Monday, June 30, 2014

First Thing

Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. Mark 1:35

I love summer! Not just because I'm a teacher and I have vacation, but because I love the change of routine. The sun is up early and stays out late. We can watch movies late into the night. The afternoons are filled with fun as people come and go at the pond, or we work on projects around the house that have been put off for an entire school year. Rainy days can be especially glorious because they require a slowed pace and most likely a nap! 
But all this change in my routine isn't good either. I have a list; it's a long 'to do' list. I wake up each morning ready to tackle a project so that I can cross it off the list. I start thinking early in the day about who I need to meet with or what my plan for the day is going to be. The problem is that I get out of my devotional routine. I'm used to waking early and spending time alone with Jesus before work. As the summer wears on, I often find myself thinking, "Oh, I can just do 'this' and then I'll sit down for some quiet time." Well, 'this' turns into 'that' and 'that' turns into 'one more thing' and before I know it, it's evening and I've spent an entire day doing what I want to do and not what Jesus had planned for me. 
Jesus knew that life was busy once the sun came up. So, he woke early, got away from the people who would need something from him, and spent time alone with his Father. Let us not wait another day to get back on track or to begin a quiet prayer time early in the morning. 

Dear Jesus, 
Through your Spirit, call us into quiet time with you. Teach us the value of beginning our day in your presence so that we can surrender our will in exchange for yours. Show us your love and mercy as the day begins so that we are filled and can share it with others as we meet them on the path that the day holds. We thank you for the example that you set for us in devotion and prayer. In your name we pray,

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Sunday Scripture

I get rid of all these things: anger, passion, and hateful feelings.  No insults or obscene talk should ever come from my lips.  I will not lie to another, for I have put off my old self with its habits.
Colossians 3:8-9

Dear God, I understand that my belief in Your Son as my Lord and Savior gives me power to do all things.  His presence within me allows me to live a life full of love and kindness without hatred and obscenity.  I can get rid of all the things listed above because I have You living in me.  Please remind me of my wrongdoing and show me the way to better thinking and kind actions so that I may live more like Jesus and less like someone of this world.  

In Jesus' Name, Amen

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Have a Plan

In their hearts humans plan their course,
but the LORD establishes their steps. 
Proverbs 16:9

God doesn't want us to aimlessly walk through this life. He has created each of us with unique talents, desires, and dreams. It is the desire of God that we use these to make our life purposeful. Being in the will of God means using these talents, desires, and dreams to glorify our maker. If you are great at baking, then dream big with your skill. Have a plan how you will reach others with the treats you make. Do you want to own your own business that functions with Godly integrity, or do you simply want to invite others to your home and chat with them about life and your Lord? As you plan how you will use your gifts (physical, relational, monetary, etc) God will daily direct your steps. That's where faith and surrender come in. You don't have to work out every detail because as God directs you he will show you opportunities, redirect if necessary, and equip you with all you need to reach your dream. 
Dear Lord, You have created each of us in such a unique way. As we plan our futures help us to plan loosely so that you can direct the steps that we take. Slow us down to follow you, not run ahead of you on the paths of our lives. Along our path, place mentors and wise counsel so that we can make well informed decisions and use our time and resources wisely. And Lord, as we dream, let us dream big because you are a big and amazing God who delights in our desire to please you. Amen

Friday, June 27, 2014

Forgiveness Doesn't Remove One's Consequences

I have been thinking about forgiveness lately and I read a devotion that seemed to clarify something for me and as I thought long about it I realized that a lot of people may be withholding their forgiveness because they feel as if doing so takes away the persons consequences.  For me, I would say the biggest reason I ever have in forgiving a person is because I want to make them suffer for what they have done.  I want them to feel bad for hurting me, as if my anger and inability to forgive will be a consequence to his or her choice.  I was reminded of God's forgiveness and how it comes immediately when we ask, but there is still usually a consequence to our choices.  Consequences are a direct result of one's actions and choices so we have no control over the consequences of someone else's actions.  Forgiving isn't saying you are going to pretend it didn't happen.  Forgiving isn't allowing someone to continue hurting you.  Forgiving gives you freedom to love like Jesus did.

I was relieved to see that forgiving someone isn't pretending he didn't hurt me and it is not taking away any consequence to his actions.  He will still have to deal with the hurt he caused and there will still be a chance for him to repent of that and learn from his mistake.  What a relief to know that I am not a part of that process and I don't have to hold his sin over his head or continue to remind him what he did wrong.  It isn't up to my hate and withholding my forgiveness to teach him where he was wrong.  It is God's position to convict and our position is to forgive. 

Do not judge others, and God will not judge you; do not condemn others and God will not condemn you; forgive others and God will forgive you.
Luke 6:37


Thursday, June 26, 2014

Be Merciful!

Then the master called the servant in. "You wicked servant,' he said, 'I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn't you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you? In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed. "This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from the heart."
Matthew 18:32-35

In this passage, Jesus is engaged in a conversation with Peter. Peter has asked how many times he should forgive the person who has offended him offering the suggestion of up to 7 times. I can just see Jesus in his love and compassion tap the ground next to him as he grins a small grin that seems to say, 'Oh Peter my  boy, when will you begin to understand the ways of your Lord?' 

Jesus goes on in this passage to tell Peter a parable of a servant who was going to be sold into slavery because he could not pay back his large debt. After much begging and pleading from the debtor, the king allows him to go back to his family; the debt fully cancelled.

As the man, fully pardoned, heads for home, he sees his own servant who owes him a debt. He grabs him and chokes him, all the while demanding that his debt be paid. Though the servant begs for time to repay the debt, the man refuses and throws the servant into jail until his debt is paid. 

Word of this incident gets back to the king. The king is outraged that he cancelled a huge debt only to have the man retaliate on his own debtor. The king's response is to revoke the pardon and not just have the man imprisoned, but tortured as well until his debt is paid. 

Jesus then tells us that this is how God views our refusal to forgive others when we so willingly accept the forgiveness that He gives us. Forgiveness is a choice and a step in the healing process. It's not a one and done action. Though we've been offended and hurt by others, we must forgive them. Not because they deserve it, but because we are forgiven as well by our heavenly Father. Pray about forgiving the person who has sinned against you. In your healing process there will come a time when you must choose to forgive. When that time comes, do not withhold your forgiveness, but rather allow God to help you forgive so that in doing so, you can become more like your Father!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Content With Weakness.....

Since I know it is all for Christ's good, I am quite content with my weakness, with insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities.  For when I am weak, then I am strong.
2 Corinthians 12:10

No-one likes to admit when they are weak and most people I know don't like hardship and persecutions.  Most of us are found daily complaining about our weaknesses.  When we interview for jobs our prospective employer asks us to list our strengths and weaknesses.  We look in the mirror and find every ugly thing about us.  We complain about our troubles daily.  Insults make us defensive, and hardships depress us, so what on earth is Paul saying in this scripture?  How can he say he is proud to boast about his weaknesses and that he is content with them?  How on earth can he say his weakness makes him strong?

Paul is not living in his own strength.  He can be content because he doesn't have to worry about fixing it all on his own.  Just like Paul, we too can be content in our weakness.  Content - a state of peaceful happiness.  Paul was in this state because he knew that, although he nor his life was perfect, God's power was sufficient to get him through anything.  He was at peace with his faults and circumstances because God could work through those things to make better and glorify His name.  Paul understood that everything he endured on earth was for God's glory and that gave him peace.  

If I were to fight every hardship in my life with complaining and if I were to defend myself or try and change my circumstances in my own power then God could never be glorified and nothing good would come from my own power.  It would eventually run out and I would be left with more heartache and hardship.  If I relied on my own strength then I could never be content with the bad in my life because I would always be working to fix it.  What peace it must have felt for Paul to not worry about his problems but just trust in God's master plan.  To be at peace with his enemies, his stuttering voice, or his unfair circumstance.  He was content with his weakness because that made Him strong.  He had to rely on God and that gave him power to stand up to anything.  We can all be Paul's and stay content in our situations, hold back with our defensiveness and accept our troubles.  These very things give us reason every day to call on our God for help and strength and wisdom.  If we were all perfect and powerful then we would never need God, the source of REAL POWER.  The power to love the unloveable, forgive the unforgivable and teach the unteachable.  Thank you God for our weakness and our troubles without them we would be self sufficient leaving us weak and troubled!  Amen!!          

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Love Covers Sin

"Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other,  for love covers a multitude of sins." 
1 Peter 4:8

You've heard it said, "Love the sinner, and hate the sin."But in reality, how do we do this?
Others sin against us. They hurt our children. Their words and actions demean and cut us to the core. The sins of others leave pain and heartache in their wake of destruction. So, how on earth do we love the person whose sin is causing such pain?
Very simply stated, by the grace of God and nothing less! There is nothing "on earth" we can do to remedy this situation. We could seek revenge, but then we allow ourselves to go to a place of sin as well. We can ignore the person, but then how do we witness to Jesus' love if we don't offer ourselves as his hands and feet.
In order to love the sinner and hate the sin, we have to become fully aware of our own sins against God. Gossip, hate, anger, idolatry, selfishness, drunkenness, foul language… the list goes on and on. Notice I didn't include murder, unfaithfulness, fornication, adultery, and a host of other "biggies" because in the heart and eyes of the Lord, sin is sin. Yes, on earth sins carry varying degrees of consequences, but before God, the sin still renders us guilty.
We learn to love the sinner and hate the sin by sitting at the feet of our gracious Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. He was beaten, broken, bruised, insulted, humiliated, and crucified. Yet, he was absolutely sinless. When he finally spoke, his words were words of grace and humility, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do." We sit at his feet and ask him to humble us in our own sin. We ask him to show us his grace in abundance and thank him for his mercy. Just imagine if God gave you what you deserved- oh, the fear that brings to my soul! His mercy is in abundance and overwhelmingly mixed with unending grace.
We learn to offer grace to the sinner, by learning how much grace we ourselves really receive from our Savior. We learn to offer mercy by allowing God to show us how he has spared us from what we really deserve.
So, today I have to ask you a tough question. 'Where are you withholding grace and mercy?' I've been praying on a situation and time with God has taught me that when he asks something of me I must move quickly in response because delayed obedience is still disobedience. So, as I pray for you to extend mercy and grace to those who have hurt you, please pray for me to do so as well.

Lord, you are ever abounding in grace and mercy. Teach me to be humble, remembering my own sinful acts not as an area of shame, but as a catalyst for grace extended to others. Help me to see sinners as you see them, beautiful, worthy and lost. Use me, Lord to love and cover a multitude of sin. Amen

Monday, June 23, 2014

His Eye Is On The Sparrow

Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap, which have neither storehouse nor barn; and God feeds them.  Of how much more value are you than birds?
Luke 12:24

I was bombarded with reminders of Gods great love for me all day yesterday.  It started in church with the song His Eye Is On The Sparrow.  The lyrics are so comforting.  A song I grew up singing quite often in the Catholic church, I memorized the lyrics without really understanding what they meant.  Now as I am grown I can appreciate the meaning and the importance of this beautiful song to bring peace and healing to a worried soul.  

As my day progressed I received the same scripture twice that read:
Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Matthew 6:34

And then to top of my day I received the scripture from Luke that you read above.  Again I was reminded of providence and the way God has designed this world to care for even the smallest of living things.  I can confidently say after a day with so many reminders I will not worry.  God is so big and He knows what is best in my life and yours.  Why do we ever doubt Him?

Dear God, thank You for loving small me. In a world of so many people and animals I am important to You and You have my best interests in mind.  God, You want what is best for me and my future, my family and friends.  As my prayers go up, You are constantly working them all out.  I have nothing to fear nor one thing to worry about because I have the creator of the universe on my side.  Nothing is impossible for You and I will honor You by trusting in You today.  Amen     

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Sunday Scripture

Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill His promises to her!
Luke 1:45

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Something Brand-New!

For I am about to do a brand-new thing.  See I have already begun!  Do you not see it?  I will make a pathway through the wilderness for my people to come home.  I will create rivers for them in the desert.
Isaiah 43:19

I am smiling praising God for the scripture He gave me this morning.  The mother of one of my foster children has made a very tough decision.  One that has made her vulnerable and uncomfortable, but at the time, it is the best thing for her and her baby.  I was able to use this scripture to encourage her to keep going and remind her that God is on her side working things out on her behalf.  It also reminds me that although the situations and decisions we face may put us in uncomfortable positions it is sometimes what is needed to allow God to turn it into something brand-new!  Don't ever get discouraged if you are in a tough spot, but grab hold of this promise that God is working on something for you.  Something brand-new and beautiful..........a stairway out of your dark pit, a rainfall during your drought.  God is working and he promises to help His people and never stop until His plan is fulfilled!  Amen! 

Friday, June 20, 2014

Praise Him in the Little Things

I will praise the Lord at all times. I will constantly speak his praises. 
Psalm 34:1

It's easy to praise God for the "wow" moments… a beautiful new baby, a life redeemed, safety in a near accident, or a new job. But what about the little things, do we find reasons all day long to praise God.
The ants are gone from the kitchen! Thank you, Dear Lord. The washer and dryer, the dishwasher, the running water, the beautiful smile of a child, a text of encouragement from a friend… oh, there are so many little reasons to praise. 
Let's become a group of GFF's that praise Him all day long.
You are so amazing, and we praise your name today. Teach us to be a people of praise in both the big and the little things you do for us. But most of all, we praise you because you are God alone! No one compares to you! We love you.
Amen and amen

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Well Rounded Christian

The definition of nourishment is: the substances necessary for growth, health and good condition; the action of nourishing someone or something.  When I think of nourishing my body I immediately imagine eating healthy foods, and  drinking plenty of water.  While this is all good for our physical body there is a very important part of us that we many times forget.  Our spiritual well being needs nourished as well as our physical.  I found this scripture last night and realized that while in every occasion nourishment means taking things in, spiritual nourishment involves both taking in and giving out.

Meanwhile the disciples were urging Jesus to eat.  "No", he said, "I have food you don't know about."
"Who brought it to him?" the disciples asked each other.
Then Jesus explained, "My nourishment comes from doing the will of God, Who sent me, and from finishing His work.
John 34:31-34

The food Jesus was speaking of was related to His spiritual nourishment and it involved more than bible study, prayer and attending church.  Spiritual nourishment comes from doing the will of God.  It is not just taking in all the good things God has to offer.  While that is all very important and helps us grow in our relationship with Him, giving to God and following His commands will help us become well rounded, spiritually nourished individuals.  Life is a work in progress.  God's plan is always in progress and we are all a part of that plan.  It is our duty, as christians, to help carry out God's plan for salvation.  So next time you want to get closer to God and you feel like pampering yourself remember your spiritual needs.  Ask God what you can do for Him.  Tell Him you want to live in His will and ask Him to lead you.  Don't just think of the things you can take in and gather for yourself but use those things to give back to God and His plan for His people.  

Dear God, help me to remember my spiritual needs as well as my physical.  Remind me of Your will for my life and the people and things around me that need Your love and support.  You have given me this body to be used for You and I want to live in Your will.......doing the things that please You and help your plan for the world and Your people.  In Jesus' Name....Amen


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Write It Down!

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 forehead. Write them on the doorposts of your home and on your gates. Deuteronomy 6:6-9

I love these verses and God has put them before me frequently in the last few months. These verses tell us the value of writing down God's word, meditating on it, and sharing it with our children. 
Some years ago, I began journaling my time with God. I wasn't faithful at first. It was hit and miss. Usually I'd journal in a crisis! But in the last year, I've started writing down each scripture that I get throughout the day. I can then pray on each one. I can ask God to show me which ones to take to a deeper level of understanding and which ones to wait on. 
What I love the most is that, just like we do as earthly parents, God tends to repeat himself if something is important. For example, how many times have you told your child not to talk to strangers or to stay away from the pond unless a grown up is around. If it's important, we repeat ourselves time and again. 
Since I've started writing God's word down as he speaks it to me, I've begun to notice when he's repeating things for my good. If I get a scripture once, I pray on it. If I get it twice, I can be sure God wants my attention, and I tune into that message more intently. In the last few weeks I've received a scripture twice from my devotions and once from a trusted friend. You can bet I'm moving on that word from the Lord!
I can also look at all the things he's telling me in a collective group rather than taking a scripture and trying to apply it in isolation to my specific situation- which by the way is not the way to use the word of God. God's word acts as a whole. By writing down verses along with my prayers and thoughts, I can share with my accountability partner what I believe God is telling me and then she can pray specifically with me. 
The above scripture tells us to "Write them (God's words) on the doorposts of your home and on your gates." Today I encourage you to get a notebook and begin writing. Record God's word spoken to you through devotions, Godly friends, sermons, etc. Then revisit these daily to get a better understanding of what it is that God wants you to know and do!
If it's important… write it down!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The Spirit's Control

So dear brothers and sisters, you have no obligation whatsoever to do what your sinful nature urges you to do.  For if you keep on following it, you will perish.  But if through the power of the Holy Spirit you turn from it and its evil deeds, you will live.  For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God.
Romans 8:12-14

Romans 7:14-25 is a picture of our lives before we knew Christ.  It is the battle that occurred daily when we didn't understand the mercy and grace that became ours the day we believed in Jesus Christ and invited the Holy Spirit to dwell in our hearts.  We've all been there, knowing what was wrong but doing it anyway or knowing what we should be doing and doing the opposite.  In fact, I still encounter this fight often in my life but I was reminded that because the Holy Spirit lives in me this doesn't have to be my struggle anymore.  As I continued reading Romans 8:1-14, God showed me what my life should look like when I trust in His son, Jesus Christ, and the power of the Holy Spirit.

When we let our lives be controlled by the Spirit we can be free from this struggle between right and wrong.  We will have the power within us to always do what is right if we allow the Spirit of God to work in us and make our decisions for us.  The key is inviting the the Holy Spirit into our lives.  We won't have this power if we continue living for ourselves and making decisions based on our wants and desires.  Before believing in Jesus Christ this sinful nature controlled us so we have to choose Jesus as our Lord and Savior, allow God to transform us until we have the same desires as Him, and then allow the Spirit to give us the power to continue living that way.

If your sinful nature controls your mind, there is death.  But if the Holy Spirit controls your mind, there is life and peace.
Romans 8:6

Satan is always working on us and trying to find a way into our lives to destroy us.  My friends, we cannot fight off these temptations on our own.  We need the Spirit's guiding and power to stand up against satan and all his lies.  If you are struggling with sin in your life, or you know someone who is, please seek the help of the Holy Spirit to set you free.  Because we were born of the sinful nature we default back to sin without trusting our life to God and the power of the Holy Spirit.  You cannot fight satan alone.  You must decide today to let the Spirit control you.  (Romans 8:5)          

Monday, June 16, 2014

The Long Way Home

Many people are familiar with the Israelites 40 year journey in the desert. God delivered them from slavery in Egypt and set them off to freedom in "the promised land" of Canaan. What many people don't know is that the journey to Canaan was actually a journey that could have been made in only 11 days! Why then did it take so long?
God was not just concerned about his people receiving their inheritance of the land of plenty. He was also greatly concerned about the conditions of their hearts. They were a rebellious and doubting bunch. They watched his miraculous signs, yet wondered if he would meet their physical needs. He led them with a cloud by day and a pillar of fire at night. He parted The Red Sea, sent manna and quail in the desert, and a wide array of other miracles, yet their hearts rebelled and their minds doubted his presence and providence. The journey took 40 years because God wanted to refine their hearts. He wanted to teach them patience and dependence on Him alone.
So, let me ask you this, "Are you in the desert?" Does today find you on a journey that seems to be taking too long? If so, ask God to show you what lessons you are to be learning. It may well be that your journey is taking longer than you'd like because God is working in others who are taking this journey with you. But, regardless of the duration, you must not give up. Stay the course. Walk with God daily because soon you will hear him say as he did with the Israelites, "You have stayed long enough at this mountain. Break camp and advance into the hill country of the Amorites." (Deut. 1:6) Soon, God will deliver you from your wandering and send you into the land that he has prepared for you!

Dear Lord,
Forgive us for our rebellion and doubt. You have good planned for us, yet we fear the future and grow weary on the journey. We thank you that you are faithful and ask that you open our eyes to see the things you are doing in and around us. Break our hearts until you are all we desire. And then, send us into the land you've prepared so that we can share your greatness with others.
In your name we pray,

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Sunday Scripture

He who fears the LORD has a secure fortress, and for his children it will be a refuge.
Proverbs 14:26

Dear God we pray for fathers on this beautiful day as we celebrate the men in our lives.  We ask you to bless those men who keep your commandments and fear your Name.  Pursue those men who don't know you yet and bring back the fathers who have lost their way.  Help fathers everywhere to trust in you and to make their homes a safe place for their children and grandchildren.  Show every father today truth of your great love and the love they are to share with their children.  Make our fathers's strong in You and help them to step up and be Godly leaders in their homes and communities.  We thank you, Father, for your provision and guidance.  We think of you this Father's day and we love you so much.  Protect our men in a world that seems to be attacking men and families.  Lift them up and bring revival upon our nation and communities.  In Jesus' Name Amen.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Evil for Good

"You intended to harm me," Joseph explained, "but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives." Genesis 50:20

Joseph's brothers were jealous of him because he was the favored son of their father. They grew weary of his behaviors or preferential treatment and decided to do away with him. First they thought of killing him, but luckily his oldest brother stood up against that act. He was however,  sold into slavery. As a result Joseph endured much pain, loneliness, and heartache. But Joseph honored God through it all. Many years later he was reunited to his brothers. Rather than seek revenge, here's his response...
"You intended to harm me," Joseph explained, "but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives." Genesis 50:20
I can attest to the pains and trials of the evils that others impose on us. They delight in hurting us and find pleasure in seeing us oppressed by their evil. But look up and take your eyes off the circumstance! Ask God what he wants you to learn in your circumstance. Cling to Him for dear life. Let your words and actions reflect God in everything. Though your enemy intended to harm you, at the proper time, God will deliver you. He will then use your story, your new skills, and His love in you to change and save the lives of many people. 

Friday, June 13, 2014

Choose Life

Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens.  He never changes or casts a shifting shadow.
James 1:17

Every good and perfect gift is given to us from God.  He is the creator of love and kindness so for us to think for one moment that He would give us illness or disease is contradictory to who He is.  You could say that God allows these things to happen therefore He gives them to us, but my friend, God does not choose this for us, nor does he use it to discipline us.  Since the beginning of time God has given His people choice.  He has also given satan minimal access to our lives, and although some things are allowed, God is not allowing satan to use it as correction.  God allows it to be used for His Glory and our benefit if we choose so.

When we are told that we have an illness, or we find ourselves in a bad situation, our response can go one of two ways.  We can choose to let it defeat us or we can choose to take authority and defeat it.  We always have this choice and so the words and thoughts that we have can conquer us or bring us victory over our situation.  Hope in God's ability to heal and correct our situation is all we need to trust in His power to save and bring Glory to His name.  When we trust our illness and circumstance in God's hands we are choosing to allow God to make good out of our bad choices or satan's attack.  We all have the power to resist illness and the authority to stop satan in His tracks, by believing that our God is not out to hurt us but standing right beside us fighting for us daily.  Whether our choices bring Him Glory or harm He will never leave our side and He is always ready to give us His good and perfect gifts.

Friends we pray for you today that you are choosing wisely.  That instead of blaming God for your circumstance or illness you are trusting in Him and choosing to allow Him to heal you and protect you.  Do not let satan have control over you for one more moment but break free from His lies and accept God's good and perfect gifts.  Choose life for yourself and watch God do amazing things!

Today I give you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses.  I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make.  Oh, that you would choose life, that you and your descendants might live!
Deuteronomy 30:19       

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Choose The Lord

 “So fear the Lord and serve him wholeheartedly. Put away forever the idols your ancestors worshiped when they lived beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt. Serve the Lord alone.  But if you refuse to serve the Lord, then choose today whom you will serve. Would you prefer the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates? Or will it be the gods of the Amorites in whose land you now live? But as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord.”
Joshua 24:14-15

Put away the people and things that take first place to God.  Those things and people who push God aside and require your full attention have become your idols and the big question today is that you must decide one in whom who you serve.  Joshua was not forcing His God on anyone He was just telling them to choose a god and stick to it.  Do you have more than one God?  Do you rely on more than one god to provide for you, heal you and to fill you up when you are empty? So many of us go to a different God for the many circumstances in our lives but there is One God who can provide every need if we would just fear Him.  Fearing God is understanding the power He has over our lives and this universe.  It is giving Him the respect He deserves through service and love.  We don't fear God like we fear a tornado because of all the destruction it brings.  We fear God because of the good things He brings but His power is so great and His love and jealousy so powerful that if we don't follow Him and His commands it can lead to destruction for us.  We fear the unknown future without Him in it and we hand over our life to The Lord who has complete control.  

Do you have more than on god in your life?  Do you look to sex to fill you up, is money your master and your job your provider?  Are your friends who you rely on for support and wisdom?  Do you trust your doctor or the Great Healer?  There are so many things that we put our trust in but there should be only one God in whom we trust with our whole life.  One God in whom we go to first with every need.  There is only One True God who can be everything to you.  I won't be like Joshua and give you a choice.  I'm going to urge you to choose The Lord today.  I want you to put your whole faith in Him and trust Him with your every need. Hand over all your other security blankets and all your other gods that take precedence over The Lord and try trusting in just one God, The God, The Great I Am!      

Monday, June 9, 2014

Spiritual Exercise

Physical exercise has some value, but spiritual exercise is valuable in every way, because it promises life both for the present and for the future.
1 Timothy 4:8

Some time ago I was waking up early to exercise.  I was was done having children and it was time for me to get back into shape and make my body presentable.  My children were young and the best time for me was early mornings, before they woke up and kept me busy all day.  At first, it was hard to wake up at 5:30 in the morning.  It took time to start seeing results of my hard work so somedays it was much easier to stay in bed.  Once I started noticing a difference in my health and shape I was motivated to get out of bed.  People started making comments about my appearance and that really kept me going.  My life was starting to revolve around that exercise.  I thought about it a lot and if I didn't do it one day I could no longer just shrug it off.  It began to consume me and I couldn't stand the guilt of not getting it in.  Friends, exercise became my idol.  I wasn't taking time to talk to God every day and I wasn't even thinking about getting into His Word.  Yes, on occasion I attended bible study but that is as far as my spiritual exercise got.  

Physical exercise became my god and I was thinking about it every day.  I was spending my time doing it every day and I revolved my schedule around it every day.  My physical exercise was keeping me healthy and fit which had a huge value in my life but unfortunately I let it take the place of God.  I was not spiritually healthy something that I needed to get me a lot farther in life and in my relationships.  A healthy heart and nice legs will only get me compliments and some extra years added to my life but if those years are not spent with God and living in His will they aren't really worth it.       

When I finally decided to change my life and put God first I knew the exercise had to be replaced with God time.  Why?  For me it had become an idol and I had to tear it down completely.  I could not let myself go there for fear that it would take over my life again and replace my time with God.  After replacing exercise with God I was able to change my whole perspective on life.  My spiritual training has prepared me for much more than looking good.  It has given me a reason to live and grow with God.  God keeps me coming back for more every day and the things I learn with Him will stay with me and help me for my whole life.  Not like exercise that when you quit or take a break you lose all that hard work.  When you are spiritually fit you will not ever lose that, even when you take a break or lose focus, God's training will always stay with you.  You can't hit a peak and stop seeing results either!  It is valuable and ongoing.

I am in no way telling any of you to quit exercising, in fact, it is probably time for me to get doing it too.  I am just warning you of the dangers of letting exercise consume you and become your idol.  I am reminding you all that a fine balance between physical and spiritual exercise is best, and if you don't have time for both then pick God first and trust Him with your health and physical appearance until you are strong enough to juggle both.  God will take care of those distractions that cause you to stumble if you trust Him and give Him your time.  I know that He took care that for me when I stopped exercising.  I didn't gain weight and I didn't stress out about my appearance.......God allowed me to enjoy my time with Him and took away the worry about my lack of exercise.  Your spiritual body and mind are way more important than getting into that swim suit this summer.  

Dear God, help me to keep my focus on you and my relationship with you.  There are so many distractions in life and things I should probably be doing but I know the most important is spending time with you.  I want to hand over the things that are taking place over you and decide today to put you first.  I love you and thank you for never ever leaving my side and being patient with me.  Help me to lay down my idols and begin my spiritual exercise journey.  Amen

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Sunday Scripture

"I will be like a shepherd, looking for his scattered flock. I will find my sheep and rescue them from all over the places to which they were scattered on that dark day." Ezekiel 34:12

Are you praying for someone that is spiritually lost? Has your family been torn apart by the evil of the enemy, and you long to be reunited? Whatever your situation, I promise you that if you lay it before the Lord, it will be redeemed. God is love, and love never quits; it always perseveres! So in love for your loved ones, press on. Continue lifting them to the Shepherd. Jesus has his eye on your loved one, and he is gently leading him unto himself. Whatever you do, don't give up!

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Understand God's Love and Submission Will Come

I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit.  Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong.  And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is.  May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.
Ephesians 3:16-19

I can't help but think the reason more people don't submit their will to The Father is because their perspective is all wrong.  I believe that if more people looked for God in their everyday and tasted His goodness and love they wouldn't think twice about submitting to God.  Think about why people submit to others.  Why do wives submit to their husbands?  When someone feels loved and respected it is so easy to submit to them and respect them back.  When we don't look for God through scripture and blessings in our life we will never understand how much He loves us.  And if we don't feel loved by God we won't submit to His will.

So if you are having difficulty handing over your will and life to God.....if you have a hard time trusting God with every piece of your life, then you need to first understand how much He loves you.  Friend, dig into your bible and read about God's love for you, claim it and really let it soak in.  Take God's love for you from your head and let it settle in your heart.  When you feel His love and mercy you will be more willing to submit to Him and trust Him with your life.  When I finally understood how deeply God loved me I was more willing to trust Him on a regular basis, and with things that were not easy to let go of.  Today I am able to place my life in His hands because I believe He loves me so much that He has my best interest in mind.  But this love, although always there, is something that I need to experience every day.  I need to be looking for Him in the small things and have a perspective that will allow me to see Him working in my life.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Faithful Friends

"He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many." 
2 Corinthians 1:11

This verse is so dear to my heart. I am blessed with friends and family who intercede in prayer faithfully. I simply have to say, "Please pray," and I can feel the ground shake as their knees hit the floor before our God. Because these friends are righteous, there is power in their prayers. As they petition before the throne on my behalf, I can feel hope and joy overcome my heart. They carry me to God when I am too weary to go on my own. When my strength returns, I am renewed and ready to carry on in the battle. Together we will give thanks to God when he has delivered us from this 'glorious mess!' If it weren't for my GFF's I can honestly say I don't think I'd be standing firm today. I love you GFF's!

If you want to see the ultimate power in prayer pray for at least one friend who will be your GFF, your God First Friend. One person who will meet with you weekly, study scripture, rebuke you when needed, and pray for you without ceasing. As a result of your intimate spiritual friendship many will give thanks for the mighty works that God does in your life to the honor of his name!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Shallow Soil

One Day Jesus told this story to a large crowd that had gathered from many towns to hear him: "A farmer went out to plant some seed.  As he scattered it across his field, some seed fell on a footpath, where it was stepped on, and the birds came and ate it.  Other seed fell on shallow soil with underlying rock.  This seed began to grow, but soon it withered and died for lack of moisture.  Other seed fell among thorns that shot up and choked out the tender blades.  Still other seed fell on fertile soil.  This seed grew and produced a crop one hundred times as much as had been planted."  When he had said this, he called out, "Anyone who is willing to hear should listen and understand!"
Luke 4:4-8

For a good portion of my life I was like shallow soil.  I heard God's word in church and through bible study, but it never penetrated my heart.  Even words of salvation and grace were familiar to me and I accepted them as gifts but it wasn't until I allowed God's word to travel from my head to my heart that I really understood them and let them transform me and my way of thinking.  God's word had moments of falling on me and like the shallow soil they entered my head where I was able to think of them from time to time but as soon as they tried penetrating my heart the sin and my ideas of fun got in the way.  Those "rocks" didn't allow His words to enter my heart and so there I sat for too long knowing about God but not knowing Him and feeling His presence in my life.  When I was shallow soil God's word didn't affect me enough to change my behavior.  So many years of my sin and problems and my burning desire to find God began cultivating me and when I decided I wanted to change God began working on me, turning me and little by little He added new fresh soil until I became fertile soil. Once God's word entered my heart I was able to apply it to my life.  It gave me a new perspective and now I am able to place my whole life on Him.  I encourage you to open your bibles and read this scripture and continue into Jesus' explanation of the soils.  I ask you to read the helpers and study each verse until you understand what Jesus is sharing.  What kind of soil are you?  What kind of soil do you want to be?  

Dear God thank you for your Word that I may grow closer to you and in my understanding of you.  God, you were patient with me in those time when I was rocky, and thorny.  I ask you to continue working on me and cultivating my life so that I will continue growing closer to you.  I love you and all that my life holds in your promises.  You are my firm foundation!  Amen 

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

We've Missed the Mark

If we claim that we're free of sin, we're only fooling ourselves. A claim like that is errant nonsense. On the other hand, if we admit our sins-make a clean breast of them- he won't let us down; he'll be true to himself. He'll forgive our sins and purge us of all wrongdoing. If we claim that we've never sinned, we out-and-out contradict God- make a liar out of him. A claim like that only shows of our ignorance of God. 1 John 8-10 MSG

I don't know where you've been. I don't know what you've done, thought, or experienced. I don't know if your sins are blatant, hidden, or subtle. But you've sinned. Right now, someone is probably upset with me and ready to click off this page because I've called you a sinner and you feel judged. But please read on.
"Sin" is an archery term. It means to miss the mark; to fail to hit the bullseye. In our culture the term sin has become a weapon to accuse, belittle, or demean another person. When in reality, God wants us to acknowledge our sin in order to make us better. You see, if you were an archer and you missed the mark, or committed a sin, you'd change the way you were shooting and try again with the goal of hitting the bullseye. Knowing you'd 'sinned' would cause you to work at becoming better.

1 John 1:9 tells us that, "If we confess our sin he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sin and cleanse us from all unrighteousness." We are human. We've missed the mark and when we do, God wants to make us better. He has the process all laid out so we can be well. He will be faithful to do his part, but we must do ours as well. Here it is in a nutshell:
*Admit your sins against God and others.
*God will forgive you.
*Receive his forgiveness.
*Continue on in His word and in your relationship with him in order that he may continue to reveal your sins to you and grow you into the person he intended for you to be.

The sadness and shame of sinning comes when we fail to acknowledge it before the Lord. It is then that sin eats us alive from the inside out. Unconfessed sin leads to more sin and creates distance between us and God. But sins that are confessed with a humble heart are forgiven and forgotten in the eyes of the Lord. Freedom and peace replace sadness and shame.

Dear Lord,
Search our hearts and reveal to us the sins that we have committed against you. Bring them to our hearts and minds that we may confess them and live in your grace and forgiveness. Teach us to be quick to ask forgiveness in order to keep lines of communication open with you. Amen

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Change Your Own Life

In the same way, you wives must accept the authority of your husbands. Then, even if some refuse to obey the Good News, your godly lives will speak to them without any words. They will be won over by observing your pure and reverent lives. Don’t be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes.  You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God.
1 Peter 3:1-4

I can remember when I first made a real effort to dig into God's word.  I knew I needed to be closer to God so I started a bible study with a friend.  The study was on marriage and I was sure that mine could use some improvement.  My husband and I got along great but I believed he had some areas that could stand to be changed and I just knew that this study would show me how to "fix" him.  (yes that sounds really bad coming out now and at the time, not understanding a lot about life, I really believed it to be true)  So we got started on this study and soon I was put in my place.  Instead of changing my husband, I realized the problem and solution lied within me.  I found out many things through that study and most importantly it was the first time I ever really grasped the idea of changing myself and worrying about my actions (you could say I was a bit prideful, maybe my own god?).  It humbled me and showed me that in all circumstances it really boils down to my actions and myself.  I should never get too caught up in how anyone else is behaving or acting but focus on my behavior and how I can act to represent God.  I was the one who changed through that study and I still use many of the tools I learned from it.  

Friends, this scripture above changed my marriage because I stopped focusing on my husbands faults and looked inward at my own wrongdoings.  I was able to give up my pride and see that if I wanted my marriage to work and be a happy one then it was my duty to live the way God wanted me too.  I had to find myself and understand who God wanted me to be, His daughter, a mother and wife in Christ.  I had to begin a relationship with God to better learn who I was so I could start changing the way I lived so that my husband could see that change.  I couldn't continue living the way I had, if I wanted something to change then it had everything to do with my change of life and nothing to do with changing my husband.  Am I perfect now?  Absolutely not!  Do I fall back into old habits?  Unfortunately yes.  Am I as much concerned about my husband faults and trying to fix him?  No, because it is only my life that I can control and change and fix.  God just wants us all to know Him personally and as we get to know Him our behavior will change and begin to follow after the pattern of Jesus Christ.  I am constantly working with God to change me.  I trust this scripture that states when I change my behavior and start living a Godly life then my husband will follow.  I don't have to be a nagging, dripping faucet.....I don't have to speak a word about his life and the changes I expect to see from him.  My focus is taken off of him and put on myself......the only person I can and ever will be in charge of changing.  


Monday, June 2, 2014

You're Not Alone

"And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." Matthew 28:20b

I'm very much a people person. I like to watch people and talk to people. I just enjoy being around others. The last few weeks I've had to do several things alone. I can honestly say I didn't like it. But the other evening I had to attend a graduation...alone. I considered not going, but decided that was the coward's way out. I had to go! As I walked in, I scanned the room looking for welcoming faces. Everyone was engaged in conversation. The people I knew relatively well were already visiting or were in areas that didn't have empty seats. The rest of the crowd consisted of unfamiliar faces. For a fleeting moment I thought, "I'll greet the graduate, drop the card and leave. I hate being alone." Then I heard this soft voice say, "You're not alone." 
I heard the Spirit remind me that I was not alone; even in this crowd where no one welcomed me into their group, I was not alone. Instantly my confidence rose! I could do this. I proceeded to fill a plate and sat down. I sat in the middle of the crowd, with empty chairs on all sides of me and ate my meal. All the while I smiled because I wasn't alone. My savior and my friend sat with me at this table.
Let this be a reminder that you too are never alone!  
Thank you, Lord, that you never leave us alone. Even when we are physically alone or lost in a crowd, you are right beside us! You are an amazing God and I am so thankful for the relationship we have. Praise your name, because you are worthy! Amen and Amen!