25 February 2014

Guest Post: Comfort in an Uncomfortable Place

“saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” 
Luke 22:42

I had always heard this verse and was taught by my dad about praying this but what does it really mean? I went and read the chapter, praying God would give me an understanding of what this verse truly means and how can it be applied to my life. 

If you haven’t read it here is my quick summary: Jesus just had the last supper with his disciples and is telling them what is to come. He knows the betrayal is happening, He knows the soldiers are coming and He knows He is about to do something His flesh will hate him for. He kneels down and prays “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” He prays this so earnestly that His sweat was like blood drops!

When I was young my dad taught me to pray “not thine will but yours”. He also taught me this was a very serious thing to pray and to really mean it, not just let it be ‘fill in’ words! I prayed this often growing up and God has always amazed me with how His ways truly are higher than our ways!! As my life has changed, I have walked the different paths and curves of my journey. I had found myself just living life, going through the motions and I was guilty of having the joy, the love, the truth hidden in my heart, hidden deep in my heart. I became convicted! 

I wondered is this God’s will? What am I doing? What am I called to do? 
What does God want and need me to do?

I dedicated this year to making time to read the Bible, to praying each morning on my drive to work, praying, worshiping and singing while I stay late at work cleaning, searching out God’s will for my life. As I did this something strange happened, something I didn't expect. I became uncomfortable!didn't find that light, that huge blinking sign that said “THIS WAY”. I didn't hear a booming voice saying what to do. Instead I became agitated, uncomfortable and….intrigued with what was happening. 

I could have given up, said I was better off not trying to seek out God’s will, I was comfortable living my day to day life, at least I knew what was happening (in my mind, my plan, my will). But I decided to press on, see what God was trying to teach me. You see, God doesn't give us battles, situations, strange paths just to make things interesting. We go through things to learn, to be molded, and to change. He is the potter and we are the clay, sometimes we have to go through fire to work out imperfections. Is it fun? NO! Can it be confusing and lonely? YES!

“Yet you, LORD, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.” Isaiah 64:8

Remember, God's ways are higher. He knew the plan for you before you were born. He knows you, your thoughts, sees your tears, your frustrations. God knows YOU!

“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:9

God’s will isn't always a calling to luxury and comfort, it isn't always what you imagined in your mind. But God’s will is the best life we can live! We will never be alone, we will never be blind on our journey, and we will never be lost or forsaken. 

As much as I write this to you, it is also written to me. I journey the uncomfortable road as God molds me and I have found peace in knowing He isn't finished with me, He has a plan and that plan is better than any daydream I can have!

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11

Hello Fellow Readers!
My name is Aleisha. I am a 20 something old, a wife to my best friend, a mom of the cutest little man, a lover of music, piano and singing whatever comes to mind, a youth pastor’s (my husband) side kick, a receptionist and a dedicated reader of Refining the Wild Grapes.

You can find Aleisha on Instagram or Facebook.

14 February 2014

Love won that day

February 14th. The day for cute heart candies, delicate flowers, yummy chocolates and those sweet valentines. Don't sigh, this isn't going to contain a list of pros and cons. Personally, I love Valentines Day with all the fuzzy feelings and smiles that accompanies it! But God has been laying a "forgotten" perspective on my heart recently, not just about today but EVERY day. A refreshing new addition. It was simply a reminder to love, be kind, forgive endlessly, encourage and to speak graciously.

Holidays make it easy to give, to remember who we love, what we're thankful for, and so on. 

What about all the days in between? The days we don't think twice about just giving a simple smile. The days we let anger take control. The days we forget to love. The days we dwell on the hurt. The days we miss the opportunity to just encourage a friend, a stranger. The days it's all about "me". I'm guilty of it. 
Yet, in the midst of my selfish ways, I remember what true love did for me. Jesus didn't stop at the cross and say, "You are not worth the pain and agony. I don't feel like loving you today." Why? Because He is love.

Love won that day.

The cross, that was done out of love for us (see Romans 5:6-8) so we could share that same love to others and give them the opportunity to embrace their Savior. This is where we need to reflect that love and grace to others (whether we think they deserve it or not) that we are given by Him.

1. How do you motivate and encourage others?
Hebrews 10:24-25 

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

Proverbs 12:25 NLT 

Worry weighs a person down; an encouraging word cheers a person up.

2. How do you speak to others?
Colossians 4:6 

Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.

Proverbs 16:24 

Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.

3. How do you love? (Family, friends, relationships, co-workers, strangers and even enemies)
1 Peter 1:22 

Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart.

John 13:34-35 

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.

1 Corinthians 16:14 

Let all that you do be done in love.

Proverbs 3:3 

Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you; bind them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart.

4. What should you be equipped with?
Colossians 3:12-14 

Put on then, as Gods chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as The Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.

Micah 6:8 

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does The Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

Allow this verse to change the way you treat those who you encounter daily.
Hebrews 13:1-2 

Let brotherly love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unaware.

When you honor each other, you honor God. Remember: through all the guilt, lost friendships, broken hearts, the just plain ol' "bad day" -- Love already won. Let your love be anew everyday... just as He loves you.

05 February 2014

In the midst of your impossible

These lyrics are pure truth and beauty. For those whose faith has faded, be encouraged today that He hasn't left your side. I need this reminder as much as the next guy/gal. He is still there waiting for you. 
Waiting to heal your scars. 
Waiting for you to return to Him.
Waiting to forgive. 
Waiting to show Himself to you.
Waiting to pick you back up again and continue on this journey. 
He completes what He starts.

Philippians 1:6 ESV
"And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ."

Philippians 2:16 KJV 
"Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither labour end in vain."

Romans 5:3 ESV
"Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance"
>>Take note, Paul doesn't say we rejoice "because of" our sufferings but we rejoice "IN" our sufferings.

The "impossibles" in our lives are not there to make us fail but God intended for them to:
     1. allow us to draw closer to Him (or even bring us back to Him)
     2. test and strengthen our faith
     3. grow and mature us
     4. humble us
     5. prove Himself

Let these lyrics be your prayer today in the midst of your impossible // "Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders, let me walk upon the waters, wherever You would call me. Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander, and my faith will be made stronger, in the presence of my Savior."
Take this promise and see your "impossibles" as blessings and persevere this journey with the One who is constant and ever-faithful.