Saturday, February 28, 2015

Close Fellowship

As Mary mentioned yesterday, God holds our hand.  Every day, with every detail, He is available to hold our hand and lift us up.  But for that to happen she mentioned that we must be a godly person, removing all filth and sin from our hearts so that we can hear Him guiding our steps and gently leading us by the hand.  Moses was a man just like this.  He found favor with the Lord (Gen. 6:8).  You might be wondering why God chose him, how did Moses get on God's good side?

This is the account of Noah and his family.  Noah was a righteous man, the only blameless person living on earth at the time, and he walked in close fellowship with God.
-Genesis 6:9-

It wasn't exactly what Noah did, but more like what (or Who) Noah lived for, that made him perfect for the job.  Noah put God first in his life.  He loved God and trusted everything about Him.  He lived for God and he believed that walking in close fellowship with God would bless him and bless the world. He wasn't afraid of the nay sayers and the people who would ridicule him and attack his character.  He believed God was right and He chose to live for Him only.  This doesn't mean Noah never sinned, but as he lived he walked to please the Lord.  Sometimes he missed the mark, and other times he may have gotten off track, but all along he was trying, and every time he recognized he was off track, he found His way back to God.  He was in close fellowship with God.  Fellowship means they were friends who shared the same interest's and common goals.  Noah believed in what God was all about and He wanted his life and family to experience a life lived under God's rule and authority.  God believed in Noah and knew his heart was genuine and trustworthy.  They trusted each other and held a special bond.  

Nothing has changed since Noah's time.  God still desires to share in fellowship with His people and he continues to offer His love and support to those who love Him.  Yes, God wants a special bond with you!  The problem is so many of us aren't willing to give up the world to walk in close fellowship with God.  I'm not going to sit here and tell you I have it all right and I am living the perfect life.  I will say that I am in close fellowship with God because I have put Him first in my life and my desire it so follow everything He is and stands for.  I don't always get it right and often I find myself really messing up but that isn't the point.  The point is when we mess up we are able to recognize it, repent and move forward in our walk.  He knows we aren't perfect and that we are going to mess up, sometimes in big ways, but He loves us just the same.  When we know our children are trying their hardest do we kick them when they mess up or do we gently pick them up, dust them off, and encourage them to keep trying?  You bet we encourage them!  God is doing the same with us.  He is walking with us, holding our hand, guiding our next big move and He is enjoying every minute of it!  I guarantee you won't be disappointed either.   

Friday, February 27, 2015

Holding my Hand!

"The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they never fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand." Psalm 37:23-24

As I read this familiar scripture today it seemed to speak more to me than in the past. First of all, God directs our steps. But notice it says 'the steps of the godly'. Our heart must be in the right relationship with God in order for us to hear him. We have to remove all filth and evil from our hearts and minds so that his spirit and his word can freely flow through us and direct us.

Next, the word every seemed to jump off the page. God wants to be a part of every detail of our lives. Nothing is too small. Nothing is to big or beyond repair. He wants us to consult him. He cares that much!

And finally, as we go through this life, we will make mistakes. We will act out of emotion rather than in the spirit. We will misunderstand and suffer consequences of our choices. But he will not let us fall as we stumble along life's path. Why can't we fall? Because he's holding us up by his mighty hand. I don't know about you, but I love to imagine myself walking next to my friend Jesus as he holds my hand. It reminds me of when my children learned to walk. I'd hold their little hand in mine. As they stepped, I'd loosen my grip to allow them to feel confident, but as they began to lose their balance I'd quickly tighten my grip and at times lift them up off the ground and reset their feet so they could start again. That's how God is with us! I love the safety of that. I love the trust he puts in me to allow me to make choices. But I especially love that he's strong enough to pull me up by my hand and firmly set me back on the right path.

I love the way you love me. I love that you are ever present by my side. I love that you are so involved in my life that nothing is 'small talk' and nothing is off limits when we sit together in our quiet time. Dear Jesus, search my heart today for the areas that need to be set right so that I can hear you completely. I love you!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

We Were Still Sinners

But God has shown us how much he loves us - it was while we were still sinners that Christ died for us.
-Romans 5:8-

How often do we consider helping someone but hesitate, using the excuse, but she will just use the money on drugs or alcohol, when he checks into rehab, after she gets a degree, when he finds a job, after they say sorry.......the list could go on and on.  We often put limits to our love and we hold out on people because of those limits.  We often want the recipient of our love to get their act together before we put too much into them.  We stay distant until we see they are committed to changing or until we see that they are thankful for our help.  So often we make people earn our love.  And when said out loud..............yes, say it out loud (I often times make people earn my love), it sounds bad.....really bad.  The message version states it this way:  

But God put his love on the line for us by offering his Son in sacrificial death 
while we were of no use whatever to him. 
(Romans 5:8 MSG)

God loved us while we were of no use to him.  We were sinners and had no promise of turning our lives around.  We had no commitment to Him, no love to return, but He showed us the ultimate love by sacrificing His own Son for us.  God didn't say, when you decide to change I will make you a deal, He didn't say get your act together first and I will save you from your sins.  He just saved strings attached.  We didn't have to earn His help.  We didn't have to earn His love. 

..................And one more thing, that person you have difficulty loving and helping................God loves him or her as much as He loves as you.  He sacrificed His Son for them, just the same.  Think about those you struggle helping and loving.  Today is the day you change the way you love.  You will allow God's love to flow through you and stop demanding something in return.  Stop expecting them to change and just offer them your love and support.      


Wednesday, February 25, 2015

As I Sleep

"I will praise the Lord, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me."  Psalm 16:7

As I write this blog, I am preparing for bed. I've showered, brushed my teeth, jammies on, electric blanket on high. You know, all the necessary things that must be done before one curls in for a cozy night's sleep on a cold night. As I say my prayers tonight, I am asking God to speak to me through the night. My heart seeks his wisdom. My desire is to please him in all I say and do, but as I prepare for sleep, I know my own short comings. 
Yet, I will not give up! I will lay this petition at his feet asking him to make me stronger, wiser, and more loving as I rise in the morning. Isn't it amazing that not only do we serve an awesome, God, but that we serve a God who never sleeps. He even guides us through the night! So, tonight as you prepare for bed, be reminded that God is truly in control.
 He is working in us and for us- even as we sleep! 
Rest well tonight beautiful friend!

Psalm 121: 1-8
I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
    where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
    the Maker of heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot slip—
    he who watches over you will not slumber;
 indeed, he who watches over Israel
    will neither slumber nor sleep.
 The Lord watches over you—
    the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
 the sun will not harm you by day,
    nor the moon by night.
The Lord will keep you from all harm—
    he will watch over your life;
 the Lord will watch over your coming and going
    both now and forevermore.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Safe Right Where I Am

I saw my foster child yesterday for the first time in a very short month.  First of all, I can't believe I am saying a month.  Where did the time go?  God blessed me with a busy life during this time of grieving.  I say it that way because it was truly a gift to keep busy and not have to sit still every day thinking of her and missing her.  Have we missed her?  Absolutely.  Have I wondered like crazy how she was and if she was happy and well taken care of?  Who wouldn't.  But as I walked into that room and saw her for the first time I was reassured that God was in control.  She looked at me as if she should know me from somewhere and for a brief moment almost seemed as she wanted down to come and see me, but as soon as that feeling came she looked over to her daddy who was holding her and was reminded that she was safe and secure right where she was.  I was overcome with sadness and wanted to crawl in a hole, but I too had a Father I could look to, in that moment, and be reminded that I was safe right where I was.    

The purpose of my visit was to drop off the last of her things a few pairs of tiny socks that got lost in the couch and a picture book of the first year of her life.  I had no expectations and, in fact, didn't even count on seeing her during the visit.  My focus was on her parents.  I wanted them to know that even though their beautiful child brought us together our relationship didn't have to end.  I want to continue being a support for them and encourage then in this journey of parenthood.  God has shown me that by trusting Him and holding on when the going gets rough my spirit and attitude can be transformed.  All of the human emotions that go with having a foster child and then losing that child have come over me during this journey, but as I stayed focused on Him, He made it possible for me to overcome those feelings and to replace them with new, positive thoughts.  He made me a different person through this experience, a better person.  We all have difficult times and hard walks but when we let the Spirit control us we will grow from that experience and gain a deeper, more trusting relationship with God.  

Yesterday God gave me a gift.  He gave me closure and showed me how happy my foster child was.  He gave me good conversation with her parents and allowed me to see how much they love their little girl.  And as much as I wanted to squeeze her and kiss her all over, His Spirit held me back.  He kept me distant and focused on her parents.  A new journey in my future?  I certainly hope so, but for now I am content right where I am.  Even when I feel like crying or giving up, I can look up and see my Daddy holding me, reassuring me that I am safe right were I am.

Yet I always stay close to you, and you hold me by the hand.
Psalm 73:23

Monday, February 23, 2015

To Know Him Is To Love Him

And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength.
Deuteronomy 6:5

Are you enthusiastic about knowing God?  Are you passionate about following His commands and loving Him more than anyone else in your life? Our obedience to God's commands is a direct reflection of our deep love for Him.  When we are devoted to Him whole heartedly we will do everything in our power to obey Him.  We will spend time with Him and learn His commands.  Our life will revolve around doing what is right and staying in tune with Him.  God seeks this enthusiastic obedience from us!  Because we love Him,  our obedience should be overflowing and not just an obligation.  God doesn't want our charity, He wants all of us, He wants our heart, our thoughts and our whole being!  Before we can give Him this we need to know Him.  As we get to know Him our love will pour out from us.   

Sounds like what we ask of our spouse or someone we really love doesn't it?  We expect their full attention and we want them to love us by really knowing us and showing that love through respect, obedience and choosing us over selfish desires.  God desires this love relationship with us!  He isn't concerned with what we do and what laws we hold, those are simply a gauge of our devotion to him.  And we can relate because we too have a sense of how someone loves us by what he does or doesn't do for us.  

So how are you doing?  What does your gauge tell you about your love of God?  Are you putting everything into knowing Him and loving Him?  I challenge you to put yourself in a position to know Him better to day.  Read your bible, talk to Him, seek Him and love Him with all of your heart, soul and strength.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Sunday Scripture

Psalm 119:33-40The Message (MSG)

God, teach me lessons for living
    so I can stay the course.
Give me insight so I can do what you tell me—
    my whole life one long, obedient response.
Guide me down the road of your commandments;
    I love traveling this freeway!
Give me a bent for your words of wisdom,
    and not for piling up loot.
Divert my eyes from toys and trinkets,
    invigorate me on the pilgrim way.
Affirm your promises to me—
    promises made to all who fear you.
Deflect the harsh words of my critics—
    but what you say is always so good.
See how hungry I am for your counsel;
    preserve my life through your righteous ways!

Saturday, February 21, 2015

"I'm Mad!"

The other day our little Emma stood in the kitchen. She wanted a glass of juice. And she wanted it right now. My hands however were already in the dishwater fishing for the nipple to baby Jaxsen's bottle.

I told her she could have juice, but it would be just a minute until I could help her. In one fluid movement her body stood tall, her foot stamped the ground, her arms folded across her little body, her head went into face down position as her ponytail flipped, and her words spoke, "I'm mad!"

This was obviously not the first time her little self had performed this act of asserting herself! As I hid my smile, I began to say, "Don't be mad." But I quickly stopped myself because it's ok to be mad.  It's not the being mad that's the problem.

Ephesians 4:26 “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry,

I had to applaud that fact that at age 3 she could already discern her feelings. Now we just have to teach her what to do with those feelings when they come.

I stooped and told her it was ok to get mad and that sometimes I get mad too. I also told her that its good to tell Jesus we are mad and let him take the mad away before we say or do something that hurts someone else. Of course, I was convicted of a few things that I'd also said and done the last few days in anger, so I had a moment of repentance right their with that sweet little girl. Oh, the lessons we learn from tender moments with our little ones!

Our anger comes upon us so quickly. Help us to learn from Emma, to stand firm in our anger, address it head on and then let you deal with it. Teach us to stop before we act, Lord, so that our anger doesn't damage someone else. Oh, Jesus, becoming like you is such a long process. Thank you that you don't ever give up on us and that you are willing to stoop down and talk to us too so that we can learn from our mistakes. You are wonderfully patient with us, and we love you.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Powerful Words

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

As I was reading through Ephesians, this verse jumped out and has stuck with me the last several days. It makes me wonder if I am aware enough of my words. And the resounding answer is, "NO!" Paul not only cautions us to use clean words, but only words that build up the listener. We are to be a visible, vocal cheerleader at all times. Gossip, anger, put-downs, carelessly spoken words, and the like have no business coming off the tongue of a Christian. 
I have to admit that I can get caught up in my own little world, and it seems traumatic. I get hurt and the result is complaining. Someone offends me and my words in return can be sharp and hurtful. Throughout scripture we are warned of the power of the tongue. 

Our words hold the power to kill others. We actually wound and kill their spirit within them. 
     Psalm 64:3 They sharpen their tongues like swords and aim cruel words like deadly arrows.
    Proverbs 12:18 The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings  

We can also use our tongue to bring healing and life to another person. 
     Proverbs 15:4 The soothing tongue is a tree of life, but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit.
     Psalm 139:4 Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely.

As I work on this blog, I'm reminded that we do a lot of 'self-talk' also throughout the day. Do you compliment yourself as you pass the mirror or do you voice your faults and failures? Do you speak to  and of yourself in a manner that shows you are created in the image of God?

Our words are powerful. Are we being aware enough of what we say to ourselves and others? Are we being cautious enough as we speak about ourselves and others? 

Dear Lord,
Help me today to see the power in my words. Help me to make a conscious effort to monitor and filter what comes from my mouth. You have given me a spirit of self-control, and I ask that you help me use it at all times. When I fail, let me be quick to apologize and make the situation right with you and others. In your precious name I pray,

Thursday, February 19, 2015

My Mother's Legs

You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother's womb.
Psalm 139:13

In talking with a friend yesterday, our legs became the topic of discussion.  She made a comment that I know many of you women can relate to, "I have my mom's legs".  Looking at my own legs I immediately knew what she was talking about, commenting something like, "we are just getting older".  For some reason today I can't stop thinking about that very short, random conversation and realize the beauty in it.  God made us in His image, which wows me every time I hear it, but then when I think of my mom and how much I resemble her, my hands, my legs, and my face I am blown away!  God made us so complex, took the time to give us special features, and made it so that we would pass those down to our own children.  I see my husband in my boys and my daughter has a slight resemblence to me when I was in 7th grade.  It is special to resemble our parents!

Let's face it, when we talk of looking like our parents we get that wince on our face as if it's a bad thing and mostly all the bad is just because it is an acknowledgement that we are getting older.  But take away the age thing and really think about how special it is to look like your mom or dad, or both.  It is a miracle that we are even here by God's amazing power!  He made us!  He knows us!  He loves that we look like our parents!  And we should be thankful for that miracle!  

So God created human beings in His own image.  In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.
-Genesis 1:27-

Yes, maybe it isn't a facial feature or the shape of our body that resembles Him, but we were made in God's image.  Perhaps it is more complex and our hearts were made in His image to love like he does,  and our minds were made to think like Him and our eyes made to see like He sees.  God is love, we were made in Love's image.  We were made to take on our parents' physical features but when it comes to our complexity, God is our Daddy.  When He formed us, imagine the excitement that filled Him knowing who we would become and what characteristics we would receive from Him.  Gives me chills, and gives us all a lot to think about today.  Do we resemble our Father?  

Dear God,
Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!  Your workmanship is marvelous - how well I know it.  You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb (Psalm 139:14-15)  Help me to be happy with my body, every part of it you made with love!  Thank you for my special features and encourage me to start resembling you more every day.  I love you so much!  Amen  


Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Stay with God!

I'm sure now I'll see God's goodness in the exuberant earth.  Stay with God!  Take heart.  Don't quit.  I'll say it again: Stay with God!
-Psalm 27:14 MSG-

Today starts Lent, the 40 days leading up to Christ's death and resurrection.  Many people hold traditions of fasting things during this time.  I grew up Catholic so I was always taught to give up meat on Fridays.  We were also encouraged to give something else up during that time.  As a child I never understood the real importance of this fast but as I have grown to know the Lord and understand His ways a little better, the fast takes on a whole new meaning for me.  I have come to realize that it isn't what we fast or what we commit to that really matters, it it the complete dependance on God to help us complete the task.  It is the focus on Him while we are dying to have that candy or big cup of fountain pop.  Handing over our desires to count on His strength to help us succeed.  The sacrifice that we make for God isn't always something we do or eat, a big one for most would be to sacrifice their time.  Maybe instead of giving up something tangible you could instead devote yourself to waking up 15 minutes early to read the bible and pray, or maybe you would decide send a card of encouragement every day for 40 days.  What ever you decide it must be some sort of sacrifice telling God that He is worth it to you.  Showing Him that you are devoted to knowing Him on a deeper level, therefore depending on Him to get you through the Lent season.  It is to draw you us closer to and to meditate on the sacrifice that He offered to save us from our sins and give us eternal life in Heaven.  And so today as you have chosen something to carry out for the next 40 days I want to encourage you to keep at it.  Like the scripture states above, stay with God!  Don't quit!  I want you to experience this Lent season like you have never before.  I want you to follow through and experience the amazing strength that comes with depending on God daily and I want you to enjoy Easter on a whole new level.  

Dear God, I offer you my sacrifice of _________________.  During this Lent season I want to depend on you to help me follow through with my end of the deal.  Draw me closer to You and give me a better understanding of Who you are in my life.  Show me the strength that I have in You and reveal to me all that you suffered for me so that I can better enjoy this Easter.  I love you.  Amen   

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

An Invitation

Tomorrow, Wednesday, February 18, 2015 is Ash Wednesday and begins the season of Lent. A season in which we prepare ourselves for the arrival of Jesus at Easter. A season of self-denial in order to cleanse our hearts and make room for the coming of our King! We'd like to invite you to join us in discovering some foundational aspects of God's love through a 40 day study.

Each day we’ll send you an email related to God’s love. Some days may be mostly reading and journaling your own thoughts while others days will be more time spent searching the scriptures. It is our prayer that no matter where you are in your walk with Jesus that this study will help you find him at a deeper level; We want your faith roots to grow deeper!

As is often the tradition of Lent, we are encouraging you to fast. But not just a Coke a day! We are asking you to fast your time. Perhaps you wake up 20-30 minutes early each day, turn off the TV, or better yet, fast screens (other than your work), or skip your lunch time for the next 40 days. Whatever activity you choose to fast is time replaced with your Bible, notebook, and  a devotional guide. 

Then send us your thoughts, needs, and questions! We want to grow with you!  Hebrews 10:24-25 tell us, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”  Though we may not be able to meet face to face, the gift of email will keep us connected! We will grow from you and you from us on this journey!

We have several friends already committed to this journey, and we are praying you will be a sojourner with us! If you want to participate, send us an email giving us at least your first name and an email address.  Email us at
We will start tomorrow! 

Monday, February 16, 2015

Chase Them With Your Fierce Storm!

As a fire burns a forest and as a flame sets mountains ablaze, chase them with your fierce storm; terrify them with your tempest.  Utterly disgrace them until they submit to your name, O Lord.
Let them be ashamed and terrified forever.  Let them die in disgrace.  Then they will learn that you alone are called the Lord, that you alone are the Most High, supreme over all the earth.
-Psalm 83:14-18 NLT-

In the light of this past weekend with a certain movie that has just opened to the public, and the direction it seems this world is heading, it is time to pray for those who just don't get it.  It is time to pray for the people who know God and choose to look the other direction.  Pray for those who deny there is a God even though they have seen evidence of His presence all around them.  Christians everywhere are being persecuted for having a belief system that follows the Ancient Words of God.  We are misunderstood when we stand on our foundation and choose to live by God's laws.  Some are mocked and called names, accused of not having Godly love when they don't agree with with the world, and put down by those who are searching for something more, something they can place their trust in, but often deny that the answer is God.  When we get tired of loving those who persecute us it is the very time we press on and keep praying for those who need Truth in their life.  Let's face it, there are some people who just cannot hear the love that we are sharing through our actions and words.  They are so dead set on their opinions that even if God is speaking directly through us with a gentle and quiet spirit the evil spirits controlling their life will be threatened by us.  Everything we say gets twisted and we are blamed and called a hypocrite and every other name in the book.  Sometimes in these desperate moments, when we see that people just don't want anything to do with knowing God and hearing Truth, all we can do is pray.  But you say it's hard to pray for someone who is persecuting you and hurting you, even dragging you through the mud.  How can I pray for someone who hates me and doesn't want anything to do with me?  I say, how can we not?  

Sometimes the only thing we can do is pray for someone.  The scripture above is for combatting God's enemies.  I would rather call it combatting satan because often times our fight is not with human flesh but with the unseen rulers and dark forces of this world (Ephesians 6:2).  We may see a person and be angry with him or her but in reality we need to fight for that person while he or she is being controlled by worldly spirits, especially if the person is a Christian.  So we begin reciting God's Word and praying the hard realities that must happen in order for him or her to see Truth.  Sometimes people need to be humbled by adversity before they will look up to see the Lord.  Sometimes we need  to pray that a person lose everything so that he or she is left with only God.  We want them to see their wrong through God's eyes and come face to face with who they have become so that they will turn to find healing and help from a loving, waiting God.  Many times it takes defeat before a person can find true victory in Jesus Christ.............and so we pray!

Knock the breath right out of them, so they're gasping for breath, gasping, "God".  Bring them to the end of their rope, and leave them there dangling, helpless.  Then they'll learn your name: "God," the one and only High God on earth. 
-Psalm 83:15-18  MSG- 

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Happy Valentine's Day

Under the old system, the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer could cleanse people's bodies from ceremonial impurity.  Just think how much more the blood of Christ will purify our consciences from sinful deeds so that we can worship the living God.  For by the power of the Eternal Spirit, Christ offered himself to God as a perfect sacrifice for our sins.
Hebrews 9:13-14

Valentine's day is a celebration of love.  Often we show our affections to our spouse or significant other and we anticipate being doted on by the love of our lives.  Some go all out including a date at a fancy restaurant with dressy attire, roses and the whole works, while others are content with a movie and chocolates.  Even the little children will celebrate this holiday at school with a party and treats.  I have never been one to go overboard on this holiday.  My kids always get the store bought cards for their classmates and they are lucky to get a shoebox with some stickers as decorations.  I won't be a party pooper and say it's a made up holiday because I do believe showing our love is the most important thing we can do for each other, but I will say that we might have a distorted view of this special day.  We emphasize this "holiday" so much but do we ever stop to really love the One who loved us first?  

On the sixth day God created humans to love (Gen. 1:26-27).  He knew the sins we would commit and every moment we would disobey Him but instead of giving up on us He loved us with a love that is so hard to comprehend.  He sent His only son to die for us so that we could join Him in eternity one day.  He said, "I love (insert your name) so much that I will do anything to protect him/her.  I will stay by her side even when he/she has abandoned me, he/she will be mine".  Today I want to encourage you to take time to love God and praise Him with thanksgiving for the life you have.  Especially on a busy Saturday filled with activities, and of course that big date tonight, make sure you spend time first with Jesus Christ, the ultimate example of perfect love.  Sacrifice that morning talk show or your one day to sleep in for the One who made the ultimate sacrifice for your sins.  Jesus, who loves us completely with an unconditional love that will never ever fail us.  Soak up the most perfect love anyone can find and then share that love with the other special valentine's in your life.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Hang in there!

"So let's not allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good. At the right time we will harvest a good crop if we do not give up, or quit. Right now, therefore, every time we get the chance, let us work for the benefit of all, starting with the people closest to us in the community of faith." Galatians 6:9-10

I'm pretty sure that I've posted on this verse a million times over the last few years, but it has become the theme song of my quiet time with God. 
Whatever it is you are doing for the Lord, don't quit doing it! Even when you get nothing in return, even when you're sick and tired of doing it, even when you get shot down. If you know God has asked  it of you, and it is for His glory.... keep on keeping on!  There's not much more to say, but today I encourage you to keep focused on Christ and allow the Spirit to work in and through you. God will deliver the harvest in due time!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

My Refuge and Strength......Always

(click to listen)

God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble.  We will not fear when the earthquakes come and the mountains crumble into the sea.  Let the oceans roar and foam.  Let the mountains tremble as the waters surge!
Psalm 46:1-3

What battle are you preparing for this day?  Really, who or what are you facing that makes you feel weak?  We all have something going on today that we aren't looking forward to, a person or situation we wish we could avoid.  You either woke up with a battle before you or through the course of this day one or more battles have developed right in front of your eyes.  The battle can range from saying no to that piece of pie at lunch, turning down that cigarette during break, fighting for a friend who is sick or grieving the loss of someone dear to you.  The battle may be personal, like standing your ground and holding firm to your  Christian belief while your boss and coworkers are trying to convince you to do otherwise, or you may be fighting satan's lies that try to condemn you for that sin you repented of last week.  Your battle may be for someone else who is lost and searching in all the wrong places, or for the oppressed who are being mistreated and need a voice in this very loud world.  The size and cause of our battles will differ greatly but the source of our strength, we all have in common.  And understanding that we all are in the same boat these days, fighting battles and roughing out storms, we can encourage one another to keep fighting.  We are brothers and sisters who need each other!  We are all fighting something, whether it be disease, mean people, poor values, our weight, and even ourselves, we all have something in which we cannot do alone.  Our victory will come when we put our trust in God.  We can win any battle with God on our side and even though the win may not look like a win from worldly eyes, God always wins!  Something good always comes out of our battle regardless of what our eyes can see.  Believe that!

I have several battles that I will face today that range from what I put into my mouth, what I watch on TV,  fighting for a friend's eyes to be open to God's truth, fighting for several people to find healing from disease, to fighting back my own feelings of inadequacy, jealousy and sadness.  There are even more that I don't yet know about and it can all seem very overwhelming!  But I can start my day knowing that what ever I face, my God is bigger!  Whatever comes my way I can be confident that my God will not delay and He will be my strength as I step back and let Him take over.  Friends, this fight.......these battles we face........they can ruin us.....stop us dead in our tracks.......or they can strengthen us.  Together we fight and together we encourage one another to trust in the Lord!  He will not delay......our help is on the way!!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Declare a Fast

"I proclaimed a fast there beside the Ahava Canal, a fast to humble ourselves before our God and pray for wise guidance for our journey- all our people and possessions." Ezra 8:21

Ezra declared a fast prior to any further movement in the journey. He needed to seek God's direction and he needed insight to lead well. He fasted to seek God's will above his own.

Next Wednesday, February 18 begins is Ash Wednesday. This is the beginning of the Lenten season, a season of preparing ourselves for Easter and the experiencing of Christ's death and resurrection. Will you declare a fast? And if so, what is your fast about? What are you seeking to learn from God?

Often people fast things like chocolate, pop, or a meal. They may even fast playing video games or attending certain events. Whatever you fast should be a sacrifice, it should cause you discomfort to go without it. It should be something you frequently desire or participate in. Why? Because the purpose of a fast is to give up one thing to replace it with time with God.

A meal that is fasted should be replaced with time of prayer and study. It is not to become an avenue to shed a few extra pounds! An activity that is fasted should be replaced with time spent praying and seeking God's will. Fasting chocolate doesn't mean eating another sweet snack in its place. Rather each time the desire for chocolate arises you pause and seek God's face through prayer or scripture reading.

If you choose to begin a fast next week, pray it through starting now. Ask God what to fast and what it is that he wants you to focus on. Perhaps you need insight into healing a marriage or maybe you need direction with a ministry. Will your fast send you deep into the Word to find healing to forgive and be forgiven?

Let us each determine a reasonable fast. Give us insight into what it is that we are to fast. Then help us to use that time to draw nearer to you. Teach us to humble ourselves before you. In your name we pray, Amen.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

We Were Made For Fellowship

All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord's Supper), and to prayer.
Acts 2:42

All Christians everywhere, especially new believers, need a community of believers to keep them going.  We need to surround ourselves with other people who love the Lord and are devoted to following His teachings.  This community should help members study the bible, assist them in prayer and ultimately mature in faith.  The early believers were very serious about their new found faith in Jesus Christ and they built their whole life around others who felt the same way. 

And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had.  They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need.  They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lords' Supper and shared meals with great joy and generosity - all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people.  And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved.
Acts 2:44-47

Not only were these first believers devoted to God's teachings they were also devoted to fellowship. Helping others in times of need, they weren't scared to step into people's messy lives and offer a helping hand.  They boldly put their needs aside and did what ever was necessary to improve the life of a brother or sister of the community.  They shared everything and they worshipped together.  They were committed to not only God but each other.  They lived life together!  

Are we willing to live life with the Body of Christ?  Do we share our burdens, joys, sorrows and failures with the church?  Are we comfortable inviting other believers into our lives and are we willing to step into theirs?  I think of the strength this must have provided the early believers.  Knowing how having a few close God friends gives me strength and accountability, I can imagine what it would be like if a whole community were to be by my side for support and help in a time of need.  Sharing our homes and our food and all of our possessions to support each other........nothing is ours but everything belongs to the people.  It sounds beautiful and simple just like I imagine God intends for our lives to be.  And maybe some of you already have this in your close-nit neighborhood or maybe your church follows the lead of these first believers in Acts.  I hope you will keep these new believers in mind as you go about your week and spend time with others.  I encourage you to open up and share with people, either material things or the thoughts on your heart.  Get involved in your community of believers!  Devote yourselves to God's word and His people and you will grow in your faith. 


Monday, February 9, 2015

Which master will you serve?

"No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money." Matthew 6:24

Throughout history man has chosen to either serve God or serve their own manmade gods. In this passage Jesus warns us of letting money be our master. But there are multiple other gods that take up residence in our hearts. Money, power, self, acceptance, spouse, children, work, our past, our future.... The list goes on and on. Many of our gods are subtle. They begin as a good passion but soon they have taken over our thoughts and our hearts. They become our focus. Anything that occupies our mind and our heart and screams for attention, is a god. Earthly gods call loudly and are demanding. They are desires within us that need to be attended to and they often don't subside until we do something about them.  Worriers meet the desire to fix the situation by saying and doing things to control the situation. Addicts crave the next fix. Money hungers work too much or spend to readily on selfish purchases. But Jesus is a quiet God who puts no demands on us. He just wants to build a relationship with us.

Jesus knows and understands the pull of these gods on our hearts. That's why he tells us to pick up our cross and follow him. In picking up our cross we choose Jesus and nail our own desires to the cross as a sacrifice in exchange to do his will. When we long for things, situations, or people that we don't have, we miss out on what's right before our eyes; We miss blessings from God. Our little gods always disappoint us. They cost us everything. And they leave us empty and wanting.

What cries out for your attention today? Joshua puts it this way, "Choose for yourself this day whom you will serve... But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD." Joshua 24:14

Whatever occupies your mind, holds your heart. Choose wisely today.

Dear LORD,
Make me aware of the gods in my life. Help me to retrain my mind to think of you and of you alone. Allow me to be content in what and who you have placed in my life. Let my devotion be to you alone. In your holy name I ask these things. Amen

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Sunday Scripture

A cheerful heart is good medicine, 
but a broken spirit saps a person's strength.
Proverbs 17:22

Dear God, help me to see the joy in my day and give me opportunities to laugh. Sometimes I take life so seriously and I don't give myself time to enjoy the little things or laugh at the simple things You put in my path.  Today I want to laugh and enjoy life to its fullest by serving others and recognizing the fun in it.  Let me laugh with others and treat my heart with the best medicine.

Friday, February 6, 2015

We Are All Leaders

As surely as I live, says the Sovereign Lord, you abandoned my flock and left them to be attacked by every wild animal.  And though you were my shepherds, you didn't search for my sheep when they were lost.  You took care of yourselves and left the sheep to starve.  
Ezekiel 34:8

As this scripture may be directed towards Israel's leaders who during this time were found to be taking care of themselves rather than taking care of their people, I believe it can be also directed towards Christians today.  God was more than just a little disappointed when He ordered that Ezekiel prophesy against the shepherds or leaders of Israel.  He was angry with them!  They were given a duty, a responsibility to care for the people in their city but instead they did everything they could to make sure they were eating well and enjoying life to its fullest.  Their leadership was fully void of leading.  Instead they were allowing their people to scatter, fall into sin, and starve.  The people were sick and injured with no-one to care for them and instead of helping, those in charge were more concerned about themselves.  While the city was falling its leaders were thriving.  What really haunts me, when reading this chapter in Eekiel, is what's found in verse 6.....They (the people, the sheep) have wandered through all the mountains and all the hills, across the face of the earth, yet no one has gone to search for them.  

You may have figured out where I am going with this..................

Even though we are not leaders of a city, a church, or a big name company, as Christians, we are all leaders.  For those of us who love Jesus and call Him our savior, we are called to feed His sheep (John 21:17)  God asks us to share The Good News with the world (Mark 16:15), like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden we are to shine our good deeds for all to see, so that everyone will praise God (Matthew 5:16).  The definition of a deed is an action that is performed intentionally or consciously.  Our good deeds have everything to do with caring for His sheep!  Doing something intentionally for someone else.  We can't always be working on our lives and our good fortune and forget about those around us who are in need.  And for sure we can't just continue to let the sheep wander while we work on our own thing.  

My heart breaks for those who are lost, either by choice or because they don't know any better and most often the two go hand in hand.  I hurt when I see others' sinning or living in a way that doesn't follow God but instead of letting them continue down that path I should be loving them intentionally and reaching out to them with kindness.  My "good deeds" should be directed towards these lost in attempt to lead them home.  I agree, sometimes the lost are so far gone it's not safe to get that close but there is no reason we can't pray for them and love them from where we are.  Sometimes the only thing we can do is pray but at least we aren't leaving them to roam with no help whatsoever.  Our prayers, lifting up a lost sheep, may be the only thing keeping someone from wandering too far beyond the point of return.  And what about those sheep who are lost and who have been lost for a while, should we just let them stay that way or should we search for them?  Reaching out to a lost sheep every once in a while is all God asks us to do but we often get so caught up in our own life that we leave them to stay lost for ever.

Think of the lost sheep in your life today.  What can you do to avoid resembling these leaders of Israel?  How can you lead God's sheep and search for those who are lost?  We may not be able to bring them all home but failing at trying is way better than failing to try.  Let's encourage each other to love and care for all humanity and do less for ourselves and little more for others.  God will find His sheep regardless of whether we obey, but our love for God is proved through our love for let's get loving!!    

I will search for my lost ones who strayed away, and I will bring them safely home again.  I will bandage the injured and strengthen the weak.  But I will destroy those who are fat and powerful.  I will feed them, yes - feed them justice!
Ezekiel 34:16           


Thursday, February 5, 2015

A scripture to meditate on today

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. (‭Philippians‬ ‭4‬:‭6-8‬ NIV)

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Cool Your Pipes!

Bridle your anger, trash your wrath, cool your pipes - it only makes things worse.  Before long the crooks will be bankrupt; God-investors will soon own the store.
-Psalm 37:8-9 MSG-

I can't help but smile when I read this.  Maybe it was the timing of these words, but I just got a great feeling of peace and strength when I read it.  So often we are under appreciated by people in our life.  We are treated unfairly, disrespected or taken advantage of.  Sometimes this treatment is misunderstood and other times it is very clear that the person just doesn't like us for some reason or another.  Whatever the reason, I love that I don't have to be mad!  I don't have to fight back or get even with the people who don't agree with me, with those who simply put, don't like me.  In fact, I am making things worse when I insist on holding a grudge and staying angry with someone who has wronged me.  It seems that society these days encourages us to defend ourselves and to get back at those who hurt us, but in reality God will take care of it in His timing.  A person will never get away with hurting a child of God.  Mean, hurtful people will always have a consequence to their behavior...........we will always have a consequence to our behavior.  I just enjoy seeing these words above and letting them fill me up, taking away the pressure and stress of handling my anger on my own.  We don't have to give anger a place in our life.  We don't have to let bitterness weigh us down.  God is with us to remove that weight, He will fight our battles and get our revenge.  We just need to trust Him and let the Holy Spirit control our actions and words in a situation like this.      

God keeps track of the decent folk; what they do won't soon be forgotten.  In hard times, they'll hold their heads high; when the shelves are bare, they'll be full. 
-Psalm 37:18-19 MSG-

Dear God, take away all of the anger and bitterness that I hold in my heart.  Those things weigh me down and make me tired.  I want energy to live for you and to love like you do.  Give me self control to turn the other cheek, and instead of revenge drop me to my knees in prayer.  Help me to see things differently and when someone hurts me help me to see their hurt.  Show me your perspective and open my eyes to a new way of living like Christ.  In Jesus' Name.......Amen  

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Intercede Today.

He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many. (‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭1‬:‭10-11‬ NIV)

Today I am just reminded of all the prayers that have been raised on my behalf and that of my family over the years and I am so thankful. We have overcome issues and illnesses. We've made it through trials and tribulations. All due to the prayers of family, friends, and even strangers.
Do not give up in praying for the salvation of loved ones. Continually lift the lost to the Lord. Pray on behalf of those who are ill and hurting.
Paul tells us in his passage just how great his fellow Christians' prayers for him were. He faced death and situations he knew that he wouldn't survive without God's help.  God hears and is attentive to our prayers. Today uphold those around you their lives depend on it!

Monday, February 2, 2015

Our Choice

I call Heaven and Earth to witness against you today: I place before you Life and Death, Blessing and Curse.  Choose life so that you and your children will live.  And love God, your God, listening obediently to him, firmly embracing him.  Oh yes, his is life itself, a long life settled on the soil that God, your God, promised to give your ancestors, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
(Deuteronomy 30:19-20 MSG)

Everything we do in a situation or in our day is a choice.  We can choose to obey God and follow His commands or we can choose to follow the world.  Following the world would mean choosing our fleshly desire when it may not be Christ-like.  It would include falling to temptation that we know is sinful.  Choosing any way but God's way can lead to spiritual death.  Just because we make one bad choice does not send us plummeting to hell, but it does kill our spirit a little every time we choose our way, or the worlds, over God's.  Over time bad choices will dull our spiritual senses and it can lead to spiritual death for sure but in many cases it also can lead to a physical death.  Choosing God's way, although it's not guaranteed to keep us physically alive, it will most certainly keep us from dying  a spiritual death, which is way worse.   

The difference between choosing God's way and the world's is the power we receive to carry out that which we choose.  For example, if you choose to go on a mission trip in one of the most poor stricken places in the world where there are threats of disease, very hot weather and dangerous people and that choice came from God's call on your heart then you would also get the power to carry out that call.    If you felt Him leading you towards this trip and you decided to go, then His power would go with you.  On the other hand, if you make a choice to do sinful things with a group of people that you know aren't listening to God, if  and when you come to a difficult situation, you most likely won't have God's power to help you out.  You may call on Him and in certain situations He may show up but you also may have pretty tough consequences that He will not help you out of.  

So you see we are way better off choosing life over death.  We are protected by God's power and strength when we choose to do things God's way over the world's way.  Just remember that when choosing life there may be difficulty, there may be pain and heartbreak or physical discomfort but that choice you are making will always come with the power to carry out the mission.  Your human strength is nothing compared to the strength that comes with living a life for God.  

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Sunday Scripture

“So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,  so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you." 
Matthew 6:2-4 NIV