Gifts are Given, Fruit is Grown

It was so great to be with those of you who were able to be a part of our women’s evening last night! Loved hearing about your own journey in the word and through our study! Made me smile to see you love on each other during our prayer time, thank you for being a part!

indexJoy; it is a fruit of the Spirit. Fruits grow, there is nothing instant about them. The same would be true about Joy, it grows, there is nothing instant about it. Joy reveals a place of depth and determination to stay attached to the source. It is always disappointing when you buy fruit or produce that have been removed too soon from the vine, the expectation that the ripening process would continue the same without being attached is a fallacy. I think about the many times of my life where I got ahead of God and thought I could have a drop off point in spiritual maturity, where I would want to complete the growth cycle on my own. It didn’t last very long and it was never successful.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22,23, NIV

Don’t you love that last part, against such things there is no law? I always laugh a little when I read that line, it sounds a little sarcastic doesn’t it? Like when you say, It’s not going to hurt you to show a little kindness, one of those type of phrases. Looking through Galatians 5 however shows that the entire chapter is about the law, what is acceptable and what is not. The emphasis is that there is freedom to walk in the spirit and show the fruit of Christ, it’s legal.

Today take up your spiritually legal right and show some of the fruit that God has grown in you. Let your joy overflow on others today so that your Father in heaven will be glorified.

Today’s worksheet: handout 10_10_2013

Love being in the Word with you,

Cheryl J

Posted in Joy, Online Bible Study | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Better than your Best

The sun comes up, it’s a new day dawning
It’s time to sing Your song again
Whatever may pass, and whatever lies before me
Let me be singing when the evening comes

Bless the Lord, O my soul
O my soul
Worship His holy name
Sing like never before
O my soul
I’ll worship Your holy name

You’re rich in love, and You’re slow to anger
Your name is great, and Your heart is kind
For all Your goodness I will keep on singing
Ten thousand reasons for my heart to find

These are the words to Matt Redman’s worship song, 10,000 Reasons. Such a great song of the cry of the heart to exalt Him above all things, from the beginning of each day till the very end of the day. The sun comes up, it’s a new day, it’s time to sing your song again! Talk about a daily discipline of praise, which brings what into our lives? JOY!

We have the ability to determine the barometer of our soul by living lives that are focused on worshiping God throughout our day. As the song says, “Whatever may pass and whatever lies before me.” It isn’t about worshiping God when He causes good things to come my way, it’s about the fact that He is goodness!

Stay with me here…the goodness of God does an exchange in our spirit so that even in the midst of difficult circumstances, there can be a deposit of joy.

I am challenged by the desire we have to worship the lesser thing. We would rather worship the things we define as good than the one who IS goodness. Today He is calling for you to rise up and be Better than your Best has ever been, it is a new day! I love how this song also mentions that there are more than 10,000 reasons for my heart to find, reasons to praise Him for all His goodness, He is so much better than the best I can offer. How is your soul barometer today? Is the atmospheric pressure of your heart where it should be because you have determined to put your focus on the one who is better than all things? Can’t wait to see all of you tonight as we end the day in praise to the one who is all goodness! See you at 7:00 for our Women’s Evening Rally!! In preparation for this evening take a moment to read Psalm 103!

Love being in the Word with You!

Cheryl J

Posted in Joy, Online Bible Study | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

What’s your Song?

whatsyoursongredI am asking the Lord to make us aware of what we say under our breath. You know, the self talk, the frustrated venting, the sideways comments that we would never say at full volume. Does it surprise you sometimes when you catch yourself doing that, like where did that come from? How about if we paid attention to our self talk and focused that same energy on the things that grow our lives deeper.

This week we are focusing on living joy-filled lives and we find in scripture that God calls us to sing for joy, kind of like work for pay. There is an exchange that happens when we put the words in our heart with a song of praise and proclaim our worship as a song, it brings joy! Remember yesterday we talked about how joy is an expression, it is seen, and today we talk about how it is even heard.

Psalms 5:11-12 But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them ever sing for joy, and spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may exult in you. For you bless the righteous, O LORD; you cover him with favor as with a shield.

Psalms 47:1 Clap your hands, all peoples! Shout to God with loud songs of joy!

Psalms 63:5-7 My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food, and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips, when I remember you upon my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night; for you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy.

Psalms 96:11-13 Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice; let the sea roar, and all that fills it; let the field exult, and everything in it! Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy before the LORD, for he comes, for he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness and the peoples in his faithfulness.

Isaiah 12:6 “… Shout, and sing for joy, O inhabitant of Zion, for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.”

Some of you are all ready thinking this doesn’t apply to you because you are not a singer or a songwriter and so this must apply to someone else. Think again! This is about your heart song, it is not about a billboard ranking. The dictionary defines the word song as “a short poem or other set of words set to music or meant to be sung.” Your outward expression towards the one who loves you the MOST! Don’t get hung up on crafting a symphony, you are one part. What are the “set of words” in your heart that express your love and thanks to the Most High God? Give it a try today, sing out your praise and watch the exchange that He has for you!

Can’t wait to hear about your new song today!! Download today’s worksheet: handout 10_08_2013

Love being in the Word with you!

Cheryl J

Posted in Joy, Online Bible Study | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Joy in the Journey

joyful-childrenWhat is not to love about this picture? Even though we can’t see this little girls face as she jumps for joy at the ocean, we can certainly read her body language, it is a joy-filled moment!

Here we are, Monday morning, have you found anything to make you jump for joy yet today? No, me neither. Happy?  Yes.  Jumping yet? No. I was thinking about this as I was drinking my coffee, looking at my appointments today, planning my schedule….and I thought this: Happy is easy, but to have joy I need to be engaged. Joy is my expression back, think about it. Have you ever looked at someone and described them as full of joy without seeing some type of outward evidence of it?

Happy can be seen as contentment, more of a disposition, “she is a happy person, always pleasant and smiles.” Joy on the other hand is engaged, moving, measurable and makes you want to join someone on their joy journey.

Today my son Jordan and I went downtown to get his passport renewed. All of the usual drama as you enter a federal building these days, from going through security, watching a man get arrested who attempted to go through security before us, the waiting, the waiting, the waiting, you know the drill. As we were leaving the parking garage, the attendant who took my ticket and assisted me in paying for my parking was about as joyful as a person could be. She greeted me with an exuberant, “And how is your day?” to which I replied, “Great, how is yours?” and this is what I got, with a a lot of joy behind it, “Me? I’m living the dream!”

OK, so maybe her job is not a dream job, but her heart was full of joy. It wasn’t sarcasm, it wasn’t  put on. It was as sincere as anyone I have ever seen. It struck me so much that I repeated her expression, just the way she said it several times on our drive back to Issaquah, “Me? I’m living the dream!” How can you not admire someone with that much joy? It is inspiring to see and contagious by nature. She made me want to live the dream too.

Thinking about this; true joy can not be contained, it has to find an outlet, it was made to be expressed.

Isaiah 55:12 says “You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.”

I love this verse. As I was reading the commentaries for this scripture it explained that this verse was speaking of the captives returning from Babylon. How their joy would be so great that even the creation of nature would not be able to keep from joining in with their triumphant return. They were living the dream!

How about you? The bottom line is this, even though your circumstances may be full of great pressures, you can choose joy in the journey. How is God speaking to you today about your joy? Do you live it in such a way that others can’t help but see it and be caught up in it as well? Praying for you as you dig deeper in the journey, that your joy will be overflowing as we read in Romans 15:13, “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” 

Love being in the Word with you!

Cheryl J

Posted in Joy, Online Bible Study | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

The Reward of your Faith

faith typewriterWhat a great week we have had focusing on Faith! How faithful God is, how He wants to fill us with faith, having faith for others in their time of need, how to keep refilling our seed bag of faith; so many ways for us to consider how we need to walk in faith! Wrapping up today I want to drop a rock in the pond with this question, “Do you anticipate the reward of your faith?”

What does that question mean, and what exactly is the reward of our faith? The bottom line of our faith is that we are rewarded with eternity in God’s presence. For some this is something they would rather not think about because death or the return of Christ are the only passage ways to get there, and well, it feels rather morbid to say, “I am looking forward to death so I can spend eternity with God.” Can we change our words and thoughts regarding this?

I for one hope and want to live a long and healthy life enjoying the generations to come of my family. To see my children become parents and then grandparents, how awesome of a thought is that? But I also want to keep fresh in my heart that the promise of God is this, to spend eternity with Him. So how do I balance the two without sounding…..strange?

“So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.  For,  “In just a little while,  he who is coming will come  and will not delay.”” Hebrews 10:35-37

I love this thought of not throwing away my confidence. When we stay engaged our confidence in our calling and purpose are forefront. It is about His will and purpose for my life, not mine. He knows the exact number of days that I will walk this earth, the moments of engagement with others that he has prepared in advance for me to do….and for you to do! Life is not about chance, it is about purpose. When we walk engaged in a faith walk, our eyes are opened to the opportunities and preplanned divine appointments that he has scheduled every day for us. So do not throw away your confidence!

Recently we had a precious friend who pastors in the mid-west whose life was tragically lost at the young age of 55, very young! It is so hard in those moments to not feel like that one got by God, but you and I both know that this is not true. Nothing catches God unaware, and we have to hold on to our confidence when things don’t add up for us. When life seems to be cut short, or it doesn’t go in a way that we think it should. The reward of our faith is not having it always go our way, it is yielding to God’s way and the promise of eternity.

Today you are called to go about your day with expectancy, to trust in the one who holds all things. Pray to have your eyes of faith open to everything that God has scheduled as a divine appointment for you! You can trust Him today and you can trust Him with eternity, because he has set eternity in your heart.

He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” Ecclesiastes 3:11, NIV

Click here to download today’s worksheet: handout 10_04_2013

Love being in the Word with you,

Cheryl J

Posted in Faith, Online Bible Study, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Faith as a Deposit

DepositSlipThe dictionary definition for the word deposit in it’s verb form is this: “store or entrust with someone for safekeeping.” Today we are concentrating on Faith as a deposit, to be entrusted with faith for safekeeping. Which means we steward it, encourage growth in it, and have it in the ready for any moment the owner comes to claim it for His use.

How are you growing in your faith and determining to be in the ready as a faith-filled person for those moments where the owner calls you to step out in faith for His glory? This week we have laid the foundation for this discussion by talking about God’s faithfulness, the need for us to be faith-filled and yesterday we considered how we need to live life in such a way that we are giving out our faith on behalf of others. When we talk about faith as a deposit we have stepped into banking terms so let’s look at it in this light, as commerce.

  • Deposit: Store or entrust for safekeeping
    God has put a deposit of faith in you by the work of the Holy Spirit. The purpose is to grow you in faith, to mature you in the person God intends for you to be.  “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 Corinthians 1:22, NIV
  • Terms: Annual Percentage Yield, the compounding of interest.
    “For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge;  and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness;  and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love.  For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 2 Peter 1:5-8, NIV
  • Withdrawals: To take out of safe keeping for it’s intended purpose.
    “For it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.” Philippians 2:13, NIV

I am not sure what season of growing faith you are in, but you can trust that God is intentional towards you. He has placed the deposit of faith in you with the intent of growth, so that you will be active in kingdom work.

Stir up the gift that is deposited within you today. Ask the Lord to open your eyes to see what your part is in growing the gift of faith in your life. You may need to increase your watering through the word, growing in giving, or stepping out in places where you have habitually held back when you know God has prompted you to move forward.

“I remain confident of this:  I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.  Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” Psalm 27:13,14 NIV

Click here to download today’s worksheet: handout 10_03_2013

Love being in the Word with you!

Cheryl J

Posted in Faith, Online Bible Study | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Faith for each other

women and coffeeThere are moments in life when the crushing weight of circumstances are so great, you might not be able to grab a hold of faith for yourself. It is amazing how at just the right time, God sends someone along our path to love us enough and is willing to stand in the gap of faith on our behalf.

Have you ever stood beside someone and activated your faith on their behalf, when they didn’t seem able to have faith to believe on their own?

“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2, NIV

Same verse in The Message:

“Stoop down and reach out to those who are oppressed. Share their burdens, and so complete Christ’s law.” Galatians 6:2, The Message

Sometimes the act of faith is a physical expression and other times it is a spiritual expression; regardless we are called to carry one another in times of need. When someone feels beaten down by their circumstances in life, they may not have the emotional or physical strength to battle for themselves. This is where we activate our faith on their behalf, stand in prayer, and are called to action as an act of love and grace.

These very moments should be motivation for us to live our lives full of faith. Not only to please God by walking in obedience and being prepared for our own journey of faith, but for the times He is looking for a choice servant to send out in ministry on behalf of someone else. We are a blessing when we live equipped. (Hope you didn’t miss that line right there. If you did, go back and read it again!)

How is your seed bag of faith today? Are you filling it with just barely enough for you to consume daily, or are you living in such a way that your faith can reproduce at such a pace that there is always plenty to share with others. When you are in a situation where someone is burdened and broken do you faith to pour into their circumstances?

Rise up mighty women, as God is calling us to live outward focused lives that can be used by Him daily. May you walk with your head up to see the opportunities around you, where the overflow of God’s work in you blesses others.

No worksheet today; spend some time praying about how to grow your seed supply of faith for your life and to invest into the lives around you!

Love being in the Word with you!

Cheryl J

Posted in Faith, Online Bible Study | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

Full of Faith

purefaithWhat does it look like when someone is full of faith? How do you become someone that is recognized that way? Watch this progression: Faith filled> Faith Full> Faithful. If we want to be faithful, we need to be faith filled.

We fill our hearts and minds with a lot of things. Some positive, growing us towards a mature faith, other things cause us to doubt, fear and eventually erode our trust. When you want to become full of something you have to consume it, it needs to be a major part of your daily diet.

1 Peter 1:7, The Message “Pure gold put in the fire comes out of it proved pure; genuine faith put through this suffering comes out proved genuine. When Jesus wraps this all up, it’s your faith, not your gold, that God will have on display as evidence of his victory”

How powerful is that? What an amazing illustration of being faith filled, to be proved genuine. That means you are the real deal through and through. Nothing false or hidden to taint the outcome, but faith-filled which causes you to live faithful. How does Peter describe the process of our faith being proved genuine; through fire. Through being refined. There it is, it is about being refined.

You want to be a person of faith you say? So do I! Then why is it every time we feel the pressures of life, the areas of frustration and disappointment when things don’t play out exactly how we want we call into the question the goodness of God? In reality the refinement is in process. I know there are tragic moments in life, where we can’t see how a certain situation can be used for good. The truth is that many moments are not good, but God, who is rich in mercy, comes in and takes the scrap metal of tragedy and works to make a monument of grace when we have faith.

Friends, be consumed with faith. Allow your day to be led by your default being set to faith not fear, so when the refinement comes, and it will, you will be proved genuine. Then it will be your faith, not your gold that God will display as evidence of his victory, awesome!

Today’s worksheet: handout 10_01_2013

Posted in Faith, Online Bible Study | Tagged , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Great is Your Faithfulness

faith“Yet this I call to mind  and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,  for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.”
The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him,
  to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly  for the salvation of the Lord.” Lamentations 3:21-26, NIV

I have used this scripture once all ready in the last two weeks, but I am beginning with it again today for one reason: He is faithful! When everything else fails, He is still faithful! This week we are going to be focusing on faith, faithfulness, faith filled lives, and the reward of our faith. Are you ready for a faith filled journey this week?

This scripture has been a rock to me, literally. It has reminded to look back, make an account of all the places that God has been faithful to me. Then apply that to my present day or my future. Knowing that God is the same yesterday, today and forever I can rest assured that He will be faithful to me today and every day ahead of me. That isn’t a promise that things will go the way I want, but it is a place of confidence that He will walk me through whatever is ahead of me.

What is ahead of you today? Do you need to be reminded of God’s amazing grace and faithfulness in your life? Give an account, put it on paper, all the moments where his faithfulness has been evident in your life. When doubt overwhelms you or fear in the moment causes your heart to beat wildly, be reminded of His hand on your life.

Let’s work out our faith today by giving thanks together. I would love to hear how God has been faithful to you!

Today’s worksheet: handout 9_30_2013

Love being in the Word with you!

Cheryl J

Posted in Faith, Online Bible Study | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments

Forgiveness looks great in the rear view mirror.

rear-view-mirrorWe have spent a lot of time this week looking at the different sides of forgiveness; when you need to be forgiven, how to forgive yourself, forgiving others, forgiveness as a natural reaction, and grace with forgiveness. One of the best views of forgiveness is in the rear view mirror. The satisfaction of knowing, I didn’t think I could do that, and really I couldn’t; it was a God moment.

My husband uses this phrase a lot; “every nightmare is a great story once it’s over.” So true isn’t it?  Forgiveness is the same way; having surrendered our hearts by walking out grace in action to let something or someone go. It is a victory worth celebrating and a story worth repeating. It is a pleasant sight in the rear view mirror.

The other thing that stands out to me is the further down the road you get from the moment of forgiveness, the less you remember of the depth of the pain. You always remember it as a place of difficulty, but if true healing has taken place, then your memory is usually kind to you. Your tone even changes as you tell the story, there are seasoned words of grace and compassion woven in where there once were words of sarcasm, criticism and anger. Forgiveness, it changes the story.

Ephesians 2:7-10 from The Message, “7Now God has us where he wants us, with all the time in this world and the next to shower grace and kindness upon us in Christ Jesus. Saving is all his idea, and all his work. All we do is trust him enough to let him do it. It’s God’s gift from start to finish! We don’t play the major role. If we did, we’d probably go around bragging that we’d done the whole thing! No, we neither make nor save ourselves. God does both the making and saving. He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing.

I love this version of these verses. He does all the making and saving, we do the giving up and the letting go. I challenge you to carry forward a life of forgiveness every day. The best part about it, is getting a glimpse of God’s miraculous work in the rear view mirror.

Today’s worksheet: handout 9_27_2013

Love being in the Word with you!

Cheryl J

Posted in Forgiveness, Online Bible Study | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments