Posted by Lisa Lewis Koster - - 4 comments






D - Devote yourself to prayer, being watchful and thankful. ~ Colossians 4:2


If you've joined me in linking up with She Sparkles for the Scripture Memory Challenge this year, you'll recognize this verse as the one we've been learning for the past two weeks.  Keep reading to learn about my first-ever giveaway!

One of the many benefits of memorizing Scripture is that it slows you down.  It's amazing the things that God can bring to your attention once you stop to really ponder what He's saying.

As I was learning this verse, I noticed three distinct points of instruction:

1. Devote yourself to prayer. 

I did a quick search of the word "pray" at BibleGateway and it showed up in 367 verses.  Obviously God has a lot to say about prayer!

When should we pray?
  • Regularly ~ Acts 10:2
  • Continually ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:17
  • When you don't know what to pray for ~ Romans 8:26
  • When you are weak ~ Psalm 102:1

How should we pray?
  • With our spirit and our understanding ~ 1 Corinthians 14:15
  • With joy ~ Philippians 1:4
  • With fasting ~ Acts 13:3

What should we pray for?

  • Jesus would be glorified in you ~ 2 Thessalonians 1:12
  • His message would spread rapidly and be honored ~ 2 Thes 3:1
  • The ability to declare the Gospel fearlessly~ Ephesians 6:19
  • Enlightenment ~ Ephesians 1:18
  • Good choices ~ 1 Corinthians 13:7
  • Deliverance from evil ~ 2 Thessalonians 3:2
  • Confessions ~ Daniel 9:4
  • Safety ~ Romans 15:31
  • Strength ~ Ephesians 3:16
  • Direction ~ Jeremiah 42:3
  • Personal requests ~ Philippians 4:6
  • God's help ~ 1 Timothy 5:5
  • Requests of others ~ Ephesians 6:18, 1 Timothy 2:1

 Where should we pray?
  • In your heart ~ 1 Samuel 1:13
  • In private ~ Matthew 6:6, Luke 9:18
  • With other believers ~ Luke 18:10
  • In the wilderness ~ 1 Kings 19:4

 Pray to God anywhere, anytime about anything!

2. Be watchful.

So often we pray and leave it at that, but when we do so we often miss the best part - God's answers! 

I find it helpful to keep a record of my prayers AND God's answers to them.  Ask God for eyes to see Him working and recognize the answers to your prayers.  There's nothing more exciting than watching God at work!

3. Be thankful.

Scripture is full of commands to be thankful.  Think about it...if you do something for someone else, don't you appreciate a "thank you"?  We're created in God's image, so who do you think we inherited that trait from?



 I believe these directions are in this order for a reason.  Isn't this how prayer works?  So often we pray and leave it at that, but this verse illustrates how we complete the process.  First we pray, then we watch for the answer and when it comes we give thanks!

I have a perfect example of this process from this past weekend.

1. Devote yourself to prayer

I have been praying for God's provision for the children who attend our school in Kenya because of their great need for food and water due to the drought there.


2. Be watchful

I attended the Women's Leadership Conference at Cornerstone University last weekend. I spoke with my friend Cindy before the conference started Friday night and gave her an update on our school. She then related a story of God's provision experienced by Francis Chan.

After the conference, a group of us went to Starbucks. I again talked about our school and the need there.  Kim - who had earlier shared about her soon-to-be-published book - mentioned that the proceeds from her book will be donated to a ministry that feeds orphans!


3. Be thankful!

Cindy came up to me afterwards and said, "This is just like the meat in Francis Chan's story!" God brought me to the right place at the right time with the right people and made a connection that I would not have had otherwise. How cool is that! Yet, if I hadn't been watching, or if I hadn't shared with Cindy who was also watching, I may have missed the connection between my prayer and God's answer.

Lord, you are absolutely amazing! I know I miss a lot, but thank you so much for allowing me to see this time. Help me to continue to recognize you at work and give You the praise and glory.

Lisa

So, how are you doing with the Scripture memorization challenge? I'd love to hear from you. If you haven't joined us yet, it's never too late to start! Memorizing Scripture has had a HUGE impact on my life and God makes it possible for everyone - even me! You know what that means...even you!

Here are the verses we've learned so far:

A - As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord. Joshua 24:15b

B - Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved. Acts 16:31

C - Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Psalm 51:10



AND NOW FOR THE GIVEAWAY!!!

Cindy at *She Sparkles* has donated one A-Z Versepack and Versebook for me to give away, each to a different winner!








To win a Verseabilty Versepack or Versebook...

Leave a comment in the comment section of this post answering this question:

Why would you like to win this giveaway?

RULES:

Starts today, Friday, February 24, 2012 and ends Wednesday, February 29, 2012 at 9:00 p.m. EST.  Winner will be contacted via email no later than March 3, 2012. 

EXTRA ENTRIES!!!!
  • Post a link to this blog post on Facebook
  • Follow True Hope and a Future
  • Subscribe to True Hope and a Future
  • Tweet about this giveaway including a link to this post
Be sure to let me know  about your extra entries along with your comment!

If your email address is not connected to your ID please leave your email address with your comment or email it to me at caughtinhisnet@yahoo.com with the subject "Giveaway". 

A custom A-Z Versepack (made by Verseability) contains all 26 of the verses for the year. The Versepacks are business card sized and perfect for carrying in your purse or pocket. If you don't win the giveaway, the packs are available for purchase at the special price of $ 5.00, plus shipping. Versebooks are also available for purchase for the price of $8.00. You can order them by e-mailing: darlenedykstra@yahoo.com. Be sure to mention *She Sparkles* to get the special rate.

Disclosure: I was not provided with any financial compensation for this giveaway, and as always, all opinions are mine.
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Posted by Lisa Lewis Koster - - 9 comments



Today I'm linking up with Chrysalis for Marriage Monday.  When I heard this week's topic was "submission,"  a story immediately came to mind. 

It took place many years ago, after one of our "hot" Friday night dates at the Home Depot.  I can't recall specifically what the project dejour was, but I do remember it involved two-by-fours.  The van was our transportation that evening so Bob placed a couple of the boards between the seats and rested the ends up against the windshield for the drive home.  Sitting in the passenger seat I suddenly had the impression that this was not a good idea, but when I mentioned it to Bob he just brushed it off and said that it would be fine. 

The feeling would not go away and I knew it was the Holy Spirit speaking to me so I mentioned it to Bob again, and again he just pooh-poohed my concern.  We had just begun the drive home when I heard a loud POP! followed by a slow cracking sound.  I looked up to see a big crack now running across our windshield.


Words came beating the inside of my lips like a battering ram.


I told you so!

Why didn't you listen to me?

See, I knew what I was talking about.

Great, just what I wanted to spend money on...


The words came but my lips remained tightly shut.  This too was the Holy Spirit.

Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. ~ Ephesians 5:22-23

We rode home in silence.  I mentioned this to Bob when I asked his permission to share this story (I, for one, was quite amazed at my silence) and his response was, "Well, there really wasn't anything to say, was there?" 

I guess not - that big crack said it all. 

I remember waiting several days before broaching the subject with him.  When I felt it was safe to bring it up, I inquired as to whether or not I should keep pursuing a subject if I felt he was wrong. Bob replied that he wouldn't want me to handle the situation any differently. Specifically he said, "If I don't listen to you and something happens then it's my own fault and I'll just have to deal with the consequences."

Personally, I'd rather just keep at it until he breaks down and listens to me so we don't have to spend money on things like replacement windshields, but

"A quarrelsome wife is like a constant dripping on a rainy day;" ~ Proverbs 27:15
So, one way I submit to my husband (and to God) is to say what I need to say and then do my best not to bring it back up again. 

Father, I thank you for the husband you have blessed me with.  I thank you for his patience - and Yours - over these past eighteen years as I've learned how to be the wife You've called me to be. 
Lisa


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Posted by Lisa Lewis Koster - - 1 comments

"Hurry" and I do not get on well together, as evidenced by the fact that the faster I go, the more forgetful I become.  This can be such a frustration for me, yet this week I was able to see God take this shortcoming of mine and use it for His glory.

My husband and I try to be good stewards whenever and wherever possible, so when he goes to mentor I often ride along to do my grocery shopping since the store is only a couple of miles from the school. (Living in the middle of nowhere, going anywhere is quite a jaunt!)  Normally I drop him off at school before I shop but since that left me rushing through the store, this week we decided to try switching it around.

Knowing that he was pressed for time when we arrived at the shopping center, I quickly gathered my coupons and shopping bags and hustled  out of the van so he could be on his way. 

Notice anything missing? 

I made it as far as the shopping carts before realizing that strap over my shoulder was a shopping bag and not my purse.  Aargh!

"Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus." ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:18

I was truly thankful that I noticed my purse was missing right away.  Not too long ago I lost my coupons (thankfully just the ones I planned to use that day) while shopping and ended up wasting a lot of time retracing my steps through the entire store, and then I never did find them. At least today I didn't spend any time looking for something that wasn't there anyway. 

Rather than beat myself up because of my forgetfulness, I chose to move on and proceeded to get groceries.  Of course, this week I finished up in record time, but without my wallet I couldn't check out.  I browsed around for a while and returned to the entrance to find that only 10 minutes had passed.  While it would be at least another 10 minutes before school let out, I didn't dare leave the door in fear that Bob would walk in while I was away. 

I had no choice but do the one thing I'm absolutely terrible at - killing time. 


Naturally, all the benches were on the other side of the cash registers, so sitting while I waited was not an option.  Not wanting to look like I was casing the joint, I moved from one department to another, all the while keeping my eye on the door waiting for Bob and watching the hands of the clock crawl.   

Suddenly, I saw my waiter!  For those of you who don't know who I'm talking about, you can read about our first encounter here. 

I waved "hello" and he and his friend walked over.  We talked for at least ten minutes!  God has allowed our paths to cross several times over the past year and a half, and it's been such a blessing to hear the positive changes he's making in his life.  God is definitely in hot pursuit!

"Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity," ~ Ephesians 5:15-16

If I had remembered to grab my purse, I would have been checked out and never would have crossed paths with my waiter.

If I had been busy beating myself up over my perceived failure, it's unlikely I would have been in a position to see him walk in.

Instead, I made the most of my situation.  Little did I know, I wasn't wasting time, I was just early for a divine appointment!

Lord, it is such a privilege to minister to this young man.  I ask that you would continue to draw him into a relationship with You.  I only have You to thank for my growing patience; without it I would have never seen the blessing You brought out of what I first perceived to be a failure.

 
Lisa
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ORGANIZING

Tips for Tuesday

I spent some time today cleaning my bathrooms.  I'll share my organizing tips in a later post, but for now I want to share a tip for cleaning one of the most stubborn areas, the toilet bowl. 

Mine had some lime build-up, which made the bowl look dirty even after I'd just cleaned it.  I've tried many different products, but none were effective in cleaning those stubborn stains.

The solution?

A pumice stone!


The pumice is abrasive enough to take off the lime scales but gentle enough that it doesn't harm the porcelain.   And yes, these are the same pumice stones most often used to soften rough skin on your feet.  Sometimes you just have to think outside the box!

If you already have a pumice stone, you can buy yourself a new one to use on your feet and put the old one to work in your toilet bowl.  If you need to purchase one, look at the dollar store.  When it comes to cleaning with them, they're all created equal.  They can usually be found by the foot care items.  I prefer to use the untreated stones, which are usually white or gray.  The last time I went to purchase one, all they had were the colored varieties as shown above.  These work just fine, the color on the stone will just get rubbed off as you're using the stone.

To use, just wet the stone and start scrubbing the stain.  Keep in mind that the longer it's been there, the longer it will take to remove.  Rinse every so often to check your progress.  The stones disintegrate with use, so don't worry when you see it diminishing as you scrub. 

The stone will not harm your toilet bowl, but if you want to check for yourself, just start with an inconspicuous spot on the surface of the bowl closest to you.

ONLY USE THE PUMICE ON PORCELAIN!  It WILL scratch your seat or lid.


Here's to sparkling clean!
Lisa

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Posted by Lisa Lewis Koster - - 2 comments

I attended elementary school with a set of twins who had a sister just a grade behind us, and it was not unusual for the three of them to dress alike.  I can still picture their yellow floral print dresses accessorized with blue vests that laced up the front, and best of all, red fashion boots! 

Ah, fashion boots.  Growing up, EVERYONE had fashion boots. Well, everyone except me...though it wasn't for lack of asking on my part.  But alas, I'm living proof that it is possible to survive childhood without fashion boots.

I wasn't even scarred for life, though at the time I was sure I would be.

In fact, I'd forgotten all about the fashion boot drama until I purchased a pair of boots this winter - not so much as a fashion statement but more as a practical way to keep my feet warm.


After all, what we wear doesn't really matter anyway...or does it?

The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son... [the king] said to his servants, ‘The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. Go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.’ So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, both good and bad, and the wedding hall was filled with guests.

 
“But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes.  ‘Friend,’ he asked, ‘how did you get in here without wedding clothes?’ The man was speechless.

“Then the king told the attendants, ‘Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

“For many are invited, but few are chosen.” ~ Matthew 22:2, 8-14

I have to admit, until now I never really understood this parable.  Why would the man be asked how he got in when he had been invited, and why would he be condemned for what he was wearing when he probably looked just the same as he had when he accepted the invitation?

I learned this parable is an allegory of the history of Israel.  The king represents God which makes the king's son Jesus.  Those who refused the initial invitation were the Jewish people.  Since they rejected Jesus as Messiah, God opened His kingdom to everyone (including the Gentiles and "sinners.")  The servants, who invited all the people they could find to attend the wedding banquet, represent the prophets and perhaps the disciples.  The wedding banquet foreshadows the feast the Jewish people expected to share with the Messiah at the beginning of His rule.

Today we are God's servants, so as believers we are called to invite everyone to come to know Christ by sharing the Gospel with them.  Are we faithfully fulfilling our call to invite all people into God's kingdom?

And what about the clothes? 

"all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ." ~ Galatians 3:27 

You see, anyone who has heard the Gospel has been invited, but merely receiving the invitation to God's kingdom is not enough; we must be properly clothed and that clothing is Christ Himself.  

When we enter into a personal relationship with Christ, not just knowing about Him but knowing him personally and intimately, we are covered with His righteousness. It is His righteousness, not our own, that God deems acceptable attire.

We can go through the motions, going to the right places and saying the right things, and we may be able to fool everyone - even ourselves - but we can't fool God.  Those who call Jesus "Lord" but do not honor Him with repentance and true faith will be removed from God's presence for eternity.

Yes, clothing does matter!

Father, I thank you for inviting me into your kingdom.  I not only accept you as my Savior, but also call you Lord, knowing full well that means you are the one in charge of my life, not me.  By the power of your Holy Spirit, help me to faithfully share the invitation to your kingdom so all may come to know you.


Lisa
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Posted by Lisa Lewis Koster - - 0 comments


ORGANIZING

Tips for Tuesday

Sawdust has been consuming my life as of late, because my home has been covered in it! 

As I mentioned last week, sanding our stairs resulted in a fine (and sometimes thick) coating of sawdust over everything inside my house, which necessitated a top-to-bottom cleaning.  Progress has been steady, but it's also been slow, so I opted to call in reinforcements by phoning a friend.
When you have a big task ahead of you, or one that does not fall within your area of strengths, why not ask for help?  Since I have a knack for organizing, I phoned a friend to offer my skills in her home in exchange for general cleaning help in mine.  In the past, I've also traded with one person who likes working in the yard and another who has a keen eye for color to give me some decorating pointers. 

There are several advantages to having a friend come and give you a hand:

It allows you to do things you could not otherwise do by yourself.

It pins down a specific time to tackle the task at hand.

It saves time and energy.  (Having someone to hand things down to eliminated many trips up and down the ladder for me.)

It makes the time go by faster.

It makes a task more pleasant.


So get creative!  Start thinking of the skills you have to offer and go pick up that phone!


Lisa


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Posted by Lisa Lewis Koster - - 3 comments

Has anyone else noticed how crazy the weather has been, not only recently, but over the past year?  While we usually have our first big snow in November - and sometimes even October - we really didn't have any significant snowfall until January. 

And now it's gone already.  Again.

Here in Michigan, it should be snow-covered and cold in February, but once more I'm looking at a dull brown layer of dead leaves covering the ground rather than a fresh blanket of glistening white snow.

A few years ago we purchased some new windows for our home to help keep down the cost of heating it during these cold winter months.  Due to the expense, we replaced only those windows in the open living areas and our bedroom.  The other rooms, which were for the most part unused and have a door to close them off, kept their original drafty windows. 

Of course, this was before we converted one small bedroom into my study.  Now I spend most of my time seated in a cold room in front of a drafty window.  A friend of mine recommended using shrink wrap film on the windows to help keep out the cold, and that was certainly an inexpensive improvement.  But because of the cool weather last spring, I didn't take the film off until June and since it has been unseasonably warm, I just replaced it a few weeks ago. 

Here's a photo I took below the window of my study back in June.  The weather had such fluctuations that for a considerable amount of time I was alternating between using a small space heater and a window screen.  One day it would be warm and I'd want the screen in the window; the next day it was so cold that I needed the space heater on to keep my fingers from aching at my keyboard.


"I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot.  I wish you were either one or the other!  So, because you are lukewarm - neither hot nor cold - I am about to spit you out of my mouth." ~ Revelation 3:15-16

Jesus spoke these words to the church in Laodicea. The neighboring city of Hierapolis was well known for its hot springs.  People would travel from all around to soak in its therapeutic warm waters.  Not too far away was the city of Colosse (recipients of Paul's letter to the Colossians).  This city was famous for its cool refreshing water.  Laodicea was the largest and most affluent city in the area, but the residents would have to travel to Hierapolis if they wanted to enjoy soaking in the warm water or to Colosse to plunge into the cool refreshing water. 

The people of Laodicea attempted to bring the hot water of Hierapolis to them by constructing a pipeline that ran the six miles between the two cities.  While they were successful in transporting the water, by the time it arrived it had lost its heat.  Not only was the water lukewarm, it had also developed a nauseating taste so disgusting that no one wanted to drink it. 

The Greek word emeo, translated as "spit" in verse 16, means to vomit, spit out or regurgitate.  Because of their experience with the piped-in water, the Laodiceans would have understood exactly what Jesus was saying.  He wasn't rejecting them, but he made it clear how distasteful their lukewarm spiritual condition was to Him.

How's your spiritual temperature? 

Are you soothing and comforting like the hot springs of Hierapolis?

Are you spiritually invigorating and refreshing like the cool waters of Colosse?

Or are you nauseatingly lukewarm?

Lord, I know that over the course of my life I've spent time in each of these conditions.  Fuel the fire of my love for you by the power of your Holy Spirit, and keep me from ever being lukewarm again. 


Lisa
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