Made to Crave, week 2, 1 Peter 5:7

My goal for this study was to concentrate on drawing closer to God through quiet time, bible study & prayer, more so than the food aspect & the way I crave other things instead of spending time with Him. So, I’m continuing this week to do the bible verse mapping and sharing what I’ve learned from our verse for the week.

1 Peter 5:7-8 (NIV)
Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

(I made the above graphic with @visualpoetry. An app I found for the iPhone.) 

I love how after I read Chapter 4 on Sunday & seeing the verse for the week that I actually had to put it into practice. Without going into too much details, I will share that back in Oct of ’12, I was given a promise from God and that it was only here recently within the last few months that I started to see manifestations of it starting to come to pass. However, this week, I guess in a moment of vulnerability the enemy came in & started to plant some doubts in my mind to get me discouraged & give up.

This was on Sunday night,and by Monday morning as I was getting ready for work, I heard in my spirit “things are not always as they seem. The enemy wants to steal your joy and your peace, don’t let him.” Then later that afternoon, he reminded me again, “do not give up.”

I love how the word for this week is “determination”. I think it’s perfect for what I am going through right now & how the Lord reminded me not to give up. It’s so easy to do sometimes when we “feel” like things are not going as we planned. We let our guard down for one moment and the enemy decides to step in and plant seeds of doubt & discouragement, then we are tempted to give up trying – whatever it may be.

Not to give the enemy more credit than he deserves, but it’s sad that he knows us better than we know ourselves, especially during times of weakness and vulnerability. He’s studied us for a long time and knows exactly what buttons to push to get us to question God. Just like he did with Eve. That is why I had to include the rest of the verse above.

I wrote the following prayer poem on Monday while I was reflecting on this verse &  going through my moment of doubt & questioning.

Lord when temptations come & life feels out of control
Remind me to look to you, the Lover of my soul
You know me better than I know myself
It is only in you that I will find my rest
The enemy prowls around seeking someone to devour
I need to be on my guard, each and every hour
He wants to kill, steal and destroy the hope I find in you
But I know that with you by my side, i will get my breakthrough
You are my shelter & fortress, in you I can stand
You hold my very life in the palm of your hand
You care for me deeply, because I am your daughter
Bought by the blood of your son & cleansed by the water
I love you Lord because you first loved me
and in your arms I’ll always be
safe and secure no need to fret
Because your have not failed me yet.

Made to Crave, Week 1, Psalm 84:2

This post is a part of the Made to Crave online bible study from Proverbs 31 ministries.


For this blog entry, I chose option #2 which is to “Unpack our scripture for the week and share with us what you learned”

 
MY SOUL YEARNS, EVEN
FAINTS FOR THE COURTS OF THE LORD; MY HEART AND FLESH CRY OUT FOR THE LIVING
GOD. –  Psalm 84:2 (NIV)

 

MY SOUL = Very being, essence

 

YEARNS –desires, pines
after

FAINTS – becomes weak

MY HEART – inner man,
mind, will, heart

AND FLESH – flesh

CRY OUT – shout, sing for
joy

FOR THE LIVING – alive

GOD – almighty

Psalm 84:2 – Amplified
Bible (AMP)

 

2 My soul yearns, yes, even pines and is homesick for
the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out and sing for joy to the
living God.

Does my soul yearn, even
faint for the courts of the Lord?

 

Do my heart & my flesh
cry out for the Living God?

Or does my
soul, my very essence, crave or even desire other things before God?

These are the questions
that come to mind when I begin to unwrap this verse. If I am being completely
honest, I wish I could say that I do put God above everything else or that I “crave
God” more than anything, but I don’t.

 

It becomes very
apparent to me especially when my flesh would rather sleep in that extra 30
minutes in the morning than get up & spend time praying or reading my Bible
before leaving for work. Or when I come home in the evening & plop down on
the couch to watch TV to relax instead of being more intentional about reading
one of the many books that I’ve bought & haven’t read yet. One that will enrich my spiritual life
& help me to grow as a Christian.

 

Yes, my soul & my
heart desire to spend more time with God & to be in his presence. Especially
since I know that on those occasions when I am intentional about spending that
time with God, there is fullness of joy in His presence. I always come away
feeling refreshed, renewed & restored. But my crazy flesh wants to get in
the way.
For me, this “made to crave” journey is going to be more about craving God & His presence in my life than it will be about food. I’ve done this study several times before & in the past it had been about food & weight loss. But the more times I’ve gone through this study, I’ve realized that it’s more about putting things or craving things more than I do Him. Through the past times I’ve been through this study, I have lost weight, controlled my food cravings & quit smoking. But this time, I’m going to focus more on what is keeping me from spending more time with Him.
 
 

#YestoGod Wholly Commited

As I was debating on which blog topic I wanted to write about this past week, it was clear to me after I went to church on Wednesday night. My Pastor talked about taking up our crosses and following him from Matthew 16:24-28. So I knew that wholly committed would be my topic.

One thing I have found to be interesting about this #YestoGod journey & Bible study that I started is that it came shortly around the time I made 2 decisions. The 1st was that my ‘one word’ for the 2nd half of 2013 would be “surrender” and the 2nd is that I decided to get re-baptized.

You can watch the video here. 🙂


Making the decision to get re-baptized is not only a beautiful symbol of surrender, but it also shows that I made a commitment to follow him publicly.

One of the things that my pastor mentioned that I made note of was that the word deny means to disown one self or own interests. So we have to make a daily decision that will either yield to the spirit or give into our fleshly desires – which is me most of the times. It also means that we need to be putting the things of God and His kingdom 1st. 

Surrendering or denying myself has been difficult because my crazy flesh keeps wanting to get in the way. I’m also used to being independent that it has been hard to let go of certain things that I feel I should be able to handle. But as previous experience has taught me it is in those small things that I need Him most.

He also said that the “cross” is a sign of commitment and when it says to “deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me”, Jesus is saying that we need to lay down our own will and take up “our cross”. In order to take up something we must lay something down.So in other words, we must lay down our own plans, desires, wishes and “take up” God’s calling, purpose, plan & will for our life. 

That is why I think this whole SURRENDER & YES TO GOD is so interesting. Especially since I’ve been saved for over 23, but I haven’t always been committed to God and His plan for my life. My journey has had many ups and downs and gone down many roads I wish I had never gone. But at the same time, if I hadn’t, I never would have had the pleasure of knowing that God “works for the good of those who love Him”. (Romans 8:28 NIV). Plus, it wouldn’t have shaped me into the person I am today.

The above post is in response to the  Yes to God Blog Hop week 3

#PalmsUp

Welcome to my blog & the 1st post for the online bible study for What Happens When Women Say Yes to God by Lysa TerKeurst hosted by Melissa Taylor through Proverbs 31 ministries.

For this weeks topic, I chose #3 #PalmsUp.
In the bible study section at the end of the chapter Lysa asks, “What is holding you back from going deeper in your relationship with God?” List one or more things you sense holding you back (fear, intimidation, time, lack of confidence, etc). Use your bible study tools to find scriptures that will help you apply God’s truth in this area. Determine to release, surrender, and move forward with #PalmsUp receiving all God has for you.
I first chose this topic when the OBS email was sent on Sunday. I hadn’t even read the 1st chapter yet, but I already knew this is the one I wanted write about. It was mostly due to the word “surrender” – which happens to be “My One Word” this year – or at least this 2nd half of the year. I didn’t chose my word until mid June, but the Lord has definitely confirmed my choice. 
Then last night at mid week Bible study at church, my Pastor spoke on “What Is In Your Hand?” He talked about how God called Moses to lead the Israelites out of Egypt & Moses told him how he was unqualified. Then in Exodus 4:1-5 God asked him “what is that in your hand?” And Moses said a rod. God told him to cast in on the ground and when he did it became a serpent. 

My pastor said that it wasn’t until Moses released what he was holding onto that God was able to finally bring it to life. God can’t use anything we are tightly holding on to.

For me, I believe that fear is one of the things that keeps me from going deeper in my relationship with God. Fear is very paralyzing and it is also the opposite of faith. I know deep down that I need to trust God more – especially in the areas of finances & my future – so that is why I chose the word SURRENDER. I want to surrender those fears to Him, let go off those things that I’m trying to hold on too tightly and live my life with my PALMS UP ready to receive what it is that God wants to give – or take away – as the case may be.

I wanted to share a few of my favorite quotes from Chapter One that really stood out to me.

In this first one, I love that she says we don’t need perfect circumstances or the perfect religious attitude or all the answers. We just have to surrender – there’s my word – all that’s clamoring for attention in our heart.

You don’t need perfect circumstances to be a woman who says yes to God. You don’t need the perfect religious attitude or all the answers to religious questions. You simply have to surrender all that’s clamoring for attention in your heart with the answer God is longing to hear spill from your lips, “Yes, God.” – p. 13 &14

This is a great quote on radical obedience.

You may be surprised to discover that radical obedience is not really that radical. It is really biblical obedience – but we’ve strayed so far from biblical obedience that it now seems radical. Then a little further down that paragraph, Lysa says, we will never experience the radical blessings God has in store for us without radical obedience. It is the road that leads to blessing. It is what happens when women say yes to God– p. 18

And here is another one with my word “surrender” along with radical obedience.

Saying yes to God isn’t about perfect performance, but rather perfect surrender to the Lord day by day. Your obedience becomes radical the minute this desire turns into real actions. Radical obedience is hearing from God, feeling His nudges, participating in His activity and experiencing His blessings in ways few people ever do. – p 19 

The following is a screenshot from my iPhone the quote about “God doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the called.” I’ve seen it posted in emails and on FB and I just love it because all the people that did great things for God in the Bible were just like you and me. Imperfect with our flaws & maybe even a past we’re not too happy about, but the great thing is God loves us and will use us despite our human imperfections. All we have to do is being a willing vessel and follow Him wherever he wants to lead us.
 

See Ya Mediocrity!

This is my first blog post for the GREATER study through Melissa Taylor’s Online Bible Studies.

If you are visiting & not a part of the Blog Hop, you can visit Melissa Taylor’s website for more information

For this blog post I chose, “what would a “greater” life for God look like to you?”

Before I answer that question, I wanted to give you a little background and tell you why I was happy to learn about this book and the online bible study.

I’ve been a Christian since I was 15, but became a prodigal after my parents separated when I was 18. It would be another 12 years before I end up rededicating my life to Christ & going back to church. I was an active member in the church for 4 years (2004-2008). However, as my knowledge of God and the Bible increased & after a series of events that transpired, I became grieved because I found out the church I was a member of was full of doctrinal errors and false teaching. I officially left there in August of 2009 & spent the next 4 months figuring out where God would have me go next.

I visited several churches and even watched a few online. Then I finally found one I was interested in after watching their Christmas play online & thinking how awesome it would be to be a part of it. It would be another couple months before I actually set foot in the church, but when I finally did, I knew I was where God wanted me after the service was over. Especially when the speaker – who was also the worship leader at the time – answered the very question that I had been asking God about days prior. In July of 2010, I decided to take their membership classes and even joined the choir. I’ve been a happy member ever since, however, there is still a sense of wanting to do more with my life that just working a full-time job, M-F, with weekends off & attending church twice a week.

I’m also single and I’ve been struggling with this issue for quite awhile now. Especially since I feel like I waste too much of my free time – evenings & weekends – on trivial pursuits or nothing of real eternal value. It wasn’t until recently that the story in John 5 about the lame man near the pool of Bethesda really spoke to me.

See, I just turned 38 and even though I don’t have a physical infirmity that has kept me paralyzed, I do have fears, doubts and insecurities that have kept me paralyzed from fully pursuing everything that God has for me. I like how the man makes an excuse when Jesus asked him if he wanted to get well. I feel the same way in that I make excuses for why I feel stuck & can’t move forward in my Christian walk. And it’s at this time right now in my life that I sense Jesus is saying to me, “Get up & walk”. That is why I was so happy to hear about this book and study because I believe this is the perfect timing for me to start doing GREATER in my life.

Especially since I have been struggling with bouts of anxiety and depression for several months. I’ve literately felt like giving up and not trying anymore. I’ve looked back on my life and where I’ve come from, and even though spiritually I am grateful because I’m not who I used to be, in the physical I’m very unhappy.

Last year in February I quit smoking & because of stress, lack of physical exercise & poor diet, my health started decreasing & I started suffering from bad digestive problems.. In October of last year, I had a procedure done to test for celiac disease, however the results came back negative. But after a follow up, the doctor concluded that it must be IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome). At first my symptoms weren’t that bad and manageable, but as the months progressed, it started getting worse and worse. Then in May of this year, the Lord led me to a conference where Sid Roth was speaking & I sensed the Lord telling me that He would heal me. So toward the end of the meeting I went up to have hands laid on for healing, However, I would later learn that this would be a gradual healing, not the instant that I was originally hoping for.

Then, about a month ago, I decided to take a break from the choir, mostly because my digestive issues seemed to be getting worse, not better. The frequent attacks caused me to become less sociable. So, even though I believed God was (IS) going to heal me, the enemy kept flooding my mind with doubt and unbelief, which I believe is what led to my anxiety and depression. The worst part is that stress makes my symptoms worse, so it just ends up being a vicious cycle. I also started seeing a prayer counselor around the same time I stopped attending choir for encouragement and I’m slowly starting to get my life back on track.

My main prayer for this study is that God will use it to further encourage me to not give up and start dreaming big again.

Now to answer the question, what would a “greater” life for God look like to you?

1. To take back everything that the enemy has stolen
2. To live life with confidence, boldness & strength in the Lord and not shrink back because of  fear, insecurity or shyness.
3. To have better faith to trust God for the impossible.
4. To be able to be a better witness to my circle of influence & share my faith without fear.
5. To FINALLY be able to attend She Speaks after 3 years of trying in order to pursue my dream of being a writer.

If you are visiting from the Blog Hop, thank you for taking the time to read my post & I would appreciate your prayers as I continue on my way back to health and the GREATER life that God has for me. 🙂