Wednesday, December 31, 2014


As we look into a new year anxious to see what God is going to do in and through us, it's worth our time to stop and reflect on where God has shown his might and power this past year. The word 'remember' is found 231 times in the NIV Bible. In remembering and reflecting we can see God's faithfulness and in return our own faith grows deeper. Has God taught you to wait patiently? Over the last year, have you learned to forgive and offer grace to a greater level than ever before? Or perhaps God has shown his faithfulness as he carried you through health or financial issues. 

Today my praise music is playing as I'm working around my home. I've just been meditating on the greatness of my God! 2014 was a year of experiencing God's greatness, even in the trials! He is bigger than any issue I could ever face. He has proven faithful to show freedom, healing, and deliverance over this last year. He has shown me a deeper understanding of mercy and forgiveness and enabled me to offer it to others. Today as I reflect on the last year I am praising the King of Kings and Lord of Lords for his great love!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Put The Fire Out!

Fire goes out for lack of fuel, and quarrels disappear when gossip stops.
Proverbs 26:20

I read this verse a week ago and it still sounds in my mind every once in a while.  It finally hit me that when I say negative things about my situation or when I complain about what is happening or what someone else is doing, I am fueling the fire.  I am only hurting myself, reflecting poorly on Christianity and showing to others that I don't trust God enough to let Him rule my entire life.  When I continue to worry about something or when I can't stop talking about my negative situation, what someone said or did to me, and I continue to share that with everyone I meet, then I continue to throw that fuel on my anger and bitterness. As long as I am not willing to see things differently and trust God, I will never experience His peace in my situation.  It's not until I let go, stop talking about it and hand it over to God that I will begin to soften.  I may start to see the situation through God's eyes, and notice more than my suffering.  I may be able to point out the hurt behind the hurt someone is throwing at me or see the difficulty behind those tough decisions being made in my situation.  But as long as I continue to quarrel, gossip, have negative thoughts or speak negatively about my circumstance then I will always be angry and bitter.  I will never grow in Christ-like behavior if I can't stop fueling fires that burn in and around me.             

Monday, December 29, 2014

Seek Confirmation

"The reason the dream was given to Pharaoh in two forms is that the matter has been firmly decided by God, and God will do it soon." Genesis 41:32

Pharaoh had had two dreams that greatly disturbed him. He summoned magicians and wise men to come and interpret the dreams, but no one could. Joseph had interpreted a dream for Pharaoh's cupbearer in the past, so upon the king's request, Joseph was summoned to interpret these dreams as well. God revealed the meaning of the dreams to Joseph concerning 7 years of plenty followed by 7 years of extreme famine. Praise to God for the way he then used Joseph to prepare for the years of famine. But today, I am struck by the statement in verse 32. Joseph said to Pharaoh, "The reason the dream was given to Pharaoh in two forms is that the matter has been firmly decided by God, and God will do it soon." Genesis 41:32

I deeply believe in seeking confirmation from God in any situation. I can be moved to action by my own desires and decisions too often, especially when emotions are high. And I've made my own share of mistakes when I acted in haste. I have found that God understands my tendencies to rush in and try to fix things or make things happen on my time table. But I am learning to seek his confirmation when I feel he is leading me to do or say something, especially when the timing and detail involve others' faith and feelings. God is always faithful to confirm what his desire is for me. One day, my daughter and I had to make a very important decision. Not only did God give me an answer through a specific passage, he gave her the same passage in her quiet time- from a totally different source. Confirmed! This was his will! Oh, how I love the lengths God will go to in order to help us stay on the correct path!

Wisdom seeks confirmation! Seeking involves open eyes, a heart that is ready, and diligence in the word. The Christian faith is not for the lazy or faint of heart! Walking with God means staying alert because he is not forceful with his will but rather subtle. Watch and wait for Him! He is faithful! And he will make his will clear if you are willing!

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Sunday Scripture

The LORD is my light and my salvation-
    whom shall I fear?
The LORD is the stronghold of my life-
    of whom shall I be afraid?
Psalm 27-1

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Wisdom vs Folly

Wisdom has built her house; she has carved its seven columns.  She has prepared a great banquet, mixed the wines, and set the table  She has sent her servants to invite everyone to come.  She calls out from the heights overlooking the city.  "Come in with me," she urges the simple.  To those who lack good judgement, she says, "Come, eat my food. and drink the wine I have mixed  Leave your simple ways behind, and begin to live; learn to use good judgement."
Proverbs 9:1-6

Wisdom appeals to the mind.  She takes the time to prepare a grand party and uses her servants to invite everyone they know.  She is kind and inviting.  She isn't afraid to use the best of wines and her expensive silverware nor is she selective in who she invites in.  She encourages her guests to leave behind their old lives and invites them to start really living.  She persuades her guests to use good judgement and join in on her new way of living, something that can last a lifetime. 

The woman named Folly is brash.  She is ignorant and doesn't know it.  She sits in her doorway on the heights overlooking the city.  She calls out to men going by who are minding their own business.  "Come in with me," she urges the simple.  To those who lack good judgement, she says, "Stolen water is refreshing; food eaten in secret tastes the best!"  But little do they know that the dead are there.  Her guests are in the depths of the grave.
Proverbs 9:13-18

Folly is not interested in taking the time to plan a grand party, in fact, she has stolen everything that she claims to have and she is not afraid to sound desperate in her invitations.  She is proud and ignorant appealing to the senses.  Picking out the men walking by who are desperate for a good time, catching them off guard, she persuades them by highlighting her sinful habits.  She hides her loneliness and pain.

Folly is only looking for a good time where wisdom takes her decisions seriously.  Wisdom weighs the pros and cons of her decisions and she is responsible and shows good character.  Folly chooses the easy way, the most sensual way that gives immediate satisfaction without thinking of the future and the consequences of her choices.  She tricks herself into believing she is happy and ignores the loneliness in her life.  My dear friends, every day we are faced with wisdom and folly.  Every day we are presented with things that can hurt us or help us grow.  Are you making decisions based on wisdom or are you searching for immediate fun?  Sin is enticing and looks fun from the outside but once you choose that direction it becomes lonely and can be hard to escape.  Although sinful behavior can seem more exciting than the Christian life, please remember who is inviting you to that sin.  Remember this scripture and evaluate the motives behind the invitation and always ask God what you should do. 

How much better to get wisdom than gold, and good judgement that silver!
Proverbs 16:16   

Friday, December 26, 2014

Jesus is Near

"The Word became flesh and dwelt among us." John 1:14

Yesterday we celebrated the birth of Jesus. We celebrated the babe born in the manger to save us from our sin. The Holy One. The Son of God. Today let's meditate on the depth of that concept just a little bit- Jesus came to earth and dwelt among us!

Jesus has been with God since the beginning. As scripture opens, Jesus is with God in the creation of the world (Genesis 1:26). John gives us some understanding of Christ's journey in Chapter 1:1-3
     "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made." 

Think about that! Jesus was in on creation. He didn't just come onto the scene when Mary had a baby. He was with God. He knew God. He walked and talked with God. They shared the glory of all creation and intimately fellowshipped together! Jesus experienced the goodness of living in the presence of God. But he surrendered it all to dwell among us. He gave up a physical closeness with God to experience life as a human. He left the comfort of God's personal touch to know the pain of life on this earth. He drew near to us to understand us and to bear pain for us. He not only experienced our spiritual separation from God, but he experienced our humanity in all forms. Jesus walked through rejection, betrayal, and weariness. He knew the exhaustion of meeting others' needs and the temptation of satan.  He learned a trade and dealt with family issues. He 'gets us' because he was fully human!

Much of this we know in our head, but today let your heart really take it in. He didn't have to do it! He did it because he loves us. He surrendered his place on the throne to experience life in human shoes. And in the end, he gave his very life as a sacrifice for sin that was not his own.

Friend, we are so deeply loved. Loved by a God who created us and then moved from heaven to earth to redeem us from our own sin. Praises today to the One who loves us so greatly!

Thank you, Jesus, that you chose to dwell among us. Thank you for not only the sacrifice of your life, but for the sacrifice to experience life on this earth as well. Because you dwelt among us, you understand us. Dear Jesus, in that thought alone, I feel such a sense of your presence, comfort and love. I love you! Amen and Amen

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Let Us Adore Him!

We have received the perfect gift today!  Jesus Christ born in a manger.......God in human form.  Everything we need in this life, brought into this world as a baby, just like us, in a not so royal environment.  But there is something so powerful about every detail of Jesus' birth!  We all know the story and we understand the importance of Christmas morning.  We know that Jesus is the reason for this season, as we share and see throughout this time of year.  But today He is here!  Jesus has come!  He is Wonderful, our Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6)
Now what do we do?  After we open some presents and celebrate with family and friends, whatever shall we do with this knowledge?  After all the Christmas hype is over and we move on to New Years and resolutions what do we do with Jesus?

Come let us worship and bow down.  Let us kneel before the Lord our maker, for He is our God.
Psalm 95:6  

We keep the spirit of Christ's birth alive!  We take the excitement we feel today and we carry it with us throughout the year!  We bow down and worship Him daily!  Oh come let us adore Him, Christ the Lord..........every day and in every occasion!  

Merry Christmas from the God First Friends family.  Let's adore our Jesus today and always.  Let us share that adoration with the people we meet and the family we love.  Praise Him with your words and your works.  Give thanks to Jesus Christ our savior, redeemer, and friend. 

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Prepare for Your Prodigal

"But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him." Luke 15:20

As I read the story of the prodigal son recently, I was drawn to this verse; "But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him." (Luke 15:20)  The words, "while he was still a long way off" have been circulating through my mind constantly. This father was waiting and watching for his son to return. He was daily looking into the distance to see if today was the day. He trusted in God to be at work even when he couldn't see what God was doing. He never let his hope in God's redemptive power to give up. 

This dad went on living, trusting, enjoying life, but all the while, he didn't give up hope for his prodigal to return. There was no guarantee that the prodigal would choose to come home, because his son had free will. But if he chose to come home, the Father wanted to be ready for him. 
In the meantime though, the father had lessons to learn and preparations to make. He no doubt wrestled with God about forgiveness and unfairness. He had to overcome anger and bitterness. In his wait, he allowed God to change him! The prodigal wasn't the only one that needed to have some 'holy adjustments' made in him.

I've had a prodigal return, and when he was ready, I was ready too! My heart had already forgiven. My bitterness was gone and my hurt had been healed because God had already changed it from a wound to a scar. I dealt with it before the circumstance was resolved so that when my prodigal came home, I could receive him with open arms and be filled with compassion. Oh, yes, there were conversations to be had, but they have been filled with love and not anger. 

There is yet another prodigal in my life. I will hold out hope. I will place my hope in a God who can do the impossible! And in the wait, I will allow God to make changes in me so that I can be prepared if he chooses to return home. I will also seek God's wisdom to prepare others for his return so that it can be a celebration of Christ's son returning home!

Do you have a prodigal in your life? If so, join me in praying for our prodigals and for our own hearts to be changed.

Dear Lord,
My prodigal is in your hands. I cannot change their choices, but I ask that you pursue them diligently. Draw their heart to you and help them know that it is safe to return home where we can find the healing needed for their broken heart. Father, in the wait, change me. Teach me to forgive. Help me overcome anger and bitterness. Show me compassion and mercy from your perspective so that I in return can offer it to my prodigal. In your holy and precious name I pray. Amen and amen!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Jesus Brings Hope

I heard a shout from the throne, saying, "Look, the home of God is now among his people!  He will love with them, and they will be his people.  God himself will be with them.  He will remove all of their sorrows, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain.  For the old world and it's evils are gone forever. 
Revelation 21:3-4

As we anticipate the coming of Jesus, this Christmas, I can't help but imagine the pain and suffering He endured for me.  I am so thankful that He was strong enough and disciplined enough to follow through with God's ultimate plan of salvation for the world.  Jesus is amazing!  As we wait on His special day let us not forget all that He suffered so that we could one day experience the beauty written in the scripture above.  Because of my sin, He died a horrible, sinners death, He who had no sin.  Because of my sin, He sweat blood from the stress of the what was to come to Him, begging His father to save Him but ultimately, unselfishly honoring God's plan.......for me, for you.  This Christmas we are reminded of the one and only gift that really matters in life, Jesus Christ.  That One gift brings us renewal, strength, peace, joy, and hope.  I am spoiled to have such a  beautiful promise for a future such as the one written above!  Friends, we are all so loved by God!  

Dear God, I can't wait to experience perfection in your presence!  The promise of Heaven and all it holds is awesome and breathtaking.  The pain I endure now is short-lived compared to the peace and unspeakable joy I will experience in my eternity with You.   Thank You for Your gift, Jesus Christ!  Thank you for loving me with an unexplainable love.  Thank You, Thank You..........Amen

Monday, December 22, 2014

The Gift of Salvation through Restoration

"I am sick at heart. How long, O lord, until you restore me?" Psalms 6:3

Restoration: the process of returning something to its original condition by repairing it, cleaning it, etc. 
The act of bringing bringing something back that existed before.

I did a bible search of the word restore this morning. It appears 114 times in the NIV Bible. It's what this walk with God is all about! 

From the beginning, God created man to be like him. But God knew man would fall, fail, and turn from him. That was the danger of giving humans free will. But in his beautiful love and grace, God implemented a plan for restoration. Falling and failure are not final! They are the means to an end; That end being a right relationship with God. We began this life in the image of our Father. But our own humanness leads us astray to fulfill our own desires. Evil inflicted on us by others causes deep wounds that feel as though they will never heal. Trials and tribulations seek to keep us from the love of God

But my dear GFF, know that your God loves you perfectly! There is nothing that he cannot use to bring glory to his name and you to your knees in humble surrender. He never allows a chapter in your life that he won't use for the restoration of your soul. He longs for you to abide in deep fellowship with him and a trial may be the exact way you learn to crawl up into his big daddy arms and be held. 

I don't know where you are today in your walk with the Lord, but if you are in need of restoration, it is available to you. It's what God longs to do in your life. The storms in your life don't need to quit raging for you to find comfort and peace. You don't need to have all the answers before you can praise the One true God. You're safe in God's love and his unfailing grace. Focus on Truth, not the trial today. The truth is found in Jesus and the gift of his salvation!

Dear Lord,
"Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you." Psalm 51:12

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Sunday Scripture

"I will invite everyone who is victorious to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat with my Father on His throne."
Revelation 3:21

Friday, December 19, 2014

The Gift of History

Tell your children about it in the years to come.  Pass the awful story down from generation to generation. 
Joel 1:3

It is so important to share your story with your children.  History is taught for many reasons but one is to teach people about the things that went wrong so that they aren't repeated.  History is also used to warn people of the terrible things that could happen if one doesn't follow direction or the law.  History is written down so that people can remember the good things that happened.  So much can be learned from teaching a story about things that happened in the past, such as this mentioned in Joel.  The people were experiencing a horrible plague of locusts that swept through the land and destroyed all of their crops.  This plague was a warning of God's judgement to come if they did not repent of their sin and turn back to God.  He was pleading with the people to share this with their children, in fact, to pass it down from generation to generation.  He didn't want this destruction to go unnoticed and saw a way that it could be used for good.  When we share our own stories it is because we have learned something from them and we want others to do the same.  We can make our stories worthwhile the more we share them, teaching others from our past failures and successes.  It is our responsibility to share our history over and over teaching our children and grandchildren the important lessons we learned in our past.  We can use those stories, just like Joel, to warn them and or encourage them to make the right decisions.  This Christmas, in place of one fancy gift sitting under the tree, give the gift of your history.  Share your life's story with someone who needs encouragement or someone who you see heading in the same direction you once found yourself in.  If you have learned an important lesson in life from your past share it with someone facing the same thing.  Our stories can be used as a warning or encouragement and are meant to be passed along to help others.  Even if your story is one of pain and despair it can be redeemed and used to glorify God when we share them to help others.They are a gift from God to be passed down from generation to generation.  Thank God for your story and use it to help others!      

Thursday, December 18, 2014

The Gift of Obedience

They were at a wedding. The wine had run out. The hosts of the party would have been simply humiliated that they did not plan and prepare well for this celebration of celebrations. Mary, the mother of Jesus, needed help from her son. She asked him to help replenish the wine. I don't know if Mary intended for Jesus to perform a miracle or simply locate more wine for the guests, but she trusted her son to take care of this need.

As Mary left the scene, she commanded the servants, "Do whatever he tells you." (John 2:5) And then Jesus makes a ridiculous request, "Fill the jars with water." The servants filled the jars. Next Jesus tells them to draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet. I can just imagine the looks and the hushed whispers between the servants. (Well, if it were me at least here's how I think I would have responded...)
           "This guy is crazy. There is water in this jar. I'm not taking it to the master. You do it! He'll be     
           furious that we offered him and his guests water and not wine." Insert eye rolls and crazy 
           gestures at this point!

But never the less, the servants did as Jesus said and the master and guests were more than pleased at the quality of the wine.

It is Mary's response that grabs my heart today, "Do whatever he tells you." As we approach Christmas, and we ponder what to give our Savior in celebration of his birth, our obedience is his desire. In John 14:15 Jesus says, "If you love me, keep my commands." Along the journey of our faith walk with Jesus he will ask us to do things. Some will seem difficult, some easy, some down right crazy, some will evoke initial fear. But our love for Jesus is displayed in obedience. We cannot be selective in what we do or don't do. If he asks us to do something he will provide the means to do it. If we are afraid he will provide courage. If we feel ill-equiped he will give us the necessary tools. However, the first step must be ours. 

What is it today that Jesus is asking you to do? Do you need to hand over an issue? Offer forgiveness? Speak boldly about your faith? Take a stand on what is right and true knowing you will meet opposition? Whatever he asks you to do, do it!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

It's Not About Me!

I have been repeating this phrase to myself over and over the past several weeks.  As I start to feel selfish over a matter, or I catch myself expressing selfishness through my actions and words, I have to step back and say to myself, "It's not about me".  Life isn't all about me and God did not put me on this earth for me to be the center of my life.  As God guides me through life I try to follow Him as best as I know how.  As I grow closer to Him I gain a better understanding of what He asks of me and the road he is asking me to walk along.  

He renews my strength.  He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to His name.
Psalm 23:3

When we are in constant communion with God.  When we spend time in His word and we devote our lives to His will we will hear God ask us to do things.  He may ask you to offer grace to someone who hurt you.  He may lead you into a new profession or ask you to leave one you are very comfortable with.  He may ask you to adopt a child from another country or raise a grandchild.  God calls us all to love the unloveable and reach out to those in need.  He leads us along paths that are not easy and downright horrible at times, but along those paths there is peace when we trust Him completely.  All of this walking, will bring honor to God's name.  When we stop thinking "it's all about me" and start doing things for God, then we can bring honor to Him.  

Dear God, I want to honor You.  I want my actions and my decisions to follow Your lead and I desire to bring You honor.  Please point out the areas in my life that I act out of selfishness and where I am not allowing you to lead me, or where I am going on ahead of You.  Show me how we can work together to make disciples.  Let's be partners in serving others and let me bring honor to Your name.  
In Jesus' Name  Amen 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Offering Grace

"One who loves a pure heart and speaks with grace will have the king for a friend." 
Proverbs 22:11

Grace. I've been told it is "God's Riches At Christ's Expense." God gave us his best while we were at our worst. He saw beyond our state of sin and saw to the beautiful creation he made us to be. 

Lately I've been pondering the thought of offering someone grace. I used to think that just meant overlooking their offenses. You know, to look past the things that someone does that can be offensive to us, seeing past the things they do that go against God's word. But I'm seeing that offering grace is deeper than just overlooking an offense. 

Let me explain further.  In light of my own sin and the forgiveness God has afforded me, I do not hold another person's offense against them. I am no greater than he/she, and my sin is no less sin. Before the throne of God, my sin will not be counted less because of the human way in which we categorize sin. Because of my own sin, I am not worthy of God's love. But by his grace God pardons my sin and in return lavishes his love on me. He sees the good in me and he celebrates it even when the bad is present. His grace covers me. 

When I offer another person grace, I don't just look past their offense, I also have to ask God to help me see them as they are meant to be. I am to lavish love on them! I see them for who they were created to be... a beautiful child of God. Even while they are in their state of sin, I can see beyond to their potential. If we only overlook the offense, we often also overlook the person. Grace dismisses the sin/offense, but embraces the individual! And that is the part that in all practicality is often forgotten. 

Who in your life needs some grace from you? As you offer them grace, remember to look to God so he can show you who he wants them to become. Look to see their beauty in spite of their 'ugly!'

Monday, December 15, 2014

Pure Wisdom

But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure.  It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others.  It is full of mercy and good deeds.  It shows no partiality and is always sincere.  And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of goodness.
James 3:17-18

We all have things going on in our lives that we don't necessarily agree with.  It could be a friend's habit, a bosses orders, a child's choice in activity or sport, or a spouse's decision to ban family vacations for a year (no my spouse did not do this).  Things are happening everyday that we don't have control over.  People are making decisions all around us that we don't hold any power in affecting or changing.  When things happen in our lives, that we don't agree with, how do we handle those moments and how do we know that we are handling them God's way or our way?  I often seek God's wisdom when I don't like what is happening my life.  I usually want to change what is occurring and so I seek His answers in solving the problem at hand.  Unfortunately I have come up short most every time.  I think I have the wisdom and answers, my human mind can convince me of most everything I am in favor of, and I go about doing something to try and change a circumstance without making sure I am holding to the character of Jesus Christ, but still claiming I am doing what God has told me to do. 

Last night I ran across this scripture that shows exactly how we can know if our actions and decisions fall under God's wisdom or if they are just something we have come up with on our own.  Our actions or reactions to something we don't agree with must, first of all, be pure.  We can't have them come from thoughts of anger, jealousy or selfish ambition.  Our desire to change a situation or question someone's choices have to be out of respect for that person.   Our goal cannot be to disrupt the peace. We must be gentle in our dealings with people and yield to their desires and interests, which can be the hardest thing to do sometimes.  Just because we don't agree with something that is happening, if no one is in danger and it is just to change something to better align with our desires, we shouldn't be trying to fix it.  If our motives aren't pure, then what we think is the right thing to do may not be so right, and most likely isn't wisdom from heaven.  Following God's wisdom means we are full of mercy and good deeds, even when what is happening drives us crazy and we really don't agree with what is taking place, we should show mercy and be kind to the person we disagree with.  Remember unless we are opposing sin or something that can harm someone, we might want to think twice before we fight it.  When we decide to speak up we must not choose a side and be adamant that our way is the only way.  We must be partial to the others involved and allow everyone to have their opinion in the matter.  Wisdom from God does not demand it's does not demand its own way (1 Corinthians 13:5).

Planting seeds of peace takes wisdom that only God can provide.  We can think we are doing something that is of God and asked of us by God but unless we hold true to His character we are just acting out of selfishness and worldly wisdom.  And are our actions planting peace or disrupting peace?  And most importantly, have we asked God what we should do regarding the issue or have we just taken off and run with our emotions and opinions?

Dear God, forgive me for all the times I have disrupted the peace.  I am so sorry for getting impatient and acting without You and for all the times I have acted out of selfishness.  For the many times I was foolishly able to convince myself that how I was acting was what You asked of me, and for giving You a bad name.  Help me to take the time to check my motives and actions, making sure they align with Your character.  God, I don't ever want to act out of selfishness or jealousy but always stick to handling things Your way.  In Jesus' Name......Amen     

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Saturday, December 13, 2014

A Joyful Harvest

Those who plant in tears will harvest with shouts of joy.  
They weep as they go to plant their seed, but they sing as they return with the harvest.
Psalm 126:5-6

I just recently had one of those moments where I felt complete and total despair.  I was sad and angry and I could do nothing but cry out to God.  It was one of those good, loud cries that don't happen often.  It's not just from your eyes and mouth but your whole body joins in and your heart aches.  You could call it an ugly cry and for me it was most certainly that, I was in she shower as I let it all out and my body was shaking as I allowed the ache to escape me.  As the tears flowed the water from the shower washed me clean.  It was an extra long shower that day but when I stepped out, after all of the conversing back and forth with God, I felt renewed.  The tears were cleansing for my soul and the water from the warm shower felt exactly how I would imagine God's big arms wrapping around me.  

I am reminded, from this scripture above, that although things in life aren't easy and sometimes the road God leads me down is hard and produces heartache and tears, a harvest of joy will come eventually.  The tears that I am planting in right now will end up in shouts of joy!  My joy will sustain me and keep me going when the world says to stop, feel sorry for yourself. and refuse to go on.  What seeds are you planting this season and do they require some hard decisions, do they result in some painful circumstances?  Friend, my season is still not over, more pain is still to come, but instead of dreading that pain and worrying about the eventual hardship, I look forward to the harvest.  I anticipate the good that God is working on for me and I trust that He will never let me down.  My joy will keep me standing, my joy in my God who has been faithful through this whole journey!  Don't be afraid to plant in your tears.  Don't deny your body a good cry.  Accept that life is hard, and following Jesus is not safe, but choose to overcome.  Don't abandon your season but keep planting and cultivating until that right time when you will produce a beautiful, abundant harvest of blessings.  God is in charge and He is always thinking of those He loves, working all things out for their good.       

Friday, December 12, 2014

But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus—the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God. (‭Acts of the Apostles‬ ‭20‬:‭24‬ NLT)

Why are we here? We are here to glorify and honor our creator. As we draw nearer to God we learn of his unconditional love and grace. We find forgiveness immediately and mercy that is beyond understanding. And our response should be a depth of love for him that yearns to shout his name from the mountain tops. Paul understood these things and his life's work became to tell others of Christ. Let us seek to have this response as well.
Lord, let our hearts sing your praises today. Let our smile show your grace and mercy. Use us today to tell your story. Amen. 

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Waiting On Wisdom

In the chapter 2 of Daniel we can read about King Nebuchadnezzar.  Specifically we find that he had an alarming dream one night and the next morning he called for all of the magicians, enchanters, sorcerers and astrologers to come and interpret his dream for him.  The king not only wanted an interpretation of his dream but he wanted someone to tell him his dream.  The astrologers tried to trick the king into telling them his dream and then they would explain it to him, but that wasn't good enough for Nebuchadnezzer,  he insisted that they must already know the dream without his explanation.  As the astrologers continued to trick him he became angry with them.  He was so disturbed about his dream that he insisted that someone must be able to tell him what he dreamed and what his dream meant.  As the powerful king became inpatient, and angry at the tricksters, he sent out orders that all the wise men of Babylon were to be executed.

Daniel went at one to see the king and requested more time so he could tell the king what the dream meant.
Then daniel went home and told his friends, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah what had happened.  He urged them to ask the God of heaven to show them his mercy by telling them the secret, so they would not be executed along with the other wise men of Babylon.  
Daniel 2:16-18

Daniel was so full of faith he knew that God would reveal the king's dream to him so that his life could be spared.  In fact, he was so confident in God, he also told his friends to seek this wisdom.  When you are faced with something that seems absolutely impossible do you immediately seek God's wisdom in the matter?  Do you have faith in God to give you the answers you need to save your life?  Some of us are there.  Some of us do count on God for our wisdom, we are patient with Him to reveal answers to us and we can trust that He will speak to us in His perfect time.  Others have a hard time believing God can truly help and when put into a situation, such as Daniel, they will take matters into their own hands.  In desperation some would make up a dream and pray it was the right dream, some would run away while others might just begin worrying about the trouble that was coming and be frozen in their tracks.  Not Daniel.  Even a task such as his, knowing the king's dream and being able to tell him what it meant, that was not enough to scare him into parlalyzing fear.  Daniel did not skip a beat but asked for more time to deliver the king's request.  He went home and right away began praying for wisdom.  He also loved his friends enough to include them.  He wanted them to live and pleaded with them to seek God's wisdom, as well.

Daniel was patient and confident that God would help him in his need.  How many of us are that patient, knowing if we didn't have the answers by the next morning we would die?  I'm afraid I would immediately get so scared that I wouldn't be able to move, let alone wait patiently on God to give me answers.  Daniel hung on to his faith and he believed.  That is really what we all could say we wanted in life.  We want to stick by God through any situation and trust in Him to save us and help us through.  Yet when things get hard and they threaten our lives or the lives of those we love we tend to want to find fixes of our own.  But looking at the impossibility of something, like knowing the king's dream, is just something we have to wait on God for.  Waiting on wisdom to lead us through unknown territory is the only way we can successfully make it through difficult times.

That night the secret was revealed to Daniel in a vision.  Then Daniel praised the God of heaven,
Daniel 2:19

Whatever wisdom you seek, give God more time to reveal it to you.  Don't give up or ignore Him just because you have a deadline or if what you are seeking is impossible.  Stay true to God and His ability to give you exactly what you need when you need it.  Trust Him to give you all the wisdom you could ever need to live this beautiful life on earth.           

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The Gift of Friendship!

"The sweet smell of incense can make you feel good, but true friendship is better still."
 Proverbs 27:9 CEV

Today I just want to praise God for the friends in my life. I have been so blessed with both women and men who have walked with me. Friends who hold me accountable. Friends who make me laugh till I cry. Friends who cry with me. Friends who make even the mundane seem delightful! Friends who have helped me make decisions, helped with projects, and caused my days to be filled with fun. Friends who have been around forever and those that have just come into my life. I am blessed because God has given me good friends. 

Lord, it is my prayer that each one reading this blog today would pause to thank you for their friendships. You are the giver of all good things. And Lord, a good friend is among your greatest gifts. Thank you for laughter and tears that are shared between friends. Thank you for good fun! Thank you for strength that is shared in both prayer and in just living life together. Lord, I praise your name for each and every one of my friends. And especially for the God First Friends who are sharing this moment with me praising your name! 
Amen and Amen

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

It's Never Too Late

One of the criminals hanging beside him scoffed, "So you're the Messiah, are you?  Prove it by saving yourself - and us, too, while you're at it!"
But the other criminal protested, "Don't you fear God even when you are dying?  We deserve to die for our evil deeds, but this man has done nothing wrong."  Then he said, "Jesus remember me when you come into your Kingdom."
And Jesus replied, "I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise."
Luke 23:39-43

I must pause as the chills race through my body.  This story is so touching.  A man who lived his life in sin, is faced with imminent death, as he hangs on a cross beside Jesus Christ, he chooses to change his life.  You might wonder how on earth he had time to change.  He was hours or even minutes from dying, how could a man with such a sinful past change his life in a moment and receive eternal salvation?  It is possible because that man, like you and me, only needs a moment to accept His salvation.  He only needs to admit that Jesus is the Messiah.  But in that short amount of time he did more than believe.  He turned from bitter, angry man to a soft, kind person.  In just moments he turned from a sinner to completely forgiven when he was able to admit his sin, out loud and in public, but most importantly to Jesus.  This man didn't just say he believed, his life changed, in just a moment's flash.  

Friend, it is never too late to change.  If there is someone in your life that doesn't know Jesus as his or her Lord and savior, as long as they have breath, there is still time.  Don't ever give up on your friend, spouse, parent, or child.  Jesus doesn't give up on anyone and neither should we.  It only takes a moment for someone to change, it only takes a second for someone to believe.  Your prayers and encouragement and friendship are all very important factors in helping that person choose Jesus, but even when you have exhausted every avenue and still see no change, don't ever give up.  Keep praying, keep believing that there is still time.  And my dear friend, if it is you who is doubting and you who hasn't made that final decision to accept Jesus' as your Lord, then I am not giving up on you.  It's never too late to believe in Jesus Christ and it's never too late to accept His gift of salvation.          

Monday, December 8, 2014

Find Wisdom

Prior to going to bed last night I had one request for God. I presented a situation to him and asked him to give me direction. "How Lord, do I handle this situation?" I had hoped to awaken to a one sentence answer. I hoped to awaken to the details of what I was to do. Well, God didn't give me the specifics, but he gave me direction. As is always true of our faithful God, he answered! His answer was this...

"The Lord grants wisdom. From his mouth come knowledge and understanding." 
Proverbs 2:6
"She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue." Proverbs 31:25-26

I need wisdom, and the wisdom I need comes from spending time in his presence. He will show me the path to take, the words to speak or not speak, and he will give me peace in the situation. All I must do is seek Him! He is wisdom.

And if those passages weren't enough for me to understand, he gave me more. I have a young friend who is wanting to deepen her relationship with God. As I searched for a devotional book from my shelf to give to her, I read the passage for today. Can you guess what it was about? You got it! Wisdom! It again sent me to the book of Proverbs. God delights in giving us what we need and if we are willing to spend time with him, he will lead us step by step into his Wisdom!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Sunday Scripture

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Isaiah 9:6

Today, think of all the names you have given to Jesus.  How has he come to your rescue, or what has He done to change you and shape you?  Jesus is everything we need this season and the next!  Enjoy Who He is to you this special advent Sunday. 

Friday, December 5, 2014

Jesus Is Our Anchor

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.
Heberews 13:8

An anchor is an object that is attached to a rope or chain and it is used to moor a boat to the sea bottom.  It can also be a person or thing that provides stability or confidence in an otherwise uncertain situation.  When used as a verb it means to secure firmly in position and provide with a firm basis or foundation.  It is no coincidence that while I was searching for a picture of an anchor many of them have what appears to be a cross on the top.  Jesus is never changing in a world that is constantly changing.  He is steady when the storms of life begin to rumble and fight to take us under.  The changes that are occurring in our life cannot always be stopped but if we stay grounded with Jesus as our anchor we can never get pushed too far out.  As a boat in the middle of rocky sea, we may get tossed around, but we will never get lost at sea or left under water for too long.  When your life is getting a little uneasy and you feel your boat starting to rock do you cling to your anchor and let Jesus hold you steady?  If you are holding tight to anything besides Jesus Christ your life will rock and easily get tipped over.  Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever! He will not let us down or get lost at sea.  If you try to hold tightly to money, other people, fame or self dependance, you may find yourself being dragged out to sea because we can't be anchored by things that are constantly changing and moving.

Dear God, as we enter into this Christmas season I thank you so much for Your Son, Jesus Christ!  You knew life would be hard for me and you provided me with an anchor to hold me steady and keep me from getting lost at sea.  You have provided me with a firm foundation that I never want to step off of and I never want to detach from.  Hold me steady when things get rough this week and keep me secure in Your loving arms.  In Jesus' Name, Amen          

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Comfort Others

He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others.  When others are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.
2 Corinthians 1:4

We all know hurt of some kind.  Every one of us has gone through something in our lives that caused us pain and sorrow.  God did not intend to cause us bitterness and constant heartache over such hurt and loss.  Instead, He needs His children to use that hurt, and their experiences from it, to help others who are experiencing hurt of their own.  His motives for comforting us in our sorrow and pain are so that we can someday pass along that comfort.  

God doesn't always take away the thing that troubles us but He is more than capable of comforting us during that trial.  He is able to give us patience to endure, strength to stand when everything around us is crumbling, He gives us hope through His Word, and peace through the Holy Spirit.  (And sometimes some really great, godly friends.)  When we receive that amazing comfort that only God can provide it is our responsibility to then share our experiences with those who experience similar pain and suffering.

Have you experienced God's gentle, yet powerful comfort lately?  How can you glorify God through your circumstances?  God puts us in situations, first, because He knows exactly what we need to grow and draw closer to Him, but also to help others.  What things have you experienced in order to comfort others in their similar pain?  Chances are you already know of someone you should talk to or lift up today.  There is a great possibility that God has already laid someone special on your heart.  Don't hang onto your pain and experiences of renewal and comfort!  Share what you know with someone else!  What has God put in your life that can be used to help others and bring them closer to Him?


Tuesday, December 2, 2014

God's Will For You (Part 5)

 The last 4 days we've looked at God's will for us. And today we will use those lessons to help us create a system for making decisions. The original question was , "So when it comes to making practical, day-to-day decisions how do we know if something is God’s will?"

Begin by submitting yourself to be transformed by replacing what’s in your mind with the Word of God. Ask what God’s believes about it by seeking His Word. You have to know his character and the only way to know his character is to abide in him---diligently, deeply, passionately! If you commit 5 minutes a day to God, he will begin there. But as time goes on your heart will desire more and more of him. You’ll long for more time in His word. You will take him with you into each setting you encounter because more of him exists in you!

Then when making decisions you ask--
1. Does it align with God’s Character?
2. Does it serve God first, others next and then myself? Matthew 22:37-39
3. Check my motives.
  • Will my decision, purchase, act, desire bring glory to God above all else? Does it exalt him and  humble me?
  • Will it honor others and show them Christ in me? If others are involved, does it make them better, more holy? 
  •  Is it for my own pleasure, power or prestige?  Remember God wants us to die to our fleshly                                  desires and he hates pride. “To fear the Lord is to hate evil; I hate pride and arrogance, evil behavior and perverse speech. Proverbs 8:13”
  • Is it motivated by love?
    • 1 Corinthians 13:-8 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not   proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.
4. Does it promote personal integrity? Is it honoring to myself?
  • Integrity is the state of being whole or undivided. If my heart’s desire is to serve the Lord then I have to live with integrity. Does the decision I’m making reflect my desire to serve God in all areas of my life (Spiritual, thoughts, marriage, sex, parenting, finances/spending, media, conversation/speech, job, relationships, hobbies).

Monday, December 1, 2014

God's Will For You (Part 4)

We've been looking at God's will for the last 3 days. Today we will add a 4th 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.

4. God’s will is that we are in relationship with him so we can follow his commands. 
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 7:21).

Jesus says that if we are his, we will do God’s will. Doing is an action. That means we do what God says, we follow his commands. And his greatest command is found in Matthew 22:37-39 “Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  

He commands us to love God, others, and then self. The command to love, coupled with his desire that we remain in him builds a relationship. Adam was created to fellowship and be in relationship with God. That's been God's plan from the beginning. When we are in relationship, we trust in his sovereignty. when we trust in his sovereignty we desire to remain in him. When we remain in him then we become holy. When we become holy we obey his command to love and be loved!