August 25, 2009

Hidden Joy – LAST WEEK GIVEAWAY

Wow!!! I am so proud of us…of you. What an incredible journey you have taken me on this summer. Your stories, thoughts, and words of wisdom have blessed me beyond measure. Words cannot express what it means to me that you spent your summer studying Hidden Joy. There were so many times that your comments were direct answers to the prayers I lifted over the months and years of writing. Your words have been God’s sweet gift to me. I hear His words all over again,

This is your life sweet child. This is why I allowed so many years of pain and suffering in your life. Hidden Joy, p. 166.

I pray that as we end our time together, you have been encouraged. If you are sitting in a dark place, believe with all your heart that the Lord has a beautiful redemptive plan to bring you out of your darkness into His marvelous Light. And not just bring you through to the other side, but to lift you up to a new place, singing a new song.

I titled Chapter Eleven A New Song because that is what God has given me…a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and trust in the Lord. Psalm 40:3.

You are the “many” whom He was speaking of when He gave me this verse twenty-three years ago. Little did I know when I wrote Hidden Joy that the Lord would allow me the privilege of leading over 350 women through this story. I pray that even now He is forming your stories so that one day you will be the one who will lead many to “see and fear and trust” in the Lord. Many of you already have!!

I have spent many an evening in tears reading your comments… how God has used His Word as shared in the pages of Hidden Joy to speak into your lives. Your stories have not only blessed and encouraged me, but you have blessed and encouraged each other.

I ask one thing of you…that you would already be planning your next Bible study. It is imperative that you continue to be in His Word!! This fall I will be leading a Bible Study here in Charlotte. We will be studying the book of Proverbs. I cannot wait to begin!!

I would LOVE to hear your thoughts on this study. Karen True, who works with Jennifer Rothschild’s ministry, womensministry.net, has invited me to journal our walk together. She will post the journal entries. Her web site is a wonderful resource for any woman who leads and/or teaches Bible study or works in women’s ministry on any level.

I would love to share some quotes from you. Please share your thoughts on any or all of the following questions:

why did you choose to do this on-line study?

what are the benefits of an on-line study?

what are the drawbacks of an on-line study?

what is it like to be in fellowship with women in an on-line study?

did it help you grow as much as being in a traditional bible study?

share a specific way this study touched, changed, or spoke into your life.

GIVEAWAY

From the comments I receive, I will select a name and send you a copy of Hidden Joy to give away to a friend as well as a $20 gift card to a place of your choice (as long as I have it in my area!).

I was quite nervous to do this on-line study. It was my first and according to many of you, it was yours as well. What a great experiment. I am so glad to have shared it with you. Nancy Leigh DeMoss has approached me about doing this study in the future through her ministry, Revive our Hearts. I will keep you posted as to a date and time!

Let me close our time together in prayer:

Heavenly Father, Sovereign and Holy God, Savior and Redeemer, Mighty and Majestic Lord, Author of Life, Giver of Truth, my Strong Tower and Best Friend. I love You, Lord, and thank You for the gift of Your Word. Thank You that it is Living and Active, purposed by You to speak into my life each and every day! Thank You that You redeem us from darkness and despair. Thank You that You make all things new. Today we rejoice in this day that You have made…yes, we will rejoice and be glad in it. Lord, give us each a new song, a hymn of praise to You. No matter our story, no matter our pain, no matter our struggles, no matter our hurt, bring us to the place of finding the hidden joy in our dark corner. Lead us to a place of perfect healing. Restore us to wholeness and use us to bring glory and honor and praise to You. Father, as we end our time together, lead us each to a new study, a new fellowship of women to continue our journey together with You. Thank You, Lord, that only You bring beauty from ashes!! We ask all this in Jesus’ name. AMEN.

August 18, 2009

Hidden Joy – Chapter 10

Thank you for blessing us this week with your thoughts on Chapter 10 and your stories. It brings such joy to my week to see God at work in your lives. We have ONE week left together. I am really going to miss meeting you here each week. Thank you for your faithfulness on this journey.

Don’t forget to share with me what God did through your prayer time this past week. Did you experience Him at work in your prayers?

Max Lucado writes a powerful story that I share in this chapter:

Max Lucado tells a wonderful story about an elderly woman who had a small house on the seashore of Ireland at the turn of the century. Because she was a wealthy yet frugal woman, the townspeople were surprised when she decided to be among the first in the town to put electricity in her home.

Several weeks after its installation, a meter reader appeared at her door. He asked her how her electricity was working. She assured him that it was working quite well. He then asked her to explain to him why, if her electricity was working, that her meter showed scarcely any usage.

“Certainly,” she answered, “Each evening when the sun sets, I turn on my lights just long enough to light my candles, and then I turn them off.” Hidden Joy, Chapter 10, p. 153.

She had tapped into the power but did not use it. Her house was connected but remained unaltered by the incredible power available to her!!

Friends, I wrote this chapter because that is how I lived for years and years after knowing Jesus as my Lord and Savior. I had surrendered my life to Christ. I knew Jesus lived in my heart. I knew the Word. I prayed. My heart was connected, but it was not altered by His Presence.

Is that where you are today? Do you want to move from that place to a place of incredible power? Tapping into that power…the power of the Living God that resides within every child of God, requires ABIDING IN CHRIST.

We hear those words all the time. But what do they really mean? Abiding in Christ means connecting with and passionately pursuing Jesus Christ in your life.

What words describe your relationship with Christ? The words Scripture uses are longing, yearning, hungering, and thirsting. When we hunger, yearn, and thirst for something, we want it above anything else. I am a Texas girl, and when I have a craving for sweet tea, it is all I want! I can hardly focus sometimes until I have tea in hand in the Chick-fil-A drive through. In that moment I desire it above all else.

What is the one thing you desire in this world above all else? Happiness? Peace? Wisdom? Joy? Rest? Healing? Hope? Long Life?

Sweet friends, do you know that ALL of these gifts are found in one person…that person is Jesus Christ. If you have Christ, happiness, peace, wisdom, joy, rest, healing, hope and long life are already yours.

You will never receive the fullness of these gifts without pursuing Christ above all else. I desired physical and emotional healing and God graciously gave me both. As wonderful as they were, they were not enough. ONLY GOD IS ENOUGH. HE IS OUR ALL IN ALL – THE STRENGTH OF OUR HEARTS AND OUR PORTION FOREVER.

As you abide in Christ, He gives you the capacity to appropriate His Truth and make it relevant to your life. You learn to hear His voice and sense His leading. When you need deep insight from His Word, He provides. When you need an added measure of understanding, He provides. When you need direction, He provides. When you need hope, He provides. When you need answers, He provides. God gives His Spirit without measure. Hidden Joy, p. 154.

In fact, Ephesians 3:20 says, He

is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us.

The more you abide in Him, the more He continually pours Himself into you!!! I invite you to begin abiding today! For the next 30 days, commit to spend a few minutes (or more) with God each day. If you already have quiet time with the Lord, lengthen it or go deeper in it. Before you begin, pray and ask God to reveal Himself . Look for Him to be at work. Ask Him to make His work evident in your life. Wait expectantly!! Journal your experiences. I would love for you to share what God does over the next month.

This week’s assignment: Read Chapter 11, A New Song, and complete the questions in the study guide located in the back of the book.

August 11, 2009

Hidden Joy -Chapter Nine

Can you believe we only have two weeks left after today? How I have loved spending the summer with you girls. You have blessed and encouraged me each and every week. Thank you for sharing your stories, your struggles, and your hearts. Your comments reveal that the Lord has been busy at work in and through His Word this summer.

Today our topic is PRAYER.

Every day you and I have appointments…salon, dentist, doctor, job-related, church-related, school-related, the list is endless. Have you ever thought of your prayer time with the Lord as an appointment? It is. It is an appointment with Jesus. Every day we should consider it our privilege and honor to spend time alone with Him in prayer.

If I am honest, I don’t always treat my prayer time that way. I hurry through it or I dutifully complete it or I put it off until tomorrow.

As I examine Scripture, I am moved by Jesus’ intimate communion with His Father. I long for that kind of intimacy with my Father. There have been times in my life…times of desperation, when I have experienced that kind of prayer. But I don’t want to be desperate to experience that kind of intimacy with my Father. The good news is, we don’t have to be.

Our Father is waiting to to meet with us, to hear our prayers, to fulfill the longings of our heart. But to receive the fullness of what He has to offer, we must bring the very depths of our souls to Him in prayer. So, for this next week as we study Chapter 10, “Abiding in Christ,” I challenge each of us to pray this prayer EVERY DAY before our feet hit the floor…

Lord, create in me a hunger to pray. Fill me with a desire to sit and soak in Your Presence. Make it the longing of my heart to know the fullness of Your Holy Spirit. I invite You to do mighty works in and through my prayer time with you.

WATCH OUT, GIRLS!!! With this prayer, we are inviting God’s supernatural activity into our lives and into the lives for whom we pray. I trust that He will blow us away!

I can’t say this enough. Scripture makes it very clear that the determining factor for experiencing the abundance of God’s supernatural blessings, His Presence, and His Power in our lives is obedience.

Sitting at the foot of the cross, alone, with our Father in prayer is an act of obedience. Early in our relationship with Christ it is a duty, a duty with which we must comply. Then it is a discipline, a discipline we must learn. Then it is a habit, a habit we must cultivate. Then it is a hunger, a hunger we must satisfy. Finally, it is a desire, a desire that then becomes the longing of our heart.

I am ready to make prayer time with Him my desire. No longer will it be a duty or a discipline or a habit. It will be a hunger, a desire…the longing of my heart. Will you join me this week?

This Week’s Assignment: Read Chapter 10, Abiding in Christ, and complete the questions located in the study guide in the back of the book. If the Lord tugs at your heart with Questions 4 and 5, be intentional with your prayer above. Use it to hear His voice and see Him at work as you commit these areas to Him. If God has laid some of the prayers offered by the women in this study on your heart, give those to Him. Share with us what you hear. See you next Wednesday!