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Sunday, May 28, 2017

Are You Steadfast?

   
 I was so amused when I looked up the word "steadfast" and read this fun fact about the word itself. 

"Steadfast has held its ground in English for many centuries. Its Old English predecessor, stedefæst, combined stede (meaning "place" or "stead") and fæst (meaning "firmly fixed"). An Old English text of the late 10th century, called The Battle of Maldon, contains our earliest record of the word, which was first used in battle contexts to describe warriors who stood their ground. Soon, it was also being used with the broad meaning "immovable," and as early as the 13th century it was applied to those unswerving in loyalty, faith, or friendship. Centuries later, all of these meanings endure." (Merriam-Webster online dictionary)

The very word "steadfast" and its meaning have endured...which is what it means.  Just struck me as humorously interesting.  But I also loved the analogy here of the warrior who stands their ground.  Truthfully, that is precisely what having a steadfast spirit means.  

Our Mustard Seed Faith Challenge this week deals with steadfastness which is multifaceted.  We can examine God's steadfast love for us, or ours for God (a goal...probably not something we've attained!), the love we have for our spouses...steadfastness is a virtue in many dimensions.  I invite you to our challenge blog to read the devotional there.  I'll post my card submission as a design team member for our current challenge, but I'd like to explore this particular verse and shine some light on the multifaceted word steadfast so it sparkles in your heart!
  
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Our challenge is to create a card with either a friendship 
or love/marriage theme to go with a focal verse in Hosea.  
It's a book that definitely shows us God's steadfast love toward us.  
My card reflects the effects of someone's steadfast friendship...
someone whose friendship stays the course and does not waver.  
The card could be for a spouse...anyone who blesses another. 

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What does it mean to have a steadfast spirit?  Do you have one?  I'd like to offer some verses of scripture that may guide you in some study and prayer time as you seek to have a more steadfast spirit.  

  1. I believe a steadfast spirit starts with a steadfast mind.  Isaiah 26:3 says, "You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast because they trust in you."  Trusting God is essential as we develop the right perspective on our circumstances.  If we lack trust, have a mind that wanders from Christ and God's Word, we've already lost the battle.  So, are you DETERMINED to be steadfast because you TRUST GOD?
  2. A steadfast heart is one that is immoveable, unshakable...not because of our own courageousness, but because we live in expectant and certain hope.  We know the prize awaits us, and that certainty can keep us steady on our feet.  When we are firmly planted in God's promises we will refuse to let the world move us, corrupt us, influence us.  We will be grounded, rooted and standing on the Solid Rock.  No wind of error will take us to the right or left. 1 Corinthians 15:58 says it best, "Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.
  3.  Does your perspective change as the life-is-easy/life-is-difficult meter swings from side to side?  We all surely know by this point life has it's ups and downs.  Sometimes the downs are so low we wonder if we can ever climb out of the hole.  The more we try to dig our way out, the deeper the pit descends.  Been there?  Where is our faith during these times?  If your faith falters in the difficult seasons of life you need a good dose of steadfastness.  And God will provide that. 1 Peter 5:10 gives us the confidence that God will supply our steadfast spirit--  (That's great news!!!) "And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast."  We are never promised a life void of suffering...but we are promised that the God of all grace will dispense HIS strength to us when we need it.  Are you asking for it?  Are you availing yourself of the Lord's rich supply of steadfastness?  As the opening passage/graphic indicates...it is God who RENEWS a steadfast spirit within us!
  4. Steadfastness is dispensed as we ask and obey.  Psalm 119:5 says, "Oh, that my ways were steadfast in obeying your decrees!" and Proverbs 4:26 adds, "Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways."  Intentional obedience to what God has already said in His Word provides a path for steadfastness.  If we are constantly living in disobedience to the Lord our way is strewn with boulders of rebelliousness...we have to navigate around the very pitfalls and obstacles we are responsible for constructing.  We will stumble over them.  A stalwart and steadfast soldier is not out there on the battlefield stumbling around aimlessly slashing at the air lamenting that he should have trained harder. No, he is strategically, purposefully aiming the truth of God's Word at anything and anyone who seeks to bring him down.  Steadiness in obedience brings steadfastness to the heart. 
  5. Finally (although there are many more scriptures on the topic), I'd like to offer the beauty of Psalm 57:7 for your meditation and study, "My heart, O God, is steadfast, my heart is steadfast; I will sing and make music." When troubles come, sing!  When circumstances knock you down, get back up and start dancing...make music.  I love the story in 2 Chronicles 20:21, "After consulting the people, Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the Lord and to praise him for the splendor of his holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying: 'Give thanks to the Lord, for his love endures forever'."  Isn't that fantastic?!  The king sends out singers in FRONT of the army...and they are singing of the steadfast love of the Lord.  That just makes me smile.  (Please just go read the first 29 verses of chapter 20.  It's amazing.) When you have a battle facing you, do you go out singing? If your heart is steadfast, you will!
If you don't have a steadfast heart, you do have patience to have read to this point!  LOL I'm glad you did, not for digesting anything I said but to feast on the Word of God and His amazing promise to make us steadfast.  Just do your part to open yourself to His treasure trove!

Hope to see you over at Mustard Seed Faith Challenges this week and next!  

 

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

God's Word Fills My Heart

I recently purchased yet another journaling Bible and I love decorating the inside page too. I wanted the very first page of the Bible to express my feelings toward God's Word. One statement can't adequately express it, but I like the page and the sweet bird.



All the stamps are from Sweet 'n Sassy Stamps: Praise God (bird/flowers/stamped sentiment), Skinny Lowercase and Caps Alphas, All Your Heart and Rebecca Script.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Lullabye Baby

Mustard Seed Faith Challenge
Baby Card / Psalms

There is something simply heavenly about rocking a baby to sleep and singing over your child or grandchild.  I rocked both my boys to put them to sleep at night and absolutely loved that special time of singing to them and praying over them.  I also played music (soft classical) all night long.  I prayed every night over my boys for three things...for their future mates to be godly women, for them not to meet with a violent or painful end and for them to be godly men who loved and served Jesus with their whole heart.  They are grown men now.  My older son is married to a beautiful Christian woman and he is a very dynamic pastor.  My younger son, who also married a beautiful believer, has children of his own, and we recently celebrated the first birthday of his youngest.  


This little live-wire does love to cuddle up on grammie's soft lap and snuggle in for a snooze.  And I'm still singing...and still praying.  



And what a joy to see my baby hold his baby for sleep time too...


And seeing sweet time with mama...



 As I pray over my adult children who bless me so much, and my grandchildren who are now a double blessing, my prayer is reflected in Psalm 103: 16-18

But from everlasting to everlasting
    the Lord’s love is with those who fear him,
    and his righteousness with their children’s children—  
with those who keep his covenant
    and remember to obey his precepts.

God continues to answer the prayers I prayed so many years ago over my boys...now He is blessing the prayers of my sons over the fruit they are bearing through their ministry and children.


What an amazing legacy of faith in our family of men...Photo above was about a year ago in our home...my husband (a preacher) with his dad (a retired pastor). 


Both my grandsons have made professions of faith within the last 2 years.  In fact, Daniel, the younger one, is being baptized this Mother's Day (2017).  His grandpa David will baptize him as he did CJ two years ago.  As we celebrate the faith of my family and watch this amazing symbol of obedience to Christ by my grandson, I can't help but believe those prayers as I rocked my babies years ago made a difference, because God honored them and blessed me with these answers that you see here.

When we keep God's Word, sing it and pray it over our children, it will have an everlasting effect.  I believe that with all my heart.  


I'm submitted this card as my DT sample for the Mustard Seed Faith Challenge to make a baby card and relate to a psalm in scripture as a lullaby.  I hope the story of my rocking my babies, and now my grandson as I sing God's Word over them is a testimony to the power of what this challenge represents.  

AND for those of you who have children, may I recommend an amazing discovering I recently made.  If you haven't heard of the Scripture Lullaby CDs available online...rush there to purchase they are the new music I now play for Lukas.  My husband and I fall asleep with them every night and my daughter-in-law makes sure Lukas has them on while going to sleep...and she now plays them all night long for him.  God's Word, sung over our children.  That will produce more JOY than we can imagine!  Here's a sample!  Enjoy!

  

Sunday, April 30, 2017

He's Got You in His Hand!

 Welcome to the Mustard Seed Faith Challenge #4!


To understand who God is we have to start with creation. Everything we know and believe about God hinges on his role in creation, his sovereignty over everything he created and the purpose of our own creation. We know who we are when we understand who God is. If God holds all creation in his hands believers can rest assured that he holds us there too.



We know from John 10:28-29, that we are safely and securely held.
"I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; 
no one will snatch them out of my hand. 
My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; 
no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand."


I created this for the new challenge at Mustard Seed Faith Challenges. The theme is God as Creator or creation, so I used images from the digital stamp set I created, Our Good Earth, including the print paper shown.
 We are also to use a card sketch, reflected in this card only I reoriented the sketch design.


Since this Bible journaling page went along with the them of our challenge, I thought I'd post it again too.  When we take our eyes off of God as Sovereign of all creation, we can forget that he is in control of all things, our lives...all of it.  What he created was good, and his redemptive plan promised that it will all be good again!  While we have troubles and challenges now, we know this isn't the end of the story.  A new heaven and a new earth awaits and we will see our Savior-Creator face to face.  THAT will surely be good! 

All crafters are invited to join in our two-week challenge. Take a look at our blog for more details and great inspiration from the design team.



Thursday, April 27, 2017

Worthy to be Praised!

The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, 
my God, my rock in whom I take refuge, 
my shield, and the horn of my salvation, 
my stronghold and my refuge, my savior, 
you save me from violence. 
I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised... 
(2 Samuel 22:2-4)

We praise God because He is worthy to be praised! When the earth seems to crumble beneath our feet, He is our Rock. When we need a place of safety and peace, He is our fortress, our defender, a shield around us. When we need to be rescued, He is our Savior. When we consider His works and His character, we are left amazed and our lips can do nothing less than praise Him. 



God never fails to respond to our call. His presence and power in our lives are constants in which we can completely trust. He is never too busy, never disinterested, never too distant to hear our call to Him. He is worthy of our praise. What are some of the ways you praise Him?


Page: Background color is blended chalks, sprayed with fixative. Most of the margin words and the flowers are stamped (Sweet 'n Sassy Stamps: Rebecca Script Alpha, He is Worthy, His Wings, Words of Life: Collections 1 and 2, and Long-Stemmed Silhouettes).

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

What Anchors You?

Because God wanted to make the 
unchanging nature of his purpose very clear 
 to the heirs of what was promised, 
he confirmed it with an oath.   
God did this so that, by two unchangeable things 
in which it is impossible for God to lie
we who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us
 may be greatly encouraged.  
We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.



We can see on every turn that life seems to be getting more chaotic, out of control.  People are looking for security, for hope, for something to anchor them.  Thankfully the believer has a reliable source for these needs.  Right in the center of Hebrews 6 you can see the heading, The Certainty of God's Promise.  Not much in life is certain.  I've heard the joke that nothing is certain but death and taxes. Now I'm hearing people saying things more like "taxes will be the death of me"...so maybe those two realities are all wrapped up together!

Joking aside, there is a serious side to be considered regarding the certainties of life.  When people are searching for an anchor it usually means they are experiencing rough waters.  Some times our life-tempests surely seem like they will overwhelm and drown us.  That's when we turn to God's Word, to His promises for hope and security.  Only God can anchor our soul. Only the Master of the Sea can still our troubled waters.


I believe this passage in Hebrews is very powerful.  We can depend on, be anchored to, God's unchanging nature.  God is not fickle, He is bent by nothing other than His own will.  Nothing will foil the plans that God has.  God's Word and the principles He sets for our eternity security are rooted in His promises. 

God is an anchor because His nature is unchanging.  And He is an anchor because He cannot lie.  Jesus said, "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life..." (John 14:6).  This bold declaration from Christ's own lips says far more than "I will tell the truth."  He is saying that He IS the Truth.  All truth is anchored in Christ.  And we are blessed that He chooses to reveal His truth, His nature to us so that we will always be anchored and secure in the certainty of His promised to us.


The next time your are buffeted by tumultuous waters, remember that the Master of the Sea is an anchor for your soul.  Every single one one of His purposes for you will stand. You can depend on His Word for your life because He cannot lie.  And He cannot, will not lie because His nature, His character is unchanging.

I used Kuretake watercolor paints for the background, and the set Master of the Sea for this page.  I stamped the anchor on white cardstock, colored it with Copic markers then adhered it to the side bar.  The sets used: Master of the Sea (left) and Choose Faith (right).

http://www.sweetnsassystamps.com/choose-faith-clear-stamp-set/http://www.sweetnsassystamps.com/creative-worship-master-of-the-sea-clear-stamp-set/

Monday, April 24, 2017

Do You Ever Want to Fly Away?


 "And I say, 'Oh, that I had wings like a dove! 
I would fly away and be at rest; 
yes, I would wander far away...
I would hurry to find a shelter 
from the raging wind and tempest'." 
(Psalm 55:6-8)

 

Who of us hasn't wanted to run away from it all...just leave the worries, responsibilities, troubles behind and find a place of rest and shelter. Of course, all of us have wanted that. Even King David wanted to fly away. There are times when life is just so hard that we wonder if the struggle, pain, heartache, or thought is worth it.


In our flesh, we would probably answer, "No, this isn't worth it." But most of the time it is...because of what God can do with our challenges. The problem always is, God's timing usually takes longer than our patience or endurance lasts. God knows that. I believe He often waits to intervene until we fully relinquish our struggle to Him, until we lay it all at His feet in full surrender. When we've spent ourselves in sleepless nights and anguished worry, we come to the Savior and hand our emptiness to Him. That's the only way He can fill us completely...to be emptied of ourselves, our resources, our thoughts, our ways, our plans.


The book of Psalms, chapters 55-57 shown here are full of encouragement for those who, like King David, would just love to fly away to escape our problems. I invite you to go to your Bible, spend some time in these chapters. I promise they will strengthen and encourage you. They are wonderful passages to guide your prayer time.




For my pages, I've used Sweet 'n Sassy stamps (Skinny Lowercase Alpha, Rebecca Script Alpha, and How Tweet), Copic markers to color and Washi Tape accents