Opposites Work

A friend reminded me recently God uses opposites. He often works in the contrasts. Marriage is hard that way sometimes, isn’t it? God working in our lives, bringing us into a covenant relationship with a different personality, can often be an irritation more than we view it as a blessing. 🤔 We are human, two sinners who said, “I do” with so much anticipation and excitement that we felt we might burst from being in love.

Then life happens.
Midnight strikes.
Cinderella gets real.

Life is full of obstacles, and marriage is full of struggles. And yes, sometimes we simply don’t like each other – in the moment. But, marriage is also full of laughter and friendship.

And, the amazing thing is when I am willing to see the real moments from an eternal perspective, I see just how good my God is for bringing me to my opposite. This man might not love in the same language as his bride, but he speaks his so well I can’t help but feel it – the glass slipper glides on my foot and I know – he loves me.

A Reminder

I had to read this passage a few times this morning. It is full of powerful truth.

For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete. Look at what is before your eyes. If anyone is confident that he is Christ’s, let him remind himself that just as he is Christ’s, so also are we. For even if I boast a little too much of our authority, which the Lord gave for building you up and not for destroying you, I will not be ashamed. But we will not boast beyond limits, but will boast only with regard to the area of influence God assigned to us, to reach even to you. For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends. 2 Corinthians 10:3‭-‬8‭, ‬13‭, ‬18

Think about it…

Through Jesus, we can destroy arguments and high opinions contrary to the knowledge of God. We can take every thought captive into the obedience of Christ – to not do so is disobedience.

I have read that many times, nevertheless, it rocked me –

To not be the prison guard of my thoughts, to allow the the unruly inmates to control me and not bring them before the Master, is a direct act of disobedience. Whoa!

We are not waging a physical war. No matter what our circumstances may seem to reveal, there is a battle raging in an unseen realm which requires divine weapons of warfare. We have those weapons in Christ Jesus!

But, let me remind myself …

We have access to divine Holy Spirit power to destroy the strongholds in our lives.

Paul tells me to look and see what is before my eyes, to have confidence in the One who saved me, the One who gives me strength, wisdom and skill – all so as to build others up and to glorify His name.

I can boast in Jesus and not be ashamed!

If we can grab the gravitas of this truth Paul boasted so surely in, what a difference it would make in not only our own lives, but in the world!

2021


God’s rhema (utterance, word) for me as 2021 begins is PURPOSEFUL…


Purposeful in…

Word
Thoughts
Actions

Daniel PURPOSED in his HEART that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s delicacies, nor with the wine which he drank…


have PURPOSED that my MOUTH will not transgress.


GIVE AS he PURPOSES in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.


Barnabas…encouraged them all that with purpose of heart they should continue with the Lord.
whatever is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent or praiseworthy, think about these things.

What’s yours?? I’d love to be praying God’s word over your life! Drop it in the comments t👇😁

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You have tried my heart, you have visited me by night, you have tested me, and you will find nothing; I have purposed that my mouth will not transgress.
Psalm 17:3

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
Philippians 4:8

But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s delicacies, nor with the wine which he drank; therefore he requested of the chief of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself. Now God had brought Daniel into the favor and goodwill of the chief of the eunuchs. And in all matters of wisdom and understanding about which the king examined them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers who were in all his realm.
Daniel 1:8‭-‬9‭, ‬20

So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.
II Corinthians 9:7‭-‬8

Then news of these things came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent out Barnabas to go as far as Antioch. When he came and had seen the grace of God, he was glad, and encouraged them all that with purpose of heart they should continue with the Lord. For he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were added to the Lord.
Acts 11:22‭-‬24

Mary, a Surrendered Faith

From the moment God made Eve, He had special plans for women. Even when her own act of disobedience brought about the discipline of her Creator, God, He was gracious – He made her a mother! The miracle of having a child, the honor and great privilege of motherhood, was her Father’s loving hand once more giving her life. After reading Eve’s story, it is no surprise to find, throughout the Old Testament Scriptures, Jewish women taking part in much of community life. From commerce and trade to Temple worship, women were held in high regard. Proverbs 31 is but one place lending us a peek into the active life of a godly woman. She looked well to the ways of her household, and could be found to be a willing worker, even active in selling linens to merchants and in the buying and selling of land. And, above all this, she feared the Lord, served Him and her family – these were her most precious attributes of wisdom and kindness.


Women were included when God instituted the Mosaic covenant (Deuteronomy 29:11) and were present when Joshua read the Torah to Israel. Their presence was not just an option; they were required to be present for the public reading of the Scriptures on the Feast of Tabernacles (Deuteronomy 31:12).

https://jewsforjesus.org/publications/newsletter/newsletter-jun-1988/the-role-of-women-in-the-bible/

A glimpse into the lives of other Old Testament women of faith as well only solidifies the reality Jewish women were active in their community of faith. So, one might ask this question – as I did when studying the life of Christ’s mother, Mary – why did the early first century life for women look so different than their foremothers of the Old Testament?


…Jewish people often found themselves under the rule of foreign powers vying for Palestine’s important position as a land bridge that connected Asia, Europe, and Africa…the cultures of these occupiers deeply affected Jews and the region’s other inhabitants.

Early, J. E. (2015). Jesus and The World Into Which He Was Born. In 974330454 755833937 J. E. Early (Author), A history of Christianity: An introductory survey (p. 1). Nashville, TN, TN: B & H Academic.

It seems quite certain the subtlety of Satan present in Eden has been active through the years post-Eden, even through today. The Jewish people have been on a journey for centuries, from the Flood to slavery to exile to the Diaspora and the years that followed. First-century Mary grew up in a society deeming women “less than.” Although Jewish women were, in theory, esteemed, it was in private, not publicly. Jewish women were to be homemakers and lead quiet lives of prayer and holiness, but not in open concert with the men in their community of faith. They could hear a sermon, but most likely, they were to not ask questions nor voice opinions. According to Jewish history, Mary most likely would have had to stay in the “Woman’s Court” when she went to Temple. She would not have dared venture past its confines. According to all the research and reading of the Scriptures I have done thus far, I believe Mary was a young pauperess, probably in her teens, when she was betrothed to marry Joseph. She lived out her normal days in Nazareth – a tiny nothing of a town in the corner of Galilee. According to the world around her, Mary was ordinary, nothing too special at all.


God thought differently.


Her Father God trusted her character.

He knew she would question yet surrender.

He knew Mary would know the Scriptures (even if she had been discouraged from gaining any learning or education.)

I know I may take liberties here, but I imagine Mary listening daily to her father and the other men quote and talk over the Holy Scriptures.

I genuinely believe she had been “pondering” many things in her heart all her young life. From the very beginning of her story, we see how special she was indeed.

At that time in history, it would have seemed revolutionary (and offensive) for a Jewish woman to speak and interact with a Priest/Rabbi, let alone have a conversation with one of God’s messengers from Heaven. Nonetheless, God sent Gabriel to Mary first instead of her espoused, Joseph. Think of this considering what we have learned about first century Jewish culture. From the onset – before Christ was even in Mary’s womb – God challenged culture and traditions made by man (and not God.)


Let that sink in.


This common girl from Nazareth, and her surrendered faith, gave birth to the Rabbi of rabbis, King of kings, the Messiah – Jesus – our Savior. When I think of what she must have thought the day Gabriel told her what was to come, my mind goes crazy with questions. But one question I will ask her one day in eternity will be this, “did you ever falter or doubt?” I know me – tiny steps forward in faith and giant leaps backward in doubt and fear. I simply cannot fathom the call on Mary’s life, what it must have been like to raise the Son of God, knowing He was also your Savior.

Can you imagine?

In Luke’s account of Mary’s life, we see she was bewildered by Gabriel’s greeting and could not fathom what he was saying to her. She was a virgin; how could she have a child, let alone be mother to the Son of God?! Yet at the end of their conversation, Mary’s surrendered faith was the foundation upon which God built the rest of her life.

An ordinary peasant girl was used to bring the most extraordinary gift the world has ever known.

Trusted by God. Highly favored by the Creator. Unlearned and young, Mary was wise beyond her years. She knew to trust in the Lord with all her heart and not lean unto her own understanding of things. Mary’s astounding and sweet story sheds grace on my own inadequacies. It brings truth. And with that truth, freedom. Mary is teaching me a thing or two about how God uses the foolish things to confound the wise – especially when we surrender all to Him.

Be still…Be kind…Be Firm


Today I had more than a few thoughts about the circumstances surrounding our lives. I had more things whirling around than I could write, so I decided to video-blog them. But, what unfolded was me videoing and deleting until…

“Be still” came into my heart and I read the words of Proverbs 16, and thought about James 3:17.


The following video was the product.

Be still is often the Lord’s admonishment  to me because I’m such a talker. I need to slow down and listen more, not only to my Father but with others as well.

I pray this will be a blessing to your heart.
Click the link below to watch today’s video blog, Be still…Be kind…Be Firm.

https://youtu.be/h8X0KXODgw8

Kaleidoscope of Faith

Sometimes I forget just because I have not literally seen His face, audibly heard His laughter or physically sat at His dusty, divine feet, does not  mean I have not truly experienced His goodness.


If I would only be still, and look at my life through the kaleidescope of faith, I would see Him more clearly.

The little hands that work so hard to write their letters perfectly just to hear their teacher say, “Wow, great job!,” is His voice whispering, “I have called you to do an important work.” 

My Savior’s sweetness can be felt when a precious little one takes a break from her lunch just to come give her teacher a hug.

The Holy Spirit’s grace abounds as this writer’s pen flows with words of wisdom and encouragement that can only come from the heavenly place where living water flows endlessly.

My Father’s loving arms embrace me when my friend sends me a text to say, “Hey, I just wanted you to know I miss you and I’m thinking of you, always,”

And, how about the calls and texts from my baby brothers that make me smile and laugh with such sincere joy? That is a taste of what it must have felt like to walk next to Jesus as a friend and brother.

My list could go on and on.


The myriad of ways God shows Himself present and active in our lives is beautifully variegated.  Oh that I would be more open to see the subtle, yet profound, truth – ordinary moments become extraordinary in the presence of the King.





Sidenote 😁
Lisa Harper is an amazing Bible teacher and a Spirit-filled speaker. Her book, Believing Jesus, is what the Lord has used to stir my heart tonite. The book of Acts is going to be an incredibly moving study, I’m sure.

Join us and share all that the Lord does in your life too!!

I look forward to hearing from you!!

Abigail’s Appellant Faith

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“Come near to the holy men and women of the past and you will soon feel the heat of their desire after God.” Tozer’s words echoed within me as I sat down to listen as my Father introduced me to His precious daughter, Abigail. This woman and her faith, what a powerful display of humility, grace, and wisdom. Aside from the fact she is one among only three women in the Holy Scriptures to be singled out and noted for their outward beauty, she is a woman noted for her inward magnificence as well.

The Lord says of his daughter that she was “a woman of good understanding and beautiful appearance…”

Her life had certainly not been a fairy tale while living as wife to Nabal. No two people could have been more antonymous than they. The Lord described Nabal using the Hebrew words qâsheh and râ‛âh, meaning he was cruel, grievous, hard-hearted, obstinate, rough, stubborn and troubled, evil and wretched. A deeper word study reveals Nabal was most certainly a beastly and cruel man.  Abigail was described with Hebraic words such as, ṭôb, śêkel, yâpheh and tô’ar which are the exact opposites (and then some) to Nabal. In detail, Abagail was noted to be beautiful on the outside and one who had a favourable countenance. She was bountiful, cheerful, joyful, kind and most pleasant. This sister of grace was known for her intelligence (by implication of success;) discretion, wisdom and her pleasant ways were her testimony.

Now can you picture her life?

Her home?

She walked in a path directly opposite from her spouse, yet aligned perfectly to Her Creator’s will. She sought hard after the ways of her God, and as one commentator states, “manifested a love stronger than death.” 

As I continued to read from the pages of history, it was becoming increasingly clear Abigail was a sweet peacemaker whose life modeled the ways of her Lord. Her words were gracious and seasoned with salt, and she looked well to the ways of her household – she was trusted. The events that unfolded around her were not of her making, she could not control how her husband behaved. Yet when her servants came to her with the grim news of Nabal’s insolence toward King David, Abigail was quick to respond. All the King had asked was for a show of kindness and Nabal, in his churlish and evil way, refused David and his men kindness, respect and decency. Needless to say, the King was furious. Nabal had provoked the wrath of King David and, had it not been for Abigail’s prepared and appellant faith, Nabal and all of his household would have been destroyed. Her discernment in withholding her thoughts and actions from Nabal until the next day show wisdom in placing her trust in God alone.

As she quickly loaded the donkey with more than enough food and drink for the King and his men, take note of how humble, appealing and encouraging she was when finally reaching the King.

“She fell at his feet and said, “On me alone, my lord, be the guilt. Please let your servant speak in your ears, and hear the words of your servant. Let not my lord regard this worthless fellow, Nabal, for as his name is, so is he. Nabal is his name, and folly is with him….Please forgive the trespass of your servant. For the LORD will certainly make my lord a sure house, because my lord is fighting the battles of the LORD, and evil shall not be found in you so long as you live. If men rise up to pursue you and to seek your life, the life of my lord shall be bound in the bundle of the living in the care of the LORD your God. And the lives of your enemies he shall sling out as from the hollow of a sling.”

-I Samuel 25:24-31

In the history lesson taken from the book of I Samuel, chapter 25, it is revealed Abigail is a woman of patience who cloaked herself in the love of God. She “put on kindness, mercy, humility, gentleness and patience,” and pre-dated Paul’s exhortation to “put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.” What an amazing moment in history, where faith in God from the Old Testament marries the sweet teachings of the New Testament.

One need only read of the events that could have cost Nabal’s household their lives to see the actions of this sweet daughter of God were clothed in love and humilty. Abigail, fearfully and wonderfully made was a woman of beauty, prudence and grace.

Abigail must have known a little something about storing up treasures where moth and dust do not corrupt, about those eternal jewels thieves cannot steal – and, about the faithfulness of God to be a rewarder of those who have the faith to diligently seek Him.

Her convictions and meditations in the ways of the Lord must have been her most valued inheritance, for she walked in them and lived in a manner pleasing to Him. And, in the end, He brought her to the palace of the King. Abigail was a woman after God’s own heart, it is only fitting she ended up the wife of a King described this way too. 

Eugenia Price said this of gracious Abigail, “Only God can give a woman poise like Abigail, and God can only do this when a woman is willing to cooperate as [she] did with Him on every point.” 

Abigail’s life and witness have challenged, rather, beckoned me, to walk closer to my Maker, for He is my true love. She has encouraged me to take a look inward and sit before the Lord, asking this question, “How do I actively treat those who are unkind?” And, on an even more personal level, her life begs the question, “How do I respond to my spouse when I don’t like him very much?”  I most certainly do not live with a man such as Nabal, and for this I am increasingly grateful. However, do I clothe myself as Abigail did, with love and mercy when he behaves in an unkind way? Or, do I feel vindicated when I behave in an unloving manner toward him? Is it possible to muster an appellant faith, and am I willing to intercede on his behalf to the King? When I go to my closet, do I find a wardrobe of love, humility, forgiveness, kindness and wisdom or selfsihsness, envy, impatience and self-righteousness? I am most certain the later can be found hanging there ready, but oh that my King would remind me to outfit myself with the first instead. 

There will be many times in our lives when we are faced with the nastiness of human selfishness, anger and frustration. I am not, by any stretch, suggesting God says we are to be abused by another person’s behavior, I am simply saying He calls us to be kind in the we handle them in return. When we choose to turn away from hurtful situations (and nabalish (my word) type of people,) we should pray to walk in a manner worthy and pleasing to the Lord. This speaks volumes to the world around us of the love of Christ which compels us to regard one another with a heart fixed on the One who gave His life for us all. 

In encountering Abigail on the pages of HiStory, I am finding myself inspired to pray for my spouse more earnestly, and to yield to my Savior more readily. One woman’s faith marked the pages of Scripture with a fragrant grace and purposeful poise, and is changing my life for the better. 

 

Companion Faith

I began my author’s journey a few years back, only dreaming of one day getting to know different women of faith (and writing about them.)

In January of this year, the Lord impressed upon my heart 12 sisters of faith (from the Old and New testaments) to open my life up to. He has placed them on my heart faithfully every day, calling me to learn more the beauty of how He uses our unique personalities (and walks) to influence and mold our individual faith.

God is, after all, the Creating Personality, as A.W. Tozer said in his precious book, The Pursuit of God.

I must give a shout out to my “Isaiah-til-we-are-100” friend, who encouraged me to jump in and kick-start the introduction process to these astounding women of faith. She challenged me with this text – “Tell me how Priscilla’s faith inspires you?”

Honestly, I thought I knew a little about her already, however, as with any individual, there are personality layers, and if you want to get to know them, you have to spend quality time with them. Therefore, I asked our Father to introduce me to his precious daughter in a way that would change me for the better, and I know this is just the beginning.

Priscilla was an amazing woman of God. It is evident her husband was sure to trust in and depend on her. I have no doubt he knew her worth was greater than all the rubies in all the world.

She was always mentioned alongside her husband, whether it was in the family business of tentmaking, the mentoring and discipling of Apollos, giving the Apostle Paul a home, hosting Church in her home, or in being willing to lay her life on the line for the sake of the gospel and her friend.

One commentary made this statement, regarding the quietly humble and faithful discipling ministry of Priscilla (and her husband Aquilla,)

“If we cannot be great, by God’s grace we may be the means of making others great.”

She willingly and graciously partnered in the gospel – being a woman poured out for Jesus. She is only mentioned a handful of times, but what an impact one woman’s faith – in the hands of her Father – made!!

She was humble, steadfast, hardworking, and a wise servant of Christ as she aided in furthering His gospel and building the Church.

After spending a little time with our Father, and meeting Priscilla in a brief encounter through the Word, I believe what inspires me most is that her companion style faith was genuine and steadfast.

She was a true partner in both marriage and in ministry. What a beautiful picture of her unique faith.

The quiet, yet profoundly influential, life of Priscilla, resonates with my teacher-heart.

The children placed under my care are the future, what a privilege to learn from this woman of faith about being compassionate and gentle in the way I mentor and teach the truth of His love for us.

Our Creator knows us – He knitted us in our Mother’s womb and called us to do anointed things for Him. He will use our uniqueness to design our faith. And, He most assuredly will use one woman’s faith in the most marvelous of ways!

What a Thought

Corrie Ten Boom’s advice to “let God’s promises shine on your problems” touches my soul because life (and our personalities) are full of messiness. Nonetheless, the sweet promises of God infuse the messy with His power to redeem and create beauty from ashes. It is easy to forget just how big our Father is, and how He moves in the icky.

Psalm 139 beckons us to trust there is nothing He does not know about us, there’s no place we can go that He will not be, His thoughts about us are infinitely more precious than we can comprehend – He created us with purpose, knowing we would messy (and forgetful.) He loves us deeper than imaginable.

For there is not a word on my tongue, But behold, O Lord , You know it altogether. (Psalm 139:4)

What a thought – He knows what I’m going to say and He still lets me speak. He challenges me and keeps me inspired to write – in spite of me. He knows everything about me, He goes before me and blesses me with His presence always. His hedge of protection is beyond my understanding – such knowledge is too wonderful for me.

He knows I will, inevitably, mess up and say the wrong things and stumble around trying to articulate His truth into an encouragement. Yet still, He sharpens me to be used by Him – wow, me as an arrow in the quiver of the Prince of Peace.

I am dumbfounded at the call of Christ and how He uses the broken to share His love and goodness.

He longs to use the uniqueness of His children to accomplish His purposes – one person’s faith can move mountains – don’t forget that.

You Know It’s Coming


Our walk was nothing out of the ordinary. At dusk, we bundled up in coats and ‘boggins, slipped our gloves on to stay warm and off we went. We chatted about the day, what curtains to buy, what happened at school, how work was, all while our feet made the rhythmic swish-swap, swish-swap sound on the pavement. As we rounded the familiar corner, the menacing bark echoed through the fence and startled me. I jumped, and my pace quickened sending me sideways. My husband let out an inquisitive sort of laugh and said, “Babe, you know that dog is there, he barks every time we pass this way. Why did you jump?” But, the next few words my partner sent my way were what got me to thinking. He chided, “You know It’s coming.” 

You.

Know.

It’s.

Coming.

He was right, I did know the dog was there. Yet, it startled me because I was focused on the rhythm of my walk and had forgotten he would be hiding behind the fence. The entire event took place in under 60 seconds, but it took my heart almost triple that to calm down to a steady beat. Now, you may be asking, “Yea, ok, we get it Tonya – the dog scared you. So what does that have to do with anything?” Here it is…

I.

Know.

It’s.

Coming.

I know my enemy is a hunter chasing to kill my faith. He is a thief in pursuit of my peace. And he is certainly the warrior seeking to destroy my walk with God. Yet even though I know all of this, I forget. I neglect to be vigilant and sober, realizing in every ordinary moment, the enemy of my soul is consistently lurking behind the old familiar fences.

His gritty bark is sinister enough to make me fear his bite more than I trust my Protector. My heart trembles and I go stumbling sideways into fear, panic, doubt, and sin.

Thankfully, because our loving Creator is gracious, and divinely knows the whole sum of His creation, He is quick to remind me His hedge of unbroken vigilance around me is stronger than the enemy’s bark and bite.

No weapon formed against me shall prosper.

He that is within me is greater than he that is within the world. 

In his powerful book, The Red Sea Rules, author Robert Morgan admonishes every believer to acknowledge the enemy but keep their eyes on the Lord. Even though it often takes me more than a few minutes to be still and return to what my soul knows well, the truths are the same nevertheless.

My Savior is always steady and true. He is the Captain of my peace. My Father is ever faithful and strong. He is the Keeper of my soul. The Holy Spirit is wisdom and truth. He is the Counselor of my heart.

The Holy Sprit fervently challenges us to believe, to trust, the Lord’s providential hand is for our good. He knows what subtle evil skulks about – nothing catches Him off-guard.  Being confident that His mighty arms will keep us intact as the foe wages war is to welcome the presence of God’s power into our lives. I know it’s coming.