NEW SESSION BEGINNING...

A new session of STAND will begin on Monday, September 14. For more information, please visit www.the52project.com and click on the links for "Stand." Our last session together was WONDERFUL... you won't want to miss this study!

Ready to jump in? Why not take a picture of your rainy day shoes (or you know... boots, flip-flops, bare feet... whatever!) E-mail your photo to the52project@gmail.com And we'll post them with your first name along the side-bar.

Can't wait to study with you!!!
Love, Mary

Monday, July 27, 2009

Thank you to everyone involved in this study. I have been learning so much both from the study and from other sources over the past couple of months. I guess what it all boils down to is this -- God is big. Huge. We can either recognize that or ignore Him, and our society tries to get us to choose the latter. After all, acknowledging a mighty God means that certain things should come as our response -- obedience, submission, humility. All things that we don't particularly like to do. But, even though we deserve it, God's ways aren't about beating us down and making us miserable (although, again, this is what society tries to tell us)! His rules are simply for our well-being (something we don't seem to handle very well when left to our own devices) and for eternal purposes (rather than instant earthly gratification). Following the path that God lays before us (rather than our own road) isn't easy -- after all, it's called the NARROW gate :) But it's not about us and what WE are able to do. If that's all it was, there'd be no sense in even trying. It's about what GOD can do THROUGH us when we allow it. Allow it by praising Him for who He is and what He does, even when all the details of our lives aren't happy. Allow it by breaking the status quo and seeking HIS will rather than automatically just doing what we want, think, or feel like doing. Allow it by changing our perspective - on what we think is important, on how we define our circumstances, on how we view our time here on earth. Allow it by following God and His guidance no matter what everyone around us thinks about it. The surrender of our will and our ego. It's simultaneously that simple and that difficult. But when I start thinking about how hard it is, I come full circle and again start thinking about how big God is ... and how submission is the ONLY reasonable response [read Revelation 4:3-8]. Please pray for me as I continue to struggle with submitting ... hope you all have a great rest of the summer!!
- Amy

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Thursday, July 23

Good morning :) I hope you're doing well this morning and that you've had some good time in prayer!

For today... (Drumroll please...) we'll be doing personal study on the word "share." :) Practical application, my friends! I'd suggest writing the verses you find on note cards... "meditate on them day and night" as they say :) You'll be so, so glad that you did!

SHARE.
You may want to try other words as well along this theme. Some suggestions are praise, act, speak, and tell.

In so doing, remember our key verse on this topic: (definitely note card and memorization worthy... just sayin!)

Philemon 6
I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ.

Also remember: 1 Peter 3:15 But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give reason for the hope that you have. But do it with gentleness and respect...

Happy studying to you! I KNOW that each and every day truly invested in your knowing, living, and sharing, will result in unspeakable joy!

TODAYS DISCUSSION BELOW IN PURPLE:
Here are a couple of verses that jumped out at me:
"Do not forget to do good to others, and share with them, because such sacrifices please God". - Heb. 13:16
God is the One who made all things, and all things are for his glory. He wanted to have many children share his glory, so he made the One who leads people to salvation perfect through suffering. - Heb. 2:10

I like these verses for a couple of reasons. First, how UNFATHOMABLE is it that God wants to share the most awesome thing in all of existence - HIS GLORY - with us?! Wow. And to think that I don't want to share simple lil' earthly things with people sometimes! Although I also like that Hebrews 13:16 acknowledges that sharing isn't always easy - referring to it as a "sacrifice." Nonetheless it is so much less than God shares with us, and I'm so glad that we have an infinitely generous God. I take this for granted sometimes, but God doesn't have to be so generous with us, so faithful, so loving, so merciful. Lord, please remind me of the big picture - YOU and your awesome gifts to us - when I get caught up in whining about some of life's small details!

- Amy

The verses that came to mind tonight when I was thinking about "sharing" are:

II Cor. 5:11 - Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade men.
II Cor. 5:11 -
We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.

What I notice about these particular verses is that it's more of a pleading, almost a begging. It's not "shoving the Gospel down people's throats", but rather lovingly showing them God's compassion for them and HIS desire for a personal relationship with them.

- Lori
I went back to Philippians to see what Paul had to say about sharing. What an awesome example of that! He wrote a book about rejoicing in the Lord while he was in prison!!!
~Philippians 1:14 -- "...and that most of the brethren, trusting the Lord because of my imprisonment, have far more courage to speak the word of God without fear."
While the verse above talks about what we generally think of as sharing (speaking), the ones below focus on a different kind of sharing...
~Philippians 2:17-18 -- "But even if I am being poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I rejoice and share my joy with you all. You too, I urge you, rejoice in the same way and share your joy with me."
~Phil. 4:14 -- "Nevertheless, you have done well to share with me in my affliction."
It struck me that seeking joy and sharing that with others is such a strong testimony. And it's just plain encouraging to other believers. What a blessing of being part of the body of Christ. =)

-MarySusan

Wednesday, July 22

Good morning and happy coffee to you!

Wow thank you for the research you did on KNOW. It's so awesome to just sit and read what God teaches each one of us and learn from it. What an awesome thing He does teaching us individually, and yet grouping us together to learn from one another!

Today... we'll do the same thing on LIVE.

Ready... set... GO!

Make sure you take time to read through all of the submissions yesterday. Again, feel free to send in several verses, or only one. That's fine too!!! Whatever time permits. Don't forget the Bible Concordance found all the way on the bottom of this page. However if you have one in the back of the Bible it might serve you better for today. For some reason this one is not showing results for live, but you can try another word that is similar. My Bible concordance had ALOT of references.

Have a wonderful day asking God to reveal to YOU what HE means when He teaches us how to LIVE. You'll be so, so glad you did.

I'm praying for you today my friend!

* Will you take a moment today to visit the blog, read what others know and share something you know? And while you're at it... :) Have you checked out the prayer wall? Please feel free to send requests, and please pray for others. I had the incredible honor of meeting a precious friend last night who has requested prayer, and needs it so desperately. Please lift one another up as a family serving the Lord. Thank you for your friendship and your partnership! :)

TODAY'S DISCUSSION BELOW IN GREEN:
Here's one of my favorites about what's LIVING:

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In His great mercy He has given us new birth into a LIVING HOPE through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade - kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith - of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire- may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory, and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen Him, you love Him and even though you do not see Him now, you believe in Him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls. 1 Peter 1:3-9

SO... no matter what I face as I LIVE... HE is my LIVING HOPE. :) Love it!!!

love, mary

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

My LIFE hasn't exactly turned out how I expected . . .and I'm at a crucial point right now where I'm asking God to show me my purpose and to lead me into the specific areas where He's working and how He would have me serve. It's so easy to get bogged down and discouraged in the Czech Republic (where I live) and to lose focus. I truly want to live a "purpose-driven life" - that phrase just strikes a chord with me. As did the following verses:

Ps. 119:175 - "Let me LIVE that I may praise you . . ."
Mt. 22:32 - "He is not the God of the dead, but of the LIVING."
Rom. 12:1 - " . . .offer your bodies as LIVING sacrifices . . .this is your spiritual act of worship."
Deut. 30:19 - "This day . . .I have set before you LIFE and death, blessings and curses. Now choose LIFE so that you and your children may LIVE and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your LIFE."
Ps. 39:4-5 - " . . .let me know how fleeting is my LIFE . . .Each man's LIFE is but a breath . . ."Ps.104:33 - "I will sing to the Lord all my LIFE; I will sing praise to my God as long as I LIVE."
Jn. 10:10 - "I have come that they may have LIFE, and have it to the full."
Acts 20:24 - "However, I consider my LIFE worth nothing to me, if only I may complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me - the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace."
I Thes. 4:12 - "so that your daily LIFE may win the respect of outsiders . . ."
II Pet. 1:3 - "His divine power has given us everything we need for LIFE and godliness through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness."

God, please give me THAT kind of LIFE!!! - Lori

Tuesday, July 21

Good Morning!

[Plant your feet.] Stop and pray. Let's make this a habit... always!

Where are you standing?

Throughout this study... I have learned so much from you, and I'm so thankful! In thinking through this study and the principles “Know what you know, Live what you know, Share what you know” it's been hitting me more and more that this theme seems very complete... and is a constant cycle that the Lord laid out. I hear it in almost every scripture now. I see it patterned for us in every passage. What is it about these principles that makes things so complete?

Then it hit me.

Father. Son. Holy Spirit.

Know. Live. Share.

Father: I AM. That's all you need to know. KNOW God. His character. His name. Know THAT. HE is truth.

Son: Jesus came to earth to show us... how to live... in direct correlation to the character of GOD!!! Wow. He didn't just “make bad people good. He made dead people live.” Jesus taught us a life that is set apart and different, focused and living in regards to the CHARACTER OF GOD and not looking at circumstances.

Holy Spirit: We were given the Holy Spirit to live IN children of God, ALWAYS. FOREVER. He helps us to share, and He reveals more to US of the truth that we speak, when we speak it out loud. He helps us to understand the word of God.

OH. MY. GOODNESS. Does anyone else understand how very amazing this is?!?! WHAT AN AWESOME GOD WE SERVE!

Nothing he gives, nothing he asks, is incomplete. Ever. In fact His plans are already more complete than we can imagine, even before we're aware of them.

I KNOW that God has more for us than we are aware of now. I KNOW that He slowly opens our eyes as we seek Him. And so...

Will you commit to this pursuit of our great God together beyond this study? Today's assignment is simple.

Scroll down to the box at the very bottom of this page or open your Bible's concordance. Look up or type in the word “know.” If you want to continue in Psalms, the Study box at the end of the page hits Psalms on page 24.

For today's discussion: Simply list one (or more) verse that tells us something we can KNOW... and add your live and share. Its a simple yet life-changing pursuit. Let's make it a habit together today!


TODAY'S DISCUSSION BELOW IN BLUE:

- Romans 5:3-4 - "We also have joy with our troubles, because we KNOW that these troubles produce patience. And patience produces character, and character produces hope."
I have been praying that God will change me - change my character. Change who I am, how I think, how I act. What this verse tells me is that God's ways are not always a walk in the park. He uses tough circumstances to change us, strengthen us - no pain, no gain. So what I KNOW is that I shouldn't expect any easy peasy answer to those prayers I've been praying. But when we make it to the other side of those difficult times in our lives, we are blessed with increased patience and character that God has grown in us through those experiences. I also like quick answers, so I'm having to learn patience and that, while the world is focused on instant gratification, God is focused on eternal gratification ...
- Amy

Oh and by the way, Mary, YES - i DO think the correlation between the know, live, share and Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is super awesome. Leave it to God to be awesome like that :)
- Amy

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Good afternoon! I read 1 John. This book was written for new Christians, and people just checking things out and trying to figure out if Jesus is real. Here is what he told them that they could KNOW in Chapter 5.

1 John 5:2 - This is how we KNOW that we love the children of God, if we love Him and keep His commandments. [we need to live and share what we know.]

1 John 5:12-13 - And this is the record, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He that has the Son has life, and he that has not the Son has not life. These things I have written to you that believe, so that you may KNOW that you have eternal life, and that you may believe on the name of the Son of God. [we can have eternal life, but only through Jesus.]

1 John 5:14-15 - And this is the confidence that we have in Him: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us, and if we KNOW that He hears us, whatever we ask, we KNOW that we have the petitions we desired of Him. [He hears our prayers and answers them according to His will. Always.]

1 John 5:18 - We KNOW that whoever is born of God sins not, but he that is begotten of God keeps himself, and the wicked one touches him not. And we KNOW that we are of God, and whole world lieth in wickedness. [If we choose to be a child of God, we are to be different. To be set apart.]

1 John 5:20 - And we KNOW that the Son of God is come, and has given us an understanding, that we may KNOW Him that is true, and we are in Him that is true, even in his Son, Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life. [God sent Jesus because He wanted us to KNOW Him.]

Wow, John knew who His God was... and thats my God too! The one true God! I'm so glad I can know that today. I hope you know Him too!!! :) - Lauren
I looked at Philippians today for what we should know. I have been reading through it again recently because it is one of my favorite NT books. It is so rich in putting our mind on what is above, not the things around us.
A few verses stuck out to me...
3:8-- Paul states that KNOWING Christ Jesus was of surpassing value. I know...Nothing I can pursue in life or spend time doing is of greater worth than knowing my Savior. So...I need to always make my time with the Lord first. I cannot skip out on my daily communion with Him.
3:10-- Paul reminds us that we know Christ through our faith, not works. He wanted to not only know the Person of Christ, but also the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings. I looked in The Bible Knowledge Commentary and found that the word "know" in verse 10 implies a knowledge by experience. Paul wanted to experience Christ's power as well as to suffer for Christ's sake. I know that I first of all need this kind of desire for the Lord's power in my life, and I need to tap into the power that is there (the Holy Spirit). So...I stopped and prayed that the Lord will help me understand His Word deeper and have the same kind of commitment that Paul did.
3:12-- Paul knew how to live contentedly whether he had little or much. I know there are times when I am not content, but need to be...so I thanked the Lord today for the many blessings he had given me (my husband, time with family, house, my dog =)...)
~MarySusan
Good morning!
I decided to look at passages in Deut., one of my favorite books.

Deut.4:35 - God does things in our lives so we can better KNOW HIM. We know Him, we experience His work in our lives, then we share it with others. In response to that I will humble myself and share with you the things I pray about and how God answers! Yesterday God showed me He cares about the little details. This may seem like a silly example, but I was trying not to eat any sweets yesterday.I knew there were freshly baked brownies at home (yum!) but I also knew that I hadn't eaten enough fruits/vegetables during the day, so I prayed God would provide a way for me to make a healthy choice. I got home and what do you know - there on the counter were delicious, fresh peaches my uncle dropped by on his way back from South Carolina. I ate that big ole peach and "tasted and saw that the Lord is good".:)

Other "know" verses from Deut.: - 7:9 - God is faithful and keeps His covenant to 1000 generations who love and obey Him. They know Him. They live it. They share with the next generation.

8:5 - I KNOW God will discipline me when I go astray. This has always been a comforting thought to me. If I'm going in a direction that will prove harmful in the end, I WANT God to stop me. Frequently I pray God's rod AND staff (one prods the sheep along and the other hooks them around the neck when they go astray) will guide me.

31:13 - Children have to be TAUGHT the law; they must LEARN to fear the Lord. It does not come naturally to them. It is our responsibility to KNOW it, LIVE it, and SHARE it. I think one of the most effective ways to do this is through parenthood; as your children see your faith lived out on a daily basis, it will make an impact.

- Lori

Monday, July 20

Happy Monday to you again, my friends! I hope you've had a wonderful weekend! I'm looking forward to digging into our last week of Stand with YOU! Last week for input and questions... if there is anything on your heart, please let us know!

I enjoyed our discussion on sharing. It is clear (and so awesome!!!) That sharing is:
1. For OUR benefit as well (Philemon 1:6) You should be active in sharing your faith, so that YOU will have a full understanding of the hope that you profess.
2. For the benefit of others. Check this one from Psalms out:

I will open my mouth in parables, I will utter hidden things, things from of old - we will tell them to our children, we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, His power, and the wonders He has done. Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget His deeds but would keep His commands. The would not be like our forefathers - a stubborn and rebellious generation, whose hearts were not loyal to God, whose spirits were not faithful to Him. Psalm 78:2,4,7-8

Today I want you to really hone in on something. We've talked at great detail about how the Lord has equipped you (history, His word, access to Him, etc.) trained you (your history, His word, example of others, perspective, praise, etc.) and gone before you, always seeing you as you STAND for Him. Now let's turn our gaze a bit and focus on this angle of it:

He has equipped you,
He has trained you,
He has gone before you,
He is the One who sees you.

The ability to KNOW God is for YOU. The ability to teach others is for YOU. The ability to see miracles is for YOU. The ability to share the Lord with others is for YOU. I Think very often we seperate ourselves from really, really KNOWING these things. We are raised to think a certain way, and to place different people into certain roles. I heard this story this weekend:

"A little boy wanted a bike very badly. He decided to pray about this, so he turned on the television to watch a pastor pray. After turning off the t.v. he ran upstairs to his room and prayed, 'Great Heavenly Father if it is in your Sovereign will and your great ways, and in your perfect time, would you please give me a bike? Amen.' After 2 days passed the boy thought that maybe he didn't do it quite right so he viewed another television evangelist and retreated a second time to his room with a better plan. This time he prayed: "Oh God today I lay claim to a bike. I know you will do it and it will be blue and I'd like it to be here within 24 hours. I lay claim to it today. Thank you God, Amen.' After two more days had passed his mother entered the little boys room to put away his laundry. She noticed that a small statue of Mary, the mother of Jesus which had belonged to the boys grandmother was missing. In it's place lay a note written in the boys handwriting saying, "Dear Jesus. If you ever want to see your mother again...."

:)

Cute way to say that we may sometimes, as we learn from and observe others miss the voice of God in our OWN PERSONAL LIVES. Let's obey the Lord in seeking, hearing, and learning from the counsel of others, but let's never TRADE it for what is best: Hearing His voice ourselves. That's one reason why it's so important to remember what He has done in your own life and to share it with others!

This is so important: Please check out these verses:
Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long. Your commands make me wiser than my enemies, for they are ever with me. I have for I meditate on your statutes. I have more insight than all my teachers,more understanding than the elders, for I obey your precepts. I have kept my feet from every evil path so that I might obey your word, I have not departed from your laws, for you yourself have taught me. How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! I gain understanding from your precepts; therefore I hate every wrong path. Psalm 119:97-104

Please also read these: Especially notice the phrase "He enables me to STAND" :) Psalm 18:25-48, Psalm 16:7-8

The well-known apologist Ravi Zaccharias (WOW talk about a man who knows, loves and is instructed by the Lord!!!!) made me think through this... and it's an awesome change of perspective:

Jesus did not come to the earth to make bad people good. He is not in the business of focusing on behaviors, clothing, or appearance. Jesus came to this world to make dead people live. He came to give them a NEW LIFE. He came to open the eyes of the blind, open the ears of the deaf, and to set captives free!!! HALLELUJAH WHAT A SAVIOR!!!!

For today:
Are you living as if for a God who makes bad people good, or dead people live? Just how hard are you really seeking and applying the truth?

For discussion:
Let's give some bullet point outlines as to what our responsibilites are as children of God.

TODAY'S DISCUSSION BELOW IN PURPLE:

Monday, July 20, 2009

Our responsibilities include:
- Obeying His commands & His guidance
- Studying the Bible & spending time in prayer in order to know His commands & receive His guidance
- Sharing what we know about Him with others
- Having faith in Him & trusting Him, even when things don't make sense or seem "fair" to us. He's God, we're not. Sometimes that has to be enough, even if we really want to know WHY things happen how they do.
- Caring for others around us (as He has commanded)
- Making Him the first priority in our lives -- before ourselves, our family, our jobs, our "hopes and dreams," everything. Easier said than done, but true nonetheless.
- Respect - although He is our father and friend, He is also a mighty God that created everything and is infinitely powerful. We should act accordingly.
- REAL commitment, not just lip service (I'm better at the latter, I must admit!). Yesterday my pastor said that, when he called the disciples, He didn't say "come, believe me." He said, "come, FOLLOW me." He wants every part of us (Rev. 3:16), even though we often tell ourselves that we're doing well if we carve out PART of our life for Him.
~ Amy
- To actively pursue Him in every area of life. Reading His word, praying, and applying these things.
Our responsibilities before God are to:
- be honest.
- apply what we believe to our lives.
- worship.
- be teachable.
- share with others.
- praise the Lord.

Friday, July 17

His love endures forever.

We can ALWAYS sing a NEW SONG to the SAME GOD.

It never ceases to amaze me. [Praise The Lord!]

Please read Philemon 6, Psalm 34:1-8, Psalm 147.

For discussion:
Why is it necessary as some of you mentioned yesterday, to share and to praise [out loud]? Do you think it's a part of our own journey of standing... to share the Lord and help others up as well? Why or why not?

Lori mentioned that she planned to write her own Psalm this weekend. WHAT AN AWESOME IDEA. What a great opportunity to know it yourself, to do something about it that's out of your comfort zone, and to share! Will you join in? You do not have to share it if it's to personal, if you would like to we'd love to praise the Lord together with you .This would be a great stretching exercise for each of us and I'm guessing... it would make our Savior so happy. :) Pattern your Psalm after Psalm 136.[ It can be one line or many.] A line of testimony about your life or the character of God... followed by "His love endures forever." Then always keep it near you. Post it somewhere in your bedroom... or consider e-mailing it to a friend! Know. Live. Share. Have a wonderful weekend!!!

THIS WEEKEND'S DISCUSSION BELOW IN RED:

Friday, July 17, 2009

Wow, thanks for the thoughts on praise, Lori & MarySusan. Before this study I don't think I ever thought of praise as more than the simple act of recognizing something God had done. There's SO much more to it, though, huh? Philemon 6 makes that clear. I think it's so cool how the things God commands us to do are only for our own benefit in the end. How sad, then, that we sometimes act like He's just trying to "spoil all the fun" that we would have if we did things our own way. HA!
I LOVE how Psalm 147 juxtaposes the statements about God's enormity & power with statements about His love & care for the brokenhearted, the humble, & the little bird. It seems to really capture the essence of WHY God is so amazing, so worthy of our praise -- the same GOD that is supreme over EVERYTHING - "He gives a command to the earth and it quickly obeys him (v.15)" - is the same God that cares about us. Now that truly is an AMAZING kind of love. It's sad that we get so used to the idea of God's love for us that we don't often marvel at the concept of it.
I also really love the first part of Psalm 34:8 - "EXAMINE and see how good the Lord is." In other words, TAKE A LOOK. I dare ya! You'll find out how good He is!

- Amy
I think it's good for us when we share because 1.)When we explain things to others, it makes it more real to us 2.) When we share and the people we're sharing with have questions, it forces us to dig deeper and pursue answers 3.)I believe that when we share, God blesses with a special sense of His presence 4.)When we share, we're being obedient. Going to go work on my Lori version of Psalm 136! :) - Lori
I think it is important to praise the Lord where others will hear (or see) it because it creates a memorial for the Lord. We still read about God's provision for the Israelites in so many ways. It gives us an example to follow, solidifies our knowledge that the Lord does keep His promises, helps us know how to pray, and encourages us when we face trials.When we verbalize what the Lord has done for us, it gives others the same encouragement to know that we serve a faithful God!

Praising God is something I am learning more to do, though it does take courage (it is not always a natural thing for me to speak up.) Sometimes I remind myself, "How can I expect God to continue to answer prayer and bless me if I don't praise Him when He does?". Furthermore, I am commanded to do it. =)

I love the idea of the personal psalm. It is a way to document the faithfulness of my God! My dad keeps a daily written list of things he is praying for in one column, and when God answers them, he moves them to another column. He always has written down answers to prayer and has a continuous list from which he can go back and praise God for. I am making it a goal (so now I am accountable -- YIKES!) to do more of this type of thing in order to more effectively praise God. ~MarySusan

Thursday, July 16

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. Isaiah 55:12

[Stop] and thank God that He is the Prince of Peace! He is the author and perfector of our Faith! That He provides a way for us to stand, regardless of our circumstances, and that He is even Lord of creation!

I love the order in this verse. First... we have the incredible gift of the opportunity to go out... walk toward... ANYTHING with joy and peace. It will lead us. Then, when we fix our minds on Jesus and allow that to happen, our circumstances and our surroundings react to that, rather than the other way around! Many times we base our mindset on what we see, our surroundings and our circumstances. I don't know about you, but I have an awfully hard time finding peace when I "go forth" that way. Knowing who God is brings peace.

Instead of the thornbush will grow a pine tree, and instead of briers the myrtle will grow. This will be for the Lord's renown, for an everlasting sign, which will not be destroyed. Isaiah 55:13

Fixing our eyes on Jesus, ALREADY being equipped and prepared with the joy and peace of the Lord before hard times come... pulling up those boots and finding it in the midst of suffering... these are undeniable realities that will bring glory to our Lord. And as usual, the blessing falls on us as well.

Do you really want to make a difference in the world for Christ? It seems to me that although we all have different callings, different places, etc. the common foundation is the pursuit of God in such a way, that we allow HIM to be KING, we allow His presence and His hand to be so large and undeniable in our lives that others have no choice, but to see God.

We can... and should... bring others into the presence of God by never leaving it ourselves.

We all have something to share.

For today: Please read Psalm 40 and Psalm 136.

His love endures forever. YOU are the apple of His eye.

For Discussion: How can we STAND in the love of God? We hear this phrase alot, let's bring it down to personal application. Does that seem to simple? Good. :) I'm so glad... and if not, that's ok. Just remember that sometimes the basic phrases and things we learn as a child are the ones we need to re-enter, understand and apply. I KNOW God loves us. EACH one of us. He made us. And so.....

*This study will finish in just a little over 1 week. We'll begin wrapping things up and bringing them to application and close... please jump in and let's finish this out well! It has been an honor studying with you!

TODAY'S DISCUSSION BELOW IN BLUE:

Thursday, July 16, 2009

I think that we can STAND in God's love by praising Him. Our praise acknowledges the ways in which He has shown His love to us. Our praise glorifies Him while remining US of what an awesome God He is and how awesome it is to be loved by such a God! Even when we feel like things are bad and that there's nothing "praiseworthy" in our life, we can certainly offer praise for God's character, His faithfulness, and the trust that we can place in Him to bring us through those times!
Psalm 40 takes praise one step further, though ... a step that I struggle with. It says that we're to praise God OUT LOUD. SHARE it. ANNOUNCE it. Definitely don't hide it or keep it to yourself! We live in such a "politically correct" world and don't want to make others uncomfortable or "put ourselves out there" in such a way. But how will the world know that our God is so awesome if they only hear us whine and complain? After all, we never ever hestitate to be negative out loud!

- Amy
Am I allowed to post twice in one day?:) What I noticed about Is. 55:11 that I'd never seen before was the aspect of "going out"; and "being led"; with joy and peace . . .in other words, MOVING forward, GOING somewhere, by faith, not necessarily having all the answers, but plodding on . . .When I think of "standing in God's love", I think of Ephesians 3:16-19.

- Lori
Verses that struck me out of Psalm 40:
vs. 3 - I'm curious what a "new song" means . ..is it a testimony of God's grace in my life? I love that that "new song" inspires others to trust in the Lord! That's what I want my life to do!
vs. 5 - again, recounting God's goodness VERBALLY
vs. 9 - again, PROCLAIMING what God has done!
vs.10 - this really hit me - I do not want to "hide" what God has done; I want to speak about Him freely, but in order to do that, I have to be daily IN His presence, SEEING Him work in my life so that I have something to share!The Lord be exalted! His love endures forever, through everything we go through, through our own histories! Sometime this weekend I'm going to write my own "Psalm 136" . . .the history of Lori, with "His love endures forever" after every event, to remind me that at every stage of my life, God has been there. - Lori
It stuck out to me that David began Psalm 40 by saying that he waited patiently. A lot of times during trials we don't immediately get the answer we desire, but it is vital to keep waiting and praying. And quite often this takes a huge effort to take our eyes off of what is around us and shift them upward!

Man is blessed when he makes the Lord his trust. Not people, not circumstance, not programs, but the Lord. I can't count the number of times I have to remind myself to first go to the Lord and not someone or something else. David delighted to do God's will, and had the confidence to call on the Lord as his Helper and Deliverer. He gave praise to the Lord for Who He is and what He had done. Both passages today pointed to praising the Lord...for His lovingkindness is everlasting!

So...from what I can see from these chapters of God's direction to us, in order to STAND during difficult times means looking to, trusting, waiting on, and seeking the Lord. It all goes back to Him! - MarySusan

Wednesday, July 15

Good Morning! I hope you're starting your day seeking peace... and enjoying it thoroughly. :) Don't miss your time in prayer today! I have come to realize something this year that was at first uncomfortable, but I've progressively found is indescribably wonderful. When God says or promises something... there are no exceptions. SO I have access to peace at all times... sometimes He wants us to wrestle with Him in order to find it. Sometimes we need to allow Him to change our hearts and perspective. And the outcome is always amazing!

Do you know what I found strange about the dictionary definition of peace? It seemed like (1.) as you said, it was unable to adequately describe inner peace, and (2.) more than half of the definitions centered around not being at war with another person.

Hmm. Could it be that all men struggle at peace, because it takes commitment to not be living against God? Could this definition actually be pretty realistic?

Could the reason for the lack of description of inner peace be because a secular world... who is always at war... can't experience it without being at peace with God?

Where do you stand?

Know it. Live it. Share it.

Blessed are the peacemakers. For they will be called sons of God. Matthew 5:9

Are you a peacemaker? MarySusan emphasized yesterday the need to know what you know... when we do that the evidence is enough for others to see that you do not serve yourself, AND to see that you live a life of victory!

But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness. James 3:17-18

Do you know what I find interesting? How many times a book of the Bible (In the New Testament particularly) sends people out with peace as a benediction, stating that they are going forth to face troubles. How many times do we seek peace only when we hit a hard place? Or only when we're really suffering?

That's why learning to STAND is preparing. Knowing what you know... always. Having those boots on before the storms even come.

Read Isaiah 55

Notice especially: (v.12) You will go out with joy and by 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.

What does that mean to you?

FOR DISCUSSION: Go back to Isaiah 55 and re-read verse 13. How can you summarize this incredible chapter? How can we be makers of peace not only in our own lives, but in the world around us?

TODAY'S DISCUSSION BELOW IN ORANGE:

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

I love this passage! God gives mercy (which brings peace) when we seek Him. He does this because His ways and thoughts are higher than human ways and thoughts (which want and seek revenge). Mercy is part of God's character. His word is true and faithful and accomplishes what He desires. It is so easy to read a promise in Scripture and forget that it Almighty God's promise to ME, so I need to believe it and live in expectation of God's promise being fulfilled! Like Philippians 4:6-7...I will receive peace to guard my heart and mind when I present my requests to God with thanksgiving. I am learning more to look for God's blessing and share it with others. It's so important because then it becomes a memorial to our God! When we seek God's mercy and peace, claim His promises, and see Him work, then we gain a great testimony to share with others of the peace God brings.

-- MarySusan
Submission. Its such a dirty word, right? But does it have to be? When I hear the word submission, I tend to cringe. To fight back, or run away. I've blamed it on my personality before. But I'd wager it has more to do with a sin nature than a personality...

When I read Isaiah 55, I see a theme of submission.
In verse 6, we are told to seek the Lord while He may be found. Not later. Now. Submit.
In verse 8, we are told that God's ways are not ours. We may not agree. That's okay. Submit.
In verse 9, God's ways are better than ours. Higher than ours. He sees the whole picture and has it all under control. Submit.
In verse 11, God will accomplish what He wants to accomplish. I don't have to understand it. Submit.

And the promise? In verses 12-13... peace... joy...and that instead of looking like a measly old thorn, we'll come out looking like a fir tree. I don't know about you, but I want that. I just don't often want the work of getting there. The whole submission part.

This is a HUGE struggle for me. I always think my way is the right way and I'm very stubborn about it (I know, this comes as a shocker to you all...). The one thing God keeps telling me over and over again is... don't fight me. You don't have to understand what I'm telling you to do. Your way is not better... submit to me. Will also mentioned it in the podcast (have you listened to that yet?!) sermon on Proverbs 3:5-6... trust God... and THEN your path will be straight. Submit and obey FIRST... and THEN see the blessing. Somehow I always think it should go the other way around... but I need to push hard into the character of the God that I serve, whether or not I understand the circumstances. And so... I need to live it BEFORE I see it.

Maybe this is super long and maybe its not making sense to anyone else, but this hit me like a ton of bricks today and I'm so glad. With my hard head, sometimes I need to be hit with bricks. :) - Lauren

Tuesday, July 14

Peace.

Is it really possible?

Is it at all probable?

Yes. Without question.

Do you know the best way to find the inner rock, foundation, and core of peace? You guessed it. Same as always. Please spend a moment on your knees... then we'll dig through His word.

Turn from evil and do good. Seek peace and pursue it. The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and His ears are attentive to their cry. Psalm 34:14-15

Peace is for seeking. It's for pursuing. And it's worth it.

FOR TODAY: Please look up the following Scriptures and write down what they reveal about peace. Are you willing to seek? Know it. Live it. Share it on the discussion board. Think through how it already is applying to your life, and how you can "seek peace and pursue it" in your life, TODAY.

Psalm 119:165
Proverbs 14:30
Isaiah 26:3

John 14:27
John 16:33
Galatians 5:22

Philippians 4:7
2 Timothy 2:22


Please check out the dictionary's definition of peace. It didn't quite have the take on it I expected. What do you think? Can't wait to hear from you :) Have a wonderful day seeking the Prince of Peace.

Click Here to View Definition

TODAY'S DISCUSSION BELOW IN BLUE:

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

I'll just share with you the notes I made as I meditated on the verses about "peace":

Effects of peace: prevents stumbling, gives life, keeps my heart from being troubled or fearful, guards my heart (emotions) and mind (thoughts).

Causes of peace: loving God's law, trusting in God; peace does NOT come from the world, peace is IN HIM, in the knowledge that in the end, HE WINS. It is a FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT (not humanly generated).

Prerequisites for peace: steadfastness, purity, fleeing evil, conscious pursuit. In the world IS TROUBLE. God's peace is INCOMPREHENSIBLE. - Lori
According to these verses, peace comes from obedience to God's laws, from not being envious of others, from trust & dependence on God. It comes from the salvation we've been given through Christ. It is a gift FROM and evidence OF the Holy Spirit in our life. God's peace is a peace that can exist when there is no reason to feel peaceful. It is something that we are commanded to pursue just as we pursue faith, love, and living right.

When Jesus tells the disciples in John 14:27 that He is leaving them with peace, He says: "I do not give to you as the world gives." This difference seems very evident when you compare the Biblical references to peace & the dictionary definition! While the peace Jesus promises transcends our situations, the "worldly" idea of peace is transitory & simply refers to the absence of war, annoyance, anxiety, etc.

Let's be realistic - there's really no getting rid of anxiety or annoyances in life. So much, then, for the idea of worldly peace! Thank GOD that His peace goes beyond circumstances. I think His kind of peace comes from prayer, obedience, and like MarySusan and Lauren said, having a focus and perspective that's centered on HIM. - Amy
I was particularly struck today that we are commanded to seek peace. So many times I have to be reminded (a lot of times by other people)to do this. It really is a conscious effort to take my cares to the Lord and seek rest within my soul. I was excited to see Is. 26:3 today in a new light. Those who trust in the Lord with a steadfast mind (focusing on WHAT YOU KNOW!)are kept in peace by God. I too was disappointed with the dictionary definition in that they related peace mostly to not fighting with other people. True peace really is within. What a wonderful God we serve to trust Him with anything and receive peace in return! - MarySusan
The dictionary definition was lacking a bit, I thought. I was kinda disappointed! All of the definitions of peace it used had to do with peace on the outside. And correct me if I'm wrong, but I think a lot of times we can appear to have peace on the outside but be anything but peaceful on the inside!

The peace in the scriptures is for those who keep their focus on God and dig into His word. Its a peace that we can't explain - it passes all understanding! And its a promise. I sure do love God's promises - because He always keeps them! I'm so glad that I can experience the peace of God when I fix my eyes on Him and rest in His control.

-Lauren

Monday, July 13

Good morning my friends! It is so good to be together again in God's word every Monday! I hope you each had a wonderful weekend.

On Friday, I kept you reading for quite some time. Not today. You're welcome. If you missed Friday's discussion you should have time to go back and go through it. I hope it'll be an encouragement to you!

Read Psalm 40.
(Want an extra encouragement today? Read Psalm 33 as well.)

Notice especially:

I waited patiently for the Lord; He turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to STAND. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord. Psalm 40:1-3

Whether you have learned to stand yet or not, I hope that you have seen that He has surely give you "a firm place to STAND." What is your song?

Over and over... and OVER again the Psalmists use the phrase "Sing a new song unto the Lord." Have you ever stopped to think about what an incredible thing it is... that

We can ALWAYS sing a NEW song... to the SAME God.

Stop and think that through!

Moses sang a song to God. (Exodus 15:1-18) David sang songs to God (Psalms), and so did many others throughout Scripture. In Revelation, there will be another "new song" Revelation 5:9-10.

Now of course... you don't necessarily have to sing. Maybe a new song could be called a testimony. And BECAUSE of your testimony, spoke out loud... "May will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord." Know what you know. Live what you know. Share what you know. That's how others will see the reality of our AWESOME, WORTHY, HOLY GOD.

David sang a new song. Moses sang a new song. Mary, the mother of Jesus sang a new song. They were all just people. Literally people just like you and like me. The reason we can learn from them is because they pursued God... and they told others about it. And God did the IMPOSSIBLE in their lives.

Below is an incredible video that I hope and pray will be an encouragement to you today. That's my King. Do you KNOW HIM?

For Discussion:
What is your testimony? Let's use an outline of 3 like we did on Friday.
1. Where are you coming from... and what do you KNOW?
2. Where do you Stand right now?
3. What are you doing about what you know? (You do not have to share that if you're not comfortable with it. Just make sure you think it through. Gather a plan of action.) What do you know about God's character that gives you an assurance that He has plans for "a hope and a future" for YOU?

Why should we put so much emphasis on how to praise, and sing a new song? Because that my friends, is how we plant our feet. That is how we stand. And that is how others can Know Christ.

Sing a NEW SONG to our Great God!
"I sing a new song, but you are the same God.
Lord you have loved us all by name.
I sing a new song, but you are the same God
And your kingdom forever will reign."

TODAY'S DISCUSSION BELOW IN PURPLE:

Monday, July 13, 2009

1. I am coming from a life that was completely and utterly DEFINED by myself and others... with rejection, abuse, and fear. God reached down and saved me.. . HE FREED me from ALL of those things. It 's funny I remember thinking that these would be life attributes that I would always struggle with. Not with God. FIRST He delivered me from my impossible self. Then He delivered me from impossible circumstances. I'm not sure I'll ever fully understand what He has done for me!

2. I stand on the fact that I Worship the One TRUE GOD. That HE CAN and does do the impossible. I stand on knowing that He loves even me. I stand on the promise for His hope and future. I Stand on the knowledge that I am a beloved child of the king and should act accordingly.

3. I am re-examining the "knowledge" that I have. I Am checking to see if my life matches the facts I proclaim. I am seeking hard after God, and trying to always go deeper than I was before. I am worshipping my King. I am serving others not only for them, but for my King. I am seeking to know Him more.

- anonymous
1) I am coming from 10 years of ignoring God and pursuing whatever I wanted to pursue. I know that, a year and a half ago, God literally picked me up and put me in a whole new place. He opened my eyes to who He really is and how awesome and personal and life-changing that can be - not just in an emotional moment, but throughout a lifetime. Despite 10 years of growing up in a Christian school, I had never known God in that way.
2) Right now, I STAND on the fact that God is here, He is faithful, and He keeps His promises. I STAND on the fact that our faith is not blind, but built on a foundation that has proven itself to previous generations of Christians and skeptics alike. I STAND on the fact that God's way isn't always easy, but that life isn't all about following our feelings and emotions (i.e., "whatever feels good" or "whatever feels right"), regardless of the constant messages our culture sends us.
3) What I am trying to do about what I know is to live it -- not just on Sundays, Wednesdays, or during a devotional time or when talking to Christian friends. I have a loooooooooong way to go (a lifetime to be exact!), but it's what I know my goal should be.
BTW, I think praise is the coolest thing if you think about it. Maybe I've said this before, but who else but God could create something that accomplishes so many things at once?! So cool and so efficient! Praise 1) is something that God is worthy of, and for that reason alone we should do it 2) It tells others - in an active way - how AWESOME God is and what they're missing out on if they don't know Him and 3) it reminds US about God's greatness and thereby encourages us to keep pursuing Him and 4) It helps us keep a positive attitude in a world of pessimism! And He is continuously doing awesome things, making it easy to sing a NEW song of praise!
- Amy

Friday, July 10

Good morning, How's it goin... and Happy Friday to my wonderful friends! :) I hope you're doing well today! Thank you so much for praying about my computer situation. I still don't know if they will be able to retrieve my saved files (etc.) but I hope to know by the end of the day. But I KNOW God is good and a crashed computer is nothing when He is directing a process. As a result I can say that I'm not in the least bit concerned. And no, I'm not just saying that! Thank you Lord!!! :) I was reminded how blessed I am to have Lauren's help as well. She jumped right in there... and even brought an AWESOME translation of Psalm 50:23 that I hadn't seen before that was such an encouragement and challenge to me yesterday!

READY TO PLANT YOUR FEET TODAY?!? Then... spend some time on your knees. Grab your Bible!!! (And of course, your coffee... ahem.)

Today, I had planned to wrap up our discussion of praise under the topic of "The Joy of Singing a New Song Unto the Lord" before we hit our next topic... of peace [Selah]. Sounds good, huh? However, this morning as I've been in His word and through my notes the Lord has changed my direction to a far more uncomfortable subject. I started to tip-toe around an apology here... and was immediately reminded that every step that brings us closer to God... that leads to the before-mentioned joy and peace... is worthy of thanking the Lord for! So. Dig in deep today. PLANT YOUR FEET. Don't run away. We'll still start with praise! :)

Give thanks to the Lord, call on His name; make known among the nations what He has done. Psalm 105:1

Did you see that? Know. Live. Share. -> WORSHIP

We've already discussed the Know and Live sides of praise... which in turn both lead to sharing. Charles Stanley fit this verse into 3 sections : (1.) Praise God for former mercies. (2.) Pray for further mercies. (3.) Publish His famous mercies.

[STOP.] Have you done that today?!? Please take a moment to stop and Live it. Then, Share it. Let's practice those 3 steps for our discussion today:
FOR DISCUSSION:
1. Former Mercies
2. Pray for further Mercies.
3. Publish His famous mercies.

Ok, ready? Here we go. PLEASE READ PSALM 106.

Wow. There's alot there, isn't there? So. We're going to hit just a few basic themes. Please take some time this weekend to take these things very seriously... and implement them in our lives. We are called to be set apart, we are loved by a holy God. He HAS EQUIPPED US with everything we need (*2 Corinthians 9:8) to live as children of God. So let's dig deep into abundant life!

1. (v.1). The verse starts with "Praise ye the Lord". That means YOU. The reader. Praise the Lord for who He is. Praise Him for what's being told to you. This verse again reaches past, present and future. Always start... everything... with praise of the Lord!

2. (v.6). We have sinned. We all have... we all do. [End of argument!] There are only those who admit it, and those who don't. One can grow... one stays in the same place. Who will you choose to be today? Will you, as illustrated in verse 6, allow your reality to be tied to the reality of our ancestors, in order to learn from their mistakes, their realizations, and their victories? These men and women, from long before our comprehension served the same God that we do now. Remember: Hebrews 13:7-8 Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. The only way to grow is through the weeding process. Will you stop and go back on your knees... NOW... and spend some time as a child before an awesome, holy God? Confess those things in your life that you are aware of... ask Him to reveal what you aren't... and do you know how you can make sure it won't just be a prayer? Come up with an action plan, right there, on your knees, between you and your God. Then take some time to think through your past. Weed out any unconfessed sin. Allow Him to wipe your slate clean... WOW WHAT A PRIVELEDGE!!! What grace, what love. He always forgives. (1 John 1:9).

[KNOW WHAT YOU KNOW] We've talked alot about Knowing God. Today.. .know what you know.. about yourself. It brings things into perspective, into full circle. Do you want resolve to not just voice empty prayers? Then allow them to sink into your own heart. Remember where you came from... How the Lord has led you out.. and be reminded that He still intends to lead you further to abundant life. (Philippians 1:6)

3. (v.7-29) We've talked often about the Israelites wallowing in their circumstances, rather than remembering the character of their God. Have you ever specifically praised Him for the history in the Bible? Have you stopped to witness, remember, and pull together God's hand in your own life? Will you stop and journal these things this weekend? THIS IS SO IMPORTANT. Why should God continue to reveal Himself to people who don't even recognize, fully appreciate, or glorify His holy name?? READ JOHN 3:12. Jesus asks an inquisitive, wise, seeker of the Lord (ALL GOOD THINGS!) How Nicodemus thinks He can possibly understand heavenly things if he doesn't invest Himself in learning what earthly things Jesus has already showed Him to get His attention? We always want bigger and better... when it is already here in the first place. We just haven't invested ourselves. Think back to The 5.2 Story. Immediately after the miracle of provision, Jesus had to withdraw from the crowd because "They wanted to make Him a King." But... He already was a King!!! The people just weren't willing to recognize the difference, willing to accept that He knew more, and that He was far BETTER than an earthly King! Their worship was wrapped up in what THEY wanted! Remember. That's how you can KNOW HIM. That's how we open the door to seeing Him more. NOW.

4. (v.30) The sincerity of one man saved a multitude. How many times have we heard of God doing this?!?! Plant your feet. STAND. Learn sincerity through reality. YOU can be that person. TODAY.

5. Praise the Lord. Let ALL the people say "AMEN!" Praise Him for what He's done in the past. Praise Him for what He's doing today in allowing the priveldge of grace, mercy, and forgiveness through repentence. Praise Him that it IS His working, today. Now praise Him for what He can and will do as a result! Go forth with JOY. HE is in front of you now!!! Don't ever go back to the days where you didn't remember.

Have a wonderful weekend... I'm praying for a fresh start for each one of us! He will ALWAYS take us deeper when we ask.

DISCUSSION IN RED:
I'm so thankful ...

1) That God has promised that if we seek Him we WILL find Him (Jeremiah 29:13). I'm so confused about a number of things right now but am holding on to that promise. It's not up to us or about us -- we just have to be WILLING. We are only to SEEK (wholeheartedly). Then it is God who changes things - changes US (Phil. 1:6)

2) I'm so thankful that we can TRUST that promise because of how God has proven Himself in the Bible and throughout history. I am so thankful that it is not a BLIND faith at all. There is so much evidence to STAND on, there's actually only a small amount of faith needed when we take the time to ponder all the evidence ...

Sunday, July 12, 2009

1.I remember as a 15-year old girl on my first "open air evangelism" venture seeing a group of teenagers - rebellious, taunting, even scary-looking,and it was as if God said to me, "Lori, that is what I saved you FROM. That could be YOU".I was reminded of that experience today when our pastor said something similar. I was saved at a young age and never really went through a period of "rebellion", but because of that, I've always prayed for God to protect my heart from the sin of pride, which is every bit as bad.So tonight I'm thankful for what God saved me from, and for the fact that He extended even more grace by sparing me the heartache of overcoming addiction, sinful habits, etc. Praise God - it's all Him, and none of me.

2. Dear God, I praise you for the way I see you at work in the lives of people. I thank you for so many godly believers from whom I can learn and glean truth and encouragement. I pray for your grace and the ministry of your Holy Spirit for this coming year, when we go back to the Czech Republic and are faced with such an ungodly environment, little encouragement, lots of opportunities to be salt and light. Please show us your glory and your work in the lives of people around us THERE.

3. I also love Psalm 106. I especially love the part about Phinehas. Dear God, please help ME to be a Phinehas in this generation. Because of MY life, I pray that you would be glorified and that people's souls would be spared.

- Lori

Friday, July 10, 2009

I praise You Lord that my life in you is not random at all. You have ordered my life just like the way You ordered your creation.

I praise you Lord for my grandmother, parents, siblings, relatives and friends that encourage me to remain faithful because you are faithful, your Word is faithful!

I praise You Lord for Who you are.

I praise You Lord that I am not a stranger in Your Kingdom...

I thank You Lord that I can be honest to You....that I don't have to pretend because You are my God and you know my heart deeply. Thank you Lord Jesus....Thank you and I love you!

-Michelle
1. I know without a doubt that I would not be here today if it was not for Christ. When I was 18, I went through a very hard time in my life when my father chose to leave our family. Looking back, I can honestly say that it was the lowest and darkest point of my life. God's love softened my heart. He pulled me out of the miry clay and set my feet upon a rock. As Mary said, He is a father to the fatherless - and the only one who will truly always be faithful and love unconditionally. He ransomed my heart from a very dark place and I will forever be grateful.

2. Father, thank you for calling me your friend. I am so thankful for the ability to come into your presence and so humbled that you want that from me. Make me more like you. I want to see you better than I ever have before - even if I have to walk through fire to get to that point. Search me, try me, refine me, reveal yourself to me. Take me deeper. I love you.

3. I know that my God is the same God who knocked down the walls of Jericho without dynamite or tools. I know that I serve a God who made a bush burned and not be consumed. I know that my God is the God who can make five fish and two loaves of bread feed thousands. Unexplainable, indescribable... amazing. Praise His name!

- Lauren
1. I can look back on a few times in my life specifically when the Lord truly carried me. He taught me a few years ago through a trial that HE is my portion, my all-sufficient God, my rock, and my strength. People can not fill a heart with peace like God can. God faithfully helped me cope with each day, and I learned the amazing power of God's Word! God was merciful to teach me the need to go directly to Him and His Word when fears arise in my heart. I praise you Lord that your grace is sufficient!

2. Dear Gracious Father, thank you for being a merciful God. You showed mercy to the undeserving Israelites and you bestow mercy to me though I do not deserve it. I ask for your continued mercy in my life and also for our nation. Lord, thank you that you are love and a sustaining merciful God. Please help me to glorify you with my life. Amen.

3. I love the history of the Bible! God's mercy with the Israelites amazes me! He delivered them from slavery in Egypt through the miraculous ten plagues, led them through the desert providing food through manna and quail, and water from rocks. He continuously gave mercy in spite of complaints (what a reminder to me not to complain). He allowed them to be a great nation for years in spite of bad decisions. Thank you Lord, that you are still the same merciful God today!

- MarySusan
1. The Lord carried and fathered my family when my dad died when I was a teenager. He has loved, protected, and I believe given an extra measure of mercy and His kindess in our lives. I can say I truly KNOW He is a father to the fatherless. I KNOW that He is the "lover of my soul" that He sees me, that HE knows me, and He guides me. He has done this in the big things, being a single mother for 3 years, losing our home, losing my father... and each daily reality and battle that was tied up in the duration of these things. I WOULD NOT BE HERE... if it weren't for the grace and the REALITY of my God and Father. He is so good... I KNOW HE works ALL THINGS together for good. Thank you Lord.

2. Dear Father, I thank you so much for all of these things and for WHO you are... I know that your character is the source of all of these things, not vice versa. Please open my eyes, even if it hurts, to see you MORE today. Please continue to guide, direct, and lead asI KNOW you can. Thank you for loving me. I want more of you, each and every day.

3. I BELIEVE.. and I KNOW that God parted the Red Sea! I KNOW that the events outlined in Psalm 106 are HISTORICAL. They are not a story. I KNOW that I've seen the same power of the God who does the impossible work in my life. And I'm hungry to see more! I KNOW that there are many who don't know about these things He has done. EVEN IF He never did anything else... He'd be worthy of our undying praise. And yet.. .HE promises that He is forever more the same, that His grace, mercy, love and power are UNENDING.

PRAISE YE THE LORD!!!
-Mary

Thursday, July 9

Good morning, friend! I hope you've had a good time [on your knees] this morning (have you tried that yet?). Got your coffee and your Bible?! This is going to be a great day.

We've been talking this week about praising. I've been so blessed to praise with you. We've talked about how praise is necessary for us to maintain a proper focus and perspective. And to fix our eyes on Jesus. We've also studied the example of Christ - knowing what He knew about the character of the God He served - and choosing to praise - even when the circumstances didn't line up.

Lets look back at the verse we started with yesterday.
"Whoever offers praise glorifies me: and to him that orders his conversation aright will I show the salvation of God." Psalm 50:23 There is a different version posted on yesterday's discussion if you would like to read that as well.

Our praise points others to Christ. Friends, sometimes we are the only glimpse of Jesus that others see on this side of eternity. If we claim to KNOW an awesome God worthy of praise, shouldn't we be praising Him at all times?!

Please read Psalm 78:3 and Psalm 89:1. The Psalmist was clear that our praises should extend to all generations. Our children should know this God that we serve...people who come after us should know... because of our praise! I don't know about you, but when I'm at home with my child, there are a lot of times that I'm not praisin' my God. But shouldn't I be?!

Praise Him with me again. [I know what you're thinking... "but we just DID this!" But my friends, that is the beauty of it... we can never run out of things to praise our God about!] He is SO worthy.
Love,
Lauren

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Thank you, Lord, for teaching me new and awesome things when I take the time to learn them.

Thank you for a good day at work (which is a big deal right now) & a 3-day weekend.

Thank you for family that loves and supports me.

Thank you for the awesome way that you make things in nature and in biology grow - flowers, babies, baby animals. It's SO cool!

Thank you for caring about the small things, even while at the same time you hold the entire universe together. HOW AWESOME.

Thank you for the examples of strong believers You have given me.

Have a great weekend, everyone. Keep us updated on the computer situation, Mary! I will be praying ... :)

- Amy


Special Prayer Request:
This morning the computer that holds ALL files and photos collected for The 5.2 Project over the course of this entire year... crashed. COMPLETELY. Will you please pray that the tech people at Best Buy.. (or anywhere) can fish the files off?!!? AND REGARDLESS... I'm praising the Lord that I don't have to be anxious, that He's in control... and maybe He just wants us to redo, and even better. :) (gulp)

Thank you Lord for friends that I can go to for prayer, who desire to follow you! Thank you Lord that nothing catches you by suprise and you always have everything all worked out in advance. Thank you that you're the most amazing, real, and loving Father imaginable. Thank you for protecting my children in their crazy summer days and sicknesses. ;) Thank you for grace. Thank you for JOY that surpasses understanding! Thank you for loving even me :)

-Mary
I praise God for 4 Christian grandparents who are still living and who pray for me regularly.

I praise God that 10 years ago,He led me OUT of elementary education and into secondary education and TESL which, I am finding this summer as I teach 1st and 2nd graders, was a very WISE move.:)

I praise God for jobs that allow us to spend our summers in the States.

I praise God for 3 Muslim children who got saved this past week at my grandparents' church's vacation Bible school.

I praise God for the way my husband loves my nephews how endearing it is to watch him play with them.

I praise God for a 3-day weekend! - Lori
I have enjoyed doing this every day so much! It hasn’t gotten old at all but instead, convicted/challenged me to something I have severely lacked lately!!

God I praise you because you have known every thought I have ever had, and love me just the same!

I thank you for allowing me the privilege of hearing about you all throughout my life. I am so blessed to have so many Godly influences in my life!

I praise you for the cool breeze outside. The gentle reminder that you are here for me and you want me to enjoy the little things you created.

I praise you for my health. The fact I have been so healthy and able to do so much in my lifetime has been a wonderful blessing!

Thank you for walking this wretched earth and be an example we can follow!! We truly are not alone and that is such a comfort!

- Kari

Wednesday, July 8

Wednesday, July 8

He who sacrifices thank offerings honors me, and he [prepares the way] so that I may show Him the salvation of God. Psalm 50:23

[Stop.] Let's live what we know. We can't really start anymore... until we stop and go to the One we're following, the One we KNOW is trustworthy. Stop and thank Him for His trustworthiness this morning. Thank Him for His direction.

Those who KNOW your name will trust in you, for you Lord have never forsaken those who seek you. Psalm 9:10

Praise His name.What is His name? THE GREAT I AM. The First and the Last. The One who's name encompasses... everything... and that's more than enough for us to KNOW.

[FOLLOW THE LORD] How many times have you heard/said this phrase? Have you stopped to think what it really means? It's not our responsibility to follow and base our life off of only the things He does or our circumstances. It's Knowing His name. Knowing His character.We take ownership ... we stake our claim... we know what we know... we connect our lives to His reality... when we praise the Lord.

Jesus thanked God for an "insufficent" solution to a HUGE problem. Why? Because He KNEW God's character. He KNEW and had been listening to God's voice. He KNEW what He was supposed to do... and He thanked God for who God IS ... right over and beyond His physical circumstances. And what happened as a result?!? That's right... a miracle. God was pleased. God was glorified. And as a result, thousands saw God.Does that mean that because God can do something... we have the right to assume He WILL? No. Jesus was listening to God's voice. He knew what God was asking of Him, and He obeyed. He thanked God for what He knew He was able to do. Then He trusted. Don't you think part of faith, praise, and submission should mean that we're willing to risk thanking Him, placing all praise on Him, REGARDLESS of what He chooses to do with it... because we CAN KNOW that God is working all things together for good?!?? Sometimes that means another bad outcome... in order to continue to move direction to ultimate victory. Don't you want to go down that road praising the God that you're following to victory? Don't you want to trust that you don't have to know the plans, you just get to obey... THAT is the road where you'll see a miracle!The passage we looked at in John shows Jesus again illustrating these things for us. Jesus claimed something big He knew about God. It sticks out as not "going with" the rest of the passage. Then... He literally got down on His knees... and worshiped His father by washing the feet of the man who would betray Him... out of thanks, acknowledgement, and trust in the character of the Lord.

Read Luke 7:1-10Another awesome example. I love that the people approached Jesus with "how worthy" the centurion was for Jesus to come and help him. Jesus went. Then, the centurion explained how UNWORTHY He was. God was pleased. God was glorified. And... that's right... a miracle.FOR DISCUSSION: Let's define praise. And then let's do it!I'm amazed at how many words I'm finding are all found within. Such as thanks, submission, and faith. What do you think?Look back at our opening verse. Know Him today. Praise Him. Share it!You will be blessed.

***AN AWESOME OPPORTUNITY FOR TODAY.Late last night Will posted episode 3 of The 5.2 Podcast. I didn't know details of what he was putting on there. It's awesome. There's a clip from a pastor teaching in a GREAT WAY about some of what we're talking about today. Then Will brought out some very honest and real application... it'll be an encouragement to you and that clip will dig further into these concepts. The podcast isn't very long... check it out and feel free to add that in your discussion today:http://www.the52project.com/the-52-podcast.phpYou can listen to it right on the website, or download it on itunes. It's free. :)

So... we talked about KNOWING we need to praise... and why... need to mull it over more?!? Go right ahead and discuss that still!! We've approached how we LIVE it... jump right in!!! And don't forget to praise Him today! Have a WONDERFUL day. KNOW that God made this day... and has a plan for it! And He is good. :) Thank you Lord!TODAY'S DISCUSSION BELOW IN ORANGE: