A Chosen Instrument

Years ago I was scheduled to share my testimony at a small retreat home in the South. Ladies from several different churches were represented on this evening to hear from the line-up of speakers. I was thankful for the opportunity to share, yet unaware of what I would face by a particular speaker that would follow me.

I knew with certainty that my narrative would be quite different from the other speakers. My journey was not theirs, and it was lined with pits of sin and many mistakes. But what the Lord had done through it was what I wanted most to share.

As I sat before several women, conversing about my story, I was completely transparent about my former days and how God had redeemed them. Afterward, I took my seat in the back of the room while the speaker following me took her seat at the front of the room to begin her lecture. Yet instead of opening her story with an introduction or a simple hello, she let out a spoiling sigh in regard to my testimony, aligned with a remark that appeared to be somewhat disdaining. I was taken off guard, to say the least. But then, Jesus!

Throughout God’s Word, we read of countless individuals whom God used mightily to help build His Kingdom, in spite of their past.

Paul was a man who was used significantly by the Lord. However, he, too, often faced cold shoulders and doubting Thomases due to his past.

Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Ananias; and the Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias.” And he said, “Here I am, Lord.” And the Lord said to him, “Get up and go to the street called Straight, and inquire at the house of Judas for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying, and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him, so that he might regain his sight.” But Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he did to Your saints at Jerusalem; and here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on Your name.” But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel; for I will show him how much he must suffer for My name’s sake.” So Ananias departed and entered the house, and after laying his hands on him said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road by which you were coming, has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” And immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he regained his sight, and he got up and was baptized; and he took food and was strengthened. Acts 9:10-19 NASB

Notice the Lord’s words once more to Ananias in regard to Paul: “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel.” Even though Ananias did not believe in Paul, God did. The matter was settled in regard to Paul’s past. But it was settled by God, not by man.

I remember the day I cried out to God and said, “How can a Holy God like You use somebody like me?” Within my spirit came, “It’s not about you; it’s about My Kingdom.”

A pastor once stated, “The church is a hospital for the sick.” I agree, yet so often the church is the one engaging in the wounding. Have we forgotten how God used David? Peter? Moses? Rahab?

A passage of Scripture that has recently caught my heart’s attention is Galatians 1:1. It states: “Paul, an apostle (not sent from men nor through the agency of man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised Him from the dead). . .” This passage of Scripture notes that Paul was not sent by man but through Jesus  Christ and God the Father.

Question to ponder:  If God is the One who sends us – (and He is) – then who are we to allow man to set us down?

Back to the retreat story: Weeks after that particular speaking engagement, I received a phone call one day from a woman who was in that group of ladies at the retreat center. God had used my testimony in her life, for she too had a past. She requested to meet with me and wanted to bring another lady with her. Though one may have viewed my testimony as shocking, God used it to help others while opening a door to minister in a profound way.

It’s God’s business whom He uses and how. It’s about His Kingdom and not ours. Paul, in spite of everything he faced, continued moving forward with Jesus, taking Him at His Word. He was forgiven. He was called. And He was willing to be used by God, for the glory of God and for His Kingdom.

Do you see yourself today in this story? Do you, like the woman speaker, see others’ faults as unredeemable? Or, do you have a past that is battling to keep you in bondage? Settle the issue today. We are called by God, not by man. Don’t let others set you down, and don’t be the person who tries to clip the wings of those whom God has called to fly. Let God use you. Answer His call and move forward with Him to your destiny. Much awaits you!

About the Writer:
O’Shea is the mother of two and Nana of five and enjoys both roles tremendously. She is the Executive Director of Entrusted Hope Ministries where she loves serving through speaking and blogging. A member of First Baptist Church Dallas, O’Shea serves with the church’s First Impressions ministry and teaches the Strong & Courageous Sunday School class for single moms. She received her bachelor’s degree in Christian Ministry from Blue Mountain College in Blue Mountain, Mississippi, her master’s degree in Biblical Counseling from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, and is currently working on her D.Ed.Min. at Southwestern in Family Ministries.

Happily Ever After

When I was in high school I believed I would get married at the age of 23.  Twenty-three was the age my oldest sister got married, and I believed that is when marriage would happen for me.  Then came my 25th birthday, my 30th birthday, my 35th birthday, and now my 37th birthday.  Twenty-three came and went!  I was so confused.  Why was I not married?  What about my “happily ever after?”  

It wasn’t until recently that I realized it was a belief created by none other than me.  I told myself that is when it would happen, and disappointment surely followed.  Can you relate?  Is there something that rings a similar bell in your heart?  I am grateful God did not leave me in my false belief but opened my eyes to His truth.  God is amazing and is so good.  

For the Lord is good; His loving kindness is everlasting and His faithfulness to all generations. Psalm 100:5

God in His loving kindness opened my eyes to see that it was a Jourdan belief and not His true happily ever after.  He reminded me that His plans are higher than mine (Isaiah 55:9).  Whether my earthly dreams come true or not, they are not my eternity.  If you are single or in a place where there is that thing you so desperately desire, hear me now.  He knows.  He holds that thing.  He loves you.  He has a purpose in it for your good and His glory.  Trust Him, for He is faithful remembering our true happily ever after isn’t here yet.

What is Happily Ever After?

Whether single or married, happily ever after is coming for all of us!

That, my dear friends, is true happily ever after, when we as God’s people are in the place He created for us to live with Him FOREVER!  Eternally! Happily ever after is where we get to live with God in Heaven.  I recommend reading Revelation 21- 22 and Randy Alcorn’s book, Heaven, to learn more about what Heaven is going to be like.  We can know!  Also, watch or listen to Dr. Jeffress’s sermon series on Revelation, specifically July 19 and 26, 2020.

How Do We Get There?

Through Jesus!  If you don’t know Him today, I invite you to meet Him.  Contact First Baptist Dallas and ask to speak to a minister on staff.  They would be ecstatic to introduce you to Jesus.

Jourdan has been a member of FBD for 12 years and sings in the Celebration Choir. She works as a full-time physical therapist and has a heart for medical missions. She loves encouraging others in the Lord and smiling. 

You Reap What You Sow

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I will never forget the time I heard my daughter use one of my slang words when she dropped something getting out of the car at only three years old.  It was not necessarily a bad word but one I used frequently whenever something unexpected happened. It was shockingly inappropriate for a young girl, and, honestly, for me as well.  In fact, this was one I had learned from my grandmother many years earlier. Our minds are like a computer; what goes in will eventually come out.

Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.  Galatians 6:7

As an adult, I have heard the words “you reap what you sow, more than you sow, later than you sow” preached more than once. If we sow gossip, others will gossip about us. If we sow immorality, we may see our children live immorally. If we sow an undisciplined lifestyle and recklessly squander our finances, we may reap the stress of debt and lack of necessities in life.  On the other hand, if we give of our tithe we sow blessings. He promises to open the windows of heaven and pour out a blessing until it overflows (Malachi 3:10).  With these thoughts in mind, here are eight virtues which we might try to exercise.

Dr. David Jeremiah reminds us if we are not growing in God’s Word we can become incomplete, ineffective, insincere, and nearsighted; and we can also lose our Christ-like perspective. When it gets right down to it, as we read His transforming Word, His convictions are motivating our actions.  It is not just focusing on doing the right thing but allowing the Holy Spirit to work using His Word to “grow us up.” Then we will be more likely to speak the truth through our deeds, and our testimony will be strong and clear. Live in His Word this year to sow righteousness and bring glory to God in order to be a shining light in a dark world.

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.  Romans 12:2

About the writers:

Diana is a former high school teacher, Sunday School teacher, and Women’s Bible Studies teacher. For many years a stay-at-home wife and mother, she is now also a grandmother to three young Oklahomans who call her “Gigi.”

Beverly is a retired educator, parent, grandmother, and wife with a desire to see others learn about Christ and become disciples of His Word through service in various ministries at First Dallas.

The Goldilocks Disorder

My name should be Goldilocks!

When ordering from a menu, I like my food to be “just right” – dressing on the side, no cheese, water with lemon. When folding laundry, I fold towels so they fit “just right” in the cabinet. When dusting, which I probably don’t do as often as you, I return decorative items so they sit “just right” in their assigned places.

How does trying to live in a “just right” Goldilocks world affect my spiritual life? It’s like oil and water! It doesn’t work!

Sometimes when I pray, I tell God how I would like things to be “just right” in my life – a quiet child, a calm day, good health, a check in the mail. Very seldom do my requests become reality because God is a good Father and a wise Sovereign. He allows only what is best, and I’m learning His sovereign plans for me really are “just right.”

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

What does it mean to say God “plans to prosper us?” He doesn’t promise to prosper us by putting money in our bank account or giving us a better job. His plans are custom-designed to teach us to thrive . . . have fortitude . . . have courage in times of trouble. I would not have chosen some of the situations God has allowed for me, and some of life’s difficulties have been lingering for many years, as possibly some have been for you as well. I’m learning God’s Spirit enables me to persevere through the challenges He allows. Because of the situations God allows in our lives, our faith can grow stronger and we can have empathy (your pain in my heart) with others. God wastes nothing.

What does it mean to say God “plans to give us hope?”  Hope in Scripture is not crossing our fingers – hoping a husband won’t leave, hoping we can get pregnant, hoping a child will graduate, or hoping we’ll be able to retire. Hope in Scripture is a blessed assurance…a peace that comes during difficulties. God is ready to give us an inner quietness even when life is hard.

What does it mean for God to say “plans to give us a future?” As God’s children, our future is assured (guaranteed . . . secure) because He has prepared a place for us to live eternally with Him.  As the old hymn says, “This world is not my home, I’m just a-passin’ through.”

For those of us who have The Goldilocks Disorder, how should we face the new year?  We can rest in God’s plans.  Rest?!  In 2021 God wants us to rest?!  Life in the 21stcentury is on the fast track, and there’s very little time to rest physically, emotionally, or spiritually – right?

Where was Goldilocks at the end of the fairy tale?  She was resting . . . she was even asleep!!  She had given up trying to make things “just right.”

Yes, the story of Goldilocks is a fairy tale, but God’s Word is not. He is our Faithful Father, and His plans are always perfect. God promises His plans will give us hope in 2021 and an eternal future. He allows only what is best, and His sovereign plans are always “just right.”

About the Writer:
Sherry enjoys spending time with family and friends, reading, Bible study, and traveling.  She and her husband, David, are Directors of the Sonburst Class at First Baptist Dallas.

Behind the “Seens” at the Pageant

                            And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us . . . John 1:14

Have you ever tried to grasp the concept of “eternity?”  I have.  However, my brain is incapable of understanding how far back “eternity past” extends!  Try as I may, my mind’s eye cannot see far enough into eternity past to experience its lack of boundaries, limitations, time!  The same is true of “space:” no boundaries, no limitations.  This vast expanse is where God has always been!  God is an invisible Spirit, filling the whole universe with His presence!  There is no place we can go, see, or imagine where God does not dwell.  John 1:1-4 says that Jesus, the Word, has existed from “the beginning” and that He created everything!  Genesis 1:1 declares that God created the world; therefore, John’s words strongly affirm that Jesus is God! 

God knew the humans He created would rebel against Him and break His laws.  He taught them that a blood sacrifice was necessary in order to atone for their disobedience.  For centuries, God’s people presented the sacrifices God demanded in order to become “right” with Him temporarily- – until they sinned again!  They acted in faith that He would forgive their sins.

But God had already planned the perfect sacrifice to accomplish complete atonement for man’s sins “once and for all.” (Hebrews 10:10)  But who could qualify?  God would offer Himself (Jesus) as the only sacrifice worthy to take our place on the altar.  He always has been the only sinless One who did not have to die for His own sins!  But why would He do such a thing?  The answer is that He loved those whom He had created and had mercy on them.

But how could a spirit bleed and die?  The answer lies in the words of John quoted above.  The eternal, invisible, infinite God became flesh!  Note that He did not become God; he was already God.  But, miraculously, He conceived in the womb of Mary, a virgin Jewish girl, a body of flesh, uncontaminated by sin, uniquely acceptable as the sacrifice for the transgressions of the whole world!  Without His unlimited grace and immeasurable love, we would still be doomed to an eternity without God. But, glory be to the Father, in His perfect time, He “sent forth His Son” to be our Savior and to give us the privilege of becoming children of God through “trusting Jesus as our Savior!” (Galatians 4:4-7)

That was no ordinary baby lying in the manger there in Bethlehem.  That Baby in the manger would one day be the Savior suffering on the cross, the victorious Lord rising from the tomb, the beloved Son ascending to His place with the Father, the Mighty King returning some day to take us to dwell forever in His presence. (John 14:3)  He was and is to come the holy Son of the living God, the eternal Spirit dwelling in human flesh!  Praise His Holy Name now and forevermore!  May you have a very Merry Christmas and a deeply joyful one as you ponder these truths.

About the Writer:
Diana is a former high school teacher, Sunday School teacher, and Women’s Bible Studies teacher. For many years a stay-at-home wife and mother, she is now also a grandmother to three young Oklahomans who call her “Gigi”.

LOVE . . . Thyself

Moment of truth for me – it has always been easier to love others than myself. Some of us may give to the homeless, support pregnancy centers, fight for the equality of the marginalized, and take care of our families, but deep down we do not see the same value in ourselves. It may be because we are so focused on our flaws, or it may be because we experience the judgement of others. Regardless of the reason, some of us just can’t seem to find the same amount of love and regard for ourselves as we do for others.

And if I give away all my possessions to charity, and if I surrender my body so that I may glory, but do not have love, it does me no good. 1 Corinthians 13:3

Dear reader, hear me now. If we don’t find a solution for self-hatred, all our life’s purposes are useless. Whether or not we have purpose or hope, our lives WILL end. People, professions, possessions, and prominence can all fail us. But we don’t have to live in the darkness of disappointments. We can seize the truth that our value is eternally fixed and priceless to the Almighty, and we can LIVE LOVED in the Light of His truth! 

Here are three Cs to help us remember our predetermined and unchanging worth:

THE CREATION

First, Scripture makes it clear that every human is made in love by their perfect Creator as an image-bearer of Himself and a uniquely distinct expression of His desire to know them intimately (Genesis 1:26-27). Psalm 139 is a poetic description of just how precious we are as His creation. Not only that, but it confirms that He truly knows all our wonders and warts – and He STILL considers us worth His time and love.

Lord, You have searched me and known me.
You know when I sit down and when I get up;
You understand my thought from far away. 

THE COMMANDMENT

Second, Jesus drew specific attention to the love of humans in a summation of the entirety of written Scripture in Matthew 22.

‘Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?’ And He said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ Upon these two commandments hang the whole Law and the Prophets.’  Matthew 22:36-40

Jesus was quoting from the Old Testament passage found in Leviticus 19:17 where there were a myriad of laws concentrated on how to deal with people – especially when someone disliked or disagreed with another person.

There was a requirement to treat others with the respect and love that one KNEW the Almighty had for said individual. Treatment of any individual, even correction, must happen with compassion in spite of any flaws. So, in order to love others, one MUST know how to love one’s own self in spite of any flaws.

THE COST

Finally, there is a fool-proof way of knowing what something/someone is truly worth. It’s based on how much it/they cost.  2 Corinthians 5:21 talks about this price – the same one Jesus paid for every human. In the same chapter, Paul also addresses our earthly “tent” (body or mind) being one with which we are not always satisfied and that our desire is truly to leave it and be with Him. Finally, it also confirms that it is the love of Messiah Jesus that saves us because He has done the dying for our wretchedness and has given us life. 

 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came so that they would have life, and have it abundantly.  I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.  John 10:10-11

About the Writer:

Rachel, husband Alessandro, and their four homeschooled children have been members of First Baptist Dallas for a decade. She is a graduate of Ouachita Baptist University and has been an educator for 20 years. Rachel serves in Choir and Student Worship.  After surviving depression and attempted suicide, she intentionally lives for the One Who died to give her life!

Don’t Let the Trial Mold You – Instead, Let the Spirit of God Transform You!

One never knows what he or she will be called to face on any given day.  Whether it is a trial that bears our name, circumstances that endeavor to engulf us in fear, or a sickness that leaves a powerful mark, God is fully aware and completely in control of all that comes our way. Nothing will ever happen to us apart from God’s ordering it or allowing it.

I had come home to Alabama to visit for a few days to work and to spend time with family. My staycation was much needed, and I adored my time significantly. I enjoyed cooking those Southern dishes, visiting with my adult babies, and making memories with my grandchildren that I will cherish for a life-time. Yet as it all came to a close, my health began to be somewhat disturbed.

After returning home to Texas, I continued to feel poorly. As the days progressed, so did the decline of my health. Exhaustion overtook me in a way I can’t explain, affecting my legs, arms, and my entire body, landing me in a bed for weeks. “You have an infection,” stated the doctor. However, what kind of infection no one knew. So, bed rest was ordered, along with the consumption of fluids.

Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.  Isaiah 41:10 NASB

One evening as I lay in the emergency room preparing for a spinal tap due to a stiff neck that had developed through this sickness, I received a text from my daughter-in-law with the Scripture passage (Isaiah 41:10.) The text stated: “You sent me this the other day and it’s so fitting for the situation. Don’t be nervous. Prayers.” I found myself reciting Isaiah 41:10 over and over as I awaited both test procedures and test results.

Do not fear…. Throughout this sickness, God has kept fear from overtaking my heart. I am under His watchful eye, His Fatherly care, and His unconditional love. He will not allow anything to touch my life that He has not first approved.

For I am with you…. I have never felt the presence of the Lord in my life as I have through this difficult period. His love has overtaken me, His peace has ruled me, His grace has sustained me, and His joy has kept me.

God has most definitely strengthened me, helped me, and is upholding me with His righteous right hand. He has rekindled a love in my heart for Himself, for prayer, and for His Word. The Lord has changed my heart in a way I can’t explain. And I praise Him!

Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. Romans 5:1-5 NASB

Notice: Tribulation brings perseverance. Perseverance brings proven character. Proven character brings hope. And we are told that hope does not disappoint!

Our tribulation will bring more than just the trial’s hardships. Through Christ, it will bring lasting change.

When we go through testing times and trials, we will be affected one way or the other. We will either come out on the other side, better from what the Lord has taught us through the trial or bitter from having to go through it. We will be joyful in the midst of dire circumstances or discouraged by all that has taken place. We will either be altered by the trial itself or transformed by the Spirit of God.

I have learned the following truths during trying situations:

  1. It’s about the Lord, His glory, His purpose, His plan. When I make the trial about myself, my focus has been skewed. Discouragement will come and I will miss various lessons God wants to entrust to my life.
  2. He is trustworthy. Even though I may not understand what is happening, I know He does, and I trust Him in it, through it, and with it.
  3. He has a purpose for this trial. God has a purpose for everything we go through. Therefore, we must let Him have His perfect work through it, learning the lessons He wants to teach us while experiencing the blessings He brings in the midst of it.
  4. The trial will produce what God calls within our lives. Once again, tribulation brings perseverance. Perseverance brings proven character. Proven character brings hope. And we are told that hope does not disappoint!

The trial will bring forth a changed heart, resulting in a changed life.

I will never be the same because of the Lord’s work through this recent trial. He has done something in my heart that I can’t explain, and I praise Him for it. In moving forward, I never again want to face any trial without the Lord and without submitting myself under His Lordship to learn all that He wants to teach me through it. Don’t let your trial be wasted.

Instead of allowing the trial to mold you, let the Spirit of God transform you through it.

About the Writer:
O’Shea is the mother of two and nana of five and enjoys both roles tremendously. She is the Executive Director of Entrusted Hope Ministries where she loves serving through speaking and blogging. A member of First Baptist Church, Dallas, O’Shea serves with the church’s First Impressions ministry and teaches the Strong & Courageous Sunday School class for single moms. Shea received her bachelor’s degree in Christian Ministry from Blue Mountain College in Blue Mountain, Mississippi; her master’s degree in Biblical Counseling from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas; and is currently working on her D.Ed.Min at Southwestern in Family Ministries.

Courageous: Mary, the Mother of Jesus

When they had seen this, they made known the statement which had been told them about this Child.  And all who heard it wondered at the things which were told them by the shepherds.  But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart Luke 2:17-19

Having raised two kids of my own, I can remember times when I would look on those little wonderful babies and think, “Can they get any cuter, any smarter, any more inquisitive or any funnier?”  It was so much fun watching them discover the wonders of this life and how things work, and as they grew, more about themselves, their passions and dreams.  It is truly the joy of motherhood to be given the privilege to be up close and personal with God’s wondrous little humans.

When I think of Mary, the mother of Jesus, I am filled with wonder again, but this time I am conflicted with so many emotions.  She obviously knew that His birth was a miracle because she, above any other human, knew that He had been conceived by the Holy Spirit.  I’m sure she looked upon His sinless childhood and asked herself many times how she could have been chosen for this enjoyable journey. . . the perfect two-year-old, the perfect big brother, the perfect adolescent, the perfect adult son. . . what a sweet ride!

But then, I remember that Mary was a Jewish girl, raised with the Torah and the prophets readily available to her on any day, at any time.  I have to believe that, when Mary discovered who her Son would be, she began to search the Scriptures for more of His description, His assignment from the Lord, and ultimately His fulfillment of those same Scriptures.  

I ask myself when I read about her bold moves recorded in the Bible, “What was she thinking?”  For example, at the wedding in Cana, described in John 2:1-11, when she told Him to turn the water into the best wine, perhaps she was thinking, “It is time for everyone to discover about the Son of Man the things I already know.”  Or what was she thinking when she came to take Jesus home because “he was not in his right mind,” as in Mark 3:20-34.  Was she trying to rescue Him from danger, take Him home where she could care for Him, and perhaps hide Him from the inevitable coming storm, delaying God’s plans?  And finally, what was Mary thinking when she observed the final week in Jerusalem when Jesus showed His deity, authority, and ultimate sacrifice for all? Did Mary remember that He would conquer death as she had read in Isaiah 53, or was she simply taking in the fulfillment of His suffering? 

Whatever the answers to all my questions are, this one thing I know.  Mary was courageous because Mary believed, as you may read in Luke 1:46-55. Mary had hope and on that day of her Son’s resurrection, Mary had to laugh and perhaps look up to God the Father with a wink and a nod, finally understanding the answers to all her questions, now confident that God had the answers all along the journey.  

Finally, my last question regarding Mary the mother of Jesus is “What was it like when she met her Son, God’s Son, the Son of Man face to face again?  Perhaps He said, “Well done, good and faithful servant!” and “Welcome home Mom!”  Mary is one of those I’d like to visit when I get to Heaven, just to hear about her personal journey as she experienced the joys of motherhood with the One who would ultimately save her.  

Please consider these questions:

  1.  As you look at Mary’s life, what characteristics do you see that God saw when He chose her to be the bearer of His Son? Were these her characteristics or were they God’s in her?
  2. When you remember that Mary knew the outcome of her Son’s earthly life and ministry, there had to be times when she was overcome with grief and fear.  How do you think she recovered during those times?  How can we recover when we also are overcome with grief and fear?  

If Mary can live her life with courage knowing the danger that was to come for herself and her Son, we can look at her example and know that God was certainly with her through it all. We also can live our lives knowing that God is certainly with us through all of our trials.  We can have courage because Jesus has already won the victory!

About the Writer:

Pam is Director of Women’s Ministry of First Baptist Dallas, a wife, a mom, a grandmother, and grateful to be included in this great team of Yada Yada bloggers.  

Prayer of Thanksgiving

Thank You for Your creation. 

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Genesis 1:1

Thank You for being such a loving heavenly Father and sending Your only Son that we might be saved.

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life.  John 3:16

Thank You for forgiving our sins and failures.

As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our wrongdoings from us. Psalm 103:12

Thank You for grace.

. . .through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles in behalf of His name.  Romans 1:5  

Thank You that You are a righteous judge.

. . .in the future there is reserved for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.  2 Timothy 4:8

Thank You for the provision of truth in Your Word and providing the Holy Spirit to teach and guide us. 

All Scripture is inspired by God and beneficial for teaching, for rebuke, for correction, for training in righteousness.  2 Timothy 3:16

Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”  Acts 2:38 

Thank You for sheltering, watching over, and protecting us even while we sleep.

In peace I will both lie down and sleep, for You alone, LORD, have me dwell in safety.  Psalm 4:8

Thank You for providing Your strength when we are weak.  

He gives strength to the weary, and to the one who lacks might He increases power.  Isaiah 40:29

Thank You for access to You through prayer. 

Call to me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know.  Jeremiah 33:3

Even though we do not know what the future holds, we can know You, the Almighty God who holds the future. Help us to stay strong and courageous in a world of social unrest and media bombardment. May we strive to know You more and stay strong in our faith.

For what are you thankful???

About the Writer:

Beverly is a mother, grandmother, and retired teacher/administrator, as well as longtime Sunday school teacher who loves sharing God’s Word. 

****A special thanks to Trudy for the photography included above.

With Great Joy, I Proclaimed the Message: Until it Came Full-Circle, and Then I Became a Jonah

It was a beautiful Sunday morning as I pulled in to First Baptist Dallas. I was elated over the lesson God had placed upon my heart for my Sunday School class. The verse? “Humble yourself under the mighty hand of God.” The application? Well, let’s just say I enjoyed teaching the ladies how to apply this verse to their own lives. Yet when it came to my own, I wasn’t too thrilled about obeying.

Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time. 1 Peter 5:6 

In preparation for the class, I had spent time studying the Bible as well as several different commentaries on the lesson. Through this special time, God taught me so many things about 1 Peter 5:6. I used the most interesting illustration as I taught on the importance of remaining under God’s mighty hand. I stood with confidence and great boldness as I looked into the faces of the ladies in the class while teaching the session. They were hungry for God’s Word and listened intently as He worked in their hearts. Yet little did I know that just over the horizon would be a test awaiting, not for the ladies within the class, but for the teacher herself. It was a lesson that would require being humbled under God’s mighty hand.

The very lesson I had taught others would come full circle. And I didn’t like it.

I was in a situation that was getting pretty tough. During a moment of anguish, I found myself caving quickly to fear’s grip. As each day passed, escaping the trial became more enticing. Finally, I devised a blueprint design for the exit. I felt it was for the best and proceeded to move forward with what I wanted to do. Yet there was only one problem. My strategy was devised without God’s input. I had created my plan, my path, and my escape.

Through the course of several days, the one message that came over and over was, “Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God.” Yet, to be honest, I didn’t want to. And for a time, I refused.

During this period of rebellion, I was seeking God on another matter. Yet, due to my disobedience in this particular area, my prayers were being affected. I had shut down inside.

One day I was traveling down the road listening to Christian music when one particular song grabbed my heart. The title? “Holy Spirit, You Are Welcome Here.” As I listened to the message, I knew I had not welcomed the Holy Spirit to have His way within my heart. I had taught passionately about the importance of staying under the mighty hand of God and of letting Him take control. Yet when faced with a moment that called for such obedience, I had failed. However, thank God, my failure was not final. Through God’s amazing grace and mercy, I repented and He brought me to a place of surrender. The result? A closeness with Him that I had not experienced in a long time. It was as though I had a new heart. Also, God empowered me to do what He had called me to do.

Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.” (Matthew 7:24-27 ESV)

Wherever you find yourself today remember, let God have control of your life. Humble yourself under His mighty hand and stay there. For under His mighty hand we are safe. We are instructed. We are provided for and cared for. We are protected. Look once more at 1 Peter 5:6.

Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time.

What are we promised will happen when we humble ourselves under His mighty hand?Obedience to God’s Word will always bring blessings. Turn around, Jonah, and let God call the shots. He longs to bless your life.

About the Writer:
O’Shea is the mother of two and nana of five and enjoys both roles tremendously. She is the Executive Director of Entrusted Hope Ministries where she loves serving through speaking and blogging. A member of First Baptist Church, Dallas, O’Shea serves with the church’s First Impressions ministry and teaches the Strong & Courageous Sunday School class for single moms. Shea received her bachelor’s degree in Christian Ministry from Blue Mountain College in Blue Mountain, Mississippi; her master’s degree in Biblical Counseling from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas; and is currently working on her D.Ed.Min at Southwestern in Family Ministries.