Saturday, January 31, 2015

"Put Me To The Test!"

"Bring all the tithes into the storehouses so there will be enough food in my Temple.  If you do," says the Lord of Heaven's Armies, "I will open the windows of heaven for you.  I will pour out a blessing so great you won't have enough room to take it all in!  Try it!  Put me to the test!
Malachi 3:10

This is the scripture today found on my bible app called Youversion.  I didn't necessarily want to use it because I know you all may have it and my human thinking says it might be better to use this another day so that you can receive a fresh scripture of encouragement today.  But the more I read it and the more God presses on my heart, I can't delay it.  This scripture, although in context is speaking of repentance and urging the people to give God all of the tithes He so deserves,  if taken out of context it can be better applied to my life right now.  When I read it, and especially at the end, it's as if God is saying to me, "Go ahead, give me all you've got.  Your whole life, including your kids, your money, your plans for tomorrow, give it all to me and see what happens.  Go ahead try me.  See what I can do with your obedience.  See my faithfulness.  See just how much I can prove my love for you!  See how I can work all things for good for you.  Don't be afraid of anything but be confident in me.  Give me all you've got and I'll give you so much you can't even imagine.  You will be bubbling over with peace and joy.  You will have not a single thing to worry about, I will provide your every need.  Just try me!"

This, friends, brings me so much encouragement on a day I feel like giving up.  I am weak and feeling sad over the recent circumstances in my life and today is a day I just want to stay in bed.  Today is a day I don't want to face my sadness and grief, I just want it to be over.  God lifts me up and says, once again, "Just trust me........give me all you've got today, offer me a sacrifice of praise, put on a smile when you feel like you just can't, get out of bed for me..........go love others, test my unending love and won't be disappointed."  Won't you join me in giving God our very best today?  Go ahead, put Him to the test, see just how much He has in store for you!

Dear God, thank you for this reminder to be persistent in offering myself to you.  On a day I feel like just doing my own thing or staying in bed feeling sorry for my circumstances I am reminded that I need to give you all I have.  I am not only to offer up my tithes weekly, but also offer up my life to you, the One who knows best for me.   Your promise to deliver is encouraging and gives me hope.  I love your ways!  In Jesus' Name.........Amen            

Friday, January 30, 2015

Oh, Mercy!

She was an addict. Her body was worn by the use of drugs. Her children were no longer in her care. The man she married was worn and weary.  She hit rock bottom and knew her life had to change. It was there, at the bottom of a self-inflicted pit that she met Jesus! True story!

How many of us have similar stories? No, maybe you're not an addict, but your choices reaped consequences that eventually knocked you to your knees. You found yourself grappling to stand again. And there, you came face to face with Jesus. 

"Some of you were sick because you lived a bad life, your bodies feeling the effects of your sin; You couldn't stand the sight of food, so miserable you thought you'd be better off dead. Then you called out to GOD in your desperate condition; he got you out in the nick of time. He spoke the word that healed you, that pulled you back from the brink of death. So thank GOD for his marvelous love, for his miracle mercy to the children he loves; Offer thanksgiving sacrifices, tell the world what he's done--sing it out!" Psalm 107: 17-22 MSG

God's mercy is indescribable! We put ourselves into ridiculously painful situations; we break the heart of our creator. And then, he rescues us! 

Oh, let us give thanks today for the redemptive love of our Father! Our sins, large and small, warrant separation from God, yet his mercy reaches down and rescues us.

Dear Heavenly Father,
We cannot express our thanks for your love and mercy. We go our own way, causing pain to ourselves and others. Yet you are gracious to find us in our broken state and lift us to our feet again. You graciously restore us; You give us new life and hope. We love you and praise your holy name.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

No Coincidence

God looks after those He loves and in many cases He puts special people in their lives to lead them through difficult times.  It can be for a short time, or for a whole lifetime of blessings.  You  may know of someone who has been blessed by a special friend from God or maybe you have a special person that has blessed you.  By no coincidence that person was sent from God and in many cases both people bless each other . Special bonds are made between people who have the same interests and I am inspired by the relationship between Elisha and the woman from Shunem.  They both chose to be obedient to God and had complete faith in His power.  Elisha was a compassionate man.  He cared for the needs of the people around Him and He was so strong in His faith that nothing was impossible for God.  He was able to cure illness, raise people from the dead, saved a poor starving family, fed hundreds from only a little, and escaped death a few times in between.  God was with Elisha.  Elisha was not selective in the people he helped either.  Rich or poor, if the person was in need, he was willing to help.   Which brings me to the woman from Shunem.  She was a wealthy woman who invited Elisha into her home for a meal.  From then on every time Elisha entered the town she would invite him over until one day she asked her husband to build a small room for him to stay in when he visited (2 Kings 4:10).  She believed He was a holy man of God and knew the importance of serving him.  So by no coincidence Elisha was blessed by the woman whom he was drawn to bless.  God brought these two together because He saw a beautiful relationship that would result in protection for His children through a lifelong friendship that resulted in a lifetime of provision.

God has purpose in His action and He is always working for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28).  He loved Elisha and sent him someone to provide him food and shelter.  He loved the woman from Shunem and he provided her someone to bless her with a child, and then raise that same child from the dead years later.  Their meeting was not a coincidence!  God nudged their first encounter and sat back and watched His children obey His nudging.  Something we might call a divine appointment, these two met for a reason and stayed in each other's lives for a long while and God's many blessings were felt.  God takes care of His people for a lifetime and even when things don't seem like they are going well for you or when you think God has forgotten about you.........He hasn't.  There are people in your life that are there for reason or maybe someone is just around the corner for you to meet.

Elisha traveled and was in and out of the woman's life but he always showed up when he was needed.  Coincidence?  Of course not!  God was protecting His daughter.  One day Elisha told her to take her family and move someplace else because the Lord had called for a famine on Israel that would last for 7 years.  So she packed up her family and moved.  She trusted her friend and although she was wealthy and could have tried to survive with her money and many supplies, she listened to her special friend from God.  (Could it be that this was just the beginning of God First Friendships?)  When he spoke it was as if God was speaking to her and she trusted what he said was from God.  She obeyed Elisha because she knew that His power was from God and that God was with him.

After the famine ended she returned from the land of the Philistines, and she went to see the king about getting back her house and land.  As she came in, the king was talking to Gehazi, the servant of the man of God.  The king had just said, "Tell me some stories about the great things Elisha has done."  And Gehazi was telling the king about the time Elisha had brought a boy back to life.  At that very moment, the mother of the boy walked in to make her appeal to the king about her house and land.  
   "Look, my lord the king!' Gehazi exclaimed. "Here is the woman now, and this is her son - the very one Elisha brought back to life!"
  "Is this true?" the king asker her.  And she told him the story.  So he directed one of his officials to see that everything she had lost was restored to her, including the value of any crops that had been harvested during her absence. 
2 Kings 8:3-6

What a beautiful story of a strong friendship brought together by God!  A friendship that was not a coincidence........a meeting that was not by luck.........a beautiful plan orchestrated by God to provide for His children and make good happen for those who loved and obeyed Him.  Do you see people in your life this way?  Is there someone that always shows up at the "right time" or do you have a friend that you know God has put in your life for a reason?  God loves us!  He cares for us and He wants great and beautiful things for our lives.  Those amazing friends you have that always seem to show up at just the right time.......they are a gift from God!  It is beyond anything I could ever understand how God weaves our lives into one connected web of blessings!  He can bring two people together for just the right season and make things fall into place that were never imaginable!  Believe in His divine appointments.....follow your nudging to say hello to this person or smile at that one.....God is usually up to something :)  

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Open Up

"By opening up with others you'll prompt people to open up with God this generous Father in Heaven."  
Matthew 5:16 MSG

I have a concern today. I fear that at times we, as Christians, appear all too put together.

I wonder, "Are we really being honest with one another about our hurts and weaknesses?" I'm not saying we should share and air all our dirty laundry to the entire church and community. But to those outside the faith and to fellow Christians, do we really look like people who need Jesus? Do we make others feel welcome knowing that we have issues, heart aches, and struggles just like them? The difference being, we don't handle ours alone, but rather with the faithfulness of a loving God and Father and a fellowship of believers. We struggle through our issues with hope and assurance in the One who knows our future.

Today's scripture encourages us to be honest with others- to open up our hearts and share what's going on inside. Part of accountability and the idea of GFF's (God First Friends) is to be transparent. If we aren't honest with those who we can see and who can hold us when we hurt, how can we ever be open and honest with a God who we can't see and touch?

Jesus was compassionate. In story after story he meets with Christians and the lost, but the overwhelming theme is that he looks at them with compassion. He sees into their hearts, understands their pains, pasts, and fears. Friends we can't have this same compassion if we don't open our hearts and share what's within us. If we shut off our tears, bind up our fears, and give a persona of strength that's not real, we create fear in others who are feeling weak and broken. I fear we make ourselves look too strong instead of looking like real hurting people who are being upheld by the strength of an invisible, amazing God!

God is a God of relationship. He wants us to get honest with him. To speak our hurts. To cry. To wrestle with our emotions. He wants us to look to him for healing and answers.And he wants us to uphold one another in the same way. It's healthy to cry. There is healing in the wrestling! So if you cry in public, it's ok. If a friend asks how you are, be honest and allow them to pray with you. Because chances are, they will soon return the favor!

It is when we conceal our hurts that the healing won't come. Unresolved anger results in bitterness. Pain suppressed shuts off our emotions. Unexpressed fears render us ineffective. Unconfessed sin distances us from God.

Today my prayer for us is to "Get Real" with God and others! Love ya!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Facing Brokenness

I'm struggling with feelings I have never experienced before.  I have never known loss quite like I am experiencing over my foster child being reunited with her biological parents.  This precious baby that joined our family at 10 days old and stayed with us through her 1st birthday is gone.  I could type paragraph upon paragraph on the great strength God has given our family as we have been on this journey of fostering, over 2 1/2 years now.  I could brag about all the things we have learned and of the stories and evidence of His presence in our lives daily, but today I can't go there.  Today I am angry and although I know all of God's great promises, I struggle finding comfort in them.  I have been holding up pretty well, making sure to give God glory every time someone approaches me, but today I need to be real.  Today I need to deal with the hurt I am experiencing and face the grieving process head on.  Today God is going to allow me to be grumpy, short with people and maybe even withhold my smiles.  He will let me throw my fits and listen to my cries full of hurt and anger.  He will sit patiently while I work through my many emotions and when I am all done He will love me no less.  He will hold out His amazingly strong arms and invite me to rest in His embrace.  I will remain resilient through this experience.  I will continue fostering if that is God's plan for my family.  I will, in fact, come out of this pain with more strength and maturity in my faith than when I started.  But today I must get real and deal with the feelings in my heart.  I can't brush them off and pretend they aren't there.  I have to work side by side with God to walk down this dark road with Him, and be so thankful I have a God First Friend willing to join me.     

As a Christian it is hard for me to admit this struggle I face.  As a blogger who has trusted in God's provision to give me things to write, telling you all how to handle your days with God as your Number One, I feel almost as a failure admitting my difficulty today.  Mary has lovingly reassured me that it's okay to be honest and tell you this is the hardest thing I have ever done but that I am trusting in God to get me through.  I will have sad moments and times when I am angry or confused but that is all part of the process.  The road to complete oneness with God.  When I let go of myself  to depend on Him completely, becoming His and not my own.  So today I don't have a magical answer for you or a great blog to lead you out of your circumstance.  I don't have answers for brain feels like mush.  But I am here to tell you that when moments similar to mine make their way into your day.......wrestle with them.  Sort out those feelings......cry, yell, stomp your feet, talk to a friend and talk to God.  Leave your hurt at His feet and grow through your brokenness into a stronger person, a mature Christian.  Unfortunately most of our growth comes out of the brokenness from loss and pain that we experience through our life.  When we trust God with those circumstances we will come out of them a better person, more dependent on God, and a steadfast's when we try to handle them on our own that we end up worse off.  Today, through my hurt and sadness I choose to die a little more to myself and learn to depend on Him even more.  But I probably won't go without kicking and putting up a fight......that's just me being real.

I think of it constantly, and my spirit is depressed.  Yet hope returns when I remember this one thing:
The Lord's unfailing love and mercy still continue, fresh as the morning, as sure as the sunrise.  The Lord is all I have, and so in Him I put my hope. 
Lamentations 3:21-24 

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Sunday Scripture

Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.
John 13:35

Friday, January 23, 2015

Her Constant

After a few weeks of transitioning to her parents home, we are saying good bye to our foster baby today.  As I've spent the last two days watching her every move, trying to freeze pictures into my mind that I don't ever want to forget, I noticed she was holding so tightly to her blankie.  More so than usual, she has had a death grip on it since the last overnight visit with her parents.  In my moment of watching her move it from one hand to the other, without letting go of it, I realized that was her constant.  Her blankie was the one thing in her life that was not changing.  Her bed was changing from time to time, the house she was staying in was different, the people she was spending time with was changing and the toys she played with were different.  Her blankie was the only thing she knew would be there where ever she went.  She could count on having that thing no matter what bed she slept in, no matter what house she was in, who she was with or what she was playing with.  Her constant,  in a world of many changes, was a small burp rag made by a wonderful lady in our church.  What started out as just a cute rag, instead of the boring white, cloth diaper, has turned out to be the most precious gift in my foster child's life.  It will be the one thing that comforts her as she leaves the only home she has ever really known, the only family she has ever really known, and start over with her parents.  As my heart breaks and I try to imagine life without her in our home I think of my constant.  What or who will I turn to to keep me feeling safe and comforted?  Immediately I whisper, "Jesus".  He is my constant, my Rock that can never be moved from my life.  His Word is always on my heart taking it with me wherever I go.  People may leave me, material objects may become lost but Jesus can never leave my heart.  Whatever I am facing, where ever I am in life, I am never alone.  No person, no situation, nothing can take Jesus from me.  He does not Constant.

Be merciful to me, O Lord, for I am calling on you constantly.  
Psalm 86:3               

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Take Pause

Don’t allow love to turn into lust, setting off a downhill slide into sexual promiscuity, filthy practices, or bullying greed. Though some tongues just love the taste of gossip, those who follow Jesus have better uses for language than that. Don’t talk dirty or silly. That kind of talk doesn’t fit our style. Thanksgiving is our dialect. (‭Ephesians‬ ‭5‬:‭3-4‬ MSG)

Today I'm just feel called to pause and keep this simple. The verse today calls us to a standard of holiness; we are called to be God's holy chosen people. Stop today ask God to bring conviction to our heart. Keep a short account of sin so that we are at our most effective and receptive level for use by the Holy Spirit.

Today make me aware of my shortcomings. Show me my sin so that I may do wonderful works in your name. Show me where I need to change my attitude and my understanding. It is my desire to be all for you that you dream for me to be.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

"I Think How Much You Have Helped Me"

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.
Psalm 63:6-8

Whatever you are going through right now stop thinking of the hurt and the hardship and all things bad that come with your pain.  Instead think of how much God has helped you.  Think of what He has done in your past to bring you strength today.  How has He blessed you?  What has He provided and who has He put in your life?  If you are thinking to yourself, "I don't have strength".  If you are unable to see him ahead and feel Him holding your hand then you haven't given Him the authority to help you.  You haven't handed over your issue and you are trying to find peace and strength in your own power, and from the world.  Friends, let go of your fears and worries and let God be your protection.  Give Him the go-ahead to be your shelter in the storms of life and give Him your hand so that He can lead you.  Meditate on Him, who He is and His amazing love for you.   Get serious about knowing Him intimately.  Experience His power by handing over the reigns and trusting Him with your life.........grab hold of every promise offered to you in the Bible.      

Start praising God today for the strength He provides.  Think of all the ways He has helped you. Listen to this song, may it be stuck in your head all day and remind you just who is by your side carrying you during this difficult time.  

"Sing for Joy in the shadow of His wings"

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

bear One Another's Burdens

Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. (‭Galatians‬ ‭6‬:‭2‬ NIV

In the last week I've been privileged to be invited to share in the burdens of several other people. I hqve been invited to pray for deliverance from addiction, deeper faith of a young Christian, a marriage on the brink of divorce, a broken heart over the death of a mom and another's loss of a grandpa, the loss of a child deeply loved, a family in turmoil, and the salvation of a lost soul. All of these things are heavy burdens on the ones who shared their hearts with me. I love that others feel safe to share with me, but I also understand the responsibility that God is trusting me with in their sharing. I am responsible now to pray for and with these people, to hug and hold them when they cry, to ease their pain by helping worth meals or work that needs to be done. And in some cases I'm called to just sit with them. 
The law of Christ is love! ❤️ And in sharing the burdens of others we show our love for both Christ and one another. It's easy to be available for the fun and the adventures, but love is joyfully inconvenienced. In sharing another's burden not only do we bless them, but God blesses us! 

Dear Lord, 
Open the eyes of my heart to see others' hurts. Give me a compassionate heart to see their burdens and give me creativity and strength to bear their burdens with them. 
Amen and amen 

Monday, January 19, 2015

The Tree Of Life

So the Lord God banished them from the Garden of Eden, and he sent Adam out to cultivate the ground from which he had been made.  After sending them out, the Lord God stationed mighty cherubim to the east of the Garden of Eden.  And he placed a flaming sword that flashed back and forth to guard the way to the Tree of Life.
Genesis 3:23-24

Do we take Jesus Christ for granted?  How many of us forget that without His death on the cross we would be banished from this Tree of Life?  We have it so good!  Since the death and resurrection Jesus Christ, we have personal access to God through the Holy Spirit, from whom we receive supernatural strength.  God is our Father, and Jesus, our bother who gave up everything perfect in heaven to come down to earth and die a horrible death so that we could eat from the Tree of Life some day.  Because of Jesus, God can look on us and our sins can be forgiven, in fact, forgotten.  Because of Jesus we get to be included in the celebrations of Heaven someday and we get to live eternally in paradise. Unfortunately for Adam and Eve, it wasn't so easy.  They sinned and were banished from this life giving tree.  As long as they lived under sins control they didn't have access to the great things we take for granted every day.  

I have to admit, when I used to think of Jesus I always knew He made forgiveness possible and He saved me from hell but I didn't let these thoughts take me deeper into my future of living in Heaven and celebrating with the angels and eating from this most beautiful, life preserving Tree of Life.  I forgot that Adam and Eve were banned from this tree and that they suffered great consequences for their sins.  I took for granted the easy road Jesus paved for me.  I forgot that one day, even though my sins are many, I would get to experience paradise and eat from this massive Tree of Life.

Then the angel showed me a river with the water of life, clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and the Lamb.  It flowed down the center of the main street.  On each side of the river grew a tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, with the fresh crop each month.  The leaves were used for medicine to heal the nations.
Revelation 22:1-2

The blood of Jesus washes away our sins and makes it possible for us to enjoy salvation and eat from the Tree of Life.  As long as they were under sins control Adam and Eve didn't have what we have today.  We are blessed!  We are so blessed to have Jesus! With Him we are victorious and free to receive the fruit from the Tree of Life! (Rev.2:7)

Blessed are those who wash their robes.  They will be permitted to enter through the gates of the city to eat the fruit from the Tree of Life.  Outside the city are the dogs - the sorcerers, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idol worshipers, and all who love to live a lie.
Revelations 22:14 

Dear Jesus, I take for granted how much you gave up for me to have eternal life.  I take for granted how much you love me and what I stand to lose without trusting and believing in you.  Thank you for saving me and giving me a hope and a forever future in paradise, eating from this one of a kind Tree of Life.  I am amazed at your unselfishness and the unending, unconditional love that you have for me.  Thank you a million times!  I love you Jesus.  In Your Name I pray, Amen  

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Sunday Scripture

“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” (‭Mark‬ ‭12‬:‭29-31‬ NIV)

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Happy Birthday Mary!

This is the day the Lord has made.  We will rejoice and be glad in it.
Psalm 118:24

Today I am glad!   My best friend is celebrating her birthday and I get to be a part of it.  We will spend the evening together sharing and laughing and honoring our Lord through our actions and expressions of love.  I've had many close friends in the past, as some continue today, but this was my first experience building a friendship on God.  We had known each other for a long time, in fact, we are family.  Our husbands are cousins and so we would meet on special occasions and holidays, for cookouts and family celebrations.  Our age difference may have played a big part in us not connecting right away but I won't share who is older :)  I was quiet, she was wise and a busy mom, in that season we weren't ready for what God had in store for later down the road.  Looking back I know the exact moment that brought us from just friends to God First Friends.  I remember the day my heart changed and our friendship became more like David and Jonathan's, one built on God.  We were both ready to know God deeply.  We were ready for a life change and so we vowed to hold each other accountable and what came next was God's good and perfect plan.  Like David and Jonathan, once we were ready to take that next step of faith and we were ready to put God first in our lives, we had an immediate bond.

After David had finished talking with Saul, he met Jonathan, the king's son.  There was an immediate bond between them, for Jonathan loved David.  From that day on Saul kept David with him and wouldn't let him return home.  And Jonathan made a solemn pact with David, because he loved him as himself. 
1 Samuel 18:1-3

This friendship was based on commitment to God, not just each other.  They wouldn't just agree to agree on everything.  This friendship was one of accountability, making sure the other was living a godly life and encouraging one another to stay faithful in all things.  They let nothing come between them, not their career or family problems.  Remember David was stepping in and taking what was rightfully Jonathan's and later Jonathan's own father would want to kill David but Jonathan stayed loyal to his God friend.  Their friendship grew closer as they were tested and they remained friends to the very end, and trusted each other with their deepest thoughts.  I am honored to have a friend like this!  And I know that God wanted this for me.  He wants this for all of us but it takes commitment and hard work.  It takes selfless love and a choice to put Him first.    

So today I celebrate my 1st God friend (1st, because I have gained a few since ;)  I am so glad she is in my life and I don't know where I would be without her encouragement to know God on an intimate level.  She helped me develop the greatest friendship I will ever know, that with my best friend and savior, Jesus Christ.  Who do you have in your life to encourage you to grow in your faith?  Do you have a special God First Friend who will hold you accountable and make sure you are spending time with God daily and growing in your relationship with Him?  Are you ready to put God very first in your life?  I am praying for you to find that one special friend because what a difference it made in my life!      

Friday, January 16, 2015

Genuine Love

This past weekend my "large" family had a chance to spend an entire day gathered at our home. My great aunt came. All my mother's siblings came, and 9 of 13 cousins and their families were able to come! It was a blessed day to say the least. I couldn't hold back the tears of thankfulness and joy. It had been a long time since we had all gathered.
As I reflected on the day, one image stood out in my mind, and it was actually the only photo (unfortunately) that I had taken all day. Here it is...

This is my cousin's daughter, Chloe. She's holding my grandson, Jax. Can you see the joy on her face! I just love it! What made this image stand out in my mind was the way Chloe scooted up on the bench next to me and just waited until I offered for her to hold Jax. And then, a simple smile said it all! "Yes, I want to hold that baby!" Chloe is only 7, but she loves little children. She just couldn't keep herself away from the little babies that day. She carried them on her hip, read them stories, and helped them with their supper. My heart is delighted at her genuine love! It wasn't forced or half-hearted. She didn't care what others thought of her, she just had to hold and love on that little baby. I know that's exactly how I would have been as a little girl too!

As I replayed Chloe's love over and over, I had to ask myself, "Why don't I respond to adults the way Chloe did to other kids." I'm saddened to think that I don't just let God's love take over at times. I worry about what others will say, I feel inadequate to offer love to another adult, or I just get plain scared. My prayer today is asking God to help me have that love that just scoots in next to someone waiting until I can love on them! I want that bold, Godly love that reaches out and offers without abandon!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Love Covers A Multitude Of Sin

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

Without love, we sin.  Without love we disregard others' feelings, God's commands, and even our own bodies get ignored.  When we aren't loving others or ourselves, we will sin.  God's love for us is so amazing that He is able to forgive our sins, His love conceals our sin as if it never happened.  He does not keep a list of our past, He covers up our sin like we would cover up a stain with a throw pillow or blanket.  The most magnificent thing difference between God and that pillow or blanket is that He doesn't even have to pretend the sin or stain is gone, He truly forgets our sins.  We would get reminded of the stain every time that blanket got moved, but God wipes it clean and does not think about it again.  

God's love is universal.  Through the Holy Spirit we have the same power to love like Jesus.  We have God's love in us when we allow Him to live through us and just like God's love cover's our sin, our love can cover the sin's of those who hurt us.  When we really think about sin, no two people are different.  Sin is sin and we all do it intentionally and unintentionally.  We are all equal and asking God to forgive our sins but not forgiving someone else is wrong.  That person is just as deserving of forgiveness as we are.  If the love within us is genuine then we should be able to look at someone who has hurt us and see the hurt that motivates them.  We should see their sin and be willing to conceal it with our deep love and affection that comes from God.  

If you are having trouble forgiving someone, first you must get into the bible and learn about God's love for you.  You need to understand how much He loves you and is willing to forgive your sins.  Most likely you haven't accepted his forgiveness and you haven't forgiven yourself which is why forgiving someone else seems almost impossible.  Next you have to allow God's love to permeate your life and let Him love that person through you.  Ask Him for eyes to see and a heart to understand the motivation behind the sin.  It is possible to love those who hurt you and it is possible to conceal a person's sin just by loving, but that love comes from God, it isn't something we do in our own power.

Dear God, help me to understand your amazing grace and love for me.  Show me the people who need my forgiveness and show me how to love them like you love them.  Let me see past the hurt into the person, who just like me, gets lost in this crazy world.  Give me compassion and deep love for others and myself so that my love can take over and begin to heal the brokenness in my life and others'.     

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Do No Harm

"Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore, love is the fulfillment of the law." Romans 13:10

Upon first reading this verse it might be easy for us to say, "I'm good in this area." Why? Because we tend to think of things like physical harm, stealing, or blatant verbal abuse. But what about indifference or repeating someone else's sins and failings to others. Are these not harm? Of course they are, and this verse has even more power when it is read in context:

  "...You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet, and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: "Love your neighbor as yourself." Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law."

"Love your neighbor as yourself!" When is the last time you told your sins in the lunchroom at work or posted your foolishness on social media? I doubt you have, but how quick we can be to do so to others. Being a Christian means training ourselves, with the help of the Holy Spirit,  to be kind in all situations. The next time we go to speak it might do well to ask ourselves, "If this were my issue, would I publicize it like this?" or ask "How would I feel if no one took time to notice me today?"

Doing no harm is more than first meets the eye. Doing no harms actually means doing good! So, what can we say or do today that builds someone else up or makes their life better? Let that be the goal of our hearts today!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Sad Yet Full Of Peace.........It Is Possible

I was feeding my baby lunch today.  She was eating like a big girl absolutely loving her diced peaches and white cheddar pasta.  As we sat there, I was slapped in the face with the hard reality that she was leaving very soon and I still have so much I want to watch her do.  She has so many “firsts” yet to come and those teeth, I just want to stare at those big, awkward things finally making their home in her sweet little mouth.  When she smiles her wrinkled nose and those teeth just brighten my day.  Unfortunately this baby isn’t my own.  This baby has a mommy and daddy who have been working hard lately at getting her back and the most difficult part of fostering is fast approaching.  We get 3 whole days with her, sharing her with her parents, over the span of the next week and a half and then she will be gone, forever.  No more first morning grins from a happy little girl peeping through the side of her bed after she has so proudly pulled herself up to her feet.  No more little arms reaching out wanting to be held.  No more butt scoots along the floor.  No more snuggles and slobbery kisses as she buries her face into the recipient of her affection.  No more sweet, melt your heart moments with my children who have unselfishly loved her and accepted her into our family.    

My heart is breaking at the thought of watching her go, but at the same time I am so excited for her parents.  Mine are very conflicting emotions and it’s almost impossible to explain.  I have been praying for her parents since the day she joined our family, at 10 days old.  I have been praying for them to know the love of the Lord and to accept Him as their Lord and Savior.  I have been praying for her to have parents who love her and know the Lord, who will raise her in church and to know the Lord, as well.  I have prayed for them to find a new life, one that through God’s strength and grace they could start over putting their past behind them and looking forward to a fresh start.  All of which I see as a huge possibility in time.  I do not doubt for a moment that their love for her is genuine and I trust that God will protect her in whatever situation she is in.  

I read somewhere, not long ago, that God’s ability to protect my child in a horrible environment is way better than my ability to protect him or her in a good one.  It stuck with me and from that moment I knew that I could never doubt His plan for her and that I had to find peace in His will.  Through this journey I have experienced an amazing strength and a peace that truly surpasses my understanding.  Yes, friends, that scripture is living and real!!    This journey has brought my faith from knowing, in my mind, that God provides to really understanding and experiencing God's provision.  I can sincerely and confidently say that I believe that everything offered to the people in the bible, including Jesus, is offered to me, as well.  But today, as I begin to picture my life without this sweet baby jabbering and crawling all over my house, I am reminded of the pain that comes with fostering.  The goodbye that we pray for yet, at the same time, try to ignore will ever happen.  The thought of this goodbye makes me sad today.  “His will be done”, something I have said a million times over.  Something that I believe in with every fiber of my being.  A simple phrase that gives me peace in this storm of raw emotion.  My best friend reminded me today that God’s peace does not ignore reality.  As I wanted to hide my true feelings or beat myself up for being sad, she so gently reminded me that just because I am sad doesn’t mean I don’t trust God.  My sadness doesn’t even mean that I have lost my peace.  It simply means I am sad.  God accepts my real feelings and my pain and my sadness, not as a gesture of insecurity or doubt in Him, but because I am human and I have feelings and I am losing someone dear to me.  Even Jesus, when he prayed in the garden, was overwhelmingly sad.  His sadness did not negate his peace in God’s ability to have the best plan.  Just like Jesus, I am sad as I face this loss.  Just like Jesus, I want there to be some other plan, some other way to make this all better.  Just like Jesus, I resort to trusting God and exclaiming, "not my will, but yours be done" (Luke 22:42). Yes, friends my sadness is real but my strength and peace continue to lead me through this difficult time.  God never promises that this life won't bring difficulty, but I am here to tell you He does make it possible to endure.  When you truly believe, He will give you the strength to do the impossible.  I am confident He will be with me every day, and holding me up on that last day I say goodbye to my precious angel.  I can confidently say that I have no fear, a lot of sadness, but my peace is solid, and I trust in God's ultimate plan.  Won't you trust God with everything.  Step out of your comfort zone.  Follow His uneasy calling on your life and see Him do wonderful things.  Watch Him provide strength and peace you never knew existed! 

Monday, January 12, 2015

Whiter than Snow

"Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow."
Psalm 51:7

Snow days are amazing! Not just because they may bring an unexpected day home with family, but because they are beautiful. I love to see the morning sun come up over the snow. The glistening, glittering sparkles just make me happy. The purity of the morning snow is refreshing and seems to offer hope! 
In today's verse, I'm reminded of all that we are offered in Christ's death for our sins. We are made right and pure before our holy heavenly Father. We are cleansed upon asking forgiveness of our sins- past, present and future. Sins that we are aware of, and sins that we unknowingly have committed are washed away, and we are made pure; We are made whiter than snow! Can you even imagine the dazzling beauty of a heart whiter than snow?
As the day moves on, the snow loses its luster as cars travel the roads, and footprints and shovels change the perfect drifts to obscured forms. I find that as this happens I'm ready for the snow to melt and be gone. Our hearts should long for this purging as well. 
Throughout our day, let us make time today and each day to ask for a pure heart. Seek forgiveness and to be convicted of areas that need to be washed clean. I've heard it said before to keep a short account with God. We should long to keep that pure, glistening white heart before our Lord. 

Dear Lord,
I thank you today for the beauty of the snowfall. I thank you for the reminder of your gift of cleansing and forgiveness. Give me a heart that is honest and true, a heart that seeks to be used by you for your glory and honor. In your holy and precious name I pray.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Sunday Scripture

Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you.  I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.
Issaiah 46:4

Friday, January 9, 2015

Withdraw and Pray

But Jesus often withdrew to the wilderness for prayer.
Luke 5:16

When Jesus was at his busiest he still took the time to pray, in fact, sometimes it seemed the more demands that lay at his feet the more devoted he was to separating himself for prayer.  As I sit here facing another school cancellation, thinking of the demands that lay ahead with having my children home all day, I could easily try and get a head start on all the things I need to do.  I could skip my quiet time and get started on all that laundry, I could sleep in since no one needs to wake up, or I could plan a fun filled day in the snow or maybe cook a big breakfast.  These are all things that are important but should any of them take the place of my prayer time?  If Jesus, who was God, still took time to pray even when he had thousands of people in line waiting to be healed, I can keep my prayer life even when my kids are home demanding food and fun, and so can you.  God is our reason for existence and the source of our strength in daily living, not to mention the amazing power that sustains us when things are going bad in our life.  If we give up our prayer time we miss out on that amazing power and peace.  Jesus knew the importance of talking to God and renewing his strength before big days and big tasks.  We too can understand how important it is to keep a consistent quiet time with God even when things around us are busy and demanding.  My prayer for you, my friends, is that you have time for God today.  Separate yourself from the things around you and go off into the "wilderness" and pray.         

Thursday, January 8, 2015

A Place to Praise!

Today I created a place on my counter for the 2015 year. So excited! There is a bowl of small stones and pebbles, a larger glass jar, a notepad and pen, and framed directions on how to use the jar. I'm praying that as my family, friends, and visitors receive blessings from God each day this year, they will journal in the notebook, move a stone and give thanks. It's my prayer that we will fill this jar and move on to an even bigger one! Here are the words from the frame...

"He is the one you praise; 
he is your God, who performed for 
you these great and awesome wonders 
you saw with your own eyes."
Deuteronomy 10:21

God is working everyday. 
    His great and mighty works displayed.
He longs to bless us as we walk,
    To hear our prayers and with us talk.
His blessings come to us each day
    And for receptive hearts we pray.
Lord, give us eyes to see your gifts as
    Prayers of thanks to you we lift!
Now, write your blessings big or small
    And move a stone to the big jar.
Let's fill it full, time and again
    To praise Our Savior, God, and Friend!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015


I know all the things you do, that you are neither hot nor cold.  I wish that you were one or the other! But since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. 
Revelation 3:15-16

These are words spoken by Jesus in a letter that John was instructed to write to the church in Laodicea.  Jesus was tired of the people's choice to remain lukewarm in their faith.  His warning to the church was to that if they remain unenthusiastic, or indifferent about God's commands and their faith, they would be spit out, or disowned by God.  Jesus knew everything about the people of Laodicea just like he knows everything about us.  He knows our hearts just like he knew the Laodiceans'.  Is it possible He is speaking this to our own lives right now?

This letter goes on to address the church's heavy reliance on material wealth.  Jesus convicts them of living for gods of money, status and material objects instead of living a life of faith with the One God, the only God who gives everlasting life.  But His conviction is with compassion and concern and in the end He says this, "I correct and discipline everyone I love.  So be diligent and turn from your indifference." (Revelation 3:19)

Let's see how closely we may resemble the church of Laodicea.  Indifference is a lack of interest, concern or sympathy; in regards to God, it is putting other things before Him as if He is unimportant.  Over time indifference will lead to idleness.  With regard to faith, idleness means one is inactive or not in use.  That faith might as well be thrown away because it is without purpose.  And this person without faith is, therefore, wandering aimlessly through life.  How many times have you felt this way, or are you currently living this way?  I have most certainly been in the Laodiceans' shoes.  In fact, I have been in their shoes longer than I have not.  My life, before I really came to a personal relationship with God, was indifferent.  I had faith, but it wasn't strong enough to keep me from making sinful decisions.  I wasn't growing in my faith, but sitting idle, being tossed by the waves around, me making compromises and choices that conflicted with who I said I was.  At times I put my faith in other people, including myself, and in material things.  My life was without purpose!  I was a lukewarm christian.  And Jesus spit me out!  How alarming to see that had I been cold he would have continued His pursuit of me because I wouldn't have known any better, and had I been hot he would have continued blessing me and leading me, but as a lukewarm, I had no excuse.  I couldn't blame it on the fact that I didn't know who God was, I was raised in church.  Everyday I was choosing to live my life and when I thought I was going somewhere I was really sitting idle.  When I thought the things I was pursuing and the places I was going were all things that would give me success in life, I was poorly mistaken!  I wasn't heading for anything productive.  I was wandering aimlessly through life always looking for a way to get further ahead but never knowing it was God I really needed to make me rich.  I had lost all concern for right and wrong, and even convinced myself the wrong was right.  I was inactive.  

Look!  I stand at the door and knock.  If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.
Revelation 3:20

Maybe you were like this at one time in your life.  Maybe you are currently experiencing this idleness.   Regardless, it is never too late to make a change.  God will never turn you down if you reach for Him.  He will never give up on you.  His love and patience surpasses any and He knocks at the door of your heart every day.  It is never too late to open the door and let Jesus enter.  Have that meal together as friends and start up a real relationship with him.  Read His Word everyday and get to know him on a personal level.  Give your life purpose and stop wandering aimlessly.  Get active and start living as a Hot Christian!  If you have any questions as to how to start up a relationship with God please email us.  We would love to guide you along and encourage your walk.                  

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

People Pleaser or God Pleaser

In God, whose word I praise-
     in God I trust and am not afraid.
What can mere mortals do to me?
  Psalm 56:4

Do you seek the approval of others? This can be a very conflicting and exhausting lifestyle. One minute those around you love you and sing your praises, but the next, the crowd is angered by your choices. So, you change your mind to please the crowd. You may have an opinion, but you never really share it because it may cause others to withdraw their acceptance of you. After awhile, you may no longer even have opinions because you ping pong from idea to idea based on those around you. 
I used to live this way. I did things to keep the peace around me. I chose to go with the flow even when it didn't make me happy and sometimes even caused harm or discomfort to myself or others. Acceptance by others was tiresome. It caused me to lose myself and I found that if I had to make a decision for myself I couldn't do it.
At some point, this lifestyle exhausted me. I chose to get in the Bible about various issues because I'd lost all perspective. In reading God's Word, I found that He's the only one I need to please. If I'm living to please my Lord, others may be offended, but my peace no longer waivers. Others may want me to spend my time or money on certain things, but as long as I'm following God's lead, their unhappiness with me doesn't sway me to change my decisions. 
Friends, when our trust is in God, when our focus is on pleasing our Lord, our life is peaceful. Oh, yes, someone may be upset with us, but their displeasure is because we didn't make them or their activity our god. Choosing to please God over man brings peace, but it also brings out your God-created self. You are free to be who he made you to be. It brings a new energy and a new perspective. He made you unique. You are different by design. Embrace who you are because of whose you are! Ask yourself this today, "Am I a people pleaser or a God pleaser?" Seek to please God alone and he will take care of the rest!

Monday, January 5, 2015

Stretched Thin

Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God's will.  Then you will received all that He has promised.
Hebrews 10:36

God asks us to do many things during the course of our life.  Many of those things we take for granted and do without thinking twice.  We may not even realize that God is behind our actions and leading us.  Some of us may cruz through life without wanting more and without seeking His will for us and stay content right were we are forever.  We might ignore the call to go deeper and find "good" excuses to stay put.  Maybe choosing a certain direction will cause hurt or change that we aren't ready for.  If we are God's children then He is always pursuing us.  He doesn't give up on His plans for us and we shouldn't either.  God wants us to grow closer to him through faith and the the only way we can do that is to grow our faith.  Growing our faith takes time and a little stretching.  But that stretching can't take place if we aren't willing to move.  If we aren't willing to let God stretch us then we will stay right where we are and most likely grow further away from God.  

What has God given you?  How has he blessed you and what has he entrusted in your care?  When we do well with little God will give us more.  If we are faithful with little things we will be faithful with large ones but if we are dishonest with little things we won't be honest with greater responsibilities (Luke 16:10).  This is how God pursues our faith and nudges us to grow daily.  If we are responsible we are given a little, as it stretches us we grow, and then we are given a little more.  That little more might be more responsibility, a promotion, a new baby, a bigger house, a raise in pay, but that little more can also bring on hardship, the death of a loved one, an illness, a change in a relationship, a crisis.  Whatever God gives us, where ever He leads us, however He stretches us, He enables us to handle it.  It isn't easy!  God will give us things and put us in places where we would fail if we didn't seek Him and trust in Him.  These greater responsibilities aren't always beautiful prizes that the world is lined up to receive, but the reward that comes from being stretched by God is closeness to Him.  God wants us close to Him and He will be so faithful to enable our success in any situation we face.  He will give us strength and wisdom, mercy and grace to make it out of any circumstance!  Amen!!

So remember, next time you feel like you are being stretched too thin, aside from your crazy busy schedule.  Evaluate what it is God is trying to teach you.  Be confident that if you trust God, He will give you what you need to succeed.  Allow yourself to depend on God and grow your faith in Him.  Let yourself grow closer to God and find fulfillment in life! 

I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who has enabled me, because He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry.
1 Timothy 1:12  

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Sunday Scripture

The Fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, 
but fools despise wisdom and discipline.
Proverbs 1:7

Saturday, January 3, 2015

My words for 2015

I too have chosen words for 2015. 2014 was a difficult year. A year in which giving up at any moment was a very real possibility. However in continuing on in my faith, I have learned to a greater degree that the walk of a Christian is marred by pain, loss, change and frustration due to sin (our own or that inflicted by others).  It is also a road that, if continued, leads to peace, joy, and a first-hand account of God's faithfulness.
Months ago, the word 'diligent' began popping up in my devotional time. I heard it's meaning loud and clear. Diligent means characterized by steady, earnest, energetic effort. The Christian walk of faith requires diligent efforts to remain in the Word, strengthen our prayer life, care for our families and those in need around us, and to keep on keeping on!
I have also chosen the word 'intentional' as my 2015 word. Intentional means done in a way that is planned.  In order to remain diligent, I'm seeing that I have to have a plan and a constant focus. In order to diligently study the word, I have to have an intentional time carved out in my schedule. I will need to keep a daily and weekly list of tasks so that I can make the most of my time. In my planning, I will also leave room for the things God wants me to do on the spur of the moment. By remaining diligent in my study of the Word, I can intentionally live out the life God has called me to live!

The plans of the diligent lead to profit
    as surely as haste leads to poverty. 
Proverbs 21:5

Friday, January 2, 2015


Resilience is the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties successfully without becoming too negatively affected by the experience.

My word for the year!  I have dealt a lot with new experiences over the last couple years.  I have undergone a lot of change and been exposed to a new lifestyle and to many new things I had never known before.  Some of these changes have caused difficulty for me and some of them have given me great joy.  As strange as it sounds, some of the things that have caused me great joy have also caused me great trouble and sadness.  I am learning that resilience is a very important characteristic that I need in order to live my life that revolves around so much change.

Resilience isn't ignoring our pain and or troublesome situation, but handling it in a way that we refuse to let it destroy us.  We can't pretend we aren't hurt.  We can't push aside our feelings.  There is a time for processing all the pain but in the end allowing that same pain to grow us and make us a better person.  To let the difficulty we just experienced impact us in a positive way so that we can keep moving forward into Christ-like character.  Reflect back on your year and the things you have experienced.  Do you see yourself recovering quickly from those things that brought you difficulty, or  is God asking you to be resilient in your current situation?  Joseph is a perfect example of resilience.  He was sold into slavery by his own brothers, and later spent time in jail for a crime he didn't commit.     Many years passed as he was experiencing difficulty but his positive outlook saw the good that could come from such despair.  As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive. (Genesis 50:20)

It is possible for you and me to have this same attitude toward our pain and difficulties.  If we can trust God completely, we too can recover from difficult situations successfully, just like Joseph did.  Paul knew of this same kind of resilience.  He was tortured, thrown in prison, underwent condemnation and a whole host of difficulties, but every time he looked past the pain toward God and the reward that was waiting for Him.  He never allowed his negative situations to affect him in a negative way.  This year I want this resilience!  I want to have this positive outlook and I want the strength to grow successfully from my pain.

That is why I am suffering here in prison, but I am not ashamed of it, for I know the One in whom I trust and I am sure that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until the day of His return.
2 Timothy 1:12