He is sufficient

He is sufficient

Are you desperate for relief from your heavy burdens? For me, the dark early hours of a Monday are akin to staring down the barrel of a gun – but instead of a steel shaft, I see the days of the week lined up and advancing toward me. I can’t tell you how many mornings I have begrudgingly left the warm cocoon of my bed, feeling utterly abandoned by the weekend and unarmed/unprepared to meet the week.

That is, until this morning. Something has shifted in my understanding of a small corner of the Gospel message for me, and I’m grateful because I can finally connect the dots between this Earthly life and God’s promise of abundant life made complete in Jesus.

His grace is sufficient for me. Do you believe this? We don’t have to pray that it would be or ask why he hasn’t made it so… it already is. Lord, give us your wisdom to understand in our hearts, deep inside, that when life is hard, when thousands of burdens rail at us from the business side of a new week, what it means to be satisfied and contented with you.

Not with you and coffee. Not with you and a quiet uninterrupted time to pray and think. Not even with you and a desired outcome to a situation. But satisfied with you alone.

Lord, I confess how UNsatisfied I have been with you. I have passed over this verse with a “yeah, but…” and page turn to seek something clearer, easier, more attuned to my “needs”; some other bible verse that gives the secret recipe to Peace and Rest so I can thrive in this hectic world. I have even had well-meaning brothers and sisters in Christ tell me point blank that I was anxious and panicking because I failed to trust in you. That made me mad. I honestly thought I did trust you. Well, at least my desire to trust was pure, and it could not be anything else because at the time I had only the amount of faith measured out to me. (You give us exactly what we can handle.) But now, some years later you have suddenly opened up my eyes to understand.

Lord, show us that we are already equipped with all that is needed to walk confidently through the day, doing good and seeking your face constantly. It took a very confusing detour to arrive at this conclusion, and although I know the winding path will keep on going, we pause today to praise you in this discovery, and like the biblical fathers, build an altar on the side of the road here to mark the place where we finally understood your grace really is all we need.

5 Undeniable Reasons To Start Bible Journaling

5 Undeniable Reasons To Start Bible Journaling
Reading the Bible shouldn’t be a fad diet we quit in 2 weeks. Nor should it be another box on my to-do list. It’s about relationship and personal growth. No time table or deadlines; one day at a time, moment by moment I’m learning to walk God’s joy-lined path.
Through journaling I can take my tangled-up thoughts, feelings, and realities and realign them on the page according to God’s truth. Journaling is the ability to take scripture and make it meaningful and relevant in your life. It’s great if I hear people say that the Word is living and active, but without application I’ll never personally know that for myself. In my journal I can literally write TO God. Ask Him questions, argue with him, argue with myself, be silly, stupid, cranky, spoiled and selfish. No matter how it goes, He’s still God and I’m on my knees.
Everyone learns and responds to scripture differently. I prefer to write down my thoughts in the large plain Moleskine notebooks for my journaling. The plain pages give me the freedom to doodle and write however I want. Bible decorating is another thing that is getting tons of attention lately. In the same way that adult coloring books have been all the rage for relaxation, you can ponder the scriptures while decorating it to your heart’s content. Go ahead, give yourself an excuse to go shopping for some new art supplies. 😃 Just look what people are creating.
Have you ever tried journaling through the Bible? I think everyone ought to give it a try at least once. But if you’re still not convinced, here are 5 undeniable reasons to start journaling:
  1. Journaling helps information stick. Ever notice how a new idea tends to “pop up” everywhere? When you engage with scripture, your mind will naturally recognize what you are learning in everyday situations. Better decisions come from an informed conscience.  Be a doer of the Word not just a hearer(James 1:22)
  2. Journaling allows us to discover for ourselves. Don’t just take someone else’s word for it. As well meaning as pastors and bloggers are, we are human! Don’t be a victim of bad theology – make sure you know what you believe. Journaling will help you to look closely at the source and know what you believe. (Acts 11:17)
  3. Journaling helps us apply God’s word. The word is living and active and meant to change us from the inside out.Of what use will the Bible be if you read but immediately forget what it says? (James 1:23) Make the connection by writing it down and owning it.
  4. Journaling is better than cramming. Studies show that we learn best in little spurts. A little bit of journaling (studying) will go a long way. Remember, there’s no heavenly scantron to look forward to. This is real life and the fruit of our discoveries is relevant right now. Inaccurate recall of the scriptures can cause us to operate under false wisdom and may even lead others astray. (Galatians 5:7-12) Not good.
  5. Journaling can be whatever you need it to be. Maybe you want to study a specific verse or even a whole book of the bible. Write your thoughts and prayers as your go verse-by-verse. Had a hard day and need to vent? Write about it and listen for God’s response in the scripture. Need to forgive someone but it’s too hard? Look up verses related to “forgiveness” and ponder them in writing. There is no wrong way to journal. It’s a perfectly wonderful way to invite God into your “here and now”.

I hope you enjoyed this post! Have I sufficiently inspired you to try  journaling for yourself?

Want to see more? Let me know on the Tea & Testimony Facebook page and share what you have created!

Thanks for reading, Molly

 

Faith as Fuel

Faith as Fuel

Let’s say you are working in a job that you can’t stand, or have duties/responsibilities that feel more like drudgery than blessing. Some of us have sick elderly parents to tend, or needy friends who constantly take and never give. You don’t feel that the paycheck of your 9-5 job is worth the stress you take home at the end of every shift. What do you do? To which thing or person do you go? What do you tell yourself? For me, it’s Netflix.

First, we should call it what it is. Ok so it’s not turning to the bottle or the needle. I’m not a traditional addict, but instead have chosen a much more “acceptable” way of dealing. I binge watch TV shows. It just wastes time and takes me into another world where problems are solved in 30 minutes. It’s not that bad right? Except that it is just another way of numbing the pain of an underwhelmed soul. There’s no public shame associated with distracting yourself from something you wish would change. Therefore it remains an untouched subject in my heart.

Second, remember that God blesses us in unexpected ways, places, and opportunities. Like I mentioned in my last post, I was enormously depressed because my first job out of college was “beneath my dignity” as a new graduate. Even so, I received many comforts and assurances from God that summer, through my coworkers and managers. (Not to mention a paycheck that got the job done) Then a few months later my favorite aunt invited me to live with her in Maui and work for her company. A job. In Hawaii. With a boss who is invested in my wellbeing. And all the people said AMEN.

What if I had gone straight into a brand new job after college and missed this opportunity? To be sure there are plenty of what-ifs, but this is a big one for me. God’s will for me in this season was the protection and love of family at this time. What might be just around the bend for you?

Third, consult the Lord. He has a plan and a future for you. Can I say it again? He’s on your side. If there’s a chance to make a change, jump for it. Some seasons are inescapable though, no matter how much you pray and try to change it. When we are hurting in this way the last thing we want to hear is an ignorant but well meant “It’s a blessing in disguise”. Let’s skip over those clichés and go straight to the truth.

  1. Pray for strengthened faith

“So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless. Now someone may argue, ‘Some people have faith; others have good deeds.’ But I say, ‘How can you show me your faith if you don’t have good deeds? I will show you my faith by my good deeds.’” (James 2:17-18 NLT)

We believe in God’s sovereignty and that his purposes get worked out in his time and specific ways. So consider this trial an opportunity to tending our garden in a special way. (James 1:2-4) When we keep working in the face of trials, our faith is proven and strengthened. Faith is the trust that God will do what he promised. Use your faith as fuel to keep on going and god will direct your path.

  1. Pray for patience

“The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).

Read this verse over a few times. Do you notice anything interesting? It says that the Lord is patient toward you, not the other way around. He’s not up on his heavenly throne chatting with the Seraphim going, “Yeah, Molly is really getting impatient with this new plan I’m working on for her. I better finish up quickly so she can get on with it!” Ha! On the contrary, who am I to believe my plans and timing as better than the Lord’s? Let’s not forget either – our ultimate purpose is to love God and love each other. THAT is the calling with multiple expressions. So in this season, if I am stuck with no way out, I can still fulfill my purpose while I wait for something better.

Now all that truth sounds really good and all, but let’s be honest. It’s easier said than done. Just because I believe in God’s sovereignty doesn’t mean I like it all the time. The hard part for me is sucking it up and accepting the fact that I am not the master of my own life. Galatians 2:20 says “My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me”. This is something that each person who follows Jesus must work on accepting but thankfully we don’t have to do it alone.

What do you think? Journal your thoughts as the spirit leads on the verses mentioned above:

  • James 1:2-4
  • James 2:17-18
  • 2 Peter 3:9
  • Galatians 2:20

Thanks for reading this month’s series on Work and Purpose, I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. Please feel free to share how the Spirit moved you on the Tea & Testimony facebook page . As a thank you I have created free printables. Print and hang these words of truth where you will see them the most.

Work & Purpose

Work & Purpose

If you’re like me, your job feels oppressive and pointless – like a necessary evil to get to payday. I think back to my childhood days when that’s how it felt anytime my parents asked me to do something. “Chores are torture!” I would tell my dad. It must have made him think, “Girl, just you wait and see!” I spend 40+ hours per week moping at my desk and working half-heartedly because I don’t care about the work I’m doing.

We live in an individualistic society where we are focusing ourselves more than ever before. Everything is supposed to fulfill you, make you happy, feel good, or else we naturally want to avoid it. In his book Every Good Endeavor, Timothy Keller talks about this social “disease” of individualism which has caused our sense of community to die in popular culture. Today it’s easier than ever to not have to leave the house and go outside. People don’t rely on each other. Next door neighbors have never even met. It’s common to hear someone say in a jokey way, “I wanted to go out, but didn’t want to put on pants”. It’s funny on the surface, but deeply disturbing when we realize that these “harmless” ways of life are only symptoms of underlying sin. Put simply, when we only want to do what feels good to us and avoid work and responsibilities we are walking by our natural reasoning which the Bible says leads to death.

In contrast, we walk by the Spirit when we consider God’s will and purpose for ourselves to be better. Did you know that God assigned Adam his work before the fall, not after? I was surprised to find that in God’s eyes work is not a punishment, but a special privilege. “The Lord God placed the man in the Garden of Eden to tend and watch over it” (Genesis 2:15 NLT). God had just finished creating the whole world from nothing. The Garden of Eden was beautiful but not complete until he gave it into Adam’s care and protection.

We have our own little gardens of Eden to tend and fortunately for me, gardening know-how is not required! It’s our choice whether we water and prune wisdom and fruit of the spirit. When we choose to operate outside of God’s will and purpose for ourselves, we suffer the consequences. Our wisdom withers away and the fruit of the spirit rots on the vine when we do not watch and carefully tend our little plots. But when we work hard at growing our characters within God’s will, we see results. Assurance, blessing, and hope in Jesus are only a few examples of the abundance of God’s garden. These are eternal things which never perish. Jesus tells us that we must labor for the “food” which endures, which can only come from him (John 6:27 ESV). How will we grow our virtues if we only spend time concerned about perishable things?

What do you think? Don’t take my word for it -Spend some time in the word and journal as the Spirit leads on these verses in their specific context:

  • Genesis 2:15
  • John 6:27

 

 

No longer a slave

No longer a slave

Unhealed pain creeps into the dark corners of our hearts, lying and locking the healing out. I did not fully understand this until today.

If I cannot embrace and accept that pain, neither will Jesus ever be invited into it. He’s not going to break down the door, but waits to be invited in.

Have you ever willingly embraced a hurt in order to let Jesus heal?

I want to share a message by  Christa Black Gifford here because it is so good, but in particular the section between 9:10 & 10:25 hit me like a ton of bricks:

If you cannot connect with God, I guarantee you it is because you have not connected with your own heart.

[We say] ‘No God, it’s all about you…’ No it isn’t… and let me tell you why: he had that. It’s called Pre-Creation.

He didn’t like it, so he created you.

He said ‘It’s not all about Me, it’s all about Me and you.’ The fullness of you combined with the fullness of Me…

It would be way better if it was all him, okay? Guys, we have to take ownership in the equation. He made you as a mini-him, a co-creator with him

We have to move out of the slavery zone into the friendship zone where we are completely submitted to him and we begin to act as co-creators to create things on this universe…

http://media.perpetuatech.com/watch?v=RkFBMTM3NDJDMw# 

Friends, my heart began to beat out of my chest when I heard that. Because I am SO all about pushing all the glory onto God and refusing to see my own mess as something I have control over. Control, in that I have the right as a child of God to ask for help. Instead however,  I become the slave in worship – Yes Lord, Yes Lord, it’s all You. And I deny it until my heart bursts and I land in the spiritual emergency room.

My messy, messy heart is so beloved by Him. He wants to be invited into it. Yes, to clean it up, but also to just be there in the mess. Pain is unavoidable in this broken world, and if it has to happen, I can think of no better Comforter to be there. He wants to stand there sweeping while I throw tantrums face down in the carpet. He is gloriously patient, loving, and so willing to work it all out alongside us.

Seeking God: What a relief!

Seeking God: What a relief!
He who keeps you will never take His eyes off you and never drift off to sleep..jpg

Reading: Psalm 121, Psalm 34:22

Christ: Taste and see that I am good. Meditate on Psalm 121 and believe it.

I look up at the vast size of the mountains—
    from where will my help come in times of trouble?
The Eternal Creator of heaven and earth and these mountains
    will send the help I need.

He holds you firmly in place;
He will not let you fall.
    He who keeps you will never take His eyes off you and never drift off to sleep.
What a relief! The One who watches over Israel
    never leaves for rest or sleep.

The Eternal keeps you safe,
    so close to Him that His shadow is a cooling shade to you.
Neither bright light of sun
    nor dim light of moon will harm you.

The Eternal will keep you safe
    from all of life’s evils,
From your first breath to the last breath you breathe,
    from this day and forever.

Think: Each day brings its own worries that attempt to distract you from the Spirit’s longing embrace. Like the sun which always shines above the clouds, God never ceases to watch over us regardless of how it appears to us down here.

Pray: Lord, we long to know we are safe. Our whole lives are centered around finding contentment. Let us find our contentment in the right places – in you and in your son Jesus and in the Holy Spirit. If we do not chase after You, we are only chasing after the wind. Keep us this day and always, Amen.

Seeking God: Humble Victors

Seeking God: Humble Victors

April 15, 2017 (1).jpg

Read: Psalm 20:1-9, Zechariah 9:9

Christ: I did not need to be born in a palace – I have a heavenly one. I did not need to be handsome and physically impressive – My spiritual stature was far better. I did not need to enter Jerusalem in a King’s chariot with an honor guard and decoration – the colt of a donkey was just fine.

Think: Real victors do not need to shove it in their opponents’ faces. They have already won and it is obvious. It is only when we see people trying to convince others of their status and wealth that we suspect they are trying to compensate.

Jesus has won and as our inheritance is His victory, God commands humility of us:

Though the Lord is exalted, he looks kindly on the lowly;
    though lofty, he sees them from afar.   -Ps 138:6

He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them.  And he said:“Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.  Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.  -Matthew 18:2-4

“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ 

“I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”   –Luke 18:13-14

Jesus’s very life on earth was an act of humility.

And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death– even death on a cross!   -Philippians 2:8

Pray: Dear Lord, That we must ride a colt in our exile does not mean we are to forget about our victory which awaits us. Help us to remember that our battle is already won. With the war won before it’s begun, we can relax. We know you have taken care of the outcome. Amen.

 

 

Seeking God: Taking the stand

Seeking God: Taking the stand

Read: Psalm 17:1-5, John 14:6

Christ: The only way to come to the Father is through me. There is the idea that all people can find God through different means, but that is not how God sees it. That is man’s idea. Mankind creates his own sort of gospel because he doesn’t like to be told what to do. That’s the definition of sin – proudly believing you have what it takes to save yourself.

I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me..jpg

Think: I thought that way once. We don’t like to be the one to say – Not just anyone can come into the holy throne room of heaven. Not even a perfectly devout person will be allowed without Jesus there to vouch for him.

Pray: Jesus, I cower behind your white robes like a shy child. I could never, would never attempt to stand up in the holy court to represent myself. Braver people than myself might think it possible, but they have never been cut to the heart by the awe of righteousness. If they had, they’d know. Thank you for being my advocate because it is too much for me. Amen.

Seeking God: We are going to fly

Seeking God: We are going to fly

Read: Psalm 30:1-12, John 6:40

Christ:  And this is the will of God, that I should not lose even one of all those he has given me, but that I should raise them up at the last day. -John 6:39

I will raise you up. Away from this sinking ship of a life you are leading. But don’t think my power is only food for the end of days. I will raise you up NOW.

eveningskies.jpg

Think: How would I live my day today if I knew that at the end of it I’d be raised up into Heaven?  Would I respond to that annoying person in the supermarket any differently? Would I be as quick to put down the remote and help with dinner? Would my focus inward be turned inside out?

Pray: Dear Jesus, we believe but we don’t act like it. I need raising up of my cold hard heart. Take and share it so that my belief shines brightly for all to see. Amen.

Seeking God: The Bread

Seeking God: The Bread

Reading: Psalm 143:1:12, John 6:35-37

Christ: You know when life gets too overwhelming and things start to fall apart? Maybe you don’t realize how you naturally react, but I can see you starting to reach out for comfort from the closest thing. That’s when I have to step in and remind you of who I Am. “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” 

never be hungry again.jpg

Think: What does it mean for be to be hungry today in 2016? I know that I am constantly craving something. Media, feed me entertainment. Credit card, feed me happiness. Food, literally feed me way too much. Technology, feed me social status (and virtual status!) As David is literally hungering for the Lord in this passage, can we also recognize the various hungers that we live with? Take a moment and think about what your “hunger” is right this moment. Maybe it’s hunger of healing, perhaps belonging, perhaps an impossible dream. Whatever it is, Only Jesus can satisfy that hunger beyond what you ever thought possible.

Pray: Dear Lord, Let us rise up and recognize Whose we are. You know our hearts and what it is that we are craving individually. Thank you for  already meeting our needs. Thanks to You, we can live without fear that we might not get our next meal. We no longer crave the things of this world, but the things of Heaven. Amen.