Tuesday, May 31, 2016

voice His good testimony

A quiet voice.
A soft heart.
A still, focused, loving tone.
Speaking slowly, deliberately, honestly, assuredly.
Expressing cheerfulness and encouragement.
Choosing responsive calmness as a form of worship.
Always trusting God's sovereignty and pointing others to His headship.
Singing to Jesus in celebration.
Giving God glory in every moment, every thing, every matter.

Praising His Name.
Praising His Name.
Praising HIS GOOD NAME forever and ever.

What we say and do not say...
How we say and do not say...
This is our testimony, Ladies.
Our words, tones, and attitudes can be powerful resources or horrible stumbling blocks.
So, let's wisely and obediently use our voice - giving all glory to the King!

His love is always our answer.
His love is always our answer.
HIS GOOD LOVE is always our answer forever and ever.

Blessings!

~Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Monday, May 30, 2016

sitting at Jesus' feet

How often do you make sitting at Jesus' feet the top priority in your life?

When it comes to setting our priorities, it is easy to fall into extremes. On one side, we can fall into a "que sera sera" approach by simply taking each day as it plays out. But we all know that God has internally placed within us the motivation and desire to meet a set of standards in life to serve Him daily. Bottom line, we need short term goals to get things done.

Someone once said, "If you aim at nothing you will hit it every time." As Christians, we don't want to aim at nothing... we want to aim for Jesus! We need to always think about our eternal target... WHO (rather than WHAT) should be most important to us? How has Christ called us to live as we run this race? What do we need to change in our walk to be consistent with that goal?

On the other side of prioritizing - we can get caught into a "legalistic" approach and be driven by religious obligation and/or our own perfectionism. Of course, in this approach we may never meet expectations and thus experience unnecessary frustration and guilt.

Some women have such an intense compulsion to set and live out their personal goals that they can't enjoy present moments. They are unable to relax when a goal is achieved, because there is always MORE to do. Remember the story of Mary and Martha?

As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, "Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!"

"Martha, Martha," the Lord answered, "you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her." (Luke 10:38-42)

Think about Martha. She was so caught up in her works and what needed to be done that she was unable to see the balance between focusing on earthly matters vs. heavenly things (everyday to do's vs. spiritual concerns). No, she wasn't wrong to want things accomplished, but her priorities were reversed because she was placing her goals and self-driven obligations before being with God... BEFORE BEING WITH GOD!

So again, how often do YOU make "sitting at Jesus feet" the top priority in your life?

The biblical approach to our priorities lies balanced between the two extremes mentioned above. God has a plan for our lives - both long and short term. He wants us to look at our to do's with an eternal perspective. He has shown us the big picture and also gives us instruction on how to live daily. It is key to understand that because of our sinful nature, as long as we are on earth, we will fall short of God's ultimate standard. But thankfully, by His grace we are able to move forward in running the race of life and committing our efforts and time to His glory.

God has made us with the capacity and drive to set goals and priorities. He's given us the Holy Spirit to enable us to live such goals and priorities out - both for our good and His glory.

Lastly, He wants us to enjoy the journey... praising Him with each day and in each experience (good or bad). Remember, every occasion is an opportunity - a gift - to become more like Jesus. It is so difficult to rethink how things should be because our sinful nature is in contrast to the mindset that all things...all events are a blessing from God and used for His wonderful purpose. As we become new each day in Christ, we must relearn what truth really is concerning this matter and plan our goals from that perspective.

Ladies, our first priority in every day should always be worship and devotion to the Lord. After that, we can attend to the duties at hand. Let's remember not to confuse these two important aspects of the Christian life or place them in reverse order.

God should always be #1.

Blessings!

Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Saturday, May 28, 2016

peace through the storm

(Inhale.) Keep praying and trusting. (Exhale.) The Lord is in control. (Inhale.) Keep praying and trusting. (Exhale.) The Lord is in control. (Inhale.) Keep praying and trusting. (Exhale.) The Lord is in control.

Wash, rinse, repeat.

Just like in the beloved story "The Little Engine That Could", I've continued to repeat these words of affirmation since the conception of DW. You see, lately my obedience to the King has proven to be a challenging walk. Not because I'm ignorant toward understanding His Holiness, but more because I'm overwhelmed with trying circumstances. Through many, many tests and trials, Satan continues to pick away at me with little jabs and pushes - hoping to throw me off course from God and causing me to feel defeated.

Spiritually speaking, the day I chose to step out of my lukewarm life and into a devoted life focusing only on the Savior, was the same day the enemy increased his advances and attacks... and he hasn't let up since. Furthermore, when God put together the pieces to start The Devoted Woman ministry... the enemy got even nastier (if that's possible). He has done so much to stifle our efforts and burden my spirit (and the spirit of my family)... all in an attempt to stop us from speaking up and sharing the beautiful name of Jesus with as many people as possible. Satan really is just a big mean bully, isn't he? The sorest loser of the century is soooo annoying!

Knowing full well how my ego works, even today the devil throws punches at me in areas that don't seem big enough to warrant my having a nervous break down... but also don't seem small enough to just be swept under the rug. His hope is that I won't bring the problem to the Lord because the issue doesn't seem important enough to stress over. He knows I don't like the drama. So, he banks on my selfish need to control things alone... allowing the matter to fester and slowly weigh me down while more and more trials are introduced and begin to compound over time.

Yes, the enemy is a subtle and strategic lion who stalks after each of us - waiting for every opportune moment to chip away at our spirits and cause us to stumble. Whenever I do stumble, he loves to torment me with enough anxiety to ultimately cause me to doubt God... or get angry with God... or turn from God. Not cool.

Have you ever been there? Have you ever found that all the little miscellaneous things crumbling around you begin to take the form of more than just a coincidence? Instead, these "minor" things begin to resemble a very subtle but overwhelming form of spiritual warfare that if left unaddressed, can trigger an anxiety time bomb within your spirit. Lately, for me it has been the accumulation of technology getting buggy... of physical aches and pains increasing in volume... of sudden bouts of financial uncertainty emerging... of vehicles, appliances, and home issues breaking down in record numbers, etc. etc. etc. When it all seems too much, I find myself weeping out desperate pleas to God like, "Lord, I just can't do this," or "Lord, I can't handle this anymore," or "Lord, I'm overwhelmed and don't know how this is going to work out," or "Lord how in the world can I afford this," or "Lord, why are you allowing this to happen?"

(Inhale.) Keep praying and trusting. (Exhale.) The Lord is in control. Can you hear the Holy Spirit whispering through the chaos of the earth quaking? (Inhale.) Keep praying and trusting. (Exhale.) The Lord is in control. Can you see His glory reign over the trials of a world caving in before you?

For those who know exactly what I am talking about, allow me to share with you a verse that has meant the world to me. Look at Isaiah 57...

But the man who makes me his refuge will inherit the land and possess my holy mountain. And it will be said: "Build up, build up, prepare the road! Remove the obstacles out of the way of my people."' For this is what the high and lofty One says - he who lives forever, whose name is holy: "I live in a high and holy place, but also with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite." (Isaiah 57:13b-15)

Did you get that? God promises to build us up and prepare us for His ultimate glory by removing obstacles out of our way. He promises to revive those who seek after Him, even in the worst of trials. This is the God that not only dwells in the highest heavens, but also dwells in the lowest hearts and receives our sincere cries for help as surely as he inhabits and rules all eternity. He knows when we are struggling. He sees and sanctions the difficulties we face. But through them, He promises to renew our spirit. Through the most difficult parts of this war, our King will still receive us and give us His joy and hope and peace to counterbalance all the griefs and fears present. Satan cannot compete against a God that builds, revives and restores along the way. All the enemy can do is scramble to distract us and make attempts to break us. Sure, his attempts can seem earth shattering. That is undeniable. But if we can endure the trial and trust our Shepherd... if we can hold onto Jesus no matter what the problem, no matter what the horror... He will see to it that our obstacles ultimately be removed. He will show us the secure but narrow path that we must travel to grow deeper and deeper in His grace. Then, we will walk closer and more confidently with our good God... with Him, our footing will be strengthened in truth as we travel further into His glory.

Ladies, when the going gets tough, the tough may get going, but the humble cry out to the Lord and continue to follow His path. The obedient seek after His promises and rest in His peace to see them through all circumstance. The faithful understand the importance of hope and rest on His promises so that they may ward off an enemy whose only goal is to distract and discourage us away from our Savior. But turning away from Jesus will never bring peace. His presence is healthy. His heart is true. His love is a love that endures. We too must endure in His love and seek Him for strength. No one is more powerful than our God who promises to remove our obstacles as well as build up our faith.

Trust Him. Meditate on His promises. Believe He will get you through the worst... He will see you through the hardest... He will bring you through His gates and show you His glory. Be thankful for He is God. His love endures. His strength is yours. Receive Him and find peace through the storm.

Be still and know that He is, and always will be, YOUR God! (Inhale.) Keep praying and trusting. (Exhale.) The Lord is in control. (All "hale" the power of Jesus Name!)

Peace, be still.

Blessings!

~Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Friday, May 27, 2016

satisfied in the morning

Up before the dawn sun rises.
Brisk, fresh air awakens docile lungs.
A peaceful pause before a new day's scurry,
Alone this morn with the Savior One.

Satisfied in blessed Jesus.
Glory! My Redeemer lives!
His throne reigns with unfailing promise;
His kingdom stands... His hands still give.

Rise anew, for His Word is bidding.
Hear His Spirit call with sparrow's song!
Approach Him fearful, reverent - full of joy and gladness,
Join in His praises! Sing them all day long!

Studied, armored, approved and ready,
Seek and find your King's gracious might;
Rejoice, for newness is His selfless pleasure.
Be healed by creation's guiding Light!

Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days. (Psalm 90:14)

Rejoice!  A new day has come!

Blessings!

~Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Thursday, May 26, 2016

who can defeat omnipotence?

We all have to deal with the constant struggle… our old nature verses our new.

Every day, I am reminded how active and alive my old nature really is.

Yes, Satan uses all his methods to make every situation an opportunity to wage his army against the grace God has promised. That said, the Holy Spirit is on my side and always ready to guide me and assist me in resisting and destroying the schemes of that evil roaring lion.

It is clear to me that the grace within me will employ me to pray more – to long to stay close to God more. This then increases my faith, hope and love, which is critical in fighting these battles. It truly is necessary for me to put on the whole armor of God each day in order to effectively live for Christ and be close to Jesus.

The hardest part of life on earth is that I know that my two opposing natures will never cease to struggle against one other. The sinful nature is so entrenched in me, that it will never be fully driven out while I’m alive in this body.

But the good news is this: I have Jesus.

He is the Captain of my salvation!
He is always with me!
He assures me that I shall be a conqueror through Him!!!

Understanding that I have this assistance by God Himself – in Jesus Name, my new nature can win over Satan!!!  YAY!

So, here’s my question… are you fighting adversity today?
Is Satan, the world, and the flesh against you?
Of course, the answer is “YES”, so listen... I have great and encouraging news!...

If you are in Christ, you are a new creature!!!
Old has passed away and you have and are becoming new.

NEW!!!

He is changing you every day and preparing you to be in glory with Him!
WOO HOO!!!

So, don’t be discouraged or dismayed from the trials of this earth - - consider them all blessings! For they are molding you to be like Jesus!

Fight the enemy! FIGHT and resist His attacks! Resist your old nature! RESIST IN JESUS NAME!

Rest assured, God is with you; Jehovah Nissi is your banner, and Jehovah Raphi is the healer of your wounds. There is no need to fear anything because ultimately, you shall overcome, Believer!  So believe!!! No matter how long the battle may last, I promise that the victory will be worth it when you step into His glorious presence and experience His promised reward.

When things get tough, ask yourself this question…. “Who can defeat Omnipotence?”

Praise God - We are on THE LORD'S SIDE! There is no One greater!  There is no One mightier!  There is no One like our Omnipotent Savior!!!  Yippeeeee!

Blessings!

~ Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

to the living redeemed: love like Jesus

Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise - the fruit of lips that confess his name... Do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. (Hebrews 13:15&16)

A few years ago, a friend of mine was in the midst of going through a treatment program to overcome a particular addiction. Since her family lived far away, she asked me to accompany her to her rehabilitation meetings because the sponsors of the program had encouraged every participant to bring a supportive "family" member. I agreed.

Each gathering was filled to capacity with teenagers addicted to smoking heroine and/or stronger substances, mothers who had shopped away their family's savings, husbands out of control with pornography and sexual addictions, men and women of all ages desperate to stop drinking alcohol in excess, etc. etc, etc. It was heartbreaking to see first hand how extensively sin can truly enslave mankind.

At these meetings, I held the hands of many people... people who lived in my own community who were struggling helplessly alongside their distressed spouses, mothers, fathers, children, siblings - all there to support each other. All desperate to find a solution to overcome whatever habitual bondage had affected their lives... praying that this time would bring lasting change.

I particularly remember an elderly Christian woman who came to support her husband - a man who had squandered away their entire life savings to feed his sinful hunger. This was their third time going through rehab. This was their third formalized cry to seek lasting freedom from what had ensnared every aspect of their life. Through tearful eyes, this quiet woman snuggled close to her husband, an empty shell of a man, and repeatedly whispered words of support and encouragement to him. She squeezed his hand no matter how many terrible things he said or did to her. Yes, she removed herself from harms way when necessary. She protected herself and responsibly took over certain life matters in order to invest in their future needs, but she never stopped being this man's wife. She never stopped praying for him and trusting God for answers. Throughout the course of their problems, they had separated several times and had lost just about everything this world would consider worthy of holding onto... but she never gave up. She never stopped loving and respecting her husband while still standing against and hating his sin. She never stopped being this man's helpmate. She loved him and was disciplined and committed to show up on his behalf - no matter what. Her covenant to love was God's covenant!

I walked away from these meetings with many learned lessons and prayer requests. However, what stood out the most to me was the living testimony of this one quiet woman and her choice (yes, choice) to love. It has always brought me back to my own commitments - to my husband, my family. Will our love stand the test of time - even if faced with the most strenuous and trying of circumstances? Will I be able to follow God's intended plan and remain a unified helpmate, a constant support, a co-pilot to the man I offered my hand to in marriage almost two decades ago? Will I be able to live wisely and sacrificially give myself to serve my Master, my Savior, my King and the others he has placed before me? Will I be able to love like Jesus in my marriage, my relationships, my life?

Ladies, I share this story with you to stress our need to stay close to the Savior. This world is filled to the brim with sin and disappointment and the enemy is doing everything he can to infiltrate our homes, our churches, our lives. Too often, we forget that this is spiritual WAR and our enemy wishes for us to be dead, useless, broken shells. He wants our existence to be tarnished rather than glorifying God's holy Name. We must never forget that if there is a weak point in our marriage, Satan will find it and monopolize on it. If we are faced with a selfish hunger for a habitual practice or substance, Satan will serve it. He is a ruthless enemy who will attack our spouses, our children, our parents, our friends... our hearts. With this in mind, I write today's blog to remind you of your focus... to love. Love like Jesus.

How do we love like Jesus? The only way to do this is to know Jesus. To be close to Him and reflect His character to those in our lives. To understand what sacrifice truly is. To agree to the disciplined life He has called us to live and to extend His arms out through our own. We are to be mirror images, imitators of God, living each day loving others as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us.

Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children, and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. (Ephesians 5:1-2)

To love the Lord with all our heart, and with all our soul, and with all our strength, and with all our mind, and to love our neighbor (anyone we know or will come to know) as we would love our own self... this is clearly not the way this sinful world would exalt. It is not a path that promotes separation, isolation, self gain, or comfort. To love like Jesus is a choice to be humble and sacrificial - just as our Savior was as the thorns dug deeply into His scalp. Just as our Messiah lived and died and LIVED again on behalf of our eternal safety. Such a choice can prove both physically and emotionally challenging... but I promise you, it is the correct and right way to live. And it is possible in His Name!

The world would tell you to do what selfishly feels right and your heart, soul, mind and strength will benefit and be fulfilled from it. But Jesus teaches us that the ways of this world will never satisfy. Only He is able to free and fulfill us. Only His loving presence is capable of giving us LIFE. He must remain our one and only focus. He must truly rule our every breath, our every decision... our every choice!

Ladies, let us be women willing to offer everything over to our King so that He may share His love through our existence. We were made for one purpose... to glorify His Name! Let our lives promote the freedom and eternity that awaits us because of the One who has redeemed us. Let us never walk away from any trial in defeat with our heads low... but rather, let's allow God to work in us and walk through every difficulty with Him (no matter how long, or challenging, or distressing). Let us stand up for Christ and love like Jesus, holding the hands of those He has put into our lives and supporting, nurturing, caring, giving - just as Jesus did for us. And let us do all this always praising His Name.

This is our opportunity to show others WHO Christ is with our very lives... our living testimony. I encourage you to stay close to your Savior and to love... love like Jesus!

But I, with a song of thanksgiving, will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good. Salvation comes from the LORD. (Jonah 2:9)

Indeed, salvation comes from the Lord alone! Let us share His love. Let us live in Christ no matter what the trial. He is faithful and has promised us so much in His Name. Let's believe Him, ladies... no matter what obstacle the enemy may throw our way. Always remember, we who have accepted Christ are part of His kingdom... we are the living redeemed! So, today let's live like it and LOVE LIKE JESUS!

Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come and has redeemed his people. (Luke 1:68)

We love because he first loved us. (1 John 4:19)

Blessings!

:)

Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

who are you following?


If all the Christian leaders of the world were gone today... if all their books, sermons, music... whatever... if all were removed and none of their materials were available for you to access... would you still be inclined to follow Jesus? If Max Lucado, Beth Moore, Charles Stanley, Rick Warren, Joyce Meyer, Francis Chan... whoever... if they were all gone... would you still seek the word of God and obey it? Consider carefully this question...

Who are you following?

As Jesus was saying these things, a woman in the crowd called out, "Blessed is the mother who gave you birth and nursed you." He replied, "Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it." (Luke 11:27-28)

Boy, did Jesus say a mouthful in Luke 11:28. He points out how easily we can snare ourselves into the trap of honoring men over God?

Admittedly, I am the worst offender of this. I love to study and read A LOT!!! Mind you, my original focus and intent is always to learn as much as possible about Jesus and how He calls me to live. However in my quest, it is inevitable that I will stumble across a book or sermon that is just excellent... something that really drives a point home and speaks to me. It is at these times, when I find a great teacher, pastor, writer, whatever... that I can fall easily sidetracked and distracted with a new mission (my own selfish mission). You see, I can become so taken with a truth shared by an author that I transfer my enthusiam to the person who wrote about it, rather than focus on the lesson God is teaching me. When this happens, I loose all focus. All I want to do is hear, see, read, experience EVERYTHING that person has authored. When I respect a person's writing, music or ministry, I am easily able to place them up on an imaginary pedestal and sing praises as to how THEY have impacted my life. But the truth of the matter is, GOD USED THEM to impact my life. God gave them their abilities and words to point me closer to Him... not the other way around. God, in His timing, had a plan to teach me what I needed during a season of my life. And He did so through a fellow Christian who has already learned, studied and experienced that lesson. So, how did I let it turn into a fan club about an author? Instead, I should be worshipping the great Author and Finisher of my faith?

What many people fail to see is that mainstream Christian leaders, musicians, and writers are just as human as you and I. They too have problems, struggle with sin and insecurity, and don't always make the right choices. Simply put, they are people... not God. I can guarantee you that any leader you could think of has likely sinned, or struggled with sin in some way, within the last 24 hours. But not God. Instead, God remains perfect. He is without sin. Yet God continues to use faithful, faulty people to share His perfect message. It is only by God's grace and forgiveness alone and irrespective of ourselves that any one of us is able to press on in our faith and be used to fulfill His purpose.

Please understand, by no means am I saying that Christian leaders aren't blessed by God. The woman in Luke 11 was right in her statement, but misguided with her praise... Jesus mother was indeed a blessed woman. But WHY was she blessed? She was blessed because she heard God's word and obeyed it. She was blessed because she stepped up and owned her end of the relationship with her perfect Lord. Not because she was worthy - but because HE IS WORTHY. The same is true for ALL believers who stand up and follow their Savior. For any one of us to be blessed, God has laid it out with the simplest terms in Jesus response... "Blessed are those who hear the word of God and obey it."

In Isaiah 9:6-7, Isaiah predicts the birth of Christ. He then proceeds to share a variety of names that reveal the character of the holy child to be born... Wonderful... Counselor... Mighty God... Everlasting Father... Prince of Peace.

As we wait for Jesus' second and final return to reign physically as King, He has made it clear in His word that He alone wants to govern our hearts today. He wants all our attention today. He wants us to make Him our everything.... TODAY! God is adamant about where your dependence and glory is directed. He wants to be the one you look to for hope and help and security. Most certainly, He does not want anyone (not even those who follow Him with good intentions) to take His place or receive His praise.

When we are perplexed, God wants to be our Wonderful Counselor. When we are weak, He wants to be our Mighty God. When we feel like everything around us is unstable and changing, God wants to be our Everlasting Father. When worry and anxiety comes, God wants to be our Prince of Peace. There is no leader out there than can individually or collectively offer what our Redeemer offers. They may work for the King... they may write, perform, speak, and teach while representing His Kingdom... but at the end of the day, they are followers, just like you and me... and they must give HE WHO IS WORTHY all credit and praise.

"We should follow our Lord as unhesitatingly as sheep follow their shepherd, for He has a right to lead us wherever He pleases. We are not our own, we are bought with a price - let us recognize the rights of the redeeming blood. The soldier follows his captain, the servant obeys his master, much more must we follow our Redeemer, to whom we are a purchased possession. We are not true to our profession of being Christians, if we question the bidding of our Leader and Commander. Submission is our duty, cavilling is our folly... Let us put full trust in our Leader, since we know that, come prosperity or adversity, sickness or health, popularity or contempt, His purpose shall be worked out, and that purpose shall be pure, unmingled good to every heir of mercy. We shall find it sweet to go up the bleak side of the hill with Christ; and when rain and snow blow into our faces, His dear love will make us far more blest than those who sit at home and warm their hands at the world's fire. To the top of Amana, to the dens of lions, or to the hills of leopards, we will follow our Beloved. Precious Jesus, draw us, and we will run after Thee." ~Spurgeon

While you search for what completes you, what impacts you, what defines you... make sure you are looking to the One who is EVERYTHING. Do not be sidetracked by the applause and celebrity of men. Instead, look to Jesus, who was and is and is to come. In the end, His Name is the only One worth following. Yes, praise Him for using others for His purpose. Praise Him for leading you through the seasons of your life with outside resources and motivations. But hear Jesus words in Luke 11, and understand that no one else can meet your needs or receive your glory except God. Make sure you are following the right person.

"Blessed are those who hear the word of God and obey it."

Ladies, let's all be blessed because HE IS our focus! Praise HIS Holy Holy Holy Name!!!

Blessings!

Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

dabbling or devoted

Ask yourself... Why do you seek God?

Of course, the obvious and most popular answer is to be saved from eternal death. But let's dig deeper...

Why do YOU seek GOD? Is it for personal fulfillment, for safety OR for sacrifice? An interesting question, don't you think?

All mankind was made for service, sacrifice, dedication and relationship.... BY God and FOR His Glory.

As Christians, there is no getting around His created intent for us... God made us to live devoted to Him. We are to fully submit and humble ourselves to His loving authority. Some don't like this. Some avoid discussing it. And some outright deny it. But the truth of the matter is, God expects us to follow Jesus example and live as a sacrifice to glorify Our Heavenly Father.

Read Philippians 2:5-7, "Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness."

So, why do you seek God? Is it to be His equal or His humble servant?

We must honestly ask ourselves if we are dabbling in Christianity for ourself alone.... and I stress the word "SELF". Do we even care what God really wants altogether? Instead of asking God what He will HAVE YOU DO, are you more interested in asking God what He will DO FOR YOU?

Are you the type of Christian who is thrilled to soak in a women's bible study, national seminar or home church event.... but would never actually SHARE the gospel with another human being? Are your prayers usually focused on your needs rather than others? Do you even pray for others? Are you personally concerned and actively living your days with focus to spread the gospel throughout the earth? Would you be able to speak hard biblical truth without apology or embarrassment to someone who considered you odd or even an enemy? These are difficult questions to ask ourselves. But they are at the core of how we are to "put off the sinful nature" and follow Christ. It is what God expects of His people...His family.

Evangelism and a new life in Christ are one in the same. We are not to maintain a "leave it to the missionaries and church leaders" mindset and only show up on Sundays to find some kind of Christian "Cliff Notes" for enrichment that excuses us from any other action. We are to live, breathe, sleep, eat and especially speak for God's purpose and glory! We are to help the poor, needy, widows, elderly. We are to share His loving message of redemption with the lost. We are ALL to be evangelists for His Great Commission.

So, why do you seek God? Is it only to escape eternal death...? If so, is that what you think Jesus had in mind for mankind when He offered His life as a sacrifice... or do you think He wanted us to serve to save others as well? Do you look at His death as a "Get Out of Jail Free Card" like in the game of Monopoly, but once accepted - - remain a "lukewarm" Christian?

Why do you seek God? Do you know Him? Have you accepted Him as your Savior and sacrificed your whole life to Him. In the end, would He say, "well done" when He examines the fruit of your days here on earth?

If you truly have laid down everything to follow Jesus Christ as His servant, you already know that He is The Good Master. He will fulfill and provide all the protection and security you'll ever need. He is good and constant and merciful and gracious... But to be His, you must submit your sinful ways, your agenda, your self to follow His ways. Rest assured, He is everything and eternity without Him would be utter hopelessness. But know, if you have accepted Jesus as your God, you must accept His truth in Luke 9:62: "No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God." Meaning, anyone who lets themselves be distracted from the work God has planned for them is not fit for the Kingdom of Heaven.

So, why do you seek God?
Is your reason something outside of God's original plan for your created existence?
Think about it.
Answer it with your decision.
Because it is a decision you will answer for directly to the Holy of Holies.

This day, choose your path.

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight." (Proverbs 3:5-7)

Blessings!

~Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Monday, May 16, 2016

bring it on

Outside my home, intimidating thunder is booming like heavy doors slamming in a scary movie. Lighting is dancing fickly across the dark sky of early light, touching down on the horizon where the warm sun would have debuted this morning - had it not been for this unexpected storm, that is. Had it not been for the heavy cloud cover that darkly overshadowed this new day.

Inside my home, the electrical power plays hide and seek... on and off... on and off. Outside, I hear the heavy winds whistle and taunt - teasing me as it infiltrates the leaks present in my poorly insulated windows. But I'm still grateful for those windows. I'm grateful for the roof above my head keeping me dry and safe. I'm grateful for the back-up battery in my laptop. A battery that will allow me to accomplish several more hours of work regardless of these shifting, torrential weather conditions.

I reminisce to my youth - when my daddy's assurances comforted me whenever the "monster" thunder would suddenly roar outside our home. He would say with encouragement, "Vicki, God just sneezed, so we should take time to bless Him!"

"Yes, gazoontite God." I playfully internalize, "From the sound of things, it must be allergy season for You too this morning." But I know better. I know that my God does not sniffle at mold, dust, or pollen. My God does not tremble when the audible bass of the upper atmosphere rumbles or rains. No, my God is stable in His power. My God is secure in His protection. My God is solid and always ready to back me up and give me exactly what I need (and when I need it). Why? So that I can obediently accomplish His work. So that I can joyfully glorify His Name. So that I can faithfully be used for His good purpose and flourish in His grace in the process. Yes, regardless of this world's torrential condition, my God is greater than the storm.

So, why be distracted by passing weather conditions, believer? Why give the enemy a foothold to try and grand-stage our attention away from the King of kings? No thunderous temper tantrum or cursory condition can ever change WHO is ultimately in control of our lives!

GOD IS IN CONTROL!
GOD LOVES US!
GOD IS ALWAYS FAITHFUL TO HIS OWN!

So, no matter how gusty it becomes... no matter how scary it may seem... no matter how hopeless and dangerous the forecast appears ahead... we should always take the time to bless His Name!

BLESS HIS NAME... for He alone is worthy!

Glory to God in the Highest! All praise and honor belongs to Him! His kingdom will stand forever! His throne will rein supreme! No matter what comes, let's cling tightly to the Solid Rock of Jesus Christ and bless His Name through every uncertainty... every storm... every trial!

He is eternal. His Word stands unchanged and true! I am always safe and secure under His covering! So, bring it on... for I will indeed rest peacefully in His care and bless His Name forever and ever!!!

I didn’t come lookin’ for trouble
And I don’t want to fight needlessly
But I’m not gonna hide in a bubble
If trouble comes for me
I can feel my heart beating faster
I can tell something’s coming down
But if it’s gonna make me grow stronger then…

Bring it on
Let the lightning flash, let the thunder roll, let the storm winds blow
Bring it on
Let the trouble come, let the hard rain fall, let it make me strong
Bring it on

Now, maybe you’re thinkin’ I’m crazy
And maybe I need to explain some things
‘Cause I know I’ve got an enemy waiting
Who wants to bring me pain
But what he never seems to remember
What he means for evil God works for good
So I will not retreat or surrender

Now, I don’t want to sound like some hero
‘Cause it’s God alone that my hope is in
But I’m not gonna run from the very things
That would drive me closer to Him
So bring it on

Bring it on
Let the lightning flash, let the thunder roll, let the storm winds blow
Bring it on
Let the trouble come, let it make me fall on the One who’s strong
Bring it on
Let the lightning flash, let the thunder roll, let the storm winds blow
Bring it on
Let me be made weak so I’ll know the strength of the One who’s strong
Bring it on
Bring it on
(Lyrics by Steven Curtis Chapman)

He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed. They were glad when it grew calm, and he guided them to their desired haven. Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind. Let them exalt him in the assembly of the people and praise him in the council of the elders. (Psalm 107:29-32)

But let all who take refuge in You be glad; let them ever sing for joy.  Spread Your protection over them, that those who love Your Name may rejoice in You. (Psalms 5:11)

Blessings!

~Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Friday, May 13, 2016

one small sponge... and a complex, magnificent sea

I recently read a blurb about the livelihood of sponges.  Sponges, in their natural habitat, maintain a constant water flow through their bodies in order to survive.  Water allows one small sponge to obtain food and oxygen, to reproduce, to move about, and to remove all waste.  Together, both sponge and the water in which it lives, collaborate "inside" one another... the sponge dwells in the water, and the water dwells in the sponge.  They cooperate in tandem.  As a result, the sponge is able to exist while also benefitting many other sea creatures.  Furthermore, sponges can be found worldwide, from the tropics to the polar regions.

Why do I share this?  Well, here's the thing.  In no way does one small sponge compare to the depths of the sea.  You see, a sponge must soak in its sea water to survive.  But the sea does not require one small sponge to operate or even exist.  No, the sea is much more complex and magnificent.

Similar is our relationship with the Lord Almighty.  Our beings are like one small sponge.  Our soul thirsts for the God of our Salvation and His healthy living water.  In order to survive, we require Him to flow through us - to abide in us in order to live our healthiest amid His holiness.  We need Jesus every second to live... dwelling in Christ as He dwells in us.  Cooperating with His Spirit in tandem.  Soaking in His grace while moving in agreement with His life-giving Word.  Yes, we are called to be porous and open - always purposed to benefit and glorify His great throne.  As such, we must be willing to venture out wherever He brings us. We must endure every drastic temperature and/or trial, no matter how strange or uncomfortable.  For God longs for us to become one with The One... absorbing His Way, His Truth, and His Life as our own.  He is our home and we are His temple. Eating, breathing, ministering, obeying, sacrificing - all for His sake.  All for His complex, magnificent Glory!

Being mindful of all this, let me begin again...

I recently read a blurb about the livelihood of sponges.  Did you know that one small sponge is able to produce up to three times more oxygen as well as more organic matter than it consumes?  Furthermore, did you know that one small sponge is capable of aiding, impacting, housing, feeding, and defending thousands and thousands of species?  The contribution of one small sponge to both sea creatures and habitats is quite notable and significant.

And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:6-10)

Yes, one small sponge... dwelling in a complex, magnificent sea!  Notable.  Significant.
Just thought you'd like to know.

Blessings!

~Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

let the words of my mouth be pleasing and sweet

How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! (Psalm 119:103)

How shall I speak worthwhile?
Oh Lord, let your voice rush from my lips like flooding waters, and make my words as sweet as honey!
Prevent me from blurting out in anger, gossip, pride, selfishness, and instead use my tongue for your wholesome and holy purpose.
Lead me to share your life-giving Word so that I may always build up and benefit those who will listen.
Make me a devoted woman of praise who offers encouragement, care, and truth... just like Jesus has offered His love!
Otherwise, silent my mouth and keep my heart still, reverent, and obedient to your throne.

Precious Savior, guard my voice with your Spirit and teach me to say what is good and pleasing to your ears.
Today I submit my tongue in your care.
This is the day my voice rejoices in praise.
Now is the time in which You shall be glorified and honored!
This day, my King! This day!

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. (Ephesians 4:29)

Blessings!

~Victoria


© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Friday, May 6, 2016

a short reality check

Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 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. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever. (1 John 2:15-17, King James Version)

So, how is your appetite?

Are you famished for Jesus?
Do you live hungry for His presence, desperate to receive more and more of His Word?
Are you starving to know God intimately and willing to do whatever you can to get closer to His throne?

No?

Then what are you eating, digesting, and filling yourself with instead?
What cravings do you indulge?
Food?
Alcohol?
Drugs?
Sex?
Materialism?

Do these pleasures completely satisfy you, or are they consuming you?

Do not love the world or the things that belong to the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in him. Because everything that belongs to the world - the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride in one's lifestyle - is not from the Father, but is from the world. And the world with its lust is passing away, but the one who does God's will remains forever. (1 John 2:15-17, Holman Christian Standard Version)

So, how is your attention?

Are you invigorated and inspired to seek after godliness?
Are you stimulated and aroused to see more of what is holy and righteous?
Is your focus to follow after God's perfect plan, the Shepherd's narrow path, the Savior's exclusive Way?

No?

Then where is your attention directed?
What are you looking at?
Where is your eye drawn?
Who are you watching and concentrating on?

Don't love the world's ways. Don't love the world's goods. Love of the world squeezes out love for the Father. Practically everything that goes on in the world - wanting your own way, wanting everything for yourself, wanting to appear important - has nothing to do with the Father. It just isolates you from him. The world and all its wanting, wanting, wanting is on the way out - but whoever does what God wants is set for eternity. (1 John 2:15-17, The Message)

So, how is your attitude?

Is your heart and mind centered on sacrificially loving God and loving others?
Is your identity humbly enveloped in the King's authority and headship?
Does your temperament adopt His character and share His heart?
Does your time reflect His purpose?
Do you use your resources and abilities to showcase His many gifts, blessings, benefits?

No?

Then who are you crediting?
Whose interests are you supporting?
Whose economy are you advancing?
Whose image are you promoting?

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world - the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions - is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. (1 John 2:15-17, English Standard Version)

Ladies, this earth is indeed passing away. Our lives in this world exist only for a small moment. But in this short reality, God calls us to love Him first. God instructs us to obey His law first. Through His Word, God shows us how to mirror His Way through the example of His Only Son.

Why?

Because the old way of sin cannot fill us nor can He tolerate corruption and evil.
So, the ways of this world can only destroy us because it is infested, sick, dying.

The Good News is this...

Because God loves us more than anything, He offers us the opportunity... the privilege... to abide forever in His perfect, good presence, Yes, the unfathomable, healthy, mighty presence of God is ours to embrace and enjoy! We are offered a new life, a new way, a new economy, a new purpose, a new plan in Jesus' Name. His door is open, welcoming us into an eternal, fulfilling relationship with our Creator that no other craving, stimulation, material, or ego could match. Today, He eagerly awaits for us to respond to His invitation to love Him alone... to desire and seek Him alone... to glorify His Name alone. For that is exactly what He created us to do. That is exactly how He made us to live to our fullest, healthiest potential.

So, how is your association with the King of kings and Lord of lords?

The decision to love God or to love something/someone less is yours alone.

Will you choose to embrace this expiring earth and it's temporary comforts?
Or will you choose to abide in the everlasting presence of God Almighty?

The time is now... choose today whom you will serve.

Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world - the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does - comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever. (1 John 2:15-17, New International Version)

Blessings!

~Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Thursday, May 5, 2016

less of me

Me me me me me me me me me me me me me.....

Oh, am I talking about ME too much? It's only because your prayer request, experience, example, story, issue, situation... it just reminded ME about something that once happened to ME. So let's just talk about ME, shall we? Let's forget what you said and talk about how I feel... what I've experienced... what we can do to get ME noticed... MY feelings... MY personal gain... MY promotion... Me Me Me Me Me MEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!......

Ugh! How would you feel if you ran into a person that talked like this? Annoyed? Exhausted? (Did I mention, ANNOYED?) As we continue to live taking inventory regarding our spiritual maturity and our commitment to grow closer to God, I'd also like to talk about how we, as Christian women, relate to one another within the body of Christ. In particular, I'd like to talk about selfish ambition and the need to always be noticed.

The sample conversation above is clearly an over-the-top example, however, the sad truth is that many Christian women don't realize how selfish they have become. Many have fallen into the trap of only thinking about the world that revolves around their lives... their families... their wishes. They forget the importance of a meek and quiet spirit, and fail to reign in their tongue and selfish pride - even during times of prayer and worship. I frequently find myself cringe when a believer cries out in desperation for united church prayer and support only to be trampled upon by a conceited "me" carnivore who does everything in their power to turn the attention away from the person who is vulnerably laying their requests on the altar, and instead, places all focus onto their own story, experience and desire. Is this how we are to love and encourage one another? Absolutely not!

We are told in Philippians 2, "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others." (Philippians 2:3-4)

Let me be clear... I am not suggesting that you should not care about your own issues. Nor am I suggesting that you refrain from sharing your experiences with one another. But timing and sensitivity are key. The mindset offered in Philippians instructs us to consider others better than our own selves. This is the same sacrificial mindset Jesus had when He died on the cross for our benefit. His is the example we are to follow in considering one another's eternal welfare and relationship with our Heavenly Father. By looking at the life of Christ, we see how to love God and each other with all our heart.

As the body of Christ, we are to die to individual self promotion and recognition and focus our efforts only on Jesus. As we look to follow His example, we are more easily able to become LESS so that HE can become MORE. With Him, we can move past the ME-syndrome common to this world and strengthen each other in love as we face earthly trials together - as His people. We are to encourage one another as we persevere together as His church.

Ladies, consider how you relate with others and what motivates your words? Do you speak only to seek attention and personal gain? Or are you careful to humbly put aside your need to be noticed so that you can support and pray for others while praising and glorifying the Name of Jesus? Let's face it, HE is the only One we should be pointing our attention to anyway!

I encourage each DW to ask God to remove selfishness from our minds and dispose us to react to each other in a godly manner. Let us sacrifice our lives for the sake of the cross and give ourselves to one another in brotherly (sisterly) love. We are His church. We are His people. Let us pray and encourage each other and leave center stage to the only ONE worthy of praise.

Thank you, Jesus, for showing us how to love each other.
More more more of You, Precious Lord!!!

Blessings!

~Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

the fluency of our faith (part 5)

What exactly does true love look like?
How does God's Word instruct us to love well?

Today let's look at the characteristics of God (Love) as defined in 1 Corinthians 13.  Equally, let's compare the significance, importance, and availability of God's Spirit to those who claim Jesus as Savior and Lord.  You see, the fruit of Christ's Spirit actually produces the goodness of God's love within us.  In fact, scripture says that those who belong to Christ are called to walk in step with His Spirit.  What an honor, right?  But first, let's recap on 1 Corinthians 13 and review the unchanging characteristics of LOVE...

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)

Patience, kindness, unselfish, humility... these traits all represent God's eternal agape love.  When scripture says, "Love is patient, love is kind," it is not merely suggesting how love should be.  It is defining WHO love is.  God is love.  Love is God.  As such, God is patient, God is kind.  God is unselfish, humble, uplifting, consistent, forgiving, healthy, everlasting.  Furthermore, because God and Love are One and the same, we can conclude that He always intended for us to mirror His love, since He created us in His image.  Yes, our generous Creator originally made us to know and model His love firsthand as we commune with Him regularly.  This is the joyous life that God has always offered mankind.  And thankfully, even after man's betrayal against Him, Jesus selflessly gave Himself as our sacrifice so that we might be able to commune freely with God's Spirit.  Hallelujah!  All praise and glory belongs to our great God who demonstrates His unchanging love for us.  Let us choose to live in worship of His good and holy Name.  He is the gift.  He is our benefit!

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

So, how do we deliberately display God's love in our day-to-day lives?  This is where Galatians 5 instructs us...

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. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.  So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other. (Galatians 5:13-26)

The fruit of God's Spirit... the fruit that He will produce in us as we follow Jesus' Way instead of our own: 
  • Love
  • Joy
  • Peace
  • Patience 
  • Kindness
  • Goodness
  • Faithfulness
  • Gentleness
  • Self Control

There is not a person alive (Christian or not) that would not wish to gain the benefits noted in the list above.  Despite man's acceptance or denial, God's fruit is always desirable and necessary for our health and happiness.  We were made to want and need what His Spirit can harvest in and around us.  

But know this: Scripture clearly states that if we walk by His Spirit, we will not gratify the desires of our flesh.  You see, the only thing that counts in life is faith expressing itself through Christ's love.  He alone is all that matters.  Sin cannot be a part of the equation.  Because sin, and the human flesh it feeds, will never be permitted in God's kingdom.  So, in order to gain God's characteristics... in order to love well... we must choose to walk upright in Christ's holiness and fix our eyes on the Savior forever.   Jesus is the only One who can lead us into God's righteousness.  Jesus is the only One who can restore us to completion with the Creator of heaven and earth.  

Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.  (Hebrews 12:1-2) 

As we wrap up this study, I encourage you to pause and reflect on all that Romans chapter 8 states. Consider every word written and note the impact and importance of following Christ.   For without Jesus, there can be no love.  Without God's guidance and holiness, there will be no spiritual fruit produced in us.  We must die daily to ourselves in order to live whole-heartedly for His benefit.

Let us be devoted to the God who gives... to the God who IS Love!  Let us always choose His perfect image as our model and purpose. For without God's love... without Jesus... we are nothing.

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.  

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.

Love never fails. 

But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 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 the ways of childhood behind me. 

For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. 
Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

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

Question: What exactly does true love look like?  
Answer: Jesus!

Question: How does God's Word instruct us to love well?  
Answer: By mirroring and glorifying Christ's image each and every day... forever!

Conclusion: Jesus is the fluency of our faith.  

(...or as I like to say, "The answer is always, always Jesus.")



God bless!

~Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

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