Saturday, November 30, 2013


No discipline seems pleasant at the time,  but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. Hebrews 12:11

Parents, this one’s for you! Be encouraged that God has given you his permission to set and enforce healthy boundaries for your children.

Disciplining our children takes time and energy. It takes strength and wisdom. It is a never-ending task. It takes repetition. Discipline takes patience and steadfastness. 

Today as I pondered the efforts required to be a parent, I initially felt defeated. It can seem as if our efforts are fruitless. Our best intentions and well made decisions are greeted by ungratefulness and anger. Boundaries we’ve set result in confrontation and disobedience.

Take heart, Parents! “Do not grow weary in doing good, for at the proper time you will reap a harvest if you do not give up!” (Galatians 6:9) Look to your heavenly Father and his perfect example of parenting. God is a God of order and he sets boundaries. For example, the ocean, rivers, seasons, and marriages all have boundaries. 

An ocean without boundaries results in devastation. A child without boundaries will live an uncontrolled life and end in devastation. A river void of solid bank results in chaos as the water spews over onto the land around it. Children who are never corrected for inappropriateness of words and broken rules are children who destroy themselves and others. Children too must learn to live within both social and physical boundaries. They must also be given appropriate privileges in the right season of their life. A season sent too early would ruin the crop and a teenage privilege afforded to a young child will not yield its intended outcome. 

Our children do not have to understand why we have set particular boundaries. They do not have to be happy with our limits on time and relationships. When we infringe upon their happiness is should be because we are more concerned about their holiness than their happiness. If God feels the need to create boundaries for the earth and for our relationships, then we can feel confident that he will give us the wisdom to set healthy boundaries for his children!

James (chapters 1 & 4) reminds us that if we don’t have it’s because we haven’t asked according to God’s will. God also loves to give his wisdom. So, ask God to help you have the wisdom and energy to set and enforce boundaries. God’s will is that through earthly discipline his children will learn to obey their earthly parents and in turn learn to obey Him.  Go on, just ask!  He will be delighted to answer!

Thursday, November 28, 2013


Share the things you are thankful for with someone today, and don't just stop there!  Give God the Glory........tell them why you are thankful, share the stories that God has given you.  Be intentional in your discussions and mention God in your conversations today.  Overflow with the great things He is doing in your life and share all the ways in which He has blessed you.  

And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to live in obedience to him.  Let your roots grow down into him and draw up nourishment from him, so you will grow in faith, strong and vigorous in the truth you were taught.  Let your lives overflow with thanksgiving for all he has done.
Colossians 2:6-7

Let them praise the Lord for His great love and for all His wonderful deeds to them.  Let them offer sacrifices of thanksgiving and sing joyfully about His glorious acts.
Psalm 107:21-22

Then I will praise God's name with singing, and I will honor Him with thanksgiving.
Psalm 69:30

They sang, Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and strength belong to our God forever and ever! Amen!
Revelation 7:12

The Lord is my strength and shield.  I trust Him with all my heart.  He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy.  I burst out in songs of thanksgiving.
Psalm 28:7

Enter His gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise.  Give thanks to Him and praise His name.
Psalm 100:4

Let us come to Him with thanksgiving.  Let us sing psalms of praise to Him.
Psalm 95:2

I will offer you a sacrifice of thanksgiving and call on the name of the Lord.
Psalm 116:17

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

God's Advice For Imperfect Me

I know I distressed you greatly with my letter.  Although I felt awful at the time, I don’t feel at all bad now that I see how it turned out.  The letter upset you, but only for a while.  Now I’m glad - not that you were upset, but that you were jarred into turning things around.  You let the distress bring you to God, not drive you from him.  The result was all gain, no loss.
Distress that drives us to God does that.  It turns us around.  It gets us back in the way of salvation.  We never regret that kind of pain.  But those who let distress drive them away from God are full of regrets, end up on a deathbed of regrets.
And now, isn’t it wonderful all the ways in which this distress has goaded you closer to God?  You’re more alive, more concerned, more sensitive, more reverent, more human, more passionate, more responsible.  Looked at from any angle, you’ve come out of this with purity of heart.........
2 Corinthians 7:8-12 msg

I hate to admit this but I’m not perfect.  Shocker I know! l even write a blog and try to tell others how to respond to God’s call but I myself get it wrong all too often.  I say mean things to my husband when we are in disagreement, I lose patience with my kids, and I am selfish at times, just to name a few of the several.  I am learning a very tough lesson today on my behavior from a previous discussion I had with my husband the other night.  It was one of those where he told me what I was doing wrong and I was all too quick to show him what he was doing wrong.  We have these healthy discussions from time to time as I am sure so many of you do.  This particular time I heard God speak so clearly to my heart.  Shortly before 6 this morning He showed my exactly where I was wrong and it wasn’t easy to swallow.  I had to choke down my huge piece of humble pie way too early this morning and I’m still getting tastes of it throughout my day. 

After wrestling with my thoughts over my husband and all the things I wish I would have said, most none being very caring, I got these words from my daily scripture on my bible app:  
“Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults - unless, of course, you want the same treatment.  That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging.  It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbor’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own.  Do you have the nerve to say, ‘Let me wash your face for you,’ when your own face is distorted by contempt?  It’s this whole traveling road-show mentality all over again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your part.  Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face, and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor."  
Matthew 7:1-5 msg 

After I read it, I knew right away it was God speaking to me.  I swallowed hard and couldn’t even muster up one good excuse for myself or one good argument for defense.  I was guilty and I knew it.  But, guilty as I was and as ugly as I felt (spiritually and was 6 AM!) I was full of praise.  I was so blessed to have that time with Him!  He chose to speak to me and even though it was’t exactly what I wanted to hear He loved me enough to tell me what I needed to hear.  Perfect love does just that!  God’s perfect love will correct me when I need correcting and He will encourage me when I need encouraged.  Because I am walking closely with Him and I spend time listening for Him to speak I was able to take His advice as just that.  A kind, honest word from a friend who loves me and cares about who I am.  God wants better for me and He isn’t afraid to tell me even though what He has to say might hurt.  

We have a choice when we are presented with the gospel. Just like the opening scripture above, God’s Word or wisdom from a godly friend, can encourage us to get closer to God and “straighten up”, or we can selfishly choose to let it push us away.    We can open our hearts and ears to the message we are given and use it to change a problem area of our life or we can let it run us further from God.  Like the people of the church in Corinth, I chose to let God’s Word draw me closer to Him.  Like Paul’s letter to his friends, God’s message to me wasn’t all snuggly and warm, the things Paul told them were hard to swallow, as were the Words given to me this morning.  My prayer for you today is that you really listen to what God speaks to you when you sit down to pray and read the bible.  I encourage you to lay down your will and let God direct you, shape you, and mold you into the person He wants you to be.  Take His instructions as you would advice from a friend.  Don’t be quick to run or make excuses just feel His nudging on your heart and let Him change you.  It isn’t easy, I know!  But, the peace that comes from knowing you have a God who loves you enough to care about even your smallest little character flaw, is peace to carry you a long way!  God loves who you are and loves who you can be!  See what He can do with your life and the places He can take you when you listen to His advice. 

Dear God, thank you for lovingly correcting me this morning.  Please forgive me for my sin and help me to be a better wife and mother!  Don’t ever stop teaching me and showing me my faults.  Speak to my friends today and show them one thing you would like to see them change.  Draw my friends closer to you and shape them into the beautiful people they were designed to be!  I praise you God for being forever faithful to me and for your wonderful advice!  I love you! Amen and Amen! 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Lord, Give Us Your Compassion

Jesus wept. John 11:35

The verse today, “Jesus wept” is small and upon a quick reading of the context, one may even miss the statement altogether. But these 2 words hold great meaning for both exposing the heart of Jesus and the way we should live as his followers. 

Mary and Martha knew Jesus well. They had invested in both him and his ministry. He was their savior and friend. As their brother lay ill, they sent word to Jesus that he should come quickly because they knew he would be able to heal their brother. Jesus acknowledges their cry for help, but doesn’t rush to their aid. He stays and finishes his tasks. 

While Christ finishes his tasks, Lazarus dies and is in the tomb 4 days by the time Jesus arrives. Mary and Martha both question him as to why he was delayed because they know he could have saved their brother’s life. 

As Mary and the crowd of fellow mourners approach, Jesus wept. But why? Jesus knew the end of the story. He knew he would raise Lazarus from the dead. He knew this story would end with happiness and renewed life. So why the tears?

Jesus wept because he saw the pain of Mary, Martha, and their friends. He was moved by compassion. He saw the anguish on their faces because of the pain that was within their hearts. 

What about us? 
Do we see the lady at the grocery struggling to make it through the day? Do we in turn offer her a smile, a “Hello”, or a slight touch of compassion as we pass? 

When our children are dealing with the hurts inflicted by peers or the failure to make a team, are we moved to feel the ache of their precious hearts within our own? When we’ve hurt our spouse with words spewed in anger, do we offer an apology because we feel the pain we’ve inflicted? Are we so self-absorbed that we don’t notice the hurt beneath the forced smile of a friend? 

If we are to truly love like Jesus, then we must pray for an awakening of our emotions. We live in a selfish, independent world and noticing the needs of those around us can easily miss our priority list. 

Oh Dear Lord,
Move our hearts to compassion. Give us eyes to see the needs of those we cross paths with today. Give us Godly courage and confidence to reach out to them in both word and deed. Teach us to help bear the pain of another.
In your precious name we pray,

Amen and Amen.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Help Me Not To Doubt!

"What do you mean, 'If I can'?"Jesus asked.  "Anything is possible if a person believes."
The father instantly replied, "I do believe, but help me not to doubt!"
Mark 9:23-24

Help me overcome my unbelief!  Sometimes we can pray for something for so long and if God isn't ready to answer, or if His answer is taking longer than we would like, we can become discouraged.  With discouragement, doubt creeps into our minds and we start to wonder if our circumstance will ever change.  Like this story about the father who brings his son to see Jesus in hopes of having him healed.  This boy had been possessed by an evil spirit for a very long time, since he was very small (verse 21).  So I imagine that this father, for most of his son's life, had been searching for a cure.  I imagine he and his wife were doing everything they could think of to bring their son healing and relief but to their dismay nothing had worked up to this point. They may have been praying every day, many visits to doctors and long trips to appointments but nothing was working, they were getting no where.  You may be feeling this same way with a situation you are in or you may know exactly what this father feels having a child of your own who is seeking healing for an illness.  As well as you may know our Father and believe every word He says to be true, after so long it's hard not to doubt, even just a little.  

The father in this story was not afraid to admit his doubt.  In fact when he asked Jesus to heal his son he actually added, 'if you can' at the end of his sentence.  It was clear that he was doubting and some may say he was at ropes end.  No place left to turn and by one last chance maybe, just maybe, this Jesus guy could heal his son.  But the beautiful ending to this story was at that moment this father admitted His weakness and doubt, Jesus healed his son.  In this final moment, a father gave over everything he had left, he cried out to Jesus, he admitted to God that he just needed help overcoming his doubt, and his son was healed. 

After the boy was healed the disciples sat with Jesus and asked Him why they had so much trouble healing the boy on their own.  Jesus' simple reply was this, "This kind can be cast out only by prayer".  The prayer of a father pleading with God to help him not to doubt.  The prayer of a man who refused to give up, but was feeling weary.  What are you doubting today?  What have you been praying over for days or even years that you just aren't getting answers to?  Are you getting tired?  Is doubt creeping in?  Are you questionable whether God hears you or is ever going to answer your prayers?  Do as this father did!  Keep praying and admit your doubt and fear.  Hand it all over to a God who loves you and wants what's best for you.  A God who has special surprises waiting around the corner.  He hears your prayers and He will answer any prayer that is aligned with His will (1 John 5:14-15).  

Father God, when we are tired and feel like giving up may we grab everything we have left and throw it at your feet.  We don't want to doubt you but there are times that the world grabs a hold and doubt flies into our minds.  Lord, we absolutely believe that you can do anything and cure any illness but in those times when we grow weary and our patience is running thin help us not to doubt.  In Jesus' Name, Amen and amen.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Cry out to Jesus!

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. Roman 8:28

I want to wrap my heart around the fact that it is ok not to know what to pray when our hearts are confused, heavy, or aching. I look to the story of Hannah to help me understand that the cries our hearts are heard by the Lord, even when those cries are unintelligible to us and those around us. 

Hannah was the wife of Elkanah, but so was Peninnah. Hannah could not bear children which was a fate worse than death at this place and time in history. Peninnah could not only bear children, but she loved to ridicule and poke fun at Hannah. Hannah’s pain as you can imagine was beyond unbearable. One day she sat at the Tabernacle and prayed. She poured out her heart to God. She was praying with such anguish that the priest, Eli, who was sitting at the entrance to the Tabernacle approached her and asked if she had been drinking. When Hannah explained that she had only been pouring out her heart to the Lord, Eli blessed her and sent her on her way. And, she was no longer sad!

Hannah’s grief was go great that she cried and wailed at the house of the Lord. God heard her cry! And she bore a son, Samuel, who was mightily used by God. 

God hears our cries too! And we are so blessed that we have the gift of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit knows us so intricately that he can take our heart’s cries and present them on our behalf before the Lord. 

Surely you’ve had that “shower cry”. You know, the one where you stand under the steaming hot water as it washes over you and you just have a good ‘ole cry.(Men, it’s ok to admit you have feelings. Jesus wept too!) You’re at a loss for words, your emotions too messy to be sorted out at that moment, and your heart just aches to find resolve. But words? Nope, don’t have ‘em. Clarity of thought? No, it’s not there either. But you can stake your life on it that The Spirit has interceded to your Heavenly Father on your behalf! 

What is on your heart today? Are you ready to get real before God and share the deepest parts of your heart with him? Well then, head to the shower and just let it all out! No words necessary, just let the praises, petitions, and pain bubble up. If your heart is willing, the Spirit will speak on your behalf. 

Saturday, November 23, 2013

A Way Out

Once we accept Jesus Christ as our Savior and we devote our lives to Him.  The power we receive from God and the abilities we have through the Holy Spirit are everything we need to conquer life’s problems.  

Now you have every spiritual gift you need as you eagerly wait for the return of our Lord Jesus Christ.  He will keep you strong right up to the end, and He will keep you free from all blame on the great day when our Lord Jesus Christ returns.  God will surely do this for you, for He always does just what He says, and He is the one who invited you into this wonderful friendship with His son, Jesus Christ our Lord. 
1 Corinthians 1:7-9

God made us to have a choice.  He will never make us do anything we aren’t willing to do and He will never force His opinion on us.  Yes, if we are listening and willing to hear, He will advise us and try to sway our opinion or decision but He will never make us do something one way or the other.  I, on the other hand, have a very hard time giving my children that much choice.  When faced with decision between right and wrong, I try my hardest to sway their opinions or get them to do things the way I would.  I will do all that I can to make choices for them and of course if they don’t pick my way and things turn out bad I am shamelessly available to remind them of our discussions and of the choice I told them to make.  Oh it sounds so ugly when I put it into words........yes, something God has recently laid on my heart to work on as a mom.  Anyway, I think you all know where I am going with this.  God will give us suggestions and, in fact, He has given us a beautiful book to follow.  But, He will never make us choose His way and unlike me, He will always help us find a way out of our mess instead of rubbing it in our faces.

God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.  But you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. 
1 Corinthians 10:13

In college I made some choices that I knew were not godly and I made compromises in my faith.  I found every excuse and reason to try and justify my choices and tell myself that the things I was doing were fine and, in fact, accepted by God.  Looking back on some of the things I had convinced myself of, I just cringe.  Satan had a stronghold on me and at the time I had no intentions of freeing myself of him.  I know God was there along side me whispering guidance into my ear but I was unwilling to listen.  All along He was available to help me break free of my sin but I didn’t think I needed Him.  Then one beautiful day He provided me with a way out.  He never gave up on me and He stood along side me and helped me to endure.  He never rubbed it into my face.  

Our God is faithful and whatever you are facing today, whether it’s a trial that you had no part in choosing for your life, or if it is sin that you are choosing, God knows how to rescue godly people from their trials (2 Peter 2:9).  Let God show you the way out.  He is right there providing a way for you to endure and with Him you will always be victorious!  

Friday, November 22, 2013

Begin Training!

 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. 1 Corinthians 9:24-26

A few weeks ago, God put it on my heart to praise him more. I hate to admit it, but praise isn’t my natural first response... yet!  I tend to play out scenarios in my mind, doubt the decisions I’ve made, and fear the worst. All that is usually followed up by a well planned out course of action to “fix” the situation. But God is teaching me to sit back and let him fight the fight. 

It is a process, this handing over my deeply engrained behaviors and control issues. But I am growing. This verse spoke to me as I read it last week. “Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training.” We are training for eternity with our Lord. It is through this training that we are changed and made strong and fit. As we walk with Christ we should become more and more like him. Our spiritual muscles are exercised and forced to grow and change.

When athletes go into strict training, they alter their diets. Their mindset is focused, and their daily routine is adjusted. As Christians we enter training when we accept Christ as our Lord and Savior. The training begins with our thinking. Romans 12:2 tells us, “be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Our minds are patterned to certain behaviors. We have a “default” setting, and Christ works in us to reconfigure that default with an upgraded way of thinking. 

It is however, our responsibility to cooperate with Christ in this process! Here is what I’m doing to work with Christ in the reprogramming of my mind and responses:

My goal is to praise God more. So as soon as I catch myself in doubt, fear, or control (or any other negative pattern of thinking), I try these things:

  1. Repent: admit to God that I’m not focusing on him and ask for his help
  2. Rebuke: “In the name of Jesus Christ, I refuse these thoughts.”
  3. Replace: I then replace the thought with a scriptural praise. I’m working to memorize praises, but until then I often just begin singing a praise song.
  4. Rejoice: I am amazed that each time I choose to refocus on Christ that within moments my heart is lighter and the praising comes more naturally. 
This process is repeated numerous times each day. It’s training! It’s serious and requires effort. But oh the prize that is to be received! Not only eternity, but peace and joy in this lifetime. 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Read The Bible

All scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives.  It straightens us out and teaches us to do what is right.  It is God's way of preparing us in every way, fully equipped for every good thing God wants us to do.   
2 Timothy 3:16-17

I can't tell you enough the importance that devotions have had on my personal relationship with God.  So often they give me such great advice on a specific issue that I am dealing with.  Many devotions have led me to make some very big decisions in my life.  I believe that the words are straight from God written just for me that day.  Likewise, I believe that God gives me the words to type in this blog.  I trust Him every day to teach me and guide me to the exact message that you or someone else may need for a particular day.  Today He hasn't laid anything major on my heart accept for this scripture.  But as I type it I see a very clear message.  This message from Timothy is advising us to get into His word.  That nothing is more important than God's word straight from Him.  His word is there  to guide us, prepare us, comfort us and teach us.  Nothing, not even this blog, can or should replace His word.  

Don't get me wrong.  I want you to continue visiting this blog every day but I also want to remind you of the importance of reading scripture on your own and listening to what God speaks to you straight from the pages of the bible.  

If your bible is falling apart....chances are your life is staying together. 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

In Spirit & In Truth

Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth. 
John 4:24

I have been thinking on this verse for about a week now. Just running it through my mind. But it wasn’t until today when I read the next verse that it started to make sense. 

The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?
Jeremiah 17:9

God has given us a system of checks and balances for our lives as Christians...Our spirit, His spirit, and his written word. Because our hearts are deceptive we must not allow them alone to lead us. When our heart leads, we often do what we want, what benefits us without any regard for others let alone for the Lord. Because we are all sinners, our natural bent is to sin. Therefore, we must not only worship in spirit (the inner us- feelings, thoughts, emotions, soul), but we must balance our worship with Truth! Truth is the word of God proclaimed through the life of Jesus Christ. 

Often you will hear people say, “I’ll pray about that.” And that’s all they do,until they become frustrated that God isn’t speaking to them. At that point, they become bored, discouraged, or led astray by their own thoughts. They are in a 1-way relationship.

Just as when I was meditating on this verse. I was trying to sort it out in the knowledge that I had, but it didn’t make sense until God’s truth was put with it. Without the word of God, prayer alone only results in mulling things over and trying to sort out our own thoughts. It’s not until we read/hear the word of God that we can begin to see answers and gain Godly wisdom. 

God doesn’t just plop answers into our heads or leave sticky notes on the table in response to our prayers. He designed us for fellowship with HIm and that means we need 2-way conversation. When we talk to him, petition him for answers, praise him for who he is, that’s our spirit at work. But when we read/hear his word of truth, then we begin to really fellowship because now He is speaking back to us. 

There’s a fine balance that is achieved. Too much of our spirit, and we will not hear God’s voice over the desires of our heart. If we only read God’s word and do what it says, but don’t let it reach our hearts, then we function in a legalistic manner by only “doing what is right”. Worship involves getting to know God deep within our hearts. The deeper we allow him into our lives, the greater our worship! 

In order to allow God deep within our hearts, we have to meditate over his word, be obedient out of love for him, and let him change us from the inside out. 

Read his word today. Think on it. Ask him to clarify it to you. Continue to read his word. Allow your spirit to work with His Truth! Remember, it’s a relationship. Don’t dominate the conversation!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Knowing Him vs Serving Him

As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a village where a woman named Martha welcomed them into her home.  Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught.  But martha was worrying over the big dinner she was preparing.  She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the worked?  Tell her to come and help me.”
But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are so upset over all these details!  There is really only one thing worth being concerned about.  Mary has discovered it -and I won’t take it away from her.
Luke 10:38-42 

Our family had a foster child, a while back, who I was certain God didn’t want us to bring into our home.  He was a baby and we were out of the baby stage.  A long time out!  Summer was approaching which meant 4 kids home all day every day, ball diamonds 3-4 nights a week, water wednesdays, and vacations.  I told my caseworker that I would discuss it with the family and knew in my heart that I should pray about it.  I was absolutely sure that there was no way God wanted us to keep a baby, there was no way we were capable of taking on that task.  I’m sure, by now, you all know where this is going.......yes we invited a 6 month old beautiful baby into our home and it was an amazing experience, but this isn’t the point of my writing.  When I prayed for God’s guidance, in this particular situation, you better bet He spoke directly to my heart on 4 different occasions by the deadline that I gave Him.  And even more important, was the concern I voiced with Him regarding our quiet time.  In no way did I want to take on this huge responsibility if it was going to keep me from having my personal time with God.   Well, of course, He was absolutely faithful to uphold His end of the bargain ;)  

In this scripture Martha is complaining to Jesus because she was doing all the work.  I’m guessing for her to complain it was something that had been eating at her for some time.  In present day it may look something like this.....Martha taught Sunday school, she helped in the food pantry and she volunteered at the local crisis shelter once a week and she worked in the church nursery every other week.  Mary, on the other hand, occasionally helped in the nursery, but didn’t feel a calling to help in the food pantry, she, instead spent much time in prayer interceding for others and spending time getting to know God on a personal level.  Martha, being so busy with all of her activities, has no time to sit and have quiet time.  Martha is tired of doing all of the work and hasn’t had time to sit with God and find out His current call on her heart.  When Martha approaches Jesus and begins to complain, He quickly defends Mary stating that she was happy and she understood the most important detail in life, spending time with Him.  Martha was serving God so how could she be in the wrong?  This is the hard is possible to do a good thing but it not be the right thing for your life.  It is possible to run your life so crazy with activities, good things like bible studies and volunteering, but miss the true calling God has for you.

When I got the call to take this baby my heart said no but my God said yes and my big concern was my selfish need for quiet time with God.  Looking back I don’t even know why I was worried about it.  If God called me to do this job He would absolutely make sure I had time for us to be together.   I guess where I am going with all of this is that too often we get too busy doing things for God that we don't take time to be with Him.  There was a point in my life that I would have said yes to this and many other "good" things because I thought that's what a Christian did and that's as deep as it would get.  I wouldn't ask God what He wanted or where He wanted me.  I rarely let those things draw me closer to God but they sure kept me busy........away from my family and away from Him.  I don’t doubt that many of the things you are busy with are “good” things.  But, God needs to know you, and more importantly, you need to know God.   If you are too busy for a relationship with Him you need to step back and reevaluate your life.  How will you ever know your calling and God’s plan for you if you don’t ever take the time to talk to Him and ask Him?  Yes, a “good” opportunity may approach you, but unless you pray about it and walk closely with God, saying yes to it may not be God’s plan for your life.  Absolutely, God asks us to help the poor, and take care of the children and minister to the lost but it has to be in His plan for our life and unless He calls us to do it, it can be the wrong thing for us.  Better than serving Him, God wanted Martha to understand the importance of sitting still with Him.  That even though what she was doing was a good thing, it was still wrong in that moment and she missed out on a beautiful opportunity to know Him better.  How many blessings have you missed out on because you thought you were doing the right thing?  Instead of "thinking" you are doing the right thing, spend time with God and know that you are doing the right thing.  Don't miss out on the blessings He has for you.  Get to know God and then your services will flourish.  True service to God comes from knowing His plan for your life and living in His will.  

Dear God,
I pray that my friends reading today would hear you speak directly to their hearts through the words you have led me to write.  I want you to draw them near to you and invite them to sit with you a while.  Please drown out all the concerns for their busy day ahead and help them to focus on You and Your plan.  Help them to put you first on their minds and to understand the importance of knowing you over serving you.  
In Jesus’ Name, Amen          

Monday, November 18, 2013

Lead by Example

And you should follow my example, just as I follow Christ’s.
1 Corinthians 11:1

When I first read this verse, my initial thought was honestly, “Wow!” My next thought was, “Do I have the courage, confidence, and boldness to tell others to imitate my life because it will mean in so doing, they are imitating Christ?” (We’ll come back to that thought in a moment!)

Paul was not only confident in his knowledge of God, but he was confident in his own response to God’s call on his life. He was so confident that he was living the way God had called him to live that he boldly told the Christians of Corinth to “follow his example.” The Message translates this verse like this; “And you should imitate me, just as I imitate Christ” 

Here’s a little background. The Corinthians, whom Paul was addressing, wouldn’t have had the new testament to read. They wouldn’t have worn, “What would Jesus do” bracelets because the information hadn’t yet been recorded for them to read and study in order to follow Jesus’ example. The best way for Paul to teach the Corinthians how to live was to have them model the way he was living. Sounds easy enough! 

But wait, Corinth was the most important city in Achaia, a Greek city. It would have been busy, bustling with trade, and filled with immorality. Idol worship was huge in this city. Especially in the form of temple prostitution. In addition, Paul was preaching to a gentile population, meaning he was talking to non-jews. They didn’t even have the religious background that would have brought common ground to initiate discussion. This whole message of Jesus Christ crucified was radical, and Paul’s life was the absolute best testimony he had to lead others to Christ. Paul had spent about 2 years in this city. He was trusted by those within the young church. They trusted him enough to follow his lead.

Now, back to my earlier thought. “Do I have the courage, confidence, and boldness to tell others to imitate my life because it will mean in so doing, they are imitating Christ?”
Well, that’s a loaded answer. 

I’d have to say, “Yes”, because God knows my heart’s desire. More than anything I want Him to reign in my life. I want to please him in all I say and do. I desire to know more about him and daily grow in my relationship with him. I’m learning that praise, trust, and obedience are the things God wants most from me, and because I desire these things, he will not allow me to remain in sin very long. So, my heart is repentant and, “I’m sorry” is something I can easily say to God and others. So those that also know my heart know that my love for Jesus is sincere and that I’m growing in him.

There’s a part of me that says, “No,” don’t follow my lead because I’m still a flawed human. I mess up. I react when I should wait, pray, and make a more Godly decision. My voice still raises when I’m trying to help someone see my point. I get carried away in details that don’t really matter. I make parenting decisions that could have been handled better. I say things that should have been left unsaid. 

So, can I look at you and say with confidence, “Do as I do”? Maybe I’m not 100% confident yet because there are still some things God is helping me overcome. But I can look you in the eye and say, “Let’s continue to follow Christ together. Let’s learn to live in his grace and offer it to each other. Let’s learn to be loved by him and to really love others in return. Walk with me, and let’s be real with God and each other.” 

I may not be ready to lead, but I’m ready to share my heart, my life, and my faith openly. And that is way farther than I was last year at this time!

What about you?

Sunday, November 17, 2013

A New Heart

And no-one puts new wine into old wineskins.  The wine would burst the wineskins, spilling the wine and ruining the skins.  New wine needs new wineskins.
Mark 2:22

Any one can read the bible and listen to people preach but none of it is captured in our hearts until we are willing make it who we are.  Like the Pharisees, we can know the laws of God and even have some scripture memorized.  We can go to church every Sunday but when we decide to accept Christ we must also make the decision to become a new person.  We have to let go of our ungodly habits.  We have to become a new person by letting God transform us.  If we halfheartedly make the choice to follow Christ but hold onto our old heart, like the old wineskin, we will break down and fall back into our old ways and compromises.  

God’s word can only be held in a new heart, a willing heart.  Accepting Christ is receiving Him into your heart.  Receiving Christ is providing space for Him or accommodations for Him to live there.  Accepting Christ is deeper than just saying yes to Him.  Accepting Christ is like buying a new wineskin for the new wine.  Our hearts will be fresh and ready to stretch with the knowledge and love we gain from knowing God on a personal level. 

If you desire a new heart and you wish to change your life.  Say yes to God today.  Ask Jesus to live in your new heart and then sit back and let Him transform you.  Let Christ change your  perspective, your attitude, your life.  Make room for Him to expand your heart with His love, grace and mercy.  Be willing to change who you are and why you live.  Be willing to become a new person.  

Dear Father, thank You for Your promise to live in our hearts and transform us into the person You want us to be.  We give over our thoughts, our actions and our dreams to your will.  We make room in our hearts for you to lead us.  We want to know more about you and live a life that puts you first in our thoughts.  Please pour yourself into our fresh, new hearts and fill us up with your never ending supply of love, grace and mercy.  
Amen and Amen!


Saturday, November 16, 2013

Are You Willing?

The verses that I wanted to share are preceded by a small, but powerful statement. In the message it says, “To you who are ready for the truth,” and in the NLT it says, “But to you who are willing to listening.”

The words that Jesus was about to speak were words that not everyone in the crowd was willing to hear. They were words that could only be appreciated by those who had found the grace and love of God. They alone would be able to take these words in and find them refreshing and beautiful. To the rest of the crowd they were absurd. They went against both natural instinct and cultural norms.  

Jesus was asking those who chose to follow him to die to themselves. He wanted radical, out of the ordinary, over the top love in action! Read on... if you are willing to listen!

To you who are ready for the truth, I say this; Love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer for that person. If someone slaps you in the face, stand there and take it. If someone grabs your shirt, giftwrap your best coat and make a present of it. If someone takes unfair advantage of you, use the occasion to practice the servant life. No more tit-for-tat stuff. Live generously.”

“Here is a simple rule of thumb for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you; then grab the initiative and do it for them!  If you only love the lovable, do you expect a pat on the back? Run-of-the-mill sinners do that. If you only help those who help you, do you expect a medal? Garden variety sinners do that. If you only give for what you hope to get out of it, do you think that’s charity? The stingiest of pawnbrokers does that.”

“I tell you, love your enemies. Help and give without expecting a return. You’ll never-I promise-regret it. Live out this God created identity the way our Father lives toward us, generously and graciously, even when we’re at our worst. Our Father is kind; you be kind.” 

“Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults- unless, of course, you want the same treatment. Don’t condemn those who are down; the hardness can boomerang. Be easy on people; you’ll find life a lot easier. Give away your life; you’ll find life given back- given back with bonus and blessing. Giving, not getting is the way. Generosity begets generosity.”     Luke 6:27-40 MSG

Never once did Jesus say, “Be weak. Be a doormat.” He wasn’t saying, “Please allow the neighborhood bully to strip you of all pride and dignity.”

But he was saying, “You are loved by my Father. I will gladly bear your burden of sin without one word of whining on my part. I will be beaten, mocked, and abused both verbally and physically for you without even the slightest hint of a sarcastic comeback. Oh, and I will also do it because I choose to do it out of my love for you. You don’t owe me a thing. But what I do desire is that you learn to love me and to love others the way I’ve loved you. Learn to love completely unselfishly. Look only to the value of knowing the Love my Dad and I have for you. Let us show you what’s really important. Quit fighting for your own rights. If someone takes something of yours remember that I gave it to you in the first place. When someone is rude to you, smile and be kind. You often act the same way to me, yet I don’t growl back at you. My love for you never changes. I will not give you what you deserve...that’s my mercy. But I promise to give you more than you deserve... that’s my grace. Now, get to know me so I can teach you how to live a lover's life!”

We choose to treat others with love, real Godly love, because we understand these 2 things about ourselves. We fall horribly short of perfection. We are loved perfectly in spite of our flaws. 

If these words of Jesus sound crazy to you, then draw closer to him and learn the way he does business! If you hear his words and find your heart saying, “Yes, Lord!” fall to your knees and thank him for the way he has touched your heart with his amazing love, grace, and mercy. 

No one wants to be cutdown or talked to rudely. But the only power you have to change these situations is to change the way you respond. We always have the choice to respond in love or “give ‘em what they deserve.” If you’ve chosen to follow Jesus, then you must be willing to follow him and learn to respond in love. 

Just ask him to teach you! He’s more than willing!

Friday, November 15, 2013

He Cannot Deny Himself

If we are unfaithful, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny himself
2 Timothy 2:13

I have been in awe, the last few days, at how big God’s love is for me.  I came across this scripture and it struck me that even when we are unfaithful to God he can’t help but stay faithful to us.  He doesn’t give up on us!  What a relief!  

Although I try my hardest everyday and I commit my life to His direction and plans there are still moments when my faith is weak.  For instance, when one of my children lies to me my anger gets the best of me and before I have a chance to think of how God would react I am saying not so nice things and spouting out a punishment.  There are moments in all of our lives that our faith gets pushed to the side and we yell out in anger or we gossip about someone, we watch that movie that isn’t very appropriate, or we ignore someone in need.  We aren’t perfect and God knows that!  Does He get angry and yell at us?  Does he send down fire from heaven and strike us dead? No, He remains faithful! 

It is such a relief to know that when I mess up God still loves me.  God remains steadfast and unchanging in a life that changes by the moment.  He is always faithful even when I'm not.  

God has to remain faithful because that is who He is.  He is not a liar (Numbers 24:19).  His word is true and he will never contradict Himself.  God will not refrain from satisfying himself.  After all, why did he create the beautiful animals, flowers, mountains, ocean........well let’s just say it, the whole universe?  God created because it all satisfies Him.  Look in Genesis 1 and recall the account of creation; 6 times in my New Living Translation did it mention “and it was good”  each day God had created something new he stepped back and thought to himself, “this is good”.  God made everything for His enjoyment.  God made us for His enjoyment so to deny himself of loving us and accepting us is absolutely unheard of.  It satisfies God to remain faithful to us!  The most amazing part is we don’t have to do anything to receive His love and acceptance.  Yes, He is joyous and smiles on us when we are faithful to Him but He also smiles on us when we mess up.  Our humanness can’t quite grasp it and that’s ok.......just trust it!!!  Amen and Amen!!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Sweet Friendship

Just as lotions and fragrance give sensual delight, a sweet friendship refreshes the soul.  Proverbs 27:9

Twighlight Woods lotion, cinnamon candles, J.Love Perfume... these are my favorite scents right now. I enjoy plugging in the little nightlight that melts cinnamon wax throughout the evening and delights my house with its wonderful smell. My daughter loves to burn candles. As I walked into the house tonight I rushed to her room and said, “I smelled you were home!” The wonderful fragrance was drifting from her bedroom and throughout our home. My perfume is a new fragrance, and I like it so well that I find myself spritzing it on each time I travel past the bottle- just to freshen up!

Tonight I’m returning from Bible Study praising God so much! He’s huge. He’s creative. He’s to be feared. He is magnificent and majestic. He’s all-knowing, all-powerful, ever-present, and unchanging. And yet he loves us- fallible, flawed, sinful humans. He loves us as if we are perfection. 

Tonight I’m praising God for the friends in my life. I have friends, both male and female, that delight my heart. Friends that cry and laugh with me in the same breath. Friends that bear their souls to me and allow me to be real with them as well. I cherish the friends that make faces with me and share knowing glances when I say things that come out all jumbled up- and know exactly what I mean anyway! I am thrilled to have new friends and the good ole friends that share my history. 

Each friend brings a sweetness to my life. I am realizing how much God loves me! He loves me so much that he blesses me with just the right relationship at just the right time. A hug at the grocery, a smile on my down moment, a scripture sent as encouragement, a laugh when I am taking myself too seriously... and so goes the list of his divine appointments. 

Now, I reflect. Am I so overflowing with the love of my great God that I “freshen up” the lives of my friends? Does time in fellowship with them delight their soul? Are they refreshed for the next steps on their journey when they leave their time with me?

Oh, let us not waste one more moment of our precious lives. Friends, we must draw close to the Lord so that he can draw near us and radiate from within! He has given us nothing but the best, not for ourselves alone, but we are blessed to be a blessing!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Stay Where You Are

And I am sure that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on that day when Christ Jesus comes back again.
Philippians 1:6

Have you ever wondered why you work where you work?  Do you ever wish you were somewhere else?  Are you the type of person who is always looking for something better?  Do you hold out on making commitments until the last minute in case something better comes along?  Do you believe God can use you right where you are?  

I had a conversation with my son this weekend and God really opened my eyes to how He works. My son was committed to go to a wrestling tournament that he chose to sign up for.  On the day of the tournament he had changed his mind, partly because he gets nervous, but mostly because he was worried about missing out on playing with the neighbors.  He is my child who is always looking for the action.  He never wants to fully commit to anything because he is afraid of missing out on something.  As I sat with him and we talked, God spoke words through me.  I told my son that he can’t waist away his day thinking of the things he would rather be doing.  Yes, playing football with the neighbors was very fun and exciting but maybe there was something more to his day than backyard sports.  I continued to tell him how God puts us all in a place for a reason and that maybe there was someone God intended for him to meet that day or maybe his positive attitude would have a positive influence on someone.  There are so many possible reasons for why God puts us in places or situations.  I shared with my son that God may not want him to wrestle next year or even next week but in that moment that was God’s plan for my son.  We talked about the importance of being thankful in every situation and living our circumstances for God instead of always worrying about ourselves.  As I type this I realize that living for ourselves is why we give up and wish we were someplace else.  When something doesn't seem appealing or when a place doesn't sound fun to us we will most likely leave or avoid the situation never once thinking about the others involved or the reason God put us there in the first place.    My son loves wrestling but the pressure of winning scares him.  Because the thought of losing in front of all those people is not a pleasant thought, he will chose to run.  I shared with him that it’s not all about him and that maybe some of the things he was learning and accomplishing, through wrestling, were the very things God needed to teach him for a career as a professional football player, an architect or a daddy.  The place God was taking him that day would be just one building block of many experiences what would grow him into the man God dreamed him to be.  I get tears thinking of this because it is a concept that I never thought of before and I had never discussed with my child.  I knew, in that moment, God had me where He needed me and He used me......spoke right through me, to my son, who needed Him. That is Our God!!!  

I don’t know what he took from that talk but I do know that was one of the first times I saw him smiling on the wrestling mat.  I truly believe he just needed to know that morning that God had a purpose for him.  So I guess what I want to share with you today is to be happy right where you are.  In most situations, God has us right where He wants us.  He wants to use us where we are and grow us in that very moment.  Something you do today may not be used for many years to come but God is always working for His Kingdom and He will continue his work in us!  Don’t miss the wonderful experiences along the way!