*ABL-Women*Abundant and Balanced Living!

S.E.E. Summer Devotions!!

 

July 18, 2012 Devotion

 

There are just some things that really take me a lot of effort to do. One in particular is just to get out of bed in the mornings. No, I am not lazy. But, I have many health issues and am on many medications that make my first few hours of the day trying to say the least.

 

 

Staying on a strict schedule is another hard one for me. Mostly for the same reasons, but I have never really been a “scheduled” kind of person. We all have tasks that are harder for us. My hard things may be easy things for you. We are all gifted in different areas.

 

 

One thing I am almost ashamed to admit is that trusting God is sometimes a tough thing for me. I realize that sounds harsh, but giving up what I think I want in order to receive what God wants for me is something I have had to really strive for in the past. I love Him with all my heart and soul, but for some reason trusting Him with my wants, dreams and security has been a hard road for me to travel.

 

 

As I have matured spiritually over the years, I have learned that it is not all about me and my agenda. Loving God and trusting Him with the details of your life are two very different things. It can sometimes be a very slow and not so steady process. I think that loving Him is something WE choose to do for ourselves, but trusting Him is something that takes letting go and letting Him have His way in our life. Trusting Him is something we all have to consciously choose do daily.

 

 

Because, believe me, the enemy is there waiting to catch us off guard minute by minute so he can sneak right in to scare us into taking things back into our own hands. When that happens, my body has a tendency to shrink back and become too intimidated to do what God has asked me to accomplish. Even if my heart is willing, my mind and flesh weaken way to fast. Why, oh why, would I ever think for even a minute that my ideas are better than God’s?  But, we all do it. (Come on now…I know it’s not just me)

 

 

Thank goodness we all have God’s Word to equip and strengthen us to face our challenges. Those weaknesses that are dangled in front of us ever so subtly can be overcome! Isn’t that great news?

 

 

Step out in complete trust and just see what God can do with a faithful follower. His plan will unfold and we will find ourselves doing things we never imagined were possible for us!

 

 

I can tell you that placing my trust in God has brought me so many blessings and an unbelievable sense of peace. Trusting Him releases so many burdens that we were never meant to carry on our own. You see, it’s not up to us to worry about the details of a seemingly uncomfortable path. Some of the best things in life happen when we step out of our comfort zone and enter into God’s zone!

 

 

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and he will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)

 

 

My understanding probably won’t carry me very far, but my trust in Father God will most definitely carry me to all the wonderful places He desires to take me. Let’s travel there together! He’ll be with us all the way.

 

Love and Blessings,

Starr

 

  July 13, 2012

 

I was too wound up to sleep last night, so I watched television until about 1:30am. Ya know, those late night infomercials could really mess with a person’s mind if one wasn’t careful.

 

 

First, it was brought to my attention that my hair should be smooth and silky and almost a bit on the flat side in order for me to look my best. They even ever so graciously offered me a product (for the very, very lowest price of course plus shipping and handling) to do just that so I would be all in style and everything.

 

 

The very next show that came on pointed out that without a doubt my hair needed to be volumized to the max and fluffy for me to turn heads. And, goodness knows we all want to turn the most heads possible, right? I mean, isn’t that the reason we were born in the first place?

 

 

Last, but certainly not least, I realized that what I really needed was a hair removal system. Come to find out, I have hair in places that I shouldn’t! Imagine that.

 

 

But, the real truth is that God loves me just the way I am. Why? Because He created me this way.

 

 

Yes He did.

 

 

Fat hair, flat hair, too much hair in weird places, or even the lack of hair where I need it most.

 

 

I am so glad I do not have to depend on the television, or the world, or society, or any person, or any authority other than God to tell me what or who I need to be. And, you don’t either. Isn’t that a relief?

 

 

So, the next time I cannot sleep, or feel like I come up short (or hairy) in any way, I am going to choose to put down the remote and pick up my Bible and find some real solutions about life.

 

 

I have heard that life doesn’t come with an instruction manual, but I beg to differ. It is called God’s Word. It’s written by the most high of all experts and you can believe everything it says.

 

 

And it says that “…I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” (Psalm 139:14 TNIV)

 

 

·       What makes you feel inferior?

·       Have you ever felt defined by the world’s standards?

 

 

Love and Blessings,

Starr
 

 

July 11, 2012

 

We sure picked a great week to stay in Southport, NC! There are currently two movies filming here. The newest Nicholas Sparks movie, “Safe Haven” with Julianne Hough and an HBO movie “Mary and Martha” with Hilary Swank.

 

 

My family and I spent a large part of our day moving to different areas around town to see scenes from both movies being shot. It has been great that the cast and crew don’t mind people watching. We just have to be very quiet while the cameras are rolling.

 

 

The “Mary and Martha” movie was being filmed today at the waterfront. It was so beautiful with the Cape Fear River in the background with the warm breezes blowing all around us. The environment is always beautiful here with all of the historic homes and the Live Oak trees lining the streets and perfectly shading each yard. No wonder they picked this quaint little town to be the set of two movies. Many others have been filmed here as well. But, Southport has never lost its “quaintness”. I hope it never does.

 

 

As we watched one of the actresses, Brenda Blethyn, acting out a scene multiple times, I began to realize just how tedious and slow the movie making process really is. She did the same thing over and over and over and over. She was shaded by an umbrella in between takes and then a body double even stood in for her a couple of times when the scene required her to run down a hill. She surely grew weary redoing one scene that many times. But, she just kept plugging on until the whole thing came together just right. After all, she is an actress and that is what she does best.

 

 

I certainly don’t know much about movies, but today I saw that in order to shoot a sixty second scene, hours of time are spent to get it just right. How amazing it is to me that they can piece all of that together and it turns into a beautiful full-length movie! The finished product flows perfectly from scene to scene without the audience ever knowing how long and painstaking the process was to get it to that point.

 

 

Why then do we expect real life to flow so smoothly? Do we really think that things can turn out just perfect without some painstaking effort on our part? Do we really think anything just appears flawless from the get-go?

 

 

I think sometimes we do. But, let’s think about it this way…

 

 

Every movie has a director that works very hard to piece things together just the way it is supposed to be. He has a vision of what the finished product is going to be. He also has expectations of what the actors, camera people, stand-ins, wardrobe department, hairstylists, etc. need to do if it is all to come together the right way.

 

 

 

I can see life being lived out like that. God has a plan. He sees the finished piece and He knows exactly what we need to do to make sure it all turns out ideally. He also knows that there is going to be an audience watching. That is why He expects us to live our lives in a way that shows we are pursuing holiness, that we are doing what we can do best as His daughters. He wants people to look at us and know Who our Director is!

 

 

 He wants to shout “Rolling” and He then needs us to step into action when we hear His voice. We will get weary and we will find it hard to carry on over and over and over again with the same scenes. But, He has called us to be His followers, to follow His lead. He will make sure all the circumstances flow just the way He has planned, even if it sometimes feels uncomfortable to us. Our part is to trust that the end result will be completely flawless. Our part is to do whatever we do best and if circumstances require us to do something out of our comfort zone, to depend on Him to provide the means to get things done anyway.

 

 

I am so glad I have been blessed to see the movie filming this week! I now have a mental picture of myself living to the fullest until I get it right. I have another mental picture of Jesus holding an umbrella to shade me from the things that can distract me from the scene at hand.

 

 

 

It may take a while, but your own personal movie is going to be great when it is all pieced together! Over time, you will see how each scene fits together in such a way that not even one of them could have been eliminated. Those things are what make the movie interesting. They all work in perfect harmony to tell your story, the story He created you alone to star in. Trust your divine Director and be ready to “roll” when He tells you to. He sure can turn out a great finished product!!

 

John 6:35-40: 35-38Jesus said, "I am the Bread of Life. The person who aligns with me hungers no more and thirsts no more, ever. I have told you this explicitly because even though you have seen me in action, you don't really believe me. Every person the Father gives me eventually comes running to me. And once that person is with me, I hold on and don't let go. I came down from heaven not to follow my own whim but to accomplish the will of the One who sent me.

39-40"This, in a nutshell, is that will: that everything handed over to me by the Father be completed—not a single detail missed—and at the wrap-up of time I have everything and everyone put together, upright and whole. This is what my Father wants: that anyone who sees the Son and trusts who he is and what he does and then aligns with him will enter real life, eternal life. My part is to put them on their feet alive and whole at the completion of time" (The Message)

 

* What is your starring role? 

* Who are some of the "crew members" who make your role easier?

( Jump on over to the forum to respond to the above questions and share your experiences with other readers)

 

Love and Blessings,

Starr 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

July 9, 2012

 

I have been blessed with the privilege of spending this past week with my family at the beach. We have been staying with my mom and, boy, have we had a great time together! There is a houseful of us for sure! I have been here with my two sons, my husband and my nephew. We even brought one of our cats with us too! Oh, and my mom’s dog is here as well. We have been piled in like sardines and loving every minute of it!

 

Now, maybe some families would have a hard time spending so much time together, but not ours. The more the merrier! We are having such a great time that my two sons and I have decided to stay here another week! Unfortunately, my sweet husband had to return home to work. He left this afternoon and I miss him already. But, he will be back next weekend to pick us up. In the meantime, we are all going to spend our time enjoying each other’s company.

 

 

Did you know that that is how God wants His family to live too? He desires that those of us who love and live for Him stay in close contact with each other and enjoy the times we spend together. After all, we are all a part of the body of Christ. The Church is a family, not an organized institution. Our lack of intimacy has just got to grieve the Father. I know on occasion when members of my family have disagreed or been separate for any length of time, it sure grieves me. Those times are rare, but they have occurred occasionally. They do in all families. Even God’s. That is why we have to work on the intimacy factor.

 

 

What are the characteristics of a family anyway?

 

 

Family members show concern for one another spiritually. As we read in James 5:19-20 “ 19 My brothers and sisters, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring them back, 20 remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the way of error will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins.”

 No matter what the situation, nothing brings someone back into fellowship with the family like unconditional love does. It works every time. Even if it comes slowly, it eventually makes a difference in our relationships. 

 

 

Family members forgive one another. Let’s read Colossians 3:12-13, “ 12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”  God forgave us, so we must forgive those who hurt us. Even if it just seems like they see things differently than we do. It still affords us an opportunity to forgive. That doesn’t mean it will be easy. It does mean it is necessary when our goal is to pursue holiness. God’s family pursues holiness together. It is a vital part of family.

 

 

Family members make it a point to spend time together. 1 John 1:7 tell us that “7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.” Walking in the light means we are in fellowship with God. If we are in fellowship with God then we will be in fellowship with each other in a way that honors God. Even when we all pile in to each other’s homes regularly just to fellowship, God smiles on our efforts!

 

Each member of any family is different. God arranged it that way. He loves variety!  One of my favorite primetime shows is “Modern Family”. It makes me smile! That particular family is full of diverse individual personalities but it is also full of love. That kind of love is what works to blend so many variations together.

 

 

You see, there are many aspects that form the makeup of a family. If you have not been blessed to have an earthly family as close as mine, I pray you have a spiritual family that encircles you with that same awesome love. No matter what, you are family to God! Get out today and find some family to spend time with! Don’t neglect it. Remember, it takes effort, but so does everything that matters.

 

 

·       What is your favorite part of “family”?

·       How can you increase the intimacy with your earthly family or your church family or both?

 

 

Love and Blessings,

Starr 

 

 

 

July 6, 2012

 

Isn’t freedom in Christ a great thing?! It excites me to even think about it! It relieves the pressures of life when we walk in our God-given freedom, doesn’t it?

 

Today we are going to discuss what our response to freedom needs to be.

 

Ironically, when we are free IN CHRIST, we become SLAVES TO CHRIST.

We can read that right here in Ephesians 6:6 “…as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart.” With freedom comes the desire to do what God wants us to do. If that is not your desire, you may need to reassess your commitment to God. Why is that? Our love for God becomes overwhelming as we realize the grace and freedom given to us. That love compels us to want to serve God with every part of our being. It is such a strong desire to respond to Him that it cannot be ignored.

 

 

 

One way of responding is to be thankful to our Father for lavishing His gift of freedom on those of us who have faith in the Son.

“I will sacrifice a thank offering to you and call on the name of the Lord.18 I will fulfill my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people”  (Psalm 116:17-18 TNIV)

God desires us to express our devotion to Him. Thankfulness for His goodness is a way to express that devotion. Thankfulness even when we are downhearted is one of the best ways we can respond to God. He deserves our commitment to Him after all He has committed to us.

 

 

 

Another way to respond to God’s love is to glorify Him in all that we do. That is different from being under the law. The law demanded us to do certain things to please God. In contrast, when we glorify Him out of our great love for and devotion to Him, He is well-pleased! It shows Him that we desire to glorify Him from the very core of our being. What an offering!

“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31 TNIV)  

 

God is also pleased when we willfully and knowingly walk in the freedom He has given us. Now, you might think that sounds like the obvious thing to do, but too many times we walk around with the attitude of being in bondage. We feel under bondage to our jobs, our finances, our family, our ill health, our lack, our responsibilities, etc. That saddens the Father when He has so lovingly removed us from affliction and we still choose to walk in the midst of it. Wouldn’t it make you sad if you had given your child everything he or she needed for success but they still struggled to succeed? Sounds crazy, right?

I will walk about in freedom, for I have sought out your precepts.” (Psalm 119:45 TNIV)

Listen, your life and my life are no longer defined by affliction or oppression of any kind! Walk in that freedom!!! You owe it to the Father!!

 

 

Now, this is yet one more thing that may seem obvious, but is too often overlooked. We can respond to God’s gift of freedom by refusing to hurt other people, even other brothers and sisters in Christ. To do that, we have to lay down our own desires and do what is right in the eyes of God.

Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.” (Romans 15:7 TNIV)

Yes. That says accept.  Even when we disagree or have been hurt. I know all about that, too as it has happened to me many times over as I am sure it has to you. But, man oh man how it delights God when we accept a brother or sister where they are and just love them to where God wants them to be!

 

 

Which leads us to the last part of our discussion today…

Freedom does not give us a license to sin in any way, shape or form. Yes, we are under grace, not law, but the law was put into place to show us right from wrong and is still a divinely inspired way to measure our actions.

“Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves. 17 Show proper respect to everyone, love your fellow believers, fear God, honor the emperor.” (1 Peter 2:16-17 TNIV)

 

 

Do you feel free? I sure do! I hope this week of learning about what it truly means to be free in Christ has enlightened you! Our week of celebrating the freedom of our country has come to a close. Thank God, though, we have a lifetime to celebrate our freedom in Christ!  Your eternal life began the day you accepted Jesus as your Savior! Did you realize that? Celebrate your eternal life…your eternal freedom…and your eternal servant hood to the Father from this day forward!

  

Love and Blessings,

Starr

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

July 4th 2012

 

Today, let’s talk in detail about what we have been set free from. Each of us has a story of deliverance. There are also many universal issues that we have all been set free from. Here are just a few…

 

 

We have been set free from sin. That is a biggie!

For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin — 7 because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.”(Romans 6:6-7 TNIV)

Our old self, which was ruled by sin, has been rendered powerless by the death of Christ and our faith in Him. Get that? Sin no longer has a hold on you and it never can again unless you allow it to.

 

 

We have been set free from death itself. Yes, we must leave this earth and our human bodies behind, but we need not fear death at all because for those who are in Christ Jesus it is only a transformation to the next and best life! Our eternal life!!!

“Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil — 15 and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.” (Hebrews 2:14-15 TNIV)

The death of a saved person is a precious thing to the Father and to the person who is being transformed! 

 

We have been set free from decay. Really? Why yes ma’am!

“… that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.”

Through Jesus we are destined for renewal, not decay!!! The world will be renewed and we will be renewed! All living things will be renewed in Christ!! (You may also refer to 2 Peter 3:13)

And, my favorite…”Therefore if anyone is IN CHRIST, the new creation has come; The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Corinthians 5:17 TNIV)

 

 

We have been set free from fear. I can attest to that one first hand!

“The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” (Romans 8:15 TNIV)

Fear cannot hold us captive when the blood of Jesus frees us! The thing we have to do is recognize that fear is a tactic of the enemy to get us off course and debilitate us. Sister, you have been freed from that fear!!! Walk in your freedom!

 

The things above are some of the most common bondages in the world today. We have been set free from them all!

 

 

*Our request today is that you think of some of the other things common in our world that hold people in bondage. Post your responses in the forum and share your stories of deliverance with our other readers!

 

Love and Blessings!

Starr

 

 

 

  

 

July 2, 2012

 

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” (Galatians 5:1 TNIV)

 

 

This week we are all thinking a lot about freedom.  On July 4th   we celebrate our freedom as a country. Every day we can celebrate our freedom as children of God! I am sure most days we don’t even think about that.

 

Not really THINK about it. We know it but do we realize what a gift that truly is? We have been freed from all that can place us in bondage. ALL. We have been freed from the burden of the law that once determined our righteousness before God. Let’s focus on that for today.

 

 

Under the law, God’s people were under a curse. Let’s look at Galatians 3:10-14.

 

10 All who rely on observing the law are under a curse, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.” 11 Clearly no one is justified before God by the law, because “the righteous will live by faith.” 12 The law is not based on faith; on the contrary, it says, “Whoever does these things will live by them.” 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a pole.” 14 He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit. (TNIV)

 

We are under grace, not under the law! Wow! Our righteousness no longer depends on works. We cannot be made perfect in the eyes of God by what we say or what we do. We have been made perfect in the eyes of God because the blood of Jesus covers us! The Father sees us through the Son, therefore we are freed from trying to be perfect of our own accord. What a relief!!

 

THAT, my friends, is true freedom!! Can you see now how great a gift we have been given?

 

You see, it was impossible for anyone to keep every little detail of the law. It still is. We are flesh and blood and we will mess up. A lot. But, we can ask forgiveness from the Father and He is more than willing to forgive a repentant heart.

 

God’s blessing of grace has never been earned by a human being. It is the greatness of His love that freely gives us such a gift as complete freedom in Christ.

 

 

Let’s look at verse 11 again. What does it mean to live by faith? It means we will be justified by faith. We are made righteous by faith. We are made clean by our faith in the Son of God. Not by our actions, but by pure faith. It is that faith that frees us. And, our faith will always lead us to do the right thing in God’s eyes. How is that?

 

 

With the freedom we have so richly been given, we also have been given the gift of The Holy Spirit. That gift is our guiding light through life. It is the Spirit that leads us every step of the way and helps us to walk in our freedom. God even provided us a helper so we could walk in consciousness of our wonderful freedom. He covered every detail, didn’t He?

 

Today, walk conscious of the freedom you have been given. Actually THINK about it as you go about your day. You will likely find yourself smiling occasionally as the picture of it fills your mind.

 

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,  because  through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.”  (Romans 8:1-2 TNIV)

 

 

·        How does it make you feel to realize you are completely freed from every bondage?

·        Do you believe there is anything you can’t be freed from? Why or why not?

 

 

Love and Blessings,

Starr

 

  

 

 

June 29 2012

 

It is my thought that the things we allow into our life determine its “volume”. With that in mind, let’s live loud for God’s glory! Be careful not to allow the enemy to “silence” your influence.

 

Have you ever noticed that a car can’t make any noise unless you put the key into the ignition? Well, in your life today, Jesus holds the key, the Holy Spirit is the GPS and God provides all the fuel! With that combination, you can have a loud influential life!

 

If you put in the wrong fuel, such as wasted time, anger, depression, confusion, criticism, etc., your transmission is going to conk out on you. Your power will deteriorate and your positive influence will be silenced. Wrong fuel stops loud living for God’s glory. That’s not what you want as a daughter of the Most High.

 

As you head into the weekend, the temperatures might be rising, but your heart can still be cool and calm by adding the right fuel. What fuel is that?

 

Lots of Jesus.

 

 

Everything else is just wasted energy. Do everything you do for Him and you will make a mark! What goes through your mind is what influences the world. Let it be good stuff. Weed out the negative.

 

When life gets noisy, and it always does, don’t be tempted to loose your voice in the mix. God wants the secular to fade and the spiritual to scream!!

 

 

Be louder than the noise of this world! Turn up your volume for Jesus! 

 

 

“Shout for joy to the Lord all the earth. Worship the Lord with gladness; come before Him with joyful songs. Know that the Lord is God. It is He who made us and we are His; we are His people and the sheep of His pasture. Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His holy name. For the Lord is good and His love endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations!” (Psalm 100)

 

 

 

 

  • What do you feel like shouting today?
  • Give the Lord a shout-out in the forum today and share your insights with other readers!

 

Love and Blessings!

Starr

 

  

 

June 27, 2012

Did you know that God's peace (the very same peace He gives to us) is independent of all circumstances? The kind of peace the world offers is dependent on money, success and material possessions. I prefer God's kind of peace myself.

Just this week I was watching a couple of cardinals, a pretty little couple, grazing at my bird feeder. That little couple has been here since I placed the feeders out and I just adore seeing them every day. They are so beautiful, appearing flawless in every way. God certainly made some beautiful creations for us to enjoy! He could have made all the birds look the same, or all the trees bare, but he chose to create beauty purely for our enjoyment. Things would still function exactly the same without the variety, right? But, God made things lovely...out of His love for us!

Even without any single thing created or imagined by humankind, the earth God gave us is breathtakingly beautiful. When I just sit and soak it in...wow! How blessed I am. How peaceful I feel.

The life He offers is so amazing and abundant in every way if we just notice. How glorious life can be when we fix our eyes on Jesus!

Many venues beckon for control of our minds, but when we take the time to sit still for just a moment in the quiet of a new day, God's voice rises above them all. It's when the trivial things, those worldly treasures that falsely promise us satisfaction, are our focus, it's then that God's voice begins to fade. It's when His voice fades that we lose our peace.

Forgive us Father God for ever allowing Your voice to fade in our lives. When it does, it is because of our inattention, not Yours. We are truly sorry. For it is Your voice alone that can give us the satisfaction and peace we so desperately crave. One step at a time, beginning today, we will lift up our eyes to You, the One Who made those beautiful cardinals. We will accept Your will and gladly follow wherever Your voice may lead.

* Is there something that is stealing your peace today?

*Which voices in your life are often louder than the voice of God?

Hope to see you over at the forum for your comments and insights!

Love and Blessings,

Starr 

 

 

 

 

June 25th, 2012

 Romans 12:6-8

6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; 7 if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; 8 if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully. (TNIV)

 

On any given day I have many roles to fill, as does every woman. Some of those roles are not necessarily ones I am gifted at, but at the same time, are things I have been called to do. I am a wife, a homeschool teacher, a mom, a bible study leader, a sister, a daughter, a friend, a student and the list goes on and on.

 

One recent evening, I had been working on my Bible College classes while my husband was resting on the couch after a hard day’s work. I was in physical pain from my ongoing health issues. My youngest son had left a mess with his art supplies and my oldest son was in his room practicing his guitar.  Needless to say, I saw the messes left from dinner; dirty dishes, an overflowing trashcan and  non-active family members and that, coupled with everything else, just set me off on an angry tangent. Wet paint and supper dishes mixed with my pain just pushed me over the edge.

 

It seemed as if I was failing at all my roles, let alone operating in any of my God-given gifts. I sure wasn't doing anything cheerfully. I went to bed with a repentant heart (for yelling at my family) and tears in my eyes.

 

So, the next day, I set out to serve my family without complaining. I decided to show mercy when they make mistakes. I decided to encourage them when they feel frustrated and tired. I decided to put their needs above my own. I decided to practice grace just as God has given me grace.

 

I will lead my youngest child with a firm but loving hand and mentor my oldest son with love and understanding. And, I will stand proudly under my hard-working husband’s leadership.

 

 

And, I will try my honest best to do it all with a cheerful heart.

 

I have consciously chosen to never allow wet paint, dirty dishes, or an overflowing trashcan, let alone any other thing take away the gifts God has given me. My family is my greatest gift and God has given me all I need to grow my character strong enough to take care of them. 

 

Thank You Father God for opening the eyes of my heart to see through Your eyes and operate in the special gifts You have given me. By the power and guidance of Your Holy Spirit I can efficiently do all those things You have called me to do. Also, I will look for those individual spiritual gifts You have lavished upon me to fulfill Your special purpose in my life.

 

 

·   What do you see as your special gifts?

* When you get overwhelmed with life, what brings you back into focus?

* What are some ways you can operate in your God-given gifts, even when things get tough?

 

 

Hope you take the time to head over tho the forum to share your question responses or your insights

so you can be an encouragement to other readers! 

Love and Blessings,

Starr

 

 

 

 

June 22, 2012

 

                                      Words Of Wisdom

 

We are drowning in knowledge, but starving for wisdom.  (Anonymous)

 

 

It is characteristic of Wisdom not to do desperate things.

                                                                                 (Henry David Thoreau)

 

 

I do not want the peace which passes understanding. I want the understanding which brings peace.  (Helen Keller)

 

 

Whatever is at the center of our life will be the source of our security, guidance, wisdom, and power.

 

  

What is at the center of YOUR life?

 

 

James 1:5 tells us that “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God Who gives generously to ALL without finding fault, and it WILL be given to you.”  (TNIV)

 

 

There is a really big difference between wisdom and knowledge. Did you realize that?

Wisdom is discernment, judgment and  discretion.

Knowledge is the act of knowing.

 

We may know a lot of things, but using correct judgment and discernment can only come from the leading of the Holy Spirit.  Making Jesus the center of your life can’t help but bring you wisdom! The closer you get to Him the more wisdom He will bestow upon you. It is a natural progression!

 

This is my prayer for you as you head into the weekend:

“ I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know Him better.” (Ephesians 1:17 TNIV)

 

 

 

I leave you with this passage from Proverbs Chapter 3 verses 13-26.

13 Blessed are those who find wisdom,
those who gain understanding,
14 for she is more profitable than silver
and yields better returns than gold.
15 She is more precious than rubies;
nothing you desire can compare with her.
16 Long life is in her right hand;
in her left hand are riches and honor.
17 Her ways are pleasant ways,
and all her paths are peace.
18 She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her;
those who hold her fast will be blessed.

19 By wisdom the Lord laid the earth’s foundations,
by understanding he set the heavens in place;
20 by his knowledge the deeps were divided,
and the clouds let drop the dew.

21 My son, do not let wisdom and understanding out of your sight,
preserve sound judgment and discretion;
22 they will be life for you,
an ornament to grace your neck.
23 Then you will go on your way in safety,
and your foot will not stumble.
24 When you lie down, you will not be afraid;
when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.
25 Have no fear of sudden disaster
or of the ruin that overtakes the wicked,
26 for the Lord will be at your side
and will keep your foot from being snared.” (TNIV)

 

Wow!! Blessing, Long Life, Preservation of Life, Protection,

Joy, Strength, Freedom From Fear, Deliverance from Evil! What wonderful benefits wisdom brings us! Ask Him for it today and use it as you go about your weekend activities. Have an awesome restful time and I will see you back here on Monday!

 

·        Which of the above quotes or verses stand out to you the most?

 

 

·        I challenge you to pray Ephesians 1:17 replacing the words “you” with the words “I” and “me” as your petition to the Lord this weekend and from now on. He will respond and you will see your discernment increasing as each day passes. Try it and let me know how it goes!!

 

Love and Blessings,

Starr 

 

 

 

 

 

June 20th 2012

Did you know that you are chosen? Yes girlfriend! God chose you!! If you have accepted Jesus as your Savior and Lord, then you are chosen to be in God’s family!! How awesome is that?!  You are holy because of your right standing through the blood of Jesus! You are dearly loved! So much so that God sent His only Son to die so your sins could be forgiven and forgotten!!

 

Isn’t that great news?!

Now here’s the kicker…

BECAUSE you are chosen by God to be holy, you have a responsibility to be like Jesus. Every day people should look at us and SEE that we are followers of Christ.

 Look at Colossians 4:12: “Therefore, as God’s chosen people holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience…”

 

Does that depress you a bit? It shouldn’t! Why? Because we have been given the wonderful Word of God to help us with these character qualities!

 

Read James 5:11:  "As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy."  This verse explains to us that the Lord is full of compassion so if we are like Him, we also will be full of compassion. He shows mercy and love to everyone. He is there to comfort and ease the burdens of those who are suffering. Every day we come into contact with at least one person who is suffering in some way. Be compassionate towards them.

 

Read 2 Peter 1:5-9. "For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge;  and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness;  and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love.  For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.  But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins."  This passage tells us if we don’t take the time to show kindness (or mutual affection) to those around us, then we are not acting as responsible Christ-followers.  I sure want to live a fruitful Christian life, don’t you? Kindness leads to productiveness!

 

 

Read Matthew 11:29. "Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls."  My goodness! If Jesus was humble, then who am I to think I can’t be? Am I any better than the Son of God? Certainly not! The Lord requires His chosen people to be humble and he rewards us for our obedience. Micah 6:8 says, “ …And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”  If I claim to be walking with God, then I had better be showing some humility.

 

 

Read Philippians 4:5. "Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near." We see clearly here that God wants people to interact with us and see gentleness. Too often we are harsh when we think someone deserves it, but that is not God’s best for His people. God’s best is when we can reach someone for Him due to our willingness to be gentle in spirit, even when they do not deserve it. That kind of attitude obviously makes us stand out from the secular world.

 

 

Now, this is the hardest one for some of us: Read Ephesians 4:1-3. "As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.  Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.  Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace."  I think that patience is one of the best ways of all to show someone that we are Christ-Followers. Pray and ask God to help you when you feel like hauling off and just letting someone have it! He will. It’s really ok if you get stuck in the longest line in Wal-Mart or if that woman just stole your parking spot. It is possible to do the right thing when you let the Holy Spirit lead you instead of walking in your flesh and going on your emotions.

 

 

 

Ideally, we have to put forth every effort to live a godly life. God is sovereign and we are human. His sovereignty gives us a responsibility to walk in our “chosen” status by exhibiting His character traits. Take the challenge today and put on the clothes of a Christ-Follower!

· Which one of these things is hardest for you and why?

· What steps will you take to change in that area?

I hope to see you over in the forum section where we can all share our answers and insights!

Love and Blessings!

Starr

 


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     JUNE 18th 2012

    Our goal here at S.E.E. Summer is to live an abundant and balanced life every single day and work together to be spiritually equipped and encouraged!! One way we can do that is in the way we treat those with whom we come into contact. Some days, it seems we come accross many people who rub us the wrong way and make it hard to stay balanced in our actions and thoughts.

    Our Bible tells us in Philippians 4:8 to think about whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy. I don't know about you, but I personally find it challenging to think praiseworthy and pure thoughts about that person who just pulled out into traffic and cut me off. Or that person who pushes past me to get in the checkout line before I do. But, that is exactly what God expects us to do. He does not treat us as we deserve, but he treats us with loving-kindness and mercy and grace. Folks, that takes keeping your mind on good things, not the negative that is sometimes staring you in the face.

    We can use Philippians 4:8 to teach us what to look for in other human beings. When we focus on those particular traits mentioned in this verse, we can see past the undesirable characteristics. Then we can find something good in everyone. Even is it is only that they have nice hair or an attractive outfit. Sometimes that is all you can find, but at least it is something positive! Everyone has something we can admire. We just have to look for it.

     

      Isaiah 43:25 tells us that God has blotted out our transgressions and remembers them not. If He is willing to look past our sins and imperfections, how can we not do the same for our fellow man?

    When God looks at us, He sees us as wrapped in the righteousness of Jesus. Just begin to look at other people and see them as creations of God. He cares for them and wants good for them just as He does for you, even if they don't know Him yet. 

    Take an opportunity today to see past the obvious and search deeper into the person within. You may be surprised what lies underneath. 

     (Please feel free to join us in the Testimonials and/or Forums section and leave your insights on these questions)

     *  Have you come upon someone this week with whom you could have practiced the above actions but instead remained negative?

    *  If you had chosen to use the scriptural tactics above, how could things have turned out differently?

    * Do you think you will be able to cut the negative and begin to see others the way God sees them now that you have been reminded of what God's Word says on the subject?

    Love and Blessings,

    Starr LaPradd

     

     

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