Sunday, August 31, 2014

Sunday Morning Song

Dear God, 
Thank you for offering Your Son, Jesus Christ as a ransom for my sins.  I am blessed to live sin free because of Jesus' sacrifice and I will not let satan or anyone else convince me otherwise.  I have repented therefore I am made clean.  Sin no longer has a stronghold in my life.  Give me the strength to stand confident and firm in this matter.  Keep me from carrying this cross for one more day.  I no longer want to live in shame but to celebrate what Jesus has done for me.  Thank you, I praise your name for ever and ever!  

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Wrangle it!


As I lay praying in bed tonight (at 1:00am) I had to laugh because I confused myself with so many partial thoughts. I smiled as I imagined God giving me the same look my husband gives me from time to time; the look that says, "What on earth are you talking about?" 

My mind was out of control. My prayer went something like this... As I prayed I barely finished praying for one friend, and I was thinking about things to do tomorrow. Then I wondered if I locked the door. Oh, yes, then back to the prayer. Not too long and I was thinking about the grocery list. Oh, back to praising... I know he's all powerful and all knowing, but I think my scattered mind gave him a run for his money trying to keep up with my wanderings! I laid in bed and thought, "I can't do it. I can't keep focused to save my life."

I thought of the verse in 2 Corinthians 10:5b that says, "and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." Instantly I realized that Paul is telling me that in Christ I have the power to focus; I can stop the wandering of my mind. This madness in my mind has to be wrangled and put down! I envisioned the rodeo and the way calves are roped. Click and watch this short video if you can...        Roping Video

This calf is chased down, lassoed, and yanked to the ground. The rider then dismounts his horse only to again throw the calf to the ground, straddles him to tie up his now wildly kicking legs, and finally raises his hands in a motion of success! It was less than 7 seconds and the calf was wrangled. It took lots of practice to get this good at stopping a wild running calf in his tracks.

Through the power of the Holy Spirit we can and must stop our thoughts from running wildly. It takes a very intentional decision to say, "no" to a thought, slam it to the ground, tie it up and refocus on the Lord. But it can be done! Today, I encourage you to think about what you are thinking about. Keep scripture handy. Rebuke the wanderings, the hurtful replays, the projected outcomes, and replace them with God's word. 

 Our minds tend to run freely. Help us to wrangle our thoughts and refocus on you. Keep our minds in perfect peace as we run to you and away from the wandering thoughts in our heads. Amen

"You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast,
because they trust in you."
Isaiah 26:3 

Friday, August 29, 2014

His Disciples Believed In Him

This miraculous sign at Cana in Galilee was Jesus' first display of His Glory and His disciples believed in Him.  
John 2:11

If you haven't read about the wedding in Galilee I encourage you to dig into John chapter 2 and learn about Jesus' first miracle He perfumed during His 3 year "tour".  The wedding party had run out of wine, which was a big deal back in His day, and His mother asked Him to perform a miracle for the family.  I won't go into detail everything that happened because I want you to read it yourself.  The reason this scripture caught my eye was because after one miracle His disciples believed in Him.  They must have all been doubting in His true identity but after seeing one miracle they were in.  My question to you and myself is this: If they believed after one miracle why is it then so hard for us to believe and trust after the many, many miracles we receive every day?  I see Jesus' hand in my own life several times in one day and I have the bible to read of His many miracles of the past.  I have promises of God's power and glory all over in the bible.  I see His hand in my own life but, at times, I still want to doubt.  The disciples were very encouraged by Jesus.  They knew that he was very special.  They were drawn to Him at the moment they met him but, like us all, they were skeptical, especially when problems arose.  They liked Jesus and wanted to trust Him and follow Him but until they saw this one miracle they still questioned who He was.  They also had no idea this miracle was coming so I'm sure it shocked them to see their friend defy the laws of nature.  But how often do we seen God's power in our own lives or the lives of others?  The birth of a baby, healing of a sick friend,  the transformation of an unbelievers heart, and through the beauty of this earth and the miracles that bloom every day and set every night?  My friends, if we are doubting Jesus' true identity and doubting God's power in our lives then there may be no help for us.  How much more proof do we need?  After all, His disciples needed only one many miracles will it take us?  

Dear God, thank You for your miracles every day.  Forgive me when I overlook them and take for granted the very things that prove Your existence in my life.  I love you so much and dedicate my day to looking for your miracles and believing, never doubting again, that you are my Savior and my Rock.  In Jesus' Name....Amen

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Sing a New Song!

"Sing a new song to the Lord! Let the whole earth sing to the Lord! Sing to the Lord; bless his name. Each day proclaim the good news that he saves!" Psalm 96:1-2

I'm truly not gifted in the realm of music, but I love to sing! And in my mind I'm much like the girl pictured here... Awesome! So I love that God loves to hear me sing his praises. 
This verse had a new meaning to me the other day though. I didn't read it as encouragement to literally sing to the Lord. You see, my joy had been waining. I felt like I was in a spiritual rut. Going through the motions, but not feeling the joy of the Lord. Then I read this verse and felt the Spirit nudge me to praise God for something new. I began to look around me and notice small things- the beauty of a spiderweb, the full gas tank in my car, a smile from a stranger. And I started praising God for different things not just the same old same old! I began to notice blessings that were there all along, but because my prayers had become stagnant I had failed to notice. This perspective changed my heart as well, and the joy of the Lord slowly began to saturate my dried up heart!
Today, Sing a new song to the Lord! Look for new ways to praise him and watch the joy of the Lord overcome your heart!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Looking Back At My Day

My alarm sounded off and it was time, once again, to wake up.  After hitting snooze a couple of times the first thoughts on my mind are of thanksgiving to God for giving me another day to serve Him.  As I go through my list of prayer requests I pause to spend extra time on one particular subject.  While I was pouring my heart out to God over this one particular person in my life, a text came through on my phone.  It read:  "Psalm 18:30.......God's way is perfect.  All the Lords promises prove true.  He is a shield for all who look to Him for protection."  I couldn't do anything but smile and reply to the sender that she had perfect timing, but of course we all know Who has the perfect timing ;) 

As my day continued I went about my normal morning routine.  After the kids went off to school and I fed the baby I was able to get out for a walk.  My walk was so peaceful with just the sound of crickets, or whatever those bugs were, and an occasional babble coming from the front of the stroller. I began to pray to God about one particular subject (yes the same one I prayed for just hours earlier).  I kept talking to God about my situation and finally just asked the Holy Spirit to pray for me because I just didn't know how to pray anymore.  Everything I knew told me to stop thinking about my situation.  I had handed it over to God once again and I knew I needed to stop thinking about it.  I got home from my walk and just kept thinking over things, replaying scenarios, questioning the what ifs and just obsessing over this one subject that I had no control over.  After I handed it over, again, to God, I text my best friend and accountability partner and confessed my issue at hand.  She soon  responded with her much appreciated advice: "Get a scripture on paper.  Read and recite it over and over.  Keep it short and repetitive.  Enough to keep your mind from wandering.  I'm praying for you right now."

It was what I needed to hear.  First of all I knew my GFF was praying for me which was so so comforting.  But something as simple as reciting God's Word over and over to get my attention off of my struggle and onto Him, was just great advice.  Remember my scripture that came through earlier that morning?  Yep, just one more reason to believe in God's perfect timing.  I know without a doubt that my God was with me today.  In fact, I know that He led my day.  He had already played it out and got everything in order that I would need for this very day.  He gave me scripture and a best friend to give me sound advice.  And what is even better.......He gave me His peace that took over as soon I began digging in His Word and reciting scripture.  

Dear God, I just love looking back at my day and seeing your hand all over it.  Thank You for loving me so much that You take the time to care about my day.  You go before me and You stand behind watching over me but most importantly You are right beside me holding my hand.  There is no place I would rather be!  Thank you for being patient with me when I have days where I have trouble letting go of things.  Thank You for Your Word to bring my focus back on You and away from my situation. 
In Jesus' Name, Amen            

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Right with God

"If we claim we have no sin; we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth." 
1 John 1:8

I have a serious struggle that I've battled most of my life. Some might call it 'perfectionism.' Others may call it 'having it all together.' I've even termed it 'extremely organized.'  But, recently I've come to realize that God calls it pride.  It's not the cocky, arrogant pride that most people think of upon hearing the word. It's not the pride that belittles others or looks down upon the next guy. It's the pride that beats me up from within. The pride that tells me I'm not enough, or I can and should be better. It's a subtle pride that the outside world can't see and often values. It's the pride that won't allow myself to be wrong.

Lately, I've drawn closer to God, and he's shown himself so greatly! In response I feel the tug of the Spirit to make changes as my heart desires to be more and more Godly. But therein lies the problem as well. In my pride, I try to make the changes; I try to be righteous. And when I fail or when I'm confused, the feelings of 'unrighteous' overwhelm me. In the last weeks several of my daily devotional readings have been on righteousness. So, instantly I began to feel I was failing before him. However, I believe that after much prayer and soul searching God is telling me that I have a false understanding of righteousness, and He wants to change it!

I work so hard to be sinless- you know, to be 'right'. To make right choices. To do the right thing. To not make mistakes. But this week Rich Warren's quote, "We cannot be sinless, but we can sin less." struck a nerve with me. I realized that I'm working to be sinless and when I'm not, I feel failure. Immediately I began flipping through my journal and rereading the recent scriptures on righteousness and holiness; I was asking God to clarify my understanding. Here are a few

"But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all this things will be given to you as well." Matthew 6:33

"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled." Matthew 5:6

"I, the Lord, am your God. You must be holy because I am holy." Leviticus 11: 44

By the time I was through searching and praying, God had told me these things about righteousness and holiness:

1. He alone is holy.

2. I'm already righteous (in right standing with God) because Jesus died for me, and I believe in him! It's that simple.

3. In time, I too become more and more right with God. It's a process in which I reap the benefits of His righteousness by simply continuing to walk right beside him. The focus is on his righteousness not mine!

4. Righteousness isn't about standing right (correct) before God. It's about standing right with him. You know, abiding in him. Staying close and letting him lead! It's about being right with him (closeness) and not right with him (without sin).

5. I'm human. I will mess up- sometimes frequently. That doesn't change my right-standing with God. It's simply opportunity to change. I'm being harder on myself than he ever will be.

Dear Lord,
Forgive me for putting the focus on myself and taking my eyes off of you. Forgive me for thinking I can and should do this on my own. You alone are righteous and holy. Thank you for letting me reap the benefits of your greatness as we walk this faith journey together. Amen

Monday, August 25, 2014

Return To Him and Wait

The Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says, "Only in returning to me and waiting for me will you be saved.  In quietness and confidence is your strength.  But you would have none of it."  
Isaiah 30:15

Oh did I learn something reading this chapter in Isaiah!  Not only am I a woman who will try and fix the situations I am in, I will also play over and over in my mind scenarios of how my situations could turn out and the little ways in which I can "adjust" my situation.  I can envision that the people of Judah were just like me and they began looking at the facts in front of them.  The fixers in them decided they couldn't fight alone.  They did not trust their own strength and they decided to call on the help of Pharaoh.  In fact, they were desperate and willing to call on anyone except God.   They saw a crisis in front of them and began to take matters into their own hands without seeking the help of God.  Worry brought on panic which led to over planning and analyzing, and that led them to punishment from God. 

In the midst of crisis, pain, or fear many of us will make quick judgments.   We will try and figure out the answers to our problems, and analyze ways to make sure the outcome of our circumstance turns out in our favor.  For me, my problem lies in playing out every scenario possible until I have myself tied up in knots.  I then start to panic and think of ways to fix or rearrange things so that I can make sure I get my way.  Unfortunately I don't have good luck when it comes to fixing my own problems.  My great ideas never seem to fall into God's grand design.  Continue reading this chapter and you will find that God punishes Judah because they did not trust in Him to handle their problems and we too punish ourselves when we waste our time worrying and planning without first going to God.  Instead of racing to quick judgment and panic and fixing we should be going to God and sitting in His quietness.  In the place of planning and worry we should trust God and have confidence in our strength that comes from Him.  When we get those initial thoughts of fear that lead to fixing we need to hand over our feelings and ask God for help.........waiting on Him to act or lead us to our next step.  Don't feel bad when you have to return to God several times in one day!  

Dear God, today I will return to You that which I am stressing to fix, and worrying about.  I promise to wait on You to help me.  Give me moments in which I can sit in Your quiet presence and give me the confidence to stay there.  Amen

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Sunday Scripture

"I am your servant; give me discernment
     that I may understand your statutes,
It is time for you to act, LORD;
    your law is being broken.
Because I love your commands
    more than gold, more than pure gold,
and because I consider all your precepts right, 
    I hate every wrong path."
Psalm 119:125-128

Saturday, August 23, 2014

The Only Opinion That Matters

When they arrived, Samuel took one look at Eliab and thought, "Surely this is the Lord's anointed!" But the Lord said to Samuel, "Don't judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him.  The Lord doesn't make decisions the way you do!  People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at a person's thoughts and intentions."
1 Samuel 16:6-7

Comforting words for a girl who can, too often, get caught up in what others think of her.  I know that the only opinion that really matters is God's, but so often I find myself worrying about what others think of me and their opinion about things going on in my life.  I think many of us, man or woman, can relate to this at one time or another.  It is a very natural thing to care about the opinions of others but this verse is telling us that the true opinion is that of God who looks at our thoughts and intentions rather than our outward appearance.  God knows what we are thinking, and the intentions behind our actions, so it doesn't matter what we look like when its happening and it doesn't matter if someone disagrees with us.  When we start to worry too much about what people think of us we become our own idols.  We worry more about ourselves than doing the right things or holding to our convictions.  Doing things one way or another because we want to make a good impression isn't necessary if what we are doing is wrong.  And if what we are doing is the right thing but for the wrong reasons we might as well have stayed at home.  God sees through our actions, into the heart, behind the action, and that is where our level of beauty lies.  You might have lingering sin in your life and God sees you trying to change, loving His children, reading His Word and praying every day.  He chooses to care for you and He loves you and honors you because He knows the real you.  Now someone from the outside might see this same person and just see the sin and decide that you aren't worthy, making her assumptions on only what she sees on the outside.  Or the opposite might happen where you are praying out loud, going to church every week and volunteering all your time but behind all that good works you don't trust Jesus and you continue living a life full of sin.  Someone from the outside would see all that and assume you are a christian but God would know the heart and intentions behind all those good works and He would have a different opinion.   

Friends, I hope today you can trust Who you are in God's eyes.  Believe that if you are walking in His light that you will shine brightly and beauty will radiate from you regardless of what anyone else thinks.  Don't ever forget that God sees past the wrinkles, the bad habits and your faults and sees through to your soul.  He looks at your thoughts and intentions and knows your heart which is where the true you resides.  You may try and hide from your friends or acquaintances but from God you can never hide.  He knows the real you, and in this world with so many people and things, God is the only person you need to win over.  God is the only opinion that matters when it comes to eternity and He is awesome so who really cares what anyone else thinks!   

Friday, August 22, 2014

Let it Go!

The Disney children's movie Frozen has been a huge success, and the hit song "Let it go!" has perhaps found even greater success with both children and adults alike because of the catchy tune. As I listened to the lyrics the other day, I found much truth to this song. The first part of the song goes like this:

                               The snow glows white on the mountain tonight
                                         Not a footprint to be seen
                                           A kingdom of isolation,
                                  And it looks like I'm the queen.

                              The wind is howling like this swirling storm inside
                                Couldn't keep it in, heaven knows I tried!

                                 Don't let them in, don't let them see
                                  Be the good girl you always have to be
                                 Conceal, don't feel, don't let them know
                                    Well, know they know!

                                       Let it go, let it go
                                    Can't hold it back anymore.
                                      Let it go, let it go
                                    Turn away and slam the door!

                                      I don't care
                                   What they're going to say
                                  Let the storm rage on,
                                The cold never bothered me anyway!

You see, in the movie, Elsa, the older sister has a secret. It is a secret that could hurt others if it is found out. She tries to contain this icy power, to keep it hidden from others for fear of what they will think if they know what's going on inside her and her home. She secludes herself from even her closest family members. She is then rescued by her fearless sister, Ana!

Have you, like Elsa, had ugly storms rage within your house and in your life? Do sins of your past haunt you? Have things happened that if the outside world knew, you'd be looked upon badly? So, like many, you've worked to be the 'good girl' that a Christian girl is perceived to be, but no matter how hard you've tried to hold it all together- your children, your spouse and you yourself just keep finding yourselves in the middle of an ugly storm. Your heart cries, "What if others knew about this mess? What would they say?"

As I read and listened the lyrics over and over, I felt God gently whisper to my soul-- "Let it go!"to the aches in my heart. I needed to be reminded of his forgiveness and power. I needed to be refocused on Him and not the world swirling around me. I needed to let go of my need to control and desire to be storm free.

We don't need to have it all together. We don't need to keep the storms under control. When we try to manage the storm we do more damage than good. Like Elsa, we need to let go and get on with the business of our God. As a Christian, we can be in the middle of an ugly storm and still witness to others because the storm doesn't define us. It's the way we stand firm in our faith that is the testimony of Christ, not the lack of storms! And this is why James says, "Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, when you face trials of many kinds because you know the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish it's works so you will be mature and complete, not lacking anything." James 1:2-4  So, Let it go! Let the storms rage on because they will refine you, not define you!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Jesus Understands

and he said to them, "The sorrow in my heart is so great that it almost crushes me.  Stay here and keep watch with me."
Matthew 26:38

As sad and heart breaking as this verse sounds I find great comfort in it.  Of all the people I could take my heart break to, Jesus is the only one who truly knows my pain.  Yes my GFF would be second in line, for sure, but as bad as I am feeling you better believe Jesus has felt it and even worse.  This verse reminds me of Jesus' humanness.  He was a real person, in the flesh, with worry and fear of the situation He was in, and he cried out to His friends in such sorrow.  If you continue reading you will find that Jesus' friends fell asleep, they didn't really understand what He was going through and so they just blew him off.  If you ever feel like no-one understands your pain don't forget that you have Jesus who has been in your shoes.  He has been so full of sorrow to the point of feeling crushed.  Jesus can comfort your sorrows and give you hope to pull you out of your fear, anger, pain and grief.  Someone who faced death for the sins of the world would have to understand what you are experiencing and His promise of hope, protection, and love is just enough to pull you out of your pit of despair.  And if someone like Jesus was human enough to feel so sad and scared then why not us?  It's a normal response to difficult circumstances so don't be ashamed of your sorrow.....let it go.....give it to God, share it with Jesus and let Him comfort you.  

Dear Jesus, I am so sorry for the sorrow and fear you experienced on that night before you gave your life so that I could live in heaven someday.  You were just like me with human emotions and fear like no-one can describe but you still chose to trust God with your life.  Help me to trust like You did.  I find relief knowing that when no-one else understands, You do.  Comfort me when I am in distress.  My hope is in You, Amen 


Wednesday, August 20, 2014


I, the Lord, am your God. You must be holy because I am holy. Leviticus 11:44

We live in a foggy world. There is a haze that is constantly hovering over us. As Christians, things often seem foggy. But this haze is not of God. It is so easy to lose perspective and make decisions based on the world's ways.
Sin is subtle and has been such a part of our society for so long that we make peace with it in all forms. White lies are ok as long as they don't hurt someone. "Politically correct" covers a multitude of unkind and hateful thoughts and actions. Justifying our spending in the name of "I needed it" runs all too rampant.
But scripture tells us to be holy just as God is holy. He is our standard, our light and our compass. To be better then the next guy is not enough, we must not compare ourselves one to another. Today I write to encourage you that wherever you are in your faith journey, stop and look up- make sure you're following the true light and not lost in the fog of the world. Read your Bible, talk with other Christians, seek the Lord diligently. In Him there is no confusion, he will remove the veil of fog if we only ask.

Let us see you so clearly! Be our light and our guide as we make our way through this sinful world. Remove the veil of fog so that we walk in clarity. In your name we pray, amen.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Acceptable Thoughts

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you, Lord, my rock and my Redeemer.
Psalm 19:14

So often I think of this verse and only apply it to the things I say.  Today I was reminded that God knows my heart and He knows the things that run through my mind daily.  Even though I may not talk about my worries, God knows that they can consume my thoughts, at times.  Sometimes I don't act on my insecurities but by thinking about them over and over, without giving them to God, can say to Him that I don't trust Him.  To meditate is to think deeply or focus our mind on something for a long time.  I don't believe it is acceptable to God when I focus on my problem for long periods.  He asks that we hand our problems over to Him and to trust Him with fixing them, but if we are constantly worrying and thinking of ways to fix our problems, then our mediations are not something God finds pleasing.  When, in our hearts, we hold worry and distrust God will see that we are not ready to hand over our lives to His will.  

I don't want this to be my story.  I want to trust God with everything and I don't want to be consumed with worry.  Every day I have to read His Word and be reminded of His faithfulness.  Every day I have to remind myself that God is bigger than my problem and I have to align my prayers with His will and wait on Him to save me.  I can't, for even a moment, start to try and fix things or analyze my problem because my human mind can't think beyond what I know, which is way less than God, of course.  I want my meditation to be on God's promise to hear my prayers.  I wan't to meditate on God's ability to give me the desires of my heart, and trust in Him to deliver.  I hope that my mediation is focused on all that God can do, including the things I do not comprehend nor can I imagine.  

Dear God, I want to please you with my words and my thoughts.  My dream is to have so much faith that I will never question your ability to answer my prayers and to solve my problems.  Help me refocus on those days that I start to meditate on the negative and on my self sufficiency.  Guide me to meditate on those things that will bring peace and align with Your will.  In Jesus' Name, Amen           

Monday, August 18, 2014

Gracious Speech

"Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs that it may benefit those who listen." Ephesians 4:29

Today begins a new school year. For me that is always my fresh start, even more so than New Year's Day! This time of year involves new crayons (my favorite), new classes, new students, new friends, and a chance to do things a new way.
This verse inspires me to be more alert about how I talk this year and also to be alert about the conversations I listen to around me. Christ finds the best in us and when there is a negative, he works to make it better. I want to adopt this attitude of love also.
I've seen this acrostic before and am posting it throughout my daily path:
T- truthful
I-in love
K- kind
Let us all "think" before we speak. Let us speak gracious words led by the Holy Spirit!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Sunday Scripture

Be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.
James 1:22

Dear God pursue me with your Word.  I not only want to store your words in my heart but I want to act on them, as well.  Help me to live the life you have called me to live and give me strength and boldness to live out your commandments and instructions.
In Jesus' Name, Amen and Amen  

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Hallowed Be Thy Name

Hallowed be Your name. Matthew 6:9b

Such a short passage; four simple words.  Upon first reading the above scripture, you might think it is an extension of the 4th commandment, "You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God" as stated in Exodus 20:7. We've all heard someone randomly throw God's name around in conversation, aggravation, or disdain. And yes, this is a gross misuse of the holy name of our God. But there is more to keeping God's name hallowed than just its verbal usage.

"Hallowed" is defined as holy, sacred, or blessed. Jesus instructed the disciples to pray beginning with "Hallowed be Your name." He is commanding us to keep God's name holy; to ensure that the name of God is held in reverent awe and majesty.  God's name is his identity. It is to be held in esteem by those who profess him as God.  Therefore; our lifestyle is to be a direct reflection of the holiness of His name.  Our actions (participation, association, or omission) reflect our degree of respect and love for the sacredness of God's name. 

When we pray "in Jesus name" our actions need to reflect the character of Jesus. That means Jesus would be pleased and join us in the activity. We fail to protect the name of God when our actions are unforgiving, without grace, or sinful. It should be, as Jesus commanded, that our daily prayer is to live in such a way that our Father's name will be hallowed; made holy and blessed. 

Lord, forgive us for the times we have brought down your name. Let our hearts be quick to hear your voice when we wander and begin to bring harm to your holy name. Tender us to notice the little things we do that offend your name and in turn keep others from seeking your grace and forgiveness. In this journey of faith, continue growing us in the understanding of the sacredness of your precious name. Amen 

Friday, August 15, 2014

Get Up And Eat

Then he lay down and slept under the broom tree.  But as he was sleeping, an angel touched him and told him, "Get up and eat!"  He looked around and saw some bread baked on hot stones and a jar of water!  So he ate and drank and lay down again.  
Then the angel of the Lord came again and touched him and said, "Get up and eat some more, for there is a long journey ahead of you."
So he got up and age and drank, and the food gave him enough strength to travel forty days and forty nights to Mount Sinai, the mountain of God.  There he came to a cave, where he spent the night.
1 Kings 19:5-9

Fortunately this isn't my story, but for many of my friends, it is.  When I was reading this chapter of 1 Kings today I immediately thought of my GFF's who are always complaining of their inability to stay asleep at night.  Just like Elijah they lay down and have no trouble relaxing and falling asleep, their trouble lies in staying asleep.  We joke about the many reasons for this, such as hormones and stress, but there is one reason that I strongly believe in, and it can be directly related to Elijah.  

When the angel of the Lord awoke Elijah he told him to "get up and eat".  Seems like an odd request in the middle of the night and after Elijah ate and fell back asleep the angel, once again, awoke Elijah and commanded him to eat again.  This got me thinking, why would God command someone to eat a whole bunch and why would He do it in the middle of the night?  Elijah was heading into a 40 day fast, traveling over 200 miles to Mount Sinai.  God knew that Elijah needed the food to nourish his body and give him strength for the journey ahead.  I know you are thinking that we don't live like that.  We don't travel long distances on foot through the desert but none of you can deny that we all have journeys.  We all travel through circumstances that are difficult and at times require intense focus just to get through a moment of time.  

So if you are waking up in the middle of the night it may be an angel of the Lord tickling your nose wanting you to get up and eat.  But this is where your story might differ from Elijah's, aside from not physically seeing and hearing an angel, you aren't eating real food but God's word.  You don't have to eat bread but instead converse with the Bread of Life.  If you can't sleep at night maybe God wants to talk to you.  Maybe you are going through a situation that needs some guidance or maybe you are about to begin a journey of turmoil and strife.  God wants to prepare you for what lies ahead and it's possible that the best time to get your attention is in the middle of the night.  Just like Elijah needed nourishment and strength for what lay ahead, He wants to fill you up with knowledge and wisdom to handle what's to come in your life.  I may be way off.  Only God knows your future, but if you are waking up a lot and every night you owe it to Him to talk to Him and or open your bible and listen to Him speak to you.  Why not fill up on Him every moment we can so that when we run into to those tough situations we are better prepared to endure them. 


Thursday, August 14, 2014

Be Diligent!

Diligently obey the Lord your God. Zechariah 6:15

A sluggard's appetite is never filled, but the desires of the diligent are fully satisfied. Proverbs 13:4

Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. 1 Timothy 4:15

Does God seem far away? Are you ever asking but never receiving answers? Perhaps it's in the way you approach God that you fail to receive answers and closeness of relationship. Are you diligent in your efforts to seek God?

I had the word diligent appear to me twice in one quiet time setting. It just seemed to stand out from the page, so I looked it up in the dictionary. It means:
     *constant in effort to accomplish something
     *attentive, persistant, steady
     *earnest and energetic in effort
     *steadfast application

Seeking God is not a task for the lazy or half-hearted. It's about being diligent. God wants us to seek him with our whole heart, mind, and soul. He is to be found, but only when we invest completely in him. 

So today, if you feel that God is far away continue to pursue him. Go deeper in your study of his word. Work hard at obeying his commands. BE DILIGENT!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Be Still

Be still, and know that I am God!
I will be honored by every nation. 
I will be honored throughout the world.
Psalm 46:10

Some days I quickly forget that I am not alone.  There are times when I start to worry or start to, for lack of better words, freak out.  Until recently, when those moments occurred, I would have difficulty redirecting my thoughts.  Not long ago I got this bracelet and little did I know just how much it would come in handy.  Every time I start to get fired up or begin to worry about something I can look down at my wrist and be reminded of Who leads me.  I am quickly reminded that I am not alone and that God is right there holding my hand.  When I look at my bracelet God tells me to be still, calm down and know that He is in charge, and that is just what I need to redirect my thoughts to a more positive, Christ-like attitude.  

Dear God, thank you for being so patient with me when I begin to get off track and start to wonder with worry and anxiousness.  I do trust you completely with my life but I am constantly fighting my human nature.  You are with me all day every day and I am so thankful for your words that calm my heart and bring me back to you.  I know that you are in charge and I honor you with my life.  
In your son's beautiful name, Amen 

Monday, August 11, 2014

An Invitation For God

But thou art Holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel.
Psalm 22:3

Inhabitest isn't a word I use on a daily basis and I don't usually quote from the King James Bible but this particular version of Psalm 22:3 really stuck out to me while I read a devotion last week. Inhabitest means to inhabit or dwell and so when you read this scripture it says something like this: God you are Holy, You dwell in or live in the praises of Israel, Your people. When we choose to praise God we are calling on Him and bringing God personally on the scene. When we praise we aren't just calling out to God. He is coming to us and living in our praises, dwelling with those who praise Him. It is a personal invitation to God! Therefore, even with things are not going as planned, we need to praise God in order to invite Him on the scene of our situation. When things are going well we also praise Him asking Him to join in our celebration. Praising God is more than just telling Him how much we love Him or are thankful for Him, it is asking God to live in our moment with us.

The trumpeters and singers performed together in unison to praise and give thanks to the Lord. Accompanied by trumpets, cymbals, and other instruments, they raised their voices and praised the Lord with these words: “He is good. His faithful love endures forever!” At that moment a thick cloud filled the Temple of the Lord. The priests could not continue their service because of the cloud, for the glorious presence of the Lord filled the Temple of God. 
 2 Chronicles 5:13-14 

Today, praise God, no matter what your circumstances are.  Invite Him to join you in your pain, your confusion, or your excitement.  He resides in your praises!  Sit back and wait for His arrival on the scene.  Believe He is in your presence and live like He is right beside you!  Pour your aching heart out to Him, He is right there with you.  Thank Him up and down for His provision in your life.  Show Him your new office and introduce Him to those new friends of yours.  Let Him hold your new baby or heal your sick child.  Just remember to bring Him on the scene through praise.    

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Sunday Scripture

"God, you did everything you promised,
    and I'm thanking you with all my heart.
You pulled me from the brink of death,
    my feet from the cliff-edge of doom.
Now I stroll at leisure with God
    in the sunlit fields of life." 
Psalm 56:12-13 MSG

Thank you Lord, for your faithfulness. Through life's trials, large and small, we have learned to praise you and walk with you; we have learned of the sweetness of your fellowship. Praise be to Your Name! Amen

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Jesus In Us

Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marveled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.
Acts 4:13

I often wonder if people, when they meet with me, can see Jesus in me.  Can those I come in contact with understand, just by hearing me speak, that I know Jesus?  Is my relationship with Jesus made known through my actions?  Peter and John were arrested because they had been preaching to thousands that Jesus had risen from death.  The people who heard them believed, and totaled almost 5,000 that day.  The next day the Jewish leaders and elders met with the High Priest to question Peter and John.  The two spoke with such confidence.  They were full of the Holy Spirit when they answered the leaders' question.  Through their boldness and possibly something physical that the High Priests saw and heard that day, it was evident that Peter and John had been with Jesus.  

I want my actions and words to be bold and so Holy Spirit filled that people know that I know Jesus!  It breaks my heart to think of all the times I could have shown my relationship with Christ to so many but my choice of actions and speech stopped it.  I am ashamed of some of the opportunities I let slip away because I chose to speak from my human nature instead of letting the Holy Spirit lead.  Think of your people know, by hearing you speak, that you have a relationship with Jesus?  Are they so impressed by your loving actions, your bold expressions, your confident, loving speech that they know right away that you have been with Jesus?  Peter and John were not scholars of their time. They did not hold high rank, and they were not considered knowledgeable, but through their speech that day people knew that they had been with Jesus.  You and I don't have to be smart.  We don't have to be public speakers or college professors to speak with boldness and to act in love like Jesus did.  All we have to do is ask the Holy Spirit to live through us and slow down enough to let Him lead.  It isn't easy, I know first hand, but every day is a new gift and a chance to live differently.  My prayer for you and myself is that we get serious about living our life with Christlike motives.  I want us to take God seriously and treat people just as Jesus would.  I want people to see Jesus in us and I want that to start today!  

Friday, August 8, 2014

Conviction vs. Condemnation

As Christians we need to learn to discern between the voice of our Savior and the voice of the enemy. God's voice is a voice of love, grace, mercy and conviction. The enemy of our soul leads us to shame, guilt, fear, and condemnation. It is very important that we are able to distinguish between conviction and condemnation. 

Conviction is from God. As Christians, through the Holy Spirit we are prompted to recognize our sin against God. Yes, we are guilty of sin, but we are not to be held captive by the guilt. Conviction exposes sin so that it can be expunged. The Spirit's work is God focused. It's about getting back in right relationship with God; it leads to repentance and new life. The conviction of the Holy Spirit leads us into the Light where our sin is exposed so that it can be dealt with and put in our past- completely forgiven! 

Condemnation on the other hand is from the enemy of our soul. Satan uses condemnation to make us feel guilty, shameful and worthless. He reminds us of our sin as often as possible so that we are ensnared by it. Once we are trapped in our sin, or even just the memory of it, we are ineffective in our relationship and service to Christ. Condemnation leads us into isolation. We don't want to talk about our sin, deal with it, or possibly even admit that it's happening. Condemnation leads to hopelessness. But God says, "Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." Romans 8:1. Yes, we are guilty of breaking God's law and deserve the condemnation of an eternity separated from our Heavenly Father. But, in Jesus, we are freed of this condemnation. 

As you sit and talk with God, ask him to reveal your areas of sin. Confess them and accept his forgiveness. If after confessing and asking forgiveness, you are reminded of your sin, know that it is not God's voice you are hearing. For God says, "If we confess our sin, he is faith and just to forgive us our sin and cleanse us from all unrighteousness." 1 John 1:9
It's gone; it's over; it's forgiven. So, go in peace!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

My Hiding Place

For You are my hiding place; You protect me from trouble.  You surround me with songs of victory.
Psalm 32:7

Often, when things aren't going my way, or I am feeling overwhelmed and defeated, I just want to run away and hide.  I have gone to my room and locked the door or I have sat on the toilet (lid closed); sitting in any available quiet room, where I thought I was safe, only to be found by my children.  When I need to clear my head I sometimes will go outside to water my flowers, hiding from the chaos occurring in my house.  There have even been times that I have even gotten in my car and drove away.  In every instance I was trying to hide from something that was bothering me.  Needless to say someone always finds me and I have a hard time getting relief from my overwhelming thoughts of frustration or grief.  

Our thoughts of running and hiding, although tempting, are not the best choice unless we are willing to hide under the shelter of our God.  When things get difficult, when we are being threatened by our enemy, if we are overwhelmed with fear, or our feelings of pain are so intense, God asks us to run to Him.  He promises to be our safe place and shelter (Psalm 91:1).  He loves His children and wants to protect us from harm and pain.  He promises to give us victory!  I need to stop hiding in the obvious spots where the dog can give me away and I need to start hiding under the shelter of My God who is with me where ever I go.  By giving Him my fear, disappointment, frustrations and pain He will take it from me and replace it with His Words of encouragement, strength, hope and love.  Yes a little quiet time is healthy for us all but hiding from our problems behind the bottle, at work, or at the poker table isn't going to solve the issue we are dealing with, it will only suppress the issue for a while.  With God we can solve our problems and find genuine encouragement.  His Word can shelter us from satan's lies and give us songs of victory and reasons to praise.  Only God can protect our very souls and the perfect plan He has for our life.  

Dear God help me to find you when I need you today.  I don't want to hide anywhere but under your wing of shelter.  When I feel overwhelmed I will come to you with my fear and anxiety because you promise to protect me and bring me victory.  In Jesus' Name, Amen

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Who Said That?

“Let me set this before you as plainly as I can. If a person climbs over or through the fence of a sheep pen instead of going through the gate, you know he’s up to no good—a sheep rustler! The shepherd walks right up to the gate. The gatekeeper opens the gate to him and the sheep recognize his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he gets them all out, he leads them and they follow because they are familiar with his voiceThey won’t follow a stranger’s voice but will scatter because they aren’t used to the sound of it.” John 10:1-5 MSG

I awoke in a panic. A terrible thought ran through my mind. I was alarmed and couldn't shake the feeling of panic for a few moments. I began to pray, "God, don't let this be true." As I prayed, my fear subsided and a peace swept over me as I realized that it wasn't the voice of God that had alarmed me. God speaks to me tenderly; he lovingly sweeps over my soul when I need to know something. He isn't a God of panic and fear. The enemy tried to alarm me, but his tactics didn't work because I know my shepherd's voice. 

Many times, Satan tries to trick us through our emotions. At times we may feel fear, doubt, or guilt. These are not of Jesus. They are tricks of the enemy and are to be rebuked as soon as we recognize that the voice doesn't match our shepherd. Jesus convicts not condemns. He provides peace not panic. He brings healing not pain. He is comfort not fear.

As you walk with Jesus, listen for his voice. He will call tenderly and softly. Learn to recognize His ways so that you are not deceived by the enemy who has entered your mind and is up to no good. 

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Joy Made Full

Are you wishing this picture described you right now?  Do you search for a joy that overflows from you?  Do you seek that confident feeling that takes all worry and doubt away, the ability to see through your pain and suffering with a perspective that is God focused and not "me" focused?  Jesus says that His words can do just that.  In the following scripture he claims that everything He tells us is so that we can possess His joy.  His Words can fill us up with Joy to an overflowing state.  It's as simple as opening our bibles..........

Jesus says, I have told you these things, that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.
John 15:11

When we spend time in God's Word, it's as if we are spending time with Him.  Because God is not able to be with us in the physical sense, reading The Bible is our way of having a conversation with Him.  We can ask Him questions about life and the tough situations we deal with daily.  His answers are found in parables and in simple phrases.  He tells us stories that can make a person laugh or cry.  There is a whole, amazing person just waiting to carry on a friendship with us!

In this scripture Jesus tells us that by spending time with Him and listening to Him we can be filled with Joy.  He tells us so many wonderful things through God's Word all because He loves us and wants us to have confident hope and joy until we are made full and overflowing.  

Dear God, help me to focus on you today.  Give me time in your Word so that I can carry on a conversation with You and that You can fill me with Your joy.  I want to be so confident in You and the control that You have over my life, and I want to overflow for my friends and family to see.  Thank you for loving me and reaching out to me.  In Jesus' Name.....Amen  

Monday, August 4, 2014

Are you in your right mind?

Now the mind of the flesh is death. But the mind of the Spirit is life and peace. Romans 8:6

I went to bed the other night mentally exhausted. I literally dragged myself to bed at 9pm. Why was I so tired? Simply put, I'd spent all day thinking about how God would solve a situation in my life. I ran every scenario possible. I envisioned good and bad outcomes. I contemplated who would and wouldn't be a part of the solution. It was absolutely draining. My head hurt and my body was worn out. I had lost my peace.

This scripture tells us that the mind of the flesh is death. I killed myself that day trying to play the role of God. Rather than put my trust in him and sing praises, I separated myself from Him and caused myself to mentally, emotionally and spiritually die. Yes, I knew that a mind that lives apart from the knowledge and acceptance of Christ as Lord and Savior will result in eternal death. But as I found out on this dark, heavy day, moments and hours of letting my mind run wildly can result in a form of death also. 

Walking with Jesus is a journey. It takes time, patience, and practice. As part of this journey we must learn to think about what we are thinking about. If we are mentally exhausted, chances are we are not in our right mind. We are most likely functioning in our own power and on our own will. But when we have peace and clarity, our mind is governed by the Holy Spirit. So, I ask you today, "Are you in your right mind?"