Lenten Devotion Day 1


Yuck COOTIES!

Bleeding Woman Luke 8:43-48

Discussion Questions

1. Do we still have “unclean” people in our communities today? Who are some of the unclean people?

Why do we think they are unclean?

2. Has anyone ever treated me like I was “unclean?” How did that make me feel?

3. Have I ever treated someone like they were “unclean?” Why did I treat them that way? How does that make me feel?

4. What can I do to stop myself from treating others like they are unclean?

5. As a parent, what lessons am I teaching my children about treating other people the way I want to be treated?

6. What lesson is there about bullying in this story?

7. What type of kindness can you do for an “unclean” person?

POWER Part 3: Women

One of the first places you should look when determining your call & where to utilize it is among the women in your life. I believe women have an incredible opportunity right now to encourage & support one another. You may not understand right away what you should do or how you can serve anyone but these are 3 questions to ask yourself to help with the process:

  1. Who do I know?: Consider the women in your life right now. Quietly think about them & see whose name rises to the surface. I often think of this as being like a Magic 8 Ball, however, instead of shaking things up, you need to sit quietly & turn your mind to God. He knows the women in your life that need your help & He is ready to share those names with you. You must, however, ASK!
  2. What do they need?: Once you have some names in mind, you need to determine what they need. This takes a bit of time as you consider THEIR needs not what you THINK they need. This can be a problem. Yo become so anxious to help, you jump in before surveying the situation & determining their felt needs. Whether you agree or not is irrelevant. Take care of their felt needs first & then you can move on to other needs as you see them after.
  3.  How can I help?: Once you understand their felt needs, you need to gain an understanding of why God is calling you to help them with this specific issue. There may be others helping the same woman with the same problem in different ways. You bring something specific to the problem which is why God put you there. Never doubt you have something to offer.

You want to take time to determine who needs your help  & how you are able to help them, however, you still want to act in a timely matter. When God calls, you want to answer right away.

POWER Part 2: Opportunities

It can be difficult, very difficult to discern God’s call on your life. I have struggled with this many times. It becomes frustrating, floundering around, trying one thing or another as we attempt to understand just what God wants. I worry too many times we simply give up trying. Life is busy & we just don’t have time trying to figure out what we are supposed to do.

Rather than trying to do this on your own, it’s time to rely on God to show you what He wants. There are 3 things you can do to help you in this process:

  1. Stop: It’s time to stop struggling, to stop doing it on your own. Time to stop making excuses. God is waiting for you to ask Him for help. He is ready to lay out His plan. Perhaps not all at once but in bite-size pieces so you are not overwhelmed & you are able to move ahead.
  2. Look: Take time to look around & see the opportunities right in front of you. It’s so easy to spend time looking ahead, trying to see what’s coming down the road that you miss what God has placed right in front of you. I often imagine these opportunities are standing directly in front of me, jumping up & down, yelling, “Here! Here! Look down! Look at me!” The opportunity to serve may be much closer than you imagine.
  3. Listen: Listen to the people around you. Your greatest opportunity may be among those closest to you. Not necessarily your family but the people you encounter on a regular basis or someone close to a person that is close to you. Listen to the things people are saying to you or saying near you.

Finding your call may be easier than you ever imagine. You must simply take the time to stop, look, & listen to discover what has been there all along.

POWER Part 1: Positive Attitude

Nothing can revive you or awaken the Spirit within you like a positive attitude. Despite your best efforts, it can be tough to remain positive. I personally believe you have to work to remain positive. It’s not that you are a negative person. It’s just that a negative attitude tends to come more naturally.

When I talk about a negative attitude, I don’t mean a “woe is me!” approach to life. I believe it’s part of your nature to consider the worst case scenario so we can prepare for it. Usually, you don’t dwell on these negative thoughts, however there are times women struggle with worries & anxiety. These cause stress & stress reduces the ability of the Spirit to work. Therefore, it’s imperative for you to focus on remain positive. Here are 3 tools to help you strengthen your positive attitude:

1. Prayer: Prayer helps in so many ways. It allows you to surrender your fears to the Lord. Fear is one of the greatest obstacles in life so it’s important for you to take steps to reduce your fear. Prayer also puts you in touch with the Spirit. The more you interact with the Spirit within you, the more connected you become with It. Prayer also gives you the opportunity to face your negative thoughts & fears. Too often, we try to ignore them, hoping they will simply go away. They don’t go away. Instead they grow & continue to grow until our face them. Begin with prayer so you don’t face them alone.

2. Motivational Material: Discover what helps keep you uplifted & motivated then use those materials regularly. It might be books, movies, audio programs, YouTube channels, & more. You might have quotes that keep you focused. Write them on sticky notes & put them where you see them regularly. Spend time every morning, even just a few minutes reading or listening to empowering material. Begin your day with strength & energy. Consider it your spiritual caffeine. You need to determine what materials empower you. Others can make recommendations but it is ultimately up to you.

3. Scripture: The most powerful motivational material is Scripture. The Word of God has the answer to your problems, is able to overcome your fear & anxiety. On Pinterest, I have seen graphics offering passages for different issues you may face in life. These lists are handy when you are struggling. You might also make note of the different passages that inspire you. Use sticky tabs in different colors to represent the areas you need to focus on. If reading the Bible,is new to you or you struggle to understand the meaning, you might read devotions instead. Short passages with a paragraph or two reflecting on the verse may be more to you liking. Devotions may also be a quicker way for you to get your daily shot of spiritual power. I would rather have you read a brief passage or devotion daily than have you struggle to find time to study a long detailed passage.

Prayer, motivational material, & Scripture are the 3 most powerful ways for you to remain positive, control fear, & empower your life! Use daily for the greatest benefits,

Revival Introduction

When most of us think of revival, we picture a church meeting where the preacher warns us of the sinful lives we are living & works to dedicate ourselves to getting on the right path with God. This is one type of revival but I want to discuss something different.

When I think of revival, I think of reawakening. Perhaps this is what pastors are working to do at those religious meets: working to reawaken the Spirit within us. That’s part of what I help you do this month. More importantly, I want to help you reawaken the passion in your life.

Think back to when you were in high school or college. Life lay ahead of you & you were excited to go out there & make your make. You had passion. Then life go in the way. Jobs, bills, family, responsibilities, schedules, they all took up so much of your time, you simply couldn’t take time for your passion any more. Soon, you forgot all about it. God, however, never forgot about it.

I believe God put you here for a specific reason & that reason gave you your passion. The Spirit within you lit a fire that burned bright until the stress of life pushed it so deep within you that you couldn’t feel it anymore. I’m not saying you lost your faith but there is more to being a Christian than just that. Your passion, the Spirit make your faith stronger & more powerful than you imagine.

So how do you reignite your passion? How do you revive it? I believe it takes POWER to do that. Five items that help you better understand the plan God has for your live. It’s time to shake things up. It’s time to stop going through the motions. It’s time to understand your true purpose in life. It’s time for Revival!

Beginnings

I’ve been missing for most of January. I needed to take some time off, to spend time in prayer and reflection, trying to determine the direction I need to go with my ministry, with my life, ways that enable me to help women as they struggle in their daily life.

The last two years have been hard on all of us but they’ve been especially hard on women.We’ve been focused on scene to the needs of everybody around us our families are friends or coworkers and for the most part we have neglected her own needs and now it’s starting to take its toll.

I’ve come to the realization I have all the tools everything I need to make this work.  I simply need to start and that’s been the problem. I believed everything needed to be perfect, that I needed to have things just so in order for it to work. Now I realize that I just need to do it.  As the saying goes, it’s time for me to jump and grow my wings on the way down.

This year I’m on a journey, a virtual journey to begin. I plan to reach out to women across the country, to bring them together, online for right now, and connect them with like-minded women, women who are facing the same challenges, the same struggles even the same joys that they are experiencing. I know many of you are lonely. You think you’re on this journey by yourselves but you’re not. I think the problem is you never look around to see the other women on the exact same journey.

I know you’re tired. We’re all tired. I know you’re frustrated. We’re all frustrated. I know this is been a very long two years,  for some of you may be even longer but I know you’re strong and that we can get through this. Even more, I know we’re made stronger when we unite with one another, when we come together and work together, pooling our talents, our resources, our abilities to help encourage, equip, and empower each other and that’s what we’re going to do this year.

As I said, this is a journey, a process. It’s not something that’s going to happen overnight. It’s going to move forward by baby steps and then backwards by giant steps and sometimes, it won’t move at all. We’re going to have to work to make progress but I know we can work together to make it happen.

To begin, it’s time for you to recharge yourself so I’m going to do a series of posts on power.Each letter offers you tips, ways to renew yourself, to recharge yourself.

I guess that’s all I have for today for this post. I have so much in my heart, so much in my mind to share with you. I know  you’re struggling but I also want you to know you are not alone. We’re going to work together and it’s going to be a great year. In the meantime, just see the joy in your life and have a great day.

Christmas Day

Lack of Fear The Women at the Tomb

Lesson Verse Matthew 28:1-7

Introduction

I know this is an Advent study for Christmas. This is also the story of fear, how it came into the world and how Jesus, even before He was born, worked to eliminate fear from our lives forever. In order to fulfill God’s call on your life, you must first learn to control your fear and strengthen your faith. Overcoming your fear to do as God asks may reward you in ways you can’t imagine, just like the women at the tomb!

Key Points

  • When Adam & Eve ate the fruit, they not only sinned, they brought fear into the world
  • From the beginning, the message of Jesus has been “Fear Not!”
  • With the resurrection of Jesus, not only are our sins forgiven, our fear has been eliminated

When Adam & Eve ate the fruit, they not only sinned, they brought fear into the world

Many people think Adam and Eve ate from the Tree of Knowledge, a tree whose fruit gave the two of them wisdom. They did not. Adam and Eve ate fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good from Evil. The fruit gave the two of them discernment. I believe before they ate the fruit, Adam and Eve did not understand the difference e good and bad. After creating everything, God looked at His creation and declared it all GOOD! To Adam and Eve, everything was good. Like very small children, they had no understanding of bad.

Now, I know God told them not to eat the fruit of the one tree, however, when someone else came along and said it was alright to eat the fruit, they accept his opinion. Much like children following the instructions of adults even when those children have been told not to, Adam and Eve simply didn’t know any better.

Once they ate the fruit, Adam and Eve could see and feel evil. Where once everything was good, suddenly they saw things that were not good at all, things that were very bad. Eating the fruit didn’t simply bring sin into the world. Eating the fruit brought FEAR into the world and with fear came sin. Sin does not exist on its own. Sin is a powerful symptom of fear. How do we know they were suddenly afraid? Scripture tells us right after eating the fruit, Adam and Eve covered their nakedness because they were ashamed and when they heard someone walking in the garden, they hid because they were afraid.

Once Adam and Eve ate the fruit, once fear and sin had been released into the world, the books of the Old Testament are filled with stories of people being overcome by their fear and, as a reaction to their fear, sinning.

From the beginning, the message of Jesus has been “Fear Not!”

Each time a person encounters an angel in the birth story, the first words the angel says to them is, “Fear Not!” or don’t be afraid or some other variation. Even before Jesus was born, His story was one of faith, not fear. Jesus came to eliminate, not just your sin but also the fear that often causes you to sin.

Throughout the Gospels, Jesus shares a message of hope, telling people not to be afraid, not to worry about anything. His message was meant to strengthen your faith and turn your energy and faith to working for the Kingdom of God. Jesus offered ways to help you grow spiritually and focus on God’s call on your life.

With the resurrection of Jesus, not only are our sins forgiven, our fear has been eliminated

Finally, the story comes full circle. When the women arrived at the tomb on Resurrection Sunday, they find Jesus is gone and an angel is waiting for them with a message, “Fear Not! He is not here. He is Risen.” The first words that announced the coming of the Baby Jesus were Fear Not. The first words heard by the women following Jesus’ resurrection were Fear Not!

On Easter Sunday, the women and the world learned that with the resurrection of Jesus, not only was your sin eliminated but your fear had also been eliminated. You have no reason to be afraid any longer.

Faith Vs Fear

The opposite of fear is not courage. The opposite of fear is faith. You can be very afraid and still do something courageous. The way to eliminate your fear, or at least control your fear is to strengthen your faith. You do this through prayer, reading Scripture, Bible studies, church, fellowship with other Christians, and with your family.

You are the heart of your family. You have an obligation to help them grow in faith so all of you become stronger and less fearful. It is important to clarify the difference between guilt and fear so you are able to recognize when your fear is out of control and take steps to overcome it. You must also remain strong in faith to help your family overcome any fear they might have. It can be difficult, I know. You are often concerned about your children and this can grow into fear. Recognize when this is happening so you can stop it right away.

Discover ways to identify your fear, grow your faith, and use that faith to conquer your fear. Then you are able to grow into the Empowered Woman God sees!


For Today

Christmas comes at the end of the year & this is the perfect time to consider the message of Fear Not! It’s too easy to live in fear. Fear is sneaky. You don’t always realize how frightened you are, especially if this is a normal way of life for you. Time to overcome fear. Time to step out boldly. Time to strengthen faith and say’ “Here I Am, Lord!”

How can you overcome the fear in your life?

How can you give yourself the gift of faith?

The Fourth Sunday in Advent

Lack of Status The Shepherds

Lesson Verse Luke 2:8-20

Introduction

On the night Jesus was born, the angel appeared to one of the most under appreciated groups in the community. The angel had appeared first to Zechariah, a priest. Then to Mary, the mother of Jesus. Then to Joseph, husband of Mary and father on Earth of Jesus. The three of them are held in high regard. We understand why the angel appeared to all of them, why the angel had a message for them. Why did God send His angel to the shepherds? For me, this is the most important appearance of all.

Key Points

  • The shepherds were considered unclean
  • They lived on the fringe of society
  • The shepherds were welcomed at the stable

The shepherds were considered unclean

The shepherds lived outside of town, staying with their sheep. They lived and worked with animals so the shepherds were considered unclean. They were not allowed to associate with other people in the community because they were unclean. If they touched someone else, it would make that person unclean, a condition that could only be corrected through a cleansing ritual. Therefore, the shepherds kept to themselves.

They lived on the fringe of society

Like most people who are scorned and held in low regard, the shepherds lived on the fringe of society. They stayed with their sheep, keeping them safe from harm. Living on the fringe, the shepherds might not have known much about their faith. We don’t know what their background might be. Did they come from a family of shepherds? Did they have no family? Did their family stay with them? Shepherds didn’t seem to associate with the people in the cities. They stayed out in the wilderness where their sheep could find food and water. The shepherds never left their sheep, allowing them to protect their flock from any harm.

The shepherds were welcomed at the stable

I imagine the shepherds hesitated to go into town. The angel, however, told them where they would find this very special child so they went to see Him. If there had been room at the Inn, if Mary had given birth to the baby in a room there, the shepherds might not have felt comfortable going inside. They might nave been stopped from entering. The baby was born in a stable, though, as place the shepherds felt very comfortable in. Not only did they feel comfortable entering the stable, they found they were welcomed by Mary and Joseph.

Even as a new born child, Jesus was able to reach out to the lowest in society and the highest, with the Kings. Everyone was welcome into the presence of the Child.

Faith Vs Fear

All of us find ourselves in situations where we feel intimidated. Your fear in the situation, the people may overcome your faith in yourself. You might have a strong desire to simply stay home. I’m sure some of the shepherds hesitated to seek the newborn child. They found comfort in the hills with their sheep. Then they took a breath and stepped out to see this baby for themselves. And what a wise decision that turned out to be? Who knows how their lives were impacted by their encounter with the Christ Child.

Like the shepherds, you have no idea what you might encounter when you step out of your comfort zone this Holiday season. Even if you don’t have a life changing moment like the shepherds, you may experience something you never imagined happening. None of us know what awaits us on the other side of the door, the other side of our comfort zone. Like the shepherds, you need to step out in faith, having confidence in, if not yourself, then the Lord who only wants the best for you.

For Today

The shepherds were outsiders yet God, through the angels, invited them to be among the first to see the Christ Child. Leaving the safety and comfort of the fields, they took a bold step and went to find the Child.

You may find God calling you to go somewhere outside your comfort zone or to do something that makes you uncertain. Time to take a breath and step out boldly!

The lives of the shepherds had to have been changed by their encounter with Jesus. Such a small act had such a deep impact on our society. Even as an infant, Jesus was in the company of everyone in society, even those seen as outcasts or those on the fringe.

Your life may be changed by stepping out into the world and going where God leads. This doesn’t mean He is going to send you anywhere dangerous just somewhere outside your comfort zone. Perhaps a women’s group in another church or working at a shelter. Wherever it might be, you can rest assured you never go alone. Just like the shepherds, wherever God leads you, you always find Jesus there!