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Self-Care: How a “God Word” Can Assist in Being Healthy

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Hello! Have you been watching the Olympics? Crazy to think the athletes have had to endure a longer training period due to the pandemic. And to think the next competition will still be held in 2024.

I love gymnastics and Simone Biles. She is a powerhouse physically and mentally. What a testimony of bravery to stand up for selfcare and protect herself. This will speak volumes for the world!! (If you are unaware of the impact Simone makes outside of gymnastics-I encourage you to do some research.)

What about you? When was the last time you checked on yourself, especially mentally? “I’m fine, everything is good, just doing the best I can”. God wants to be a part of our lives more than surface level and wants us better than “fine”. He wants us exercising healthy self-care and unplugging at various times to listen to His voice and become more in-tune with His will. I cannot think of a better time to mention one way I have found to do this.

For several years I have invested time in receiving a God Word through the help of a little book entitled One Word. I call it my “God Word” because I rely on Him to reveal the word. Yes, there have been times I didn’t want what God had for me, such as the time when the winner was the word discipline! However, I know the Lord always holds my days ahead so I know I can trust Him to lead me and my crazy fleshly ways. (I have tried to live under my own direction–we all know how that turned out!)

The book, One Word, simply describes three stages to receiving a “God Word”; they are look in, look up, look out. After embracing this process for several years, I will be brave enough to state this as an essential process for those wanting to live under the authority of the Lord.

Why? It allows you to take a self-inventory of your life currently, spend some time unplugging from the world, and making the time to listen to the Father for His direction and discernment for your year ahead.

There is one thing I would change about the book if I could. I call the look out stage the “live out” phase because I feel this is where your feet are held to the test. This is really your daily life steps permitting the God Word to guide your steps, connect you to God on a deeper level, and strengthen your reliance and relationship with the Father.

SO…why do this around July/August? Why not do this in January when most of the world makes resolutions? Isn’t this an alternative to doing that? Doesn’t the book even suggest this? True, many people embrace a One Word concept at the beginning of the year. You can go through this process annually at any point you determine. There isn’t a set time. The Refining Ministry has been focusing on this event at the end of summer for many years so that is why we are revisiting it at this time of the year. It shows intentionality apart from the norm of the world.

We will be doing two face-to-face meetings this year for those who want to renew their God Word or join in trying this for a year. One location will be Canyon, TX and the other will be Waco, TX. During these meetings, we will highlight Chapters 1-4 together and provide a short period hanging out with God to individually listen to Him.

Then on August 16th we will host an online event at 6:00 p.m. for those who want to join us for an hour to review Chapters 6-8 and discuss ways to live out the God Word. Incorporating your word into all areas of your life is not always easy. The book highlights six dimensions which we will briefly discuss as well. Also, we will share ways we have found to hold ourselves accountable and keep our focus.

I would encourage you to join us in this journey. The “One Word” concept has helped me rely on the Lord’s perspective, drawn me closer to Him and His ways, and strengthened my relationship with the Lord. I love the simplicity of carrying out His Word in my daily life and learning how to let the Holy Spirit lead. It narrows my “squirrelly” attention to concentrate on living for God and not myself. My God Word aids in being accountable to doing life God’s way, talking to God about my progress, and centering my efforts to glorify the Lord and not myself!

If you would like to plug into God and truly hear the answer from Him to “What do you want to do in me and through me over the next year?”, then we invite you to come along with us through this journey. Maybe you already embrace this process, then come hang out with us on August 16th online and share your experience. We would love your input and knowledge of letting God speak through a One Word process.

Our sweet Father has many “One Words” for us over our lifetime. He is willing and eager to give us a “God Word” for this particular time frame in life. This concept is a tool to embrace sanctification and surrender to the refining God wants to do within us.

Thank you for the opportunity to walk this out with you. I look forward to joining together to allow God to speak into our lives through simplicity, accountability, and simple focus on the “Word” He reveals.

Come join us in an impactful experience through a three step process-One Word. It is simply a time to let God lead. If you want to know more, please email us at refiningjourney@gmail.com. We would love to hear from you!

  

Progressing Beyond Bible Study

How to engage with God

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Today we can find hundreds of methods and tools to employ when studying God’s precious Word. For each of us, the time we spend reading, researching, and exploring Scripture is vital to our spiritual growth as a Christian. Wholesome comprehension of the Bible aids in a healthy understanding of God and His full character.

However, the Lord wants us to know Him intensely, just like He knows us. Therefore, the meaning we discover though in-depth study must remain aligned with the original implication and received through the perspective of our Father.

Scripture tells us the Bible is the very voice of God. In 2 Timothy 3:16a, we are reminded that all Scripture is God breathed. His Holy Word is not only a furnished resource, but His intonation and declaration of reassurance and support to assist our spiritual walk. We see this to be true in Romans 15:4. “For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through the endurance and through the encouragement of the Scripture we might have hope” (ESV).  

The mere knowledge of His Word only scratches the surface to properly handling this precious gift (2 Timothy 2:15). Take the Pharisees for instance. They were top scholars of the Word and they had a precise academic understanding. Would you agree? Who knew the Torah better? Their lives were devoted to memorizing and interpretating Mosaic law in conjunction with its conformity and ceremonial acts. The Pharisees allowed their scholarly status to take on a legalistic stance leading them to believe works trumped God’s mercy and grace.

Quite frankly, this contradicts the accurate message of Christ Jesus our Savior. In Ephesians 2:8-9 (NIV) the Bible states, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-not by works, so that no one can boast.” Our obedience in following God’s law is from a heart of love and respect to Him who saved us and called us to live according to His purpose. It has nothing to do with following the law in order to save ourselves from the pits of Hell. We are not capable of this miraculous task.

Our God desires us to go beyond a Scriptural education. He wants us to see that awareness of Biblical information is only the beginning. The Lord’s desire is for us to understand our head-knowledge of the Bible will not fabricate an involuntary dexterity to live under His authority. God wants to saturate our lives with His voice. He wants us to state claim in a place where He can transform and refine us to become what He needs. He wants to find us inundated with Scripture engagement to a stage of saturation.

Saturation is far from involvement. It is an entrenched commitment to growing in relation with the Almighty Father and embracing a lifetime of refinement. Think about it this way—it is putting skin on our learning—clinging to the promises and attributes of God in order to carry out His commands. Sounds simple, right? However, I dare to say, it is difficult at best to give up selfish-control of how we want life to be let alone truly admitting we have a sinful nature. However, if we want to go beyond Scripture knowledge, it requires a complete surrender to God’s alteration.

Our propensity to permit Scripture to change us is not an easy task. It does not come without training and practice. We have to purposefully posture ourselves under God’s influence and exercise ways to allow the very voice of God to take hold of our being. It is a humble submission to becoming solely dependent upon His truth and allowing Him to alter our fleshly hearts, minds, and actions.

All this to say–Refining ministry knows the struggle. We have heard the pleas of many and know the essential need to practice saturating our life with the Lord and His Word.

Beginning this fall, we will be offering short half-day workshops-in person and online-to present easy and practical steps for engagement with God. Our first focus will be the infusion of the Father’s promises. Together, we will practice going Beyond in-depth Bible study to interacting with God and allowing our lives to be changed.

Saturation! A level of Scriptural engagement beyond surface knowledge. Get ready for a deeper experience of God and His Word.

More information to come…  

Somedays You Just Need to PRAY IT!

There are days when I know a spiritual attack is trying to stop me from going forward with the work of the Lord. God will complete in me His desires in His timing. I want to be Your beautiful artwork Father. So, today I pray Your Words over my life.

Psalm 35

A psalm of David.

O Lord, oppose those who oppose me.
    Fight those who fight against me.
Put on your armor, and take up your shield.
    Prepare for battle, and come to my aid.
Lift up your spear and javelin
    against those who pursue me.
Let me hear you say,
    “I will give you victory!”
Bring shame and disgrace on those trying to kill me;
    turn them back and humiliate those who want to harm me.
Blow them away like chaff in the wind—
    a wind sent by the angel of the Lord.
Make their path dark and slippery,
    with the angel of the Lord pursuing them.
I did them no wrong, but they laid a trap for me.
    I did them no wrong, but they dug a pit to catch me.
So let sudden ruin come upon them!
    Let them be caught in the trap they set for me!
    Let them be destroyed in the pit they dug for me.

Then I will rejoice in the Lord.
    I will be glad because he rescues me.
10 With every bone in my body I will praise him:
    “Lord, who can compare with you?
Who else rescues the helpless from the strong?
    Who else protects the helpless and poor from those who rob them?”

11 Malicious witnesses testify against me.
    They accuse me of crimes I know nothing about.
12 They repay me evil for good.
    I am sick with despair.
13 Yet when they were ill, I grieved for them.
    I denied myself by fasting for them,
    but my prayers returned unanswered.
14 I was sad, as though they were my friends or family,
    as if I were grieving for my own mother.
15 But they are glad now that I am in trouble;
    they gleefully join together against me.
I am attacked by people I don’t even know;
    they slander me constantly.
16 They mock me and call me names;
    they snarl at me.

17 How long, O Lord, will you look on and do nothing?
    Rescue me from their fierce attacks.
    Protect my life from these lions!
18 Then I will thank you in front of the great assembly.
    I will praise you before all the people.
19 Don’t let my treacherous enemies rejoice over my defeat.
    Don’t let those who hate me without cause gloat over my sorrow.
20 They don’t talk of peace;
    they plot against innocent people who mind their own business.
21 They shout, “Aha! Aha!
    With our own eyes we saw him do it!”

22 O Lord, you know all about this.
    Do not stay silent.
    Do not abandon me now, O Lord.
23 Wake up! Rise to my defense!
    Take up my case, my God and my Lord.
24 Declare me not guilty, O Lord my God, for you give justice.
    Don’t let my enemies laugh about me in my troubles.
25 Don’t let them say, “Look, we got what we wanted!
    Now we will eat him alive!”

26 May those who rejoice at my troubles
    be humiliated and disgraced.
May those who triumph over me
    be covered with shame and dishonor.
27 But give great joy to those who came to my defense.
    Let them continually say, “Great is the Lord,
    who delights in blessing his servant with peace!”
28 Then I will proclaim your justice,
    and I will praise you all day long.

The Unseen will Be Revealed

The great Day of the Lord is near, near and rapidly approaching. Listen, the Day of the Lord—there the warrior’s cry is bitter. Zephaniah 1:14

Happy Friday friends! I pray this day finds you filled with God’s joy regardless of the circumstances and issues you are facing in life. Today, I feel the need to remind you, as well as myself, that we are all properly prepared to handle life through our belief in Christ Jesus. We are welcome to approach the throne of God and can boldly lay our burdens at His feet.

This gives me HOPE! What about you?

Scripture clears backs up these thoughts in Hebrews 4:14-16, Therefore since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens-Jesus the Son of God-let us hold fast to the confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tested in every way as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us at the proper time.

PAUSE—God knows and He will come through!

Thank you for your grace to allow me to “squirrel” prior to this posting. Just felt it necessary to share my own inward struggle and thoughts before I wrote the main segment.

The Refining ministry is continuing their Monday night online studies of Major Wisdom through Minor Prophets for the remainder of 2021. We recently started Zephaniah and boy, Chapter 1 was a dozy! There were a few who stated it seemed like a scene from a horror show. However, the valued learning and deep discussion shared during the hour was, once again, an overwhelming blessing to my heart. I am blown away each time we meet—this week God revealed hope and compassion even in a difficult passage.

Our ministry believes in infusing Scripture into daily living. Each week, we are challenged to allow the Lord to guide us and press into the message He has individually-based on our Bible intake.

Thinking about Chapter 1 of Zephaniah, I approached the garden to see if we had any new produce to harvest. I took my phone with me because I wanted to capture the beauty and growth.

SIDENOTE: WOW! If you could only see our garden. It is the most remarkable, overgrown jungle ever because we have received more rain in the past few weeks than we normally receive in a year. Yes, we live in Texas, but we are in the “desert” for the most part. We have never had a garden this abundant.

Once I had a chance to review the photos, the carrot picture caught my attention. I began thinking about Zephaniah. The people of Judah seemed to be flourishing just like the tops of our carrots. Everyone seemed to have what they needed to survive. They believed in God and worshiped Him. However, they also paid homage to other “gods” with their daily acts and rituals. Their hearts were receiving a fatal cocktail.  

Zephaniah came as the last warning to Judah. He wanted them to take an inward look and focus on their roots and fruit-the unseen! Just like the roots and carrots growing underground in our garden. Their hearts-a place where fruit can wither or grow.

Our heart generates our thoughts which then produces our words, actions, viewpoints, etc. When we are filling our lives with proper nutrition, God, the fruit we produce can be pleasing to the Lord. However, Zephaniah Chapter 1 clearly states that we cannot partially serve God and partially serve “gods” with the expectation that we will not experience harm to the fruit we produce. We will eventually wither and die! OUCH! It distorts our thinking of ourselves as well as others.

Our carrots will not produce an abundant harvest in the fall if we occasionally expose them to contaminated water. They want pure, clean goodness overflowing with all the necessary nutrients. No matter how beautiful they seem above ground, the measure of their true work is revealed once their “roots” are exposed.

This made me take an inward inventory is so many ways. What do I fill my heart with daily? What do my actions, words, and thoughts reveal? Am I guilty of syncretism-mixing true worship with false? Do I fall into a complacent state when it comes to praying, worshiping, studying, reading, witnessing, etc.? Are there times when I limit my intake of God and allow worldly “junk” to enter His vessel?

Yes-all that from Zephaniah Chapter 1-plus so much more.

Listen, I am but a simple woman trying to do my best to love and serve God with all that I am. I mess up more than succeed-trust me! However, in this spiritual pathway, this I know for sure: God loves us beyond measure, and He will not give up on us.

So, with an earnest heart I cry, Father God fill me with your goodness, weed out the junk I have allowed, let my fruit reveal You, Oh Lord, help me lay my burdens down, and heal me from within so all that I do is pleasing unto You. I am sorry Lord for my disobedience and my unclean heart. I need You, Oh I need You! Reveal the unseen with compassion and help me stay under your authority regardless. I love you Father God!  

Comparison (guest writer: Robin Gonzales)

Photo by Maksim Goncharenok on Pexels.com

Now while they were on their way, it occurred that Jesus entered a certain village, and a woman named Martha received and welcomed Him into her home. And she had a sister named Mary, who seated herself at the Lord’s feet and was listening to His teachings. But Martha [overly occupied and too busy] was distracted with much serving; and she came up to Him and said, “Lord, is it nothing to You that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me [to lend a hand and do her part along with me]!” But the Lord replied to her by saying “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things; There is need of only one or but a few things. Mary has chosen the good portion [that which is to her advantage], which shall not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:38-42)

For my sake–can we camp here awhile? Why? I would like to share several things God had me unpack based on this Scripture. 

God met me at a ladies retreat many years ago and had me take a closer look at this passage. He had a message for me, just like He did for Martha.

It was a busy time in my life with work, church, family, etc. I was too busy and not happy with the way my life was going. (Have you ever experienced this?) I could see other people getting to do things and go places–all the things my heart desired to do and all the places I dreamed of going. Yet, I did not seem to have the time!! I wanted more time in my life and above all I craved a deeper relationship with God.

I was playing the Martha (martyr) roll well. When would it be my turn? Why does everyone else seem to be receiving what I desired? 

I, like Martha, took my complaint to God and He answered me much the same way He answered her.

Let me share four points the Lord revealed for me:

  1. Everyone has the same number of hours in their day. It is up to you and you alone to decide what you do with yours. First, make time for ME and everything else that matters will fall into place. Stop trying to work ME into your schedule. 
  1. Did anyone ask you to do all the things you have filled your time with? If they have, there is a tiny little word “No” you need to include in your vocabulary. Check in with Me. I will assist you in determining if it is in My plan for you–we will only do these things. 
  1. Stay in your own lane and stop comparing your life to other people. Each life is unique and has blessings and hardships that are specialize for their journey. Lessons to be learned and an individualized timing. Learn to be content where you are and what you are doing right now. Be present in every moment.  
  1. Nothing apart from God is perfect. Stop worrying about appearances and what other people think. You are perfectly and wonderfully made.

Digging down into this verse and gaining God’s perspective helped me apply it to my life situation and daily living. What a blessing it has been. I still have my moments when I let things in life creep up and overwhelm me, but the Holy Spirit is there to remind me of the lesson. He reminds me that we have already walked through together and I can now take the short cut–I do not have to walk the long trail around that Martha mountain again. I have to release my control and remember the four tips from Luke 10 God unpacked for me.

My overall takeaway from God’s message:

Seek Him, give my burdens to Him, and regroup with the Lord’s strength.

God’s Message in the Brushstrokes

Rejoice in the Lord always, I will say again: Rejoice! Philippians 4:4 (HCSB)

How is your summer? Have you had the opportunity to go on vacation yet? Hopefully, you have experienced a few grilled meals along with ice-cold watermelon and an occasional smore or two.

I am delighted to report Refining Ministries had a fruitful ladies retreat last weekend in Stephenville, Texas. We spent a little over 40 hours together learning and sharing ways to enrich personal Bible intake (plus laughing, playing games, eating, painting, crafting, and a wee bit of sleeping). We will continue delivering this training in the days ahead for churches interested in feeding into their women’s ministry because of the significant impact we have seen when participants experience the power of God’s Word.

One of my favorite parts of the event was the painting session. We had a local artist offer a class for those interested in attending. She had the ladies engage in designing a work of art which incorporated flowers. As I observed each canvas coming to life, God gave me a wonderful message I want to share with you.

The first thing I noticed was all participants were given proper supplies and tools. God does the very same thing. He generously provides His Word and the Holy Spirit as means for us to utilize. Our Father ensures His supplies will meet our every need and delivers top quality-ever lasting supplies to fully equip us.

Do what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:9

Just like the instructions the artist gave; God gives us opportunities to learn how to comprehend and engage with His Word and grow to know the spirit within us. He lovingly gives us free choice to progress in our spiritual journey at the rate of speed we choose. This was so apparent as each lady listened and observed the instructor. The degrees of experience and levels of confidence were displayed in their first brushstrokes on the canvas. The comfort zones became very transparent.

For it is God who is working in you, [enabling you] both to will and to act for His good purpose. Philippians 2:13

I loved how each lady was fully supported and encouraged. You could feel an atmosphere of joy, relaxation, and sheer delight. The environment of struggle and worry was not present.  Doesn’t this remind you of God? He always has our back plus He gives us unexplainable joy when we engage with Him. (I could stay right here and give you tons of analogies the Lord revealed, but I will move onward)  

Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable-if there is any moral excellence and if there is any praise-dwell on these things. Philippians 4:8

As I watched in amazement, the brushstrokes of each lady reminded me of the purpose God has for each of us. He uniquely designed the talents, likes, experiences, skills, growth, training, etc. for each of these women-in order for them to create their own personalized exhibit. Although they all received the same instructions and were exposed to the very same words of the instructor, their paintings were distinctive. WOW-I was reminded that God is not in the cookie cutter business. He fashioned everyone for a special part of His overall plan. He urges us to use what we have been given to present His love–so the world can be drawn to His beauty.

He will transform the body of our humble condition into the likeness of His glorious body, by the power that enables Him to subject everything to Himself. Philippians 3:21

(Sorry, not everyone is present in the photo and some paintings were already packed away!)

We are His canvas! The brushstrokes we add to our inward and outward presentation will reveal the attributes of our sweet Lord if we humble ourselves to live under His authority. Our canvas can be a priceless work of art for the lives of others!

Who directs your brushstrokes in life?

My goal is to know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death. Philippians 3:10

ZEPHANIAH: 3 week study

Happy July friends!

It is that time again–to gear back up and continue the online Bible study series, Major Wisdom through the Minor Prophets. This month’s study will only be three weeks and focus on one chapter a week.

Together we will embrace Bible intake and discuss our reflections from personal readings via Zoom. Weekly, we will uncover the original meaning from the author and uncover the takeaways for each of us individually. Digging into Scripture with like-minded sisters in Christ is a powerful experience.

Come join us for three weeks-one hour a week. Zephaniah will begin July 12th at 6:00 p.m.

July 12th Chapter 1

July 19th Chapter 2

July 26th Chapter 3

Please email the Refining Ministry, refining.journey@gmail.com by July 11th if you would like to participate. We will send you the link and additional materials for the study once we hear from you.

Let us know if you have any questions!  Also, if you know of anyone who might be interested in attending, please forward this information to them. 

In His Name,

Genna Stotts

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