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Living Beyond the Lesson - FAITHFULNESS

For those of you who knew Sharon, she was a walking, living example of faith, not just any old faith, but child-like faith. The kind of faith that God calls all of us to demonstrate in our responses to life.

Over the past ten years, I have come to accept and embrace God's believability through prayer. Oh, the power of prayer!!! So many of us don't ask for prayer because we think it shows that we are weak, that we have more problems than some one else, that our struggle isn't big enough for prayer........

LIES, all of them!!

My reliance on prayer and use of prayer in my daily life has actually deepened my relationship with God. It has humbled me, given me an eternal perspective and has helped me to realize and admit my dependence on Him.

One of my favorites from Beth Moore this week was when she said, "Beloved, I am convinced that faith sometimes means knowing God can, whether or not He does.....If He chooses not to, He has a greater glory in mind. Never let the enemy convince you that God is not able to do anything He pleases!....Nothing is impossible for our God!" If that is our mindset as we go into prayer, what victory, what faith!! We pray so many times in a routine, with no passion, faithless and defeated. Paul tells us in 2Corinthians 10:5 that we are to take every thought captive to make it obedient to Christ.

Are you praying with faith? Are you praying at all? Are you so stuck in pride that you don't share your requests with anyone else? One of the greatest privileges we have as Christians is lifting each other up to the Lord in prayer. It is one of the most powerful tools we have in Christ.

In Ephesians 3:14-21, Paul is praying for the Ephesians. He prays that they are strengthened through the Holy Spirit, that Christ may dwell in their hearts through Christ, that they be established and rooted in love and have power together to understand the depth of God's love.

That is me prayer for each of you. He is worthy to be trusted. He is worthy to be believed. Are you willing to step out in faith and "not be anxious about anything, but by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God?"

Do it!!
I dare you!!
Oh, how God will work!!

Joanne

Living Beyond the Lesson - Kindness & Goodness

Day 2 of this week resonated in my heart and brought forth such feelings of gratitude and love for my Heavenly Father.

One of the greatest lessons I have learned from God and spending time with Him, is that He desires to be so much more than Lord. He should reign in our lives, He should be the authority in our lives, King of Kings, Lord of Lords, Name above all names and the list could go on and on.... But one role He desperately wants to fill is that of Father. Not a high, lofty father, but the kind that laughs, plays, enjoys time with His daughter, and isn't afraid to get involved in EVERYTHING!! The kind of Daddy that loves you to pieces, adores everything about you, and sees you as a treasure. After all, as the words to Beloved's song convey, YOU are His favorite thing!!

I will repeat the questions that Beth Moore asked us in our homework, "Oh, Beloved, do you know God as parent? Do you allow Him to nurture you? Do you take Him your tears and your fretting and allow Him to hold you in His arms and cover you with His love?"

If your answer is "yes" then keep on enjoying your Daddy, learning more about Him and allowing the intimacy between you to deepen day by day, moment by moment. If your answer is "no" or "you are not sure," then I challenge you to begin this type of relationship with Him.

Spend time with Him, seek His face, be HONEST with Him, and most of all accept the fact that He loves you more than your human mind and heart can comprehend. There is NOTHING that you can do to make Him love you less!! Don't be afraid, He is the one Daddy that will never let you down and whether you realize it or not, you need Him and this type of parent/child relationship with Him more than you know. There is nothing sweeter than sitting in the arms of my Heavenly Father, knowing that He understands and I don't need to explain it all in detail.

So many times, I close my eyes and lift my face toward Heaven and feel Him take my face in His gentle hands. Oh, Beloved, He sings over us and there are so many times that I don't want to leave that place!!

Many of you know my story about my earthly father and the pain that came when I sat out the father-daughter dance. BUT GOD, in His grace, compassion mercy and love, has shown me that I will never sit out another father-daughter dance with Him!! My reply......"Abba Father, I love you Daddy with my whole heart!!!"

Grateful to be loved by the Father,
Joanne

Living Beyond the Lesson - Patience

I have been blown away by the lessons I'm learning each week during this study. And I've been trying to let every word of it speak to me. So when Beth challenged us recently to wake up one day before dawn, go outside, and "lift up the day's needs as the light begins to dawn and the sun rises", I was ready for this wonderful and refreshing new way to spend time with the Lord.

Daylight Savings Time had just ended (or begun, I have no idea except that I got an extra hour of sleep), so the timing was pretty good. At 5:22 a.m., I woke up (without even an alarm) and shuffled into the living room to find my Bible. The dog was eager to have an early-morning companion, and I realized that I would get no peace until he'd been fed. So, I fed the dog.

Then I pondered my instructions. The workbook suggested that I go out into the backyard and face east ('cause that's where the sun makes it's grand entrance). After pondering my east from my west, I determined that I could not, in fact, see the sun from my backyard. I had no choice but to go out front.

I shuffled back to my closet for a bathrobe and socks. The dog was finished with his breakfast, so I invited him out front to roam around while I prepared to spend some quality morning time praising God for a new day.

In order to find the perfect lawn chair, I had to move a ladder and several riding toys. Once my lawn chair was set, and I had Bible, pen (and coffee, did I mention the pot of coffee that I brewed?) in hand, I turned to a few scripture verses that had been given as a starting point to consider this new day.

By the light of the garage, I read Genesis 8:22 - "As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease." I was quietly reminded of God's perfect control over the balance of the world around me. Day and night, sun and moon, in perfect rhythm. "Lord, thank you for a new day!" I began... before I thought of a question...

"Lord, what time exactly is the sun going to rise today?"

I hadn't really considered it before, but I suddently wondered if this whole Daylight Savings time change meant that the sun now rose around 8am. Because I wanted to be totally o.k. with it but I also kinda wanted to know if I needed a more comfortable lawn chair. After all, it was just shy of 6 a.m.

I will honestly tell you that I considered getting up from my chair and checking the internet for the approximate "Sunrise Time". And I will also share that I thought better of it and sat myself back down.

Lamentations 3:22-23 said, "The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning."

As I pondered this passage, I prayed for my family. For a fresh dose of His mercy for my day. For many things that were already threatening to weigh me down and control my thoughts before the day had barely begun.

But - I feel compelled to be honest - I was having a hard time getting to a place of stillness, of quiet, maybe like I was just getting in the way. The prayers I lifted up became more dutiful than genuine and I spent only a few more minutes in the chilly breeze.

Having almost convinced myself that the sunrise was hours away, I snuck back into the house and opened the blinds of three big windows in the front room. Settling comfortably into the sofa cushions, I re-opened my Bible.

Seconds later, a sweet morning voice called out, "Mommy! Hi Mommy! What are you doing in there? Why is it still dark outside?"

I pulled my sleepy son up into my lap and we faced the windows. "The sun hasn't come up yet" I explained. But it will, I thought, as I recalled the words found in Genesis. "Let's watch it come up together!" "OK... let's do that!"

So, I sat on the couch that morning with my child and talked to him about our Great Big God. About how He makes the sun come up in the morning and the moon rise at night. How each morning is a brand new day. We thought of all the songs we knew that mentioned the sun or the morning or a new day. I managed to croak out one verse of "This is the day that the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it!" He wanted to sing a song he learned on Noggin.

In those precious morning moments, I marveled at God's PATIENCE with me - driven by his unfailing mercy. I took the words of Lamentations personally. The faithful love of the Lord (for me!) never ends! His mercies (for me!) never cease. He loves me enough to challenge me to spend time with Him in new ways. And then He mercifully gives me the most beautiful options when I just can't get my "go-outside-for-quiet-time" act together. His mercies for me are new every half-hour!

I have since shared two more precious mornings of watching the sun rise with my child as we sit snuggled into the couch cushions - staring toward the east - in awe of our Creator who puts on a spectacular display every morning (at 6:46 a.m. by the way!)

Jenny D.

Living Beyond the Lesson - PEACE

PEACE, PEACE, oh how we desire and need peace! As Beth closed day 5 of our lesson, I want to repeat her words, "Lord, I want your peace! I want peace in ALONENESS, peace in PROVISION, peace in the STORM, peace in the WAIT, peace in the TEARS, peace in Your PLAN - and even peace in my DEATH. How may I have such peace?"

I am not sure how many of you are still asking that question, but in order to have the peace of God, you must first have peace with God by accepting His gift of Salvation. If you have done that, then God's peace, the peace that He died to give, is in you. It belongs to you.

She had us read Romans 8:6 which tells us that a mind controlled by the Spirit is the key to peace. That verse takes me back to the Mary Spirit Study when we learned that we must "think about what we think about." Isaiah 26:3 tells us that if your mind is steadfast on Christ that you will have perfect peace. What are you thinking about? Maybe your mind needs a good cleaning out!!

Then to maintain peace, Philippians 4:6-7 tells us that we must, in thanksgiving, present our prayers and petitions to God regularly. As a result, peace comes and guards your heart and mind in Christ Jesus. What a beautiful promise and Beloved, it is for you.

I want to share a devotion that I read this morning. It was entitled "Prayer of Joy. " Joy and peace are so closely linked, I believe that peace could easily fit as well.

" Prayer can be like incense, rising ever higher and higher, or it can be like a low earth-mist clinging to the ground, never once soaring. The Eye that sees all, the Ear that hears all, knows every cry. But the prayer of real faith is the prayer of Joy (Peace), that sees and knows the heart of Love it rises to greet, and that is so sure of a glad response."
(God Calling, Nov. 1st, pg. 175.)


We should pray in the hope, joy, peace and confidence that we possess through the Holy Spirit. Do not pray as though you have no hope or in defeat.....Pray because you know the Supremacy and Sovereignty of your God!!!

Living Beyond the Lesson - JOY

As I worked through this section of the study, my mind continuously ended up with thoughts of Sharon Longbottom, who formed and led this Bible Study.

If you didn't know Sharon, did you find yourself thinking about those people you know that are just joyful? The kind of joy that just flows from the inside out. They are contagious and you find yourself just wanting to be around them. Their lives are simply celebrations of God's grace. Oh, how I miss her!! But the joy that flowed from her is in me.

God reminded me of that this week. His joy is mine to claim and mine to loose. He doesn't take it from us, but it remains with us in His very presence.

Then, during the video, Beth described that our joy should be "defiant" joy. Now, most of us have "defiant" down pretty well, so this one shouldn't be too hard!! A joy that defies the circumstance. A joy that is founded on the fact that we are saved, not just saved to eternity, but saved from hell.

Most of us have heard the scripture from James 1:2 that tells us that we will see hard times... no "if" or " maybe," but we will. Then, as Christians embracing the truth that we will share in the struggles of Christ and we should consider it pure joy.

All of a sudden, it doesn't seem so easy a task, this choosing joy. Think about it, if everything was easy, our joy would easily start to flow from the circumstance, we would become prideful and independent.

God uses our struggles to shape us, transform us, and reveal Himself to us. We need Him desperately and I would bet that each one of us is in some sort of struggle right now. Look for Him, He is right in the middle of your circumstances. Don't doubt His presence, purpose, or power.......Believe in it! Depend on it!

Joanne