Wednesday, July 30, 2008

From Wild to Privileged

Romans 11:17-18 ESV

…you, although a wild olive shoot, were grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing root of the olive tree, do not be arrogant toward the branches. If you are, remember it is not you who support the root, but the root that supports you.

Born with surname, Savage, I lived to be wild. Steppenwolf’s song resonated within my lifestyle, “Born to Be Wild.” Being wild left me wanting more. I came out empty every time. A wild olive tree can not bear tasty fruit; it is sour and good for nothing.

I wanted to be nourished, loved and cared for. I wanted to be wanted. I took a taste of the cultivated olive tree with savory fruit. But then I became afraid. I thought, “How can Jesus love me after all I’ve done? How can I be a part of these people who probably have never done anything wrong?” I ran away from HIM. I went back to the only love I had ever known—ever so temporary and void. Lacking.

I ran until this broken off branch started to wither. Lying there wasting away. God is gracious! My name, Shonda, means God is gracious. By God’s loving grace, He picked up this broken and battered branch. He grafted me into the Root, who is Christ. Now I am nourished, loved, accepted and flourishing. I am privileged to share in blessing of Abraham.

Galatians 3:14 ESV

so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.

“The church of God is an olive-tree, flourishing and fruitful as an olive, the fruit useful for the honour both of God and man.” ~~Matthew Henry’s Commentary

Be grafted into the Root. The Root, Christ Jesus, supports and nourishes the branches. We who are in Christ are privileged to be called as beautiful as an olive tree! (Hosea 14:6)

Engrafted by His Grace--

Monday, July 28, 2008

Rose Colored Glasses

I felt like I had it all together. Things were going well. Everything looked pretty and perfect. I didn’t have any problems so I busied myself trying to fix the problems with my husband, my children, and my friends.


I got knocked in the head and my rose colored glasses fell off. That’s when I noticed I didn’t look so good after all. God revealed the deceit in my own heart.

Jeremiah 17:9-10 NIV

The heart is deceitful above all things
and beyond cure.
Who can understand it?

"I the LORD search the heart
and examine the mind,
to reward a man according to his conduct,
according to what his deeds deserve."

To point out the faults of others comes so easily, but to examine my own self takes effort. Self-deception is to think that I’m better than I really am. Elevating myself over others. If this process were allowed to continue, eventually it will lead to self-destruction.

I’m thankful to God for His word which is alive and active and sharper than a two edge sword that penetrates the soul and spirit, judging the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12) I realized that I was easily condemning those around me that I love the most causing hurt and frustration. I stabbed at their hearts with my words that wounded. Life and death are in the words we speak and I spoke heart breaking words instead of life-giving words. My pious attitude caused pain in others.

There’s hope. Peter did not think he could mess up either. Jesus said at the Last Supper that Peter would deny him three times. Peter said, “no way! I would never deny my Lord!” Before Peter realized it he denied the Lord three times just as Christ told him. He wept bitterly. (Luke 22:54-62) Peter felt deep remorse over what he did.

I too felt deep remorse over using my mouth to sin. That is good news. “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret.” (2 Corinthians 7:10) No regrets in confessing my sins to a God who is faithful to forgive my sins. Repentance cleanses the soul of guilt.

To repent is to turn away from a sin. How do I keep my deceitful heart from deceiving me? I must change the way I think.

Romans 12:2 NLT

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

How do I let God transform the way I think? I transform by fighting the fight of faith in the spirit.

2 Corinthians 10:4-5 NIV

The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

When the thoughts come to me that someone else is wrong and I want to fix them, I must stop and ask God to examine my own heart. I started praying and asking the Lord to show me what I need to learn through this experience. I must ask the Lord to show me how He sees the situation and filter it through His Word.

I must remove my rose colored glasses to stop the self-deception and start the self-examination that leads to repentance and obedience and maturing in Christ!

Engrafted by His Grace-

Note: I am participating in a chronological Bible reading with Bev. For more information on joining us in the chronological reading, please visit Bev's blog.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

One of Those Days...

Have you ever had one of those days that you space out, improvise and later regret it? Well perhaps this video will make you feel better...

Ya'll be blessed now ya hear!

Engrafted by His Grace--

Sunday, July 20, 2008

My Helper

I must admit I’ve struggled up to this very day with the desire to be perfect. Yet I fall short every time.

I have become defensive when I’m told I need to do something I know needs to be done. Or I can be self-condemning if I don’t complete a project on time or just right. If things don’t turn out the way I expected or wanted, I keep on with it until I can complete it right. If for some reason it did not reach the level of success I wanted, then I could easily lose self-esteem and confidence.

Perhaps this tendency developed when I was a child. I wanted to please my parents, especially my dad. I wanted to be accepted and loved by him. When I brought home a report card with an “A”, he’d ask me is that the best you could do? If it was a 91, then you can get a 95. Try harder. I was always told to try harder no matter how I did. If it was something I knew I could not be good at, there was not any reason for trying.

I’ve struggled with this for many years and this past week it has come to my attention as I identified the problem by the grace of God through His word. Oh how marvelous is the Word of God! His word is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness. (2 Tim. 3:16) I needed it! The Lord knows what we need.

Through bloggy friends, Marina, Jerri [whom I just met through Marina], the chronological reading with Bev, Bible Gateway and my local women’s Bible study, the Lord showed me that HE will help me. He knows my difficulties and my fears. Here’s the scripture the Lord gave to me five times this week. Five different times between Tuesday and Saturday this scripture showed up for me:

Isaiah 41:10 AMP

Fear not [there is nothing to fear], for I am with you [Shonda]; do not look around you in terror and be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen and harden [Shonda] to difficulties, yes, I will help [Shonda]; yes, I will hold you up and retain you with My [victorious] right hand of rightness and justice.

Were my actions of self-condemnation based in fear? I thought I loved and trusted my Lord. Why am I afraid? I could not control the circumstances nor the outcome of circumstances. I cant change things and make them the way I want them to be. I just cant do it. So I’m afraid. But I don’t have to fear, I can trust in my God to hold me in HIS hand. God is so much greater than my self-condemning heart and HE knows everything!

1 John 3:20 AMP

Whenever our hearts in [tormenting] self-accusation make us feel guilty and condemn us. [For]we are in God's hands.] For He is above and greater than our consciences (our hearts), and He knows (perceives and understands) everything [nothing is hidden from Him].

Well I had been accustomed throughout my life to hearing voices telling me I can do better. If I messed up, then I learned to listen to the critical voices. So now that no one is actually telling me those things, I told myself condemning words. I condemned myself for falling short of perfection. As I criticized myself, I felt depressed & heavy.

Proverbs 18:21 AMP

Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and they who indulge in it shall eat the fruit of it [for death or life].

No wonder I felt heavy and depressed in spirit—I was eating the fruit of my tongue. Where did these thoughts and words come from? The evil one who is the accuser. (Rev. 12:10) What are we to do when those thoughts come to us?

2 Corinthians 10:3-5 HCSB

For although we are walking in the flesh, we do not wage war in a fleshly way, since the weapons of our warfare are not fleshly, but are powerful through God for the demolition of strongholds. We demolish arguments and every high-minded thing that is raised up against the knowledge) of God, taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.

We can war in our own ways, our flesh and blood. But only in power through the Word of God can we demolish the thoughts that come up against the knowledge of God. His Word will not return void but will accomplish what it is sent to accomplish. (Is. 55:11)

By God’s grace I realized the battle is in the spirit and only by HIS word will I have victory in my life. I purchased index cards and pulled out the Sword (a.k.a. Word of God). I started writing scriptures that speak life to my life. I put these cards in my purse. I read them out loud.

I am more than a conqueror through HIM who loves me. (Romans 8:37) God did not give me a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind. (2 Tim. 1:7) I can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” (Hebrews 13:6) I have the mind of Christ. (1 Corinthians 2:16)

The Lord helped me by guiding me to HIS word which is life through Jesus Christ. I am being held and retained by the Lord’s right hand. He teaches me. His grace forgave me. There is no way I can ever be perfect, but I can know that I am accepted and loved by the One who gave up HIS very own life so I can have life and have it abundantly—Jesus Christ!! (John 10:10)

The Lord is our Helper!

Engrafted by His Grace—

Romans 11:17

Note: I thank God for HIS love for me. The Lord used blogging friends to reach me. I thank you friends! Believers are in a spiritual battle and we need to know how to fight the evil one by the power of the blood of Jesus and the Word of God. To read more on this, please visit Jerri Phillips.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Amazing Grace

This song and video speaks about God's grace and being free in Christ---that's what's HE's done for me this week! Set me free by HIS amazing grace!

Engrafted by grace--

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

A Bad Report

Have you ever gotten a bad report?

Bad reports can come in different forms. Report card. Insurance claims. Doctor’s office. Credit report. Children. Investments.

As I read through the chronological Bible reading with Bev and a group of others, I read in 2 Kings 18 and 19 about King Hezekiah. The Assyrian king had advanced and took over all the fortified cities of Judah (which is the Southern Kingdom). Now he and his armies have surrounded Jerusalem. The king of Assyria sent his field commander with a report to threaten King Hezekiah and the Israelites living in Jerusalem. He told the inhabitants not to listen to King Hezekiah or their God as they would not deliver them from his hands. Another words—the King of Assyria was cocky and confident that since he was successful in conquering all the other cities that Jerusalem would fall into his hands as well.

What did King Hezekiah do with this report he received from the enemy? Did he call a board meeting with all the administrators to draft a plan? Did he call his friends for advice? No, King Hezekiah tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and went to the temple of the Lord. He went to pray and seek the Lord. He spread out the report before the Lord. He inquired of the Lord for direction on the enemy’s report. The Lord answered him and told him not to be afraid that the king of Assyria would not enter the city. The Lord handled this problem and HE sent an angel and put to death 185,000 men. Then later the king of Assyria was killed by his own sons.

Did King Hezekiah do anything to defeat his enemy? He prayed and laid it before the Lord. The Lord took care of him and the inhabitants of Jerusalem. He trusted in the Lord.

What do we do when we get a bad report? Do we call our friends for advice? Do we take matters into our own hands? Or do we run and spread out the report in prayer to the Lord? Then trust in HIM for the answer.

Please understand I don’t think there is anything wrong in seeking counsel. But where is our focus? We are to seek wisdom from others. But are there times we are to seek the Lord, spread out our concerns to HIM and let HIM deal with it? Perhaps prayer should be our first response when we receive a bad report and when our situations seem hopeless. Our problems are opportunities to see the glory of our LORD!

Blessings in Christ--

Friday, July 11, 2008

God Stop Friday

Today I’m joining Patty @ Girlfriends in God for God Stop Friday.

I want to share something the Lord has been pressing on my heart lately.

God is in control!!

That’s it! He is in control. I learned (and I’m still learning) this. I had a series of events recently take place in my life that left me disappointed. None of these events are serious. But they’re like chigger bites. It had gotten under my skin and irritated me. The more I scratched at them the more irritated I got. Finally, I pulled out the nail polish and smothered them. In other words, I decided to seek God about what was going on and apply HIS word and HIS ways to those situations.

I had set up in my little mind the expected outcome of the events. When the outcome was different than what I imagined, I was left disappointed. I realized that I was disappointed because I put my hope and happiness in the outcome. My hope and happiness must be in God! HE NEVER FAILS!

Psalm 143:5 NIV

Why are you downcast, O my soul?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.

After I saw that my hope must be in the Lord and I must praise HIM, I prayed a prayer I haven’t prayed in a while. I prayed and asked the Lord, “What do I need to learn from this?”

The Lord heard me and HE showed me. Thank You Lord! Not only that, my 10 year old son was privy to one of the issues (I know none of you mama bears get defensive when your young’n gets hurt). As a parent, I had to teach him the God way to handle it. I had no choice but to lay it down at the Savior’s feet. When I did, I was able to instruct my child through it. God gets all the glory!

The result from this – PEACE! His peace that passes all understanding.

To God be all the glory!!

Blessings in Christ--

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

The King's Way

“For what is a man? What has he got?
If not himself - Then he has naught.
To say the things he truly feels
And not the words of one who kneels.
The record shows I took the blows
And did it my way.

Yes, it was my way.”

~~Frank Sinatra, My Way

When I was a child, I used to tell my parents, “When I grow up and get my own place, I’ll do whatever I want.”

Now that I’m a parent, my children think I can do whatever I want because I’m the grown up. But I have found out that as an adult I cant do whatever I want and have my way.

If I choose to do whatever I want, I may get away with it for some time, but eventually there will be consequences. I used to smoke cigarettes. I got to do what I wanted. I saw my Dad pass away with cancer. I’ve seen my grandfather with emphysema. I decided later after having the first child that it was not worth the risk of the consequences. Therefore, I gave up doing what I wanted.

If I choose to drive faster than the posted speed limit, I’m doing what I want. However, if I’m caught by law enforcement, then I receive a ticket, penalized, fined, and insurances costs rise as I’m labeled a risk by the insurance company. For doing whatever I want, I lose money and have a stigma attached to me.

We are free as long as we follow the laws of the land. However, if not, then it is possible to be incarcerated and lose those liberties. We must obey the laws to walk in our freedoms. So can I do what I really want? Can I have it my way?

I’ve been reading a chronological Bible reading with Bev. We’ve been reading through the Kings of Israel and Judah. After Solomon passed away, the country divided into two parts, the Northern Kingdom or Israel and the Southern Kingdom or Judah. These kings throughout history recorded in First & Second Kings and First and Second Chronicles had their way. They refused to obey God and follow the laws of the Lord given to Moses.

The Lord sent prophets to tell them and to warn them. However, they shrugged off the Lord’s prophets and listened to the false prophets. When I get a warning for driving too fast, I take heed and slow down. I take that as an act of mercy and grace from the Lord. I could have had to pay the fines and endure all the consequences associated with a traffic ticket. Many the kings of Israel and Judah failed to heed the warnings from the prophets of the Lord as being God’s compassionate grace. But the scripture tells us in 2 Chronicles 30:6-9 that:

6 At the king's command, couriers went throughout Israel and Judah with letters from the king and from his officials, which read:
"People of Israel, return to the LORD, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, that he may return to you who are left, who have escaped from the hand of the kings of Assyria. 7 Do not be like your fathers and brothers, who were unfaithful to the LORD, the God of their fathers, so that he made them an object of horror, as you see. 8 Do not be stiff-necked, as your fathers were; submit to the LORD. Come to the sanctuary, which he has consecrated forever. Serve the LORD your God, so that his fierce anger will turn away from you. 9 If you return to the LORD, then your brothers and your children will be shown compassion by their captors and will come back to this land, for the LORD your God is gracious and compassionate. He will not turn his face from you if you return to him."

The Lord gave them chance after chance. However, with each successor to the throne it was like father, like son—passed on to generation to generation. The kings refused to give up idol worship and destroy the pagan influences. Then God allowed Assyria to take over the land. As a result, Assyria settled in the land. When they did, lions started killing them off (2 Kings 17:26) so the king of Assyria inquired what the god of the land required and had a priest of the Lord come show them how to worship. At this time, they started worshipping the Lord. That’s a good thing right?

Well…though they worshipped the Lord but they also served their own gods as well. They did not give up their pagan practices and customs. They just added another one tradition to their list. (2 Kings 17:33) The Israelites were worshipping the Lord as well as other gods too. But the Lord told them to remember HIM. Remember what HE did for them. Not to forget HIS commandment to not worship other gods.

“Rather, worship the LORD your God; it is he who will deliver you from the hand of all your enemies." They would not listen, however, but persisted in their former practices. Even while these people were worshiping the LORD, they were serving their idols. To this day their children and grandchildren continue to do as their fathers did.” 2 Kings 17: 39-41 NIV

Does that sound familiar to us today? Do we as Bible believing Christians have that type of attitude today? Are there things in our lives that the Lord detests yet we do it anyway? We cannot add God to our present values. We must allow HIM to change us and make us a new creation in Christ Jesus our Lord. (2 Cor. 5:17)

Let us ask HIM to reveal the things to us that need to be cleaned out of our lives. Are there things in our lives that need to be cleaned out? Let’s ask HIM. Ask HIM personally for you what it could be and ask HIM to show you personally what it is.

King Hezekiah of Judah did some house cleaning. He was one of the few kings who worshipped the Lord. In Second Chronicles 29 it describes how he purified the temple.

When they had assembled their brothers and consecrated themselves, they went in to purify the temple of the LORD, as the king had ordered, following the word of the LORD. The priests went into the sanctuary of the LORD to purify it. They brought out to the courtyard of the LORD's temple everything unclean that they found in the temple of the LORD. The Levites took it and carried it out to the Kidron Valley. They began the consecration on the first day of the first month, and by the eighth day of the month they reached the portico of the LORD. For eight more days they consecrated the temple of the LORD itself, finishing on the sixteenth day of the first month. 2 Chron 29:15-17 NIV

This was some serious house cleaning. Having Jesus Christ in our hearts, our bodies are the temple of the Lord. We need to ask HIM what needs to be moved out. What about inside our homes? Our homes should be consecrated for the Lord. Let’s ask the Lord to show us what things need to be cleaned out of our homes that do not glorify HIM.

May we be moved to live—not my way—our own way, but THE WAY of the KING of kings!

Dear Lord, I praise You for You are the Lord and worthy to be praised. I thank You for Your Word that leads us to live Your Way and not my own way. Lord, I want to live a life that is pleasing to You and the King of kings, Jesus Christ and lead by the Holy Spirit. I ask You today to reveal to me the things in my life that are not pleasing to You. I ask You to show me what things I need to move out of my life to bring hone and glory to You. I ask You to show me what things need to be cleaned out of my house so it will be a house consecrated to You. Lead me Lord. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

Blessings in Christ--

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Worth the Fight

America’s founding fathers declared independence from Great Britain 232 years ago. The thirteen colonies were unanimous in their decision seek freedom from the tyrannous king of Great Britain as their inalienable rights endowed by their CREATOR had been suppressed. They believed these rights to “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness” were worth fighting for. And fight they did. After fighting the red-coats for eight and half years, America was formally recognized as its own nation.

Throughout America’s history, many wars were fought as Americans deemed it worth fighting for. Some of the most known wars fought by Americans are:

The Civil War – the fight to end slavery

World War I – the fight for observance of international laws and human rights

World War II – basically we were forced into this one, but human rights were at stake by Hitler

Korean War – the fight to balance world power and undermine communism

Vietnam War – the fight to stop the spread of communism

Gulf War – liberation of Kuwait from Iraq

War on Terror – remember 9/11

Many lives have been sacrificed for freedoms we live under in America. May the Lord bless their families.

As soon as we accept Christ as our Savior, we’re engaged in a war. Is it worth the fight? We don’t war with flesh and blood, but with the spiritual forces of the evil one, the enemy of God and his followers. As in many of the wars America as fought above were offensive, as believers we must take an offensive stance and put on our armor and fight in the spirit for those we love. We’re told in Ephesians to put on the armor of God and take a stand. Stand firm. Be battle ready!

What do we fight for?

We fight for the love of God!

We fight for our marriages!

We fight for our children!

We fight for our family (natural and spiritual).

How do we fight in the spirit?

We must know the Word of God. Read the Bible daily. Study HIS word. Know HIS Word.

Pray. We must pray God’s word for each situation we’re fighting for. Look up scriptures pertaining to the situation. Pray HIS word which does not return void.

“…always pray and not give up.” Luke 18:1 (NIV)

“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.” Ephesians 6:18 (NIV)

The love of God is worth the fight!

Blessings in Christ--

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

FREE MP3 Download of Inspiring Historical Documents

What it means to be American!

That's what this MP3 download titled "We Hold These Truths" narrated by Max McLean. There are nine tracks for 23 minutes of listening time.

This is a FREE Download through July 6th. Please take advantage of this offer. No gimmicks. No hype. No shipping fees. Totally free! I even got a 20 percent off code in my confirmation receipt for a future purchase. The site gives you 120 days from the date of purchase to download. But why wait? Click on the image above and receive your FREE gift from THE LISTENERS BIBLE.

Blessings in Christ--