Can You Remember?

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I just watched a movie called Little Prince on Netflix. I was drawn to it because it said this little girl learned from the Little Prince how to see with her heart. This subject of seeing with your heart has been showing up a lot lately in my life. I keep reading it and even my daughter brought it up one day. She said we can’t see Jesus physically because we are blind. She went on to say that the only way we can “see” Him is with our heart. I read in a e mail devotion that our journey isn’t to find God, it’s to remove the blinders. I then read in Ann Voskamp’s book One Thousand Gifts devotional where she prayed for God to open the eyes of her heart. She said this is a journey that must be Spirit-led every day. This is a prayer that must be said every day, all through the day because we will forget moment to moment. That’s what the movie Little Prince was about, not forgetting how to see with your heart.  Ann also mentioned the blind man in the Bible, when Jesus asked what He wanted the blind man said,”I want to see.” Ann said this same thing to God and I have too. I want to see God in my every day life. The way to do that is with my heart. In the movie this little girl’s mother wants her to be prepared for adulthood but in doing this the girl doesn’t get to be a child. The old man next door, he hasn’t forgotten and he teaches the girl how to remember. I had a dream a few years ago and all I could remember when I woke up was grace remembered. I couldn’t figure out the meaning and I have thought I figured it out but really I didn’t until recently. When I was doing my One Thousand Gifts devotional it clicked! Ann was talking about doxology. I didn’t know the meaning so I looked it up. It is a hymn or form of words containing an ascription of praise to God. A lack of doxology leads to evil acts. Ann said forgetting to thank God dismembers us but counting blessings literally re-members us to God. My dream means to remember God’s graces toward me. The old man taught the girl how to see with her heart through a story he wrote about the Little Prince. Ann is saying to see God with your heart you have to be thankful for His grace. The movie showed me that if I can see God and Jesus with my heart then I won’t ever feel alone. The world is an illusion. We have to break through it to see the real life hidden in Jesus. The biggest thing I remember about being a child would be the feeling of security in my parents. I never worried about shelter, food, clothes, my needs were met. I never thought of the future or cared about it. This is what God says He will do if we just trust in Him. He says He will take care of our needs and desires. He says not to worry about the future because only He knows the future. Even though we are “grown”up we need God. We have to remember Him to have peace. The childlike faith I had in my parents should be what I have for God. When we forget who God is and fail to praise Him this leads to worldly ways and the Bible warns us to not be conformed to this world. When we conform to the world we are like robots. God gave us the ability to “see” Him but we have to remember how.

Learning Grace

My mom has told me a story over and over about God’s gifts of His grace and I want to share it now because finally in my own walk I see the light.

There was a man who lived his life without seeing God, hearing God or even feeling like God knew he existed. He never experienced God in his whole life. He died and went to heaven and was being led by Peter, who was a disciple of Jesus, and Peter took him to a storehouse full of gifts. The man asked Peter, “What’s all this?” Peter replied,” It’s all God’s gifts to you in your life that you didn’t receive. God’s grace toward you. You never opened even one.” The man looked with amazement and wished he had paid attention to his life! He wanted to go back and live fully, live the life Jesus promised us through our faith in Him. But now it was too late, his life was over, oh how he wished for a “do over!” The good news is this: You, who are reading this story, you still have time! You can start receiving your gifts of grace right now and the first one is God’s gift of Jesus Christ. You have to repent, which means giving up your way and taking on Jesus’ way.

I am going to try to explain what has happened to me in the past few months that has led me to the full life in Jesus Christ. What I have experienced this past week is life changing. What I have learned made me remember this story my mom told me many times and I never understood it. I never understood what the gifts were and how there could be so many! I realized this morning that there are many layers to understanding something.

During this past month I have been on a search or quest to experience God in all the moments of my life. I have tastes of His presence and it’s so good that I never want it to end. I was drawn to frequencies and thought that was how to experience God all the time, if I was on His frequency I would feel Him. I thought learning Hebrew or Latin or learning how to sing the Gregorian Chant would bring me closer to Him. I bought a lot of books to help me figure this out even one on prayer. If I could pray enough, pray all through the day I would experience Him. None of this is the answer. Now I know when I sing to God in praise I feel His presence but I can’t do that all day, it’s unrealistic. We do have lives to live and responsibilities. What I wanted was to feel His presence ALL THE TIME. I even finally resorted to believing that it’s impossible to “feel” God all the time. I was starting to believe what religion says that you can’t feel God all the time. That we live by faith and not feeling which is true to some degree but I needed more. One of the books I was led to buy was Ann Voskamp’s book One Thousand Gifts. I was also led to do her Lent devotion Trail to the Tree. The timing of doing the Lent devotion and then when I actually got the book was unbelievable! What I was reading in the Lent devotion was setting me up to receive the book. Even through all the searching before, God was preparing me to read this book. She has a lot of similarities in her book to what God had been showing me.

What Ann asks in her book is, do you want to come to the end of your life and realize you didn’t live fully? That you were empty the whole time? My answer was a definite no. I had already been searching for the full life! and now could I actually have the answer right in my hands? The answer to everything?! She explains that she was on a dare to write down 1000 things that she loves. As she did this she realized she was writing down God’s gifts to her. She discovered a word eucharisteo, which means grace, thanksgiving, joy. She learned Jesus practiced this. Jesus has shown us the way to a full life by His demonstration of thanks to God before anything He did. Ann says the miracle always comes after the giving of thanks. By writing down what I notice that I love I am actually receiving God’s gifts of His grace toward me. It’s His love for me transformed into something I can see, feel, touch. This awareness and the naming of the moment causes the moment to become holy. Through these gifts recognized I am experiencing God. I am receiving His gifts by writing them down and thanking Him by acknowledging these moments as gifts of grace. It brings great joy to do this! I know it’s hard to believe but it’s real and I am experiencing it. You have to read this book and practice this to know what I mean. There was a dream I had recently about grace also. I told my dad that the hardest thing to learn about salvation is grace. I woke up wondering, what does this mean! Ann has answered it! By thanking God for the moments, the people, the things that I love as they come into my life I am learning grace! The practice of this is learning grace! I have done this for almost one whole week now and last night the story my mom used to tell me came to my mind. It finally clicked! The gifts in the storehouse were all the moments, people and things God gave him that he didn’t notice! All the ways God tried to communicate with him, to get his attention and he never got it. Because he never noticed, he never experienced God. His life was empty.

This practice has opened up a new life to me! I used to think when my mom told this story, ” What gifts?” “What exactly is grace?” I know the Bible says it’s God’s unmerited favor, but what is it tangibly?  Now I know and when I told her today what I have learned and now I know what the gifts were in the storehouse we both cried tears of joy!

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Be Saved And Live It Out

l-125575Galatians 2:20,  I have been crucified with Christ [that is, in Him I have shared His crucifixion]; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body I live by faith [by adhering to, relying on, and completely trusting] in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.

When we are born again our old self is crucified and we no longer live as before but we live with Jesus inside of us, guiding us. We live trusting in Jesus who loves us and gave Himself up for us. This verse makes me want to continuously thank Jesus for what He did. I want to thank God for salvation and for His love. I need to let myself be guided by the Holy Spirit daily. Trust Him! Thank you for salvation and for Jesus and thank you for loving me even when I was far from You.

 

 

Scripture reading for today is Matthew 4:8-10 and its where Jesus is being tempted by Satan to bow down to him and he will give him the kingdoms of the world. Jesus said, “You must worship the Lord your God and serve Him only.”

Ann Voskamp says: Today I will thank Christ, adore Christ, bless Christ with my worship because worship is giving back to God what He’s breathed into us.

This temptation of Satan is one that he still does to us today. With all the worldly things out there to distract us and attract us away from wanting to know God and spend time with Him. It brings to mind the scripture about the seed falling where it gets choked out. The Word gets planted but the world prevents it from growing. Matthew 13:22,  And the one on whom seed was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the worries and distractions of the world and the deceitfulness [the superficial pleasures and delight] of riches choke the word, and it yields no fruit. This is what Satan tries to do to us once we are born again. He doesn’t want us to live out our salvation so he distracts us from it and attracts our flesh to worldly things. This prevents God’s Word from taking effect in our lives. We have to fight against this with the same scripture Jesus used. We MUST worship God and serve Him ONLY.

Pray For A Heart Of Flesh

151f03c5b6ba71095213f175d5aa80b1Today’s reading is a poem about thanksgiving for God’s love and goodness. Jesus comes from the tomb alive with hope and promise for us. He will come into your life when you accept His invitation. He will change you and give you new vision if you allow Him to. He gives us a sound mind, love and courage to face our days. He feeds our spirit and gives us joy. Thank you Jesus for all You have done and are doing and will do in the days to come.

 

Scripture for today is Ezekiel 36:26 and Psalm 51:10. These verses refer to the heart. Praying to keep a clean heart and God promising to give us a heart of flesh.

Ann Voskamp says: Today I will fast from a cold heart. Let myself be broken by the saving love of Jesus.

 

Lately I am learning that when I’m sick my patience are short and being irritable is so easy! I have been sick for a week and I have had some moments with people I wish hadn’t happened. Things I’ve said or the way I acted, wasn’t really me. Being sick has caused me to look at myself and not others. This is what sin does too. The sickness of sin causes us to focus on ourselves. You can look around and see everything is geared toward self. Everyone wanting attention about what they are doing. We are all infected with this sickness. Jesus came to cure us of our disease and change our focus. He taught us to be servants, not be served. When we only focus on ourselves it leads to a hard heart. When we realize what Jesus has done for us and how He looks at the world our heart begins to melt. When we ask Jesus to let us see things the way He does we are overwhelmed with His love. We can then give His love to other people. Sickness of sin leads to death but the healing love of Jesus brings life!

The Greatest Gift Is A Wonderful Life!

I have never participated in Advent until 2015. I decided I would experience Advent with Ann Voskamp’s devotional book called The Greatest Gift. It really was an experience like never before at Christmas. I never felt closer to God and Jesus during this season than in 2015. Her title refers to Jesus being the greatest gift. He is the only true gift of Christmas. One night after Christmas was over I woke up from being sick and felt drawn to go in the living room to take medicine and to open my Bible. I opened the Bible to Ephesians 5: 15-20. It talks about time and spending it wisely and also about praising God with songs and hymns. Giving thanks is included as well. It says we should be filled with the Holy Spirit.  Joyce Meyer sums it up in her life point as this: To stay filled with the Holy Spirit we have to speak to ourselves and others with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. We need to keep our thoughts and words full of God’s Word by continuously offering praise and giving thanks to Him.

As I was reading this in the still of the night, a bell on my Christmas tree rang. I knew it was a sign from God. Then a couple nights later I had a dream about a man who I was trying to get directions from cause I was lost. I told him I wasn’t spiritually lost just physically. I asked him his name and he told me Clarence. I said you must be an angel! I remembered the angel in the movie It’s A Wonderful Life. Then I woke up. I decided God wanted me to watch the movie so I did.  In the movie I noticed a saying on the wall, it said, ” You only take with you what you have given away.”  I saw in the movie that people let money rule their happiness. The lack of money tries to steal our joy. George said to Clarence that money comes in pretty handy down here! But when Clarence shows George what the town would have been like with out him, he changes inside. He sees where money isn’t the answer to joy or happiness. It’s our presence in the lives of others that really matters. This is what makes a difference. Not the money you give but time, words of encouragement, thanking God and praising Him together. This is what counts in God’s eyes.

After watching the movie I decided to research how it came about. This movie was based off a story of 72 pages written in 1943 by Philip Van Doren Stern. Guess what the name of his book was? The Greatest Gift! Frank Capra took the short story and made it a little different and then called it what we know as “It’s A Wonderful Life”. Here is a link to the history of it, http://www.todayifoundout.com/index.php/2011/12/its-a-wonderful-life-was-based-on-a-christmas-card-short-story-by-philip-van-doren-stern/

This was very interesting to me. I sat and wondered what message God had in all this for me and yesterday it came to me the title of this post, The Greatest Gift Is A Wonderful Life! Have you ever heard people say God gave us life as a gift and our gift to Him is a life well lived? Our greatest gift is a life filled with Jesus which produces a wonderful life! And it tells us in Ephesians 5:15-20 how to have that wonderful life! If we can get our focus off of money, which we can’t take with us by the way, then we can truly live a wonderful life. If we put into practice praising, thanking and learning God’s Word and encouraging others to do the same the Holy Spirit will reside in us and make all blessings flow. I watched Steven Furtick today and he said something very important. He said as children of God we already have the promises and blessings of God. Some may say that they don’t experience any and Steven says why that is. He said it’s because your heart is stopped up. There are foreign objects in your heart preventing you from receiving God’s blessings. He named things like complaining, grumbling, addictions. When we dig out these things that are from Satan to hinder us then the water can flow. In John 4:13-14 it says,  Jesus answered her, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again.14 But whoever drinks the water that I give him will never be thirsty again. But the water that I give him will become in him a spring of water [satisfying his thirst for God] welling up [continually flowing, bubbling within him] to eternal life.” This verse comes from the story of the woman at the well. He told her the water from the well is temporary relief but the water He can give is eternal relief! Faith in Jesus brings blessings and promises but they can’t be received if we are blocking them with other stuff.  Yesterday Steven Furtick talked about practice. He used a football player catching the ball as an example. In the video it looks effortless and lucky. But Steven shows footage of the player in practice and also before the game doing this catch over and over and over again which proves it wasn’t “lucky” but the result of hard work! So, we have to practice these things in Ephesians over and over to see results. 

In the link above it talks about the real people who inspired the story.  The character of George Bailey was actually based partly on the founder of Bank of America, A.P. Giannini.  If you read the article you see that he wasn’t money oriented but people oriented. Because of this, God blessed him. He had it right. He was the inspiration to the movie and he should be an inspiration to us all that it really can be a wonderful life!

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