Monday, June 29, 2015

mini-sabbatical announcement

To all DW Peeps...

Effective immediately and lasting through July 2015, I will be conducting a personal experiment and fasting from social media.

What does this mean exactly?

It means I will not be posting, checking, or chiming in on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. for one month.

My purpose, simply, is I desire more one-on-one time in God's Word and have chosen to take a mini-sabbatical in order to study and pray more.

With that in mind, if you need to contact me, feel free to shoot me an email as I will be checking it limitedly.

Thanks for understanding and have a blessed month, y'all!

LOVE LOVE LOVE!!!

~Victoria Anderson

© 2015 The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson


backstabber or builder

Backstabber: one who betrays another under the guise of friendship; a person who acts positively in front but condemns or criticizes negatively behind back, usually in the form of gossip.

Have you ever found out that a close friend was really not close at all. That a respected acquaintance was secretly, viciously gossipping about you with hopes to damage and/or hurt you. This would be a person that at one time may have gained your trust enough that you felt comfortable sharing your feelings, experiences and challenges with. However, later you would learn that this individual would betray your trust and hurt your feelings. Their reasons could stem from jealous intent or opportunistic reward - but one thing rings true, they choose to backstab at your expense.

These are the two-faced artificial individuals who circulate bogus, harmful details about an unsuspecting person's reputation and character. They are synthetic people who display the same insincerity as a clandestine manipulator, a clever thief, or a cunning predator. They are fake people who give into their selfishness, scheming against their unsuspecting victims.

I'm sure you are cringing as you read about this kind of person. However... sadly, I think we've all been this person at one time or another in life. For who among us hasn't spoken against someone? Who has not sat in a clique of women and shared hurtful words or false statements that destroy, dishonor, defame or slander? If we were honest about it, I'm certain each one of us could confess that we've all thrown someone "under the bus" at some point in our lives. And whether we've been the victim or participant in backstabbing, it is important for us to understand the spiritual warfare and eternal implications that are present when such deceitfulness exists. For it is not our reptuation, but the Lord's name that we represent as His people. He is all that should be seen when others look at us. His is the character we should emulate when we speak. As Christians, we must ask Jesus to remove our lying lips and hateful hearts and replace them with His unending love and truth. We are instructed by Paul the following command, "Each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully of his neighbor, for we are all members of one body." (Ephesians 4:25) This is key for us to live together in Christ... authentically, transparently, honestly.

As women, we have been socially conditioned by our culture to be fake. Just look at the empty promises and false means of success that are imposed upon us from any magazine cover on display at your local grocery store. The sinful world lures us into thinking that only the strong, beautiful, intellectual, elite will survive. Our best life now can be achieved if we somehow find the secret to living better than the next gal... and with such success, we are promised to harness inner peace and be whole with the universe. Of course, we are not to make waves and attempt to address the true core issue of sin, for that would show weakness and the need for a perfect God. No, instead we are to maintain ourselves as super women who have and know everything. We are to emulate this model-perfect citizen at all costs. In short, we believe the lie that perceptions and rationalizations are more important than the status of our hearts and relationships. Phew! It is no wonder that we fall into the trap of backstabbing, lying, and gossipping against one another. We are clawing our way to the top of the proverbial ladder with hopes to find some form of satisfaction. But this world cannot satisfy.

If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other. (Galatians 5:15)

This world is against true love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, and goodness. This world can not grasp the love presented from a Savior that would wash the feet of a man named Judas while knowing full well that he would later be betrayed and sentenced to death because of that same man. This world can only hear about such love and ask in amazement, "What kind of love is this?" The answer will always point back to Jesus the Christ. His way is the only way for us to follow so that we can stay in truth with one another and avoid compromising ourselves to anything other than noble, pure intentions.

You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. (Ephesians 4:22-24)

Ladies, let's recommit our lives to walk with God and choose light over darkness in how we treat one another. Let's stop spreading hurt with our words and instead build up the body of His church. Let's pray and encourage one another to walk daily with Jesus. With Him, we can be satisfied and content. With Him we can edify and uphold one another. In Jesus Name, let's emulate His love to all the world and showcase a life of hope and peace... a life worth living in the name of our Messiah and Redeemer.

The LORD is near to all who call on Him, to all who call on Him in truth. (Psalms 145:18)

Blessings!

~Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Saturday, June 27, 2015

STAND FIRM & PRAY PRAY PRAY: The Full Armor of God Series (Part 6)

Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.

Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. (Ephesians 6:11-18)


As we wrap up our study on The Full Armor of God, it is most important to review the first and final instructions noted in Paul's letter in Ephesians 6. Paul wrote this passage knowing that mankind is unable to defeat Satan alone. He was full aware that without Christ and the armor of God, we would be overwhelmed and defeated by our enemy. So, Paul made sure to repeatedly tell us to stand firm in our God-given armor and hold true to our position in Jesus Christ.

Personally, I think one of the hardest things in the whole world is to stand firm. It goes against my best instincts to not hold up my fists while formulating my own plan of attack against those who want to hurt me. But this is not about me. Nor should it be about something that I accomplish to gain glory for myself. Rather, this is about how we are to ward off the enemy while giving God all the glory. It is clear that the only place our Heavenly Father expects us to be before, during, and after an attack from Satan is standing firm in God's armor and alert - in constant communication with our Maker.

Since Paul makes the point for us to stand firm and pray in the Spirit on ALL occasions, we should rethink the whole battle plan. For in truth, the exercise to stand firm should take place irrespective of Satan's presence or not. Regardless of our enemies, sin, or circumstances, we are to be most concerned about furthering our spiritual relationship with our Creator and lifting up our fellow believers to do the same. We must focus on the fact that our Master is really the One who has already defeated the prince of darkness. No matter how hard things can get or how tragic this world seems, He is the Shepherd who will ward off all danger and make His sheep lie down in green pastures while restoring our souls. He is the only One we should know... the only One we should be listening to... the only One we should follow and trust... the only One we should seek after.

Read these wonderful words of our Savior from John 10, "I tell you the truth, the man who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. The man who enters by the gate is the shepherd of his sheep. The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger's voice." Jesus used this figure of speech, but they did not understand what he was telling them. Therefore Jesus said again, "I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. All who ever came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand is not the shepherd who owns the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me - just as the Father knows me and I know the Father — and I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life — only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father."

Yes, we must be branded with the armor of our Lord. We must wear every piece with full confidence of God's intention and power to protect us, and we must be aware and ready for any attack that may challenge His authority by being equipped with His word. But to do this, it is most important that we make every effort to BE WITH OUR ALMIGHTY GOD.... ALWAYS!

Look again at what Paul says in Ephesians, "And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints."
What does a life of PRAYING IN THE SPIRIT look like? It is taking to heart Jesus' own words in John 15:4 when he tells us, "Remain in me, and I will remain in you." I especially love the wording used in the King James translation which says, "Abide in me, and I will abide in you."

Abide in Jesus. Commune with Him. Live with Him in ALL occasions. Worship and pray and communicate... eat, breathe, sleep, exercise, work, play... EVERYTHING with Him. Let your Spirit rejoice in His presence always. Experience this alone and together as His church. But remain with Him always! Because apart from being with Christ, we can do nothing.... we are nothing. Our identity is with Him. Our security is in Him. Our existence and life is only because of HIM.

With that in mind, let's not diminish the importance of being prepared and putting on the full armor He gives us. Each piece is vital to our life, and He calls us to wear His armor to remain free from the devil's schemes and avoid struggling with this sinful world. But let's not give Satan center stage on this (or any) matter. No, let's keep our focus on our wonderful Master. Let's give Him our full and undivided attention when it comes to His instructions regarding our safety and growth. Let's worship His Name when we read these verses because we know the battle is His. He took it all on. He saved us from eternal hardship when He died on the cross. He paid for us with His own blood.

Yes, the war is still on - and it is raging! But, ladies, the battle has already been won!!! Jesus is the victor! He is the King over all other kings and will not share His glory with another. The only fitting response to His love and protection for us is seeking Him daily in all occasions... praying... worshiping Him in the Spirit... remaining fully devoted to our Messiah.

Let's follow Paul's instructions and lift up Jesus name and seek Him in all forms of prayer: in public or in private... with our families, during small group meetings, in worship services, convocations... in our personal devotions, quiet meditations, with our families at mealtime... first thing in the morning and last thing in the evening... sporadically and scheduled. With our armor secure, let's confess our sinful inadequacies and lay them at His feet. Let's intercede for one another praying for those in danger, sickness, or crisis. Let's petition together to receive every gift of physical life and spiritual grace that He wants to bestow upon His people. Let's bow down in thanksgiving to Him for all He provides and gives us.

Yes, we can pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. We can stand firm in His armor to live fully and without worry about the attacks of our enemies. All we must do is abide in our Savior. For He has promised to abide in us!

Thank you, dear Jesus, for being our Shepherd. Thank you for giving us the necessary armor to protect us and ward off the wolves who wish to destroy us. We give you our full adoration that you are so worthy of and deserve. We focus all our energies on knowing and loving you with all our hearts. Help us to stand firm as we encounter your infinite holiness, majesty and perfection. There is no greater Master and Commander than you, our Holy Holy King. We will praise and trust you FOREVER!

Blessings!

~Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Friday, June 26, 2015

THE WORD OF GOD: The Full Armor of God Series (Part 5)

"To the Christian armed for defense in battle, the apostle recommends only one weapon of attack... the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. It subdues and mortifies evil desires and blasphemous thoughts as they rise within; and answers unbelief and error as they assault from without. A single text, well understood, and rightly applied, at once destroys a temptation or an objection, and subdues the most formidable adversary." ~Matthew Henry

God's Word is so important. In fact, EVERYTHING He has said (and not said) has proven to be instrumental and monumental for His people.

Think about it. God said, "Let there be light."... and by-golly there WAS light! Jesus said, "Peace. Be Still."... and a raging sea instantly became silent. If I tried that, nothing would happen. My words don't have that kind of power. To even get a glimpse of our Mighty Creator who spoke such words, we would need to be plugged in to the ultimate power source that He has preserved for us throughout all history... THE WORD OF GOD.

God's Word furnishes us with the ultimate offensive weapon... The Sword of the Spirit. It contains ideas which no human philosophy or theory could furnish. It stands on it's own and is alive and at work - even this very day. This living sword is faithfully backed by the mighty presence of the Holy Spirit and reinforced with our Savior's spoken promises. No enemy is capable of overcoming the Word of the Almighty God! NO ENEMY! WOO HOO!!!

This is why it is so important to know scripture like you know your own name. You see, if we take the time to understand the truth of our redemption, and then further grow in knowing God's thoughts while seeking to be guided by the Holy Spirit - our words will become His Words... our ways, His Ways. The more we become like Jesus, the more HE will guide us in how we are to live.

So, if we know what God has said... when the enemy appears, the right words at the right time will be available to us. We will be able to ward off an assault from the enemy as well as strike a telling blow for the sake of TRUTH. And the best part is, irrespective of Satan's attempts to thwart God's plan... if we confidently know the Words of our Master amidst all spiritual warfare, the love of Jesus Christ will work through us and claim the victory!

How cool is that?

By speaking His Holy Words against evil, we can be effective warriors in Jesus Name as well as avoid getting bogged down from strongholds presented by the enemy. I don't know about you, but that is definitely how I want to live!!! I want my weapon against that old snake to be Divine and not from my own bumbling lips!!! My own words will NEVER produce what God's Words already have!!!

His Word is our lamp! If we treasure what God says... if we keep Him in our heads and hearts, we can walk through life without fear. For with our Spirit's sword, we are able to boldly speak truth and drive away temptation and defeat. Because of this, we should study the Bible regularly so that we understand what TRUTH really is. We should have texts of Scripture at ready command, just as Jesus did when He was faced with temptation. Most importantly, we should always avoid seeking dependence on the reasoning of men. The fact is, one truth from scripture is better than all the philosophy and mental wisdom the best minds of this world could ever produce. NOTE: Satan is able to successfully debate and reason plausibly with the rational of mankind, but he is unable to resist the direct and unchanging commands declared by God Almighty!

Ladies, we must always be ready and at the offensive in this matter. Temptation often appears suddenly and can easy ensnare us. We do not want to be confused or misdirected as Eve was by the wicked enemy. We must be prepared with a solid understanding of scripture to drive the Tempter away. Otherwise, we can lose our bearings and eternal focus.

I encourage each of you to ask God to give you a mind to study His Word daily. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you and prepare you for what is to come. We must carry His sword with us - always ready to combat the enemy's assaults. (And trust me, he will indeed assault us... and assault hard!) So, study God's Word and show yourself approved. Rightly divide the word of truth. Meditate on His commands day and night. KNOW HIM and you will be able to ward off Satan in Jesus Name!

Blessed is he that readeth and they that hear the words of this prophecy; and keep those things which are written therein; for the time is at hand. (Revelation 1:3)

Lord Jesus, give all DW Flowers your DIVINE POWER! Help us to withstand the enemy with the armor you have provided us. Thank you for Your powerful Words of LIFE, that we may not only defend ourselves - but go on the offensive and boldly advance your Kingdom! We will hide your commands in our hearts so that we will not sin against you! Help us to always be aware of the evil that surrounds us. Give us Your scripture and guide us in TRUTH. See us through each trial successfully. We wish only to please and glorify you, Father. Provide us with intimate glimpses of how wonderful our eternity will be in your perfect presence - - secured in your gracious, loving arms! You are faithful, precious Lord! We love and trust you FOREVER!

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

Blessings!!!

~Victoria

P.S. Tomorrow, we will wrap up this series by discussing PRAYER and STANDING FIRM! WOO HOO! Keep that armor secure, ladies. LOVE YOU ALL!

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Thursday, June 25, 2015

FAITH & SALVATION: The Full Armor of God Series (Part 4)

Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.

Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. (Ephesians 6:11-18)


Are you headed in the right direction?

For me, it is interesting and quite sad to observe the many, many, MANY people who thoughtlessly claim Christianity as their "religion of choice". Yes, I said "claiming a religion" rather than actually following Christ. You see, most "Christians" of today are not really devoted to seek after and obey Jesus. Sure, many state to be followers of the Messiah, but unfortunately they do not produce any actual fruit in their lives.

Their profile is generally the same: They do not participate in any form of regular public worship or Bible study. They are not involved with a church family. They rarely step outside of their comfort zone to love those that are viewed unlovable. They never, never, NEVER tithe or give a percentage of any amount of income to further God's kingdom or rely on His provision. They hardly consider reading scripture much less worry about memorizing the Word. They rarely pray or make time to be alone with God. They are undisciplined in seeking the Savior daily... in fact, it is often the least important matter to them and falls last on their long list of priorities (as an afterthought that they didn't meet on their daily to do list).

Frankly, in my eyes, these "Christians" appear to be exactly the same as those lost and unsaved in this world. Their only difference is their need to say otherwise - making a point to appear and sound like other Christians (just enough to get by). But if you look closely - if you focus on what they do rather than what they say - you will see a person that remains in in the same spiritually place year after year after year.

No place.

Interestingly enough, these are usually the folks that are the most vocal about questioning God's intentions and complaining about what is wrong. They are usually hot tempered or easily depressed... or both! They truly believe that their life on earth should yield the worldly mindset of "living their best life now" and are unable to find rest without some kind of assurance that God will produce as they have romanticized and imagined. So, they seek outside answers from anyone who claims to be an expert - even those of secular, worldly authority. They are not convinced that just abiding with God is enough. No, they must know the purpose He has set out for them to do, so they can do it NOW! They must know every detail, every outcome, every timeline - especially just how long their trials and dry spells will last. They must have the blueprints to how this whole "life" thing will turn out so they can drive (rather than God). They must KNOW everything so they can best control and plan and scheme.

Usually, somewhere between the joyful and difficult circumstances of their day-to-day, they may hear a motivating statement that puts their restless heart temporarily at ease. With that motivation, they fool themselves into thinking they are emotionally close to God... they can "feel" Him. Of course, at the first sign of trouble, their "faith" wavers in tandem with their present situation and mood, after which the questioning cycle begins all over again.

These people are followers, just not of Christ. They seek only to learn some great quotes and possibly a little scripture by means of others who (in their eyes) may seem enlightened or wise. But never, ever do these "Christians" personally turn to God's Word and trust the Holy Spirit to lead them in their daily walk. No, the Bible is just too difficult to read and study. It requires entirely too much time and energy. Surely, God will show them His truth some other way... an easier way.

These are the lukewarm that make-up the majority of our "Christian" society. The lost who state they are found and turn faith into opportunity. These are the "Christians" who are consumed with SELF rather than SERVICE. POWER rather than HIS PRESENCE. WISHES rather than WORSHIP. COMFORT rather than CHRIST.

I know these "Christians" all too well. In fact, I was once one of them. Sadly, they show up here on DW, in our churches... even in our families. They are relatives, friends, acquaintances... and, if you look close enough, you may even see some leading as pastors, spiritual teachers, musicians and authors. Worse yet... perhaps this "Christian" is you...?

It is here where I will begin our study on the Shield of FAITH and the Helmet of SALVATION. A shield and helmet that compliment their effectiveness against a wicked, relentless enemy that wants us DEAD spiritually and physically. These pieces of vital armor will offer us the cornerstone of Jesus Christ who by his abundant grace and mercy offered HIMSELF as a sacrifice on our behalf, so that we may find fullness and true love while living in His presence forever. Please read the following quotes below... these are some of my favorites concerning faith and salvation:

"The real issue in life is not the search for God's will; it is the search for God. The issue in faith is not knowing what God is doing, rather it is knowing that God knows what he is doing. The issue of faith is seeking God's presence, not God's plan for my life, because there is no plan outside of my knowing Him." ~Mike Yaconelli

"Faith is God's work in us, that changes us and gives new birth from God. (see John 1:13). It kills the Old Adam and makes us completely different people. It changes our hearts, our spirits, our thoughts and all our powers. It brings the Holy Spirit with it. Yes, it is a living, creative, active and powerful thing, this faith. Faith cannot help doing good works constantly. It doesn't stop to ask if good works ought to be done, but before anyone asks, it already has done them and continues to do them without ceasing. Anyone who does not do good works in this manner is an unbeliever. He stumbles around and looks for faith and good works, even though he does not know what faith or good works are. Yet he gossips and chatters about faith and good works with many words. Faith is a living, bold trust in God's grace, so certain of God's favor that it would risk death a thousand times trusting in it. Such confidence and knowledge of God's grace makes you happy, joyful and bold in your relationship to God and all creatures. The Holy Spirit makes this happen through faith. Because of it, you freely, willingly and joyfully do good to everyone, serve everyone, suffer all kinds of things, love and praise the God who has shown you such grace. Thus, it is just as impossible to separate faith and works as it is to separate heat and light from fire! Therefore, watch out for your own false ideas and guard against good-for-nothing gossips, who think they're smart enough to define faith and works, but really are the greatest of fools. Ask God to work faith in you, or you will remain forever without faith, no matter what you wish, say or can do." ~Martin Luther

Ladies, to wear the armor that God has provided us as stated in Ephesians 6... to fend off the enemy from the horrors that he most certainly will throw our way... we must believe in Jesus and accept His gift of salvation. Then we must continue to ask Him to keep our faith strong while we spend the rest of eternity seeking God's Holy presence and believing He is WHO He promised.

It is true freedom to be able to give everything to Him. It is freedom to know the promises of our trustworthy Creator. We are to love Him more than our own families, more than our spouses, more than our children... MORE THAN OUR OWN LIVES! For He is bigger than all that - for what we see and know in this world is only temporary. But God is eternal. To hold His shield and wear His helmet... to wear His belt, to secure His breastplate, and to strap on His shoes... we must pick up each piece of His armor and PUT THEM ON... FOREVER! We must never remove them! We must always SEEK HIM! Our lives will be abundant and full, not because we find something to do, some purpose to fulfill. Rather, HE is our something! JESUS is our purpose!!! Our lives will be abundant and full BECAUSE WE ARE WITH HIM... ATTACHED AND CLINGING TO HIM! SEEKING HIS FACE! WEARING HIS GRACE! SHOWCASING HIS MERCY! BELIEVING HIS WORDS! SHARING HIS MESSAGE! TRUSTING HIS PLAN!

Ladies, all we must do to LIVE is remain close to Him.
Are you close to Him?

Tomorrow, we will discuss the Sword of the Spirit... THE WORD OF GOD. Until then, I encourage you to take time out to assess your relationship with Christ. Are you a real Christian or a lukewarm "Christian"? Do you follow Him as He has called you to do? Do you seek Him over anyone/anything else? Is He greater to you than your own life? Do you trust Him no matter what?

Be honest. Does your Christian life produce spiritual fruit?
Are you headed in the right direction?
Or are you in the same spiritual place year after year after year?

I pray the Holy Spirit will work in each of us. I pray for spiritual revival in all DW's. I pray that this little ministry will produce fruit that domino effects the love of Jesus to our homes, churches, communities, and countries. I pray that our Christianity will represent following Jesus at all cost! I trust my Savior and know that He is EVERYTHING! I pray you will join me and know His fullness personally. When the enemy attacks and tries to steer me away, I will raise my shield and secure my helmet with the assurance of His salvation and the hope found safely with my Master!

Sweet Jesus, please show me more and more of You. I seek you alone and put aside everything else! Be Thou My Vision.... nothing else, precious King.... only YOU!

Blessings!

~Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

READINESS: The Full Armor of God Series (Part 3)

When I was a little girl, every Thursday my father would walk several blocks with me so that I could attend my weekly piano lesson from a kind musician in our neighborhood. My father would faithfully sit in their living room and listen to me tinker away at the keys for an hour. He never said a word, he would just sit and smile and listen. It didn't matter to him how many times I missed a note or rushed through a piece, he just enjoyed the music and the fact that his little girl was learning and growing in his presence.

Before I continue in my story, I must tell you a fact or two about my father. At the age of 14 years old, my father was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes. Throughout his life, he always took great care of himself to try and offset the physical problems that were promised to exist from this hindrance. By the time he married my mother, he was required to take an insulin shot every morning. By the time I was old enough to take piano lessons, he had lost both his eyes to blindness as a result of the disease. Years after that, his body ultimately began to break down, his kidneys and heart began to fail him, and he passed on to be with Jesus when I was a young teenager. Unaware of all he truly endured due to childish naivete, I have always felt extremely blessed that during the short part of my life that my father was alive, I happily and selfishly had him home all to myself to enjoy as my daddy and playmate... I was his little princess and we loved every second we were together.

Before his vision got worse... before his eyes had to be removed, he slowly and graciously gave up the things he had always known and taken for granted. He no longer would be able to work in his job downtown, drive a car, watch a movie, see a sunset, or experience the simple freedom to go anywhere he wished without an escort or the aid of a cane.

Although my parents were faced with a great challenge to raise their two children AND deal with all the emotional and physical matters surrounding blindness, from my perspective as a young, blondie-blonde ball of fluff... to have daddy home all the time was HEAVEN! Sure, we all had to learn quickly to keep everything in its place so that he would not trip and fall over toys. But daddy also made it fun... He would institute "blind days" where my brother and I would be blindfolded for a period of time so that we too could experience the "fun" and try and maneuver as daddy was learning to do.

So fast forward back to my piano lessons. One Thursday, on our walk to my lesson, my daddy was hanging onto me with one arm and using his cane to "feel" ahead on the sidewalk. He normally wore a cowboy hat, because earlier he had learned it was a great way to protect his face and head against any unwelcome damage in case he accidentally walked into something. The height and wide brim were perfect for such a need. As strange as it sounds, daddy's blindness was as normal to me as breathing. He and Momba had always made a point to keep my brother and myself in tune to his health issues and then work together as a family to overcome any inconvenience it may produce. So, my dad's blindness was just another "thing" that made our family unique.

Anyway, as we walked down the sidewalk, I noticed a small branch hanging from a nearby tree. Because I didn't consider my father as "handicapped" in the traditional sense, my stinker side saw an opportunity to zing him. When we reached the small branch, I stopped walking and yelled in haste, "Daddy, JUMP!"... to which my poor father without hesitation....well, jumped!!! The small branch bopped the top of his cowboy hat and I giggled. After which, he realized that I was pranking him and started to laugh as well. He then hugged and tickled my sides and we proceeded on to my piano lesson where he could enjoy the live performance of his only daughter. Later, this little story was told and retold (and even published in a few newspapers who were reporting about my father) because God had used my father to become a great speaker and witness for Christ to the blind community. God used my daddy's blindness as a means to teach others with similar disabilities how to still LIVE an abundant life in Jesus.

So, now to today... as we continue our study on God's armor, let's think about fitting our feet with the READINESS that comes from the gospel of peace. Are you ready? Are you prepared and available for service, action, and progress for the sake of God's kingdom? If God stops you in an uncertain path where you cannot see what is ahead... and if He tells you to JUMP... are you ready to JUMP without hesitation? Do you trust His leading? I promise you, God will never try to pull a fast one on you. He will never attempt to zing you. He will never be a "stinker" like I was to my good humored father. No, God always has good intentions and a plan to get you safely where you need to go so that you may best serve His glorious purpose. All you need be is willing. Despite any handicaps you may feel you have, God has a purpose that you alone were created to fulfill for the sake of His Kingdom.

As Christians, we should lace up our shoes and always have a mindset of eagerness to walk where He needs us to walk. We should be prepared for God to do a great work in us. We should be ready to do whatever He tells us, without question... always seeking His ways with an earnest mindset so that no matter what trials we may face, we will conquer them all in Jesus Name.

Ladies, remember that you are not your own. No matter how hard things may seem, if you have claimed Jesus, you belong to Him... and He can clearly see everything that is ahead of you. So, secure His TRUTH around you... clothe yourself in His RIGHTEOUS authority... and BE READY to follow His guidance at all cost! Even if you can't see ahead... trust Him and march on!

And I will bring the blind by a way that they knew not; I will lead them in paths that they have not known: I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight. These things will I do unto them, and not forsake them. (Isaiah 42:16)

Blessings!

~Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

P.S.  For those interested, here are some of the articles written about my wonderful Daddy...






Tuesday, June 23, 2015

RIGHTEOUSNESS: The Full Armor of God Series (Part 2)


Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.

Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. (Ephesians 6:11-18)


Yesterday, I wrote to you about TRUTH and why it is so important to thoroughly know and accept God's Word as absolute and unchanging truth. With the Belt of Truth secured around us, we can refuse the lies that Satan tries to deceive us with because we have complete certainty in our Master's promises and intentions. If we know who our Lord is, and who we are in Him, we are able to stand our ground when Satan attempts to deceive and misguide us.

Now, let's talk about RIGHTEOUSNESS...

When Chuck and I used to drive together to our office, we'd pass a middle school in our community. On average, the school generated a large amount of morning and afternoon traffic. With so many school buses, parents stopping and dropping, and the regular flow of commuters going about their day, our county assigned a police officer to direct the comings and goings of vehicles that drive in front of the school. Usually the police officer stood in the middle of the road - acting as a human stop light while directing when vehicles may or may not pass. It was inevitable that our car was always the one the police officer choose to waive down to a complete STOP so that the yellow parade of school buses could easily deliver their pubescent cargo without hassle.

Now, imagine if one day Chuck had decided to outright disregard the authority of that police officer and ignore his direction for us to STOP. Pretend that we willfully decided to pay no attention to his uniform, his badge, and the laws that he was upholding as a representative of our community. Instead, suppose we chose too blatantly drive through, putting others at risk and jeopardizing the flow of traffic. What would happen?

I am certain that down the road we would quickly be reminded of the power that police officer had backing him. We would likely be pursued and surrounded by the flashing lights of several police cars and be held accountable for our crime before a judge at a later date.

Now think of the Breastplate of Righteousness mentioned in Ephesians 6. This is our uniform, our badge of power and authority. If we were just some random person trying to direct traffic in the street, it is likely that many commuters would ignore our direction and just drive on by. However, once we put on the police uniform our claim to authority changes. Why? Because now we are displaying a power and authority that is bigger than our own. The same is true against Satan. Without God's authority backing us, Satan will run over people like a semi-truck. However, for those of us who believe in Jesus and have accepted Him as Savior, we can dress ourselves in the authority and power that He holds. We wear the uniform that is covered by the Blood of the Lamb... the standard for all that is holy and upright. Since we have chosen to live under His authority, we are protected by His authority.

It is very important to understand that our commitment for righteousness must be modeled after Christ. It is a daily sacrifice and ongoing devotion to seek out and follow Jesus' example in striving to live a sinless and holy life. To do this, we must daily put aside our selfish desires and instead clothe ourselves with His power and authority. We must not overlook that the breastplate is intended to protect our vital organs while in battle. With the protective boundaries it provides, our hearts are able to enjoy our Almighty Father's love without fear of being wounded. Our lungs are able to breathe in our Comforter's peace without gasping or being suffocated. Our stomachs are able to digest God's Word without the gall of being exasperated.

The Bible says in Matthew 5:6, "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled."

Ladies, we must hunger and thirst for righteousness the same way we look for food to nourish our bodies every day. It must be a regular part of our daily routine to seek out Christ and follow His example. To be full, and to hold authority against the devil, we must clothe ourselves in the righteous and purifying blood of Jesus! We must represent Him and not ourselves.

In Christ, we represent the authority of God Almighty. By His Holy Name we are covered!!!

Blessings!

~Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Monday, June 22, 2015

TRUTH: The Full Armor of God Series (Part 1)

TRUTH: People believe lies. Lots of lies. Lies about God. Lies about their identity. Lies about true beauty. Lies about real love and intimacy. Lies about security. Lies about what is healthy. Lies about EVERYTHING. People believe these lies over and over and over again.

One of my husbands favorite movies is The Usual Suspects. Although it is definitely a "guy movie" that poses too much violence and vulgarity for my taste, I do acknowledge that it does have a great line in it where the villain makes a very profound statement. He says, "The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he doesn't exist." The statement was actually coined from an early piece of literature entitled The Generous Gambler written by Charles Pierre Baudelaire, a nineteenth century French poet. Nonetheless, it is an interesting concept to consider, don't you think? The devil lies to us about EVERYTHING, including himself. Instead of acknowledging his plans to derail us and calling him out as the snake he clearly is, we forget his corrupted existence.... we forget his sinful motives... we forget his malicious intent, and instead... we believe his lies. I must admit, that is a good trick... but not one that I wish to be the patsy of.

So, to avoid further confusion, let me tell you a few things about Satan. (a.k.a. - The Father of Lies!!!) Let me share the TRUTH about who we are up against... who is behind the deceptive schemes and half-truths that we easily fall prey into believing.

Satan can only produce evil. His goal is to blind the eyes of those who don't believe in Jesus, and to cause those who do to stumble and question their faith and worth. He is an accuser, a tempter, a deceiver, a slanderer, a thief, a counterfeit. He is tireless to destroy and ruthless to mislead. His very name means “adversary” or “one who opposes.” Even though he was cast out of heaven, he still seeks to elevate his throne above Almighty God by fraudulently imitating all that God does with the hope to gain the worship of men and encourage opposition toward God's kingdom. He is tireless in his quest and extremely intelligent, clever, full of pride, and powerful... but not more powerful than our God. Satan will do anything and everything he can to oppose God and those who follow Jesus. He is Beelzebub, the prince of the devils. The constant enemy of God, of Christ, of the divine kingdom, of the followers of Christ, and of all truth; full of falsehood and all malice - seducing to evil in every possible way. He is a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. He has no mercy, no grace, no hope. His only wish for mankind is to separate us from our Creator. He wants us defeated, shamed, guilt-ridden, tormented, depressed, heavily burdened. In short, he wants us DEAD.

So, do you really want to continue believing what Satan has to say? I sure don't.

WHY do we believe Satan's lies? I am convinced it is because many people accept Christ's gift of salvation but then forget to unwrap and use the contents of the fitted armor that accompanies that gift. So, let's take a look at what God's armor includes. Let's read Ephesians 6:11-18 and see what the scripture says about the Armor of God...

"Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints."

The first element of our armor is the Belt of Truth. How wonderful would it be if we actually secured this around our waist, wrapping ourselves with God's promises in our daily lives? God considers deception to be an abomination. In Proverbs 6, He tells us that a “lying tongue” is detestable to Him. We are therefore exhorted to "put on truth" for our own sanctification and deliverance, as well as for the benefit of those to whom we witness. What would happen if we just decided to do this... to speak only truthful words to ourselves and others, and to secure our position in the truthful promises of our King rather than believe the lies of the enemy? We would be free indeed! Freedom to look at ourselves, our future, our capabilities, our existence in an entirely new way. This is not news to be put aside or forgotten. This is all part of the GOOD NEWS that must be told and re-told... studied and memorized... sought after and lived every single day - for all eternity!

As Christians, we must be confident in what God has promised to us. His truth assures us that God is good. We are royalty and children of the King of Kings. We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. True beauty is a reflection of who we are in Jesus because all things become new and perfect in Him. There is no greater love than the love of our Father in Heaven. The Lord will provide and take care of us because He treasures us over all other creation. We were lost but are now found. And most importantly.... nothing.... NOTHING can separate us from the love of our Father!!!

Ladies, secure that belt and believe these promises. Put your whole trust in the ONE who is faithful, constant, righteous and holy. No matter what happens in your life - remember that those who have accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior have been redeemed and belong only to God. Satan does not have ANY authority over us! So, measure and evaluate what comes your way by these guidelines: (1) Everything that is good is from God and is TRUE; (2) Everything that is not good is of the devil and is a LIE. (3) If you find yourself in a situation that is not good - WAKE UP, GIVE IT TO GOD, AND TRUST YOUR KING! (4) If you feel yourself reverting to old belief systems that tear you down - WAKE UP, GIVE IT TO GOD, AND TRUST YOUR KING! (5) No matter how many issues Satan thows your way with the intent to convince you that you are "less" or that God is unfaithful... DO NOT BELIEVE SATAN'S LIES! WAKE UP! GIVE IT TO GOD! TRUST YOUR KING!

Tighten that belt strap and BELIEVE THE PROMISES OF YOUR KING!

TRUTH: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." Believe the Living Word of God, Jesus Christ. He is Truth. He is King. He is the Christ who came to reveal God to man and redeem all who believe in His Name. Believe Him and be FREE!

Jesus answered, "I am the way and the TRUTH and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:6)

Blessings!

~Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Sunday, June 21, 2015

the day my father smiled

Today... especially today on Father's Day, I am always reminded of the day my father died. Now, you are probably thinking, "Oh great - this is going to be a blog full of bummers."

On the contrary... it may sound crazy, but my Father in Heaven gave me the greatest gift when my father on earth passed into glory many years ago.

As some of you already know, my father was diagnosed very early in his life with juvenile diabetes. By the time he married my mother, he was required to take an insulin shot every morning. By the time I was a little girl, he had lost both of his eyes to blindness. Years after that, his body ultimately began to break down, his kidneys and heart began to fail him, and he passed on to be with Jesus when I was a young pre-teen. Now, it may sound silly, but the day my dad died was one of the greatest and most rewarding days of my life spiritually. Let me share with you why...

My brother and I had spent that day with family members because Momba (my mother) was at the hospital by daddy's side. It was not unusual since we had grown accustom to my father being in the hospital for one reason or another. His health was just not good. So, after a day of hanging out with older cousins, we headed to the hospital to reunite with my mother. When I got there, the room was filled to capacity with family members. I remember realizing at that very moment that daddy was gone.

As I surveyed the room in what seemed like slow motion, I looked at the sad faces of those I held most dear.... my mom, brother, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. I was about to burst into tears, when an overwhelming thought came over me. "Vicki, your mother just lost her husband. Your grandparents just lost their only son. Your brother just lost his father. Your aunt just lost her brother... etc." Immediately, I felt compelled to start comforting everyone in the room. I'm not sure if it was the healthiest response. But at the time, all I could think of was how I would have time to grieve in the days to come, but my family needed my love NOW. (Especially my older brother who it seemed to hit the hardest.)

The day was filled with tears and family members uniting together. My mother was incredibly vulnerable yet incredibly filled with the strength of the Holy Spirit while we walked to the lobby with the last remaining visitor. Then, for whatever reason, Momba said to my brother and I, "Let's run up the stairs and try and see daddy one more time before the coroner takes him away." With that, the three of us, like little children, ran up several flights of stairs to be alone with my father's body one last time.

When we reached my father's room, his body was still in the bed. My mother, brother and I walked over to kiss him for the last time. I remember thinking, here was a man who suffered physically the entire time I knew him. He endured horrible pain every single day. He gave up his sight. He lost all control of his organs. He had more burdens placed upon him than anyone I'd ever known. Here was a father who never complained about his physical issues, but rather used them to teach his children about God's grace and ultimately became an advocate for others suffering from the same ailments. Here was a man who made blindness tolerable and taught others with the same disability how to keep Christ first in their life. Here was a husband who had an uphill battle from the beginning... and many questioned if he and Momba should even have married to begin with because they would have very few "normal" years to enjoy. But they did, and the Lord blessed them with family and short but precious time together that transcended all things normal - bringing God personally to their home as they lived together trusting Him each day. I would not be alive today without the faithful walk of my father. There would be no family legacy from his life had he listened to all those who did not believe in God's grace and plan.

While the three of us entered into the hospital room, my mother, brother and I prepared ourselves for the worst... we knew his body would appear lifeless and defeated. It had endured so much. Now, daddy's life on earth was over. Yet... as we approached him, we were surprised to find the body of a man who had a smile... yes, a SMILE on his face. A smile that was not there only moments before when we were in the room with the whole family. A smile that confirmed so much spiritually.

When we saw my father for the last time, we instantly knew that his hospital room was FILLED TO CAPACITY with angels rejoicing and welcoming him HOME! We knew that he would never feel pain again. We knew that the first face he saw after years living without sight was JESUS precious face! We knew that the only organs he would every need to think about again, would be the kind playing worship hymns to his faithful Savior! We knew he no longer had any burdens! Praise the most Holy Lord of Lords - my father was smiling!!! What a memory to leave with your children. What confirmation to leave with your spouse. Even through death God has a plan to open doors to those who believe in Him. If ever my father... my Father... wished to offer us a LIVING lesson displaying the secure certainty of eternal salvation with Jesus... in this last moment - there it was. A smile. Thank you, Lord.

Throughout my own life, I have been faced with countless blessings and trials. However, no matter how difficult things have been, the Holy Spirit frequently reminds me of the day my father smiled. As the years continue to pass, I'm comforted to know that my daddy is still smiling with Jesus in heaven. He is free, healthy and at his happiest. I know that he is there celebrating with the angels each time those same family members who visited his hospital bed arrive into glory... my grandfather and grandmother (his earthly parents), my aunts, uncles, etc. As I type this with tears of joy, I know he will be there when I leave this world. I know he will be one of those rejoicing the loudest when I too see my Savior for the first time.

Blessed be the Name of our generous Father in Heaven. He is so real, ladies. He is so wonderful. Do not let this world of sin and especially death turn your eyes away from His grace. Instead, rejoice with me and SEE HIS GLORY. The best... the very best of our Redeemer is only a breath away. Time will pass, but His kingdom comes... His will is being done! Live each day remembering that! Amen!

"I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die." (John 11:25-26)

Thank you, Jesus.

Blessings!

~Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Thursday, June 18, 2015

what do you have?

What do you have? Do you have clothes on your back?... Shoes on your feet?... Food to eat?... Family?... Friends?... Access to health care and medicine?... Gainful employment or the opportunity to find work?... Do you have shelter... furniture... a bed to sleep on at night? How about a pillow and blanket for that bed? Do you have a means of transportation?... Will you eat a meal today? Will you talk on the phone, read a newspaper, hear music, watch television?

What do you have?

Did you know that over two billion people in the world live on less than $2 per day; and 1.1 billion of them live on less than $1 per day. Few have ever received more than a high school education. Many cannot even read. Several will die because they do not have basic medical care. In fact, there are over one billion people who are undernourished. Worse, there are over 1.4 billion people on our planet with no access to safe drinking water. Today alone, almost 9,500 people will die from hunger.

I think it is extremely easy to focus on what we don't have and forget about what we do. In truth, many of us have more than we realize. We are wealthy in the eyes of the world economy. The mere fact that we have the resources to be on the Internet right now rather than living in a cardboard box and eating garbage to survive is saying something. Furthermore, many of us enjoy freedom in our countries to openly pray and worship without fear of being locked away or worse. We are able to congregate in church each Sunday... We are blessed to be able to read our own translated version of God's Word without worry of death and persecution.

What do you have?

Rather than worry about what you do not have, I encourage you to stop and think about all the blessings you do have? Whenever you find yourself questioning God's provision for your life, please stop to remember the hope we have in our eternal salvation and heed the words of our Savior regarding our needs being met while we are here on earth. Jesus said in Matthew 6, "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." (Matthew 6:25-34)

Ladies, let's thank God for the gracious gifts He continues to give us. Let's share His love to others as He provides for our needs. Let's stop worrying about what we do not have and leave our fears and selfish worries on His altar. Instead, let's seek Him first and share His love to others. We have more than we could ever need because we have LIFE eternal. Praise God from whom all blessings flow. We have blessings beyond measure in the safe care of our Father in heaven. Let's never forget we belong to Him and He is faithful to those that love Him.

What do you have? You have Jesus!

Blessing!

Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

let there be light


Let there be light...

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and He separated the light from the darkness. God called the light "day," and the darkness he called "night." And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day. (Genesis 1:1-5)

And God said, "Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years, and let them be lights in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth." And it was so. God made two great lights—the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. God set them in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth, to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the fourth day. (Genesis 1:14-19)

Isn't it interesting that God's initial decree of light is not the light of the sun? In fact, according to scripture, the sun, moon and stars were created on day four in the creation account. So what gave our new earth this "good" light approved by the Spirit of God? What separted our planet from darkeness and allowed the very first evening and morning to occur?

Let's look at John 9 - where Jesus restores the blind man's sight. Read with me these verses:

As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?" "Neither this man nor his parents sinned," said Jesus, "but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life. As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world." Having said this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man's eyes. "Go," he told him, "wash in the Pool of Siloam" (this word means Sent). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing. His neighbors and those who had formerly seen him begging asked, "Isn't this the same man who used to sit and beg?" Some claimed that he was. Others said, "No, he only looks like him." But he himself insisted, "I am the man." "How then were your eyes opened?" they demanded. He replied, "The man they call Jesus made some mud and put it on my eyes. He told me to go to Siloam and wash. So I went and washed, and then I could see."

Isn't it interesting that this disabled man was blind from birth? I find it also interesting that the disciples first question to God about his blindness was, "Why?" Why was he blind? What sin did he or his parents do to cause such a horrible situation to come about? Why God... why? But look at Jesus answer, "Neither this man nor his parents sinned," said Jesus, "but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life. As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world."

Wow, let there be light indeed! For here in these passages, Jesus claims Himself as the Light of the world. Jesus is the physical, viewable personhood of the Spirit of the Most Divine. He is God in human flesh. He is the good light that separates our days and nights. Here in John chapter 9, Jesus showcases His governance over our universe by healing a man who was unable to see light. He repaired what could not be repaired. He restored what could not be restored. And how did Jesus do this? How did he change this man's life and allow Him the priviledge to see? With the very earth that God originally formed man in His own image. With the ground He created for man's feet to tread. He covered the man's eyes with mud and then told him to wash it off in order to see.

Notice that the blind man could not obtain his sight or be saved from his trial without first choosing to obey Jesus. In order to be healed, he had to first do as Christ instructed. He had to follow-through in His belief. So he "went and washed"... afterwhich He could see. WOW! What a testimony. For I'm sure this man had endured much ridicule and sorrow from unkind strangers. I'm sure he was pitied and scoffed at and viewed by others who knew him as helpless or worthless. So, this blind man could have thought Jesus to be another hurtful or even unkind person... someone just messing with his condition and giving Him false hope. Sure, the blind man's response could have been to rub the mud from his eyes with his hands and respond in anger or pride while refusing our Lord's offer. But instead, he obeyed.

Note: I'm sure it was no small feet to find the place Jesus told Him to go wash either. He had to do the work to find his way to the pool where God sent him. But, ahh, the reward he received. Can you imagine his eyes intaking the light for the first time? Can you imagine the joy... the splendor... the miracle? Once blind, this man could now see! He was restored, renewed. The Light of the world had revealed Himself... and this man saw that He was good! And now, this man once blind could not move forward in His new life without showcasing and displaying God's glory. For it was impossible for those who knew him before to miss the change. It was impossible to ignore the proof of restoration and the message such evidence conveyed... Jesus can heal what man cannot! Jesus can save where man cannot! JESUS IS LORD OF ALL!

As a believer who claims Christ as King, my life must also be one that displays God's glory. Just like the blind man, I must be willing to obey Jesus' instruction in order for me to be blessed and renewed... to see and experience His Light! In Matthew 5 when Jesus began to preach, He instructed His followers, "You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven." (Matthew 5:14-16)

Did you get that? Not only is Jesus the self-proclaimed Light of the world, but he has called his people to shine His light... to represent Him before men. Why? So that others will see His goodness through our good deeds - the work of God. So that God may receive all the glory and praise.

Ladies, our universe cannot exist without God's Light. Evening and morning cannot continue without the presence of the Master. In His love, God commanded, "Let there be light," and gave mankind a home of priveledge to walk in His image... to glorify His magnificence... to be a beacon of His love... to know Him intimately. But sadly, our decision to sin and seek selfishness defiled man's sight, corrupting our hearts. Our vision was lost and we became blind, lost, poor, pitiful. But thankfully, the Savior... our loving, merciful Savior offered Himself as a sacrifice to cleanse us of this handicap and restore us to completion. He made Himself human... earthly... from the dust of the ground... so that we may receive Him and eternally know His glory firsthand. Jesus dying on the cross and raising Himself from death proves that Jesus can heal what man cannot! Jesus can save where man cannot! JESUS IS LORD OF ALL!

If we faithfully believe and obey Him... if we live seeking after His blessed gift of restoration... we will be able to admire and enjoy His majesty and love forever. In turn, we will be blessed to worship and know Him as we live mirroring His image. We will glorify Him by shining His presence to others. We will beam in victory because He is the Light that has shown us the safe path home to His kingdom! Can you see Him? Are you even looking?

I ask you to consider these questions: Does your life display God's light? Does your heart showcase His headship? Do your actions resemble His ways? Does your message claim His grace? Does your world spotlight a Savior? For He is indeed good and instructs us to share His message of redemption TODAY...

"Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation." (Mark 16:15)

Ladies, this is the day... let there be LIGHT!

Blessings!

~Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Saturday, June 13, 2015

the behavior of true love (part 6)

It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.

He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”

Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”

“No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.”

Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”

“Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!”

Jesus answered, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.” For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean.

When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them. (John 13:1-17)


As we wrap up this blog series in John 13, let's focus on the final lesson our Teacher demonstrated to his twelve within this scriptural account. Remember, everything Christ did during this last meal was symbolic of His willing sacrifice and the future security of His followers. As such, once Jesus finished giving these men the good news of His new covenant and upcoming kingdom... once He ceremonially broke bread and drank wine, giving them means to remember His earthly sacrifice as our Passover Lamb... then Jesus shared one final lesson to show us how those in His new kingdom are called to behave.

This is Jesus, the King of kings, who lowers Himself so that men might be redeemed. The Master who confidently knows exactly who He is in the eyes of His Father, and is able to extend that same confidence to His beloved friends - friends that He would love to the end! Soon, His earthly goal would be complete. Soon, His death on the cross would guarantee our eternal freedom from sin and death. Do we fully understand this, and what He has done for us?

Here, our Teacher takes off His coat, pulls up His sleeves, and wraps a towel around his waist. He has come ready to wash our feet so that we may walk clean once again. He is ready to serve us. Ready to display His humility in the most demeaning and holy way in order to prove to us that His love is unchanging. This is the behavior of true love, isn't it? For to fully extend love to another, one must be willing to surrender over themselves... their whole self! One must humbly approach their beloved with kindness and gentleness - girding themself as a slave so that the other might be lifted higher. This is the true love in which God's kingdom stands, and Jesus is it's Cornerstone. His love fulfills all requirements of God's law. His love never fails. His love promises life to the fullest!

Yes, in this lesson, Jesus calls each of us to know Him as a close, intimate friend. His love assures us that servanthood and obedience to His Word are the only proven Way to know victory and remain healthy. He urges us to always, ALWAYS, believe His truths. To never waiver from His plan. To reject the enemy who lurks and preys about, and instead focus on His coming kingdom. Focus always on the Passover Lamb! Forever remember His body, His blood, His sacrifice, His promise to save!

And, if we are indeed His friends (if we love Jesus with all our heart, soul, mind, strength), we will keep His commands. We will mirror His example and gird our hearts in humility. We will become slaves for His good. Why? So that Jesus might be lifted higher and higher! For the only thing that counts in God's economy is our faith expressing itself through Christ's love. As citizens of His coming kingdom, we must recognize and adhere to this new Way of thinking. We must live our lives as lambs following the leadership of our Shepherd. We must love as Christ loves us... to the end!

So, what does true love look like? It looks like the God of the universe washing our feet, ladies! It looks like the Savior dying on the cross to save His people. It looks like the Almighty Father surrendering His most precious Son in order to assure His beloved a celebration feast in His holy presence.

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure. (1 John 3:1-3)

But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did. (1 John 2:5-6)

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. (1 John 4:7-16)

We love because he first loved us. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister. (1 John 4:19-21)

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. (1 John 3:16)

And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. (1 John 3:23)

For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself. (Galatians 5:14)

Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them. (John 14:21)


This is true love. Not that we loved God, but that He loved us! Yes, God's love is the standard - the Way of the new! And, because His love is patient... we must behave patiently. Because His love is kind... we too must behave kindly. We must not envy. We must not boast. We must not be proud. We must not dishonor. In Christ's love, we are no longer to be self-seeking or easily angered. For in Christ's kingdom, love keeps no record of wrongs... nor does it delight in evil. Instead, Jesus encourages us to rejoice in the truth! Rejoice in the Way, the Truth, and the Life! Rejoice and be glad in Him... everyday!

How blessed a friend we have in Jesus who loves us to the end! How great is the Father's love for us that, in Christ, nothing can separate us from His presence! Today, let us embrace this new kingdom and model the perfect, holy behavior of true love!

Today, let us rejoice and LOVE LOVE LOVE! In Jesus' Holy Name, Amen!

Blessings!

~Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Friday, June 12, 2015

the behavior of true love (part 5)

It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.

He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”

Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”

“No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.”

Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”

“Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!”

Jesus answered, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.” For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean.

When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them. (John 13:1-17)


"Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end." According to other scriptural accounts of this last supper between Christ and his twelve disciples, before getting up to wash their feet, Jesus chose to ceremonially break bread and drink wine with His followers. As we established earlier, this was done during Passover - the most sacred time of the Jewish religious year. But read the account that Mark gives regarding what actually happened...

When evening came, Jesus arrived with the Twelve. While they were reclining at the table eating, he said, “I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me - one who is eating with me.”

They were saddened, and one by one they said to him, “Surely not I?”

“It is one of the Twelve,” he replied, “one who dips bread into the bowl with me. The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born.”

While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take it; this is my body.”

Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, and they all drank from it. “This is my blood of the a covenant, which is poured out for many,” he said to them. “I tell you the truth, I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it anew in the kingdom of God.” (Mark 14:17-25)

So, what does this all mean? Why break bread? Why drink wine? Why speak of a covenant and a new kingdom? The short answer is laid out in 1 Corinthians which says, "For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes." (1 Corinthians 11:26)

Everything Christ did during this last meal was symbolic of His willing sacrifice and the future of His followers. By breaking bread and drinking wine with the twelve, Jesus provided mankind a monument to remember His upcoming sacrifice. You see, soon He would die on the cross as our Passover Lamb. Remember that earlier we learned why the Passover was originally celebrated? How God had helped the children of Israel escape slavery in Egypt by instituting ten plagues? The worst of these plagues would end up killing every first-born child in Egypt if Pharaoh refused to let God's people go. Remember, that in order to avoid this horror, the Israelites were instructed to mark the doorposts of their homes with the blood of a sacrificed spring lamb? Well, symbolically Jesus was teaching us that His new kingdom was coming, and in order for us to be a part of it, He would have to become our sacrificial Lamb so that we might be saved and freed from the bondage of sin and death.

Rather than provide us a monument of granite or stone, Jesus gives us the symbols of bread and wine to acknowledge this wonderful new truth. So, whenever we commune to remember Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection, we are deliberately acknowledging His monument by eating His body and drinking His blood. This is symbolic to every Christian because we consider our own body as a temple (a house) for God to reside and live. By "digesting" our Lord, we are ceremonially agreeing to mark our doorposts with the Lamb - receiving His perfect, holy solution to avoid the horror of God's judgement for sin. Yes, Jesus teaches that He came to selflessly intervene and save His beloved people so that He could guard His temple from death and sin re-entering. Hallelujah, there can be no sin in God's house! This is the hope and freedom we look forward to in His new kingdom! WOO HOO!

He said to them. “I tell you the truth, I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it anew in the kingdom of God.” Yes, God's kingdom is coming. Jesus died and rose from the dead. After which, He ascended into Heaven and is, at this very moment, preparing a place for us! When He returns, we (His church... His bride) will feast again in the presence of our beloved King! This is the wedding supper of the Lamb in which Revelation refers...

Then the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!” And he added, “These are the true words of God.” (Revelation 19:9)

Ladies, isn't this truth wonderful news? Aren't you psyched for the Lord's return?

Tomorrow, we will conclude this series in John 13. We will review the sacrifice and the new Way in which our Savior intends for His people to live as we allow Him to abide in us. He can transform us (as our Creator) into a new, redeemed creature - washed with His holiness and welcomed to His kingdom. This is such an important lesson because it shares the only Way to be with God. (Whom we need to remain healthy!) His is the only path worth seeking! Let us praise the Lamb for His great love! Because of Him, we can live free again!

Tomorrow, we will be studying one final lesson plan from our wonderful Teacher. We will learn from His perfect example so that we may fully understand how our King calls us to behave as citizens of His coming kingdom. However, for now, I encourage you to think about our Savior's loving covenant and the hope in which His monument promises.

Until tomorrow... This, then, is how you should pray: "Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread." (Matthew 6:9-11)

Blessings!

~Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Thursday, June 11, 2015

the behavior of true love (part 4)

It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.

He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”

Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”

“No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.”

Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”

“Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!”

Jesus answered, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.” For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean.

When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them. (John 13:1-17)


The evening meal was in progress and the devil had already prompted Judas. Wait a minute. Did we just read that Satan was there? Yes. The devil was lurking about pushing his evil agenda while in the very same room Jesus and his disciples were present. What hatred the enemy has for our King that he would infiltrate the place in which God's only Son eats and teaches His followers. But there he is. Whispering in the ear of Judas. Swaying a conscience to betray the Lord.

Judas is an interesting, and all too familiar, character. He is the clear example of what not to do with your life. For here is a man who was given the honor of being one of God's chosen twelve. A man who walked alongside the Almighty God during His earthly ministry as Savior. Yes, Judas saw miracles performed firsthand. He heard the Word in human flesh speak. He was frequently around Jesus, but He never had true faith that Jesus was God incarnate. Unlike the other disciples that called Jesus “Lord,” Judas never used this title for Jesus and instead made a point to call him “Rabbi” - acknowledging Jesus as nothing more than a mere teacher. Rather than profess his faith and loyalty to Christ, Judas remained conveniently silent... comfortably investing himself enough to gain fame and exposure, but tragically remaining unengaged and distant with the One who really mattered.

Yes, like so many who attend church today, Judas showed up and appeared to be a follower of God... but let's face it, he clearly wasn't following. Sure, outwardly he convinced everyone around him that he "loved" Jesus, but inwardly his heart had little interest in relating with the King of kings. We can conclude this just by looking at the listed order within the synoptic gospels. Notice how each of the twelve disciples is generally listed the same, with Peter, James, and John always listed first? This is believed to indicate the relative closeness of their personal relationship with Jesus. But Judas is always last on every list. In fact, in all the scripture outlining Jesus' earthly ministry, the only documented dialogue between Christ and Judas involves Judas being rebuked by Jesus after his greed-motivated remark to Mary in John 12, Judas’ denial of his betrayal in Matthew 26, and his actual betrayal to Christ in Luke 22. How sad.

When all was said and done, Judas likely stuck around Jesus because he saw Christ's potential to obtain great political power and wanted a piece of the action. He witnessed the great following of people drawn to Jesus and likely believed he could profit from the collections that were taken. He was the equivalent of the many false prophets and celebrity "Christians" who widely are accepted by the sheep of today with their feel-good books, motivational seminars, and whatever else they can promote promote promote - all attaching themselves to Jesus in order to receive earthly exposure and know financial gain. Jesus is just good business, you know. Salvation may be a free gift of God, but man still tries to find ways to sell it!

However, once business was jeopardized - once Jesus began making it clear that he would soon die, Judas needed a new game plan. His meal ticket could no longer provide him the future and financial assurances he coveted. So, Judas needed to save face amongst those whom he once thought he'd rule over. As such, it made perfect sense to betray Jesus and side with the Pharisees. Rather he bail out before the going gets too tough, right? Rather find a different path than the correct narrow road that Jesus was walking, right?

Thirty pieces of silver is all it took. Judas betrayed. Satan swayed him to commit the unthinkable. And amazingly, our great God still used it all for His good. Jesus was sentenced to death on the cross and the result saved us from our sins! Why? Because of Judas' wicked decision. Because of Satan's evil meddling. Because of mankind's sinful rebellion. Because of God's grace. Yes, God in His sovereign wisdom was able, as always, to manipulate the outcome of every situation for the benefit of His people and the glory of His good kingdom. How wonderful and marvelous our loving God is!!!

Although there is more to look at regarding this account, in the interest of time let's pause at this point to honestly consider Judas' character to that of our own. Let's assess if we are living intimately in love with the Savior, or if we are conveniently silent and comfortably disengaged "Christians". Do we strive to relate deeply with the Savior? Do we know His Word and live by His example? Or are we merely showing up to benefit from His church as we promote ourselves... claiming God when God seems popular to claim?

Ladies, when all is said and done, will your name be listed in the King's book of life? If so, what order will it appear? Think about these things.

Woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born. (Mark 14:21)

Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire. (Revelation 20:15)

Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first." (Matthew 19:28-30)

Until tomorrow.

Blessings!

~Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

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