Tuesday, September 30, 2008

His Presence

Our Ladies Bible Study is studying different aspects of what it means to us to be able to say "The Lord is My Shepherd."  The aim for this week's lesson is to Experience God's Presence With Us.   There are several thoughts I have as I have contemplated this aim in preparation to lead the study.  One thing that came to my mind immediately is that nobody likes to feel that they are alone. The vast amount of times we are not really alone, but we sense we are. We may be tempted to ask, "Where is God?" We can question if God cares for us and if  there are any answers to our problems. Circumstances are such that we don't feel as if anyone is there for us. It is a scary thing to think about being alone with nobody beside you. I know this feeling because I have been there.  I know what it is to wonder if anyone really cares. When you feel alone you can't help but to have that underlying feeling of panic.  You begin to think what if I have a problem, will there be anybody to help me? Who can I call upon in my time of need? Well, I know very well that in my life I really do have many people who would jump at the chance to help me, and that I really am not alone.  Most of all though, I have total confidence and trust in God to know that He is with me.  His presence is with me.  It is knowing a lot more that the fact that God exists. He is here, yet we cannot see Him.  It is by faith that I know His presence is with us. It is having that relationship with Him that comes from trusting in Jesus as my personal Saviour. I know very passionately that God is with me and that He is aware of my situations whatever they may be.  He has the understanding and insight into what is going on and what is happening now and in the future. He knows all the trials, sorrows, hard times I will face. This gives me the kind of peace that only comes from a loving God. Again, as I am on this journey of learning to trust God on a daily basis, one thing I can rest assuredly in is that His presence surrounds me and I can experience it by faith.  I never have to feel alone again or wonder if anyone cares. I know He is with me, thus I am confident that because the Lord is my Shepherd I can experience His Presence.

Learning to Trust God . . . Experiencing His Presence . . . One Day at a Time


Carla

Monday, September 29, 2008

Burdens

My heart is so heavy this morning.  Something just does not seem right.  I don't have the peace of God this morning. I am burdened by so much that is going on around me. First I see my own shortcomings and ways I seem to fail.  Then there are the sins of others that I am aware of. I also see so much lack of commitment and apathy. On top of these things, many I know are suffering from illness or financial difficulties.  Just these past few days I have learned of real legitimate hurt in people's lives.  Some are suffering because of the loss of a baby through miscarriage, others through still birth, and others uncertain about their pregnancies.  Then there are the marital problem that women and men face every day.  Some search for answers and seek help. Others have just given up hope.  There are others who are making poor choices in the way they are raising their children. People's priorities are wrong and they don't listen to the truth. I wish people would just be honest and not hide behind masks. When things are more out in the open, we can help each other. We can carry each others burdens and we will know how to pray.  Sometimes it seems too much to bear and too difficult to carry.  I know God says we are to cast our cares on Him.  I am gaining a deeper appreciation of this concept when I think about how truly loving God is to be willing to take this all from us and bear it.  Christ who was sinless bore the sins of the whole world on His shoulders as He willingly went to the cross and died for us.  That is amazing love.  And He is still every day every moment willing to bear everything for us again.  He doesn't need to die again. His death meant "it is finished."  We are the ones that need to die . . . die to self.  Trusting God daily is not necessarily too hard but it is a learning process in which I am called on to give everything over to Him.  He does not want me to feel the way I do.  He wants me to give this heaviness and weariness  over to Him so I can experience His peace.  This is a faith walk, as we are not to go by our feelings.  They come and they go.  I am so aware that we live in a fallen world.  I can not point fingers at people in judgement when I have my own sins to deal with.  Many times the burdens I have and the loads others are experiencing  have nothing to do with personal sin, it is just the consequences of the world we live in. I desperately want God to reach down and take care of me and heal my hurts and disappointments and make everything okay.  I want Him to do that for my friends and family members, too. Yet, many times He allows us to go through things to help us grow in our trust for Him.  Many times through my hurtful experiences, and difficult burdens, I have learned to comfort others because I have experienced His comfort. Burdens can bring us closer to the Lord if we allow them to. 
 Lord, help me to cast my burdens upon You, as I know You care for me. Amen

Learning to Trust God . . . Giving Him My Burdens . . . One Day at a Time

Carla 

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Cultivating The Mind of Christ

I have been thinking about the saying "the power of positive thinking." I have had way too many negative thoughts today that have caused me to be self- absorbed and depressed.  I wish I would always have positive thoughts with nothing negative ever entering my mind.  That is not reality, nor is the power of positive thinking going to keep those thoughts away. But how can I deal with these thoughts when they do happen?  I think the first thing to do is to realize they are there and that I do not want to have them affecting me.  It is too easy otherwise to let the negative thoughts consume my thoughts. I can obsess over things that are negative. My mind then becomes continually pre-occupied with thoughts that should not be there. I need to be aware of this pattern and then get rid of them.  That is where prayer comes in.  I have learned that the sooner I give them over to God the better off I am emotionally and spiritually.  When I understand it is all my choice to have this attitude, then will I be free to give the thoughts up.  I have to set my mind on Christ and the things above where He is.  I need to cultivate the mind of Christ.  His thoughts, need to be my thoughts.  His Word needs to be so real and so alive in my life that they become so much a part of me that I don't look to anyone else or anything else above Him.  People will always let me down, I know that. People will say certain things, or neglect to say things.  But what I do with my negative feelings and thoughts when this happens are vital. Again, I must make a conscious choice.  Do I love them like Christ loves them?  Do I forgive them?  Can I just agree to disagree when it is not against God's truth?  When people's idiosyncrasies tend to bug me, am I able to let go of them and move on with the Lord's help?  Can I just look at them as what they are, mannerisms and certain traits that I don't like, but are  not necessarily sins?  I need to have the eyes of Christ, the mind of Christ and the heart of Christ.  Dwelling on Him will make the difference.  Traveling on this path and journey with Him brings me to my knees as I see so many areas that I need His help in.  I have so often chosen my way not His when it comes to my thought life with regard to negativity. Having negative thoughts causes me not to be free.  One negative thought leads to another.  The Lord, however, will replace the negative thought with a positive thought  which is from Him. The power of positive thinking can only take me so far, but the power of God's Word can take me exactly where I need to be . . . relying on Him.

Learning to Trust Him . . . With My Negative Thoughts. . . One Day at a Time

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

My Father's World!

Steve and I have been on a little get-away in the Pocono Mountains in Pennsylvania.  The best part of being away is spending so much time with my husband.  It is fun to explore new places together and experience things with one another.  We went to several breathtaking waterfalls and I don't know how many times we said "look at that" or "look over there" to each other.  It was also fun to drive on the back roads and have the time to leisurely stop and take in the view or snap some pictures!  I don't know what the highlight of the trip was, except way up on the list would be that we saw a bear!! We were driving and as casually as ever Steve said, "There's a bear!"  We turned the car around to see if we could take some pictures or a better look but, of course, he was gone. He had come out of a corn field and walked across a small road into the woods.  Steve said he must have been foraging some corn.  Even though we missed getting a picture, the memory will forever be in our minds.  I think it was a little surprise from God as it certainly made our evening!!  Praise God for His goodness to us. We did take lots of pictures in God's beautiful creation and praised and thanked Him for allowing us to be apart of it together. What a wonderful God we serve!  As we were packing up and leaving I saw a skunk.  I walked way too close to it with our garbage, but ran back afraid he would spray me!!  I had always wanted to see a skunk in the wild, too!!  Just another reminder that God loves me and wants to give me joy in my journey!  I think it also shows that God has a sense of humor! This time away, shared with my wonderful husband,  caused me to be even more in awe of God! The majesty of His creation was everywhere.  I am convinced that this is my Father's World!  

Learning to Trust God  . . . In His World . . . One Day at a Time

Carla

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Doors

Today was one of those days that in one breath I rejoiced in answered prayer and in another breath I questioned why it didn't seem as if God was answering  other prayers of mine.  Being able to see God working brings so much joy and hope and comfort.  Yet waiting and wondering and crying out to God to meet a need and having to wait is very difficult.  I desperately want to see God working and answering all of my prayers.  But He is teaching me to trust Him.  I am on a journey to get to know Him better. I have learned that in the waiting there are lessons to be learned.  In the questioning there are things I still need to learn.  God wants me to relinquish my will and trust in His timing.  It is hard to do that when I am feeling anxious.  It is difficult to see others hurting and having no clear direction. It takes faith and patience.  Both of these things God is helping me with.  I am learning that I need to rest in Him. I have to remind myself that God sees the beginning and the end.  He has heard my prayers.  He knows what is best.  Sometimes He closes doors.  At these times we should not try to open them, or even try to peek through the cracks. Other times God opens a door and allows us to walk through. We should never try to force that door open, because in His timing He will open it if it is His will for us. There is no lock or bolt or latch that we have to try to pry open.  He has done the work for us and we just have to enter in.  I wish it were that easy for me to wait for Him.  Sometimes my fears and my anxiety and my emotions just take over.  These are lessons I am still learning as I journey with Him.  I am thankful He is not finished with me yet!  He still has lessons to teach me!

Learning to Trust God . . . In Prayer. . . One Day at a Time

Carla

Monday, September 15, 2008

Hope

  Today I was cleaning out an old notebook full of papers I no longer needed.  I started reading some of the things I had written last year.  God knew I needed to see and reflect on some of the thoughts  I had written in the past, and the things He had taught me. God is so good, that because of  His love He doesn't mind bringing these gentle reminders to me over and over again.  God is my hope and  I realize that true hope comes only from Him.  He is my hope in all things; in every part of my life.  So today I am not going to write much, but I am going to be thinking  a lot about the reality of the word hope.  I woke up discouraged, but as I walk with God today and pray and uplift my burdens to Him, I know He will replace any negative feelings and emotions with faith and confidence that He is working!  He will help me to remember His truth!  Hope is more than wishful thinking and chance, it is a confidence and an expectancy in who God is.  It is believing that God keeps His promises!

Learning to Trust God . . . In Hope . . . One Day at a Time

Carla

Thursday, September 11, 2008

September 11

September 11, 2001.  Let us never forget this day in history. Our country and the world  were profoundly changed forever.  Today I am praying for the families and friends of those who personally lost someone in the 9 11 attack. Their loss immediately became our loss.  I am remembering all of the brave men and women who unselfishly came to assistance of those in need.  It seems like we all wanted to do something for someone else. We wanted to reach out.  Our neighbors became our friends, whether we knew them or not.  We hugged our family members a little tighter. I am remembering our country with pride as we joined together as citizens, not looking at our political, economical or racial differences, but as individuals.  For a moment in time we realized we are not the center of the universe.  Our hearts joined with one another as we ached for each other and we cried together as a nation of people who were in shock. We cared for each other on a level we had never known before.  We all sought answers to similar questions and did not judge each other for wondering, and not having the answers.  As a nation we reflected on the same heart-wrenching issues. The name God was unashamedly used as we looked to Him for comfort not just for ourselves but for our fellow Americans. We all had the same needs.  We needed reassurance and hope. We sought for answers.   Sacrifices were made that day on behalf of one another, as people willingly relinquished their own needs to serve others. We began to understand maybe for the first time that day, the term terrorist. The words hate and evil became an unfortunate reality.  And we learned  the concept of freedom in a deeper and more personal way that memorable day, 9 11.  Our lives were changed forever.


Learning to trust God . . . as I remember 9 11. . . One Day at a Time


Carla

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

God's Word

Having God's Word readily available to us is a huge blessing!  Imagine if we did not have it!  I think we take it for granted too often.  I have probably had at least one Bible the majority of my life.   But owning a Bible and knowing what it says are totally different.  And then, knowing what it says and not knowing the author, God, is another scenario that too often is being worked out in lives today.  The sacred writings on the pages of the Bible are beautifully written, but it has to go deeper than just reading them.  The words are holy and although they belong to God, they were written by Him for you and for me.  God loves us unconditionally and He created us to belong to Him.   We need to seek to have a relationship with God, through His Son Jesus.  When that happens the Holy Spirit  enlightens us and we can begin to have a deeper understanding of the intended meaning of the verses.  Yet, we can have that relationship with the Lord, know the words on the pages, yet still miss something along the way.  There is the whole vitally important aspect of following what God has written and obeying Him.  We need to take what we read, what we hear, what we learn and be doers of the Word.  God desires that we put our faith into action. Our lives should be changing.   Our thoughts should be falling more in line with His thoughts.  As I am on this journey I am constantly challenged with trying to learn more of God's Word and then taking that next step and being obedient to His commands.  I fail often and I get discouraged because of my shortcomings.   But I have found that I need to pick myself up spiritually, ask God's forgiveness and keep moving forward.  I have learned I can't do it on my own. It is only with His help that I will accomplish anything.  To read  God's Word, continue learning, and to obey is a challenge that is definitely worth the effort. I know that not only will it help me with my  daily walk on this earth,  but what I will  gain is of eternal worth and significance! 

Learning to Trust God . . . Being in His Word. . . One Da at a Time

Carla

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Meeting Our Needs

As I am on this journey "Learning to Trust God . . . One Day at a Time"  one big thing He is teaching me is how He meets my daily needs.  Yes!  I have been amazed on how , daily, I see His working in my life.  I have kind of adopted the day at a time mentality to the way I spend our money.  I realize all that I have is from Him, but He holds us responsible on how we utilize the resources He has blessed us with.  Each day I write down how much I spend and what I spend it on.  I also like to write down how much I save.  It is kind of a "hobby."  But I do believe even in this, as I go grocery shopping and  utilize coupons and look for good deals, it is His way of leading me.  I try to remember to pray each time I shop and ask God to guide me.  This is an area that I am learning to trust God in. I know it is God who is meeting our needs.  Our resources are not just monetary, but all of the things He has blessed us with.   I have been thinking along the terms of "What THINGS do I have, and how can I use them to bless others?''  In some circumstances, I feel the Lord nudging me to give it away.  Not only is it freeing to have less stuff, but a true blessing knowing someone else can use something I have to meet a need or give them pleasure!  The Lord wants us to practice hospitality.  I see a lack of this happening in the "church" as a whole and I know I should be better at it myself.  I want to get to the point where I am truly happy to practice hospitality.  Sometimes  I am thrilled and excited to have people over.  But too often I feel the pressure to have to have everything perfect.  I realize that will never happen!  Truly, I want to have my home be warm and comfortable and safe for people to come and relax, and enjoy fellowship.  This is where it will be exciting to see God meet the needs. I want to take what I have and use it for His glory.  Whether that be a bowl of ice-cream and games, or "just" a cup of tea, the goal is to welcome others!  Other times it may be a full meal.  The point is that God calls us to obedience and if I obey His nudging in this area, He WILL meet the needs.  He is a great and awesome God who has blessed us so much.  

Learning To Trust God . . . Meeting Our Needs . . . One  Day at a Time

Carla