Friday, January 29, 2016

make it your mission to live loving like Jesus!

Its always something, isn't it?  Someone somewhere has something to say about someone else somewhere doing something wrong.  (Wait... did I just come full circle and walk right back into myself on that, Lord?  Let me read that again.  Ha ha.)

Anyway, my point is this: People can always find someone or something to complain about and hate.  We ALL can easily find fault and assume the worst about others.  But here is the thing... what is benefitted when we callously fail to consider the value of another person's life?  What is gained by belittling anyone?  Even if someone is sinning blatantly, is it not more important to lovingly share with them exactly what Jesus said and did for them?... to show them God's Word?... to purposefully value EVERY human soul enough to intercede in prayer on their behalf rather than rule them out as a hopeless cause?

Are we loving like Christ or judging in place of God?
And if we are judging, are we even qualified to hold such a position in place of God?

Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces." (Matthew 7:1-6)

A few years ago, someone angrily approached my husband to complain about me.  They wanted Chuck to "reign" me in online.  You see, my sharing of my personal, progressive, daily testimony here online really REALLY bothered this individual.  The concern was that I was unqualified to talk about Jesus to so many people because my background was not originally rooted in theology or long-term ministry.

Wait... what?

Did they just say I'm NOT supposed to talk about the Savior working in my life because I had only worked in Human Resources and Staffing?  Uhhhhmmmmm... but isn't my precious Jesus ALL I should be focused on sharing?  Am I not called as God's "human resource" to love and spread His gospel to all the world?

Hm.

Y'all have God working through my husband, Chuck, to thank that I'm still here online typing this blog today.  For when it comes to writing for The Devoted Woman, he encourages me to keep sharing Jesus no matter what.  Nonetheless, the argument presented before Chuck was this:  Because I am just a "normal" person... because I do not hold any advance theological degrees or come from a depth of previous ministry experience, I am definitely not suited to be writing about the things of the Lord each day.  (Pause.)  Well personally, I wholeheartedly concur!  Ha ha.  In fact, I've even taken the same argument farther...

When God called me to start DW, my first response was similar to the response of Moses at the burning bush.  "No, Lord, not me!  I'm not the right person.  I can't write, or speak, or do anything like that!  Furthermore, I don't share my personal thoughts very well with strangers.  I know nothing of ministry, nor am I the best character model to represent your Holiness!  I'm too blunt and sarcastic.  I'm not elegant or graceful.  I'm a sinner and then some!  No, Lord.  Nooooo!  Not me!  Really... WHY ME?"

Sigh.  How God must roll His eyes at our hesitation and fear.

Moses said to the Lord, “Pardon your servant, Lord. I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.” The Lord said to him, “Who gave human beings their mouths? Who makes them deaf or mute? Who gives them sight or makes them blind? Is it not I, the Lord? Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.” (Exodus 4:10-12)

Irrespective of my whining and resistance.  I did obey.  And God oversaw every detail of The Devoted Woman and continues to do so to this day.  However, even now, when asked if I think I'm suited to write for DW my response is this, "Baaaaa ha ha ha ha... No!  Absolutely not!"  I find that I pray to God daily about my lack of knowledge and/or motivation.  I am constantly asking Him to show me His Way while trying my best to measure everything with Bible in hand.... but, people, I won't lie. It is HARD to read and study the Bible regularly!  Yes, HARD!  But also, it is necessary if we want to know God intimately.  (And I soooo want to know Him more and more and more!  Don't you?)  We must seek seek seek and love love love Him in every second of our life.

Since receiving Jesus, my life has become a series of progressive marathons in both learned discipline and willing discipleship.  Every day is filled with opportunity that can lead into spiritual growth spurts of exceeding joy as I uncover another layer of God's wonderful, and very personal abundance.  First, miraculously, the Lord usually points out something new to me about His creation, His will, His Headship, His Holiness, etc.  For example, so far this week God has me considering (1) a particular importance regarding Abraham and Sarah's faith, (2) the created existence of June Bugs, (3) how I should be praying more specifically for a certain group of people, (4) my knee-jerk reaction to answered prayer, and (5) what I'm writing to you about RIGHT NOW.  (Perhaps you will see these topics in future blogs?... I don't yet know.  But I'm confident God will make it clear.)

Once a topic is imprinted on my heart, I ask the Holy Spirit to change my thoughts into His thoughts and open my eyes to whatever He wishes me to see.  Then, more often than not, I journal about it and sometimes share it here with y'all.  In this, I must praise His Name because He clearly is with me in my day-to-day moments... His moments.  And as strange as this sounds, He always pulls every random topic together.  God is like that.

Clearly, I am nothing.  He is everything.  He teaches me daily.  He proves Himself faithful.  And I am called to live in obedience while believing and sharing how utterly in awe I am of His unending love.  God has shown me that it is vital to encourage others to devote their days to Jesus and forget worrying about everything else.  For aren't we each called as God's "human resources" to love and spread His gospel to all the world?  Yes indeed, dear Christians.  That is exactly who we are!

Let all creation rejoice before the Lord, for he comes, he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness and the peoples in his faithfulness. (Psalm 96:13)  

So today, I will rejoice!  The Lord is always my God, and I will sing about my Savior's glory.  I will seek and obey His eternal Word.  I will praise the King forever.  And I will share.  Share share share share share Jesus!  Sure, I might not be the most eloquent, the best qualified, or the highest educated... but who in Scripture has ever been any of these things?

Believers, if you are called in Christ to do anything, no matter how crazy it seems...  Answer.  Do.  Go.  Share.  Shout and rejoice!  Because the Lord is always your God!

Sure, haters are gonna hate.
Judgers are gonna judge.
But in the end, Jesus always loves!  So make it your mission to live loving like Jesus!

This is the day to rejoice and be glad in Him!  Thank you, Savior, for the honor of sharing Your Name!  Please give me the courage to continue sharing - all the way to Your Throne!

Blessings!

~Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Thursday, January 28, 2016

good enough

"That's good enough."

I hate when Christians say that.

I hate when I say and accept it.

"Good enough."

What the heck is good enough?

Doesn't that term just cut our ability to live and love like Jesus off at the knees?

Don't we lose something key when we accept it's blasé attitude?

And, with such a disregarding mindset, aren't we nonchalantly inviting in Satan's sinful excuses?

I think we default to "good enough" when we selfishly don't want to be bothered with whatever it is the Lord is challenging us to surrender over to Him.  When we no longer choose to strive for what is godly, but rather, do what seems passable enough in order to avoid making waves.  This is the place where our lukewarm hearts rationalize an unhealthy relationship with Mr. Minimum Effort.  Here is where we teeter on the county lines of the almost.  The so-so.  The toxically tolerable.

"Oh, that's good enough," we defend.  But is it?  Honestly?

What about mirroring the Savior's Way?

What about emulating His holiness in all areas?

Thank goodness that such deficient thinking is not the Way of our Creator.  Let us be thankful that on the seventh day He didn't step back and say that all creation was, well.... good enough.  No, it was GOOD!  Everything God does is good!  Even after man disobeys Him, we still see evidence of His grace... His magnificent splendor prevails in what we foolishly dub as ordinary.  How impressive is the Master's plan!  How intricate are the details and efforts of His perfect design!  We are each fearfully and wonderfully made by the hand of the One who is indeed GOOD!  How excellent is His Name in all the earth!  For the Carpenter builds and constructs perfectly.  The Great Physician heals and restores completely.  And thankfully, the King of kings will never allow His kingdom to come up short.  For He always does things accurately and for good.  In every second that ticks on the clock, He demonstrates that He is holy.  He alone sets the standard for what is unchanging, eternal, sound, perfect!

Friends, the Savior didn't say in John 10:11, "I am the 'good enough' Shepherd...."  No, He said, “I am the GOOD Shepherd." And, the Good Shepherd lays down his life for His sheep and intimately knows His sheep!  As such, He came to save each of us from the sin of "good enough"... from the obvious and immense void that we are tempted to settle for due to our own corrupted human mediocracy.  Thankfully, our Good Shepherd proved His divine identity and unique character by overcoming all sin and death so that we might be restored to His full and holy purpose.  Let me say that again... JESUS HAS MADE IT POSSIBLE FOR EACH OF US TO BE RESTORED TO HIS FULL AND HOLY PURPOSE!  Surely, this is the day to rejoice and be glad in Him!!!

May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.  (Hebrews 13:20-21)

So, why settle for the excuse of "good enough"?  Why accept a quarter or a half when we could enjoy the whole of Christ and be full?  Today, let's claim His holiness and adopt His perfect Way rather than settle any longer!  Get behind us, Satan!  There is more to be had with our King!  Let us embrace and reflect upon His truth:

Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Matthew 5:48)

But when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears.  (1 Corinthians 13:10)

Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God. (2 Corinthians 7:1)

Because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy. (Hebrews 10:14)

Yes, rather than be good enough... let's submit and allow Jesus to perfect us into holiness!  For true goodness is evidenced solely in His character.  He alone is the One who drives out all imperfection!  He alone is GOOD and ENOUGH for us!!!  So, accept no substitute!  Accept nothing less than the excellence of Jesus... The Good Shepherd!  The faithful Redeemer!

Today, accept nothing but God's holy purpose for your life!  Fix your eyes on Him alone, and be blessed as you abide in His perfect Law!  For His truths are eternal, and His gifts are available right now!  So, embrace His perfection.  Follow His Way.  Never settle for second best.  Instead, adopt His goodness!  Strive for His hope.  Live in His assurance.  For He alone is enough!

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:2)

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.  But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it - he will be blessed in what he does. (James 1:17 & 25)

Blessings!

~Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

remove, restore this poorest self of clay

My selfish, covetous heart forgets.
I must have more.
I must have "it".
I must have now...
And once again vanity abounds.

Here I cling to moth and rust,
At peddled dust,
At human lust.

No need in sight,
Just want want want.
Give me.
Get me.
Grant me.
Spoil me.

Foolishly my focus closes in;
To trinkets,
To fragments,
To so much sin.

Grasping, gnawing, clawing to death.
And yet, You bid my soul to rest!
You fill my cup!
You pay my debt!
A sum so large even the Savior wept.

Blessed Redeemer, surely I have been a fool;
Ungrateful,
Unthankful,
Unloyal,
Un-You!

Plant me nearest your peaceful throne,
For I cannot survive a moment on my own.
Without You I am raving mad;
Broken, hardened, ugly, sad.

My health in full depends on You,
So, give me Your eyes, Your ears, Your mind.
Teach me to love.
To care.
To be kind.
Eliminate all obstacles that barricade Your Way.
Remove, restore this poorest self of clay.
Feed Your daily bread to me,
Then come what ever, ere may be.

Thy will, not my want.
Your say.
Your decree.
In this humbling hour of my reality,
Inside this gift You call "today"...
Give me a heart to love.
Give me the strength to serve.
Give me the peace to trust.
Give me, yes, give me Your Word!

Full and satisfied in You.
For no thing, nothing else will do!

Glory to The Lord Almighty on High!
He, Who is my portion and my King!
Let me be full in Christ Jesus!
Let His love be my one and only desired thing!

Blessings!

~Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

letting go and gaining life

The older I get, the more I am learning the difference between giving up and letting go.
The difference between wanting and needing.
The difference between what is essential and what is trivial;
The difference between what should be considered a luxury and what is truly fundamental.

Many expectations are bombarded on us.
Impositions are regularly instigated by Satan, by others, and even by ourselves.

"We must behave a certain way."
"We must possess an impeccable style and charm."
"We must be organized, well-read, educated, and the best at what we do."
"We must appear model beautiful and be desirable to all."
"We must have a family, wealth, and a certain social status."
"We must succeed, and our success must remain equal or better to the would-be expected successes of others."
"We must be more..."

"We must, we must... we must increase our bust!"  (I remember a Christian camp counselor teaching me that chant when I was a pre-teen.  Sigh.)

So... what happens when the beautiful become wrinkled?
What happens when the healthy become weak?
What happens when the wealthy lose their fortune?
What happens when what once defined us no longer exists as a realistic possibility?

The difference between living transparently, cleanly, honestly, and holy or sleepwalking in questionability, pollution, fraud, and disgrace really comes down to letting go of our original expectations.  We must unlearn what we have learned to be truth.  For much of what we think is important in this world really, REALLY, is not.  We are tainted and corrupt, and our ways and expectations are erroneous, imprecise, and faulty from the very start... "every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood." (From the Lord's Word in Genesis 8:21)

So, what do we do?
Do we just give up?
Do we keep walking down a broken path of unrealistic expectations?
Or do we turn to our Creator?
Do we let go of all we think we know and seek after God's more stable, reliable, trustworthy Way?

I used to think that surrendering "my way" to God was a form of giving up and not, in fact, the act of wisely letting go.  But it turns out that letting go and giving every thought, thing, expectation, and desire over to God is the wisest thing we humans can do.

Surrender leads to love.
Sacrifice insures everlasting success.

Jesus says in John 15, "I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.  He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.

My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit - fruit that will last - and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.

This is my command: Love each other." (John 15:1-17)

Isn't it interesting that God's version of success is simply for us to stay close to Him.  To stay connected with His Word.  To remain in His love and share it with others.  God asks us to devote our days to letting go of all other pre-conceived notions and instead focus only on obediently keeping His commands and bearing His fruit.

It seems so much simpler, doesn't it?  Letting go of our would have, should have, must be mindsets and allowing the Vine to feed us.  Trusting His abundant LIFE to fuel our hearts, minds, souls, and strength with His love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  Furthermore, God promises that His Way is everlasting and His Word is eternal.

How do I know?

Well, move with me a chapter over into John 16 and read what Jesus says to his disciples.  Here, Christ has just finished informing everyone that He would depart from them and the Holy Spirit would soon come.  Check out what He says...

"When he (The Holy Spirit) comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: about sin, because people do not believe in me; about righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; and about judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned..."

Now don't stop reading here because this next part is the most important part I want to share:

"I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.” (John 16:8-15)

Did you get that?  Jesus said that He still had MUCH MORE to say to his followers, but knew they could not bear it all at once.  Instead, God promised to send The Holy Spirit to make known to His people what we all need to know... and His Spirit would then guide us into all truth!

Considering this, we must return to the life-giving Vine mindset in our day-to-day.  We must remain connected to God's unchanging, ever-bearing truth.  How do we do that?  We need to be where our Redeemer is alive and active.  Yes... our health, our vitality, our entire life depends upon receiving, digesting, and sharing The Word of The Lord!

"For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.  Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are - yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need."  (Hebrews 4:12-16)

Our devotion to Christ is not something to fit in from time-to-time. It is not something centered around our faulty way of thinking.  No.  Our devotion must regularly bring us to the Master's throne and His Way, His Wisdom.  Our devotion is about seeking Him in order to find and know Him.  And in His presence, at His feet, on His altar, we must let ourselves go.  We must sacrifice what is not of Him in order to stay connected and alive.  We must abide in the living Vine so that we might receive His mercy, find grace, and LIVE FULL!  We must show up frequently and wait upon His timing - for there is more He wishes to share.  There is more His Holy Spirit will show us through His eternal, living Word!

Need more confidence in the Lord?  How about this... God promises to cover all areas of our life.  He will provide exactly what we need when we need it.  He will take on every burden, and He will protect and teach us in His perfect faith, hope, and love!

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (Matthew 6:33)

The older I get, the more I am learning the difference between giving up and letting go.

Surrender leads to love.
Sacrifice insures everlasting success.

Believers, let us seek first the Vine, for we are His branches.  Let us daily approach God’s loving throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive His mercy and receive whatever more He wishes to tell us and teach us through His Word.  We exist to produce His fruit.  We are alive because we live in Him!!!

THIS IS THE DAY!!!

Blessings!

~Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Monday, January 25, 2016

recipe for success

OK, so many years ago I was sitting in my office and drinking a "Raspberry Zinger" iced tea. Out of curiosity, I started to read the ingredients on the label. Wouldn't you know it... in this particular brand of raspberry zinger iced tea there was not a raspberry to be found! Not one!!! Next to the list of ingredients, there was a phone number with the comment, "Got questions about our product, call us at... bla bla bla." So, I decided to call and ask why nobody bothered to think about adding raspberries to a product that implied by it's name that it would maintain such an ingredient. (Clearly, I had too much time on my hands this particular day. Ha ha.)

After a few rings, a young man answered the customer service line. He patiently listened to me read all the ingredients from my tea bottle. Then, I finally questioned him why there were no raspberries included in my raspberry zinger iced tea. Whattup, dude?

There was silence on the other end of the phone for quite some time. Then, finally, the customer service guy simply stated, "Well, I guess that's the zinger now, isn't it?"

WHAT? That's all you have to say?

I'm happy to report that this company has finally corrected the problem and added raspberries to their raspberry zinger iced tea; but overall the experience left me with a sour taste in my mouth. As I see it, if you say you are something... be true to what you advertise! If you claim to have a certain special ingredient in your product... you must actually follow-through and put said ingredient inside the contents.

The same is true in the Christian life. I find that many people casually claim to believe in God. They have faith that He exists and is in control over all things. However, when you really look closely at all the ingredients that make up their lives... much is lacking. The special ingredient of Jesus does not show up in their contents. They do not subscribe to Christ's prescribed recipe for success and thus fall short of what is truly fulfilling. Rather, they drink in all forms of false gods and stimulate their senses with varying idols of hype... all hoping to satisfying their thirst for identity... peace... joy... balance. But the zinger is, without Jesus they will never, ever know those assurances. Without the Savior, they will never taste true freedom or be filled with real love.

God has given us a clear recipe for success in His Word with regard to how we are to live for Him. These include things like the command to love one another (John 13:34-35), the call to follow Him at the cost of denying our own desires (Matthew 16:24), the exhortation to care for the poor and needy (James 1:27), the warning to not fall into sinful behaviors like those who don’t know God (1 Thessalonians 5:6-8), and the list goes on and on. He summarized a life lived for God when a teacher of the law asked Him the most important of commandments. He replied, “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these” (Mark 12:29-31).

Also, Jesus’ prayer prior to His crucifixion sheds light as to what our purpose should be. In reference to those that follow Christ, He prayed, “I have given them the glory you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world. Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.” (John 17:22-26)

In short, our eternal recipe for success is to glorify God and enjoy His presence forever. We must live completely FOR Him and completely WITH Him. We must pursue Him with our entire being – heart, soul, mind, and strength. We must seek Him in the only place He may be found—in His Word. Therefore, we must dive into scripture regularly and seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit to apply the Word to our lives. Scripture says that we are to abide in Christ (John 15:4, 8) and therefore act like Him - truthfully representing on the outside what we claim to be on the inside. As we draw nearer to God and come to know Him more and more, His desires will more naturally become ours. He will correct our problem of sin. He will add in the missing ingredient of holiness. And as we mature in Him, our desire to obey and love Him will increase.

I encourage every DW to honestly determine if Jesus is really the main ingredient in your life. Ask yourself... do you KNOW Him? Are you representing a truthful life of love and service in His Name, or are you just claiming to be something you are not and focusing on things you should not.

Jesus said, “If you love me, you will obey what I command.” (John 14:15) Have you bothered to regularly learn what He has said? Have you taken time to know His eternal truths? Have you aligned yourself with the Master in order to be filled with His unending grace and love? Have you walked away from childish, worldly things so that you may be filled and satisfied in the Savior? "When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me." (1 Corinthians 13:11)

Ladies, this is the day to step into the anointed and abide in Jesus. This is the day to add His holiness into your life and rejoice as you live truthfully in what you claim to believe. "Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says." (James 1:22)

Take time to be holy,
speak oft with thy Lord;
abide in Him always,
and feed on His Word.
Make friends of God's children,
help those who are weak,
forgetting in nothing
His blessing to seek.

Take time to be holy,
the world rushes on;
spend much time in secret
with Jesus alone.
By looking to Jesus,
like him thou shalt be;
thy friends in thy conduct
His likeness shall see.

Take time to be holy,
let Him be thy guide,
and run not before Him,
whatever betide.
In joy or in sorrow,
still follow the Lord,
and, looking to Jesus,
still trust in His Word.

Take time to be holy,
be calm in thy soul,
each thought and each motive
beneath His control.
Thus led by His spirit
to fountains of love,
thou soon shalt be fitted
for service above.
(W.D. Longstaff, 1882)

THIS IS THE DAY to throw some fresh raspberries in your iced tea and enjoy the holy zing - the vitality of JESUS in your life! WOO HOO! Let's live like we mean it and add in the only ingredient... the only One worth savoring! Let's be true to what we are advertising and claim Jesus Christ as the primary content in our life. Then, let's follow through and seek after His daily presence and guidance! Holy Holy Holy is the Lord God Almighty! Blessed be His Name!!!

Blessings!

Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Friday, January 22, 2016

home... sweet HOME

Home.

Shelter where we rest and replenish.
An oasis where we enjoy freedom...
Freedom to feel and be our truest.
A united boundary of comfort and safety adorned with personal reminders of whom and what we love and cherish most.

Home.
Headquarters.
Sanctuary.

What gratitude I have for sacred, hallowed home.  For home is so very important.  Home is simple and uncomplicated.  Home is solitude and silence.  And, amazingly, home is also love, abundance, and welcomeness.  Home is open arms, grace, enrichment... heart.  Home is where dreams and creativity and hope can live... where we can live!  Home is, well... HOME!

But what about those who do not have a home?
How do they breathe?
Where is their peaceful place of renewal?
Where is their freedom and warmth?

And, what about those who have allowed their home to be infiltrated by a bully - or perhaps many bullies?  Disorganization, chaos, baggage, intruders... these trespasses do not belong in our home.  These trespasses do not belong anywhere!  Yet, we can thoughtlessly allow such pirates, thieves, meddlers, and crooks to invade and overpower our space.  We open our doors and let them in - weighing us down in bondage and overwhelming us with weariness.  These are hijackers to our haven.  They hinder.  They cripple.  They lodge and clog and impede life... forcing us to suffer and tolerate what should be prohibited and forbidden.  Yuck!

Wait... what happened to home?  What happened to uncomplicated freedom and life?

(Pausing to consider all this...)

How heartbroken do you think our King Creator must have been when mankind first allowed Satan to bully and infiltrate home?  Furthermore, how loving and generous is our Almighty Maker who still extends His arms out to us and welcomes our return to Him?  Thankfully, the Shepherd lovingly calls every foolish, stubborn, wandering sheep to return to the flock.  Yes, we need not be homesick anymore - for we need not be lost.  We need not be bullied.  We need not be without.  We need not be homeless.  For Jesus is here with His arms open, with His grace ready, with His enrichment available... with His heart!!!  Glory!!!  Let us find rest for our souls near His big, beautiful heart.  Come home, little lambs.  Come to Jesus.

Home.
Headquarters.
Sanctuary.
JESUS!

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30)

We have so much to learn about home, don't we?  We have so much to appreciate and be thankful for in the security of these precious temple walls.  So, let's start today in humble thanksgiving.  Let's praise the Savior and rejoice for HE IS GOOD!  He is our shelter, and in His care we can rest and be replenished.  He is our oasis - our place of peace, plenty, safety, happiness.  With Him, we can enjoy the freedom to feel and be our truest, our best, our holiest.  Under His wing, we are promised comfort and safety and eternity in the kingdom of God!  So let us adorn ourselves with personal reminders of whom and what we love and cherish most.  Let us decorate our hearts with His perfect ways.  Let us clothe ourselves in His glory.  Let us live and breathe and love and dream in His limitlessness!  For He is our beloved and we are His!

Home.
Headquarters.
Sanctuary.
JESUS!

Happy home... sweet HOME!

Blessings!

~Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson




Thursday, January 21, 2016

now I see

Last night, I was in bed listening to a playlist of Andrea Bocelli's music while trying to relax and fall asleep.  As I closed my eyes and absorbed the magnificence of his voice coupled with the soothing orchestral background, I began thinking about this man's life. For those of you who don't know who Andrea Bocelli is, here is a short biography...

In 1958, Bocelli was born in Tuscany, Italy, and grew up on his family's farm.  He was born with severe congenital glaucoma which affected his sight, ultimately causing him to go blind after a soccer accident at the age of twelve.  However, Bocelli always held a great love for music.  So much so, that after losing his sight, his mother noted that music was the only thing that would truly comfort him. Bocelli learned to play several instruments throughout his life and loved to sing.  He was a natural operatic tenor.  By the time Bocelli reached adulthood, he worked his way through law school while performing nights in local piano bars. In 1992, the famous tenor, Luciano Pavarotti, heard a demo tape of Bocelli and liked his voice so much that he urged others to promote the blind singer.  This ultimately led to a successful singing career along with great fame and fortune... all because one blind man loved music.

Some of you may know that my father was also blind.  He was diagnosed at the age of fourteen with juvenile diabetes which ultimately caused him to lose his sight in early adulthood.  Although my father's life did not result in fame or fortune in this world, he did spend his days working, enjoying his family, and sharing the message of Jesus with others.  Blindness would not stop him from his favorite hobby either.  He loved carpentry and was quite talented at making furniture.  In addition to furniture, he used his skills to create all sorts of training pieces to teach Braille to individuals who were facing permanent blindness.  My father was a wonderful, Christian man who lived to love and serve Jesus by loving and serving others.

Anyway, last night I was listening to Bocelli's rendition of Ave Maria, and I started to think about his life as a blind man.  Then I started to remember my dad.  You see, to teach us about blindness, my father would blindfold my brother and me for an afternoon and encourage us to live as he did, without sight.  We'd call them "Blind Days" and would playfully bumble and fumble around the house while attempting to manage getting around without the use of our eyes.  We'd even do our chores this way!  However, at the end of the day we had the luxury to remove the blindfold... to see life again.  My father, unfortunately, did not.

This activity taught me many things about living in blindness.  First, it taught me the importance of order.  For without order, a blind person would stumble over things and easily become injured.  Second, it taught me the importance of paying attention and listening well.  After losing one's sight, the gift of hearing is greatly relied upon to get by.  In fact, my father would say that his hearing improved after his sight went because he was forced to pay attention to what was going on around him in a very different way.  Third, blindness taught me the importance of being grateful.  Did you know that the majority of married couples who must confront blindness as a trial ultimately end up divorced?  Furthermore, many blind individuals easily fall into depression and are at greater risk to commit suicide.  Without the ability to "see" all that they have - to be grateful and enjoy other areas of life (such as music) - a blind person can fall into great despair and become defeated in sorrow.

I closed my eyes last night and experienced the handsome tenor voice of Bocelli.  I thought about how beautiful this man could sing.  How wonderfully blessed I was to enjoy the gift of hearing... of experiencing this gorgeous music.  Then I thought about my Jesus.

For once, I too, was blind.  Once I was lost and in need of spiritual sight.  Then I learned of Christ's mercies and accepted Him as my Redeemer.  And from that moment on, Jesus became my Vision.  Now, even though I am unable to physically see the Creator with my weak, human eyes, I am blessed to find His order all around me.  Even though I am unable to focus upon the lovely face of my Teacher, my spirit knows to pay attention... to seek His instruction.  I am actively listening for my Savior's voice.  I am anxiously awaiting His guidance and direction.  For I trust Him.  I know that He is good.  I've experienced his blessings first hand and rely upon His holy, perfect words to see me through the storms of this sinful, sightless world.  For He sees what I do not.  He knows the path.  He is the Light that will get me home.  His ways are bigger and better and greater than my own.  Daily, I will rejoice and worship Him rather than despair or sorrow in temporary trials.  For my human blindness is with me only for a short while.  Soon, my sight will be renewed and I will have the luxury to remove the blindfold of corruption from my eyes!  But I must remain willing to undergoing the full restoration He has planned.  I must be open to what He is trying to teach me.

Ladies, can you see Him?  Is your eternity secure as you trust the Light of the World to guide you home and remove the scales of sin from your eyes?  Or are you allowing Satan to consume you hearts with the despair and sorrow of earthly things?  Trust me when I tell you - there is more to see than the here and now!

Because of Jesus, this ole' blind girl is renewed and grateful for the grace that her Almighty Father continues to bestow each and every day as He teaches her to walk without the reliance of her human eyes.  I am relaxing in His order and am trusting His plan of Redemption.  I am believing His promise to lead me home into His secure and loving arms... all because My Savior first loved me.

Praise His Holy Name for I no longer live in darkness.  Close your earthly eyes with me and listen.  Do you hear His handsome, magnificent voice?  Are you seeking His astounding, unending, irrefutable presence!  For He is the blessing... the comfort in which you can depend on and be grateful for.  He is more beautiful than music.  More valuable than vision.  More glorious than anything you will ever see or encounter.

Hallelujah to The King of Kings!  Glory to His Holy Name on High!  I was once blind, but now... ahhh now, I SEE MY JESUS!!!  AMEN!

I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth.  These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them. (Isaiah 42:16)

Be Thou My Vision, Oh Lord of my heart!

Blessings!

Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

a note from an open introvert

How much of yourself do you hide from others?
How openly do you share your REAL self?
How transparent and genuine are you to grant access to your inner life... to share your heart with those whom you will encounter as you represent Jesus and walk through this human life?
Are you repressive to keep yourself safely guarded so as not to get hurt?
Or are your arms open wide, ready to embrace and love without restriction... without fear?

As a born introvert (INFJ), it has always been challenging for me to bare my soul without first building up some form of inner defense and protection system around my heart. It has never been my way to freely share without first insuring that I felt emotional safe and in control. Because of this, I must tell you that it is difficult to wake up each morning and intentionally choose to expose my fragile imperfect heart to others - deciding to follow Christ's example to love unselfishly with the kind of love that holds no agenda for my own personal gain... the kind of love that exposes His heart, His way, rather than my own.

No, admittedly my natural comfort zone does not default directly to sharing God's holy kind of love with others. I wish it did. But in truth, I know that without Him I am selfish and weak. My heart is sensitive and can hurt deeply when mistreated. So I have had difficulty choosing to always love a world that has beaten me up and bruised me emotionally. This world has let me down and disappointed me in so many ways that I am constantly questioning God's call to expose myself. His call seems so vulnerable... so foreign... so raw. It seems crazy to choose to "go there" willingly. Even today, I struggle to write about my spiritual walk in this very blog. You see, before The Devoted Woman I would have never disclosed so many personal details about my life... so many feelings, fears, hurdles and shortcomings.

As an introvert I have never been excited to share with others any inner "drama" or my ongoing struggle to live holy. I have usually been more conservative in my spiritual walk. In the past, the idea of being "out there" and accessible for people (and the enemy) to dissect, take shots at, or mistreat... well, it made me skeptical to outwardly dip my toe into God's gushing river of perfect love, much less dive right in and splash around others with the truth of His grace. No, before DW, I was spiritually shy. Emotional guarded. And both these traits were physically evident by the "padding" my body built up to ward off intruders.

Graciously, God has been patient with me as I have grown to understand His purpose for my life. He has given me understanding that in order for the the Spirit of the Lord to be on me, I am to embrace His anointing and preach the good news while proclaiming the FREEDOM of His glory. I must stop guarding myself or worrying about the brokenness that sin has brought on. For as a redeemed child of the King, He has taken over my life and has promised to take care of me while He continues to perform a great work in me and heal my heart. I am being made new. Because of this holy transformation and divine protection, I can stop guarding myself from being vulnerable and instead live my life transparently by loving everyone as Jesus did. I can sing His praises to the world and showcase my Master as the Redeemer of my life. I can be open!

This is what God the LORD says - he who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and all that comes out of it, who gives breath to its people, and life to those who walk on it: "I, the LORD, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand. I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles, to open eyes that are blind, to free captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness. Sing to the LORD a new song, his praise from the ends of the earth. (Isaiah 42:5-8, 10a)

Sometimes loving others requires speaking hard biblical truths to encourage what is right over what is popular. Sometimes being open means loving the unlovable or giving the unthinkable with our time and resources. This can prove a difficult challenge because the line of healthy vs. non-healthy boundaries can become cloudy when you are faced with the struggle against sin.

Nonetheless, despite what loving others may entail... I am grateful that the Holy Spirit continues to answer my prayers to clarify His purpose. He is leading me through rough emotional fires in order to refine my faith and continues to protect and shield my heart from harm. Because of this, today I am reflecting on His absolute covering and the freedom His identity gives to live openly and love wholeheartedly.

This is the call of Christianity. To lay down everything, especially our guarded inner protective selves, and to replace our worry and hurt with His open wondrous promise of hope to save a lost and dying world. Our lives are living testimonies intended to expose His glory. We are breathing examples of His grace... the walking redeemed who have been blessed to sacrifice over to Him all our days for the purpose and honor and benefit of advancing His kingdom.

Jesus is LOVE. With our whole lives, we are to duplicate His LOVE to everyone we encounter. We are to mirror and embrace our Savior's heart while sharing the peace of belonging to Him, even in the most tumultuous moments. When necessary, we are to be willing to reveal every trial, every fear, every feeling, every insecurity in order to allow the Light of the World to be unveiled - even within our deepest, most protected parts. Ladies, God wants us to freely face this life, with all it's burdens, in faith... believing that He is cleansing us from what is unholy and using us to reveal His glory in a very real, very personal way.

So, with this in mind I'll ask again... How much of yourself do you hide from others?
How openly do you share Christ's personal workings within your life?
How transparent and genuine are you to grant access for others to see the inner renovations currently underway and taking place inside you?
Do you freely allow people to see Jesus as a very real, very personal Redeemer and King?
Are you repressive to keep yourself safely guarded to protect yourself from this world?
Or are your arms open wide, ready to embrace and love without restriction.

Let's allow God to take on the full responsibility of protecting us from harm. Let's trust Him to bestow upon us His holy peace. Let's live in freedom as we grow spiritually and live transparently through every circumstance. And let's ask Him to teach us to relax under His covering, breathing in His grace and exhaling out His love to a world that so desperately needs to see and receive Him.

Are you ready to sacrifice your deepest parts in order to share His message?
Are you willing to offer up your life, your love, so that His Name may be glorified through your individual experience.
Are you OPEN?

A gift opens the way for the giver and ushers him into the presence of the great. (Proverbs 18:16)

Blessings!

~Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

today... roar!


Today...
Today so much is going on... so much weight is upon me.
Today, I am torn between empowerment and helplessness.
For in my head, "I am woman! Hear me roar!"
But in my heart, oh Lord, I am beaten down.
I am weakened by fear, and troubled by earthly disappointment and expectation.

Today, outwardly I appear fine. But you know how deeply I am shaken.
I am fragile... broken... barren... helpless.
I am bogged down and my vision is clouded with earthly details.
Today, there is too much and too little...
Too much to think about. Too little that I can control.
Today, it is clear that "I" am more than I can handle.
Today, this world is bigger than I can manage on my own.

And yet, today...
This is the day.
You tell me this is THE DAY to rejoice and be glad.
Why? Because YOU are my God.
Thankfully, in Jesus Name, YOU have promised me peace and health and life and freedom and love.
(And oh, how I love YOUR love.)

When I consider all this, indeed, I can rejoice in YOUR truth.
I am certain that what you say is accurate, unchanging, eternal.
You have proven your headship and your hope is apparent!
So, rejoice... be glad... Yes, I can. I will. I must!
For you alone are worthy of this honor.
You alone are worthy of my praise.
You alone are strong enough to rule as KING!

Today...
Today, I do trust that you've got me covered.
Today, I do believe I am new in YOUR grace.
Still in my effort to praise, how quickly my feet can sink...
How easily my eyes can lose focus.
For logically, I know I cannot walk on water.
It is not reasonable. It is not scientifically possible. It is not human.
Yet, here you are - inviting me to step forward in faith.
You are eager to show me that anything is possible in YOUR Name!
For you are not limited by human reason, science, or even boundaries.
YOU are God! My God!
And you alone have offered to prevent my drowning by extending out your heroic hand so that I will not sink.
You patiently allow me to regroup and instruct me to fixate my eyes on you alone.
And when I do take notice, I am reminded how truly beautiful you are, dear Savior.

So, yes... with your help, I will fixate, abide, trust, rejoice and focus...
Today, I will proceed forward YOUR WAY.
A WAY higher than my own.
A WAY insuring me victory!

Today...
Yes, today I choose to believe.
And today, Lord, please help me believe.
Strengthen my faith and carry my yoke.
Guide me through these turbulent storms.
I trust YOU and wish to always follow My Shepherd's call.

So, continue to lead me to safety...
Lead me outside my own will.
Introduce me once again to your holy place.
And let me walk wisely, fully, relaxed, renewed.... intimately embraced within the safety of your loving, protective arms.

Today...
Today, I am yours, dear Jesus.
Use this little lamb as you see fit.

Today... for your glory!
Today... for your kingdom!
Today... I will rejoice and be glad!
Today is THE DAY!
Today is YOUR WAY!

Today, my dear Master... may YOUR ROAR be heard!
And today, my precious Redeemer... may my roar be YOURS!

Ladies, no matter what is going on in your life - this is the day to proclaim Jesus is LORD!!! All hail the power of Jesus Name and allow Him to rule your life this day!

Consider this: How will you live and WHO will you give TODAY?

Blessings!

~Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson



Saturday, January 16, 2016

nothing is too hard for the Lord!

Then the LORD said to Abraham, "Why did Sarah laugh and say, 'Will I really have a child, now that I am old?' Is anything too hard for the LORD? I will return to you at the appointed time next year and Sarah will have a son." (Genesis 18:13-14)

Isn't it nice to know that God can do ANYTHING?... that He can fix ANY of our problems?

Sarah's response in the passage above is soooo genuine. Having a child at her age seemed like all kinds of crazy! Abraham was also very honest in his questioning. I'm sure that to him God's promises seemed like a dream... not a reality. For what God was promising this couple seemed impossible. It seemed undoable. But God assured them that nothing is impossible or undoable in His hands. And regardless of their uncertainty, God delivered! God came through and did exactly what He said He would do. Hallelujah to our King for He is faithful to His word!!!

We must remember this in our own lives. When things seem impossible for God to come though on our behalf, we must focus on the promises and plans that He has mapped out for us in scripture. His word is absolute, people. It will indeed come to pass. However, we must take care to realize that God works at His appointed time in our lives. He comes through on His schedule... not ours. Why? Because He not only knows what trial is best for us, but when the trial must occur and be resolved so that we receive the most benefit and give Him all the glory. He has the authority to know our whole life and has created our existence with purpose. We must always remember to live faithfully trusting His plan. We must not try to take matters into our own hands and selfishly attempt to find our own way outside of God. No, we must trust that God's way will always be better, healthy, and more complete than we could ever imagine or achieve!

Ladies, don't rush ahead and try to find your own solutions to the trials God has put before you. And don't lose faith and accept defeat from the enemy while in those trials. God calls us to trust Him with all our hearts! We must not lean on our own understanding of what seems impossible to accomplish. Instead, we must be deliberate to acknowledge His rule in all matters so that we can follow Him and allow Him to direct our paths to a holy solution! Remember, He is faithful and has promised great plans to prosper us and give us His complete abundance and fullness.

Do you believe that? Are you living your life trusting His truth? Believe and trust your mighty, powerful, all-knowing Redeemer... He will redeem! He will come through and deliver! He will save those who seek and follow His way! That's a promise you can bank on!

Trust His timing. Trust His intentions. Trust His Word! Why? Because nothing... NOTHING is too hard for the LORD!

"I am the LORD, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me?" (Jeremiah 32:27)

For no word from God will ever fail. (Luke 1:37)

Blessings!

~Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Friday, January 15, 2016

Lord... LORD!

Lord... LORD!
I need you.
I simply need YOU!!!
I am worn out.
Worn down.
Worn.

I need a breath.
I need Your breath.
I need Your presence...
Your favor.
Your hope.
Yes, I need Your assurance, Lord!
For today has sucked me dry in this cursed, selfish land.
Now, here I stand.
Naked.
Void.
Famished for Your peace.
Seeking Your wisdom and understanding.
Seeking Your perfect.

I come thirsty.
Face down.
Humble.
Hungry.
Offering myself alone to You.
Calling desperately upon Your righteous Name.
Please hear me, Jesus!
For I am weary and in need of Your rest.

Lord... LORD!
Come!
Make haste and help me!
Coddle me.
Cover me.
Father me.
Be here... with me!
Be still alongside me this hour...
Soothe, and heal, and repair.
Bring me into Your knowledge and light.
So that my hope will be restored.
Yes, relieve my anxious panting.
Settle and calm these lowly nerves.
For I am abused and broken down.

I am helpless...  human...  me.
And cannot survive without holy...  higher...  YOU!

Lord... LORD!
I need you.
I simply need YOU!!!
I am worn out.
Worn down.
Worn.

Be my shield.
Be my fortress.
Be my strength.
Be my helper.
Be my Holy!!!

Lord... LORD!
Hear my cry.
Remain my immediate and everlasting Salvation!

Lord, all my desire is before thee; and my groaning is not hid from thee.  My heart panteth, my strength faileth me: as for the light of mine eyes, it also is gone from me. Forsake me not, O Lord: O my God, be not far from me.  Make haste to help me, O Lord my salvation. (Psalm 38:10-11; 21-22)

Blessings!

Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson


Thursday, January 14, 2016

more than us

While there is no debating that there are many over-the-top, self indulgent fanatics out there who falsely claim the Name of Jesus (and several wanna-be deities and gods) for their own "spiritually" misguided purposes, it is most difficult for me to be mass-labeled and grouped alongside them as some kind of "crazy" person whenever I speak about my life-changing decision to believe that Jesus is the One, true Messiah.  What exactly makes me crazy?  I simply have chosen to believe that Someone (Jesus) did what He said He would do.  Mind you, I realize that the "something" He accomplished remains undeniably impossible for the rest of us to achieve, but that monumental detail does not sway me from my decision.  In fact, from my perspective, it only strengthens His credibility alongside the first-hand testimonies of those who witnessed His miracles and later saw the proof of His resurrection, thus further acknowledging Him as the Son of God.

For why would I claim a Christ who isn't more than myself... or who isn't more than any of us?  Why would I believe in a Redeemer who wasn't able to follow-through with what I desperately needed in order to be redeemed?  That wouldn't make any sense, would it?  For there can be no salvation if there is no Savior.  So, without this specific Someone (Jesus) doing that extraordinary, impossible something He said He would do, all I'm left with are great men of history who are well... still only finite men.  Alas, even the greatest of mankind cannot save me from sin and death.  No, clearly there is no debate (or eternal hope) there.  For all of mankind is corrupt and unholy.  There is no denying that all men have sinned, and thus, will ultimately, humanly, die.  So, clearly men cannot do what Jesus did.  Men cannot save me.  Rather, finite men pass away and are ultimately forgotten. But Jesus cannot be outlived or forgotten.  He is not finite, but infinite.  He is more than us.  He is better.  He is holy.  He is eternal.  He is love AND He lives.

He (Jesus) is God.

So, I think it is appropriate to frequently share exactly what I believe about Him.
For He is the One more than me... the One who has proven Himself greater than any of us:
  • I believe that God Almighty is the ultimate authority over all the universe.
  • I also believe that God's Word is infallible, unchanging, and made available to those who truly seek Him.  
  • I believe that Jesus represents God in human flesh and that His Holy Spirit actively lives in the hearts of His people.  
  • I believe that The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are co-equal and co-eternal God.  
  • I believe that without the generous act of Jesus to sacrificially die on my behalf, I would be broken forever because without the gift of God's forgiveness, my inherent corruption and sin would insure me eternal death and separation from His perfection.
  • I believe all mankind has sinned and needs to be forgiven by God... that there is no one righteous person except Jesus, the Messiah.
  • I believe that God loves people and longs to be with each of us.
  • I believe that God cannot tolerate mankind's sinfulness because He is holy.
  • I believe, that God sent Jesus (His Son) as the only solution for our sin problem.
  • I believe that Jesus sacrificially chose to die on the cross for me, after living a sinless life, in order to take on the punishment and burden of my sin and save me from eternal death and separation from His presence.  
  • Most importantly, I believe that Jesus overcame death by rising up from the grave and living again.  
  • I believe that Jesus is alive today in Heaven, preparing a place for me and all others who believe He is the Messiah.
  • I believe that Jesus has the only authority to forgive me of my sin and transform my life forever.
  • I believe that His salvation is a gift of God's grace.
  • I believe that ANYONE who chooses to accept and follow Jesus will find His new holy life and infinite love to be better than the old corrupt and broken ways of this sinful world.
  • Furthermore, as a follower of Jesus, I believe that nothing can ever separate me from God's love because I have chosen to receive His eternal covenant in His Son's Name.  Much like a bride would accept the proposal and name of her new groom, I have taken on the eternal Name of my beautiful, sweet Jesus and have chosen His new Way of life as my own!  I am now part of God's family forever and cannot be lost away from Him because Jesus overcame my sin and death on the cross!  I am His, and He is mine.
  • With Jesus' supportive Word and ongoing help, I choose to live my life loving God with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength.  I choose to reflect the love and holiness of Jesus Christ to all the world.  I choose to share with as many people as I am able the good news of His eternal kingdom by sharing the gospel of Someone (Jesus) who did what He said He would do.

Yes, Jesus is definitely more than us.  He is better.  He is eternal.  He is extraordinary, and memorable, and holy.  In short, I think it is absolutely crazy for someone not to believe in Jesus the Messiah!  Don't you?

Thank the Lord, He is risen and ready to save ALL men!  How I pray that we would each choose to follow His love and share His Way with anyone still in need of receiving God's promised, holy heritage.  What a wonderful new life is available in Christ - an intimate, eternal relationship with the God who made us and loves us unconditionally!

Yes, I choose to believe in Jesus.
I believe that He is God.
I believe that He is the only Messiah.
I love Him with all my heart, and I am thankful that He accomplished what I could not.
Praise God, He is more than me.
He did what He said He would do.

He lives.  He redeems.  He loves... forever!  He is Lord of all!  He is Messiah and King of kings!

Come!  Believe Jesus, and be saved by the One, true Savior!!!

Blessings!

~Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson


Wednesday, January 13, 2016

breathtaking, astounding, noteworthy, newsworthy

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path. (Psalm 119:105)

All too often I find myself blurting, blundering, and rambling on and on.  I flub up.  I vociferate, orate, and surely irritate.  You see, I don't always think before I speak.  As such, my words hit the air in record-breaking embarrassment, leaving a babbling brook of grandstanding jabber that offers no refreshment to anyone listening - including myself... especially myself!  In fact, I really am sick of hearing myself talk.  I grow weary from some of the ridiculous rants produced by my own anxiousness and irresponsibility.  Words that prove how disturbing, how uncomfortable, how unholy my heart truly is when I am not exclusively seeking after the peace of Jesus Christ.  When I rush past Jesus.  When I am distracted with myself.  When I forget to allow God's disciplined Way to wisely relieve me of the sin that festers within.

And I'm not alone in this.  For there are no valuable words that any of us can offer that do not first originate from our perfect Creator.  So, why are we all talking so much?  Why so many discussions about meaningless things?  What could we possibly have to say without Jesus?  Why are each of us in such a hurry to focus on the irrelevant?  And, why are we quick and eager to take credit for any type of accomplishment?  Perhaps to be noticed on our own?  Perhaps a selfish need to be heard?... To say anything and utter everything we can think up and spew out in order to gain our own exposure and hopefully be considered and applauded - even if outside of God's will?  Does that bring glory to Jesus? (I think we both know the answer to these questions.)

"Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God. God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few." (Ecclesiastes 5:2)

Few words.
Deliberate words.
Humble words.
Loving words.
Words that bring attention to the King.
Words spoken to always bring glory to God's Throne.

Isn't it interesting how powerful our words can become when we slow them down, and when we choose to speak the gentle, unchanging truths of the Savior?  Grace is most definitely evidenced in His unlimited amounts when we choose to limit our own tongue for the sake of His eternal kingdom.

So, dear Believer, TODAY let your words be few.  Make a point to study and know His righteous Way so that you have purpose in your speech.  Let us no longer bewilder one another with our own distracting, false dogma and selfish desires for attention.  For there is only one God.  There is only one Person who is eternal.  There is only one Law... one Gospel... one remarkable reason to even get up in the morning and open our mouths at all.  So, slow down and be still in Him.  Worship His Name in every exhaled soundbite.  For our great King is breathtaking, astounding, noteworthy, newsworthy.  Amen.

This is the day to respectfully ask the Redeemer to re-teach each of us how to speak.  To trust Him to take control of our tongues - instructing us how to adopt and proclaim the Son's in-door voice as our own while we continue to prepare ourselves for the great House of the Lord Almighty.

Let us surrender our lips to serve only Him... in order to relieve a chattering, anxious, shadowed world of sin... in order to walk safely in His perfect light and love... in order to share the only One breathtaking, astounding, noteworthy, newsworthy.

Nothing more need be said.

XOX!

~Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

waking up from the altar of self


"My sons, do not be negligent now, for the Lord has chosen you to stand before him and serve him..." (2 Chronicles 29:11) 

 We live in scary and uncertain times. We live in a world where strong economies are unstable and fragile. We live in a world where peaceful freedoms come with a corrupt cost. We live in a world driven by the ugliness of fake beauty and the wealthiness of insecure power. We live in a world where problems are so complex that it is easier to give in, give over, give up. We live in a world where our acceptance and tolerance to worldly things and selfish lifestyles have further positioned the enemy to prowl around our homes, our communities, our countries... waiting to strike. Waiting to dissolve our families. Waiting to empty our churches. Waiting for our children and grandchildren to be unfamiliar with biblical truths. The enemy is scheming every moment to get each and every Christian to become so much in denial and desperate for their own comfort that they would surrender to ANYTHING just to feel safe and satisfied. Some would even renounce their beliefs and follow false faiths just to prevent harm, discomfort or persecution. This is where we live. A time when men have bowed down to worship at the altar of SELF.

Friends, the idolatry of SELF has at its core the three lusts found in 1 John 2:16: “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.” The idols of today are many and varied. Even for those who do not bow down in the physical sense before a statue, today our world has fallen victim to the worst forms of idolatry... pride, self-centeredness, greed, gluttony, a love for possessions and an ultimate rebellion against God and His Word.

As Matthew Henry put it... "The world draws the heart from God; and the more the love of the world prevails, the more the love of God decays. The things of the world are classed according to the three ruling inclinations of depraved nature. 

1. The lust of the flesh, of the body: wrong desires of the heart, the appetite of indulging all things that excite and inflame sensual pleasures. 

2. The lust of the eyes: the eyes are delighted with riches and rich possessions; this is the lust of covetousness. 

3. The pride of life: a vain man craves the grandeur and pomp of a vain-glorious life; this includes thirst after honour and applause. 

The things of the world quickly fade and die away; desire itself will ere long fail and cease, but holy affection is not like the lust that passes away. The love of God shall never fail. Many vain efforts have been made to evade the force of this passage by limitations, distinctions, or exceptions. Many have tried to show how far we may be carnally-minded, and love the world; but the plain meaning of these verses cannot easily be mistaken. Unless this victory over the world is begun in the heart, a man has no root in himself, but will fall away, or at most remain... unfruitful. Yet these vanities are so alluring to the corruption in our hearts, that without constant watching and prayer, we cannot escape the world, or obtain victory over the god and prince of it."

I challenge you today to take a hard look at the things you are allowing and accepting in your life. I also challenge you to stand up and stop being negligent any longer to things that are not of the Lord. He has called you to follow Him... really FOLLOW HIM. It is not easy - but it is right and healthy and good. I say this in love... like an alarm clock going off... WAKE UP! His Kingdom is coming!!!

I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your deeds complete in the sight of my God. Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; obey it, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you. (Revelation 3:1-3)

Following Jesus is our only hope to LIVE. He challenges all this world offers... He gives true certainty. He is stable and strong. He is peace. He gives freedom. He is beautiful. He is wealthy. He is the Redeemer... the Restorer... The Day Spring. With Jesus, we are conquerors. We have health. We have family. We have truth. We are secure and fulfilled and safe. He is the ONLY answer. Let Him take over and remove the altar of self from your life as you abide in Him fully.

But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God's holy people. (WAKE UP! Is this in your life?) Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, (How about this?)... but rather thanksgiving.

For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person — such a man is an idolater — has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God's wrath comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be partners with them. For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.

Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for it is light that makes everything visible. This is why it is said:

"Wake up, O sleeper,
rise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you."

Be very careful, then, how you live — not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, (Every opportunity is a choice to follow JESUS!) because the days are evil.

Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is. (Do you know the Lord's will? Do you know His Word?) Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. (Ephesians 5:3-21)

Dear readers, I love you... so please, WAKE UP! Stop hitting the snooze button any longer! Stop laying under a covering of what you know to be unpleasing to God and get up and live for Jesus today! If you truly believe God’s Word, then cherish it, study it, obey it, and fully trust it. To dismiss His Word is to dismiss God Himself. Do not give into the sin of this scary and uncertain world. Follow the Way... FOLLOW HIM!

Do this, understanding the present time. The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave decently, as in the daytime... clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature. (Romans 13:11-14)

Wake up... Wake up.... In Jesus Name... WAKE UP!

Blessings!

~Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Saturday, January 9, 2016

to be or not to be

The LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.  (Genesis 2:7)

Forward.
We were made to move forward.
We are living, breathing, beings.
Made to be.
Intended to exist.
We were not made to die.
But rather, to continue.  To persist.  To endure.
Always moving forward.
Forward to the Throne.
Forward to the King.
Forward to God's presence.
Forward to our Creator!

Yes, God intended for each of us to be present in His presence...
Always seeking Him first.
Always loving Him first.

He calls us to live successfully.
To be holy in His Name.
Yes, our existence is intended for a joyful life with Him... to "be" in Christ.

Be fruitful.
Be strong.
Be courageous.
Be thankful.
Be kind.
Be humble.
Be merciful.
Be wise.
Be trustworthy.
Be glad.
Be patient.
Be still.
Be ready.
Be faithful.
Be obedient.
Be hopeful.
Be loving.
Be united.
Be disciples.
Be witnesses.
Be a blessing.
Be blessed.
Be holy.
Be saved.
Be like Jesus.

We are to BELIEVE (be-lieve) in Him.  Etymologically speaking: we are to "hold Him dear; to care, to desire, to love" Him.  We are meant to live fully devoted... in real time, today, this very hour - exclusively for God alone.  Moving forward in His grace.  Forward, while securely surrounded in His love.

Friends, if we are not moving forward to Jesus, we are clearly moving backwards. Simply put, we are either with Him or against Him.  As such, if we do not choose to know, practice, and most importantly, BELIEVE the Word of God Almighty with our whole hearts, souls, minds, and strength... we are choosing to make-believe within the lies Satan originally presented to mankind at the Garden of Eden. To this I ask, why continue to agree with distractions that contradict the intended, most excellent, joyful life God originally planned for us in the beginning?  Jesus died so that we might live with Him!  So that we might correct the error of listening to Satan's cursed terms and conditions.  Really, why give the enemy another second of our time when the King of kings has promised so much more in every day we amazingly are able to draw His breath?

God wants us to be!!!
To believe.
To move forward - close to our Creator... to the One who gives eternal LIFE in Christ!
We are to embrace our role as living beings.
Alive and in love with the One who made us... abiding in Him!
Devoted completely, whole-heartily, toward His Way!
Living forward.
Living holy because, of course, He is holy.

Shakespeare so eloquently put it to question in Hamlet, "To be or not to be... that is the question."

To live or not to live?
To continue, persist, endure... or to die?
To claim God's eternal Name - His Way, Truth, Life - JESUS(!!!)... or to make-believe through this short amount of time God has allotted for us on this earth.

So what will you do?
Will you move forward in God's grace-filled plan?
Will you be or will you not be this hour?
For your will is indeed free to choose either path: Life or Death.
(Ahhh, free will.  Proving how much the Creator really loves His creation!)

Yes, to be or not to be.
Clearly, this is today's most important question!
So, what will you choose?
Life or Death?

As for me, I choose LIFE!  WOO HOO!
I choose Jesus!

Then he said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me."  (Luke 9:23)

THIS is the day!

Blessings!

~Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson









Thursday, January 7, 2016

whose hearts are set on pilgrimage

How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord Almighty!  My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God. Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young - a place near your altar, Lord Almighty, my King and my God. Blessed are those who dwell in your house; they are ever praising you.  Blessed are those whose strength is in you, whose hearts are set on pilgrimage. As they pass through the Valley of Baka, they make it a place of springs; the autumn rains also cover it with pools. They go from strength to strength, till each appears before God in Zion. Hear my prayer, Lord God Almighty; listen to me, God of Jacob. Look on our shield, O God; look with favor on your anointed one.  Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked. For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless. Lord Almighty, blessed is the one who trusts in you. (Psalm 84)

The Lord is teaching me about pilgrimage.  A vow to journey nearest Jesus - to live in Christ.  A commitment to center my whole heart on Him.  To be as close to Him as I am able.  To wake up, eat, work, walk, speak, sleep - all for His favor.  All for His honor.  Oh, and what an honor!!!  I just love Psalm 84.  I love how it describes the Lord Almighty as home!  Where I am free to call upon the One who graces me with life.  His life... His holiness.  There is nothing better than God!!!  His presence is all I care about.  I just want to be close to Him... to know Him... to love Him.  All I want to do is praise and worship Jesus.  For He is my sun, my shield!  He gives and gives and gives as He loves.

But what about this crazy messed-up earth and the realities of today?  At present, I'm still here.  In fact, my great God deliberately put me here for this time, this moment.  But here the enemy does all he can to make me feel unable, unworthy.  Often Satan pulls the rug out from under my balance and whispers in my ear that I can't.  That I am useless.  That I am damaged goods.  That I am unlovable and unwelcome.

This is when it is most crucial that I run back into God's Word.  This is where He reminds me to look at the birds flying above or the ants below my feet.  They all temporarily live here too, and God always takes care of them.  God values them.  God feeds and adorns them and is faithful.  Yes, clearly even for them... God has a purpose.

Jesus reminds me to seek Him first.  To look at Him always.  To trust Him, no matter how pathetic or inadequate I may personally be feeling.  For He is greater.  He is stronger.  Yes, I am blessed because strength and wisdom and success are not reliant upon me (phew!)... rather it is all the Lord's! (Amen!)  As such, my heart is set on His pilgrimage.  And I am assured that with Him I will reach His courts, His kingdom!  Sure, Satan will try to weaken my spirit.  He will try to pin me down and make my existence seem like a ridiculous joke.  But, as the Psalmist has already confirmed...

In God is my salvation and my glory: the rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God. (Psalm 62:7)

Yes, my God has a plan, a purpose, a mission for me HERE.  So here I will travel... with Him I will walk.  And I will step in His grace, believing in His strength.  Through every day - from "strength to strength" I will overcome the enemy's damaging whispers because I will boldly proclaim to my Savior, "Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere!"

Yes, my heart is set on this pilgrimage with you, Jesus.  I know that you are able, worthy.  I know that you are the solid ground where I can keep my balance.  I know that you will always value me, restore me, love me, walk with me, protect me.  I know that you are always my destination, my hope.

So, today as I continue moving forward... as I live out my life on this lonely, scary planet... blessed is the Lord God Almighty, my constant dwelling place today and forevermore!  I trust Him.  In Him is my salvation and my glory.  He is the rock of my strength and my refuge.  In Christ, I can press on... I can walk... I can keep going... for my heart is set on His pilgrimage.  All for His favor.  All for His honor.  And always thankful... because in Him I am already home!

Have a lovely day walking in His glorious strength, peeps!

Blessings!

~Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

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