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Flowers Fade

This is what my neighborhood looks like right now! Blooms everywhere! I loooove spring!

But if you look closely, you see these beauties are beginning to fade.

These fading tulips inspired me to appreciate the remaining blooms that much more. To take more time walking around my neighborhood enjoying every single flower.

Inspired me to be grateful for my sight.

Inspired me to thank the One who created this buffet for the eyes. The smorgasbord of colors and textures. The sheer variety of spring blooms.

If spring in Virginia can look like a fairyland….what does spring in His Kingdom look like?

Point to ponder while you wander….
The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.” Isaiah 40:8 ESV

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Crocus of Joy

As I was walking in the warm sunshine (woohoo) on my way home from work, I came across these beauties.

And my first thought after….Ahhh! YAY! Crocuses!….was crocus of joy. I always associate crocuses with rejoicing because of the beginning of Isaiah 35…

The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom. Like the crocus, it will burst into bloom; it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy.

The crocuses reminded me to choose joy today. So I’m spreading their message.

Point to ponder while you wander…

Joy is a choice.

“I am still determined to be cheerful and happy, in whatever situation I may be; for I have also learned from experience that the greater part of our happiness or misery depends upon our dispositions, and not upon our circumstances.” Martha Washington

Mulling vs Resisting

I was reading Matthew this week and God showed me a few things about temptation I never noticed before.

Here’s the text I was reading…

“After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” Matthew 4:2-3 NIV

What happens when you’re tired or hungry? Isn’t that when we’re tempted to be rash? Tempted to eat things we shouldn’t? Say things we shouldn’t? Give in?

Now imagine 40 days and nights only drinking water. Zero food.

And the tempter comes and says…”We both know who you really are. We both know you have Holy Spirit’s enabling power. You can turn those rocks into fresh baked bread just by speaking to them. Hot bread with some yummy melted butter.”

Would you take a minute to consider it? Would you picture fresh bread? Melty butter? Mmm.

If you just pictured this bread or took a minute to consider the option, you just missed your way out (I Corinthians 10:13) and your opportunity to resist (James 4:7).

Jesus didn’t even hesitate. He didn’t ponder. He didn’t give a millimeter to the enemy, let alone a whole inch.

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” Matthew 4:4

Right after, Jesus resists by speaking the word, the tempter comes right back.

Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written: “‘He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.'” Matthew 4:5-6 NIV

Again Jesus doesn’t even mull it over or debate the accuracy of the statement the devil made. He doesn’t puff up His chest, and try to prove who He is. He calls out the twisting of the scripture just by speaking the truth of the word.

Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” Matthew 4:7 NIV

A 3rd time the tempter comes back at Jesus-

Again, the devil took Him to a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”” Matthew 4:8-9 NIV

Technically Satan had authority over all the kingdoms of the world at that time. It was his to give, because Adam and Eve abdicated their authority, handing it over to Satan.

Now don’t forget…Jesus is tired. He has not eaten in over a month. Not even kale or cauliflower rice. Nada. Nothing. Zip.

Jesus knows that He’s here to get back the authority the previous Adam gave up. He knows He’s here to sacrifice Himself for us. He was being offered the authority He came to reclaim (what He came here for) all He had to do was bow His knee.

I shudder to think what would have happened if Jesus would have mulled that over…or worse caved and bowed His knee. 😲 But He didn’t.

Jesus did not even entertain the thought for a second…

Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.’” Then the devil left Him, and angels came and attended Him.” Matthew 4:10-11 NIV

How many times do we find ourselves mulling over the temptation? Allowing ourselves to be swayed.

Remember Jesus was fully man on earth who was empowered by Holy Spirit, the same as us. If He can resist temptation, so can we. If we follow His lead.

1. Don’t mull it over or consider the temptation. Resist the temptation immediately. Walk away.

2. Speak the Word. Don’t allow the enemy twist scripture, and use it against you. Call out the lie and speak the truth from the word.

3. Yes, you can resist!

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” James 4:7 NIV

Encouragement to ponder while you wander….

1. Jesus understands. He isn’t judging you…He wants to help you resist!For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are —yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Hebrews 4:15-16

2. Remember you’re not the only one and you’re not alone. These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come. So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” 1 Corinthians 10:11-13 NIV

3. You can overcome! You are loved!No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:37-39 NIV

Silence is Golden Sometimes

About a week ago, God highlighted this verse to me: “But now, since you didn’t believe what I said, you will be silent and unable to speak until the child is born. For my words will certainly be fulfilled at the proper time.” Luke 1:20 (NLT)

Abba has been using this verse to make it clear that I’ve not been careful with my words.  I’ve not been considering the power and weight in them.   I’ve not been acknowledging what Proverbs 18:21 says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, And those who love it and indulge it will eat its fruit and bear the consequences of their words.”  (AMP)

Ever since God reminded me, “Your words are powerful.” I’ve been singing  “Oh be careful little tongue what you say. Oh be careful little tongue what you say.  For the Father up above is looking down with love, so be careful little tongue what you say.” (Note:  Author of this lyric is unknown so I cannot give credit as I normally would).

More thoughts on the power of that little tongue of yours…

Even fools are thought wise if they keep silent, and discerning if they hold their tongues.” Proverbs 17:28 (NIV)

Those who guard their mouths and their tongues keep themselves from calamity.” Proverbs 21:23 (NIV)

If someone believes they have a relationship with God but fails to guard his words then his heart is drifting away and his religion is shallow and empty.” James 1:26 (TPT)

A bit in the mouth of a horse controls the whole horse. A small rudder on a huge ship in the hands of a skilled captain sets a course in the face of the strongest winds. A word out of your mouth may seem of no account, but it can accomplish nearly anything—or destroy it!  It only takes a spark, remember, to set off a forest fire. A careless or wrongly placed word out of your mouth can do that. By our speech we can ruin the world, turn harmony to chaos, throw mud on a reputation, send the whole world up in smoke and go up in smoke with it, smoke right from the pit of hell.” James 3:3-6 (MSG)

Whoever wants to embrace true life and find beauty in each day must stop speaking evil, hurtful words and never deceive in what they say.” I Peter 3:10-11 (TPT)

The angel Gabriel delivered a heart’s desire promise to Zechariah.  He told him flat straight out, you’re going to have a son, and he’s going to be a big deal. (Take a minute to read Luke 1 to hear the full promise).  Zechariah was an older man.  He wasn’t a 20 year old kid who just got married to his fertile 20 year old wife.  He’d probably gotten to the point where he’d given up hope of having a son.  So his response was the “um…okay well prove it” response.  It’s the response that the majority of us probably would have had, if we were in his shoes.

Zechariah asked the angel, “How do you expect me to believe this? I’m an old man and my wife is too old to give me a child. What sign can you give me to prove this will happen?”

Then the angel said, “I am Gabriel. I stand beside God himself. He has sent me to announce to you this good news. But now, since you did not believe my words, you will be stricken silent and unable to speak until the day my words have been fulfilled at their appointed time and a child is born to you. That will be your sign!”” Luke 1: 18-20 (TPT)

If this passage doesn’t illustrate the power our words have, I don’t know what will.
Gabriel muted Zechariah so he wouldn’t speak against the promise God gave him.
Literally.
Muted him.
As in Zechariah did not utter a single solitary word until after his and Elizabeth’s son John was 8 days old. Think about this.  He’d gone to do his annual service.
“See ya in a week, Elizabeth.”  Then he shows up at home a mute.
Then Elizabeth gets pregnant, just as Gabriel said she would.  Nine months go by.  His son is born.  8 days later, Zechariah is finally able to speak when He speaks to confirm his son’s name. The name Gabriel told him the boy’s name would be.
He was only able to speak when he was confirming the promise!
What?!  Come on people!  That’s amazical!

 

This passage just blows me away.  This promise to Zechariah and Elizabeth was a dream they thought was not even possible.  And this dream meant everything to them.  And when God made the promise to them, through Gabriel, it mattered so much, that God allowed Gabriel to mute Zechariah, so he couldn’t speak against the promise God had given him.
Silence is golden sometimes.
I think sometimes it might be better for me if Gabriel would show up and say, “Hey Jill.  I’m gonna have to mute you for a while so you don’t speak against your dreams and God’s promises for you.”

A few short months after Zechariah’s experience with Gabriel, he visited Mary. Mary’s reaction was decidedly different. ““I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.”” Luke 1:38 (TPT)

Now Mary’s situation was just as out there as Zechariah’s.  Both of them were told not to fear and received a mind blowing prophecy.  Both asked questions that were answered.  But their responses to those answers were opposite.  It might be that Zechariah had much more experience with disappointment, while Mary had no negative experiences.

Whether you’re seasoned like Zechariah or young like Mary, your words are powerful.

How are your words right now?  Are they something that Gabriel would mute you for?  Or are they more “bring it on” like Mary’s?

In my life I’ve experienced some “What in the bluebells is going on here?” seasons.  The “Where are you, Lord?” seasons.  And even the “I can’t do this anymore. It hurts too much.” seasons.  I’m sure you have too.  The times when things are not logical.  The times when you’re looking at the situation and your rational mind is blown.  Times when you don’t understand why bad things are happening and keep happening.  Times when promises aren’t coming to pass the way you expected them, and disappointment starts to shift your perspective into the negative.

These are not the times to go off at the mouth.  This is when you need to remember silence is golden sometimes.  Like Mary after the birth of Jesus…

But Mary treasured all these things in her heart and often pondered what they meant.” Luke 2:19

If you cannot muster your faith to speak in agreement with God’s promises, remember silence is golden sometimes.  Ask a trusted friend to pray for you, and shut your mouth.

In recent months, I’ve been in a season of this hurts to much.  I’m not sure I am capable of believing anymore.  But I know in my heart God is faithful.

So difficult to be between the full understanding that God is faithful, and looking at your situation and thinking…how is this even possible anymore?

If you’re in a rough season with me, I’m going to tell you how I am handling this really difficult place.  I texted (I didn’t trust myself to speak) 2 trusted prayer warrior friends and simply said, “I cannot speak positively on this topic.  I don’t have the faith to believe in this specific area right now.  I need you to pray and speak for me.”  And they are reminding God of His promises to me, for me.  They are speaking the faith words missing from my vocabulary right now.  And I’m praying and believing with them in their promises, because my faith to believe for them hasn’t been affected by this season.

Maybe that’s not how everyone would handle it, but I sure appreciate my friends who are willing to stand in the gap for me.  They are even more golden than the silence.

Point to ponder while you wander… Gabriel muting Zechariah is the same lesson as what Thumper’s Mom was teaching him about silence. (Bambi, 1942).

thumper

Power Definitions

But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV

Grace- Christ’s power that enables us to do what we cannot in our own strength.

Sufficient=To be in posession of unfailing strength.

Power=Strength, miraculous power.

Perfect=to complete, to accomplish, to consummate, to finish, to fulfill.

Weakness=in want of strength.

When Jesus left earth, He sent us Holy Spirit to empower us to do even more than He did. Right?

Right!

So let’s look at this verse as a declaration!

I am empowered with the unfailing strength and miraculous power of Jesus. His strength and miraculous power partners with me in the areas I am in want so that I am able to thrive and do what I couldn’t do on my own. I refuse to be embarrassed by my weak areas, because in those weaknesses Christ’s power is fulfilling its purpose.

Happy Thursday!

Point to ponder while you wander…

The rain and snow come down from the heavens and stay on the ground to water the earth. They cause the grain to grow, producing seed for the farmer and bread for the hungry. It is the same with my word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it.” Isaiah 55:10-11 NLT

Hey Judas! You need a Heart Check.

Elijah’s List posted this recently.

WOW! Heart check!!!

Seriously though, take a minute and ponder that.

I’ll wait….

When I pondered…I thought of the Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis. When Screwtape tells Wormwood to focus the patient’s attention on petty things while he was at church. So the patient wouldn’t focus on the Word and how it applies to himself.

Judas did focus on the petty. The negative. And he remained a sceptic despite seeing miracles right before his eyes. He didn’t read about the miracle of the fish and bread feeding 5,000. He actually ate the bread and fish! He didn’t read about blind eyes being opened, he watched it happen.

Truthfully I feel bad for Judas. He didn’t enjoy His life. He clearly didn’t like himself. Seriously. Judas was with Jesus Himself for 3 years, and never actually absorbed anything about who Jesus was. Jesus was, is, and will always be love personified.

Who spends 3 solid years with Jesus, and comes out worse than where he started?

Truthfully…a lot of people.

What? Why? Who? Sacrilege!!

I know. Because I was one.

I confessed Jesus as my Savior at 16. And promptly tried to be perfect (as in without flaw) and do all the right things. I focused on behavior and looking the part.

Nothing reached my heart.

I couldn’t be perfect. And it frustrated me. My life didn’t change. No miracles happened in my life. And I was disappointed.

I ended up flipping around and going absolutely in the opposite direction. I became more critical. More judgmental. I loved less.

And it took a good 7 years before I gave it another shot. At 16, I shoved the Word at people…but at 25 I started applying the Word inward. I began to deal with my heart issues. My broken places began to heal. It was a process that still continues. It’s a day to day walk.

I can tell you that it’s much easier to point fingers and throw rules at people than it is to love them. It’s easier to criticize, scoff & judge.

But…if you take that pointing the finger and judging everyone path. You won’t heal. You won’t grow.

I think that’s what happened to Judas. I think he allowed his natural skeptic to dismiss miracles. He chose not to receive the love and teaching from Jesus. He chose not to heal and grow.

We have a choice too. Perspective and attitude are everything. Being open isn’t alway easy. Neither is change. Not for me. Not for you. Not for the disciples either.

Let’s be real…the 12 disciples are like us. They screwed up. They didn’t always understand. They acted without thinking. They lost their tempers.

But the difference between Judas and the other 11 is that the 11 grew and changed. They applied what Jesus taught them and walked it out.

Were the perfect? Um…definitely not. And neither are we. Neither are your leaders. We are all human. Doing our best. We are all given a choice.

Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live!” Deuteronomy 30:19 NLT

Judas got to choose too. Unfortunately we all know how that worked out. (Spoiler alert…it can’t get much uglier).

Judas was bitter. I don’t want to be bitter, but some days I see myself heading in that direction.

Judas was a cynic. I don’t want to be an eye rolling cynic, but sometimes I am.

Judus had a greedy, selfish & negative outlook. Sometimes I do too.

I don’t want to be a complainer or a gossiper either. But some days I am.

So this is a heart check for me. To go back to Jesus on the rough days. The days I’m more Judas-like than Jesus-like and ask Him to show me what is going on in my heart and head so I can deal with the root of it and have a better attitude and perspective.

Especially with all the chaos in my life right now…I need more Jesus time. More worship. More Word. And less judgmental attitude. Less pessimism.

Point to ponder while you wander…..

A Whole Hearted Life

Let all that I am praise the Lord; with my whole heart, I will praise His Holy Name.” Psalm 103:1 NLT

If we’re praising with our whole heart, then we hold nothing back from Him.

Whenever I think of whole heart, I remember Caleb. Caleb was one of two who gave a good report, the other being Joshua. Caleb wasn’t the military leader of the Children of Israel like Joshua. But he loved the Lord wholeheartedly.

But because my servant Caleb has a different spirit and follows me wholeheartedly, I will bring him into the land he went to, and his descendants will inherit it.” Numbers 14:24 NIV

Numbers 14:24 shows the result of a whole heart life.

Point to ponder while you wander…

Praise isn’t just singing songs. We can praise with our lives too. Our gifts, talents, and strengths were given to us by God to steward, grow, and use to impact those around us. When we do, it honors the One who gave them to us.