Saturday, May 31, 2014

God Break Her Heart

Oh my God, blow them away like whirling dust, like chaff before the wind.  As a fire roars through a forest and as a flame sets mountains ablaze, chase them with your fierce storms; terrify them with your tempests.  Utterly disgrace them until they submit to your name, O Lord. Let them be ashamed and terrified forever.  Make them failures in everything they do, until they learn that You alone are called the Lord, that You alone are the Most High, supreme over all the earth.
Psalm 84:13-18

Through my studies this week I came across a heading in the concordance of my bible that grabbed my attention.  There in black and white I was caught off guard seeing the words: "God sometimes has to break our heart".  I know God is a jealous God and wants us to follow only Him and have no other gods but would He go to the extreme of breaking our heart to get our attention?  I was lead to Ezekiel 6:8-10 and as I studied I was reminded of the many times God brought destruction on people.

“But I will let a few of my people escape destruction, and they will be scattered among the nations of the world. Then when they are exiled among the nations, they will remember me. They will recognize how hurt I am by their unfaithful hearts and lustful eyes that long for their idols. Then at last they will hate themselves for all their detestable sins.10 They will know that I alone am the Lord and that I was serious when I said I would bring this calamity on them.  

His love was so strong for His creation that He could not sit back and watch them follow other gods and put their trust in idols.  They chose to live life their own way and compromised, or disregarded God's law all together.  In the destruction He would lead a few to repent and experience a life changing moment.  I found it interesting that God would break our hearts that way but you see even in the destruction God's ultimate goal isn't necessarily for hurting us but for breaking us for a more beautiful, fulfilling life in Him.  

We probably all know someone who isn't living the way she should, or who chooses to reject God.  There are people in our lives who call themselves christians who aren't living as christians.  They are ignoring God's commandments and denying God as Ruler of their life.  Right now I have one particular friend who I know needs to open her ears and heart to God's voice but she is running so fast that she won't give anyone a chance to even speak.  And I can pray that this will happen soon.  I can pray that her ears be open, her heart be changed and her eyes clear to see God in her life, and God will honor that, but sometimes when it gets so bad we need to ask God to break that person's heart.  Not that we want hardship for them but more importantly,  we desperately want our friend or loved one to stop running and stand still long enough to hear God.  Sometimes, unfortunately, the only way that can happen is if she is stopped cold in her tracks, broken and alone.  So we pray the scripture above and ask God to chase our friend and run her down, and punish her for her lust and infidelity to Him.  It sounds harsh, but we want God to terrify her bringing her disgrace and loneliness that leads to broken pride.  We ask Him to thwart all her plans so that she no longer has anything going for her and she is finally brought to a place of complete humbleness.  Her pride is broken, she has nothing left and she reaches out only to find God waiting there to rescue her.  

It is hard to believe that it would take this much and that anyone would even wish this treatment on an enemy let alone a friend but I am a firm believer in the power of the Holy Spirit to reach people in their desperation.  When a person, who knows God, lives by her own power, and then everything falls apart, she is smart to assume that she has run out of power and it is time to turn to the source of all power, Her Lord who alone is the Most High.  So you see when we pray for our spouse, parent, friend, neighbor or child to be broken it is not with the intention of hurting them or embarrassing them, it is for one reason be broken of pride and brought to complete surrender to God.  Do you love someone enough to pray for his or her brokenness?   

Friday, May 30, 2014

With All You've Got

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’

God is a very jealous lover. He is your creator, your Father, your Friend, and your ______? He is to you everything you need him to be. That's why his first name is, "I am".  You just need to fill in the last name. 
Are you sick? Than he is your healer. Are you tired; let him be your strength. Do you fear; he longs to be your comforter. God is everything we need and he desires to be all that we want. 

As you ask God to search your heart today, begin assessing your 'go to' mode in a time of stress. 
Do you talk to friends- than learn to talk to God instead. Others have become your god.
Do you keep your emotions and issues bottled up-than ask God to help you humble yourself and open up to him and others. Pride has become a god to you.
When you are afraid do you worry or trust in God? 
When stress comes do you have a drink, smoke a few cigarettes or turn to another addiction for comfort? It is your god.

God wants all of you. He longs to be the 'Great I am ____' in your life. And in the blank he wants to put the words 'your everything!'

It is a process. It is painful and will require hard work and endurance, but when you reach the point that you know he's your everything you will be so strong, confident, and beautiful that you won't recognize the gal you were before! Let go and seek to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Pray Now

But the Lord watches over those who fear Him, those who rely on His unfailing love.  He rescues them from death and keeps them alive in times of famine.  We depend on the Lord alone to save us.  Only He can help us, protecting us like a shield.  In Him our hearts rejoice, for we are trusting in His Holy Name.  Let your unfailing love surround us, Lord, for our hope is in you alone.
Psalm 33:18-22

We all have friends and acquaintances that need lifted up in prayer today.  I have been up all night thinking of a few, and my heart is heavy and burdened, so this morning I can only ask that you get on your knees and pray for those who need you most right now.  Carry his or her burdens to the Lord.  If you don't have words to say then find positive scripture speaking life into each situation and fight for those you love.  Put your friend or loved one's name right into scripture and claim it for them!  Friends, there is nothing more powerful than spending time with God, trusting in God and praying from the bottom of your heart.  Please if there is anything we can pray for email us and we promise to lift you up.  We do not take prayer lightly because we have seen the positive outcomes it produces.  We have grown closer to God through prayer and we trust that our God can heal any illness or painful circumstance.  Please let us help you.

Colossians 1:9-12, Philippians 1:9-11, Ephesians 3:16-19, Ephesians 1:17-19

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

In Advance

Today I want to reassure you that no matter what you are going through, it has been filtered by your Father. He saw it coming and isn't alarmed! I know this because today I had a situation arise that God had prepared me for 2 days ago. I read my scriptures the last 2 days; both days I wondered what they meant. It wasn't until today when I found myself in a certain situation that the scriptures came to my mind again. God knew that I would need them in order to respond appropriately.
However, I believe this happens all the time, God preparing us in advance. The trouble is, often we are not meditating on His Word or seeking for opportunities to apply the truths that he's teaching us. It was simply because I was in communion with Him that I was able to see his provision.
Oh, Lord, let us watch for you more carefully! Because of your great love, you supply our very needs before we even know them ourselves. We love you! Amen

Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. Matthew 6:8

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Be Faithful

And the Lord replied, “A faithful, sensible servant is one to whom the master can give the responsibility of managing his other household servants and feeding them.  If the master returns and finds that the servant has done a good job, there will be a reward.  I tell you the truth, the master will put that servant in charge of all he owns.  But what if the servant thinks, ‘My master won’t be back for a while,’ and he begins beating the other servants, partying, and getting drunk?  The master will return unannounced and unexpected, and he will cut the servant in pieces and banish him with the unfaithful.
“And a servant who knows what the master wants, but isn’t prepared and doesn’t carry out those instructions, will be severely punished.
Luke 12:42-47

Every day I am praising God for His faithfulness.  It is evident that He is working in all circumstances and on those rare occasions I don't see His work I am confident and hopeful that He is still there.  I have, in fact, come to expect God's provision and I no doubt take Him for granted all too much, but Great is His faithfulness unto me!  As I was reading a devotion yesterday it dawned on me that as much as God is faithful to me He expects the same faithfulness from me.  God needs me to be faithful in my affairs.  He has laid people on my heart, and tasks in front of me that He needs me to accomplish.  I am useful to God, a vessel that He has chosen to help accomplish His work on earth.  All throughout the bible we learn of those people who God chose to do His work.  We are all called to do things for God, not to earn our way into heaven, but to team up with our Master and accomplish His will.  We are His stewards called to do many things through the power of the Holy Spirit.  

So next time you are in prayer and you are praising God for His faithfulness think about your own faithfulness to Him.  Are you listening to His voice?  Do you obey when you hear Him calling?  It is essential to spend time in His word so that we recognize His voice and we know what He is calling us to do.  In order to relate to God and understand the things He asks of us, we must be backed by biblical truth because that is how we identify, and reject whatever is sinful, poorly timed or simply not fit for God's children.  Friend, if He is knocking on the door of your heart, let Him in and listen to what He asks of faithful with the stories He shares and the ideas He gives you.    

Monday, May 26, 2014

No Secrets

I've felt led to write this blog for a few days now and the desire is not leaving me, so here it is. There was a time in my life that confusion resulted in sin. I was misled by others' words. My confusion challenged my beliefs. So silently, I remained in sin and confusion. It wasn't until I was at the bottom of a dark, scary pit that I decided I needed help. I called out to a friend and spilled everything; every detail was shared be it good, bad, or ugly. It was then that I could go to God for confession and healing. Truth emerged in the light of day.  This verse sums up my experience:
     "When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long.
       For day and night your hand was heavy on me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer.
       Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity.
       I said, 'I will confess my transgressions to the Lord.' And you forgave the guilt of my sin."
                  Psalm 32-3-5 NIV

Dear GFF,
I don't know what you're going through. I don't know if it's your sin or that of another that is hurting you, but I want you to know that either way I know your hurt. Don't remain silent. Tell a friend or a family member. Seek wise counsel. If it's too personal, you can email us anonymously, and we will search scripture to help you see truth and find your way to freedom. We are here for you!

Dear Lord,
Give our friends courage today to begin the journey to freedom and healing. Amen

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Sunday Scripture: throw no stones

Then everyone went home, but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.  Early the next morning he went back to the Temple. All the people gathered around him, and he sat down and began to teach them.  The teachers of the Law and the Pharisees brought in a woman who had been caught committing adultery, and they made her stand before them all.  “Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery.  In our Law Moses commanded that such a woman must be stoned to death. Now, what do you say?”  They said this to trap Jesus, so that they could accuse him. But he bent over and wrote on the ground with his finger.  As they stood there asking him questions, he straightened up and said to them, “Whichever one of you has committed no sin may throw the first stone at her.”  Then he bent over again and wrote on the ground.  When they heard this, they all left, one by one, the older ones first. Jesus was left alone, with the woman still standing there.  He straightened up and said to her, “Where are they? Is there no one left to condemn you?”
“No one, sir,” she answered.
“Well, then,” Jesus said, “I do not condemn you either. Go, but do not sin again.”     John 8:1-11

Dear God, help us to remember that our fight is against the sin and not the sinner.  Don't let us pick up stones but give us strength and wisdom to fight against satan who is the mastermind behind the sin.  Lord, you love us all the same.  Give us your perspective and show us how to accept and love everyone.  When we are tempted to throw stones show us our sin and give us compassion.  Amen       

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Slow to Anger

We've all said it, "He/She makes me so angry." Someone's behavior instantly sends us over the edge. Perhaps we didn't expect them to behave the way they did. Maybe their words were intended to be unkind and hurt us deeply. It may even be that after repeated offenses we just don't know where to turn. But there is a reason James says, "Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry." (James 1:19) The reason is this… we need to slow down and remember that we are not fighting against a person. Our issue is not with the one who is inflicting the pain. Our issue isn't with the one who stands before us. We need to be slow to anger so that the Spirit has time to remind us who our real enemy is- the enemy of our soul. Satan works through people. He uses them as pawns to do his dirty work. And when we respond in anger, we are doing the dirty work of the very enemy. So, today, begin praying about your anger. Where is it targeted? Who is receiving your ugly venom in thought or deed? Allow the Spirit to search you and soften your heart to the beautifully created person that is acting ugly. Allow the Spirit to change your perspective time and time again until it becomes your normal; slow to anger!

"For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." Ephesians 6:10

Friday, May 23, 2014

Increase Your Faith!

The apostles said to The Lord, "Show us how to increase our faith."
Luke 17:5

I am finding that my faith is growing as I put my trust in God.  When I look back on all of the things I have felt God asking of me, I recall feeling very inadequate for each task.  Every time I experience a faith surge I am acting outside of myself and doing something very uncomfortable.  The only way we can increase our faith is to see God work in our lives and the only way to see Him work is to do something that we can't do on our own.   When we are willing to leave our comfort zone, and pursue the things God asks of us, we are putting ourselves in the position to grow our faith.  We have to put ourselves out there, in a vulnerable position, where we are incapable of succeeding without the help of God.  If we continue doing the things that are comfortable and easy we will never need God's help and will seldom seek His guidance or wisdom, but if we place ourselves in a position where we feel unqualified, then we will have to turn to God for help.  Every time God asks us to move for Him it means it is time to grow.  He is telling us that we are ready to gain a newer understanding of Him and that it's time to increase our faith.  So we have two choices...........1) stay comfortable where we are and disobey God's call.......... 2)  get uncomfortable, take that step of faith and obey His call.  It is the easiest but hardest decision you may every make, and the most rewarding growing you closer to God and stronger in your faith.       

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Be Still

Today's blog may be the shortest ever. It however will be the most challenging. Take the next 5-10 minutes. Clear your mind and listen with your spirit.
    He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; (Psalm 46:10)


Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Ask For Wisdom

"Give me an understanding mine so that I can govern your people well and know the difference between right and wrong.  For who by himself is able to govern this great people of yours?"
1 Kings 3:9

Instead of asking for power and all things selfish, Solomon asked for the wisdom to lead his people.  He was more concerned about the task at hand and getting it done God's way, than for selfish gain.  So many times when I pray I give God specifics and I can easily get caught up praying selfishly and thinking only within my circle of needs.  

The Lord was pleased that Solomon asked for wisdom.  So God replied, "Because you have asked for wisdom in governing my people with justice and have not asked for a long life or wealth or the death of your enemies - I will give you what you asked for!  I will give you a wise and understanding heart such as no one else has had or ever will have!  And I will also give you what you did not ask for - riches and fame!  No other king in all the world will be compared to you for the rest of your life!
1 Kings 3:10-13

In reading this I have learned the importance of asking God for guidance in helping me make the right decisions.  His wisdom is all anyone needs to live life according to His will and to stay aligned with Him.  Friends, I hope this gives you a new perspective of your prayer life, and like me you will begin to make the needed changes to stay within God's abundant blessings and pray for His guidance and wisdom in your circumstances instead of objects and specifics for a quick, selfish gain.  God says He will bless us!  When we ask for His assistance and wisdom God will give us everything we ask for and more!  Instead of asking God to do His work through us and for us let us ask for the wisdom to know what to do and the courage to follow through.

Related readings: James 1:5, Proverbs 1:7, Proverbs 2:3-4, Proverbs 3:15        

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

A Faith Legacy

“I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.” 
3 John 1:4

The apostle John writes here about his Christian brothers and sisters and the joy he is experiencing because of their desire to live for the Lord. They have faithfully done the work God set before them. 
As a mom, it is my heart’s desire that my children and grandchildren will make my faith their own. I do not want them to ride the shirttails of my faith. Even the Indianapolis Colts used “Make it personal’ as their NFL slogan last year.  And the same is true of our faith. Faith is useless until it becomes who we are and not just what we say or do. 
Storms have come and are still brewing in our lives. This morning I am reminded that in the storm, Jesus is the calm. My children know the Lord. They have been trained in his ways. It is now their choice to respond to his call as the storms of life rage. They can choose shelter in his love, or they can try to fill their aching hearts with other substitutes. I have no greater joy today than to receive a note from one of my dear children saying in the face of trials, “Thanks Mom, for being a great influence and giving me a faith of my own!” Thank you Lord, for making yourself real to my children!

Dear Lord Jesus,
Today we give you are children. Regardless of their age we offer them to you and ask that you deepen their faith. Grow them in their knowledge of your love and teach them to love like you do! Protect them from the evil one and strengthen them by your power. For the honor of your name, make them your true disciples.

Monday, May 19, 2014

The Cost Of Our Cross

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me.  If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.  And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul?  Is anything worth more than your soul?
Matthew 16:24-26

When we choose to take up our cross and follow Jesus, sometimes the greatest cost will not be to us but to the people we love.  It is easy for us to live under Gods commands and obey the things He asks of us because we have walked with Him already.  We have seen His faithfulness and we trust that His way is best.  Yes some times are harder than others but we are able to go to His word and be renewed by His promise of provision and hope.  Unfortunately, there will be people close to us who do not understand our faith, who do not relate to Jesus in the same way we do nor have they heard God's voice as clearly.  

Jesus knew that to take up His cross meant suffering for not only Him but His closest friends and mother.  He knew the pain it would cause for His mother to watch him die a painful, excruciating death.  His friends would have to suffer watching him be beaten and hung on a cross, mocked and spit on.  His disciples would be scattered, and confused fearing for their very lives.  Jesus knew they would suffer, that they would not completely understand God's calling on His life, and they would have their own cross to carry because of His choice to obey.  

When we choose to obey God there will be people close to us who do no understand.  They may have their own cross to carry because of the choice to carry ours.  Friends, do not let that stop you from obeying God's call on your life.  Don't refuse to listen to what God is asking of you out of fear for how it will affect your loved ones.  If the call on your heart is that important to God then you can trust that he will take care of the people who are affected.  Satan will try and make you feel guilty.  He will try everything he can to make you choose to disobey!  Don't ever try to "protect" your loved ones by disobeying God.  The result of disobedience is far more damaging than saving your loved one from suffering and pain.  

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Be a "Wait"er

“Wait!” I have had the Lord put this word before me so many times in the last few years. Every time things got rough, when I thought I couldn’t go on anymore, I would get a “wait” scripture. I have been working with God on an issue for a long time. A lot of the time I spent trying to figure things out on my own. Feeling that I had to ‘do something’ to help the solution come about. Yet, I’m still in the waiting. 
Again last week I was at the breaking point. The fire of refinement had been turned up to intense! I wanted to quit. But throughout the day, through various devotions God spoke to me 5 times about patience, waiting, and  persevering. The final scripture of the day was, “And so after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised.” (Hebrews 6:15) Hope soared through my soul! 

I have now been meditating on the word ‘wait’ for the last 8 days. Then today as I dried my hair I nearly dropped the hairdryer as a thought crossed my heart. Yes, my heart and not my mind! It seemed to come directly from God. You see, he has put a ministry on my heart. Something I can get scared about the enormity of if I ponder the thought too long. A ministry that will change my life and the lives of others. But because of circumstance, I have put it off. I was ‘waiting’ on God to fix this certain circumstance before I stepped out to do what He has asked me to do. But as I stood there today, God said, “Wait, Mary! Wait on me! As if you are a waiter. Serve me. Do my business. Wait on me! Hand the circumstance over to me fully, and get on about My business.” Instantly, I envisioned myself carrying a tray above my head. Serving! Doing the Lord’s business! I saw myself moving gracefully between crowded, elegantly decorated tables. And I was smiling and enjoying myself. See the irony is I’ve always said if there’s one job I could never do it would be that of a waitress. Well, guess what! Today I got a new job! I’m a waiting on my Lord! And as I hand over the circumstance, I am so excited to see what He will have me do next!

Related Scripture:
Psalm 5:4, Isaiah 40:31, Psalm 40:1, James 5:7, Romans 5:3b-4a, James 5:11, Hebrews 6:15

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Love Never Fails

Love never fails (1 Corinthians 13:8)  Have you ever put this into your every day?  It is often attached to marriage but do you use this as an answer in your everyday life when faced with questions and issues that you don't know how to handle?  Has love ever been your first choice of defense or the answer to a problem with someone?  Lately I have been hearing so many unfortunate stories of people who don't understand what it means to love others.  Everywhere there are families being split up by divorce.  There are parents who can't put their selfish desires aside to do what is best for their children, so they are put into foster care.  I see people, young and old, hurting each other with unkind words, gossip and rumors.  Respect seems to be at an all time low, in my opinion, and people are hurting others for selfish reasons, they want what they want without caring what it does to the other person involved.  Even christians are misunderstanding what love really is.  So many of us are hurting the very people God sent us to the world to love.  Instead of standing our ground against sin some take it too far and hate the sinner, as well.  Even I am guilty of not loving the way I should at times.  Unfortunately I catch myself speaking out of line with my children or joining in gossip when I know it is wrong.  My prayer today is straight from God's word.  I ask God to forgive me for my unwillingness, at times, to love the way He does.  I ask Him to forgive us all and to show us where we need to love more.  As I walk my faith journey I see more clearly that life isn't about me at all but about loving everyone around me.       

 I pray that your love will keep on growing more and more, together with true knowledge and perfect judgment, so that you will be able to choose what is best. Then you will be free from all impurity and blame on the Day of Christ. Your lives will be filled with the truly good qualities which only Jesus Christ can produce, for the glory and praise of God.
Philippians 1:9-11


Friday, May 16, 2014

Like the Eagle

"but those who hope in the Lord
    will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
    they will run and not grow weary,
    they will walk and not be faint." 
    Isaiah 40:31

All over the world, eagles are symbols of power, freedom and the ability to go above usual circumstances. The female's wingspan can range from 6-8 feet! They are the top of the food chain which means they do not fear predators. Their vision is at least 4 times sharper than that of a human. But here is the one fact I just can't get over… Eagles love storms. When the winds of a storm begin to brew, eagles get excited. They will use the lifting power of the storms winds to raise themselves above the storm. They use the winds of the storm to propel themselves beyond where they are, all the while giving their wings a rest!

I found that eagles are referred to 30 times in the NIV Bible. Isaiah 40:31 tells us that when we place our hope in the Lord our strength will be renewed like that of the eagle. When the storms of life come, and yes, they do come, we are to rest in the Lord; we are to wait upon him to act. But it is an active waiting. Unlike many birds, the eagles don't nest in the storm.  They get out and get busy. So we too, must get up, go out and get busy with the Lord's work while the storms of life rage around us. When the storm winds blow, we must dig deeper into the Word of God, and allow him to strengthen us even as the storm rages on!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Plans for Prosperity

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to His purpose.
Romans 8:28

I have sinned.  There are some uglies lurking in my past that for some time kept me paralyzed.  I would ask God for forgiveness but never could get the guilt to go away enough to forgive myself.  I felt ashamed at what I had done and never thought I could get past it.  I wasted so much time reliving the sin and the shame and I disregarded the work that God was doing in my life.  As I read this scripture I feel it is saying at the moment we repent God will take that sin and those mistakes and begin working them out for good for us.  When we are no longer held captive by our sinful desires, and we are able to hand them over, God is right there, ready to use them for good in our life.  God knows the things we are going to do before we do.  He knows everything about us the decisions we will make, the things we will say, the places we will go.  When He created us He knew the mistakes we would make along the way and with that in mind he could start shaping our life to coincide with all that we would do and say. His timing is perfect because He knows when we will change our hearts.  God knows the moment we will repent for our sin and He can shape our life so that He can work it into good for us.  Yes, there will usually be consequences to our actions but we will never have to dwell on them for too long nor will we have to be punished by them forever because He is working diligently to make good come for us.  He knew the road we would take and started making plans for them way back before we were even tempted to sin.  We are not His puppets.  God allows us to do what we choose but because He is all knowing He can take that into account when planning for our life and future.  

I alone know the plans I have for you, plans to bring you prosperity and not disaster, plans to bring about the future you hope for.  Then you will call to me.  You will come and pray to me, and I will answer you.
Jeremiah 29:11-12

As long as we are still living in sin and choosing to life a life apart from God we will keep living in misery and destruction.  Our consequences will be dangerous and painful, but the moment we go to Him in honest prayer and repentance He is ready to make a turn for good for us.  He has prepared and knows the precise moment.  His timing is perfect!  You see friends, God knows us!  He wants nothing but good to come from our lives and He has directed our life to fit perfectly with all of the choices, good and bad, that we have made along the way.  He wants to use our mistakes to inspire others and bring Glory to His Name! He has plans for our sin and mistakes, but never will they haunt us or harm us if we are willing to hand them over to an Almighty God who loves us so dang much! 


Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Do Not Look Away… Help!

A few weeks ago I wrote about 'Gentle Restoration.' It was a lesson God taught me about helping a friend find healing after sinning. But this week he has shown me that gentle restoration is to be proceeded by direct confrontation and deep love. Jesus loved his friends to much to watch them waste away in sin and disobedience. He confronted them and offered them a way out!

Proverbs 27:6 was brought to me yesterday. It says, "Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses." A true friend is someone who doesn't sit back and watch us wallow in sin or disobedience. A true Christian confronts us though it may wound us. But an enemy avoids, looks away and talks about the mundane just to make us feel accepted.

So, how do we address a friend who is caught in sin? Proverbs 26:4 tells us "Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you yourself will be just like him. Answer a fool according to his folly, or he will be wise in his own eyes." When you confront your friend, pray before going. Write down the facts, make note of the behaviors you see. If it's important write it down. A fool will argue, divert the conversation, and buildup their own pride. State the facts and leave it at that. Discussion leads to more sin.

Do not comfort the person in their sin. If the Holy Spirit is making them uncomfortable then don't offer words of consolation, but speak in love. How did Jesus speak in love? Well, when he was in the temple and his Father was being mistreated he turned over the tables and raised his voice. His love for his father would not tolerate the abuse that was happening. (John 2:15)

Go to the person and talk face to face. Don't call, don't text, don't send a letter. In Matthew 18:15-17 Jesus gives us clear directives, "If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. But if they do not listen, take one or two others along, so that every matter my be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses. If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector."

After you have stated the facts and the believer refuses to listen, go to them again with 2 or 3 others. Take people they respect. Take those who love them enough to confront and hold them accountable. If they refuse to listen, take the 'family'! Don't think that just because someone else has confronted this person and they didn't listen that you won't get through either. If you are convicted as you read this, then do it. Do it today! Don't wait. The enemy will try to distract you and divert you because you are the one who can rescue your friend.

Finally and most importantly, take the love of the Lord and his word. Offer your friend hope. Go confidently, believing and not doubting. Even the disciples couldn't heal when they doubted! Go in the Spirit. Pray yourself up to overflowing and allow God to fight the fight. Remember the enemy isn't the one caught in the sin… it's the one behind it!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Unity In The Body

Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other, in step with each other. None of this going off and doing your own thing. And cultivate thankfulness. Let the Word of Christ—the Message—have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct and direct one another using good common sense. And sing, sing your hearts out to God! Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way.
Colossians 3:15-17

We were made to be one with God and in that oneness we are to be in unity with each other.  God created us brothers and sisters in Christ and we are to be of one body and mind with Christians everywhere.  Together we are to be working alongside each other to do His works on earth.  Life is not about us and our goals and dreams.  Life is about carrying out the goals and dreams of God.  Those things He has laid on our hearts, the missions, ministry and visions that just won't go away......God trusts us with those and he expects us to work together to accomplish them.  No running off and making a life of our own!  When we choose to live for God we choose to share our lives with other believers.  The peace we receive through knowing Christ as our personal savior isn't just for us to hold onto, but for us to share and use together to achieve wonderful things for God.  God's word should lead us in our activities and actions.  We should be discussing His word with each other and applying it to our lives together.  As believers we should be supporting one another in all areas of life,   praising God together, praying together, and hurting together.  We are one body and when one part of the body is sick the whole body suffers!  We should be mending the body and treating the body, our brothers and sisters, with love and support.  Everything we do should be done because we love God.  We should do everything in the Name of the Lord!  

I will be the first to admit that I didn't always have this idea of community.  I have always been the person who enjoyed helping others but when it came to accepting help I was not going to do it.  Friends, that is a sin of my own making!  By not excepting help I was hurting the body of Christ.  I was taking away blessings from others and I was denying God's body of the unity it was meant to have.  It has taken me a long time to understand the importance of being a team player in Christ.  I put myself as my own god and thought I could do everything on my own.  I trusted in myself to get my work done and to take care of my needs when all along God created me to help others and be helped by others.  He wanted me to fit into the body allowing my brothers and sisters to assist in shaping me, leading me and walking along side of me to ultimately a closer relationship with Him.  We are not to be doing this thing called life alone!  God created us for unity.  He created us to be thankful and loving creatures who want what's best for the whole family, the whole community, the whole body.  Our love for each other proves to the world that we are His disciples (John 13:35) and what better way to love than to live together in unity looking out for each other's needs and helping each other.......not running of and doing our own thing!     

Monday, May 12, 2014

Confessions of a Prideful Mom

As I spent time reflecting on Mother's Day, I was convicted of my own "motherly" pride. It subtly began when my daughter was born. She was so innocent, beautiful, and helpless. In my heart, I promised to do everything I could to protect her, keep her from hurting,  and be a great mom to her. I did well. She cried; I soothed her. She fell and got hurt; I healed her with a kiss and a band-aid. As she grew her friends broke her heart; so I spoke words of wisdom and comfort. She failed; so I picked up the pieces. On and on it went until I honestly thought it was my place to fix everything for not just her, but for everyone. It was my identity. I was so good at it that I could have warn an outfit just like Superman by simply replacing the 'S' with an 'F".  It was who I became… The Fixer. The problem was, more often than not, I used my own wisdom and my own ideas to solve the problems. I often forgot to include God in the equation. Thus, I was living a life of pride, and sadly I didn't even know it. Proverbs 6:16 says,
     "There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes…" 
The very first thing listed, the number one thing God hates is pride. Pride makes us self-reliant. It cuts God out of our lives because we depend on ourselves to make the right decisions, to have the right words, and handle everything that comes our way independent of God. Moms are wired to have compassion, to see needs, and lead our children and families to healing. But beware, the healing isn't our job! Taking matters into our own hands is dangerous business. It can cause a child to be misguided, miss blessings, and miss the suffering of necessary pains. Yes, I said it can cause a child to miss suffering. I've realized that rescuing our children isn't love. God is love. It's his very nature. He can at anytime eliminate our suffering, but he doesn't. He waits because love is patient and in the wait, he allows us to become matured. Our suffering brings about godly characteristics if we are guided in the process by a loving, godly confident mom!

Today I confess my pride as a mom. Forgive me for interfering with the work you long to do in my children. Teach me to be a mom who prays before acting. God make me a mom who hurts with my children, but allows the hurt to mature them rather than be a mom who shields them from the pains of this life. Thank you for the blessing of children!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Sunday Scripture

She is clothed with strength and dignity,
    and she laughs without fear of the future.
When she speaks, her words are wise,
    and she gives instructions with kindness.
She carefully watches everything in her household
    and suffers nothing from laziness.

Her children stand and bless her.
    Her husband praises her:
“There are many virtuous and capable women in the world,
    but you surpass them all!”

Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last;
    but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised.
Reward her for all she has done.
    Let her deeds publicly declare her praise.

Proverbs 31:25-31

Most of us have been so blessed to have at least one woman in our life that lives up to this Wife of Noble Character.  She may have been our mother, aunt, grandmother, teacher, neighbor, or the lady that sat in the front row of church every Sunday.  Who ever she is, today is her day.  Go celebrate the impact she made in your life on Mother's day.  Tell her how much you appreciate her and thank her for selflessly loving you and teaching you to fear the Lord.  

Saturday, May 10, 2014

A Good Laugh

I woke up late one morning which caused me to rush a bit as I prepared for work. In order to save a few moments, I decided not to wash my hair. I brushed it out, flipped it into a messy do on the top of my head and put a clip in it. Looking in the mirror I thought, "Not too bad!" After a few finishing touches, I headed out the door.
I arrived at school and set about the morning tasks in my first grade classroom. As I moved around the room, my mind was a bit scattered as I ran through the list of tasks I needed to accomplish. Out of the corner of my eye I saw 2 little girls looking at me as they talked in hushed tones. With her thumb poked out and moving in a hitch-hiker manner in my direction, the taller of the two girls said, "You know it's gonna be a bad day when her hair looks like that!"
I immediately had to turn away because I was laughing so hard! I have honestly laughed at that little comment off and on for a few weeks now. But today as I thought about it I was reminded of the following verse:
 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven." Matthew 5:16 NIV   
As Christians we need to be reminded that others are watching. They are looking to see what we wear, how we speak, and what we do or don't do in various situations. Just like this little girl reminded me, my outward appearance (facial expressions, attitude, and actions) might just be saying more than I think. 
She also reminded me that laughter is great medicine! And it looks good to others too!
"A cheerful disposition is good for your health, gloom and doom leave you bone-tired." Proverbs 17:22 MSG

Friday, May 9, 2014

God Gives Us What We Need

Thomas was a disciple who doubted that Jesus had risen from the dead.  He stated he would only believe when he saw the scars on His hands, put His fingers through them and placed his hand in the wound in His side. 

A week later the disciples were together again indoors, and Thomas was with them. The doors were locked, but Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and look at my hands; then reach out your hand and put it in my side. Stop your doubting, and believe!”
 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!”
John 20:26-28

I am ashamed to think of the many times I have doubted.  Not necessarily in Christ's existence, like Thomas, but in His ability to help me through a situation or circumstance.  Many of us are all guilty of it.  And if doubt isn't our weakness then something else is.  Friends, God knows exactly what we need to hear or see to help us along in our faith.  He knows the weak spot in our faith.  Just like in Thomas' case, God will give us what we need to strengthen our faith in Him and remove that weak spot for good.  But beware, satan also knows that weak spot and he will be sure to attack it when given the chance.  

The problem that arises is we sometimes get so consumed with our problem that even when God is working we don't see Him.  Our eyes are so focused on our circumstance that even God's work falls on blind eyes and deaf ears.  One can get so lost in her disappointment and worry that she can't see through her fear and pain.  God can be working over time to help her, giving her exactly what she needs, but she isn't looking for Him so His presence goes unnoticed.  

Thomas had heard from His closest friends that Jesus was alive but he was so consumed by his loss and sadness that he couldn't see.  His friends were so happy and probably couldn't hide their excitement over Jesus' resurrection, but Thomas was unable to see that because he was too sad.  He was choosing to live by his knowledge instead by faith.  

Thomas refused to believe in Jesus' resurrection until it could be proven by seeing Him and feeling Him.  Have you set limits to your faith in God?  Will you only believe when He gives you a certain sign or shows you a certain scripture?  Friends, don't limit God.  Don't waste time telling Him what you need to believe Him.  He already knows what you need.  In fact, he could already be giving it to you.  Focus on God and everything good.  You have to live intentionally and look for God's work in every circumstance or you might miss out on something amazing!  Don't get left out of the excitement and happiness because you are looking for the wrong thing or in the wrong places.  Just trust that God knows you, He knows what you need and when you need it.  Wait on Him and watch for Him instead of watching your problems.  

Thursday, May 8, 2014

A Prayer Sure To Bring Answers

For this reason we have always prayed for you, ever since we heard about you. We ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will, with all the wisdom and understanding that his Spirit gives.  Then you will be able to live as the Lord wants and will always do what pleases him. Your lives will produce all kinds of good deeds, and you will grow in your knowledge of God.  May you be made strong with all the strength which comes from his glorious power, so that you may be able to endure everything with patience. And with joy give thanks to[a] the Father, who has made you fit to have your share of what God has reserved for his people in the kingdom of light.  He rescued us from the power of darkness and brought us safe into the kingdom of his dear Son, by whom we are set free, that is, our sins are forgiven.
1 Colossians 1:9-10

Praying specifics is great if you know what those are but so often we know a friend needs prayer but we aren't exactly sure what to pray.  Of course we can simply say to God "Your will be done", but another angle could be to pray God's word straight from scripture.  Today I ask you to pray this passage, from Colossians, and apply the name of the person or people you are praying for.  It is a beautiful prayer covering so much.  It never limits God to specifics, and His word will never come back void (Isaiah 55:11), so you are sure to get answers to your prayers!  Pray this for your pastors, government leaders and officials, doctors, and anyone who you feel lead to lift up.  You may not know their specific needs but you can help them so much by praying God's Word into their life.  His word will do amazing things! 

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Our Shepherd Is Our Gate

I assure you, anyone who sneaks over the wall of a sheepfold, rather than going through the gate, must surely be a thief and a robber!  For a shepherd enters through the gate.  The gatekeeper opens the gate for him and the sheep hear his voice and come to him.  He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.  After he has gathered his own flock, he walks ahead of them, and they follow him because they recognize his voice.  They won't follow a stranger; they will run from him because they don't recognize his voice.
John 10:1-5

We have all heard about the gates of heaven.  Some images in our minds are those of large white "pearly" iron gates or maybe beautiful golden gates edged with jewels, all surrounded by bright light and fluffy clouds.  But in this illustration given to his disciples, the gate Jesus speaks of is one found out in the pasture. A gate keeping his flock in, protecting his sheep from the dangers lurking outside.  Jesus was referring to himself.  Jesus is the gate in which the sheep, His people, have to go through in order to be saved.  He promises, for those who enter through His gate, green pastures on the other side and safety within.  

Jesus is our shepherd too. Like a shepherd, Jesus will never leave us.  He leads us to safety, He protects us from harm and He watches over us day and night.  Like a shepherd, Jesus is committed to us and He is willing to lay down His own life for us.  Unlike hired hands who will run at the first sign of danger, a shepherd loves His flock and will stay with them through danger and see to it that they stay safe.  His flock knows His voice and will only follow Him.  They will run from strangers who cannot be trusted but they listen for the voice of their shepherd and stay near to Him.  They rely on Him for survival and he leads them to all the essentials, food, water, and shelter. Are you a part of His flock?  Do you know Jesus' voice?  Would you recognize His voice in a crowd and are you willing to run from all other voices? 

I love this illustration because the shepherd is actually the gate!  If you look closely, the bottom of the gate is missing, instead the shepherd sits in the open space and acts as the gate.  This should be our picture of Jesus.  Standing or sitting at the entrance to heaven.  We can only enter by going through Him and beyond the gates there is amazing safety and "green grass" awaiting.  Jesus is many things to us but I believe the shepherd and gate are His true calling.  Without the hope of the gate He would never stand out as our shepherd.  He would just be another shepherd, among others, who try to lead us to safety but eventually fail or who try to stay with us day and night, through dangerous situations, but end up leaving.  Jesus is the Good Shepherd who protects us but before the Shepherd can work we must be willing to enter through His gate.  We must be able to follow His voice toward the open gate that awaits us.

I encourage you to read John chapter 10 and visualize Jesus as your gate and shepherd.  Burn a mental picture in your mind so that you will be sure of who you are following and you will understand that the only way to salvation is through the Gate, our beloved Jesus.  Dear Father, I thank you for Your Son, my Good Shepherd, who is committed to protecting me and leading me throughout my whole life.  Thank you for giving me a Gate to salvation.  Show me what this looks like and help me to live my life like a sheep, always trusting in my shepherd and following His voice, running from any voice that is foreign.  Thank you for being patient with me when I start to wander like a blind sheep and thank You for lovingly calling me back to you.  In Jesus' name I pray, Amen    

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

What Do You Think?

"For as a man thinks in his heart, so is he…" Psalm 23:7

Our thoughts drive our words and our actions, therefore, we must be very intentional about what we think. Our mind is literally a war zone. It is where satan places lies, leads us into condemnation, defeats us with discouragement, and fights with a whole host of other evils to destroy us. Never forget that his goal is to steal, kill, and destroy, and he begins in our minds.
Take time today and think about what you think about. Make a written list if necessary of the thoughts that make up your day. As you begin to analyze your thoughts, you will notice patterns. Do you see a pattern of negativism? Are you obsessed with a situation or a desire? Do you worry and doubt? These are all traps of the enemy. It's time to break free.
When you've determined your thought patterns, ask God for the guidance of the Holy Spirit to renew your mind. Know that you can't do this on your own. Don't try to change the patterns in your own power. Replace your thoughts with the Word of God. Begin reading, meditating and reciting passages until you find the freedom that Jesus died for you to have. It will be a slow process sprinkled with mistakes, but don't give up!

"If you abide in My word, you are truly My disciples. And you will know the Truth and the Truth will set you free." John 8:31-32

Monday, May 5, 2014

Lead With Singing And Praise

After consulting with the people, the king ordered some musicians to put on the robes they wore on sacred occasions and to march ahead of the army, singing: “Praise the Lord! His love is eternal!”
2 Chronicles 20:21

Three large armies declared war on King Jehoshaphat.  They where headed his way and his best tactical idea was to assign some musicians to go before his army singing praises to God!  That just makes me smile.  The people of Judah and Jerusalem were so confident in God that even though they were on the verge of being attacked by 3 large armies they were determined to praise God, thanking Him ahead of time for His help and protection...........
When they began to sing, the Lord threw the invading armies into a panic.  The Ammonites and the Moabites attacked the Edomite army and completely destroyed it, and then they turned on each other in savage fighting.  When the Judean army reached a tower that was in the desert, they looked toward the enemy and saw that they were all lying on the ground dead. Not one had escaped (2 Chronicles 20:23-24).

Go God!  He is so faithful to show up and fight for us when we are faithful enough to trust Him with our battles.  He will never let us down when we put our trust in Him and His will for us.  How often do we choose this defense when we are headed into battle?  Which of us can confidently sing praises to God when we are in the midst of turmoil?  Fear is such a natural response for people who know something bad is on the way.  People will immediately try and make plans to fight back.  They will consult other people, find answers in books, or take matters into their own hands.  Very seldom do they ask God first and something you don't see very often is singing and dancing leading the way.  First of all you have to understand that these people weren't praising God for the battle but they were praising God because they trusted that He would fight for them.  They were terrified of the battle ahead and had just gotten done fasting and praying for God's help.  No they weren't excited about the battle but they were putting their complete trust in God and they weren't afraid to praise Him for what He was about to do.  

What would it look like if we were to choose this method before we headed to battle?  On our way to the doctors office awaiting that diagnosis, leading our child to the operating table, or walking into that courtroom.  What if we were able to thank God ahead of time and trust Him with our fight?  And look at the outcome........they spent 3 days gathering loot from the three armies and had to head back leaving some behind!  God blessed them abundantly!  They returned to the city with praises ringing, celebrating God's faithfulness in their victory over the enemy and they lived in peace from there on out.  God responded to their faith in Him and He will respond to our faith, as well.  He will reward us for trusting Him and being a witness to those around us because His name is on the line.  Next time you are facing a battle sing out your praises to God for the guidance and protection He is about to provide.  Trust in Him to pull you through and bring you victory.  Thank Him for His provision before you even receive it.  He will give you victory and more, blessing you for your faith in Him. 

Dear God, I have a tough battle ahead and I want to praise you for what you are going to accomplish for me.  I can't fight on my own and I know that no tactic is more reliable than trusting in You to give me victory.  I admit that I am scared of this fight and at times I don't have strength to stand but I trust that You will hold me up and fight for me.  I will praise You because You are faithful to hear my call and You will protect me from my enemies.  I will sing Your praises and share with everyone my strength and confidence that comes from knowing You are on my side.  Thank You God!  You are awesome and perfect and good!  Amen