Saturday, November 29, 2014

sharing the gift (part 6)

In the last five blog posts, we have reviewed why evangelism is important to God, and how as followers of Jesus Christ, we are to share His message with others. Today, we will wrap up our series on evangelism by understanding problems that may arise when witnessing. In my own study regarding this topic, I have found there to be distinct barriers in which we will need to be aware and ask God to help us overcome while we share the good news. Let's break them down below:

Personal Barriers
In my opinion, the most difficult barriers to overcome are the hindrances that emerge from our own personal lives. While other barriers surface as we are engaged in sharing the gospel, personal-related obstacles can keep us from sharing Jesus message altogether. We can be consumed with fear (the fear of rejection, the fear of acceptance, the fear of forcing views on others, etc.) and we can be hindered by the ability to find time for others, apathy, and feelings of inadequacy or lack of knowledge. To overcome personal barriers, we must pray for God's direction in dealing with each of them. We must have faith in God to change our hearts and give us what we need to get the job done. I urge you, whatever your personal hindrance that keeps you from witnessing, to identify it, pray about it and find scriptural promises to claim as your own while standing against it in Jesus name. For example, if you are faced with the fear of rejection, hold onto Psalm 27:1, "The Lord is my light and my salvation - whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life - of whom shall I be afraid?"

(Note: I find that apathy remains the most concerning personal obstacle for Christians. Simply put, some believers feel that it is not their job to witness. It is a personal barrier that makes us feel we don't need to make evanglism a priority. Our attitude seems to be that it is nice when people come to Christ, but it is not the end of the world when they don't. It is a lack of compassion. Please pray that God gives us His eyes and His heart to see the lost as Jesus does. Pray that we do not let insensitivity rule over us. We must love one another. Remember that!)

Distractions
What do you do when you are attemting to share the gospel and something happens to arrest the attention of your audience? Interruptions can come in any number of ways. The important thing to always remember when it comes to witnessing - - expect distractions to happen. No matter what happens, we must be persistent and avoid being rattled by the happenings that can distract us from our message. Stick to the plan.

Objections & Questions from Your Audience
There is no getting around it. The gospel is confrontational. When people hear the gospel, they may raise questions or voice concerns and objections as they come to grips with its demands. In Matthew 10:19-20, Jesus promises that persons faced with such demands will be guided by the Holy Spirit in what to say or do next. Trust God in His ability to guide you through conversations that question His message. In fact, view questions as a positive. In general, people voice objections and raise questions only when they are listening, interested and involved in a conversation. Also, questions can carry a personal benefit fo you to stimulate your spiritual growth. Handle them appropriately and as they arise. Always remember that you are in a discussion - not a debate. You are not trying to win an argument, you have come to share Christ. 1 Peter 3:15 says, "In your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give and answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect."

Keep your conversation focused on the relationship between a person and God - not a religious debate regarding denominational rituals, etc. Lastly, don't be afraid to admit that you are not an expert on theology. If you don't know the answer to a question, acknowledge it and tell the person you will try to get an answer. Most people will appreciate that you don't claim to know everything except to be a "real" person just like them. Also, the opportunity will allow you to meet again after your researched their inquiry. That said, make sure you still finish walking through the rest of the Romans Road and the plan of salvation, if possible.

Hostility
Many Christians dread witnessing because they fear people who may react in a harsh manner. Although these responses are generally rare, what should you do if your audience responds nasty? My advise is to always show courtesy and warmth. God's love (not a person's response) should determine how we are to respond to others. If the person you are witnessing to responds in hostility, thank them for their time and offer your services and those of your church if they should ever have a need. Nothing changes hostility like love expressed in meeting needs. Because of this, some people who express open hostility toward the gospel can become responsive as time passes. Graciously exit but continue to pray for the person. Your gesture to share may allow the Holy Spirit to work in them for a later time. Trust that God is in control.

In conclusion, I would like to remind all DW's to trust that the Lord is faithful. He will supply you with whatever is necessary to enable you to share the gospel and spread His message. Believe that you can be an effective witness for Jesus Christ! Nothing in this world is greater than the One who is in you. (See 1 John 4:4)

I love you, gals! Go into all the world and preach the good news! Jesus is worth it! Share Him with others!

Blessings!

~Victoria

© 2013 The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Friday, November 28, 2014

sharing the gift (part 5)

As we continue our discussion this week about sharing the gospel, lets consider that the Bible describes the process of conversion as a new birth. (See John 3:3) This is an interesting analogy in how we are to care for a new believer. Just as a new child would require love and assistance to grow and develop, the same is true for a spiritual infant (a new Christian). Because of this, once you have led someone to accept Jesus Christ, you should not overlook the responsibility to follow through in showing them how to go about growing spiritually and becoming a more mature Christian.

A New Christian - A New Life
The last points discussed in the "Romans Road" are so important because they assure new believers that they are God's child and secure in His love. They also address how a Christian's life will change since they have decided to accept and follow Jesus, living in a manner pleasing to God.

Our Savior sets the standard for our values, attitudes and actions. This is a complete change to the old way of living. New believers must understand that rather than focusing on one's self, Christians focus their new life on Jesus Christ. We are in a world full of sin, but we are no longer of this world because we have been freed from sin due to Jesus merciful gift of salvation.

The Bible
To better understand God's perfect plan and how to live a new life in Christ, every Christian should be equipped with a Bible. This is the most essential tool to learn about God, His Word and His character. Each time you lead someone to Christ, make sure that they have a Bible in a translation that they can understand. Personally, I have found that the New International Version or the New English Standard Version are well received and more easily understood by new believers due to their contemporary language and accurate translation from the original Greek/Hebrew texts. If your new convert does not have a Bible, give them one. If possible, give the Bible as a gift from your church. This is a great way to introduce them to the love of your congregation and the concern that you have for one another as you grow in Christ. Many churches keep copies of the Bible or the New Testament for distribution to people who need them. I suggest talking with your pastor to find out what your church has to offer so that you are prepared on this matter even before you witness to someone.

Christian Friendships
It is also important for new Christians to find support and encouragement as they learn to follow Jesus. Many new believers have few Christian friends. You will want to do all you can to help them meet other Christians. The best way to do this is to invite them to attend your church. This will also provide them further resources to become actively involved as well as take advantage of opportunities to learn and grow in their faith with likeminded people. Most importantly, it will open the door for them to publically profess their faith, be baptized, and become a member of a church body.

A Public Profession of Faith
When Jesus called persons to follow Him, He usually did so publicly. For example, He called Zacchaeus in front of a crowd on the side of a road, and He called Matthew at his job. (See Luke 19:1-6 and Matthew 9:9) Jesus said that He would be ashamed of those who where ashamed of Him before others. Because of this, new Christians should be encouraged to publically stand before others to profess their faith. I would recommend bringing the new believer to meet with your pastor at church. Explain that they are a new believer and work with your pastor to setup details around when they can publicly make a profession. Offer to walk forward with them and do your best to help them feel at ease. (Some people can become anxious in front of a group, so it is thoughtful to stand up with new believers for support and to show agreement with their decision.) Afterward, extend personal introductions and be a gracious hostess as you welcome them first-hand to meet your church family.

Baptism
To acknowledge Jesus as Lord is to accept the responsbility to obey Him and trust Him.The Bible clearly teaches that baptism is an expected expression of a commitment to Jesus Christ. (See Matthew 28:19, Acts 8:35-38 and Romans 6:4) Baptism is not salvation... rather it is the visible expression of our inner commitment to Christ as our Savior and Lord. Also, baptism is important to others. The act portrays what Jesus did for us when He dies for our sin and was resurrected from the grave for our new life. Going under the water represents death, and coming up from the water represents new life. It illustrates in a very physical way our salvation and in itself is a form of witnessing when understood by its audience.

Church Membership
Anyone who professes faith in Jesus should also make it a priority to be a member of a local church. Hebrews 10:24-25 emphasizes the importance of gathering together as the body of Christ. "Let us consider how we may spur oneanother on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another - and all the more as you see the Day approaching." Church is intended to be a place of encouragement and a location for believers to better equip themselves for ministry.

Earlier we likened a new Christian to a baby. Just as a new infant could not survive without a home and a family, a new Christian will have a more difficult time developing and growing in their spiritual walk apart from fellowship with other believers. Help your new convert to understand that church is not a building... it is a gathering of persons who love and serve Jesus together. Church membership and participation also illustrates our unified submission to the Lordship of Christ.

Witnessing to Others
Evangelism is not a job for the spiritually elite. It is the responsibility of each person who has accepted Jesus as their Savior. The best evangelistic prospects that a person will ever have are the ones he knows at the time of his conversion. By helping new Christians learn to witness, every profession of faith can lead to others.

In closing today, I just want to remind all DW's that we are responsible to help each other grow as active disciples of Jesus. As Paul put it, "We proclaim Him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ. To this end I labor, struggling with all His energy, which so powerfully works in me." (See Colossians 1:28-29)

I hope you are as encouraged as I am to proclaim Him and share Jesus Christ with others. He is all that matters in life. Living for Him is such an honor and blessing. Always remember - God is soooo GOOD!

Love you all!

~Victoria

© 2013 The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Thursday, November 27, 2014

sharing the gift (part 4)

Continuing our study this week, to make it as simple as possible to follow the "Romans Road" as we learn how to effectively witness to others, I recommend the following technique:

In the front or back cover of your Bible, take time to make an outline and include the comments (below) with their corresponding verses. I like to write the actual page numbers where each verse is located in my New Testament next to each point so that I can easily show my audience the verses first hand in my Bible. Here is a simple walk-through for God's plan of salvation to use in evangelizing.

Can people in today's world have hope?
Yes. God's power can make us secure.

Many people today live without hope. They have no resources to strengthen them or guide them through their struggles in life. However, the focus of the Christian faith is God's power to help us in whatever trials arise. Through Jesus we are able to receive a power great enough to bring salvation and deliverance. It is available to any person who believes His Word.

Romans 1:16, "I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile."

God's power results in change.
Through God's loving plan, people can change. The biblical word for "change" is repentance. This means allowing God to change the direction of our lives for what is best.

Romans 2:4, "God's kindness leads you toward repentance."

Sin makes change necessary.
Why do people need to change? According to the Bible, every human being has to face the problem of sin. Sin is to fall short of the standard we were originally created to uphold. The Bible teaches that God created us in His image with a standard of perfection. (See Matthew 5:48) However, man failed to meet that standard by disobeying God's plan. As a result, man has to face his problem of sin. We may do much that is good, and we may not want to do anything bad, but no person can measure up to God's standard of ALWAYS doing what is right.

Romans 3:23, "All have sinned and fall short to the glory of God."

God still loves us.
Some people think that our failure to meet God's standard results in God being our enemy. But the message of Jesus is that in spite of our sin, God still loves us. God hates sin.... not men. But God's love for us is not based on an unawareness or intolerance that overlooks our sin. God cannot tolerate sin. So, the Lord sent His perfect Son to take man's place for the penalty of sin. God demonstrated the depth and reality of His love for us, by doing what was necessary to overcome mankind's problem with sin. (See John 3:16)

Romans 5:8, "God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."

Sin earns death, but God gives life.
Sin would not be a problem, if it did not have serious consequences. However, the consequences of sin are too serious to overlook. Whenever we sin, the Bible says we earn the wages of death. This means, if every person is guilty of sinning, then every person must die. This does not refer to a physical death alone. This refers to a spiritual death and complete separation from God for eternity. (See John 3:36 and Revelation 20:11-15) However, because He loves us, God provided an eternal solution so that we may live with Him for all eternity. Jesus died on the cross in our place as a sacrifice to save us from death. (See 1 Peter 3:18) He took our guilt for sin upon Himself so that His death would fulfill the judgement against our sin. (See 2 Corinthians 5:21 and Colossians 2:13-14) Basically, Jesus substituted Himself so that we could live! By our own works, we earn death. But by His grace we can receive eternal life. This is the loving gift that God offers to mankind.

Romans 6:23, "The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."

The Call to Salvation: Confess / Repent / Believe / Call

Confess: The biblical word translated confess means to "say the same thing". When we confess Jesus as Lord, we are recognizing His rightful authority over us - agreeing with who He says He is. (See Isaiah 45:5-7, 22-24 and Philippians 2:10-11) In acknowledging Jesus as our Lord, we admit our sin and the problem it poses for us.

Repent: In accepting Jesus authority, we can then repent of our sins and turn away from the hopeless life we have been living on our own terms. Rather, we can obey and serve Him by living a God-oriented life (rather than self-oriented). This turning away from sin in order to follow Jesus is called "repentance".

Believe: Believing God means to trust God. When you you choose to believe that God raised Jesus from the dead, you have confidence that the death and resurrection of Jesus are enough to secure your salvation. You are trusting the work of Christ, rather than your own works to save you. You are putting the certainty of your physical and eternal life in His hands.

Call: Acknowledging that Jesus is now the rightful Lord in control of your life, and believing in His work alone for our salvation results in our calling on Him to be saved. Anyone who is willing to call on the name of the Lord will be saved. Anyone. No other qualifications are required. To call on the name of the Lord is to ask Him for forgiveness of sin and for salvation. By doing this, you are acknowledging Jesus as your Lord and expressing your intention to live a life following Him.

Romans 10:9-10, 13, "If you confess with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord,' and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. For, 'Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.'"

The Sinner's Prayer
Would you like to have an intimate, eternal relationship with the One who made you and loves you unconditionally? If so, tell Him in your own words or repeat this simple prayer of repentance (below). Note: The language used in a person's prayer of salvation is not the primary issue. The action of genuinely committing one's life to Christ matters the most. Words are not more holy or effective if they are scripted. The prayer shown below is only to help someone express what they want Jesus to do in their life.

“Father in Heaven, until now I have been living life my own way, but I want to start living for You. I trust You. Through the working of Your Holy Spirit, I realize I’ve sinned before You and come to You in repentance. I believe that You loved me so much that You sent Jesus, Your Only Son, to fully pay the penalty for my sin by dying on the cross. I receive the sacrifice Jesus made on my behalf and trust Him as my Lord and Savior. Because Jesus rose from the dead, I will live eternally in Your perfect, glorious presence. Dear God, thank you for forgiving me, making me Your child, and preparing a place for me in Heaven. Amen.”

We now have hope because we are heirs of God!
Once we have accepted God's gift of salvation, God adopts us as His own children, and His Holy Spirit assures us that we are part of His family. According to Roman law at the time of Paul's writing, someone's adopted son also became his heir. While Christ is God's heir by nature, Christians have become God's heirs by adoption. Therefore, we are now joint heirs with Christ Jesus.

Verses 38-39 tell us that we are eternally secure in God because Jesus defeated the principalities and powers of this earth. The result is that we need not fear any human or superhuman enemies. Nothing can separate us from God's love in Jesus Christ!!! Believers can live with hope because they are God's children - secure in His eternal love. GOOD NEWS!!!

Romans 8:16-17, 38-39, "The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs - heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

Faith = Life for God
Once you become a Christian, God calls you to live your life for Him. He wants only the best for you and by following His commands, your life will change to become more like Jesus who is perfect. New Christians can expect their life to be different because of this. God wants a Christian's life to change (even if it means sacrifice). The goal for believers is to look and live less like the unsaved world and more like Jesus. That kind of change only happens because God brings it about. He will transform the new Christian's life, making it more like the life of Jesus. (See Philippians 1:6 and 2:13) It is important to note that a person does not need to be "religiously inclined" to become a faithful Christian. Jesus is all you need to focus on. He will make you look and live like one of His children.

Romans 12:1-2, "I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God - this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is - his good, pleasing and perfect will."

In blogs to come, we will review the "next steps" in how we must encourage new believers to take action by publicly professing their faith, being baptized, studying God's word in scripture and praying.

Then, we will conclude our blog series on evangelism by identifying ways to overcome distractions and barriers presented by the enemy when witnessing and sharing the gospel.

God bless you, ladies! By equipping yourself with God's Word, you will become a living witness ready to share the gospel of Jesus with anyone! Glory and all honor to our mighty and loving Savior for all He has done for us! WOO HOO!

~Victoria

© 2013 The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

sharing the gift (part 3)

Once you solidify the details of your personal testimony, it is vital that you be able to identify and cultivate evangelistic prospects.

In my opinion, the insight to determine how and when a person is ready to hear the gospel is something that we must always be sensitive to because people relate and receive material differently. Some prospects immediately respond to Jesus and some require time to digest His invitation.

Although we must always maintain a sense of urgency in leading the lost to the cross, we must not become so overbearing that it appears judgemental and ultimately sabotages our intended mission. Because of this, we must be active in prayer, asking God to lead us and speak through our lives while He prepares the delicate hearts of those whom we will share His good news.

Sharing the gift of the gospel can take place with a complete stranger or with a long-time friend. Either way, I believe it is important to be able to approach a person in a way that you are able to easily relate and converse together. As a result, I have shared the gospel in two minutes with a person in line at the grocery store, and I have patiently participated in ongoing discussions about Jesus for years with co-workers over coffee breaks. The key is to be yourself and keep your eyes and ears open for a way to incorporate the gospel into your conversation. Understand that Satan will do everything he can to prevent this from happening. He will attempt to make us feel awkward and insufficient. Let's face it, talking about eternal life and anything "religious" is usually taboo as a general topic of discussion. But God is in control of our words. Irrespective of the circumstances or our feelings of inadequacy, we must always accept the Holy Spirit's call, avoid the attacks of the enemy, and trust God's timing to give us the correct words when opportunities arise and we sense His nudge to share the message.

If you find yourself unsure of what to say or do, the best advise I can give is to consider how you can express LOVE to the person you are prospecting. How can you encourage and uplift them? What words or actions can you offer to show that you genuinely care about them? Whether it be a compliment, a question of concern, an act of selflessness... whatever... LOVE is universal, desired by every person, and hard to ignore. LOVE opens doors.

In concluding today's blog, I'd like to familiarize you with the scriptures we will be using in this continued discussion about sharing the gospel message. Perhaps more than any other book of the Bible, Romans provides a thorough review of what salvation is, why it is necessary, and how one can obtain it. As a result, the verses in Romans are very popular for witnessing to the lost. Over the years, Christians have even coined the phrase "The Romans Road" for these scriptures that simply summarize God's plan of salvation.

Below are scriptures from Romans for your review. In future blogs, we will break down each passage, discuss their meaning and how they can be used in application when prospecting and witnessing. For now, please take time to familiarize yourself with each verse:

Romans 1:16, "I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile."

Romans 2:4, "God's kindness leads you toward reprentence."

Romans 3:23, "All have sinned and fall short to the glory of God."

Romans 5:8, "God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."

Romans 6:23, "The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."

Romans 10:9-10, 13, "If you confess with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord,' and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. For, 'Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.'"

Romans 8:16-17, 38-39, "The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs - heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

Romans 12:1-2, "I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God - this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is - his good, pleasing and perfect will."

Ladies, God is working in us as we learn how to share salvation in Jesus Christ to others. Let's remember to actively pray for boldness to spread this loving message of redemption to the people in our lives.

I look forward to our next discussion on this topic. Love you all!

~Victoria

© 2013 The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

sharing the gift (part 2)

As we continue to learn how to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with others, I think it is important to point out that one of the most valuable tools to use in witnessing is our own personal story.... our testimony. Trust me, a testimony doesn't have to be some dramatic rendering of the most elaborate overcomer story that anyone has ever heard... we are not shooting a movie or writing a thrilling novel. No, it is more important that it is real and genuine.

A person's testimony is effective in sharing the gospel because it offers an opportunity for others to relate to you and your own unique experiences. I have found that people are more inclined to listen when I talk about how Jesus has personally affected my own life. This is received so much better than some of the elaborate "fire and brimstone" over-the-top messages that I have heard out there. For me, those stories usually come off as either overly judgemental or fake. Who can relate to that?

No, I believe that God wants us to just be ourselves. We are flawed human beings. Jesus has the power to save us from our own sinfulness. It is pretty simple.

When I share the gospel, I usually talk about my own path to salvation or one of the infinite ways Christ has made a difference in my life. For me, it is usually the latter because I have experienced so MANY tests and trials that I know and can attest to how God ALWAYS has remained faithful. Think about it... What person doesn't have a trial in their life as a result of this sinful world? That is common ground. So in my opinion, that is a great starting place.

When sharing your testimony, it is important to include these three key points: (1) What your life was like before accepting Christ, (2) How you were introduced to God and why you realized you needed Him, and (3) How your life has changed since you have accepted Jesus as your Savior from sin and eternal death. From there, trust that the Holy Spirit will lead you in how little or how much more you should share with your audience. Also, remember that some people don't understand "church talk" or "Christianize"...for example, "getting saved" or "born again". Because of this, you may want to avoid the use of religious terms/phrases unless you plan to clarify them.

Most important, you will need to be prepared to accept the reality that some unbelievers will simply not want to talk about the gospel. In Acts 4:18-31, we see that followers of Jesus will be rejected when they speak up about Christ. So, just know going into it... some people will choose to reject Jesus.

It is a sad fact that many people our there (normal, everyday people) will reject and refuse God. It is unfortunate, but true. However, this reality should never stop us from sharing the good news. We are to love all people and graciously witness without apology irrespective of the possibility of receiving an uncomfortable response. We must not present the gospel as overbearing know-it-alls, but we should always be willing to boldly share. (See Acts 4:31)

In tomorrow's blog post, I will provide scripture verses to memorize and keep on hand as biblically based truths to share while witnessing. Until then, I encourage each DW to think about and/or write out your own unique testimony covering the three key points listed above. (This exercise is intended to better prepare you to clarify what you will share in advance of an actual conversation taking place.)

Remember, we do not live in a cookie cutter world where every person will respond exactly the same way to your testimony and the news of Jesus Christ. Because of this, I encourage each of you to ask God for opportunities to relate with others who will desire to receive Jesus when hearing your personal experience. Always trust that the Holy Spirit will bring you to exactly the right person. And, even if a person rejects Christ, trust that God will use all moments in His own timing and for good.

Ladies, let's leave the results in God's hands. Our job is to show up and be willing to share. Our job is to LOVE LOVE LOVE!

Be a blessing today!

XOXOX ~Victoria

© 2013 The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Monday, November 24, 2014

sharing the gift (part 1)

Most people believe sharing the gospel is important, however, they don't take the necessary steps to make it their own personal responsibility or priority. But it is important for us to always assess our role as Christ's followers to better understand what Jesus has called each of us to do regarding evangelism.

The apostle Paul expressed his feelings about being a witness for Christ in Romans 1:13-15. As he wrote about his desire to go to Rome to share the message of Christ, he described the act of sharing the gospel as an "obligation" or a debt to tell others about Jesus. When you think of how you view your family, friends, co-workers, even strangers - - do you also view it as an obligation... or perhaps an inconvienence? If it is the latter, you need to rethink your willingness to follow God's commands to go into all the world and preach the gospel.

Sharing the gospel is an obligation. It is why we are here.... to love our Lord with everything we have and to love our neighbors as ourselves. There is no greater love than Jesus Christ. As Christians, we are called to share His message because we are to love.

Among the last words of Jesus in every one of the Gospels, was a command for His followers to be witnesses of what they had seen and experienced. In Matthew 28:19, Christ said to, "make disciples of all nations." In Mark 16:15, "to preach the good news to all creation." In Luke 24:47, "repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in His name to all nations." And in John 20:21, Christ says, "As the Father has sent me, I am sending you."

Paul worded it this way, "We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God." (2 Corinthians 5:20) What is an ambassador? An ambassador is one who is appointed by God to declare His will. As believers and followers of Jesus Christ - that is our designation: Ambassadors. We are on a special mission from Jesus to urge others to be reconciled with God through faith in Christ.

How do we urge others?

Too many people in this world have never heard the message of Christ. Romans 10:17 states that, "Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ." In order for anyone to hear the gospel, someone must be willing to share it. So, to urge others, we must speak up. People need to hear the gospel in order to have the opportunity to believe the gospel.

According to John 3:18 & 36, the person who does not accept Jesus will miss abundant and eternal life. Without Christ, they will face God's wrath and judgement and ultimately be separated from His goodness. There will be weeping and nashing of teeth and utter despair for those who reject Jesus gift of salvation. Sadly, they will be in this hopeless state - FOREVER!

Think about that... Would you have wished such hopelessness for yourself? Of course not!!!

What about the people you already know who are not saved? Are you loving that person as you'd love your own self if you continue to refrain from sharing God's message?

What would happen if you did share the gospel and they accepted Jesus? How would it affect their lives and the lives of others that they know? What would the chain effect be if others became true followers of Christ also? Aren't such potential changes worth the risk? If you don't think so, I must ask - are YOU really following Jesus?

It is part of growing in Christ to genuinely care about people and love them as He does. Jesus showed us with His own life the lesson that no risk should outweigh the opportunity to present God's redeeming plan.

Admittedly, it can be uncomfortable to share the gospel. Paul expresses his own feelings of weakness, fear and inadequateness in 1 Corinthians 2:3. But Paul also acknowledges that being intimidated when sharing the gospel can increase our own faith and grow us further spiritually. God promises to give us great strength when we feel weak and inadequate. 2 Corinthians 12:9 says, "My grace is sufficient in you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."

It is interesting to see that in our williness to share the gospel, God is also molding us to grow further in Him. God set up His plan for us to be involved in spreading the gospel. By acting as his agents, He also matures us.

We are to be like fishermen. In Matthew 4:19, Jesus said, "Come, follow me.... and I will make you fishers of men." Let's be honest...it doesn't take much to learn how to fish. Sure you need a little knowledge, but it isn't rocket science. Equally, one's amount of Bible knowledge will not make us catch more or less fish if we trust that God is really the One controlling the success of our nets. He has been clear that He wants us to share in the witnessing process... to show up... to throw out that net... Then, we must trust the Holy Spirit to enable us be effectively used as well as open the hearts of those who will accept and receive Him. We are accountable for our particpation, not our production. God will work out the results.

Let's stop here and reflect on these truths today. Let's pray to the Lord to give us a heart to reach the lost. Let's ask God to cleanse us of any sin that is hindering or preventing us from following His ways. (Lack of Compassion, Fear, Rejection, Etc.) Most importantly, let's submit to His call to LOVE our neighbors as ourselves.

It is so true that "the number of workers do not match the size of the ready harvest." (Matthew 9:36-38) Let's pray for one another, DW's. Let's ask God to use each of us to share His message to the many broken people out there who desperately need Him.

We can do this, ladies. We are HIS! Let's learn how to share the gift!!!

Blessings!

Victoria

© 2013 The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

STOP! NO!

But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare. Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives. (2 Peter 3:10-11)

OK, this may sound a bit harsh, but I do feel compelled to share my discouragement on a very important subject that has recently increased in volume. You see, I receive a lot of emails and letters from DW's audience. I love conversing and praising Jesus Name with all my sisters (and brothers) in Christ and praying for your specific needs, requests, concerns, etc. That said, I'm always in shock when people write me requesting approval to venture into sinful choices.

Ladies, let me be REAL clear... deliberating over sin - ANY SIN - is not OK.

Yes, I know you want what you want.
You want to have sex before marriage to keep your boyfriend interested.
You want to divorce your horrible husband.
You want homosexuality to be acceptable.
You want to have an affair with a married man.
You want to steal from your corrupt employer.
You want to tell white lies to save face.
You want to complain and criticize others.
You want to accumulate and cling to possessions and money.
You want to dominate and control every situation to get your own way.
Simply put, you want what you want to be right... right?

HOWEVER... biblically, God is against these sinful choices - and you know it. So, what do you do? You write Victoria at DW and ask for her approval. You figure, Victoria is the founder of a Christian ministry, right? So, if she gives the OK, somehow God may change his mind and offer a loophole, right? WRONG! I hold no such authority. Only God is able to tell us what is right and what is wrong... and He does so in His perfect holy Word!

Each day, women rationalize to me just about every excuse in the book as to why their situation is different from any other person's who ever lived. Then, I am always asked for approval - a free hall pass, if you will, for someone to visit sin-central in order to change their current predicament. They say comments to me like, "Victoria, surely scripture in this matter doesn't apply to MY situation, does it? If God only knew what I was going through, He'd make an exception, wouldn't He?"

Ladies, I love you. I love you so much that I will boldly tell you in love what you don't want to to hear rather than what you do. Trust me when I tell you, God ALWAYS knows what you are going through and allows trials to occur for His glory and our good. While on this earth, we will be tested to do what is right. And during these tests, sin will always appear more attractive. For sin is, in fact, addictive! But choosing to sin is most definitely NOT a godly choice. Sin (of any kind) will never be OK with God! Why? Because sin is SIN! It is what corrupts. It is what destroys. It is what separates us from His Throne!

If you are trying to convince yourself that God's Word is not absolute... If you are trying to rationalize that what the Bible states as "wrong" is now somehow personally "right" because of your own unique situation and/or desires... Well, I love you enough to tell you, STOP! NO! The wages of sin are death!!! And death is separation from Jesus! Only HE is life!!! If you have chosen Jesus as your Lord, then you must no longer choose sin... you must not deliberate over sin... you must not envy those who are sinning... you must hate sin and love Christ alone!

So, as short and sweet as this blog may be, here is my answer to any and all requests from those who wish to ask for my approval to proceed forward with any form of sin... STOP! NO!

Hear me, ladies! Get wise to the enemy trying to snare you away from what is holy. Run away from evil and choose to believe and follow Jesus instead! His way is the right way! His way is better and healthier for you! His way is the only way to live freely with God forever, and to enjoy a full and joyful LIFE in His holiness!

Fear the LORD and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your ancestors worshiped beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD. (Joshua 24:14-16)

Ask yourself, are you choosing to live in Christ today or are you choosing to please yourself? Personally, as for me and my household, we choose to serve the Lord! Why? Because God hates and rejects sin... so, I will trust Him and hate and reject sin also!

How about you?

What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that and shudder. As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead. (James 2:14, 18-19, 26)

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. (Romans 12:9)


Is your love for God sincere? If so, I implore you to live like it! STOP making excuses and/or looking for rationalizations that lead you away from Him! Reject the snares of the enemy and boldy say NO to sin! Always choose what is holy! Live by God's Word, God's Way! And, most importantly, always... ALWAYS....LOVE the Lord with ALL your heart, mind, soul and strength!!!

What kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives.

THIS IS THE DAY!

Blessings!

~Victoria

© 2011 The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Thursday, November 13, 2014

the wisdom of the world

How does the world view Christians? Let me warn you, God is not well received in the midst of sinful man.

In fact, in 1 Corinthians, Paul tells us that followers of Jesus are viewed by the world as foolish, weak and despised. That can be hard for us to accept.

Those who reject Jesus consider the message of the cross as asinine and ridiculous. They are convinced that individuals who promote the Gospel must have a serious lack of reality and poor sense of judgment.

But Paul writes this:

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate." Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?

I think about this a lot when people approach me with an agenda to argue against my faith and my qualification to minister to others. Some of these "intellectuals" have received more degrees than I can count on both hands. They are usually well educated, well spoken, well bred, well traveled and well incomed. For little old me, it can be, well... intimidating!

But the truth of the matter is clear in God's word. When men demand God to jump through hoops to provide signs and evidence confirming WHO HE IS; and when they require such proof within their own expected parameters outside of scripture... these men have already decided to disbelieve and reject our Savior. They are already looking away from their Creator's Truth and His Eternal Word and trying to come up with their own answers. They seek wisdom where wisdom does not exist. As such, their conclusions can only result in haughty verdicts that attempt to discredit The Almighty God and shame those who follow Him.

Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles... but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.

For the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man's strength.

For me, this really took the load off in trying to "convince" a scoffing unbeliever. It secured my identity as a loving ambassador to the great I AM. My job is to boldly promote my Savior in all my words and deeds. My job is not to convince, but to share His message with anyone willing to listen. God will do the rest through the conviction of the Holy Spirit.

So lovely DW's, go into all the world and preach the GOOD NEWS. Let God's Word be your defense in all matters and do not be dismayed or discouraged by those who reject our Lord with the wisdom of this earth. Minister to the lost. God will handle the rest.

Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord!

Blessings!

~Victoria

© 2009 The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Friday, November 7, 2014

pausing in the first psalm: the delight of the Divine (part 5; conclusion)

Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away. Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. For the LORD knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish. (Psalms 1; KJV)

We have studied the ways of the "unblessed" individual and how their lives differ from the "blessed" - those favored by God. We have seen the backward progression of the ungodly as they walk away from His holy counsel and choose sinful activities instead of engage in His wise ways. We have learned about those whose antichrist beliefs have caused them to blatantly revolt against the King... those who have committed cosmic treason while assembling to dethrone His position and misguide His followers at all cost. All these examples are indeed dangerous ways in which NOT to live... warnings of what not to do so that we can live in assurance and enjoy the glorious grace and fullness of Jesus. But today, we will look at what living this full life looks like, why it is important, and how we will prosper as blessed women who belong to the Most High God.

"But her delight (the blessed woman's delight) is in the law of the LORD; and in God's law does she meditates day and night. And she shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth her fruit in her season; her leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever she does shall prosper... for the LORD knows the way of the righteous!"

Here the blessed woman is portrayed as a flourishing tree stationed near God's refreshing spring. Her life is fruitful and used richly at prescribed moments to advance the Father's will and benefit her eternal family. But how does she do it? How does she remain focused and avoid all selfish, worldly distractions and longings? How does this woman live as a blessed individual of Christ? The answer is simply this: She delights first in God's law. She meditates in His truth at all times: day and night. (Not just morning and evening... ALL DAY AND ALL NIGHT!) Her only focus is Jesus. Her only objective is being with her King... immersing herself in His presence and glorifying His Name. Nothing else is more valuable to her. Nobody else is more important to her. Jesus is her treasure. Jesus influences her WHOLE life. Because of Christ, she is able to live passionately and love others while spreading the hope of things to come! Jesus is the joy she shares. Jesus is the focus of her devotion.

One of the coolest things about God is that He is always drawing those closest to Him even closer! He is always in the business of refreshing, restoring, and renewing those that reach out to Him... those that know they need Him and desperately seek after His wise and holy counsel. Even in the worst of trials, God proves faithful. No matter what storm surfaces, God remains sovereign. His words are absolute and unchanging. His glory is unfathomable and immeasurable. His power is unmatched and astounding. His truth is reliable and eternal. His love... ah, His beautiful love is forever and ever!!!

The blessed woman realizes WHO God is and understands that His presence (even if unseen) will sustain her in every circumstance. With Jesus restoring her soul, her leaf does not whither! The Beloved joyously receives His bride and continues to assure her that His kingdom is also her kingdom. His rich company insures that she will indeed prosper and flourish under His Name.

Yes, the King's favor is granted to this blessed woman's audience, and their relationship produces yummy, delicious fruit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control) as both parties abide in mutual love and respect of one another. The blessed woman is worthy of God's favor. Why? Because Christ gives her His inheritance so that she may benefit abundantly. Our Holy Husband gives His beloved bride EVERYTHING because He loves her that much and is inclined to receive her always!

Now, I ask you... who wouldn't want to be with this God? Who wouldn't want to wholeheartedly seek after and serve this Lover of Our Soul? Who wouldn't want to be romanced every day by the Prince of Peace who cares so deeply for us that His heart aches to be closer to us than He was in the last passing moment? Our Messiah wishes to unite with us in holy matrimony and become ONE in His Spirit! Every moment we live (no matter on earth or in heaven) is a glorious opportunity to uphold our end of the eternal love story that God intended for us to enjoy from the very beginning! (Somebody may have to start fanning me, for I may pass out from sheer delight!) This is the divine grace of a magnificent Savior in action. "Love" doesn't seem strong enough a word to convey His overwhelming desire to save us from ourselves and restore us unto His own.

So, THIS DAY IS THE DAY... ALL DAY... where the blessed woman claims, "My Lover is mine and I am His!" (Song of Solomon 2:16) Come all who are blessed and focus your affections on the Messiah-Hero... the Head of your everlasting household! Praise and receive your precious Fiance's gracious favor while preparing yourself for the coming festivities. For the chaff blowing in this wilderness will no longer matter when His harvest celebration comes! The boring distractions of antichrist will be overshadowed by the glory of the Lamb at our wedding feast! Yes, this is the day to delight in the law of the Lord... a law established for the good of His family! There is no time to waste in the counsel of the ungodly. There is no stand important enough to partake alongside sinners. There is no agenda worthy of our assembling in scorn and deliberation. No, our sweet, precious, worthy, wonderful JESUS is near and our time belongs to Him! Blessed be His Holy Name. Blessed be our holy family's name!!! Yes, my Lover is mine and I am His! I will embrace and praise the Lord on High who has captivated my heart and promised me a happily ever after secure in His arms!

"Let the beloved of the LORD rest secure in him, for he shields him all day long, and the one the LORD loves rests between his shoulders." (Deuteronomy 33:12)

The King of kings is the same yesterday, today, and forever! His love for us is worth EVERYTHING we know, have, and can give. My prayer is that you will embrace the truths of Psalm 1 and live in worship as a blessed Devoted Woman who is preparing herself for her wedding day with the most romantic Person you will ever encounter. Welcome the way of your loving Savior. Receive, trust, and serve the One whose counsel directs the whole love story of your life. Jesus the Redeemer promises to faithfully protect you as He escorts you home. Just let Him. His love is better than life. He is sooooo worth EVERYTHING!

Consider this question very carefully: According to God's word, are you indeed a blessed woman? In response, I encourage you to live each moment in honor of your eternal family. I challenge you to fixate your eyes on Jesus and obediently follow Him into your new life. For this is the day to delight yourself in the Divine, ladies. This is the day to live as His BLESSED!

Thanks for joining me in this study!

XOXOX!

Blessings!

~Victoria

© 2010 The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Thursday, November 6, 2014

pausing in the first psalm: the seated, scornful heart (part 4)

Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away. Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. For the LORD knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish. (Psalms 1; KJV)

Today, we are discussing the final form of backward progression discussed in Psalm 1 as it relates to the "unblessed" individual. Our goal in doing this is to continue to look at what NOT TO DO as we seek to be "blessed" women of God - women highly favored in the eyes of God. You will note that each progression we have discussed to date (walking, standing, and now sitting) has shown the descension of the ungodly person according to scripture. These examples not only warn us against living outside of God's law, but accurately illustrate the progression of evil that takes place in the hearts of men when absent from His loving presence. The psalmist clearly portrays the devolving decadence, debauchery, and depravity of the unblessed individual while strongholds of sin deepen and ultimately overpower their lives. This is where a bad decision turns into a worse situation and finally into a hardened heart filled with ridicule and mockery against the King of kings.

"Blessed is the (wo)man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly... nor standeth in the way of sinners... nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful..."

This is the unblessed woman who now deliberately assembles in like company of blasphemers, mockers, atheists, and those who intentionally ridicule the validity and/or necessity of God. Even more serious than keeping counsel with the ungodly (willingly receiving humanistic philosophies over God's biblical truth), or standing in the way of sinners (choosing unholy practices over God's prescribed plan) is the act of sitting with those who scorn openly and unapologetically against God's law.

This is where the unblessed woman boldly takes her rebellion to a nonsensical and extremely destructive level. Her opposing heart has become so amicable to the idea of overturning God's kingdom that her quest to advance antichrist beliefs cause her to educate and unify the weak-willed into believing that her sinfulness is not only acceptable... but in fact, not even a sin. Some examples of this scornful individual include the influential talk show host who donates extraordinary amounts of money to community service while openly denying Jesus Christ to her worldwide audience. Or how about the homosexual celebrity who holds press conferences in front of city hall insisting that gay marriages are natural, loving and good. We could even swear in the high-level politician who vows before the world to be an honorable and trustworthy servant of the people while blatantly selling government to the highest bidder and cheating on his spouse with a young intern. Then there are the many industry leaders who unethically encourage their customers that the human lives ruined and/or lost in order to bring their product to market is a necessary consequence to meet the consumer demands of our more important, wealthy, civil (cough cough) societies. The list goes on and on. We are led to believe that sin is not sin at all - but a lack of understanding and acceptance. We are pitched the concept that biblical rightness is wrong, and human wrong is right. And this makes perfect sense, of course, because the idea of a sovereign God even existing is preposterous to our most renowned and intelligent masterminds - especially since the scientific theory of man's evolution is taught as a solid fact to our children. That means the theory is truth, right? (Ahem.) So, we are encouraged that the life of Jesus should be received more as a fairy tale and acknowledged alongside Santa Claus or the Easter bunny. Of course, if you must actually claim Jesus as a "god" then group him together with all the other gods - just as long as you remember that religion is here to make you feel good and nothing more. This, ladies, is the mindset of the scoffer. This is the way of the rebellious heart.

Although most professing Christians would not dare advance a public assault against God Almighty as the examples above continue to employ (at least I hope not), it is heartbreaking to see the many "believers" who claim Christ become deeply influenced by the disdain of confident antichrist promoters. Rather than stand firm and follow God's law, these lost, lukewarm souls of religion cower to earthly power and invite worldly opinion to penetrate and annihilate their weak faith. This is indeed a sign of things to come when the Antichrist establishes himself and wages war in person.

Ladies, there is a cosmic revolt as old as the garden of Eden, when the first man and woman attempted to rise up against the supreme authority of God. Since then, the human race has gained momentum in it's conspiracy against the One who amazingly... AMAZINGLY loves us enough to save those who seek after Him. No matter how determined the apostasy of scorners may be... no matter how many ways they try to judge, rate, ridicule, and mock the authority of the One who rules on high - the One who oversees the great white throne of thrones... they will never, EVER succeed in tearing down the ultimate, unchanging, overruling authority of God's holy law and His eternal kingdom. Every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord!

As we wrap up the first half of this series, I encourage you to consider the life of the blessed woman verses the unblessed woman. Consider your own positioning when it comes to the Master. Are you following the backwards path of the unblessed by adopting similar walking, standing and sitting positions? Or are you sitting and meditating in the truths of God's perfect law? Are you then standing up in the promises of your Savior and choosing His way over your own? From there, are you walking... no... RUNNING toward His throne of grace - always seeking to be in His presence and gain His counsel and authority in all matters? Is your life about Christ or antichrist?

Consider this question very carefully: According to God's word, are you indeed blessed?

Until Tomorrow! Love you all!!!

~Victoria

© 2010 The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

pausing in the first psalm: standing in sinner's way (part 3)

Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away. Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. For the LORD knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish. (Psalms 1; KJV)

Today, let's continue to learn about the life of the “blessed” – one who is highly favored in the eyes of God. Let's move forward and meditate on what scripture says in Psalm 1 about the profile of the "unblessed" candidate in order to understand what we must NOT DO... how we should not live. Yesterday, we discussed the unblessed woman who is willingly receptive to walk in ungodly counsel. Today, let's consider the next backward form of progression that is listed about the unblessed mentioned in this passage.

“Blessed is the (wo)man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly... nor standeth in the way of sinners..."

Ah, the sinner's way. This is the place where rebellion against God is practiced openly. This is where man's corruption is welcome. Where half-truths reign. Where lusts are fed. Where wrong-doings are joked about. Where profanity, nudity, and immorality are received as commonplace. Where violence is viewed as entertainment. Where over consumption is natural. The sinners way is draped in beauty and oozing with appeal. It is a place full of attractive promises and offers many compliments for perverted egos and hoarding spirits. This is where the unblessed woman camps... where her sanctuary is constructed. For she would rather establish her home in an earthly tent than in a customized mansion of God's eternal kingdom. This is where the unblessed woman builds her altar and places her idols. This is where she feeds her selfish cravings and avoids the Master's law as much as possible.

There are infinite paths that lead the ungodly woman to the place of sin. But once she starts walking in the counsel of her own reason and leaving the wisdom of her Creator, she will inevitably begin to choose her way over His and will turn from the holy will of the Father. This is so dangerous. For the sinner's way ultimately influences the unblessed woman to cast off her fear of the Lord by initiating a separation of relationship and neglecting His presence in her life. (A life that cannot exist without the love of Almighty God - the same God with whom she rejects.)

By choosing to stand in the way of sinners, the unblessed woman has chosen to openly rebel against God's law. She has deliberately decided to break His good commandments no matter what the repercussion... no matter what the cost. Her rebellion is usually accomplished in both subtle and obvious ways. It exists in what she watches, reads, and listens to. It is evident in the words she speaks, the thoughts she ponders, the places she visits, the pleasures she ingests, the activities she engages in, and the people with whom she keeps company. Once in a while, she may hear the quiet, loving voice of the Spirit calling her home. But she is quick to dismiss Him when the easy way of the world seems so much more... well, easy!

Most of the time, the unblessed woman who claims to be a Christian usually uses her own ungodly counsel to minimize the magnitude of her sinful stand. She credits herself as "less sinful" than others and rationalizes her way to still be worthy of God's favor. She does not consider it a concern to "sneak in" a few discrepancies that directly contradict His law. No, these are not a concern as long as she keeps them discreet and under control. A white lie spoken... a swear word tucked under her breath... a television show comically portraying an inappropriate situation... an entertaining movie with brief violence and nudity... a novel acclaiming unholy relations... a song encouraging evil doing... a motive to get more, gain more, be more, see more, enjoy more, feel more... all of these are surely acceptable if kept on the down-low, right?

Furthermore, the unblessed woman regularly convinces herself that some sinful ways are justified because of the unique circumstances that surround them. God will excuse her wrongdoing as right - because clearly her situation is different and more challenging than any other person who has ever lived. In these instances, His law, His preferences, and His ways must not completely apply to her, right? In these times, His word is really more of a suggestion rather than a lamp to her feet and a light for her path... right? No, here the unblessed woman rationalizes that God's word is not absolute and unchanging. Why? Because she feels her situation is unique... because her wants are more "worthy" than His ways.

Hmmm.

"Blessed is the (wo)man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly... nor standeth in the way of sinners."

Ladies, the way of sin is never a viable option for the blessed woman. It is a place that worsens the relationship with our precious Savior while hardening the hearts of those camping comfortably under the covers of false fulfillment. It is an easy, easy place to walk. It is a dangerous, dangerous place to stand.

I encourage you to consider where you have planted yourself. What have you allowed into your life... into God's holy temple... into the presence of the Redeemer? Are your ways the same as His ways? Are your activities, decisions, thoughts, and motives in compliance with the King's perfect, healthy decrees? Or have your lusts, longings, wants, and desires ruled? Who's law are you abiding by? In what place are you standing?

Consider this question very carefully: According to God's word, are you indeed blessed?

Tomorrow we will wrap up the first part of this series and finish looking at the backward progression of the unblessed woman while considering what we must avoid in order to maintain God's favor. Please continue to meditate over Psalm 1. Let's pray for God to teach us, mold us, and renew us in Jesus. This is the day to be blessed, ladies! This is the day to seek our King's favor!!!

LOVE!

~Victoria

© 2010 The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

pausing in the first psalm: the walk of ungodly counsel (part 2)

Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away. Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. For the LORD knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish. (Psalms 1; KJV)

As we established yesterday, Psalm 1 begins by identifying the life of a “blessed” person – a person who is highly favored in the eyes of the Almighty Father and set apart from those that are “unblessed”. Interestingly enough, to better define what this means, the psalmist proceeds to tell us specifically what a blessed person DOES NOT do… where they do not walk… what path they do not take.

“Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.”

Let's meditate over the backward progression that is outlined in this first passage. Here we are introduced to the paths, the places, the perceptions of those that are unblessed by God… the many that will be doomed to destruction. These are the ungodly, the sinners, the scornful. It is interesting to see the journey that this unblessed person will follow in contrast to the journey of a blessed individual. However, in the interest of time, today let's only discuss the first progression listed - the first "do not" that we must understand in order to walk securely in God's favor: 

"Blessed is the (wo)man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly."

This is the unblessed woman who walks in the counsel of an ungodly world. Meaning, she is willingly receptive to viewpoints based on humanistic philosophies and ideas. Note: this unblessed woman may or may not claim a mystical sense of spiritualness in her life; but when it comes down to it, she has no genuine ties or relations to the Redeemer. Rather, her values and beliefs are based solely on common sense and the "wisdom" of what she thinks to be true rather than what God says is righteous. Her standard of morality is upheld by instincts, feelings, hunches, ideas. Right and wrong are determined only by opinion through self assessment, reflection, deliberation and rationalization of her own experiences - all of which are centered around what meets her needs and what she thinks will make her happy.

The unblessed woman walks eagerly toward all forms of enlightenment and/or a promise of balance - usually offered in bulk by the god-like, living idols of the wayward leaders/celebrities/role models of the day. If she does claim to be a Christian, she is lukewarm and loving it. She is a "by title only" believer that wishes to find her inner peace, but is in no way desperate to know the one true Savior intimately.

She takes much time to educate herself in all forms of self-improvement and enrichment, but unfortunately fails to measure her life according to God's word. In fact, she finds God's law to be bothersome, cumbersome, challenging, difficult, debatable, and maybe even a little boring. She rationalizes that surely her own scope of reasoning is dependable enough to expose the criteria needed for godly living. She isn't a bad person, after all. So trusting her sensibility over what may or may not be a biblical approach, she misguidedly keeps one or two warm, fuzzy "feel good" verses in her pocket and formulates "the rest" as she goes.

It doesn't matter how popular this unblessed woman may or may not be in her church. It doesn't matter how giving she is to charity, how loving she is to family, how successful she is in life. Without Christ guiding her ways, her counsel is wickedness. And though she does not consider herself lost, nor wishes to be credited as ungodly, she continues to stroll along comfortably in the company of others like her... all choosing and defending their own way... all living their own lie... all denying God while seeking after their own levels of pleasure and worldly satisfaction.

"Blessed is the (wo)man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly."

We must each ask ourselves: Who's counsel am I keeping? Who's views and opinions do I default to? Who's wisdom do I depend upon? Am I walking down the narrow and just path of the King of kings? Or am I strolling comfortably in my own ways... in my own reason?

Ladies, in our quest to be blessed by God, I encourage you to consider this matter very seriously. Ungodly counsel is not the counsel we should keep... especially our own ungodly counsel! God's ways are higher and greater and wiser than ours. So, we must ALWAYS strive to follow His path first and obediently submit our will over to Him.

I challenge you to take an honest look at your life. Determine if you are progressing closer to the Savior or farther from His grace. Do you know Him intimately? Do you seek after His wisdom? Do you base your decisions on His truths? Are you living for His purpose? Are you walking in His ways and obediently following His counsel? In short, is your life centered around God... or you? Who is the Star in your story?

Consider this question very carefully: According to God's word, are you indeed blessed?

Tomorrow we will continue looking at the backward progression of the unblessed woman and consider what we must avoid in order to maintain God's favor. I hope you will join me in this important study!

Love you all!

~Victoria

© 2010 The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Monday, November 3, 2014

pausing in the first psalm: blessed (part 1)

Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away. Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. For the LORD knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish. (Psalms 1; KJV)

As many of you know, by day I oversee the Human Resources and general business operations of the North America Division of a German-owned cable-harness company with my husband, Chuck, who (as acting President) oversees all sales and service activity throughout the United States, Canada and Mexico.

Sounds great, huh? And it is, for we regularly get to travel, meet interesting people, and set our own work schedule while operating in tandem with our German owners and other world-wide subsidiaries. That said, let me assure you that the responsibilities of both our positions can be very challenging and time consuming roles. In fact, I personally think the “glamour” of our entrepreneurial-like careers exists only in title. For overall, the work is quite hefty, the demands are great, and our individual benefits have slowly become an afterthought as we bend over backwards to keep our owners, employees, and customers satisfied with our leadership and 24/7 premiere level of service.

So, I have found that in this season of our careers, both Chuck and I are treading lightly as we commit ourselves to an industry filled with economic uncertainty due to customer spending reductions, layoffs, and tough competition throughout our field. And although we stand together facing daily foreign exchange rate fluctuations, performance investment vs. return, and sourcing new and viable leads, we continue to praise God for providing us the opportunity to contribute our gifts side-by-side within our respective occupational specialties and as a married couple. Yes, we are blessed with work… which in turn pays for our modest lifestyle and the funding for most of DW's ministry. But I won’t lie… times are indeed tough all around. Money is tight for everyone. And today, every business decision we make needs to be the right decision. We are no longer guaranteed the wiggle room that was once enjoyed when corporate America was thriving. No, today we MUST be profitable. We must keep income “incoming” or payrolls won’t run and real people will suffer.

It is huge to think about how many individuals are living paycheck to paycheck in these hard economic times. It is even more daunting to consider the task of maintaining a steady business in order to insure employing those same individuals (and ourselves). For if profits fall behind, some may lose their jobs and ultimately end up financially unable to feed their children, or pay their mortgages, or take care of medical needs, or whatever. So, we must come through in this capacity. We must succeed in what we do. That is a lot of pressure for a simple couple living in Chicago. That is a lot of responsibility to take on emotionally when you have a heart to love and serve people as God has called each of us to do.

Due to our unstable economy, every day I question what would happen if the worst scenario occurred in our company… if all business came to a hurried halt… if jobs were lost and we became another statistic within a poverty-stricken world. Equally, I wonder over the many “what if’s” of our government's financial predicament and whether or not the economy will continue to threaten the corporate success and personal survival of many hard-working individuals. And this is only one of many issues in life that concern me. This is only one area of uncertainty that I share with you today. For I cannot predict what is unknown in my future. I cannot assume what circumstances and trials lurk ahead of this minute. But I can tell you that these issues are a part of my reality and influencial to my decision making. They are what I pray over each day. They are not something that I could sanely face without a solid faith in God’s provision and plan. They motivate me to focus on the bigger picture of eternity… to consider what path I must follow to succeed in the long run… to determine what way I must choose to be “blessed” and safe in the arms of a mighty, living God. Yes, these issues bring up an even bigger decision that is not only critical to my own destiny, but a choice that will impact the lives of all others my moments may touch. For in these issues I must decide which path I will choose to take - godly or ungodly? What life I will choose to live - a servant’s or a sinner’s? Whose company and counsel I will choose to cling to - God Almighty’s or mankind?

“Blessed is the (wo)man…” This is where my heart focuses today as I begin meditating on the first chapter of Psalms. This is where my week begins as I pause to reflect on what a blessed person looks like in the eyes of a Holy Creator - the One whose hand rules over the comings and goings of this earth and the heavens above. You see, I know that today (and every day) I unquestionably NEED His blessing. I am dependent upon His grace. I cannot live without His strength and security. I cannot face the next second without the assurance that I am walking forward in His company and favor. Blessed…. ah, blessed! This is my hope and my goal… to be blessed in the eyes of my Maker and Savior.

Join me ladies… pause with me this week as we consider the life of “the blessed". Get to know THE WAY who desires our full attention both day and night – in every season, in every moment. Let's stop and reflect on His word in this first chapter of Psalms - a short but important chapter from the longest book of the Bible. Let's praise Him with a willing heart as we proceed forward in His wisdom and eternal promise.

“Blessed is the (wo)man…” who does and doesn’t do these key things… who lives in accordance with these examples… who enjoys the outcome of these promises. Blessedness is our goal. Favor is our motivation. Righteousness with our Holy Master is our assurance and reward!

blessed: meaning holy, sacred, sanctified, hallowed, consecrated, set apart…

These are your GOOD ways, dear Lord! Oh, how we pray for your guidance to make them our ways too! We come ready to learn. We come willing to seek your commandments as we linger in this potent chapter… as we meditate on your gracious edicts insuring a full and happy and pleasing life in Jesus Name! No matter what outcome may arise from this uncertain world... Father, please teach us the delights found within your perfect law. Fulfill your decrees to those who faithfully claim your path. We long to be your BLESSED people. We hunger for your unwavering love. We pledge ourselves as devoted women... striving to foretaste your glory divine as we savor every word you have spoken for our benefit!

Join me, DW. Let's meditate on these verses together. Let's pause to understand and know the holy, sacred, sanctified, hallowed, consecrated, set apart King of kings and Lord of lords! This is the day to seek after His blessing. This is the day to be blessed.

Blessings!

~Victoria

© 2010 The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

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