Wednesday, September 30, 2015

keep facing the Son, dear sunflowers!

Praise the Lord.
Praise the Lord, you his servants;
Praise the name of the Lord.
Let the name of the Lord be praised,
Both now and forevermore.
From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets,
The name of the Lord is to be praised.
The Lord is exalted over all the nations,
His glory above the heavens.
(Psalm 113:1-4)

Waking up and praising the Lord.
Reading His Word from my favorite pink Bible and praising the Lord.
Enjoying my morning cup of coffee and praising the Lord.
Smooching my hubby and praising the Lord.
Doing my Pilates exercises and praising the Lord.
Playing with the dogs and praising the Lord.
Starting a load of laundry and praising the Lord.
Paying weekly bills and praising the Lord.
Picking up the house and praising the Lord.
Taking a shower, getting dressed, blow drying my hair and praising the Lord.
Beginning my long list of to do's to accomplish - all the while praising the Lord...

So many things to be thankful for.
So many simple moments to acknowledge the truth of our King's glory.
So many opportunities to live fully and praise praise praise the Lord... FOR HE IS GOOD!
Why be blind to the blessings of our everyday "ordinary"?
Why forget His love - ever?
Praise Him in everything!
Praise Him for everyone!
Praise Him for every second of every day!
For there is nothing mundane to our Creator.
There is nothing He doesn't care to oversee in our lives...
So, take care to worship Him in return!
Praise Him, believer!
Praise your King and rejoice today!!!

Posting this blog and praising the Lord!
WOO HOO!
Thank you, Jesus!
All glory and blessing and honor is Yours forevermore!
Moving forward today in faith... and praising my generous Lord!

Praise the Lord.
Praise God in his sanctuary;
Praise him in his mighty heavens.
Praise him for his acts of power;
Praise him for his surpassing greatness.
Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet,
Praise him with the harp and lyre,
Praise him with timbrel and dancing,
Praise him with the strings and pipe,
Praise him with the clash of cymbals,
Praise him with resounding cymbals.
Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.
Praise the Lord.
(Psalm 150)



Keep facing the Son, dear sunflowers!
For the Son is all that matters!

Blessings!

~Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

those distracting rabbit trails

In the way of righteousness there is life; along that path is immortality. (Proverbs 12:28)

Ya know, the Lord God is not one who misdirects us down rabbit trails.
He is not one who veers His people off course in order to lead us nowhere.
No, the Lord God is a deliberate planner.
He is a Master who oversees every intricate detail of all creation.
He is a King who rules over all things, all moments.
He is the Almighty God who never makes a statement without real purpose.
He is a Shepherd - an active, holy Guide to His beloved flock.
He is direct, specific, trustworthy.
And if, in His wisdom, He chooses not to reveal something to our simple, human eyes, we can still rest assured that He will protect and direct us correctly.
Why? 
Because He has promised that He has coordinated all things to work together for His good.
And HE IS GOOD FOR US!

But those distracting rabbit trails... ugh!
The enemy and those who follow his evil schemes sure like to distract God's people down those fluffy, pretty bunny paths, don't they?
They like to tempt us and escort us into fraudulent green grasses that end up being heavily weeded with shame, guilt, lust, hatred, and pride - amongst other sinful things.
And when we change our course onto Satan's sinful exit ramps... when we seek his mirages of easily obtained, chocolate-coated desserts that are really heaps of rancid trash... we begin to believe the lie that Satan's distorted food poisoning might actually be better than the promised feast of the Lamb.

Then we really deceive ourselves, don't we?

Then we choose to walk off God's one, trustworthy path of righteousness and fall victim to the ways of someone who is untrustworthy... someone who is not in control... someone who does not deliberately plan all things for good... someone who is not madly, passionately, or forever in love with us.

Really, Satan wishes to control, and abuse, and defeat us... nothing more.
Sadly, his many rabbit trail schemes obnoxiously scream for the attentions of lukewarm hearts to backslide. 
And those who follow him ultimately become trapped in his pits and holes of unholiness.

So, be warned, Believers!
Do not fall prey to the enemy's alluring rabbit trails that can only result in unhealthy sin and toxic scorn in your life.

It is sometimes so tempting and easy to turn your eyes away from Christ, but know that such a choice can hinder your health and stall your spiritual growth for years and years and years!
That is not victory in Jesus!
So, do not leave your Savior's side.
Do not veer ahead of His pace.

For Christ does not walk down rabbit trails.
He does not allow evil to dictate His course.
No, Jesus is always looking ahead to His Almighty Father.
He is always heading straightforward to the Throne that decrees our freedom when accompanied by His grace.
Yes, sweet Jesus is always, always on course and invites each of us to intimately love and trust His friendship as He leads us safely home, clothed in the priceless souvenir of His holiness.
In short, we cannot know shame or guilt if we reject walking down their misguided paths.
We cannot be snared by lust, hatred or pride if we obediently consider the One who faithfully stands beside us and urges us to stay on His proven, righteous path.

Yes, sometimes, we must stop walking and be still - pausing with our Redeemer - resting near the One who has washed our sins away at the cross.
But rabbit trails... blah!
Not worth our time or energy.
Better to wait upon the Lord as the enemy scampers about.
Stand firm against Satan's bad directions and follow the Word of your King!
Walk strong in the confidence of God's truth! For ladies, the Lord is your Shepherd!
The Lord, ALONE, is your Guide!

Leave the fluff and hype of sin where it belongs: on the back-end of Satan's tail as he scurries away from God's protective Word. 
Yes, believe, obey, and follow your Master's path - and none other.
Jesus, your King, is always direct, specific, trustworthy, and GOOD FOR YOU.
Those distracting rabbit trails are not.

The LORD is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures:
He leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul:
He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil:
For thou art with me;
Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies:
Thou anointest my head with oil;
My cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life:
And I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.
(Psalm 23)

Ladies, I encourage you to ALWAYS follow the straightforward, righteous path of Jesus Christ! He is the One who is in control. He is the One who has great plans for you to dwell joyfully in His kingdom FOREVER! So, adhere to His holy Word, and know His Way!

His path is the only road that guarantees complete security, contentment, peace, and freedom FOREVER!

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

Monday, September 28, 2015

happy anniversary... let's love love love one another!

Today is the hubs and my anniversary. Yes, many years ago we tied the knot in a little church in the North Chicago suburbs. When I think back to that time, I'm overwhelmed by how many blessings and trials the Lord has brought us through, and how He has remained faithful to us no matter what the season. It is astounding to think of how quickly the time has passed and how we are blessed to celebrate another anniversary together.

Whenever I reminisce about my wedding day, I remember all the events that took place in advance of the ceremony...

I remember the day Chuck and I met and the months of dating that followed.
I remember his romantic and nervous proposal.
I remember feeling a little scared to claim someone other than myself as head of household since I had been accustomed to living on my own and taking care of myself.
I remember trying to plan the ceremony and reception around the legalism and liberalism that existed between different family members and guests.
I remember all the preparations and details such as what color and fabric my bridesmaid's dresses would be... what our cake and flowers would look like... who would sit together at the reception... how many guests would actually attend... the list goes on and on.
I remember we didn't have a lot of money and were trying to save for our first house, so we became creative in finding beautiful yet economical solutions to keep the sticker shock of the nuptials to a minimum.
I remember being excited to take on Chuck's name as my own.
And, I remember how in love and excited we were during our rehearsal - relaxed and filled with the anticipation of officially being married and claiming one another as husband and wife that next morning.

In parallel, I wonder what Heaven will look like the night before Christ returns to claim His bride, the church.  I can only imagine the joy that awaits His people - those who have accepted Jesus' proposal to take on His Name as their own. I can hardly sit still as I try to imagine the colors, the music, the splendor that we will enjoy together at His table. Think of all the details He has personally taken on in preparation of the glorious ceremony and the reception that will soon become our eternal reality. When I look at this world and take in His extraordinary creativity, I can't even fathom what our future with Him will be like... for you know He will spare no expense! You know it will be His very best for us! Oh the joy!!! For in Christ Jesus, no man, no principality may put asunder or separate us from the love of our King Husband!  What a glorious wedding day we will enjoy together!

"The blessed hope and appearing of the glory of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ, is one of the great bonds of union given to God's church throughout the ages. He shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at in all them that believed. Then, we will all meet, and the unity of the body of Christ will be seen in its divine glory. It will be the meeting place and the triumph of divine love. Jesus receiving His own and presenting them to the Father. His own meeting Him and worshiping, in speechless love, that blessed face. His own meeting each other in the ecstasy of God's own love. Let us wait, long for, and love the appearing of our Lord and heavenly Bridegroom. Tender love to Him and tender love to each other is the true and only bridal spirit." ~Andrew Murray

Today, I am giddy over the many years of love and laughter shared with my husband, Chuck.  We agree that each moment of our marriage represents the love of our great God.  Truly, I am in awe that the Lord would provide us the privilege of sharing this union - thankfully under the guidance of His grace.  Yes, we are human... and, as such, imperfect... but with Jesus as our Lord, our future is secure.  Our hope is assured.  Our life will know His true love love love forever!  Yippee!!

Ladies, I hope that you are as anxious as I am to be joined hand-in-hand with the Lord.  I hope you also are deeply in love with Him, living your life expressing that love in unrestrained excitement to see His face and worship His glory. I hope that in Christ you are relaxed and filled with the anticipation of officially being united in His presence... for the Morning, the Day Spring, is indeed coming!

This rehearsal on earth will soon be a memory. Our wedding day with Him is coming!  So today... everyday, rejoice with me in knowing that each eternal instant in His loving arms will be an anniversary for us to give Him all glory again and again. We will be blessed to celebrate our salvation and redemption together with our perfect Head of Household, the Lover of Our Soul, our Prince Charming of Peace.... sweet, sweet Jesus.

Precious King, thank you for your love. Come, Lord Jesus... come!

Until that day, let's continue to love one another in His honor.  Let's give ourselves freely and in service to our families, always glorifying the Lord for His good.  Everyday together is a gift in His Name.  Every single day matters.  This is indeed the opportunity to LOVE LOVE LOVE one another as we represent His Kingdom!  WOO HOO!



I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. (Isaiah 61:10)

Blessings!

P.S. I love you sooooo much, Chuck!!!  Happy Anniversary!  XOXO!

~Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Saturday, September 26, 2015

iron butterflies

My people, hear my teaching; listen to the words of my mouth.  I will open my mouth with a parable; I will utter hidden things, things from of old - things we have heard and known, things our ancestors have told us.  We will not hide them from their descendants; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power, and the wonders he has done.  He decreed statutes for Jacob and established the law in Israel, which he commanded our ancestors to teach their children, so the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children. Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands. (Psalm 78:1-7)

This week I have been scanning old photographs into my computer in order to go completely digital.  It's amazing to see all our family pictures, some dating back to the early 1900's.  Pictures of my parents, my grandparents, my great-grandparents, and my great-great-grandparents, not to mention all the siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc.  WOWZA!  That's a lot of generations!  To God be the glory!

My family is made up of immigrants from both Sweden and Germany who settled in the Midwest region of the United States, mainly Chicago.  The men in our family bravely fought at war as well as worked in occupations that both physically and intellectually contributed toward the betterment of society.  The women of our family, whom Momba and I like to call the "Iron Butterflies," lived demure lives while encouraging strong family ties, promoting education, maintaining frugality, and overseeing the happiness and productivity of their homes, which also extended into their church communities.  

Yesterday was National Daughters Day.  To celebrate, Momba took me out for a late brunch where we spent our time discussing the role models that God has blessed us with inside our family.  Particularly, we targeted in on the beautiful Iron Butterflies - some who came before us and some who still live among us.  Those whom God has used to teach us what a Christian lady looks like.  Those who have uplifted and encouraged our entire family throughout the years.  Each woman we highlighted, both young and old, brought their own individual style and strength to the table.  Each woman was uniquely important to us.  In truth, I can't even begin to share the infinite lessons learned from these lovely, godly women whom I will always, always cherish and be indebted to.  What blessings they have been to everyone in our family!

As we reminisced, I said to Momba that each of the Iron Butterflies (some still living, some whom have passed on into Heaven)... each are truly treasured gifts from the Lord.  Valuable gifts, that perhaps, we didn't always identify early on in our lives.  How gracious our God is to teach us through the wisdom of our elders; through the experience and love of those we unknowingly take for granted in our youth.  From these beauties, I learn about life... about the Lord... about His love.  Better than Coco Chanel, more gracious than Audrey Hepburn... the Iron Butterflies showcased the beauty of Christ.  They shared the benefits of simplicity and frugality.  They introduced manners, class, order, respect.  Some physically gorgeous, and some merely cute as a button... but all well-groomed, stylish, gracious, and unarguably beautiful inside their heart.  When they spoke, it was usually well thought out and benefitting to others.  When they worked, it was always to serve and help as best they could.  When they rested, they relaxed inside a home where they had already set the tone - in comfort, unity, worship, peace, faith, hope, love.  But the greatest of these was always their love!

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:13)

As I consider each and every Iron Butterfly in my life, I am teary-eyed.  I love these gorgeous women so much and am forever in awe of them.  I am so grateful that the majority of my family members are Christians who believe and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ.  What a difference His presence brings in our day-to-day!  How wonderful the atmosphere, the heart, the hope these role models share... even in the worst of moments... even in the hardest of times.  Jesus was always present in them.  Jesus is always present in us!  Hallelujah to our King!

What a blessed gift is Christ's love showcased in real-time by the hearts and hands of those you grow up depending upon.  Such love shapes everything.  It touches everyone.  It lasts for generations and generations to come.  Glory to God Most High!

And this brings me to today...
This makes me consider my own heart, my own home, my own style and speech.
What is my attitude toward those around me... to those closest to my daily, routine moments?
What legacy will my life produce?
Will I be an encouragement?  A servant?  A classic?  An Iron Butterfly?
Will Jesus be highlighted in my every breath, every movement, every space and place I occupy?
Oh, I hope so!

Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, my God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your mighty acts to all who are to come. (Psalm 71:18)

Lord, today I ask that you use us daily for such a worthy purpose as to benefit your eternal family.  That you turn us into treasured gifts, into true blessings that positively touch all the lives that we encounter.  Always help us to consider how much our words and actions impact those near.  Always oversee our thoughts and take control of our steps so that we travel constant on your path.  We wish to live madly, passionately in love with your glory.  Hopeful for your future.  Helpful for your cause.  Continue to bring us into your new - as devoted women filled with your Spirit. Allow our lives to be instruments that only play your beautiful truth, kindness, goodness and love.  For the greatest thing we can share is always, always your LOVE.

Love is patient.
Love is kind.
Love does not envy.
Love does not boast.
Love is not proud.
Love does not dishonor others.
Love is not self serving.
Love is not easily angered.
Love keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil.
Love rejoices with the truth.
Love always protects.
Love always trusts.
Love always hopes.
Love always perseveres.
Praise the Lord, His love never fails.

Lord, I ask that you clothe us in your graciousness and strengthen us in the wisdom of your holy Word. We too, wish to become Iron Butterflies who soar in service of YOU.  Teach us your love, so that we might love like YOU.  So that Jesus is evident in us... in me, precious Savior.  All glory is the Lord's forevermore, in every generation to come!

May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer. (Psalm 19:14)

Blessings!

~Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson



Friday, September 25, 2015

serve

You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. (Galatians 5:13)

Service...

Often I forget to live with a deliberate commitment to serve God.
I forget that my very existence was always intended to glorify the Lord, and ONLY the Lord.
But sadly, my sinfulness frequently sidetracks my heart away from my original purpose.
Instead, I seem to waste much time wanting my own way NOW.
Embarrassingly, I whine and cry and insist on gaining all things selfish with my monstrous, defiant, childish appetite.

Sigh.

What a wretched mess I am without the Lord's peace and discipline.

Thankfully, Jesus invites me to surrender my old behavior to Him while adopting His new Way.
He offers Himself as a sanctuary where I am quite literally instructed to wait upon Him (to serve and remain usefully available to Him) in order to renew my own strength.

How I truly need Jesus in every hour of my life!

But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. (Isaiah 40:31)

Yes, my Savior encourages me to not only serve Him, but to do so with gladness.
Consider the words of the psalmist...

Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands.
Serve the Lord with gladness: come before his presence with singing.
Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.
For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations. 
(Psalm 100)

Jesus tells us in Luke 4:8, "Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve."

Wow! That packs a punch, doesn't it?
Him only shall I serve.
Only He matters.
Only His will demands that all things work together for His good.
Not my fickle made-up version of good, but His proven, universal, constant good.
This is Whom I am called to serve.
This is the One whose mercy is everlasting... whose truth endures every generation.

So, how do I serve the Lord?
As in everything, I must seek and follow the example of Jesus...

Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many. (Matthew 20:28)

So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, "Know ye what I have done to you?  Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am.  If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.  Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him.  If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them." (John 13:12-17)

Did you catch that last point?
Happiness is found in the Master's service!
When we claim Jesus as our Lord... when we obediently and actively choose to love one another just as Christ demonstrated to us... what are we promised?

Happiness!!!  WOO HOO!

Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. (1 Peter 4:10)

Today, let us encourage one another to find restorative rest in the Lord as we dutifully wait upon Him in useful, obedient service!  Let's give Him everything we are, folks!  Let's surrender it all to His cause, for He is good and will indeed take care of us.  He will give us strength and bring us true, everlasting happiness.

His kingdom comes.
So, let's love BIG.

BIG!

Let's give Him our ALL.
Let's gladly, thankfully SERVE one another in Christ Jesus.
Why?
Because His Way is so much better.
Because true happiness is found only in the King's service.
Most importantly, because it will bring us close to the Lord Almighty!

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

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

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



Today, whom will you choose to serve?

Now fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your ancestors worshiped beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord. (Joshua 24:14-15)

Be His Blessing!

~Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

count or discount?

Have you ever questioned what you're made of?
Have you found yourself asking why God would ever want you to represent Him?
I sure have.
I am in a constant struggle with how inadequate I feel my abilities are in comparison to others.
Surely God must have a more experienced, more knowledgeable, more eloquent, more "Christian" woman to share His hope.
How on earth could I ever make a difference?

I usually start to hesitate and discount myself with logical reasoning. "Lord, I'm average. I'm introverted. I'm uneducated. I've been damaged, etc. etc. etc." (Notice how many times I get sidetracked about myself rather than focusing on God's Glory and Master plan!)

I know I'm not alone in this feeling. It seems a lifelong lesson for each of us to resist the error of giving into insecurity and doubt. We seem to default into the same response as Moses at the burning bush. In Genesis 3:10, after explaining His plans for the Israelites, God instructs Moses, "So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt."

That was it. God laid out the Master plan and told Moses to get going. But Moses responded to God with his own doubt in verse 11, "Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?" He discounted who he was and questioned His Creator's supreme wisdom in the matter.

Oh, how I can relate!!!
I too, usually hesitate with God and am quick to say, "Really, Lord?....ME?.....REALLY? Are You sure?"

As always, God remains faithful and true - always encouraging His children closer into obedience and holiness. He graciously answered Moses' question in verse 12 by saying in full reassurance, "I will be with you."

"I WILL BE WITH YOU."

Wow!!! God promised to be with him... participating alongside Moses... accompanying him in the task.  He would be right there!!!

Do we think about that when we start to rationalize and make excuses as to why we are inadequate? Hardly. We usually feel like God is thrusting us out into danger without a plan or thought. But that couldn't be further from the truth. Our Heavenly Father promises to always be with us.... accompanying us in His plan. We are not alone. In fact, we are safest with Him in His will.

No matter how hard life may become - He is there. 
No matter what trials we may face - He is there.
No matter what - He is with us.
With Jesus as our Savior - He is ALWAYS with us!
We can never be separated from His love.....NEVER!

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:37-39)

When we discount our ability to move ahead with Him, we sin against God by lowering our own value and participation in the Master's plan.

Think of it this way...
Do you believe God created you to count or discount?

If I believe the promises of God's Word, I must believe that I count for His call. I am made for His glory. I don't need to defend who I am or what I know.... He is with me and He IS! There is none like Him! He is the great I AM!

When I remember that God is with me, I can approach any situation with the truth of Jesus in Luke 21:15, " For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict."

That's right - HE IS WITH ME!  He gives me exactly what I need to glorify His Name and fulfill His purpose.  He is in control of my whole life!  

So yes, I count!
And yes, I can!
Why? Because the great I AM is right here with me!  WOO HOO!

So, let's get up and get going today, shall we!?!?  Let's share His love to the world He walks us through!  This is the day to rejoice and be glad in our King.  This is the hour to be His light... to count  and stand firm for the sake of His call!  Glory glory glory to the Lord Most High!

Blessings!

~Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Sunday, September 20, 2015

are you really with Him?

Please consider this...  Do you know God because of what others have told you about Him, or do you know God because you are directly and intimately seeking after Him?   By no means am I suggesting that you cannot learn something about God from others.  Believers are called to go into the world to share and acknowledge the Lord's glory and gospel.  But, beyond what others have said, how do you personally know the King?  How often are you dialoging with Him... without ceasing?  Do you love Him first... with all your heart?  Are you giving Him your best effort to become a focused and prepared scholar of His Law?  Can you truly defend WHO He is and what His relationship means to you in real time? Or is God simply a jolly Sunday school get-out-of-jail-free figure that you claim to believe in, like a childhood belief in Santa Clause or the Tooth Fairy?

I think it is terribly easy to get caught up in the back pew of today's Christianity... the endless supply of warm-fuzzy books, the weekly sermon podcasts, the couples retreats and gender-specific conferences that challenge us, "the church", to feel good about believing in our wide-spread presumed version of a holy God.  But what about the true identity of God?  What do we really know about Him?  In what manner have we independently and wholeheartedly made an effort toward becoming His friend?  Toward becoming His bride?  To gain a personal glimpse of His majesty?   Where does He honestly fit into our new life in Christ?  Most importantly, what does HE have to say to us directly?

You see, when it comes down to it, it is hard to read, take-in, and accept God and His Word.  It takes commitment.  It requires our full attention and the new eyes and aid of Christ's Spirit.  Sadly though, most would rather receive hear-say from others than seek after Him directly.  I think it is because when you really get down to it... sure, God is good... but He is not "a tame lion."  His Ways are much higher than ours.  He cannot be fit into a box or a one hour sitcom that follows a particular feel-good formula.  And that is scary and uncomfortable in our lazy lives.  So, rather than fear the Lord firsthand, we fearfully run to find a softer version of Him... one that makes us feel better about ourselves.   We worship, but only where we feel safe - usually with others needing to feel safe too.  Sure, we talk big.  We looooove God. We pretend we are His greatest fans.  But most of us, simply, honestly, do not know God personally.  We have made no effort.  Instead, we have allowed and supported others to define His Kingdom while missing His truth and the extreme delight in walking close with Him in full humility and awe.

He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God? (Micah 6:8)

Please consider this with all your heart...  Do you know God because of what others have told you about Him, or do you know God because you are directly and intimately seeking after Him?  Today, are you really with Him?

A. W. Tozer said that the goal of every Christian should be to "live in a state of unbroken worship."  I whole-heartedly agree.  We cannot be friends with the Lord unless we walk intimately alongside Him - clinging to the cloak of our Shepherd.  We cannot align and be near the King without obediently adhering to His law, unashamedly defending His honor, and faithfully communing with Him about His plans.  Our thoughts, our actions, our motivations, and our life choices are to be influenced solely by Him.

Can two walk together, except they be agreed?  (Amos 3:3)

So, who influences you today?  Have you allowed others to take God's place in this capacity?  Have you settled for less than His perfect best?

That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.  For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. (Romans 8:4-6)

Blessings!

Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Saturday, September 19, 2015

a little sheep's glimpse along the wayside (something to consider before purchasing a new Journaling Bible)

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever. (Psalm 23, KJV)

Sometimes I forget that I am not immune to behaving like a lost, stubborn sheep.  Scripture identifies us as sheep in many passages.  We are sheep that need Christ as our Shepherd in order to live healthy lives.  But too often, I forget.

This week I was researching a "new" form of worship called Bible Journaling/Faith Art.  The concept is similar to Keri Smith's "Wreck This Journal" style but with the idea that one would artistically express themselves directly onto the very pages of scripture that they are reading/studying.  It can be very personal, very deliberate, and very rewarding if done with the right heart and motive.  Go online and look around at all the blogs and boards highlighting this idea, and you will be amazed at what some folks have produced.  It's impressive.  (Bible Journaling on Pinterest)

Now, I have always fancied myself artistic, and Bible Journaling in my beloved Book of Life has already been a form of worship for me... to a degree.  But once I saw the beautiful artwork created by others, and once I realized the magnitude and potential of crafting/scrapbooking supplies that I had failed to already obtain in order to accomplish grand feats within my own Bible, my heart skipped a beat in desire.  WOW!  Clearly, my Bible should look like that, shouldn't it?  Quickly my Amazon shopping cart grew.  I NEEDED to get special pens, colored tapes, pretty stamps, better paints, mediums, papers, etc. etc. etc.  And I needed them STAT!  Yep, all week I've been planning out how I would better showcase all my favorite verses along with those meaningful quotes and ideas that I had once noted in yucky plain old pen/pencil.  What freedom it would be to express myself more more more!  What fun it would be to make God's Word more colorful and yummy.  What an opportunity to turn my Bible into the very best it could be.  (Read that last sentence again and think about it.  Hm.)

All week, this whole concept sounded super-dooper-mega-pooper-great in my head.  However, for some strange reason, I couldn't hit the order button at Amazon.  I couldn't spend an absorbent amount of money on scrapbooking supplies.... Fact is, I don't even scrapbook!  Unexplainably, something kept stopping me.  And rather than investigate that something (or Someone) in prayer, I instead wandered myself over to Christianbooks.com to investigate more stuff... particularly, a new "especially for this crafty purpose" Bible which I should obviously use for this new project dreamed up.  Oh man.  The more I looked, the more costly options presented themselves.  Now, the very Bible I was about to beef up in artwork simply wouldn't do.  I NEEDED to get that special "Journaling" Bible to get this whole thing right.  Sure, it wouldn't be the 1984 NIV Quest Study version I love... it wouldn't hold my favored study notes and personal reflections that I had collected since marrying my husband of almost twenty years.  Oh, and most important, it wouldn't be inscribed in the front with Chuck's thoughtful love note when he gave it to me.  No matter.  I NEEEEEEEEEDED that journaling Bible, didn't I?  How else would I be able to worship artistically? (Funny thing... when you put the word "worship" in front of anything, it suddenly seems to get a free pass, doesn't it?  I'm sure many marketers have taken advantage of distracted Christians with that little word for decades.  Sigh.)

Sheep.  Stupid, arrogant, selfish, hungry sheep.  That's what I am.

So all this week, I have been envisioning this magically beautiful new Bible that I would make into an awesome (albeit hard to read) masterpiece.  Then, this morning, the Holy Spirit put in front of me a reminder of my visit to Haiti in 2011.  After Haiti, He reminded me of several friends who are always trying to raise funds to bring water, food and education to families in need all over the world.  Lastly, He reminded me of the high dollar figure of craft and scrapbooking supplies I originally thought I needed in order to do this whole Bible Journal project pretty-like.  Ironically, it now didn't seem so pretty after considering His first two reminders.

In truth, I really didn't need all that stuff, and I could definitely use those monies for a more obedient form of worship... GIVING.  Sure, I could be more artistic during my Bible study moments in the future.  But as far as the whole Bible Journaling bandwagon goes, God was clearly guiding me away - to forego all the how-to's and "what to gets" of the formal Faith Mapping movement with its classes and accompanying supplies tag lined to bring me closer to His Throne.  He would rather I use my time and money serving others and giving to Him than spend valuable moments feeding my creative self for hours and hours and hours.  Simply, He will feed me exactly what I need.  He already promised.

“Very truly I tell you Pharisees, anyone who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper 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.”

Therefore Jesus said again, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They 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 and does not own 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.”

"My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.  I and the Father are one.” (John 10:1-5; 7-18; 27-30)

Of course, all this comes down to a matter of pride and the condition of our heart seeking Jesus Christ.  Bible Journaling in itself is not wrong.  But it can become a distraction and financial hemorrhage if we are not right with God.  We must always prayerfully consider if we are seeking Him and loving Him first in our words, thoughts, and actions?  Are we obedient to do what He has commanded rather than what we want or hope to achieve?  Or are we simply trying to add conditions to His perfect Word with grand plans toward making it better and/or more appealing for our lust-filled wooly sheep flesh?

Do not add to what I command you and do not subtract from it, but keep the commands of the LORD your God that I give you. (Deuteronomy 4:2)

Every word of God is flawless; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.  Do not add to his words, or he will rebuke you and prove you a liar. (Proverbs 30:5-6)

Ladies, it is imperative that before we dive into new endeavors and use the blessed funds our King so graciously provided to us, that we first humbly go to Him for guidance.  We need our Shepherd in order to walk straight and safe.  We are sheep after all.  We can stray and linger along the wayside.  We can become distracted easily.  We can follow other well-intended but off-course sheep into places our Shepherd does not wish for us to go.  None of us are immune to being sheep.  What we NEED to follow is The Way of our Shepherd.  For beside Him, we'll need and want for nothing.  Our God will ALWAYS supply all our needs exactly when we need them!

But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19)

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
He leads me beside quiet waters,
He refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil, for you are with me;
Your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. (Psalm 23, NIV)

Blessings!

~Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Friday, September 18, 2015

always hopes, always perseveres

It is so easy to see the wrong.  To point out the low...  the negative...  the frustrating.  It is easy to find fault in others and criticize every mishap.  It is easy to judge... to whine... to tear down... to wear down.  But gals, it is just as easy to choose positivity.

I believe that negativity is a habit.  A bad sinful icky human habit.  Sure, there are times we need to unload and unwind.  There are serious issues that require us to seriously pray.  Because we are imperfect.  We live in corrupt bodies, on a corrupt planet, in a corrupt universe... and sadly, we corrupted it ourselves!  But the bottom line is, despite the truth of our condition here on earth, Jesus came to turn our lowest downs upward.  Jesus died in order that we might live fully and with His blessing.  Jesus loves so that we would learn, and know, and share, and glorify in His love.  With Jesus, it is easy to choose positivity.  In His Name, it is easy to live as over-comers.  In Christ, we have purpose.  We have hope.  We have identity and adoption into His Eternal Kingdom.

The other day, a friend of mine came over to enjoy dinner with me and my family.  To say that this friend has had a difficult year is a bit of an understatement.  Anyway, all I wanted to do for this friend was be available... listen... hug.  Days before, I had planned to cook a lovely dinner.  Alas, my own chronic pain had kept me from singing in the kitchen that afternoon.  So around lunchtime, I texted my friend to see if a "Pizza Night" would suffice.  Shortly afterward, I received a return text freeing me of all cooking obligation.  It read, "Pizza is always a good idea."  Phew!  Thank you, Lord!

The rest of my afternoon consisted of pain meds and pacing myself with some light houshold vacuuming to make our house as presentable as I could.  Then at 5:30ish, our pizza was delivered followed minutes later by my friend arriving for supper.  

When the pizza had arrived, my husband (who is always very attentive to my physical handicaps) wanted to take over setting up the dining room table by plating the side dishes, arranging flatware, filling glasses with ice, etc.  But could I notice how sweet he was being?  No.  Would I acknowledge how thoughtful his gesture to help out was?  No.  Instead, all I could focus on was that he had put some of the delivered food on a wooden side-table without placing anything underneath to protect the wood from condensation marks!  BLASPHEMY!  (Haha, I'm serious... I'm such a freak about these things.)

"You're going to ruin that table, Chuck!"  These were the only words I could utter.  These were the only thoughts I could think.  By the time my friend had arrived, the well-being of that stupid table and my husband's lack of concern to prevent damaging water rings had turned me into a last-class (unworthy of first-class) nag.  Mind you, the minute I brought this horror to his attention Chuck had relocated the items while politely saying nothing about my snarky grumblings.  But the damage was already done.  There were water marks on the table.  In love, my hubby promised, "Vic, it will fade away as it dries.  It will be ok or I will find a solution to fix it, ok?"

WHAT?!!!  This is not ok!  The table is ruined!  What is he thinking?  Arrrrggghghghghghgh!

Sigh, it is so easy to find fault and be negative, folks.  Forget that earlier that day my husband had been to the dentist to have much work done in his mouth and was functioning in his own pain with the repercussions of a jawline headache.  Forget that even with said headache, he had faithfully worked the rest of his workday - earning money so that we could pay our bills, live in our home, sleep in warm beds, own pretty wooden tables to rest our take-out dinner items upon.  Forget that he loves me enough that he wants to attend to my needs so that my physical hindrances don't prevent us from catching up with good friends and enjoying time together as a family.  No, I had forgotten ALL those wonderful blessings and could only focus on one small wet spot atop a fancy block of wood.  Yeah, that's not messed up at all, right?  That's not negative or selfish.  Sigh... that's not Jesus!  (Truly, I'm embarrassed to even share this story with y'all.)

The morning after we had fellowshipped with my friend, I got up early to help my husband get organized for the day.  I normally try to wake up and get moving before he does (no matter how early) so that I can prepare a cup of "love" coffee and a little breakfast for him before he begins his work.  As I started my rounds throughout the house, straightening couch pillows and picking up dog toys, I be-lined to the dining room to collect yesterday's table cloth linens for the laundry.  Of course, my attention was immediately redirected toward the wood table. Did it recover as Chuck had hoped?  Would the water rings be gone?  I turned the corner and UGH!  Water rings - still present and blatant.  The table clearly ruined.  Inside I FREAKED OUT!  Anger swelled and my thorns came out of hiding again.  Boy, was my husband gonna hear about this!  Let the bitchslapping begin!

Let's pause to consider...
Did I default into going to God right then in prayer?  No.
Did I try to think past the problem and ask the Holy Spirit to bring me a reasonable solution?  Sadly... UmNo.

Instead I went into mothering/discipline mode.  (No, I'm not his mother.  No, I have no authority to discipline my gracious head of household.)  Instead, I dug my heals in and prepared my speech.  My poor husband was about to wake up to Cruella DeVille ready to TEAR. HIM. DOWN.

Sigh.

It is so easy to see the wrong.  To point out the low...  the negative...  the frustrating.  It is easy to find fault in others and criticize every mishap.  It is easy to judge... to whine... to tear down... to wear down.  But gals, it is just as easy to choose positivity.  To look at the world with the eyes of love.  To follow the example of our Savior and build up - seeing past all corruptness and choosing to help others triumph.

I cannot express how thankful I am that the Lord stopped me.  I cannot fathom the ugliest selfishness that I would have bombarded towards my dearest without the intercession of Jesus ruling my life.  Right before Chuck started his day, the Holy Spirit graciously whispered to me over morning coffee and some much-needed time alone in His Word.   He asked, "Victoria, what matters most? A friggin table (ok, I added the "friggin" part...), or your loving husband who only wants to take care of you?" 

Convicted, I asked the Lord for forgiveness and later apologized to Chuck - still expressing my concern but, to his relief, also offering a new supportive willingness to seek a solution in fixing the unintentional mishap.  Of course, he didn't mean to harm our furniture.  Of course, he only wanted to help and serve me.  

After kissing my sweetie and waving goodbye as he drove away to his first meeting, I grabbed some Lemon Scented Pledge Furniture Polish and recited the truth of 1 Corinthians 13.  As I sprayed and worked over the affected area with a soft cloth, I recalled the truth of God's Word...

Love is patient.
Love is kind.
Love does not envy.
Love does not boast.
Love is not proud.
Love does not dishonor others.
Love is not self serving.
Love is not easily angered, Victoria.
Love keeps no record of wrongs toward their blessed husbands.
Love does not delight in evil, bitchslapping, or nagging.  (Yes, I might have embellished a bit, but you feel me, right?)
Instead, love rejoices with God's truth.
Love always protects.
Love always trusts.
Love always hopes.
Love always perseveres.

I rewinded and thought, "Love always, always hopes, doesn't it Lord?"  There is no need for negativity when we have God's hope.  There is no place for grumbling tempers when the Messiah has ushered in a more patient and kind solution.  He has offered us His NEW creation.  He has come to save and restore His people!  

I looked down at the wood table and noticed the Pledge was working.  The water stain was completely gone.  (Thank you, Lord.)  Jesus was working in me too.  His pledge to bring me closer to His holiness was evident in this real-time series of events.  It's so true... His intercession always gives us hope, doesn't it?  Once again, I was reminded that His Way - His LOVE - should be my only focus.  There is no room for negative selfishness if I am to live in His love.  He is the solution.  He is able to fix everything I corrupt.  All I must do is surrender and obey Him.  What an amazing God we serve!

Ladies, despite the truth of our condition here on earth, Jesus came to turn our lowest downs upward.  He died in order that we might live.  He loves so that we can learn, and know, and share, and glorify His love with others.  In His Name, let's remember to choose His positivity.  By His grace we are called to live as hope-filled over-comers.  So, let's lay aside our habits to grumble, for we now have a positive purpose to live fully.  We have an eternal hope.  We have a new identity in the perfection and holiness of Christ the Lord!  (Thank you, Father, for this important reminder!)  

Might we each pledge to choose love and positivity.  Why?  Because God positively loves us enough to see past our flaws, still choosing to restore us into His NEW.  Because of His loving-kindness, we are indeed saved by God's grace!  

Yes, it's easy to see the wrong.  But, gals, love always hopes.  Thankfully, love always perseveres.

And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new.  And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful. (Revelation 21:5)

Hallelujah to the King of kings!

Blessings!

~Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson


Thursday, September 17, 2015

be the sunshiny, sparkly, glimmering, glow of Christ's glory



Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.
See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the Lord rises upon you and his glory appears over you.
Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn.
(Isaiah 60:1-3)

Rise and Shine, and Give God The Glory Glory!
Rise and Shine, and Give God The Glory Glory!
Rise and Shine, and... Give God The Glory Glory,
Children of The LORD!

Good morning, Ladies!  Today, before anything else, allow me to encourage you to wholeheartedly look upon the Lord.  Choose to sip in the necessary and vital health of your Creator.  Your King awaits.  His promises shine shine shine eternal.  So, before the hustle and bustle... before the to do's and the to don'ts... LET THERE BE LIGHT!  His Word is active, living, and brighter than sunshine!  So, open your hands.  Open your hearts.  Seek first His Kingdom, His Righteousness!  He is ready and waiting to restore your soul.  He is able to fill you up and prepare your spirit for whatever is ahead.  Come and imprint His image upon your eyes.  Feast upon His Truth and be satisfied.  Allow His luminosity to penetrate every pore, every crevice, every dark place... Then, let His light shine!

Let it shine.  Let it shine.  Let it shine!!!

You've got this, girl!  The glory of the Lord rises upon you!  Today, you will worship and walk upright with strength and dignity - no matter the trial ahead!  Why?  Because HE is with you!  He is for you!  He will never leave or forsake you.  He will see you through every storm, every hurdle.  He will restore you into His glory.

She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. (Proverbs 31:25)

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified... for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. (Deuteronomy 31:6)

Today is that stepping stone closer to His Throne.
Today is the best opportunity to share His grace and be His blessing.
Today, in this time and place, He calls you to thrive, and rejoice, and be bright in His Name!

So, shine bright!  Shine Jesus!
Become a beautiful display of His holiness and grace!

Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name.  Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits:  Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases;  Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies;  Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle's. The Lord executeth righteousness and judgment for all that are oppressed.  He made known his ways unto Moses, his acts unto the children of Israel.  The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy.  He will not always chide: neither will he keep his anger for ever.  He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.  For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him.  As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.  Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him.  For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust.  As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth.  For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more.  But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children's children;  To such as keep his covenant, and to those that remember his commandments to do them.  The Lord hath prepared his throne in the heavens; and his kingdom ruleth over all.  Bless the Lord, ye his angels, that excel in strength, that do his commandments, hearkening unto the voice of his word.  Bless ye the Lord, all ye his hosts; ye ministers of his, that do his pleasure.  Bless the Lord, all his works in all places of his dominion: bless the Lord, O my soul. (Psalm 103, KJV)

Ladies, you are the ambassador of God's Holiness.
You are the Savior's hands and feet to everyone He grants access into your life.
You are the momentum... the impetus... the moving, living body of the Messiah Almighty!
He has brought you into this day with planned intent and great purpose.
Yes, you've got this, girl... because GOD IS WITH YOU!
Your fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.

This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. (1 John 1:5-7)

For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.  But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:5-12; 16-18)

Arise!  Allow His glory to appear over you!
Be the sunshiny, sparkly, glimmering, glow of Christ's glory!
Allow Him to crown you with compassion, loving kindness, and tender mercies!
Then let is shine.  Let it shine.  Let it shine!

God is with you.
God is for you.
God is in you!

Today, with all that is within you... bless His Holy Holy Holy Name!

Blessings!

:)

~Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

the foolish grey

For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.  (Romans 6:23)

O foolish men clothed in earth's grey
Protesting God who rules each day
Defending your short breaths be heard
Whilst ye deny Creator's Word

Forgetting why forefathers fought
Ignoring patriarchal cost
Excusing self; blaming Divine
Taking, breaking... "Mine mine mine!"

O foolish hearts of lukewarm grey
Ignoring Life... the Truth, the Way
Pretending will exclude you nought
For soon you'll bow, you'll kneel, you'll rot

The wage is high, O muddled men
Your path is wide with tragic end
"I do not know you," He'll soon decree
Is this, O soul, to become of thee?

Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. (Matthew 7:13-14)

(Poem by: Victoria Anderson)

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Monday, September 14, 2015

timing is everything

Love is patient.
And patience is a virtue.
For without patience we cannot understand the importance of God's perfect timing.
And timing is everything, isn't it?

In fact, the "when" of God's timing is crucial for mankind's salvation.

But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.  The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness.  Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance...  Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation. (2 Peter 3:8-9, 15a)

When we say...
When we do...
This discipline is as important as "what" and "how" something is said and/or done.

As such, we must learn to respond and engage biblically and calmly with others.  For if we are to fully know and share God's love to the world, we must pace ourselves in His composure of grace.  We must choose to charitably serve one another with an assured hope that The Holy Spirit is perfectly able to lead those we encounter into repentance.

So, what does patience look like in this moment, this day, this age of uncertainty?  We live in a time that forefronts gay/lesbian rights, transgender acceptance, ISIS, Al Qaeda, and Taliban violence.  The list of religious, corporate, and governmental corruption along with criminal activity and unstable conditions can easily unsettle even the strongest of faith into pure panic and fight mode.

So how are we to live patiently, lovingly?

Take time with me to read the entire letter of 2 Peter 3:

Dear friends, this is now my second letter to you. I have written both of them as reminders to stimulate you to wholesome thinking. I want you to recall the words spoken in the past by the holy prophets and the command given by our Lord and Savior through your apostles.

Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.” But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens came into being and the earth was formed out of water and by water. By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.

But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare. Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.

So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him. Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.  Therefore, dear friends, since you have been forewarned, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of the lawless and fall from your secure position. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 

To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.

Consider what Peter has written here.  He has reminded us that, yes, we will be faced with those who will try to frustrate and thwart God's law.  We will encounter those who will scoff at His Word and blatantly question His ultimate authority over all matters.  And in their company, many issues that will be hard to understand and/or accept will be brought into the limelight.  In their ignorance, they will do all they can to promote the validity of their own evil desires and many will choose to disobey God's commands.  But we must keep our spiritual pace, Believers.  We must not stop obeying or trusting God.  We must prayerfully strive to remain wholesome - always recalling the commands of the Lord; always choosing to live holy, godly lives while we look forward toward His righteousness.

What kind of people ought we be?
We ought to live holy and godly lives as we look forward to the day of God and the speed He is coming.

Satan and sin will always try to sway us away from God's peace.
But stand firm and reject the baiting of the enemy.
For God's timing is everything, isn't it?
His patience is our virtue...
Humbly choose to live showcasing His nobility to this world in need of true, eternal love.
Rather than debate or cause conflict with others, stand firm in your faith and love with His assured grace.
He will always fight for us.
He will always save those who love Him.
His Word is absolute.
His law is unchanging.
Our job is not to prove or push at others disrespectfully.  It is not our place to dishonor or hate in unfruitful arguments full of enmity or intolerance.  Only God can judge the sin of men.  Our purpose is to love one another in the patience, kindness, and hope of Jesus Christ.

Love is patient, 
Love is kind. 
It does not envy, 
It does not boast,
It is not proud.  
It does not dishonor others, 
It is not self-seeking, 
It is not easily angered, 
It keeps no record of wrongs.  
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  
It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 
(1 Corinthians 13:4-7)

Yes, love is indeed patient.
Love is relaxed in God's timeline and secure in His law.
Love hopes joyfully for His new, promised future.
Love's timing is EVERYTHING!

In summary, consider this psalm of David:

Do not fret because of those who are evil or be envious of those who do wrong; for like the grass they will soon wither, like green plants they will soon die away. Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.  Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.  Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn, your vindication like the noonday sun.  Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes.  Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret - it leads only to evil.  For those who are evil will be destroyed, but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land.

A little while, and the wicked will be no more; though you look for them, they will not be found.  But the meek will inherit the land and enjoy peace and prosperity.  The wicked plot against the righteous and gnash their teeth at them; but the Lord laughs at the wicked, for he knows their day is coming.  The wicked draw the sword and bend the bow to bring down the poor and needy, to slay those whose ways are upright.  But their swords will pierce their own hearts, and their bows will be broken.  Better the little that the righteous have than the wealth of many wicked; for the power of the wicked will be broken, but the Lord upholds the righteous. 

The blameless spend their days under the Lord’s care, and their inheritance will endure forever.  In times of disaster they will not wither; in days of famine they will enjoy plenty. But the wicked will perish: Though the Lord’s enemies are like the flowers of the field, they will be consumed, they will go up in smoke.  The wicked borrow and do not repay, but the righteous give generously; those the Lord blesses will inherit the land, but those he curses will be destroyed.  

The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him; though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand.  I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread.  They are always generous and lend freely; their children will be a blessing.

Turn from evil and do good; then you will dwell in the land forever.  For the Lord loves the just and will not forsake his faithful ones.  Wrongdoers will be completely destroyed; the offspring of the wicked will perish.  The righteous will inherit the land and dwell in it forever.  The mouths of the righteous utter wisdom, and their tongues speak what is just.  The law of their God is in their hearts; their feet do not slip.  The wicked lie in wait for the righteous, intent on putting them to death; but the Lord will not leave them in the power of the wicked or let them be condemned when brought to trial.  

Hope in the Lord and keep his way. He will exalt you to inherit the land; when the wicked are destroyed, you will see it.  I have seen a wicked and ruthless man flourishing like a luxuriant native tree, but he soon passed away and was no more; though I looked for him, he could not be found.  Consider the blameless, observe the upright; a future awaits those who seek peace.  But all sinners will be destroyed;  there will be no future for the wicked.  

The salvation of the righteous comes from the Lord; he is their stronghold in time of trouble.  The Lord helps them and delivers them; he delivers them from the wicked and saves them, because they take refuge in him. (Psalm 37)

Friends, I encourage you to wait upon the Lord as you live today loving others in His charity and peace.  God is faithful.  Jesus is coming!!!

Blessings!

~Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Saturday, September 12, 2015

come, receive, submit, share

"You are beautiful.
You are important.
You are safe.
You belong.
You are home.
You are mine."

I find myself quietly whispering these words as I look down at my rescued kitty purring in my lap.  I stroke his cream-colored fur and hum softly to the once stray cat currently sleeping in my arms.

Long ago, I dreamed this day would come.  For this cat (now named Bailey) had been elusively hovering outside my home.  Always too afraid or unwilling to let me bring him in.  Always keeping his distance and space.  Always wanting to trust me, but unable.  Wanting to get close, but afraid.

But last year around this time, all that changed when this sweet, big love bug walked right up to me and waited, as if with open arms, for me to pick him up and take him in. Yes, a once shy kitty boldly chose to approach me and ask for my love... and I joyfully, immediately, welcomed him home into our family.

Isolating him inside our warm, snuggly home office (away from all our other fur-babies), I left a voice mail message with our beloved vet to schedule a check-up.  Sadly, we found out he was covered in sores, and fleas, and scars, and past abuse.  His vision - horrible.  His eyes - a bit crossed.  His joints - achy and arthritic, for he was no young kitten, you see.  No, this was a mature senior citizen who once was neutered and promised much by another person.  But clearly, heartbreakingly, at some point in time, he became lost, forgotten, left, abandoned.

"Don't worry, you're mine now, baby.
Don't fear, you're safe now, sweetheart.
Just relax in my arms.
Just listen to my breath."

As I now ponder over Bailey's past life experiences, I pet his now-cleaned coat and begin to think of my Savior and those other "strays" still lost... those that He desires to bring into His home.
How many cannot see Him?
How many remain cross eyed in hopelessness from the sores, the irritants, the scars, the abuse of this world?
How many are too afraid?
How many are sooo heartbroken?
How many are unwilling or unable to believe because they really do not know what I know about His grace?
How many are out there living depressed and broken... feeling forgotten, put aside, and sterile from everyone and everything?
If only they knew the true love of my Messiah.
If only they would approach The One who would bring them inside, clean them up, heal their wounds, mend their sores, and call them by His New Name.
If only they knew.

Yes, Lord, I will tell them.
I will share and give.
Let me not overlook the least of these whom You lovingly see.
Present me Your greatest honor and opportunity to obediently love others in Your Name.
Use me as Your instrument, Your ambassador... to bring Your hope, truth, and peace to the world.

Believers, won't you bravely join me in this prayer?
Won't you lay down your life for His glory and cause?
Won't you look beyond yourself and choose to love and be kind... despite all comfort, status quo, or logic?

And to those still hovering outside God's kingdom...
"You are important." (He promises.)
"You are wanted." (He hums.)
"Won't you be Mine?" He invites romantically, maternally, eternally.
Today, His Spirit whispers to you in true love...
"I will never leave or forsake you."  (Hallelujah!  There is no greater love than His!)

Yes, today, everything could change.
Today, everything could be different.

Jesus invites us all to seek, to know, to love in His New Way.
He is ready, willing, and able to give each of us comfort, and rest, and hope, and home.
Let us humbly come, and receive, and submit, and share.
Don't you long to be closest to His heartbeat?
Don't you desire to hear Him whisper to you these eternal promises...

"You are beautiful.
You are important.
You are safe.
You belong.
You are home.
You are Mine.
Just relax in My arms.
Just listen to My breath."

A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families, he leads out the prisoners with singing... Our God is a God who saves; from the Sovereign Lord comes escape from death. (Psalm 68:5-6a, 20)

Blessings!

~Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson



Tuesday, September 8, 2015

here I am (part 2)

Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them went on together, Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, "Father?"

"Yes, my son?" Abraham replied.

"The fire and wood are here," Isaac said, "but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?"

Abraham answered, "God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son." And the two of them went on together.


Pause here and consider what this loving father must have felt. How Abraham's heart must have ached as he carried the fire and knife that would soon be used to kill his own flesh and blood. Oh, what faith!!! Through this horrifying realization, we must admire Abraham's obediance to follow through with God's direction - never once questioning his Master's intention. No, not one negative comment is uttered against his Lord.

With his mind set on worship, Abraham confidently believes his God will remain true. He is so secure in this belief that he is prepared to willingly submit the life of his son to a sentenced death, decreed by the Almighty Himself.

Equally, let's pause and look at the character of Isaac. Before this time, Isaac had undoubtedly participated with his father in worship through sacrifice. As they went on together, he inquisitively noticed that the lamb was missing. How could they perform a sacrifice without their best lamb? Abraham assures Isaac that the Lord would provide for them. With only that statement to go on, Isaac asks no more questions. Not a peep. He trusts his father and he trusts God. Period.

A faith such as this, passed on from generation to generation, must be exalted! How it must have pleased God Almighty to see Abraham's heir respond in like fashion to his father's own belief. What a legacy... a promised line of generations who would ultimately see The Lamb respond in total obediance and unwaivering faithfulness to His own Father for our eternal security. (Oh, AMEN!!!!)

When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son.

But the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven, "Abraham! Abraham!"

"Here I am," he replied.

"Do not lay a hand on the boy," he said. "Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son."

Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide. And to this day it is said, "On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided."


Abraham had already reached a spiritual maturity that we can only dream of, or he would never have gone through with God's unthinkable request. God knew this maturity. Ultimately, He did not require Abraham to give a human sacrifice, nor would He allow it. Rather, God wanted Abraham's faith to be tested. His obedience was in turn the ultimate act of willingness, love and trust that His Creator desired. Once Abraham's submission and devotion were offered, God provided the ram needed to fulfill the task and progress forward with His covenant.

The angel of the Lord called to Abraham from heaven a second time and said, "I swear by myself, declares the Lord, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me."

This chapter is so powerful to absorb and so important to teach us how to respond to God's calling with faith and unquestioning devotion. When I read Genesis 22, I struggle to get past the image of Abraham with tear-filled eyes, knife poised in the air, standing over the body of his son strapped to an altar! That image takes away all words.

In parallel, I must envision my Almighty Father with tear-filled eyes, death poised in the air, reigning over the life of His son who was face-down in prayer soon to face imminent death on the cross. Read Matthew 26:39. Jesus asks his Father, "My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will."

How great is the love of our Father in Heaven to be faithful to save me and accept me as His own... "lifting the knife" and following through with the ultimate sacrificial Lamb, Jesus Christ, who came to follow His Father without question to pay the penalty for my sin! There are truly no words to express my gratitude... only to sacrificially give my life in return.

The Lamb was provided and hope is alive! Praise God for our Messiah and His faithfulness to the Father above! My life is in His nail-driven hands! My faith is secure in His promises! Hallelujah to My King! Holy Holy Holy is the Lord Almighty. All nations will bow to Him and declare Jesus Christ is Lord of Lords.

Here I am, Holy Father. Not my way, but Yours alone. Hallelujah!

Blessings!

~Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

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