Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Power Thoughts for Women

As women, we can easily allow ourselves to be bombarded with negative self-talk and live according to the lies the enemy tries to feed us about ourselves. Even though we know the truth of who we are in Christ, we can still have the tendency to act as if we are still under bondage to these lies. We often live with insecurity and self-doubt as though we are less than who we know God says we are. The best weapon against these lies is truth, and we need to remind ourselves of the truth daily. The following is a list of affirmations I have collected over the years, and I usually pick out a few to meditate on each day. I challenge you to do this every day for at least 30 days, and see what a difference it makes in your life. Post this somewhere you will see it and not forget. You are God’s masterpiece, and don’t you ever believe otherwise!

  • Today is the day that the Lord has made; I will rejoice and be glad in it.
  • I choose today to live life to the fullest and fulfill God’s purpose for my life.
  • I am committed to achieving my God-given potential.
  • I am living in line with my divine destiny.
  • This is a fresh, new day, and I choose to look forward and not look back.
  • I am excited about this day.
  • I am expecting God’s blessings today.
  • My future is very bright!
  • I am not doomed to live a life of mediocrity, but God has a very wonderful and fulfilling life in store for me.
  • New doors of opportunity are opening for me.
  • God is going to restore everything that has been taken or withheld from me.

  • I am the apple of God’s eye.
  • I am called, chosen, and set apart.
  • I am a princess. I am a child of the Most High God.
  • I may not be perfect, but I am forgiven. I am not condemned, but God is pleased with me and approves of me.
  • I am the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus, and I have strong faith.
  • I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
  • He will continue to work on me, and I am growing and improving every day.
  • I am destined to live in victory and I am more than a conqueror.
  • God has given me His righteousness, and He has made me worthy.

  • I have peace with God.
  • My mind is at peace.
  • I am full of joy.
  • I have a sound mind.
  • I am relaxed yet energetic.
  • I have a positive attitude.
  • I have the favor of God.
  • I am blessed and prosperous.
  • God fights my battles for me, and I have nothing to fear and no reason to worry.
  • God created me to be victorious.
  • I am not bound by any strongholds or crutches, but I walk in absolute victory.

  • God made me exactly the way He wanted me to be. I accept myself and feel good about who I am.
  • He has endowed me with wondrous gifts and talents.
  • He has given me everything I need to do everything He has called me to do.
  • I genuinely care for people.
  • I am anointed by the Holy Spirit.
  • I hear from God.
  • God uses me mightily.
  • I take good care of my children and my home.
  • My children love God and are fulfilling God’s purpose for their lives.
  • My home is a place of retreat, peace, beauty, and warmth. I work hard to create an atmosphere in which my family can truly relax and develop to their full potential.
  • I inspire and motivate others.

  • God created me to enjoy life, and I will do just that. He did not create me to focus on the negative or to constantly be stressed out, tired, uptight, worried, condemned, or discouraged. I will not allow stress to rob me of my joy.
  • I have discipline and self-control.
  • I am a woman of integrity.
  • I am consistent.
  • I am a Proverbs 31 woman
  • I have true beauty that radiates from the inside, and I take excellent care of my outward appearance as well.
  • I am strong, persistent, and have amazing endurance.
  • I have a good personality and am interesting to others.
  • I am attractive and friendly.
  • I am generous.
  • I take good care of myself, and I am worth it.
  • I nourish myself spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and physically every day.
  • I exercise regularly and eat healthy. I respect and take good care of the temple of the Holy Spirit.
  • I am disciplined and determined.
  • I am healthy and whole.
  • I am creative.
  • I am intelligent and wise.
  • I make good decisions.
  • I am valuable. I am worth taking good care of.
  • I am very capable.
  • I am a good communicator and am continuously improving my conversational, public speaking, and written communication skills.
  • I am well rounded.
  • I am rising to new heights.
  • I am confident.
  • I am talented and creative.
  • I have what it takes to fulfill my destiny.
  • I am strong in the Lord.
  • I am made in the image of God.
  • I have a bright future, and the best is yet to come.
  • I consistently pursue excellence and work very hard to develop my gifts and talents for the glory of the Lord. I give Him my very best.
  • I excel in my job.
  • I use my time wisely and pursue excellence in my career.
  • I am first employed by God and then myself before I am employed by ________. That gives me motivation to be my very best, and I do not settle for mediocrity.
  • I am a hard worker, and I am successful.

  • There is nothing I can’t do.
  • I have been crowned with glory and honor.
  • There is nothing in my heart I cannot accomplish.
  • The favor of God follows me wherever I go.
  • Whatever I touch is going to prosper and succeed.
  • I am endowed with seeds of greatness.
  • I have a positive opinion about myself, and I speak words of life to and about myself.
  • I am continually developing and reinforcing good habits.
  • I treat people with kindness and respect.
  • I choose to honor God in everything I say, do, and think about.
  • Everything is going to work together for my good because I love the Lord.
  • I have strong faith.
  • I am a woman after God’s heart.
  • I am unselfish.
  • I will do something today that I enjoy.
  • I am organized, clean, and neat.
  • I am energetic.
  • I regularly read and study the Bible and inspirational books.
  • I look for the good in people and help bring out their best.
  • I inspire, motivate, and encourage others.
  • With God’s help, I am a wonderful wife.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Bringing Beauty to Life

An example of beautiful glass art from Dale Chihuly. For more fascinating artwork, check his website: http://42concepts.com/design/dale-chihuly
When my children were young, one of our favorite past times was to explore the many nearby museums, theaters, gardens, zoos, etc. There was no shortage of things to do in Columbus, OH! During one of our visits to the botanical gardens, they were featuring a local artist’s work throughout the campus. Interestingly he was a glass artist, and we had never seen such elaborate, unique, and beautiful works of art in our lives! They were breathtaking!

I couldn’t help but wonder about the process of making such stunning creations. How in the world did he come up with such unique designs? Had anyone else ever done anything like this before? I wonder how difficult it would be to make these intricate shapes and blend such vibrant and beautiful colors. How did he transform those shapeless lumps into such gorgeous works of art?

On another trip with my kids, we attended a glass making demonstration and watched the master use extremely hot fire to melt and stretch the glass into the desired shape. He showed how he pounded and stretched some, squeezed and pinched some, pulled and twisted some – Ouch! I’m sure glad the glass doesn’t have feelings! What a mean process that would be if it did! It was so amazing to see how he manipulated the glass to create the beautiful designs.

The simple concept here is that true beauty often requires much pain, hard work, and a lot of time before it is achieved. Those beautiful works of glass art had to go through an elaborate process of painful manipulation before they reached their final state of magnificence, just as in our lives, God allows us to experience the pain of chiseling and molding to form us into His marvelous masterpieces.

This is true with anything that is beautiful or magnificent. Consider the excruciating process of developing the ballerinas who perform so majestically. I have seen the stretching, the work, the painful rehearsals. It is all necessary to accomplish such exquisiteness. Consider the hours and hours of painstaking rehearsal before the musicians in the symphony orchestra are able to perform with such breathtaking brilliance. Every masterpiece, from every genre, has a story of enduring a difficult, even painful process of achieving its beauty. 

You are all the more a magnificent masterpiece in progress! Do you realize that? When God created you, He was so proud of His accomplishment. He looked at you with incredible love in His eyes and said, “This is good.” However, He didn’t stop there; that was only the beginning. He has begun a great work in you that He has promised to fulfill to completion (Philippians 1:6). He is working everything in our lives toward the goal of forming us into His image (Romans 8:28-29). Daily circumstances, decisions, trials, relationships, blessings, struggles, hurts, words spoken to us, lessons learned – He uses all of it to shape us in order that his splendor will be shown through us and that we will become “a special utensil for honorable use.” (2Timothy 2:21).

We are His favorite of all of His creation, and He placed a high price on us when He gave His very life to redeem us. It can be quite a long process for us to finally come to terms with our worth in Him, but then to go even deeper to embrace the work He is doing in our lives to beautify and strengthen us for His purpose takes a lot of faith, trust, and cooperation. We must not lose our faith or our sense of worth when we face the trials that come as part of the process. We may experience a lot of pain and confusing situations in our lives that can be difficult to understand (1 Peter 1:6-7). However, we can rest in the fact that He is using all of this to make us radiant from the inside out (Psalms 34:5). Think of it as God’s beauty treatments! When you think of the wonder of all He has created, imagine all the more the beauty of what He is forming within you!

Be patient with the process and understand the necessity of the pain and anguish you often must endure. God is doing a marvelous work in you through it all, and He gives you the grace and strength to endure. It will all be worth it when you finally reach the pinnacle of the process, and you approach your Heavenly Father, hearing Him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” In the meantime, keep your eyes open to wonder of what God is doing in your life and appreciate how truly beautiful you already are. You are on your way!

Enjoy this extremely powerful video from The Skit Guys that illustrates the process I have been describing. God is chiseling anything out of our lives that is not like Him. It can be a painful process, but oh how awesome it is! Go Skit Guys!

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Don't Just Take My Word For It

“Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.” Acts 17:11 NIV

How many times have we seen that emotional appeal for money in exchange for your breakthrough or as seed faith that is attached to your miracle? Is it really true that God wants me to be wealthy? Will my "wealth transfer" finally come if I send this $1000 gift of faith into the ministry? The minister said that God only wants good things for me, and that certainly must mean that He only wants me to be comfortable and happy. Right? The atmosphere seems electrically charged as the audience praises God with passion and cheers heartily as the minister proclaims that God wishes "above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as they soul prospereth."

What is going on here? This is the prevalent message that is seen on Christian TV all over America. It seems that a fine line has been crossed, and Scripture has been taken out of context to manipulate viewers into padding the pockets of these so-called men of God. Enough truth is mixed in so that many are easily enticed and deceived. For those who do not know God, will this faux gospel lead them to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ? Will this attract outsiders to want to know more about God? Or, have others become so disgusted by the greedy business of religion that they have hardened their hearts to the real God?

This is dangerous territory to tread indeed!

It is so important to read and study the entire Bible, not just cherry-picked verses to support what we want to believe. This is the only way to keep yourself from being misguided or manipulated by false teachers. It is especially important to read within context - not just the verse above and below, but also consider cultural context, historical context, literal context, and accurate interpretation of words.

Here is a perfect example: I have heard the above verse quoted over and over again out of context and used as a foundation to support this gospel of greed.  "Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth." 3 John 1:2 KJV. 

I just go nuts when I hear a minister go there!

Do you not realize that this was written in a letter from John to his friend Gaius, a recent convert?  It was merely a greeting to open his letter, yet it if so often quoted as a direct message to us from God to seek wealth above all things.  John was simply wishing his friend blessings, that everything would go well for him just as his spiritual life was now on track. 

Although this letter was addressed to one specific person, it was also intended to encourage and strengthen the church.  After the initial greeting, the basic gist of this book is to encourage the church to provide for their brothers in Christ who are traveling and preaching the gospel.  Nothing in this letter teaches us to idolize money.

Do not get me wrong.  We can find ample Scripture that does support the fact the God loves to bless us, and He does prosper us!  He really does!  There are too many examples in the Bible not to believe that.  However, He blesses us so that we may bless others and glorify Him, not so we can hoard treasures for ourselves.  The important issue is to keep our hearts pure and not to allow His blessings to become an idol to us. 

It's all His anyway! We are mere stewards of what God has entrusted to us. Lord, let us be faithful managers of what belongs to you!

In other words, love God; seek Him first; enjoy His blessings; prosper abundantly; but keep a balanced, Biblical perspective, and do not become greedy.

Here is a list of verses that will help to balance this teaching. If any one of them is read by itself, it can easily cause one to jump to the wrong conclusion. However, as you study each of these verses together, rather than seeing contradictions, you actually get a clearer interpretation of how God really does see money.

“And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” 2 Corinthians 9:8 NIV

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” John 10:10 ESV

“The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.” Psalm 23:1 NIV

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:21 NIV

“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” Matthew 6:24

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Matthew 6:33 NIV

“For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.” 1 Timothy 6:10 ESV

“Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5 ESV
 “And he said to them, ‘Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.’” Luke 12:15 ESV
“For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world.” 1 John 2:16 ESV

“He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves wealth with his income; this also is vanity.” Ecclesiastes 5:10 ESV

Please understand that these verses do not decry money itself as evil, but our approach toward money is where the problem often lies.  It is all in the heart.  Greed is the culprit, not money.  As you read in the first few verses, God does not want us to live in poverty or lack.  He generously gives us everything we need and more.  However, we are cautioned numerous times about our attitude toward wealth.  It is not the stuff, but how we react to the stuff. 

We can also read the stories of Abraham, Job, David, Solomon, and many more to see examples of how God loves to bless those who honor Him, but to have complete understanding of this topic, we must search all of Scripture rather than foolishly embracing the shallow and uninformed teaching of the few who manipulate for their own personal gain and lead the sheep astray.  Be wary!

Let us be diligent in researching Scripture and seek to comprehend each message in its full context. That is the example of the Bereans in the early church. Rather than merely accepting everything Paul said, they “received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.” Acts 17:11 NIV.

Don’t just take my word for it. Don’t just read the verses I provided by themselves either.  Take some time and read the contextual message surrounding these verses.  Look into a commentary for the cultural context and the meaning of any words that may be unclear to you. Compare these verses in multiple translations for the clearest meaning possible.

Now, after considering this approach to Bible study, what do you really think this next verse means?  “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” Philippians 4:13 KJV.  Talk about a verse that has been taken out of context and misused more than just about any other! 

I’ll leave you on your own for this one!