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Thursday, August 17, 2017

Why I Sing for Joy!

"...my mouth will praise you with joyful lips
when I remember you upon my bed, 
and meditate on you in the watches of the night; 
for you have been my help,
and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy.  
My soul clings to you; 
your right hand upholds me."
Psalm 63:5-8

Think back to something God has done...something that would not have happened had it not been for his intervention, guidance, presence or power.  We can name many instances, can we not?  Psalm 63 is one of my favorite, and there are actually several portions of it that could be highlighted.  It is so rich! But I've chosen these verses for the joy they bring as I meditate upon them remembering God's goodness and many, many mercies toward me.  


What a wonderful place to abide...in the shadow of God's wings...under his protective and watchful eye, close to his heart.  That alone is great reason to be joyful.  As believers we are blessed with this close position to God through his grace alone.  He has invited us to be in relationship and the benefits of that relationship are like no other.  No doubt we can recount story after story of when he was our help.  Once we trust in God's son, Jesus, we desire a close, abiding relationship...we literally CLING to Jesus.  


During many nights I could feel his right hand holding me close, holding me tightly, reassuring...steady...strong.  Who wouldn't cling to that, right?  God often wakes me in the "watches of the night" to pray for someone, to commune with him, to search his Word for wisdom and help.  I feel especially close to him at night.  I know he watches over me, protects me, and prepares the day in front of me so I will see him working on my behalf. 


One of the many reasons I sing for joy, is that I know my God defends me, fights for me.  I know there have been numerous times the enemy would creep into my night seeking to frighten, discourage, and bring despair.  But God fought for me.  There have been times in my life when people...people whose hearts were bent toward evil and destruction came against me.  I LOVE the passage in Psalm 64 on the facing page.  Here David describes enemies coming against him, setting traps of ambush, shooting arrows with bitter lies and destructive words.  I've known people like this.  Being in full-time ministry places you in enemy territory many times.  People will gnash their teeth against those proclaiming the gospel and reaching the lost for Christ.  My husband, a pastor, and I have experienced warfare many times.  But God has come to our defense in every single instance.  We see him dealing with those who come against us.  We don't have to do a thing but trust in him.  What a cause for joy!  

I pray that you find shelter under the wing of the Most High God, that you find many reasons to remember and celebrate with joy the times he has come to your aid, upheld you with his right hand.  Knowing he has been there for us, faithfully providing and protecting, gives us full assurance he will ALWAYS be there for us.  And that indeed is a reason to sing for joy!

Sets Used: 


       
                                          His Name                                     Note This

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Go Out in Joy!

These things I have spoken to you, 
that my joy may be in you, 
and that your joy may be full.
John 15:11 

Welcome to our Mustard Seed Faith Challenge for the next 2 weeks!  Our challenge this week is to share a little joy with your crafting projects.  For my projects I'm submitting both this card and a Bible Journaling page.


I love the verse in John 15:11.  The reason God reveals Himself to man and invites us into relationship is two-fold.  He receives glory from our redemption and we receive complete joy when we are His.  I love the simplicity of this little design for the card (cut out from Illustrated Faith).  It reflects the simplicity of the verse I chose as well...God's joy in us completes our joy.  Feelings like happiness depend on our circumstances or our perspective.  Joy comes from God.  No one can have complete joy apart from a relationship to God.  Simple, profound theology! 

In Christ we are commanded to go out into the world, and we can do so with joy because of the treasure God has put within us.  


My Bible journaling, also on joy, captures Isaiah 55:12,  
“For you shall go out in joy
    and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and the hills before you
    shall break forth into singing,
    and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.

When God puts His joy into us we can go out in joy and peace, praising God along the way.  Even nature magnifies the praise of the Lord.  

What brings you happiness?

What brings you His joy?  

We hope you'll join us sometime during this challenge and share your own inspirational projects.  We'd love to see them.  Just head over to Mustard Seed Faith Challenges!

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Our Inheritance

video

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! 
According to his great mercy, 
he has caused us to be born again 
to a living hope 
through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, 
kept in heaven for you.
 1 Peter 1:3-4

We can face all of our todays when we know what our tomorrows hold.  We can strive with our momentary problems when we know a prize worth the struggle awaits us.  We can live this life with a certain, unyielding hope because we know God has prepared an inheritance for us that makes this life worth the effort, worth the reach, worth the living.  Through the mercy of God, exhibited in the in sacrifice of His Son Jesus, we have been given something that is beyond measure, is of indescribable worth, and is very real...certain, in fact.  We are given a new birth into a living hope, a birth that makes us a child of God, of the eternal King.  And as God's child we are promised an inheritance.  His final will has not been unopened, so we don't know all that He has waiting for us, but we know it is good.  We know it can never perish, spoil or fade.


This Bible-journaling page is personally meaningful to me in so many ways.  What amazing promises lie within these two verses of scripture.  It's everything...it's gives glory to God as our Father, to Christ as our Savior and to the Spirit as the one who fills us with the undeniable and certain hope of heaven.  We are promised by God, who will not change and cannot lie, that we will receive the inheritance He has designed personally for each and every believer. 


God's Word is true and we can absolutely trust and depend on what it says to us.  God has a treasure chest full of unspeakable joy and glory waiting with our names engraved upon the lock.  He holds the key and will give it to us when we meet Him face to face.  I just get teary-eyed and thrill-shivery just thinking about what my treasure might hold!


Of course there will be a crown.  

Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, 
which the Lord, the righteous judge, 
will award to me on that day, 
and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.
2 Timothy 4:8

But I think I'll be casting my crown at the foot of the throne along with the twenty-four elders, for He is worthy of all our crowns!  There will be a never ending bounty lavished upon me as my inheritance.  


And I will enjoy the waves of His blessings forever...no end.  Each gift will be sparkly and new and will never lose its luster. My joy will be complete and will rise in songs of glory for the God who is and will be forevermore.  Even singing His praises will be a gift...one of the many jewels in my treasure chest.  

Whatever this life holds I know I can rejoice in it because each trial, each heartbreak, every step along my journey, both sorrows and joys, takes me closer and closer to my Joy, my Jesus, my heavenly Father and my inheritance.  The older I get, the more real it is.  I can almost taste it, smell it, the glory of the thought along makes me squint from the sheer brightness. It will be....divine!

 
 Sweet 'n Sassy stamp sets I used:

 Scribble Flowers

 Child of the King

 Fantastic Flowers

 Mini Grunge Alpha

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Worry...Don't!

Look at the birds of the air; 
they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, 
and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. 
Are you not much more valuable than they?  
 Can any one of you by worrying 
add a single hour to your life? 
Matthew 6:26-27

Worry...it will drain the life right out of your heart and mind.  Really, it's a killer!  The Bible instructs us not to worry for very good reasons. 

  1.  As stated in the scripture above, it won't add to your life.  In fact the stress of worrying not only decreases the quality of your life; it can decrease the length of your life as well. 
  2. Further in that same passage of scripture in Matthew 6:44 Jesus says, "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."  We can't hold all that there is to worry about.  Jesus is certainly not saying there aren't troublesome things that will happen in life.  We only need to look around and we see plenty of things worthy of our worry.  
  3.  The Bible instructs us not to worry for another reason..."Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God." (Philippians 4:6)  We have a better solution to troublesome situations than worry.  We can pray and turn it all over to God. 
It may seem like we trivialize situations to think we shouldn't worry about them.  I think sometimes I worry in direct proportion to how important something is to me.  But worry is futile. My daddy used to say 99% of what we worry about doesn't occur and if it does most of it is not as bad as we made it out to be.  I think that's really true.  I found this poster on Pinterest.






It says the same thing my father said.  Worry is a fabrication, a lie.  We are forming thoughts and feelings that are not accurate, not true...so worry is not from God.  And that is perhaps the biggest reason to cast worry from our hearts.  Worried thoughts are not of God.  Worry robs us of trust and is a faith-killer.  Examine your heart daily and make a commitment before the Lord to turn over any worries the day might hold to Him.  He will fill you with His peace and assurance. 

This card is for my DT submission to Mustard Seed Faith Challenges and I invite you to our blog to be inspired and challenged.  You will be delighted by the devotional thoughts and artful inspirations there. 



Sunday, May 28, 2017

Are You Steadfast?

   
 I was so amused when I looked up the word "steadfast" and read this fun fact about the word itself. 

"Steadfast has held its ground in English for many centuries. Its Old English predecessor, stedefæst, combined stede (meaning "place" or "stead") and fæst (meaning "firmly fixed"). An Old English text of the late 10th century, called The Battle of Maldon, contains our earliest record of the word, which was first used in battle contexts to describe warriors who stood their ground. Soon, it was also being used with the broad meaning "immovable," and as early as the 13th century it was applied to those unswerving in loyalty, faith, or friendship. Centuries later, all of these meanings endure." (Merriam-Webster online dictionary)

The very word "steadfast" and its meaning have endured...which is what it means.  Just struck me as humorously interesting.  But I also loved the analogy here of the warrior who stands their ground.  Truthfully, that is precisely what having a steadfast spirit means.  

Our Mustard Seed Faith Challenge this week deals with steadfastness which is multifaceted.  We can examine God's steadfast love for us, or ours for God (a goal...probably not something we've attained!), the love we have for our spouses...steadfastness is a virtue in many dimensions.  I invite you to our challenge blog to read the devotional there.  I'll post my card submission as a design team member for our current challenge, but I'd like to explore this particular verse and shine some light on the multifaceted word steadfast so it sparkles in your heart!
  
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Our challenge is to create a card with either a friendship 
or love/marriage theme to go with a focal verse in Hosea.  
It's a book that definitely shows us God's steadfast love toward us.  
My card reflects the effects of someone's steadfast friendship...
someone whose friendship stays the course and does not waver.  
The card could be for a spouse...anyone who blesses another. 

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What does it mean to have a steadfast spirit?  Do you have one?  I'd like to offer some verses of scripture that may guide you in some study and prayer time as you seek to have a more steadfast spirit.  

  1. I believe a steadfast spirit starts with a steadfast mind.  Isaiah 26:3 says, "You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast because they trust in you."  Trusting God is essential as we develop the right perspective on our circumstances.  If we lack trust, have a mind that wanders from Christ and God's Word, we've already lost the battle.  So, are you DETERMINED to be steadfast because you TRUST GOD?
  2. A steadfast heart is one that is immoveable, unshakable...not because of our own courageousness, but because we live in expectant and certain hope.  We know the prize awaits us, and that certainty can keep us steady on our feet.  When we are firmly planted in God's promises we will refuse to let the world move us, corrupt us, influence us.  We will be grounded, rooted and standing on the Solid Rock.  No wind of error will take us to the right or left. 1 Corinthians 15:58 says it best, "Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.
  3.  Does your perspective change as the life-is-easy/life-is-difficult meter swings from side to side?  We all surely know by this point life has it's ups and downs.  Sometimes the downs are so low we wonder if we can ever climb out of the hole.  The more we try to dig our way out, the deeper the pit descends.  Been there?  Where is our faith during these times?  If your faith falters in the difficult seasons of life you need a good dose of steadfastness.  And God will provide that. 1 Peter 5:10 gives us the confidence that God will supply our steadfast spirit--  (That's great news!!!) "And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast."  We are never promised a life void of suffering...but we are promised that the God of all grace will dispense HIS strength to us when we need it.  Are you asking for it?  Are you availing yourself of the Lord's rich supply of steadfastness?  As the opening passage/graphic indicates...it is God who RENEWS a steadfast spirit within us!
  4. Steadfastness is dispensed as we ask and obey.  Psalm 119:5 says, "Oh, that my ways were steadfast in obeying your decrees!" and Proverbs 4:26 adds, "Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways."  Intentional obedience to what God has already said in His Word provides a path for steadfastness.  If we are constantly living in disobedience to the Lord our way is strewn with boulders of rebelliousness...we have to navigate around the very pitfalls and obstacles we are responsible for constructing.  We will stumble over them.  A stalwart and steadfast soldier is not out there on the battlefield stumbling around aimlessly slashing at the air lamenting that he should have trained harder. No, he is strategically, purposefully aiming the truth of God's Word at anything and anyone who seeks to bring him down.  Steadiness in obedience brings steadfastness to the heart. 
  5. Finally (although there are many more scriptures on the topic), I'd like to offer the beauty of Psalm 57:7 for your meditation and study, "My heart, O God, is steadfast, my heart is steadfast; I will sing and make music." When troubles come, sing!  When circumstances knock you down, get back up and start dancing...make music.  I love the story in 2 Chronicles 20:21, "After consulting the people, Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the Lord and to praise him for the splendor of his holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying: 'Give thanks to the Lord, for his love endures forever'."  Isn't that fantastic?!  The king sends out singers in FRONT of the army...and they are singing of the steadfast love of the Lord.  That just makes me smile.  (Please just go read the first 29 verses of chapter 20.  It's amazing.) When you have a battle facing you, do you go out singing? If your heart is steadfast, you will!
If you don't have a steadfast heart, you do have patience to have read to this point!  LOL I'm glad you did, not for digesting anything I said but to feast on the Word of God and His amazing promise to make us steadfast.  Just do your part to open yourself to His treasure trove!

Hope to see you over at Mustard Seed Faith Challenges this week and next!  

 

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

God's Word Fills My Heart

I recently purchased yet another journaling Bible and I love decorating the inside page too. I wanted the very first page of the Bible to express my feelings toward God's Word. One statement can't adequately express it, but I like the page and the sweet bird.



All the stamps are from Sweet 'n Sassy Stamps: Praise God (bird/flowers/stamped sentiment), Skinny Lowercase and Caps Alphas, All Your Heart and Rebecca Script.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Lullabye Baby

Mustard Seed Faith Challenge
Baby Card / Psalms

There is something simply heavenly about rocking a baby to sleep and singing over your child or grandchild.  I rocked both my boys to put them to sleep at night and absolutely loved that special time of singing to them and praying over them.  I also played music (soft classical) all night long.  I prayed every night over my boys for three things...for their future mates to be godly women, for them not to meet with a violent or painful end and for them to be godly men who loved and served Jesus with their whole heart.  They are grown men now.  My older son is married to a beautiful Christian woman and he is a very dynamic pastor.  My younger son, who also married a beautiful believer, has children of his own, and we recently celebrated the first birthday of his youngest.  


This little live-wire does love to cuddle up on grammie's soft lap and snuggle in for a snooze.  And I'm still singing...and still praying.  



And what a joy to see my baby hold his baby for sleep time too...


And seeing sweet time with mama...



 As I pray over my adult children who bless me so much, and my grandchildren who are now a double blessing, my prayer is reflected in Psalm 103: 16-18

But from everlasting to everlasting
    the Lord’s love is with those who fear him,
    and his righteousness with their children’s children—  
with those who keep his covenant
    and remember to obey his precepts.

God continues to answer the prayers I prayed so many years ago over my boys...now He is blessing the prayers of my sons over the fruit they are bearing through their ministry and children.


What an amazing legacy of faith in our family of men...Photo above was about a year ago in our home...my husband (a preacher) with his dad (a retired pastor). 


Both my grandsons have made professions of faith within the last 2 years.  In fact, Daniel, the younger one, is being baptized this Mother's Day (2017).  His grandpa David will baptize him as he did CJ two years ago.  As we celebrate the faith of my family and watch this amazing symbol of obedience to Christ by my grandson, I can't help but believe those prayers as I rocked my babies years ago made a difference, because God honored them and blessed me with these answers that you see here.

When we keep God's Word, sing it and pray it over our children, it will have an everlasting effect.  I believe that with all my heart.  


I'm submitted this card as my DT sample for the Mustard Seed Faith Challenge to make a baby card and relate to a psalm in scripture as a lullaby.  I hope the story of my rocking my babies, and now my grandson as I sing God's Word over them is a testimony to the power of what this challenge represents.  

AND for those of you who have children, may I recommend an amazing discovering I recently made.  If you haven't heard of the Scripture Lullaby CDs available online...rush there to purchase they are the new music I now play for Lukas.  My husband and I fall asleep with them every night and my daughter-in-law makes sure Lukas has them on while going to sleep...and she now plays them all night long for him.  God's Word, sung over our children.  That will produce more JOY than we can imagine!  Here's a sample!  Enjoy!