Saying Yes to God Every Morning

Lysa TerKeurst says,

“…Satan hates the radically obedient soul. He hates it when a person jumps off the fence of complacency and into the center of God’s will. There is a spiritual battle raging around us and, because of that, life can be hard. While saying yes to God does bring blessing, it’s not easy. If our desire for obedience is born merely out of duty, we may be quick to give up. However, if our desire is born out of delight, out of a love relationship that burns deep in our soul, it won’t be extinquished–no matter the cost.”

I’ve been reminded this week of the intensity of the spiritual battle we face. First there has been the last minute rush to get my five children ready for school. Usually school doesn’t start until after the September long weekend, and usually I’ve purchased all the necessary school supplies weeks before school starts. This year, due to busyness the purchases didn’t get made until this week and school starts tomorrow! I’ve found myself tempted to be impatient with my children, short with my husband, and discontent with my lot in life. which way?Secondly, I’m facing several transitions right now. My husband is transitioning from working away from home to working at home. My children are transitioning to school, including my youngest daughter. Which means I’m transitioning to having an “empty nest” during school hours. I’m also transitioning out of my position as school board trustee to being home and teaching Music for Young Children. There have been several times in the past couple of weeks when my resolve to step down from my school board position has been tested. However, God continues to confirm that now is the time to build into the lives of my children. Thirdly, there have been struggles in several of the areas where I volunteer my time. One morning I literally woke in a panic because of some of the circumstances I was facing.

I have a lot of knowledge about God – my parents were missionaries, I accepted Christ as my Saviour at an early age, and I was also privileged to attend school at Prairie Bible College where my faith was grounded in the Word of God. However, each day, several times throughout the day, I still have to choose to follow God and allow Him to work in me and through me. I have decided to start each morning off on the right foot by saying a prayer similar to what follows:

Good Morning, Father

Thank you for the gift of this new day, for air to breathe and strength to breathe it, for your presence with me no matter what. Thank you that you are aware of my personal limitations due to time, commitments, and physical strength (or lack thereof). Today I choose to place my life in your hands again. I give you my desires and goals, my fears and limitations, my time and energy. Today I say, “Yes, God” to whatever you bring across my path, no matter what, no matter when, no matter the cost. I choose to be faithful to Your calling on my life, even if I don’t understand. I choose to be faithful, not necessarily successful; and I leave the results in Your hands. In Jesus’ name, Amen

How do you start your day? What is the prayer of your heart? I look forward to hearing from you.

Arming ourselves with the Word of God

In Ephesians 6, the Apostle Paul urges us to “be strong in the Lord” and “put on the full armor of God”, including “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” This week in our Proverbs 31 online Bible study, we were challenged to do this by “verse mapping” one of the Scriptures mentioned in Chapter 4 of What Happens When Women Say Yes to God.

Heather Blier talks about verse mapping on her blog. These are the steps she suggests going through when you read a verse or passage:

Holy Bible1. Personalize it…cross out words like “you”, “we”, “whoever”, “them” and write your name above it.
2. Highlight parts that jump out at you.
3. Read the verse in context – the whole chapter or passage.
4. Read the verse in at least two other translations. Note on the card words or phrases from other translations that help you understand or apply the verse.  If you don’t have other translations laying around the house a couple of good resources for several translations are BibleGateway and YouVersion.
5. Find cross references and note anything brings new meaning. Cross references are verses that have similar words or phrases. My Bible has them listed in the center column.  Other’s have them in footnotes at the bottom. Bible Gateway and YouVersion both can help you find some.
6. Circle a word or two and do a word study on it.
● Look up the word in your dictionary and see if the definition gives you any insight
● Use a topical index and/or concordance in the back of your Bible to find other verses
where the word appears
● Look up synonyms (same meaning) and antonyms (opposite meaning) in a concordance or online Bible tools site to find other verses.

The passage I picked to take a closer look at is 2 Corinthians 5:14-18:

14 For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.

16 So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:[a] The old has gone, the new is here! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: (NIV)

Here is my paraphrase of the passage after I went through the verse mapping process:

The love of Christ strongly urges, even forces me (see I Corinthians 9:16 and Jude 1:3) to live for Him. You see, I know that Jesus Christ died on the cross for me and rose again. When I chose to follow Him, I died to my old sinful self along with all my selfish desires. I no longer see things the same way. My perspective, goals, and desires are new. Instead of seeking for pleasure and happiness, my ultimate goal is to honour and obey Jesus Christ. This is because Jesus Christ paid the penalty for my sin and made it possible for me to have a restored relationship with God the Father. I’m no longer a prisoner of sin, but a child of the King. It is now my desire and obligation to share the good news of what God has done for me with those around me so that they too repent and choose to have fellowship with God.

Do you have other suggestions on ways to study God’s Word? Which verses or passages have you been studying lately? I look forward to hearing what you’re learning in your walk with God.

Radical Obedience to God

As I look back on my life, there are moments which stand out as crossroads — times when I’ve had to decide whether I will follow what God is calling me to or not.

December 2007 was one of those times. I was happy to be a “stay-at-home” Mom to our five young children. My life revolved around my family and our church. There was a municipal election in October 2007, which included electing school board trustees. The election ended with a vacancy in our area. In December, God impressed upon my heart that I needed to put my name forward for this position. This was definitely beyond my comfort zone. I argued for a couple weeks. Then I asked my husband what he thought. I was surprised when he agreed that I should pursue the idea. I talked to several other godly people in my life, outlining why I SHOULDN’T do this. However, each and every one of them encouraged me to go forward. I ended up participating in the bi-election in March 2008 and was elected to my first term as a school board trustee with Northern Lights School Division No. 69.

Northern Lights School Division Board of Trustees 2010-2013

Fast forward to January of this year, 2013. I was serving my second term as a trustee, thoroughly enjoying the work, and looking forward to putting my name forward for a four-year term, beginning in October. God started impressing upon my heart that I needed to step back from my position as a trustee. Again, I argued for a while. In fact, I was still arguing until May. (Why does it take me so long to learn?!) I continually cried out to God to show me His will, but refused to listen to the still, small voice I heard. Finally, in May I realized that if I wanted to pursue being a Music for Young Children teacher, I wouldn’t be able to be on the school board. The day I decided not to put my name forward again, God’s peace flooded my soul. Interestingly, the people who encouraged me to run in 2008 are now encouraging me to step down, even though at first they questioned the change.

In our online Bible Study, “What Happens When Women Say Yes to God”, Lysa gives a 5-question filter for discerning God’s voice. These questions include:

  1. Does what I’m hearing line up with Scripture?
  2. Is it consistent with God’s character?
  3. Is it being confirmed through messages I’m hearing at church or studying in my quiet time?
  4. Is it beyond me?
  5. Would it please God?

Obeying God by giving up my position as a school board trustee has opened other opportunities for me.

  • I am able to offer Music for Young Children lessons in my home, which allows me to decide how much time I will dedicate to working.
  • I have signed a contract with Helping Hands Press to participate (by writing a 8-9,000 word short story) in a Christmas series with Kathi Macias.
  • I have been asked to take over as President of InScribe Christian Writers’ Fellowship

If I was clinging to my position as trustee, I wouldn’t have the ability to participate in these exciting opportunities, all of which will stretch me and cause me to rely on my Heavenly Father in a new way.

What about you? Are you stepping out in radical obedience? I’d love to hear about it.

Saying “Yes” to God – A Soul Longing for More

ImageThis week I started participating in the Online Bible Study “What Happens When Women Say Yes to God” through Proverbs 31 Ministries. Lysa challenged us to consider the answers to the following questions:

  • What are some actions steps you can take each day to become more aware of God’s presence?
  • How can you intentionally pursue God even in the middle of “life’s mundane activities?

The action steps that I’m choosing are:

  1. Stopping for a few moments when I wake up each morning to acknowledge God’s presence and ask for His guidance. “Yes, God, I’m listening to you and ready to do what you ask me today.”
  2. Choosing to seize the moments throughout each day when I’m tempted to go my own way and follow God’s leading instead.

So how can I acknowledge God in the midst of the mundane activities? I have many opportunities in my roles of mother to five children, wife, and community member.

  1. When my kids are bickering and I’m tempted to yell and get upset, I can choose a soft voice as I deal with the situation.
  2. When my husband is working instead of spending time with me and I’m tempted to roll over and give him the cold shoulder when he comes to bed, I can choose instead to welcome him with a smile and ask him how his day went.
  3. When someone drops by unexpectedly while I’m working on a project and I’m tempted to send them on their way as quickly as possible, I can choose to be sensitive to God’s spirit and listen as long as they want to talk, encouraging them with my nods and words.
  4. When my kids act up in church while I’m trying to lead a worship service, I can remember what it’s like to be a child and gently correct them after the service is over.

What about you? Will you join me in saying “yes” to God?