Monday, November 5, 2018

R.E.A.L. Women Devotional - The Gain of Losing the Weight of Unforgiveness

I've often heard that unforgiveness is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. This past June, I realized I needed to lose some weight. Weight loss is hard for me as I know it's a mind thing. I asked the Lord how I should go about this. He showed me that the weight I was carrying was really caused by emotional eating and that I needed to find the root cause of my emotional eating. As I discovered, it was dealing with past hurts over my life. (And I'm talking way back in my life) Every time I face a hurt or challenge in life, food was my friend. It never left me nor forsook me, literally!

I began working on a mind-change and at the beginning of each week, I would ask the Holy Spirit to show me what I needed to work on. As I did this and dealt with the unforgiveness in my heart, the weight began to come off.

Since my dad passed, I've hit a wall and even though I am still exercising and eating better, it just doesn't seem to budge. Yesterday, as I was walking and praying, the Holy Spirit showed me something that I never realized. These past few months, some of the things that I thought I dealt with have seem to creep back in. I asked the Lord why am I still struggling in these areas if I have forgiven them? It was then the light turned on! He replies back to me in that gentle still small voice, "it's because you haven't blessed them." I can't begin to tell you how it all made sense to me. As I walked, I began to speak out loud, blessing those who I have grieved over. But even more importantly, I had to speak forgiveness and blessing over myself. I often disappoint myself by not doing what I know I should. It was amazing how the weight on my soul literally lifted. I could feel it and the freedom I felt was overwhelming! Proverbs 25:21 says "If you see your enemy hungry, go buy him lunch; if he’s thirsty, bring him a drink. Your generosity will surprise him with goodness, and God will look after you." (The Message)

Let me encourage you today, if you have any unforgiveness toward someone, in your heart, forgive them and then speak out loud blessing over them. You will be amazed at the freedom you will feel physically! Pray this prayer "Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. 24 See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." Psalm 139:23-24 I've discovered forgiveness and blessing go hand in hand in healing! AMEN!

Sunday, May 20, 2018

R.E.A.L. Women Devotional - "The Bride Has Made Herself Ready"

 As the chocolate brown Rolls Royce pulls up to the curb, the on-lookers cheer and suddenly the bells of the chapel begin to ring a joyful melody.  The bride steps out of the car and looks to see if her dress is wrinkled. She then presses out the ruffled places and looks up to see the stairs she must walk to meet her groom.

As she reaches the doorway, inside are family and guests of the bride and groom who are awaiting her arrival.  The groom is already at the alter in anticipation of his bride.  The music plays as she is met by her future father-in-law to finish the stroll down the aisle.  Her dress is simple. No diamond necklace around her neck. Nothing to take away from the glow on her face on her special day.  In fact, her dress didn't try to compete with the beauty of the church. It was very simple and it was just her pure beauty that shined. The hours of preparation before hand did not disappoint at the appointed hour. Televisions, computers, even cell phones all over the world were tuned in to this special day for this couple.

The wedding of Prince Harry to the American actress, Meghan Markle is a beautiful illustration of the day Jesus returns for his Bride, the Church.  Prince Harry was born into royalty.  It's who he is and nothing can change that.  But Meghan on the other hand, completely removed from royalty is even a foreigner.  Do you see where I am going with this?  Jesus, God's son, born as King of kings can not change that.  He IS who he is.  But we, being foreigners to God's Kingdom, have the opportunity to become royalty through the Bridegroom himself. (Ephesians 2:18-20)

As Prince Harry waits for her with a smile on his face, there was nothing at that moment that could have been on his mind accept, "I love her and she is beautiful." The smile on his face
says it all.  It made me think of what Jesus will do the day we meet him face to face.  Tears filled Prince Harry's eyes as he continued to look at this beautiful woman dressed in white. The reporter narrating the event was saying that men of nobility are not required to wear a wedding ring, but Prince Harry chose to wear a wedding ring.  This is so significant to me.  He loves his bride so much that he is choosing to wear a ring to show his commitment to his bride.  Jesus didn't choose to wear a wedding ring for his Bride, instead He chose going to the cross that would be an eternal statement of his love for us.

After visiting Westminster Abby recently, I learned that coronations are not done facing the people, they are done with facing the alter.  The alter represents God.  It helped me understand why a couple has their back turned to their guests as it symbolizes God approving of this union.  The groom then holds the bride's hand and they place it out in front of the Bishop.  He then wraps his cloak around their hands symbolizing them being joined together with God.  It was so beautiful.

 If we have chosen Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we are his bride and it is just as important for us to prepare for our appointed hour. Ephesians 5 tells us that Jesus helps us to prepare by the washing with water through the word, to present us to himself as a radiant church without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. (Ephesians 5:25-27) We are to be transformed into his likeness (2 Corinthians 3:18). This is our part of the preparation for that glorious day. Revelation 19:7 says "Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready."  

Let me encourage you today, if you have not met the Bridegroom who is Jesus, you can meet him right now.  Call on his name, believe in your heart and you will be saved (Romans 10:9).  Get in the word of God, get to know him and prepare yourself for him.  If you are already in a relationship with the Bridegroom then continue to prepare yourself.  The day is coming and we need to make ourselves ready. It too will be a wedding ALL the world will watch.

Friday, May 18, 2018

R.E.A.L. Women Devotional - The Royal Wedding

At 3:00 am, Jordanne, my daughter and I watched with anticipation as we waited to see the bride arrive at the entrance of Westminster Abbey. The groom looked quite handsome in his military uniform. Truly a prince. As the bride stepped out of the car, she looked just like a princess-to-be should look, elegant and happy.

As Kate proceeded down the aisle with a four minute walk, the Holy Spirit spoke something to me. He said that this was a picture of salvation. The reporters kept referring to Kate as a "commoner." The dictionary definition says it is "any person ranking below a peer; a person without a title or nobility." Before we come to Jesus, we are "commoners" or as the Bible says, "sinners." This was history making for England because there has not been a marriage between a Royal and a commoner since the 17th century.
The reporters said that it has taken her 8 years to prepare for this moment as she entered into the Royal family. It was 8 years of learning royal etiquette and even learning how to live with and resist the negative press. Revelation 19:7 says "Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. " When we become followers of Jesus, we prepare for that Wedding day by getting to know Him and who are are now in Christ. We too are faced with a new way of doing things and even how to resist the Enemy.

As the bride made her way down the long aisle, the camera showed the view from above. I noticed that the abbey is in the form of a cross, as most cathedrals are. It made me wonder if the red runner carpet represents the blood of Jesus. It was Jesus death on the cross and his blood that was shed that made a way for us commoners to become royalty. Ephesians 2:12 says, "But now in Christ Jesus you who were once far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ." Second Corinthians 5:17 says, "This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!" (NLT). Kate went in as "Kate Middleton" and came out as Her Royal Highness, which she will now be called. When we come to Jesus, Revelation 5:9 &10 says, “ You are worthy to take the scroll, And to open its seals; For You were slain, And have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, 10 And have made us kings and priests to our God; And we shall reign on the earth.”

The wedding of Prince William and Kate was seen around the entire world. Whether one of the 1,900 invited guests, a spectator who lined the streets of London or watched it via television, this wedding was seen by the majority of the world. It made me think of the day when the King of Kings will ride in on his white horse to receive his Bride (the Church) who has made herself ready. Ephesians 5:17 says, "that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish." We as the Bride need to be preparing ourselves for that glorious day when the whole world will be watching as it says in in the Bible. "Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him..." (Revelation 1:7). Bride, make yourself ready, holy and pure as we await the arrival of the Bridegroom to come for his Bride and we celebrate THE Royal Wedding of all time.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

R.E.A.L. Women Devotional: Cut or Uncut: The Beauty in Being Hurt

Have you ever seen an uncut diamond before?  I had never really thought about it until I saw what an uncut diamond looks like.  It looks like a piece of ice or if you've seen them in a cluster, they look like rock candy.

Years ago, I had been to a diamond factory when I was in Israel.  We watched a video explaining the process of how a diamond is cut.  As I sat there, I realized that it is similar to our relationships, which I like to call "real"ationships.  

A Diamond can only be cut by another diamond.  Even diamond dust is used to help polish the diamond. Olive oil is something they use in Israel along with diamond dust to polish it. This is truly amazing. (There is a video that explains this process on youtube. The more facets of a diamond, the more brilliant its shine.

The Lord used this picture to help me understand our process of letting our light shine.  Matthew 5:16 says to let our light shine that it may glorify your Father in Heaven.  You see, we can only be shaped and cut by another person.  Often times it's through pain and hurt.  I've heard it said, "God never wastes a hurt."  That is true.  This was one of those "light turn on" moments for me.  

As a follower of Jesus, my hope is never to feel hurt of pain.  Unfortunately, Jesus said that we will have trouble. Jesus tells us this in John 16:33.  In a broken world, we can't get away from it. Most of the unforgiveness and hurt we carry around in us is from other people.  Most of the time it's people we love, whether it's family members or close friends.  As a pastor's wife, I have had my share of hurt.  Which often I hear Christians say they don't like church because they've been hurt.  I don't think they think about the other side of the coin that there are many pastors and their families that have been hurt. So in reality, we are all victims of hurt and pain.

The bottom line is "hurt and pain" are really a part of the transformation process of a "diamond in the rough." Yes, it's rough, but the brilliance that eventually shines through is the goal.  If we know the pain and hurt we endure is truly about being shaped, I think we can appreciate it more.  Some of us seem to have more pain and hurt than others.  But if you look at it as another facet being cut into you life, the more God's glory will shine through in the end.  Ephesians 2:10 says we are His masterpiece being created anew in Christ Jesus.  If we stay "uncut" which is not allowing ourselves to be vulnerable in relationships, then we will never become the beautiful work of art that God planned for us.  

I ask you today to reflect on your life. Have you purposely held people off because of your fear of being hurt?  Have you pushed off relationships that have hurt you? Let me tell you, I write this having been hurt myself, but I too am someone guilty of hurting others.  Which really means, that I am a diamond being cut into the beauty of God's glory.  Take some time today to reflect and forgive those who have hurt you. Instead of trying to stay "uncut" use those hurts to shape you and allow the Holy Spirit who is the anointing oil to soften and smooth those rough places.  I promise in the end, you will see the beauty of the glory of God shine in such a way that others will know you are rare and one of a kind brilliant work of art.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

R.E.A.L. Women Devotional: Wonder Woman

This summer, the blockbuster hit at the theaters is the movie "Wonder Woman." I happen to see it twice.  I will say that the first time left me energized. But seeing it a second time with my daughter, got me thinking. 

I don't want to give away the plot, but what I will say about the story line is Diana does not yet know what she has been created to do. Her mother was fearful that if she ever found out that her purpose was to fight, she might lose her.  One of the endearing lines that her mother says to her as she is leaving the safe haven was, "You have been my greatest joy, but today you are my greatest sorrow." As I sat next to my daughter now that she is an adult, I could feel her mother's heart.  Letting your children go as they walk out their purpose is bitter sweet. I'm sure God must have felt this way when He sent His one and only Son to earth to save us.

But as Diana begins to discover her strength and courage, her destiny begins to unfold. Her mother didn't want her to know that she was created as "a weapon" against the god of war. Only she had the power to defeat him.  Her mother never wanted her to be exposed to evil, but as her purpose would have it, she finds herself wanting to stop evil in the world.

The cinematography was spectacular with all the choreography and special effects. But there were key weapons and words used in this movie that seemed to parallel with what the Word of God says. While watching her "get after it" I believe the Holy Spirit impressed on  me the real power we women have in the Holy Spirit. She carried a magic lasso that was truth, a shield and a sword, wrist bands of power, and upon her head a kind of crown that gave her authority. You are probably getting where I'm going with this. She was dressed to some degree in the full armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-17)  She discovered that one has to "believe in" and "love" in order to conquer evil.  1 John 3:23 says "And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us."

As a women of God, we too are like "Wonder Women." We were fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14)! When you think about it, in the very beginning, the woman (Eve) was the first to stand before the one who is evil and would bring sin and death to the earth God had created (Genesis 3). But, the climax of this story we are living in, is that Jesus conquered sin and death because of God's love for us (John 3:16). First Corinthians 15:53-56 says "For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. 54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: 'Death has been swallowed up in victory.'55 'Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?'56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."

We have been called to be warriors not worriers, especially we women.  We have adopted worry as a badge of honor. It is a lie.  The truth is we have been crowned with glory and honor, Psalm 8:5 says "You (God) have made them (us) a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honor." We've been given authority in Jesus name. In Luke 10:19 Jesus says "I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you." In order to do this God gave us spiritual armor that we are to put on daily. Ephesians 6:11 says "Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes." Lastly, one of our most important weapons is prayer.  Ephesians 6:18 says "And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people." It is time for us to rise up to the purpose we have been created for. To carry out God's purpose of redemption of mankind.  Matthew 28:19 & 20 Jesus tells us "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. 

Wonder Woman was fearless, bold and always ready to face the enemy. If we put our complete trust and hope in God, we too can be Women of Wonder. Others will "wonder" where our strength comes from. It comes for the power of the Holy Spirit in us as it says in Romans 15:13 "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." Jesus already won the battle that gave us the victory, all we have to do is "live it out"! We have been created in God's image (Genesis 1:27) and ultimately be transformed into Christ's likeness (Philippians 3:20-21).  

In closing, going back to what I said about what I felt in my heart seeing this with my daughter, it's my responsibility to train her to be a wonder woman. The only way I can do that is if I am living like one. I want to encourage you today, if you are a follower of Jesus Christ, then lets unite and work together to prepare for that glorious day when Jesus returns for his Bride. If you are reading this and not yet a follower of Jesus, then you can become one right now.  All you have to do is surrender your life to him, ask for forgiveness and believe on the name of Jesus Christ who saves! We are victorious in Him who saves!

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Stars and Stripes Forever

When I was a child, the 4th of July celebration was as memorable as Christmas.  We would spend the day at my grandparents house. While my grandma and great grandma would be preparing the dishes for the barbecue, my grandpa would be building the platforms for the firework show he would put on for us and the neighbors.  My grandma always bought the largest box of fireworks and what a show we'd have.  Living so close to Disneyland, it made for some competition.

My sisters and some of the neighborhood kids would dress up as patriotic forefathers and parade up and down the street singing patriotic songs, like "God Bless America," as the sun was setting.  This was the opening act prior to the firework show.  I can remember so vividly how grateful we all felt living in the land of the free.  We would carry a large flag. We carried that flag with pride because we were proud to be Americans.

Our flag is dressed and carries an attitude of what it stands for. One of the nick names for the flag is "old glory". Adorned with stars and stripes, the story of our country is told. The stars represent the 50 individual states and the red strips for the thirteen colonies and the white representing courage. There are some who believe the color red represents the blood that was shed for the freedom that we have in this great nation today.

The atmosphere in our country today is very anti Christian. It is "politically incorrect" for me to share my faith, except in the context of church functions. To be honest, I'm a little uncomfortable writing this blog because of those who disagree with me. I've realized when one side is outspoken, the other must be quiet. When I visited the Mayflower and heard why those people came to this country, it was for religious freedom. In the last 15 years, the name of Jesus is used more as a curse word than one that will set one free.
Before long, it won't be legal for me to profess Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior in public. I can say that I am a Christian now because I live in a free country. As a follower of Jesus Christ, I thought about the "stars and stripes" of my faith. the "stars" in my faith represent couple of things. One when God promised Abraham a large family, He told him he would have as many as the stars in the sky . (Genesis 15:5) These stars are symbolic of the Jewish people who are God's chosen people, which is the line of people Jesus came from. The next symbol of a star is the "Star of David." I was told by our tour guide in Israel that the Israelites needed a symbol to represent them. They were forbidden to carve any images out of wood or stone so instead they chose the symbol of this star. Unsure as to why this kind of star, it is possible that three of the letters in David's name in Hebrew together form this symbol. It could also reflect back to the promise God made to Abraham of his children being like the stars in the heavens.

But another star spoken of in the Bible was the star that lead the wisemen to the King of the Jews. (Matthew 2:2) The star that lead them to Bethlemham also called the "City of David" where Jesus, the Son of God was lying in a feeding trough wrapped in swaddling clothes (burial cloth) in a stable. (Luke 2:7). Last but not least, in the book of Revelation, Jesus is called the " bright morning star" the "offspring of David." (Revelation 22:16)

The stripes on the other hand tell a different story. Isaiah 53:4-5 says it all.
"Surely He has borne our griefs And carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted. 5 But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed." (NKJV) The stripes only Jesus could carry for us. The red stripes represent his blood that was shed for our sin and sickness, but the white stripes represent the forgiveness and peace that we can receive when we believe in the sacrifice he made for all of mankind. Because of all those stripes we are healed and free from the bondage of sin in our lives.

Unlike the days that our forefathers formed this great nation, they were "united as one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."  What is bothersome to me is the heart of where Americans are now. Like the days of Noah and Sodom and Gomorrah so shall it be when the Son of Man comes. (Luke 17:26) The issues we face today have divided us which will surely bring us down. But hopefully to our knees! Jesus said in Matthew 22:25 "
Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand." But don't lose heart, Jesus came that we would have life and life more abundant. (John 10:10). We don't put our hope in man because man is human. Psalm 42:5 & 6 says, "Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and 6 my God."  Remember those who put their trust in God, our faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see. (Hebrews 11:1 NLT) A life in Jesus is for eternity. His stars and stripes are forever!

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

R.E.A.L. Women Devotional - A Heart to Heart (Valentines Day)

This photo has a very special meaning. In 2007, Jeff and I had the privilege of going to Israel. On the third day of our trip, we went to "Peter's Primacy" on a beach in Galilee. This is the location where John 21 happened. My Bible subtitle's it "Breakfast by the Sea." 

As we were walking back to the tour bus, I noticed these two rocks on the gravel beach. They looked like hearts and one having a hole in it. This is the place where Jesus had his "heart to heart" with Peter. 

In John 21, after the death and resurrection of Jesus, Peter goes back to what he knows, fishing. After fishing all night, Jesus calls out to Peter and the other disciples and asks them if they have caught anything. A familiar call, as this was what Jesus said to Peter the first time he met him. Jesus tells them to throw their nets to the right side of the boat and suddenly their nets were full.

Jesus had breakfast waiting for them as they came ashore. The key portion of this passage is the heart to heart that Jesus has with Peter. "After breakfast Jesus asked Simon Peter, 'Simon son of John, do you love me more than these? “Yes, Lord,” Peter replied, “you know I love you.” “Then feed my lambs,” Jesus told him. 16 Jesus repeated the question: “Simon son of John, do you love me?” “Yes, Lord,” Peter said, “you know I love you.” “Then take care of my sheep,” Jesus said. 17 A third time he asked him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”Peter was hurt that Jesus asked the question a third time. He said, “Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Then feed my sheep." (John 21:15-17)

This is intimate conversation Jesus had with Peter shows the love that Jesus had for Peter, despite all of Peter's mistakes. Jesus loves us too despite all of our mistakes. All of us are born with a hole in our heart, that only Jesus can fill. It's a hole that will make you whole. Jesus loves you no matter what. The question he asks you on this Valentine's Day is "Do you love me?"