I was driving home today and saw a slogan on a company van that said, “Use a filter or be a filter.” This particular slogan was trying to sell water filtration systems but the message could apply to our spiritual walk as well. The word of God acts like a filter for our hearts. Psalm 51:10 says “Create in me a clean heart O God and renew a right spirit in me.” Malachi 3:3 says that “He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver.”
The more time we spend in the Word of God, the more the Word will penetrate our lives and filter out the negative. There is no hiding it; when I am not spending time in the Word, my thoughts are different and my reactions are different. I rely more on myself than the truth in His Word which rarely has a positive outcome.
When we are intentional with our time and about the information we allow to be filtered through through our mind, heart and spirit the positive changes will follow.
I recently sold a few items on a local Facebook page. I love these websites because it’s a safe way to unload things for which you no longer have a use but could be of use to someone else. Both of these items sold relatively fast! I mailed one the items and the other I met the woman at a store. As I spoke to each of the women throughout the transactions, the Lord was able to reveal things to me about their lives. One of the women has a daughter undergoing testing for seizures so I was able to pray for her. The other woman is a former member of our church and knows a close friend. She is a foster/adopted mom of 16 children. WOW!
I would have more than likely never met either one of these women in any other forum. The Lord beautifully orchestrated each of these encounters so that I would be able to not only sell my items and make some much needed cash, but also learn a bit about two people who have different needs. My prayer for you tonight is that these special encounters do not get lost in the hustle and bustle of our daily lives. God puts certain people in our lives for just a moment so He can bless them through us. Be careful not to miss them!
Last week, we scurried about making preparations for Hurricane Irma; the largest hurricane ever recorded in the Atlantic Basin. We prayed and watched and watched and prayed. Grocery store shelves were emptied of water as early as four days out and gas stations ran out of gas. People were buying up plywood and filling sandbags. The local meteorologists did their best to keep us informed and not cause a panic. The issue with this particular storm was that it kept hopping back and forth across the state so there was no feasible way to predict the path. As she made landfall in the Caribbean, then Cuba we watched as countless buildings and homes were blown (and washed) away. At this point the storm was a CAT 5 which is the highest rating a hurricane can get. The closer the storm came, the higher the anxiety was building in everyone in her path. Finally, we were given a time frame and a pretty accurate path and it was not good. Tampa was going to be hit directly with a Cat 3 or 4 hurricane for the first time since 1921. The worst part of the storm would come around 2am and there would be widespread power outages and damage. Many people fled the state and headed north by car and plane. For those of us who stayed, we boarded up and “hunkered down” as they like to say. We were glued to the television all day watching Irma make her way through the islands and Naples. Finally, the news we had been praying for; the storm would come to our area as a CAT 1 or 2 (60-90 mph winds). Sunday morning, we woke up with no power or water but we were spared! Praising the Lord, we all checked on friends and family and prepared to start the clean up from this storm.
Throughout the week, many thoughts came to mind about life and faith. We saw people fighting over water, plywood, food and even grocery carts! On the other hand, we saw neighbors helping neighbors board up their homes and people looking out for one another. So what lessons did we learn from this storm?
- God is in control. Yes, we say this frequently and in our hearts we know it but when it comes down to the final moments and you are petrified your roof will blow off or a tree will crush your family do you really believe it?
- People are inherently good. While stressful situations can bring our the worst in some people, most of us deep down are good people. We saw this with Houston after Harvey and we are seeing it here after Irma.
- Prayer works! There were millions of people praying for this city to be spared and we were. One of the local meteorologists said after the storm that this was completely God’s sovereignty and answered prayers.
- We are a privileged people. Put aside the excessive wealth and luxuries many of us have. I am referring to basic needs like running water, air conditioning, shelter and food. After going without some of those things for 24 hours I am SO grateful!
- Keeping our eyes on Him really makes a difference. Throughout my walk, anytime I have been stressed or anxious and I was in step with the Lord and His commands I was not scared. Lately, I have not been keeping up with quiet time and my prayer life is weak. I noticed a HUGE difference during this storm in my anxiety levels. I was genuinely afraid for my family’s safety. God tells us throughout scripture to not be afraid for He is with us. He is always with us but when we are in tune with Him and walking in faith His presence is much more apparent.
Throughout this entire experience the same song has been playing in my mind;
In the Eye of the Storm by Ryan Stevenson.
In the eye of the storm
You remain in control
And in the middle of the war
You guard my soul
You alone are the anchor
When my sails are torn
Your love surrounds me
In the eye of the storm
This week started out wacky. My daughter has not been sleeping well and subsequently, neither have I. She has developed a habit where she only falls asleep when nursing; or should I say I allowed her to develop that habit. Our class meets on Monday night and I worked all afternoon Monday. I went straight to class after working and I was so tired from two nights of NO sleep I felt like I was in a complete fog! Hopefully, my class didn’t notice. We talked about going from Desperation to Determination. I was determined to work out this week so I made plans to go to run club with a friend on Wednesday! On the way to run club Wednesday night we were bombarded by the storm of the century. Ok, I may be exaggerating a bit but it was bad. There would be no running outdoors that night. Boo…
I thought, no problem I can run one morning this week! At the end of sleep deprived night #3, that ship sailed as well. I was still determined to make a change, so Thursday we went to the grocery store and with my list in hand I purchased the items to make several meals. This is different than most trips where I purchase random BOGO items that look good. I have successfully made dinner two nights in a row! Now I need to apply my determination to working out 3 days a week!
This morning as I was going over my Made to Crave homework, I was playing praise music and a Bethel song called “You Are My One Thing” came up in the play list. I have never heard this song, but it was certainly fitting for this study! As I was going over the questions, I was forced to consider what my “one thing” is that I am craving over God. My one thing may be different than your one thing. Is it food? alcohol? video games? sex? acceptance? power? material things? There are a host of alternative pleasures/desires to be sought in this world that can take the place of Jesus. We were created by God to crave Him and Him alone.
I taught my first Made to Crave class September 7, 2014. The class started with five ladies. I’ll admit, I was a little disappointed it wasn’t a huge class but as I prayed the Lord reminded me that the women who were there were sent by Him. By the end of the 12 week class, I had one student. Yes, one. I had seriously considered throwing in the towel and not teaching the class again but as the word spread more and more ladies started asking about it. In hindsight, the one person who stayed really needed me there as a friend more than a teacher. Yes, she was in need of nutritional guidance but she was more in need of someone to listen and care about her. I am thankful it played out that way! God always knows what He is doing even when it makes no sense in our finite minds.
Fast forward three years, and we have seven ladies this semester! That is a great size for a class of this nature and I now know with all my heart that the women have been placed here by God. He changed me and gave me clarity about my role as a class leader.
Now, if I can just get my act together and do my homework….