Thank You God for The Lion and The Lamb

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Well this March is not disappointing when it comes to the old saying, “March comes in like a lion and out like a lamb”.  It is freezing in the ‘Ville.  Cold winds blowing, temperatures plummeting, and snow flurries in the air.  As much as I want sunny and 75 all year-long I can’t complain,  I am blessed with clothes and shelter to keep me warm and safe and healthy food to nourish me.  As I sit here wishing for what I don’t have, the old saying of March got me thinking about Jesus as the Lion and the Lamb.

When I think about Jesus birth, I don’t see him, like March, coming in like a lion as roaring and loud, I am sure like any newborn he was crying, but he came as our King. Lions are  symbols for kings and Jesus is most definitely the Messiah whom God sent to save us from all our sins, to watch over us, guide us, direct our thoughts and actions, and to show us how to live a life of  love and truth while we are on this Earth.   Lysa Terkeurst puts it this way, “A life between two gardens”.

I love the song by Big Daddy Weave, “The Lion and The Lamb”.  The lyrics go, “The lion of Judah, roaring with power, fighting our battles”.  The lion of Judah, this was the name given to Judah by his father Jacob found in the Book of Genesis, in the begin of the Bible.  The tribe of Judah would be the tribe that would continue to produce leaders. Genesis 49:8-10 . King David, another king, was a descendant of Judah, and who was a descendant of King David?  Wait for it… Wait for it…

Jesus!

Now before we move on to Jesus being the lamb, this is what I think is so incredible, if  like me you  are not a Bible scholar, back in Genesis 49:10 to be exact, it tells us:

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Jacob had given Judah a distinction above his brothers.  His tribe would continue to produce leaders until the coming of the Messiah.  And Jesus lineage can be traced back to the Lion of Judah. Matthew Chapter 1.   Sorry, squirrel in traffic, I get so easily distracted when the Bible all comes together, I hope you do too. And this story just keeps on giving, because if you keep reading I’m going to show you again how this story just keeps on knitting itself together.

Let’s go back to Big Daddy Weave for a hot second, the lyrics continue, “Our God is the lamb, the lamb that was slain for the sins of the world, his blood breaks the chains.”

Yes, when Jesus so selflessly gave His human Will over to God’s Will  that he would die to save us, selfish non deserving humans, of our sins, He was the sacrificial lamb the Old Testament speaks of.  No longer did people have to go and bring a lamb or other animal to the High Priest to sacrifice for their sins.  Jesus death, the gentle lamb, tore the veil.

Take a look with me if you will  at Revelation 5:5-14.

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Who was the one worthy to open the scroll?

Yes sweet friend, the Lion of Judah, the Lamb that was slain.  Jesus.  It takes my breath away every time I read this passage.  It all comes together.

He is always there watching over us, protecting us as a lion, powerful, strong, helping us in the good times and bad. Because dear friend, we have and will continue to face difficult times.  It’s during these times we must cling to our faith in Jesus and grow stronger in our relationship with Him.  As Corrie ten Boom once said, ” No pit is so deep that He is not deeper still; with Jesus even in our darkest moments, the best remains and the very best is yet to be.”

AND

As the lamb, he is gentle, humble, and selfless.  He left His perfect home in Heaven to come to Earth to show us how to live.  Because of His ultimate sacrifice, You and I dear friend can go straight to God with all our mess, hurt, and shame.We can  humble ourselves and ask for grace and forgiveness.   Sounds a little scary, yes, but that is exactly what our heavenly Father is there for and He is waiting for us to lay it all at His feet.  To lay it all at the cross.

My word for this year is “Grow”, I even bought a little bracelet with the word engraved on it to remind me daily that God wants me to “Grow” in my faith in Him and in His likeness.  How can someone like me be a lion, fierce, strong yet a gentle lamb all at the same time?

I am always thinking about something, many times how I could have handled a situation differently, more like Jesus would have handle it. Sometimes I do this too much that I start talking out loud to myself.  One day my husband, Paul, said,  ” You have more conversations with yourself than anyone I know”.  It wasn’t until then that I realized that I was thinking loud enough for others to hear!

Well that got me thinking even more. If he could hear me, then absolutely, my Savior in heaven can hear every word I think and say.  Just like I can take all my mess and thanksgiving to God in prayer, I can also go to Him and ask for guidance and direction, wisdom and discernment.

When I pray and ask God for guidance and direction, He will lead me to the exact place I need to be in His Word for each and every situation I am in.  If I need to be gentle and humble like a lamb I can read:

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“to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.” Titus 3:2

“But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.”  James 3:17

And sometimes God leads me to people who are following in His likeness to be examples for me in this world. Max Lucado is one of those people God introduced me to his books years ago.  This is a great quote when I need a good example and reminder:

“choose gentleness… Nothing is won by force. I choose to be gentle. If I raise my voice may it be only in praise. If I clench my fist, may it be only in prayer. If I make a demand, may it be only of myself. ” Max Lucado.

God has also led me to an amazing husband and wife team, two people, I have found by reading their books and one day would love to meet, (Bob gives his cell phone # in the back of his book, I don’t think I could ever call and say “Hi Bob this is Jane Ann, but after reading his book, it is exactly what he would do.) just live loving people like Jesus wanted us to love as He did. The couple is Bob and Maria Goff.  In their books they share their personal adventures of God’s calling to love even some the people most would consider evil and why would anyone love them kind of people.  Because those types of people need love too.

During times when I need to be more lion-like, protecting myself from Satan’s temptations or times when I need to be bold to stand up for myself. But most of all because on that morning when breathe returned to Jesus body  and like a roaring lion who proclaimed the grave has no hold on me, I have living hope to get through any trouble or difficult situation   I can turn to His word and find:

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The Lord thunders at the head of his army; his forces are beyond number, and mighty is the army that obeys his command.” Joel 2:11 a

The wicked flee though no one pursues, but the righteous are as bold as a lion.” Proverbs 28:1

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

Precious friend, join me this year growing in faith and loving like Jesus.

Maria Goff “Love Lives Here”

Bob Goff Website

Max Lucado Website

 

Why It Is Difficult To Let Go And Love

on the contrary_ “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. in doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”[b

Today friend we are going to tackle four more characteristics of what Love is not and I have some more Bible verses we can pray to help us get rid of these nasty attributes when they pop up in our daily lives.  Click on the video to see my discussion with Author and Proverbs 31 Speaker, Amy Carroll.

Let me just tell you Satan had a little fun with us last night and we had a little technical difficulties, but as ALWAYS God conquers and the conversation happened!

Living Joy Today Facebook page

Well wasn’t Amy amazing! She mentioned the Four Steps Towards a Tender Heart and a Strong Voice.  Here is the link to Amy’s Blog for the steps to Listen, Feel, Do, Speak and so many other terrific resources.

Amy Carroll

Don’t forget to comment on the blog or Facebook page to be entered to win the copy of Amy’s book, “Breaking Up with Perfect”.

 

I’ll see you again mid March!  Until then

Look Up, Let Go, Live Joy

 

Nine Bible Verses To Pray When We Need to Get “Right Sized”

love is patient, love is kind. it does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 it does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps

 

Hi sweet friend.  This week we will continue digging deeper into 1 Corinthians 13:4-8.  Last week we focused on the first few characteristics of what love is and a few Bible verse to pray for patience and kindness.  Click on today’s video for a closer look at four attributes of what love is not.

Getting “Right Sized”

 

A bible verse to pray when we are envying others:

“A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones”. Proverbs 14:30  Pray: Heavenly Father I come to your throne today asking for peace and contentment for all the blessings you have given me.  Give me peace today to find acceptance in my circumstances and to know that I can not handle what others have been given. Grant me the serenity to be grateful for all I have today.  In Jesus name, Amen.

Here are a few bible verses to pray when we feel a little self-seeking:

Philippians 2:3 “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.”  Father I come today in praying asking for your guidance that you lead me in all things that I do today out of my love for you and others and not selfish ambition.  I asked to be filled with humility to see others above myself in all I do.  Amen.

1 Corinthians 10:24: “No one should seek their own good, but the good of others.”  Lord, I ask today for courage to seek the good of others rather than my own good. Amen.

Proverbs 11:25: “A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.”  Father I ask today to be filled with your Holy Spirit that I may be generous to those around me, as your word says whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.

Bible verses to pray when we are speaking boastfully and feeling proud:

Pray Proverbs 11:2:  “Proud and boastful people will be shamed, but wisdom stays with those who are modest and humble.”  Dear Lord, today I come to you and ask for humility.  Keep me right-sized Father so I do not become proud and boastful.  When things are going great, help me to remember it all comes from you Father, not from me.

1 Samuel 2:3 “Do not keep talking so proudly or let your mouth speak such arrogance, for the LORD is a God who knows, and by him deeds are weighed.”  Heavenly Father, today I ask for discernment that the words I speak are words of kindness, compassion, and truth,  Keep my words from being proud and arrogant, Lord.  Amen.

Psalm 19:14 “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, Lord, my rock and my redeemer.”  You can pray this verse no extra words needed.

Bible verses to pray when we find ourselves dishonoring others:

(I find myself doing this often, unintentionally, but my words and actions can be dishonoring if I am not careful).

Hebrews 13:18 “Pray for us, for we are sure that we have a clear conscience, desiring to act honorably in all things.”  Dear God, I pray today for a clear conscience as I desire to do all things in an honorable way.  Amen.

1 Peter 2:17 “Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor.”  Lord, I ask today that I may give proper respect to everyone I come in contact with today.  Help me to love all of my brothers and sisters, to give you all the honor and praise.  Amen.

Next week I am changing things up just a little bit!  I am going Live with Amy Carroll! Check out the details.  If you can’t make us live on Tuesday, the video will be linked here on Wednesday, February 20th!

Facebook Live With Amy Carroll

 

I will also be giving away a copy of  Amy’s Book, “Breaking Up With Perfect”

Join us on the Living Joy Today Facebook page.

 

Six Truths To Remember This Thanksgiving Season

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If you are the chosen one by personal choice or family vote to host Thanksgiving this year I am praying for you.  Hosting is a big job and one that often comes with much anxiety and stress.  However, I’m here to tell you that this year and every year after this does not need to be the case.  No more stressing about how the table is set, if every inch of your house is “Southern Living” perfect, or all courses of dinner are Food Network worthy.

The people you are hosting are family, friends, and maybe an extended family member and acquaintance or two.  People that adore and love you, (and if they don’t that is their problem, they should and we will pray for them).  I understand you want everything to be perfect, but only God is perfect my friend.  We have to change our thinking about why we are hosting.  1 Peter 4:9 says, “Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.”  I add without worry, feeling less than, or doubtful that you can pull it off.

So relax, let your Heavenly Father transform your mind (Romans 12:2) and take note of these six truths that will help you, as the chosen host of Thanksgiving, make this the most stress free and blessed Thanksgiving ever.

2 Timothy 1:8-10 : Christ died for us so we will live for Him.  This day isn’t about us friend, it’s always about our Savior.

James 1:17 :  The Lord gives us good gifts from His unconditional love for us. God has given the gift of hospitality, host to honor him.

Matthew 10:42: We will never lose the rewards God has stored up for us. Hosting humbly honors God and you will be rewarded beyond your imagination.

Romans 8:17:  We belong to God’s family and we are coheirs with Christ.  Host to the glory of God, even if the turkey is dry, the candle wax drips on the tablecloth, and a teenager complains for having to sit at the kiddie table.

Ephesians 5:1: We are the Lord’s beloved children.  Follow his example when hosting, host with love.

And Finally, the sixth truth to help you rethink that hosting Thanksgiving has to be an all out host the queen event:

Philippians 4:13:  We can do ALL things through Christ who gives us strength.  It takes a lot of strength to do all that cooking.  Turn to your Savior, he is there for you. (and you also might consider turning to your family and friends and making it a pitch-in this year)

So as we are in full Thanksgiving mode, I pray we will slow down, take time in God’s truths, and remember to relax.  I pray we will just give thanks to God for His amazing love, grace, and blessings he bestows on us daily and that we will be humble hosts and hostesses.

Turning to God’s word and truths will always give us the confidence we need whether hosting Thanksgiving, being the guest at dinner, applying for a new job, standing before a crowd of people presenting a talk for the first time or whatever God is calling us to do in this season.

Heavenly Father I ask that you will be with all of those who are hosting Thanksgiving in their homes this season.  May you help them keep their focus on you as they prepare their homes and food.  Father I also lift up to you those families who are estranged  from each other. Holidays can be difficult and stressful times for any of us.  I pray for healing in their lives, that they may find you, Father, and be reunited in love and faith. God I ask that you be with all of those that have lost family members, their homes, and lively hoods in the fires that continue to burn in California.  I pray protection over all those fighting the fires and first responders.  Lord I thank you for all of our blessings you so lovingly give us.  In your precious Son’s name I pray, Amen.

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.

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.