Joy for those who see

This week a customer came in, and as we were talking, he stopped and asked: “You’re a jubilant person, aren’t you?”

Looking at him straight in the eyes, I said, I hope to illuminate joy. There is so much to be joyful about; things are shifting.

Giving me a questionable smile, I went on to say; If we look at the world around us horizontally, we can get overwhelmed, fearful, maybe even angered.

But! If we look at the world from our position in Christ (citizens of heaven – Php. 3:20), we can see exciting things. God is moving, stirring in the hearts of many. We are living in exciting times!

The gentleman smiled at me and said; yes indeed!

Truthfully lately, I haven’t been as “jubilant” as I have in the past. The burden of ‘standing’ on so many issues can become overwhelming, not to mention making one feel they aren’t doing enough. 

Then Papa God made things simple to me as he dropped these questions in my heart:

“What stirs passion in you? What is that thing that keeps stirring in your heart to bring change? That is where I want you to stand, watch and see what I can do through you.”

I type this all out to ask you the same questions: “What stirs passion in you? What is that thing that keeps stirring in your heart to bring change? Whatever that is, that’s probably the area that God wants to work through you.

So be encouraged! God is moving and doing mighty things through the people that are called by His name. 

1 Samuel 12:16

“Now then, stand still and see this great thing the Lord is about to do before your eyes!

Mrs. Nolen

When I was a young girl, I would stay a week with my grandmother in the summer.  She was employed at the local factory that stitched seatbelts for the auto industry, so I would spend my days with Mrs. Nolen while she worked.

I remember having the best fun with her. We would spend hours watching the birds eat at her bird feeder as I talked. I am sure I was a nuisance talking as much as I did, but she didn’t seem bothered by me. 

Lunchtime was the best! She asked me what I wanted to eat every day, and I requested the same thing: cheese and crackers, please!! I was obsessed with those fancy round crackers and the individually wrapped cheese. I grew up in a big family, so we didn’t get fancy foods like these. Mrs. Nolen kept two kinds in her refrigerator; Cheddar and Swiss, but I would always ask for, “Swiss cheese, please!”

Our afternoons, Mrs. Nolen would place a book on my head and tell me to walk around the room. And she was the first person to introduce me to a fingernail file. I had no clue how to use it when she handed it to me. With a puzzled look on my face, she snatched it back and mumbled, “I can’t believe she doesn’t know how to file her fingernails.” I am not sure if almond-shaped nails were the fashion then, but this is how she shaped my nails. The sound the file made on my fingernail gave me the willies. I thought it was gross, but she proceeded to tell me, “every girl must learn to do her nails,” and then she would paint my nails. One day they will be pink; the next day, they will be red.

            I hate to say this, Mrs. Nolen, but I still don’t keep up with “doing” my nails.    

It may not sound like fun to you, but it was such fun when I was a little girl. I am sure it was because I had her full attention, and we did ‘girly’ things. Having five brothers, I often ran around catching frogs and snakes; I was a little tomboy.

Even though I spent hours as a child with this woman and have many fond memories. If I were to walk into her home and ask for “Cheese and Crackers, please.”  She would probably yell at me to get out of her house and call 911 to report that an offender had walked into her house.

Of course she would! Because she wouldn’t know me. Just because I had a close relationship with her when I was younger doesn’t mean she would know me today. Right?

Matthew 7:21-23 New English Translation

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter into the kingdom of heaven—only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. On that day, many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many powerful deeds in your name?’ Then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you. Go away from me, you lawbreakers.

I know, it seems strange to hear our all-knowing Lord say that he doesn’t know a person.  But Jesus isn’t referencing intellectual knowing here, but relational knowing. It’s also hard to read that Jesus would speak ‘unloving’ words such as these; ‘go away from me.’

It is true that the Lord loves and wants to have a relationship with everyone.

We know how to protect our own families by not inviting strangers into our homes. How much more would the Lord preserve His heavenly home by not letting anyone in that HE doesn’t know (have a relationship with).

Did you have a close relationship with Jesus when you were younger, but it’s been years since you ate “cheese & crackers” with Him?

I know life gets in the way, so many things grab our attention. Responsibilities with our family, jobs, and community can muffle the knock at our heart’s door.  Though I want you to know He is still there at your door knocking.

Revelation 30:20 KJV Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come into him and dine with him, and he with Me.

You might be thinking, I don’t even know what to do to be in God’s will, or, I cannot add another thing to my busy schedule.

I used to think that his will was about “doing” good works. Honestly, I exhausted myself, striving to be “good enough” or doing “good.” I thought it was my ‘works’ that made me good enough. Unfortunately, I had it all wrong.

Ephesians 2:8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God not by works so that no one can boast.

Jesus himself explained it very simply to the disciples.

John 6:28-29 New International Version Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?” Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the One he has sent.”

To believe in the One (Jesus), we would need to know what was recorded in scripture about Him. And when we read scripture, it’s helpful to ask Holy Spirit for insight.

I can remember when I would read my bible and think I was reading riddles, and it didn’t make any sense to me. However, once I started to ask Holy Spirit to be with me as I read, scripture became alive to me.

John 15:26 Living Bible But I will send you the Comforter—the Holy Spirit, the source of all truth. He will come to you from the Father and will tell you all about me.

It was amazing that the verses that I read each morning gave me the tools to navigate through my day. I was encouraged, and I felt His love, and it made me hungry for more.

I will finish this blog by saying this: God is loving, and HE longs to have a relationship with us.

Jesus made way for everyone to bring us back into the right relationship with Him. Not only that but, Jesus sent the helper to us, Holy Spirit.

Do you hear the knock at your heart’s door? I want to encourage you to invite God in. Just start out eating “cheese and crackers” with him, and before you know it, He will fill you.

Psalms 107:8-9

Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind, for he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.

Unity does not mean uniformity!

This word, unity, has been stirring in my heart for many months now. Somedays, I hear it echo loudly, and then there are days it is only a whisper, but it keeps coming up.

And as surprising as it may seem, this word is misunderstood in many circles. I believe the reason that it is so misinterpreted is that the enemy knows the power of unity or agreement and wants to keep us (all people) divided.

It doesn’t matter the size of the division; it can be as in small circles of friends or big groups like businesses, communities, or even a Nation and everything in between.

1 Corinthians 1:10 NIV

I appeal to you, brothers and sister, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought.

In this verse, Paul is saying that we need to pursue unity within the church of Christ intentionally. Do not give place to divisiveness or competition. Instead, honor others, seek to be like-minded (in our belief in the Messiah), and recognize Jesus as the common ground for unity.

I volunteer as a mentor at a local ministry, and the woman I was teaching was telling me how she went to a concert of a Christian artist. She said, “it is hard to explain, I was around a bunch of people I didn’t know, but it didn’t bother me. It was like we were friends or something. I was okay with them jumping up and down, and they were okay with me dancing. It was like we were  connected.”

That connection is the spirit of God that is in each of us. It is the Christ in our brothers in sisters that reaches out to the Christ in us. We are united in and through Him. It is a miracle of the indwelling of Christ. But that doesn’t mean we look, dress, or even talk the same way.

We each have a specific niche, talent, or “gifting” that might not be another person’s favorite ice cream flavor (per se). We might communicate a bit differently, or we might like to wear jeans when another wants to wear dress slacks. All of that doesn’t matter. We can still be unified.    

Unity, in Greek, means oneness.

Oneness is defined in Webster as a combination or ordering of parts in a literary or artistic production that constitutes a whole or promotes an undivided effect. 

Think of a jigsaw puzzle. Each piece of the puzzle has a different shape from the other, but it creates an image when interlocked together.  Whenever I have done a puzzle, I would become somewhat overwhelmed looking at all the pieces.  Thoughts like: Where do I even begin, or, It’s going to take me forever to put this together, would echo in my mind.

                We all can be overwhelmed when something looks too big to accomplish, right?

But once I begin to separate the border pieces, I would be able to figure out how to fit them together. Slowly finding the details, the task didn’t seem so overwhelming. The different random pieces of color start to blend. Then suddenly I see it! The picture the creator of the puzzle intended the result to look like.

I write all this out to say; we look different, we have different shapes and sizes, but if we can stop looking at our differences and come together, the results would be amazing. It might look a little intimidating. We might not know where to begin, but let’s step out of our comfort zones and connect.

There have been many things being exposed in the world we live in that are evil. So many fronts we need to begin to unite to protect the innocents of our children. We can not fight all of these things by ourselves. However, we can partner and interlock arms with individuals that have already begun to fight (Purple for parents of Indiana).  We can share with our friends and neighbors the things that are being taught to our youth in public schools. We cannot put our heads in the sand any longer.

Make your request known.

I recently was asked if I could do something for a person I hold dear to my heart. I don’t recall her ever asking me to do anything for her the 12 years that we have known each other. My heart leaped when she reached out to me. I was determined; “even if I don’t know how to do this task, I will get it done for her,” I thought to myself.

Once I started in on the ‘project,’ I couldn’t help but smile.  I was the only one in the room as I worked on the task; no one could see the joy it brought me to do as she requested. Truthfully from start to finish didn’t take me long at all.

I can’t being to explain the joy it brought me; it was an easy task; you would have thought I just gave her a million dollars the way I felt inside. My thought to myself: “I hope that she would ask me to do more for her.”

Driving home, I contemplated how much joy it brought me to do a simple task and connect with each family member. We didn’t go anywhere; it wasn’t long conversations. What brought me so much joy was being in their presence.

Holy Spirit dropped in my heart: How you feel right now is how Father God feels when you ask Him to do even the smallest of things and/or spend time with Him.  At that moment, I felt His love more deeply toward me.

How often do we think we “need” to read chapters in our Bibles or be in prayer for long hours to bring or Father in Heaven joy? How often do we avoid “asking” for the smallest of requests thinking we are ‘bothering’ Him? But Papa God wants to spend time with us.

It makes me think of the time that I set aside to “soak.”  Now you are probably asking, “what is that?”

Soaking is when a person purposely sets aside everything to gaze on the beauty of the Lord (Psalm 27:4). No one is teaching, and no questions are being asked. You soak in worship music that is being played. The atmosphere is relaxing, and at times I have dozed off.

The first time I was invited to soak, I asked Papa God what this would be like? I had heard of people getting tangible things when they were in the presence of God. Seriously I have a friend that can testify to this phenomenon.

I chuckled to myself and thought this question; Papa, will you give me a diamond?

There is a story behind that question, I will not go into the details, but years ago, God told me to look for diamonds throughout my day. That most people will only hear or see the negative in our world. But it takes purpose to look for the positive. He said to me, “Georgia, I am handing you diamonds all day long, every day. Look for them, and pick them up. Put them in your pocket; before long, you will have a wheel barrel full of them.

So, I only expected a positive experience when asking Papa about ‘diamonds.’ Though I must admit, there was a small part of me that hoped for an actual diamond (big or small). Either way, I was “looking” for something extraordinary. 

I instantly felt comfortable even though I had never been at this church or knew the people in the room; even the person who invited me was not there. But I felt I was around family. I got comfortable and just let my mind think of all the things God has done on my behalf. My heart was overjoyed as I ‘soaked’ in his presence. Some people were writing things down in a notebook, and some were resting. After about 45 minutes, someone turned the music down, and people began to sit up. Everyone looked relaxed with a sincere smile. One by one, the group shared the things that they had felt, seen, or heard while they were soaking. It was very encouraging. The couple next to me said; well, I got something for you, they pointed to me. To my surprise, I waited to hear what they had to say. “I am not sure if this makes sense to you, but I heard the Lord say; Diamonds, tell her I have got lots of diamonds for her.”

Oh my goodness, I was thrilled! No one knew the question I asked in my heart to Papa God. And I can only imagine that this couple felt odd saying something that made no sense to them to a person they have never met before. But! It spoke so much to me!

God hears us! He knows us and wants to bless us. Papa God loves to spend time with us, and when we ask Him for something, He is overjoyed to give it to us. 

                Psalm 37:4 NLT Take delight in the Lord,  and he will give you your heart’s desires.

The request that my loved one asked of me, which I had written about initially, was a task that ultimately helped her save a little money. It wasn’t some outlandish assignment; it was simple.  What blessed my heart was the fact that I was asked. 

When we ask Papa God for something, we can confidently go before Him, knowing that HE loves us and no request is too small. And whenever I remember how my heartfelt doing the simple task for my loved one, I  will connect this feeling of deep love to the way God feels towards me.

Be Blessed, everyone; look for the diamond in your day.

Listen with your heart.

I have been in “class,” so to speak. The Holy Spirit has revealed many things to me about functioning as a believer in everyday life situations.  I once heard that if a person is not in conditions that could deem challenging, they are not growing. In other words, if I am never around other people who may see the world through a different lens than I do, how will I ever learn to communicate with them? Think about it in terms of working out; if I lift my arm to work out my bicep without weight in my hand or even use self-resistance, I will not build the muscle. Do you get what I mean? Well, I have put myself in these types of situations and I am gaining understanding.  

I have learned that if I want to make a difference at my workplace, the store, or even in a prayer meeting, I need to check my attitude.  It is simple, I cannot focus on bringing the Kingdom of Heaven into the situation if I have a heart (or eyes) that is clouded. And truthfully, my heart has been cloudy. I was not even aware of my ‘attitude’ until I started to ‘get involved in my community. I am want to be a part of bringing the positive change that is needed in our Nation.

A week ago my husband, Bob, shared with me a conversation he had with another man. And to my surprise, the other person Bob was talking to told him something that saddens my heart. He said, “You can’t talk to them; they’re the enemy.” That sort of statement isn’t how the Bible instructs us to be.  

Matthew 7:1-2 ESV “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

Philippians 2:3 NCV  When you do things, do not let selfishness or pride be your guide. Instead, be humble and give more honor to others than to yourselves.

As a follower of Jesus, we only have one enemy, and he prowls like a lion looking to attack (1 Peter 5:8).  With a mindset like this person has, this Nation will continue to struggle to be united.

I get it; we have been trained to think this way; you are for what I am for – or you’re against me. Right? Proverbs 18:2 says a fool takes no pleasure in understanding but only in expressing his opinion. I don’t want to be that fool. So I need to learn to see others as Jesus does.

Last night my husband and I went to our local city council meeting. I attend because I want to learn what is going on in my community.  But I also want to pray for my community. Before COVID, the room was full of people, and truthfully it was hard for me to connect my heart with heaven to pray. Now with only a hand full of people, it is a bit easier. I have a few thoughts about that, but I will share that in another post. Each time I’ve been in these meetings, I am learning new things. They are so small that they could go unnoticed if I weren’t paying attention. But I am purposed not to let my emotions get pulled. And I am learning more about my attitude. 

You probably can imagine issues on the council’s agenda are considered “hot topics.”  Subjects that stir up emotions for almost everyone, not just in our community but in our Nation. And yes, even me. But as the discussion was getting heated, I tried not to partner my emotions with that of the room. And something unique happened. Something that I haven’t felt since the first time I started going to these meetings. I felt God’s love for each person. And I could genuinely listen with my heart, to hear theirs. I could hear those who supported and those who opposed the “resolution.” I truly sensed that each person had a sincere concern for the community. I even heard (between the lines) that they have struggled this past year, just like all of us. We all have been unable to have our “normal” festivals and events that we have grown to look forward to in our county, and it is taking its toll on all of us.

Seeing each of them through the lens of heaven, I could pray a heartfelt prayer for each person.  Listen, we need to stop thinking of other people as our “enemy.” That is demonic to feel that way. If we want to be a part of the positive change in our world, we need to see each person as Christ sees us – with love. And listen to each other with our hearts. When we do this, we can pray a prayer rooted in heaven and not speak word curses rooted in hell.