In 2015 my theme for the year was “Called by Christ” – I spent the year reflecting on what God has called me to do, and it changed my life. The more I dug in, the more I realized I wasn’t leading the life He has called me to live.
One of the first things I did was resign from my position at TrainingAuthors.com. It cut me to the core but it opened me up to discover more about who God has called me to be and it allowed me the time to listen as God spoke to my heart. I won’t say that I always obeyed what I was hearing. Changing your entire life is hard. But I had to learn to let go.
That was my call for 2015, to let go. To wait. To get my feet on solid ground, before I took a leap of faith.
Moving into 2016, my theme for the year is twofold. I want to own the reality of my life. Really build a strong foundation of who I am in Christ, who He created me to be, where He has placed me, and what He has called me to do. And then I want to embrace it. I want to take who God made me and use every ounce of me to bring Him glory.
I want to live with a firm foundation that springs me into action.
At the end of 2014 I was burned out and confused. I didn’t know what I wanted or really even who I was apart from my work. While I had surpassed all of my goals, my family was suffering. I needed change. I am so happy now as we approach the end of 2015 that I know my calling. I know who I am, but I want to know more. I have a hunger to develop my relationship with Jesus like never before.
I have learned a ton during the year, and I want to take it deeper. I want it to move from head knowledge to really owning and embracing the life God has in store for me.
I am still crazy passionate about helping others, which is why I will be blogging regularly throughout the year and sharing what God is teaching me. Eventually, I hope to publish a book on this topic, but I really need to walk through it first and totally immerse myself in it.
I would love to hear what you are focusing on in the coming year. Do you have a theme, or a word for the year? A scripture? Do you make resolutions? Share your answers in the comments below!
I will add that in 2015, my theme verse for the year was 1 Thessalonians 5:14, “The one who calls you is faithful, and He will do it.” (It went really well with my theme, “Called by Christ”.) For 2016, I am going with Psalm 118:17 which has already implanted itself in my heart, “I shall not die, but I shall live, and recount the deeds of the Lord.”
Our lives have hit a change in season. For the past several years, I have worked as an author coach with Shelley Hitz at TrainingAuthors.com. In fact, I helped her build it from the ground up. Earlier this year, however, I decided to step down.
It wasn’t an easy decision, and I have spilled many tears over the past several months as I have grieved the loss of this part of my life. I have wrestled with this decision over and over again, but it was the right decision.
Our kids are growing fast, and I need to spend more time with them.
I am still wrestling with what that looks like. Just how far I am stepping back from my online work. Should I rebuild slowly on my own? Should I step back all together? Should I just keep plugging away until I figure it all out?
What it comes down to is that I really don’t have the answers yet. I have gone back and forth multiple times, and all I know is that it was the right decision. I may not know where I am or what’s ahead of me, but God does. And I can trust that His plan is perfect.
My theme for 2015 is “Called by Christ” – I don’t know what He is calling me to, but I totally trust Him. And as strange as it may sound, even though I don’t know where all of this is going, I know deep inside that I am going in the right direction.
Anyway, we are retiring all of the products from the TrainingAuthors.com store this week, and everything is 75% off with the coupon code “CLOSEOUT”. So if you are an author, I highly recommend checking out our resources before they are gone here: http://www.paulandheatherhart.com/authors
“Which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you, or to him? You be the judges!”
~ Acts 4:19
The believer’s life isn’t always an easy one. In Acts 4, Peter and John are thrown in prison for proclaiming the resurrection of Jesus. Only for one night, but being arrested is still being arrested. When morning came around, they were released, but not until after they were threatened and commanded not to teach God’s Word.
Have you ever thought God was calling you to do something, but then the results made you question that calling?
Often times we want to think that if it’s God’s will, it will go smoothly. That He will bless it and we will shine.
But that’s not what Peter and John experienced.
Instead of second guessing their calling, they gathered together and prayed with other believers that God would give them strength to keep going.
I admire their faith and dedication, but not their situation.
I don’t want to be thrown in jail for proclaiming Christ, and I pray that if it does ever come to that, that I will be able to stand faithfully as these two men did so ever long ago.
Let’s take a look at their prayer:
“Sovereign Lord,” they said, “you made the heavens and the earth and the sea, and everything in them.You spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of your servant, our father David:
“‘Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth rise up and the rulers band together against the Lord and against his anointed one.’
Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed.They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen.Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness.Stretch out your hand to heal and perform signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” (Acts 4:24-30 NIV)
There is so much in that prayer.
Praise for who God is and what He’s done (vs. 24-25).
They prayed Scripture (vs. 25-26).
They told God what had happened (vs. 27), and confirmed that it was God’s will — that He is sovereign (vs. 28).
And then they asked Him to strengthen them, and enable them to fulfill their calling and bring Him glory (vs. 29-30).
But my favorite part of that prayer is actually what happens after the prayer in verse 31:
After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.
They came before God, and God listened.
I love that God answers prayers, don’t you?
These were Christians who made a difficult decision to stand up for their faith and live lives that honored God, but they knew they needed His help.
We will face trials as Christians, as people in general. But if our God is for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8:31)
My encouragement to you this week is not to let hardships or trials keep you from doing what God has called you to do.
For if we are trying to please men, we aren’t servants of Christ (Gal. 1:10)
Today I wanted to share one of the devotions I write for teen girls with you. This one was actually written a couple of years ago, and I was amazed at how much I have grown in Christ since writing it, however, it’s still spot on.
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Living by Faith
“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
~ Galatians 2:20
Wow! Did you read that verse?
Those are the words Paul wrote to the Galatians, can you echo his words with your own?
Do you live by faith in the Son of God… do I?
Normally I would say absolutely, but the first part of the verse implies a much deeper meaning. “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.” That’s a powerful statement. Paul literally gave up all of his personal dreams (and belongings) to live for Christ, and Christ alone. I can fully admit that I haven’t done that.
You see, I get up each morning and decide what I want to do, what I want to wear, what I want to eat, and what I think is important to get done that day. Yes, I try to make sure that I spend time reading my Bible and pray that I accomplish what God wants me to do during the day… but I’m still living for me.
I know that Jesus gave up His life for me, yet I still live for myself.
I don’t spend my day focusing on He has done, but on me and my own little world.
Can you relate to that?
I don’t think that to live for Christ we all have to sell everything we own, and travel the world preaching Christ to the nations. Sure, some people are called by God to do that, but others Jesus commanded to stay where they were and share His love with those around them (Mark 5:18-20).
I think it’s harder to do that.
To stay in the same life we have always been living, but to change what we are living for. It’s harder to break habits when we are in the same situation – but that is exactly what God has called many of us to do.
So what about you? Are you continuing to live for yourself, or are you living by faith in Christ and allowing Him to live through you?
Write Galatians 2:20 on a note card and spend the next week memorizing it. Read it aloud first thing each morning, and then to yourself several times throughout the day – and pay attention to whether or not you are actually living it.
Father God, I have been living for myself. I want to live for You, I really do, but my flesh gets in the way. I want the words that Paul wrote in Galatians 2:20 to be my own, but I need Your help with that. Help me to live my life by faith in Your Son, so much so that I no longer live, but that He lives in me. It is in His name that I pray, amen.
“If we aren’t changed by Christ, how can He use us to change the world?”
That’s the question that has stuck with me ever since my pastor’s sermon on Sunday. I want God to use me to do great things for Him, but before He can do that, I first have to let Him do great things within me.
Can you relate?
The sermon my pastor preached this past weekend, was more about what it meant to prosper in God’s eyes. Here’s the definition I left with:
“To prosper in God’s eyes means to be ready to answer when He calls. To be prepared to do His will. To be waiting to take part in the plans He has for us, and ready to join Him in doing His work.”
Prospering is not about being plentiful, it’s about having what we need to serve God.
And part of what we need is more of Him.
I’ve been reading The Prayer that Changes Everything by Stormie Omartian. And the focus of the book is on praising God and getting to know who He is. I didn’t even get past the first page before I started highlighting. She was writing about entering into a close relationship with God, a “really close” relationship. And she posed the question, “How close is really close exactly?” Here’s her answer:
“It’s close enough to know Him intimately. Close enough to communicate your whole heart to Him on an ongoing basis. Close enough to be able to direct your attention away from yourself completely and place it on Him entirely. Close enough to understand who He really is and then allow that knowledge of Him to define who you really are. It’s loving Him with all your heart and letting Him love you with all of His.”
I want that kind of a relationship with God, don’t you?
My theme this year is “Called by Christ” and it has transformed my life in just a couple of short weeks. But one thing is painfully clear, part of the reason He has called me to stay where I am right now, is because I need to know Him more. I need more of Him in my life, if I want to be used by Him on a grand scale. Failing to be equipped by Him will lead to catastrophe later.
I’m not saying that you have to clean yourself up to be used by God, that’s not it at all! In fact, I know that He is using me right where I am right now. He is using me in the lives of my family, the women in my Bible study, and even in the women I meet online. He uses every Christian in some way. However, He also knows what He has equipped us to handle. If we aren’t ready for a big ministry, He won’t send us into one.
I know the saying goes that God doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the called. But there is still a process to becoming qualified. You can’t teach God’s Word if you aren’t IN God’s Word. You can’t minister to others if you don’t let God minister to you. God’s love can’t pour out of you, if you don’t let it pour into you.
That’s where I am.
I’m basking in the love of my Savior. Deepening my relationship with Him, and letting Him pour out of me onto the people He has placed in my life right where I am.
I think that is one of the very first ways that God prospers us. He prospers us by taking us deeper into our relationships with Him.
Deeper in Christ.
That alone is amazing, but He doesn’t stop there.
He loves us to the point that it can’t help but spill out onto those around us and He calls us to be ambassadors for Him.
When He transforms us through our relationship with Him, He works through us for His own glory, but in order to be used by Him, we first have to come to Him.
So I want to close by asking you a question:
Where are you today?
Are you being transformed by Christ? Are you letting Him pour into you so that His love can overflow onto others? Or are you working to serve Him with all that you have, and depending on your own strength to bring Him glory?
“And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”
“Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord.And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”
~ James 5:13-16
Prayer is powerful and effective.
But what is prayer?
How would you define it?
Google defines prayer as: “a solemn request for help or expression of thanks addressed to God or an object of worship.”
But one of their alternate definitions is: “an earnest hope or wish.”
I have to share a story with you.
Earlier this month I was feeling pretty down and out. I hadn’t slept well, I had a migraine; it was just a bad day. After fixing my husband’s lunch and seeing him out the door, I crawled back under the covers.
However, I had someone coming over at 8 in the morning, so I really needed to drag myself out of bed and face the day. I remember thinking how great it would be if the person would reschedule. I didn’t address God, but it was an earnest hope and subconsciously I knew He could do it if it were His will.
Would you be surprised to know that less than 15 minutes later that person rescheduled. I definitely counted it as an answer to prayer even though there were no flattering words or even direct appeals to God.
However, when I was looking up Scriptures on prayer, two that stuck out to me were Philippians 4:6 and Ephesians 6:18
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” ~ Philippians 4:6
“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.” ~ Ephesians 6:18
With those two Scriptures in mind, it already started questions spinning in my mind.
Is not every petition or request to God a prayer?
If coming before God to ask for something isn’t always a prayer, what is?
So I looked up some more definitions of prayer:
Matt Slick posted his definition of prayer on the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry (CARM) website saying: “Prayer is the practice of the presence of God. It is the place where pride is abandoned, hope is lifted, and supplication is made. Prayer is the place of admitting our need, of adopting humility, and claiming dependence upon God. Prayer is the needful practice of the Christian. Prayer is the exercise of faith and hope.”
Here is one more definition. This one is from Dr. Ralph Martin (author of The Fulfillment of All Desire): “Prayer is, at root, simply paying attention to God.”
By these definitions, prayer is so much more than what we traditionally think of as conversations with God.
But they are definitions written by men, so I turned back to Scripture once more, looking up the definition of the Greek word for prayer, proseúxomai (pros-yoo’-khom-ahee) – which literally means, to interact with the Lord by switching human wishes or ideas for His wishes (or will) as He imparts faith to us.
Prayer is coming before God with a heart that is open to His will.
Yes, it can be pouring your heart out to Him, but only when we do so knowing that He is Lord, and He knows best. It’s coming before Him and trusting that He can work all things out for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28). Not asking Him to grant our wishes, but loving Him for being sovereign.
I have no doubt that many, if not all, of the women reading this are prayer warriors. Yet I also know that many Christian women today struggle with their prayer life. Finding the time to pray, knowing what to say, remembering who to pray for, it’s a lot. But it is what God has called us to do.
Over the next 6 weeks (7 if you count today), we will be looking at some of the prayers from the New Testament. From Jesus to Paul, and the poor and the rich, the Bible gives us both humbling and amazing examples to follow.
The first section of Scripture I read today was from James 5 and the end of verse 16 says: “The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” Jesus Himself said, “And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.” (John 14:13-14)
When I first became a Christian, I thought that asking in His name meant tacking “in Jesus’ name” onto the end of my prayers. But that’s not it at all. It essentially means exactly what my final definition of prayer says: “Coming before Him and trusting that He can work all things out for the good of those who love Him. Not asking Him to grant our wishes, but loving Him for being sovereign.” It is to echo Christ saying, “Not my will but yours be done.” (Matthew 26:39)
Hebrews 5:7 says, “During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission.”
His prayers were heard because of His reverent submission.
Our prayers are powerful and effective when we come before God in reverent submission.
I want to close today with a prayer of my own:
Father God, thank you for loving me. Thank you for loving each and every woman who is reading this post on my blog, or attending this study at church. Let us have hearts that are set on You, Lord. Help us to come before You, open to Your will. I ask that over the next several weeks that You would open up Your Word to us and let it transform us to be more like Your Son. It is in His name we pray; amen.
Based off my definition of prayer, how would you say you are doing in your prayer life?
Have you ever been confused about the meaning of asking for something in Jesus’ name?
When was the last time you came before God with the purpose of seeking His will?
Take it Deeper:
Look up the following Scriptures about prayer: Matthew 5:44; Matthew 26:41; Matthew 6:5-8; Mark 1:35; Mark 6:46
For those of you who don’t know, my theme for 2015 is “Called by Christ.” I know God has called me to be His. I am His child, and I am more excited about serving Him than I have ever been. However, the biggest calling He has placed in my heart right now is the call to wait.
The call to remain where I am right now.
1 Corinthians 7:20 says, “Each person should remain in the situation they were in when God called them.”
Now, I don’t know if you have ever been excited about something, but sitting and doing nothing, isn’t exactly the easiest thing to do in that situation.
The sermon my pastor preached on Sunday was on the book of Jeremiah. How God had a plan to prosper His people, but not for 70 years after He told them about His plan. That’s a long time. I’m hoping above all hope that God doesn’t want me to wait 70 years before He reveals His plans for my ministry to me, I’d be over 100 years old! However, I know that His timing is perfect.
One thing I am thankful for is knowing His plan for my life.
I won’t be trying out 1,000 new things this year, or striving for something and failing, because I know that I am right where God wants me to be.
I have security in that.
I think part of the reason He is calling me to stay where I am is because I’m not ready for more. I have been struggling to balance my current workload, family life, and ministry goals for a while now. The end of 2014 was rough for me. And while I thought cutting back was the answer, God has prompted me that what I really need to do is sink into Him.
He can’t use me for great things if I don’t rely on Him and trust His calling and will.
So for now, He has called me to stay. Not to step back, not move forward, but to stay right where I am, and lean into Him.
With that in mind (and knowing that I have already memorized 1 Thessalonians 5:24 – “The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.”) The first Scripture I chose to memorize is Colossians 3:23. This verse isn’t new to me, but I can’t recite it by memory yet, and I think it will be powerful in my life going into the new year.
I chose this verse because often times when I am working for people, I get discouraged. I feel undervalued, or wonder what the point is. But if I can remember that I am working for Christ – doing what He has called me to do – it’s all worth it. It all has a point.
If you are participating in SSMT, I’d love for you to share your verse and why you chose it in the comments.
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart,
as working for the Lord, not for men…”
It’s hard to believe that 2014 is drawing to a close. Earlier today, I blogged about some of my professional accomplishments from the year, but, overall, the end of 2014 was tough for me. I had a ton of stuff going, and no clear direction on what I wanted to do or why I was doing any of it. I was in a rut and getting deeper all the time.
However, I took the last couple of weeks off to enjoy the holidays and reflect on some things. I really didn’t have time to do this, and still have some unfinished projects that I was hoping to have done before the new year, but it was so worth it!!!
After much prayer and reflection, I am excited about what’s to come!
My 2015 Theme
One of my mentors always has a theme word or phrase for each year. Last year, I semi adopted her theme as my own, just because I saw it so much and we work together so often. However, I knew that going into 2015 I needed to be my own person. I needed to know what God wanted from and for ME.
So I prayed about it… a lot. I tried to force some themes that I thought sounded good, but God kept whispering, “That’s not it.” However, I finally stopped to listen long enough to clearly hear what God was saying and I’m happy to announce that I have a theme.
My theme for 2015 is Called by Christ.
I know Christ has called me to do great things for Him. Some of them I will be recognized for, others I won’t. That’s fine. The main point is that He has called me. I’m not working for nothing. I’m working for the glory of Christ and I have been called by Him to do it.
1 Thessalonians 5:24 is my theme verse for this year:
“The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.”
I chose this theme, because it reminds me of my purpose. It encourages me and gives me strength. This is a theme that God has been whispering to me for months, and I have scattered notes written about, but I haven’t taken the time to embrace it. And that’s what I want for 2015. I want to embrace my calling, and let the assurance of God’s will for my life wash over me. Renewing me day by day.
With that theme in mind, I am ready to embrace 2015 and all that it has in store. I’m ready to give my all to prove worthy of my calling, knowing that my salvation rests securely in my saviors arms when I stumble and fall.