Wednesday, September 27, 2017

just breathe

Wednesday, September 27, 2017...

My Problem:
I realized this week that the word chronic has all but consumed my life.

Chronic pain.
Chronic fatigue.
Chronic headaches.
Chronic insomnia.
Chronic debt.
Chronic clutter.
Chronic congestion.
Chronic heartbreak.
Chronic weight.
Chronic depression.
Chronic disappointment.
Chronic brokenness.
Chronic helplessness.

Chronic occurs persistently, recurrently, habitually for me. It attaches itself to my health, my heart, my home. It lengthens itself across my horizon so that all I see are it's chains of hopelessness tightly bound around me.

My Prayer:
Lord, please free me from this stronghold. Please set my ways to know your wisdom and understanding. Please create in me a clean heart. And mostly, dear Lord, please use my life to bless and glorify your Name.

My God's Answer:
Dear One... just breathe. Just stop and take one deliberate breath, then another.

Breathe in.
Breathe out.
Inhale.
Exhale.

And as you do this, realize that these breaths are my gift of life in you. For I am who oversees your every heart beat. I am who rises and sets the sun every day. I am the one who controls all storm surges and life changes... not only on this planet, but throughout the universe. I am your Creator. I am your Redeemer. I am the one you can cling to and count on always. Yes, I am here. I am with you. Even through the worst, I will never, ever leave. I will not forsake or fail you. I am faithful and completely in love with you.

Yes... YOU, my love!

So, just as you are... just stand still right here, right now.... and breathe.

I will fight for you. I will uphold you. Inhale my Word. Exhale your prayers. I hear you. I am listening. And I promise, I will give you rest. I will bring you delight. I will escort you into more. Breath, and allow me to lead you to my good. Breathe and be still. Breathe and know me. Breathe and meditate on my promises. Breathe, so that I may restore your soul... so that I may renew your strength.

Psalm 41:1-3... Blessed are those who have regard for the weak; the Lord delivers them in times of trouble. The Lord protects and preserves them - they are counted among the blessed in the land - he does not give them over to the desire of their foes. The Lord sustains them on their sickbed and restores them from their bed of illness.

Psalm 25:4-5... Show me your ways, Lord, teach me your paths. Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.

❤️
Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

praising through my prayers

Tuesday, 9/12/17: Well, today has been a day of praises and prayer requests. First, it has been a VERY expensive year for me and my family medically, and today was the first day in quite some time that we were able to restock our pantry and freezer again. God is good. God provides. However, as I type this, the "other" prayer requests on my long list still swirl in my head. God will provide.  I know this. I do. But these burdens seem heavier than anticipated. These trials seem more difficult than ever before. God always provides. Every bill. Every sorrow. Every trouble. He invites me to go to Him for restoration and peace. Do I always accept His generous invitation? No. Sadly, my stubborn, worrisome will gets in the way. Today, for example: as quickly as I had praised Him for stocking our kitchen shelves, my computer completely died.... and I felt a little bit of my heart sink. For I have no means to purchase another computer. Yet I have orders to fulfill, you see. Customers waiting on me to come through with commissioned artwork and specialized Bible Tabs. I can't do that without my computer. So my productivity wings have been clipped! O Lord, can I trust that you will take care of this matter? Yes, I've made an appointment with a tech desk. But they cannot see me until Monday. Monday!!! Sure, I've followed all instructions they've given to the letter. But now... now all I can do is wait and pray on this one of many prayer requests. And waiting is the hardest, isn't it? Waiting for answers. Waiting for solutions. Waiting for relief. Waiting for Jesus to intervene. I hate waiting! But... Scripture tells me that if I wait on the Lord, He will renew my strength. He will ultimately allow these clipped wings to mount up and soar like an eagle under the steadfast grace of His glory. How I hope for that this hour. How I pray for His answers to come quickly. So yes, I will wait. And as I wait, I will praise Him. God always provides. He always takes care of us. God is always good. Even if this life is full of hard moments. I will wait, for my God is able. Let's all praise Him through our prayers!!! ❤️~V

Monday, September 11, 2017

because of you

Monday, September 11, 2017: Today, I've been playing my own quiet appreciation game in my head. I like to call it "Because of you..." The rules are very simple and go like this: Whenever I think about someone I know, I take a sec to remember a positive aspect about them that only exists in my life because they exist in my life.

For example...

Because of Chuck Anderson, I am blessed with a happy marriage full of love, humor, and respect.
Because of Beverly Drong, I see Jesus' love in person every day.

And so on!

On this difficult day of remembrance, might I encourage y'all to also take time to remember what you love most about those nearest and dearest to you today. Really, what better way to honor those lost than to generously love those still alive?

Because of _______, fill in the rest with some heart-felt lovin'!!!

XOXOX!

~V

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Sunday, September 10, 2017

hurricane irma

Sunday, 9/10/17: Watching all the hurricane Irma news coverage for Florida and thinking about how just two weeks ago my own city was living out the worst of hurricane Harvey. Remembering the selfless heroes who showed up to help rescue and rebuild after Harvey hit... some, my own Texas neighbors, and some, sweet travelers from churches and families originating from other states throughout our beautiful nation! So many dear hearts who packed up whatever supplies they could gather, and without planned agenda or confirmed destination simply showed up to provide aid where it was needed most. God is good. Love is real. Let's remember to extend the same courtesy and hope to those affected by Irma. We love you and are praying, sweet Florida brothers and sisters. God is with us! ❤️ ~V

Saturday, September 9, 2017

prayer with hebrews 1:8

Heavenly Father, I have many things going on in my head.
Many thoughts.
Many projects.
Many people, places, things, possibilities, and pursuits.
But Lord, I want you most.
I need you most.
Help me to intimately know you most.
Focus my lens to see only your Way... Your proven path. Your healing presence.
Keep my heart aligned in your Truth... Your wise commands. Your instructed peace.
Give me the fullness of your Life... Your promised hope. Your immediate and eternal holiness.
Continue to change my very flesh into a living representation of your grace.
Draw my soul near.
Keep my heart close.
Use me.
And as you cover my sinfulness in your loving kindness,
Help me to throw my selfishness on the fire of your altar.
Give me the strength to trust you in each moment.
For you alone are my glory.
You are my lifelong goal.
You are my all-in-all.
You are the answer to every distraction and dream.
Blessed is your Name, dearest Jesus, my Savior and Lord!
Blessed is your living council, Holy Holy Holy Spirit of the Most High!
Blessed is your Majesty and kingdom, omnipotent and omniscient Abba Father GOD!

"Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever; a scepter of justice will be the scepter of your kingdom.” (Hebrews 1:8)

Blessings!

~V

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson


Friday, September 8, 2017

psalm 145:1-21

Psalm 145:1-21... I will extol thee, my God, O king; and I will bless thy name for ever and ever. Every day will I bless thee; and I will praise thy name for ever and ever. Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; and his greatness is unsearchable. One generation shall praise thy works to another, and shall declare thy mighty acts. I will speak of the glorious honour of thy majesty, and of thy wondrous works. And men shall speak of the might of thy terrible acts: and I will declare thy greatness. They shall abundantly utter the memory of thy great goodness, and shall sing of thy righteousness. The Lord is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy. The Lord is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works. All thy works shall praise thee, O Lord; and thy saints shall bless thee. They shall speak of the glory of thy kingdom, and talk of thy power; To make known to the sons of men his mighty acts, and the glorious majesty of his kingdom. Thy kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and thy dominion endureth throughout all generations. The Lord upholdeth all that fall, and raiseth up all those that be bowed down. The eyes of all wait upon thee; and thou givest them their meat in due season. Thou openest thine hand, and satisfiest the desire of every living thing. The Lord is righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works. The Lord is nigh unto all them that call upon him, to all that call upon him in truth. He will fulfil the desire of them that fear him: he also will hear their cry, and will save them. The Lord preserveth all them that love him: but all the wicked will he destroy. My mouth shall speak the praise of the Lord: and let all flesh bless his holy name for ever and ever.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

be the change

Thursday, 9/7/17: Short and sweet... do something nice for another human being today. Love a little more than you did yesterday. Give a portion of yourself (time, money, resources, etc.) to those who would definitely benefit from it. Be the change. Bring the hope. Look for God's miracles!!! And don't waste your energy fighting the ungodly, the sinners, the scoffers, or the scornful. The Lord will fight for you. Instead, delight in the goodness of our great God and love love love like Jesus always! Become His blessing, peeps! ❤️ ~V

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

the Spirit of Truth

Wednesday, 9/6/17: John 14:15-19 “If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live."

The Spirit of Truth... I've been thinking about this. How the Lord gives us His Spirit to show His people what is really certain, accurate, correct. We get so much distorted news, so many opinionated details of men... so much "political and social corrected'ness" that spiritual holiness is regularly defamed, defaulted, desensitized, devalued.

But if we know God... meaning, if we make it our priority to know and obey His Word and believe and receive His Son as our Savior and King...., well, God will actually live with us! He will take residence in our lives. He will reveal to us what this world of disaster can never, ever know. Peace. His eternal peace. No matter the storm. No matter the sorrow. No matter the trial. No matter the horror. The Spirit of Truth will bring us His clear, perfect peace and a living hope with a secure future.

I have been praying for some time about the condition of our country. I have quietly lifted up the many debates of topics that have monopolized the condition and rising tone of our society. It saddens me to watch so many people ignore and defy what I read in my Bible. When did God's instruction become optional for any of us? We need His Truth, folks. We will die without His love. When did this "one nation under God" stop accepting God? I pray that we will repent soon. I pray that He will bless us. I pray that we will humbly turn away from our selfish desires and surrender our care to the Most High rather than continue to saturate ourselves with sinful folly. Only His Word brings peace... not our urges or feelings or comfort levels. No, only God's Word is certain, accurate, correct for life.

Proverbs 1:22-33 “How long will you who are simple love your simple ways? How long will mockers delight in mockery and fools hate knowledge? Repent at my rebuke! Then I will pour out my thoughts to you, I will make known to you my teachings. But since you refuse to listen when I call and no one pays attention when I stretch out my hand, since you disregard all my advice and do not accept my rebuke, I in turn will laugh when disaster strikes you; I will mock when calamity overtakes you— when calamity overtakes you like a storm, when disaster sweeps over you like a whirlwind, when distress and trouble overwhelm you... Then they will call to me but I will not answer; they will look for me but will not find me, since they hated knowledge and did not choose to fear the Lord. Since they would not accept my advice and spurned my rebuke, they will eat the fruit of their ways and be filled with the fruit of their schemes. For the waywardness of the simple will kill them, and the complacency of fools will destroy them; but whoever listens to me will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm.”

John 14:23 Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them."

Do you know God's Spirit of Truth?

❤️

~Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

ed newby

Tuesday 9/5/17: My friend Ed Newby and his lovely wife Sarah Newby lost so much this past week due to hurricane Harvey. I know they are one of many here in H-town who are in the same horrible predicament, but I still feel led to share this with y'all today.

I know Ed because he is my air conditioning guy. One week while Chuck was out of town, he came to Momba's and my rescue in 100 degree Texas heat. (Why does a/c always decide to die on the hottest days?). Anyway, in less than a day, Ed had obtained the unique part we needed for repair and had us running smoothly, comfortably, quickly and at a reasonable cost.

I also know Ed because he is the President of a wonderful non-profit here in Houston called Operation Snowstorm. Operation Snowstorm provides children battling terminal cancer the rare opportunity to experience the miracle of a snowstorm in Houston. Ed and his team do this by dropping 10,000 pounds of snow - providing gloves, toys, shovels and even snow sleds for sweet "Snow Warrior's” to escape cancer and enjoy just being a kid for a day. Seriously....Priceless!!!

This gives these kids and their family and friends the opportunity to gather together and create treasured memories which are captured by a professional photographer and given as keepsakes to remember their special snow day. (Some of my dear friends lost their sweet grandson to cancer and I can assure you that Ed's ministry made a lasting impression to them all.) Mind you, both Ed and Sarah do this because they can, btw. No profits or agendas.... They just want to make these kids, who have been through so much, smile. Ed told me once that he couldn't change the world, but he could make snow... and that's exactly what he does. Snow that blesses!!!

There is no way I can tell you in a short post how much I love and respect Ed and Sarah Newby. They are walking love. They visibly wear Jesus throughout their whole life.

This past week Ed, Sarah, and their children evacuated from their home when flood waters began to engulf their street. Once they reached shelter, they bravely rallied with other neighbors to insure safe rescues for the rest of their community. As their own home remained underwater and inaccessible, Ed and Sarah served by helping others any way they could. Heroes, plain and simple.

Since returning to assess and address their own flood damage, Ed and Sarah still have made time to advocate on behalf of fighting childhood cancer. They have helped flood victims find a hot meal. They have served and served and served in more ways than I can type.

When Chuck couldn't get our a/c running after the power returned in our home this week, we called Ed. Of course, Ed offered to drop all he is currently dealing with to come help us with our not-nearly as important problem. Fortunately, that wasn't necessary and they were able to figure it all out via telephone... at no charge, mind you. Sooooo soooo generous and sweet.

I could go on and on about the Newby Family. But I'm more inclined to paint this small picture of their wonderfulness and simply ask all my friends and family if y'all could pray for them as they are really struggling to get back on their feet.

If you'd like to learn more about Operation Snowstorm, here is the website link: https://www.operationsnowstorm.org/

If you or your church would like to help the Newby family directly, shoot me a private message and I will help you get connected with either Ed or Sarah.

Let's love on these heroes, shall we? Let's give back to those who have selflessly continued to give all of themselves, making our world a little brighter in Christ's love.

Thanks all for your support and God bless!!!

❤️

~V

PS.... please share if you feel led.

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Monday, September 4, 2017

labor day: work

Monday 9/4/17: Today is Labor Day in the United States. I'm certain you already know this. I'm hoping most of you are using the day to pause and relax with family and friends. I know such a time is much deserved for so many. In fact, I've been thinking a lot today as to why we actually labor? Why do we work? The answer for most, of course, is to provide for ourselves and our loves. To put food on the table, shelter over our heads. Sure, some work for notoriety. Some work for fun. But most work long and hard hours... the givers that give. Sadly, some don't work enough or at all... the takers. But those that take actually lose because they don't understand that they are missing one of the greatest of gifts from our Creator. For work is such a blessing when you really look at it. A gift to better all our lives. With it, we gain and grow in speciality. We progress and improve as a society, as an era, as a whole. We are blessed if we have work, aren't we? Of course, the Lord also calls us to times of rest. And to always trust our future to His ultimate care. We are to tend to the garden... but walk through it with His wisdom while always abiding in Him. You see, too much work can damage us; too little can hurt us. But overall, balanced work in His Name allows us the greatest honor to serve one another. And this brings me to my real point today... How DO you work when you work? Do you give your all. Do you consider it a gift? Do you take to heart how your efforts are actually helping the whole of mankind? Or is your work centered around selfishness? Are you in it only for yourself, for your bottom line, for your advancement? Do you even care if future generations will benefit from what you give of yourself each and every day? How DO you work? As you rest this Labor Day, I encourage you to recharge your batteries so that you can return tomorrow with the goal to work well, work balanced, and work in God's love for one another. Happy Labor Day, y'all!
❤️
~V

______________________

Congressional committee report bill, S. 730, to Congress proposing Labor Day May 15, 1894:

"The use of national holidays is to emphasize some great event or principle in the minds of the people by giving them a day of rest and recreation, a day of enjoyment, in commemoration of it. By making one day in each year a public holiday for the benefit of workingmen the equality and dignity of labor is emphasized. Nothing is more important to the public weal than that the nobility of labor be maintained. So long as the laboring man can feel that he holds an honorable as well as useful place in the body politic, so long will he be a loyal and faithful citizen.
The celebration of Labor Day as a national holiday will in time naturally lead to an honorable emulation among the different crafts beneficial to them and to the whole public. It will tend to increase the feeling of common brotherhood among men of all crafts and callings, and at the same time kindle an honorable desire in each craft to surpass the rest.
There can be no substantial objection to making one day in the year a national holiday for the benefit of labor. The labor organizations of the whole country, representing the great body of our artisan population, request it. They are the ones most interested. They desire it and should have it. If the farmers, manufacturers, and professional men are indifferent to the measure, or even oppose it, which there is no reason to believe, that still would constitute no good objection, for their work can be continued on holidays as well as on other days if they so desire it. Workingmen should have one day in the year peculiarly their own. Nor will their employers lose anything by it. Workingmen are benefited by a reasonable amount of rest and recreation. Whatever makes a workingman more of a man makes him more useful as a craftsman."

President Grover Cleveland signed the bill into law on June 28, 1894.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

jerry

This is Jerry. Jerry is one of my many sweet Texas neighbors. A gentleman. A quiet man. Also, Jerry loves to barbecue. Nothing more, nothing less. So today, Jerry donated his time, money, and heart to BBQ for his neighbors who have been affected by hurricane Harvey. His love, of course, created a domino effect and suddenly Jerry also had a lovely group of neighborly volunteers donating their time, money, and hearts to others also. When it was all said and done, Jerry gave out close to 100 meals today which he home-smoked/bbq'd himself. I'm not a newsworthy person or anyone in particular of importance... but in my book, Jerry is! What would our blessed country look like if we all chose to love a little bit more like Jerry? Thanks Jerry!!!! ❤️❤️❤️

love & service

Early Sunday 9/3/17: Today my older brother of two years turns fifty. Phew, fifty. When I really think about that I'm amazed. Amazed that we are both getting so old, and amazed that we are both still so very very young. 
On one hand, life has lasted too long for me. You see, I always thought I'd die before my forties. I can't say why. It was just something I always thought since I was small. And in a way, I did die a little. Because since turning forty and making it through some major accidents and health scares, the residual chronic pain and frustrations it all brings has made my once huge world continually get smaller and smaller. Sometimes in depression I ask God, why? Why not just take me rather than have me suffer like this? Why make me a nuisance to those I hold dear. What more is there that I could possibly do? What more could this life hold for me? 

It is usually then that God reminds me that He alone knows the plans for me. That every breath I take actually belongs to Him. Every step ordained by His will. And mostly that my focus should be directed outward toward loving and serving rather than viewed inward at life and self. For an abundant life cannot be had if we do not first know and share His love. Self cannot be satisfied without first understanding the necessity of His glorious service. Yes, how young I truly am compared to His grand omniscience. How small my age seems compared to the presence of The Ageless Almighty. 

This is where I ponder on my big, brother's 50th. Here is where I sit quietly - early... before the doors of my Church officially open and invite me in to worship, to give thanks, to take communion beside my other spiritual siblings. Oh, God is so good. How many of my brothers and sisters have blessed me this difficult week. How important each of our gifts are to benefit and help one another. How valuable and powerful we are equipped to stand under the authority and grace of The Master's wise counsel.

Yes, this last week has taxed us all in one way or another. And yet, soon we are blessed to pause together in congregation, praising the One who promises to see us through all adversity and trouble. The One who brings with Him lasting peace and salvation. The One with whom I truly love to live for... whom I have surrendered my broken self to serve.

Blessed Sunday to all who believe in The Lord. Let me encourage you to get yourselves to church with your families... to worship alongside your eternal family! May we each draw close and abide in His Word together, pausing from the many storms, and celebrating this precious moment to live full and with hope toward our future!

Much love!!! ❤️
~V

Ps... Happy Birthday Big Brother! I love you!!! 

Saturday, September 2, 2017

power

Saturday 9/2/17: A week without power. I know in the grand scheme that really is nothing. Compared to those who have lost everything... my sweet neighbors who have layers of mud and debris covering the walls and floors of what once were lovely homes. Just like that so many have had to face the hard truth that life will be different for some time. Can you imagine losing all your earthly belongings in one day? Just like that. The freight train of Hurricane Harvey will be felt for many weeks, months, years to come here. Sigh. As I sit watching the large impressive hawks circling above my neighborhood, I find myself overwhelmed and appreciative for all we still have. One week without electricity has re-tuned my internal antenna to better hear my Spirit's gentle whisper. The only noise present are the chirps of geckos, the hum of a much appreciated generator, the breathing of my love sitting beside me as we regroup this hour over a cup of fresh hot coffee. We have learned to base all our activities around the "when"... when light is present. When the sun rises and falls. When we can see each other, then we progress together. We are blessed with a like-minded community. We have all reorganized our priorities and schedules. Because let's face it, tragedy elongates our time. This week has felt overwhelmingly like a month. And doing without has brought us a very different kind of agenda and comfort together. Lessons and hopes are more visibly seen without electricity, in true daylight... in the brightness of God's love. Yes, praying for power to be restored as the hardworking crews work outside our home today. They have given so much of themselves to help so many this week. May we all continue to give as well. May new transformers transform us. May new equipment equip us. May new electricity electrify us all to nourish the love we have found in serving one another.  ❤️. God bless, sweet peeps and Happy Saturday! ~V

Sat #2: Ok, so our electricity is running, but our a/c isn't working now. (Chuck already brought back the units to our neighbor too.) Could y'all pray with me on this as my hubs is worn out but still trying to figure out what's wrong. We do have fans running, but it is hot/humid. Lord, help!

Friday, September 1, 2017

be the change

Friday, September 1, 2017:

Early this morning, I decided to read some of the headline stories outside of our local Houston news. Quickly I realized that nothing much has changed in the world outside of hurricane Harvey. People are still behaving mean, angry, defensive, hurt.

So today, as me and my community continue to help one another get back on our feet, I thought I would step outside my comfort zone to formally ask the politicians, the news media, the business leaders, and the network executives to please stop reporting against one another. Stop telling us that headline "news" should be about who twittered something first. Or who won the last argument according to so-n-so. This is not news that helps anyone. This is not news that matters. Stop pointing and judging and arguing with the hopes of dethroning, destroying, and shutting anyone down. I can personally attest... we have lost enough. Haven't we?

Instead, let me suggest that you choose today to do good... that you report and support what builds each of us up as a nation. That you decide, despite our differing opinions and wonderfully eclectic diversity of talent, that name calling is simply not ok. That we are not at war with each other, but rather simply in disagreement on some issues but always working toward solutions together. How about making our news, our politics, our business, our airway-coverage focused on choosing to behave in love... always! Even if your so-called foe does not behave the same. Even if you have to take a hit, or two... or twelve... before the other side actually believes your commitment to simply care first about one another.

You are responsible for your words and behavior. You are the only person you can control and change. So today, I'd like to ask each of you to choose to act presidential and extend grace to one another. To govern yourself to be kind first, deciding to do all things in love. If you don't have anything uplifting to say, really... hold your tongue and start counting all the blessings and freedoms we share in this gorgeous country. We are so richly blessed. We are wonderfully talented. We have the capacity to give so much to one another and to grow stronger and healthier together. But twitter wars and destructive headlines won't get us there, friends. So, please... be the change. You control you. Elevate and live in the gratitude that we can stand united. And if you need some actual news to report... if you are looking for places to govern and help others... feel free to contact me. I have so many examples of love and leadership occurring before me this week... too many to count. God bless my sweet America. Land that I truly do love!!!

God Bless!!!

Victoria Anderson

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

walking through the fire

Have you found yourself questioning God's motives?
Perhaps you asked God to protect your baby, but you lost your precious child.
Maybe you pleaded with God to heal someone from cancer, but they just found out that the cancer is spreading in their body or perhaps have just died.
Or you begged God to save your marriage, but your husband ended up leaving you and your children... alone.

Do you question... If God is able to do anything - if He is so powerful... why does He allow horrible things to happen?

Shadrach, Meschach and Abednego are three of my favorite figures in the Old Testament. They offer a terrific example of three men who knew that God COULD save them, but they also trusted God EVEN IF He chose not to do so.

Let me paint the picture described in Daniel Chapter 3. King Nebuchadnezzar (Neb) built a statue of gold... an idol... and ordered his entire kingdom to bow down to it when he had his musicians play a particular music. All nations under Neb in every language would be required to worship the image of gold or they would be thrown into a furious, raging fire! YIKES! Neb hears that three men did not bow down as told. Shadrach, Meschach and Abednego are brought before the king to explain themselves. He questions them, "Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the image of gold I have set up? Now when you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipes and all kinds of music, if you are ready to fall down and worship the image I made, very good. But if you do not worship it, you will be thrown immediately into a blazing furnace. Then what god will be able to rescue you from my hand?" (Daniel 3:14-15)

Here is how the three men responded in faith to the intimidating king... "O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and He will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if He does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up." (Daniel 3:16-18)

"But even if He does not..." Wow. EVEN IF God would not do as they hoped... EVEN IF the outcome would not match their desired results... EVEN IF... now, that's faith. I encourage you to read the rest of this story... it is just awesome! Read on.

Then Nebuchadnezzar was furious with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, and his attitude toward them changed. He ordered the furnace heated seven times hotter than usual and commanded some of the strongest soldiers in his army to tie up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and throw them into the blazing furnace. So these men, wearing their robes, trousers, turbans and other clothes, were bound and thrown into the blazing furnace. The king's command was so urgent and the furnace so hot that the flames of the fire killed the soldiers who took up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, and these three men, firmly tied, fell into the blazing furnace.

Then King Nebuchadnezzar leaped to his feet in amazement and asked his advisers, "Weren't there three men that we tied up and threw into the fire?"
They replied, "Certainly, O king."

He said, "Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods."

Nebuchadnezzar then approached the opening of the blazing furnace and shouted, "Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out! Come here!"

So Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego came out of the fire, and the satraps, prefects, governors and royal advisers crowded around them. They saw that the fire had not harmed their bodies, nor was a hair of their heads singed; their robes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them.

Then Nebuchadnezzar said, "Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants! They trusted in him and defied the king's command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God. Therefore I decree that the people of any nation or language who say anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego be cut into pieces and their houses be turned into piles of rubble, for no other god can save in this way."

Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the province of Babylon. (Daniel 3:19-30)


God is faithful to His children. Here we see that God was faithful to Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in spite of their being thrown into a fiery blazing furnace! It is a wonderful example to read this story... seeing the fourth man (God) joining these three faithful servants and walking alongside with them in the fire. No, He didn't remove them from the problem... He didn't make things happen easier... but He was with them! And the end result proved fruitful in that king Neb was proclaiming, "Praise be to God!!!" And isn't that the message we are to be sharing with others? PRAISE BE TO GOD! Glory be HIS name!

Ladies, when life doesn't go the way you hoped and your stuck in a blazing furnace of misfortune... Will you choose to trust that God is still good? Will you resolve to not bow down to disbelief? Will you avoid giving into fear? Will you wage war against disappointment and choose to TRUST YOUR GOD.... EVEN IF?

I promise you, the circumstance may not turn out the way you had envisioned....but our loving Savior promises to walk alongside you... with you through the fire. He will never leave you or forsake you. He will always be YOUR God! Trust in His faithfulness. Trust in His promises... all things will ultimately work together for His GOOD! And He is GOOD!

Trust Him.

Blessings!

Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Friday, August 18, 2017

the solution to our repeated corruption

“You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. 

“For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. 

She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.
(Genesis 3:4-6)

Our historical problem...

  • We disregard God's instruction in an attempt to love self more than Him.
  • We theorize and redefine what is and isn't good, even though we have no authority to do so.
  • We choose what we desire rather than what God has designed for us.

And so we fall... away into death and darkness.

Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned (Romans 5:12)

And so we fail.

Repeat.
Repeat.
Repeat.

But mark this: 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 such people.  They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over gullible women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, always learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth. (2 Timothy 3:1-7)

Woe to her that is filthy and polluted, to the oppressing city!  She obeyed not the voice; she received not correction; she trusted not in the Lord; she drew not near to her God. (Zephaniah 3:1-2)

But what if...

  • We decided to love God first?  
  • We used our moments to properly know and obey His good authority and approved wisdom.  
  • We chose to finally believe and follow only Him and become faithful disciples to the Living Light of the World.

Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.  In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

My son, if thou wilt receive my words, and hide my commandments with thee; 
So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding;
Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding;
If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures;
Then shalt thou understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God.
For the Lord giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding.
He layeth up sound wisdom for the righteous: he is a buckler to them that walk uprightly.
He keepeth the paths of judgment, and preserveth the way of his saints.
Then shalt thou understand righteousness, and judgment, and equity; yea, every good path.
When wisdom entereth into thine heart, and knowledge is pleasant unto thy soul;
Discretion shall preserve thee, understanding shall keep thee:
To deliver thee from the way of the evil man, from the man that speaketh froward things;
Who leave the paths of uprightness, to walk in the ways of darkness;
Who rejoice to do evil, and delight in the frowardness of the wicked;
Whose ways are crooked, and they froward in their paths.
(Proverbs 2:1-15)

I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness. (John 12:46)

Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. (Matthew 22:37)

Jesus is The Way.
Jesus is The Truth.
Jesus is The Light, folks.

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do.  (John 14:6 & 12a)

Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. (1 John 4:8)

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. 
(1 Corinthians 13:4-8a)

Jesus is the solution to our repeated corruption.

Repent.
Repent.
Repent.

Be blessed in our Savior today!

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)

XOXO!

Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson


Wednesday, August 16, 2017

o men of now

O men of now,
Who protest today,
For pride, for power,
From cradle to grave.

Your efforts, your advances, excels and campaigns,
Will fall away like the chaff that the wind drives away.

For what of your future?
What matters beyond?
Is it treasures of men?
Or perhaps, is it God?

Walk away from false counsel.
Stand not where sin dabbles.
Do not sit with the scorned, the bitter, the rabbles.

But in His delight come obey the true Law.
His spoken eternal.
His glory, His all.

For love is the answer.
In His Name alone.
His Kingdom, His glory...
Come seek Him to know.

For God so loved that He gave and He gives.
For God so loves that He shares with us Him!
O men of now, how I pray that you'll see,
How great is God's love for you and for me.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.  For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. (John 3:16-17)

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.  (1 Corinthians 13:4-8a)

By Victoria Anderson

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Thursday, August 10, 2017

let us forget not all His benefits




This morning I got up with my husband.
I helped him.
I made his coffee and breakfast.
I fed the dogs.
I picked up the house.
I started the dishwasher.

This morning, my husband kissed me before leaving for work.
He took out the trash and recycle bags.
He promised to meet me for a difficult appointment later this afternoon.
He hugged me tightly as we giggled, and nuzzled, and told our special inside jokes together.

And as I later watched the hubs leave for his meeting, it occurred to me how blessed I am.
How rich my life is.
How generous my Creator has provided.

So, I started listing out my thankfulness...
For my husband.
For clean water and food.
For family.
For pets.
I have warm shelter, devices to aid me in cleaning, nearby medical facilities, and laughter in my home.

How daft I can be to overlook these gifts...
Labeling them to seem ordinary, mundane, common, unremarkable.

But they are remarkable.
They are noteworthy and good.
As such, God calls me to think on these things.
To think about Him as their Giver.
To worship and live thankfully.
To bless His Name with all that is within me!

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)

God is the greatest gift giver, isn't He?
His love is durable, lasting, righteous, and healthy for us.
Mind you, this is the same Almighty being praised every moment by angels singing...
"Holy Holy Holy!"
"Holy Holy Holy!"
"Holy Holy Holy!"

That we would be privy to such greatness and love in our lives... unfathomable!!!

I love them that love me; and those that seek me early shall find me.
Riches and honour are with me; yea, durable riches and righteousness.
My fruit is better than gold, yea, than fine gold; and my revenue than choice silver.
I lead in the way of righteousness, in the midst of the paths of judgment:
That I may cause those that love me to inherit substance; and I will fill their treasures.  (Proverbs 8:17-21)

Yes, Lord... may we no longer forget the credentials of WHOM grants us every earthly treasure!
May we seek your Light every hour and return our hearts in gratitude!
For you are so generous to us.
You love us more than anything else.
How blessed we are to see even a glimpse of your grace.
You are worthy of all our praise.
You are love Most High.
You are all that truly matters.
You are the Light of this world!

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
The same was in the beginning with God.
All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.
In him was life; and the life was the light of men.
That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.
And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace.  (John 1:1-4, 9, 16)

I exist because the Light has given me life.
How carelessly I forget that I am to live fully under His Name.
Forgive me, Lord, and thank you for teaching me Your focus.
Remind me to daily claim your wisdom and reward!
I have been granted eternity in Your holy house because the Light made Himself man, died on a cross, and overcame all evil and death so that I may be close to Your presence...
So that I may never be without Your brightness.
So that I may be blessed every hour with Your holiness. (Thank you, Jesus!)

Indeed... "Holy Holy Holy, Lord God Almighty."

After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter.  And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne.  And he that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone: and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald.  And round about the throne were four and twenty seats: and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold.  And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices: and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God.  And before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto crystal: and in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, were four beasts full of eyes before and behind.  And the first beast was like a lion, and the second beast like a calf, and the third beast had a face as a man, and the fourth beast was like a flying eagle.  And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.  And when those beasts give glory and honour and thanks to him that sat on the throne, who liveth for ever and ever,  The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying, Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created. (Revelation 4)

Friends, let us start every day in worship, for that is what we were created to do.
Let us look around and realize what our great God has generously given each of us.
And let us remember the Word with God... interceding on our behalf.
Praising He who was God, and is God, and forever will be God...
The One who saves us from all sin and promises us a full, satisfying life of eternity under the grace of His endless care.

This is the day to REJOICE!

O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good: because his mercy endureth for ever. (Psalm 118:1)

Praise ye the Lord. 
Praise God in his sanctuary: praise him in the firmament of his power.
Praise him for his mighty acts: praise him according to his excellent greatness.
Praise him with the sound of the trumpet: praise him with the psaltery and harp.
Praise him with the timbrel and dance: praise him with stringed instruments and organs.
Praise him upon the loud cymbals: praise him upon the high sounding cymbals.
Let every thing that hath breath praise the Lord. 
Praise ye the Lord. (Psalm 150)

And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory. (Isaiah 6:3)

Blessings!

~Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

surge


Join me on the outskirts of Bethlehem where Jesse has just asked his youngest son David (a simple shepherd boy) to deliver food to his three brothers at their military unit, presently away at war. The brothers were part of the Israelite army and they had assembled at Ephes Dammim, between Socoh and Azekah (about 15 miles away from David's home in Bethlehem). They were stationed there, because the Philistine army had once again invaded Judah with the intent to overpower the Israelites and their king, Saul.

Historians have speculated that the Philistines may have been a confederacy of seafaring raiders who sailed into the eastern shores of the Mediterranean and settled into occupying the five cities of Gaza, Ashkelon, Ashdod, Ekron, and Gath, along the coastal strip of southwestern Canaan. But regardless of their origin, they were a people that made frequent incursions against the Israelites, causing almost perpetual war between the two peoples.

When David arrived at the scene, the army was just beginning to head out to their battle posts all the while shouting their standard war cry. But they must have been lacking in enthusiasm and spirit. In fact, I'm certain their tone must have reverberated an undertone of defeat. For in the last forty days, the Israelite army lived in complete dismay. They were in trouble... they were in real danger... and they were terrified. Why? Because the Philistines had brought a fierce and intimidating warrior to the battle. His name was Goliath.

Goliath was from Gath and stood intimidatingly over nine feet tall. He wore heavy, impenetrable bronze scale armor all over his body. You see, in that day, the Philistines held a monopoly on iron smithing. So, Goliath came suited with the best made protection. He also came with a title... refered to as the "Champion from Gath". So, he was equally fit and skilled in the art of war and well-prepared to fight against the best of Israel's army. Needless to say, Goliath posed a big problem for Israel.  A. BIG. PROBLEM!!!

Each day, this monster of a human being would come out and shout defiantly at the ranking commands demanding proof of their strength. He would ask, "Why do you even bother to come out and line up for battle?" It didn't help matters that whenever the Israelites saw Goliath, they all ran from him. This only made Goliath bully them more... for what had this pathetic "army of the living God" done in forty days except tremble and huddle together uselessly on the sidelines? He could clearly see they were too afraid to follow-through and do anything heroic. Sure, they claimed to be God's chosen people, but the evidence before him proved contrary. So, he'd continue to verbally bate and abuse them - insisting, "Am I not a Philistine, and are you not the servants of Saul? Choose a man and have him come down to me. If he is able to fight and kill me, we will become your subjects; but if I overcome him and kill him, you will become our subjects and serve us."

There stood the stagnant Israelites... forty days of living in complete, paralyzing fear. Their courage removed. Their hope dwindled. Their trust lost.

Then entered David who hears the scoffing Philistine first hand. In disbelief, David begins to question the troops, "Why doesn't anyone stand up and kill this jerk who outwardly stands against the army of the one true living God?" He couldn't believe that this had been allowed... that no one had done anything. He continued inquiring for answers and questioning the need for leadership in God's army. This went on until he was brought before king Saul. And by then, David knew something had to be done... something no-one else was doing. Unacceptable. His God was not a God to be mocked. His God could never be defeated. So, he did what he knew to be right. He assured Saul and the others, "Stop worrying... don't lose heart on account of this cocky Philistine. I will go and fight him."

David had lived with God. Throughout many a solitary day he had kept his father's flock among the lone hills of Judah, and had worshipped the Unseen but Ever-present Lord. He had grown into an adoring familiarity with the Most High, so that to him the name of the one only living and true God was a deep and solemn joy. As you may have spied far up among the ramparts of the mountains a solitary lake, whose one office it is to mirror the face of heaven, so had David's hallowed life become the reflection of the light and glory of the Lord of hosts. It had not occurred to him in his meditations that base men would dare to challenge the infinite majesty of God, or that proud adversaries would come forward and defy the chosen people of the Most High; and now that he hears the defiance and beholds the challenge, all his blood is up. He starts! A holy rage is upon him! Yes, it is true; he hears Jehovah blasphemed! How can it be? The youth's holy soul is undergoing a new experience, he is bringing his whole life to bear upon it; he reaches the conclusion that as bears and lions die when they meddle with sheep, so must Goliath fall now that he dares to attack the Lord and his people.

When David finds himself in the camp, and when he hears Goliath of Gath pouring forth his blasphemies against Jehovah, and defying Jehovah's people, he has no thought of having been mistaken in his former lofty adoration, he entertains no notion of adopting a lower style; but he inwardly burns with indignation against the infamous reviler. An insult against God cannot be allowed. This abominable blasphemer must be silenced. Somebody must put him down, and so dispose of him that none shall ever dare again to do the like. David enquires whether somebody or other is not going to batter the brazen champion. If any man in the camp will meet this huge man-mountain, David will not stand in his way; he is not so covetous of glory as to deprive a more deserving person of these huge materials for renown. But it is imperative that some hand should silence that hillock of proud flesh. It is driven in upon David's devout heart that this blasphemous mouth must be shut, and God's name and God's people must be clear of such a brutal enemy.

About the stilling of this enemy and avenger David has no enquiry to make. It is going to be done, done soon, and done without any particular display. When he kept his sheep and the lion came, David did not raise the question whether he could kill the lion: he killed him, and then the question was settled. When the bear came, and was about to rob him of one of his lambs, he did not say to himself, "Have I a call to kill that bear?" Not he; but he killed him, and then he knew he was called to do it. He feels within him at this moment, "If nobody else will deal with this Philistine difficulty, I must do so; for I cannot live and see God opposed. Jehovah is all in all, and beside him there is none else: he can put an end to an opponent with a word; it must not be that he shall be insulted continually after this fashion. I feel an impulse upon me. This Philistine has defied the armies of the living God, and down he shall come." And so, yielding to the diviner impulses by which the truly great are led, David puts himself forward to stand in single combat with an enormous giant. ~Spurgeon


Saul, was in disbelief that David would step up and deliver such a bold promise.
No one was up for such a challenge... not even Saul.
His troops were all stuck in fear -  looking at this "Goliath" situation with human eyes.
What a relief to see someone have courage to fight in the name of God.
As foreign as such a concept had become, Saul would welcomed David's willing heart.

So, Saul began to clothe David in his armor. He reasoned that it would keep David safe. But David was not used to wearing armor and ended up denying Saul's offer... For David was not worried about his safety... He knew His God. He knew that Jehovah had promised to protect His people. No, he would rather not weigh himself down with the securities of this world. Instead, David would let God use him as he was accustom and stand comfortably equipped with the abilities and truths God had given him to fight. So he picked up five smooth stones and bravely headed out to face the giant in the name of his Creator.

We all know how this story ends. We've heard it a thousand times in church and bible study... The minute Goliath saw David, he cursed and mocked him. But David stood strong and proclaimed without fear or reservation in 1 Samuel 17:45-47, "You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will hand you over to me, and I'll strike you down and cut off your head. Today I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord's, and he will give all of you into our hands."

Goliath began to move in closer to attack David. Without hesitation, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet the giant. He reached into his bag and took out a single stone, He positioned the rock in his sling and extended his arm - swinging slowly to seat the projectile firmly into it's cradle. His swinging began to gain momentum. David positioned every part of his body, legs, waist, shoulders, arms, elbows and wrist in the direction of his intended target while gaining as much speed as possible to initiate a launch. Then, in complete confidence of God's sovereign rule, David took aim and released.

In horror, the Philistines watched as the stone hit Goliath in the forehead and sank into his skull. He was dead. The giant had fallen. In one faithful act, the threat against Jehovah and His people was removed. In relief, the Israelites realized WHO their God was and what He was still capable of achieving. Somewhere along the way they had forgotten this. Somehow they had become comfortable living in fear and desperation. They had turned into lukewarm, lackadaisical Christians rather than bold believers who were willing to face and fight ANY enemy that opposed their Redeemer.

And here is the best part of the story... the minute David killed Goliath... the second he took hold of the Philistine's sword and cut off his head in victory... the Bible says that the Philistine army ran away in fear, and the Israelite army surged forward and won the battle. God was clearly GOD! For a young shepherd boy just defeated a skilled military champion with a small, smooth stone... and the LORD ALMIGHTY, MAKER OF HEAVEN AND EARTH was with him!!!!

Ladies, how many of us are surrounded by fellow Christians that are stuck... living in fear... comfortable in their stagnant, defeated ways? How many of our churches are suiting up week after week shouting their standard war cry... talking a good talk, but failing to follow through and live with the zeal God has intended for his people? What can we do to help one another stand up and fight the good fight? What abilities and gifts has God given us to use to encourage and motivate one another to surge ahead and claim the victory that exists in Jesus Name?

SURGE: a strong, wavelike, forward movement, rush, or sweep; a swelling, billowing volume or body of something that cannot be stopped; a strong advancement in momentum that causes a widespread change.

One small teenage boy who reacted against his enemies with unquestioning, unhesitating faith was used by the Almighty God to change the course of a war and the direction of a nation.

One person.

What has God called YOU to do with unquestioning, unhesitating faith? Where in your life do you see a need for someone to step up and deliver? Will you allow God to use your faith and abilities to launch a stone of revival in your community? Will you boldly question why sin is allowed to continue and stand against an enemy that seems too big to fight in the eyes of human reasoning? Will you bravely showcase the victory already won by our Savior? GOD IS GOD! Let's start living like it!

Blessings!

~Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Monday, July 31, 2017

focus on His scars and believe in His grace

Every evening I try to block out at least twenty minutes of my time to enjoy a warm, fluffy bubble bath. It is a nice way to slow down my acrobatic brain and encourage my mind to prepare for resting through the night. It is also a huge help to my body because I suffer a lot with pain from past injuries. Yes, this old girl "ain't what she used to be", but thankfully, the hot water from my tub seems to temporarily pacify my aches and pains so that I am not as uncomfortable and fidgety during the time I've allotted for sleep.

Anyway, last night while I was soaking, I was looking over the ten inch scar that remains on my left leg. It runs down the middle of my thigh, over my knee, and ends midway over my tibia. I've had many surgeries on this leg (and expect many more) because the knee and surrounding bones have proven unreliable due to a past accident. Without getting into all the gory details, I started to remember the day my leg was injured and the unthinkable pain that pushed me in and out of consciousness while gracious paramedics and hospital personnel did their best to assess and treat my many fractures. I have never endured such insurmountable pain and physical suffering as I did during this time. No amount of pain killers could prepare me for that trial, and I will never forget the blood-curdling screams that came out of me while being moved every which-way through the x-ray process, surgery, therapy, etc. It was terrible. Needless to say, it was a very difficult and extremely painful time of my life.

When all this had happened, my dear husband (Chuck) dropped out of his busy travel schedule and "moved into" my hospital room to advocate on my behalf while continuing to carry the load of managing our work/life commitments. When I slept, my husband worked. When I was awake, my husband comforted me. I was so grateful because I could relax a little easier with him beside me - knowing that he was there to protect and watch over me no matter what.

During this time, I had a lot of physical therapy to get through. Whenever my doctors and therapists would push me to do something challenging, Chuck would encourage me to keep going... to not give up... to push through the pain and focus on the goal of getting better. Whenever I would stumble or complain, Chuck was right there and ready to motivate - coaching me to lay aside my frustration and believe God was in control. And even though I felt like an ugly mess, Chuck would reassure and praise me - always telling me how beautiful I am to him, how much he loves me, etc.

I am so thankful for Chuck's help through this trial. Because of him, I became stronger, healthier, focused. Because of his help, my spirit remained refreshed and I was energized to keep moving forward rather than sit in the pity party of what was now in the past. Yes, without my dear husband by my side, I don't know if I would have made it through my desperate, injured state. Oh, thank you, Lord, for giving me such a support!

So anyway..., yesterday I was in the tub remembering all this while inspecting my scar. And it got me thinking about how much more my Savior had endured on the cross. I thought about the tremendous love and will that Jesus demonstrated during this dark and lonely time. Here was the Creator of the whole universe (who made our bodies to work a very specific way) being subjected to the worst physical suffering imaginable.

I wondered when He was whipped and beaten - when His body began to bruise, if He thought about the capillaries under His distressed human tissue that had begun to break under the skin and allow His holy blood to build up. I wonder if He considered the nerve endings that He had designed and how now, on His own body, they would report the trauma back to His brain, disclosing the severity of His deadly situation. I wonder as the thorns dug into His scalp, if He thought about the day He skillfully fashioned blood to coagulate and clot whenever the body received damage. I wonder how wounding the sting of His tears felt as He looked lovingly into the eyes of those who came to hurt Him, condemn Him, murder Him.

I thought about all this as I looked over my own scars and suddenly realized that even after overcoming death, Jesus chose to keep His scars. He kept the nail marks on His hands! Why? He didn't need to do that. He was a resurrected God! A King! Why keep ugly scars on your person when you are the Savior to all who believe and claim your name as Lord? Then I remembered doubting Thomas. How he could not accept the unbelievable news that Jesus lived! And I realized, Jesus kept his scars for us! His hands carry the marks of death so that we can always remember what He victoriously did for us! By merely looking at our Savior - we can know that our Messiah endured and overcame our greatest foe... death! AMEN!

On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you!" After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. Again Jesus said, "Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you." And with that he breathed on them and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven." Now Thomas (called Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, "We have seen the Lord!" But he said to them, "Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it." A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you!" Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe." Thomas said to him, "My Lord and my God!" Then Jesus told him, "Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed." Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. (John 20:19-31)

Friends, our lives on earth are not meant to be easy. God already knows that we will endure many hardships and likely be scarred in many, many ways from the sin that surrounds and entangles us. However, just like Jesus, we can use our scars to showcase His sacrifice and triumph. Just like Jesus, we can be a living example of God's love and victory over sin and death.

It is crucial to understand that as we live on this earth, we are each in the process of undergoing our own spiritual therapy as we relearn how to walk in what is holy and healing. And with us... alongside us - is our faithful Savior, who through His own experience understands our need for encouragement. He has promised to accompany us... pushing us through our pain... motivating us to keep our focus on the goal of becoming healthier in His Name.

Whenever we stumble, He will be there to help us get up again. Whenever we are frustrated, He is ready to teach us that God is in control. And no matter how ugly and worthless and messy we may feel, Jesus is ready to remind us how beautiful and precious and important we are to Him... how much He loves us. He is ready to refresh our spirits and energize our souls with His precious grace. Let us receive Him... seek Him... know Him... be with Him.  Let's keep our dearest Husband by our side so we can make it through this desperate, injured, lonely, corrupt world. We need Him to get better. We need Him to become new.  So let's lift Him up every day of our lives and thank the Lord for giving us His perfect support!

Consider what trial you are presently facing; what hardship and pain you are currently enduring. I encourage you to think about it, and then put it into perspective. Consider the sacrifice your Redeemer has made to insure your safety and eternal security.  Remember His grace.  Remember His pain.  Remember what He endured and overcame for your benefit.  Relax in the fact that He will always be with you... working toward your best interest... at the ready to protect and watch over you no matter what.  This is your Comforter, your King.  He loves you.  Continue to allow Him to "move into" your heart and carry the load of your life.

Let's keep our focus on what is truly important.  No matter what comes, let's continue to fix our eyes on the Creator and Savior of this world. Bathing ourselves in His comfort. Remembering that He has fashioned all that we are... all that we will face... all that we must endure to become more like Him. He has perfectly planned to see us through.  So, focus on His scars and believe in His grace.  There is no One greater.  There is no One mightier.  There is no One that loves you more.

Glory be the Name of our Redeemer.
Blessed be the Name of Jesus Christ our Lord!

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (Hebrews 12:2-3)

Blessings!

~Victoria

Blog Post Written By Victoria Anderson
Copyright © | All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

unfiltered disgruntlement or thankful confidence

You spill a glass of milk.
You stub your big toe.
Your cell phone gets disconnected during an important call.
You get cut off in traffic.
The list of day-to-day annoyances goes on and on and on.

When these nuisances occur, our natural reaction is to blurt out a hearty four lettered "#@*!" while we wrap our minds around how to endure the newest frustration that has come about.

But what does our chosen vexation say about our heart? How are we representing a perfect God when we blurt out profanities and inappropriate language in unfiltered disgruntlement and disappointment?

Jesus called the crowd to him and said, "Listen and understand. What goes into a man's mouth does not make him 'unclean,' but what comes out of his mouth, that is what makes him 'unclean.' " (Matthew 15:10-11)

This topic is not a new struggle for me. I can swish out my toilet mouth with the best of intentions every single day and still fall short when my pen runs out of ink or the batteries die in the remote control. Then, without deliberation or thought... all bets are off. Before I know it, I have yelled out another inappropriate "gem" for my family and friends to hear and cover their ears. As a result, I have negatively chipped away from my Christian testimony and have presented myself and my Savior as inapproachable... dissatisfied... beaten. Is this how I want to be? Is this how I want to represent my King?

Friends, good intentions can only get us so far. However, to fully sanitize ourselves from sinful lips, we must seek after the One who created our tongues in the first place. We must go directly to the Master of all matters and turn to Him in obedience and thankfulness - especially through the seemingly trivial irritations that occur in our lives. You see, God tells us that all things are planned for our benefit and His ultimate good. When we willingly trust Him and accept the experiences He has sanctioned (even the little annoyances that creep into our day), we are able to look through His eternal lens rather than our own limited scope or viewpoint. As a result, our hearts are more open to mirror His holy tone, and we are able to adopt how Jesus would react to things and give glory to our Father in heaven.

But it is key to keep our eyes focused on the Creator. It is imperative to share His heart in all matters. For everything... EVERYTHING will happen according to His perfect plan. So much so, that we must look at even the smallest of annoyances as a means to expose His abundance and love! We must use all moments to give Him glory!

Might we all be challenged to lay down every word spoken on God's altar. Ask Him to remove any forms of disappointment from your heart and instead teach you to give thanks in all circumstances. Remember, all things really do work together for His good. So, let's remember to faithfully keep Him first in both word and deed so that we can be used to glorify His Name and share Him with others whom we may come in contact... especially those closest to us!

Let us no longer negatively chip away from our testimonies. Let us no longer present our Savior as inapproachable... dissatisfied... beaten. No! He is our Redeemer and we are more than conquerors in His Name! His Spirit is always available... always encouraging... always confident in the Almighty Father's will! As His people, we should live the same.

Let's use our words to uplift and uphold the way of Jesus. In all things, let's be content and thankful. Let's live our lives following the Savior's perfect example and be a people set apart... holy and pleasing in His sight. We are living, breathing testimonies saved by His grace. So, let's "give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

This is the day that the Lord has made... let's rejoice and BE GLAD IN IT!

Blessings!

Blog Posting Written By Victoria Anderson
Copyright © | All Rights Reserved

Monday, July 17, 2017

this little sheep's travel journal

Journeying through... ah, what a view!
We march through fields of gold.
Nearest our King who leads His few
Obeying the Word He's told.

Through valleys, through shadows, through death we tread
Where darkest lions prey.
Here, Shepherd instructs us in urgent love,
"Beloved, stray not away."

His staff ensures us comfort and rest,
His rod brings strength nor else found.
"Stay close. Fear not, my little flock."
Passing Jericho tumbling down.

"Onward, forward!"  We clench His robe.
"Be strong and help those least!"
"Stand witness to passing wayward foes,"
"Invite them home to feast!"

Praise Father. Praise Son. Praise Holy Ghost!
Yes, lead us to Promised Land.
Today is the day we rejoice and believe,
Because with You, you've promised WE CAN!

(Victoria Anderson)

Sunday, July 9, 2017

a mighty fortress... an ever-present help

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble... (Psalm 46:1)

"An ever-present help in trouble..."

What a wonderful promise.
God is ever-present.  He is here.
God is available to give aid; to be of service and advantage to us.
God offers us His benefit and support.
And not only does God offer help, but He is constant, ceaseless, current.
What a wonderful, loving God we serve!
Our refuge.  Our sanctuary.  Our hiding place.  Our shelter.
Our strength.  Our fortitude.  Our stability.  Our authority.

Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. (Psalm 46:2-3)

What is there to fear when God is our refuge and strength?  The answer is nothing!

Satan will try to distract every believer away from this promise.  He will do all he can to make fear our focus rather than Jesus.  And to do so, he will upset everything - and I mean EVERYTHING!  He will threaten our comfort, our security, our health, and our foundation.  He will upset our feelings.  He will break our hearts.  He will tour us into hopelessness and take away all that we have come to enjoy.  He will bring us down down down down down.

You see, what Satan desires most is for us to permit him access into our hearts and minds so our eyes will look away from God, causing our souls to become troubled.  Simply put, he wants our focus away from Christ. Why?  Because then we will be more likely to believe that God cannot be GOD to us when we absolutely need Him the most.  Satan wants God to seem distant and insignificant.  He wants us independent and unattached from our Creator.  And what better way to redirect our heart, soul, mind, and strength than to point our attention toward our own flesh... ourselves.  "Look at you," he whispers.  "You are what matters.  Not God!"

But God is ALL that matters, isn't He?  He should be the only One we care about!  In all our ways, we should be acknowledging him!  With all our hearts we should be trusting Him.  With all we are, we are to love Him more than ourselves.  Seeking Him first.  Being still and knowing Him!  Not vaguely acquainting ourselves, but rather becoming intimately bound and genuinely hungry for His nourishing Word.  For God's Law is more important than our own flesh.  His Way is greater, better, ever-present, everlasting.  Yes, God is all that matters!  Without Him, we are nothing.  Without Him, we are dead.

For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.  (Romans 8:13)

Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh. (Romans 13:14)

Joyfully, the most beautiful twist of all is that WE are who matter the most to God!!!  So much so, that He gave us Christ in order to save us from ourselves!  What a wonderful, loving God we serve!

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

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? (Romans 8:32)

Let us boldly believe God's promises and cast every burden we face upon the Lord.  For He will sustain us.  He will direct our path.  He will provide, protect, and guide us.  Thankfully, He is always with us.  Graciously, He is always for us.

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble... The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. (Psalm 46:1 & 7) 

So... are you with Him?  Are you for Him?
Is He first?
Is God ALL that matters to you?
Who will you love and glorify most this brand new day?



Blessings!

~Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson


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