Wednesday, November 30, 2016

25 days...

Well, as of today, we have 25 days until we celebrate Christmas.

Of course, the catalogs in my mailbox have increased in number because the holiday season is officially upon us.

I remember when I was a kid... we wouldn't even think about Christmas until Thanksgiving had come and gone. But now... not so much. Once Halloween is over, every retailer from here to Mars starts advertising for the holidays. They do this with the hope of conditioning society into thinking proactively about shopping. They do this, so that people will think about their holiday gift-giving sooner rather than later. It is impressive and overwhelming to think of how much time and money is invested into the marketing and distribution efforts of holiday retail catalogs, displays, commercials - all for the sake of generating additional sales income during "the most wonderful time of the year".

And this got me thinking...

What if Christians actually adopted the same proactive attitude to promote the gospel message to all the world?
What would happen if we looked at the calendar and thought, "Hmm, 25 days to share Jesus with as many people as possible! Let's give it ALL we got!"
What if we invested our money, our time, our efforts where our hearts should already be focused and stepped outside of our comfortable lives to proactively showcase the Savior's redeeming love?
What if we decided to bring Jesus to every demographic that both salt and light physically reach? 
What would that do, dear Believers?
How would that look?

You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored?... You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid... Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 5:13-16)

I'm sure that in the weeks to come, many of us will purchase gifts for family, friends, acquaintances... But, how many of us will actually make it a point to share the gospel for the sake of advancing God's Kingdom? Isn't that a tad bit more important a gift to share with others?

Isn't it?

Yes, there are 25 days until Christmas - the day we celebrate our precious Savior's birth.
As we begin to prepare for another joyous holiday season, let's first consider that Jesus came to this earth thinking of us proactively.
He came so that we too could enjoy His perfect gift of redemption and live to see His grace.
Why?
Because we are special to Him.
Because He loves us more!

With this in mind, will you love God more?
Will you love others more in Jesus' Name?
Will you approach this time of celebration proactively and obediently - committing to share the Glory that this holiday season is intended to reveal?
Will you invest your voice, your time, your words, your life so that others can receive the greatest gift of all?
After all, Jesus is the true reason for the season, isn't He?
Really, there is no better gift to share with another!

Can you think of a wiser way to spend your time, money, efforts?
I can't.

25 days...

A lot can happen in 25 days!!!

Christmas Countdown Clock

XOXO!

~Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Monday, November 28, 2016

prepare Him room

Let every heart prepare Him room...

I wasn't going to decorate this year.
I went back and forth about it.
But yesterday I realized something...
It is important to actually celebrate Jesus' birth!
Sure, I know that...
But I lazily wasn't thinking about my decorating for this coming Christmas in that way.
In my busyness, I had forgotten the why... the reason for the season... the purpose to actually celebrate outward and fully with sparkles and wreathes!
No, instead it was just another "to do" for me... and frankly, I'm already a bit tired.
Just another chore to complete.
Just another expectation that I must pull out and produce.
Just another humbug holiday...
Another "why bother"...

Wait... why bother?
Why not bother?!!!
Why not lift up Christ's birth center stage and throw twinkling lights and a huge spotlight on His arrival?
Isn't He worth the MOST praise?
Isn't His life worthy of my best and fullest worship?
Isn't my sweet Jesus the reason I am even alive?

Duh, Victoria!  YES!!!
So, why not prepare Him room?
Why not listen to the Holy Spirit's voice and worship as fully and as openly as I am able?
Why not showcase the importance of His Way, His Truth, HIS LIFE(!) and step up to decorate on His behalf?!!!
To celebrate in advent, anticipation, appreciation?!!!
To promote the joyous truth and eternal hope of this wonderfully, blessed season, and the Savior who made it all possible?!!!

Yes, as our home's heart warrior, God helped me realize that it is important that I live my days encouraging my peeps to focus on the eternal gift of God's grace.
To use every opportunity, every gifted moment that He provides, singing and rejoicing in praise and thanksgiving!

So, today is Christmas decorating day here at the Anderson home;
And I am renewed and excited to share enthusiastically what Jesus' birth represents.
I am hopeful for what He has promised His people.
I am preparing Him room, quite literally... decorated, at the ready, blessed!
Sooo soooooo blessed.

Thank you, Lord, for the reminder and lesson!
Joy to the Word, for your Son comes to save!

Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. (Colossians 3:16)

:)

Happy Holidays, y'all!

Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson


Saturday, November 26, 2016

hype

I don't know about you, but whenever I get on the Internet, whenever I turn on the television, whenever I listen to the radio, whenever I read a newspaper or magazine... I quickly find myself exhausted.

There is just soooo much I'm being pushed into buying!
There is just soooo much to absorb.
So much commotion.
So much distraction.
So much talk.
So much noise.
So much, ughh... hype!

hype: to create interest by flamboyant or dramatic methods; to promote or publicize showily; to intensify (advertising, promotion, or publicity) by ingenious or questionable claims and/or methods

It seems to me that in many Christian circles the quest to generate hype and increase bottom lines with the mighty, coveted dollar has tainted the simple joy of sharing the message of the Cross... and ONLY sharing the message of the Cross! I personally refer to these promotional schemes as "ME-making". You see, rather than quietly drawing the attention to God's throne in both reverence and humble obedience, today's Americanized mission field has quickly emerged into an opportunity to publicize and/or increase personal fame and fortune. To this, I must share my concern: Have we invited back the money-changers that Christ boldly drove out of His temple? Have we allowed our selfish desire to wheel and deal, thus cheapening His sacredness and belittling His exposure to a lost and dying world?

Jesus entered the temple area and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. “It is written,” he said to them, “'My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it a ‘den of robbers.'” (Matthew 21:12-13)

Like Coke vs. Pepsi or Ford vs. Chevy, I am noticing that more and more Christian associations and, well, cliques... are going to great lengths to aggressively compete against one another as they strive to appear more "hip" (and unfortunately more worldly) while advertising their "latest and greatest" for the gospel's sake. But is the gospel their true focus? Or is God only a means to increase someone's next sales forecast while beating the competition?

I frequently find myself cringing when I read the Words of my majestic King trivialized in warm/fuzzy romps of fictional bliss and/or fluffy news feeds. Or when I hear about His glory "granola'ized" in varying Woodstock-like faith concerts. Or when I see His holiness emotionally "Oprah'ized" in the many feel-good spiritual conventions and workshops. Or when I'm invited to further know His perfect peace by joining Pastor/Speaker so-n-so on their next expensive "cruise ship extravaganza of reflection." Really? These things are what God wants me to spend my time and resources on? What about the poor? What about the needy? What about the lost? What about the widowed and the orphaned?

Even more personal, what about those in my own family, church, community? Shouldn't I be seeking less of man's motivation and sharing more of God's glory and grace with those I encounter and with those I know who desperately need my Redeemer? Do I really need all that other distracting stuff... all those buzz-worded words? Doesn't my Creator promise to bring nourishment to my bones and provide everything I need while I remain steadfast in living out His perfect Word?

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. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones. (Proverbs 3:5-8)

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

Consider this: Did Jesus intend for His people to be fed by entertainment, or to evangelize in His Name? Does God call us to become emotionally high, or to be eternally helpful in advancing His kingdom? I wonder if our churches are filled with believers who are actively and obediently studying the Bible while selflessly sharing the Savior's free gift to all the world... OR if we are all stuck in the commotion, distraction, and noise of the next Christianized "thing" available via ebook or at a bookstore near you? Such "things" become sin when they rob God of His glory and distract us from His purpose, folks!

So, are we drowning ourselves in hype? Are we cheating His sacred temple for the sake of our selfish desires? For aren't WE His living temple? Knowing this, why continue to allow our time, resources, and focus to be distracted by the motives of anyone other than the Lord?

As someone devoted to remain steadfast in sharing the free gift and glory of my King... and ONLY my King, I fear that I am in the minority when it comes to ministering in such a way that continually honors ONLY His Holiness. Too many folks have grown accustom to accepting, and being influenced by the "ME-making" and promotion-seeking opportunities of Satan. And the enemy will continue to monopolize the entryway to our temple hearts if we do not stand firm and boldly follow Jesus' example to overturn every table set up by wickedness.

To those influencial in ministry, I will speak frankly. It doesn't matter if you know Bono or the President of the United States. It doesn't matter if you were once recognized as a celebrity on television or are rich and famous. It doesn't matter if you are the son/daughter of an evangelist or associated with a particular group/organization. It doesn't matter how likeable or charismatic you come off or how good you can sway others into feeling. It doesn't matter if you have the skills to sell millions of dollars worth of product for your publisher, charity, church, convention, etc. etc. etc. The bottom line is this: when all is said and done, God does not care about YOUR hype. If you are not glorifying His Name in all you say and do... if you are not loving Him with all your heart and bringing all attention to His throne... if you are not trusting Him to provide for all your needs... if you are not freely sharing His hope to those reduced to nothing along with helping those who have nothing... if you are not obedient and submissive to the Master... then you are not ministering for the sake of Jesus. You are ministering for yourself and changing monies outside His temple.

But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them - bringing swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their shameful ways and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. In their greed these teachers will exploit you with stories they have made up. They will be paid back with harm for the harm they have done. Their idea of pleasure is to carouse in broad daylight. They are blots and blemishes, reveling in their pleasures while they feast with you. With eyes full of adultery, they never stop sinning; they seduce the unstable; they are experts in greed - an accursed brood! These men are springs without water and mists driven by a storm. Blackest darkness is reserved for them. For they mouth empty, boastful words and, by appealing to the lustful desires of sinful human nature, they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error. They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity - for a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him. If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them. (2 Peter 2:1-3; 13-14; 17-21)

In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage - with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry. (2 Timothy 4:1-5)

Friends, I implore you to carefully consider if you have allowed yourself to be distracted by the noise and commotion of ungodly hype. If so, today is the day to stand firm in Christ and overturn every distraction that surrounds your temple heart. It is time to stop feeding ego and emotion and instead live devoted for the sake of God's call. Today is the day to live for Jesus, believer. TODAY IS THE DAY... ALL FOR JESUS!

I will praise you, O Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify YOUR name forever. (Psalm 86:12)

Hallelujah to the King of kings!

Blessings!

~Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Saturday, November 19, 2016

gobble gobble gobble... or glory be to God?

At 2:30 a.m. the Holy Spirit whispered this question to me,

"Victoria, are you thankful?"

"What, Lord?" Of course, I'm thankful," I thought dismissively while struggling to roll over in my bed. That darn Benny Beagleman, he's taken over this whole mattress again! My arthritic knee throbbed with it's usual "it's raining outside" reminder, and I couldn't relax. I couldn't sleep.

"Victoria, are you thankful?"

I attempted to push my dog with my hips, doing all I could to assume a comfortable fetal position without falling off the few inches of memory foam I could claim. Benny continued to snore loudly, unaware of my frustration.

"Victoria, are you thankful?"

"Yes... yes, Lord. I'm thankful already. Why the interrogation so early in the morning? How about a little help with this knee bugging me?"

Silence.
Nothing.
No answer.
Just throbbing.
Just my mind racing with a zillion things.
Just a beagle (and Chuck) snoring belly-up beside me without a care in the world.

After several minutes of fidgeting, I finally gave up all hope for sleep and headed to my bathroom. It's my routine, you see... When my leg hurts like this, I have a checklist of different remedies to try out before pulling out the pain killers. I dislike taking prescription medicine and feel it should be reserved only as a last resort. At this point, I had reached the soaking stage and decided that I should take a bubble bath to allow the warm water to engulf my throbbing leg. While waiting for the water to rise in the tub, I started thinking about the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday. Then, as I started to ease back into a more relaxed position, the Holy Spirit asked once again,

"Victoria, are you thankful... really thankful?"

"Hmm. Really thankful, huh? Well, what does that look like, Lord? I know I am blessed to have food, clothing, shelter. I'm thrilled to have a lovely family and close friends. I'm grateful for the salvation and grace that You have extended to me freely. Isn't my acknowledgement of all these things thankfulness?"

I stopped dismissing the simplicity of the question and started pondering what my Teacher was asking.

"Victoria, are you REALLY thankful?"

Mind you, God's question was not about my physical contentment or comfort. It was not about my associations or acquaintances. Nor was His question merely centered around my eternal standing in His kingdom. No, God was asking me to consider something more immediate, more intimate. He was asking me if, at this very moment in time, I was truly thankful and trusting in His headship as GOD of my life, and what that meant in the very breath I was currently exhaling.  In short, was I fully committed to worshiping and glorifying Him in sincere thankfulness RIGHT NOW?

I paused from this depth and randomly started thinking about how this next week would play out. How Chuck and Momba and I were scheduled to "take a few days off" together - relaxing and enjoying our own family nostalgia as we planned to pull out and assemble the Christmas decorations. Then I remembered how I had promised to give each of them a haircut and grumbled inside that such a chore meant it wasn't true time off for me.  I thought about tasks of cooking... how we would be celebrating a quaint Thanksgiving dinner together here in Houston with my brother and his lovely wife whilst the majority of our extended family would be gathered in Chicago. Rather than rejoice, I over-thought our distance from our loved-ones and sighed discontent.  Then, I nit-picked at all my own pesky expectations of what I wanted to finish before even serving our traditional dinner as well as what I wanted to accomplish before Christmas arrived. My mind began to race with the long list we women feel we need to complete. I mulled over how much work and planning "had" to be done. Then those thoughts led me into a negative spiral of how much I wanted to learn and achieve in my life, and how little time I seem to have to do so. Ugh, I was overwhelmed.  I turned off the running water of the bathtub and felt my submerged leg continue to throb like a toothache.

Frustrated, I blurted out loud, "Am I thankful? Really God? No, I'm not thankful! I am not satisfied at all! For today, I already have pain and too much to do! I have many disappointments from many unmet expectations! I have a lot of responsibilities weighing heavily on my shoulders! And, I feel like the people in my life are working against me rather than with me! I have no stress-free moments... no peace... no sleep! And yes, I hate how selfish I am being about all this. I hate that I'm even admitting these feelings to You.  But am I thankful???  Really???  What a question!!!  Lord, how shall I be thankful?"

Silence filled the bathroom as I paused in defeat.  Then suddenly, I felt strongly to get out of the tub and look up two definitions (thank you, Holy Spirit):

Gobble: to swallow or eat hastily or hungrily in large pieces; to gulp.

Thankfulness: feeling or expressing gratitude; appreciative.

"Point made... I sure am a gobbler, aren't I, Lord? I can't seem to move from one moment to the next without hastily gulping everything in large unmanageable bites. I can't swallow my daily reality with true appreciation or joy because I'm solely focused on gorging myself with the distractions of petty tasks rather than focusing on what You have already accomplished and what I was created to do."

"And what did I create you to do, Victoria?"

With tears, I answered, "I was created to glorify YOU, Lord.  In everything, I am to glorify your Name and focus only on your LOVE."

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Colossians 3:17)

By 4:00 a.m. this morning, I was weeping in gratitude over the thorns that once pierced my Savior's head... the nails that punctured His hands... the death He endured to save me. The provision and love and instruction He continues to offer... leading me to be more holy. Teaching me to see only Him. He is risen and I am free from sin in His Name!  And for this, I am eternally sooooo very thankful!  And yet, I still forgot to set my eyes permanently upon his command in Colossians.  I forgot to seek Him first, and consider what that really means in all areas of my redeemed life.

Yes, Jesus gave His life so that I may live thankfully TODAY... right NOW!  In every word...  in every deed.  Always giving thanks in His Name... not mine.  Not because I don't feel like it.  But because HE IS MY GOOD AND FAITHFUL GOD!  By grumbling over my own short-sighted physical distractions, worldly disappointments, unmet selfish expectations, and day-to-day busyness, God's question was indeed timely and crucial for me to understand.  Yes, I was not being thankful.  And my ungratefulness was proof of my own unresolved sinful heart embarrassingly working against my King.  Oh my!  Just as I had complained to Him moments before about all that seemed to be working against me... my heart was not submissively working in cooperation with my Master's commanded purpose!

The Holy Spirit's inquiry was an important reality check that I must regularly ask if I wish to glorify Him always and abide in His Way. For if I am unable to answer God with real, heart-felt gratitude and hope, I know that something has diverted my attention away from His kingdom. And whenever this occurs... clearly, I will have no peace. For I cannot live thankfully when my life's purpose is not being fulfilled... when my God is not being wholeheartedly glorified through every pore I possess.

Friends, to give thanks is to receive and enjoy Jesus in full appreciation. It is not to gobble down a little bit of God here and there, but rather to savor Him in everything He serves you. We are blessed as receivers, called to know His glory. And, we are also blessed as givers, called to share His glory to all the world in every word, every deed, every thought, every moment. As such, we can never be thankful unless He is lovingly acknowledged as God with us... RIGHT NOW... honored before everyone and everything else! (Including our own selves.)

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever. (Psalm 107:1)

Today, I needed the Holy Spirit to remind me of His sovereign rule - even past my present pain and stress. Today, I needed my Teacher to set my path straight again so that I might glorify Him as I was created to do. Blessed Master, how grateful I am for your holy instruction and attentiveness. Forgive my selfish sin and know this very hour how thankful I am that You love me... that you are my God... that you are always with me!  That you will love me forever and ever.

With this in mind, I encourage you too to consider the same question this coming week,

"Are YOU really, REALLY thankful?"

If deep in your heart (for whatever reason) the answer is "no", I recommend you ask God to reveal what is holding you back from your true focus - to glorify His Name first in all matters. Let us no longer gobble up these earthly throbbings or be distracted away from His magnificent glory. Instead, let us repent and lay all our cares upon His altar and allow the Teacher to teach us His goodness.  In word and deed... always trusting, always believing, always glorifying Jesus... always, always being thankful!

Everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made... Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. (Isaiah 43:7; 1 Thessalonians 5:18; Colossians 3:15)

In humble Thanksgiving, many blessings to you and yours this upcoming holiday season!

~Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Friday, November 18, 2016

pain, hope, Jesus

Pain.

Pain is hard.
Physical, mental, emotional, long or short term...
Pain is, well... painful.
And, pain hurts.

Sure, pain can also be a blessing.
Pain can alert us.
Pain can inform us.
Pain can cause us to assess our distress in order to seek after a solution.
But what if we can find no solution?

Lord, isn't there a solution?

How do we live through this troubling, tiresome, ongoing pain?

Hope.

Hope is eternal certainty and assured joy.
Hope promises us peace.
Hope give us a future to move forward,
Into a life beyond our current pain.
Yes, hope always helps.

So, where can we get hope?
Who has promised to help us through the hurt?
Who can teach us how to use our pain to alert us, to inform us, to change us?
Who has the solution we seek?
Who can provide constant, reliable, glorious hope?

The answer is Jesus.
The hope is Jesus.
The help is Jesus.
The Way, the Truth, the Life is Jesus.

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away. 
He who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new."
"Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” 
(Revelation 21:4-5)

Pain exposes God's grace to us.
Pain leads us to know Jesus more.
So pain, though difficult, is important.
Pain is for a purpose... His purpose.
Pain is a teaching tool.
Pain is necessary.

So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”  Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:7-10)

So, in the day of prosperity be joyful,
And in the day of adversity consider this...
God has made the one as well as the other.

God has called us to seek Jesus for wisdom, direction, relief... help.
He will wipe away every tear.
He will take away death, and mourning, and crying...
He will remove all pain and make all things new.
He will make us new, believer!

Yes, Jesus is our hope.
Jesus is trustworthy and true.
Jesus is the solution.
So, let us live in thankfulness, obedience, and the joy He extends.
Let us use our pain for His purpose.
Let us live this day, no matter how hard, rejoicing faithfully, lovingly, and hopefully in Him...
For all things will be made new!

The answer is Jesus.
The hope is Jesus.
The help is Jesus.
The Way, the Truth, the Life is Jesus.

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.  Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. (James 1:2-4 & 12)

Blessings!

~Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Thursday, November 17, 2016

when Satan hits hard...

When Satan hits hard... be still.
When evil attempts to prevail... stand firm.
When hurt and sorrow and frustration and pain overwhelm... wait on the Lord to renew your strength.
When the lion prowls, when the snake slithers, when the arrows fly, when the trial comes... stop and rejoice through the tears.
God will fight for you!
God will see you through.
Keep praying and trusting.
The Lord is in control.

THE LORD IS IN CONTROL!

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.  (Ephesians 6:10-17)

Blessings!

~Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

peace: understanding God (part 3)

To those who through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ have received a faith as precious as ours: Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. (2 Peter 1:2-3)

As we continue our journey and accept God's invitation to find true peace in Him, I knew it would be monumentally important for us to review the many truths that God tells us about His character. I have learned in my own Christian walk that if I don't take necessary steps to know these truths... to memorize and meditate on them day and night... that I am more likely prone to be distracted and give into the enemy's prodding. If not corrected, this mistake can cause me to doubt God's unique excellence in my daily walk and thus rob Him of His glory in my life. If I do not accept what God has promised to be true and unchanging, I am ultimately giving into my sin by rejecting His endless, boundless love and headship. And when this happens, I am not at rest.

Because of this, I would like to share with you my list of WHO God really is so that we have a starting point - a place to measure and test every stray thought of unbelief and uncertainty against what our Redeemer has promised us to be true and unchanging. To reject these truths in our lives is to fall victim to Satan's lies. For nothing can be true and untrue at the same time. If God tells us something about His character to better understand Him, He will always continue to have that character without exception. God does not change. He was and is and is to come. He is eternal and complete. Because of this, we must labor to know and receive the following truths daily... always reminding ourselves that our lives depend upon being in God's presence. These truths are here so that we are equipped to confidently and obediently demolish all of the enemy's arguments against the knowledge and understanding of our good, perfect and holy King.

For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:3-5)

God is always the same!

I the LORD do not change. (Malachi 3:6a)

In the beginning, O Lord, you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment. You will roll them up like a robe; like a garment they will be changed. But you remain the same, and your years will never end. (Hebrews 1:10-12)


God is always wise in what He does!

Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and[a] knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! (Romans 11:33)

My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. I tell you this so that no one may deceive you by fine-sounding arguments. (Colossians 2:2-4)

Great and marvelous are your deeds, Lord God Almighty. Just and true are your ways, King of the ages. Who will not fear you, O Lord, and bring glory to your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship before you, for your righteous acts have been revealed. (Revelation 15:3-4)

God is always in control of all things!

The LORD has established his throne in heaven, and his kingdom rules over all. (Psalm 103:19)

For the LORD Almighty has purposed, and who can thwart him? His hand is stretched out, and who can turn it back?(Isaiah 14:27)

Remember the former things, those of long ago; I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me. I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please. (Isaiah 46:9-10)

God is always trustworthy!

If we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself. (2 Timothy 2:13)

Your love, O LORD, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies. (Psalm 36:5)

God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill? (Numbers 23:19)

Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands. (Deuteronomy 7:9)



The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. (Deuteronomy 31:8)

God is always present with me!

Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, "Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me," even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you. (Psalm 139:7-12)

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10)

"Can anyone hide in secret places so that I cannot see him?" declares the LORD. "Do not I fill heaven and earth?" declares the LORD. (Jeremiah 23:24)

God will always meet my needs!

I can do everything through him who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:13)

So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (Matthew 6:31-33)


God will always forgive my sin when I repent!

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)

Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are proved right when you speak and justified when you judge. Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place. Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice. Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity. Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will turn back to you. Save me from bloodguilt, O God, the God who saves me, and my tongue will sing of your righteousness. O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise. You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. In your good pleasure make Zion prosper; build up the walls of Jerusalem. Then there will be righteous sacrifices, whole burnt offerings to delight you; then bulls will be offered on your altar. (Psalm 51)

This is the one I esteem: he who is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at my word. (Isaiah 66:2b)

God is always up to something good in my life!

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." (Jeremiah 29:11)

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will. And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified. What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all - how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died - more than that, who was raised to life - is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. (Romans 8:26-34)

God will always give me the grace I need!

And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. (2 Corinthians 9:8)

But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them - yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me. (1 Corinthians 15:10)

But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)


God will always love me personally!

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: "For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered." No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:35-39)

The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: "I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness." (Jeremiah 31:3)

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. (John 17:23)


Friends, I challenge you to hide these scriptures in your heart and remember that they are indeed true. Know them. Memorize them. Meditate upon them. Fellowship about them. Receive and accept them into your life.

All your words are true; all your righteous laws are eternal. (Psalm 119:160)

Let's commit ourselves to understanding God. Each day, let's remind ourselves of His promises and commit our ways to Him. He is ALWAYS for us! He wants what is best for us and wishes us to live healthy and holy in His eternal grace! In Him we can find true, lasting PEACE!

We only must hear and follow His invitation to COME!

"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 (tailor made to you) and my burden is light." (Matthew 11:28-30)

"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." (John 14:27)

Blessings!

~Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

peace: the renewing of your mind (part 2)

"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 (tailor made to you) and my burden is light." (Matthew 11:28-30)

As we continue to understand God's invitation to COME to Him to find true and lasting peace, and as we remind ourselves of the unchanging characteristics of God... today, I would like to talk about the absolute necessity to renew our minds in Jesus name.

 The Bible tells us in Romans, "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is - his good, pleasing and perfect will." (Romans 12:2)

No matter how structured our lives... no matter how healthy we may be physically or emotionally... the effects of stress are digested first in our intellects and then processed according to how spiritually mature and disciplined we are to receive such pressure. The world's way of handling stress is like putting a Disney Themed Band-Aid on a gunshot wound hemorrhaging blood. It just won't get the job done. It is man's attempt to remedy difficult situations and circumstances. Unfortunately, man's way does not actually stop the bleeding (the effects of stress) or remove the bullet (the cause of stress). To understand the correct way to deal with life's pressure and the negative effects it can cause to us (both emotionally and physically), God wants us to spiritually understand how we are meant to survive...

Jesus answered, "It is written: 'Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'" (Matthew 4:4)

God never intended for mankind to handle stress and pressure on his own. No amount of structure or healthy living we may bring into our lives can ever trump our need to receive and follow EVERY WORD spoken by our Master!

"Remain in me, and I will 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 a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." (John 15:4-5)

Did you get that? If we are apart from God... if we don't receive Him or His life-giving words... ultimately we cannot survive, much less live fully. We are worthless without Him. To live healthy, we must be willing and available to allow our Savior to transform us according to His will. For we are mere lumps of clay made by God from the elements of this planet. Without Him in our lives... we have nothing... we are nothing!

Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. (2 Corinthians 3:5)

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. (2 Corinthians 4:7)

In order to live in peace, we must submit our minds, bodies and spirits over to our King. We must choose to follow His way of handling pressure... BIBLICALLY.

So, what does that look like? How do we biblically follow God's plan and quiet our souls to enjoy His gracious gift of peace? First and foremost, we must confess all sin and believe that God will indeed forgive us. We must own up to it and then turn from it and change our ways to mirror Jesus' ways. We must throw off all forms of selfishness and follow Him - always trusting that His character and love for us is faithful and unchanging.

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

"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." (1 John 1:9)

"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." (Hebrews 12:1b)

Second, we must eliminate every thing that God does not intend for us to bear alone... the responsibilities we assume outside of His will. When we don't trust God through our stress, we are favoring SELF and our own limited abilities rather than submitting to His rule and authority. So, we must be willing to hand over all fear, anger and guilt... all emotions and struggles that Satan bombards us with in an effort to make us doubt or overlook the security of our Creator. We must stop "going at it solo" and allow God to assume command over the trials we face each day on earth. For ladies, we were never made to receive those pressures alone. We must allow our Redeemer the opportunity to actually REDEEM and reign over our lives! By doing so, we give Him glory and begin to further resemble Christ in humility. This changes us into new, more holy creatures in Jesus name. Creatures free to relax in His protection and grace!

"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 2:16)

Lastly, we must live disciplined lives and be good stewards of the many blessings our Lord continues to give. This includes physically maintaining our health with adequate rest, nutrition and exercise. It also includes spiritually seeking God's presence and spending time with Him while abiding in Him always. As stated before, His word... His presence... HE is crucial for us to live in peace and survive! To find true rest, we must BE WITH HIM and RELATE WITH HIM in order to LIVE!

Friends, we were never meant to live defeated and strung out. The enemy does not hold any power over us when we allow God to manage our lives and trust Him to take care of us. Let's resolve to allow Christ access to renew our minds and transform us every day so that we are free to enjoy His good, pleasing and perfect will.  Jesus loves us and wants what is best and healthy for us. He is always ready to receive us. He will never dismiss us. He is nourishment for us! Let's follow Him and take His easy yoke upon us and relax in His truth.

Our Savior has promised to walk with us and take on all our burdens... let's trust Him!
Our Shepherd has promised to give us true, peaceful rest and enjoy His protective presence... let's trust Him!
We were never made to live without God's wise guidance, protection and love.
Let's follow Him and accept His invitation to COME!

"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." (John 14:27) 

Let's trust Him!

Blessings!

~Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson


Monday, November 14, 2016

peace: an invitation (part 1)

We live in perilous times. In fact, I believe we are living in the last days...

There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God - having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them. They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over weak-willed women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth. (2 Timothy 3:1-7)

These are scary days that surround us with many uncertainties. Corporate scandals, unemployment, terrorism and economic declivity are at an all-time high. Furthermore, there has been an immense moral decline within our generation as both church and family institutions continue to disintegrate due to increased divorce rates, post-marital affairs, pre-martial cohabitation, adultery, sexual and pornographic sins, etc. Yes, to look at the condition of this earth - mankind is falling apart. People are lost. Yet, there is hope... an invitation to find true rest. A promise to find calm, serenity, contentment, relaxation, stillness, order, tranquility... PEACE!

Jesus says to us, "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 (tailor made to you) and my burden is light." (Matthew 11:28-30)

These verses are so great. They show us how much Jesus loves us and wants what is best and healthy for us. They prove that our God is always ready to receive us. He will never dismiss us. He will never tell us to "get lost" or to figure things out on our own. He does not say, "Avoid me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will deny you rest. Refuse my yoke and reject knowing me, for I am hard and proud and not interested in your desire to find peace. Too bad. For my way is difficult and my burden is heavy." No. Thankfully the Bible tells us that the Lord is inclined to receive us... to turn His head to us when we seek Him. Why? Because we are His most valued treasure. Being fully aware of all the hardships that exist on this earth, our Savior quietly calls us to COME - inviting us to receive Him. In doing so, we are promised "rest for our souls".... we are promised PEACE!

If each of us took a physical, emotional and spiritual inventory, I am confident that we could all agree that it is very easy to become weary, beaten down, burdened. Satan makes a great effort to abuse us again and again. He plagues us with all forms of anxiety, fear, discouragement, hurt, despair, bitterness, hatred, lust, greed, guilt, revenge, obsession, addiction, materialism and busyness. When we give in to the enemy and allow these sins to consume our lives, they hinder our fellowship with God. When this happens, there can be no peace.

Think about your life. What do you do after a busy, weary day? After your family is home, fed, settled... what do you do with your time? Do you distract yourself with television to "relax" and fill up your down time before bed? Do you numb yourself with the entertainment and sensationalism of this earth hoping to find some form of rest and relaxation before a new day arrives? If so, I must tell you that this is not a solution to find peace... and frankly, scripture assures us that it can be harmful physically.

"My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart, for they will prolong your life many years and bring you prosperity. Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man. 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. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones." (Proverbs 3:1-8)

Did you get that? We are not to look to the ways of this world to find our nourishment. For if we look to man-made methods before we look to God-promised solutions, we are only digesting another form of distraction that will ultimately hurt our health and hinder us spiritually. You see, Satan is all about distracting us away from God. The enemy does not want us to be nourished or healthy. He would rather we abandon any reflection or relation with our Redeemer and instead deafen our hearts and minds with many forms of "self-feeding" amusements. That is why there is so much noise out there - screaming for our attention.

Satan wants to imprison our thoughts so that we are too wound up to think straight and meditate on scripture clearly. He wants us to be spiritually dysfunctional - reacting only with our feelings - always pushing forward in a constant state of emergency. Satan wishes for us to abuse our gift of adrenaline so that we never truly enjoy rest. He convinces us that a high-strung life is normal and uses our own body against us so that we become a form of walking dead... an ineffective zombie that is too tired and defeated to do anything for the sake of God's kingdom. Yes, Satan is a powerful enemy devoted to alienate us from God. He knows that if we have noisy, nocuous lives, we will never enjoy true peace... only counterfeit moments of paralysis. Without true peace, we become an ineffective, sidetracked, burdened people - loaded down with sin. I don't know about you, but I'm certain that Satan's way is really no way at all.

To find the blessed rest that Christ promises to those who come to Him, I believe we are to mirror the heart of David in Psalm 139 who said,"Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." (Psalm 139:23-24).

I am convinced that in order to find true peace, we must first be willing to let God lead us into the way everlasting! The way that focuses on His eternal promises! We must take the time to share with God our heart and anxious thoughts. We must be willing to let God guide us to walk in a way that pleases Him. This means, we must take time first to meditate on His word in order to experience and know His rest and relaxation. For all scripture is God-breathed. When we need to catch our breath and find rest... He is ready and willing to revive us with His healthy breath of life! Call it spiritual CPR, if you will.

"All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

"Blessed is the man who makes the LORD his trust, who does not look to the proud, to those who turn aside to false gods." (Psalm 40:4)

"Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path." (Psalm 119:105 KJV)

We must not let this earth distract us away from seeking God's word first. It is a bright and comforting lamp to carry in our hearts as we travel through this dark world. To find true rest, we must receive Jesus' invitation and meditate on His ways day and night. Our Savior LOVES to be a savior. He delights in rescuing us. His disposition is only focused on our well-being! In fact, the last words He left us, before going to prepare our heavenly residence, were these:

"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." (John 14:27)

Christ clearly left us fully equipped to live TODAY with His gift of peace. He does not want us to seek the world's counterfeit ways. No. The lost look for comfort by means of distraction... an anesthetic to dull their empty hearts. But true, lasting, eternal peace is left for us in God's word so that our hearts need not be troubled or afraid. What a comfort! We must only be willing to stop and be with Him. We must be teachable and open to receive and follow Him. No matter how many problems we may face, Jesus wants us to seek Him first. For if we do, He promises to hear our cries and will settle our souls.

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

The Messiah that all mankind sinned against and abandoned for dead, is the God who lovingly welcomes us to come and find rest. How great is the love of our Father?... For even in our darkest hour, He longs to save us and fellowship with us!!! Hallelujah! We must look to Him for strength, deliverance and hope! We must abide in the Vine! For without Him, we can do nothing fruitful. It brings glory to our God when His children walk in His presence and follow His example.

And what was His example? Jesus finished more in 3 1/2 years than we could ever measure. And in that time, he did so without stress or worry. He was at peace - always following the will of His Father with a willing spirit to be governed.

TO BE GOVERNED... there exists our #1 obstacle. This is what Satan capitalizes on... we do not like to be governed. Due to our sin, we are not naturally meek and lowly at heart like Christ. We are selfish. We want to do things our way... in our own time. But our Creator assures us that we cannot find rest physically, emotionally or spiritually if we live in such selfishness and pride. He made us. He knows that if we focus on the world's false ways to recuperate, it will lead us nowhere. For when we try to gain control of our lives outside of God, we are not in agreement with where our health comes from. No. To find peace, we must seek after the only One who can calm every part of this universe with His voice.

"He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, "Quiet! Be still!" Then the wind died down and it was completely calm." (Mark 4:39)

Friends, in order for us to find real rest, we must get quiet and meditate on God's commands. We must BE STILL and learn how to mirror the Master's life while knowing His words. Only then will the noise and anxiety die down. Only then will we find eternal calm in our hearts. Christ's time on earth was always kingdom focused. To live as healthy and prosperous and nourished as possible, our time on earth should be Christ focused.

"For God is not a God of disorder but of peace." (1 Corinthians 14:33)

"Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord." (2 Peter 1:2)

"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests." (Luke 2:14)

"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." (John 16:33)

I challenge you to remove every distraction that alienates you from the presence of the Savior. I encourage you to seek Him first before going after the many forms of recreation and distractions of this world. In Christ alone we are invited to peace. He has overcome all pressure. He has paid the price for our life with His own. All we must do is COME.

Glory to God in the Highest! In Him, we are invited to experience true rest and comfort. Let's make a point to spend our time jumping into His eternal word like snuggling into a big, fluffy bed! Let's be still and lie down in His green, glorious pastures while enjoying the calm and warmth of His presence and savoring His abundant grace. Let's know Him better than we know the celebrities and story-lines of men. Let's COME to our Redeemer. Regularly. Often. Always. Forever.

Blessings!

~Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Friday, November 11, 2016

be a builder

I watched them tear a building down,
A gang of men in a busy town,
With a yo-heave-ho and a lusty yell,
They swung a beam and the side wall fell.

I asked the foreman: "Are these men skilled,
The kind you would hire if you wanted to build?"

He laughed and said, "Why, no indeed,
Just common labor is all I need.
They can easily wreck in a day or two,
What builders have taken years to do."

I asked myself, as I went my way,
Which of these roles have I tried to play?

Am I a builder, who works with loving care,
Measuring life by the rule and square,
Shaping my deeds by God's well-made plan,
Patiently doing the best I can?

Or am I a wrecker who walks the town,
Content with the chore of tearing down?
(Author unknown)



Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up. For even Christ did not please himself but, as it is written: “The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.”  For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.  May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God. (Romans 15:2-7)




© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson


Wednesday, November 9, 2016

blessed are the peacemakers


It's been a long night and morning in the United States.
It's been an even longer, crazier Presidential election.
And whether or not your candidate came out ahead or fell behind;
I think it is a good time to remind everyone that God already knew this day would come.
Just as He knows every grain of sand present on this planet and every hair that sits atop your head;
God is sovereign and in full control.
He is King of kings.
He is Lord of lords.

So, do not fear.
Do not be afraid.
Do not be caught up in the uncertainty of men.
Do not judge.
Do not be cruel or unkind.
Rather, use these moments to strengthen your faith and trust in Jesus.

Trust His Word.
Trust His future.
Trust that He is the Way, the Truth, the Life.
Trust that He will remain even after all else passes away.
For His love is all that really matters.
So choose to look only at Him.
Love Him.
Trust Him.
Obey Him.
Believe Him.

And as you follow Jesus... love others in His Name.
Be kind to one another.
Pray for our earthly leaders to know and seek after Him.
Pray that we all live wisely - extending His grace... always building up, encouraging, promoting His eternal hope.

Yes, today, let us campaign for what really matters in Heaven's economy.
Let us poll for what is pure, and lovely, and noble.
Let us elect to live every waking second as the beautiful gift our Life in Christ truly is.

Be thankful, dear believers, for our God reigns forever.
In Him, our citizenship is secure.
So, know His peace.
Share His peace.
Disciple with devotion for HIS NAME'S SAKE.

Not to us, Lord, 
Not to us but to your name be the glory, 
Because of your love and faithfulness....
(I encourage you to read the whole chapter of Psalm 115.)
It is not the dead who praise the Lord, those who go down to the place of silence;
It is we who extol the Lord, both now and forevermore.
Praise the Lord.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. (Matthew 5:9)

XOXOXO!

~Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Monday, November 7, 2016

forget not all His benefits

Bless the LORD, O my soul;
And all that is within me, 
Bless His holy name!
Bless the LORD, O my soul,
And forget not all His benefits.
(Psalm 103:1-2 KJV)

“Bless the LORD, O my soul; and all that is within me...”  In other words, bless the Lord with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength.  Bless the Lord with everything I am.  Bless His Name in how I choose to love.  Bless His Throne with complete devotion and worship.  Bless His Holiness in what I choose to watch and read.  Bless His Sovereignty in how I spend my time.  Bless the Creator in how I take care of myself and the people and things around me.  Bless His Headship in what I choose to ingest and how I approach matters sacrificially.  Bless the Lord with EVERYTHING!

This is what the psalmist teaches.  But the lesson isn’t finished there.  Once you choose to bless the Lord with everything, then remember to, “...forget not all His benefits.”  And boy do we have benefits!... Our spouse is a benefit.  Our children are benefits.  Our families and friends are benefits. Even our pets are benefits. Our churches are a benefit.  Our jobs, our income, our homes, our means of transportation, our stocked grocery stores, our accessible water supplies, our paved roads, our full closets, our warm beds, our liberties and our freedoms... all benefits!  All decreed and provided by our glorious and mighty God!

Do you look at the people and things in your life as benefits from His throne?  Do you appreciate the many blessings present and available to you this very moment because of His reign? There are so many details He has made available:  Sunlight.  Oxygen.  Water.  Sight.  Hearing.  Breath.  Ahhh, breath!  (Breathe in and out deeply and rejoice!  WOO HOO!  Praise our Creator for His wonderful breath of LIFE!)

Scripture says, don’t forget these things, Believer.  Don’t take His blessings for granted.  Don’t look past their significance or dismiss their importance.  For these are gifts to enjoy TODAY from the hand of our generous King.

To everything there is a season, and in each season, every good and perfect gift comes from the Father above.  Have you recognized His providence?  Or are you just coasting, overlooking, forgetting His holy name and expecting all treasures to remain available to your beckon call and selfish whim?  I encourage you, don’t forget the hand of your Holy King!  For life is enjoyed in the details of God’s grace, and fullness is found in the depths of our gratefulness to Him!

Yes, bless His holy Name... and be holy because He is holy.  Pay attention to your Savior’s care, and rejoice and be glad today!

Bless the Lord.
Bless His holy Name.
And never, ever forget His faithful love and kindness to you, His dearly beloved!

XOXOXO!

~Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Thursday, November 3, 2016

our winning victory!

Last night, Chuck and I watched the Chicago Cubs win the 2016 World Series.  (Did I really just type that?)  Born and raised a Chi-gal, I cannot even express the magnitude of how much this exciting game meant to me and my home-grown peeps.  How thrilling and exhilarating the reality of this victory truly means to us.  (I'm still pinching myself and in tears every time I think of it!!!  Go Cubs Go!  WOO HOO!)

And yet, this morning in the stillness of my devotional time, my mind is led back to something much bigger.  Something that the Lord has been reminding me of all year.  Something far more reaching and incredible than the successful end to an 108 year drought that both myself and my fellow Cubbie fans can joyfully claim as a WIN... finally.

It is this...

Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.

Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.

The Holy Spirit has continued to whisper this in my ear and put it before me over and over this year.  Leading my heart through the Door of Heaven.  Escorting my soul into His place of peace.  Causing me to thankfully reflect on the Throne that stand forever.  The Kingdom that will never fall.  The Master, Father, Creator, Savior, Lord Almighty... the King of kings who will never leave or fail me.  How magnificent and awesome my God truly is!

"Come up hither," He beckons my soul, "and I will show you what must take place after this.”

Here is where the Throne of the Most High God reins.  Where rainbows and precious stones encircle His presence.  Where lightning, thunder, and fire blazes around His grace.  Where crystal seas flow all to Him, all for Him.  Where impressive creatures cover their eyes in honor, uttering only one phrase in reverent chorus...

"Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.”

Day and night they never stop...

“‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.”

Even now, they worship aloud.
Even now, all praise and glory belongs only to Him.

Here is where the devoted and righteous fall down on their knees, laying down their crowns in gifted praise.  Where nothing matters more than the One who sits secure, relaxed, and in full control.   Where all life comes.  Where all hope leads.  Where glory, honor, and thanksgiving to His Highness continues for ever, and ever, and ever.

"Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.”

Friends, the world we live in has both ups and downs, good times and bad.  There are joyful events and scary moments.  There are seasons of change and seasons of silence.  Mostly, this world can easily distract us from reflecting upon the eternal Throne of the Living God.

So today, as I rejoice with my fellow Chi-town comrades....  As I enjoy this special moment for the long-awaited moment it is.... I would also like to encourage you to remember one very important truth, "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created." (James 1:17-18)

We exist because He chose us.
We are blessed because He gives to us.
We have hope and a victorious future overcoming all sin and death because He loves us.

This is the King who gave up his only Son's life so that WE MAY KNOW HIM INTIMATELY!

In light of this truth, please take a moment to consider what He has promised to those who love and know Him... to those who have accepted and claim His only Son, Jesus Christ, as Savior and Lord...

I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”  He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” (Revelation 21:2-5)

As certain as the reality of the Chicago Cubs FINALLY winning the World Series, so is the trustworthy truth of God's promised Word.  Because of this, we must live every single moment with the secure anticipation of the ultimate triumph that awaits us in His presence!

For the Lord your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory. (Deuteronomy 20:4)

The salvation of the righteous comes from the Lord; he is their stronghold in time of trouble.  (Psalm 37:39)

But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:57)

Now this I know: The Lord gives victory to his anointed. He answers him from his heavenly sanctuary with the victorious power of his right hand. (Psalm 20:6)

So today, let us fixated our eyes upon the Throne, upon His Kingdom come... His will be done!  Let us realize and remember with every passing moment, through every trial and in every joyous occasion...

"Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty...
who was (hallelujah!),
and is (all glory and honor and praise is His),
and is (thankfully, mercifully, graciously, excitedly) to come!"

Blessed be the His Name forevermore!

:)

Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

more

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. (Romans 12:12)

It's very early in the A.M. and I find myself reading scripture and asking God for something I never thought I'd pray for:

"Lord, give me more tests and trials. Challenge me in every way possible so I can grow in your grace, and freedom, and holiness... so I can know you MORE!"

What kind of insane person asks God for this?  Who wants more tests and trials?

I do.

I DO! (Raising my hands in the air!)

For I have learned that God uses every uncomfortable experience in this life to lead us nearer to Him... to teach us to rely solely on Him... to seek shelter snugly under Him. (And I so want to be closer to Jesus, don't you? Isn't that the whole point? Isn't that ALL that matters forever!!??)

I am thinking about how quickly our human lives pass by. How many of my own classmates from middle school, high school, and college are already grandparents. How now, in my forties, my physical body is starting to show signs of old age: A few gray hairs debuting on my head. More wrinkles than I can remember now visibly evident under my eyes. (Who is this woman looking back at me in the mirror?)

Yes, so many years have come and gone... time vanishes away... moments survive only within our memory banks. In my twenties, thirties, and now forties... do I remember living fully for Jesus in every one of those days? Probably not. No, if I were to be honest and give an accurate account, I wholeheartedly sought after the Lord only in my own desperation... only when I knew I really needed Him. When I was uncomfortable and afraid of living without Him. When life seemed out of control and even dangerous. Yes, those were the times I cried out and closely followed Jesus. And, those were the moments He always proved worthy of all praise and ultimately taught me MORE about His grace, His freedom from sin, His holiness, His faithfulness.

As a result of this recent spiritual accounting, I already know that deep down I am historically too selfish to seek after Christ without His ongoing intervention. I need Him to remind me daily that He is able to complete His good work in me... right until the very end! Right until I draw my last breath!

So yes, Master! Today I ask that you continue to test my faith and give me all I need to succeed in your Name... so that I might obey and please you! So that I can know you MORE! Shepherd me through the sin and death that you have already overcome in order to save me! Teach me to focus only on your sacrifice, your grace, your freedom, your holiness, your magnificent Glory!!! I want to become an honored extension of your eternal victory each moment I live on this earth.  Do whatever you must to keep me close, dear Lord!  No doubt, I need your discipline.  And teach me to consider every second near you "pure joy" as you test and improve my faith!

MORE of you in my life, Jesus!
Give me MORE!

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. (James 1:2-5)

Blessings!

~Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

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