accessing my blessings, I haven’t always known how to get into them. I have watched as others enjoyed their lives and blessings, but have realized that I too need to be aware of how to best access the blessings given to me by God. I need a direct way into my blessings.

I want to try to enjoy my many blessings directly so it is important to remember that I am in charge of my response and my attitude.

I am an ambassador of Christ.

I have the Holy Spirit of God living in me. Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

I will lift up my eyes to the hills where my help comes from. My help comes from the Lord.

God reaches down and gently supports us as we try to enjoy the blessings that He has provided.

I hope that you will look to Him and ask Him, like I will, to help me directly enjoy all of the relationships and gifts that He has provided. Sometimes we can just go about it the wrong way like the little orange juice opener child. God will open new possibilities and cause me to grow, enjoy and be fully aware of my blessings.

God gives us special blessings like the coins in my lunch money pouch; ones that will provide blessings for us and for others. My friend, I pray that you will also find ways to bless others and enjoy the blessings that have been provided for you.

Guarded

While sitting in church during a Monday night prayer meeting, I noticed an old friend a few rows up from me. As I remembered how we had met years before, my mind flooded with memories of when I faced sadness and disappointment.

This person had been my Christian counselor who listened to me and prayed for me. The wise counsel given by this God appointed counselor to me helped me realize that I could get through anything knowing that God was with me right then, guarding my heart. At the end of each and every counseling session, he would pray for me and end the prayer with these words: “In the strong and mighty name of Jesus.” As I sat in church on that Monday night, my eyes filled with tears as I thanked God for my Christian Counselor and how God had used him to not only guard but to restore my heart.

When you don’t feel strong, it helps for someone to remind you that He is strong and mighty. Jesus stands ready to help and guards us as we encounter unexpected and heart wrenching moments. His Holy Spirit will again provide peace that passes our understanding.

In Philippians 4:6 -7, we are told what we are to do in the event that anxious thoughts try to invade and then told what God will do for us.

Philippians 4:6-7 ESV: do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

It is clear. His protection will encamp around your heart and mind after you request your need and thank God in advance for how He will help.

Anxiousness causes an uneasiness. Prayer can point us to the One who already knows the solution. He made a way for us to not live in constant uneasy and tumultuous times and is wanting for us to seek Him to save and protect. Even though I walked through the valley of the shadow of death, He soothed me and guarded me from harm.

God knows that trouble will come and harsh realities can exist. When everything seems to be going wrong, it is time to pray. If anxious thoughts come in a person’s mind, there is a way to handle them. We must approach God with our needs. When we pray, His peace stands at guard around us and will protect our hearts and minds.

Prayer is a communication line with God. It gives us the ability to express our innermost feelings and desires. Here are the steps on praying if you’re feeling overwhelmed and anxious from Philippians 4:6-7:

First, pray. Petition God which means you need to ask Him to help you.

Next, give Him thanks for all that He has done for you.

His peace, personified as a guard in Philippians 4:7, will protect you and make the agonizing moments bearable. This special Peace is one that transcends human understanding. When the weight of a situation tries to drag us down, His Peace lifts us back up.

I know that God provided my counselor to provide peace when I felt far from any form of peace. God knew my fragile heart needed someone to listen, to care and to pray for me. I am so thankful for the Peace that He gave to me through my sessions with my counselor.

The Holy Spirit is our comfort and counselor who helped me and with the help of my human counselor, I learned how to climb the mountain and overcome. God’s peace traveled with me and brought me through. Isaiah 9:6 ESV …and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 

I appreciate the way that God guards our hearts and minds. He wants His children to pray, to thank Him for His many blessings, His goodness and faithfulness and to ask for Him to intervene and help. I know that when we do speak to Him, thank Him and ask Him, he will guard our hearts and mind in Christ Jesus.

I am thankful for my family and friends who prayed for me during a very difficult season in my life many years ago and for the godly wisdom imparted to me through my Christian Counselor. I am most thankful for God who in His great mercy and grace lifted my head. He was my shield around me and my glory as I forged ahead. Psalms 3:3 ESV: But you, O LORD, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head. Many thoughts tried to bombard my mind, but the Holy Spirit shielded me from the damage that could have happened without Him. Oh, I am so thankful for the way He guarded me!

God provides His peace in ways that we may not even quite understand but He will help. He will restore and heal us as we keep our hearts and minds in prayer with the Peace Maker. He is guarding us so that peace and restoration can return. His hedge of protection allowed me the time and space to function in life even though I would cry multiple times in a day. I finally let go of the past and allowed the newness of my life in Christ to settle into my heart.

The old has gone; the new has come. Praise God for bringing me through and allowing newness to come! When I faced very difficult times, I appreciated how reading God’s Word poured strength and life into my weary heart. His Word and His Holy Spirit renewed my heart.

2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV: 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.[a] The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

In life, there will be ups and downs. If you ever need a counselor, Focus on the Family provides counselors and can recommend counselors in your area at their website: https://www.focusonthefamily.com/get-help/counseling-services-and-referrals/

My prayer today is that you will always reach out to God in prayer and never lose hope. He is with you and will never leave you. Keep trusting Him, my friend. Pray for Him to work it all out and guard your heart in the process. He did it for me and He’ll do it for you.

Isaiah 42:6-7 ESV

“I am the Lord; I have called you in righteousness;
    I will take you by the hand and keep you;
I will give you as a covenant for the people,
    a light for the nations,
    to open the eyes that are blind,
to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon,
    from the prison those who sit in darkness.

Promised Peace

After I arrived at the mall with two boxes of shoes and three shirts to return on a Thursday evening, I handed the receipt to the cashier in the shoe section. She stated, “Uh, these had to be returned within three days.”  It was Thursday and I had bought the shoes last Saturday. I would have had to return them by Tuesday to get a refund but it was Thursday.   

Two days late.  The irritation began.  “I can’t believe this!” I thought.  I had bought the shoes for one of my daughters who wasn’t shopping with me on the previous Saturday since they were selling for 80 % off regular price, but she didn’t like them once I brought them home.  Now, what was I going to do with shoes that couldn’t be returned?

I rode the escalator to the clothes department, handed the shirts with tags still on to the same woman who had sold me the shirts last Saturday and she blurted out, “Oh these had to be returned in three days.  It says so on the receipt.” At that point, I thanked her for her time, turned and left the store. I had been too busy to try on the shirts at the store last Saturday, but once I tried them on at home, I didn’t like the way that they fit.  Again, the news was not what I had expected.

Normally, at my local mall, items can be returned.  I don’t return much but it is never a problem. At least it hadn’t been a problem until then.  

The clothing cashier’s words reverberated in my mind like a gong as I walked out of the store.  “It says so right on the receipt. It says so right on the receipt.”  

Now, I had worked all day as a teacher, prepared spaghetti meat and noodles, picked up a dress that had been altered and walked into the mall around 7:15 p.m.  My body and mind had almost reached their limit for the day of any form of weird and crazy, but the two rejections jolted me. They tried to remove my peace.  

It’s so easy to give in and allow our peace of mind to be pierced by words of others. The peace seems to evaporate like steam as the irritation pot starts boiling.  Although I stayed calm during my encounters with the cashiers, I also felt mad that I hadn’t realized that I only had three days to return reduced merchandise. It said so right on the receipt, but I had stuffed the receipt down in the bags.  I couldn’t know the truth because I had ignored the truth. 

The calmness and peace that I had entered the store with had now been leaking out of my mind.  I had to just face now that I will no longer have the money that I had spent on the shoes and shirts.  Even though my peace faded for a moment, I allowed myself to not stress over and dwell on the unfortunate turn of events.  

In that unexpected place, I had to remind myself that the peace that Jesus promised is still with us today.  It may feel like chaos, like utter destruction, like unthinkable difficulty, but there is still peace.  That sweet peace may still be waiting by my bed where I read the Bible this morning or at church when the music and message seeped deep into my heart last weekend, but I have to remember where it is.  I have to return to peace or I will be aggravated, irritated and sad.

I may not be able to instantly arrive back to my Bible by my bed or sit in church, but I can call on Jesus wherever I am on Earth.  I can release the anxiety and pray. I list out my issues in prayer and let Jesus carry them. On my own, I struggle beneath the weight of the burdens.  When I know that He has heard me in prayer, my mind begins to reconnect and remember His peace.  

I know that Jesus left behind peace for his friends before he ascended back to heaven to provide comfort for the restless hearts who would soon walk on Earth without his physical presence.  He knew that we would also have a need to think back to where we had peace and remember it is still there. The God who took time to tell us that He was leaving peace for us wants us to remember to seek peace when nothing seems peaceful.  

We can notice when our peace begins to fade and get peace back through the work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts.  As soon as peace appears to have left us, it is time, right then, to take a moment and recall that Jesus said He was leaving us peace.  Pause and pray for that peace, the kind that passes all understanding; the kind that will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus; The calm that is needed for our moment.

Right in the middle of the turmoil, our hearts must remember the path leading back to peace.  Jesus left His peace here on Earth. This deliberate action on His part gives me extreme comfort knowing that I can reach for His peace and it will come; that peace that Jesus gave me when I read his Word this morning at home or when I shared my heart with him in prayer; the assurance that He’s got this, He’s with me and He’ll never leave me.

Remember these words of Jesus right before he went back to be with His Father: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” John 14:27 (ESV)

Strengthened and Helped

While I noticed my two cats were not racing through my house one weekday morning, I could tell that it was just too quiet. Normally, one of them says “Good Morning” by rubbing against my legs over and over while the other one stays nearby. But on that particular morning, the lack of cat commotion alerted me to a problem: the cats weren’t there. I wondered if they had been accidentally shut up in a room in my house, but then I heard a faint “Meow”. I opened my back door and in walked one of my black cats with no collar. I can’t tell them a part without their red and blue collars. But just one cat walked through the doors. He immediately began greeting me with his rubbing against my ankles. I thought it was Bruce but wasn’t quite sure.

I jumped outside to start looking for the other cat. No matter where I looked, there was no sign of him. I yelled for my husband when I sprinted back into the house to let him know of the issue. He bolted down the stairs and leapt out the door on the hunt for the cat.

In a few minutes, he returned with the cat with the blue color, Bruce. This meant that the cat who arrived first was Randy. My husband found the red collar in our neighbor’s yard. He had jumped the fence to get to Bruce who had been purring and unwilling to jump back over the fence to our yard.

All night our two sibling brother cats endured the coolness, the dark and the unknown. They have rarely been outside during the day and are inside cats. Just the thought of them being outside all night pierced my heart.

We realized that they must have escaped the previous night when we let the dog out right before bed time. They seem to want to creep toward the door in hopes of getting out almost anytime any door is open. Their nature is to explore and be curious, but this time, their curiosity could have killed the cats.

I hope that in our lives, we don’t try to run out and away from the safety that God provides. If our hearts wander, like the cats, then there is no telling where we will end up. Like Bruce, we my be hunkered down on the other side of a fence, tired, scared and crying. I know that our loving Father, like my husband, reaches out to save. He will bring us back. It just may mean an extended stay in the dark.

The cats slept a lot upon their return. Sometimes coming back means a time to recover. A time to let safety sink in. A time to reflect on how good Grace feels. A time of being strengthened.

God really does care and continues to think about us if we wander down a path of doubt, a racetrack of uncertainty or a dirt road full of dust and debris. He is always ready and waiting with open arms to receive us.

If one door opens, like it did for the cats, it may not mean that we should go through that door. It may be enticing as to what may be on the other side, but if one goes through it, there may be a time of living in the dark, feeling estranged and lost. I pray that we would stay in the space of Grace and not become entangled in the snares that can exist not far from home.

As we face each new day, God gives strength for the journey, help and his protection even if we have made a decision that proved to be unwise. He provides and allows events to change. Our cats probably felt like their new normal would just be the way it would be while they spent hours upon hours in darkness. As the dawn of a new day uncovered a pale pink glow, they could see things differently. They could see how to get back home.

I hope that they didn’t stray too far from our house during their night outside, but even jumping the fence to the neighbors’ yard meant that they had gone on a small journey. I can imagine the hope that cried out in each of Bruce’s purrs as he sat waiting on the opposite side of that fence. He could see my husband but would not budge. My husband had to reach down and save him, bring him back home and love on him. Our good Father also sees us in our wanderings and is always ready to pick us up, strengthen, help, rescue, redeem and restore.

I pray that you would know the Grace and the love of our Father and continue to remain in Him.


Restored

“I had a rough day and was just reminded of Psalm 23. #HeLeads”, texted my friend, Charlene. During the previous weeks, she and I had been talking about the deep truths found in the 23rd Psalm. We had coined the hash-tagged phrase “#HeLeads” to remind us in our texts that God does the leading while we learn to follow Him. As I prayed for my friend once her text arrived, I pictured Jesus telling her to come to Him and bring her burdens. I prayed for God to restore Charlene as she laid her burdens down.

Her text had reminded me of the Psalm 23 truths and the restoration that David describes with, “He restores my soul.” Only He can put our lives back together and fill in the empty spaces with His presence. He is the giver of rest and a grand designer so I ended my text back to her with, “#HeRestores”. 

Hashtags help us in social media to organize and follow topics and conversations about a variety of subjects. After using #HeRestores with my friend, Charlene, I began to envision future texts with her to see how God had restored her soul.

I know that in my own life, God has restored my heart and body as I continued to believe His Word. His Spirit has confirmed the direction that I needed to take. What if we encouraged each other with hashtagged truths in texts or in social media as reminders that God is a God of action? 

#HeConfirms

#HeStrengthens

#HeEstablishes

#HeLoves

#HeRestores

What if we focus on the truth instead of the doubts and draining moments? When our jobs and responsibilities drain us, we have to first come to Jesus then lay down the load. Sometimes, just simply coming to Him is hindered by our other distractions, but still, we have to come to Him and believe that in His time, He will design the best action for us. It may feel like it has been a day of suffering, but it won’t last forever. 

Lean into these truths, my friend. God will “himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.” Lay those burdens down as you pray and read His Word which is your first step in coming to Him. Once you are meeting with Him, the Holy Spirit will do the work in you breathing life and comfort, restoring and strengthening your heart.

Keep reading His Word and believing in your heart that He will restore, will confirm, will strengthen and will establish you. 

It wasn’t long after my text to Charlene that she texted back, “#HeRestores”. She had received my encouragement and was allowing God to renew and restore. Oh, yes, my friend, let these words go deep and wide into your heart too: #HeRestores

Established

2 Thessalonians 2:16 – 17 ESV
“Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.”

You’ve seen it before on a sign. Est.1988 or Est.2002. Est means “established”. The point of being established is to have a distinct beginning.

On September 30, 2019, our pastor called a special prayer meeting over all of the children in our church. He prayed over babies, toddlers and all other children. He told us to remember the date as the day when God’s Blessing was spoken over all of our children.

God moved on my pastor in mid September to call the meeting for September 30, 2019. God established this date before time began knowing that our duty would be obedience to Him to bring them and have them Blessed. As parents, it is our job to instill the Word of God in the hearts of our children. It is our job as parents to train them in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. My husband and I dedicated them back to the Lord when they were babies, then they accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior when they were small children. They love Him so I was thrilled to get the chance to bring them to church for a special night of blessing.

When we see God at work in ways that could only have been orchestrated by His Hand, we will know that the gifts that they have are being stirred up. He mentioned that Paul told Timothy to stir up the gift that was within him and that he received this gift with the laying on Timothy of Paul’s hands.

The elders of our church were called to be positioned in the aisles then every family moved to the nearest elder to be anointed with oil. My children were anointed on the forehead and so was I in the shape of a cross and with the words “In the name of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Ghost” spoken by Joe Cherry. I believe that after we prayed in agreement with Pastor, God accomplished a special calling and purpose in the lives of my family members.

My pastor quoted Scripture.

Exodus 20:13 “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you.

1 John 4:4 Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.

Joel 2:28 “And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions.

3 John 1:4 “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.”

He prayed for each child to be strong, knowing that greater is he that is in them, than he that is in the world.

We sang and rejoiced in the power of God’s word and Blessing over our children. We agreed together that God has special gifts for each child. It was fitting that we asked God to develop each child’s gifts so that they would choose to honor Him and bring glory to His name.

My prayer:

Let your will be done, Heavenly Father, on Earth as it is in Heaven. The date of September 30, 2019 will forever be in our hearts as a day that my children and I were greatly blessed and highly favored by you, called for your purpose and established for every good work in Christ Jesus.

2 Thessalonians 2:16 – 17 English Standard Version
Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.

Called

In June of 2019, my pastor started calling special Monday night prayer meetings and originally spoke in June on the Scripture Hosea 10:12 (NIV) “Sow righteousness for yourselves, reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unplowed ground; for it is time to seek the Lord, until he comes and showers his righteousness on you.“ I blogged in June about praying during this special TIME.

I prayed a lot during the summer, not just on Monday nights, about the direction that God wanted me to go as a writer. School was out and I had special time, set aside by God, to pray, process and ponder. God knows my heart and how I need Him every minute of every day, but especially when I need wisdom on how to proceed with my life.

I believe that God began answering my prayers in late July 2019. When His heart speaks to my heart, the puzzle pieces come together.

In late July 2019, I felt a call to see my writing in my blog as a ministry. This call from God to me came through ministers at the She Speaks 2019 Writing Conference in July and from a minister at Bridge of Hope Church in Greensboro, NC. I had been praying and seeking the Lord to help me in my life, in my journey as a blog writer with a hope to publish a book one day, in my relationships and in my new journey in creating and planning for my new STREAM Studio at school. I was also in prayer for my husband, children, parents, in-laws and friends. As I prayed from mid June to mid July, I was being prepared to receive the words of the ministers and to understand that he has a plan for me. I know I am an elementary school teacher, a wife and mom, but now I can say I am also a minister of the gospel. Here’s my testimony of how He called me.

Before July 2019, I had never viewed my blog as a ministry. I just sort of wrote as I felt the topic develop and flow in my head. I hoped that my words encouraged and blessed others as I applied God’s Word to my life in my writing, but as I heard the minister, Bianca Olthoff, speak at the streaming version of She Speaks Conference on that July evening, the word of God spoke to me like never before. She read Ezekiel 37:1-14. This passage shows us a valley of dry bones. As I visualized this desolate place, I began to see that many people now are in a similar place: lacking the right resources, feeling hopeless, unable to stand and missing their purpose.

I heard God tell Ezekiel to prophesy to the dry bones in that valley and tell them God’s special message for them in Ezekiel 37:5-6: “This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Look! I am going to breathe into you and make you live again! I will put flesh and muscles on you and cover you with skin. I will put breath into you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the LORD.”

Ezekiel spoke and the miraculous happened. The bones became covered with muscles and flesh. Then, Ezekiel spoke again to them under God’s direction so that breath would enter their bodies and it did! They became as a great and mighty army.

I loved what God finished with in Ezekiel 37:12: “Now give them this message from the Sovereign LORD: O my people, I will open your graves of exile and cause you to rise again. Then I will bring you back to the land of Israel.” His purpose in raising the dead to life was to bring them back to his perfect plan for them.

I knew as I processed her message that night that God needed Ezekiel to obey and speak the words of life to allow the people to be more than a pile of bones. I also love to hear from God as he illuminates His Word in my heart and helps me in my life. He needs me to obey and speak words of life and share His truth.

As Bianca Olthoff spoke that night at the She Speaks Conference, I became aware that my writing in my blog should be viewed as one that will continue to speak life and share truth just as Ezekiel had done. I want to obey God, continue writing in my blog and one day publish a book, but NOW at THIS TIME with an understanding that he has called me to be a writer. I am not just writing because I want to; I am writing because I must.

I heard Bianca talk about stepping out in faith and into ministry.  I have often considered my blog as a place to share my faith and about time well spent with God and family.  I realized that I needed to step out and build a new website to house my blog and continue to encourage people.  At my new website, www.lisamaples.net, readers will have a safe place to land and learn God’s Word, its application in my life and how they can apply it to their hearts. I am stepping out in faith and into ministry. I am still a teacher who loves my day job, but in the evenings and on weekends, I write.

On Sunday, the day after hearing the speakers from She Speaks share mighty words of wisdom, I heard Valerie Moreno, the Next Gen Pastor at Bridge of Hope Church, where I was visiting my parents and their church which happens to be the church where I grew up. She reminded me that Jesus told us to go in to all the world teaching whatever he has commanded us.  He wants us to be witnesses of him and to his gospel.  I realized at that moment that my website can go into all the world through the power of the internet. If I will obey, He can use my words on the blog to reach women who I may never meet, but He knows them and their needs. He will carry His message. I must be faithful to proclaim it.

Pastor Valerie’s message focused on the gifting of the Spirit, the working of the Spirit and the fruit of the Spirit.  She spoke from 1 Corinthians 12:5-11:

“There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.  Now to each one the manifestations of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretations of tongues.  All of these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.”  

I knew from her message that I must operate as a writer in the gifting of the Spirit.  His gifting has a purpose which is to advance the gospel of Jesus Christ. I want to continue to be filled with the Holy Spirit who gives boldness and will carry the message of the gospel.

Pastor Valerie shared Acts 4:29 and 31 where Believers had faced persecutions.  They said, “Lord, Consider their threats and give us boldness.”  They were filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke with boldness.

I believe that me blogging through the past few years has given me boldness to speak about how God has helped me.  I can do nothing apart from Him. I recognize that in order to speak and write for the common good, I must ask him to help me speak with boldness in my writing and in person.  

I realized during her message that The Fruit of the Spirit will reveal the heart. We need the Fruit of the Spirit along with His Gifting. Galatians 5:22-23 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control.  Against such things there is no law.”

Pastor Valerie read John 15:5:  “I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.” She proclaimed that we are alive because we are connected to the source and that I will bear fruit if I stay connected to Jesus. Apart from Him, I can do nothing. When God gifts me with something, I have to be responsible for it and bear fruit. Evidence of Fruit shows that God has nurtured me. 

Wendy Blight, another amazing speaker at She Speaks 2019, declared this:

“I am strong, brave and courageous.  I am entrusted with sacred assignments.  That is my call. I am going out to help women know that they have a call, a purpose, and that they are women of valor.”

I am a woman of valor.  I love this view of women.  We are meant to be helpers in our homes and now in order to share words that God inspires through me, I want to be brave, be courageous and be bold.

The weekend of July 25 – 28, 2019 will always be the weekend where God called me out of darkness into his marvelous light. He made it clear that He wants me to write, that He’ll give me the words and that He will receive all the glory as I abide in Him.

So, after further contemplation, I am sharing my calling from God similar to how Paul shared his calling and purpose for ministry with Titus in Titus 1:1-2.

Who I am in Christ:  I am Lisa Maples, a servant of the Lord Jesus Christ, redeemed by the blood of Jesus and restored.  I am a teacher, a writer, a wife and a mother.  

Tagline:  My ministry is to speak life by proclaiming Christian faith to women and to share truth so that others may know it and live godly lives. I savor moments spent with my family and friends knowing that God gives us all things to enjoy.  

Key Benefit:  The purpose of my calling is to encourage other Christians to know the truth found in God’s Word, to deepen and strengthen the confidence that believers in Jesus have and to be a witness of Jesus and his gospel message of transformation which brings hope and is for the common good.  As I spend time reading God’s Word and praying, His Holy Spirit will reveal the heart and mind of God. It is my desire for my words which are inspired by God to inspire and help others to bear fruit in the kingdom of God.

Check out Paul’s words in Titus 1:1-3:

V.1 This letter is from Paul, a slave of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ. I have been sent to proclaim faith to those God has chosen and to teach them to know the truth that shows them how to live godly lives. V.2 This truth gives them the confidence of eternal life, which God promised them before the world began – and he cannot lie. V.3 And now at the right time he has revealed this Good News, and we announce it to everyone. It is by the command of God our Savior that I have been trusted to do this work for him.

I loved how Paul described who he is and why he has been sent which is to proclaim faith and to teach people to know the truth which shows them how to live godly lives. In addition, he sensed that God had entrusted him to reveal Good News at the right time and announce it to everyone.

God gave Paul specific directions. His Word spoke to me this past summer after a month of praying and also gave me specific directions. I have studied the Bible and am placing Scripture References below which have also touched my heart and shaped my perception of God calling me to see my writing as a ministry.

Acts 1:8 You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you.  You will be my witnesses in Judea, Samaria and to the ends of the earth.

Acts 2:4 The Holy Spirit came on them with tongues of fire.  (My prayer is for God to allow me to speak as He gives the utterance, just as they did.)  

1 Corinthians 12:5-11 There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.  Now to each one the manifestations of the Spirit is given for the common good. 

John 15:26 When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify about Me.

Joel 2:28-29 I will pour out my Spirit on your sons and daughters and they will proclaim the truth/prophecy.

Ezekiel 37:10 So I prophesied as He commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they came to life and stood on their feet, an exceedingly great army.

John 8:31-32 If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.

I want people to read my words and hear the truth of God so their lives will be transformed with hope.  I want to savor moments in his Word and feel so full after being in His presence. I am wanting to share moments from my life because this is what I have done on my blog and know that God has moved mightily in my life to rescue, redeem and restore. 

I am working on transforming my new website to an even better version of itself. I hope it will be revealed in the next few months with the new name of www.SpeakLifeShareTruth.com. The new website will have a brand new look and will be an inviting place for my readers to reach my faith based blog, teacher blog and some Freebies that I am creating! I just felt that today, as we are transitioning from Summer to Fall, I wanted to testify and share the words that God used to help me see that He needs for me to share my writing through the lens of ministry. He is with me and will guide me into all truth.

May God receive all of the glory as I speak life, share truth and savor moments. 

Filled

After reading Colossians 1:9 this week, I wrote it in my journal the way that Paul had written it when he composed it. Then, I decided to start praying it from a first person point of view; in fact, it was from my point of view. I have shared it in this blog post by placing it in a picture.

I am praying for God to fill me with the knowledge of His will so that I may live a life worthy of him and please him in everything. This first line is one that I am repeating over and over. I want to know His will for my life. I am a teacher and love enriching the lives of children. I also know that God has given me a desire to speak life and share truth with others through my writing. I am working on new writing projects and desire to know His will for how to proceed as a Christian writer and as a teacher.

I have also been praying to bear fruit in every good work, to grow in the knowledge of God and to be strengthened with all power from Him. Colossians 1:9 proclaims the truth that we will have great endurance and patience once the Holy Spirit strengthens us. I look forward to how God will help me.

Finally, I am praying that I will give joyful thanks to my Heavenly Father for all of His Blessings. I know that His provision is like no other. His love reaches to the heavens. His faithfulness reaches to the skies. I depend on God to fill me and answer this prayer.

I invite you to also pray and invite God to fill you with the knowledge of His will so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please Him in every way. Take a look at the prayer that I placed in the picture in this post and join me in praying it.

I also invite you to visit my new website at http://www.SpeakLifeShareTruth.com for more encouragement.