Friday, July 22, 2011

In search of the blessed life....

Lately, I've been thinking a lot about what it means to live a "blessed" life. What does that word blessed really mean after all? We say it all the time: God Bless you, I hope you have a blessed day. I feel so blessed to live in this country.

In the Webster's Dictionary, blessed is described this way: Divinely or supremely favored, fortunate. Sounds pretty good to me, so far, so good.

A few years ago, a dear friend of mine sent me a wonderful little book, packed with a tremendous amount of powerful information. The name of the book is "The Prayer of Jabez" with a subtitle "breaking through to the blessed life." I glanced at the book a few years ago, but somehow I got sidetracked and admittedly never really embraced it until I re-read it again just recently. What a heavenly little book this is!

Let me tell you just a bit about Jabez and his blessed life. Jabez was only mentioned one time in the Bible. He's not a Moses or David, or Matthew or Paul. His story and the verses that mention him are included within one of (what I think) the most boring books in the Bible. The 1st 9 chapters of the book of 1 Chronicles are exactly what the book says, they chronicle the tribes of Judah and include nothing but genealogy beginning with Adam and proceeding through thousands of years to Israel's return from captivity. Talk about snore city.  This Bible Book can really put you to sleep by the the end of the first page.

But 44 names into chapter 4 of 1 Chronicles, the roll call breaks and you hear these simple verses:

"Now Jabez was more honorable than his brothers and his mother called his name Jabez, saying "because I bore him in pain." And Jabez called on the God of  Israel saying,
 "Oh, that you would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that Your hand would be with me, and that you would keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain." And God granted his request. 
                                                                                                                               1 Chronicles 4:-9-10

Wait a minute. What do those two simple verses mean to those of us living today? How can some guy named Jabez, whose name meant "I bore him in pain." have any impact on life in 2011?

Well, I believe that this regular guy, Jabez, stood out and rose above his humble beginnings. He asked, and God delivered. It's that simple. But can it really be that easy?

Jabez story was so important that the powerful two verses describing his life are right in the middle of the roll call for the genealogy of Israel, then it picks back up as if nothing happened. But I think a lot happened and I think those two verses which ask for the Lord's blessing can mean a world of difference in our lives today, just like they did for Jabez all those years ago.

When is the last time you asked for the Lord's blessing? I mean on you and your life? Not for Him to bless the food you are eating. A lot of us pray over our food at the dinner table. But asking for the Lord's blessing, specifically on us, is a totally different thing.

I pray all the time for my needs and the needs of my family and friends. I interceed on their behalf, asking the Lord to watch over them, protect them, heal them, or help them through whatever crisis they may be going through at that time.

But, I don't really ask the Lord to bless me and "enlarge my territory." (code for "give me more" nowadays.) Doesn't that seem kind of self-serving? How dare I ask God to give me more?

But if you look further in the Bible, their are other verses that talk about God and His blessings for us:

"Ask and it will be given to you. Seek and you will find. Knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. 
                                                                                                   Luke 11:9

"The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace."                   
                                                                                                   Numbers 6:24-26

                                           Lord - "That you would bless me indeed."

I want that. I want God's blessings to be poured out in my life. I want His power to be released in my life, so I'm gonna really begin asking for it. I'm not holding back. Not anymore.I've always felt God's Hand on me, ever since I was a young girl and I've always felt like I've been protected and guided by His will. But now, I've decided to follow Jabez lead and starting praying for God's blessings to be poured out upon me, everyday. I am going to ask him to enlarge my territory, and bless me indeed." And, with the God of the Universe at the helm, who knows what will happen?

As Bruce Wilkinson, author of "The Prayer of Jabez" says,

"We're all crying out for the wonderful, unlimited goodness that only God has the power to know about or give us."

That is what I want! I want to claim it everyday, so that God can use me in amazing ways to His glory. I want God's peace and God's abundant blessings, and I'm going after them with everything I've got. I'm expecting a windfall and more miracles because that is the way our God works!

My verses for today are above in red.

My prayer for today:

Dear Lord God:

Thank you Lord, that I can come to you and humbly ask for Your blessings on my life. I stand in awe of your Majesty and Grandeur and that I am able to ask something like this of you. I'm just one little person in this big world. But Lord, I know you want to bless me and you want me to ask you for your blessings. So, Lord, I am asking. I am asking you to bless me indeed. You tell me to ask, and that is what I am doing. I am asking that you heal me so that you may use me for Your Glory! Pour out all Your blessings on me and on my life and the life of my family. Please Lord, don't hold back, shower me with your blessings.

In Jesus Name I pray,

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Passing on our faith is our most valuable legacy....

That is the 'thought of the day' for a devotional that I picked up while going through some papers yesterday up here in North Carolina. Then I turned on Dr. Charles Stanley this morning, and his message was about the same thing: Making an impact in the world for Jesus. Again I thought... the Lord is hitting me over the head~~ so I began to really think about the way I live my life, and if I were to die suddenly, how would people look back at me and my actions during my lifetime? What would my legacy be?

Have you ever attended a memorial service or funeral for someone you know and listen to testimonies from people you have never met, attesting to the dearly departed's strong faith and kindness. You may have always known they were a "good" person, but you never really realized the depth of their Christian faith. I believe that unless you make your faith evident to those around you and let your "light" shine before all men, they will never know that you love the Lord Jesus Christ with all your heart and soul. You have to "SHINE" for Jesus.

Matthew 5:13-16 says

"You are the salt of the earth. But if salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is not longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men. You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on a stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in Heaven."

Doesn't salt make a meal more tasty? Just a little dash and everything tastes better! In the same way God wants to use those of us who belong to him to flavor the world. He doesn't want us to fall into sinfulness and let the world trample out our salt and flavor.

Dr. Stanley says it is the "will of God that believers have a responsibility to impact the lives of people in our life." I believe that is true. I want my light to shine. I don't want to put it under a bowl. Remember that great Sunday School song. "This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine, let it shine, let it shine." I want that to be me. I want people to look at me and say, "There's something different about her, I don't know what it is, but I want what she has."

What I have is to be blessed with tremendous peace in the midst of any radical and crazy circumstances that are thrown my way. Life can get nuts, we all know that~~~ things just happen. Just when you think everything has settled down, something else will come up.

When things seem to be falling apart all around me, I lean on the only one who can truly help me; my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Jesus came to earth over 2,000 years ago, born of the Virgin Mary, was persecuted and died for me, for you and for all of humanity. He shed his blood on that cross so that we may truly live and have forgiveness. He saved me then and he saves me now every time situations aren't what I expected them to be by giving me His peace that surpasses all understanding. It's something you can't get from the world, or from another person. It can only come from the Lord.

I have a dear friend who is battling leukemia. It's been up and down for her for the past 1 1/2 years since her diagnosis. I have been praying for her all along and encouraging her to stand strong. I got a message the other day from her best friend who has been going through this with her, right by her side all the way. What a great lady, Linda is. She told me,  'Stacey really wanted to make sure you know about this next visit to MD Anderson in Houston, so you can pray. She says you have a direct pipeline to God.'

Wow, I almost fell off my chair. I never thought of myself that way, and I was humbled and thankful. I want people to see my faith in action. I want everyone in my life to see Jesus in me. I want them to see my peace in the midst of trauma. I want my faith to be my legacy, and that made me know I was making an impact on someone else's life. Thank you Jesus! 

Philippians 4:6-7 says

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, and with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all human understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus."

Anyone can have that peace. It's available to everyone who draws a breath. Just surrender your life to Jesus and let him be the Lord of your life and you will have it. Confess your sins, ask for his forgiveness and he will make you whole. He did it with me, and he will do it with you too. It's a promise, and God, the Creator of the Universe, doesn't break his promises.

With all my soul, I want my legacy to be my strong Christian faith. I want my husband, my children, my family and friends to be able to see God's love and peace in me. I want them to look at me now and remember me after I'm gone and say "She stood strong for Jesus. Even when times got really tough, she never gave up her hope or her faith in the Lord. She always lived her life for God."

                                                                 My family, fall 2010 in NC                     

My verses for today are above in red.

My prayer for today:

Dear Lord Jesus:

Help me to let my light shine before all men. Give me the courage and strength to witness for you and tell others about your tremendous peace and love. Help me to give salt to the world and flavor it everyday and in every way for you.

In Jesus Name,