Author Archives: gardnlady

Proverbs 19-21; Psalm 40; Romans 16

When I accepted Christ, I was a mess!  I was in the process of getting a divorce, I was fighting rejection, brokenness, and had hit rock bottom. My friend described it as being so low you have to reach up to touch bottom.  That is what it felt like to me.  I didn’t know how to go on with my life.  I kept making the same mistakes over and over.  Life seemed hopeless.  I somehow knew to cry out to God.

1 I waited patiently for the Lord to help me,
    and he turned to me and heard my cry.
2 He lifted me out of the pit of despair,
    out of the mud and the mire.
He set my feet on solid ground
    and steadied me as I walked along.
3 He has given me a new song to sing,
    a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see what he has done and be amazed.
    They will put their trust in the Lord. (Psalm 40:1-3)

He truly lifted me out of the pit of despair those many years ago and he did set my feet on solid ground.  We started our journey together and my life has totally changed because of his faithfulness.  He asked me to trust him.  It didn’t happen overnight but has been a steady build of our relationship.

12 Ears to hear and eyes to see—both are gifts from the Lord. (Prov 20:12)

I tried to go a different path once several years later.  It was one of those paths that looks beautiful and draws you in.  It wasn’t long before I looked around and realized I was going somewhere he didn’t want me to go. I had the choice to continue down that path if I wanted.  I couldn’t do it—I turned around and ran back to my Abba Daddy.  There is nothing more beautiful than Him and nothing worth losing the peace I get from being in his presence.

30 No human wisdom or understanding or plan can stand against the Lord. (Prov 21:30)

21 You can make many plans, but the Lord’s purpose will prevail. (Prov 19:21)

Five years ago the company I worked for was closed.  I had been there for 23 years.  We knew it was coming for six months before it actually happened.  I would say that has been the greatest tool God has used to show me he is sovereign.  I went on so many interviews and wouldn’t get offered a job.  I don’t even want to admit how many times I was on the floor in tears wrestling with fear.  I knew God was in control, I just didn’t know where he was going to take me.  But looking back, I could see exactly what he was doing.  For the year I was unemployed, I was able to volunteer at a food pantry where the people who worked there ministered to my heart while I was able to help hand out food to people in far worse financial conditions than me.  I was able to be with my mother during her final months of life and I was able to be at the bedside of two dear friends as they passed away.  I had planned to be back to work in several months.  God had a different plan.  When all he had planned for me to do was complete, I got another job.  God provided everything I needed during that year.

29 The glory of the young is their strength; the gray hair of experience is the splendor of the old. (Prov 20:29)

Yes, there is a blessing that comes from years of walking with the Lord.  I have gained experience through the trials I’ve encountered along the way.  There is one mountain in particular that has gotten in the way more than the others.  In my reading one day recently, I felt God assure me we would conquer this one area that keeps tripping me up (Acts 3:10).  You see, God is patient.  Sometimes there are things we hold on to like a life jacket even after we’ve been rescued.  We know we are safe but not quite ready to take the jacket off.  He has given me hope that this too will give me reason to sing a new song, a hymn of praise to my God.

Lord, I know there are days I take everything you’ve done for me for granted, and I don’t ever want to do that.  When I remember who I was and how far you’ve brought me, I can do nothing but lift my heart, my hands, and my voice in praises to you.  I sing songs with all the Saints—“Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.”  Amen

Cindy (gardnlady)

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1 Kings 1; 1 Chronicles 26-28; Romans 6

12 Do not let sin control the way you live;[a] do not give in to sinful desires. 13 Do not let any part of your body become an instrument of evil to serve sin. Instead, give yourselves completely to God, for you were dead, but now you have new life. So use your whole body as an instrument to do what is right for the glory of God. 14 Sin is no longer your master, for you no longer live under the requirements of the law. Instead, you live under the freedom of God’s grace. (Rom 6:12-14) NLT

I am celebrating an anniversary of sorts–it has been twenty years since I said “yes” to Jesus and He became Lord of my life. The process of going from that place to where I am now has been quite the journey. The transformation did not happen overnight; it was a slow, day-by-day, sometimes imperceptible change. I remember when I used to think a certain way, when I let sin control my life. It was a life lived out of desperation for love, acceptance, approval, and value. It didn’t matter what I did, or where I looked, those things were always elusive to me. There was no “one” or no “thing” that filled that longing. Until I met Jesus!

20 When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the obligation to do right. 21 And what was the result? You are now ashamed of the things you used to do, things that end in eternal doom. 22 But now you are free from the power of sin and have become slaves of God. Now you do those things that lead to holiness and result in eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom 6:20-23) NLT

I never really thought about “sin” all those years ago; I had my own belief about what was right or wrong. Looking back now, I see the life I led was done from a place of brokenness. I had been hurt and in turn I hurt a lot of people—myself included. That was never the way God intended us to live. It is the result of sin and a broken world. Because of it, there is a lot of shame for the choices I made. It has taken a lot of years of walking with God, believing he loves me despite the choices I made, and accepting that I am really forgiven to be able to let go of that shame. He really doesn’t want us to live under that bondage of the past.

When the book of 1 John says “We love because he first loved us” (4:19), I can honestly attest to that. As I let Jesus into my heart, as I let him love me, I wanted to change—I wanted to live differently. At first, I didn’t understand how he could love me so I had to go on faith that it was the truth. Once I really started to believe it, I no longer wanted to live the life of sin I had been living, I wanted the freedom that comes from being “slaves of God”. Little by little I’ve had to let go of the behaviors I had learned to survive “my way”. They were like a life-jacket to me. I was afraid to give them up. All along the way God has said “trust me”. When I wasn’t able to do that, he said, “I’ll wait.” As his love has been there consistently over the past twenty years, I have been able to walk through some really hard places, let him reveal and heal some ugly things inside of me, and release bondages that have tied me down most of my life. Now, I choose to live “under the freedom of God’s grace”.

I asked my nephew if I could share this picture of him and my brother. It is one that is precious to me. In my mind, I see it as a picture of me as a child, full of trust, leaping into the arms of my heavenly Father. I know he is smiling, he loves me, and is going to catch me. There is nothing else in this world that I trust more than that. He has filled my longings for love, acceptance, approval, and value. He has given me a peace within I never thought possible.

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Lord Jesus, thank you for taking all the broken pieces of my life and putting them back together again. I wouldn’t trade the last twenty years of my life with you for anything. They have been filled with pain and a lot of tears as you mended my broken heart. I know we aren’t finished yet but I trust you and your goodness. You’ve not asked me to walk through anything alone, you’ve given me strength when I had none, and calmed my fears. I whole-heartedly surrender to you. In your name I pray. Amen

Cindy (gardnlady)

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1 Samuel 20; 1 Chronicles 4; Psalm 56, 57, 142; Acts 14

There was a man named Jabez who was more honorable than any of his brothers. His mother named him Jabez[d] because his birth had been so painful. 10 He was the one who prayed to the God of Israel, “Oh, that you would bless me and expand my territory! Please be with me in all that I do, and keep me from all trouble and pain!” And God granted him his request. (1 Chron 4:9-10 NLT)

Tucked away in the middle of a chronicle of names of the lineage of Judah is a little paragraph that has come to be known as the “Prayer of Jabez.” Jabez had a lot to overcome in his life. Jabez means “pain” in Hebrew and it makes me wonder why a mother would name her child that way. Imagine growing up and every time anyone called your name they reminded you of this fact. Talk about growing up in shame! Notice that this story does not dwell on that, though. His prayer to God is more of a focus than the pain.

There is a quote by Brene Brown that really spoke to me of this process: “Loving ourselves through the process of owning our story is the bravest thing we’ll ever do.” Jabez could not help what his mother named him. I can imagine the other boys taunting him, calling him names. Maybe there were times he caught his mother looking at him in a certain way and feeling her remembering what she went through bringing him into this world. I can relate to this story because it could be the story of my life as well. So many of us have had hurtful things done to us that caused us to make bad choices. Shame is an insidious emotion. It hides and masks itself as so many other things. I can look back at my life and see that the root of so much brokenness comes from shame experienced at an early age.

What I love about these few verses is that Jabez was determined not to let his name define his life. He asked God to bless him and give him a larger arena to spread the goodness of the God he loved. He asked God to be with him, to guide him away from hurting himself and others. I believe he didn’t want to cause anyone else the pain he suffered! His focus was on God. “And God granted him his request.” Because of that, people don’t remember his pain–they remember his God!

God loves me so much! There are times I do not remember that. Instead of focusing on all the good He has done in my life, I can get caught up remembering all the pain from a long time ago. In all honesty, though, that pain is how He enlarged my territory. His love, faithfulness, patience, and teaching have given me a testimony to share with others. I have amazing stories of God working in my life, revealing His truth to me, and putting together the broken pieces of my life to reflect His beauty. The trouble and pain I suffered caused me to seek Him. I would not have the relationship I have with Him today if it were not for all that happened in my past. Like Jabez, I too have prayed a payer to the Lord. My prayer was to heal my brokenness, break the strongholds in my life, and use me to speak hope and God’s healing power into other people’s lives. “And God granted (her) request.”

9 I will thank you, Lord, among all the people.
    I will sing your praises among the nations.
10 For your unfailing love is as high as the heavens.
    Your faithfulness reaches to the clouds. (Psalm 57:9-10 NLT)

Father, I pray that people will look at me and see my God, my Father who calls me “dearly loved.” You have loved me back from the depths of despair. At times, your saving grace will overwhelm me and I can do nothing but cry tears of gratitude and joy. I, too, will sing your praises for all to hear. In the precious name of Jesus, Amen.

Cindy (gardnlady)

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Ruth 3-4; Psalm 37; Acts 4

Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: “Rulers and elders of the people! If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a man who was lame and are being asked how he was healed, 10 then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. 11 Jesus is

“‘the stone you builders rejected,  which has become the cornerstone.’

12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”

13 When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus. 14 But since they could see the man who had been healed standing there with them, there was nothing they could say. 15 So they ordered them to withdraw from the Sanhedrin and then conferred together. 16 “What are we going to do with these men?” they asked. “Everyone living in Jerusalem knows they have performed a notable sign, and we cannot deny it. 17 But to stop this thing from spreading any further among the people, we must warn them to speak no longer to anyone in this name.”

18 Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. 19 But Peter and John replied, “Which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you, or to him? You be the judges! 20 As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.”

21 After further threats they let them go. They could not decide how to punish them, because all the people were praising God for what had happened. 22 For the man who was miraculously healed was over forty years old. (NIV)

20 As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.” This is a statement of a changed life, a man who finally got what Jesus had been teaching his disciples. It had not been that long ago that Peter had denied he knew Jesus out of fear for his own life, yet here he was, standing in front of authorities, and not backing down. That was one of the things I remember learning when I first became a follower. Through all the years after his death and resurrection, not one of the men who had witnessed it ever changed their story. No matter how they were threatened with death, or beaten, or thrown into jail, their story of what they witnessed stayed the same.

We all have a story of how following Jesus changed our lives. One of my favorite Sundays at our church is Baptism Sunday. People share their testimony of lives completely turned around because they believed and let Jesus into their hearts. There is so much joy, and singing, and clapping “because all the people were praising God for what had happened.” I think it takes a changed life to recognize that change in someone else. The look of joy when they step out in faith and proclaim they want a new life just brings tears to my eyes. I get to relive my own excitement of that decision with them.

What I love even more are the people who spontaneously decide to be baptized because of the stories of restoration they have heard. Something in them stirs and they can’t contain themselves. The Holy Spirit is working in them–the same Holy Spirit that evoked Peter to boldly proclaim “12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”

The bible gives us countless stories of God’s restoration. The Book of Ruth is one of those.

13 So Boaz took Ruth into his home, and she became his wife. When he slept with her, the Lord enabled her to become pregnant, and she gave birth to a son. 14 Then the women of the town said to Naomi, “Praise the Lord, who has now provided a redeemer for your family! May this child be famous in Israel. 15 May he restore your youth and care for you in your old age. For he is the son of your daughter-in-law who loves you and has been better to you than seven sons!”

16 Naomi took the baby and cuddled him to her breast. And she cared for him as if he were her own. 17 The neighbor women said, “Now at last Naomi has a son again!” And they named him Obed. He became the father of Jesse and the grandfather of David. (NLT)

I never tire of reading that book of the bible. God’s plan of redemption for our lives is such a major theme. Through it he not only restored the lives of Naomi and Ruth, he also put into place the plan of redemption for all of humanity. Through David’s genealogy came Jesus, who is our Savior.

Heavenly Father, my life was changed the moment I believed. You have always had a plan for my life—that knowledge has brought healing to my troubled soul. May I continue to praise you and lift my voice with all the saints throughout eternity proclaiming the name of Jesus, the greatest name of all. In His name I pray. Amen

Cindy (gardnlady)

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Joshua 18-21; Psalm 15; Luke 18

And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’ For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.’” And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says. And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” Luke 18:1-8 (ESV)

When God wants to teach us something, he will provide many occasions for us to take what he is teaching us and put it into practice. You can’t miss the subject. It will be in sermons you hear, the devotionals you read, and the verses you are studying in the bible. My lesson for this season is prayer and talking to God about all my concerns. I realized this recently when I had an issue with a neighbor. There was an infringement on the property of this neighbor that was causing me great concern. I fretted, got angry, mumbled to myself, and worried. Week after week the neighbor was not doing anything to correct this issue so I finally wrote to the HOA about it. As soon as I mailed the letter, I felt great conviction but I wasn’t sure why. I spoke with a trusted friend and she said, “I don’t know what else you could have done. I’m sure you prayed about it!” ZING! Therein was the answer. I hadn’t prayed about it! I was trying to fight this battle on my own. The conviction was the Holy Spirit reminding me, once again, that I need to take everything to God.

I thought about how often I take it upon myself to act without consulting God (shared in a previous posting)! I need to be like the widow and constantly take my requests to him. God is going to judge fairly in every situation. I can trust him to either solve my problem or direct me as to how I should take care of it. Perhaps writing a letter to the HOA was not the best solution. Maybe something is going on with the neighbor I know nothing about—but God does! I read through this parable and asked myself, “when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” about myself. Oh, I have faith for the big things, but the little day-to-day mundane things I don’t think to share with him. I want to have unshakeable faith and that has to include believing he cares about everything.

Two years ago I lost my best friend. We had been through so much together. She was my “go to” person to share my joys and dump my frustrations on. I had one of those days recently when I missed having a “best friend” and cried out to God in prayer. I sensed my answer to be “you need to make Jesus your best friend.” One of my other friends would call that a V-8 bop to the head! I still had a best friend, someone who knows me and loves me, and cares about what kind of day I had. I just didn’t have enough faith to include him. I couldn’t help but remember some words to the old hymn, What a Friend We Have in Jesus (Joseph M. Scriven, 1855). “Oh, what peace we often forfeit, oh, what needless pain we bear, all because we do not carry, everything to God in prayer!”

Heavenly Father, thank you for never giving up on me. You continue to teach me even when I don’t get it right. I can see how all you want is to have a relationship with me. Jesus, you want to be my best friend. No one knows me better than you, no one else loves me unconditionally. You are sovereign yet accessible. Oh Lord Jesus, when you come, I want you to find many filled with faith! I want others to know you and your goodness. Give me opportunities to share!   In your name I pray, Amen

Cindy (gardnlady)

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Deuteronomy 10-14; Psalm 5; Luke 8

16 “No one lights a lamp and hides it in a clay jar or puts it under a bed. Instead, they put it on a stand, so that those who come in can see the light. 17 For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open. 18 Therefore consider carefully how you listen. Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what they think they have will be taken from them.” (Luke 8:16-18) NIV

When I first read through this section of Luke, it seemed to have nothing to do with what Jesus had just been talking about in the previous chapters—the parable of the sower. He was telling them about the word of God and how some hear it but the devil snatches it away so they don’t believe. Others hear it but it never takes root in their lives. Some hear and let life’s worries get in the way of experiencing the freedom it brings. Thankfully, some hear it, believe it, take it to heart, and persevere through life knowing God’s love for them.

I realized these verses have everything to do with spreading the word of God! The verses speak to me of illumination. Now, illumination has several meanings. It can mean to provide a means to see: 16 “No one lights a lamp and hides it in a clay jar or puts it under a bed. Instead, they put it on a stand, so that those who come in can see the light.” But it can also mean to reveal, or make known. 17 “For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open.”  Jesus was teaching his disciples about the importance of sharing with others what he was teaching them. He didn’t want them to hide it, what good would that do? His words are meant to teach, rebuke, correct, and train (2 Tim 3:16). He wanted them to intently, purposefully listen and then to spread the good news he was revealing to them.

Many people followed Jesus and many heard his parables–but not all understood. Sometimes this was done on purpose. The Pharisees were always trying to trip him up by questioning his words. They were so intent upon listening to his words, they totally missed their meaning. But Jesus made sure those who sought to know the meaning understood what he was saying.

I think we could take these words as a warning to us today as well. As the world becomes less and less tolerant of Christianity, it is more important than ever to memorize scripture. When we plant it in our hearts, it is ours to keep and no one can take it away from us. We can draw upon it anytime, at any place, even when our bible is not within our reach. Because of the investment we made in memorizing His word, our spoken words may be the only way people in the future will ever see the light. “Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what they think they have may be taken from them.”

Lord, I am so thankful for your word and for all You have taught me through it. May it continue to light my way as I follow you. I want to stand as a light on a lampstand reflecting your light for all to see. Let me draw from what is inside of me like water from a well so others will know the living water you give us.  In Jesus name, Amen.

Cindy (gardnlady)

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Numbers 12-14; Psalm 28; Colossians 2

26 They came back to Moses and Aaron and the whole Israelite community at Kadesh in the Desert of Paran. There they reported to them and to the whole assembly and showed them the fruit of the land. 27 They gave Moses this account: “We went into the land to which you sent us, and it does flow with milk and honey! Here is its fruit. 28 But the people who live there are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large. We even saw descendants of Anak there. 29 The Amalekites live in the Negev; the Hittites, Jebusites and Amorites live in the hill country; and the Canaanites live near the sea and along the Jordan.”

30 Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.”

31 But the men who had gone up with him said, “We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are.” 32 And they spread among the Israelites a bad report about the land they had explored. They said, “The land we explored devours those living in it. All the people we saw there are of great size. 33 We saw the Nephilim there (the descendants of Anak come from the Nephilim). We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them.”

I so want to be like Joshua and Caleb, ready to take God at his word, to believe I can do what he says I can, and that he is with me every step of the way. There have been times when I am ready to take on the world; but then, like the Israelites, I look at the situation through my own eyes. That is never the way to accomplish a God-sized task. You need God-sized eyes!

There were twelve men who went to spy out the land. They carried home fruit that took two of them to carry. I can’t even imagine grapes that large! They verified the land was flowing with milk and honey, just as God had told them. God had been with them all this way. He saved them from the Egyptians, he performed miracles in the desert, yet 10 of them doubted his power and protection if they pursued his promise to them.  Not only did they doubt, their words created doubt and fear in the rest of the nation.  They were ready to pack their bags and head back to Egypt–but not before stoning the few who believed God and chose to take him at his word.

I have been struggling with this issue of “doubt” recently. Through some rather significant losses in my life, I started doubting God’s goodness. Even as he has shown himself to me through this grieving process, there are days I find myself depressed. God has been so very good to me. I am thankful for who he is and all he has done. In order to battle it, I have found I need to pray a hedge of protection around my mind through prayer, I need to concentrate on specific verses God has given me for strength, and I need to remember. Sometimes I have to “remember” out loud so I can hear myself. It reminds me of Joshua standing before the Israelites (You know with all your heart and soul that not one of all the good promises the Lord your God gave you has failed. Every promise has been fulfilled; not one has failed. (Josh 23:14)) The closer I draw to him, the more I depend on him, the more I celebrate the victories we made together, the less likely I am to sit in that place of defeat.

Yes, Lord—I pray for eyes that see things as you do. I have no need to fear; I can be afraid but push through knowing you have my back. Instead of seeing an insurmountable obstacle, I want to see the path you forged ahead of me. Thank you that I have so many memories of your goodness. Thank you that I know your Word to be true. Thank you that you are “slow to anger and abounding in love and forgiving sin and rebellion.” Bless your holy name! In Jesus name, Amen.

Cindy (gardnlady)

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