Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Victorious Living

We did it! My Bible study group completed Beth Moore's Living Beyond Yourself this past Monday evening. I am soooo proud of this group of women, many of whom are still babes in Christ! They have persevered through this study. For most of them, this was their first experience with a Beth Moore in-depth Bible study --- which translates to lots and lots of homework!!! Way to go, girls! To God be the glory!

Well, the homework for Day 5 was profound for me. I brought along my homework book and my Bible on our trip to Buffalo, NY last week as I still had to complete my homework for Week 10 and Monday evening was fast approaching. As I sat in the privacy of our hotel room balcony watching hubby and the kids swim in the pool below while I did my homework, I turned to Day 5 and quickly realized that the whole day's homework was dedicated to studying Psalm 63.

About three weeks or so ago, God drew my attention towards Psalm 63 as I was reading through the Psalms that day. When I saw that the homework for Day 5 was also on Psalm 63, I knew then that God wanted to show/teach me something. My antennas were now "on alert" for sure!

Before I blog about what God wanted me to learn, I must say that I am continually amazed at God's faithfulness and His grace. Over the course of this year, I have seen Him repeat the same verses that He wants to bring to my attention not just once, but multiple times in different venues/situations. I wonder if He is making sure that the skeptic side of me will erase all doubt that it is indeed Him speaking to me. that's some food for thought!

Here are the points that touched me from Psalm 63:

~ Every morning, I need to acknowledge His authority! Awaken every morning to the challenge, "Choose...this day whom you will serve!" (Joshua 24:15).

~ Throughout each day, I have to abound in His presence. "My soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you" (verse 1). Ask Him to give me a spirit that desires to be full of Him, not of myself. Beth writes: "As long as you are completely cleansed and yielded, you will possess a power that is completely beyond love, to experience joy, to know peace, to express patience, to possess kindness and respond in goodness, to be faithful, gentle, and submissive to His will, restrained and under control."

~ I have to ask to see His glory and power! Power appears in the works of God. Glory describes the ways of God. "I have seen You in the sanctuary and beheld Your power and Your glory." (verse 2).

~ I have to award Him with my mouth. Pray for a mouth that glorifies Him all day long, and you will be filled with a sense of His love and approval.

~ I have to approach Him with praise; attribute all satisfaction to Him! "I will praise You as long as I live." (verse 4).

~ At the end of each day, audit the manifold blessings! "On my bed I remember You; I think of You through the watches of the night. Because You are my help, I sing in the shadow of Your wings." (verses 6, 7). This is one of the reasons why I have this blog. Beth writes: "A record of your history with God is an immeasurable asset to your Christian experience. How do you know He will care for you today? Because He cared for you yesterday! He never changes!"

~ I have to allow myself to rest in His arms! "My soul clings to You; Your right hand upholds me." (verse 8).

Love never fails. Joy cometh. Peace rules. Patience waits. Kindness tenders. Goodness does. Faith fights. Gentleness bows. Self-control stops. "Against such things there is no law." Galatians 5:23 (NIV). As Beth concluded the study: "Living Beyond Yourself! It's the only way to live. He's the only way to do it."

In closing, I'd like to post a poem Beth wrote at the very end of the study --- it made me ask of myself: Am I known by the Company I keep?

The Company I Keep, by Beth Moore

Let me be known by the Company I keep
By the One who determines each day that I greet
From the moment I wake til He rocks me to sleep
Let me be known by the Company I keep!

Let me be known by the Company I keep
When the valleys are low and the mountains are steep
By the One who holds fast when swift waters are deep
Let me be known by the Company I keep!

Let me be known by the Company I keep
By the One who implores me to sit as His feet
And quickens my soul to discern what is deep
Let me be known by the Company I keep!

Let me be known by the Company I keep
Eclipsed by Your presence that I may decrease
Til all You have chosen this traveler to meet
No longer see me but the Company I keep.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Reminders From God

God has been busy speaking to me these past few weeks. Each time, it has been to remind me of the "word" He gave to hubby and me when He initially called us to become a part of The Sanctuary Pickering. I remember back to the very beginning of when God started to stir our hearts. It will be about one year ago when summer comes to an end this year! As I look back over the past year, I can most certainly say that my God is faithful!

I taught in Kidz Konnection for two consecutive Sundays a couple of weeks ago. I was originally supposed to only teach one of those Sundays but had to switch with another teacher because of her vacation dates. I think it was "divine intervention" as God was going to use those two lessons to remind me of His word.

The first lesson was entitled "Trust God, my Shepherd" and the story was about God asking Abraham to leave his home in obedience even though he didn't know where God wanted him to go. Before hubby and I knew for certain that God was leading us to become a part of The Sanctuary Pickering, He used Abraham's story to speak to us.

This is what I wrote earlier this year:

God also used Abraham’s story to speak to us. Abraham obeyed God and left his home not knowing where God was leading him to. In Hebrews 11:8 it says: "By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.” After being confronted with Abraham’s story, we surrendered to God. We became willing to obey --- that is, willing to leave our home church and go wherever God would take us.

The second lesson was entitled "Be Strong and Courageous" and the story was about Joshua leading the people into the Promised Land. The verse from Joshua 1:9 has been a recurring word from God ever since our family joined The Sanctuary Pickering. I have lost count now of how many times God has reminded us of that verse in particular since New Year's Day 2008!

This is from my account of our journey, also written earlier this year:

On New Year’s Day 2008, God gave me the verses from Joshua 1:5b-6,8-9 through my personal devotions and also through an online sermon, both on the same day from two different sources. Now, again, only God can make that happen!

Joshua 1:5b-6, 8-9 (NIV) --- "As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their forefathers to give them. Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go."

My God never ceases to amaze me. These verses spoke to me significantly. It was a new beginning for Joshua after Moses had died. God assured Joshua in these passages that He will never leave him or forsake him, and that Joshua was to be strong and courageous because God will do amazing things among the people. The online sermon I listened to spoke significantly to me as well --- the pastor spoke about it being the time to move on; the start of a new beginning.

As you can see, God is so faithful! He even sees fit to plop reminders of His word along the way for me. We are now starting to gear up for the public launch of The Sanctuary Pickering --- less than 6 weeks to go until Launch Sunday, September 21. I can't wait to see what God has in store. I've said it before and I'll say it once more, this is turning out to be one wild ride!

Psalm 33:4 (NIV) --- "For the word of the Lord is right and true; He is faithful in all He does."

Sunday, August 10, 2008

100-Fold Harvest

Last weekend, I attended Beth Moore's Living Proof Live via live simulcast. It was AMAZING to say the least! God spoke tons to me. I don't even think I can blog about everything I learned because some of the things God impressed upon my heart are difficult to put into words. Sometimes, words just aren't adequate enough...

The theme of Beth Moore's message was "100-Fold Word" and the main passage of Scripture was from Luke 8:1-16 with verse 8 being the key verse --- "Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up and yielded a crop, a hundred times more than was sown."

Here are Beth's key points --- a life that yeilds a 100-fold harvest must...

1. Treasure the wonder (of the Word of God, the Bible): we must always yearn for the knowledge of the secrets/mysteries of the Kingdom of God as He will show more to those who are eager to know more. The Bible will make us "competently competent" or thoroughly equip us for every good work.

2. Protect your heart: the enemy can snatch the word away from our hearts so that we become ill-equipped for what we have been called to do. We must hide the word in our hearts! When we hear a word from God, we must move on it in obedience right away.

3. Expect the test: we will be tested to see if we believe the word when it is spoken to us. Psalm 105:19 (NIV) says "...till what He foretold came to pass, till the word of the Lord proved Him true."

4. Dig the roots: our roots are as deep as how convinced we are that God loves us! Ephesians 3:17-19 (NIV) says " that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge — that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God."

5. Stop the choke: anxiety, worries and the desire for riches and pleasures can choke the word. Prayer is the cure for the choke! God has given us every spiritual gift to fulfill our destiny/purpose in Christ. This destiny/purpose has been set for us before the foundation of the world.

6. Retain the word: good soil produces a harvest. Good soil = perseverance! The word "good" in the original text translates to "being a benefit/help to the people around us" as described in Philippians 2:17 (NIV) --- "...being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith." We must retain the word in order to resist the enemy because his plan is to make us lose our effectiveness because he can't make us lose our salvation. We must retain (hold in a vice grip, possess, own) the word!

7. Press forth to your 100-fold!!! We must persevere in prayer and in faith. We must hang in there and not quit. We must commit through to see the 100-fold harvest. At harvest time, we will experience such tremendous joy that we will be wishing that we'd dreamt bigger in the first place!!!

My personal word: On Saturday, Beth started the morning by saying that she wanted to share a "word" with us that God had impressed upon her heart the night before at her hotel room. She proceeded to share with us the verses from Isaiah 55:10-12 (NIV) which says: "As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is My word that goes out from My mouth: It will not return to Me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands."

That did it for me! I knew without a doubt that the "word" was meant for me. Take a look here. That is exactly the "word" God gave to hubby and me when He initially called us to be a part of The Sanctuary Pickering. It was God's way of reminding me of His faithfulness, of His love, of His greatness! It was God's way of remindng me to be faithful, to know that He loves me, to know that I can trust Him no matter what, to expect Him to do even greater things, to keep pressing forth towards the 100-fold harvest! Praise God.

The whole weekend's message reminded me of a song I learned as a teenager by Steve Green entitled "Find Us Faithful". The lyrics represent very well what God wanted me to "bring home" from the conference. Here's the song...

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting Him, He endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now He is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility He endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up."
---Hebrews 12:1-3 NLT