Sow & Gather

prayer

Only One Fight

reviewMarci AnthonyComment

Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 1 Timothy 6:12 (NIV) 

Middle school lurked on the horizon for my oldest son.  This would be uncharted territory for our family, and I must admit fear crept into my mind on occasion.  With all of the unknowns, all of the questions and all of the fears, I did have one comfort.  I KNEW the school that he would be attending.  The comfort of knowing teachers and even the building, created some sort of relaxation for me until that dreaded day.  The day I received notice from the school that the school lines had been redrawn and my son would be going to a different school.  Oh mercy, it seems so trivial as I look back, but in the moment, it felt like a giant problem.  I joined the other moms in the neighborhood and began a fight with the school district.  The fight felt like a worthy one in the moment.  Hindsight tells a different story-- a story of wasted time! 

Have you ever fought a fight you regretted? The description above is certainly one of many that I have participated in that goes down in the books as complete and utter lack of judgment.  Over the years, God has taught me a thing or two about fighting fights.  As I spend more and more time in HIS word and in HIS presence, I am discovering that God has amazing plans for believers regarding fighting. 

 According to God’s plan, there is only one fight to be fought.  It is, “The Good Fight of the faith.”  Recognize that in the verse above the word fight is singular.  There truly is only one fight worthy of our time. 

Our fight is not a physical fight but a spiritual one.  “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”  Ephesians 6:12 

As believers, we fight with spiritual weapons.  “The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.” 2 Corinthians 10:4

My dear sweet friends, with the culture in which we find ourselves, there is much to be angry about.  There is much to be upset about.  There is quite simply much to fight about.  BUT, there is only one fight that we are called to, the fight against satan. This very moment, satan and his dark forces are quite literally doing all they can do to destroy you, destroy your family and make you completely irrelevant. 

As Paul is sitting in prison in Rome, penning the letter to the Ephesians, he exhorts them to be ready to fight the good fight.  He gives them instruction in suiting up for battle with the full armor of God.  Then, he concludes by saying, “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. While it seems completely contrary to everything within us, the most powerful position in fighting this good fight is on our knees.  Moment by moment, calling out to the God of the universe, asking Him to fight for us, to go before us, to protect us, to use us, to empower us, to strengthen us and to make us ready for all. 

Even as I sit here typing, I am moved at the very thought of asking THE God to fight for me and to fight for my family.  I encourage you to resist the urged to get distracted with all that surrounds us in this incredibly perverse culture, and simply join God in conversation daily, continually.  Fight the Right Fight.  Choose well my friends. 

Digging deeper |

Ephesians 6

Action items |

Are you involved in battles that are “wasted time?”  Evaluate your schedule and determine if you are involved in fighting the good fight. 

Prayer |

Dear Jesus, fight for me!  Please give protection to my family.  Protect me from the attacks of satan.  Help me, Lord, to be relevant for you.  Help me to protect my time and to fight the good fight.  Amen.

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Desperate for Grace – Meeting Jesus At The Throne

RemindMarci AnthonyComment

Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrews 4:16 (NIV) 

“I can’t face this day,” my first thoughts on a drab Monday morning. 

The struggle to place my feet on the floor was intense.  As I walked through the bathroom, I avoided my reflection.  It simply was not a good weekend.  Speaking frankly, I messed up a lot.  I wasn’t a great mom and certainly not a great wife.  

I kept trying to tell myself, “It’s a new day!”  I wasn’t convinced.  I felt the pull in my soul to sit with Jesus, but I just couldn’t do it.  Guilt surrounded me as I went through the motions of making lunches, starting laundry and getting ready to workout.  Morning became noonday, and the ache in my spirit remained.  I desperately needed some grace.  I desperately needed a rescue.    

In my very own translation of scripture I was reminded that Jesus tells me to approach Him in my time of need.  Oh dear sister, I was in a great time of need.  I finally sat.  I began my approach.  “I’m sorry,” I whispered. 

Approaching the “throne of God’s grace” sounds intimidating, but if you have ever had a morning like mine, than you can think of no better place to be.  How amazing that the God of the universe offers a place I don’t deserve (grace) and a place where HE withholds what I do deserve (mercy).  The place where grace abounds is the only place we can run when we need forgiveness, hope and instruction.  Sitting with Jesus was truly my only hope of rescue on the Monday afternoon. 

My instinct was to stumble timidly to Jesus as I got ready to confess my sin.  As I meditated on Hebrews 4:16, Jesus, oh so clearly, told me to do the contrary; to run to him with incredible confidence.  That confidence, I discovered that day, did not resemble proud stomping, but a quiet run filled with the knowledge of rescue ahead. 

And so it began, with tears running down my face, I poured out my deepest, truest thoughts, feelings, and confessions. In my time of need, on my knees before Jesus, I found the grace I had avoided throughout the day.   

When you are covered in guilt and shame and are desperate for some grace and mercy, take it from a fellow sojourner, quietly run to the throne of God’s grace knowing rescue is ahead.

Digging Deeper |

Psalm 51 

Action item |

What are the actions in your life that keep you in a cycle of guilt?  Make a list of those items and confess them at the throne of grace today. 

Prayer |

Dear Jesus, I thank you for your grace and mercy.  I thank you that you provide a place of rescue.  Jesus, give me the strength to run to you confidently.  I confess my mistakes to you.  Amen.

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Living Water, More Than Just Refreshment

John, Life Of ChristMarci AnthonyComment

Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them. John 7:38 NIV 

Do you love water? Have you ever thought about how water affects your daily life? The thought crossed my mind the other day as I was casually taking a sip. I rarely give a thought to the significance of one of the most important resources we have. Did you know that water comprises more than 71% of the earth’s surface? Over 60% of our bodies are composed of water, and we need roughly 2-3 liters of water to survive every day.   

One of my favorite ways to relax is to sit and watch water. When I’m at the beach vacationing with my family, I love to find a shady spot and watch the ocean waves break over the shoreline. The sound water makes, whether it’s the roaring of the ocean or the trickling of a quiet stream, can be relaxing and peaceful. 

Water sounds and looks much different during a powerful storm or flood. It’s amazing to think of the power and strength behind one of God’s most versatile resources,  yet the simplicity behind this amazing powerhouse confirms that this is God’s design. The simple chemical compound of water, H2O, provides energy and fuel which packs a one-two power punch combination! 

So how does water relate to the Bible? Water is very important; it’s mentioned over 722 times and it bookends the Bible, beginning in Genesis 1:2 and ending with Revelation 22:17. In the Old Testament we see water mentioned mostly in its physical, tangible form-- rain, flood, and rivers. In the New Testament, Jesus uses it to describe spiritual salvation or “living” eternally with Christ. 

Jesus says in John 7:38, “Whoever believes in me…rivers of living water will flow from within them.” This passage illustrates how our belief in Jesus changes us. I love the imagery in the verse; it doesn’t mention a trickle of water, but instead says rivers of living water will flow from within. This spiritual water is cleansing and healing, it washes away the dirt and odors of our past and freshens and renews us, filling us with more than we could ever need. The image I picture is of a dam overflowing with water, unable to contain it within its concrete wall. 

When we are filled with living water and are living life the way God is directing us, that living water overflows and spills into those we interact with each day. The living water, as Jesus defines it, is contagious; it permeates every area of our lives. So as you drink that glass of water today, stop and think of Jesus and His example of living water. How can your joy for Christ spill over like living water today? 

Dig Deeper |

Read the story of the Samaritan Woman:  John 4:1-16 

Action Item |

Has your Christian walk hit a dry spell? Maybe you need some refreshment? Look for opportunities where you can serve or give back. This is a tangible way to stop focusing on yourself and instead, put the focus on others. When we see all of the needs around us, God can give us a renewed sense of purpose. Maybe you need some relaxation time. Put on some relaxing music (maybe it has some water sounds in the background) and peacefully sit and meditate on John 7:38.  

Prayer |

God, thank You for Your living water. Thank You for providing for my needs every day and for giving me what I need to survive physically and spiritually. God, help me to come into contact with those who need to be filled with Your living water.     

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In What Do You Delight?

PrayerMarci Anthony1 Comment

Delight yourself in the LORD and He will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4 NIV

Do you have children that are involved in extracurricular activities? Do you try to attend every event and activity they are a part of to encourage them and show them how much you love them? Along with these activities come the fundraisers, especially the fundraising suppers to create extra money for the group.  

This spring my son had one of those fundraiser suppers for the band at his high school.  My husband and I decided to attend and we purchased our tickets beforehand. As we were handing the tickets over to grab our supper, we were asked if we wanted to enter a drawing for various eateries in the area. At first I was not interested, but a prize for a gift certificate at a local restaurant that serves scrumptious breakfast caught my eye.  Yes, we wanted to enter and we received a few tickets with numbers printed on them. 

After enjoying our supper and gabbing with our friends, the drawing began. As in all contests, there was excitement and disappointment by all participating. But, I was waiting patiently for the one gift certificate for that special restaurant.  

Finally, the next drawing was the one I’d been waiting for. In that moment, I prayed a few short sentences.  I asked God to allow me to obtain the gift certificate. I told him I wanted it. Please God?  

In that instant my number was called and I won the gift certificate! Woohoo!! God answered my short prayer and gave me the desire of my heart.  I stood up with excitement and dashed to the front to grab the certificate.  I laughed out loud and yelled, “Alright!!!” 

I ran back to the table and in my excitement told everyone that I had prayed to Jesus. I had asked for the certificate and He said “ yes!”  He truly is an awesome God.  He gives us more than we ever need, and He loves to give us the desires of our heart. 

What happened next surprised me. My friends at the table asked me to pray for them to win, too. Isn’t that interesting? I prayed. God gave me my desire and I was able to share Jesus to all those around me. 

He is a delightful God. 

Dig Deeper |

James 5:13-16

Action Item: 

Do you pray? When you pray, do you ask just for your needs or for your desires as well? Go ahead, ask.

Prayer |

Dear Jesus, You are truly an incredible God. Thank You for allowing me to talk with You through prayer. Let me never forget, You answer our prayers. You provide for our needs and at times, You delight in fulfilling our desires.  Amen.

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Loving With Prayer

loveMarci Anthony1 Comment

And some men were carrying on a bed a man who was paralyzed, and they were trying to bring him in and to set him down in front of Him.  But not finding any way to bring him in because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and let him down through the tiles with his stretcher into the middle of the crowd, infront of Jesus. Luke 5:18-19  (NASB)

Just recently I heard a Christian say that they wished they could go to church without having to listen to so many prayer requests.  To be completely honest, I was stunned that such sentiment even existed in the Christian community among believers in Christ.  Only to realize that I am just as guilty when I tell people I will pray for them, but forget the very instant I leave their presence. 

The act of prayer is the simplest and yet most powerful thing we can do to show our love for one another. However, it seems that in our busyness, we simply do not wish to be bothered with the needs of others or take the time to present these requests to Jesus.  I am certain this paralyzed man in the book of Luke would have a much different opinion.   

I can tell you for sure that the qualities I see in this man's friends are the qualities that we would all want in a friend.  They obviously did not let busyness keep them from carrying their friend to Jesus so that he might have the possibility of healing.  They weren't even discouraged by the fact there were circumstances which made the task seem impossible.  They clearly were determined. If there was a chance, even a tiny possibility, then they were going to find a way for their friend to see and experience this God-man who was able to heal the sick and make the lame walk again. 

They had hope that Jesus would do what seemed impossible at the time. 

Even now as I write this, I am overwhelmed with how often I give up much too soon in praying for my friends who don't call Jesus Savior.  Unlike these men, we don't experience problems with crowd control at the throne of Christ, but there are still obstacles. Obstacles like work, family, church, friends, sports, etc. 

Like the friends who had to develop a new strategy to carry their friend to Christ, I must set aside a tile of time, openingan opportunity through which I have the honor and privilege to lift my friends needs into the presence ofChrist Jesus.   

Dig Deeper |

Esther 4:13-16; Acts 2:42 

Action Item |

Discipline yourself this week by setting aside a specific time to pray for the people God has placed in your life. 

Prayer |

O God, we know that without you we could not survive.  Remind us this week to pray for those who need to experience You as Savior.  Recall to our memory those who may have physical, emotional, or other needs so that we can carry those requests to You.  Help us to be determined to find time to love one another in this way.  In Jesus name, Amen. 

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God’s Word Nourishes

New BeginningsMarci AnthonyComment
God's Word Nourishes #sowandgather #newbeginnings

Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.  1 Peter 2:2-3  NIV

There is nothing more precious than watching a new born instinctively search for their mother’s milk which God designed perfectly for them to thrive.  

Spiritual milk is the sweet word of Christ in which believers also instinctively search for and grow in grace in their walk with Him. The word “craving” or “desire,” in other translations, means to yearn, intensely crave, earnestly desire and long after.  

Just as milk is physical nourishment for a baby, God’s Word is spiritual nourishment for the heart and mind. In Proverbs 4, it says that “God’s Word is life to those who find it and health to a man’s whole body.” 

If I am to grow in my walk with Christ, then I need to fill myself with His truth daily. I need God’s Word because it is living and active and it penetrates my soul and spirit, joints, and marrow (Hebrews 4:12). 

There have been many times I have desired worldly nourishment and not the life-giving water found in Christ. My supply never lasts and always leaves me feeling unsatisfied, weary, and longing for something else. 

Having tasted the goodness, kindness, and graciousness of the Lord, His Word not only fills me, but leaves me yearning for more of Him. I pray that above everything else, I would earnestly desire Him. What are you craving today? 

Dig Deeper |

1 Corinthians 3:2; Hebrew 4:12Hebrews 6:4-5

Action Item |

Ask God to give you a desire for His nourishing Word daily. 

Prayer |

Dear Father, thank you for Your Word that nourishes my heart and mind. May my cravings only be for You. Amen. 

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Discerning & Praying--Praying With Thanks

Conversations with GodMarci AnthonyComment
Want To Hear From God Pray with Thanksgiving #prayer #thanksgiving

Give thanks to the LORD, call on His name; make known among the nations what He has done.  Psalm 105:1 (NIV) 

Eating an amazing meal or drinking a wonderful cup of coffee with a dear friend while chatting about life is such a delight. During this conversation, you tell each other everything, all the exciting moments as well as the struggles.  At times I have laughed outrageously and cried uncontrollably, both within the same conversation.    

Prayer, or talking with Jesus is the same. We have the privilege of pouring our hearts out to Jesus, discussing the ups and downs of our lives, as well as stopping and listening to discern His voice.  Our prayers consist of adoring and praising Him, confessing our wrong-doings, thanking Him and interceding for others.  

Recently, I have been contemplating how thankful I am to God. I know I give thanks during the holidays, but what about the rest of the year? Am I thankful and do I express it to the Giver of all things? Is my pride, or even apathy, getting in the way of communicating thanks to God? Sadly, the answer is yes to all three questions. 

So, I decided I would practice giving thanks through prayer every day. I knew I needed something tangible that would help me to be accountable to myself and to Jesus. At first, I grabbed a calendar and decided to write and pray for one thing each day that I was thankful for.  (It had to be only one thing since the block on the calendar was so small!) Funny, right! I tried again and this time I found a journal and decided to write and pray about at least five things. I have discovered most days I pray for more than five, including the smallest details of life. I have thanked Him for everything from the comfortable sheets on my bed to the miraculous healing of a friend.  

This prayer of thanks is one of the final activities of my day. Usually, I am lying in bed scribbling words of thanks, calling out to our great LORD, calling, “thank you, Jesus!” 

Dig Deeper |

Colossians 4:2; 1 Timothy 2:1; Philippians 4:6 

Action Item |

Begin a prayer journal of thanks to God. 

Prayer |

Dear LORD, You are truly a great God. Thank You for loving me and for all the blessings of life. Help me to express my thanks to You every day. Amen. 

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Waiting Patiently On God

Conversations with GodMarci AnthonyComment
I'm Learning To Wait On God #prayer #sowandgather

Those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength. Isaiah 40:13 NASB

Once when my daughter was small, we were traveling in the car where it seems little minds dream up demands at will. Finally, after about twenty jillion requests, in exasperation I said, "You're just gonna have to wait!" To which she replied, "I can't!"  "And why not?" I asked. "Because my wait has run off into the woods and I can't find it." 

While that was a creative way to express impatience, I find that I am less creative when I am waiting on God to provide direction for me. I find that I become increasingly anxious hoping that God is listening. I finally at some point convince myself that I know what is best and plow ahead. Listening to this lie always creates more trouble in my life than it solves, because God's plans are perfect just like Him. 

What I really need is to let God be my pace car. In NASCAR, a pace car comes out to control the speed on the track so that cars are protected from unseen obstructions ahead. Often when God tells me to wait, what He is really asking is for me to trust Him. He knows what is ahead and in His love He is trying to guide me to where I need to be.   

When I was a teenager, I experienced some of the most difficult periods of waiting. During that time, this poem by J. Danson Smith became a real comfort: 

Waiting! Yes, patiently waiting! 

Till next steps made plain shall be; 

To hear, with the inner hearing 

The Voice that will call for me. 

Waiting! Yes, hopefully waiting! 

With hope that need not grow dim; 

The Master is pledged to guide me, 

And my eyes are unto Him. 

Waiting! Expectantly waiting! 

Perhaps it may be today 

The Master will quickly open 

The gate to my future way. 

Waiting! Yes, waiting! still waiting! 

I know, though I've waited long, 

That, while He withholds His purpose, 

His waiting cannot be wrong. 

Waiting! Yes, waiting! still waiting! 

The Master will not be late; 

He knoweth that I am waiting 

For Him to unlatch the gate. 

Dig Deeper |

Isaiah 40:21-31

Action Item |

Practice trusting God about important decisions during periods of high anxiety. He is a good God and will not let you go wrong if you wait on Him. 

Prayer |

Father God, I pray to You, just as David in Psalm 27, that You will help my heart to take courage in You, and that I will be strong in difficult circumstances because You, oh Lord, are my salvation. Thank you for being my Guide. Help me to trust You more and wait on Your perfect timing. In Jesus Name, Amen. 

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This post is part of the #livefreeThursday linkup with Susie Eller.

How Can I Discern God's Voice

Conversations with GodMarci AnthonyComment
How Can I Discern God's Voice? #prayer #sowandgather

Be still and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10 NIV

Would you describe yourself as someone who loves to get up early when the sun rises and the birds begin to chatter or someone who loves the quietness of night when the moon shines through your window?  

I am definitely a night person. I enjoy staying up into the night watching movies, reading an intense book and at times just contemplating the world. It is also my time to study the Bible and converse with Jesus. I have found that the peacefulness of the evening is a time when I can quiet my soul and just be still. I am able to think and really mediate on Jesus and pour out my soul to Him.  

This stillness allows me to also listen to Him. As I read and study His word and communicate with Him through prayer and genuinely listen, I am able to discern His way for me. In Isaiah 30:21 it states, “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” My ears have to be ready to actively listen to His voice and not to my family or friends or the circumstances around me. 

In the Bible a man named Elijah surveyed his circumstance and ran for his life from an evil queen, Jezebel, who wanted to take his life. He ran for forty days and forty nights until he reached a cave. God appeared to Elijah not in a wind which tore mountains apart and shattered rock or an earthquake or even a raging fire. God came to Elijah in a gentle whisper. In this whisper, God instructed Elijah to go back from where he came for He was with him. 

So, just like Elijah I have to put away the turmoil of life, be still, and listen for the voice of Jesus and His instructions for me.  

Dig Deeper |

I Kings 18:16-19:18

Action Item |

Take a moment to be still and listen!! 

Prayer |

Dear Jesus, You are truly an awesome, powerful God but also an intimate, relational God. At times I find it so difficult to be still, but I know without this I am unable to hear you. Help me to be quiet and listen for your voice. Amen. 

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How Do I Take A Soul Break?

Conversations with GodMarci AnthonyComment
How To Take A Soul Break #meditation #prayer #sowandgather

Let my meditation be pleasing to Him; As for me, I shall be glad in the LORD. Psalm 104:34 NASB

My coffee brews too fast. What? That's a sentence I never thought I would say.  

Instead of using my drip coffee maker all the time, sometimes I actually like to put on the kettle and have a "cup-a" instant coffee or hot tea. While the water boils, I sit on the worn rug in the entryway of my house with streaks of sunshine dancing across my face. 

In my haste for caffeine, I discovered that one burner heats the kettle much faster. It's only a few minutes before the slow rattle and full blown whistle comes from the spout. If you have an old-fashioned kettle, you know the whistle is loud enough to shock the senses and wake the neighbors. 

In this fast moving world, faster coffee or tea sounds better as I'm rushing for the door each morning.  

What if, for just a day, I decide that while the water heats I'll sit quietly with my God and try and recharge my soul before the day breaks loose? What if, before my coffee break, I take a "soul break"? 

Sitting for just a few moments soaking in the sunshine, stretching my tired muscles, and doing nothing is a luxury – even for a few moments. I know my whole day is better when I take a 5, 10, or 15 minute Soul Break in the morning. 

It's the time in the day when I can have a conversation with Jesus. My Soul Break is the place to praise God and ask Him the tough questions. It's a brief respite where I stop long enough to draw near to Jesus and hear what he has to say. Sometimes I marinate or meditate on a single verse of scripture. Other times I just sit and wait. The real goal of the Soul Break is listening. Wait for what you ask? It's taking the time to wait for and hear that Voice. To hear that still small voice deep inside my gut. The Voice that guides me. If I'm attuned to the Voice, it controls my thoughts, emotions, and actions for the day. 

Do you need some help sitting still and taking your Soul Break? Author Emily P. Freeman has a great resource to get you started. For free you can access Seven Days of Still Moments. Each recording is under 5 minutes. You can listen on the computer or download to your phone. This is a great place to start if you want help creating the habit of a "Soul Break". 

Dig Deeper|

Psalm 139; Psalm 117

Action Item |

Select one or two verses from the Dig Deeper section and write them on a notecard. Use the verses as a starting point each day for the next week for meditating on God's word. 

Prayer |

Dear God, I praise your holy name. Your mercy and loving-kindness are great toward us. The truth and faithfulness of the Lord endures forever. Praise the Lord! Amen. 

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What I Learned From My Red Shoes

Conversations with GodMarci AnthonyComment
What I Learned From My Red Shoes #sowandgather

Your ears will hear a word behind you, "This is the way, walk in it." Isaiah 30:21 NASB

Discerning God's voice is a topic that has been puzzling man for thousands of years, beginning with characters in the Bible such as Gideon.  Perhaps like me, you have experienced times when it felt like God was hiding and you were unable to see clearly the path He desired you to take. 

I have learned that the first step to discerning God's voice is to identify sin that may be hindering my ability to hear Him accurately.  As a believer, I have been made right with God and from His perspective, sin does not change that.  Though scripture is clear I should not sin intentionally.  However, practicing sin is like wearing a new pair of shoes.   

I have always wanted to have a pair of red shoes.  This may sound funny to some but I am not very fashion forward and often my shoes are the neutral colors of black, brown, or white.  So believe me, red is outrageous in my closet.  During one of my web-surfing sessions, I had been looking at cute red flats and I decided to jump in the deep end and buy a pair.  A few days later, I put them on and they felt comfortable.  Being compelled to wear them, I picked out an ensemble to wear with them for the next day.    

About mid-morning, I noticed that my shoes were pinching the back of my heels, and by the end of the day, I had blisters the size of Texas.  When I healed, calluses formed in those places so my feet were less sensitive to the damage the shoe was causing. 

Just like those shoes, sin can seem exciting and fun but it causes us to develop spiritual calluses that reduce our sensitivity to the Holy Spirit.  The more I practice that sin, the less I am able to hear from God because I am not in tune with His Spirit.   

Through David, God gave us a guide on how to approach seeing sin. Psalm 139:23-24 says, "Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxious thoughts; and see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way." 

What I find really interesting about this scripture is that David is calling on Elohim.  This is the name of God that encompasses the character of God as revealer.  He knows all things and everything about me so He is able to reveal to me any areas where sin lives and prevents me from being sensitive to His voice.   

Isaiah 30 gives us a glimpse of how God responds to those who turn away from sin.  He promises to stop hiding Himself and to say, "This is the way, walk in it." 

Dig Deeper |

Isaiah 30

Action Item |

Spend time praying Psalm 139 and listening to God as He shows you what needs to change in your life. 

Prayer |

God, search me and know my heart.  Try me and know my anxious thoughts.  Show me if there is any sin in my life.  Lead me in Your paths for Your name's sake.  In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

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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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Up For the Challenge?

Conversations with God, PrayerMarci Anthony1 Comment
Are You Up For God's Challenge? #conversationswithgod #sowandgather

For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.  Matthew 7:14 ESV

A couple of years ago I had the opportunity to serve in a church ministry as a volunteer working with the leadership team.  Coming from the corporate world, I was ready to utilize all my skills in this new adventure, and had already envisioned implementing change and executing new ideas.   

To my dismay, my plans and my ideas were not needed in the area I had envisioned.  What I was being asked to do was totally not what I had been hoping for, and I also felt that I lacked the proper skill set.   

This was not the plan I had envisioned; this was going to be too hard, and this was not convenient.  I’m embarrassed to say I’ve said these statements more than once in my life.  God has a funny way of turning my picture-perfect expectations into challenges.  But, I’ve come to learn that this is one way I know it is Him speaking to me.  I’m sure Noah didn’t expect to build an ark, Moses didn’t expect to lead the people out of Egypt, and Mary didn’t expect to be the mother of the Messiah.  Why should we expect any different?  Maybe because we want the comfortable, easy route-- at least I know I do at times. 

The challenge is part of the plan.  God wants us to reach our full spiritual potential as followers of Christ, and so we will often be challenged by the things He calls us to do.   

Author and speaker Priscilla Shirer says, “Putting extraordinary tasks on the plates of ordinary people so that ordinary people can see what an extraordinary God can do through them.  That is the purpose behind His challenge – to allow His children to see His power in the challenge.” 

Just taking on the easy things will never grow me, and will never force me to rely on Him only.  Most importantly, He will not be glorified.  I love this verse because it reminds me that the gate is narrow and the path is hard that leads to life.  It is not the comfortable, easy route. 

Maybe you are being asked to do something that seems challenging and are wondering if this could be of God.  Don’t keep trying to ignore what He may be telling you to do.  Keep seeking Him, and He will make Himself clear.  Remember – challenges are part of the plan! 

Dig Deeper |

Exodus 3:10-122 Corinthians 12:9

Action Item |

Take time this week to listen to what God is saying through His Word, His Spirit and through the circumstances around you.  The very thing you thought you couldn’t do, God can. 

Prayer |

Dear Father, I’m so grateful for all the times You have pushed me beyond my own limits to show me Your glorious power.  Who am I that You would allow me to be a part of Your amazing plan?  Give me the ears to hear YOU speak and the courage to take the first step.  Amen

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Who Do You Call?

PrayerMarci AnthonyComment
#sowandgather #prayer Call To Me And I Will Answer You. Jeremiah

Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know. Jeremiah 33:3

Cell phones are everywhere. It’s hard to look back and think about a time when we didn’t have cell phones. Those of us who have been around a while can reminisce and recall moments in our past when it would have been nice to have had a cell phone handy. 

Most of us can’t imagine what life would be like without a cell phone. If you want to test this theory, just put it down and walk away for 10 minutes and see if your pulse doesn’t start racing and your ears perk up to try and hear the magical ding of an incoming text or email. We are connected to our cell phones 24/7. A rather extreme example of this was when I was in a public restroom the other day and heard a woman talking to someone on her cell phone. I’m sure that was an interesting conversation for the person on the other end. 

Have you ever thought about what life would be like if we put our cell phones down and instead got on our knees and prayed to God? He’s listening all the time, waiting for us to call out to Him so He can share all of the blessings He has for us. Yet we fail to call out to Him so many times. Instead, we pick up our cell phone to call a friend when we should be calling out to God. When is the last time you brought your phone to the dinner table to check if you had received a text? Did you take time before the meal to call out to God and thank Him for providing you with the food you were about to eat? 

Our culture is so dependent on technology that we fail to recognize and call out to our Creator. Ironically, when we leave the house, we leave God behind. We wouldn’t dare leave home without our dearly beloved cell phone. I am by far not perfect in this area for as I sit here typing my cell phone sits right next to my computer. 

God is far more powerful than any technologically advanced cell phone and He is ready to answer the call we when need Him. Don’t leave God behind when you leave the house; take Him with you and reach out to Him throughout the day. Allow your ears to be tuned to His calling instead of your cell phone. 

Dig Deeper |

Psalm 91:5

Action Item |

What areas of your life do you need to call out to God for help? Have you stopped to listen to His calling this week? 

Prayer |

Heavenly Father, help me to call out to You and turn to You for help. Tune my ears to Your calling. Allow me to take time out of my busy day to talk to You and hear Your voice. 

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Come To Jesus When You Need A Break

EasterMarci AnthonyComment
Come-To-Jesus-When-You-Need-A-Break sowandgather.com #sowandgather #Easter

He will cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you will find refuge. Psalm 91:4 (NIV)

“I just want to crawl in a hole,” my sweet friend shared with me recently. Voicing what many feel in a variety of circumstances, she truly needs an escape. A deep feeling of sorrow surrounded me for this precious woman. She is facing many life struggles and difficult decisions. As I drove away from the conversation, my mind was flooded with the times I too have felt overwhelmed by life’s trials.

Women face a variety of struggles. The marriage relationship presents challenges through battles of the will, selfishness, and unmet needs. Parenthood brings a variety of insecurities, anxieties and indecision. Life itself, with our jobs, our outside commitments and even our daily routines, can sometimes overwhelm us.

All women have moments that lure them to the need for an escape.

We are overwhelmed with options when needing this escape! We can go with the Forest Gump solution and, “Run, sister, Run!” We can choose the Hollywood option and get the Oscar for faking it! We can take the Eeyore option and simply know that it won’t get better. Possibly, we can go with the, “It’s all about me” option and do as much as we can to feel pretty, relaxed, and fulfilled.

God offers us another option for escape. You see, in His divine knowledge, He knew we would, at times need an escape, a refuge. He very simply says,” when you need this refuge, COME TO ME”. Coming to Him doesn’t have to involve a physical action. It is a basic action of the heart and spirit.

Are you feeling like you want to crawl in a hole? If so there is truly only one escape that will give you true refuge; talk to Jesus. Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, in your heart and spirit, go to Him now.

Digging Deeper |

Psalm 18

Action item |

What do you feel you need to escape from? List those life struggles and talk to Jesus about them now. Ask Him for wisdom. Resist the urge to escape in ways that will not truly help you.

Prayer |

Dear Jesus, you are our place of escape, our refuge. Let me hide here in your presence for just this moment so that I can receive your strength and power. Jesus give me a vision for my future and the hope that only you can give. Amen.

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Desperate for Grace – Meeting Jesus At The Throne

grace, EasterMarci AnthonyComment
Meet Jesus At The Throne sowandgather.com #sowandgather

Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of needHebrews 4:16 (NIV)

“I can’t face this day,” my first thoughts on a drab Monday morning.

The struggle to place my feet on the floor was intense. As I walked through the bathroom, I avoided my reflection. It simply was not a good weekend. Speaking frankly, I messed up a lot. I wasn’t a great mom and certainly not a great wife.

I kept trying to tell myself, “It’s a new day!” I wasn’t convinced. I felt the pull in my soul to sit with Jesus, but I just couldn’t do it. Guilt surrounded me as I went through the motions of making lunches, starting laundry and getting ready to workout. Morning became noonday, and the ache in my spirit remained. I desperately needed some grace. I desperately needed a rescue.

In my very own translation of scripture I was reminded that Jesus tells me to approach Him in my time of need. Oh dear sister, I was in a great time of need. I finally sat. I began my approach. “I’m sorry,” I whispered.

Approaching the “throne of God’s grace” sounds intimidating, but if you have ever had a morning like mine, than you can think of no better place to be. How amazing that the God of the universe offers a place I don’t deserve (grace) and a place where HE withholds what I do deserve (mercy). The place where grace abounds is the only place we can run when we need forgiveness, hope and instruction. Sitting with Jesus was truly my only hope of rescue on the Monday afternoon.

My instinct was to stumble timidly to Jesus as I got ready to confess my sin. As I meditated on Hebrews 4:16, Jesus, oh so clearly, told me to do the contrary; to run to him with incredible confidence. That confidence, I discovered that day, did not resemble proud stomping, but a quiet run filled with the knowledge of rescue ahead.

And so it began, with tears running down my face, I poured out my deepest, truest thoughts, feelings, and confessions. In my time of need, on my knees before Jesus, I found the grace I had avoided throughout the day.

When you are covered in guilt and shame and are desperate for some grace and mercy, take it from a fellow sojourner, quietly run to the throne of God’s grace knowing rescue is ahead.

Digging Deeper |

Psalm 51

Action item |

What are the actions in your life that keep you in a cycle of guilt? Make a list of those items and confess them at the throne of grace today.

Prayer |

Dear Jesus, I thank you for your grace and mercy. I thank you that you provide a place of rescue. Jesus, give me the strength to run to you confidently. I confess my mistakes to you. Amen.

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How Do We Develop a Unified Spirit With Our Spouse?

loveMarci AnthonyComment
a-cord-of-three-strands-is-not-quickly-broken-sowandgather.com #love

Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. Ecclesiastes 4:12

Looking back on twenty years of marriage, life with my husband has been an adventure. Some adventures have been easier than others. Jobs have come and gone, houses on both coasts have bought and sold, children have been raised up, and storms have been weathered.

During one particular season, my husband was offered a job that didn’t give me a feeling of peace. I had strong opinions about what was the right decision thus causing great dissension in our marriage.

Thankfully, he and I were plugged in and sharing life with other couples from our church. During one of our meetings, our leader challenged my husband and me to begin praying together and asking the Lord to unite our hearts and spirit to Him.

At first, praying with my husband felt awkward and uncomfortable because I had been fighting unity in our marriage. Honestly, I had built up a wall that I didn’t want to take down.

But then I began to ask God to “search my heart and test my anxious thoughts” (Psalm 139:23), and to unify my heart's desires with His.

It was then that God revealed my pride and rebellious will. My heart needed to fully submit to the Spirit and to my husband. “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” Ephesians 5:21

I’m not going to tell you that all was well overnight, but I kept praying with my husband together on our knees and confessing our sins. My submission to the Lord and to my husband freed me from the pride that was holding me back.

In the end, my husband took the job. Three months later, he was let go from that job.

This verse is a reminder that “a cord of three strands is not quickly broken,” and neither was my marriage. God had prepared us and our marriage to withstand the storm together, unified in Him.

Dig Deeper |

Ephesians 4:2-3, Mark 10:6-9

Action Item |

What is keeping you from being unified with your husband? Ask the Lord to show you the walls you have built.

Prayer |

Dear Lord, I know that when I confess my sins, you are faithful and will forgive my sins and purify my heart. Please protect my heart, my marriage, and unify my heart together with Yours. Amen.

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