Motivation for Your Monday is Back! Happy 2019!

MS Lowndes poem

 

Happy New Year’s Eve 2019 Friend!  I pray that this year brings you closer to our Heavenly Father.  In January I will be writing about hearing from God.  I hope you will join me.  I am also super excited to get this year rolling as God has placed a few messages on my heart I feel blessed to share with you.

Praying your first week of 2019 is blessed to the fullest!

Look Up, Let Go, Live Joy!

Jane Ann

6 Mighty Verses To Meditate On This Thanksgiving Season

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Meditating on scripture is a great way to make us slow ourselves down and be still with God.  When we take the time to meditate on God’s Word, we discover the meaning and how we can apply God’s wisdom and discernment in our daily lives.

“How does one meditate on scripture?”, you might ask. There are no right or wrong ways to meditate on Bible verses, like exercising, you just have to start.

A few ways I enjoy meditating on scripture are:

  1. Reading through the passage 3 times slowly.
  2. Write the verse in a journal.
  3. Rewrite the verse in first person using the pronouns I, me, and my.
  4. Circle or highlight important words or words that stand out in the verse.
  5. Praying the verse back to God.

There are tons and tons of other ways to meditate on scripture.  Verse mapping is another great way, I will be posting a blog in January on this concept.

What a better season than Thanksgiving to start (or if you are already meditating on scripture) trying a few ways to let God’s word soak into our souls.  Here are 5 mighty verses of Thanksgiving for you to focus on this month.

2 Corinthians 4:15:  All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.

Psalm 9:1:  I will give thanks to you, LORD, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.

1 Thessalonians 5:18: Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Psalm 28:7:  The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him.

2 Corinthians 9:11:  You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.

What other verses of Thanksgiving do you love?  Share them in the comments.

Happy meditating.  May you be blessed with God’s grace and love as you spend time in His word and live the Joy that He so graciously gives us through is Word and Holy Spirit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Teaching Our Children to Imitate Good

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If you ask me the question, “Can Christians celebrate Halloween?”, my answer would be a resounding, ” Yes, of course they can.”  Growing up in Central Indiana in the 70’s, Halloween was one of the most fun times of the year.  My friends and I would rush home from our neighborhood school, Central Elementary (Go Stars!) and immediately  get dressed in our home-made costumes with the plastic character masks bought from K-Mart or the grocery store. The ones that had super tiny eye and nose holes you could hardly see through or breath out of.  I am sure we drove our parents nuts running around waiting for the street lights to pop on, signaling the start of “Trick-Or Treating”.  Now, back then it was all about the treating, because if we were ever caught tricking we were in big trouble.   We can teach our children to imitate good by following Jesus, and what better time to do that than Halloween.

My answer to celebrating Halloween as a Christian is a resounding yes is for a few reasons which are found in 3 John 1:11, “Beloved, do not imitate evil but imitate good. Whoever does good is from God; whoever does evil has not seen God.”

First of all, to throw in a little History lesson, Halloween started as a Christian holiday, the eve of All-Saints Day, November 1.It is also the celebration of The Reformation which is a specific time in history where Martin Luther is celebrated for winning religious freedom.  Both of these are truths, which I would have to say are good things. (And so did BillyGraham.org)

I also believe as a child of God, raised in a Christian home that celebrated Halloween, we might have said, “Trick-Or-Treat” as our neighbors answered the door, but we didn’t really mean the “trick” part.  I mentioned earlier that if we were ever caught “tricking” we were in big trouble.  That was a true statement. (And those of you that follow my blog regularly know so does my mom, she’ll vouch for that statement I am sure in the comments). Our parents just taught us this was a fun night, to go out with friends, get candy and treats from our neighbors, and stay up just a little later than usual.  It was safe. Everyone knew their neighbors.  Yes there were some stingy treat givers, but no one cared.  We were happy-go-lucky kids having fun.  Our neighbors were giving good candy with smiles on their faces.

I was taught to “imitate good”. And as a Christian parent I taught my son the same ways my parents taught me about Halloween.  When my son was growing up in the early 2000’s we lived in a great neighborhood in McKinney, TX.  with amazing neighbors.  We took our kids around the block, door to door in their cute costumes “trick-or-treating”. No mischief here.  Just lots of smiles, laughs, and fun.

I believe as Christian parents when it comes to deciding if you are going to celebrate Halloween with your children is obviously a personal decision.  If, like me you do choose to celebrate keep 3 John 1:11 in mind and teach our children and grandchildren to imitate good.

Imitate Good:  Teach your children there really are no tricks, it’s just a saying.

Imitate Good: You can choose costumes that are positive characters not evil ones.

Imitate Good: Get to know your neighbors, have a Halloween block party that is alcohol   free and safe and fun for everyone.

Imitate Good: This is a great time to share the Word of God, invite unchurched                    neighbors to visit your church, or hand out Christian coloring sheets with                            candy.

Whatever your family chooses to do tonight, be safe, imitate good and have fun!  And kids, share a little candy with mom and dad, and grandma and grandpa!

Love and Light,

Jane Ann

PS, I am adding this here because I do understand we are not living in a world like it was in the 70’s.  Please parents, I hate to say it, but check your kids candy before they take a bite.  It pains me that we have to do this, to think that there are people who would want to harm our precious children and grandchildren.  These are the ones that have not seen God, these are the people we need to reach.  Imitate good and pray for them.

Three Ways To Keep Your Eyes Fixed On Jesus.

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My husband loves to remind me when we are out shopping, “I see that look in your eyes”. I have to admit, I do get this sparkle in my eyes over shoes, purses, and cute close. All the shiny trinkets in the boutique windows. Just on our recent vacation I was totally drawn to this little shop:

Wow boutique for blog

When I fix my eyes on the bling and glitter, I have to stop and ask myself:  “What are these things going to do for me today?”  “Will these shoes bring me peace?” or “Can that outfit bring me true Joy?”  “By carrying that purse will all my trials and tribulations go away?” (I apologize to the men reading, is your “bling” Golf clubs? Cars? Motorcycles? I do know some very styling men who love to shop and I know some gals who love motorcycles and cars.)

Being very honest with myself, I have to say “no” to all of those questions.  None of the dazzling, glittery, eye-catching stuff can bring us what we really need every day, the love, grace, peace, forgiveness, and healing from our loving Jesus. They are all perishable.

So in a world where television and social media bombard us with the latest and greatest with what “society” says we need, how do we keep our eyes fixed on God, who brings us eternal life?

I have three ideas for us today.

  1. Fix our eyes on our blessings and be grateful for the life God has given us.  God leaves his blessings all around us.  When we focus on our blessings we don’t have time to fix our eyes on all the flashy material items we believe we need to be happy or to fill the empty hole inside our soul.  Here are just a few ways we are blessed by our Heavenly Father.
  •  Psalm 34:88: Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes                                     refuge in Him.
  •  Psalm 23:1-2: The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.  He makes me lie                                                 down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters.
  • Matthew 5:6: Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
    for they will be filled.

We are blessed beyond all measure my friend.  Take some time this week to look up more verses on God’s blessings.  I am for sure.

2.  Pray Continually.

  • Ephesians 6:18 : 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
  • James 5:13 :          Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone                                                happy? Let them sing songs of praise
  • Psalm 145:18        The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him                                         in truth

3.  Wait obediently for God.

Let’s take a quick look at what 2 Peter 3:8-9 reveals to us about God and waiting.

8. But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9 The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.

You see friend, we can stay focused on God as we wait patiently for Him as he waits so patiently for us everyday to come to him.  On those days He seems far away, he’s not. He is waiting on us.  During the seasons where nothing could go wrong and everything  appears to be going our way, He is waiting for us.  When we have walked away because our path is better, He waits for us.

So during the times we get impatient, anxious, troubled, jealous, neglected, overlooked, rejected and wonder why God didn’t make it right, we need to be obedient and wait for Him. For God’s perfect timing.  Because, beloved,  it is always God’s timing not ours

Also on these days I find that I really need an attitude adjustment.  I need to stop focusing on what is wrong in my life and and fix my eyes on the Giver of all the gifts and blessings.  Then and only then will I find true Joy.

Father we come to your Throne today and ask for your forgiveness as we so often get caught up in worldly sparkle and bling that we think we need Lord, when all we need is You.  You Lord, You are enough.  Father help us to see your eternal light that shines when we keep our gaze fixed on You.  In your son’s precious name I pray, Amen.

 

 

 

Trusting God’s Plan When We Want Comfort

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Many people, myself included, turn to Jeremiah 29:11 during times of suffering.  It is a beautiful piece of God’s Word, filled with an amazing promise for our lives. But are we clinging to this verse, hoping that God will wave some sort of magic wand and instantly take away all or our pain and suffering?  I personally haven’t read anywhere in the Bible where God plays the part of magician, friend.

To really understand the beauty of the message, we need to look back  a few verses to see what was happening in sixth century B.C.

If we start back at Jeremiah 29 :4 -7 God is telling His people, whom He had exiled from Jerusalem to Babylon, make this place your home. Then in verse 7 He says, “ Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.”

God is saying, trust me here folks, I know what I am doing? Stay put, make the best of it in this land by working hard, raising your families, worshiping me, and see what I can do.

Can you feel the frustration of God’s chosen people?  They want to go back to their “home” so desperately, but their Lord is saying, do not turn back to your comfort zone.  Believe in Me.  Have you ever been in this kind of situation?  Maybe not exiled to a foreign country, but a season in your life when you were trying something new, something out of your out of your comfort zone?  Or it could have been a big move across country to a new city like mine was ten years ago when God brought me kicking and screaming out of Texas to Kentucky!

Oh I was just like the Jews in Babylon, complaining how terrible the conditions were “out in the country” called Crestwood, KY. (It is actually very beautiful).  The house we rented didn’t have a disposal! What is a city girl to do!  Not to mention this house we rented was on something called a septic system?  What? I had to buy special toilet paper! Are you kidding me! The worst part, the closest mall was, at least, 20 miles or more away! “God get me out of the forsaken place!” (I actually said that out loud one day as I left a faculty meeting at the school where I was teaching. Not good.).  I wanted to run as fast as my short legs could take me back to Texas, my home for the past 20 years, my safe, familiar, home.  Not the plan, and I needed to find the real hope Jeremiah 29:11 was offering me.

Let’s get back to our story in Jeremiah 29, we left off at verse 8.

I love verses 8 and 9.  God tells His people,  these guys are coming around spreading lies about me.  They will call themselves “diviners” and “prophets”. What they will actually doing is tricking you into  believing  your hopes and desires are what God is calling you to do. However, the Lord says in verse 9, “I have not sent them.”  Basically, do not believe them, I am your God, trust me.

Even today in our lives, we have to watch out for these so-called “diviners”, telling us what we want to hear is God’s plan for us when in reality it just might be our own desires.  (More to come in January on knowing when we hear God’s calling).

Verse 10, “This is what the Lord says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place.”  Did he just say 70 years?  Yes He most certainly did.  Even in Sixth Century B.C, my friend, it was God’s timing not the timing of the people.

God wasn’t and isn’t going to just say, okay my chosen people, you don’t like Babylon so I will move you back to Jerusalem. (okay Jane Ann you don’t like Kentucky so I am moving you and your family back to Texas.)   No, that is not what our loving God does.  This is what he does, read on.

Now Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Read that verse again, this time though, put your name in place of the word “you”.

For I know the plans I have for ________,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper _____and not to harm ______, plans to give _______ hope and a future.

As believers in Christ Jesus, whose plans are these friend, ours or our Saviors?  Now here is the hope to cling to:

Listen in verses 12-14. as our Heavenly Father directs His people and us today.  I love these verses and if I could read them aloud to you it with be with the biggest smile on my face.  I imagine God with a big smile on His face and loving arms opened as he speaks:

Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.” (Jeremiah 29: 12-14 NIV)

God was going to take his chosen people back to Jerusalem, but not until they learned to persevere through the tough seasons of change, a season out of their comfort zone that would last 70 years.

God wants the same for us today. We  can have the hope that God is always with us no matter what season we are going through here on Earth.  When we call to Him he hears us. It is our job to persevere, have faith in His plan and timing.  He will deliver us  out of the season when He sees fit. We are not going to live out this life perfectly, because if we did we wouldn’t need a Savior, now would we?

By persevering  we will find we have more Joy than we could have ever imagined.  We will have learned more about ourselves and grown exponentially.  We will be prepared to help others when it is their season.

One more thing, friend, God will deliver us from this world one day too, that is part of His plan too.  For it is written in the Gospel of 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.”

Believe with me today, friend.  If you haven’t accepted Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, say yes to Jesus today.

This is the hope of Jeremiah 29:11.

 

 

Why You Need a Savior in This Season

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Growing up in the Midwest, Autumn meant cooler temperatures, warm apple cider, leaves on the trees changing from green to vivid yellows, oranges and reds, and bonfires with friends.  It was also the time we “fall back” with day light savings.  Change those clocks back an hour.  Now recently, this doesn’t happen until later in the fall, around November, (thank you so much Jesus).  Autumn, a time of many changes.

I moved to Texas in August of 1989. I was curious to see what fall would be like in the coastal area of Houston.  Would the humidity drop?  Yeah, right.  Using “weatherunderground.com” I took a look back at today, October 3, 1989 and the humidity was a lovely 68%.  Not the usual 100%.  Change.  One thing I didn’t really notice much of a change in Houston, but when I moved North, to Dallas, was the leaves do change, but much later in the season than the Midwest, however there is change.

These are the only places I have lived, so I can’t give my personal experience on what meteorological changes take place in the rest of the U.S. or the world, I would love to know, so please share in the comments.  My point being,  changes take place in the Autumn season all over the country, in some areas earlier in the season and some places later.  As Ecclesiastes 3:1 instructs us,” There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens”

Besides the changes of fall, we are all going to go through seasons of change in our lives at different times and in different places. And it doesn’t matter what season of life you are in, new parent, empty nester, college senior, newly wed, recently widowed, new job, lost job,a season of waiting, whatever your season is, changing seasons require a constant savior.

Let me repeat that last statement, changing seasons require a constant savior.  Jesus is our constant everyday all day, friend.  We can count on his timing, discernment, love, and grace.  “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8)

You can count on it, change is going to happen.  You can choose to fight it alone, or accept to face it with Jesus.  For me, walking through the changes of my life with my savior have gone way smoother than the times I have tried to go it alone.  Notice I didn’t say it was a breeze.  Change is difficult, however it is through the digging deep with God, in scripture and prayer, and being honest with ourselves that we learn and come out of the changes new and improved.

Changing seasons require a constant savior.  Remember, Jesus is the constant, in His time, in His place. We need to do our part and remain constant with Him.  Having a constant savior means that WE remain constant with our Heavenly Father.  WE pray continually (1 Thessalonians 5:16), WE read His Word daily, and be still. God wants us to be active participants in the process of working through the changes we face.  When we seek Him he will come along side of us and lead us to the answers we are searching.  “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” (Isaiah 43:19)  

We need our Jesus daily, for all the seasons of our lives.

Heavenly Father,

Thank you for the changes in our lives.  I pray today that we will come to you, the constant savior in our lives, Lord, as we face the difficult challenges change brings. Father I pray that through your word and our honesty with ourselves we will accept your Will for us. And we know through your word that every good and perfect gift comes from you in your timing, not ours. Father I pray for those friends today who are in the midst of change that you will meet them where they are and fill them with peace and understanding that their questions will be answered when they stay constant with you. In your precious son’s name I pray, Amen.