Sow & Gather

encouragement

How Do We Hear From God?

Conversations with GodMarci AnthonyComment
How Do We Hear From God? #sowandgather

Moreover He said to me:  “Son of man, receive into your heart all My words that I speak to you, and hear with your ears."  Ezekiel 3:10 

When God is speaking to us, He uses most, if not all, of our senses. He tells us to “taste and see that the Lord is good…” Psalm 34:8. Many times in the gospels Jesus would reach out to touch someone to heal them. (Matthew 9:29-20, Mark 1:41-42, and Luke 22:51) When we hear God’s voice, we can either be like Adam and Eve and hide from it (Genesis 3:8) or be like Isaiah and respond to it. (Isaiah 6:8)   

Paul tells believers three times in Hebrews (Hebrews 3:7, 3:15, and 4:7) that when we hear His voice, we are not to harden our hearts. Why? Because of rebellion and the deceitfulness of sin, it is easy for us to harden our hearts and not listen to God’s voice. But, when we draw near and respond to God’s voice and obey Him '"For we are to God the fragrance of Christ..."(2 Corinthians 2:15

So, how do I hear from God? He can use His word, a sermon, nature, or a sweet friend.  When my sister was battling cancer, a friend asked a simple question that God would use in so many ways; “What is your sister’s favorite verse?” I honestly didn’t know so I asked her. It was Psalm 46:10, “Be still and know that I am God…” It wasn’t two weeks later that the Lord called her home to heaven. That night her daughters asked me what their mom’s favorite verse was and I was able to tell them. 

God knew that being able to answer that simple question would not only comfort me, but also my three nieces, in so many ways. It reminded me that God was not surprised by my sister’s death; that God was close to me because He showed me His hand in this; and that God allowed me to comfort my nieces by knowing this answer. 

I have held on to this verse since my sister died and it truly has given me great comfort. Our God knows exactly what we need and when we need it. He is personally and intimately involved in His children’s lives – their joys, sorrows, fears, and trials.   

I was able to hear from God at a time when I was hurting most, all because of one question that was asked of me by two different people…”What was her favorite verse?”  That is what helped me to see, feel, and hear from God, knowing that He was holding me in His very hand. (Isaiah 41:10) James 4:8 is so true, when we “draw near to God, He will draw near to us…” 

Digging Deeper |

1 John 1:1-4; Matthew 17:6-7; Isaiah 64:4 

Action Item |

Why do we hesitate? Do you hear Jesus calling to you? Draw near to Him and He promises to draw near to you so that you can hear from Him. 

Prayer |

Lord, be near to me so that I may hear Your voice. Help me to be silent so that I can hear you whisper, “This is the way, walk in it.” Isaiah 30:21

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When I Knew My Husband Would Make A Great Dad

Father'sMarci AnthonyComment
He's A Good Good Father #sowandgather #fathers #daddys

Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts crying "Abba! Father! Galatians 4:6 NASB 

There he stood; with my four-month-old niece's spittle rolling down his shoulder and a grand plop falling on his shoe. That's when I knew he would be a wonderful father, but in the course of long days with two kids, I often forgot. 

If I was to go back in time and talk to my younger self, I would tell her to remember to "purposely see good father traits in your husband." I often just see what needs to be fixed and forget to let him know what an amazing dad he is. Sure, he let my son chew mushrooms from the yard and climb a ladder to the roof at the age of two. He let my daughter play in a fire ant mound and fall on top of a wheelbarrow he had just overturned.

But, he spent countless hours reading Bible stories to them at bedtime, he prayed with them every night, he gave up personal time to coach teams and also play basketball, volleyball, and soccer. He never missed a game because he was working, and he dressed up in boas with lots of feathers and let his little girl put lipstick on him. Why? Because his heart loves his children. 

He is a "find" for certain and I am blessed to call him my best friend. God knew what I needed and He gave me the perfect match. He has used my husband to teach my kids in ways that powerfully influence their character. 

My husband is a reflection of "Abba Father"because he chases after Jesus, his Father God and mine. Christ is the only God who allowed Himself to be dressed in a robe, beaten, and mocked. He hung on a tree not for Himself but because He desired to adopt me. Me, with all my mistakes and failures. He allows me to call Him "Abba Father." Why would an all-powerful God do that? Because, like my husband, His heart loves His children. 

Dig Deeper |

1 Thessalonians 5:11-12;  Matthew 7:9-11 

Action Item |

Find your husband being a good dad and let him know what you see. 

Prayer |

Father, help me to encourage my husband as a father. Give me eyes to see the positives and not just the mistakes. Help him to live for You and guide him with Your wisdom. Remind me of who You are as my daddy and what You did for me. In Jesus' name, Amen. 

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Are You Ready to Run?

encouragement, encourageMarci AnthonyComment
run in such a way as to get the prize. #sowandgather #encouregement #encourage

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 1 Corinthians 9:24

It’s an Olympic year! I get so excited when the summer Olympics air on TV. For two weeks my eyes are glued to the TV as I marvel at the physical and mental abilities of the world’s top athletes. So many of the athletes have trained for almost their entire life and sacrificed so much to have the opportunity to compete at the highest level in the world. It doesn’t get any bigger in sports than the Olympics.

I love watching the track and field events, specifically the running events. The athlete’s muscular build, strength, and speed is truly mesmerizing. From the moment the gun goes off runners are focused on only one thing, the finish line at the end. The runners know that if they reach that line first they will receive the most coveted prize of athletes all over the world, the title of Olympic Gold Medalist.

When you think about all the time and energy that goes into becoming an Olympic champion, one has to wonder is it worth it? If you ask any athlete who has competed at the Olympic level, most would answer, “Yes.” Competing on the world’s largest stage with the world’s best athletes is the pinnacle of any athlete's dream. If I told you that Christians have a similar challenge given to us by God, would you believe me?

God’s challenge is for us is to run a race, but the type of race God requires us to take part in is a race of the soul. You see, each and every day from the time we rise to the time we lay our heads on our pillows, our Coach (God) is pushing us and molding us into the individuals he wants us to be. He has given us our training manual (The Bible) which has all necessary answers to life’s hurdles we come in contact with daily. To help us with our mental stamina God equips us with the Holy Spirit. Lastly, helping us to fight through the final yards to the finish, God provides us with prayer so we can accomplish and win the race.

The best part about the race we are running is that everyone who crosses the finish line wins! God pushes us hard to reach His goal. The prize we receive when we cross the finish line is better than any Olympic medal; it’s the promise of eternity. Are you ready to run the race?

Dig Deeper |

Philippians 3:14; Galatians 5:7

Action Item |

Are you running God’s race or your own? Where do you need to make changes in your life to get back on track?

Prayer |

God help me to run your race that you have set out before me. Help me to work hard and finish strong. Amen

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Talk To God. He Will Provide Good Gifts.

MothersMarci AnthonyComment
Talk to God. He Will Supply Good Gifts. #sowandgather #mothers

When you open your hands, they are satisfied with good things. Psalm 104:28 NIV

I celebrated my sixteenth Mother's Day earlier this month. My very large teenager struggled to sit on my lap at the kitchen table like he did for so many years as a baby, toddler, and adolescent. It's really become a joke for him to try and sit "Santa Claus" style with me on our faded wooden chairs. He's been too big for a long time. But, for a few moments, I think we both go back to the baby days and what it means for a momma to hold her child.

Of all the gifts my teen could give me, those few seconds of closeness are the most precious. The card and homemade chocolate treats are delightful, but sharing a few seconds or moments so close are the very best.

The time spent discussing homework, projects, and the self-described "disastrous" performance are the good things I cherish. We are at the stage now where we are pulling information out of our teen. At four years old he created sentences with words like cornucopia and plethora. Today, his responses are variations on a grunt.

As I struggle to communicate with a teen, I begin to understand a little bit of how God must feel when we struggle to communicate with Him. I want to talk to God and share with him my hurts and successes. I want to open up, but sometimes a grunt or groin is all I can muster.

I wonder if God is just waiting for me to ask for a few moments on His lap. A few moments to share with him my hopes and dreams. My fears and disappointments. A few moments each day where God can give me "good gifts." I know God has the ability to interpret my grunts and groans, but how much more does God also cherish a conversation with me.

I'm reminded that the "good gifts" I give my son and received from him are not tangible. They are time, a listening ear, a hug, and acceptance. There are so many good things our heavenly Father is ready to provide us if we only take the time to talk to Him and listen to Him.

Dig Deeper |

Matthew 7:7-11; Exodus 33:7-21

Action Item |

What "good gift" has God given you this week? Write it down and thank God.

Prayer |

Dear Heavenly Father, help me to acknowledge and give praise each day for the good gifts you provide to me and my family. Lord, help me to have a conversation with you today and to rest in your arms. Amen.

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Share The Message of Jesus

EasterMarci AnthonyComment
share-Jesus #Easter #Jesus sowandgather.com

I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ. Philemon 1:6 NIV

Recently I went into a convenience store with my youngest son to purchase snacks and after thoroughly looking at the wide array of candy, he picked out mints. As we left the store, he popped out the mint container and asked me if I wanted one.

As he handed me the mints, I noticed that the container was round and flat like a hockey puck and the label was full of color. I examined the container closely and noticed there were two openings on either side to acquire the mints. One opening was labeled “not to share” and the other “to share.” Upon opening the “not to share”, half of the container opened and it was so easy to grab one of the little mints. However the opening “to share” was teeny, tiny and you had to shake it vigorously to have even one mint fall out.

This exchange of mints challenged me to examine my life and I realized I live the same way. I am a believer in Jesus and like the first believers in the city of Anitoch, a Christian. (Acts 11:26) My purpose is to share and tell everyone about the love of our Lord Jesus Christ and how to have a relationship with Him and live with Him eternally.

However, I falter and there are days I can barely shake any words out about Jesus and when I do, the words are far and few. But Jesus wants me to do more, He wants me to share actively and generously and boldly speak about His love and life. Jesus wants my life’s container to be wide open shaking out Him and His love to everyone.

Dig Deeper |

Acts 1: 1-9, Matthew 28:18-20

Action Item |

Do you actively share your faith in Jesus with others? Search for reasons you chose “not to share” and ask God to overcome these obstacles and begin “to share” with others.

Prayer |

Dear Jesus, you are a saving God. Help me to share you with others in this world generously and with vigor. I want others to know and love you, too. Amen.

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Failure Only Defeats Us When We Quit

New BeginningsMarci Anthony1 Comment
failure-only-defeats-us-when-we-quit-sowandgather.jpg

"He said to Simon, 'Put out into the deep water and let down your net for a catch.'" Luke 5:4 (NASB)

My mom is probably the best cook I know. She is a country cook but her food is delicious and when there is a potluck, people actually ask her what she made so they can get a taste. Unfortunately, I did not inherit that gene. I remember one day when I was about twelve, my mom was gone for some reason so I was determined to make my dad dinner. I decided to make biscuits, which I had never done before.

I found my mom's recipe and began mixing in the ingredients. I read the words "baking powder" but thought “baking soda”. The little teaspoon was easy; it was the biggest spoon on the ring, or so I thought. I mixed everything together and placed the biscuits in the oven. They were so beautiful when they came out, but a little more yellow than my mom's. I was so pleased. I decided to taste my creation because I just knew it was going to be heavenly. To my surprise, I was not even able to get the first bite down because the over-powering bitterness drew my mouth shut.

So back to the beginning; I made a second batch. This time I used less baking soda but, as before, they were bitter too. My poor dad ate two even though they were awful.

Though that day I had set out with great hope and determination to accomplish my goal, I failed.

Peter experienced something similar. Early in his walk with the Lord, Jesus told Peter to let down his nets. Peter, being unconvinced, said to Jesus, "Master, we worked hard all night and caught nothing, but I will do as You say and let down the nets." Luke 5:5. Immediately, the nets were so full that the boat began to sink. What if Peter had given up?

Failure in a moment does not equal failure for a lifetime.

From the roots of my own failure have sprung the tendrils of future success. I believed that my failure was equated with my identity. But I am reminded that my identity now rests in Christ. So I am encouraged to cast long and hard for whatever God has called me to do.

Failure can only defeat me when I quit, but if I use it as a spring board of motivation, then accomplishment could be right around the corner.

Going Deeper |

James 1:2-4; 2 Peter 1:5-8

Action Item |

Where has God asked you to go deeper? Decide to take the first step toward that calling. Have you experienced failure at something you thought God wanted you to do? Don't quit pursuing that goal.

Prayer |

Precious Lord, help me when I don't want to go on. Give me the grace to push forward, the courage to pursue You, and the wisdom to know what You desire for me. In Jesus name, Amen.

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What Race Are You Running?

New BeginningsMarci AnthonyComment
fix-your-eyes-on-Jesus-sowandgather.com

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2 ESV

2016 is a new year full of opportunities. As Christ-followers, we are called to go and make disciples, and share the good news of Christ. I have to admit that when I read this verse, I was convicted of the goals I was creating for the New Year.

What was I willing to risk for Jesus? What was I willing to do for Him? What race was I running? Unfortunately, many of my goals were centered on me and my plans, not on what God may have for me to do.

This verse gives me three reminders for the New Year:

  • lay aside every encumbrance and sin which easily entangles me,
  • run with endurance the race set before me, and
  • fix my eyes on Jesus.

I know how easily my sin can distract me from honoring, trusting, and obeying God in all things. Sin wears me down and keeps me from walking the path set before me. When obstacles or the culture become overwhelming, it can keep me from doing the work that God has already prepared in advance for me to do.

I will need endurance to run the race set before me. The only way I can endure is to stay in the Word of God every day and to be nourished by it. Just like I exercise to keep my body strong, I also need to keep my heart, soul and mind strong and guarded with truth.

I must fix my eyes on Jesus each and every day.

He is the true author and perfecter of my faith. When I focus on me, and run a race for myself, I don’t see the needs around me. There are so many people in my world who need to hear the truth: the truth that Jesus came to deliver them from sin, to heal their broken hearts, and to give them a new life in Him.

My prayer for you is to fix your eyes on Jesus this New Year, and be open to do the work He set before you. It may not be easy or convenient, often the opposite, but we serve a God who says, “Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the Lord your God is the one who goes with you.” (Deuteronomy. 31:6)

Run hard!

Dig Deeper |

Hebrews 11; Hebrews 10:36; 1 Corinthians 9:24; Romans 13:12

Action Item |

What is keeping you from running the race set before you?

Prayer |

Dear Lord, in this New Year, may my eyes be open to see You, and to be obedient to the leading of the Holy Spirit. Give me boldness and courage to share the Gospel and to not grow weary. Amen

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Fresh Beginnings - Following God's Plan for 2016

New BeginningsMarci AnthonyComment
morning-by-morning-new-mercies-i-see-sowandgather

His compassions are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:23 

I love new anything! I love a new book from my favorite author; I love fresh new snow; I love that I have a new beginning, Every . . . Single . . . Day!! We are told that “God’s compassions are new every morning…” (Lamentations 3:23) The thought of a fresh new start sounds so full of hope. Don’t we all need a “fresh new start” at some point? 

I think God knew we would need this “new” in our lives. That’s why in 2 Corinthians 5:17 we are reminded, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold all things have become new." Sometimes doesn’t the weight of our mistakes we made yesterday seem so heavy today? When you feel that way, go to Isaiah 43:18-19. It says, “Do not remember the former things nor consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing, now it shall spring forth…” God knew we would have days like that, and because of what Jesus did for us, we can have a fresh start, Every . . . Single . . . Day! The best news is that we don’t even have to wait for the next day. 

The mercies He provides each day are enough for every moment in that day! 

This time of year, after Thanksgiving and Christmas have passed, we begin thinking about starting a “new diet” or planning our “New Year’s Resolution." Most of us don’t make it to February with either one! Why don’t we do something “new” this year? Why don’t we simply appreciate the “new” in each day of the year and all that it holds? What “new” thing will God be doing in our lives that we will close out 2016 saying, “Wow! My God is amazing, look at all He did." 

Let’s let go of the old stuff that is holding us back, so, instead of planning for a “New Year’s resolution”, let’s simply take in each new day and see what God has already planned for us. For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for peace and not evil, to give you a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11) He won’t disappoint us by “quitting” in February, He will carry out His plans for us through the whole year! 

Join us at Sow & Gather in January 2016 for a look at fresh starts, new beginnings, and endurance for the race of life. 

Dig Deeper |

Ephesians 4:22-24; Ezekiel 36:26; Revelation 21:5 

Action Item |

In what area of your life do you need a fresh beginning? Are you ready for God to begin something new in you? 

Prayer |

Lord Jesus, thank you for this new year. For me, it is like fresh and untouched as new snow, but for You, You have already determined every single day. I wait on You with great anticipation to see what wonderful plans You have made for me. 

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How Can We Give Thanks Daily?

ThanksgivingMarci AnthonyComment
Give-Thanks-Daily-SowandGather

Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus I Thessalonians 5:18 NIV

If you had to rate yourself on a scale of one to ten, how grateful are you? Do you express your thankfulness to Jesus on a regular basis or only on holidays? And how well do you convey thanks to others? 

This past New Year’s Day I was reading the newspaper and I noticed an article on gratitude. The article spoke of a gentleman who conveyed thanks every day by hand writing a short note to an individual who had served him. Needless to say I was awed.  He wrote a note of thanks every day! I began to think how often I showed or even stated, “Thank you,” and I realized I fell very short. 

I was reminded of the above verse which states to give thanks always. So, I decided to implement gratitude in my life. 

Every day I began to thank Jesus for one thing, person, or event and I kept track of it by listing it on a calendar. I have started to hand write short notes of appreciation once a week to someone in my life who has served me or just showed care for me.

I have even become more cognizant of the waiters at restaurants, customer service representatives, landscapers or those that regularly provide a service for me and say, “Thank you.”  

It’s a beginning and I still struggle with communicating gratitude, but I’m glad I have begun to exercise this “command” in my life. 

Dig Deeper | 

Psalm 136; Psalm 100

Action Item | 

Do you express gratitude to Jesus on a regular basis? Do you convey thanks to others?  Begin to take steps to live a life grateful. 

Prayer | 

Dearest Jesus, thank you! Thank you for being my God and for loving me. Thank you for the people in my life and the many activities, privileges, and blessings you have given me. I am so grateful and I love you. Amen. 

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This post is part of the weekly #raralinkup with Kelly Balarie & Friends.