Friday, May 18, 2018

serving with all faithfulness

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

Of late, my chronic physical pain has been at an all-time high.  Pain that I am frankly tired of talking about.  It wears me down.  It robs me of energy and rest.

I, like many others in this world, am too healthy to be considered disabled, and too disabled to be considered healthy.  Too young to retire, and too old to rerun.  I can work..., but only limitedly, for I am fragile.  And, this makes it hard to earn a profitable living like I once did back in the day.  It makes everything hard, frankly.  As a result, my world seems to keep getting smaller.  I have gotten very good at the art of giving up.  (Which, by the way, is not necessarily a bad thing.)

In this new normal, I continue to question God's plan as I seek more intimacy with my Maker.  It is here that I paint the beauty He shows me.  I write about the promises He teaches me.  I pray...  yes, I pray for the Lord to continue to give me His patience and strength... to accept what I have no control over... to let go of the seemingly accomplished person I once thought I was... to submit to His greater Way.  For I know God is still molding me into His perfect accomplishment.  I know that He has good plans for my life, even now in this broken, worn-down frame.  He made me for a reason.  I am valuable to His kingdom.  And He loves me beyond all human measure.

So, in the thick of today's painful woes, I choose to trust Him and pray for His peace, His relief, His comfort, His hope...  yes, His purpose.

It is so easy to fixate on the wrong in our lives and feel sorry for ourselves, isn't it?  We forget that every trial should be considered pure joy when truly seen in the context of God's refinement.  And this brings me to share the words in Joshua 24 with ya'll.

"...we will serve the Lord." 

It's interesting that Joshua doesn't talk about "believing"in the Lord, or "hoping" in the Lord.  No, He strongly talks about us "serving" God.  He bids us to give up clinging to everything else... to let go of old idols and old traditions and to simplify our lives around faithfully serving the only God who is worthy.

Mind you, the service Joshua speaks of is actionable.  For serving has a pulse and path.  It resources.  It supplies.  It facilitates.  It utilizes and employs all that we are and have... all that we think and know.  In fact, to serve fully demands complete devotion.  For good service cannot exist if we do not actually stand up and serve.

Sure, service looks different depending upon each person.  Nonetheless, faithfulness requires participation from those faithful, irrespective of crummy man-made working conditions.  In fact, the truest faithfulness exists and excels in spite of the thickest mire or the heaviest of loads.  As such, our goal is still to complete this race set before us... to finish strong... to continue moving forward in joyful obedience toward the favor of the Throne... the Grace... the One who heals all wounds and wipes away all tears.  We are to serve only Him today.  Joyfully for His Kingdom.  Rejoicing in His Glory!

Just a thought the Holy Spirit shared with me this early Friday morn.

Lord, no matter the trial... help me to continue giving up every idol in order to faithfully serve You.  Make my life as small as necessary.  Walk me through whatever is needed so that I may please only You, Jesus... sweet, wonderful You!

Amen.

:)

Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson




Tuesday, May 15, 2018

when a woman loves

What happens when a woman loves?  Men stand taller.  Children feel more assured and confident.  Parents beam with pride.  People feel welcome.  Yes, it is the gift of hospitality... reception... sufficiency... satisfaction.  That is what our love produces.

I have noticed that when women choose to give of themselves with their whole heart, things change... lives change!  Why is this?  What is it about a woman that so drastically influences the anxiety, the tone, the easement, and the attitudes of others?  I think it is our God-given role.  Who we were created to be.  What we are intended to accomplish.  You see, we were made to complete mankind.  We were made to be a suitable partner.  Someone becoming.  Someone befitting.  Someone created to be competent, capable, and compatible with man.  Someone who encourages fullness, harmony and unity within the family of humanity.  That is our role.  (Did you know that?)

What happens when a woman loves?  We represent the heart and intentions of a perfect Creator - the Almighty God - finishing His good creation.  His image, whom we were originally fashioned after, was taken directly from the first man so that we might share a unique partnership of life together... one flesh complimenting each other as we physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually enjoy the glory of our Maker.  As such, we were created to jointly and successfully fill and subdue the earth God constructed for us. What exactly does that mean?  It means we are to respect this planet while utilizing it's gifts.  It means we are to cultivate and care for our family.  It means we are to humbly govern and supervise all that we have and know.  It means we are to wisely care for every living plant and creature because of the glorious Name of the One we joyfully live to worship.

Are we living this way?
Are we wisely caring for each other?
Are we extending the gift of "welcome"?
Or are we abusing our role?

What happens when a woman loves?  Beauty is seen and known.  Seeds are sown and territories increase.  Warmth and affection flourishes.  Spirits soar high.  Confidence grows.  Care is generated.  Work is accomplished eagerly and is profitable.  Compassion extends beyond borders.  Integrity, respect, strength, and dignity are produced. Wisdom is appreciated.  Faithfulness is extended.  Benefits hail.  Nobility is praised and esteemed.  Life is just better....  flowing... blessed... fruitful.

What happens when a woman loves?

Why not choose today to love, and let's find out?  Why not adopt and share the heart and intention of our perfect Creator so that He might further be exalted and glorified through us?  He is whom we were made to represent and obey.  He is the reason to love love LOVE!!!

"No matter if we are single or married, working, in school, moms, sisters, aunts, daughters, grandmothers, whatever... Each woman represents the 'heart' of her family and thus holds a tremendous power and responsibility in this world to set a godly tone of encouragement while motivating others to seek and glorify Jesus.  This is the whole concept behind DW.  The Devoted Woman is for every Christian woman who makes that daily decision to live TODAY for Jesus Christ... choosing to love God and love others with everything she's got!"  (Victoria Anderson)

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 commandments. (Deuteronomy 7:9)

Blessings!

~Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson


Friday, May 11, 2018

to the living redeemed: love like Jesus

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blessings!

:)

Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

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