Friday, January 30, 2015

hey, are you praying?


Are you praying?
Hey, are you praying?

When the world is a mess.
When life seems to disappoint?
Are you praying?
Hey, are you praying?

When relationships are sour?
When resources are few?
Are you praying?
Hey, are you praying?

When your spirit is low?
When trials overwhelm?
Are you praying?
Hey, are you praying?

Through sickness.
Through sorrow.
Through hurt.
Through pain.
Through sadness.
Through betrayal.
Through hatred.
Through horror.

Are you praying?
Hey, are you praying?

And if so...

Are you trusting?
Are you believing?
Are you standing firm?
Are you living faithfully and waiting on the Lord?

For the Lord is always in control!
And the Lord loves you endlessly!
And the Lord wants you to have the desires of your heart!
And the Lord wants to give you every blessing of His kingdom!

So, are you praying, Believer?
Hey, are you praying?

If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. (John 15:7)

Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. (Matthew 7:7-8)

Blessings!

~Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson 

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

purity vs. lust... choose wisely

Have you been tolerating sinful lust in your life? Have you been welcoming impure images or unholy desires into your heart? Have you been craving materials that feed your selfishness and encourage sinfulness... unholiness?

Millions of Christians feast their minds on unholy images and material each and every day. Satan has made it so easy for us to lust... whether sexually or materially. In fact, our need to be entertained has become a pillar of our world culture. We now consider it normal to allow many sinful (and destructive) forms of false fulfillment into our homes and lives. So much so, that doing without such "pleasures" may seem Spartan. But we must ask ourselves how much is our purity really worth to us?

The bigger question is this: Are we ready to bring our entertainment habits and lustful desires into submission to God and His plan for how we conduct our lives? Trust me when I tell you, we must carefully choose a biblical answer to this question every single day in order to avoid sin.

James 4:7 commands us to "submit to God" and to "resist the devil." This is a key command intended for our own good. For if we fail to bring our lustful habits into submission, we could be faced with a life-altering stumbling block that will tear us apart. In fact, our gracious God warns us on the importance of removing all "detestable" objects from our lives. He instructs us to keep our hearts clean to avoid annihilation from an enemy who wishes us dead and separated from God. Not cool, Satan!

"Do not bring a detestable thing into your house or you, like it, will be set apart for destruction. Utterly abhor and detest it, for it is set apart for destruction." (Deuteronomy 7: 26)

Friends, it takes real strength and determination in Jesus Name to resist the flow of our worldly culture and live as a "counter-culture" Christian. Think about what detestable things you have allowed into your home... into your heart. Are you willing to completely give them up and replace them with holiness? Are you willing to make your only focus the perfect way of Christ? If not, why not?  If not, then how can your relationship with God grow?

As followers of Jesus Christ, we must pray and support one another to keep our eyes on His eternal pleasures rather than on earthly perversions that turn us away from God's truth. Let's unite together without judgement and encourage biblical action so that we can enjoy our promised spiritual rewards while avoiding the lustful temptations that draw us away from our Holy King. Let's stand firmly against this sin every day.  For you and I both know, this decision is a lifelong battle that requires daily resolve to keep Jesus as the One and only focus.

So, what steps will you take TODAY to filter out and remove what is impure? Will you choose to continue tolerating and welcoming in sinful lusts? OR, will you resist Satan's trap and seek after the complete and fulfilling abundance that is promised to you by following Christ's narrow path... by heeding the warnings of your Shepherd... by seeking HIS WAY over your own way! Choose today whom you will serve... but I warn you, choose wisely.

"But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve.... But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD." (Joshua 24:15)

Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus Christ our magnificent Lord!

Blessings!

~Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

the great commission

So when they met together, they asked him, "Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?" He said to them: "It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."

After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. "Men of Galilee," they said, "why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven." (Acts 1:6-11)

Can you imagine this scene? Jesus had already risen from the dead. He had physically shown Himself to his followers, proving He was the Messiah who came to defeat sin and death. As He had gathered with his disciples in bodily form they began to ask if Christ's next step would be to setup His kingdom on earth. Would Jesus now restore the nation of Israeal under His reign? He had already accomplished the unbelievable...the impossible... how excited his disciples must have been with the hope that Jesus would begin His rule over all the earth.

But God's timing is not man's timing. That was not exactly the plan... not yet. There were still more people to bring into the body. There were still more to be reached... including you and me!!

Matthew Henry said, "Our Lord knew that his ascension and the teaching of the Holy Spirit would soon end these expectations, and therefore only gave them (the disciples) a rebuke; but it is a caution to his church in all ages, to take heed of a desire of forbidden knowledge. He had given his disciples instructions for the discharge of their duty, both before his death and since his resurrection, and this knowledge is enough for a Christian. It is enough that He has engaged to give believers strength equal to their trials and services; that under the influence of the Holy Spirit they may, in one way or other, be witnesses for Christ on earth, while in heaven he manages their concerns with perfect wisdom, truth, and love. When we stand gazing and trifling, the thoughts of our Master's second coming should quicken and awaken us: when we stand gazing and trembling, they should comfort and encourage us. May our expectation of it be stedfast and joyful, giving diligence to be found of him blameless."

The Lord promised us the gift of the Holy Spirit so that all believers could continue on with His commission. What is His commission? To be witnesses. To go into all the world and preach His gospel. To share the truth of His headship as the one true Lord and Savior. To love all men as He loved us. The Great Commission is the instruction of the resurrected Jesus Christ to his disciples, that they spread his teachings to all the nations of the world. As followers of Jesus, this should be our #1 focus. We are to evangelize to the world and share His good news of salvation while fixing our eyes toward spending our eternity in His presence.... under the rule of our loving and good King of Kings.

Once Jesus blessed the disciples with this truth, the Bible says he ascended up before their very eyes. They were looking at Him "intently" as he visibly left earth to be with His Father. What an impressive and motivating way to show them once and for all that He was not only alive, but beyond the restraints of the universe - - yet still God in human flesh.

After He was no longer able to be seen, God sent His angels to remind the disciples that Jesus would come again. Assuredly, He would come in like manner as they had seen Him go; that is, visibly and in his glorified humanity. Oh, what a positive announcement of a literal and visible second coming!!! Are you as excited as I am to see Him return?

Ladies, let us focus our energy and efforts on the task set before us by our loving and magnificent Savior. Let us remember that we are here to evangelize and share His message to all the world. Let us not be bogged down by the distractions of the enemy and the temporary bindings of this world. For our God will return to us! He is coming! He will reign as our King! What joy there is in this security!

Let us be stedfast in our walk and please Him with our lives. Let us always be sharing His good news whenever the Holy Spirit provides the opportunity. Don't hold back or be shy about it... He is with you! Jesus Christ, who was raised from the dead and ascended into Heaven has promised to return again. We must rejoice in the Lord always and live every day sharing His plan of redemption to all persons!

This is the day! Rejoice and be glad! This is our joy - He will return! Jesus IS coming again!

WOO HOO!!!

~Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson 

Friday, January 23, 2015

just read it

For the word of the Lord is right; and all his works are done in truth. (Psalm 33:4)

There are so many themes of Women's Bibles out there.  So many new and updated translations and versions.  And it seems that these days, most Women's Bibles seem to be covered in razzleberry red and bubble gum pink pleather.  Have you noticed?  Perhaps you own one?  (I do.)

The Women's Devotional Bible.
The New Mom's Prayer Bible.
The Busy Mom's Study Bible.
The Bug Collection Bible.
The Thinline Bloom Collection Bible.
The Evidence Bible.
The Women of Faith Breast Cancer Edition Bible.
The Faithgirlz Bible.
The Everyday Life Bible.
The Everyday Matters Bible.
The Case for Christ Study Bible.
The Fire Bible.
The Life Application Bible.
The New Life Bible.
The Waterproof Bible.
The Thou Art Loosed Bible.
The Quest Study Bible (1984 Version - my favorite!)
The Woman's Sanctuary Devotional Bible.
The Archeological Study Bible.
The Hope for the Home Front Bible.
The One Year Bible.
The Parallel Bible.
The Pursuit of God Bible.
The Hugs Bible for Women.
The Aspire Bible for Women of Color.
The Beautiful Everyday Bible.
The Flora and Fauna Bible.
The Precious Princess Bible.

Then, the translations... it seems like Christian (and some non-Christian) publishers are racing each quarter to get their own set of "experts" to produce and reproduce the latest and greatest, newly-translated version of THEIR Bible.  Why?  Simple.  So they own all rights to its reproduction and use.  The NIV, The NEW NIV, The ESV, the HCSB, The NASB, The Living Bible, The Message, The Story... and so on.  (Remember the gold old fashioned King James Version with its "whilst's" and "thou's"?  Wait, isn't there a NEW KJV?  Sigh.)

Mind you, we've not even discussed the different Men's versions, the Children's versions, the Couples' versions, the Gift versions, etc. etc. etc.  Nor have we come close to the amount of actual themes and translations out there... some denominationally-specific, some gender-specific, some age-specific, some racially-specific, some even hobby-specific.  It is enough to make one's head spin!  Thank you, Mr. Marketing!

All that said, here is my point.  If you aren't reading God's Word... it really doesn't matter what box your girly-themed Bible checks.  If you aren't studying His Truth... it doesn't make a world of difference what version you may or may not prefer.  The bottom line is that we are all completely full of pretty packaging options, but starving for the real truth inside.

So today, I wanted to share  one revolutionary thought about the Bible... YOUR Bible.  (LOL... They will likely come out with the "DW Revolutionary Bible" now.  Ha ha.)  Anyway, my revolutionary thought is this, ladies... READ IT!  Read God's Word.  Study it.  Memorize it.  Know it.  Make it the life-support of your day.  Hide it in your heart.  Allow the Holy Spirit to transform you inside (your truest self) so that you may become more beautiful than any razzleberry red or bubble gum pink pleather-bound book that you might occasionally admire but normally keep un-dusted, un-opened, and un-read on your nightstand.  Just READ IT!

In fact, go read it NOW!  This blog can wait.  Facebook can wait.  Email can wait.  It ALL can wait.  God's Word is more important.  God's Word is waiting for you.  So go grab YOUR Bible and be revolutionary (involving or causing a complete or dramatic change).  Start making God's Word your first priority! Go find out what the Maker of the Universe wants you to know today.

Just READ IT!

Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee. (Psalm 119:11)

Blessings!

~Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

the rich, the poor, the future (part 3)

"There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores. 

The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. 

The rich man also died and was buried.  In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.

But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been set in place, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’

He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my family, for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’

Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’

‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’

He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’”  (Luke 16:19-31)

Sometimes I contemplate on how past generations might "re-do" their lives if they had the chance to return from the grave.  Would they be encouraged to live focused on themselves, centered solely in the now?  Would they promote getting rich, becoming famous, gaining material and educational status?  Would they hold true to "the last one with the most toys wins" philosophy?  Would they spend their hard earned money buying homes, cars, clothing, electronics?  Would they use their valuable time to watch hours and hours of television?  Would they marry, divorce, and remarry someone new?  Furthermore, how ethically would they work?  How morally would they play?  How would they use their resources?  Who would they choose to love, admire, defend, promote?

The truth is, the petty ideas and sinful idols that currently snare our worldly attention away from God's holy LIFE would definitely be rebuked by those who have since passed on.  Had they to do it all over again, I'm certain our ancestor's focus would shift drastically and urgently to one unmatched Name: JESUS!  Hallelujah!  The only relationship that would matter would be an unbroken connection with God's Spirit.  The only goal to be reached would be knowing God's Son personally.  The only focus, friendship, and family to spend one's whole heart, soul, mind and strength loving would be the Kingdom of the Most High and Almighty God.  Messages, money, and motivation would all be used for the most important and worthy purpose: to glorify the King of kings and Lord of lords!  Period.  Yes, I'm sure if past generations could return for a do-over life, they would be the greatest evangelists ever.

The rich man knew this.  He knew he had not followed God's path and was now suffering the eternal torment and agony that separation from God assuredly guarantees.  So what did he request?  He begged Abraham to send Lazarus to warn his brothers of his horrific decision.  If only they could be warned in advance, surely they would be convinced to change their sinful ways and not make the same mistake!  But alas, Abraham points out that mankind has already been warned in God's Word and through God's people.  Most importantly, One has already come to overcome death and rose from the grave in order to bring eternal salvation... in order to show us the correct Way... in order to give those that know Him a hope and future in God's wonderful, loving, perfect, presence. Holy holy holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come!  Let all Heaven and Earth proclaim His glory!  Jesus is LORD!

This is why Jesus shared the story of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16... so that we might know the truth and turn away from our sin... so that we might follow Him and be saved!  He calls us in Matthew 7 to be convinced of His truth and, "Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it." (Matthew 7:13-14)

So, what lesson will you walk away with from Jesus' story in Luke 16?  How will this news effect the outcome of your life, your choices, and the condition of your future?  Christ overcame death, rose from the grave, and wishes to share His love, hope, and new LIFE with you now.  Will you follow Him before it is too late?

Really, whose way will you decide to choose?  Whose advise will you listen to and follow?  Whose future will you mirror?  Lazarus or the rich man?  Hope or hopelessness?  Life or death?

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. (John 3:16-18)

Blessings!

~Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

the rich, the poor, the future (part 2)

"There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores. 

The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. 

The rich man also died and was buried. 

Continuing on from yesterday in Luke 16, Jesus teaches us about the future of both Lazarus and the rich man after their deaths.  In doing so, Christ also confirms that there are indeed eternal locations excluded for those who will live both with and without God.  Knowing this, it is astounding to me how complacent multitudes of people behave each day unconcerned with their eternal future.  Do they not realize that once a man crosses over the threshold of death's door into the forevermore that he will no longer have the opportunity to reconcile his sinful life with God?  He will either be accepted or separated from the Holy Kingdom... a Kingdom fluent in perfect LOVE!  Really, who doesn't want LOVE?  Who doesn't want eternal life in the presence and friendship of the righteous, holy, perfect Redeemer?

Then he will say to those on his left, "Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me."

They also will answer, "Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?"

He will reply, "Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me."

Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life. (Matthew 25:41-46)

Folks, there is no middle ground on this... no third, fourth, or fifth chance to make things right with God after our death.  You see, Jesus came to become our second chance.  He sacrificed Himself so that we could know and live in His Hope.  Really, His Way is the only way outside of death and destruction.  So, without intimately knowing and living in His Spirit, there is no entrance, no adoption, no joy for those who reject Him.  How awful!

With this in mind, let's read further into Christ's story in Luke 16...

"The rich man also died and was buried.  In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’

But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been set in place, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’"  (Luke 16:19-26)

Sadly, today many shy away from this uncomfortable topic. Let's face it, nobody wants to discuss eternal torment, agony, or rejection. But it is critical to understand the outcome of our choices before it is too late.  When a follower of Jesus Christ dies, their souls are immediately escorted into the joy of God's Kingdom. However, when an unbeliever dies, they are just as immediately damned into the conscious pain, suffering, and torment of hell.

In Christ's story, this was the fate of the rich man.  The tragic outcome of one nameless, selfish, godless individual whom the Lord will still use today for His good in order to teach us what not to do... how not to live.  And from his example, we must assess in all honesty... was the rich man's way of life really worth it?  Was all the hype, glamor, decadence, popularity, treasures, idols, and excuse-making through his sin worth the loss of his own soul and ultimate separation from his Creator?  Clearly not.  This story is so important because Jesus wants us to know that He came to save mankind from this horrible fate.  But mankind must accept the love that our Lord extends.  Yes, there is only one Way to know the joy of Lazarus, the hope of Abraham, the promise of our Master and King.  That Way is God's way, not man's.  Tragically, the rich man denied God's way and chose his own misguided path.  He ignored the gospel, clung to his earthy idols, and forfeited his soul forever.  Epic, epic fail!

Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.” (Mark 8:34-48)

So, what lesson will you take away mid-way through the story in Luke 16?  Will you consider how trustworthy you are currently living with whatever God has already provided you?  Will you surrender your whole self to His kingdom purposes rather than be puffed up with selfish glory and gain?  Will you seek and follow the path of the One true Redeemer?  Or will you forfeit your soul for moth and rust, idols and dust?

Whom will you choose to serve forevermore?

Until tomorrow...

Blessings!

~Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson


Monday, January 19, 2015

the rich, the poor, the future (part 1)

I invite you to join me as I sit down and chew over Jesus' story in Luke 16 concerning the rich man and Lazarus.  Among all the stories that Christ shared with His followers, this particular nugget remains unique to me.  Why?  Because in it, Jesus shares a vivid picture of the future of some very specific individuals.  From this, I am forced to wonder if the characters in this story are, in fact, real-life examples.  For only the Lord could know the outcome of someone's fate after the grave.  And only the Messiah could teach and warn us about what is to occur past the limitations of human life.  So without further adieu, let's begin with Jesus' narration in Luke 16.

"There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores. The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried."  (Luke 16:19-22)

In this story, we find ourselves looking at two opposite individuals.  First, a man who was unquestionably well-off, abundant in riches, and clothed in luxury.  And second, Lazarus... a man on the outs, unquestionably without, and clothed in poverty.

When I read about the first of these two men (the rich man), what comes to mind is our society's normal delusion of success.  This "rich" man enjoyed the very best that life could offer: expensive clothing, the choicest food and wine, a grand estate, and all the luxuries of life.  If he were a man of this century, he would assuredly own all the latest gadgets and drive the fanciest automobiles.  He would be garbed head to toe in designer fashions and be groomed with the latest trend-setting styles.  Furthermore, he would likely be famous - a modern-day celebrity, if you will.  In the time of Christ, his dress and food would have definitely set him apart from that of an ordinary citizen. So basically, this man would have represented the standard that every Pharisee, every Jew, would have strived to become.

In contrast, there was Lazarus sitting at the opposite end of the social meter.  Lazarus is painted, quite simply, as a poor forgotten nobody struggling to survive.  He is sick. He is starving. Mostly, he is ignored - especially by the rich man.  Regularly, the rich man passes Lazarus as he comes and goes from his home.  Instead of offering him aid, the rich man closes his heart and overlooks Lazarus' need.  Days, months, years go by and the rich man continues to selfishly enjoy his wealth - never giving or loving beyond his own appetite.  Could he have done more?  Sure.  Could he have used his material resources to bring glory to God's kingdom.  Of course.  But does he...?  Hmmm, not so much.  No.

Meanwhile, Lazarus continues to hope through his struggles.  Although he doesn't receive anything from the rich man, he selflessly and quite literally gives of himself to the nearby stray dogs who are also in dire need... providing them nourishment from the sores on his own broken-down body.  Wow.  What a difference these two men are in character from one another.

By today's standards, those of us capable of reading these words online are indeed rich.  And just like the wealthy man noted in Jesus' story, we don't have to look very far to identify who around us is poor, lost, broken, and in need.  The least of these are right outside our own gates... evident and available.  Yet, many of us pretend they don't exist.  Many of us overlook their cries each and every day.  Many of us care more about our bank account, our closet, our supper.  While doing everything socially right, we (like the rich man) are living our lives spiritually bankrupt.  While treasuring and attaching ourselves to earthly idols, we overlook God's opportunities and thus forgo more important eternal rewards.  Just like the rich man in this story, our default is not to give.  Our priority is not to love beyond our own comfort zone.  Our real-life reaction to show any form of charity is applauded only in theory by our peers at posh benefits and at arms length.  Still the poor, the widowed, the orphaned, the desperate, the lonely, the lost and forgotten remain outside our gates... hoping.  Lord, forgive us and change our ways to your higher Way!

As we wrap up today, looking at the two fellows outlined in Christ's story, don't you find it interesting that Jesus chose to honor Lazarus by name, yet He dishonors the rich man by keeping him anonymous?  I mean, wouldn't the rich man's name be noteworthy to this story?  He was a big deal, right?  He was a headliner!  No... not according to Christ.  For the man who cares only for himself might as well be nameless to God.  Why?  Because they are spiritually dead.  Jesus says he recognizes us by the fruit we bear, and this man was void of The Holy Spirit's fruit.  Sure, he was wealthy in bank-roll, but tragically he was indifferent to the needs of the poor who greatly matter to the Lord.  In fact, read how personally Jesus looks at our treatment of the poor...

"For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me."  

Then the righteous will answer him, "Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?"

The King will reply, "Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me."  (Matthew 25:35-40)

When the time came for these two men to die, Lazarus was treated like a true MVP - carried up on the shoulder's of angels to commune with Heaven's most notable and regarded greats.  How wonderful it must have been for Lazarus to finally be welcomed home into God's eternal family.  There is no greater honor than to be adopted by the abundant King of kings!  Hallelujah!

But the rich man, the man who lived big and enjoyed all the bounty and success of human life... well, scripture says he died and was buried.  His was a sad, wasted life that ended without knowing God.

So, what will you take away from the beginning of this story?  What commands from the Master will you rethink and obey?  Is your default action not to give?  Is your priority not to love beyond your own comfort zone?  Jesus reminds us how much He loves the poor... how important those considered least are to Him.  So, are they equally, evidently important to you?  If so, what will you do today?  Whom will you love most?

Until tomorrow...

Blessings!

~Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Thursday, January 8, 2015

renewed from abuse

"A mistreatment or misuse of virtually anything."  You know what that defines?  It's defines abuse.  And we all are born abusers.  Yes, I just said that.  Sure, we don't want to think of ourselves that way.  For we know abusers to be classified with the horrible crimes of rape, and murder, and assault, and defamation.  Abusers desire to satisfy their natural desire regardless of the consequences to themselves or others.  Abusers are bullies.  They are violent.  They are selfish and evil.  They cheat, steal, and hurt others.  Abusers do awful, unforgivable things.  I know this, because in my life, I, like so many, have been a victim of abuse.  I have been assaulted.  I have been defamed.  I have been cheated, and mistreated, and greatly misused.  I have been victimized, and bullied, and even threatened with my very life.  But although I have indeed been a victim, I am still not innocent when it comes to abuse.  I am also guilty.  Why?  Because I am human.  Because I am a sinner.

It is easier to think of ourselves as a victim though, isn't it? It's easier to think that we are more in "the right" because we have been deeply hurt and broken by someones actions or some horrible circumstance.  But as difficult as this is to hear, all mankind... all people... both you and I abuse.  We abuse our time, our health, our money, our relationships... and worst of all, we abuse Almighty God.  We mistreat and misuse His Word and justify our selfishness every step of the way regardless of the consequences.  The truth is, by human nature, we all hate God.  We hate anyone or anything who can ultimately lord over us.  It doesn't matter to us that God is good.  It doesn't matter that He made us to function properly under His glorious rule.  No, our sinfulness defies His holiness and authority.  So to God, we have all abused His Law and are as guilty as any murderer, rapist, or bully that preys heartlessly on society.

Is it hard for you to think of yourself this way?  I know it is hard for me!  I hate the thought of being labeled as such a terrible, evil person.  I don't want to be an abuser!  I hate abuse!!!  What a sickening thought to be measured equally in my sin to a serial killer or a wife beater.  Ugh.  But it is true.  We all have abused.  We all need Jesus to save us from our sin.

Yesterday I was reading a little bit about Jesus as he was being put on trial before the cross.  Throughout His infamous court case before Pontius Pilate, I found it interesting that Christ never made ANY effort to defend Himself.  He never stood up to His abusive accusers.  Wow!  Can you image being put in a life or death trial and NOT defending yourself!?  I can't.  But here is why Jesus didn't... Surely had He decided to defend Himself, He would most definitely have won.  For let's face it, Jesus NEVER lost an argument.  He was and is ALWAYS right.  During His ministry on earth, He baffled and silenced every challenge brought before Him with unmatched eternal wisdom.  Why?  Because He is God!  So, why not speak up and win His own trial before the cross?  Why not save Himself?  Surely He was capable of proving that He was in the right and being victimized by those threatening Him.  Surely He was justified to live.

Here is the answer: Jesus didn't go to the cross to save Himself.  He went willingly and without argument, in fact, to save you and me!!!  Whoa!  In His infinite love, He took on all the abuse and sin of mankind and stood there silent.  He allowed the bullying, the victimization, the defamation, the sin... all for our sake. All so that He would ultimately be murdered and overcome death (and this is the most important part to note...) SO THAT WE MIGHT BE ABLE TO LIVE NEW IN HIM!  Jesus didn't fight his abuser's advances because He wanted to provide us a new WAY out of our chosen sin and corruption.

Jesus remained quiet because Jesus LOVES.

WOW!

Today, I think many Christians are mistakenly focusing all attention on remaining victims.  This mindset keeps us outside of God's intimacy - at arms length rather than welcoming His Spirit in as frequently as possible.  Might I remind those who have claimed Jesus as their Savior who are still caught in this sinful rut... there is a better way, but you have to embrace and live it!  As Christians, we have been given the Holy Spirit and God's Word to center our whole life around (and I mean EVERYTHING).  We have available to us Christ's inarguable, life-changing LOVE as the most perfect guide in all matters!  So why not tap in?  Why not know God's law inside and out.  Why not sacrificially live every second seeking and glorifying Him - the way we were originally made to function?  Isn't it time to leave our paralyzing sin in the past?  We are redeemed, are we not?  Isn't it time to start looking solely at the fruit of the Holy Spirit and the temperament of Christ in His Word to measure our new life against?  Shouldn't we be doing this every moment of every day, in fact?  Are we not NEW?  And if so, are we living kind?  Are we gentle?  Are we patient?  Are we trustworthy and respectful?  Are we giving?  Are we encouraging?  Are we honest?  Are we humble?  Or are we still defending abusive tendencies in our lives - standing on our judgmental Christianized soapboxes pointing fingers at one another and living hateful, mean, thoughtless, lazy lives outside of God's love?  If so, perhaps it is time to remain quiet and begin looking only at Christ.

Jesus remained quiet because Jesus LOVES.

So many of us are still justifying all our focus onto past victimization and thus horribly abusing ourselves along with other people, places, things.  But trust me, that mindset keeps God's church ineffective and old.  Instead, let's choose today to renew our minds fully in Christ!  Let's choose to spiritually unlearn what we have humanly learned and been exposed to.  Man's way is selfish.  But God's Way is LOVE!  So, let's choose to start caring selflessly, sacrificially!  For there is no other Way out of our abuse except through Jesus' forgiving, perfect, incomprehensible, unchanging LOVE!  Thank you, Lord Jesus, for your eternal sacrifice.

"A mistreatment or misuse of virtually anything."  YUCK!!!

BUT... the greatest of these is LOVE!  And love never mistreats or misuses!  Love is always good.  Love is helpful, hopeful, healthy.  Love is Jesus, folks.  To live NEW is Christ... to live new is not abuse, but rather LOVE!  It starts here... daily... sacrificially... with your life... in His Holy, Loving Name.

I encourage you today to measure your actions, words, motives, money, possessions, time (and anything else) against the eternal Word of the One and Only who requires no defense.

A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. (John 13:34)

Blessings!

~Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

impress or refresh?

How much effort do you exert to IMPRESS others?
Instead, why not use your energy to REFRESH those you encounter with the good news of JESUS?
Forget about gaining your own spotlight.
Rather, determine to showcase the Savior's LOVE by reaching out and uplifting every person God puts in your path!
Become a living testimony of His grace!
Share His good news!
LOVE!
Why? Because His love never fails.

Yes, God's Way will always be more memorable, more hospitable, and more worthwhile than our own.
So, stop pushing selfishness and consider your motives.
You don't need to impress anyone.
God's got that covered.
HE is impressive.
All you need to do is REFRESH others by sharing His LOVE!
Be His hands and feet... expose the loving heart of your King!

Yes, this is the day to be kind and LOVE one another.
Choose to LOVE like Jesus, who first loved each of us!

How wonderfully impressive is the Savior!
How refreshing is His eternal message of LOVE!
All praise and glory is His!
Hallelujah to the King!
Let us honor and serve one another in His perfect, eternal Name!

Blessings!

~Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

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