A simple question

Friday, February 26, 2021

First outing as a mom of 3 in 2012

The Lord descended in the cloud and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the Lord. The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children's children, to the third and the fourth generation.” 

Exodus 34:5-7 (ESV)


Motherhood taught me many lessons. The main lesson I learned in 2012 was the power of simple questions. I had a newborn, a 1-year-old and a 3-year old. If you don’t know what that means, let me put it like this: I was changing three diapers.

I was also faced with the same challenges I had before. C-section recovery, nursing issues and how to deal with difficult people in my life.

 

In the midst of my reality, I was encouraged to answer a simple question.  What is the Character of God concerning my current situation? 

 

I had to take time to think about the answer. Questions are doorways to solutions. They require time from us. The time we invest in God’s presence, will guarantee a change of perspective. 

 

Moses was facing a big problem when he went up Mount Sinai a second time to meet with God. The people made a golden calf claiming that the idol brought them out of Egypt. Moses gets mad. God gets furious at the people. 

When Moses makes intercession for the people of Israel, something amazing happens. God reveals His Character to Moses. He reveals Himself as the LORD, merciful, gracious, slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness. He is a God who forgives sin and iniquity but by no means He ignores sin.  That’s His Character. 

When humans face problems, they just want them fixed. We treat God the same way. What the simple question I am suggesting does is offer a different way to connect with a good God who wants to reveal Himself to us. 

 

What is the Character of God concerning your current situation? I gained a new perspective and renewed trust when I pushed myself to answer this simple question. I found God to be gentle in leading me as a mother of young children (Is. 40:11). I found God to be a healer. When it came with my problems with dealing with difficult people, I learned that God loves them too. He doesn’t avoid them. 

I found myself repenting. I learned I needed to be more loving and longsuffering as God’s character is so beautifully displayed in the Bible. 

 

Dear friend, have you ever thought about the character of God in your current situation?


I am certain that the challenges that you face are meant to make you grow and mature. True maturity is attached to learning who God is. 


I encourage you to ask: What is the Character of God concerning my current situation? Open your Bible and see what God says about Himself.


Prayer: God, in every season, you are for me. Forgive me for going through life without asking myself how You want me to handle my difficulties. Show me your Character as I go through this day. I ask in faith knowing that You are a God who reveals Himself to us through your precious Word. In Jesus’ name, Amen. 


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Put in a good word

Thursday, February 25, 2021

My parents Jose and Sueli. My mother is holding me,
my father is holding my older sister. The year is 1980.

 “Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad.” Proverbs 12:25 (ESV)

My father grew up in a time when words had weight. As a matter of fact, my father’s words were worth people’s livelihood. 

My father always helps others. When he knows someone in our community needs a job, he speaks to someone who can give that person a job. Over the past 50 years, my dad’s words were used to give people great jobs in Brasil. 


My father also uses his words to encourage young people to pursue education. He encouraged people to dream and think about what they can achieve 5 to 10 years from now. He gives special books to people in his audience who would share what their dreams for the future are. My dad is my visual example that words have the power to uplift. 


Your words have that same power. The Bible says so. Today’s scripture speaks about how we can eliminate anxiety from a person’s heart. We can use our words to uplift. 


My favorite words are the ones I find in the Bible. I often share  Bible verses with friends who need encouragement. When I pray with people, use the words of the Bible. God’s word is powerful to encourage us.  


I heard someone say that the most influential person in our lives is ourselves because we are always listening to our own thoughts. 

Every so often I make an experiment with myself. If I have a bad attitude about something (from chores to overcommitments), I trace the source of my thoughts. 

Words are powerful, whether we hear them or speak them to someone else. I see Proverbs 12:25 as a reminder to be encouraging to others constantly. It is true that we never know what people are going through but we are reminded to put in a good word. 

One of the rewards for putting in a good word is found in Proverbs 11:25: you will be refreshed! Remember that you reap the encouragement you sow.

Whether you or someone you encourager is suffering with anxiety, put in a good word. Choose the words of the Bible. Be like my dad: do it intentionally. 

 

Action Items:

• Take time today to trace the thought patterns that led to a bad attitude. Repent and ask God to help you have His heart towards the issue you face.

• Look at the garden of your life and count how many seeds of encouragement you have planted this year. If your count is low, get to planting more!

• Put in a good word. Write them on a card and put them in the mail. Text a Bible verse to a friend. You will be so blessed in your doing. 


Prayer: Jesus, you have words of life. We live in an anxious world and our thoughts are sometimes filled with anxiety. Know our anxious thoughts. Guide us in your everlasting way of peace. We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen. 


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The evidence of progress

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

"Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all." 1 Timothy 4:15 (NKJV)


I was sitting on the fourth pew of a small Rio de Janeiro church waiting for service to start. Our row was almost full as I was squeezed between my cousin and older sister. Two acquaintances joined us. One of them started talking to my cousin. I smiled at her. She said, “that girl sure looks like Cintia.”” I replied: “That's me!” She was surprised as she said, "I did not recognize you! You have lost so much weight!"


All of the effort I put into losing weight was bearing fruit. It was evident that I was making progress because visually, I was a different person.


This morning I want to encourage you to keep making progress in your spiritual journey. Much like in my health journey, there is evidence to be seen and enjoyed by those around you when you choose not to complain.


In today's Bible passage Paul is encouraging Timothy to be an example in word, conduct, love, in spirit, faith, and purity. He goes on to say "Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all." 1 Timothy 4:15

 

I believe that when my spiritual progress is evident to all, my words and my conduct will be an expression of that progress. Timothy was a leader and as a mother, I am leading my children.


I believe that my home is the first and main place where the benefits of my spiritual progress can be experienced and enjoyed. To put it plainly, home folk will be the first ones to notice your transformation.


This passage taught me that Biblical meditation and total dedication precede progress. I was almost unrecognizable to my peers because of a lengthy process and dedication to a plan. Think about your spiritual journey. Can those around you see a difference in you? Do you have a growth plan and a process?


In order to be an example in word, conduct, love, spirit, faith, and purity, it is necessary to be dedicated to God's way of doing things. God's way is our process. It includes Bible reading and other spiritual disciplines.


This kind of spiritual progress will bring glory to God and will help our families first. I am certain that my family can benefit from encouraging words. I know they can benefit from my peaceful, kind conduct. What about your family?


God is glorified when His children resemble Him in every way. Let's strive to look like God in our speech.


This kind of progress is not about selfish purposes but is about embracing Godly character and conduct. 


Have you ever given yourself entirely to a process and found success at the end? How can this approach help you in your spiritual journey?


Prayer: Lord, I want to change. But you will have to change me. I submit to your process. Help me to give myself entirely to you through Prayer, Bible reading, studying, and other Godly practices. I pray that these changes will glorify you and bless those closest to me. In Jesus’ name, Amen. 


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The day I became a gardener


The western North Carolina sun was hot above my head. I looked down at my 9-month pregnant belly. In my hands, I held a variety of seeds I bought from the store. I decided that was the day I would become a gardener. 


I planted 4 varieties of seeds. Only one was fruitful: zucchini. After eating every zucchini recipe under the sun, I wondered what happened to the other seeds. They were simply unfruitful. 


Complaints are like seeds. They are either fruitful or unfruitful. Today I want to tell you about David’s fruitful complaint in Psalm 142. 


David had a complaint. He did the first thing that everyone who practices fruitful complaints knows. You have to talk to someone who can actually do something about it. 


  1. David cried to the Lord - God is the ultimate problem solver. You and I know He uses people but you can’t skip this first step. Tell God what is bothering you. 

  2. David pleads for mercy - I don’t know exactly what David’s complaint was but it required God’s mercy. When you are a famous king, it requires humility to plead for mercy. May we have the same posture when we go before God. 

  3. David pours out the complaint - He not only poured out his complaint but David told God his troubles. Have you thought about taking your time and really giving God details about what your complaint entails? I recommend extra time in prayer to be sure you get all the details in. I believe that God has all the time to hear us if we spend enough time in His presence. Arrive 20 minutes earlier in the prayer closet this week.

  4. God will deal bountifully with David - this is a statement of faith. This is a statement of trust in God’s character. No matter the trouble, no matter the complaint, God will help immensely. 


I believe that spending time telling God about what is bothering you is very fruitful. God will give you all you need: wisdom, love and even exhortation. 


Yes. Sometimes, it’s not the other person’s fault. Sometimes, we the ones who are wrong. It requires a good dose of humility to accept this reality.


My challenge for you today is to spend habitual, extra time in God’s presence. Be sure to cry out to Him. Plead for mercy with your very words. Pour out your complaint and tell him all your troubles. God will be faithful to deal bountifully with you. He’s good like that. 


Prayer: God, may my complaint be fruitful. You hear prayers. You care for me and you will deal bountifully with me. I cast my cares on you because you care for me. In Jesus’ name, Amen. 


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Trip to the Bakery

Monday, February 22, 2021

 

Now the rabble that was among them had a strong craving. And the people of Israel also wept again and said, “Oh that we had meat to eat!”

Numbers 11: 4 (ESV) 


I’m one of five children. As the second eldest, I was old enough to go to the bakery to buy fresh-baked bread for breakfast and snacks. The bakery was a good half a mile away from our home in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. 


I wasn’t always excited to make that trip. Because I was the kid who woke up the earliest, I was often asked to go to the bakery. 


One day, my mom heard me murmur about my trip to the bakery. She reminded me of how seriously God takes murmuring. She also reminded me of what happened to the Israelites when they murmured in Numbers 11. In order to send me with a good thought, she quoted Philippians 2:14 (Do all things without grumbling or disputing…)


My mother’s reminder not to complain was a deep conviction of hers. She successfully passed conviction to me because she used Bible verses as a teaching tool. As an adult, I’ve been studying the Bible for a few years.


Every time study Numbers 11, I pause and ask, “what kind of mess is this?!” Here are formerly enslaved people who have seen God’s amazing signs and wonders complaining about their bellies being full.

Oh, they were not hungry. They just didn’t have the variety of food they had back in Egypt. Here’s what they said:


We remember the fish we ate in Egypt that cost nothing, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic. But now our strength is dried up, and there is nothing at all but this manna to look at.” Numbers 11:5-6 (ESV) 


Foreal? The fish cost you nothing? I think that their complaints made them forget about how cruel their task masters were in slavery. They made them work hard and they were especially hideous when they were getting ready to be set free. Those people wanted past nourishment when God was serving them supernatural bread from heaven.


We do the same thing. Our complaints blind us from seeing how God delivered us in the past so we can enjoy His current provision. God didn’t take them out of Egypt to let them die of hunger. That’s not His character. He delivered them to a land that flows with milk and honey. There was protection of every kind on the way there. 


All they had to do was to give God their undivided, inexcusable obedience. 


Why is it so hard to believe that a good God wants the best for us? Meditate on this truth today. 


My challenge for you today is to identify the source of your complaining. I bet it might be a strong craving. Your complaining is a side-effect of something that only God can fully provide. So let’s ask Him to do just that. 


Prayer: God in heaven, you are good. Forgive me for forgetting your great deliverances in the past. You have been so good to me and I forget that when I complain. Forgive me I pray. Put a new song in my mouth so I can praise you daily. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
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Sunday Seven

Sunday, February 21, 2021

 

Today I wanted to share a few quotes that helped me keep going this past week:

1. "Successful people do every day what regular people do sometimes. 

2. "Persistence is more important than perfection."

3. "Sometimes, you just have to rescue yourself."

4. "The direction of your life goes towards your strongest thoughts." 

5. "How you see yourself matters."

6. "The potential to do and plan anything is in you if you will believe and persevere."

7. "We need the courage to learn from the past but not live in it."

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