Preparing for Thanksgiving
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“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6,7

The apostle Paul, while being held prisoner for preaching the gospel, gave the early Christians a charge which powerfully applies to our lives today. Don’t be anxious, but instead pray about everything. Then did you notice he added “with thanksgiving?” Now hold on! I can easily be filled with thanksgiving when I’m praying for those I love and when I’m experiencing less stress in my life. But Paul is saying in the midst of anxiety, give your cares to God, and while you are at it – thank Him! What can we thank Him for in the middle of our stress? We can begin by thanking Him for His love for us and His presence in our lives. We can continue to thank Him for His Son Jesus. We can thank Him for His help and comfort in time of need. We can thank Him for His power to redeem and bring something good out of any situation.

Let’s practice what Paul preaches this week. As we prepare for a festive week of Thanksgiving, worry and anxiety may try to creep in at times. Questions swirl in our heads. How will I keep the kids occupied? How will I get all the shopping and baking done? How will I be kind and loving to everyone? How will I get the house clean? Let’s take each of our personal worries to the Lord and then let’s go the extra mile and thank Him.

Paul tells us that a peace that transcends all understanding will guard our hearts and our minds in Christ Jesus. It’s amazing when we take our minds off of our worries and turn our focus on that which we can be thankful, a peace fills our heart. Paul went on to say, “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

Each morning as you wake up this week, lay there in bed for just a moment (if you can) and give your cares to God, thanking Him for His help and blessings. Then each night as you tuck the kids in bed, pray with your kids and help them learn this daily practice of thanking God as you give Him your worries. May you overflow this week with the thoughts of thankfulness as you recognize God’s care in your life.

And as you celebrate, here’s one of our favorite Ladd recipes:
Corn Spoon Bread
1 stick butter (or margarine)
1 pkg Jiffy Cornbread
1 egg
8 oz. sour cream
1 16 oz can kernel corn, drained.
Melt butter. Combine all ingredients into a bowl and mix well. Pour into 8 by 8 baking dish. Bake at 350 30 – 40 minutes until set and lightly browned on top.

Your Divine Purpose
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Ever look at someone else and think, Why do they have it all together? What’s the matter with me? The first lie we tell ourselves is that others’ have it all together. No one has it completely together (whatever it is). God did not create us to live in the dark dungeon of comparisons, anger, jealousy, envy and discontentment. No, each and every one of us was created for a divine purpose. He has given us a unique assignment that only we can carry out. Augustine wrote, “Thou hast formed us for Thyself, and our hearts are restless till they find rest in Thee.”

Often we become restless with comparisons and rivalry when we lose sight of the fact that God has a beautiful plan that He wants to play out in our lives and no one else’s life. His unique plan includes both triumphs and challenges.

Charles Spurgeon said, “The cure for envy lies in living under a constant sense of the divine presence, worshiping God and communing with him all the day long, however long the day may seem.” Let us worship God in the midst of our heart aches and longings and watch Him work in mysterious and glorious ways.
The only time we should be looking at others is when we are looking in compassion not comparisons.

You have unique gifts, talents and abilities to offer this world. God has equipped you with a plan designed just for you to carry out in your life. Let us delight in what God has purposed for each one of our lives, because ultimately it fits into His divine plan for this world. We can take joy in what He is doing in other women’s lives, because we know there is a bigger picture. Whenever you feel that temptation to compare with others, and begin to feel discouraged or afraid, turn your eyes to the God who sees all and knows all. He has a beautiful design just for you. Wait patiently for Him. Your story is not finished.

Seven Loving Words
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I’m glad you joined me as we take a look at seven of the most loving words in Scripture. This week we will concentrate on the word “atonement.”

The word atonement is primarily used in the Old Testament. The Hebrew word is kaphar, meaning to cover, placate, or cancel. It was a technical term in Israel’s sacrificial rituals. In some ways, the word atonement can be likened to a material transaction or ransom. In Exodus 32:30, Moses ascended to the mountain a third time to make atonement for the people’s sin. The word is most often used in regard to the priests and the ritual sacrifices. In Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers we find the priests smearing the blood of the sacrificed animal on the altar during the sin offering. The most important place we see the word is in “Day of Atonement.” Only on this day could the high priest enter the holy of holies in the temple on behalf the Israelites and make atonement for them before God.
So why is atonement important to you and me, especially if it is an Old Testament word? The need for atonement is a central theme to the Bible. Our sins must be atoned for in order for us to come before a righteous God. J. Gresham Machen wrote, “To deny the necessity of atonement is to deny the existence of a real moral order.” Isn’t it amazing to think that God seeks to reconcile sinful people to Himself? The fact that a holy and righteous God would make a way for sinners to be forgiven is a beautiful truth in and of itself.
Oh what peace and joy flow from knowing that God sent His Son Jesus to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. Jesus did the work on the cross. We are not forgiven of our sins because of what we have done, it is what Christ did on our behalf. We receive this gift of His love through faith. I like how Thomas Brooks puts it, “Christ hath crossed out the black lines of our sin with the red lines of his own blood.” Take time to thank Jesus for His atoning sacrifice for you today. If you have never placed your faith in His atoning sacrifice offered for you, I want to encourage you to visit www.ChatAboutJesus.com right now.

This is an excerpt from my new book, Becoming a Woman of the Word.

Seven Loving Words
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From Genesis to Revelation, the Bible is a magnificent masterpiece portraying God’s unfailing love for His people. I marvel at the beauty of God’s plan and design as He painted a picture of redemption and grace on every page of His Word. My deepest desire is for you to experience His great love for you in a very real way. I want to introduce you to seven of the most loving words ever uttered. In the next seven weeks we will examine words that you may have heard of, but perhaps didn’t see them as loving and positive words. This week, we start off with a word that may surprise you.
Repentance. In Matthew 4:17 we read, “From that time on Jesus began to preach, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.’” Jesus began his earthly ministry with a call to repentance, so it is important for us to understand how the word should be applied to our own lives. The word repentance (Greek metanoia) literally means “change of mind.” Repentance is more than just regret or feeling sorry about what we did; it means turning from sin and changing the way we think. It refers to a new outlook; turning from old ways and seeing things in accordance with God’s will. The parable of the Prodigal Son is a beautiful example of repentance, in which we find the son who left home and squandered his inheritance, returning to his father with a humbled heart and ready to change his ways.
In Acts 11:18 we read, “Even to Gentiles God has granted repentance that leads to life.” God gives us the ability to repent, to see things in a new way. Repentance not only refers to turning away from sin, but it also encompasses a turning to God in faith. Jesus said, “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (Luke 5:32). He came to call us to a change of mind, turning our minds from the direction of sin and turning toward the love of God. Each of us must come to a point of recognizing our own sinfulness and turning to God for help. In His great love for us, God knew that running toward God was best for us, and that running away from Him only brings destruction, disillusionment and ultimately death. God loves us, so He calls us to repentance. If He didn’t love us, He would just let us wander aimlessly through life without His help or direction.
There is no more loving place to be than in His warm embrace. Like the prodigal, may we run to his open arms and experience the joy of repentance.

This is an excerpt from my new book, Becoming a Woman of the Word.

7 Tips for Taming your Fears
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What seems to make you make you shudder? Let’s face it, even the calmest of people experience a bit of anxiety now and then. With the outbreak of Ebola, the threat of ISIS or the uncertainty of the economy, how do we keep our worries in check and prevent them from dominating our lives? Allow me to offer a few tips to point you in a positive direction and help you keep your fears under control.
1. Identify the root of your fear. A current crisis may create panic in your heart, yet it often stems from a deep-seated anxiety which already exists – fear of death, abandonment or poverty. When we recognize that the bigger issue is not simply based on the latest news-maker, we gain clarity as we look at the true picture. Putting our finger on the basic cause of our fear helps us to more effectively deal with our own personal apprehensions and wisely root them out. What a blessing to know that we can go to our loving Heavenly Father with each fear and ask Him to give us heal our hearts.
2. Change your focus. When we focus on what is wrong in the world or what could happen, the issues become larger than life. One of the ways we can change our focus is to deliberately turn our minds toward what is good and positive in our lives and in the world. Recognize immediately when you are stewing on the negative and make a deliberate turn in your thought-life toward something or someone that brings you joy. It may be a great vacation spot, a precious grand-child or a new hobby. Let your mind dwell on what is good, pure and right in your life.
3. Count your blessings. Make it a daily practice to write down at least five things you are thankful for each day. Consider the blessings you have experienced over the last 24 hours. Who did you encounter? What positive conversations did you have? Who were you able to impact or help? What went your way? What doors opened up for you? Be specific as you ponder your daily opportunities to be grateful – they are there, but you have to intentionally look for them!
4. Strategize. If a worry about the future enters your mind, consider practical ways you can handle the crisis. What action steps do you need to take to be prepared? Are there preventative measures you can take? Keep in mind, we do not want to make plans out of panic or irrational fears, rather we do want to use all wisdom and discernment. Pray for God to lead you and guide you. Practical planning makes good sense, but let us always move forward with love – not fear – as our guide.
5. Reach out to others. When we are thinking of the needs of others, we have less time to wallow in our own anxieties. Take a moment to look around you. Who could use a kind word, a note, a hug, a phone call? Where can you volunteer and help make a positive difference in the world? Fear keeps us isolated, but love opens us up to experience the joy of giving and pouring our hearts into the lives of others.
6. Guard against assumptions. Often panic comes as a result of worries gone wild. It’s easy to take one little thought and develop a whole entire “what if” scenario around it. We can become consumed with fear simply based on assumptions. Stick with the truth and don’t add to it. Nip assumptions in the bud and resolve to live in the present rather than future fears that may never happen.
7. Pray. I find great comfort in knowing that there is an almighty God with a bigger plan. He has a purpose for each of our lives, and He knows the number of our days. My life is in His hands, and I can rest assured that I can trust Him with the details of my life. He invites us to turn to Him and cast our cares on Him. As we leave our anxieties in the hands of a loving God, He provides a peace that passes all understanding.

Christ came to set us free from the chains of fear that consume us. As a follower of Christ, God has given us His Spirit who gives us peace even in the storms of life. My friend, if you do not know Him, I encourage you to look to Christ today. He came not only as the payment for our sin, but also to allow us to live in victory over sin and fear. If you want to chat with someone right now, please go to www.chataboutJesus.com

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