Friends, I'm guessing someone, besides myself, needs to hear this beautiful message today. As I was searching iTunes for the song Thrive by Casting Crowns I came across this song on the same album. It touched me, and as I listened closely to the words I envisioned God holding me and singing directly to me. Friend, I hope you are in the position to listen to this beautiful song. I hope that you are some place safe where you can cry if you need, or raise your hands high to the sky. Maybe you will feel the need to share it with a friend or a coworker. This song is more than beautiful words put together to music. It is a promise from God. A promise for you and me and anyone who wants to place their faith in Jesus Christ.
Grandchildren are a delight! They are sweet and precious. They can melt my heart in an instant! But they can also test the limits and at the same time teach me a lesson or two! In order to share this story with you, I have to have you imagine the scene.
Emma (now 2 1/2) is sitting at the bar, and we are singing "Jesus" songs as I prepare lunch. Her little hands move as we sing This Little Light of Mine. She is delightful as her pigtails bounce along. The phone rings. It's my husband sharing a story of his weekend. Instantly, Emma scoots over and begins yanking on the water faucet; All the while she knows she's not to be doing this, but she thinks I'm preoccupied! I walk over and push the faucet off. She turns it on. I turn it off. Each time she asserts a little more attitude in turning the water on. This continues about 4 times. Not wanting to interrupt my husband's story, without a word I wrap my arm around Emma's waist and lift her from the stool. I'm anticipating a fight, but she pulls her feet up, holds onto my arm with her sweet hands, and says, "Yep, I going time-out." I stifle a laugh, and yes, we head to time out.
She knows the rule about the faucet. She knows that Grandma expects her to listen. Yet, she did what she wanted to do even though she knew there would be consequences.
How many times, have we, like Emma, been willfully disobedient?
Dear Lord, "Search me, God, and know my heart. Test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." Psalm 139:23-24 Amen
So then, my friends, try even harder to make God's call and His choice of you a permanent experience; if you do so, you will never abandon you faith.
2 Peter 1:10
Dear God, I want to know You. Every day I want to experience You and fall deeper into Your arms. I want to understand Your amazing grace and grasp Your perfect love in my life. You choosing me was not a mistake and Your love and provision in my life are all because of Your great love for me. Help me to stay true to You and choose You over the many other gods fighting for my attention. It is my desire to have you as a permanent fixture in my life. The One on who I depend, on a regular basis, for all of my needs. I never want to let you down nor do I want to abandon my trust in You. Thank You for Your promise to keep me under Your wing. Praise You for all that You are in my life! In Jesus' Name, Amen
Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your cares upon him, for he cares for you." 1 Peter 5:6-7
Peter gives us some great advice in these passages. He begins by telling us to humble ourselves under God's mighty hand. Humbling ourselves is a choice. It is a heart and mind decision to place ourselves at the feet of God. A decision to admit our weaknesses and our need. Pride keeps us from seeking God's will, provision, and direction. But a humbled heart allows God to do the work, knowing that He completes a perfect work in his time.
Humbling ourselves can be scary. It means letting go of control. It means we quit trying to fix things, and we stop thinking about the future. It means total surrender (time and time again!) It is really a beautiful picture when you think about it.
Imagine yourself being humbled before God. Picture yourself on your knees, praying at his feet before his massive throne. As you are on your knees his mighty right hand is stretched over you, protecting you. Shielding you from the enemy. As you remain there, humbled before the Lord, pouring out your heart and giving him ALL that is going on in your life, his hand does not tire. His strength and love are being poured over you constantly. Peace reigns!
And as you remain kneeled before the throne, he is working. Working in the hearts and minds of those around you. He is perfectly orchestrating the outcome of your circumstance and your life. He is fighting the battles, defeating the enemies, opening the hearts and minds of those whom you have laid at his feet. Oh, what a mighty God! Oh, what a place of peace and beauty to lay before his throne!
Join me today in the decision to cast our cares upon the Lord, so that he can raise us up in due time!
They are constantly in my thoughts. I cannot stop thinking about your mighty works.
I'll be honest. I don't have a lot for you today. I don't have a long story or life experience that is ready to jump from my fingers to this page. I had a beautiful meeting with some beautiful women last night and the only thing that runs through my head this morning, and every waking moment during the night, is that our God is awesome and always working. This scripture above describes me right now as I look back on that meeting and start to piece some things together. I have never given God enough credit for His constant work in my life and the work all around me. It is a hard thing to grasp, really. But last night as I sat with a couple women I have never met before and with a few familiar faces, as well, I was blown away. A smile was painted on my face all night and the feeling that God was right there introducing us all, at just His right timing, was priceless.
But Jesus replied, "My Father is always working, and so am I."
I just want to praise God for His undeserving love and for His thoughtfulness! I am in awe of His great power and the way He works all things together for His kingdom and to achieve everything He sets out to do. I am so excited to attempt thinking beyond my little brain to the endless possibilities that God offers when we listen to His call and obey Him. And I can't even touch what He is about to do! I can't understand all the ways that He is working right now to make something so dear to His heart come to life through His beloved children! My dear friends, God is absolutely good!!
O Lord, what great works you do! And how deep are your thoughts.
Have confidence, today, in your story, that God is at work and at just the right time He will bring every piece of the puzzle together to give you victory. It may never look as you dreamed or it may be way beyond your wildest dream but trust that you are in good hands and you are taken care of by the creator of the universe, our God, who loves you with so much authority and gentleness! He is on your side working!!
Excuses. We all have them and try to use them to justify our actions, but ultimately we have to come to be willing to face the cold, hard truth. We were wrong. Let me explain further.
I was asked a question about someone. I stated what I knew to be true because of conversations and issues with this person on multiple accounts. It was first hand information. It was irrefutable because I witnessed it, experienced it, and it happened each and every time I communicated with her. And it was true of everyone else that had to deal with her. It was truth.
As the next hour wore on, I heard a gentle whisper in my soul. "Go apologize." My instant response came, "But it was true." I tried to dismiss the nudging. After another hour, I could stand it no longer. I went to the one who had questioned me and apologized. Not because what I said was untrue, but because my words didn't build up the one I spoke of that day. And ultimately they hurt Jesus.
This act of speaking careless words taught me many things, but the greatest two I learned were these:
1. Obedience to God is essential to our peace. Prior to apologizing, my spirit was in such unrest. However immediately after saying I was sorry, I felt calm within in me. I felt close again to the Lord.
2. Humility is where God works best. I had to humble myself so much to go and admit my wrong. God has to have a humble heart. I tried so hard to harden my heart to his promptings. If I had persisted in not wanting to apologize, I would have made it even more difficult to hear him the next time. I must keep my heart tender to his words.
Scripture has a lot to say about our words. Take time today to read over these verses. Ask God to show you where you (much like me) might need to do some backtracking.
Don't bad-mouth each other, friends. Its God's word, his Message, his Royal Rule that takes a being in that kind of talk. You're supposed to be honoring the Message, not writing graffiti all over it. God is in charge of deciding human destiny. Who do you think you are to meddle in the destiny of others? James 4:11-12 MSG But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgement for every empty word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned. Matthew 12:36-37 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your outs, but only what is helpful for building up others according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. Ephesians 4:29
Lord, Your word tells us that taming the tongue is a difficult task. Forgive us for the unkind or hurtful things we've said to one another. We want to honor you and our words hold the power to do so, but we also have the power to do great damage. Set a watch gate before our mouths this day, that we will speak only words that delight your Spirit! Amen
But this precious treasure - this light and power that now shine within us - is held in perishable containers, that is, in our weak bodies. So everyone can see that our glorious power is from God and is not our own.
2 Corinthians 4:7
If nothing ever went wrong in our lives and if we always got our way then we may never need to count on God, thus never proclaiming to the world the power that God has to save and heal. I love this scripture from 2 Corinthians because it reminds me that my problems and my hurts are my chance to share God's love and power with the people in my life. When we allow others to see our "weak bodies", we also have the opportunity to show them God's power. A power that can't be see in the independent person who is "strong" appearing to have everything due to his or her own ability and strength. In recent years I have seen the power of a weak body. Someone who admits she can't do it on her own. A person who can still has the strength to stand, presenting peace and joy even when the world seems to be caving in around her. Nothing short of a miracle! Now that is the power of God that we have within us, by admitting we are weak, it appears to others that we are strong. And we are indeed strong in the Lord!
I have learned, through personal experience, that pretending we have it all together, that our strength is our own, only leaves us weaker in the end. We exhaust ourselves trying to look good on the outside when we are dying on the inside. But when we allow God to give us a "makeover" we can look good and strong and still have energy left over to share our peace and joy with others. We can give God the glory for our ability to stand.
Friend, if you have problems in your life, whether they are big or small, let God be your strength. Stop trying to do all the work on your own! Don't be afraid to let your own weakness show, stand up and let the power of God transform you. Share with others your worry and pain, admit your failure and show others around you that, although your world is caving in, by the power of God, you can stand. I can tell you that things in my life are complicated right now. I have so many things that are out of my control, things that have the potential to hurt me deeply but my own power can't touch them. My own ability only seems to make things appear worse than they are. So I present my weakness to God and others. I have to show that the reason I can stand through this is because God is giving me strength. He gives me peace through His promises. He stays faithful to my needs and desires, He truly wants what's best for me and He loves me so much! Dear friend God loves you so much and He wants to help you! Show your weakness and He will show off His strength! Amen!
"Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits." Psalm 103:2
No matter what kind of a day you are having determine to praise the Lord! It is so easy to get sucked into the negativity trap. But it only takes one praise to reach the heart of God. Once the praise train is moving, it can't be stopped. Praise is the natural antidote to pain, fear, and discouragement.
There is much truth in the children's song lyrics: "Count your blessings. Name them one by one. Count your many blessings see what God has done!"
So, stop right where you are and praise! The Lord has blessed you indeed! Demand your mind to quit wandering. Pray for a watch gate to be set before you mouth so that the words you speak are positive and praiseworthy. Choose this day to "Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not ALL his benefits!"
The Lord said to Moses, "How long will these people reject Me? How long will they not believe Me, with all the signs which I have performed among them?"
Every time something bad comes my way I immediately want to complain. I find my husband or best friend and get all my worry and frustration out. It may linger for a day or two (or more) depending on what it is, but I am reminded this morning that whatever my problem, God is bigger and He is an amazing provider. Through my whole life I have been blessed beyond what I deserve and I am never lacking any good thing. There are things that aren't perfect, in my eyes, and I am sure I could come up with a selfish list of things I desire and don't have but when I take out all the greed I am left with everything I need.
In this scripture God is asking Moses why the people were still rejecting Him after He had provided so much and after He had made Himself known through signs and miracles. His heart hurts to see His beloved children reject Him by complaining and brushing aside His promises of provision and protection. And all the while I can see the Israelites misbehaving, I want to deny that I am not like them, but in reality I am. God is asking me the same question in my moments of doubt........How much provision will it take for me to trust Him? I don't want to doubt God's provision in my life for one more day. I want to believe that He is in control of every circumstance and I do not want to get impatient waiting on His perfect timing. Yes, His provision is always on time!!!
Those who seek the Lord shall not lack any good thing.
Dear God, I will sing this song all day to remind myself of Your love and mercy in my life and on the provision that only You can provide. I will thank You and praise You for all that You are for me and I ask You to help me stay true to You. In Jesus' Name........Amen
When the Holy Spirit of truth comes. HE WILL GUIDE YOU INTO ALL TRUTH. He will not be presenting his own ideas, he will be telling you what he has heard. He will tell you about the future. He will bring Me glory by revealing to you whatever he receives from Me.
My future holds so many unknowns and the things that I am experiencing have so many unanswered questions. I think that I may know the best for my situation and I can pray for what I believe is true and right but only God really knows all the answers. In fact, we are all the same in this area. We all have questions for God and we all have areas in our life that we don't know all the answers to. I was reminded of this simple truth yesterday, as I was reading His word. We can leave behind the worry of figuring things out and trying to decipher what is truth, and what is not good for us. The Holy Spirit, who resides in us, is our messenger! He is capable of talking with God and relaying that information back to us. Some may hear him speak directly through an audible voice and others will hear him through reading scripture. If we are willing to put our faith in God then we will hear what ever God wants us to know. The key is trusting and laying aside our natural need to fix things and figure things out on our own. From now on when you or I have a question for God let's take it directly to Him before we start worrying and scrambling to figure things out. When we question a certain situation and the safety of it we need to step back and pray, asking God for His spirit to lead us to all truth regarding our circumstances. If you are suffering from unanswered questions, go to God. Be open to the Spirit and let him lead you into all truth.
Dear God, I often times forget that You have all the answers and You desire for me to have peace through my faith in You. Thank you for giving me the Holy Spirit to guide me and reveal your answers to me in the time that You know is best for me. I am so blessed to have Your Word right in the palm of my hand, to go to for relief from a busy, unsure day. I will put my trust in You and Your Spirit. I believe that you will never let me down and that I will be led to truth. In Jesus' Name Amen
'Rebuild the road! Clear away rocks and stones so my people can return from captivity.'
Isaiah was a prophet. Through him, God delivered messages to the people. It was Isaiah's job to deliver the hard words that no one wanted to hear. He was the voice of encouragement and the one who refocused those who were growing weary. Isaiah called the people from their sins back to the Lord. He lead them to repentance before a high and holy God. He went before the people clearing out all the debris that cluttered their way to the Lord. He directed them in the way to go.
This verse is a call to us as well. We are to do what is necessary to lead to the Lord those who are yet held captive by their sins. We are to rebuild the road that sins' damage has destroyed. Like, Isaiah, we are to walk with others on this faith journey. We share our stories of pain and loss. We honestly reveal our misgivings and faults. We offer grace and forgiveness that comes from the Lord. And as we share our stories we share with a Godly, bold confidence in the One who has delivered us.
We show that the rocks and boulders that covered our road to Jesus could not keep us from an all-knowing, all-powerful, mighty and gracious God. We show them that in exercising our faith through trials, we have become stronger in our love and stability in the Lord. It is in this honest sharing that we will help others clear the rocks and stones from their own path, finding freedom from sin and the love they are longing for in Jesus.
We thank you for those who have gone before us clearing the way to find you. Teach us to be mentors and friends to others. Lead us to the lost so that we can lead them to you! And in all the construction that is to be done, Jesus, let this be the sign that we keep focused on...
However, I consider my life nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me- the task of testifying to the good news of God's grace. Acts 20:24
All athletes practice strict self-control. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run straight to the goal with purpose in every step. I am not like a boxer who misses his punches.
1 Corinthians 9:25-26
There isn't a lot I can add to this scripture. It speaks very clearly on its own. As christians we have one goal in mind. We have been given a great responsibility to "go and make disciples of all nations" (Mathew 28:19). The steps we take should be leading towards that one goal, reaching the "finish line" having lead many people to Christ and helping God's children along the way. Our love for God should be the motivating factor behind every action we take. So we run straight to the goal with purpose in every step!
Are you doing the things that matter in life? When you reach your finish line will it be obvious what your purpose was in life? Will one be able to trace your steps and know that you were a follower of Christ and that you devoted yourself to loving God and loving others? Who will shake your hand when you reach that finish line and say "thank you for helping me reach Jesus", or "thank you for leading me to Christ and for loving me when no-one else would"? And the steps that you take, are they with purpose every day? Like a boxer are you wasting your punches, or are you running straight toward your goal? Are you placing God's call, on your heart, first, as you make decisions for your future and every day activities? Lot's of things to think about today as I sit meditating over this scripture. It may be time for me to evaluate my life and the steps that I am taking to reach my finish line.
Dear God, I want to run with purpose! I don't want to waste my time fretting over things that don't matter and I especially don't want to miss the mark! Through Your Word show me the areas that I need to work on and help me develop self-control, training my mind to put your eternal purpose at the center of my heart. Grow me and prepare me to meet your children who need direction. Give me wisdom to discern my role in helping them meet you face to face some day. Help me be content with what you want and where you have me. I love you with all of my heart. Thank you for being my running partner, never getting too far ahead or falling back behind. Right beside me you stay encouraging me all the way. In Jesus' Name..........AMEN!
Don't bargain with God. Be direct. Ask for what you need. Luke 11:10 MSG
What is it you need today? Are you lacking peace? Growing weary in the battle? Are you finances out of control or your relationships broken? Do you long to walk more intimately with your savior and friend, Jesus Christ? Struggling to forgive? Unsure of your next step?
Whatever you need, you must simply ask our Father in heaven for it! I love this translation from the Message: "Don't bargain with God. Be direct. Ask for what you need." It's simple! We shouldn't hesitate to ask God for the things we need, and we definitely don't have to perform a certain way to receive His gifts.
2 Chronicles 16:9 tells us, "For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him." He's looking for his faithful children so he can bless them. He longs to give you good gifts! Whatever your need is, ask! Pursue God and be persistent. If your answer isn't immediate, remain faithful to Him for he is faithful to you. His answer and blessing will come in his perfect timing. Read and meditate today over the following verses:
Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him? (Matthew 7:7-11).
"Nazareth!" exclaimed Nathanael. "Can anything good come from there?"
"Just come and see for yourself," Philip said.
Nathanael isn't much different than any of us. It was't that he didn't want to believe in the Messiah, he just couldn't believe that anything or anyone good could come from a place that had poor judgment and morals. Had he been so sure of his own prejudice, he would have missed out on meeting Jesus. How many times do we get too busy in our life, or make quick judgments about something or someone that we miss out on meeting Jesus face to face? How many times do I miss seeing the work of God because I let my own judgements and opinions stand in the way of seeing Him?
If we aren't looking for Jesus and if we aren't willing to go meet Him where he is then we will miss out on the experience of knowing Him. Nathanael wasn't going to get to know Him by just listening to Philip talk about Him, he needed to go and see for himself. How often do we get lazy and just take someone's word for it. or do we overlook someone's Jesus story because we can't imagine how that would ever happen? We have our doubts and without an open mind and a willingness to witness it for ourselves we miss out on knowing the One True God.
If you continue reading a little you will see that it took one very short conversation, two statements, in fact, for Nathanael to believe. Had he stuck to his original thoughts he may have stayed home sitting on his couch watching some TV show that had absolutely nothing to do with his salvation or his purpose in life. Instead he was curious and he was willing to give this man from Nazareth a chance.
Do you ever encounter people like Nathanael? Someone who has a bad taste for Jesus or a prejudice concerning Him? It is not easy talking to someone like that but the best thing you can offer them is to "come and see him for yourself". You don't have to force your thoughts on them, or your Jesus story, because it's their own encounter, with Him, that will make them believe. So instead, just keep encouraging them to meet Him on their own, in there comfortable place. Because we are blessed with a God who is omnipotent, He can meet us wherever we are! Offer them a bible and book mark some important scripture or ask them to join you in a bible study or quiet study time. And most importantly pray for that person! Straight from scripture ask God to pursue your friend or loved one in a way that sends them to seek first the Kingdom of God (Matt. 6:33). Ask God to help your friend taste and see that the Lord is good (Psalm 34:8). Don't let your friend's prejudice and stereotypes keep her from knowing Jesus and experiencing His power and love in her life. Don't ever stop inviting her to "come and see for herself".
Dear God, I have a friend on my mind who, for her own personal reasons, has trouble trusting in you and believing that you can bring her a life of peace and joy. Please pursue her with Your great love and mercy. Give her opportunities to meet You face to face. My desire is for her to seek You first in in her life and to taste and see for herself that You are good and glorious. Help me to be a friend with patience, someone for her to trust in, and give me the wisdom to walk her to You. I ask this all in Jesus' Name, Amen
O Lord, listen to my cry; give me the discerning mind you promised.
I praise You for loving me and wanting the best for my life. There are so many times that I try to figure things out and I want to make my own plans. Please give me the discerning mind to know what You want in every area of my life. I want my day to be the day you have planned for me and I want my life to head in the direction that You have laid out for me. Give me wisdom to hear Your voice and to understand what You ask of me. Give me strength and boldness to stick to Your plan and not fall back on my own. I love you Lord with my whole being and I can't wait to hear what you have for me today. In Jesus' Name. Amen
She cried as she thought of her situation. The tears were the kind that simply spill from one's eyes as they rapidly pool and overflow. Her hurt was deep and her memories pained. It was there though, in that moment that He touched her heart. As she wept, her eyes refocused from the ground to meet the compassion of Jesus' eyes as he gently lifted her chin. She felt his love reach deep within her and touch her heart in a way no other had ever touched her; The tears transformed to soft running tears that released pain and cleansed her heart!
This is how I envision the story of the woman at Jesus' feet (Luke 7:36-50). Her past haunted her; her sins were many and great; Her current situation felt hopeless. She had been used and hurt by those in her life, yet Jesus saw beyond the visible. He saw deep within her heart, and as he looked within her, eternity overshadowed the current state of her life.
I sat down to blog this morning with something else completely on my mind. But as I opened the site, God reminded me of this story. It's one of my favorite, and I am usually reminded of it when I am hurting. But today it's not for me. I know that a reader needs to be reminded of His love and compassion. This is for you! Jesus loves you so much; He longs to transform your tears of pain to tears of cleaning and peace. I urge you today to just take a moment and cry it out! Sit at His feet, let your tears flow and find His healing. Whatever you are dealing with He longs to take it from you and use it for his glory.
“For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:17-18 NASB).
Lord, this life causes pain. Our own sins and the sins of others inflicted upon us bring us to our knees today. We confess that we have strayed from your laws. We offer you our hurts which others have inflicted upon us and ask for your healing touch. Lord, we thank you for meeting us today at our deepest need. Take our eyes off our situation and help us focus on the beauty of eternity found in you.
Esther was a jewish girl who lost her parents when she was young. Her cousin, Mordecai, adopted her and raised her as his own. Knowing this we can assume that she had a rough childhood. Losing parents at any age is difficult but as a child I am sure it is even harder. It probably took some of her joy away and possibly caused her to be a quiet, shy girl. Now, as a result of the kings decree, Esther and the other virgin women in the empire, were called into the royal harem at Susa. There they would all undergo beauty treatments that lasted a year before being introduced to the king for a night. After which they would be sent back to the second harem with all of the kings wives, where she would live forever, never going to the king again unless he called on her. This situation, today, would not go over well at all. It is only natural for us to be afraid for Esther and to be a lot angry at the power the king possessed and the way in which they used women back.
My point in sharing this story is even thought Ester had a less than ideal childhood and as a young teen was taken into the kings custody to be primped and beautified for the kings enjoyment, God had his hand in her life. He had a very special plan for her from before she was born, and even though things happened that were hard for her, and things happened that didn't seem fair, God never left her side. He was always working to bring her to the place she needed to be to save the Jews from destruction and death.
We all are Ester's. We have less than ideal situations we have overcome, or that we are living through right now, but we have to trust in God's plan for our lives. We have all been on a roller coaster journey that at times we felt as if God had left our side. Esther could have become a rebel teen and she could have been angry for being drug to the king's castle. She could have been rude to Hegai, the man in charge, but instead she was kind and beautiful. He could see that she was special and treated her with special care making sure that she was the most beautiful for the king. Esther trusted her God and fasted and prayed to Him. Even though she may have felt let down, as a child, for losing her parents, Esther still trusted in God to save her and her people. She was obedient to the king but more importantly she was obedient to her God.
Please click and read all of Esther. Keep notes and find all of the other ways you can see God's hand in her life. Please share them with us! Or if you have an Esther story we would love to hear it! Please email us or comment below.
"This is good and pleases God our Savior, for he wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth." 1 Timothy 2:3-4
Frustrating. Annoying. Evil. Unkind. Mean-spirited. The list goes on and on of negative characteristics that people can possess, but let us not ever forget the fact that they are loved by God. They are his children and when he looks at them, he simply sees a lost child, a child who has wandered from his loving Father. God longs for them to come back to him; He aches to hold them in his arms. And dear friend, it is our responsibility to lead them back to their daddy. Today, you will be face to face with a lost child. What will be your response? Will you reach out and extend his love, or will you see their sin and be offended? A smile. An invitation to lunch. A genuine asking of, "How are you doing?" What will you extend to this child of the King? Will you tell them about your friend, Jesus?
Help us to see the value in each of your children. Humble us to reflect on our own sin long enough to remember the times when we wandered and were lost as well. Give us your courage and boldness to step out and reach to them with your love. Help us to rest in knowing Jesus is right with us, and He wants to do the work through us. Lord, we long to do your will and your will is that every child would come home. Let us this day, serve you! Amen and amen!
Revives - I lie in the dust, completely discouraged; revive me by your word. Ps 119:25
Encourages - I weep with grief; encourage me by your word. Ps 119:28
Gives Life - Turn my eyes from worthless things, and give me life through your word. Ps 119:37
Gives Hope - May all who fear you find in me cause for joy, for I have put my hope in your word. Ps 119:74
I faint with longing for your salvation; but I have put my hope in your word. Ps 119:81
You are my refuge and my shield; your word is my only source of hope. Ps 119:114
I rise early, before the sun is up; I cry out for help and put my hope in your words. Ps 119:147
Sweet To Taste - How sweet are your words to my taste; they are sweeter than honey. Ps 119:103
Lights Our Path - Your word is a lamp for my feet and a light for my path. Ps 119:105
As your words are taught, they give light; even the simple can understand them. Ps 119:130
Guides and Protects - Guide my steps by your word, so I will not be overcome by any evil. Ps 119:133
Brings Joy - I rejoice in your word like one who finds a great treasure. Ps 119:162
In Psalm 119, alone, there are many examples of what God's word can do for us. In reading it today I was reminded that His Word is the most important thing we could ever carry with us in life. If we are alone, God's Word can take the place of a friend. If we are afraid, His Word can calm our fears and give us hope. When we are lost we can read God's Word and it will give us guidance and light up our path. His Word is sweet to the taste, just hearing it can give us wisdom. The Word revives the soul and gives us energy to get back up and face the future. Through His Word God can encourage, give life and protect us. It is absolutely amazing everything God's Word is to us! No wonder so many people are lost, afraid, lonely and tired. If we aren't reading the Bible and living by God's Word then we are poor. God First Friends, I ask you to open your bible today and find more examples of the power of God's word in your life. But most importantly I want to encourage you to be strong and confident in His Word. Trust in the power of the Bible and live by God's Word daily.
"Announce a time of fasting; call the people together for a solemn meeting. Bring the leaders and all the people into the Temple of the Lord your God, and cry out to him there." Joel 1:14
Many people fast, but I often wonder if we've lost the purpose of fasting as God designed it. I hear people talking about fasting and how 'they are giving something up'. It's as though they are to be honored for their sacrifice; It's as if God is expected to take note of how much is being sacrificed and respond to them because of it. But fasting isn't about us. And, it isn't about us getting God's attention. It's the total opposite. Fasting is about God getting our attention.
Throughout the Bible people fasted. Kings fasted. Queen Esther fasted. Entire groups of people fasted. Why? Because they wanted to know what God had to say about a situation. They wanted his blessing on their lives and knew that to receive his blessing they had to act according to his will. Fasting is a sacrifice of something, often food, that is replaced with quiet time and devotion to God. Fasting is a time of refocus and drawing near to the heart of God.
Are you needing direction? Do you need God's word spoken afresh to your heart? Then maybe it's time to call for a fast. Give up TV time, skip lunch, or maybe forgo the early morning trip to Starbucks. But just sacrificing isn't enough- replace the activity with time in your Bible and in prayer. Write out your scriptures. Sit without letting your mind wander and make note of the gentle whispers that God lays on your heart. Be amazed at what you hear when you let God get your attention!
The Lord replied, "Is it right for you to be angry about this?"
The story of Jonah is very unique. He disobeyed God's orders not necessarily because He was afraid or that he didn't think he could handle them. No, he dodged God because He was angry at the people of Nineveh and he knew that if he went to them, like God asked, then they would be forgiven and shown mercy. Jonah's message for the the people of Nineveh was of the destruction to come if they did not turn from their wicked ways and he knew that God would show them mercy if they listened and repented. Jonah wasn't ready to forgive and he certainly didn't think the people of Nineveh deserved to be treated with mercy and grace. So he ran and ran but to His surprise God followed and pursued Him until he gave up and decided to listen. And he was right. When he finally decided to obey God the people of Nineveh were spared from destruction because of his final warning to them. Instead of being happy about saving them, he was angry.
The people of Nineveh, for years, tormented Israel. They kidnapped, murdered and stole from them on a regular basis. They were guilty of robbing the Israelites of their peace for many years. From a human perspective it is only natural to be angry with them and to want them to suffer revenge from the pain that they caused. But through God's perspective it is our duty as Christians to offer God's grace and mercy to all people, regardless of what they have ever done to us. It is a hard pill to swallow and we can't possibly do it on our own, but with the love in us, and strength given to us by the Father, we are capable of doing the unthinkable. As we continue reading in Jonah 4 we get a glimpse into God's perspective (click here to read) Jonah 4:5-11 .
God loves the person and that is all that matters. He loves His children whether they are lost, or found to be the most loving, devoted christian. He can't stand to see us suffer and it hurts him when His children are in spiritual darkness. He is willing to throw all of the sins and rebellious past away to save people from an eternity in hell. We have the capability to love like Him if we allow Him to use us and if we submit to His will and perspective on things. With God's strength we can forgive those who did us wrong and who hurt us very deeply. It isn't our place to judge whether a person is worthy of mercy and forgiveness. And although the hurt that other people's sins cause us is damaging and sometimes irreversible, we have a God who has special blessings stored up for us, and instead of playing God, we should just follow His lead and love like Him.
So the next time someone enters your life and you can't possible think of a good reason why God has laid them in your path, but only for suffering and pain, lay your own perspective aside and put on God's. Don't act like Jonah, instead of wishing destruction on those who hurt you, ask God to help you love them and lead them to salvation.
Give to others and God will give to you. Indeed, you will receive a full measure, a generous helping, poured into your hands - all that you can hold. The measure you use for others is the one that God will use for you.
A am guilty of judging others too harshly. I am guilty of judging others by appearance. I am guilty of judging others when I don't know all the facts, and today I see the pain I cause myself when I fall into that judging trap. God loves us unconditionally more than we could ever imagine and it says in this scripture that when we give to others God gives to us. We could stop reading and listening at this point and assume if we are good people and serve others, help the poor, share our belongings and offer our time then we will be given rewards in heaven and blessings here on earth. But as we continue reading, giving good things brings good things, but giving bad things or not giving at all will bring on that same judgment for ourselves. If we are stingy with our possessions, not sharing them, then God will be stingy with His possessions, wisdom, strength and whatever else He decides to withhold. If we are quick to judge someone God will be quick to judge us, and believe me I need all the patience He can give me! Does this change God's love for us? No, but it does change the amount and type of blessings we receive. Just like in life, most actions bring on a reaction or a consequence and the same goes here. If we want to judge someone harshly, or give them little grace the same judgment will be used for us. If we decide to withhold forgiveness then the judgement we use on that person is the same we will receive from our loving God. Hey, aren't we always complaining that life isn't fair? Here is an example of God's fairness. The golden rule sticks in this moment......we shall treat people the way we want to be treated.
Dear God, forgive me for all the times that I judged unfairly. Help me to recognize those moments and put an end to my quick and unfair judgement. It is my desire to receive more blessings than I can hold and so I will rely on your wisdom and strength to change my heart to be more like You. Amen
"The gate keeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they never follow a stranger, in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize his voice." John 10:3-5
Throughout the classroom there was a hum of activity; There were the sounds of whispered voices, shuffling bodies, coughs and sneezes, and quiet giggles. A little boy raised his hand for help. I approached him and squatted down next to his ear so he could hear me without drawing anyone else's attention. He turned and told me that he didn't know what to write about today. I began reminding him of all the things we had discussed; I recounted his morning and a statement he had made to me about his weekend. I offered many suggestions. As I spoke, his eyes began to roam the room. His body slowly turned toward the child on the other side of him. So, I spoke his name. The following conversation took place...
"Davey, I'm talking to you."
"I know. I'm listening."
"No, you're not. Please turn around and look at me so I know I have your attention."
"I AM listening!"
"I know you're listening, but are you listening for MY voice? Please focus!'
WHAM! Instantly I hear this paraphrase of scripture ring through my head as I spoke those words, "I know my sheep and my sheep know my voice." (Matt. 10:1-21) I am then reminded of my morning quiet time.
I had been asking God for direction. I felt unsure of what I was to do. I felt as if He wasn't giving me any help. I was confused and frustrated. But, as I spoke to my student I felt God echo these words to my heart..."I know you're listening, but are you listening for MY voice? Please focus!" It wasn't that God wasn't making his intentions for me clear, it's that I had gotten lost in the hum of life around me. I needed to focus!
Lord, forgive me when I lose focus. Forgive me for being drawn by the hum of activity around me and for failing to listen for your voice. Give me ears to hear you, Lord, and a heart that is willing to obey.
Next the devil took him to the peak of a very high mountain and showed him the nations of the world and all their glory. "I will give it all to you", he said, "if you will only kneel down and worship me."
So I read this scripture and for the first time I saw something I have never before. Unfortunately it wasn't one of those moments that made me jump for joy or even smile. No, this time I felt a little sick to my stomach and wanted to punch myself for all the times I put my desires and worldly plans in front of God's. For the first time God made it clear to me that when I put worldly fame and worldly plans in front of His will I am bowing down to satan. When I take matters into my own hands I am joining satan's side and bowing down to him.......worldly answers and ideas that don't go along with God's plan for me. Even when I say things before speaking or agree to ideas and actions that don't match up with God's will, I am putting my trust in satan, and bowing down to his methods and his answers to my problems. Yes, it was a real kick in the face but something I needed to hear and understand. I praise God for speaking to me. I praise Him for the time we can spend together. I praise Him for His guidance, even when it hurts, because ultimately I want to live like Jesus. As christians, this is our goal, and so we are always changing and growing. God is always shaping us and turning us into the person He has dreamed for us to be. And when I can accept that and know that deep in my heart, that is the moment I can smile and jump for joy!
My dear friends, my heart leaps for you all. Ever since I really understood the importance of knowing God and having a personal relationship with Him I have wanted to share that feeling with the world. My prayer for you is to find God on an intimate level so that you are anticipating your time with Him every day. I want you to feel His presence in your life and trust Him with your entire being! I want you to read scripture and feel Him speaking to you! I praise God for you! Please if there is ever a topic you need help with, or if you ever need prayer, Mary and I want you to email us. It would be our blessing to help you out. We don't have all the answers but our Big God does and together we can pray and search His Word. I pray for just one of you, and you know who you are, to speak up and take your life with God to the next level.
"Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is- his good, pleasing and perfect will." Romans 12:2
The beginning of each year in first grade always includes a study of insects, mainly the monarch butterfly. I've participated in this study for the last 10 years, but it wasn't until this year that I notice the details of the process. I noticed the time that the transformation takes, the split second changes, and the breath taking-beauty of life anew. It's not that I've been uninterested in the past, but this year, I related the changes to God's design of life and the way he works in us, and this perspective made all the difference.
A monarch caterpillar spends the first weeks of his life gorging himself on milkweed. He grows rapidly as he feasts on as much as possible. I thought about how we, as humans, gorge ourselves on the world before we know Christ. We are looking for something to fill us and we consume all that the world has to offer.
After he's fattened himself, the caterpillar crawls to the top of the container, hangs down and soon curls his body in to a "J". Do you see us in this? Eventually we've had enough of the ugly ways of the world. We look up and see "J"esus.
After a few hours maybe days, the caterpillar begins to wiggle and within moments, he's wrapped himself in an amazing chrysalis. It is perfectly made to cover his entire body and is ringed with a tiny trim of gold. But what I noticed this year, is that this caterpillar to chrysalis transformation took only seconds. It's like us though. In a split second we can make a decision to live for Christ. He wraps us in his arms and then the changes begin, but instantly we are safely wrapped in his love.
As the caterpillar remains in the chrysalis, change is happening. But all I hear in my classroom is the echo of each child asking, "What's going on in there?" "What's taking so long?" "When will we see the changes?" But, we can only wait and hope!
After about a week the chrysalis becomes clear and a monarch butterfly emerges. It's slow to get it's flying wings ready, but then it is free and unstoppable. As Christians we need to emerge in our new life boldly and confidently ready to tell everyone and anyone about the changes that Jesus has made in us!
Although parts of the process happen quickly, for those watching and waiting it is too slow. Like my first graders, when we are waiting for our friends and family to emerge from their 'chrysalis' of the old life, we want to rush the process. But, it takes time as God transforms their minds to be more and more like him. If you are praying for someone, don't give up! God's at work, even when we can't see it!
I lie awake thinking of you, meditating on you through the night. I think how much you have helped me; I sing for joy in the shadow of your protecting wings. I follow close behind you; your strong right hand holds me securely.
You may have had a night like David recently. You couldn't sleep because you had so many things running through your mind. And, like David, maybe you felt alone and scared, even fighting to stay alive or hiding from your enemies, but instead of looking forward to what God had in store for you, you were dreading waking up for fear of what the next day would bring. In these moments do you meditate on your fear and your unfortunate situation or, like David, do you meditate on God's ability to protect you and bring you out of your peril?
As I was holding my foster baby in the middle of the night it reminded me of that secure feeling we have when we remember that God is with us but as soon as we forget He is right there holding us we begin to cry and wiggle with discomfort. My foster child was the same way. As soon as I picked her up she stopped crying and began to fall back asleep but the moment I put her down she would cry again. She only felt safe when she was in my arms. The only time she could calm down and rest, beginning to let herself fall back to sleep, was when I was holding her. The same is true when we start to forget that God is with us, but when we remember Who is holding us we can relax and let ourselves calm down, and even rest in His arms.
Unfortunately I can't tell my 7 month old baby to relax and trust God, but I can tell you. It isn't an easy concept to always cling to but I have found all of my peace in this one action. If we are to feel safe and secure we must trust in God's ability to help us in our situation. And while we are suffering and worrying it is very important that we look back on God's faithfulness in our life. Just like David we have to think back in all the times and places that God helped us and showed up on our behalf. Then we must sing for joy of those times and with confidence that He will show up again. Also, like David, we must follow closely to God, meditating on His Word and His promises to us. Never forgetting that He is always holding us with His right hand, protecting us in the shelter of His wings. So, my friend, if you feel yourself wiggling in discomfort and fear; crying out in the middle of the night, instead of mediating on your problems, mediate on God's healing touch. Feel yourself being held by your Father. And rest in His ability to comfort and save you.
"The islanders showed us unusual kindness." Acts 28:2
As Paul journeyed to Rome he found himself shipwrecked. When he and his crew came upon an island, the islanders were unusually kind to them. The natives made them a fire, fed them, and even took them into their homes. When Paul and his crew were ready to set sail, the islanders even furnished them with supplies.
As Christians, we should be known for our unusual kindness. Today's challenge… what have you done to show others unusual kindness this week? Have you gone out of your way to show 'unusual kindness'? Did you greet the sales clerk with a smile? Help a colleague with a project amid your own busy schedule? Sacrifice your time to visit with a friend? Welcome guests into your home when you could have been completing tasks?