Monday, April 30, 2012

50 Days of Holy! Producing Fruit



Jesus did some weird things. Some he explained and used as illustrations for right living. But some he really didn't explain all that much. He leaves us guessing. The story that comes to mind today is in Matthew 21:18-21. 

On the last week of Jesus' life, he was walking from Bethany to Jerusalem. It's hard to picture, but Jesus was hungry for some breakfast. There was a fig tree along the road, so he stopped to pick some fruit. Well, imagine Jesus throwing a fit when he discovered the tree was full of leaves but there was no fruit! Hard to conceive? Well, he was so upset that he even cursed! Yes, Jesus cursed the tree. He said...to a tree... "May you never bear fruit again!(vs. 19b)"

You may be wondering, "What's up with that?" Well, the disciples were even more astounded when they saw the fig tree wither up and die right before their eyes! They must have thought Jesus was on a rampage. After all, the same day He went into the temple courts and overturned the tables of the merchants and money-changers.

What's up with Jesus? 
He's still turning over the tables in our lives. He's still searching for fruit. His curse remains on those who choose to live a life of sin. But on the other side of the table are those who live in the Spirit and embrace the lifestyle that God desires. And for those Christians, not even the sky can limit what God has for us! When the disciples asked about the withering of the fig tree,
"Jesus was matter-of-fact: 'Yes—and if you embrace this kingdom life and don't doubt God, you'll not only do minor feats like I did to the fig tree, but also triumph over huge obstacles' (vs.21-22)."
One of our biggest obstacles is simply choosing to live a life that is holy and pure, free from sin. I love the description of these "fruits" that reveal the Holy Spirit as active and working in our lives:
"But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! (Galatians 5:22-23)" 
These attributes of the Holy Spirit are a litmus test of our walk with Christ. I'm thinking that Jesus is saying to us, just as He said to that fig tree, "You are cursed if you do not produce the fruit of the Holy Spirit on your tree of life. I would rather you not even label yourself as a Christian if your life is not evidence of the love, joy, peace...that I offer you." 

This week we are taking a look at the fruit of a life lived for Christ through the Holy Spirit.

Today, we solemnly remember that our hearts are the temple of the living God.
  • Make an itemized list of these fruits of the Spirit.
  • Pray over them.
  • Ask the Lord to help as you rate yourself on each one.
  • Present your weaknesses to Him. Pray. Surrender.
  • Ask Him to remove the curse and fill you His Holy Spirit.
"It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again with the yoke of slavery (Gal. 5: 1)."


Friday, April 27, 2012

*!~*GIVE-AWAYS*~!* during 50 Days of Holy!

will it be for you?

We all love free gifts, don’t we? During this 50 DAYS OF HOLY! I am giving away some of my art, maybe some gift cards for our fave places, or maybe a gift certificate from our Woven Women who have small businesses.

HERE'S HOW YOU CAN WIN:
  • Become a Follower or Member at www.WovenWomen.blogspot.com
  • Leave a Comment on a Blog Post
    • Please note that a URL address is not necessary for leaving a comment. You can simply type in your name and submit your response.
  • Go to the Woven Women Facebook Page and click “LIKE”
  • Post something of interest for our Woven ladies on the FB Page
  • Leave a comment on the FB Page
  • Share a posted devotional on your FB wall
  • Message me a short personal story that I can develop into a devotional
Any of these activities will put your name in the hat for a random give-away each week! The more you do, the greater your chances of winning. Each week, I am just waiting for someone to "WOW" me! It's my way of saying "Thanks abunch!" for helping to weave our women's hearts closer together.

>>What do you love about Woven? Would love to hear from you!

>>How have you experienced the Holy Spirit's presence in your life? Please share so we can GROW together!

50 Days of Holy! Prayers for an Unknown Sister


Prayers for an Unknown Sister
by
Kim Dent



“Call to me, and I will answer you.
And I will show you great and wonderful things
which you do not know.”
Jeremiah 33:3


I am a “show me” type of girl.

I am not prone to blindly accept things that I don’t understand. Raised in a conservative Baptist church, my first experience of hearing someone ‘speaking in tongues’ was in college. I was wide-eyed and wondering, "What in the world was THAT!”
Fast forward about 19 years.

The tragedy of 911 brought me through the doors of a spirit-filled, Bible-believing Church. I attended a women’s Bible study. We began a series on the “Gifts of the Holy Spirit”.  At the culmination of the study, there was a time of prayer to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit and the gift of tongues. 

In my heart, I wanted to experience this gift. In my head, I was afraid the Holy Spirit would cause me to blurt out unintelligible words at the grocery store or in my PTA meeting! I voiced this fear and was quickly reassured that the Holy Spirit is gentle. He does not take control. He allows us to choose if and when we will use our prayer language. So I said “Yes," and we prayed a simple prayer to receive this special gift.


My experience was not dramatic. Little by little, I noticed new words that I did not understand begin to flow quietly from my lips during worship. Soon I was happily singing and speaking my new Holy Spirit language in my personal prayer time.


As my fluency increased, I began to notice repetitions of words when I prayed. I had no idea what I was praying for in the Spirit, but one particular word became repetitive in my prayer language...“Galia”. Sometimes spoken as if I were encouraging a frightened child. Other times it seemed I was defending someone or warring against something. 

The word “Galia” consistently remained within my prayer language. I wondered what it meant so I called upon the Lord to show me.

It was six months later when God disclosed the meaning of this mysterious word. I went on a mission trip to Ukraine. A young woman came forward for prayer after a conference on the gifts of the Spirit. Through the interpreter, she told us she wanted to receive the gift of tongues. I smiled, remembering my own request just a few months earlier. I marveled at His timing and the miracle that, here I was! Praying for this unknown sister! Before praying with her, I asked the interpreter to tell us the woman’s name.

She replied in broken English.....”Her name is GALIA.”



"The Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express...the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will (Romans 8:26-27)."


Lord Jesus, 
We confess that Your ways and Your Spirit are beyond our understanding. We often do not know how to pray. We are so thankful that You speak in whatever language is necessary to accomplish Your purposes. Thank You for helping us in our weaknesses; for interceding for us. Teach our hearts to pray; encourage us to help those who are weak.

May we operate in the fullness of your Spirit every day. Help us to not be afraid of those things which we don't understand. May we never be so grounded to the world that we miss the blessings and the giftings You have reserved for us. We long to soar with your Spirit. You are such an amazing God!  We praise You! In Jesus Name, Amen.
___________________________________________________
Kim has been married to her high school sweetheart for 26 years. She and Mark have two beautiful daughters, Kaitlyn and Emily, a rescued mutt named Otis and a pleasantly plump cat named Oscar.

A former social worker and real estate agent, Kim now serves full time as Women's Ministry Director at High Mill Church in Canton, OH. Her mission is to inspire women toward courageous authenticity and freedom in Christ. She desires to be a woman who lives and loves like Jesus.

She is a Woven Women: a Woman of Virtue!


Thursday, April 26, 2012

50 Days of Holy! Wake Up Call


"Then we will no longer be infants, tossed  back and forth
...and blown here and there...
Instead, speaking the truth in love,
we will in all things grow up into Him who is the Head,
that is, Christ."
~Ephesians 4:15NIV 


It's 3am and I am wide awake!
Unusual? Not really! It's been this way since the day I was sanctified by the Holy Spirit; the morning I wrote about in my post, "The Gift (Part One)". That morning I awoke at 2:30am. And morning after morning after morning since that one morning, my sleep pattern changed. My life had totally changed! The Holy Spirit became my Life Director, my Heart Corrector, my Intimate Instructor!

The Lord had so much to say to me! He had so many things for me to pray about. He wanted to teach me treasures from His word. He wanted me to encourage and teach others; to "build up the body of Christ"(Eph. 4:12). And, He knows me so well that He knew the exact hour that I would be His most attentive student; when my heart would be most teachable. At 2:30am, I was totally HIS! My Master had my full attention. When all else was still, there were no other demands on my time. That hour was even too early for my little white fluffball of a dog!

He obviously knows how easily distracted I am. He has to get His time in with me while it's too dark for me to see my surroundings. I love it! This precious sweet time in the Spirit of God, the Lord's presence enveloping me. His peace filling me for another day, giving me my life plan, adjusting my agenda with His task list. Sometimes He even surprises me with profound revelation, a vision of His divine dreams for my future. He reminds me that I am His, that He is mine. His plans are profitable and good and they do come to pass.

What about my need for sleep, you ask? Am I not distracted just by the sheer desire to go back to sleep? Well, once in a while. But most mornings, when God awakens me, I awake so refreshed, so alive and attentive...which is never the case when it's just me waking up at a normal time of day.

Have I ever questioned this? You betcha! Which brings me to a morning in those early years of my wake-up calls; a morning etched in my memory forever. As part of my prayer time, a pattern was developing. It seemed like every morning the Holy Spirit would prompt my heart with a certain gal-pal, to write a note of encouragement or send an email with a specific message especially for her.

I suppose it was a morning in which I was a bit hesitant to share what came to mind, it felt a bit too assumptive, too bold. It was someone I didn't know all that well; it felt like I may be crossing boundaries. I feared she would be offended. I remember saying, "Lord, is this really you?" In that moment of asking, my eyes fell on this verse in my Bible, which was lying open in my lap:
"The Sovereign Lord has given me an instructed tongue to know the word that sustains the weary.
He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear like one being taught (Isaiah 50:4)."
I am almost as "wow"-ed this morning as I was that first morning I discovered this passage. THIS is how intimate our Father-God is! His answers are in His book. And He applies them to our heart through the Holy Spirit. 

The really crazy thing is this: since that day in 1994 when I gave God control of my life, He has been my wake-up call. He knows my schedule and I know I can trust Him with it. I rarely set an alarm because "He wakens me morning by morning."

And all those personal notes I wrote? Time after time, the recipients responded, "How did you know? Your words were exactly what I needed to hear!"

Do you find yourself awake all hours of the night? Maybe God is calling you to pray! He has divine secrets to share with you. Grab your Bible, and your journal. It's time to grow!




Wednesday, April 25, 2012

50 Days of Holy! Our Heart Hug


50 Days of Holy!
Our Heart Hug
by
Kathleen Benis

I remember it well: Mother's Day 1996. My sweet husband took me to the Polaris Amphitheater to see Skating with the Stars. We had great seats. It was a wonderful evening. Knowing my son was at a sleep-over with friends, having a fun time of his own, made it all the sweeter. I remember looking up at the open sky and thanking Jesus for such an amazing life.

We traveled home anticipating a quiet evening. No kids, no worries. Then the phone call.

I don't remember much about the rest of the evening, other than the diagnosis. The shadow of illness, one that is chronic, one that would follow our son throughout his life. It rocked our world!

I knew from the beginning: I could not bow to fear. A teaching that crossed my path taught me a great acronym. Fear is False Evidence Appearing Real.

I needed God in so many ways. I knew God loved me. I also knew His Holy Spirit was my comforter, my guide. He makes us bold and courageous. As I asked Jesus to meet me in this broken place, I felt the inner peace of The Holy Spirit Himself,  reminding me of who I am and to whom I belong.

Our son has had many stops and starts in his life. Amidst the struggles, disappointments, and heartache, I chose to set my mind and keep it set on the promise and plan God has for my family. I sensed the Holy Spirit encouraging me to trust God's design for our life. Ephesians 4:23-24 says,
“Be renewed in the Spirit, put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness (Max Lucado Study Bible NKJ)."

As you walk out your life, allow the Holy Spirit to impact your outlook on whatever situation you find yourself facing. The Holy Spirit is our heart-hug from God.

Thank you Jesus for sending your Spirit to dwell in us, to hover over us, to counsel us, to renew our mind. Turn our worries to prayer as you guide and direct us in your will and in your way.   

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him and are called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28NIV)."
____________________________________________


Kathleen's husband Larry has given her 31years of happiness and now a beautiful home in Newark, Ohio, near their son Nathan and daughter-in-"love" Michelle.


Kathleen loves the Lord and loves sharing insights from God's Word. She loves to help others walk through the hard times, celebrate the good times and give hope in the messy-ness of life.


She is a Woven Woman: a Woman of Virtue!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

50 Days of Holy! Daily Surrender

50 Days of Holy!
Daily Surrender
by
Cheryl Simpson

“Cleanse me with hyssop and I will be clean
Wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
Let me hear joy and gladness
Let the bones you have crushed rejoice.
Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity.

Create in me a pure heart, O God
And renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me from your presence
Or take your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.”
 Psalm 51:7-8 

It’s Wednesday night prayer meeting again in my heart. I know, I know! Thirty years have passed, but again, I find I am STILL singing the songs: “What a won-der-ful change in my heart has been wrought, since Je-sus came in-to my heart!”  Reliving the testimonies.  Feeling the praise of believers. Sensing the thanksgiving for sins forgiven.
 
 
One Wednesday night in particular is vivid in my mind. I remember the influence of a beautiful young woman, Laura Redman, singing “Broken and Spilled Out.” Her countenance was radiant as she sang; she was completely and totally surrendered to the Lord. The lyrics of the song reflect the story in Mark 14:3-9, when a young village woman came with an alabaster jar of costly perfume and poured it on the head of Jesus. 




Just as the jar was broken, our prayer should be “Let me be broken and spilled out for you.” Feeling totally convicted in that moment, I still remember the tears as I prayed, “Let me be broken and spilled out for you.” Since that moment, my daily prayer: "Let me be broken and spilled out for you."
I was "getting it"! My heart and head were in unison. Daily surrender would keep me in step with the Holy Spirit. Years later, at a Walk to Emmaus weekend retreat, God's Spirit was checking me in more areas of my life. I can't remember crying so much in my entire life. These were “dying moments” of old habits and the birthing of a new prayer in my heart, "Not my will but your will, Lord."
Paul wrote to the church in Rome, and in doing so, speaks to us today.
“The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.  You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you...The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children (Romans 8:6NIV)."
I love these beautiful words of truth:  God’s spirit living within us, speaking to us personally, leading us in His truth for our daily life. Our greatest fortune is to spend time in God’s presence, reading His Word, even gleaning from devotionals written by Christian leaders. I am continually in awe of His presence and the Holy Spirit’s message of truth communicated to my Spirit and to yours.


In this daily practice of surrender, I have found the “peace that passes all understanding.” I have been filled with “joy unspeakable and full of Glory.

May this be our prayer today: 
Abba Father,
Thank you for saving me through your precious son Jesus Christ. Thank you for sending the Holy Spirit to remind me and assure me that I am Yours.
'Let me be broken and spilled out for you.'
Help me to share life's richest treasures. May I be humble and giving. May I be ever aware that you have called me out of the darkness  and into Your light. Remind me that I am Your divine revelation to a world that does not know you.  Help me to shine!
'Not my will but your will, Lord.'
I release my grip on this world. I eagerly anticipate the fulfillment of Your plans. I surrender and walk with you every day of my life. In the name of Jesus I pray, Amen.
____________________________________________

Cheryl is the grateful wife of 36 years to Ken. They have two children and five granddaughters. Previously a public school teacher, she now spends much of her week doing pastoral care for her church, Newark Church of the Nazarene. She is a Woven Woman: a Woman of Virtue!

Monday, April 23, 2012

50 Days of Holy! The Gift (Part 2)


THE DAY OF PENTECOST
The Holy Spirit did not just suddenly appear out of nowhere. It was not just a random haphazardly concocted experiential manifestation of God.  In Genesis 1:2, when God was creating the heavens and the earth, "the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters," participating in the act of creation.

Today, I pray the Spirit of God that was present from the very beginning of all time, will speak to you from God's word. Let's journey through scripture to the Day of Pentecost. The incredible gift of the Holy Spirit of God was and is delivered directly to the heart of all who will receive Him...

Joel Prophesied
The gift of the Holy Spirit was promised in the Old Testament. God spoke through the prophet Joel,
"In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions.
Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days and they will prophesy.
I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and billows of smoke...and everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved...(Joel 2:28-32 & Acts 2:17-21)."
Jesus Prepared
In his very last moments with the disciples, just before he ascended into heaven, Jesus prepared them for the Holy Spirit's arrival.
"After his suffering, he showed himself to these men and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days...he gave them this command,
'Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days, you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:3-5)."
The Disciples Prayed
They didn't mess around. They earnestly desired this gift!
"Then they returned to Jerusalem...When they arrived, they went upstairs to the room where they were staying...They all joined together constantly in prayer (Acts 1:12-14)."
The Promise Was Fulfilled
"When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit...(Acts 2:1-4)"
Peter Proclaimed to those who were there that day:
"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. This promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off--for all whom the Lord God will call...Save yourselves from this corrupt generation (Acts 2:38-40."
We Receive Power:
Listen to these words of Jesus, as he further explained the gift just before his departure into heaven:
"But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses...(Acts 1:8)"
Have you received the gift?
This gift is for us. This gift is for all people. The Holy Spirit empowers us to witness. God intended that through the Holy Spirit living in us, we become a temple of the living God. Holy, pure, victorious over sin. Loving, concerned for the welfare of others, longing to serve. Walking this earth as living breathing instruments in God's holy orchestra in the mainstream of life.
Has the power of the Holy Spirit of God come upon you?
We are not marginalized. We are empowered by God through the Holy Spirit to rise above our circumstances, to lead the world to victorious living in Christ! We, who have believed and received, are His spirit-filled witnesses.
  • Prepare by praying.
  • Receive by releasing your life, your control, your power; not just once for all time, but all the time for the rest of your life. Be transformed!
  • Respond by sharing this gift with others; become a witness of Christ!

Friday, April 20, 2012

50 Days of Holy! The Gift (Part One)

"So I say to you:
Ask and it will be given to you;
seek and you will find;
knock
and the door will be opened to you.
For everyone who asks receives;
he who seeks finds;
and to him who knocks
the door will be opened."
Luke 11:9-10



My Day of Pentecost 

I remember it well. I was in my mid-thirties: a widow, mom, college student, seeker of Truth. God was revealing Himself in His word, in the classroom, in chapel, in my studies, in my brokenness and in my healing. Something was stirring deep within: a sense of calling. The Holy Spirit was wooing me  to ask, seek, knock.

The pivotal moment arrived with a missionary couple, who spoke in chapel. I don't recall anything about their message. I do remember crying so much that I was unable to speak when I responded to their offer for a personal appointment that afternoon. More importantly, I remember their instructions on how to ask.

I can still see this woman demonstrating the act of surrendering to the Holy Spirit. With her hands held out before her, she turned her palms upward, took a deep breath, and exhaled as she raised them toward the heavens and prayed that God would take anything and everything that she was holding back from Him. Surrendering it all.

She seemed to know what I needed even though I could not speak! That night I awoke at 2:30am. I gave it all to God. In return, I received the fullness of the gift of the Holy Spirit. My tears of pain, sorrow, grief were translated into tears of unbelievable love and joy! Oh, the love...it was overflowing, uncontainable, inconceivable! Enough to love even those I had considered unloveable!

In this passage in Luke 11, Jesus is teaching the disciples about prayer. He uses an object lesson about how we, as parents, love to give good gifts to our children. We enjoy seeing their faces light up with joy, we anticipate the reciprocal love that we will get in return when they open that anticipated present. Then he says,
"If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!(Luke 11:13NIV)"
You may find yourself not fully understanding this message, but truly sensing the Holy Spirit's wooing in your heart to go deeper with God, to ask, seek, knock. Understanding the message is not a prerequisite for receiving the Holy Spirit. "...No one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God (1Cor. 2:11b)."

As I wrote in yesterday's post, we receive The Deposit of the Holy Spirit when we first believe in Christ. We come into the fullness of the Holy Spirit when we surrender and ask, seek, knock.

This is a forever journey! An incredible adventure with God through His Holy Spirit!

"For this reason, I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you (2Tim. 1:6NIV)."

Holy God,
I am asking, seeking, longing for your Holy Spirit to be fully alive and fully manifested in my life today. I want to be totally yours. I know there are still areas in my life that I am clinging to, holding back from you. Show me what these are. (Listen for God to impress this upon your heart; write them down).

I  now release these things from my hands into your all-powerful hands. I want more of you, Lord God. Cleanse me deep within. Fill me with your gift of the Holy Spirit. Pour out your love to me and through me. I pray this in Jesus Name, Amen.


Thursday, April 19, 2012

50 Days of Holy! The Deposit



"Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ.
He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us,
and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit,
guaranteeing what is to come."
2 Cor. 1:21-22NIV


Promises. Promises. Promises.

It's very frustrating, isn't it? The number of times we've been promised this-or-that by so-and-so or such-and-such; and the number of times we've been let down. Disappointed, even betrayed, in business, marriage, friendships.

It's why this scripture sounds too good to be true...
  • The promise of solidity, a firm foundation for our lives. In this world? How could it be?
  • The seal of the Almighty God, His personal designer-brand stamped upon our lives? Seriously?
  • The promise of the Holy Spirit of God being deposited in our hearts? Preposterous!
  • A promise, guarantee, warranty, eternal contract with an infinite God? Eternal life with Him in Heaven? Hmmm...
Promises. Promises. Promises. Have you been disappointed to the point of despair? distrust? I've been there, my friend. So down and out. The earth shifting beneath your feet. Unsettled. Uncertain. Unknowing.

The uncanny thing about these situations?
It's exactly that moment in time when heaven and earth collide in our heart and mind. We are suddenly aware that there IS an eternity with an eternal God who cares. Cares about you! Cares about me! We become acutely aware of His promises. And, just in case our memories fail us, His Holy Spirit tugs at our hearts to remind us: that He's there and He always has been. His Holy Spirit whispers His promises into our mind, reminding us that these promises are eternal and forever,  extending from the beginning to the end of a period of time that has no beginning or end.
"And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession--to the praise of His glory (Ephesians 1:13-14 NIV)."

The Deposit?
The Holy Spirit is living proof that God is actively re-creating us into His image.  At the very moment you believe, the Holy Spirit becomes the living, breathing Christ within the depth of your being. Your body is now a temple of the Living God!

The Holy Spirit serves as our engagement ring. He is the promise that someday we will be seated at the Wedding Supper in the great banquet hall of heaven with our Bridegroom Jesus Christ.

The Holy Spirit's coming was promised throughout the Old Testament. This promise was fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost, fifty days after Jesus resurrected from death in Acts Chapter Two. It is still being fulfilled today.

What is to come?
Life on earth is uncertain. But we can be certain of this: God has, does, and will fulfill His promises! The fullness of His promise is encapsulated in the purpose of Christ: eternal life in God's heavenly kingdom; total and complete holiness. We will be spiritually united with God forever.

Until then?
 Paul gave Timothy this advice, but it's intended for us as well:
"Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you--guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in you (2Timothy 1:14NIV)."
 The power of this passage is in that last phrase:
  • "with the help of the Holy Spirit"
    • If the apostles needed help in their journey, we certainly do! 
    • They didn't try to live for Christ in their own strength and according to their own plans. They relied on the Holy Spirit to guide them day-by-day, moment-by-moment.

  • "the Holy Spirit who lives in you"
    • This is the utmost evidence that God does not expect us to do life on our own.
    • It displays His longing to live in total Oneness with us.
The Holy Spirit is not just a one-time deposit. We can grow in God as we surrender and seek His Holy Spirit.

Surrender. Seek. Pray. The Deposit of the Holy Spirit is yours. Tap into His presence. Offer Him more of yourself and you will receive more of Him. You'll be so glad you did!

 Steps To Peace With God: This is a beautiful four-part video presentation of the gospel message. Renew your wedding vow with your forever husband today.

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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

50 Days of Holy! The Truth

50 Days of Holy!

"The Truth"

by
Woven Leader
Kathleen Benis


There's a lot of conversation around the gym these days about how our bodies benefit from doing core strengthening exercises. The change in our physical body is remarkable if we stay disciplined in this type of exercise. Few of us experience this. It takes work. It takes fortitude. It requires time and discipline and commitment.


God's word shares many admonitions to strengthen our core too. Take this one, for example:

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--His good, pleasing and perfect will (Romans 12:2NIV)."
The result of allowing Jesus to be at the core of our life opens a well of refreshing truth: the truth of living a life built upon God's word, doing His will.  His unshakable truth enables you to live a life that reflects His character. Your entire being will begin to resemble His infinite strength and power from the inside out. 


We spend so much of our time making sure our bodies are "lookin' good" on the outside. Let's commit as much or more time to strengthen the very core of our souls. Our soul includes our mind, will and emotions. Only the Holy Spirit can speak the truth to our soul. The Holy Spirit interprets God's word to our heart's mind. He opens our spiritual eyes. Jesus explained it this way,
"...the Spirit of truth...will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come (John 16:13)."

I remember, as a little girl, singing this hymn in church. It created a visual of Jesus Christ coming to live within me through His promised Holy Spirit.

Come Holy Ghost, Creator blessed
and in my heart take up thy rest.
Come with thy grace and heavenly aid
Filling my heart, which thou hast made."

The word “filling” implies that we are asking and allowing Jesus Christ to be in control of our life. It's saying, "I want to be led and empowered by Your Holy Spirit. I want to allow You, Jesus, to live Your resurrected life in and through me."


No matter where you find yourself this week, take time to strengthen your core. Become a disciple of God's word. Discipline yourself by allowing the Holy Spirit to apply God's word to your heart. Once you commit the time and surrender your heart, He will do the rest. It will be better than your best physical work-out.
  • Your mind will become clear and focused.
  • Your heart will be at peace with God.
  • Your life will be empowered by the Holy Spirit.
  • You will be walking out His divine plans for your life.
  • You will be living in Truth.  Ain't nothin' better than that!
"As it is written, 'No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him'--but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit...The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God...no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God." (ICor. 2:9-11)."

Thank You Holy Spirit, that through all my internal chaos and crisis, all the worries, fears, threat and doubt, you cause my life to fall together, not to fall apart.
__________________________________


Kathleen's husband Larry has given her 31years of happiness and now a beautiful home in Newark, Ohio, near their son Nathan and daughter-in-"love" Michelle.
Kathleen loves the Lord and loves sharing insights from God's Word. She loves to help others walk through the hard times, celebrate the good times and give hope in the messy-ness of life.
She is a Woven Woman: a Woman of Virtue!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

50 Days of Holy! The Comforter

The Comforter
by
Woven Leader Cheryl Simpson

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
the Father of all compassion and the God of all comfort,
who comforts us in all our troubles,
so that we can comfort those in any trouble
with the comfort we ourselves have received from God."
~2 Corinthians 1:3-4

Some of my favorite memories in the early 1980’s was attending church on Wednesday evenings. It was a great time of celebration, of encouraging and being encouraged. At the time, I was a young mother raising two children. I needed all the encouragement I could get!

All mothers know that a major role is to comfort. This was a place I could go to be comforted, to be encouraged, and to learn to rely even more upon The True Comforter: God's Holy Spirit. As I write these words, the old choruses that were a vital part of our Wednesday night Prayer  Meetings  still ring true in my ears..

     "The Comforter has come! The Comforter has come!”
     “Spirit of the Living God, fall fresh on me”
     “I’m rejoicing night and day as I walk the narrow way, for the Comforter abides in me.”

These songs testify to the Holy Spirit's comforting presence in our hearts. The words encouraged us to share how God's Holy Spirit was still alive and working every day of every week. The testimonies spurred us to keep on keeping on. We sang these choruses over and over again. Thirty years later, I find myself still singing...and still keeping on!
Charles Spurgeon was the most popular preacher in 1850's England. As he preached about the Holy Spirit's role as our Comforter, Spurgeon shared several attributes in describing His work among us.
  • The Comforter is loving, Romans 5:5
"God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us (Romans 5:5).”
  • The Comforter is Faithful
  • The Comforter is Untiring
  • The Comforter is Wise
  • The Comforter is Safe
  • The Comforter is Active
  • The Comforter is Always Present
If you have your journal handy, take a moment and write these down, one at a time. After each attribute, write a testimony of a time when you experienced this comfort of the Holy Spirit. If you find you can't relate, ask God to give you this experience so you can fully know "The Comforter has come"!
If you don't have time to journal, simply relax, contemplate, and breathe deeply as you consider your personal need for each of these attributes. In Ezekiel 36:27, the Lord gave this promise, which was fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost:
“I will put my Spirit within you and cause you to walk in all my ways.”
Be assured of the Spirit's presence in your heart and soul today. Share with a sister-friend a time when God, through the Holy Spirit, comforted you in a difficult time. Then, they can be comforted too!

You may even want to celebrate by singing"The Comforter Has Come" in your worship of God this morning...



_____________________________________________________



Cheryl is the grateful wife of 36 years to Ken. They have two children and five granddaughters. Previously a public school teacher, she now spends much of her week doing pastoral care for her church, Newark Church of the Nazarene. She is a Woven Woman: a Woman of Virtue!

Monday, April 16, 2012

50 Days of Holy! The Counselor


"And I will ask the Father,
and he will give you another Counselor
to be with you forever..."
John 14:16NLT
It was five years ago this October, in the fourth year of planting and pastoring a spanking new church. Circumstances converged, bringing my life to a crashing halt. I awoke morning after dreaded morning, trying to pull myself together, putting on make-up as the tears rolled down my face (not an easy thing to do!). It seemed overnight. Suddenly I was unable to face a new day. I wondered how I would get to the office, emotional wreck that I was! I was forced to make a dreaded phone call, to admit my need for help.

The tables had turned on this woman pastor. Always the one counseling and offering advice, I was now in need of a counselor. It was humbling to walk through those doors and offer the weak, crumpled-up version of myself before this woman I had vaguely been introduced to. Her sweet spirit and Godly wisdom were like drinking from a deep well of relief. She gave me permission to take some time off, to rest, to grieve, to heal, to allow God to make all things new in me.

Tears well up in my heart as I speak of her, as I share this power of permission. It's the power of a heart at peace. It's the power to stop doing, the practice of BEing. It's admitting our powerlessness, our weakness. It's the sobering realization that life will go on without us, people will adapt to our absence, and God is the only Provider of our needs.

When Jesus spoke these words in John 14, He was explaining to the disciples that His life and ministry would abruptly end. He was attempting to share that the road ahead was paved with His utmost humility. He would become powerless, weak, unable to lead them. He warned that they would grieve, but their grief would turn to joy. He was placing this work of church-planting into their hands.


Though it appeared that Jesus was the one in need of a counselor, He spoke to them of The Counselor that would come in His place. 
"But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid (John 14:26-27NLT)."
This word "counselor" is the powerful "parakletos" in Greek terms, which means "a person summoned to one's aid".  Jesus had been their wise counselor, but The Holy Spirit would continue the work Jesus had begun in them. He would direct and lead the disciples. He would come to live in the very depth of their being.

The Counselor is IN!
This Counselor lives and breathes in every Christian! He is our paraklete, our advocate, our personal assistant, our teacher. He is the spiritual compass that directs our path if we allow Him. One way He does this is to "remind us of everything" God has said to us in His word, which is also a reminder that we need to read His word!  He is the inner "peace" that Jesus promised to give us, the peace that comes through obedience.

Are you in need of wise counsel?
There is none wiser than the One implanted within the heart of every believer of Christ. Tap into this wisdom every day. "The Spirit helps us in our weakness (Romans 8:26)."

There are times we come to a fork in the road. We need a guide to help us navigate God's path. Don't be afraid to seek the help of a professional. When you do, be sure that person is in tune with the Holy Spirit. My counselor always pointed me to The Counselor who dwells within my very soul. Because of that, I am healthy and whole.

Continue to tune in this week as we take a closer look at the role of God's Holy Spirit in our lives. May you experience Him anew as you pause and seek Him today. Be blessed!







Saturday, April 14, 2012

50 Days of Holy! Just Come

"Come to me,
all of you who are weary
and carry heavy burdens,
and I will give you rest."
Matthew 11:28


I love to travel. My heart longs to go places I have never been. At the top of my "bucket list" is the longing to travel to distant lands, experience many cultures, meet people who are different than I am, minister to their needs, introduce them to Jesus, share the love of Christ.

This is a burden that often weighs on my heart and mind, especially as I get older and my body grows wearier.  Traveling takes a toll on my body. It seems I now have to remember to add a few days to my trip itinerary after I return just to rest from having been gone!

My hubby and I will be taking our annual vacation soon. It's a trip we look forward to all year. Sometimes, out of nowhere, he will smile at me and say, "Eight months (or whatever the length of time) from now we will be in Florida." It always catches me off guard because he begins the countdown even a few weeks after we return home!

As the weeks progress, I'm already thinking about the things I will pack. But every year, it seems when we get down to the wire, we pack in a last minute frenzy! In fact, I've noticed a trend of every trip. When I don't have time to plan in detail, I start throwing everything in! I tend to over-pack in fear of under-packing!

Overpacking definitely makes traveling more difficult. It's wearisome to lug all that baggage around: to be responsible for it at the airport, to lift it off the luggage rack, into the shuttle or rental car, into the hotel, up the elevator, into the room, and put it all away. Then, we have to do it all in reverse to get it back home!

There's much to glean from "traveling light". Yet, it seems that when it comes to life, few of us do. We carry around a lot of baggage. We are heavily burdened. The problems of life weigh us down.

In this passage, Jesus invites us to bring our baggage to Him. Yet, so often, He is our last resort. As a pastor and evangelist, it has amazed me when people put off  "coming to Jesus" until they get rid of their baggage or until they know more scripture, or until they get their personal lives straightened out...or until _____________. (You fill in the blank!) 

What's wrong with this picture of Jesus?

He is the only one who can take away our baggage, our burdens, the luggage of life that we carry around. We walk around like oxen, with a yoke around our neck, unhealthy attachments to unhealthy people, clinging to the past and to material things that are really worthless. We think, "I can't go to Jesus with this!"  As if He can't see it.


Take a trip to Jesus. He's inviting you to come. Not someday, but now.
Come with all your baggage, all your burdens, all your imperfections.
Come weary of your life so that you can recieve His life.
Come just as you are.


No matter how old we are, we are all growing older.
This is one trip you don't want to put off until "someday".
This is a trip we can and should take "everyday".
Make sure you bring all your baggage.
And be sure to leave it all there too.
Just Come.
 "Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you because I am humble, and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls (Matt. 11:29-30NLT)."
May this music video "Come to Jesus" (Chris Rice) lead you in your journey to Jesus today. May you experience His love and the presence of the Holy Spirit at work in your heart...

Friday, April 13, 2012

50 Days of Holy! Come Starving


50 Days of Holy!


"Come Starving"
by

Woven Leader Cheryl Simpson

It’s morning! Stretch! Time to get up, feeling full of life, so thankful for the blessings God has given. Praise the Lord for health, family, friends, provisions and the list goes on.
But first: breakfast! What will it be today? Oatmeal with blackberries? Protein drink? Greek yogurt and a banana? I've hardly eaten breakfast and I'm already planning lunch and dinner (and even tucking some almonds into my purse for a snack). Then I am reminded of Jesus words in Matthew 5:6,  
"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they shall be satisfied."
As part of my morning time with the Lord I recently started journaling. By reading back over my thoughts, I see a theme of righteousness. John MacArthur, author and theologian, writes about living a righteous, sanctified, holy life.
"Your appetite for righteousness should equal your appetite for food and water. True holiness begins with a love for Christ himself. That is what compels you toward greater sanctification. In Him you were saved which is the beginning of sanctification and in Him you have every resource necessary for progress in holiness.”
MacArthur quotes from J.N. Darby:
“To be hungry is not enough; I must be really starving to know what is in God’s heart towards me. When the prodigal son was hungry, he went to feed upon the husks, but when he was starving, he turned to his father."
Selah! Stop and consider...
It reminds me of King David when he came hungry, thirsty, starving, before God:
"As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God? My tears have been my food day and night (Psalm 42)."
Are you hungry? Or are you starving?
The difference is our desperateness.

So often we say we say we are hungry, but really just wanting to feed our own desires. It's unusual to be really starving. Isn't this true of our spiritual life also? We come to God just to feed our desires, to present Jesus with our list. When we are truly starving and desperate, when we know that nothing will satisfy us but the love of Christ, it's then that we genuinely come before Jesus, experience the closeness of the Holy Spirit, and get our lives in a right standing before God.

I pray that you will allow yourself to Come Starving before our Holy God, with an insatiable appetite for His Holy Spirit to fill you and redeem the broken places in your life, as you willingly surrender them to Him.

TRY THIS:  Sometimes our hearts grow numb to the Lord. We are used to having what we want when we want in. We can gain a whole new God-perspective by denying ourselves of things that we enjoy: watching television, eating three meals a day, a favorite snack, an hour of sleep.
  • Determine in your heart that you will replace one thing you treasure with more time spent in prayer.
  • Fast that item for a week or once a week for a month.
  • You will be surprised at how your appetite will turn toward your spiritual needs and you will experience Him anew!
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Cheryl is the grateful wife of 36 years to Ken. They have two children and five granddaughters. Previously a public school teacher, she now spends much of her week doing pastoral care for her church, Newark Church of the Nazarene.
She is a Woven Woman: a Woman of Virtue!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

50 Days of Holy! Come Bravely



50 Days of Holy!

"Come Bravely"
by
Woven Leader Kathleen Benis




Storms are scary for my little furry friend, a blind Shih Tzu. She lives in darkness. She hears the crackle of thunder and begins to shake with fear. I purchased a Thundershirt for her. It wraps around her, swaddling her tiny body. This makes her world safe again. It takes the things that were wrong and makes them right. It sets a new standard for her fear. The result is life changing. She is a new dog! 
 
 
In the moment of Jesus' death, the earth became a frightening place. Three hours of darkness covered the planet in mid-day. It shook as in a great quake with rocks splitting wide open. Three days later, the scene was quite the opposite. In the quiet stillness of early morning, Jesus arose from death to life.


Because of this pivotal point in history, we, too, can exchange these bodies of fear, doomed for death for bodies at peace, destined for eternal life. This exchange begins with repentance. Jesus exchanges our sin for his forgiveness. He puts us in a right standing before our transforming, renewing God. He invites us to enter into this process, to "become holy as he is holy".



"Be renewed in the Spirit, put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness (Eph. 4:23-24 NKJV)

Are you afraid in the storms of life?
Ashamed of your past?
Afraid of the future? 
Are you fearful of approaching our all-powerful, all-knowing God? 
Come to Jesus with your past, your present, your fears and your future. He is patiently waiting to comfort and renew your spirit. Like your own  personal "Thundershirt", He wraps you in His indwelling Spirit. He sets a new standard for your Christian walk. He exchanges your wrongness for His rightness...His righteousness...His holiness! 



"So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe. 15 This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. 16 So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most (Hebrews 4:14-16NLT)."
_______________________________________________

Kathleen's husband Larry has given her 31years of happiness and now a beautiful home in Newark, Ohio, near their son Nathan and daughter-in-"love" Michelle.
Kathleen loves the Lord and loves sharing insights from God's Word. She loves to help others walk through the hard times, celebrate the good times and give hope in the messy-ness of life.
She is a Woven Woman: a Woman of Virtue!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

50 Days of Holy! Come In Awe


50 Days of Holy!
"Come In Awe"
by
Kim James Dent

"Come up here," the heavenly voice trumpeted. Can you imagine what John felt when he was summoned by the Spirit into the very throne room of the Almighty God?

Revelation chapter four shares John's eyewitness account of this impromptu field trip to heaven. He describes the One sitting on the throne as having the appearance of jasper and carnelian. An emerald rainbow and twenty-four other thrones with gold-crowned elders, all dressed in white, surrounded the great throne. Lightning flashed. Thunder roared. Lamps were blazing. Crystal seas accentuated four creatures, covered in eyes, that echoed a continuous chorus of praise. 
"Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come(Rev. 4:8)."

The elders follow suit, casting their crowns at the foot of the One who sits on the throne.  And in unison they sing,


"You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being (vs.11)."


Wow! After reading that account, I have a renewed awe and fear of The Lord.
  • How often do I just barge in with my agenda, my worries, my prayers and my ideas? 
  • How often have I gone on and on and not allowed the time or the quiet to hear God's reply? 
  • How many times have I left His presence without basking in the glory and holiness of The Holy Spirit!
I wouldn't act that way with a friend…making it all about me, my stuff, my interests, my questions…and yet, if I am honest, I have done this very thing to my Lord.

When I take just a moment and consider to Whom I am speaking with before I pray, my only response is AWE...or stunned silence.  I'm sure that if I were face-to-face with My King, I would not be blathering on like I do in my everyday quiet time with Him. Why is that? Why do we often approach prayer as a given and halfheartedly throw our requests at God without giving it (or God) a second thought? Could it be that we have become too casual with God's Holiness?

Solomon has some heavy words for those of us who are quick to rush into God's presence.
"Guard your steps when you go to the house of God…Be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven and you are on earth. Therefore let your words be few (Ecclesiastes 5:1-2)."

What if The Lord summoned YOU to his throne room?
What do you think would be the first thing to come out of your mouth the moment you first saw God?   
Hmmm….seems I am suddenly speechless…drawn, like a moth to the flame, as I join the endless echoes of "Holy, Holy, Holy…"

My Holy Lord Jesus,
I come before you with repentance in my heart for the casual way I have entered your presence. May your Holy Spirit help me to grow in grace and humility as I gaze upon Your Holiness and quiet my heart before You. 
Teach me, Father, to revere your name. Not to shy away from you but to approach you as I should: with a heart of awe and love and reverence for the One who created me…the One who has given me my very life. To You O Lord be all the glory and honor and praise now and forever! In the sweet and holy Name of Jesus, Amen.

_______________________________________

Kim has been married to her high school sweetheart for 26 years. She and Mark have two beautiful daughters, Kaitlyn and Emily, a rescued mutt named Otis and a pleasantly plump cat named Oscar.

A former social worker and real estate agent, Kim now serves full time as Women's Ministry Director at High Mill Church in Canton, OH. Her mission is to inspire women toward courageous authenticity and freedom in Christ. She desires to be a woman who lives and loves like Jesus.

She is a Woven Women: a Woman of Virtue!