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

Matthew 22:37-40       Jesus replied: “Love the Lord you God with all your heart and with all your should and with all your mind.  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.  All the Law and the Prophets hand on these two commandments.”

John 6:29      Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”

John 15:13      Greater love has no man than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

Luke 6:27     But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great.

Acts 16:31      Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved—you and your household.

Colossians 3:23-24      Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive and inheritance from the Lord as a reward.  It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

Philippians 2:3-4     Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit.  Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others.

Hebrews 13:16      Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.

James 1:27      Pure, unstained religion, according to God our Father, is to take care of orphans and widows when they are distressed and to keep oneself unstained from the world.

2 Peter 3:18     But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

 

I think we all wonder at times what God wants from us.  We know He wants us to “love” others; but what does that really mean?  I mean we really have to love our neighbor who continues to walk by the house daily and let his dog use my yard as the toilet?     Even after I have asked repeatedly to please pick up the mess?  

And what about this woman who continues to talk nasty about me to others when I have never done anything to her or had many dealings with her?  Why is she able to do that behavior and I am not even supposed to defend myself? 

And then there is this peer who does not finish her own tasks for her job, and it is up to me to finish her job.  It seems like all think she is the ‘golden girl’ and yet I am doing my job and needing to finish hers.  Is that right?  Does anyone see? 

I believe in helping another—two often get a job more completely and easily accomplished.  I used teamwork a lot when I was working and it was easier to turn patients and give good, and better, skin care when I could hold the person in one direction—the other did back care and changed one side of the bed, then we turned the person to the other side and made the other side of the bed.   Ease and comfort for all in half the time. 

I like that Jesus sent His disciples out in pairs—they each had company, could share ideas and decisions about direction, which town to head to next, how it was felt their message was received, and of course one could take care of the other if an injury or illness should befall one. 

But we have work to do in the world.  Our first directives are to love God first and only; then we are to follow and obey His commandments, and be kind to others, give to others when they have less than us, teach about the love and obedience of Jesus and the fact He, by His act of love, freed us from facing a life full of sin and loss. 

But God wants us to not be complaining about others and wants us to forgive.  He will take care of any who sin against us.  We are to do the best of our ability, no matter the job, and do it with a heart for Him; we are to do our chores as though they were directly for God.

That’s not always easy.  It is difficult to be with someone who refuses to finish their own work and asks you to complete, and yet the person takes all the credit; it’s difficult when a pet owner does not clean up after their pet—even after the fact the issue has been addressed.  It’s frustrating when you would not treat another in such a manner, but they do to you.

But God sees all, and He will deal with the matters of slight and insult you have to deal with.  It is your responsibility to just do the work He asks of you—loving Jesus, searching to know Him deeper, loving others and treating them with the respect you want to be treated with, being kind and giving to those less fortunate, reaching out in love to help no matter the request, and teaching others, by showing, what the love of Jesus looks like.  There may be times you are dealing with a person who will not give and remains stubborn and acting unpleasant, but we are not to sink to that level.

I don’t always succeed in being the best I can be—my temper can show when I feel I’ve been dealt an unfair hand.  But I can recognize that I have grown some and continue to move forward.  I am thankful I am walking forward, that I can see progress even though it’s small increments, and I remember that all is God’s to deal with and He will.  So as much as I would like fairness in the work force, and respect of my yard and taking care of one’s pets—that is not the way others think.  God’s got my back, and I may be somewhat disgruntled, but He is judging my behavior and outlook, and He will deal with the other person in His time and manner.  That is NOT for me to worry about.  I am just supposed to worry about my own ‘p’s and q’s.’ 

Thank You God for guiding me down this slow growth in Your path, for Your patience and guidance.  You have always been there for me and ‘mybellaviews.’

Psalm 55:22     Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken.

Proverbs 3:5-8     Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your understanding; inn all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.  Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil.  This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones.

Matthew 6:34      therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own.  

Matthew 10:31     So do not be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

Philippians 4:6-7     Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

James 1:6     but when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.

1 Peter 5:7     Cast your cares upon him, for he cares for you.

 

Years ago, I fretted about everything—anything.  I was in charge, a single parent, responsible for all the bills, the physical, mental, and emotional health of my son, and I had to do it right.   I was working full-time and going to school full time and very dependent on parents and friends to watch my son when I was away.  It was stressful.  And yes, I worried.  I used to wonder if I could get the biggest prize for worrying and fretting. 

It was a stressful, gnawing time.  I could picture the goal, but not see it, not really see any light at the end of my worry tunnel.  I hated having to ask for help, although in all honesty help was offered by my parents, my siblings if they were free and by my friends.  I was blessed.

But at the time I was anxious about being a good parent, a good daughter as I frequently had to ask them to watch my son, and sometimes it was for an overnight if I was working an off shift or had to do a school project late.   I didn’t want to abuse relationships and take advantage of the goodness offered to me.   It felt like a vicious cycle at times.

And of course, then I was worried about money—’making the mortgage, and please don’t let the car have ANY issues.  Please don’t let either of us be sick; oh, stop growing so fast, clothes are expensive, food is going up; the house needs oil and that’s expensive….’

And on and on my thoughts skipped and fluttered through my mind.

Then, somewhere along my path, I heard about taking all your worries, writing them down, and putting them in a bag, a literal bag, and leaving them there.  That bag was to be for God to open, and He would handle what was inside.  Could I do this?  The control freak and worry wort that I am/was—could I possibly hand over, truly, hand over my worries and ‘let go, and let God’?

By snatching things back and worrying about them, I was blatantly saying, “I don’t trust You.”  The reality is, “I fear it may be an answer and a situation I don’t want to face.”  But He is in charge.  He will help us get through whatever comes our way.  But I think He feels slapped in the face to have one of His staunch supporters be worried and worried.  I get it as I did that for years, but it was not demonstrating and living as though I trust Him.

Since my nature is to control and make sure all things are running like a fine-tuned machine, this whole God bag process was difficult.  ‘What if God didn’t want to handle this?  What if He was late? What if….’ Then, it was like I was hit with a bucket of ice water in the face.  I suddenly realized if I was questioning this, I was NOT handing my issues over, I was NOT being honest that I trusted Him to come through for me, and I was trying to maintain control—even though I already knew I was not doing a very good job, and was feeling tired, anxious, fretful, and overwhelmed.   So, so much for me listening and believing the verse, “my yoke is easy, my burden is light.”   Matthew 11:30

I was trying to maintain control. AGAIN.   And that must mean that I did not believe God could handle it, that He might not care enough to handle it for me/us, that I thought I could do a better job, or that I just didn’t have faith.   AW-OH, NOW THAT SCARED ME TO DEATH.  NO FAITH?  Then no eternity with Him.

I’ll confess it took some doing.  Satan would deliver those worries to my mind, at first, frequently.  But I would recognize the worry after a few minutes, and then say, “No, this is not my worry.  I gave it to God, and I am not snatching it back.  He’s got this.”

But over time, it was less and less often that the worry would come back, and it became easier and easier to tell Satan to flee and take those anxious thoughts with him, as I had already given it to God, and it was being handled.  I believe Satan got very tired of trying to wear me down on that area and moved on to other vulnerabilities.

Initially, I called the bag on the back of my bedroom door, ‘my God bag.’  It was visual, accessible, and I would write out concerns, worries, fears, whatever, and put them in the bag—a cheap little cloth bag that had held a pair of socks one Christmas.  Someone had a small Crown Royal bottle, and it came with a navy felt bag with a gold cord to pull the top tight.   I thought that would be perfect as my God bag!  I asked for the bag and got it, and now felt like my thoughts were going directly to the Royal Crown of my life. 

I still have a bag on the bedroom door, but it’s rare I have to actually write and put anything in it.  I know the routine, and now can easily tell God my concern and say, “I’m handing this over.  You know my heart, and I know You have my best interests in Your hands.  I trust You.”

Many years have passed since I started using the God bag/my Royal Crown bag.  And I must say each time I see that bag, I smile and say ‘You really are the Royal-est of Crowns!  Thank You.’  But I’ve learned a lot and developed more and more faith and am so thankful He has guided my steps so well as long as I truly handed things to Him.  He has always done right for me and ‘mybellaviews.’

 

 

 

Genesis 22:1-18    After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.”  He said, “Take your son, you only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains which I shall tell you.” . . . and in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice.”

Deuteronomy 8:2     You shall remember all the way which the LORD your God has led you in the wilderness these forty years, that He might humble you, testing you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not.

Ecclesiastes 3:18     I said to myself concerning the sons of men, “God has surely tested them in order for them to see that they are but beasts.”

Psalm 11:5     The Lord tests the righteous and the wicked, and the one who loves violence His soul hates.

Proverbs 17:. 3     The refining pot is for silver and the furnace for gold, but the Lord tests hearts

Isaiah 48:10     “Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.”

Jeremiah 17:10     I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give to each man according to his ways, according to the results of his deeds.

John 6:6     He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he would do.

James 1:3     knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.

 

When I first accepted Jesus’s invitation the gospel reading was Judges 6:36-40.   I took the message to heart and was forever testing to see what God would have me do.  I bombarded Him with “If this….then that.  Show me how You want me to proceed.”  And He was faithful and answered me a lot over the years.  But it stunted me as I became dependent on that kind of testing and was not deepening, or actually developing a true relationship with Him.  But eventually He called me on it, letting me know He was not to be treated like a genie in a bottle, but as GOD, CREATOR, LORD OF ALL.

All my closest people knew I depended on these fleeces.  But I was upfront with all so that if I ‘slipped’ they could remind me I was not to proceed that way.  So, although I rarely am so bedraggled, I cannot figure the direction He wants for me, when I am truly unsure, I do put out the fleece. . . and make my decision on whether it is wet or dry in the morning!  I can’t say I totally gave up my ‘fleece’ guidance, but I saved these for when I was totally confused, totally unsure of really big decisions.

                                                                                                            

Thankfully, I had folks in my life who could guide me to the biblical churches, different bible studies, and I found some tv pastors I enjoyed—Charles Stanley, Dr, Jeremiah, Andy Stanley—and I was able to grow.  God does open doors!!

But I was in a discussion about whether God tests or does not.  I had several verses that sprang into my mind that He certainly does test us.  I don’t think God tests us for Himself.  Nothing comes as a surprise for God, but I think He tests us for us; to show us yes, we choose Him first.  Or, unfortunately that we do not choose Him first, and we need to repent and realize we are more like Peter in the courtyard than we could imagine. 

I also find strength in the testing and the acknowledgment from James that ‘testing produces endurance.’  Jesus promised that we would have difficulties, hardships and sometimes be overcome with troubles.  I believe we are tested, and our responses are to show us we did not stand strong, believing that Jesus had this covered.  Or that we did stand strong and trusted in Him even though grief stricken and screaming in agony.  But we trusted.  And that’s the test.  And how awesome when you pass.

I do believe God knows all.  He knows what we will do and choose and how we will behave before we are confronted with an incident.  He doesn’t need to test us to show Himself our choices, but to show US our choices, poor or good.  He wants us to succeed, and by testing us He can show us we have made the correct choices, and He gives us a pat-on-the-back sense of satisfaction because we recognize we did not fail the test.   Just like getting an exam paper back in school marked with an ‘A.’  That is the kind of excitement and happiness I get when I realize I made a correct decision in His eyes.

Lord, I spent years testing You and You always passed.  I like things so much better now that I’m developing a deeper relationship and trust with You.  You prod and encourage me to go deeper, and I know how You have blessed me and ‘mybellaviews.’   Thank You and all Praise to You.

Joshua 24:14    “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.”

Micah 6:6-8     With what shall I come before the Lord and bow down before the exalted God?  Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old?  Will the Lord be pleased with thousand rams, with ten thousand rivers of olive oil?  Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?  He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.  And what does the Lord require of you?  To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

2 Corinthians 1:12     Now this is our boast: Our conscience testifies that we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially in our relations with you, with integrity and godly sincerity.  We have done so, relying not on worldly wisdom but on God’s grace.

2Corinthians 2:17     Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit.  On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, as those sent from God.

Ephesians 6:24     Grace to all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with an undying love.

1 Thessalonians 2:3-6     For the appeal we make does not spring from error or impure motives, nor are we trying to trick you. On the contrary, we speak as those approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel.  We are not trying to please people but God, who tests our hearts.  You know we never used flattery, nor did we put on a mask to cover up greed—God is our witness.  We were not looking for praise from people, not from you or anyone else, even though as apostles of Christ we could have asserted our authority.

2 Thessalonians 3:7-8     Therefore, brothers and sisters, in all our distress and persecution we were encouraged about you because of your faith.  For now we really live, since you are standing firm in the Lord.

1 Timothy 1:5     The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.

 

When I started my walk with Jesus I was at first excited, then uncertain, and finally a little mistrustful.  ‘Would He really be there for me?’  I had no reason to not trust others; my parents followed through on what they told us to expect and what plans were.

I certainly had teen insecurities as I was aware girls loved to gossip and there was a competition amongst them—not that I understood what the competition was directed at, but certainly was aware that somehow some of the girls found me lacking in some areas.  It was a source of embarrassment and insecurity, but nothing I could identify.  And if one can’t identify what needs to be changed or altered to be more fully accepted, it’s difficult to be successful at trying to change.

I found myself sometimes uncomfortable with whatever things I tried to change.  The alterations I attempted were not who I was deep down.  I was never quite comfortable with many of the changes I tried.  I did not mind trying my hand at makeup or a different hairstyle, and although I was friendly with many of these girls, I was not totally accepted.  And could feel….something off.  And those relationships were just not a comfortable fit

 

And I knew me as a stinker—a bossy older sister, a threatening older sister if the youngest was preparing to tattle, and I knew I was doing things my parents had forbidden—sneaking cigarettes, going to places that I’d been told not to go, hanging with kids that were on the NO list…I was full of sin.

“So, wait a minute, wait a minute.  I need to re-think this.  Jesus is going to look at me and my record of naughties, and discard me.  Maybe I should discard Him first; at least that would be my choice and I would not be shoved to the curb.  Right?”  Thankfully, that is not the way my life continued.  I did choose to hold on, with the barest of hopes he would stick with me.

By the time, I answered Jesus’ invitation, my self-esteem was quite low.   I had confidence in my schooling and on that front, but socially I was not comfortable with new situations and made some mistakes because of that.   

Walking with Him was at times confusing.  Although I’m a good reader, and love it, most of the bible was just confusing to me.  But I found avenues that did open me up to better understanding; Charles Stanley, Dr Jeremiah, Joyce Meyer….and with her I could laugh as I recognized myself at different parts of her story.  She opened the thought to me of “being in the desert wilderness” as we are trampling around in our own mistakes and not moving forward.  We are stumbling through our own wilderness and continuing around mountains repeatedly.  Oh!  Eye opener! 

Once some light began to shine, and I realized that we also can ask the Holy Spirit for help, guidance, enlightenment, more clarity came.  And boy, that Holy Spirit is good!  I’d get stuck and confused on another section, send up a quick prayer and ask for understanding.  It might not come right then, but within 48 hours I would have an answer and understanding—sometimes the subject came up in a bible study, sometimes it was one of the tv preachers I followed, but LIGHT and TRUTH were given to me.

As I grew in my relationship with Jesus, I realized he wanted my heart.  “Oh, shouldn’t I hold just a bit back?”  No, not the way it works.  If you really want to know Him, you have to give Him all.  So, I do try to turn things over to Him.  Yet, still I find I’m holding on to this, and occasionally that.  Time for confrontation of self.  ‘Why are you holding that?  Not good for you, does not really give you any positive feedback and because it is not that good for you, you are holding back something you have now made into an idol.  Gotta go!’  That is still sometimes a struggle even though I know whatever I’m holding onto is disposable and SHOULD go, I’m still like a bratty toddler screaming ‘MINE’ while clutching a toy. 

But, I want to sincerely know Him more and more and have a deeper relationship.  So although I may not want to, I know the right thing to do.  Time to hand it over.  And be thankful that I do recognize his learning and teaching.  He wants our sincerity, our heart all fully exposed.

Lord, I know I have been a struggle and a brat over the years.  Thank You for patiently waiting and encouraging as I continued in disobedience in many things.  You have stood and encouraged me and ‘mybellaviews.’

Isaiah 9:9-13      All the people will know it—Ephraim and the inhabitant of Samaria—who say with pride and arrogance of heart, “The bricks have fallen down, but we will replace with dressed stone; the fig trees have been felled, but we will replace them with cedars.”  But the LORD has strengthened Rezin’s foes against them and has spurred their enemies on.  Arameans from the east and Philistines from the west have devoured Israel with open mouth.  Yet for all this, his anger is not turned away, his hand still upraised.  But the people have not returned to him who struck them, nor have they sought the LORD Almighty.

Chronicles 7:14     If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

Acts 3:19     Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the LORD.

Joel 2:13     Rend your heart and not your garments.  Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and He relents from sending calamity.   

Ezekiel 18:32     For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign LORD.  Repent and live!

Luke 13:3     I tell you, no!  But unless you repent, you too will all perish.

 

It’s September 11, 2021 as I write this.  Of course, for any of us onlder than 30, that is a pretty clear memory.  There have been several of those horrifying days which have left an impression on me over the years; Kennedy’s assination, the Challenger explosion, but certainly 9/11 ranks as the most horrific and appalling to me.

And today, as that morning was, it is beautiful—the sky clear blue, the air cooler and drier than it has been running, and even without the memorials and television coverage, our minds go back to that day and what we were doing when we first heard, and those first initial reactions, which then turned to horror as we watched these attacks unfold.

And our God was there. 

That gives me comfort.  I pray that all those who were innocently slaughtered knew their Savior. I’m sure many who were trapped within those buildings, or on that plane which was heroically smashed into the earth killing all those on board–yet saving many more lives in DC–came to know Him in those instances before their deaths. 

But for all of us who know our Lord, we always know we are not alone, and that no matter what He is with us.  We may not like the outcomes always, but we will, with full belief, know we are spending eternity with Him.

It saddens me there is an arrogance that claims there is no God, and people choose not to believe.  I can not wrap my mind around that fact.  It feels alien to me to think about it.  ‘What does happen then?’ 

Very soon after The Harbinger by Jonathan Cahn was published, I was reading it.   I have to admit, hearing the various poiliticians say “We will rebuild” to me was a way of banding us together, strengthening our country, increasing our flagging national pride, and I liked idea we would band together and be stronger; and rebuild.  However, this book and others showed me a different way God could look at our country’s response by quoting Isaiah 9:10.   God’s view to the Israelites was to be angry with their arrogance.  HE, GOD, would help them rebuild, it would not be them without HIM. 

I had not found those remarks immediately following that tragic day as arrogant.  But, later, reading this novel from a strong Messianic rabbi, I could see perhaps it was correct.  Cetainly, there are many in our country who live lives of arrogance, plenty and have made money, jobs, positions, possessions and so forth their god.  Cahn’s presentation opened my eyes to perhaps while I felt those speeches were rallying, there may have been some undelying superiority and arrogance.   I was glad to see a resurgence in national pride, as it seemed it was flagging and dismal, and there was an air of entitlement which seemed to be increasing to me then.   (And certainly not denying, I think we tend to be more critical of the younger generations…..”Well, in my day..”)  But for a time, those vicious attacks pulled us together to want to face the enemy, protect others.

God wants us living WITH HIM, following His will for our lives, teaching others about His words, His truths, and His ways.  And seeking Him consistently and persistently is how we do that; not always standing on a bandwagon and not seeking His will and direction.  I think this for many was a call to repentance, and to others a wake up that the need for Jesus, God Creator, and God the Spirit should be something we seek diligently and daily.   Matthew 7:7  ASK  ..”Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock and it will be open to you.”  Of course, this is referring to finding Jesus and learning about Him, not finding your keys or a flashlight or your misplaced glasses.

We cannot do without Him leading and guiding.  Or, we can, but many things may not come out right, may not come about smoothly, and may not stand for the long term. 

I have no idea if Cahn’s presentation is correct.  I just know it had me realizing we can be arrogant even when we think it is pride, it is national unity, and fighting ‘the bad guys’ the same we did as children watching black and white tv shows like The Lone Ranger, Rifleman and others.  We like the idea of good guys beating the bad ones.  And certainly it was bad ones who attacked that day. 

I never want to experience anything so overwhelming again.  I would love to see this country have a huge repentance and revival. 

God, You have so blessed this country, and we have the freedom to read and learn and hear Your words, Your living words.  We can study and delve deeper and learn more of who You are, and who You want us to become knowing You.  I never want those blessings to be taken, and pray that soon, in the countries where You are banned, that that too will change, and all can experience You.

Thank You for always helping me and ‘mybellaviews.’

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