Monday, December 31, 2012

365 Days of Spirit-Filled Fruits Challenge-Day 37

So Saturday evening family is gathered together and after playing one long round of Uno Attack that ended joyfully rejoicing over the winner because we were all glad to be done with it, we pulled out the new Apples to Apples-Bible Version to play. There was immediate thinking that I would win it and just an all-around negativity. I chose to let go of the negative comments and just kept encouraging. So we start playing and those initial attitudes start to crumble as they begin to see its not about who knows the most in the bible. The highlight of the game and what made the whole experience worth it was when my son who was being complimented about being pretty and agreed that he was. Now,  its cousin’s turn to be the “judge” in the game and he selects a card from the middle of the deck and the word is “pretty”.  Cousin is freaked out about it and my son is laughing so hard he cries. I am pointing upward claiming that was God and everyone agreed and than my son says, “this is not turning out as I expected”. The game took on more meaning when one of the cards that my mother-in-law puts down to play with “pretty” is “Ruth”. This name happens to be the name of my grandmother-in-law, Mom-Mom who passed away several years ago from Parkinson’s and her birthday was just the day before. My aunt-in-law ends up in a discussion with my daughter about it because her middle name is Ruth which was chosen for Mom-Mom.  My aunt-in-law ends up emotionally telling us of what happened to her after Mom-Mom died. She says she was preparing herself to go to the funeral when she entered her bathroom and there in the middle of the floor was a large white feather. There are no feathery things in her house and she was amazed to see such a thing lying there and knew it was from Mom-mom. She put it with some of the cards she had been receiving and when she later went to look at it, the feather was gone.  So although there was some initial hostility about playing this game, it turned out to be a wonderful experience and hopefully got some of them thinking about God.
Psalm 119: 161-162 Rulers attack me without any reason. But my heart trembles because of your word. I’m filled with joy because of your promise. It’s like finding a great fortune.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

365 Days of Spirit-Filled Fruits Challenge-Day 36

Saturday evening we will be with some of my husband’s family sharing and celebrating Christmas. I consider times like this so joyful. We enjoy the food and have lots of laughs with each other as we play Apples to Apples which has become a tradition. I will bring our new Bible version of Apples to Apples to play. We also have lots of laughs doing a gag gift exchange game which I introduced to my husband’s family because it was done with my dad’s side of the family for many years. This year I introduced the idea of doing a mini bible study with each other to connect with each other with our faith and learn more about each other that way. I am anticipating the joy and will report back how it all came to pass on Monday.
Psalm 133:1-3 A Song of Ascents. Of David. Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity! It is like the precious oil on the head, running down on the beard, on the beard of Aaron, running down on the collar of his robes! It is like the dew of Hermon, which falls on the mountains of Zion! For there the Lord has commanded the blessing, life forevermore.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

365 Days of Spirit-Filled Fruits-Challenge Day 35

I woke a couple times last night with some pain in my shoulder and my mind turned on and went on a path of thinking about joy. The Lord guided my thoughts to the time when I experienced intense overwhelming joy so much so that I had to stop thinking about it and shove it back inside of me because is was unbelievable the amount of emotion that was produced. I was driving in my car at the time which is always a great place to think and pray but can get you to drive past where you needed to go. LOL.  I was pregnant with my daughter and started thinking about the amazing gift I had received from God in not only coming to know him in my heart, being released from the fears of exposing my past sins to others but the gift of my hearts desire to have a second child. My heart just bubbled over with intense joy and I started pouring out tears. My chest was filled to capacity and it was literally overwhelming the emotion that it brought. That emotion was pure joy. Perhaps it was because of my pregnant hormonally driven state that I experienced it in such an overwhelming way. In any case, it reminds me that joy can be found in knowing and trusting Jesus Christ. I remember when I first came to believe in Christ and understood that I was forgiven in my heart. I grew up believing in my head but was missing the heart piece. When I found that, I was “hot” for Jesus. I wanted to learn all I could. That was motivated by the joy of knowing the gift I had finally connected with in my heart of being forgiven. The initial joy re-visits me often in worship when we are confessing or just singing our praises. I think of the awesome gift of Jesus and am overwhelmed with joy that I with all my sins am a recipient of such an amazing gift.
Phillipians 3:8 Even more, I consider everything to be nothing compared to knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. To know him is the best thing of all. (New International Reader’s Version)

Friday, December 28, 2012

365 Days of Spirit-Filled Fruits Challenge-Day 34

This scripture in Psalms reminds me of how I have managed to have some self-control over the cookies, candies and rich foods of the past month. I think I have finally managed to find my sweet spot. No pun intended. It’s that place where you can have your fats and sweets in the right amount of quantities that won’t make the scale go up and your attitude go down. I can sing with joy and be glad that the Lord has helped me overcome the eating enemy. God didn’t intend for us to not be able to partake of these food treasures but he doesn’t want us worshipping them either. I know my focus being more on the Lord thanks to doing this blog among other things has definitely been the help I needed to overcome the sweet tooth. Now I will have to pass on this blessing and joy to my daughter who has gigantic sweet tooth. Not sure how to go about helping her overcome her sweet tooth but I am sure the Lord will guide me and I know the first and foremost thing will be to take it to Him in prayer.
Psalms 63:5-7 My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food, and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips, when I remember you upon my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night; for you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

365 Days of Spirit-Filled Fruits Challenge-Day 33

In the next couple weeks I am going to be looking at the fruit of the spirit, joy. This time of year seems to be the most joyful time of year. Hmmmm, I wonder why? No, seriously we have so much to be joyous about when it comes to celebrating Christmas but this joy needs to be within us throughout the year, not just in December. I guess reality sets back in. You have to go back to work, clean-up the mess in your house, deal with incoming bills, getting sick and all kinds of trouble that will come our way. The bible tells us just because we believe doesn’t mean we won’t face trials in our life. We aren’t immune to the effects of life on Earth as human beings. I have struggled with being joyful in the midst of pain that comes from the after effects of my shoulder surgery. The healing process can be painfully slow but thankfully I feel progress so when I have a particularly bad day I have that hope. Jesus’ half brother James wrote about thinking of our trials as pure joy. Our trials are the catalyst of change. They will help strengthen us and mature us and they will lead to our completion. Think of yourself as a lump of clay and God is working you into a beautiful sculpture. Having joy when you feel depressed, down or angry about life is a challenge that we cannot overcome on our own. We have to call on the Holy Spirit to help us have this fruit especially when those trials hit us in the face. In the trials that lie ahead of us in the coming year, try to remember to call on the Holy Spirit to give you all that you need, especially joy. I will make a prayer card to have at work when I face a lot of my trials so that I will be prepared.
Holy Spirit, The stuff I am facing now is too hard for me to bare on my own. I need your help. Help me to be filled with joy despite what may be happening in my life. Let me have a smile in my heart that God is masterfully working his creation into a beautiful sculpture. With You All Things Are Possible!  Amen.
James 1:2-4 My brothers and sisters, you will face all kinds of trouble. When you do, think of is as pure joy. Your faith will be put to the test. You know that when that happens it will produce in you the strength to continue. The strength to keep going must be allowed to finish its work. Then you will be all you should be. You will have everything you need.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

365 Days of Spirit-Filled Fruits Challenge-Day 32

I read a book over the last couple days called Crossroads by William Paul Young the writer of the well-known book The Shack. The Shack was so enthralling a story that I knew I had to get and read this newest book. I wasn’t disappointed! I don’t want to give away the whole story but suffice it to say it takes you through a journey of one person who because of the suffering in his life built up walls and hated God. On the journey he learns about himself, God and love and tears down the walls with forgiveness and grace and learns to love like Jesus. If you love page-turner kinds of books, this is one you must read! It really demonstrates all the key points in learning to love: forgiveness, letting go, other-centered vs self-centered, acceptance, not on your own but with the help of Jesus and so on. I know I will be reading this book again and again. Praising God for his unfathomable love for us and the gift of this writer who wrote a story that shares with us the power of love.
John 15:13 Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

365 Days of Spirit-Filled Fruits Challenge-Day 31

Merry Christmas! It has been a wonderfully relaxed Christmas morning. My kids are the not normal! We are up before them. They weren’t even in hurry up mode once they got up. We had our traditional special breakfast. This time my daughter helped me make a new French toast recipe using Nutella. It was delicious. My son said he loves me when I produced his own carton of egg nog which he proceeded to drink straight from the carton.
My thoughts keep going back to last evening and the sermon Pastor Graham Baird gave for the Christmas Eve service.  We have heard the nativity story over and over again throughout our lives but God in his infinite wisdom showed me once again that we can be shown new things from the same thing we have heard or read over and over again. Our pastor told us in his humorous way of what happened to him recently when his car broke down again. The story goes like this: Car breaks down, disheveled looking man comes by and says he can fix, starts to fix, wife of man says needs to get cough syrup, pastor walks wife to Walgreens a few blocks down and buys the cough syrup because she has no money, man drives car over to Walgreens and it is running spectacularly. Couple walks away and goes and starts to camp out under an overhead bridge. Pastor who just wanted to get home, knows God is up to something so goes over and gets couple and takes to motel. At motel he prays over them and woman ends up in tears because she said she hasn’t been prayed for like that since she was a little girl. Pastor was not in the mood for interruptions or unexpected things coming up; he just wanted to get home to his family but God led him down another route that provided the light of Jesus for this down and out couple. Pastor connects his story to the part in the nativity story when the wise men come and worship the Jesus and than because of a dream decide to take another route home. God will put things along our path that will be kind of like a detour sign. Follow the detour sign and let God do his thing! Just like the wise men, this will happen to us throughout our lives. God will put a little detour sign up and we must follow his light and the new route he is taking us on. May the love and light of Jesus guide your steps.

Matthew 2:11-12 The Wise Men went to the house. There they saw the child with his mother Mary.  They bowed down and worshipped him.  Then they opened their treasures. They gave him gold, incense and myrrh. But God warned them in a dream (detour sign) not to go back to Herod. So they returned to their county on a different road.

Monday, December 24, 2012

365 Days of Spirit-Filled Fruits Challenge-Day 30

Our sermon series at church for Advent has been on Isaiah 9:6 A child will be born to us, he will rule over us. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father and Prince of Peace. Our former senior pastor John Stevens gave the sermon about the fourth name in this scripture: Prince of Peace. He made it clear that Jesus is the only way to get the peace that our hearts desire. We often will resort to our human condition and try to find peace in other ways but true peace can only be achieved with Jesus in our hearts. As I prepared to write up something this morning, I was watching Fox News channel and heard what happened to Father Jonathan Morris who is a regular on Fox News. He had gone to visit an 80 year old man who was dying just the day before. As had become a tradition for him, on the way out he asked the nurses if there was anyone who had no family or friends, nobody visiting. The nurses were hesitant but with his request they took him to see another man aged 45 dying of some horrible disease. The second he entered the room that man became very agitated. The nurses urged him to just leave but he took a step closer and the man got really angry. Instead of giving up, he took a step closer and the man got even angrier. He prayed to Jesus for help and ended up on his knees with his hands put together in prayer. Immediately, the man calmed down and repeated the words Father Morris had said, “Jesus knows me and loves me”.  The man was filled with peace and ended up praying a prayer the Father was amazed by. That is the power of the love of Jesus. When all else had failed to give comfort and peace to this dying man, the Prince of Peace showed himself in Father Morris in the simple act of being on his knees with his hands in prayer. The love of Jesus brings peace and so much more. May you find his love for you and realize that he knows you, knows what you are going through and loves you with an unfathomable love.

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

365 Days of Spirit-Filled Fruits Challenge-Day 29

I have heard this song on the radio recently and just love it. It is my prayer in song of what love can be within me with the Lord’s help. The Proof of Your Love is the name of the song by for King and Country. Here is a link to the official music video on YouTube:  Here are some words from the song I keep singing in my head: Let my life be the proof, the proof of your love. Let my love look like you and what your made of. How you lived, how you died. Love is sacrifice. So, let my life be the proof of your love. The song indicates that we are nothing without love. Bankrupt. Because love is everything, the central part of who we are and can be, it should be our number one focus everyday. My goal is to sing this song everyday and pray these words and let God’s love shine through me. Take a moment and listen to the song and really hear the words with your heart.
John 13:34 “I give you a new command. Love one another. You must love another, just as I have loved you. If you love one another, everyone will know you are my disciples.”

Saturday, December 22, 2012

365 Days of Spirit-Filled Fruits Challenge-Day 28

My brother and sister-in-law adopted not one but two children a few years ago. They have struggled over the last couple of years with issues that each of the girls has but have shown an amazing amount of perseverance and strength that comes from their love. This love they have for their adopted children and biological children is the same, unconditional.  The adopted girls are a part of the family. God has adopted us into his family. His love was so great that he sent his only son to earth to dwell among us, teach us and become an example for us of love. Love is sacrifice. My brother and sister-in-law could have gone on with their lives with their two boys but because they love God, they did what he called them to do in adopting these two girls. This has been a tremendous sacrifice for them as a family. But there will be un-told blessings because of their love and sacrifice. God sacrificed his son in love for us. Jesus sacrificed himself in love for the Father and us. We too must learn to sacrifice in order to fully love. Whether it be a sacrifice of time, control or whatever, it needs to be done with a heart of love not a heart of bitterness, frustration or anger. What can you sacrifice that will show your love for your family, friends and neighbors? Holy Spirit, give us a desire to live in love and show our love through sacrfice. Amen.

1 John 3:1  See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.

Friday, December 21, 2012

365 Days of Spirit-Filled Fruits Challenge-Day 27

Wednesday I was in a grumpy mood. The physical therapy from the night before was doing a number on me in not just the surgery area but the rest of my shoulder and arms. I got a burning sensation that wouldn’t go away. And to make matters worse, I had a hot flash during the day that left me feeling more awful. I was ready to just take some medication, go to bed and pray that when I woke up it would be better. My daughter who is always so full of joy is extra enthusiastic with the approach of Christmas coming and I was starting to be cross with her about something but I managed to stop myself and went over and gave her a big hug and told her that I was really grumpy and I wanted to give her some love now before the “grumpies” took over. They didn’t take over! She hugged me right back and wouldn’t let go and said her own words of encouragement to me. Love conquered the “grumpies”! So when you feel like yelling at someone, or getting in someone’s face, or frustrated with someone, I hope and pray you can do like I did the other night and stop yourself and give some love instead. It really is an experience that you will be completely blessed by. You will have the concrete evidence in your own life that love conquers all.
Luke 6:31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

365 Days of Spirit-Filled Fruits Challenge-Day 26

I had to take off 8 days of work for my shoulder surgery. My first thought was there goes Christmas but as I got through those days and had to start telling my daughter no can’t buy this or that because I don’t have any money, I found that this is a blessing in disguise.  Although our Christmas may be with less stuff, it will still be filled with family and our time together. Christmas gift giving should be done with love but tempered with some self-control. So, this Christmas God has given me the blessing of forcing me to have self-control in shopping for stuff for my family. Christmas is about God’s love and I am thankful to God for helping me keep that focus. God’s love is all we need and everything else is just icing on the cake that he blesses us with.

Matthew 6:24-25  ”No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.  “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

I got this wonderful poem in my inbox and had to share it. May this remind you today that though our world is filled with darkness, the light and love of Jesus is still here.  May you be washed over in his light today and all your days to come.

twas' 11 days before Christmas, around 9:38
when 20 beautiful children stormed through heaven's gate.
Their smiles were contagious, their laughter filled the air
They could hardly believe all the beauty they saw there.
They were filled with such joy, they didn't know what to say.
They remembered nothing of what had happened earlier that day.
"Where are we?" asked a little girl, as quiet as a mouse.
"This is heaven." declared a small boy. "We’re spending Christmas at God's house." when what to their wondering eyes did appear,
but Jesus, their savior, the children gathered near.
He looked at them and smiled, and they smiled just the same.
Then He opened His arms and He called them by name.
And in that moment was joy, that only heaven can bring
those children all flew into the arms of their King
and as they lingered in the warmth of His embrace,
one small girl turned and looked at Jesus' face.
And as if He could read all the questions she had
He gently whispered to her, "I'll take care of mom and dad."
then He looked down on earth, the world far below
He saw all of the hurt, the sorrow, and woe
then He closed His eyes and He outstretched His hand,
"Let My power and presence re-enter this land!"
"may this country be delivered from the hands of fools"
"I'm taking back my nation. I'm taking back my schools!"
then He and the children stood up without a sound.
"Come now my children, let me show you around."
excitement filled the space, some skipped and some ran.
All displaying enthusiasm that only a small child can.
And i heard Him proclaim as He walked out of sight,
"in the midst of this darkness, I AM STILL THE LIGHT."

Written by Cameo Smith, Mt. Wolf, PA

Zephaniah 3:17 The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

365 Days of Spirit-Filled Fruits Challenge-Day 24

My bible study group gathered last evening over a potluck dinner and discussed the second in a series of fictional books. During our discussion, it was brought up how a teacher of one of the ladies grown children had come up with a positive phrase about each child in the class and she brought these up everyday throughout the year. We discussed how awesome that would be if that could happen to all of us in our workplaces, families, neighborhoods, etc. This building up another person with encouraging words is an act of love. What a world this would be if everyone every day just said some encouraging building-up words to just one person! One of my prominent spiritual gifts is encouragement so this is fairly easy for me but I am still going to set a goal for myself to do this with purpose and intention each day. I am around my co-workers and my family the most so I will pick one person for each day from both groups and make sure I have said at least one encouraging word, one thing that will build up that person, one thing to let them know they are loved. Who can you say encouraging words to today?
Tip: try setting an alert on your phone to remind you of building someone up today or any goals you have.

1 Thessalonians 5:11
So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.

Monday, December 17, 2012

365 Days of Spirit-Filled Fruits Challenge-Day 23

I spoke a bit with a co-worker who called me yesterday to ask about how to do something for which she has been given the task to do at work. She, like I think most of us at work, is struggling with the negativity she feels towards our boss and the culture from which he is from which is so different from ours. I told her that I struggled with it too and looked to God’s word and was reminded that God loves all of us and Jesus calls us to love not just the easy to love but the hard to love. I have found that by simply praying for my boss that the negativity has diminished and I am remembering him more as a human being that God created. With my first day back to work today since being off for my shoulder surgery, I am going to start a daily prayer for my boss and other people I work for that trigger negative emotions and keep my focus on what Jesus calls us to do in loving all our neighbors. We don’t have to like what they do and say but we have to love them as God loves them and all of us.
Job 34:19 who shows no partiality to princes, nor regards the rich more than the poor, for they are all the work of his hands?

Sunday, December 16, 2012

365 Days of Spirit-Filled Fruits Challenge-Day 22

This last verse of 1 Corinthians 13 is probably one of the most known: And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. My home, like many homes, has these three words displayed in a decorative way. I picked mine up at a garage sale and was thrilled to get them for only a couple of bucks and got them up on the wall at home as soon as possible. I am so a “word” person so having them on my wall meant so much. It is not only a reminder to me but my family and everyone who comes into our home.  These three words are the core of our Christian faith with love being the absolute central part that everything else revolves around. If something seems amiss in your life or you are feeling stuck, take a look at the core of you and your beliefs. Is love shinning out of your center? Or has it been pushed outward and has sin taken root in your center? Just as the Sun is the key to our solar system and our life on Earth, love is the key to our relationships with each other and our amazing God. Have you ever looked up the word “love” in the concordance of your bible. There are over 300 verses regarding love. Love is the most written about topic in the bible. Love is everything. God is love.
1 John 4:16b God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

365 Days of Spirit-Filled Fruits Challenge-Day 21

The remainder of verses 8,9, 10, 11 and 12 in 1 Corinthians 13 require a lot more study than I have been able to put into it thus far. But from a commentary I found on-line at I have discovered that, #1, we have to take these verses within the whole context of the letter written to Corinth by Paul and, #2, the basic summary of it is this: nothing compares to love, not any possible spiritual gifts we may have, nothing. Love is the road to spiritual maturity and perfection in our relationship with God. That being said, we have to again call upon the Holy Spirit within us to help us remember that love is the primary thing that God wants us to have for Him and all other people. Without love, we have nothing and our relationship to God is not as it can be. We have to be seeking, praying about and giving love everyday. Here is my daily prayer to help me focus on my love for God and my love of others (please use and or make one in your own words):
  Heavenly Father, You are the perfection of love. Help me to cultivate a daily attitude of love for you and all peoples. Have the Holy Spirit within me, remind me that without love I have nothing and with love I will gain in my perfection and relationship with You. With the God of Love All Things Are Possible. Amen.  

In the wake of the very tragic school shooting in CT, I believe we are called to love all people, even those that would do the unimaginable and kill children. In watching some of the comments on the news from psychologists, I find they focus on the probable mental problems this young man may have had, but the simple truth is this was a very tragic call for help from someone who was probably filled with pain, hurt, anger and did not have a connection to God. In what little I have learned thus far in my goal to be a Christian counselor/life coach is that we are made up of three things: physical, emotional and spiritual. Modern day psychology will leave out the spiritual aspect that is a key part of who we are and who God created us to be. My heart aches for the loved ones that have to endure this tragic loss but my prayer is they will find forgiveness and love for the shooter and that they will be at peace knowing that God will bring good from this.

Matthew 5:43-48  You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,  so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.  For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?  You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

God loves you just the way you are, but He refuses to leave you that way. He wants you to be just like Jesus. – Max Lucado

Friday, December 14, 2012

365 Days of Spirit-Filled Fruits Challenge-Day 20

I am looking at the beginning of verse 8 in 1 Corinthians 13 today: Love never fails.
The opposite in my mind of failure is success. In looking up the definition of failure, I am particularly looking at this definition I found: The condition or fact of not achieving the desired end or ends.  When it comes to love, what is the end-result that God wants for us? Are we loving everyone with all the aspects of love we have looked at: patience, kindness, without envy, boasting or pride, without anger, or totaling up the wrongs, not delighting in evil, rejoicing in the truth, protecting, trusting, hoping and persevering? That is a very tall order but each day we can achieve more and more of these aspects in loving others and grow to love others as Jesus loves us. Will the end-result happen? Maybe on some days and maybe we can grow in our consistency? Love never failing points to perfect love which is only seen in our perfect God but though we cannot reach that point of perfection, we can continue daily to try to achieve a little bit more towards that end. Yes, we will fail but that is the most important reason why we teach our children about God’s perfect love for them and us. God’s love will never fail us and it is our hope when those people in our lives do not live up to this end-result. We have to accept this failing part of who we are and ask the Holy Spirit to give us what we need to love without failing. We have to let go of the past and focus on loving today always remembering that the Holy Spirit in us will give us what we need. Just ask.
Acts 2:38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

365 Days of Spirit-Filled Fruits Challenge-Day 19

My focus today is on verse 7 in 1 Corinthians 13: It (love) always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. These aspects of love are by far the most challenging. The word, “always” makes this the challenging part. I think when it comes to protection, keeping my kids safe has been a top priority but that is in the physical sense. Have I kept them safe from emotional strife and helped build a solid faith foundation in them so they are protected spiritually? I know I have tried but consistency is tough. Always trusting is a fairly easy one for me because it is in my nature to be trusting but have there been times where the trust is lacking even a little, absolutely. I wish I could say that I am always hopeful but even my hopes can be drowned out or covered with the dirt of day to day living and the depression and negativity that can bring. Persevering means never giving up but I think all of us have experienced those moments when you just want to lay down and sleep your life away rather than face the challenges you are in. Can we be protective, trusting, hopeful and persevere no matter what? We can do all things with the Holy Spirit inside us.  How can we manage to get the “always” to be in front of these? Try swapping “it” (love) with your name or “I”. Janine (I) always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres thanks to the Holy Spirit inside of her (me). Amen! Post it and say it everyday and you will find yourself living out the “always” parts of love.
Psalm 91:1 The person who rests in the shadow of the Most High God will be kept safe by the Mighty One.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

365 Days of Spirit-Filled Fruits Challenge-Day 18

Today I am looking at verse 6 from 1 Corinthians 13: Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. I think this verse is specifically talking about the relationships we have with others and what we do when we are witness to our friend, co-worker, spouse or neighbor sinning. You have heard the saying about a true friend will tell you the truth. Love and honesty go hand-in-hand. If you really love someone, you cannot turn the other cheek as they sin right before your eyes. Of course, every situation is different and will call for specific actions based on the situation but the core part of our motivation is because we love. Now, some sins like gossiping in the office, can be taken care of with a gentle reminder that we shouldn’t be talking negatively behind someone’s back but other situations may need a more assertive approach and still other situations all you can really do is express your love and concern and pray for that person.  Loving someone with truth is not easy. Noboby likes confrontation of any kind but with the Holy Spirit’s help we can overcome the tendency to not say anything, to turn the other cheek, to walk away from the situation and face it with all the love God has for us.
Holy Spirit,
Without you, we are but shells but with you and your fruits we can be all that God wants us to be and become more and more like Jesus. You alone can give us the love we need that will not delight in evil but will face it with love and truth. May we be guided by this love today and be a light for those around us who need guidance, mercy and love. With You All Things Are Possible! Amen.
Ephesians 4:29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

365 Days of Spirit-Filled Fruits Challenge-Day 17

The next part of the phrase in 1 Corinthians 13: 4-13 is “it (love) keeps no record of wrongs”. I keep thinking of a judge looking at a list of crimes with the defendant standing before him. I hope that there aren’t people out there like that who hold our sins over us but we are only human. I don’t necessarily think that it’s that you remember the sins but that those wrongs are still affecting you in a negative way especially towards the sinner. Sins aren’t going to be erased from our memories but with the Holy Spirit we can erase the negative affects through grace and mercy.
If you harbor any memories of sins against you that bring a bad taste to your mouth, perhaps it is time for some Holy Spirit mouthwash. Let the Holy Spirit help you to have mercy and grace for those who have sinned against you. And as Jesus tells us, it is not about the number of times we forgive someone but that we do.

Matthew 18:22 Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.

Monday, December 10, 2012

365 Days of Spirit-Filled Fruits Challenge-Day 16

Do you know someone that you have never or very rarely seen angry? It is possible but it seems we live with anger all around us. Anger at the government for not doing their job and taking more of our hard-earned money from us. Anger at schools for not educating our children in the best way possible. Anger at our employers for wanting more from us but not giving us anything in return. Anger at America for voting off the wrong singer on The Voice. Yes, it is everywhere and for everything. So how do we overcome all the anger around us and keep us from being angry too? Only the Holy Spirit can do the job but we have to ask for help everyday to be able to live a life of joy, peace and forgiveness; a life of praise, worship and prayer. The antidote for anger is thanksgiving. I think it is said best in one of my favorite scriptures:  Phillipians 4: 4-7 Always be joyful because you belong to the Lord. I will say it again. Be joyful. Let everyone know how gentle you are. The Lord is coming soon. Don’t worry about anything. Instead, tell God about everything. Ask and pray. Give thanks to him. Then God’s peace will wash over your hearts and your minds because you belong to Christ Jesus. God’s peace can never be completely understood.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

365 Days of Spirit-Filled Fruits Challenge-Day 15

Okay, so this next one in 1 Corithinians 13: 4-13, I think is driving home the main point of all of these regarding selfishness. Love is not self-seeking. Being self-seeking is taking advantage of opportunities without regard for others, pursuing only one’s own ends or interests, exhibiting concern only with promoting one’s own ends or interests. We keep coming back to this core sin of selfishness. My favorite phrase is “it’s not about me”. If our goals and our dreams are for ourselves than we are not obeying God and doing what he wants us to do. Ultimately, our goals have to have God as the main priority. Everything we do is to glorify Him, to bring those lost closer to being found and to foster our relationship with God through prayer, study and worship. We have to often ask ourselves, I am doing this for the Lord or is this for myself? It will be that time of year soon when most people will set new goals for a new year. In thinking about those goals, keep in mind that it is not about you but about God working through you. Become God-thinking and other-thinking.

Matthew 5:16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

365 Days of Spirit-Filled Fruits Challenge-Day 14

Love is not rude. When I think of that word I think of a belligerent drunk guy making his way through a bar full of people making obnoxious and disrespectful comments. But being rude, like anything, can seem more subtle. It may look like a person who quietly shows no courtesy simply by not speaking at all when a “thank you” is called for. Respect and courtesy and politeness seem to be the opposite of rude so that is what we should be striving for in our daily lives. Are we respectful, polite and courteous to all we encounter not matter the situation? If you really think about it, you will truthfully be able to say “no, I am not”. So we go back to prayer in asking the Holy Spirit to give us a heart that is respectful and polite, that will show courtesy to others. With the Holy Spirit within us, we can do it.  Just ask.
Romans 12:10 "Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves"

Friday, December 7, 2012

365 Days of Spirit-Filled Fruits Challenge

In looking up the next two words in the 1 Corintians 13:4-13 scripture, I had an assumption that they both go hand-n-hand. The words are boast and pride. “It (love) does not boast, it is not proud.”  Boasting is really pride being verbalized. It is tooting our own horn, bragging about ourselves, our achievements or our possessions, and it self-satisfaction. Once again, we are back to the core of our sins being selfishness. How do we change what is basic nature for us? Only the Holy Spirit can help us change from self-centered to other-centered. Our prayers need to focus on others.

Dear Daddy,
You created each of to be a unique part of your plan. It was never meant to be a one-person show. Help us to take ourseleves out of the equation and see that it is a combination of all of us working together to build up your kingdom. Today I pray for (insert name).Guide, protect and let him/her feel your presence. I am praying you will help them with whatever is weighing on their hearts.
With You All Things Are Possible. Amen.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

365 Days of Spirit-Filled Fruits Challenge

This will be a short one since my shoulder surgery was yesterday and I have only one hand to use. The next word I am looking into in the scripture 1Corinthians 13:4-13 is envy. In looking through some definitions of envy on google, I realized that this sin can manifest itself like the green-eyed monster but can also be so subtle you don’t realize what you are feeling is a sin. I had struggled with this with my envy of other women and there ability to communicate well in a social situation. The insecurities of my slower auditory thought processing had me wishing I could process what I am hearing quicker so I could keep up with the conversation going on. I was thinking only of myself and my issues instead being other-thinking. This last year doing this blog and the praises challenge had me in God’s Word everyday. With His help, I have conquered this sin and come to a place of peace and contentment of who God created in me. The Holy Spirit has given me the wisdom I needed to understand this subtle sin and wash it away. Does it creep back in me? Yes, because the evil one will do anything and everything to draw you away from God. So, let us pray.
Holy One, We are so thankful for the guidance you give. Help us today to find the wisdom we need in your Word or through our prayers to discern the subtle sins that the devil tries to get into us. Help us today to conquer the sin of envy and be at peace with who you created us to be.

Exodus 20:17
“You shall not covet your neighbor's house; you shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor's.”

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

365 Days of Spirit-Filled Fruits Challenge-Day 11

Today I am looking at the love being “kind”. At first I thought I wasn’t really going to get much about this little word but my expectations were wrong again. Kindness is the act or state of being kind, being marked by good and charitable behavior, pleasant disposition and concern for others. It is considered one of the seven virtues in the bible that counteract the seven deadly sins. Kindness counteracts envy. I think the core part of being kind to others is being selfless, is taking yourself out of the equation and looking only at the person/people in front of you. Have you ever done an act of kindness for someone just because? This is a selfless demonstration of love. These acts of kindness don’t have to be about spending money on someone. It can be that a friend could use some of your time on the phone to talk or a co-worker could use a little sounding board to get off some steam. I am working on the more and more at my job. I am a focus-driven worker so I can go and go and not come up for air until my bladder says time to get up and move it to the bathroom quick. I have been lately taking the time to talk a little more with my co-workers when I encounter them in the break room rather than just barreling off back to my desk and my work. Taking the time to talk with one another not only gives kindness to the person but gives you a sense of peace as well. So look at your day and take the time to smile and start a conversation with the grocery clerk, smile and say some kind words to the telemarketer who is calling you right in the middle of dinner, smile and do something your husband normally does like take out the trash.
1 Peter 4:8
Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

365 Days of Spirit-Filled Fruits Challenge-Day 10

For the next week or so I am going to pick apart and study the famous wedding scripture 1 Corinthians 13:4-13. When I did my two read-the-bible-in-a-year stints on-line with other family members several years ago, one thing that I found that helped me understand the scripture I was reading sink in was to focus on a word that stood out. In that same thinking, I will focus on the little pieces throughout this scripture and really look at them in depth. The first word study will be on patience. It is always amazing to me to look up a definition of a word and get it put into other words that make you go ah-ha. Patience: the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset; the quality of being patient, as the bearing of provocation, annoyance, misfortune or pain, without complaint, loss of temper or irritation or the like. Some good synonyms for patience are long-suffering, resignation, forbearance. I think that being a parent has probably taught me the most when it comes to patience and I am pretty sure most all parents out there would agree. Parenting is a lot of sacrifice that I think we aren’t prepared for. I can remember when my daughter was learning to use the toilet. My expectations were really high because I thought her being a girl and from all that I heard girls just got through this easier. Well, that was far from what happened with my darling girl. It was a long-suffering battle of my expectations not being met and cleaning up after the mess. I can look back and see how my patience was worn so thin and there were times that like a volcano I didn’t totally blow but I let off some steam. My daughter is sensitivity and my yelling greatly affected her. I prayed for patience with her even though my mother-in-law always told me never to pray for patience because than you would really need it. But being patient with others is a piece that shows your love for them. If you are losing your temper, yelling at your kids or husband or complaining about how you can’t take it anymore, than it is time to pray, pray, pray. What you need is patience and the Holy Spirit has that to give you! Look to Jesus as the ultimate example of patience.

King Jesus, you are the perfector of patience. Help me to look to you and the Word of God when I am about to blow-up with anger. Remind me that being patient with one another shows my love. With You All Things Are Possible, Amen.

1 Timothy 1:16 But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life.

Monday, December 3, 2012

365 Days of Spirit-Filled Fruits Challenge-Day 9

The core part of who we should be is love. Without love, the rest of the fruits the spirit gives us are nothing. I learned this way back before I met my husband. I reached the bottom and my life was a mess so I sought some counseling. Now counseling when you are working 3 jobs just to survive is a one shot kind of thing. Thankfully, the counselor I saw understood my predicament and how much I wanted to figure out what my problem was. She suggested a book and even gave the copy to me. It was a good jumping off point and my creative side to me took over. I capitalized on an idea in the book and made it my own way. I wrote “I am statements” about myself and than wrote each one on a single sheet of paper and took each paper/statement and on a wall placed them where I felt they were in terms of importance. The center or core is the most important and moving outward less and less important. My problem was a negative statement right in my core. I am a sex object. How that ended up in my core is a long story but to speed up the point of my story, I began a course of positive affirmations to help me move that negative out of my core and off my wall completely. At this time, I also hooked up with a little Episcopal church. Through prayer and words heard at church, I realized my core needed to be what God saw me as. So, I came up with my new core that I would at some point believe. I am unique. I am special. I am Human. I didn’t connect all three to God until later but in the end the core part of me is knowing I am loved by God. Our sermon yesterday was the beginning of a series on Isaiah 9:6 and specifically about the name “Wonderful Counselor”. Our pastor reiterated my belief today that the main thing we need to take from our Wonderful Counselor is that we are loved and accepted.  If you are not feeling this in your core, than get yourself in the Word and pray that God will help you to truly believe in how much he loves you.

1Corinthians 13:1-3 If I speak in the tongues of mean and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I posses to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

365 Days of Spirit-Filled Fruits Challenge-Day 8

Demonstrating love comes in many forms; surprising a friend with an unexpected gift, a hug for a co-worker, doing a chore for a family member so they don’t have to, spending quality time with anyone. How do we demonstrate our love for God? It is definitely by loving others like in the examples above but also by obeying God. To obey means complying with the command, direction and request of an authority. We must submit to the authority of God. If he tells us to love others as we love ourselves, than we should comply with His directive. But we all know from trying to obey authorities here in our world like the government, police or our boss; that sometimes the compliance doesn’t happen, it is challenging or comes but with a price. Obedience to God has its own challenges, especially if you are not in the Word of God regularly, worshiping with other believers and generally open to hearing God’s voice in everything. We do have to discern what is it that God wants versus what this world wants or what we want. Thankfully, we have Jesus who has overcome. With the help of the Holy Spirit, we can have that discernment to know the voice of God and be able to comply with His requests but it is something we need to pray for everyday.
Father God, you are the ultimate authority figure for us. Forgive me for not listening to your command, for not discerning what you want for me to do, for not loving you and others as I should. I do not have it within me to do it so I ask the Holy Spirit to open my heart today to see you and hear you, to know what your will for me is and to love you and others like there’s no tomorrow. With you all things are possible. Amen.  
1 John 3-5 This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

365 Days of Spirit-Filled Fruits Challenge-Day 7

You know the phrase “love is blind”?  This phrase came to my mind early this morning as I was tossing around in bed trying to go back to sleep and catch a few more zzz’s.  But my brain had to think more on it, so here I am writing about it rather than sleeping in.  This “love is blind” phrase refers to being so in love that you don’t see a person’s faults or differences. So does this phrase apply to loving God? I say, yes it does. Now God has no faults, he is perfect; so it is not a being blinded to this kind of thing but rather being blind in love towards God is letting go of all the unanswerable questions that the devil wants to plague you with that will make you question God and his love.  So if we are truly filled with love from the Holy Spirit, we should be “blind” to these unanswerable questions and love God with faith. So if those questions have been coming to your mind; the why would God…questions, than it is time to pray and focus on love and faith asking for the Holy Spirit to fill you up so much so that those questions don’t matter. 

Father, I am sorry that questions about who you are and what you do put a wedge between us.  Your love for me is without question. You love me no matter what. You have a blind-faith kind of love for me. I want to have that kind of love for you.  Holy Spirit, fill me up with such love that all the unanswerable questions are banished from my mind and only love for my awesome God is throughout me body, soul and spirit. With you all things are possible. Amen.

Romans 8:37-39 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.