Friday, January 31, 2014

So Moses cried out to the Lord, “Please, God, heal her!” 
Numbers 12:13

Today I want to be like Moses. I want to simply ask God for what I need. Leave it at his feet and go on in obedience. I want to keep it simple. That’s what Jesus means when he says, “For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:30) He means that we are to give him our needs and walk with him as he carries them.

So, today, what is it that you need to put at his feet? Ask simply and know he will hear and answer!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Unfamiliar Love - My struggle as a foster parent.

Ok, I am putting myself out there today.  I want you all to know my insecurities and I want you to know what I struggle with.  If I can help just one other foster parent or person overcome what I have experienced over the last year and a half then my suffering has been well worth it.  To God be the Glory!

My worst fear, before becoming a foster parent, was giving a child back.  In the last 16 months I have found a new worst fear, not bonding with a child.  I have been struggling for the last year and a half with a beautiful child who blesses my home every day with her sweet smile, her funny sense of humor and her amazing bravery.  I have celebrated 2 birthdays with her and played the role of tooth fairy.  I have taken her on vacation and signed her up for extracurricular activities.  I get to help her with homework and watch her grow up as one of my own.  Why on earth can’t I bond with her?  Why does it feel like I am just a baby sitter?  This is new territory for me and a place that I feel very uncomfortable.  I love children and I would have never guessed in a million years that this would be my problem.  

The real problem not being bonding and babysitting but satan playing on my questions and insecurities.  Satan took this question of mine and ran with it.  He made me feel that I was not loving her enough and I believed him!  But as I studied love and tried to gain a new perspective on biblical love I soon realized that love is not a feeling.  Love is action and it is putting someone else’s needs in front of my own.  Real love is wanting what’s best for someone and what’s best is not always what they want or what makes them happy in the moment.  Real love comes from God.  God is love (John 4:8).  While satan was chirping nasty things in my ear and I was beating myself up over my inability to bond, my God had something to teach me.  Yes, love is an action that in many ways can be very hard to do.  It is the giving of our time, helping when it’s inconvenient, giving when it hurts, not fighting back, disciplining when necessary, and saying no.  Biblical love is real love and it comes from the Holy Spirit within us.    

Dear children, let us stop saying we love each other; let us really show it by our actions. It is by our actions that we know we are living in the truth, so we will be confident when we stand before the Lord, even if our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our thoughts, and he knows everything. 
1 John 3:18-20  

For my whole life I had never thought of love as an action.  Love has little to do with feelings and for the first time in my life I had to love a child unconditionally who wasn’t my own.  The only love for a child I had ever experienced in the past was the love I had for my own children.  Yes I loved my nieces and nephews but they were not mine to keep and very little did I ever have to discipline them.  Now I’m faced with a child who needs maternal love and care, including discipline, and I’m not her mom.  I was in unfamiliar territory.  I’ve  loved my children from the moment I laid eyes on them and I have a long history of rocking them to sleep, first smiles, and first words.  Loving my foster child, whom I had no idea how long she would be with me nor did I know what her future held, looked very different than the love I showed my own children........but was it?  I was responsible for making her feel like part of the family, I needed to make her feel secure and important.  She was in need of attention and someone to show affection.  There were so many things that needed addressed and I went to work trying to fix it all.  I pray with her and I carry on conversations with her.  I read with her and include her in the chores at home.  I discipline her and expect her to listen.  She is truly like one of my own.  Heck yes I love her!  I want her to be strong and brave for a future that is so uncertain.  I want her to be smart and make good choices.  I want her to know about God’s love, and to know that she is His princess.  Everything I want for my own children I want for her! Satan took my inexperience with this new kind of love and condemned me with it.  He tried telling me I didn’t love and that my faith was not real.  He played on my insecurities.  But the jerk didn’t win...... 

The truth is, I feel like a babysitter because that is what I am at the moment.   My foster child is not mine to have.  Bonding is different with many people and I most definitely have a bond with my foster child, it is just different than that with my own children. God has a bigger plan for her that may or may not include me.  I have to be patient and wait His plan out.  I have to trust that He knows better and more importantly I have to believe that He is loving through me.  I have struggled with this battle for over a year and it has brought me closer to God. It has taught me so much about love and showed me that there is way more to love than a warm fuzzy feeling.  I believe in who I am in Christ and I have put my heart into listening to His words and obeying Him.  I will not sit back anymore and doubt myself.  I will not let my conscience speak louder than God’s gentle yet powerful voice.  He knows my heart and I will leave the convicting up to him.  

My friend, if you are battling condemnation from satan I ask you now to free yourself.  There is no worse feeling than the one of satan whispering words to shame you and make you feel little.  He had me questioning the validity of my faith all because I was insecure and walking in new territory.  He found a way in and took advantage of me. Talk to someone about what you are experiencing.  Email us and we would be glad to help you!  Just do not spend another day feeling shame or guilt that is not from God.  God is loving and there is peace that comes from His conviction.  Satan will make you stew and worry.  God will gently nudge you toward the direction you need to go to fix your problem where satan will freeze you dead in your tracks and hold you hostage right there.  

In Jesus name, satan, you are not welcome near me, get out of my thoughts and quit lying to me!  My God is your God and I answer to only Him!  He is my teacher and my guide, you have no power over me nor will you hold me hostage here any longer.  Father God, I don’t want satan to have a stronghold on me for one more day.  I need you protect me from his lies while I find myself in You.  I praise your Holy Name for loving me and comforting me and using me.  I will carry out your work on earth until the day you bring me home.  I trust in who I am in You.  Thank you for giving me life and a reason to live!  Amen and Amen

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Jesus Intercedes for Us!

Is there someone in your life who has turned away from God? Are they running from God and turning toward sin? Does their faith seem to be falling apart? Or, perhaps you are the one that is currently in the position of turning from God. Although this seems like the worst possible thing in the world that could happen, Jesus knows the frailty of our human hearts, and he knows how small our faith can be at times. 

Simon, whom Jesus renamed “Peter” meaning “The Rock”, had such a small faith at one time also. Simon had walked with Jesus 3 years and learned from him. He had seen the miracles, witnessed the extraordinary, and heard the message of salvation directly from the source. Yet, when push came to shove, Simon’s faith wavered. Here’s the amazing thing about that though... Jesus saw it coming and actually prayed for Simon! Can you just imagine that with me for a moment? Jesus, the Son of God, the Holy Begotten Son, prayed for Simon!!

In Luke 22:31-32 Jesus says, “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”

As we break those verses down, I see so many things that just stir my heart to love and trust my God even more. First of all, Satan had to ask God’s permission to tempt Simon. Therefore, we can rest assured that everything that Satan throws at us has also been Father-filtered. Satan asks. God answers. God is still in total control of the situation!

Second, Jesus interceded in prayer to His Almighty Father on Simon’s behalf. Jesus knew Simon well. He’d spent the last 3 years with him. They ate together. Traveled and worked together. Jesus knew Simon on a very deep level. He knew Simon’s weaknesses and even before Simon denied him, Jesus was in prayer for him to overcome the trial. Oh, that just makes me smile and makes my heart sing! Why? Because I have friends who pray for me faithfully, and I know the comfort and power that comes from their prayers. But, Oh, Wow! To know that Jesus is talking to God on my behalf-- right there in his throned chair to the right of God almighty! Wow, wow, wow! I can just see it playing out in my mind. Can you just see Jesus saying, “But Dad, you know how she doubts! Please consider how tender her heart is right now. Only allow as much pain as she needs to grow closer to you!” And God replies, “Yes, Son, she is very broken right now, so I will shield her from all that is not for her benefit.” And so the conversation goes. Do you see it?They actually talk about us in the heavenly realm!!

Third, Jesus knew that Simon would fall, but he also knew that he would come back stronger than ever. God allowed Simon to fall because in the end, it deepened his faith. Simon’s faith became so deeply rooted in Christ that he spent the rest of his life working to lead others to his Lord!

In a nutshell, Satan wants us to fall. He asks God’s permission to sift us as wheat thinking that he will destroy us, but God manages the temperature of the fire satan starts, and we come out even better than we started! Amen and Hallelujah! Our God loves us so much!
So that friend you are worried about, continue to pray for them and rest assured that Jesus is interceding for them too!

Thank you, Jesus, for interceding on my behalf! Thank you, God, for only allowing what can be used to strengthen me. You allow no more or no less than is in my best interest! I just love you so much for that!

Amen & Amen

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Answered Prayer?

While Jesus was here on earth, he offered prayers and pleadings, with a loud cry and tears, to the one who could deliver him out of death. And God heard his prayers because of his reverence for God. 
Hebrews 5:7

When I first read this scripture I thought to myself.......God didn’t answer Jesus’ prayer.  I specifically recall the prayer in the garden that Jesus offered up to God.  His soul was crushed with grief to the point of death and he said to God, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me.  Yet I want your will, not mine.” (Matt. 26:38).  The next day Jesus was taken into custody, beaten to near death and hung on a cross.  From this one might think that Jesus’ pleadings were not heard.  After all, Jesus did not get out of his suffering on the cross and that was clearly what he asked of God.......or did he?  Listen to the second prayer that Jesus offered up, “My Father if this cup cannot be taken away until I drink it, your will be done.” (Matt. 26:42)  In that moment Jesus was not praying for his life but praying for God’s will.  Even though he was crushed with grief to the point of death, Jesus was willing to continue for God because he trusted God's will.  He asked that God's will be done and so it was.......answered prayer.

From a worldly perspective we might conclude that God doesn’t answer prayer, but, in fact, He answers all prayers with a bigger picture in front of him.  He approaches our prayer with more than just us in mind.  For example, Jesus’ prayer to be saved from God’s plan could have spared him suffering and death but the world’s salvation was at stake.  God could have saved Jesus but the world would have been lost to sin.  God knew what was best for one wasn't necessarily best for all so he had to make a very tough decision.  He loved His son dearly and had to make the hardest most unselfish decision in the world.......but it was for the best.  God's answers to our prayer involve so much thought and work that we could never ever imagine how it gets done. God works out so many things that are interconnected it makes my head spin!  He may say no to us but what we are asking comes from our worldly understanding.  We never take into account all of the things unknown to us, the things only God has access to.  We just have to believe that he knows best and trust Him to take care of us.         

Just watch a child in the toy department at Walmart whose mother tells her no.  That child might plead some more, beg and negotiate, and if that doesn’t work you all know what comes next.  The fit that takes the child to her knees crying, or maybe she chooses to stomp her feet yelling not so nice things.  The fit is the last straw......the last attempt to get her way.  She will pull out all tools which includes the dreaded, “I hate you”, or “you’re mean”.  I know the feeling of the parent.  The embarrassment and the anger you have that your child would act so selfishly and be full of such disrespect.  But we know best don’t we?  We know that our budget may not include extra toys or what spoiling our children with new toys can do to we say no.   Aside from that ugly show they just performed, we love them still the same.  When God does not answer our prayers the way we want it doesn’t mean He loves us any less.  He just knows what is best for us. God knows what the world needs and He knows what our circumstance needs.  God knows the end result of our patience and obedience.  God always knows what’s best for us and those directly involved in our circumstance.  He may be using you, like He used His son, to be a source of salvation to those around you.   

Is there a request that you have been asking God to take care of?  Do you have a specific prayer that you offer up every day and it just doesn’t seem to be getting answered?  Don’t be like the kid in the toy store.  Don’t get mad at God for not answering your prayer, instead, snuggle in deeper and love Him all the more!  He is making a tough decision watching you, His child, suffer while things are getting worked out.  Even when you can’t possibly believe that what you are going through right now is what is best, trust God.  Don’t look at God’s unanswered prayer as a punishment but an invitation to draw closer to Him.  He wants you to obey Him even when His answers are hard to understand.  He wants you to say yes to Him even when all the world says no.  Learn obedience in the hard times and you will grow to be just like Christ.  You will be able to say to God, “Your will be done, not mine.”  You will have the strength to endure when you know that you are enduring for something perfect!  God is perfect and His answers follow suit!  

Monday, January 27, 2014

Rebuke One Another In Love

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Matthew 7:1

Ok, you see a brother or sister in Christ participating in sin. You hear a statement that is errant and misleading to other Christians who heard it. You are now caught in the age old dilemma... should I talk to them or should I just ignore it.  You know that we all get stuck on this verse from time to time. Our rationale goes like this... “If I tell them what I know about God’s law, they will think I’m judging them. And if I judge them then I’m sinning. I’m not perfect so, how can I confront them in their sin when I myself have such great issues? I’ll just look like a hypocrite.” Scripture even says, “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother,‘Let me take the speck out of your eye’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” Matthew 7:3-5

Yet at the same time, God calls us to confront misunderstandings and sin in fellow believers. The following verses tell us that as Christians we are to hold each other accountable by using God’s word to rebuke and correct misunderstandings and sin.

All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.  2 Timothy 3:16

I give you this charge; Preach the word: be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage- with great patience and careful instruction.  2 Timothy 4:2

Do not rebuke mockers or they will hate you, rebuke the wise and they will love you.  Proverbs 9:8

These, then, are the things you should teach. Encourage and rebuke with all authority. Do not let anyone despise you. Titus 2:15

These verses get tricky, but we must look at them as a whole and not in isolation. In isolation they appear to contradict one another. God would not say that he breathed his Word for rebuke and correcting if he didn't want us to use it in such a manner. I believe that when another person calls themselves a Christian they have given their life to Christ, and I cannot and should not judge their heart and determine in my own mind their degree of rightness with God. Yet, at the same time I can and should inspect the fruit of their life. God gives us very clear directives for Christian living evidenced in his Son's life. Sin is clearly spelled out in scripture, so when we see what is contrary to Christ's life we must address it. 
The Ten Commandments are very clear.  1 John 4:20 Tells us that if someone hates a brother or sister than they do not have the love of God in them. 1 Peter 3:1-7 and Ephesians 5:22-25 give specific behaviors that should be evidenced in Christian husbands and wives. Scripture is full of examples of both good and bad fruit. 

Notice the Proverbs 9:8 verse, if the person does not receive the rebuke in love, then their heart condition is even further exposed. Proverbs 12:1 says, "Whoever hates correction is stupid."  This person will not receive the rebuke because their heart is not for the Lord. If their heart is truly for the Lord, they will be open to hearing loving rebuke if they are in sin. 

Here is the part that I think is often overlooked. If I am taking the stand to address others in their sin and misunderstandings, then I better be willing to hear my own sins pointed out! I must also build a relationship with the other person so that when we discuss sin, we can speak freely and honestly and they will know my heart is for their betterment and not their demise. It is the state of the heart on both sides of the discussion that determine the outcome of the confrontation. When we are part of a church, a bible study, a small group, a family, or any other meeting of Christians we put ourselves in the position to be rebuked and are called to hold the other members accountable. Failure to confront face to face is not love. Jesus said, “Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent.” Revelation 3:19 

I posted a few days ago that one of my GFF's (God First Friends) corrected me for errant thinking. It was beautiful! Why? Because I know she loves me. She's never hidden her own sin, and she loves me enough to show me mine because my heart is deceitful above all things (Hebrews 10:2), and I am often blind to my own sin. It was the heart of the relationship that allowed her rebuke to change my heart and mind. God used her as a tool to set me back on the path of righteousness.

So, the question is, do you want to be really loved and to love others? If so, put yourself in a position to be honest about your own sin. Allow your life to be transparent. Accept others correction in love. And the reverse is true then also. Confront in love. Don’t ignore sin because you will be held accountable for not rebuking a brother or sister, but always do it prayerfully, lead by example, and then let God convict their heart. Ask God to keep your heart humble so that you too will accept rebuke and correction from a brother or sister. 

Sunday, January 26, 2014

I Am Covered!

Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good. 
Romans 8:26-28

Today I am at a loss of words.  I have things on my mind that I can't possibly understand and I don't even have words to pray anymore.  I am comforted by these words that Paul gave us.  When we don't have words to pray or when we don't even know what we need, The Holy Spirit does!  The Spirit intercedes and delivers the much needed prayers on my behalf.  And even better, when I am undergoing a difficult circumstance in my life, I need not be afraid because Jesus is sitting at the right hand of God pleading with Him for me (Romans 8:34)! I have the Holy Spirits' guidance in prayer and I have Jesus Christ talking directly to God about my situation.  I am loved by Jesus, so much that He prays for me and fights on my behalf!  I am filled with peace at this very moment.  I can lie in quiet of my room and not utter a word.  Amen and Amen

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Be Alert! Be Humbled!

A morning argument lead me to this verse. Stay Alert! Watch out!! Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, searching for someone to devour. Stand up against him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being laid upon your brethren throughout the world. 1Peter 5:8-9 Were we truly doing the dirty work of satan by fighting with each other. The answer... a resounding “Oh, Yes!” 

What is it that causes us to fight with each other? James tells us in Chapter 1 verses 1-3 that its because we are selfish and our earthly natures are fighting for what they want. He calls them our evil desires. Ouch! ‘evil desires.’ Seems a little harsh doesn’t it? But the reality is that if we are living to please our earthly nature then we are not living to please God. In order to please God we have to die to our earthly desires and live for God, who is holy, just and righteous. 

Take a moment and just meditate on the verse above. 

Just as we can choose to see God at work in our lives, we must also be alert enough to know when satan is at work. Dark, hurtful, negative, childish, divisive, evil thoughts are not from God. So now that we know what causes arguments, how do we stop them? 

We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God and take every thought captive to obey Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:5

So we must be alert and make sure we are taking every thought and action to the Lord for his inspection and allow him to align our minds and hearts with his. 

Lord, alert our minds and hearts to awareness of the enemy's tactics. Slow our responses so that we always act in ways that affirm our faith and trust in you. Where we are selfish, take away that spirit. Where we are being hurtful, cause us to feel sorrow. Align our spirits with yours. Amen and Amen

Friday, January 24, 2014

Something More

It was light out when my son woke up this morning, which is a tell tail sign of a delay.  While I am thinking he should be waking up with a smile on his face, and even more, praising God for answered prayer, he started grumbling that he wished school was cancelled.  Grumbling does not really touch it.........he was down right mad, and as I was explaining to him that he should be happy with the delay, a light bulb went off in my mind.  He was on his 3rd 2 hour delay this week and he was used to that.  He was looking for something more.  He was looking for a cancellation.  All of the delays this week were old news by now, he was beginning to expect them, they were common, and he was ready to move on with something bigger and better.  I certainly saw a lesson in this.

The same goes with many things in our life.  We make compromises, say yes to this particular sin or join in on that little devious act.  After a while that becomes normal in our every day and we might start wanting more.  Maybe we are watching a T.V. show that we know in our hearts is not godly nor does it promote godly living.  But it is a fun show to watch and soon you begin recording it and watching all of last season in one night.  Or maybe you decide to act on this one “little” sin, and you end up enjoying yourself, soon the act will lose it’s luster and you will want a little more.  Addictions of every kind get started by one try, one taste, one moment of something see where I am going with this?  My son’s anger towards this morning was just like we are with sin.  It started out as something “harmless” and fun but, many times, ends up leading us to something bigger, not necessarily better.  We can’t help it, it’s in our nature.......we want more! 

So if this concept works so easily with sin and school cancellations why wouldn’t it work with getting to know our Lord and Savior? I, dear friends, am a glorious mess and not so long ago I was dealing with anxiety to the point of never wanting to leave my house.  I was at a breaking point where I knew I needed God but I didn’t know how to get started.  I had participated in many bible studies throughout the years and I knew who God was.  I believed in Jesus and knew that I would go to heaven because of His wonderful love for me.  But in this season of my life I needed something more.  For a while I tried to fix it with medication and I stayed inside avoiding the places that caused my panic attacks.  After several months I came upon a friend who was also searching for more, so together we committed to spending time with God.  It first started out as a one on one bible study.  Soon I found myself wanting even more than what the study offered so I spent more time reading scripture and praying.  Eventually I reached the point of wanting a lot of God!  Much like exercise, it took some time to see results but then I was hooked!  Like someone trying a drug for the first time, eventually I wanted more.  

So let’s turn this concept around and start seeing positive results from our lack of contentment.  If we are exposed to something that we enjoy soon our satisfaction in that enjoyment will wear off and we will want more. Let’s get addicted to God.  Let’s spend time with Him every day and grow to want more and more of Him!  When something is important to us we find time for it.  It’s not always easy and it takes sacrifice but Who better than to sacrifice for than the One who sacrificed His all for us? 
Before daybreak the next morning, Jesus got up and went out to an isolated place to pray. 
Mark 1:35

Dear God, draw me to you. I want something more and I commit to spending time with you every day but you know how my schedule is.  You know how busy I can get and the distractions that my day holds.  Give me the peace I need to slow down and give you more of me.  I want to know you better.  I want to be hooked on You!  Amen and Amen

Thursday, January 23, 2014

I Am A Glorious Mess!

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 
2 Corinthians 4:16-18

I AM A GLORIOUS MESS! Has it ever happened to you? You go along in life holding all the seams together on your beautiful life and then Wham! All at once the seam begins to bust. All the ugly from inside starts pouring out. Past hurts and mistakes come to the forefront to be dealt with. Your children make choices that you do not approve of. Your marriage has wrinkles, bumps, and bruises. Satan comes at your family in full force and you meet him face to face at every turn. You look around and wonder how God will be glorified in this mess. 

I’m here to tell you, God loves a mess! Paul wrote, “The Lord said to me, ‘My grace is enough for you, because power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 

I’ve recently found myself in the messiest of messies! I began to wonder, “How will I ever have a testimony that anyone will believe in when the seams of my life have busted and my life no longer looks nice and neat?” But that’s when I was reminded of the people with whom Jesus spent time... sinners, sick, hurting, lost, and messy people.
He loved them. Really loved them. They in turn built their lives on him and became whole. It was in their mess that they realized their need for a savior. It was there that they were willing to reach up to the One who was reaching out to hold and heal them. Jesus loved them right there, in there mess!

Paul tells us in that the troubles we face are “light and momentary”.  You’re first thought might be, “What? Obviously he doesn’t know my situation!” But he did. Paul knew messy, and he knew pain. But he also knew how to stand on a firm foundation. He built his life on the foundation of Christ, so nothing rocked his world. In light of an eternity with God, Paul is reminding us that the trials of this life are short term. Circumstances don’t define us, they refine us! They allow us to become more like Christ and witness to his goodness. These messies are, if used well, for the glory of our God and King!

Oh! What a glorious mess I’m in! 

Today I give you this mess. I stand on your truths that you will use them to refine me, not define me. Despite what the world thinks, I will hold my head high because you are Lord of my mess! Amen

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Job Opening!

But you are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God’s instruments to do His work and speak out for Him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference He made for you --- from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted. 
1 Peter 2:9-10

I guess you could say that the old testament priests were a type of gap guy.  They were the people who worked in the temples and stood in the gap for sinners.  When someone sinned they went to a priest and it was his job to approach God for forgiveness.  Priests acted as intermediaries between sinful humans and God.  After Christ’s death and resurrection we no longer needed a priest.  Christ was the last sacrifice and from then on people everywhere were able to approach God personally.  

Are you ready for a new job?  Are you ready to fulfill your new role as priest?  1 Peter states that we, christians, were chosen for the high calling of priestly work.  No longer are priests designated only to stand in the sanctuary and go behind the sacred curtain, but they are needed for a much bigger role.  We were all chosen to act as a new testament priest.  We are chosen to be a holy people, God’s instruments to do His work and speak out for Him (a gap girl/guy). 

So many people do not realize that they are a word away from speaking to God.  Some people have no idea that they can have forgiveness and a relationship with Christ just by believing and opening their mouth to speak to Him.  It is our role as priests to bring those people to Christ.  Just like a priest in the old testament who acted as the intermediary between sinners and God, we must be the intermediary between sinners and Jesus.  

People need to know who Jesus is.  Some will believe just by listening to you talk about His great love and mercy.  For others, it might be more like a full time job.  Forming relationships with them, building up their trust, devoting time to help them see Jesus.  You just might even have to share your story by opening up and being real with them.  Don’t be afraid to tell someone that you became something from nothing through Jesus Christ! 

So whatever your job is that you wake up for every morning don’t ever forget that your new role is of priest.  The most important job you will ever hold will not pay monetarily.  You may not be able to retire off of your earnings from your priestly job or pay off your mortgage.  The rewards for this job are saved lives.  The many lives you will see change and the relationships you will form because you genuinely love people and see them for who they are, God’s children.  That is what our life on earth is all about.  Sharing God and making sure we reach everyone who needs to know Jesus.  Accept your new job title today!  Don’t put off your true calling any longer!  Show up at your new job stand in the gap leading people to Christ!

Dear God,  Thank you for entrusting me with this high calling!  It is a huge responsibility that, quite frankly, scares the crap out of me.  Draw me to your word and show me Who I am in You.  Give me boldness and confidence to stand on your foundation and be a positive influence for You.  Give me one person, today, who needs to know You or needs encouragement.  Give me words for him or her.  Help me to open up and share with people who need an example of your amazing work in my life.  I wan’t people to know the real me.  Help me to share with them the night-and-day difference you have made in my life.  Amen and amen! 

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Will you stand in the Gap?

“I looked for someone to stand up for me against all this, to repair the defenses of the city, to take a stand for me and stand in the gap to protect this land so I wouldn’t have to destroy it. I couldn’t find anyone. Not one. So I’ll empty out my wrath on them, burn them to a crisp with my hot anger, serve them with the consequences of all they’ve done. Decree of God, the Master.”   Ezekiel 22:30-31

This week I read this verse in another devotional. I feel God calling me to be a “gap girl.” No, I’m not talking about a girl who works at the Gap selling clothing! I’m talking about a girl who stands in the gap- the space between God’s truth and Man’s compromise. I feel called to stand in a gap that is ever-widening. 

God searched all of Judah looking for someone who would stand up for Him and his Truth. Because no one would stand, God’s wrath came upon Judah resulting in its destruction.

God’s truth has never changed; not even one iota. But man has pushed the limits, altered the truth, created ‘gray’ areas, and radically disobeyed a just God!

Gap girls/guys are willing to stand on the truth. They are willing to take the persecution that comes from doing the Godly thing in a tough situation. Those standing in the gap reach out to the lost, refuse to compromise The Truth, and have a righteous fear of a Holy God. ‘Gappers’ are not afraid to speak the Truth in love. They are persistent, possess Godly confidence, and dedicated to the study of God’s word. 
Are you being called to stand in the gap? Perhaps your marriage is in turmoil. Maybe your children are not walking with the Lord. What evil strongholds are keeping your family from serving the Lord fully? A friend is lost and running from God. Will you stand in the gap so that destruction does not come upon them?

Today I am choosing to be a Gap Girl! How about you?

Dear Lord,
You searched the nation of Judah for one to stand in the gap and none could be found. In my small world, my personal Judah, I choose today to be your gap girl/gap guy! Speak to me this day and from this day forward concerning the truths I need to know in order to speak clearly and stand firm on your Word. In your strength I will stand in the gap for my marriage, children, family, friends, and community as you call me to do.
I love you Lord and desire to live in obedience to your word.

Amen and amen

Monday, January 20, 2014

Armor Up! Part 3

  We see a pattern in putting on the full armor of God.  The main things we learn from these verses is we must have faith in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.  We  must believe in God's promises to protect us, and we must believe in our salvation.  One of the most important things is we must be aware of the battles taking place around us. Verse 18 tells us to pray at all times and on every occasion because the battles are happening all the time.  We must be looking out for these battles and with our knew knowledge be ready to overcome them.  

16) In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil.
 The devil can throw some doozies at us when we are least expecting. We can be walking along just fine and all of the sudden hear something whiz right by.......satan is good at catching us off guard. Our faith can be used as a shield to protect us from those sneak attacks. Like mentioned in all the above descriptions, faith in God and His son Jesus Christ gives us strength to withstand these attacks. When we know that we are sheltered by God, held safe in His arms, and protected under his wings we can stand firm and not be shaken by satan and others who try to shake us up. There will inevitably be hard times. We cannot avoid the sin in this world nor the tactics satan will use to get to us but we can stand up against it and be confident of our power in Christ. We can hide behind our faith. Throw our faith in front of us and stand firm behind it......God will be right there with His peace and protection.

17) Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 
Salvation is deliverance from sin and it’s consequences which is death. Our faith in Christ delivers us from spiritual death and an eternity in hell where we belong. God loves us so much and He sacrificed His only son so that we could have salvation and live with Him in heaven for eternity. When we believe in our salvation we are confident and we understand that no matter what happens, in the end, we win! 
The sword of the Spirit is found in God’s word. The Holy Spirit gives us power to draw strength from those words and it gives us wisdom to live by those words. No, God's word is not a weapon and we should never use it to condemn someone or hurt someone. Instead, like a soldiers sword, we should never think of going to battle without it. We should take it with us everyday and let it protect us in our fight.  Recalling God's words in the middle of a heated discussion or when satan is whispering lies into our ear will help us stay focused on God. Understanding God’s promises and relying on the Spirit to supply us with power allows us to stand tall against the schemes of the devil the tough times in our life.

18) Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.
 Prayer is powerful. Prayer is conversation with God and it keeps us close to Him at all times. When we are in constant prayer our mind is on God and off our circumstances. We must ask God to help and trust that He listens and protects. When we pray on every occasion we are trusting God with every aspect of our life and we are allowing Him to be in control. When He is with us we are able to stay alert, our perspective changes and we can see the lies satan is trying to take us down with. We cannot be touched when God is with us. So keep Him close at all times and pray for everyone, everywhere.  

Dear God, show me my strength in You.  I know the battles are everywhere and that satan's goal is to make me ineffective for You.  Please draw me near and show me a picture of strong faith and place a helmet of salvation tightly on my head.  Help me to remember these things and call on Your word as my protection everyday.  I want to hide behind my shield of faith for the rest of my days and have a strong relationship with you.  Amen and amen.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Armor Up Part 2

Enduring trials in life can be very difficult, but with the power of God we can look at those trials and overcome them. They don't have to put a smile on our face, and we don't have to like them. It's just very important that we are dressed to face those trials. When satan lies to us and tempts us with sin we can overcome because the power of God lies within us. We have the Holy Spirit to help us fight off the cruel words of our friends, we are wise and know that satan is behind those words. When we are close to God and trusting in His love and promises then we know something the world does not. Satan cannot keep us down for long because we can recognize his dirty work.

13)  Use every piece of God’s armor to resist the enemy in the time of evil, so that after the battle you will still be standing firm. 
Since we never know what circumstances may arise or what satan is going to throw our way it is very important that we are clothed with every piece of God’s armor every single day of our lives.  Staying clothed in God will keep us ready and guarantees that we will finish every day standing firm.  It is important that we keep ourselves alert to the workings of the devil, and the moment we detect his lurking around, we need to stand firm in our belief.  We have to close our ears and minds to the lies that satan can tempt us with and immediately rebuke them with our knowledge of God's promises.

14)  Stand your ground putting on the sturdy belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. 
Jesus said, ‘I am the way, the truth and the life” (John 14:6).  Believing in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior is putting on the belt of truth.  If we have faith in God then we must believe that Jesus is the way to heaven.  We should have confidence in who we are and accept the mercy and grace that is given to us from our loving God.  Neither satan nor anyone else can take away our identity in Christ.  
Righteousness is the state of moral perfection required by God to enter heaven.  We receive God’s righteousness when we believe in Jesus Christ.  Jesus’ death on the cross, covers our sin and allows us to be righteous in God’s eyes.  No person, not satan or the girl down the street, can take away our righteousness.  No sin can take away our righteousness.  Satan will try to tell us that our sin is unforgivable.  He will tell us that we lost our ticket to heaven with his sole purpose to stop us in our tracks.  Satan wants us to give up and lose hope that we are forgiven, therefore keeping us in a dark place.  That dark place can smother out our light if we aren't careful, so put on your body armor and believe you are forever righteous!

15)  For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared.
          The Good News is that Christ died for our sins.  We have eternal life when we have faith in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.  With this Good News we can have peace because we know that no matter what happens, in this life, we will always have a place with God in heaven.  We can have peace knowing that with Christ we conquer this world and defeat the devil.  This peace will give us strength to fight off the lies and tricks that the devil throws our way.  We will have confidence that no matter what happens God is fighting for us.  Peace in who we are and Who protects us, fully prepares us for the circumstances that a sinful world produces.  So have peace friends,  even though you have to endure trials, satan cannot win when your eyes are fixed on God.  When you see things from God's perspective, standing firmly on peace, you will be fully prepared for all the world throws at you.

Dear God, thank you for your never ending protection. I have so much power to resist the devil when I am close to you. Draw me near so that I will be able to recognize satan's lies. I want to be standing firm during battle. I trust in Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. I know that because of Him I am righteous. Satan cannot win a battle against me. I have peace because of the words you have taught me. Thank you for loving me! Amen and Ame

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Armor Up! Part 1

Putting on the armor of God is a figure of speech.  We don't actually put any physical protection on us nor do we use any real weapons.  Every day in this world we are in a battle against the things ungodly.  Some days the war is more like a little disagreement and on others it can be an all out blood bath.  The problem is we don't always look at it as a war to prepare ourselves for.  We don't understand the fight satan wages everyday trying to get us to disobey God, win our souls if we aren't yet believers, and keep us from winning more souls for Christ.  He sets out to discourage us and he will do almost anything to split us christians apart, causing division between us so that we are less affective for God.  I have broken down Ehpesians 6:10-18 verse for verse and I will share with you over the next few days the importance of preparing for battle.  

 A final word:  Be strong with the Lord’s mighty power.
To be strong, in this sentence, means not easily affected by hardship and not easily disturbed or upset.  It also refers to showing determination and self control.  When we have confidence in God and the things we can do with Him on our side we are “strong” in Him.  When we trust that God is in control of our life we can be intimidated by satan’s lies without freaking out and worrying too much.  But, without that confidence, satan is able to discourage us.  He can manipulate us, make us worry or feel ashamed.  We can fall in a hurry when we believe satan’s lies and we don’t trust in The Lords’ mighty power to hold us up.  
When dealing with satan we must have a solid foundation in God and know that He can do anything we need.  We must recall the stories from the bible when he saved the Israelites from Egypt or flooded the whole earth but saved Noah and his family.  We need to be able to recall all of the times that He saved people and certainly never forget the power in the story of creation.  Stories of God’s power planted on our heart will enable us to stay strong when trouble comes our way.  It will give us confidence when satan is forcing lies into our thoughts.  A firm foundation will keep us determined and we won’t be able to give up easily.  Make every effort to read the bible and especially remember the promises He has for every one who believes in His son, Jesus Christ.
Every day we have to make the choice to believe in God’s power and favor in us.  Several times a day we may need to recall His promise of love and His will for good in our life.  Being strong in The Lord is having trust.  It takes faith to trust in a God who we can’t necessarily see, but the proof of His existence lies in the provision He gives us along the way and the good that comes from every situation we are faced with.    Confidence in God’s promises gives us strength in Him.     

11)  Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies and tricks of the devil.  
Most of us think of a metal covering or a shield when we think of armor but in this case armor is just another word for defense.  Verse 11 is telling us to put on God as our defense, handling our circumstance the way God would.  Defense is needed when we are up against someone or something that is attacking us.  It is a means of protecting this case, against an attack from the devil himself.  So put it all together and God is telling us to use Him as our defense against all of the strategies satan will use to attack our minds.

12)  For we are not fighting against people made of flesh and blood, but against the evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against those mighty powers of darkness who rule this world, and against wicked spirits in the heavenly realms. 
When difficult circumstances arise or when someone accuses us or attacks us it is a Christians’ responsibility to see this situation from God’s point of view.  Satan is behind all evil in this world.  We need to remind ourselves, over and over that when bad things occur it isn’t the person we should be getting mad at.  We can’t fight the circumstance that is occurring......we have to fight the manipulation and lies that satan will put into our minds regarding our circumstance.  Jesus was able to endure horrible suffering without pointing one finger.  He was beaten and ridiculed but He never lifted a hand in defense.  He knew that satan was behind the evil that was taking His life and He knew not to blame the people who were hurting Him.  Yes they made the choice but Jesus knew that satan had a stronghold on them.  Stephen was stoned to death and before He lost consciousness He was able to cry out to God asking His forgiveness for the people stoning Him.....”Lord, don’t charge them with this sin” (Acts 7:60).  The Holy Spirit gave both Jesus and Stephen the strength to stand against their enemies but these two men understood what many today do not.  They weren’t consumed by the circumstance and their suffering by the hands of people.  They understood that the people were controlled by a higher power that had them tricked into believing they were doing the right thing.  They felt compassion for the very people that were killing them because they understood the stronghold that satan had on them.   They were determined to live a Godly life to the end and prove to the world that God is the higher power and He would win in the end.   Our fight is not with people.  Our fight is against satan and the power he holds over people who have not chosen God’s way for their own.  Our fight is against satan’s lies that he tries to plant in our head and the temptations he places before us.  
Sometimes our fight is strictly with the lies that satan tries to discourage us with.  There may not be any one circumstance occurring nor are we fighting with someone but satan will still try to get us doubting.  He knows our weakness and he preys on the things that we struggle with.  Satan attacks our insecurities head on and if we aren’t prepared and fully armored he will get into our head.   

Dear God help me to realize the importance of preparing for battle every day. I want to choose your way of handling war waged against me. Make me aware of satan's lies and the evil that is lurking around me. I want to be able to stand firm when satan tries everything in his power to discourage me and get me to act out in an ungodly way. I don't want to stand alone, show me how to be strong in Your power. Amen and Amen

Friday, January 17, 2014

God First Friends? Part 2

Yesterday I told you how my night at Bible Study began- exhausted, weak, and weary. But before we look at the last 3 parts of our God First Friend contract, I have to tell you how my night ended. After sharing for over an hour, our spirits began to lift. We were laughing, praising, praying, quoting scripture and telling funny stories. God used my GFF’s to encourage me and realign my focus. They are blessings to me!

Here are the last 3 things that GFF’s promise to do for each other:

I will truthfully, confidently, and boldly share my story as a testimony to God's faithfulness.

I want to see you so I can share some special gift of the Holy Spirit with you. It will make you strong. Both of us need help. I can help make your faith strong and you can do the same for me. We need each other. Romans 1:11-12  (NLV)

I will live my life with a humble heart always remembering that I am a life redeemed, a sinner forgiven only by the grace of God, and a mess made whole. I will not forget my past because it has made me who I am today, but I will joyfully remember it so that I will be humble of heart and not think of myself more highly than I should. Remembering my past will help me see others through eyes of understanding and compassion.

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
    And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
          and to walk humbly with your God.  Micah 6:8 (NIV)

I will hold my GFF's accountable to God's truth. I will encourage them to be the best Princesses, wives, mothers, daughters, and friends that they can be. I will rebuke them in love and prayerfully receive their correction. I will praise them with joy and love them with an everlasting love because I am their GFF!

A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity. Proverbs 17:17

Whoever rebukes a person will in the end gain favor rather than one who has a flattering tongue. Proverbs 28:23

A man’s friends should love him when his hope is gone.  They should be faithful to him even if he stops showing respect for the Mighty One. Job 6:14 (NIRV)

Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you. 2 Corinthians 13:11

Is this the kind of friend you want to be and want to have? Begin praying today for God to bring these people into your life. He will! I know He will because he did it for me when I asked! James 1:2 tells us that we don't have things God wants for us because we ask selfishly or with the wrong motives. Well, asking for a GFF is not selfish. The request is to bring glory to God through the help of a friend. The motive is because you love the Lord God and want to further your walk with him. Now, that is a prayer you can confidently expect to be answered! So, pray and wait expectantly for God to answer!

*You can print a copy of the GFF contract by clicking on the God First Friends Tab at the top of this page.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

God First Friends? Part 1

I arrived at Bible Study last night exhausted on all levels: emotionally, physically, spiritually, relationally. I could have chosen not to go, but I knew I needed to be there. I knew because God tells us that where 2 or more are gathered in his name, he will be there also. (Matthew 18:21) I needed a good dose of God.

We began our time together and our discussion was serious. Issues on our hearts were heavy as we lifted up situations and scripture. We talked about how to handle situations in a godly way and even corrected each other for errant thinking. Do you have a friend that you love and trust that much; a friend who will correct you in love when you are wrong? God thinks its important. I know this because Proverbs 27:6 says, “Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.” Not only do we need friends who will tell us when we have something stuck in our teeth, but we need friends who will confront us in our sin and in our wrong thinking. We all need God First Friends!

What is a God First Friend? Well, when our group began, God put it on my heart to write a contract. A contract defining the meaning of a GFF. Each goal (in bold) is based on the scripture that follow it. I’ll show you parts of the contract both today and tomorrow. Then, perhaps after some prayer, you will want to gather your men/women and focus on becoming GFF’s!

Here are the first 2 parts of the contract: 

I am a God First Friend! I will seek to put God first in my life by continually studying His Word. I will walk in relationship with Jesus as my Savior and my Friend.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates.   Deut. 6:5-9

I will live for God alone and base my life on His truth. I will prayerfully speak the truth even when it is difficult, ugly, or unpopular. When I lay down at the end of the day I will enter sleep with God's peace in my heart because I have walked in right relationship with my Lord, and my actions will reflect my decision to live as a follower of Christ.

On the contrary, we speak as those approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please people but God, who tests our hearts. 1 Thessalonians 2:4
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Philippians 4:8

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15

See ya tomorrow for the rest of the story and more details on how to be a God First Friend!