Sunday, November 30, 2014

God's Will For You (Part 3)

We've been looking at God's will for the last 2 days. Today we will add a 3rd aspect of His will.

1. God’s will is that you put your faith in him, trust in his sovereignly, and are thankful.
2. God’s will is that you remain in him. 

3. God’s will is that you become sanctified holy.
“It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister. The Lord will punish all those who commit such sins, as we told you and warned you before. For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. Therefore, anyone who rejects this instruction does not reject a human being but God, the very God who gives you his Holy Spirit.” 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8 

Sanctification means to make holy. Holy means dedicated or devout, to be consecrated for sacred purposes. It is God’s will that we be made pure so that we can be used to serve his purposes, to complete his plan. God’s desire is for us to become pure and blameless. Our only standard for this is Christ. We can’t look to the world to find what purity looks like. Christ was the pure, blameless lamb that was sacrificed for our sin. His blood covers us. He is our means to understanding purity. God wants to purge us of all evil. He commanded Moses to tell the people “Speak to the entire assembly of Israel and say to them: ‘Be holy because I, the Lord your God, am holy. Leviticus 19:2 

*How do we become holy? How do we know the will of the Father? 
Romans 12:2 says, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

You begin by allowing God to transform your mind. 
Transform means to “make a thorough or dramatic change in the form, appearance, or character of.”

That means you offer your mind to God for transformation. It means you are willing to be changed. We begin by reading the Bible, talking with other fruit-bearing Christians, and praying. Our prayer must be for God to be the desire of our hearts, the one and only desire! To have his mind!

Saturday, November 29, 2014

God's Will For You (Part 2)

Yesterday we saw that God's will is that you put your faith in him, trust in his sovereignly, and are thankful.
1 Thessalonians 5:18, “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 

Let's look at another aspect of God's will. 

2. God’s will is that you remain in him. 
“And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever” (1 John 2:17).

Abide means ‘to remain or continue’. It is God’s will for us to remain in him. That  means we are in our walk with him for the long haul. He wants to move us on to  maturity. In John 15:4 Jesus says, “ Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No  branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.” 
God wants us to have the character of Jesus. Why? Because he is the character of God!
To abide in Jesus means to stick with him. If we stay connected to Jesus we will be changed. God’s spirit will act within us to draw us nearer to the heart of the Jesus and to God. We can’t be near God and not be changed. Change is evidenced in our fruit
When I read ‘bear fruit’ I am lead to think of both internal and external fruit. In our abiding, we are changed internally. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. These are internal changes. Changes to our character. As we take on Christ’s character internally, we take on his external purpose as well. Christ’s purpose was to create disciples, and he commands us to do the same. Matthew 28:19 says, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”  We know we are abiding in Christ when we begin to emulate him resulting in the external fruit of discipleship of others. No fruit, no abiding!

Friday, November 28, 2014

God's Will For You (Part 1)

I was asked this question by a friend whose desire is to please God in all things...“How do I know if something is the will of God or my own will? I can justify about anything...” I am so smiling because I know God smiled at that sincere, heartfelt question. What else could delight our Father so much as a heart willing to seek his will. I found 4 aspects of God's will that we will look at over the next 4 days.

What is God’s will for you?

1. God’s will is that you put your faith in him, trust in his sovereignly, and are thankful.
1 Thessalonians 5:18, “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 

This verse shows me that God’s will is to trust in his sovereignty. We are to praise him in ALL circumstances. ALL means he is over everything. Nothing happens that he is not aware of prior to its happening. He has a plan and has had one from the beginning. Scripture shows us his faithfulness to that plan. In faith, we trust that all things are part of his plan, though we don’t always like or understand, we accept that he is in control. 
It is his will that we learn to praise him in all circumstances. Not because of what he does or doesn’t do, but because of who he Is!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Be So Thankful!

No matter what happens, always be thankful, for this is God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:18

As I spend my quiet time with God this morning I am trying so hard to think of all the things I am thankful for.  Things this week haven't exactly gone as expected and today isn't the day I had planned for.   I could easily sit here and think of the wrong that has occurred and what my day could have/should have been like.  I could stay disappointed and feel sorry for my situation but today I choose to be thankful in all circumstances.  No I am not pretending things are just fine and dandy, but I am choosing to sit at the feet of Jesus, cry it all out and hand it all over for this moment, and thank Him for all that is good in my life.  I know I am not the only one who was expecting a different day and now dealing with changes that were out of my control.  There are some of you who are missing a loved one, some of you may be stuck working, maybe you are away from your family on this special day or you are feeling a bit under the weather.  Whatever has tried to spoil your thankfulness, gather up all your strength, grab your bible and spend time handing over your hurt.  I just did and I feel much better.  Will it last all day?  Maybe not, I may be praying every hour, if needed, but I will refuse to let satan tell me my day should be/could be better.  God knew this day was coming for me and He knows just what I need to make it through.  He has all the provision I need for today and if I don't ask Him for it then I will never make it.  But when asking I have to be willing to let Him in.  I have to be willing to change my attitude to better align with His will.  

Yes God!  I have so much to be thankful for.  You love me with an everlasting, unconditional love that my brain cannot possible comprehend!  Your love provides everything I could ever need in life.  Please take away my hurt today and help me to be thankful for what I have in You.  Amen!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Depend on God

Watch this: God's eye is on those who respect him, the ones who are looking for his love.  He's ready to come to their rescue in bad times; in lean times he keeps body and soul together.  We're depending on God; he's everything we need.  What's more, our hearts brim with joy since we've taken for our own his holy name.  Love us, God, with all you've got - that's what we're depending on.
Psalm 33:18-22

Oh how I needed this!  How comforting it is to know that no matter what kind of day I am having, God is looking for me.  He is searching for me because I love and respect Him.  I am seeking to know so much more about Him and I desire His amazing love for me.  I can't imagine what it would feel like going through a bad day without the assurance of God rescuing me.  Just picture with me the moment you get a phone call that stops your world, in an instant.  Something you were least expecting just became part of your life and you don't know what to do with the anger, pain and confusion.  Now visualize the almighty God, your Daddy, searching for you, calling out to you because He understands the pain you are in.  You see, He has been waiting for this exact moment when your world would come crashing down.  He saw it coming, He has planned for this very day to swoop down and rescue you.  See yourself being held in His arms while He shushes His baby girl's sobs, while He wipes the tears from your eye and puts His big, strong arms around you to hold you.  He is patient with you while you weep, and when the time is right, He puts his big hands under your arms and lifts you to your feet.  He stands you on His strong foundation, holding you up until you gather your balance.  When your flesh is saying no, but God is saying yes, He will hold your body and soul together!  If you are willing, He will tenderly align your will with His.

Now go and depend on God for everything you need.  If you are in an unhealthy marriage and your spouse doesn't talk to you anymore, depend on God.  If your kids are making poor decisions, depend on God.  If you face an uncertain future, depend on God.  If someone has hurt you, depend on God.  If your health is poor, depend on God.  If you've lost a loved one, depend on God.  The list could go on for hours.......whatever the need we should find comfort in depending on God to give us everything we need.  And then take it one step further, and the joy that comes from trusting in God and believing that He will take care of us, in all circumstances, will overflow from you.

Life gets hard, and the closer we walk with God, sometimes, the harder life gets.  The more we die to ourselves, the more often we find ourselves sacrificing in the Name of Jesus Christ.  We put ourselves out there and risk loss and pain because God's love lives in us, and our character is transformed into the image of His son.  Moments like that described above become more frequent as God is shaping us into His perfect and finished product.  So as we accept that which we cannot change, we count on God to rescue us!

Dear God, You make me smile with Your words of comfort.  I can see You seeking me, worrying about me, and taking care of my sadness and hurt.  You are an amazing comforter with our Words of Hope and renewal.  I sometimes hate the pain I must go through, but the closeness I feel in those moments when You hold me..........that feels so good.  Please continue to love me with all You've got, that's what I am depending on!  In Jesus' Name Amen    

Tuesday, November 25, 2014


"For where two or three gather in my name, there I am with them." Matthew 18:20

Jeff and I were at the Colts' game on Sunday. I was watching the game when I noticed out of the corner of my eye, several people rise all at once. Then it was done.  I refocused on the game.  Soon I noticed it again. As I looked back beyond the crowd, I saw one man who stood out from all the rest. He was standing on a step looking around, waving with all his might at the crowd encircling him. He then motioned to 3 other men a few rows below him; they joined him with enthusiasm. With his body motions I could watch him count. As he counted his arms conducted the crowd to respond with him...1, 2, 3! And with that the entire section stood to do the wave. First it lasted for about 2 sections. But he rallied the crowd and tried again. He counted, they responded, and this time the wave proceeded for about another 5 sections. Time and again he tried. There was no stopping his spirit! Eventually, the crowd responded and the wave encircled the stadium at least 3 times consecutively! It was a thrill to watch as a few responded to the leadership of one and then worked together to encourage others to do the same. The thrill for me was not to spur on the Colts but to think of the power within one Christian to change the lives of so many!
Much the same, when we respond to Jesus as our leader, we can change an entire community for his purposes. It only takes the heart of one who is sold out for the Lord to create a ripple effect that reaches thousands. As I witnessed the sea of blue respond in the wave yesterday, I prayed asking God to make me that kind of woman. One who is relentless in her faith. I also thanked him that is one in Christ, Jeff and I are on the same team!

Lord, Give us all the faith that changes the world around us. Teach us to be steadfast in you so that we can change the world around us! We love you, Lord! And today I celebrate the work you are doing in my own life and in my home! Go, Jesus!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Sunday Scripture

Oh what a wonderful God we have!  How great are His riches and wisdom and knowledge!  How impossible it is for us to understand His decisions and His methods!
Romans 11:33

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Thankful for the little things

"So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness." Colossians 2:6-7

I love finding God in the little things! Today as I begin to anticipate Thanksgiving, I want to focus on being thankful for the little things. Here are a few as I get started...

  1. Reading the Bible with my husband.
  2. Getting to accompany my grandson on his first combine ride.
  3. A card sent from a friend.
  4. The joy of a daughter's heart over her score on a difficult test.
  5. "Gwamma, where are you?" the words I hear as my granddaughter enters my home.
  6. Being asked to pray with a friend.
  7. A paycheck!
  8. Gas was $2.75
  9. Cinnamon rolls for breakfast.
  10. My adult children are independent.
What are you thankful for today? Challenge yourself to find 100 things to be thankful for by next Thursday! Write them down and then really spend the day celebrating our wonderful God!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Sacrifice Of Praise

I never really understood what the phrase "sacrifice of praise" meant until I began to understand the story of Paul and Silas when they were beaten and thrown into the jail.  Shackled in chains and treated like murderers, for nothing more than speaking truth and healing for many people, they were able to praise God.  When I am wronged and misunderstood I have to admit it can be hard to do anything but be angry with the people that hurt me.  And after that statement I can say that I understand why it is a sacrifice to praise God when things are going wrong.  The world would tell us to fight back and get angry.  The world tells us to get revenge and even wants to convince us that it is God's fault.  As mentioned in day 1 of this lesson, sacrifice is the act of giving up something you want to keep.  When we are having a bad day or life is messy don't we sometimes feel like being grumpy about it?  Don't we try to justify our rude or brash behavior when we are in a bad mood?  Yes, when we are wronged or things aren't working out for us we get mad and not only do we get mad we want to stay mad, hang on to that anger and blame others or argue back and seek revenge.  Or what about that thing you have been praying for and you don't seem to be getting answers?  It is a huge sacrifice to praise God during those times.  It is even harder to praise the person that has just hurt you or the doctor who just told you that you have cancer.  Friends, next time you are in a tough spot and things are making you angry, and scared, the best thing you can do for yourself is go to God, drop at His feet or stand tall with arms stretched to the heavens and praise God with everything you have.  Sacrifice your fears, dark feelings and disappointment, offer it all up to God and praise Him for being with you through it all.  Praise Him for His ability to help you in the days and months ahead as you deal with your pain.  This true sacrifice, offering up something that the world encourages us to hang on to, is our way to freedom in Jesus Christ.  We can stand when others expect to see us fall because we trust our God to help us!

With Jesus' help, let us continually offer our sacrifice of praise to God by proclaiming the glory of His name.
Hebrews 13:15

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Sacrifice (Part 3)

 "Therefore I urge you brothers and sisters, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God- this is your true and proper worship." Romans 12:1 NIV

"And so dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God for all he has done for you, Let them be a living and holy sacrifice- the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him." Romans 12:1 NLT

In the times of Moses, animal sacrifices were given as an atonement for the sins of the people. This was a foreshadowing of the coming of Christ. Christ's blood poured out on the cross covers the sins of all man. When God looks at us, he sees the blood of his son, freely given as a sacrifice for our sin. Christ took the penalty for our sin- we are covered by his blood therefore, no longer is an animal sacrifice needed. He paid the penalty once for all. 

When Paul urges us to offer our bodies as living sacrifices, he is encouraging us to respond to what God has done for us in the sacrifice of Christ, his only son. He is also calling us to reflect upon Christ's willingness to be that sacrifice. How else can we respond, but to allow ourselves to be made holy and used as an instrument for His purposes. 

Romans 12:2 goes on to tell us how to be a living sacrifice. "Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is- his good, pleasing and perfect will." 

Our sacrifice is to daily commune with God. To spend time praising him, learning about him, deepening our love and trust in him. To turn away from the ungodliness of the world depicted through materialism, lust, media, and our own selfish nature.

How does this look in practical terms? It is a sacrifice to turn off the TV and read your Bible. It is a sacrifice to go to church or Bible Study on your day off. It is a sacrifice to keep quiet when we would love to defend ourselves or return a negative comment. Sacrifice is denying ourselves a treat so we can offer our money to a mission. Sacrifices come when we bow our head and praise him for his goodness in the midst of a trial. You are offering yourself as a living sacrifice when you train your mind to focus on Christ rather than let it run wildly with worry and fear.

What sacrifices will you offer the Lord today?

Dear Father-
Today I humbly offer you my mind and body for your will and your service. Teach me to live moment by moment as a sacrifice to you. You sent your son to sacrifice his life for mine. I can never repay this debt. But the best I have to offer is by living for you. Thank you, Dear Lord, for loving me so much. I love you.
In Jesus' name,

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Sacrifice (Part 2)

"Then God said, "Take our son, your only son, whom you love-Isaac- and go the the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you." Genesis 22:2

A sacrifice is defined in the Merriam-Webster Online dictionary as follows:
-the act of giving up something you want to keep especially in order to get or do something else or to help someone
- the act of killing a person or animal in a religious ceremony as an offering to please God

In the Old Testament, sacrifice of animals was required in order to cover sin. The blood of the animal covered the sin of man and made restitution between God and the people. As I began to look into scripture, I was once again captivated by the story of Abraham and God's command to offer as a sacrifice Isaac, Abraham's beloved son. Take a moment sometime today and read Genesis 22:1-19 from your Bible.

God's request of Abraham was this, "Take your only son, whom you love- Isaac- and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you." The very next morning Abraham arises, loads the donkey with wood for the fire, travels 3 days, and takes Isaac to Mount Moriah. He proceeds to bind Isaac and place him on the alter. Now you might be looking at this passage and thinking, "This is crazy. How could Abraham do such a thing? Didn't he care about Isaac at all? I could never give my child as a sacrifice. He had 3 days, why didn't he wake up and run home."

God knew Isaac loved his son. God even said, "your only son, whom you love." Abraham had another son, Ishmael, but obviously in his heart, Isaac was the favored son! So how could he decide to sacrifice his beloved son? What we have to understand is that Abraham and God had a history. A history where God had proven his faithfulness to Abraham in the past time and again. They had a history where Abraham had learned to be radically, instantly obedient. Their history proved God would never bring Abraham harm. Abraham trusted God.

Isaac was learning about sacrifice also. He knew that to offer sacrifice they needed a lamb. As they walked, Isaac questioned Abraham saying, "Where is the lamb?" And Abraham's response is this, "God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son." We see Abraham's complete trust in those few words.

As the story draws to a close, Isaac was bound, placed on the alter, and Abraham was found holding a knife above his son in preparation to slay him. Just then an angel appeared and told Abraham not to kill his son. About that time, a stirring in the thicket revealed a ram struggling to free himself. God had faithfully provided! Abraham "offered" Isaac as a sacrifice and that was all God needed to show the depths of Abraham's heart. The child didn't need to be sacrificed, he just needed to be willing to give him if the Lord wanted him.

What I learned about sacrifice from this passage is this:
1. Sacrifice has to cost us something. (Taking the clothes I no longer wear to Goodwill is not a sacrifice. It is a gift!)
2. Sacrifice demands obedience out of love for our Father. It will not be easy! And that's why it's called a sacrifice.
3. When we offer a sacrifice, God will send an even greater blessing!
4. A sacrifice is given in faith as a blessing to the Lord. Not slapped on the alter with a grudging heart! God was testing Abraham to see if he was willing to offer Isaac. God will also test me to see if I'm willing to let him be the absolute authority in my life.

Dear Lord,
As we walk with you, we ask that you take us to this kind of faith. A faith that is radically obedient to your Word and your will. Give us strength for the journey, increase our faith through perseverance, and our love for you through a deeper knowledge of your sacrifice for us. In your precious name we pray,

Monday, November 17, 2014

Sacrifice (Part 1)

Good morning, GFF!

I was singing a song in church that began with the words, "We bring a sacrifice of praise into the house of the Lord..... we bring a sacrifice of Thanksgiving." As I sang, the words rang over and over in my heart. I started having questions about what it meant to offer a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving. I felt God nudging me to explore this with him more. I could start by sharing what he's shown me, but one goal of GFF is to get you to go deeper in your relationship with God, to get you into the Bible. So today, I encourage you to see what word God has for you about sacrifice. Here's how I will be searching and perhaps these ideas will help you have a conversation with God as well.

1. I choose a topic that I want/need to know more about. Today let's look up 'sacrifice'.
2. I open my Bible to the concordance at the back and look up all scripture related to sacrifice. I'll look those passages up and read them. When I feel something jump out at me or stir my heart I go deeper in that particular chapter or book.
3. Sometimes there are reference on the right or left side of the passages. These are related passages and can lead you to more information.
4. I like to use It's a search for scripture. I often look up a dictionary meaning of the word also.
5. I make notes as I read and then pray over them asking God to help me understand them deeper. I then meditate on them throughout the day. God will help unravel the questions and details as we stay focused on the topic. He will draw my prior knowledge and add to it the fresh word he's spoken, bringing a deeper understanding. Oh, and usually more questions!

I hope you'll join me in this study. Spend a few minutes reading about sacrifice. Join me tomorrow, and I'll start sharing what he's teaching me.

Ok, to make it a bit easier on you, click these links and it will take you to some related scriptures on-line.  Click here to read scriptures related to 'sacrifice'
         Click here to read a dictionary definition of 'sacrifice'.

Dear Jesus,
We thank you this morning for the sacrifice you gave for us. Lord, we want to understand the meaning of sacrifice as it relates to our lives and our relationship with you. Help us to dig deeper over the next few days to see what it means to offer ourselves as a spiritual sacrifice. In your name we pray, Amen.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Intercessory Prayer

I have cried until the tears no longer come.  My heart is broken, my spirit poured out, as I see what has happened to my people.  
Lamentations 2:11

Do you cry when you think of the people in your life who don't know The Lord?  Are you deeply moved when you watch the news and see the moral decay that is happening all around us?  I have to admit I like to skip watching the news.  I like to ignore the state of the world sometimes because it just makes me sad to think of where we are, and worse yet, where some are heading.  As I have joined the world of foster care I have heard some very sad stories and seen some very upsetting things, a world I was sheltered from until a little over 2 years ago.  A world, at times, I wonder why I got myself involved in.  Until I ran across this scripture that describes Jeremiah's deep hurt and broken heartedness towards his people who were sinning and were in such a bad place morally and ethically.  They were far from God, following false prophets putting their trust in lies and finding themselves to the point of disaster.  Mothers were resorting to killing and eating their babies!  It was really bad!  But there was one man who mourned for the state of his people and he cried out loud for days because of the peril they were in.  Friends, it is our job to stand in the gap just like Jeremiah did.  God is looking for His sons and daughters to stand up for Him and defend His land and direct His people toward Him.  He searches for people who are praying for the less fortunate and those whose hearts are far away from knowing Him.  God does punish those who disobey Him but He is patient in that punishment.  Why?  Because He is always searching for intercessors, just one person who will stand before Him on behalf of someone else.  

"I looked for someone who might rebuild eh wall of righteousness that guards the land.  I searched for someone to stand in the gap in the wall so I wouldn't have to destroy the land, but I found no one.  So now I will pour out my fury on them, consuming them in the fire of my anger.  I will heap on them the full penalty for all their sins, says the Sovereign Lord."
Ezekiel 22:30-31

In Ezekiel's day, God searched and found no-one to stand in the gap.  Things had gotten really bad and God was perfectly justified in punishing the people, but from His amazing grace, He was willing to spare them if He could find just one person praying for them.  Unfortunately everyone was too busy.  Where were the religious leaders and people who called themselves righteous?  Maybe they were busy with full schedules, some were probably juggling many good and godly commitments.  Whatever the reason they chose that day who they were to love and those who were not like them did not make the cut.  They loved only those who could love them back and as Christians we are to love everyone.  Who are you interceding for today?  Is there someone or a group of people whom you are pleading with God to do a saving work?  God needs us to reach the ungodly and the lost.  He has not changed His plan from thousands of years ago.  He continues to look for those who will stand in the gap on behalf of an immoral, sinful society.  

Dear God, use me to stand in the gap for just one person or group of persons.  Show me who is in need of intercessory prayer and I promise to add them to my prayer list.  Don't let me ignore the world around me anymore but give me eyes to see, ears to hear and a heart like Yours to stand up for those who are lost and pray for the sinful people in this world.  In Jesus' Name....Amen

Friday, November 14, 2014

Chomping at the bit!

 Today I feel like a race horse held behind the starting gate. My nostrils are flared, my feet are throwing back dirt, and my body is full of energy that I've never felt before. I'm ready to bolt out of this gate and change lives for the Lord. But God is telling me to wait. I so often want to run ahead of the Lord. I'm chomping at the bit to do something, anything but what I've been doing for so long. Yet, God says, "Keep at it. Keep doing what you're doing. Stay focused. Be diligent. I'm working in you and elsewhere preparing the foundation." My heart just screams, "Enough already. I can't wait another day!" And his gentle reply to me is this, "Be faithful in the small things, Daughter, and then I can give you greater things."
Every day I'm learning. I've said, "I'm sorry" more in the last year than in my entire life combined. Why? Because I'm learning. Because I actually want to be different. Because I'm daily laying down my old self and letting God replace me with the woman he wants me to be. The old me is fighting for her seat on the throne, but God keeps kicking her off! I see his hand in lives around me, and I rejoice today because the old us is being changed and when this starting gate is opened, we will have our own socks blown off by his works!
But for now, I wait and learn. I go deeper in Him and savor the moments as these restless legs are held back!

"The Lord is good to everyone who trusts in him, so it is best for us to wait in patience- to wait for him to save us!" Lamentations 3:25-26

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Sometimes Love Says "No"

Sometimes the best thing you can do to help someone is to say no.  As I am in the middle of dealing with a certain situation I am forced to find the difference between helping and enabling.  As a Christian I struggle finding a balance, and at times I feel like saying no is mean, or as if I am not being helpful or caring.  After all, aren't Christians supposed to be loving and show unconditional support to people?  How do I show love to someone who is displaying irresponsible behavior?  Do I enable him to continue that behavior or interrupt the natural consequences to that behavior?  When is it okay to let someone reap what he sows?  As I asked myself this question, and I felt a nagging in my heart over a situation I was dealing with, I knew I would only be satisfied with what God had to say about this subject.  There is something about God's word that brings peace and closure to an idea that takes over your every thought until you just can't think about it for one more moment.  God is faithful to give wisdom when we seek Him! 

"For we are each responsible for our own conduct."
Galatians 6:5

God is not afraid to tell us that we are to be responsible for our own conduct and for the consequences that come from that.  In the same way it is okay for us to allow the natural consequences of someone's actions to take place.  So in allowing someone to experience the hardship that comes with the consequence we are actually loving that person.  If we continuously try to protect them we are really hurting them by encouraging the bad behavior to continue.

"No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening - it is painful!  But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained this way."
Hebrews 12:11

In fact, it is possible that we are in direct conflict of God's laws if we protect people from their consequences.  Taking away consequences takes away what God was using for their best interest.  We shouldn't try to make someone comfortable with his or her irresponsible behavior or he or she will never be motivated to change.  God wants change in us all of His children and He pursues them until they listen to Him.  Sometimes people shut their ears to hear his voice and it may take something "big" to grab their attention.  If they are protected from that "big" thing they my never understand that their actions are directly related to the things happening in their life.  They may never feel a need to change.

" will always reap what you sow!  Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful desires will harvest the consequences of decay and death.
Galatians 6:6-7

As Christians we are to love unconditionally and show people the way to a life lived with a personal relationship with Christ.  We are to express Jesus' love to everyone we meet and encourage right living.  If there is someone in your life that you have been trying to help but he or she is just not learning, and you feel as if you are being taken advantage of, maybe it is time to reevaluate your circumstance and ask God if your helping is actually hurting.   Ask Him to show you how to love so as to encourage positive change in your that person.  Don't do anything with bitterness in your heart, and don't condemn them for not changing.  Just change the way you are helping and see what happens.  

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

A Ridiculous God

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the Lord. Isaiah 55:8

As I spent some quiet time with God today I found myself shaking my head and saying, "You're ridiculous God, absolutely ridiculous!" You can't hear that laughter accompanying that comment, but know that it was there! Here's why I love and serve a ridiculous God:

1. When He's silent I hear him! Let me explain... I had a rather rough day at work. I was exhausted and the demands were high. I came home to hear, "Why are you so grumpy?" I didn't really know, but when I tried to talk to God, he felt silent, distant. I needed a fresh word from him. Something to snap me out of the 'mood' but nothing came. I needed to cuddle in close, but he felt too far from me. It wasn't until the next morning that I realized he was quiet because he'd already given me a word, and I wasn't doing it! In his silence, he spoke volumes! Once I did what I was told, my mood lifted and I felt his closeness again.

2. When I close my eyes I see! As I pray, I close my eyes and envision myself at his throne and his peace and glory overcome me. With eyes closed tight, I see the beauty of a loving God! With eyes closed I see the faces of those I am to pray for as well.

3. When I bow my knees, I stand before him! As I pray in a bowed position, I am strengthened to stand against all that will come my way. I also stand justified before a merciful God.

4. When I surrender all, I gain everything! I'm amazed time and again that as I offer more of myself, my things, my people to the Lord, I am gaining a peace in the Lord that I never knew existed. And I find myself longing for more of Jesus even as I lose myself!

Lord, you are crazy! Your ways are so not the ways of this world, and to anyone who doesn't know you I'm sure this sounds like utter foolishness. But because I've experienced it myself, my smile before you is my offering today. You're ridiculous, and I'm absolutely in love with you!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Marvelous Craftmaship

The heavens tell of the glory of God.  The skies display his marvelous craftsmanship.  Day after day they continue to speak; night after night they make him known.  They speak without a sound or a word; their voice is silent in the skies; yet their message has gone out to all the earth, and their words to all the world.
Psalm 19:1-4

Several days a year I will be found in a group text praising God for the beautiful sky, scenery or weather that He has produced for us.  Last night was one of those moments!  As I was admiring the shades of orange, pink and purple, towards the west, my phone alerted me that I had a text.  It was my dear friend exclaiming how great our God was by painting us such a beautiful picture in the sky.  There is something about fall that produces such amazing color all around!  God did not leave out one detail in that sky last night.  It was as though He would have worked for hours to produce something so beautiful and as quickly as it appears, it is gone.  If I had painted something so beautiful you better believe it would be hanging on my wall or refrigerator!  But God is so full of power that it's nothing to Him to create a beautiful sky one moment just to take it away to complete darkness the next.  He is perfectly capable or reproducing the same beauty tomorrow or the next day!  Someone needed that sky last night.  Someone needed Him to say, "I am here".  He would do all that work for you alone.  He would put that much work into grabbing just one person's attention if He wanted. He loves each one of us that much!  

Don't miss out on the details that God provides for you!  Don't be caught looking down at your problems, that you forget to look up at His presence in your life.  God is all around.  We can know God just by seeing His marvelous craftsmanship and acknowledging His great power!  Without any other explanations, we can know that God exists through the beauty He portrays in nature!

From the time the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky and all that God made.  They can clearly see his invisible qualities - His eternal power and divine nature.  So they have no excuse whatsoever for not knowing God. 
Romans 1:20

Dear God, you are absolutely perfect in my life!  I love the beauty you portray all around me.  Help me to notice all of the detail, keeping my focus on You instead of my problems.  Thank you for loving so much that you would take the time to speak to me through nature!  I praise you for fall and the colors you produce for the world to see!     

Monday, November 10, 2014

Wait, Renew, Realign

"But those who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings like eagles. They shall walk and not be faint." Isaiah 40:31

We, especially women, give of our time and energy until we are exhausted and overwhelmed, but this is not God's will for us. Yes, he wants us to serve and to give of ourselves, but not without him. When we try to function in our own power and plan we quickly run out of resources.

The key is to wait upon the Lord. This means we stop our own pursuits and sit before him. We put ourselves in spiritual time-out: fast, pray, read scripture, and continue to dialogue with God until we see his will, his resources rather than what we've been trying to do on our own. He may show us things we are doing for selfish gain, projects pursued with wrong motives, or that we are unnecessarily doing things that were intended for someone else to do. He may reveal priority issues that need to be addressed.

Waiting on the Lord is active. It requires yielding our own agenda, offering ourselves for realignment to his will and his ways, and obedience when he speaks.

Dear Lord, teach us to wait upon you. Teach us to ask before buying, seek your filter before speaking, and gain your perspective before committing to activities. You are God of all things, big and small. Teach us to wait for your Spirit to move us. Then help us to enjoy the blessings that your hand has prepared. Amen

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Sunday Scripture

Can anything ever separate us from Christ's love?  Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or are hungry or cold or in danger or threatened with death?  (Even the scriptures say, "For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.") No, despite these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ Jesus, who loved us.
Romans 8:35-37

Saturday, November 8, 2014

"But, I will do it!"

Nothing is more frustrating to me as a mom than to ask my children to do a simple task such as putting away their laundry, gathering up their things, or getting their homework done and then hearing in response to my request, "I will." What that says to my mother ears is this, "Yeah, yeah, I hear you and when I'm good and ready I'll think about doing what you've asked." Delayed obedience... my greatest mom annoyance!

Today as I read Luke 9:59-62, I feel Jesus saying the same thing. "Jesus said to another man, "Follow me." But he replied, "Lord, first let me go and bury my father." Jesus said to him, "Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God." Still another said, "I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family." Jesus replied, "No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God." 

Jesus was not opposed to funerals or telling a family goodbye before one left to serve him. What he was opposed to was delayed disobedience. I am assuming the father in this passage wasn't yet deceased and the one who wanted to say goodbye was actually buying time before he committed to following Jesus. But, Jesus knew their hearts. They were only partially committed.

However, Jesus demands radical, sold-out, over the top, immediate obedience. He doesn't want us to delay. He doesn't want half-hearted followers. We may not know exactly every step that we are to going to take, but Jesus wants us stepping forward. If he has set a vision in our minds, a person in our thoughts, an action for our hands, or a ministry on our hearts, then we need to keep moving forward not waiting for the perfect moment or day. We step forward knowing that if we are mistaken he will stop us or redirect us. We step out being focused on the end goal of creating disciples for Him. And along the way, we do what is asked of us. Jesus wants steadfast, focused, diligent, committed disciples who obey right away.

Dear Lord,
Forgive me for the times I have allowed the world around me to distract the call you've placed on my heart. Forgive me for pursuing my own agenda over yours. Teach me to keep focused and trust you enough to obey immediately. Amen

Friday, November 7, 2014

Walk By Faith

For we walk by faith and not by sight.
2 Corinthians 5:7

The other day I asked God to give me a sign about a certain situation in my life.  I specifically asked Him to show me a deer in the field as this sign.  A couple problems with this:  First, I as running along the road at the time, my bouncing, gasping for air, and the bright sun made it nearly impossible to see a deer, not to mention it was the middle of the day.  Of course nothing is impossible for God and if He wanted me to see a deer He could have easily taken care of that.  That wasn't the second problem with my request.  The second issue with my asking God to see a deer was that I was asking Him to show me the future with this dear.  It was what I was asking for that put up a red flag for Him.  You see, in that moment trying my hardest to look for a deer I realized that God would never honor my request because He didn't want me to know the answer I was seeking.  And the best thing about that revelation was the song that was running through my earbuds at just that exact moment.  As I came out of my deep focus on finding a deer the words to this beautiful song, by Jeremy Camp, were so crisp and clear:

"And I will walk by faith even when I cannot see
Because this broken road prepares your will for me."

Living in faith is not knowing the future.  It is trusting that the things we are enduring are all for our benefit.  The suffering, the blessings, the questions, the growing, the heartbreak, the changes, the list goes on.......they all prepare God's will for our future.  Our future on earth as well as our future in Heaven.  If I knew the answer to the questions I have for Him then I would never grow from the experience I am living in right now.  I wouldn't have to spend time with Him, praying and discussing my circumstances, because I would know the outcome.  If I knew the outcome to my predicament then I might quit what I was doing or take over and try to manipulate things and I would become selfish counting on my own ability instead of God's great love, power and overflowing faithfulness.  Whatever you are going through today don't forget that God's is working in your difficult situation.  He is bigger than the heartbreak you feel and the worry that takes hold of you daily.  Let go and allow God to shape you for the future.  Trust in Him to carry you out of your problems and into a glorious future that waits!  Stop trying to find the answers before the time is due and walk by faith and not by sight.  

Enjoy listening to the song Walk By Faith by Jeremy Camp 

Thursday, November 6, 2014

God is Just

"Look among the nations and watch- Be utterly astounded! For I will work a work in your days which you would not believe, though it were told to you." Habakkuk 1:5

Habakkuk had just complained to God about the evil surrounding him. He felt that God was ignoring it. But God had a plan- a long range plan for the saving of many lives! God used Babylon, an evil nation, to overcome Judah. Judah was becoming an ever increasingly evil nation as well. And the end result of Habakkuk's nation being overtaken by an even more evil nation was that Judah returned to the Lord!
When injustice happens, don't feel that God has turned a blind eye. Rather, look to see God's hand, His power, and His might! Remember that his ways our not our ways. He sees from a perspective that we do not have the ability to see. He is sovereign. He is just. And he is always working.
Even in evil, "God causes all things to work together for the Good of those who love God." Romans 8:28

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Comfort From God

When I am filled with cares your comfort brings me joy.
Psalm 94:19

To comfort someone is to make them feel less unhappy or help them feel at ease.  It brings reassurance to that person and helps him or her to cope with the problem at hand.  Many of us, when feeling upset or angry about a situation, will turn to a friend whom we know will bring us comfort in our time of despair.  We will look for reassurance from a friend or loved one.  When I am worried about something I will look to my husband or my best friend to say or do something to remove my doubts and fears, because in my moment of worry I can't come up with anything on my own.  Lately I have a lot of cares running through my mind about things that are really out of my control.  Every once in a while I need to hear my husband tell me that things will be okay.  I will go to my best friend with doubts and concerns and she will gently reassure me that God is in control and that things are going to work out for good for me.  But when it's the middle of the day and I am all alone in a quiet house I don't always have the luxury of being comforted by someone.  When there is no one to talk to or lean on God is always there.  When caught up on my mess or my cares I too often forget that I have all the comfort and reassurance I need right in my bible.  I can open it up and page after page is evidence of His comfort, hope and provision.  It just feels so much better to know that God is the perfector of comfort.  He has so many promises all telling me that I will succeed, my life is protected in His hands, and that His plans far out way anything I could imagine on my own.  

Friends, I want this comfort for you, but you will never experience God's amazing comfort if you do not open your bible and let Him comfort you.  Be receptive to His promises and words of hope and reassurance!  If you do not seek Him daily and spend time in prayer and conversation, listening to Him, then you will miss out on a comfort that surpasses all others.  Read His Word and allow Him to penetrate your heart and mind.  Let those pages reach out and hold you while grabbing hold of His promises and allowing them to fill you with joy.  Don't sell yourself short and only seek comfort from others, seek comfort from the One who has perfected it.  Like the picture above, let the pages of God's Word hold you.  Find God's comfort that brings with it joy.  Be filled with reassurance and peace through the comfort that only God can offer you.  

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

It's a Good Day!

"So I concluded there is nothing better than to be happy
 and enjoy ourselves as long as we can." Ecclesiastes 3:12 NLT

Solomon is known in the Bible as the wisest man in the world. Why? Because when God asked him what he desired, Solomon asked for wisdom. As king he ruled and made decisions that were amazingly wise. The only problem was that Solomon never took his own advice. He spent much of his life apart from God. He liked to do things his own way and unfortunately, he reaped the consequences of his choices. The book of Ecclesiastes was written near the end of Solomon's life and is filled with his sad, but true findings that much of his life had been lived pursuing empty, selfish, and meaningless pursuits. 

In chapter 3, Solomon determines that in life there is a time for everything. He lists 14 very contrary statements such as laugh/cry, kill/heal, and love/hate. And at the conclusion of all of these he states that being happy and enjoying ourselves is the best choice ever! That it is a gift from God.
Today your 'happy' will be challenged. You will bump into a grumpy person. Someone will fail to meet your expectations. A spouse or a child will demand something from you when you'd rather be doing something else. You may take the blame for something you didn't do.  For a million and one reasons your 'happy' will face opposition today. But today for one reason alone, you can be happy! And that reason is that you are saved! Saved from an eternity in hell. Saved from fear. Saved from the slavery of sin! By the blood of Jesus you are saved! 

There is on older FFH song that I love because it's so simple, yet so true. The lyrics to the chorus go like this:
"Say hey! It's a good day!
 Even if things aren't going my way. 
Jesus is Lord and I am saved, 
So, say hey! It's a good day!"

Here's the link. Give it a listen!!  It's a Good Day by FFH

Monday, November 3, 2014

When We Meet Opposition

Sanballatt and Gesham sent me a message asking me to meet them at one of the villages in the plain of Ono.  But I realized they were plotting to harm me, so I replied by sending this message to them: "I am doing a great work! I cannot stop to come and meet with you."
Nehemiah 6:2-3

Nehemiah was heart broken, and mourned for the people of Judah when he heard about the peril Jerusalem was in.  The walls were torn down and the gates had been burned.  The city was in disarray and the people were no better.  They had lost all organization and the things that made their city great had been stripped when the walls were torn down many years earlier.  Through weeping, prayer and fasting, he came up with a plan to go to Jerusalem and rebuild the wall.  Three days after Nehemiah had arrived in Jerusalem, he went out and studied the damage for himself.  He shared his plan with the religious and political leaders, officials and others in the administration.  They were all supportive and excited to get started.  All but a few men, Sanballat, Tobiah and Gesham, they scoffed contemptuously (Nehemiah 2:19)  This was the first of 10 times that Nehemiah ran into opposition from these men who wanted him to fail at rebuilding the walls.  They ridiculed him saying he could never get the walls rebuilt because the damage was too extensive.  They tried to beat him down and make his task look impossible before he ever started.  They also said he would get into trouble with the king, unknowing that Nehemiah already had permission from the king.

So the work began and people were joining together to rebuild the gates and walls of the city.  Sanballat and Tobiah again started mocking the Jews who were working on the wall.  Instead of getting angry at them and instead of fighting back, Nehemiah prayed to God and continued the work.  After the walls were halfway completed there was more opposition by the two men and the Arabs, Ammonites, and Ashodites.  They all became furious and made plans to fight against Jerusalem and cause confusion there to stop the rebuilding.  Again, Nehemiah prayed to God and made plans to guard the city and protect themselves.  Some of the Jews began to worry about this opposition but Nehemiah stood his ground and stayed focused on the task at hand.  He trusted God to protect them.  Soon the walls were completely finished!  With just the gates and doors to hang Nehemiah received a message from Sanballat and Gesham asking Him to come meet with them but Nehemiah knew it was a trap and he refused.  His reason for refusal was that he was doing a great work for God and that he could not stop. (Nehemiah 6:2-3 above).  Four more times they sent that same message, and Nehemiah gave the same reply each time.  Then a fifth time!  Only this time they were getting desperate and attacked Nehemiah's character.  Personal attacks hurt and when someone is lying about you it is hard to stand your ground and not be despaired.  Nehemiah did not fight back to save his reputation and he continued to trust God to help them finish the work.  He was able to overlook the attacks and unjust insults.  And he prayed for strength to continue the work (Nehemiah 6:9).  One more time the men tried to break Nehemiah's resolve by hiring his friend to intimidate him and again he saw that it was a trick.  Their plan to accuse and discredit Nehemiah did not work and after just 52 days the walls were completely restored!  The doors and gates had been hung and the people were finished!  What a miracle it was that after just 52 days Nehemiah's plan had succeeded and the people of Jerusalem were safe in their city once again.  

You might wonder where I am going with this long explanation of Nehemiah and maybe I didn't need to mention so much detail but I found it so fascinating how many times people tried to stop God's work and that every time they failed.  Nehemiah trusted God so strongly that he could ignore the 10 or more attempts to stop the rebuilding.  He had a huge task at hand and after a few days in I am sure I would have looked a the bigger mess I created and would have given up after I was attacked and ridiculed for what I was trying to accomplish.  I want faith like Nehemiah to stand up against the opposition.  I want to to continue the work God has given me even when people around me don't agree and wish to see me fail.  When I get criticized for things that are untrue I want to stand strong, completely confident that God will rescue me and help me succeed.  Like Nehemiah I want to trust and pray when things get difficult instead of giving up and stopping my work!  

Dear friends, are you able to meet opposition with strength and trust in God?  Can you continue praying in public even when someone gives you that look or can you keep going to church when your friends or family try to talk you into sleeping in?  Are you able to keep fighting for God's cause when people are attacking your motives and character?  It can't be easy and I'm afraid to think of all the times I have given up after just a small amount of opposition.  But we must keep working!  We must continue doing God's work even when it is hard.  Even when the task is hard and seems impossible we must stay in touch with God, praying and trusting that He is helping us succeed.  

Dear God, help me to be strong like Nehemiah.  When opposition arrises make me stand strong for You.  Help me to stay devoted to Your teachings and commands when others around me don't understand and try to change my mind.  I trust You.  Your name is on the line, help me to succeed in your work.  In Jesus' Name amen      

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Sunday Scripture

"I lift up my eyes to the mountains-
     where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord, 
     the maker of heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot slip-
     he who watches you will not slumber;
Indeed, he who watches over Israel
     will neither slumber nor sleep."
Psalm 121:1-4

Rest today in the Lord!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

It's The Weekend!

It is a weekend and there are things to do!  People to see, houses to clean, parties to attend and shopping to do.  What will you do with that few extra minutes you have this morning or the break in the middle of the day when the early football game has finished and your waiting for that next one to start up?  Will you take a nap or eat a snack?  Friends today I want you to pray for the very special accountability partner that God has waiting for you.  I want you to think of all the people you know who may just hold that special title in your life.  Now pray for that person and ask God to give you opportunities to talk about it together.  Read the bible and gain encouragement and courage to bring up the subject and be devoted to following through.  I dream for you all to find someone in your life who you can text every day an encouraging scripture or someone who you can life up in prayer on a regular basis.  I know the importance of having my accountability partner just a phone call away and having her by my side at certain events.  Having that special person so close keeps me in check when my mind wants to wander or I am tempted to do something I shouldn't.  My accountability partner encourages me and prays for me.  She cares about my relationship with God and she is devoted to keeping me on track!  What a relief to know that this time, in this new life I live, I am protected by one very special person who loves me deeply and will fight for whatever the cause to protect me and keep me from falling to sin and away from my Lord?  Today I am just so blessed and I can't help but encourage you to find one special friend to live your life out with.  Devote this weekend to pursuing God's intentions for true fellowship and understand the importance of relationship, a gift directly from God.  Odds are you already have someone in mind.  Go ahead make that call or shoot that encouraging text.

PS - don't forget to email us your favorite encouraging scripture or that special one that keeps you going when trials come.