Thursday, December 31, 2015

A New Year - 2016

As I end 2015, as so many others are, I am reflecting on where and what I have come from and through in 2015. I am also contemplating, planning and praying about where I want to go in 2016 and beyond. It has been a bit of a struggle coming up with goals and creating the steps to achieve these goals because I want to leave room for God to take me places that I couldn't conceive in my limited imagination. I don't want to be zealous to create a limited future because I didn't leave space to allow God to grow me spiritually, mentally, financially or materially. So my planner has some empty goal pages that I am looking forward to God filling in over the next few months. I also know that the goals that I have thoughtfully created God may change and those goals become something completely different... and I am okay with that. With a heart fully desiring God's will, my focus and goal for 2016 is to live each day seeking and fulfilling God's will for that day. Whether it is praying with someone, inviting someone to church to worship with me, going on a mission trip, learning a new language or fasting, whatever God's will is for any particular day I want to boldly do it.

I have heard of people choosing a word or scripture that will be their focus for the year and though I have never done that, I have decided to try it in 2016.

The word that I have chosen for 2016 is: FINISH

So many times we start projects or commitments and because of time, energy or situations, we fail to finish. We may get the project 90% completed but that last 10% escapes us. Whether it is a earthly project, a spiritual battle or a physical goal, I am going to strive to FINISH that which I start. Sounds simple enough...

The scripture that I have chosen for 2016 is: Proverbs 28:1 "The wicked flee when no man pursueth: but the righteous are bold as a lion."

There are so many times that I feel confident while in my prayer closet but when it comes time to put my faith in action, I get timid and unsure. My private, personal lion's roar turns into a mouse's squeak when faced with an audience seeing or hearing me. This year, I am going to remind myself of that scripture every time I get timid about stepping out in faith. Every time I get hesitant to pray with someone, I will claim that scripture. Every time the enemy of my soul tells me that I can't, I will take the Word and boldly proclaim that with the power of God, I CAN!!

Though I know that January 1st is just the day after December 31st, and really not that special, I am looking forward to a new spiritual journal, a new planner, a new diary, a new year in which to more boldly, more eagerly, more fervently delight myself in the Lord.

I wish you the most joyous New Year. I pray that each of you will make time to put God first on your list of goals for this year.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Heaven Bound

As I have said before, I work with people from many cultural and ethnic backgrounds. I also work with a very diverse demographic of people. Some of the people grew up with a comfortable home life, others grew up very poor and in dysfunctional environments. Whatever the background, whatever the up-bringing, whatever nation they are from, whatever their race... we are all in the same place at the same time. Because of that we are all, at least in my opinion, equal.

The other week I had a heaven moment. As I was inspecting parts in my department, I came to a friend's work station. I enjoy talking with my friend, not because we always understand one another but because he seems like a nice guy. While standing there checking for quality, I glanced up and my soul cried out to God that I wanted to go to heaven with my friend and his family. It was such an overwhelming burden that I wanted to weep. Here is a man that I can't always understand as he speaks another language. A man that is scarred from being caught in a civil war. A man that does not know my Jesus. A man who serves his own god, Allah. Regardless of what my friend is right now, I want him, his wife and his children to be in heaven with Jesus, my Lord and Savior. This burden and vision has become so real to me that even as I walk down-wind of someone who does not bathe, I realize that they too are welcome in heaven. As I talk with a person who is annoying or hateful, my heart yearns for them to be in heaven. I am learning, by the grace and love of God, to allow my soul see the soul of my harvest field rather than the fleshly bodies those souls inhabit.

The heaven that we are seeking will not be filled with people who look, speak, eat and smell just like us. I believe that there will be more people that didn't bathe make it heaven than people who look just like me but are self-righteous. There will be more people in heaven that have needle tracks up their arm, who allowed God to deliver them, than there will be gossips who look exactly like me. Heaven will be filled with the redeemed, regardless of color, race, language, personal hygiene or fashion sense. According to Revelations, the water of life is given to ANYONE who thirsts and ANYONE who overcomes will inherit all things. Those that will not inherit are those that do not overcome, regardless of race, color, or language. The question becomes will you inherit and will you take those of your harvest field that thirsts for the water of life that only Jesus can give?

Revelation 21:5-8
Then He who sat on the throne said, "Behold, I make all things new." And He said to me, "Write, for these words are true and faithful." And He said to me, "It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be my son. But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death."

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Where is My Place in the Kingdom?

After experiencing a devastating loss and lingering heartache, I found myself searching for God's plan for my life. Before this loss, I had plans... good, godly and sound plans. I thought and dreamed of the ways that God would be able to use our lives and experience. I anticipated the thrill it would be to work side by side with my best friend for the kingdom of God. I had envisioned God utilizing our skills and understanding to be a help to some church. But that planned future was destroyed by my unexpected loss. As I talked with God about my heartache and the evaporation of my plans for my future, I realized that they were just that... MY plans. Though they were godly plans based on my desire to work in the kingdom, they didn't necessarily line up with God's perfect will for my life. So began the struggle of finding my place in the Kingdom of God. Without a doubt, I feel that God has placed a calling and ministry on me but what that calling is and what that ministry looks like... I do not know. As I have sought God's direction about this I have explained to Him that I have little to no skills, money or courage. Each day as I seek understanding about the direction he is leading me, he only shows me my next step. As I try to make goals for my life, he only reveals what I am supposed to do today. Unwilling to settle for just a glimpse of where God is taking me, I continued to plead my case for understanding of the calling, only to be anxious and frustrated some more. Some of the doors that God has opened up I do not even understand. The opportunities that He has placed in my path, I feel unqualified to accept. In fact, the very path I appear to be on, with His leading, is a path that I did not seek or expect. This path, these opportunities and the open doors still do not give me clarity to where God is leading me.

As I sit here at my desk pondering where I have come from and where I am going, I more fully realize that I do not need to take thought for tomorrow, for tomorrow will take thought for itself. I don't have to worry about what God's will is for next year, next month or even next week. The reason is because I only need to concern myself with being in God's will today. If each day I strive to be in the will of God, then next week, next month, next year... I will still be the will of God. I know this isn't rocket science but it did give me a certain peace and understanding. When I am willing and able to obey God's call today to minister to whichever soul God puts in my harvest field today then I am in His perfect will. Tomorrow, if I am willing to do that which he asks me to do then I will be in His perfect will. Yes, I would like to know where God is leading me. Yes, I would like to understand the calling and ministry that He is placing on my heart. But I do not need to know or to understand in order to obey Him today. No, I just need to listen and obey.

Monday, November 30, 2015

My Jubilee Year

Recently for many mornings I woke up with a prayer on my lips. Even before the fog of sleep had left my brain, I was praying for something very specific. The prayer has been for someone who has grown comfortable in their ability to make their own decisions and has wandered a bit from their relationship with God. Of course, they don't acknowledge that they wandered because they still attend church and know exactly what to say so that people think that they are still saved. But God knows the story of the heart. God knows exactly how far we have wandered and exactly what it takes to restore unto us His Salvation. Though I have been praying for their salvation for a while, I felt and was instructed to pray a specific way so that is what has been on my heart, mind and lips when I wake in the morning. One morning though something was different. I woke with a song on my heart and felt that spiritually something had shifted. I woke up with the lyrics, "Lift your voice its the year of Jubilee and out of Zion's hill salvation comes" from the Donnie McClurkin song "Days of Elijah." After feeling spiritually burdened for so long, I was puzzled. So while at work that day I prayed as I worked and thought about the song and asked God what He wanted me to understand.

"And ye shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof: it shall be a jubilee unto you; and ye shall return every man unto his possession, and ye shall return every man unto his family" Leviticus 25:10

The cares of life have stolen things from you through the years of living for God. Perhaps no longer do you feel passionate or excited about your walk with God, instead it has become routine and obligation. Don't get me wrong, you love God and would not turn away but the excitement of the First Love has faded. That enthusiasm that you felt when you first received the Holy Ghost has been watered down and now you just look forward to a good church service. You do want your family saved and living for God but you have been living the life in front of them for a lot of years so you have kind of given up hope and grown comfortable. Perhaps your marriage has been stolen by the enemy. Maybe you are still together but the love has faded and is just a shadow of its former self. Your children have turned away from the faith and your heart is broken but what can you do?  There are so many things that have been stolen from you over the years but you just put it down as "That's life" and kind of give up. The calling or ministry that you had felt, the door of opportunity just never opened so it now is just hidden away in the corner recesses of your heart. There are times when you look over your life and you wander how you ended up where you are, you are just trying to make it rather than making things happen.

I want to declare to you a Jubilee Year. A year that everything that was stolen, lost or sold is returned. Your passion and zeal for God, His Word and His Gospel shall be returned. You unsaved children and spouses will be restored. Your calling and ministry that has grown cold and ineffective shall be revived. Your love for God's Word and dedication to holiness shall be renewed. God has declared that THIS IS THE YEAR OF JUBILEE!!!  I will seek His face, follow His direction and lay claim to the ministry and calling the enemy tried to take. I will devote my heart to reaching those that are hurting and needing my Savior. I will allow God to use me to proclaim a Year of Jubilee to my harvest field. By the Word of God, I lay claim to everything that the enemy has taken or tried to take from me. My children, my joy, my ministry, my family, my health... God shall restore for this is: My Jubilee Year

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Knowledge Can Bring Weakness

God is our Provider!
God is our Healer!
God is our Restorer!
God is our Peace!
God is our Salvation!

I have noticed something about our faith. We are sure of God being everything that we need, whether it is our provider, healer or restorer, until we get knowledge. It seems that we are certain that God can heal blinded eyes until we learn from the doctor that we are losing our sight. We are certain that God provides for our needs until our car breaks down and we learn that it costs more than we have in our bank account. We believe that God can restore anything until our spouse leaves us, our children walk away or our friends abandon us. The thing is, God's ability, God's promises, God's strength did not change once we gained knowledge of the sickness, the bill, the loss. The only thing that changed is our knowledge about the situation. God's ability to heal blinded eyes hasn't changed since the creation of man. God's ability and desire to bring salvation hasn't changed since Adam and Eve chose to eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good & Evil. God's strength and ability to provide for our needs has been a constant since the dawn of time. The tiny fact that we gained knowledge does not at all impact God's ability or desire to show himself strong in our situation. Just like with Adam & Eve, sometimes knowledge can come between you and God because it detracts from your faith and causes you to waver in your understanding and belief in the magnitude of our Lord and Savior. When we gain knowledge of a situation, we must allow it to increase our faith in God's ability rather than allowing it to instill fear and anxiety in our hearts. 

"Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever."
Hebrews 13:8

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Making Room for God

I want to make room in my life for God. That may seem like an obvious statement but there are times when we fill our lives with so much stuff that we limit God's ability to use us in the way that He desires. When he doesn't answer in the time or in the way that we think He should then we puzzle about all the hows and whys. What we do not understand is that our own inability to let go of the stuff that we feel we must have hinders how and when God can use us. The hindrance is not because of God's inability to do the work but our inability to relent control of our stuff. 

There are so much stuff that we fill our lives with that there isn't any leeway for us to be available for God's work. We must have a certain type of car or house that keeps us obligated to work more than God wants us to work. We fill our hearts with desires that are smaller than what God wants for us thereby we limit His ability to give us from His abundance (I am not speaking of money here but it could be about money also). We crowd God out of our houses by filling them to the brim with stuff that only serves as a distraction and a hindrance to hearing the voice of God. We crowd God out of our minds when we become self-sufficient and self-reliant. We don't give God room to be our healer when we think to go to the doctor first and praying second rather than praying first. We do not give room for God to be our provider when we think to get a loan before we think of praying. We do not give room for God to be the lover of our souls when we seek to find fulfillment in the flesh first. 

When we give room for all the stuff, whether material possessions or emotional needs or even desires of our heart, we are crowding out the room and availability that God needs to do the work that He desires to do in our lives. When we give preference to a certain lifestyle, God can't send us on the mission field to minister to that one life that can impact 10,000 people in his community. When we make room for a house full of new furniture that we didn't need and that we have pay on credit and pick up a second job to pay for, we give up our availability to teach that one Bible Study that can change the life of a drug addict. When we give room and preference to the social aspects of church, we give up the intimacy of a relationship with God. It is impossible to make room for all our "stuff" and expect God to still utilize us in a powerful way. We cannot crowd out God and expect Him to force His way in. We cannot serve God and flesh.

Matthew 6:21-24
"For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is thee be darkness, how great is that darkness! No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mannon." 

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Hedging Your Bets

Hedge your bets: to protect yourself against loss by supporting more than one possible result or both sides in a competition. (According to the Cambridge Advanced Learner Dictionary)

Recently as I was taking a prayer walk and praying about a very big God-sized and God-given dream. A dream that is larger than anything I have ever dared to dream. This dream, when it comes to fruition, will be more wonderful than words can express. The thing about this dream is that it is impossible. There is nothing that I can say or do to cause my dream to happen. I cannot work towards it and cause it come to pass. I cannot earn it or buy it. There is absolutely nothing that I can do to cause my dream to be fulfilled. It all comes down to God. This dream is so big that only God can put all the pieces in place, to open the right doors, give favor and bring about change. Only God can do the impossible (Luke 18:27) During my prayer walk I told God, "this dream is something that only You can do. I do not have the ability to make any change that would cause this dream to become reality. I must leave this dream in your hands and allow you to do the work." It is a hard thing to allow control to slip from our grasp but as Psalms 46:10 says, "Be still, and know I am God."

Joseph also had a God-given and God-sized dream. He didn't know how it was going to fruition but I imagine that he didn't think that it would mean being sold into slavery and enduring prison. He held on to that dream through years of isolation from his family and his culture. But through each day, month, year that he endured the pain of rejection and isolation, he remained faithful to God, the dream giver. When he was betrayed by his brothers, he still held the dream. When he was lied about by Potiphar's wife, he remained faithful. When he was forgotten by the butler, he still served the dream giver. It didn't matter how hard or painful enduring the betrayal and rejection was, he had a dream and he wasn't letting go of it. Even in the face of impossibility, he judged God to be faithful. He didn't try to hedge his bets by betting on God fulfilling the dream and on God changing his mind. Joseph was all in. He believed the dream to be God-given when he first dreamed it and many years and many heart-aches later, he still believed.

That is the way we need to be with our faith in God and his miraculous power. We must believe without doubt and hold tight to the dreams that God has given us. Perhaps the dream that God has shown you is impossible and if you told anyone they would scoff at it. God didn't scoff when he gave you the dream. Perhaps the dream is so big it is almost to the point of ridiculous. God didn't think it was ridiculous when he showed you the work that he wanted to do. God created the world with His Word, why would he think a big dream is impossible? God robed himself in flesh and endured pain and death for our salvation, why do you think he would find the huge dream that he gave you ridiculous? You can be confident that God, which hath begun a good work in you will perform it. (Philippians 1:6) You do not have to speak softly of the dream or give God an "out" just in case He doesn't come through. You may have to endure some pain, heartache, rejection and betrayal but it is simply to get you at the right place at the right time.

When God gives us a huge dream, whether about our ministry, our family, our harvest field, or anything, believe like Joseph did - no hedged bets. 

Monday, November 2, 2015

Hand to the Plow

So you have bought your seed corn. You also still have your oxen and hand plow from the previous season. You have been praying earnestly for an abundant harvest but evidently God isn't going to grant it because your fields are still barren, with no growth. The problem isn't God but rather that you haven't taken the step of faith and planted the corn. 

Sometimes that is the way it is when we pray. We pray for God to bring a harvest of souls but we do no outreach. We pray for God to do a mighty work but we haven't trained our people how to do Bible Studies. We want God to do a big work but we don't want to put our hand to the plow. 

It is the same way in our personal lives. We pray for God to do things for us but we do not want to do the work until we see the results. Sometimes we have to take the step of faith and buy the luggage for that mission trip that God has called us on. Sometimes we have to buy the baby bed for the child God has promised. There are times we have to put our effort where our faith is. Just like the farmer having faith that God will multiply his harvest, he has to put his hand to the plow and plant the corn first. 

There is always work and sacrifice involved in every miracle. The four men who put their friend through the roof for Jesus to heal, had to first tear off the roof. The woman with the issue of blood had to crawl through the crowd people and be pushed and stepped upon to receive her miracle. The manna fell from heaven every day but the children of Israel still had to gather it each day in order to be fed. The woman and her son had to give their last loaf of bread to the prophet before God did the miracle of the unending flour and oil. What is it that God has promised you? Are you mentally and physically prepared to receive it? Are you waiting on the miracle before you prepare? Perhaps you need to put your hand to the plow and do what you are supposed to do and allow God to do what He is supposed to do. 

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Intimate Relationship

It is late and I know I should be going to sleep but something has been on my heart today that I feel I must share. This morning I saw a video of Sis. Vicki Gonzalez from Chicago speaking about prayer. It was only a seven minute video but I was so convicted that I couldn't finish it. I was convicted and ashamed of my selfishness. She was speaking about prayer and how God longs to commune with us but we tend to only go to Him when we have a problem or we need Him to fix something. He fixes our situations and answers our prayers all the while longing to have a true deep relationship with us.

Today as I thought about the few minutes that I listened to, I thought about how I try to talk with my mother, my children and several other loved ones on a regular basis. When we talk, it isn't about us needing something from the other, though sometimes that is the case. It is just about having that relationship with them. It is about sharing how it is going, telling of our plans and dreams. It is about asking how they are doing and really want to know. It is about the love we have for each other. I thought about how God does so much for us, yes, he helps us financially and/or physically but He does so much more that we do not even recognize.Every day He keeps the sun and moon perfectly balanced. Every dayy He waters the earth, causes plants to grow, and animals to multiply. He does all of these things for us but yet we only go to Him when our lights are about to be shut off and we have no money or we got a negative report from the doctor. Every day God is faithful in providing us with what we need but we still get busy with our own life (which He also provided) and happiness that we forget to build our relationship with Him.

My heart is just broken because I know that I have been guilty of this very thing. When life is tough, because of relationships, finances, health, etc., I am very strong in prayer, faith and reliance on God. When things are easy and God has blessed me with abundance, I get busy living and fail to truly grow my relationship with Him. I must keep my First Love fresh and new so that our relationship is always a joy for both me and God.

My belief is that God takes joy in being in an intimate relationship with us, let us take joy in the same thing.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Restored: Forgiveness

So you have wandered away from the safety of God's arms. You didn't mean to wander but you got busy, distracted or perhaps you just wanted to have a little fun. Now you look back and your soul craves the security and safety of dwelling in the palm of the hand of Jesus. As you stand there looking back desiring that which you gave up, intentionally or unintentionally, fear swamps you as the magnitude of your choice fills your mind. "How did I get here? It was good back there. I was happy. Sure I had problems, disagreements and struggles sometimes but I have problems, disagreements and struggles here too and I am not in the safe place of the will of God." Thoughts of regret and failure fill you and you become resigned to the life that you have chosen. You think, "how can I go back? I have wandered too far and made some incredibly harmful decisions. No one will have me now, I have burnt bridges and there is no way for me to return."

"For thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon thee." Psalm 86:5

"To the Lord our God belong mercies and forgivenesses, though we have rebelled against him:" Daniel 9:9

It does not matter how far you have wandered. It does not matter what you have done. It does not even matter why you have left the hand of God. All that matter is that you turn back to Him with your whole heart and humble yourself and repent. "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." I John 1:9 Truly that is all that it takes to get back into the safety and security of the hand of God. Our Father is standing, with stretched out hands willing you to return. He longs to wrap you once again in His arms and let you know that He loves you and has great plans for you. He wants you to know that He would go to the cross a thousand times if that is what it took to get you back in His arms where you belong. Sure there will be scars from your time that you wandered away. Of course, there will be a price to pay but when God fills you to over-flowing with His Spirit, no price is too great. When you return to Him, He truly does make all things new. He can restore marriages, relationships, ministries and honor; whatever it takes to make all things new. "And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful." Revelations 21:5

Come Home and all will be forgiven. Jesus loves you and will restore all that has been lost.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Restored: Vision

"Where there is no vision, the people perish:" Proverbs 29:18a

Have you gotten to the place that you hear so many voices and see so much that your hope has been depleted? You do not even know what you should hope for? You know what you desire to hope for but now you are wondering if it is God's will at all an perhaps your hope is misplaced. Do you find yourself wandering away in the spirit because your hope is not fixed and you seem to be unable to focus it?

Take a few minutes to settle back in your chair, close your eyes, and think of what God has already done for you. Has He redeemed you already? Has He helped you meet financial obligations? Has He healed you or a loved one already? There are many things that God has done for you and your family already, take a few minutes to take inventory of that faithfulness of God. Now take a few minutes to think about those things that He has promised you? Has He promised you restoration? Has He promised you salvation? Has He promised you joy? Has He promised you healing? Let the voices, faith and vision of His promises be louder and more vivid than the voices of defeat the the enemy throws at you. Tune into the vision of His promises, write them down and read them when the way seems dark. As the contrariness of reality seems to get louder, take time to refocus on the hope and the promises that God has given to you and the promises that He has already fulfilled.

"And the Lord answered me, and said, Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it. For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry." Habakkuk 2:2-3

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Restored: Relationship

This past Saturday I took my daughter to Chicago to spend the day. We seldom get to do anything together so it was a wonderful day. We did shopping at IKEA and as we headed down the escalator to leave I realized that I no longer had my phone. We stared at each other in horror. Rather I stared at her in horror, paralyzed by the thoughts of the cost, inconvenience and, most traumatic, the loss of phone numbers, apps, pictures, text messages and history. Long story short... my phone is gone. Whether it was misplaced, dropped or stolen, I do not know but it is gone. So now I have to go through the ordeal of getting it replaced - which due to my particular situation is not easy, convenient or comfortable (that is another devotional for another day). Hopefully sometime this week I will have a brand-new phone.

There are times when we become spiritually lost. We do not intentionally become lost but we get distracted by the cares and burdens of life or the blessings that come our way. Perhaps we become so busy that we are not prayed up and we don't get in God's Word as much as we used to so we become spiritually weak and unable to withstand the temptations that come our way.  We do love God and our desire is to serve Him but when we see how far we unintentionally strayed we become spiritually paralyzed and don't know what to do first. Then our pride kicks in and we start to justify our choices and decisions; all the while straying further and further from that which we know is right. Before long our pride has grown so big that we no longer see that we are lost and in need of a Savior. If we are not careful our pride can become so large that only God can humble us. Humbling ourselves is not easy, convenient and certainly not comfortable but it is through that humbleness that our relationship with God is made new. As we recognize that we have strayed and draw close to our Savior, he will welcome us and draw close to us. 

"But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded." James 4:6-8

Friday, October 9, 2015

Restored: First Love

"Every good gift and every perfect figt is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variablness, neither shadow of turning." James 1:17

I firmly believe that anything good is from God. Love comes from God. Faith comes from God. Hope comes from God. Anything that is pure, good, perfect and holy definitely comes from our Heavenly Father. "He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love." I John 4:8 "Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost." Romans 15:13

Sometimes we know we should feel a certain way but, regardless of the reason, we just don't. We know we should be forgiving but sometimes we aren't. We know we should love God's Word but sometimes we find it boring and a bit tedious. We know we should have faith but sometimes we don't. We try to love The Word and read it but it become so difficult to understand that we just give up. We say that we forgive and we don't bring it up but it is always right there under the surface creating a bit of bitterness and mistrust. Because we mentally know how a Christian should act, we can act the part and say the right words but our heart isn't really in it. Prayer is another area that we know we should be doing and faithful at but it is easier to talk to a human than it is God. We do talk to him, especially when we are in trouble, but we just don't have the time for exclusive one-on-one with Jesus on a daily basis.  He understands that we are really busy and don't have time - at least that is what we tell ourselves. Mentally we know we are not right and not living the way that God has called us to live but it is just easier to talk to and love those things that you can see and hear. Perhaps we feel a bit guilty that we don't love God quite as much as we love our children or our programs or our ministries but what can we do about it?

"Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks a fish, will he give him a serpent? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?" Matthew 7:7-11

I submit to you that all you have to do is ask God to put a love in your heart for Him and His Word. He wants us to ask him to pour forgiveness into our hearts. God desires that we ask him to fill us with His faith, His hope and His love. He is not going to ask us to do anything that He has not provided all that we need to be successful. In Deuteronomy 6:5 it says, "And thou shall love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might." If God is commanding us to love Him, He will give us the love we need to do that - Just Ask. There are some things that we just can't manufacture on our own, when that is the case, just ask the creator of all things to create in your heart a First Love experience with Him.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Restored: Strength

There are times that you feel battered by life. Just when you start to get up a wave surges forward and knocks you down again. Time after time you try to rise only to have yet another wave hit you, seeming bigger and with more force than the last. As you struggle, the pain, weariness and hopelessness comes to the forefront and causes you to want to say, "I give up. The waves are too hard and I can't seem to rise out of this, I might as well quit trying." Have you been there? Are you there now? It is difficult to fight back the waves of hopelessness causing you to wonder where God is in the midst of your trouble.

"The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever." Psalm 23

Restore in this particular instance means to refresh. Refresh, according to Merriam-Webster, means "to restore strength and to revive." When we accept our Lord Jesus Christ as our shepherd, not only does he provide for us but he  refreshes our strength. When we are too weak to even stand, God said that His strength is made perfect in weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). Life can come at you with such force that your strength and faith is drained, just lean into the Lord and allow Him to restore you. Restoration of all that was taken from you during this battle is available, all you have to do is ask Him. He is right here waiting to refresh your soul and give you a new season of strength.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Restored: Value

I recently listened to a sermon preached by Rev. Devin Akers. He had titled it the Profitable Prodigal. In the sermon he gave an illustration. He held up an $100 bill and asked what the value was and the response was obviously it is worth $100. He put it in his left hand and asked what the value was and it was still worth $100. Regardless of where he held the $100, the value did not change. Even if he lost the money, the value was consistent the only thing different was his ability to make use of its value. To me that was quite a revelation. He went on to say that many times when we see someone walk away from God, or even when we turn away, we feel that the value of that person is lost also.What kind of value would a person that has once known God but has turned way? The value of that soul is still there the only thing different is the ability to use the value.

"Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted." Galations 6:1

Restore in that verse means to thoroughly repair. How does one go about thoroughly repairing the soul of another person? We aren't God, we cannot do any miracles on our own power. It is through prayer, fervent prayer and fasting that we can restore such a one that has fallen away. Isaiah 58:12 says, speaking of fasting, "And they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places: thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in." When we offer the sacrifice of our time and energy into fasting and prayer, we can change the lives of a prodigal and the lives of their children and grandchildren. When we consider the value of the successive generations of a restored prodigal, it is immeasurable to the kingdom of God.

Do you know of a prodigal? Are you a prodigal? There is still value in that precious soul. Regardless of where sin has taken you, there is still value in your life. Just because someone has allowed sin to take them as far from God as is possible, do not write their value off. There isn't a sin too big for my Jesus to forgive and restore life. There isn't a life so torn apart that Jesus didn't die on a tree to redeem. I implore you to pray and fast for the prodigals in your harvest field. In doing so, you will be a restorer of paths to dwell in.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

His Word, His Will, His Way

" For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future" Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

This is one of my many favorite scriptures. It does indeed give hope of a bright future of being in the center of God's will. Being in God's will and following His plan for my life is my hearts desire. Sometimes His will is not always comfortable or easy but it is the place that I want to be... even when my heart of flesh is wanting comfort and ease.  I have found that through prayer, devotional time and the studying of God's Word, I am able to hear and understand His Will. Even when God speaks a Word to my heart, it will always be backed up by His written Word.

Though our hearts desire God's will and we start following it, there are times when God says, "hold on, we are going to do this MY way." Doing God's will in God's way can be one of the most difficult things. "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts." Isaiah 55:8-9 There are paths that God knows we must walk if we are going to live and thrive in His will. There are trials, pains and heartaches that must be endured and learned from for us to live fully in the calling that God has given us. Even when we do not understand how His Way is going to put us in His Will, we must trust Him. Trust God to know how to make a plan and execute it perfectly.

My desire is to know His Word, follow His Will and walk in His Way.

This is the conclusion of our His Word series. Starting on Monday we will be starting a new series on Restoration.

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Friday, October 2, 2015

His Word, His Time

"To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace." Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

Through this life we go through many seasons. Seasons of joy. Seasons of pain. Seasons of strength and seasons of weakness. During each season of our life it is a time of learning and growth, not just mentally and physically but especially spiritually. During the season of joy, did you learn to keep God first rather than His blessings? During the season of pain, did you learn to thank Him for the lesson and praise Him for His keeping power? During the season of strength, did you learn to help others up who are weak and struggling? During your season of weakness, did you learn to trust God's strength? Whatever season you are in right now, are you learning the lesson that God is desiring you to learn so that you will be prepared for the next season? 

Perhaps, like me, you are ready for this season of hard-work and change to end and the next joyful season to begin. But did I really learn this time what I was supposed to learn or will I have to go through this season yet again because I refused to be taught? Did I learn the difference in a time to speak and a time to keep silent? Did I learn the difference in a time to break down and a time to build up? Did I truly learn to allow God to work through me in His time and in His way? Though I am ready for this season to end and am anticipating the next season, I am so blessed that God loved me enough to give me of His time to bring about the changes He has made and helped me make in my life. The time that God spends molding me and making me into the woman that He needs me to be is more precious than silver or gold. God shows me every day just how much He loves me by spending time with me and holding my hand through each season of life. 

Thursday, October 1, 2015

His Word, My Lover

"I will extol thee, my God, O king; and I will bless thy name for ever and ever. Every day will I bless thee; and I will praise thy name for ever and ever. Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; and his greatness is unsearchable. One generation shall praise thy works to another , and shall declare thy mighty acts. I will speak of the glorious honour of thy majesty, and of thy wondrous works." Psalm 145:1-5

When I think of the Creator of the world and how this huge planet is merely his footstool, I am in awe of His greatness. His power and glory is more wonderful than words can describe. I think how big God is when I read the Bible and know of His mighty acts, the Exodus of His People from Egypt, Jonah in the belly of the fish, creation, the walls of Jericho and so many others. I praise Him and am in wonder knowing that with only His Word did all things come to be. But when I think of how this great big, powerful, mighty God cares about me, my heart thrills. Jesus cares enough about me to guide me each and every day to be the best person that I can be. Jesus loves me so intimately that he knows my hearts desires and thoughts. God loves me enough to be my lover, my therapist, my confidant and my very best friend. He listens to my cry and my laughter. He brings me the gift of joy and peace. Each day he guides me into His paths and I have learned that absolutely nothing is too small for God to care about. There are days when I am so tired that I do not want to get out of bed but he encourages me and reminds me of His goals for my life. When we are in communion and I am following hard after Him is when His love consumes me. His love and blessings overtakes me (Deut. 28:2). As I love Him, so He loves me and is found of me when I seek Him (Proverbs 8:17). His love for me covers all my sins (Proverbs 10:12). Jesus, my God and Savior, is truly the lover of my soul.

"The Lord hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have love thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee." Jeremiah 31:3

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

His Word, My Victory

With God on our side, is it possible for us to be defeated?  Even when the odds are stacked against us?  Do we trust him, even when it looks absolutely impossible?  When realty looks the opposite of what he has told us, can we still believe for him to work a miraculous change?

"And now ye think to withstand the kingdom of the Lord in the hand of the sons of David; and ye be a great multitude, and there are with you golden calves, which Jeroboam made you for gods. Have ye not cast out the priests of the Lord, the sons of Aaron, and the Levites, and have made you priests after the manner of the nations of other lands? so that whosoever cometh to consecrate himself with a young bullock and seven rams, the same may be a priest of them that are not gods. But as for us, the Lord is our God, and we have not forsaken him; and the priests, which minister unto the Lord, are the sons of Aaron, and the Levites wait upon their business: And they burn unto the Lord every morning and every evening burnt sacrifices and sweet incense: the shewbread also set they in order upon the pure table; and the candlestick of gold with the lamps thereof, to burn every evening: for we keep the charge of the Lord our God; but ye have forsaken him. And, behold, God himself is with us for our captain, and his priests with sounding trumpets to cry alarm against you. O children of Israel, fight ye not against the Lord God of your fathers; for ye shall not prosper." II Chronicles 13:8-12

Judah had 400,000 valiant men but Israel had 800,000 mighty warriors.  The king of Judah told the king of Israel - “hey, don’t mess with us because we have the Lord on our side.” (my wording)  Exactly like satan, the king of Israel didn’t listen.  In fact the men of Israel set up an ambush by surrounding King Abijah and the men of Judah.  So here they are surrounded and outmanned - it looked like sure defeat.  Has that ever happened to you?  Is it happening now?  So what did these valiant men do?  Before the battle cry went up, they cried to the Lord. (II Chronicles 13:14)  The Bible says “…as the men of Judah shouted, it came to pass, that God smote Jeroboam and all Israel before Abijah and Judah.”  That tells me that when our reality looks like sure defeat that we just need to cry to the Lord and he will fight the battle for us.  It doesn’t matter what happens today, we just have to continue to trust in the Lord for he is on the scene waiting for our cry and the perfect time.  We need to understand that sometimes God allows our reality to get to be absolutely impossible so when the miracle comes he is the one that gets the glory.

It would have been better for the men of Israel to acknowledge the power of God and not go to battle with Judah.  As such, anyone that is standing in the way of God fulfilling his promise to you will bow or be moved.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

His Word, My Death

"Now a certain man was sick, named Lazarus, of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha. (It was that Mary which anointed tthe Lord with ointment, and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.) Therefore the sisters sent unto him, saying, Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick." Luke 11:1-3

"When he heard therefore that he was sick, he abode two days still in the same place where he was." Luke 11:6

"Then when Jesus camee, he found that he had lain in the grave four days already." Luke 11:17

"Then when Mary was come where Jesus was, and saw hi, she fell down at his feet, saying unto him, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died." Luke 11:32

"Jesus said, Take ye away the stone. Martha, the sister of hi that was dead, saith unto him, Lord, by this time he stinketh:for he hath been dead four days. Jesus said unto her, Said I not unto you thee, that if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God? Then they took away the stone fro the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. And I knew that thou hearest me always:but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me. And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth. And he that was dead came forth," Luke 11:39-44a

Not only did Lazarus die but so did the hope of Mary and Martha. Once their brother had died, instead of requesting a miracle, they instead spoke of what could have been... if only Jesus would have shown up earlier. For them, and probably for Lazarus also, a healing was all that was required. This is such a familiar story to most of us but would we have heard about it if Jesus would have merely healed him like he did thousands of others?  Would we have miraculous hope if Jesus would have hastened to Lazarus and spoke the words of healing rather than words of resurrection?

I think that Lazarus and his sisters would have been among the countless others that were healed but are nameless in the Bible. There wouldn't have been skits and songs today if Jesus hadn't waited to go to them. Sometimes God waits until our hope has died and we are left with just the ashes of what could have been. His desire isn't to punish us but to strengthen our foundation of faith and give us a testamony that will benefit the kingdom of Heaven. So when your situation looks impossible and your hope is taking its last breath, take joy in knowing that this is exactly where Martha and Mary found themselves. It took the death of their brother and the death of their hope for Jesus to do more than the ordinary. It took the situation being impossible for God to do the extraordinary. "For with God nothing shall be impossible." Luke 1:37

Monday, September 28, 2015

His Word, My Wait

"Why sayest though, O Jacob, and speakest, O Israel, My way is hid from the Lord, and my judgment is passed over from my God? Hast thou not known? has thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the eart, faintet not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding. He giveth power to the faint and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles: they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint." Isaiah 40:27-31

There are times when we are going through struggles in this life and we wonder if God even knows the pain that we are suffering. We are mistreated or cast aside and we cry out to God asking if he sees what the enemy of our soul is doing to our lives and families. When we are so weary of the struggle that we do not think we can take another step or even lift our head, our heart wonders if God even cares. In that moment of despair and weakness, we must simply wait on God. It may seem a bit contrary but weariess is not in the waiting but in the battle of trying to do it on your own or in trying to "help" God.  "Say not thou, I will recompense evil; but wait on the Lord, and he shall save thee." Proverbs 20:22  Though we have been hurt, betrayed or misused, just wait upon the Lord and he will bring you out. Scripture after scripture tells us to just simply wait upon the Lord and he will provide strength, salvation and abundant blessing. 

"Wait on the Lord, and keep his way, and he shall exat thee to inherit the land: when the wicked are cut off, thou shalt see it." Psalm 37:34     

"For evildoers shall be cut off: but those that wait upon the Lord, they shall inherit the earth." Psalm 37:9 

"Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord." Psalm 27:14

Today I want to encourage you to just wait on the Lord and allow him to do the heavy lifting while you gain your strength.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

His Word, My Cry

"Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not." Jeremiah 33:3

What a powerful and wonderful promise God gives in Jeremiah 33:3. Call unto me and I WILL answer thee. He didn't say that you might answer, he will think about answering but rather that he WILL answer. David tells us in 2 Samuel 22:7 "In my distress I call upon the Lord and cried to my God: and he did hear my voice out of his temple, and my cry did enter his ears." Over and over in the Word do we hear that God hears our cry. "He will fulfil the desire of them that fear him: he also will hear their cry, and will save them." Psalm 145:19 This continues in the New Testament also with Jesus responding to those that cried out to him. "And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out, and say, Jesus, thou son of David, have mercy on me. And many charged him that he should hold his peace: but he cried the more a great deal, Thou son of David, have mercy on me. And Jesus stood still, and commanded him to be called. And they call the blind man, saying unto him, Be of good comfort, rise; he calleth thee. And he, casting away his garment, rose, and came to Jesus. And Jesus answered and said unto him, What wilt thou that should do unto thee? The blind man said unto him, Lord, that I might receive my sight. And Jesus said unto him, Go thy way; thy faith hath made thee whole. And immediately he received his sight, and followed Jesus in the way." Mark 10:47-52 Sometimes we, like blind Bartimaeus, have to cry out a great deal more but take comfort in knowing that he will stand still and address your need. So keep crying out to the Lord. Keep making your voice heard on high. Keep taking your petitions to the throne of grace. Your cry has entered the ears of Jesus.

This is another thought inspired the Word as preached by Bro. Phillips. (First Church in Cookeville, TN puts their sermons on podcasts so you can download and listen to them any time. Please feel free to check them out for your supplimental spiritual food. If you live or visit in the Cookeville area, I highly recommend that you visit them, you will not be disappointed.  First Church Podomatic

Thursday, September 24, 2015

His Word, My Memorial & Trial

"There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of the band call the Italian band, a devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God always. He saw in a vision evidently about the ninth hour of the day an angel of God coming in to him and saying unto him, Cornelius. And when he looked on him, he was afraid, and said, what is it Lord? And he said unto him, Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God." Act 10:1-4

Memorial: Something that keeps remembrance alive

Have you ever prayed something and then the moment of stress or heartache leaves, though the answer to your prayer did not come, you forgot what you prayed? Have you prayed fervently and continuously for something and seemingly instead of getting the answer you get a trial in your life. Have you prayed for years without seeing the fruits of your prayers?

We have all been there. We have all forgotten some of the prayers that we have prayed. But I want to assure you that God heard and remembers that prayer. Maybe your prayer is a regular prayer and you have not forgotten it but it seems that God has, rest assure that not only has God heard but holds that prayer as a memorial so it is always alive. I know that I have prayed and prayed about things and instead of receiving what I prayed, I have received what seems a trial. There are times when I struggle with it because I feel unheard but God tells me the trial must be in order for me to be prepared to receive the answer. Sometimes our vessel is marred or unable to hold or sustain the answer to our prayer. Instead of God forgetting about the prayers, He allows us to go through hard times so that our vessel is made anew and suitable for the answer. Perhaps if you are a man and praying for God to bring you a wife, you must go through trials that will bring you closer to God so that you can be the leader of your home. Without that trial, your answer cannot come. Perhaps you are praying for financial blessing but instead you find yourself short of funds. In order to handle much, we must be good stewards of little. So each time you find yourself in a trial instead of receiving your answer remember that God is merely preparing you to receive and sustain the answer.

Trust him to bring the answer at the right time and in the right way.

His Word, My Remembrance

"But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you." John 14:26

When I was 5 or so my mother went back to school and became a nurse. She was a wife, mother of 7 children and carried a full load at school (she may have worked also, I don't remember). She studied and did all she could to do her best but with all of her responsibilities, I am certain she felt stressed and perhaps a bit under-prepared. Time and time again I heard her quote this scripture. She always added the qualifier that we had to put it in our mind in order for it to be brought to our remembrance. Her stand was that God will not bring to remembrance what we didn't put there in the first place.

As a child, my parents were very faithful to church and when in Sunday School we learned many, many memory verses. I also belonged to Awanas and learned hundreds of verses over the course of years. Through Bible reading, church, Sunday School and Awanas I have been very blessed to be thoroghly exposed to the Word of God. I find that God brings His Word to my remembrance just when I need it; sometimes before I need it so I will be prepared and not overwhelmed. Today was no different.

Today was a banner day. It was a day of devastation and hope. Earlier in the day God brought a scripture to my remembrance. At the time I thought perhaps he brought it to mind for me to write about it because it is a wonderful verse. As my day progressed I received some heart-breaking news and was momentarily knocked off my feet until God brought His Word to my remembrance. As I had my sister read it to me, I realized how powerful and faithful God's Word is. It was in that few moments that God showed me that he had already gave me a word to help me through the trial. It doesn't matter what you are going through, God has the right word for you. "Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." 2 Timothy 2:15 It is through studying, reading and memorizing God's Word that we find strength (Psalm 119:), wisdom (Colossians 3:16), faith (Romans 10:17), salvation (Psalm 119:41). His Word is limitless in its application to our situations.

I am so thankful for the faithfulness of my parents and also for God putting a love of His Word in my heart. For I know "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works." 2 Timothy 3:16

Saturday, September 19, 2015

His Word, My Prison

While I was taking my end of year tour of rebellion several years ago, God very clearly spoke to me about that which I was rebelling against. I took the extended trip, not necessarily to visit all those that I visited or to see all those things which I saw, but it was more because I was seeking to avoid being where I didn’t want to be. I have prayed earnestly and sincerely that God would place me perfectly in the center of his will. There are times that I find the perfect, center of his will is not to my liking, it is not comfortable and it goes against my human nature so I have sought equally earnestly and equally sincerely that the perfect, center of God’s will would be somewhere else, doing something different. God hasn’t yet caved to my whining and raging but has shown me his will and gave me the choice to be in it or out of it.

In the final days of this long trip, as I was listening to the Bible on CD, I quite randomly put in Jeremiah 29. As I heard the first few verses, I was eagerly anticipating verse 11 because it is such a faith and confidence builder. But as the reader went on, God brought to my attention verses 4-14, specifically 4-7.

Jeremiah 29:4-14
4.Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, unto all that are carried away captives, whom I have caused to be carried away from Jerusalem unto Babylon.
5.Build ye houses, and dwell in them; and plant gardens, and eat the fruit of them;
6.Take ye wives, and beget sons and daughters; and take wives for your sons, and give your daughters to husbands, that they may bear sons and daughters; that ye may be increased there, and not diminished.
7.And seek the peace of the city whither I have caused you to be carried away captives, and pray unto the Lord for it: for in the peace thereof shall ye have peace.
8.For thus saith the Lord of hosts, and the God of Israel; Let not your prophets and your diviners, that be in the midst of you, deceive you, neither hearken to your dreams which ye cause to be dreamed.
9.For they prophecy falsely unto you in my name: I have not sent them, saith the Lord.
10.For thus saith the Lord, That after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place.
11.For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.
12.Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken to you.
13.And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.
14.And I will be found of you, saith the Lord: and I will turn away your captivity, and I will gather you from all the nations, and from all the places whither I have driven you, saith the Lord; and I will bring you again into the place whence I caused you to be carried away captive.

So many times we long to hear a sermon, words of encouragement, devotions telling us that God is going to set us free of the prison in which we find ourselves. We dig for scriptures that tell us that we are victorious, we have liberty and everything is going to be easier. But sometimes, it is perfectly in the center of God’s will for us to be led captive. Sometimes we must stay some places that are hard, uncomfortable, painful, frustrating, etc. because that is the place God called us to be. When we are in this place of captivity, we cry out with frustration because we do not see our talents being used, we feel cast aside, rejected, and our ministries seeming to go stagnant. Our flesh and perhaps our burning passion of our ministry calls out to God to set us free to be in a place where we can be utilized, someplace where our ministries can thrive and grow. But instead he tells us to stay in this frustrating prison and not just stay but to thrive and grow so that you will be “increased and not diminished.” Joseph was a perfect example of this. He was a much loved son of his father but that love and his God given dreams caused his brothers to hate him. Through each of the bouts of captivity and prisons in which Joseph found himself, he stayed true to God and he thrived and increased. Nowhere in the Bible do we read how he sat down in the dirt and lamented his prison or captivity and refused to do that which he was called to do in the moment. It was through this life of captivity, through the life of bondage, that he was able to save his family from sure death.

Do you find yourself in a place that your ministry is under-utilized? Do you find yourself in a prison where you are spiritually being undernourished? As much as you dislike where you are, do you know without a doubt that God has put you there? Then don’t give up. Ask God how you can increase and not diminish during this season of captivity. Ask God to show you what he would have you do during this time. Just hold on, after this season God will turn away your captivity and will hearken unto you when you call Him. It could be that through your frustrating season that your loved ones are saved or revived. It could be through this period of captivity that God is able to use you in ways He couldn't if you were elsewhere. So rejoice in your prison and pray for the peace of your city.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

His Word, My Beloved

"I am my beloved's, and his desire is towards me." Song of Solomon 7:10

Today I just want to share a few testimonies about Jesus' love towards me.

When Michael was just a baby I was living in North Carolina. In one of the bedrooms of the place I was staying there wasn't a closet. I desperately needed a closet. I prayed about it and believed that God would provide. One day as I was coming home from town I noticed that some people were putting things out by the road so I slowed down. Right there was a solid wood dresser with a closet on one side. It was perfect for a baby's room as it would only hold baby hangers. Michael still has this dresser and I still see it as tangible evidence of God's desire towards me.

Several years ago I desired a spring coat. It wasn't necessary or needful but I desired it. I had a particular style in mind but I hadn't seen one in the store like it. A few days later I went to a thrift store and the first thing I see is a cream colored, London Fog spring coat in my size. I guess I shouldn't have been surprised but I was. It is now, as Sis. Melton calls it, my "Jesus Love Me Coat." I didn't pray about it but he gave me my desire anyway because He really does love me.

Back in 2011 my little Neon had just rolled over 200,000 miles and I was always having to rent cars to go out of town. I felt God told me to go to Newfoundland but without a reliable car it just wasn't doable. Not only did God provide the money for me to pay cash for the car, He brought me a car that has surpassed all my expectations. When I look at that car, I only see how Jesus loves me enough to give me more than I require.

These are just three tangible items that demonstrates how God's desire is really towards me. He provides for my needs. He provides for my desires. He exceeds my expectations. My beloved, Jesus, really and truly loves me.

Jesus isn't just my beloved but He can be yours also. "Delight thyself also in the Lord; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart." Psalm 37:4 When we make Him our beloved, He will make us His.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

His Word, My Weakness

"And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me." 2 Corinthians 12:7-9

I do not know how many times I have prayed for strength during a particular hard time. I don't know how many times I have had a financial struggle and felt there was no way out. There have been countless times I have felt my back against the wall and not knowing what to do or even how to get there if I did know what to do. Time after time God has shown himself to be strong and faithful in my weakness. When my faith is weak, God gave me the extra measure needed for that season. When our hope is deferred, He gives us the tree of life. (Proverbs 13:12) When joy is absent, he restores it with his salvation. (Psalm 51:12) Regardless of the weakness that we may be going through, spiritual, physical, emotional or mental, God is there to show himself strong. Just search his word and claim his promises of strength.

Monday, September 14, 2015

His Word, My Bookcover

"And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you. And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty." 2 Corinthians 6:16-18

One of the things that I do enjoy about where I work is the multi-culturalness (is that a word?) of the employees on my shift. There are people from Laos, Thailand, Burma, Kenya, Ghana, Malowi, Venezuela, Mexico, Korea and probably other places that I am not aware. It is kind of neat to talk with them about their culture and how they came to be in the USA. Since changing departments, I am now working with a man from Ghana. I have spoke with him occassionally before as I sponsor a child in Ghana and wanted to know what the culture was like. Today as I was inspecting the parts in his cell, he asked me what country I was from. I must admit I was puzzled because I thought it would be fairly obvious that I am from HERE. I told him that I was from here but my heritage is mostly German and a little English. His response took me a bit by surprise. He said that I was different than most Americans that he had met. He said that I acted and looked different and my manners were different than others. Not really understanding where he was going with this conversation, I told him that I was a Christian and I believed that we needed to be identified as such. As we talked about church and our witness to those around us, he said that people are always watching us - good or bad, they notice it all. When he said that I was reminded of the times that we have been told that sometimes we are the only Bible that some people will ever read. That is a serious statement. The first question is: Can others identify us as a Bible? Does our cover say Holy? What does our bookcover look like? Does our cover adequately show the beauty and power of the Word that we have hidden in our hearts? Does our book cover express the Grace and Mercy of Jesus? Perhaps our cover gotten covered with stains of self, vanity and ego? Is our cover trendy and current with the latest fashions but not rooted in modesty and holiness? Does our cover identify us as a child of the King? Does our cover cause others to want to know more about our Jesus?

My desire is that the bookcover of my life shows the love of Jesus to all that reads it.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

His Word, My 62.5%

"Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ." Philippians 1:6

I am a starter of projects. I have a mostly completed baby quilt in a drawer in my sewing room. I have scrapbooks of trips and special events started but not quite finished. Several years ago my sisters started getting together once a year. I started each of them a little album of that first "Sisters' Weekend" but they are still in boxes and incomplete. My living room has not had the walls over the stairs painted because I didn't quite find the time and the tools to span the stairs. The sheer volume of unfinished projects is overwhelming and I feel it is probably best to not discourage myself by listing them all. Let us just agree that there are a multitude of projects and tasks that have been started to some degree but remain unfinished. Sometimes the reason for the incompletion is lack of talent,skill or know how. I am not very good with power tools, especially saws. Some of my unfinished projects are due to the lack of the proper tools to finish or the lack of physical strength or manpower. I would like to claim that the lack of time is sometimes the reason but we have time for what we want to have time for so I obviously have chosen to prioritize my time differently. Lack of motivation or an abundance of discouragement are probably the two biggest reasons for my unfinished projects. Most of the time I get to a point and I say, "Good Enough" and that is where the project stops.

This Sunday night as I sit here thinking of all my unfinished projects, I could become a bit overwhelmed. You see, several weeks ago God told me to deal with my issues. He told me what they were a long time ago and I had started working on them but didn't quite finish. This time He didn't let me off the hook, He said "Do It" and I knew He meant business. We are now several weeks into the "Deal With Your Issues" phase and I have found myself growing more discouraged at the volume of issues. To be fair, I have worked really hard and have made great progress on what God told me to deal with but there is still more changing that needs done. I still struggle with the holiness of the heart. I still struggle with keeping a right attitude. I still struggle with living a life decluttered of distractions so that people can see Jesus in me. This is the normally the place in my projects that I say "good enough" and stop but God isn't letting it go that way this time. He gave me a promise. He told me that if I deal with my issues and become the woman that He wants me to become then He will deal with those things over which I have no control. God isn't going to be content with me being only 62.5% changed. All of my issues need to be dealt with and changed not just the majority. I wouldn't want God to only give me 62.5% or the majority of my blessing, how can I give him less? So I will put away the computer, put away the distractions and focus on what God has required of me.

"Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised)." Hebrews 10:23

His Word, My Faith

"But without Faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him." Hebrews 11:6

Most of us desire to please God but we try to live with weakened faith. Weak or non-existent faith is not pleasing to God, according to the verse in Hebrews. It is God's desire that we walk in faith and that our faith is powerful enough to move mountains. But how do we grow our faith? How do we get our faith strong enough to believe for a miracle, whether physical, financial, spiritual or emotional? In Romans 10:17 it says, "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." If we truly want to grow in faith and to have the signs following us (Mark 16:17-18) then we must emmerse ourselves in the Word of God. As with our salvation, we must take ownership of our faith. We must take the time to pray and study the Word of God. Due to all of the technology available to us, we are able to fill our hearts and minds with the preached Word of God. It is through this devoted effort that we will build our faith. Strong faith does not happen by accident but through the written and spoken Word of God.

It is very apparent that the world is getting more wicked and it appears that there is an assault on Christianity. It will be vitally important that we are strong in our faith and know what we believe, why we believe it and personally know Jesus that gave us our faith. We cannot rely on just going to church to give us the depth of the Word that will be required as our world gets worse and worse. Having a healthy, strong relationship with the church is great and needful but if the church were to be disbanded today, do you have the relationship with your Lord and Savior that will keep your faith intact? Do you have enough knowledge of the Word that you can, not only sustain but, grow your faith? If you rely on your Sunday service only to get your through the week, you are missing out on the beauty of an intimate relationship with God. I love worshiping with other believers. The preached Word of God is satisfying to my soul. But it is the quiet times of prayer and devotion that I hear God speak to me, lead me and direct my path. When it is just me and God is where the depth of my relationship and faith exists.

His Word, My Waves

Today there was a weather alert for Lake Michigan. It was a beach hazard warning as September is the start of "Wave Season" on the lake. Colder denser air digs into the summer warmed, less dense waters causing large and rapid wave development. They tell people not to get in the water as the powerful rip currents can pull you out into the water. It is a powerful phenomenon that is impressive to watch.

"The Lord reigneth, he is clothed with majesty; the Lord is clothed with strength, wherewith he hath girded himself: the world also is stabilished, that it cannot be moved. Thy throne is estabished of old: thou art from everlasting. The floods have lifted up, O Lord, the floods have lifted up their voice; the floods lift up their waves. The Lord on high is mightier than the noise of many waters, yea, than the mighty waves of the sea.Thy testimonies are very sure: holiness becometh thine house, O Lord, for ever." Psalm 93:1-5

When we see the power of nature, whether in "wave season" or during a storm, to think that God is even mightier than that is pretty awesome. The depths and breadth of the oceans cannot contain his majesty or holiness. Regardless of where we look in His creation to find something to compare to our God, everything will fall vastly short. No matter how beautiful, how incredible, how awesome or how powerful nature appears; God is more. There just isn't anyway that we can wrap our minds around the magnitude of the wonder of our Lord and Savior. When I think about the problems/concerns that I have and how I feel that they are so large and impossible, to God they are merely small things. These things are important to Him because they are important to me but when compared to His ability, these problems are tiny. When the impossible comes, God is bigger. When temptation comes, God is mightier. When money is short, God is richer. When health is poor, God is stronger. It doesn't matter what problem or issue comes our way, God is more than able to take care of it.

"The Lord on high is mightier than the noise of many waters, yea, than the mighty waves of the sea."

Friday, September 11, 2015

His Word, My Doubts

"For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith." Mark 11:23

When I see the color blue, I do not doubt that it is blue. In fact, I am confident that it is blue. When I see a tree, I do not question whether it is a tree. As I drive through the mountains, I do not have to agonize over whether they are mountains or not because I KNOW, without a doubt that they are indeed mountains. When I feel the presence of the Lord, I do not question or wonder if it is His presence, I just KNOW. These are just a few of the thousands, maybe millions, of things I KNOW. I have no doubt regarding these things that I KNOW. I do not second guess these things or analyze them or become tormented over my knowledge/understanding of them.

God speaks to us and gives us promises. In His Word there are many, many promises that are ours to claim. He speaks a word of peace to our worried mind. He gives a word of comfort for our grief. Time after time God tells us that He has everything under control and all things will work for the good. And we believe Him because we KNOW He is faithful and cannot lie. When he speaks to our heart, we just KNOW and trust.

But then in the darkest moments before the dawn, when it seems that night will not end, doubt sneaks in. In the lowest times, just before the miracle, just before deliverance, just before salvation... doubt tickles at the fringes of your heart and mind. Doubt doesn't normally come in as a flood, just a small trickle to cause your faith to waver a little. Just enough for you to start questioning, until you question everything.

It is in that moment of questioning, that moment of doubting that you have to stop and get back to the foundation of your faith. You must return to that which you KNOW! I KNOW that God said this, it doesn't matter how I feel or how reality looks. I KNOW what God said and he does not lie. With the knowledge of what God has spoken, I can have the faith of a mustard seed and yet move mountains.

The past couple of days I have been having a mini pity party. I am sure no one else has those types of parties but I was. Doubt starting tickling the edges of my mind so all I could see was my short-comings and the impossible. It didn't take too long before my heart and mind was consumed with doubt. Then I received a text message asking me how I was doing. Being a person of faith is my heart beat so I replied that even though I felt one way, I KNOW God to be in control. Beng confident, and doubting nothing, I KNOW what God said. I do not need to question His Words or his faithfulness. In speaking in faith of what I KNOW I was able to push doubt right out of my heart and mind. So when doubt starts causing your faith to waver, speak of that which you KNOW. Speak of God's faithfulness. Speak of God's mercy. Speak of God's grace. Doubt does not have a chance against you when you stand fast on that which you KNOW.

"By this I know that thou favourest me, because mine enemy doth not triumph over me." Psalm 41:11

Thursday, September 10, 2015

His Word, My Seeking

"Ask, and it shall be given you: seek, and ye shall find: knock, and it shall be opened unto you: for every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened." Matthew 7:7-8

Seek:to search for someone or something, to try to find someone or something. (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)

By definition, seeking is more than a casual glance about. Seeking involves effort and perhaps a bit of sacrifice. Seeking brings to mind the parables in Luke 15, Jesus tells of a man that had an hundred sheep and lost one and left the 99 to search until he found the one that was lost. He also speaks of the woman which had 10 coins and lost just one and lit a candle, swept the entire house and sought diligently until she had found it. Seeking takes a purposeful effort to find something or someone. It is more than an half hearted attempt.

Seek and ye shall find. That is what the Word of God says but what should we be seeking? Seeking good fortune? Seeking a new job? Seeking a new home or a new car? Perhpas but Matthew 6:33 says, "But seek ye first the kindom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." Seek FIRST the kingdom of God. It does not tell us to accept the kingdom of God if we happen to find it in our search for other things. The Word says to seek it first. Seeking the kingdom of God is not going to happen by accident. It isn't going to be forced upon you but instead will require effort and sacrifice on your part. Seeking the kingdom will involve prayer, hiding the Word in our hearts and following God's will for our life. The great thing is that when we seek, we will find (Matthew 7:7). If we put forth the effort to seek the kingdom of God, we will surely find it. When we diligently search for the righteousness of God, we are assured that it will be found of us. It is after seeking the kingdom FIRST, that all the other things we could be seeking for will be added to us.

"Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, and taht seek him with the whole heart." Psalm 119:2

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

His Word, My Reality

My reality today is: though I dearly love my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, I get distracted and busy. Life right now is committed more than I like to a job. I go months at a time working 7 days a week and many times 12 hours a day with almost an hour commute each way. It is not something I enjoy but this is where I find myself. Thus I find myself unable to go to church as much as I would like or need. One of my daughters live over 7 hours away, with my sweet grandbaby. My son has joined the Marines and my other daughter and numerous nieces and nephews have chosen to not serve my Jesus. My brother has been sick for several years. These are just a few things that make up my reality today. But today's reality is not a predictor of tomorrow's reality when we allow God to be in control of tommorrow. Though our reality may cause us to think that it is impossible for our tomorrow to be different, with God all things are possible. "For with God nothing shall be impossible." Luke 1:37 "And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible." Mark 10:27

Regardless of my reality today, I believe that my tomorrow will be different. Tommorrow I believe that God will minister to my children and pour a love in their hearts for Him and His Word. Tomorrow God will open doors for employment that will provide for my financial, mental and emotional needs, while allowing me to worship with other believers. Tomorrow God will mend what is broken and make it anew. Tomorrow God will heal my brother. Tomorrow God will touch my nieces and nephews that have walked away from Him. Tomorrow God will give me direction and purpose. Each of these things (and many other things) look impossible and I have no ability to change any of them but with God tomorrow will hold a different realtiy.

What does your reality look like today? Are there things with which you struggle? Sickness? Unemployment? Loneliness? Depression? Today's reality may be grim but, with God, tomorrow will be different. "And he said, the things which are impossible with men are possible with God." Luke 18:27

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

His Word, My Resignation

Have you or a loved one become resigned with your health, with your situation, with your job, with your relationship? You feel perhaps that it is your thorn in your flesh and you will just have to live with it. Perhaps your spouse is leaving and you realize that there is nothing that you can do about it so you become resigned to the inevitable. It could be that sickness or pain has taken over your body and as it isn't a sickness to death, you just resign yourself to a lifetime of pain. Perhaps you need deliverance from an addiction or habit and no amount of will-power or rehab has helped. Regardless of your situation, you do not have to be resigned to the natural inevitable because when God is in it, IT IS NOT OVER!!!

Do you need deliverance? "And call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee." Psalm 50:15 and "Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:" Philippians 1:6

Do you need healing? "O Lord my God, I cried unto thee, and thou has healed me." Psalm 30:2 and "But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him: and with his stripes we are healed." Isaiah 53:5

I know there are times when I KNOW that God has made a promise to me but it seems so impossibly ridiculous that I believe yet become resigned to my situation. It isn't as if I quit believing what God said, but rather I become comfortable with how the situation will be if God doesn't come through. My daughter has a way of calling me out on my lack of faith or becoming resigned to what in the natural seems inevitable. Yesterday as we spent the day together she reminded me of the times that I had prepared for the promise of God even when the situation looked completely impossible. She asked me why God's promises would be any different this time. If God is in your situation, and it is up to you to bring him into it, it is not over. You do not have to be resigned, "Let him ask in faith, nothing wavering." James 1:6a "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findethh; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened." Matthew 7:7-8

Sunday, September 6, 2015

His Word, My Trouble

"Call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me." Psalm 50:15

Today we had our family reunion which was decades in waiting. Of course all this family togetherness made me miss my grandmother. I do have a few momentos from her house but there are a few things that meant a lot to me that went to other children or grandchildren so I have replaced it with duplicates. One of the items that reminds me so strongly of my grandmothers is the Daily Bread Promise cards. I found one at the Family Christian Store and just had to buy it. Tonight after being with the family, I pulled a card and it was a promise of God delivering me in the day of trouble.

I don't know about you but I have had my share of "days of trouble." Whether it is a rough day a work, a friend being injured or sick, a broken relationship, children causing stress or financial stuggles, I have had those days of trouble. It seems that just when things get a bit comfortable and I feel that I can let down my guard is when those troubles hit me. I hate to admit this but I seem to be at my best when I am beseiged with troubles on all sides. When my back is against the wall and I can't see how anything can be made anew is when my faith and trust in God is at the peak. It seems that during times of great duress is when He floods my heart and mind with peace, joy and a faith that puts me in awe. When control is ripped out of your hands and your only hope for spiritual survival is through God, it is at that time that you need to call on Jesus and, as he promised in Psalm 50:15, he will deliver you. My promise card ended at that point - "Call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee" - but there is a bit more to that verse. That verse ends with a commmand - "And thou shalt glorify me." A command isn't something to take lightly, when that promised deliverance comes (or even before it comes) we should glorify the God of our salvation. I think that is the key to our deliverance. Thoughout the Bible we see many examples of the teaching people to praise God even when trials come, even when storms blow. When we cannot see our way for the darkness and storms, we still must trust God and glorify him for his mighty works. We cannot stand idle, even when we can just stand. We MUST glorify God.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

His Word, My Secret

For several months there was a song on my mind that I could not remember the name or even the words, though I knew that it spoke directly about my spiritual and heart condition. One day at work I remembered it and it was the song written by Lanny Wolfe called, Jesus be the Lord of All.

Jesus Be Lord of All
In my heart are kingdoms of a world that's all my own
Kingdoms that are only seen by muself and God alone
In the past when I tried to ruler my world
It just seemed to fall apart
So Jesus be the Lord of all the kingdoms of my heart

Jesus be the Lord of all, Jesus be Lord of all
Jesus be the Lord of all the kingdoms of my heart

I guess I only fooled myself for I said I'd yielded all
But in a secret corner of my heart was a kingdom that did not fall
I surrender now, make my heart Your throne
Lord rule its kingdoms, great and small
For if You're not Lord of everything then You're not Lord at all

There are/were things in my life and heart that I just pretended weren't there or that they weren't really problems. I tried to work on being the better person that I knew God was calling me to be but pretended that I wasn't holding on to the ugliness that I hid in my heart. I acted like I didn't have a problem with intolerance because I would just avoid people that I knew were going to annoy me. Do I have a problem with forgiveness? I would say no and use the old saying, "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me." I would tell you that I wasn't unforgiving but rather self-preserving. The secret kingdoms weren't just heart issues. There were kingdoms in the physical that I just could not bring myself to surrender. Even as I would know that God sees and knows everything about us, I couldn't truly surrender and say, "God, I need your help to overcome this. I know that this not pleasing to you and does not display your character. Please show me how to be the person that you need me to be - in word and in deed." These kingdoms weren't so much secret as a thing that just wasn't talked about. That night as God poured the words of this song into my heart and mind, I knew without a doubt that God was telling me that I had to surrender all of me. Not just the good parts and not just the bad parts but everything - even the secret parts.

"For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil." Ecclesiastes 12:14

"Shall not God search this out? for he knoweth the secrets of the heart." Psalm 44:21

It isn't an easy process exposing those secret places to the Holy God but He knew already and simply desired I be open and honest with Him. It is in that surrendering of those hidden kingdoms that he has helped me to start the overcoming process. My prayer today is: "Who can understand his errors? Cleanse thou me from my secret faults." Psalm 19:21

Friday, September 4, 2015

His Word, My Newness

"And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold I make all things new, and he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful." Revelation 21:5

Have you ever gone through a trial, or perhaps you are in one right now, in which it looks like all hope is lost? There is just no way that restoration, redemption or healing can happen in your situation. Even if God does the healing or the restoration, it looks impossible that the scars (physical or emotional) will ever fade and things be as good as they were before.

One thing that I have learned about God is that he does all things well. He doesn't rush through the process and leave things to chance. When he created the heavens and the earth, he didn't just throw them out there but had a precise plan for distance, gravitational pull, heat, coolness, light and darkness. With his understanding and wisdom, the right amount of water, land, minerals and plants were perfectly created to sustain the life he was preparing. Thousands of years later, we are still drinking the same water and breathing the same air. God's creation is awesome but even more wonderful is the love and care God put into creation.

If God cares enough to create a new beginning for a big ball of dirt (the earth), how much more does he care about your new beginning? I was speaking with someone tonight and they were telling me about a married couple who had split up and the wife moved in someone else. It appeared that all was lost but God had other plans. After many months/years the couple did get back together. Today they are more in love than before. Today they have God at the center of the relationship, rather than as an afterthought. God did not just restore that marriage but He made it new. God specializes in creating new beginnings. What new beginning do you need? A renewed walk with Him? A renewed marriage? Renewed health? A new career? Whatever new beginning you need you must trust what God said, "Behold I make all things new."

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

His Word, My Temptations

"Thy Word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee." Psalm 119:11

Today a friend shared a video with me of a very young child quoting the 23rd Psalm. It brought to my mind the above verse. It is so important that we take the time to read and know the Word of God. Through the knowledge and understanding of His Word, we are made over-comers. When Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil, for every temptation thrown at him Jesus used the written Word in response. As we read Luke 4, we see that even the devil used the Word of God during the temptations. "For the Word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart." (Hebrews 4:12) When we, through daily devotion, hide God's Word in our heart we will have the faith to quench the fiery darts of the wicked because "faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God." (Romans 10:17) Anything the devil can throw at you can be overcome by the word of God.

Let me encourage you to take time each day to hide the Word of God in your heart. Whether reading a whole chapter or meditating on one verse, consistent studying will strengthen your faith and help you ward off temptation.