Thursday, March 08, 2007

An Instrument of Peace

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace

Where there is hatred, let me show love
Where there is injury, Pardon…
Where there is doubt, Faith…
Where there is despair, Hope…
Where there is darkness, Light…
and where there is sadness, Joy…

Grant that I might not so much seek
to be consoled as to console…
to be understood as to understand…
to be loved as to love…

For it is in giving that we receive,
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
And it is in dying that we are born
to eternal life.

Beauty Tips

Beauty Tips

For attractive lips
speak words of kindness
For lovely eyes
seek out the good in people
For a slim figure
share your food with the hungry
For beautiful hair
let a child run his/her fingers through it once a day
For poise
walk with the knowledge that you never walk alone
People, even more than things,
have to be restored, renewed,
revived, reclaimed, and redeemed;
never throw out anyone. Remember,
if you ever need a helping hand,
you will find one at the end of each of your arms.
As you grow older,you will discover that you have two hands;
one for helping yourself,
and the other for helping others.

How to Plant Your Garden

How To Plant Your Garden
First, you Come to the garden alone,
while the dew is still on the roses.
1. Peace of mind
2. Peace of heart
3. Peace of soul
1. Squash gossip
2. Squash indifference
3. Squash grumbling
4. Squash selfishness
1. Lettuce be faithful
2. Lettuce be kind
3. Lettuce be patient
4. Lettuce really love one another
1. Turnip for meetings
2. Turnip for service
3. Turnip to help one another
1. Thyme for each other
2. Thyme for family
3. Thyme for friends

Planting the Seed

Today, I shared with another Women's group in a small town not far from where I live. It was a good morning! God is sooooo good! The same passage of scripture I used to open my talk, the leader this morning read to us and prayed for me before I shared what God laid on my heart. You know, God has really been stretching me to begin sharing with other women in different communities - to start speaking at different ladies events. He does so many wonderful things each time!! Every time before I share, after I've written out what I want to share, the enemy throws so many lies at me throughout the day. Lies like, "Of they're not going to like what you say, or It's not good enough, or That sound so stupid"....and they go on and on. But God always confirms with me that what I've written out on paper, what He's laid on my heart is what the women need to hear that morning. He reassures me time and time again. God is so faithful!! So, here's what I shared with the ladies this morning:

Planting the Seed

I want to start with these verses that came to my mind as ideas have been compiling in my mind for this talk that I was asked to give today. What of my heart did I wish to share with you today on Planting the Seed. Let’s read:
Matthew 13:3b-8 “…A farmer went to plant seed. 4 Some seeds were planted along the road, and birds came and devoured them. 5 Other seeds were planted on rocky ground, where there was little soil. The plants sprouted quickly because the soil wasn't deep. 6 But when the sun came up, they were scorched. They withered because their roots weren't deep enough. 7 Other seeds were planted among thornbushes, and the thornbushes grew up and choked them. 8 But other seeds were planted on good ground and produced grain. They produced one hundred, sixty, or thirty times as much as was planted.”

When I think of planting seeds and of this passage, so many pictures came through my mind. What are the roads, thorns, birds, rocks, the sun, withering plants, good ground and grain in our lives, in my life? All plants start with a seed and I am a plant. There have been so many times when seeds have been planted in my life to help me grow or scorch or choke or wither but there has always been a gardener, whether I saw him or not. The planting of that tiny seed is where I want to begin.

As I was growing up, my mother was often too sick to take care of me. Aunts and Uncles would take me into their home and they would care for me and nurture me. They were planting seeds of love and care into my life that would affect me forever.

There was a minister in the church I grew up in and he always made me feel good about who I was. He did not portray a critical or judgemental spirit. He showed interest in who I was and I always liked him and looked up to him. There was something about him that drew me to him and what he had and believed in. He was planting seeds of acceptance and love and showed me that I was made special.

In my neighborhood, we often had children’s clubs, Good News Clubs and 5 Day clubs. I loved those as a child and looked forward to them so much. It was a very positive experience in my life. Those young people who taught those clubs worked through Child Evangelism and they planted seeds of God’s love and wonderful stories in my mind and heart. I will never forget those memorable seeds.

Even though my mom was often too sick, and not herself, she tried to plant seeds of love into my life. I didn’t always accept them well but looking back now I know that she did what she could and what she knew how in spite of her limitations of pain and sickness. She never gave up trying to plant seeds into my life – even though she often hurt so much. She taught me to pray – that’s often all she did because there were times she did not know what else to do. She also taught me to pray everyday for my future spouse – my prayer was that I wanted to be a mom and a wife and that I would marry a tall, dark-haired handsome Christian man.

As a teenager I was rebellious and I left home at age 15, there was the mother of a friend of mine that invited me to live in their home for a time and she treated me like her own daughter. She accepted me as her own, loved me, talked with me, cried with me and encouraged me. She was planting, sowing seeds into my life.

This mother’s daughter, a dear friend, who saw how messed up I was becoming because of alcohol, partying and other wrong choices I was making at such a young age, also planted seeds of love into my life. She was my friend and loved me but never took part in what I did. There came a point where she really encouraged me to go and work at camp for the summer. I felt I had no other place to go – my brother had just kicked me out of his home, there was no way I was going back to live with my parents, so I decided to go to this camp at the lake. That became a huge gardening season of my life that has brought in a harvest time and time again. The director of the camp at the time gave me his Bible, the counselors were my friends, cried with me and prayed with me, other young people that I worked with showed me the many different types of homes that we come from and that I wasn’t the only one. Because of this good friend’s persistence and gentle nudging, my life was blessed through this garden in a season of my life.

When Roger, the tall, dark-haired handsome man came into my life, neither of us were living a life honoring to God. But there were many people who planted seeds in our lives, many examples around us of God’s love and acceptance. We knew we did not want to continue in this lifestyle, but it was hard to draw out those roots, those seeds that were buried so deep into bad soil. The dear Friend who had encouraged me to go to camp, invited Roger and I to go to an evangelical meeting in the city and that night, my tall, dark-haired handsome man had many questions. Later, after he went home, alone in his bedroom, down on his knees he invited Jesus to be a part of his life. I phoned my mom and said, “Mom, I’m marrying a Christian man.” God had answered my prayer. He had given me a tall, dark-haired, handsome Christian man. That seed that my mom had planted had grown and blossomed. J
So many of these seeds that were planted in our lives, drew us out of our partying lifestyle which we were choking in and slowly, through good times and in bad, released us of their hold and we began growing together into trees that grew near the water. Even though our roots were continually reaching for that living water, there were many times in which our branches would try to grow through thorn bushes and thistles. The winds would come and bend us the wrong way, and often break. But then the sun would come out after those rainy, windy days and have us yearning for, thirsting for and reaching out for that living water again. The gardener would come and prune those dying branches, take away those dying, unfruitful limbs and nurture us to blossom as our roots continued to stretch towards the water and our branches reached towards the sky.

Times were not easy – life was not easy. We both had a career, we were trying to find new friends, trying to establish ourselves in a church, buying a home, beginning a family, and continually trying to break free from the thornbrushes and rocks of our lives. But life was never meant to be easy, we were never promised an easy life. God’s Word tells us that it is a rough, narrow way, but a blessed path to eternity and He is there with us every step of the way.

Over the years, many, many people have planted seeds in my life, in our lives. The list is endless. Friend’s parents who were like parents to me. Women who have been a mentor to me and been a godly example for me as I grew into womanhood learned how to be wife and then into stepped into motherhood. There are women that have laughed with me through the silly and joyful times and then cried with me through the tough, rough and sad times. Then there are the older women that have taught me how to love my husband and take care of my home and raise my children. The couples that have reached out to us and have been friends to us. There are men that have been a part of my husband’s life and the older men that have been like a father to my husband. Oh the pastors and church leaders that taught us so much and planted seeds of discipleship and nurturing into our lives. Then there are those parents that are an example to my children. Those lovely women and young ladies who have watched over my children when they were young so that I could have some time away or take part in or lead a Ladies Bible Study group. The kids that have befriended my kids, the youth that have been godly examples to my kids, the adults at church that have encouraged my kids and have taught them Sunday School and clubs. The teachers that have come through my children’s lives at school…..the list could go on and on. So many good seeds that have been planted into our lives and that we have been so eternally grateful for. For all these seeds, there will be a time of great reaping.

When I think of the passage of the farmer sowing or planting the seeds, I think of the times that I have been that farmer. What kinds of seeds have I planted and dropped along the way and what part do I play in nurturing those seeds. At times I’ve been the rocky ground, the withering plants, and the thorn bushes – not being good food for seeds that have been planted. And thankfully, at times I’ve been the seed in the good ground or I have planted good seeds – yearning to produce a large wheat field full of healthy grains of wheat. Anyway that you look at it, I’ve been some type of seed in my life and I’ve been some type of plant in my lifetime.
Now I’ve reached a point of growth in this plant of life to be planting seeds of my own. Many seeds I’ve already planted. These haven’t always been seeds from the Fruits of the Spirit. Unfortunately they’ve been seeds of discord, of jealousy, of hurt and of pain and frustration. When seeds have landed on rocky soil, I have at times been the thorns that have choked the life out of them because of the sour seeds that have been sown in my own life and the wrong choices that I myself have made. Again, the Gardener has come along and restored and pruned those lifeless branches and has thrown them away. I am eternally grateful for that.

I have often sought the purpose of my life – the reason for this plant to be in the garden of life. My purpose, my reason to live is to plant seeds – I am a planter. How am I dropping those seeds in this journey through the garden of life?
* When I wake up each day, talk to God and am thankful – I am planting a seed.
* As I go throughout my day, cooking, cleaning, worshiping my God and being a wife and mother – I am planting seeds.
* When I have devotions with my children and pray with my husband – I am planting seeds.
* When I am a loving, submission wife with a desire to be my husband’s helper – I am planting a seed.
* As I look out the window, watching for my children to come home after school to share their day with me – I am planting a seed.
* If I pick up the phone to listen to a friend – I am planting a seed.
* As I followed God’s nudge to invite a woman over for coffee and listened over the next few weeks of her pain and hurt and continued to be her friend – I am planting a seed.
* On days where my camera is calling me to come along and capture memories of God’s creation – I am planting a seed.
* When I take those photos that I’ve captured and bless someone’s day with a print or a card – I am planting a seed.
* When I spend some time typing at my computer, putting my thoughts of God and life and sharing photos on my website – I am planting a seed.
* When I create greeting cards and encouragement cards with the photographs that I’ve taken and share them with others – I am planting a seed.
* When I was preparing for a trip to Bolivia, my father and his brother were dealing with unforgiveness in their hearts. I listened to each one and I encouraged them to make things right before I left to find their brother in another part of the world – I was planting a seed.
* In Bolivia, I was staying with my dear friend who so long ago helped me in my rebellious teenage years and steered me towards God. I listened to her, cried with her, talked with her, laughed with her and spent precious friend time together – I was planting seeds and as she was reaping what she had sown in a friendship so many years ago.
* While I was traveling by myself going to Bolivia and talking to others on the plane or in the airports and passing on my photo cards with scripture verses and handing out my business card sharing my website address – I was planting a seed.
* When I was in Bolivia, I had the unique opportunity to go to a Ladies Retreat with 44 missionary ladies in the Santa Cruz area. A speaker from Texas walked us through this book she had written called “More of Christ” and I took it home with me and taught it to the ladies in Bible study here in SK. Now we are studying another book from that church in Texas called “Titus 2 Woman”. I was asked to write an article for a women’s magazine in that church in Texas about our Bible study group here – I am planting a seed.
* Many photos that I’ve taken in Saskatchewan have been saved on a disc and are now in Bolivia being used on Sunday mornings on a screen with the words of Spanish worship music – they are being used to plant seeds across the world.
* While I continue to follow God’s calling in my life to lead Bible studies with women, learning together and teaching them His Word, listening to their hurts and praying with them – I am planting a seed.
* A woman had moved here from England and had joined our Bible study group for a time. She has now moved back to England with her family and has taken the “More of Christ” study with her to teach it there – I planted a seed and now she is planting a seed.
* As I pick up the phone to listen to my mom or to go and pick her and dad up for an appointment – I am planting a seed.
* If I allow myself to be used through my gifts and talents that the Good Lord has given me and am involved in my church, blessing others through Christ’s ministry – I am planting a seed.
* When I put together a calendar with photos that I’ve taken and put scripture verses on them – I am planting a seed.
* When I call a complete stranger and ask their permission to use the photo that I’ve taken on their land and share with them who I am and what I do and who I live for – I am planting a seed.
* I’d taken a photo of an abandoned home and as I was on the yard, an old, bitter, foul speaking man shared with me from his hardened heart. My heart went out to him as he cursed and swore. Some time later, I took the pictures of that abandoned home and knocked on his door. He stood there as I shared with him how I’d been praying for him and how I wanted to be a blessing to him that day. His whole body just melted as I gave him some black & white photos of the home that I had taken pictures of. I did not know his name and I have not seen him since but I was an angel to him that day planting seeds of love.

I have so many examples and stories that I could share of planting those seeds. Unfortunately, the seeds that I’ve planted have not always been good seeds of love, acceptance and forgiveness. I am not perfect and I have made many mistakes. I am often sad from missing certain plants that have been picked up and moved elsewhere to bloom and to be nurtured. At times they’ve been moved because of my bad soil and other times my work with those plants has been done. But God is continually bringing in new plants to be nurtured through this farmer. He extends His grace, mercy, forgiveness and love to me so faithfully day after day. I am eternally grateful and I will keep trying to be a humble servant, serving my Lord and planting His seeds in this garden of life here on this earth.
Thank you for having me share with you this morning.
God bless you!

Forgiveness & Unity Among Women

I was asked to speak at a Ladies Night Out at our church in January of 2006. It was a BIG stretch for me. God is opening more and more doors for me to open my heart with other women but it has not been easy. He is doing good things and bringing good out of it all. But at the same time, I feel so incredibly inadequate, so unworthy and so humbled. My life has become an open book and has made me completely transparent and vulnerable. I'm so far from perfect and when I'm asked to speak on a certain topic, it's always a topic that I desperately need work on myself. As I'm prayerfully writing things out, searching God's Word and then sharing it with others, I'm also talking to myself, I'm teaching myself. Through studying and learning, God is always showing me what I need work on and what I need to change. God is continually working on me and molding me into the person He wants me to be. I mess up so many times but I know I need to keep getting up and keep trying and to continually learn through the trials of life, and through the mistakes I make. In these talks, I always try not to be too specific. I know at times I have hurt people but God is continually teaching me how to word things. My intent is never to hurt anyone in the stories that I share. If I have hurt anyone, I'm very, very sorry. But it's through every journey in my life that God is teaching me and showing me so many things about myself, about life and how to now raise my children. Thanks for letting me share this with you. I know this one's a bit lengthy but I hope you enjoy it.

Forgiveness and Unity among Women

When I think of Forgiveness & Unity among women, I think, wow, it takes a lifetime to achieve. Really. It is no easy task. I’ve worked with, helped, supported, encouraged, laughed and cried and prayed with women over the past 18 years. I’ve worked with women in the work force, I’ve raised children with women and been in mother’s groups with them, I’ve attended Bible study with them and for the last 13 years, I’ve led women’s Bible studies. It’s been a fulfilling, emptying, misleading, hurting, laughing, learning, enjoyable, frightening, hair-raising, frustrating, joyous, supporting, encouraging, mournful, teary-eyed, competitive, jealous, envious, lovable, and funniest times of my life all wrapped into what we call relationships and connecting with women around us all at once. What would we do without each other ladies?? Who would we compare our clothes, hair and bodies too? Who would we laugh and cry with? Who would we play Dutch Blitz with? Who would we discuss mothering tips with? Who would we tell how to raise their children?......and the list could go on and on.
It is not easy being a woman. It is not easy nurturing relationships with one another. It is not easy “working hard to live at peace with one another” as it instructs in the Psalms.
Psalm 34 v. 11-14? “Do you want to live a long and happy life? Then watch your tongue, keep your lips from telling lies, turn away from evil, do good and work hard at living at peace with others.” Ladies, this is talking to us!! These verses are just for us. Watch your tongue. How do we watch our tongue?? How do we keep our lips from telling lies?? What is telling lies? Telling a partial truth and leaving some out or giving enough information to formulate a certain idea without saying “the whole thing”? Wow, do we need work on that one! What is telling lies?? Turn away from evil. What is evil for a woman? How are women evil?? Do good. How do we do good?? And the famous last one is Work hard at living at peace with others. How do women work at peace with each others when so many of our characteristics have the notion of ‘cat fights’ in them or ‘snarling’ effects attached? How do you teach your daughters (who often fight and have claws attached) or a son who loves to bug, to work hard at living at peace with others? Wow! This Psalm has a high calling attached to it. But you know what? God never said it would be easy. Actually, He knew, and He told us that it would be hard. But He also said, that He would always be there for us, never leave us and there would always be a way out of any temptation. That includes the temptation to have it out with another woman, to swallow that pride, or to curb that frustration, or to close that mouth when you need to or to look away when a certain look wants to come out of your eyes, or to calm that voice at the last minute when it wants nothing else to do but to scream. We are human ladies. But we also have the Holy Spirit living within us and we are called to live at peace with one another.

Jesus prayed for his disciples and he prayed for us. In John 17:11 “…keep them and care for them…all…so they will be united.” When Jesus was praying, he prayed for unity among us. Jesus prayed for all who would follow him, including you and me and others. He prayed for unity in v. 11, he prayed for protection from the evil one in v. 15, and he prayed for holiness in us in v. 17. Knowing that he prayed for us should give us confidence as we work together for His Kingdom. Ladies, unity was so important to Jesus. Think of your homes, when there is not unity, is it enjoyable being in the home? Is it pleasant for others visiting in your home when there is not unity? No there’s not.

Pastor Russ had a great sermon last Sunday which I believe prepared us for tonight – it planted seeds for this evening. He spoke about people rubbing you the wrong way. You know, God has a sense of humor – I may not always appreciate that sense of humor at the time, but it is for my good. There’s one woman in my life who often rubs me the wrong way and I know I rub her the wrong way. Well, she rarely comes to our church but you know what, she came last Sunday. Hee-hee. So, there we sat, side by side, as Pastor Russ preached to us about how to act when people rub you the wrong way. That’s a funny one! I needed to hear what he had to say though. I really appreciated the verses that he used – many of them were already on my list to use tonight.

He based his sermon on Col. 3:12-17 “Since God chose you to be the holy people whom he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. You must make allowance for each other’s faults and forgive the person who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. And the most important piece of clothing you must wear is Love. Love is what binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are all called to live in peace. And always be thankful. Let the words of Christ, in all their richness, live in your hearts and make you wise. Use them to teach and counsel each other. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. And whatever you do or say, let it be as a representative of the Lord Jesus, all the while giving thanks through him to God the Father.”

WOW! We are to live as Christ’s representatives – we are to imitate His compassionate and forgiving attitude. We are to let love be our guide. The peace of Christ is to rule in our hearts. We’re always to be thankful. We’re to keep the word of God in our hearts at all times. If we did these things ladies, would it be hard to live in perfect harmony??

Russ pointed out Psalm 133:1 “…how good it is when brothers live together in harmony (unity).” But look at all these other verses talking about harmony:

Ro 8:27 And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God's own will.

Ro 12:16 Live in harmony with each other. Don't try to act important, but enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don't think you know it all!

Ro 14:19 So then, let us aim for harmony in the church and try to build each other up.

Ro 15:5 May God, who gives this patience and encouragement, help you live in complete harmony with each other – each with the attitude of Christ Jesus toward the other.

1Co 1:10 Now, dear brothers and sisters, I appeal to you by the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ to stop arguing among yourselves. Let there be real harmony so there won't be divisions in the church. I plead with you to be of one mind, united in thought and purpose.

1Co 12:25 This makes for harmony among the members, so that all the members care for each other equally.

2Co 6:15 What harmony can there be between Christ and the Devil ? …

2Co 13:11 …Rejoice. Change your ways. Encourage each other. Live in harmony and peace. Then the God of love and peace will be with you.

Remember Pastor Russ’s points in his sermon??
1. was to take the high road – we all make mistakes, we’re all God’s chosen people and neither of us is perfect. Col. 3:14 says to “forgive as the Lord forgave you.”
2. Your actions are more important than your feelings – if you don’t like someone and you show them kindness, you’re not being hypocritical – you’re being holy.
That one really poked out to me – that hit me hard. We’re so quick to say someone is being a hypocrite – I think we need to rethink that.
3. Include Christ in every conversation – what would Jesus say – you may not always know that but you sure would know WHAT HE WOULDN’T SAY. Verse 16 says we’re to use Christ’s words to teach and counsel each other. In other words, do not associate with a gossip.
4. Pursue personal peace – v. 15 says let the peace of Christ rule in our hearts. Isaiah 26:3 “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, whose thoughts are fixed on you!”
Ladies, when we’re overworked as to who hurt us and how we’re going to fix it or fix them or we’re concerned about making ourselves look good in front of others, we’re not fixing our thoughts or eyes on Jesus. If we’re not at peace, we’re not trusting enough in Jesus. Keep our focus on our Lord, not on others around us.

Often when we buck heads with someone, we’re the ones that need the work. God’s not through working on me yet – He’s not finished working on you yet!
How about the drama with the 2 couples in the parking lot?? Arguing and the men wanting to have a fist fight? Then their wives realize that they all went to the same church. How humbling!! Or how about when another person from church drives by you and gives you the finger because you had accidently cut him off when you passed him? Or when you drive a vehicle that has a fish sign on the trunk or a sticker that says God loves you! but you're driving habits don't represent the message that you are giving with that fish sign or sticker on your car. God has such ways of humbling us. Has anything similar happened to anyone ever? In order to have unity, you must let down pride, overlook faults of others and forgive.

Phil. 4:4-7 “Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again – rejoice! Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon. Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need and thank Him for all he has done. If you do this, you will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”
Here it’s telling us that our inner attitudes do not have to reflect our outward circumstances. Paul was full of joy because he knew that no matter what happened to him or around him, Jesus was with him. It’s so incredibly easy to get discouraged about unpleasant circumstances or people, or to take things said or done much too seriously. Don’t allow things around us to rob us of our joy ladies. Keep things in perspective and work hard at not allowing people to rub you the wrong way cause it’s just not worth it. There will always be other women that will treat us unfairly and vice versa, but we are not to seek revenge or verbalize about our personal rights. One thing I try to always keep in mind, Jesus was silent before his accusers – I need to be too.

You know there have been times in my school years where I've been very intimidated or made fun of by other girls and there's been times when I've been the one making fun of others. It was no good. Things like that have gone on since the beginning of time it seems. But God works through those situations and brings good out of them. Too many times I've allowed what others have said to me or done to me to dictate who I really am. I know I've done wrong things too, but I also know that God has forgiven me for those and He's worked in my heart to forgive others who have hurt me. He's also allowed me to ask others for forgiveness for the hurt that I've cause them. It also amazes me to this day that my hubby chose me and not a zillion other girls that he could've chosen from. God had him planned for me!! :-) Also what amazes me is who God brings back into my life years later and how He uses those situations to bring healing, forgiveness, mercy and love into my life and into the lives of others. There's often challenges to work through and grow through but He's there every step of the way.

God's grace, mercy and forgiveness were written all over many many situations in my life. Life always comes full circle. It amazes me the people that God sends back into my life to teach me so many things; forgiveness, sensitivity, mercy, letting go of hurt or bitterness....and on and on. My children have gone through hard times of being bullied and at times being the bully themselves, and I am able share stories of my own life with them. This lets them know that it's happened to me too and that we can feel how they're feeling. I also tell them that you never know when God will bring someone back into your life for you to show His love and forgiveness to or to receive love and forgiveness from. God knows exactly what we need from day to day to mold us into the character He desires us to be. GOD IS GOOD!!

Because we're women, things can happen all the time where wrong things are said or done. It seems to be a constant thing that we need to teach our girls not to be nasty, treat others disrepectfully or talk about others. God has used instances like those in my life to show his mercy and forgiveness as well. Our first response is so often to lash back or defend ourselves or to react in a wrong way. But I often think what Jesus did.

You see, when we are silent before our accusers and stop ourselves from lashing back or lashing out, God takes care of the difficult situations in our lives. He brought women back into my life to allow grace and forgiveness and healing. At another time He used an innocent comment to bring out the truth of what actually happened and gave an opportunity for grace and forgiveness again. I've been there in both situations. Ladies, I'm ashamed to say that at times I've been the one that has made fun of others and I've been the one that has gossiped about another woman to another. I've been there. I feel for women who are painted a wrong picture of someone they've never met because of gossip and saying the wrong things. How many times have I done that to others? I've been there and I've done that! How wrong I've been. I've been put on both sides.

Oh Lord, forgive me for when I've hurt other women knowingling and unknowingly. Teach us Lord to be an encouragement to those around us and to show Your Love to those around us - to build each other up.

Right now in Ladies Bible study, we are doing a study on the Titus 2 woman. Titus 2:3-4 says this “Teach the older women to live in such a way that is appropriate for someone serving the Lord. They must not go around speaking evil of others and must not be heavy drinkers. Instead, they should teach others what is good. These older women must train the younger women to love their husbands and their children, to live wisely and be pure, to take care of their homes, to do good, and to be submissive to their husbands. Then they will not bring shame on the word of God.”

Women are not to take part in slandering one another, gossiping, or drinking too much wine as it says in Titus 2. Older women are to teach, to admonish, the younger women. This means they are to give encouragement through advice – they are to pass on their insights to younger women. Paul tells older women to teach the younger women so that their actions would glorify God, build His kingdom, and strengthen the family. We are to rely on each other for spiritual guidance. Therefore it is extremely important where you are getting your guidance from if you are giving it to others. Those around us also learn much more from our actions than from our words. Younger women are much more likely to take the counsel of older women to heart if they saw them doing what they are saying themselves. We often call this practicing what we preach.

Are you allowing God’s Holy Spirit to produce faith in Christ by your actions or the words you speak? What kind of example are you for Jesus, for other women around you? Do other women want to follow you?

Phil. 2:1-2 say “Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and sympathetic? Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, working together with one heart and purpose. Don’t be selfish; don’t live to make a good impression on others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourself. Don’t think only about your own affairs, but be interested in others, too, and what they are doing.”

Ladies if we’re just living to make a good impression on others or to please ourselves it is selfishness and it causes disunity. In these verses Paul is stressing spiritual unity. We are to love one another and be one in spirit and in purpose. When we work together, care for one another, put others first – we have unity. Laying aside our selfishness, treating others with respect and common courtesy, considering others more important than ourselves – these actions link us with Christ, it shows humility and allows us all to experience unity.

Col. 4:2-6 “Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and thankful heart… Live wisely…make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be full of grace and effective…”

John 13:34 …“Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other” – that means without the petty bickering, jealousy and division, not having shut minds or hardened hearts, caring about right and wrong, having no greed or deception or selfishness. It’s learning to live a God-centered life. God is Love!

To live a God-centered life, it means to live in unity – in harmony. Let’s sing a note. All the same note – SING. Okay not bad but when it's that way all the time it's rather boring right? Now those of you who can harmonize, let’s harmonize. Let’s sing – SING but with harmony. Isn’t that beautiful?? I love listening to music when it’s in harmony like that. I read a devotion one time where it said that music always sung in the same note gets to be monotonous and boring – very dull. But, music sung in harmony is lovely – it’s heavenly. All the notes on the scale are different – they all have a different ring to it. That’s how it is with us. We all have different notes and scales (levels of life) and gifts to offer. That’s what makes us all so beautiful and unique. We’re beautiful and unique and heavenly together but one alone isn’t all that strong. We need each other living in perfect harmony and being one in Christ. Jesus is praying again in John 17:22-24 “…so they may be one…being perfected into one…” Jesus’ greatest desire for his disciples and for us was they we become one. He wants us unified as a powerful witness to the reality of God’s love. Ways that you can help unify the body of Christ, the church: pray for each other. Avoid gossip. Build each other up. Work together in humility. Give your time and your money. Exalt Christ. And refuse to get sidetracked arguing over divisive matters. Wow! How many have seen themselves failing in each of these points here?? I know I have failed. But it’s our choice!! It’s our choice ladies. We can choose to live in unity, in harmony with those around us. Why did you come here? Do we come together to tear others down and gossip or did we come to build each other up, seek encouragement, support, prayer, and refresh your life, and to get to know God better?

Let’s close with Ephesians 4:29 – 5:8 “…let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them. V. 30 Don’t bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live…get rid of all bitterness, anger, rage, harsh words and slander, as well as all types of malicious behavior. Instead be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you. Follow God’s example in everything you do…live a life filled with love for others…Impurity, greed…obscene stories, foolish talk, coarse jokes…such sins have no place among God’s people – these are not for you. Instead, let there be thankfulness…v. 7 don’t participate in these things….you are full of light from God and your behavior should show it. For this light within you produces only what is good and right and true.” LET’S SHINE LADIES, SHINE FOR JESUS! GOD IS LOVE

Col 3:14 “And the most important piece of clothing you must wear is love. Love is what binds us all together in perfect harmony.” Amen