Believing the Promises of God - in His Word

Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed… Without weakening in his faith… Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what He had promised. ~ Romans 4 [selected 18-21]



Tuesday, April 29, 2008

STRENGTH to FAITHFULNESS


Psalm 29 (selected)

1 Ascribe to the LORD, O mighty ones,
ascribe to the LORD glory and strength.
2 Ascribe to the LORD the glory due His Name;
worship the LORD in the splendor of His holiness.
7 The voice of the LORD strikes
with flashes of lightning.
8 The voice of the LORD shakes the desert;
the LORD shakes the Desert of Kadesh.
9 The voice of the LORD twists the oaks
and strips the forests bare.
And in His temple all cry,
"Glory!"
11 The LORD gives strength to His people;
the LORD blesses His people with peace.

Psalm 59:9,16-17

O my Strength, I watch for You;
You, O God, are my fortress, 10 my loving God.
God will go before me…
16 But I will sing of Your strength,
in the morning I will sing of Your love;
for You are my fortress,
my refuge in times of trouble.
17 O my Strength, I sing praise to You;
You, O God, are my fortress, my loving God.

Psalm 89 (selected)

1 I will sing of the LORD's great love forever;
with my mouth I will make Your faithfulness
known through all generations.
2 I will declare that Your love stands firm forever,
that You established Your faithfulness in heaven itself.
5 The heavens praise Your wonders, O LORD,
Your faithfulness too, in the assembly of the holy ones.
8 O LORD God Almighty, who is like You?
You are mighty, O LORD, and Your faithfulness surrounds You.
15 Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim You,
who walk in the light of Your presence, O LORD.
17 For you are their glory and strength,
and by Your favor You exalt our horn [strength].
21 My Hand will sustain him;
surely My arm will strengthen him. [all emphasis mine]

Let the Word of God's STRENGTH and His FAITHFULNESS pour over your soul today as you trust in His unfailing love for you.

Choosing JOY,
Stephanie

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Words Worth Listening To


In the passage below - the Samaritan women comes to the well in the middle of the day - the hottest time of day - probably so no one else will be there. Jesus had sent His disciples off to do another task so He could be alone with this woman. We see how personal Jesus is with her. He doesn't use words to embarrass her - just facts - the way He views her life. She knew when He spoke to her that their encounter was unusual since Jews never spoke to Samaritans - let alone a woman all by herself. But GOD... saw her not as the sinner she was - but as one forgiven - with new life - one with purpose. God always see us as the finished and completed work of His Hand. She realized immediately that His Words were worth listening to.

John 4 (selected)

4 Now He [Jesus] had to go through Samaria. 5 So He came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. 6 Jacob's well was there, and Jesus, tired as He was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about the sixth hour.
7 When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, "Will you give me a drink?" 8 (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)
9 The Samaritan woman said to Him, "You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can You ask me for a drink?" (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)
10 Jesus answered her, "If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked Him and He would have given you living water."
11 "Sir," the woman said, "You have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can You get this living water? 12 Are You greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his flocks and herds?"
13 Jesus answered, "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life."
15 The woman said to Him, "Sir, give me this water so that I won't get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water."
16 He told her, "Go, call your husband and come back."
17 "I have no husband," she replied.
Jesus said to her, "You are right when you say you have no husband. 18 The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true."
19 "Sir," the woman said, "I can see that you are a prophet. 20 Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem."
21 Jesus declared, "Believe me, woman, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22 You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24 God is spirit, and His worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth."
25 The woman said, "I know that Messiah" (called Christ) "is coming. When He comes, He will explain everything to us."
26
Then Jesus declared, "I who speak to you am He."

The Disciples Rejoin Jesus

27 Just then His disciples returned and were surprised to find him talking with a woman. But no one asked, "What do you want?" or "Why are you talking with her?"
28 Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, 29 "Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Christ?" 30They came out of the town and made their way toward him.

Many Samaritans Believe

39 Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in Him because of the woman's testimony, "He told me everything I ever did." 40 So when the Samaritans came to Him, they urged Him to stay with them, and He stayed two days. 41 And because of His words many more became believers. [emphasis mine]

Don't miss the fact that this woman had such a bad reputation in that town that no one would listen to a word she said [before her encounter with Messiah, Jesus.] But as soon as she responded to His Words - she then had words worth listening to. In fact, the whole town listened and believed! That's the transforming power that can only come from God Himself through the power of His Holy Spirit. The woman's testimony now gave Jesus an audience (who sought Him out).

Isn't that what Jesus desires from our lives? To live a transformed life so that others will seek Him out - as He draws them to Himself.

Give me more of that living water every day! I want to stand under the fountain and drink it in!


Choosing JOY while bathing in God's Word [the ones worth listening to],

Stephanie

Friday, April 25, 2008

TRUST - OBEY - PRAISE


Psalm 25:1-5
1To You, O LORD, I lift up my soul;
2 in You I trust, O my God.
Do not let me be put to shame,
nor let my enemies triumph over me.
3 No one whose hope is in You
will ever be put to shame,
but they will be put to shame
who are treacherous without excuse.
4 Show me Your ways, O LORD,
teach me Your paths;
5 guide me in Your truth and teach me,
for You are God my Savior,
and my hope is in You all day long.

Psalm 55
(selected)
1 Listen to my prayer, O God,
do not ignore my plea;
6 I said, "Oh, that I had the wings of a dove!
I would fly away and be at rest-
7 I would flee far away
and stay in the desert; Selah
18 He ransoms me unharmed
from the battle waged against me,
even though many oppose me.

Psalm 85
(selected)
9 Surely His salvation is near those who fear Him,
that His glory may dwell in our land.
10 Love and faithfulness meet together;
righteousness and peace kiss each other.
11 Faithfulness springs forth from the earth,
and righteousness looks down from heaven.
12 The LORD will indeed give what is good,
and our land will yield its harvest.
13 Righteousness goes before him
and prepares the way for his steps.

Psalm 115:1,18

1 Not to us, O LORD, not to us
but to Your Name be the glory,
because of Your love and faithfulness.
18 It is we who extol the LORD,
both now and forevermore.
Praise the LORD. [emphasis mine on all scripture]

Choosing JOY in The Desert of Waiting.........Day 15 of 40

Stephanie

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Our DEFENDER



Has there been someone who has come against you? Gossip, slander, selfish talk? Has someone come against your Pastor or Elders without cause? God calls us to be still, to put on our armor and stand. Take comfort in the refuge of the shadow of His wings - and sing for joy that you have One who gives comfort and assurance that HE (alone) will defend the honor of who we are in Christ.



Psalm 23
A psalm of David.


1 The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures,

He leads me beside quiet waters,
3 He restores my soul.

He guides me in paths of righteousness
for His Name's sake.
4 Even though I walk

through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff,
they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me

in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
6 Surely goodness and [mercy] love will follow me

all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD
forever.

Psalm 83 (selected)

1 O God, do not keep silent;
be not quiet, O God, be not still.
See how Your enemies are astir,

how Your foes rear their heads.
3 With cunning they conspire against Your people;

they plot against those You cherish.
16 Cover their faces with shame

so that men will seek Your Name, O LORD.
17 May they ever be ashamed and dismayed;

may they perish in disgrace.
18 Let them know that You, whose Name is the LORD—

that You alone are the Most High over all the earth.

Pray for mercy for those who come against God's anointed. Only God knows their hearts and ours. May our hearts be ever pure before Him in all that we say and do.


Psalm 19:14

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
be pleasing to You, O Lord,
my Rock and my Redeemer!


Chorus: When Praise Demands a Sacrifice
words and music by Russell Mauldin and Sue C. Smith
*********
When praise demands a sacrifice…I’ll worship even then
Surrendering the dearest things in life
And if devotion costs me all
He’ll find me faithful to His call
When praise demands a sacrifice...
I'll Worship...



Choosing JOY,

Stephanie

Monday, April 21, 2008

The WORD Endures


***************************************


How often do you read and ponder Psalm 119? Perhaps it's a Psalm you avoid because of its length - with 176 verses as its content. Have you ever wondered why that Psalm is so long? One answer can be found in a New Testament passage [1 Peter] - but you will discover the reason when you read the [entire] Psalm for yourself.

1 Peter 1:24-25

24 For, "All men are like grass,
and all their glory is like the flowers of the field;
the grass withers and the flowers fall,
25 but the Word of the Lord [endures] forever."
And this is the Word that was preached to you.
**********************************
Psalm 119:97-112 (selected)


The Love of God’s Word


Oh, how I love Your instructions!
I think about them all day long.
Your commands … are my constant guide.
Yes, I have more insight than my teachers,
for I am always thinking of Your laws.
I am even wiser than my elders,
for I have kept Your commandments.
I have refused to walk on any evil path,
so that I may remain obedient to Your Word.
I haven’t turned away from Your regulations,
for You have taught me well.
How sweet Your words taste to me;
they are sweeter than honey.
Your commandments give me understanding;
no wonder I hate every false way of life.
Your Word is a lamp to guide my feet
and a light for my path.
I’ve promised it once, and I’ll promise it again:
I will obey Your righteous regulations.
I have suffered much, O Lord;
restore my life again as You promised.
Lord, accept my offering of praise,
and teach me Your regulations.
My life constantly hangs in the balance,
but I will not stop obeying Your instructions.
Your laws are my treasure;
they are my heart’s delight.
I am determined to keep Your decrees
to the very end.
[all emphasis mine]

May it be a Psalm that will remain on your heart and life forever.

Choosing JOY,

Stephanie

Friday, April 18, 2008

Joining God's Work in Progress

Where is God at work? Have you ever asked Him that very question? We know from scripture that God is at work all the time in and around us. When we boldly ask Him where He's working - He will gladly show us. Once He reveals that to us - that is His invitation to join Him there! Just today a dear friend in another state shared how God did that very thing for her.

We have been praying that God would open up a Bible study in her home or in her church. For many weeks it was not coming together. Only one woman had come forth to show interest in Bible study but they were locked out of the church yesterday and had no where to go. They went to the local "diner" - a local "hang out". She said she and the other women felt God redirecting them to another area. The owner of the diner offered to help them make posters and invite women to attend a new "Bible Breakfast Club" there at his diner.

God opened the doors to the spacious place He was working. Now they have joined God in the very place He is already at work. Their enthusiasm and desire to study His Word has been rewarded and God will complete the work He has begun.

When God came to men like Abraham, Noah, and even Paul, He had a plan that He was working on - and revealed His plan to these men. Then, they joined God in His work and believed Him for the promises He had shown. They began to adjust their lives to fit God's plan. They obeyed!

Psalm 18:19

19 He brought me out into a spacious place;
He rescued me because He delighted in me.

Luke 8:15 NLT
And the seeds that fell on the good soil
represent honest,
good-hearted people
who hear God’s word, cling to it,
and patiently produce a huge harvest.

1 Peter 1:24-25

24 For, "All men are like grass,
and all their glory is like the flowers of the field;
the grass withers and the flowers fall,
25 but the Word of the Lord stands forever."
And this is the Word that was preached to you.

Psalm 12:6

And the Words of the LORD are flawless,
like silver refined in a furnace of clay, purified seven times.

Psalm 72:18-19

18 Praise be to the LORD God, the God of Israel,
who alone does marvelous deeds.
19 Praise be to His glorious Name forever; may the whole earth be filled with His glory. Amen and Amen. [emphasis mine]

Choosing JOY,

Stephanie

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

While We Wait

Are you, perhaps, in a place of waiting for God to do His work - but knowing and accepting that "being still" and "resting in God" [in prayer] is what He requires while you wait for His next move? Often, this place feels like a desert, but it can be a place of great joy, contentment and peace if we think on certain things while we're there.

Philippians 4:6-8

6 Do not be anxious about anything,
but in everything, by prayer and petition,
with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding,
will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right,
whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable
if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.




Psalm 5:3

In the morning, O LORD, You hear my voice;
in the morning I lay my requests before You
and wait in expectation.



Choosing JOY,

Stephanie


Monday, April 14, 2008

What Are You Planting?


How deep is God's Word planted in your heart? Is it deep enough to bring forth a harvest to be shared with others?

When we spend time in God's Word, pouring over it and pondering His words to us, it is for the purpose of changing our hearts to match His will and purposes. Then we must respond and obey what He speaks through it. After that - we are not supposed to keep that to ourselves - it is to be shared with others around us. That's "profit sharing"! So, what are you planting, what are you sowing, what are you reaping? Is is enough to feed a dying world? Enough to feed your own [church] family?

Luke 8:15 NLT

And the seeds that fell on the good soil
represent honest,
good-hearted people
who hear God’s word,
cling to it,
and patiently produce a huge harvest
.
1 Peter 1:24-25

24 For, "All men are like grass,
and all their glory is like the flowers of the field;
the grass withers and the flowers fall,
25 but the Word of the Lord stands forever."
And this is the Word that was preached to you.

Psalm 126:5-6

5 Those who sow in tears
will reap with songs of joy.
6 He who goes out weeping,
carrying seed to sow,
will return with songs of joy,
carrying sheaves [the harvest] with him. [emphasis mine]

May we sow God's Word deep in our hearts daily - be changed by it - and share the benefits with others around us.

Choosing JOY,

Stephanie

Saturday, April 12, 2008

A Planting for His Splendor


Isaiah 61

The Year of the LORD's Favor

1 The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on Me [Christ],
because the LORD has anointed Me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent Me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
2 to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
3 and provide for those [us] who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They [we] will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the LORD
for the display of His splendor.
4 They [we] will rebuild the ancient ruins
and restore the places long devastated;
they will renew the ruined cities
that have been devastated for generations. [emphasis mine]
So many are in despair this week because of being focused on their circumstances - rather than on the God of the Universe who sent His own Son [Jesus Christ] to heal and restore. When will be stop believing the lies of the evil one - who says, "nothing can be restored" - his lies say that, "things are too long devastated to be restored"? BUT GOD - says otherwise.

Look what Christ came to do:
  • Preach
  • Bind up
  • Proclaim Freedom
  • Release
  • Comfort
  • Provide
  • Bestow Beauty

When we allow Christ to do that in our lives - then we become those Oaks of Righteousness - A Planting of the LORD - for the display of His Splendor! Wow! Can you even take that in?

I've shared this passage often and have written about it before. It is important to grasp and to live out. If you are depressed over your circumstances - bring them back to Christ - and let Him replace your despair with a garment of Praise - for where there is PRAISE - there can be no despair or depression! Try it - it works!

The results? He will rebuild, restore and renew what the enemy has stolen. Praise Him now!

Choosing JOY,

Stephanie

Thursday, April 10, 2008

My Lips Shall Speak


After spending an incredible weekend with the LORD and with the women from Christ Community Church, the LORD brought back these verses today. My life has gone from the "pit" - to the "ROCK" - to TRUST - to His Word - to Speaking - to Praise. God is faithful in all His ways!

Psalm 40:1-4a, 8-10

For the director of music. Of David. A psalm.

1 I waited patiently for the LORD;
He turned to me and heard my cry.
2 He lifted me out of the slimy pit,

out of the mud and mire;
He set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand.
3 He put a new song in my mouth,

a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear
and put their trust in the LORD.
4 Blessed is the man

who makes the LORD his trust...

8 I desire to do Your will, O my God;

Your law is within my heart."
9 I proclaim righteousness in the great assembly;

I do not seal my lips,
as you know, O LORD.
10 I do not hide Your righteousness in my heart;

I speak of Your faithfulness and salvation.
I do not conceal Your love and Your truth
from the great assembly. [emphasis mine]


Praise God and on Him cast your care.,
O praise Him, O praise Him,
Hallelujah, Hallelujah!

Let all things their Creator bless,
and worship Him in humbleness,
O praise Him, O praise Him,
Hallelujah, Hallelujah!

Choosing JOY,

Stephanie

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Who Are You?



When I was in the shower this morning I began thinking about all the ways we identify ourselves when we meet new people. Or perhaps we run into someone who knows another person that we know - so in order to make a connection - we identify ourselves with someone else. Put yourself in my place and think about how you presently identify yourself.


Here's my list:
  • I'm Bob's widow
  • I'm Becky, Amy and Jeff's Mom
  • I'm Justin, Ethan, Drew, Tessa and Jyden's "Mom-Mom"
  • I'm JoAnn's High School Friend
  • I'm RenĂ©e's neighbor
  • I'm Terri's friend
  • I'm Allison's mentor
  • I'm Polly's sister
  • I'm Kay and Paul's daughter
  • I'm Emma & Hugo's granddaughter
  • I'm a Bible study teacher
  • I'm a Motivational Speaker
  • I'm a Worship Team member
  • I'm a singer (harmony only) ;-)
  • I'm a sewer
  • I'm a photographer
  • I'm an athlete (in my dreams and in my past) ha!

Those are just a few names I might use to identify myself presently. Here are some ways that might identify who I was - from my past.

I USED TO BE:

  • The Owner of "Sugar Barrel" (for 16 years)
  • The Craft lady (as called by some)
  • An Antique Dealer
  • A Furniture Saleswoman
  • A Bridal consultant
  • A Paraprofessional Chiropractic Assistant
  • An Athlete (see it fits much better in the past) UGH!
  • A room mother for my kids
  • A coach
  • A Stained Glass Artist
  • A aspiring novelist
  • A runner (I hated every minute of it)

Did you identify with any of those? The truth of the matter is that no matter who I used to be or who I am now - my true identity is found in Jesus Christ alone!

  • I am a sinner - saved by God's grace (Ephsians 2:8-9)
  • I am forgiven by God through Jesus' shed blood
  • I am identified with Christ because I received His gift of new life
  • I am no longer condemned (Rom. 8:1)
  • I am a child of the King
  • I am an heir to God's kingdom and all the benefits thereof

2 Corinthians 5:16-17

16 So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: [emphasis mine]

Galatians 6:14-15

14 May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. 15 Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is a new creation. [emphasis mine]

Choosing JOY,

Stephanie

Sunday, April 6, 2008

HANDS TO BEHOLD



Lisa Received Christ TODAY!




Christ Community Church Women's Retreat at Black Rock Retreat Center in Quarryville, PA

What amazing Hands to Behold - God's Hands and Our hands - working together for His kingdom purposes!

I'm praising God and applauding HIM with my hands for the work that He did this entire weekend with His Hands!!

Choosing JOY,

Stephanie

Thursday, April 3, 2008

His Mighty Right Hand

The LORD's Right Hand is the place of His strength, power and authority.
It is the very place where Christ is seated!

PSALM 118:14-15

14 The LORD is my strength and my song;
He has become my salvation.15 Shouts of joy and victory
resound in the tents of the righteous:
"The LORD's right hand has done mighty things!"

I'll be away speaking at a Retreat in PA at Black Rock Retreat Center. God's theme for our weekend is Hands to Behold. We'll be looking at His Hands and our hands working together for kingdom purposes!

Choosing JOY,

Stephanie

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

A Long Winter's Nap







My pet goose, Louie (who will turn age 11 this July) has waited all winter for this day. No, not my birthday, but for the day when I would clean and fill his swimming pool again. All winter it was covered in dead leaves with ice frozen over it. When the first warm day appeared just a few weeks ago he stood inside the dirty, leafy pool waiting for it to be filled. When I would clean and fill his water buckets each day I'd have to tell him that he had to wait until winter was over before his pool could be used again. Today his winter had passed and a season of singing (or bathing) has come.

Have you had a long cold, dark, damp, winter? Some of us have been waiting for the promises of God to be revealed or to be a reality. Today the waiting is over and the new has begun. Waiting is a hard thing to do for any human (or goose). But it is always worth waiting for God's best for us. Nothing else will do.

Psalm 27:13-14

13 I am still confident of this:
I will see the goodness of the LORD
in the land of the living.
14 Wait for the LORD;

be strong and take heart
and wait for the LORD. [emphasis mine]


Song of Songs [Solomon] 2:11-12

11 See! The winter is past;
the rains are over and gone.
12 Flowers appear on the earth;
the season of singing has come. [emphasis mine]

Choosing JOY,

Stephanie
PS: Louie can do amazing things in only 1 inch of water. You should see what he does when his pool is filled to the brim.