Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Celebrate the Day!

"Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!" - Philippians 4:4 NIV

This is the season of celebration and joy! We are celebrating the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. The Son of God!! But I'm not talking about celebrating that day; I'm talking about celebrating TODAY!!

What? Why? It's not Christmas yet!! Who says it has to be Christmas, or even a birthday or anniversary to celebrate today?! Are you alive and breathing? If you're reading this, then obviously the answer to that question is "yes". That's reason enough to celebrate! My God is an awesome God and He gave me this day. "This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it." (Psalm 118:24 NIV) If God gave me this day, He must have something wonderful in store for me!

What are my expectations for today? Did I wake up expecting wonderful things from God or did I wake up in gloom and doom? As a Christian, a believer, I have every reason to wake up each morning with expectations of a great day - Jesus is alive and well and sitting at the right hand of God. I am saved and will one day join Him in Heaven. No more tears or sorrow. No more worry or pain. Hallelujah!!

Some of you may think I'm not living in the real world. There are people dying, grieving, going hungry, living on the streets, estranged from family, hurting. So much pain. I know that. But God still has a purpose for each and every person on this earth. If we're alive, then there's a reason for it. We have a choice to make each morning and I'm just saying that the Bible says that we are to celebrate each matter what. Easier said than done? Yes! Impossible? NO!! "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever." (Hebrews 13:8 NIV) Lean on Him and He will see you through. Today can be wonderful if you rejoice in the Lord, no matter your circumstances. Let's choose to celebrate today!!

"When you cannot rejoice in feelings, circumstances or conditions, rejoice in the Lord." - A. B. Simpson

Awesome God, let me rejoice in You today. No matter what this day may bring, may I celebrate it. Jesus is alive and reason alone to celebrate each day. Thank You for the wonderful gift of life, both here on earth and eternally. Let me use today for Your honor and glory, as Your humble servant. All praise belongs to You, Lord! In Jesus name, Amen. 

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

God's Instruction Book

"Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path." - Psalm 119:105 NIV

"The Bible is like no other book. Treat it that way!" - Marie T. Freeman. These words are so true. The Bible is God's instructions for our lives. It's a living thing. As my devotional says, it's "a transforming, life-changing, one-of-a-kind treasure." 

In Matthew 4:4 NIV, Jesus reminds me that, "Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God." The Bible comes from the mouth of God. Paul says in 2 Timothy 3:16 NIV that, "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness." I've been asked if I believe every word the Bible says. My answer: YES I DO!! There may be some things in there that are hard to believe as a human being, but I take it on faith that it's true. The fish swallowing Jonah then spitting him out, Sarah & Elizabeth getting pregnant in their old age, the walls of Jericho falling down just by trumpets blowing....all beyond human comprehension. They are supernatural things to me, but, as my pastor keeps pointing out - they're all natural for God.

So, how do I know what God's instructions are for me? By studying my Bible and meditating on what it's meaning is for my life. I said earlier that the Bible is a living do I know that? Because I may study a verse or passage in the Bible more than once and each time it means something different to me. I may use it as instruction the first time I read it, then it may be more of a comfort to me the next time. God may lead me to that same passage to help me through a difficult time or to correct me when I've strayed. It's an amazing book that I'll never get tired of.

I'm learning so much from my Bible study each much He loves me, what His will is for my life, how I'm expected to act, think and speak. This verse in Psalms is so, so true - God's Word does show me the path I'm to walk as I live as a child of His. My desire to study the Bible increases every time I open it's covers and read through it's pages. It does teach me, it does rebuke me, it does correct me and it is training me in righteousness. Thank You God for Your instruction book!!

"When the child of God looks into the Word of God, he sees the Son of God. And, he is transformed by the Spirit of God to share in the glory of God." - Warren Wiersbe

Dear Heavenly Father, I will use Your Word as my guide. I will study it, meditate on it's meaning for me, treasure it. I will take the time each day to trust You to speak to me through it. Let me turn to Your Word for comfort, for answers, for teaching, for correction...for Your guidance, dear Lord. Thank You for Your Holy Word. In Jesus' name, Amen. 

Monday, December 19, 2011

Hope in God

"Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God." - Psalm 42:11 NIV

This is supposed to be the happiest time of the year, yet this is the time of year that depresses a lot of people. Too many presents to buy, too little money. Too many parties to go to, too little time. Too many demands, too little of us to go around. Too many....too little.

This verse asks two very good questions. Why are we downcast? Why are we upset? The focus of this time of year should not be on the presents, the parties, the cooking, the cleaning or the myriad other things we tend to concentrate on as Christmas approaches. As the psalmist says, we should be putting our "hope in God". Jesus is why we're celebrating! Not so the retailers can get in the "black". Not so we can have a tree with presents piled around it. Not so we can party hearty. The only way to have peace and joy during the holidays is to focus on Jesus and allow our Heavenly Father to fill us with His presence. Once we do that, it no longer matters if there are only a few presents under the tree. It no longer matters if we have to turn down a few parties. It no longer matters if all the cooking and cleaning gets done. Depression be gone!! Joy, unspeakable joy, fills our hearts. We know the true meaning of this holiday. Jesus, Jesus, Jesus!!

I'm putting my hope in God this season. I'm praising and thanking Him for His goodness and mercy. I'm trusting Him to provide. There's no room in my heart for depression or turmoil. May you find the hope of this season in God and in His greatest gift...Jesus Christ!!

"If you hope for happiness in the world, hope for it from God, and not from the world." - David Brainerd

Dear God, I put my hope in You. I bring you my fears, my worries and my anxieties and leave them in Your hands. Fill me, instead, with Your peace and joy. May I be reminded of the reason I am celebrating during this season....Your Beloved Son, Jesus Christ. Knowing that He willingly came to earth to take on my sin and die for me so that I can have eternal life is the greatest gift I could ever receive. Thank you, Jesus, for loving me. In His precious name, Amen.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Talk, Talk, Talk

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

I haven't blogged the last three days but today's verse pretty much covers what I've been studying. It's all been about how I speak and what I say. To God, to myself and to others.

Talking to God: In my Life group, we are in week 5 of an 8-week study on prayer. It's been an amazing study! It's been eye-opening and has helped me so much in my daily prayers. I'm sure some of you have heard of using a formula called A.C.T.S. (or C.A.T.S.) which stands for Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and Supplication. But this was new to me. I've been applying it to my prayers the last several weeks and it has begun to change the way I talk to God. I always thanked Him for His blessings and asked for forgiveness of my sins and asked for the things I needed or wanted but this has brought a whole new level into my prayer life. To lift up praise and worship to God first, which is as is should be, is wonderful. The facilitator of our study gave us several pages of verses of praise in the Bible and also a list of the many, many names of God and Jesus found in the Bible. I've been using these pages to praise and worship Him and it gives me such joy and peace when I do that. And confession of my sins, not just saying, "I did this, Lord, please forgive me." but actually naming my sins, saying they are sins and then saying that I know they have been forgiven - I'm still learning how to do this. But it's getting easier and it has made me much more aware of my actions each day. The thanksgiving part has always come easy...I have been so blessed by God. But the supplication or asking - James 4:2b NIV says, "You do not have because you do not ask God." So true!! I am still in the process of learning how to ask and believing that He will answer my prayers but it's becoming a major part of my talking with God.

Talking to myself: I don't know about you, but I do talk to myself. Sometimes to build up confidence: "You can do this! What are you waiting for?". Sometimes to restrain myself: "Don't respond to that. It will just cause problems.". Sometimes to rebuke myself: "You idiot! What did you do, eat or say that for?". Sometimes for self-control: "Go get your Bible study done before you do anything else!". Of course, all of these conversations happen in my head, although I have rebuked myself out loud a few times! My thoughts control me and there are many times when I'm not disciplined in my thoughts. I can convince myself that a third piece of chocolate won't hurt, that skipping one day of Bible study isn't a big deal, that reneging on a promise is okay. But the extra food does hurt - my clothes start getting too tight because I'm putting on weight. Skipping a Bible study is a big deal - Satan gets a foothold when I'm not disciplined in this area. Reneging on a promise isn't okay - it hurts the person I made the promise to. I am asking God to guide me each day in disciplining my thoughts and what I say to myself. "Take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." - 2 Corinthians 10:5b NIV. Not easy to do but it's what God expects.

Talking to others: I can easily displease God in this area. Especially when I'm angry. I no longer say curse words, not that I ever did a lot of cursing, but, boy I can still tear someone down when I'm angry. Dennis will testify to the truth of this!! Unfortunately, he's usually the one at the brunt of my words. This is an area of my life that I am in constant prayer about. Through talking with God and reading His Word, I am learning to call on Jesus when I'm feeling angry or irritated with someone. I am learning to bite my tongue and not say anything when I feel Satan pushing me to tear someone down. It's not a battle I always win but it's one I know God is helping me with. I can honestly say I am more encouraging when I speak to others than I used to be. And that's only because of God...not anything I've done on my own.

Talking is a major part of our lives. We do it daily and constantly, even when we're silent. Words can help or they can hinder. When I rely on God's guidance in this area, it not only strengthens my relationship with Him, but also with myself and others. I pray we all become more aware of what comes out of our mouths today.

"Remember that the tongue speaks only what is in the heart." - Theodore Epp

Heavenly Father, I know I will be judged by the words I speak. Please help me to choose my words carefully, especially when I'm angry. May I continue to talk with You daily and constantly. May the words I speak to myself and to others be encouraging and not a hindrance. Guide me to hold my tongue and turn to You when I feel Satan pushing me to speak harshly. I desire to become more aware of what I say and how I say it. May the words I speak today be pleasing to You and worthy of You. In Jesus' name, Amen.  

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

A Choice to be Made

"Know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in  Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified." - Galatians 2:16 NIV

This verse gives us a choice - faith in Jesus Christ or observation of the law. One will get us to Heaven and eternal life. The other dooms us to Hell and eternal damnation. Guess which one is which?

I have chosen faith in Jesus. By faith, I have been saved, justified and will spend eternity in Heaven, praising and worshiping tears, no fears, no worries, no anxieties, no pain, no suffering.....HEAVEN!! Jesus came to this earth to become a living sacrifice for our sins. Because we are all sinners ("For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." - Romans 3:23 NIV), there is a chasm between us and God, the Father. When the choice is made to accept Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior, that chasm is bridged by the blood He shed for us on the cross. We now have access to God through His Son!!

But there is another choice: observing the law. What exactly does that mean? In the Old Testament (or Old Covenant) it meant so many things - sacrifices of unblemished sheep, goats and cows. Blood sacrifices. Confession of sins to the high priests so that they could make atonement for those sins before God. Keeping the commandments. Cleansing of the body after having eaten, touched or gotten near something considered unclean. "Regulations for worship and also an earthly sanctuary." - Hebrews 9:1 NIV. Today it's believing you get to Heaven by doing good works, being charitable and believing in God. Satan believes in God! James 1:19 NIV says: "You believe there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that - and shudder." Believing in God is part of observing the law...but that doesn't give you access to Heaven. Good works and being charitable is part of having faith in Jesus, but by itself, does not get you into Heaven. "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this not from yourselves, it is the gift from God - not by works, so that no one can boast." (Ephesians 2:8-9 NIV)

Jesus, by sacrificing Himself on the cross, took the place of "the law". He became the only way to God - a New Covenant. We no longer have to make blood sacrifices to God. Jesus shed His blood and became the living sacrifice that covers all of our sins. When we choose to accept Him into our hearts, our sins are forgiven, wiped clean, forgotten. He becomes our access to Heaven. The former way to Heaven - the Old Covenant - is no longer needed. Jesus is our new hope. Hebrews 7:18 NIV says this: "The former regulation is set aside because it was weak and useless (for the law made nothing perfect), and a better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God."

The choice to trust and accept Jesus as Savior is completely yours. God does not force us to make that choice. We have been given free will. Your choice - Heaven or Hell. I made my choice. I'm looking forward to seeing Jesus in Heaven!! I hope you've made the choice to join me.

"He who created us without our help will not save us without our consent." - Augustine

Thank You, Jesus, for Your sacrifice for my sins. Thank You for becoming my Savior, Messiah, Lord and King. We have all been given free will and must make the choice between an eternity in Heaven or an eternity in Hell. I pray that if anyone reading this has not accepted You as their Lord & Savior, that they would make that choice right now. May they feel Your love surrounding them and hear Your voice calling to them. May they ask You into their hearts and know that You love them unconditionally. May they be assured that they will be spending eternity rejoicing in Heaven and not suffering in Hell. Jesus, Lover of our souls, I ask this in Your name, Amen.

Monday, December 12, 2011

This "Trust" Thing Just Keeps Coming Up!!

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight." - Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV

God is continuing to work on me about trusting His will and answering my prayers. He continues to lead me to verses about trust, as today's verse shows, and yesterday's message at church had alot to say about faith.

God answers prayers. However, it may not always be when or in the way I expect or how I want it to look. But, whatever the answer God gives me - yes, no or later - it's always, ALWAYS, what is best for me. I may not think so but that's just because I want to be in control, I want things to be MY way. Not happening! And, it's a lesson I'm learning slowly but surely.

Yesterday's message was from the first chapter of Luke. Yes, we are getting close to Christmas and we all know Christmas is about the birth of Jesus. And the beginning chapters of Luke are all about the birth of John the Baptist and the birth of Christ. So, what does this have to do with faith and trust? PLENTY!! As the pastor pointed out, there are lessons in this chapter that apply to OUR time and OUR faith in God. I'm just going to repeat to you what those lessons are.

The first lesson is this: God often shows up in our deepest disappointments. I'm going to add: if we let Him. If we're not in a close relationship with our Lord, our first reaction to deep disappointment is usually anger and bitterness. "God, why did you let this happen?! How could you allow this?! I'm so mad at you!" Instead, we should be leaning more on Him during these times, trusting Him more, allowing Him to comfort and heal us. There is no one who suffered more than Job, yet He never turned away from God. Job 36:15-16 NIV says, "But those who suffer He delivers in their suffering; He speaks to them in their affliction. He is wooing you from the jaws of distress to a spacious place free from restriction, to the comfort of your table laden with choice food." TRUST!

The second lesson is this: God will always bring His promises to pass. It's so easy to forget God's track record. He has answered so many of my prayers in the past; I have so many things He has blessed me with. Yet, when faced with a new challenge, my faith wavers. Why?! His past proves the future. He's been there with me through thick and thin, good and bad. Just because He's not answering a prayer RIGHT NOW doesn't mean He's not keeping His promises. Look at Zechariah & Elizabeth and Abraham & Sarah - they prayed for years for a child and God blessed them with sons in their old ages - OLD AGES!! As the pastor pointed out: delayed blessings are often the sweetest blessings. We appreciate them so much more. Numbers 23:19 NIV says, "God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should change His mind. Does He speak and then not act? Does He promise and not fulfill?" TRUST!

The third lesson is this: God often reveals His intentions before the fact, become attuned!! In other words - shut up and listen!!!! Quiet time with God is a must. Time spent praying, meditating, studying and listening for God is important for me to grow my faith and become closer in my relationship. It's so easy to allow the chaos & noise of this world to interfere. It's up to me to set aside the time each day to spend time with the Lord and to listen for His leading throughout the day. "For God does speak - now one way, now another - though man may not perceive it." - Job 33:14 NIV. TRUST!

The fourth lesson is this: However bleak it looks, it's never hopeless! Luke 1:37 NIV tells us, "For nothing is impossible with God." NOTHING! God can heal cancer that a doctor says is hopeless. He can provide whatever we need when we think everything looks hopeless. It's only our limited understanding that makes us think something is hopeless. It's all normal to God! TRUST!

The last lesson is this: When God blesses, never allow yourself to forget. Be thankful for all He has blessed you with. As I said before, as humans we tend to be forgetful of all that God has done for us, of all of the prayers He has answered. Take the time to remember and thank Him. Did you ask for a job? Did you get one? Thank Him. Did you ask for healing? Did it happen? Thank Him. Whatever you asked for - did He answer? Thank Him. Remember the ten lepers that Jesus healed on His way to Jerusalem? Only one came back. "One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus' feet and thanked him - and he was a Samaritan. Jesus asked, 'Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?' Then He said to him, 'Rise and go; your faith has made you well." - Luke 17:15-19 NIV. Don't forget to thank Him for all He's given and done for you. TRUST!

"Often I have made a request of God with earnest pleadings even backed up with Scripture, only to have Him say, "No" because He had something better in store." - Ruth Bell Graham

Dear Lord, continue to grow my faith in You. Let me learn these lessons that Your Word teaches and use them to trust in Your answers and Your timing. May I find time each day to spend in quietness with You. Your way is perfect and I know You work for my good. May I trust You in all You do. In Jesus' precious name I ask, Amen. 

Friday, December 9, 2011

Lessons In Trust

"Whoever gives heed to instruction prospers, and blessed is he who trusts in the Lord." - Proverbs 16:20 NIV

My blog yesterday was about trusting in God's will for my life. How He will never give us more than we can handle and will see us through all of life's ups and downs. But, there are times, every day, that I find myself not completely trusting in God. I try to take care of things myself before I turn them over to God. It's one of the aspects of my relationship with Him that I am in constant prayer about. So, today, I'm just going to list verses that have to do with trusting in God - why it's so important as a part of my walk with Him, some of the benefits of trusting Him and some of the consequences of not trusting Him.

Why should I place my complete trust in Him? Because the Bible says so, that's why!
- "Offer right sacrifices and trust in the Lord." - Psalm 4:5 NIV
- "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding." -   Proverbs 3:5
- "Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, trust also in me." - John 14:1
- "Trust in the Lord and do good." - Psalm 37:3a NIV


God will honor me when I trust and serve Him. "Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me." - John 12:26 NIV

God will not forsake me. "Those who know Your name will trust in You, for You, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek You." - Psalm 9:10 NIV

God treats me as one of His children. "Yet to all who received Him, to those who believed {trust} in His name, He gave the right to become children of God." - John 1:12 NIV

God is my rock and my refuge against Satan and the world. "I will say of the Lord, 'He is my refuge and my fortress,, my God, in whom I trust." - Psalm 91:2 NIV

God will bless me. "But blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in Him."Jeremiah 17:7 NIV

God gives me eternal life. "For God so loved the world that he gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life." - John 3:16 NIV


I will not receive the blessings God has in store for me. "But the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, 'Because you did not trust in me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them." - Numbers 20:12 NIV

I will be mislead. "You have trusted in your wickedness and have said, 'No one sees me.' Your wisdom and knowledge mislead you when you say to yourself, 'I am, and there is none besides me." - Isaiah 47:10 NIV

I will bring unnecessary pain and suffering into my life. "Will not pain grip you like that of a woman in labor? And if you ask yourself, "Why has this happened to me?"' - it is because of your many sins that your skirts have been torn off and your body mistreated....This is your lot, the portion I have decreed for you," declares the Lord, "because you have forgotten me and trusted in false gods." - Jeremiah 13:21b-22, 25 NIV

I will be judged by God. "But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God's wrath, when His righteous judgement will be revealed. God 'will give to each person according to what he has done.' To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, He will give eternal life. But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger." - Romans 2:5-8 NIV

There are so many other benefits of trusting God, along with consequences of not trusting Him. I choose to reap the benefits rather than the consequences. I am faced with decisions and dilemmas every day - I am learning to turn to God and trust Him to lead me in the way I should go. Daily lessons in trust.

"Sometimes the very essence of faith is trusting God in the midst of things He knows good and well we cannot comprehend." - Beth Moore

Dear Lord, guide me today to trust You and be obedient to Your commandments. I confess that I do not always trust You and ask You to change that in me. May I learn to turn to You first in all things and trust You will give me the wisdom, knowledge and strength to face my challenges and see Your blessings. Keep me mindful of the benefits of trusting You but also of the consequences of not trusting You. These things I ask in Jesus' name, Amen. 

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Trusting the Will of God

"The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever." - 1 John 2:17 NIV

There are things that happen, in my life and in the lives of others, that I just cannot grasp the reason for. Why do children get terminal illnesses, why do people go hungry and thirsty, why do people murder, why is there so much greediness, why is there so much suffering....why, why, why?! I don't always understand or comprehend God's will. And I never will, at least not in this life. I could spend my whole life questioning God and wondering what His reasons are. Or...I could trust that He knows what He's doing and that everything that happens is under His control. Romans 8:28 NIV tells me this: "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him."

The worst thing that ever happened was the death of Jesus Christ. Yet, God used it to bring good to this evil world. Jesus, knowing what He was going to face - the suffering and abuse He was going to endure on my behalf - poured His heart out to God, yet ultimately sought God's will, not His own. I'm not facing anything nearly as daunting as crucifixion, yet there are times I feel like I am. What is my usual reaction? Fear, worry, complaining, asking "why?", asking God to get me out of the situation. Instead of reacting that way, however, maybe I should be seeking God's will for me during these times of trouble and heartache. What is it that He wants me to learn? Do I need to lean on Him more, to have more faith, to be more prayerful, to be more humble and obedient, to be more thankful? THANKFUL?!?! Yes, thankful. God tells me that is part of His will for me: "Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." (1 Thessalonians 5:18 NIV).

Instead of praying, "God, get me out of this situation.", I should be asking God to give me the strength & wisdom to see me through. I should turn to Him for comfort and know that He will never give me more than I can handle. He is right there to lead me, guide me, hold my hand and carry me if needs be. I should be thanking Him for bringing me into a closer relationship with Him by putting me in a situation whereby I must rely on Him to bring me out of. By placing my trust in His will, I can live with peace and joy in my heart, no matter what Satan may place in my path. Little does the devil realize how much he helps God when I choose to seek God's will during troubling circumstances. Satan pushes me right into God's arms!! I'm sure it just drives him crazy! But it pleases God.

Trusting the will of God isn't always easy; but it's always right. It's always rewarded. It allows me to endure the most painful things in life with peace and calm. I desire to live a life that pleases Him and to trust His will in all circumstances. God willing, I will.

"The Will of God will never take you where the Grace of God will not protect you." - Anonymous

Father God, I want to trust Your will for me. I desire to live a life that pleases You. Lord, let me trust in Your power and lean on You for strength & wisdom to see me through the hard times. May I not ask You to get me out of a situation, but turn to You to show me what You want me to learn from it. May each hardship bring me closer in my relationship to You and to Your Son. Your will be done in my life, today and each day. In Jesus' name I pray, Amen.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

All Things ARE Possible!!

"Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God." - Mark 10:27 NIV

"All things are possible with God." How comforting is that?! I mentioned this a little bit in my blog yesterday and today it's my devotional verse. Coincidence? I think not!! God is definitely reminding me this holiday season that He is in control. That, no matter what I think or feel can't be done, He CAN do it! All it takes on my part is faith and prayer; believing I have received. Mark 11:24 NIV says, "Therefore I tell you; whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours."

You may be wondering, "Is that really all it takes?" My answer to you is, "Yes, that's all it takes!" The Bible says so and every word in it comes from God. If He says that's all we need to do, then that's ALL we need to do! Maybe you're thinking to yourself, "But you don't know what I'm asking for or what I need to do or what needs to happen in my life. There's no way it can happen!" You're right...not when we try to take care of it ourselves. But, when we allow God to step in, miracles happen!!

I read a story in Sunday's newspaper that made me think of this verse. Ten years ago, a young woman, a pedestrian, just 18-years old, was killed by a hit-and-run driver. The driver was a young attorney out for a night on the town with a friend. The impact was so hard, she was cut in half. And he panicked and ran. He turned himself in two days later and served six years and four months in prison. He lost his wife, his profession and missed out on over six years of his son's lives. But there are a few miracles, a few "impossibles", in this story. The young woman's father forgave the man who took his daughter's life, not years later but almost right away: "What a waste it would be if he didn't have a wonderful life." Impossible, you say? "? "All things are possible with God." The young attorney went on to remarry, get joint custody of his sons and have a daughter of his own. He found another attorney willing to take a chance on him and give him a job. Miracle, miracle, miracle!! "All things are possible with God." He, on his own and not because he is required to by the courts, goes to high schools to speak to juniors and seniors about drinking and driving. He doesn't make excuses for his actions but he is making a difference. And the young woman's father has this to say: "I forgave the right person. I hope that his life and his actions are a testament to my wonderful little girl." "All things are possible with God." 

I tell this story to show you that, no matter what you're facing, God can and will see you through. Are you facing health issues that you feel are insurmountable? "All things are possible with God." Are your bills stacking up and you just don't know how you're going to pay them? "All things are possible with God." Are you holding on to things in your past and think you just can't forgive and let go? "All things are possible with God." Are you feeling alone and miserable this holiday season and just don't see anyway to change that? "All things are possible with God."

My God is a God of miracles, a God who can do the impossible. I've seen it in my own life and in the life of others. From very small miracles to very large miracles, God is able and willing to take care of us. Give Him your "impossibles" today. Turn them over to Him, with prayer and faith and trust in His promises. "All things ARE possible with God."

"Faith expects from God what is beyond all expectation." - Andrew Murray

Dear Heavenly Father, there is absolutely nothing that is impossible for You. Thank You, Lord!! May I have faith in Your power and in Your miracles. When I feel all is lost and there's nowhere and no one to turn to, remind me of this verse, dear Lord. Remind me that You have the power to do the things I cannot do on my own. You are the Almighty God, a God of infinite power, infinite love and infinite possibilities. All praise and glory to You! In Jesus' name, Amen.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Attitude Adjustment

"But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently." - Romans 8:25 NIV

Pessimism - an inclination to emphasize adverse aspects, conditions, and possibilities or to expect the worst possible outcome; a tendency to stress the negative or unfavorable or to take the gloomiest possible view; the doctrine or belief that the evil in the world outweighs the good.

Pessimism - just the sound of it is ugly but the definition is even worse. Since I'm usually an optimist, the idea of spending my life expecting the worst possible outcome is not something I can totally comprehend. And believing the evil in the world outweighs the good....NEVER!! That may be all we see and hear about on the news - which is why I don't watch it - but I truly believe that my God is in charge of this world and He outweighs ALL evil!!

However, there are times when pessimism does take hold of me. And it's usually this time of year. My idea of Christmas used to be a tree with presents stacked floor to ceiling (I'm exaggerating a bit here), tons of food, laughter, spending time with family and friends, having fun. Last Christmas was tough. Money was tight so there weren't as many presents as I wanted under the tree. There weren't alot of parties because people didn't feel like celebrating too much. I didn't enjoy the holidays because I was too busy being pessimistic about things not being the way I wanted them to be for the holiday. I wanted things back to the way they used to be (actually, the way I perceived they used to be). But, this year, God has given me an attitude adjustment.

It's not something that just happened. It's been a learning process all year long. It's been prayer, Bible study, more prayer, more Bible study. It's been talking with God and with other people who are or have been where I'm at. It's been a conscious decision to live this verse in Romans and wait patiently, with hope, for what I do not yet have but which God has promised me. It's standing on His promises, knowing that I have a God who can do the impossible, knowing He will take care of me and give me the strength, wisdom, hope and joy to face all circumstances in my life. This Christmas, pessimism has no foothold in my thoughts or my heart.

Jesus IS the reason for this season...not spending money I don't have on a ton of gifts that will be broken or forgotten within days. I've always known that we celebrate Christ's birth on Christmas but this year I KNOW...deep, deep down...that Jesus is the true blessing and gift that I should celebrate. I have felt this so deeply this year that I put up my Christmas decorations in early November because I felt I was going to burst with the hope and joy He brings. My attitude adjustment has brought many blessings worries over not having enough under the tree (whatever God provides will be plenty); so many parties to attend and friends to enjoy; having fun just looking forward to the surprises I know God will provide; and peace, blessed peace, knowing that the person we are celebrating has given us the best gift of all - eternal life.

So I just have to ask: do you need an attitude adjustment? Does this time of year bring out the pessimist in you? If so, ask God to help you and wait patiently for Him to do so. It will happen...I'm speaking from experience!!

"God gives us hopes and dreams for certain things to happen in our lives, but He doesn't always allow us to see the exact timing of His plan." - Joyce Meyer

Amazing God, thank You for the attitude adjustment You've given me this year. You have blessed me with so much...a home when others are homeless, a wonderful family, friends that I love spending time with and the best gift of all - Your Son, Jesus Christ. My hope is in You, Lord, and I wait patiently for Your timing in my life. Thank You for true peace and joy during this time of year. If there are any of my friends or family needing an "attitude adjustment", may they find it in You, dear God. I pray all this in Jesus' precious name, Amen.

Friday, December 2, 2011

God Renews Me

"Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power." - Ephesians 6:10 NIV

As I mentioned yesterday, since Thanksgiving I've had no energy or desire to do anything except sleep. After shopping on Black Friday, I came home and slept. We drove up north on Saturday and I slept through most of the drive, which took all day. Sunday, after church, I came home to get some things done that needed my attention but took a 3-hour nap instead. Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday, I napped off and on, mostly on, getting dressed only when it was time to pick up my granddaughter from school. What in the world was wrong with me? I've never been this tired!!

God finally got through to me Wednesday evening as I was heading to bed early, despite having napped through most of the day. I had been putting Him last in my priorities, making excuses as to why I didn't have time to get my Bible study done and shirking in my prayers. I realized if I wanted to get back to "normal", if I wanted to get my energy back and not feel so tired and lazy, I had to give God control. I had to get back into my routine of putting Him first and letting the rest of the day fall under His power. So, yesterday morning I did just that. And I have to praise God for answered prayer! He renewed my strength; He re-energized me. I felt like the Energizer Bunny yesterday!! I washed the dishes, wrote my grocery list, cut coupons, did my Prayer Study for Life group, got through most of the email I've let slide the last few days and didn't even think about taking a nap. Hallelujah!! Some of you may say, "Oh, that's just a coincidence. You've been sleeping for most of the past few days; of course you have energy now!" Well, I don't believe in coincidence. I believe in the power of God and answered prayer and I KNOW that's exactly what happened!!

Isaiah 40:31 NIV says, "Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not be faint." When I'm tired and weary, He will strengthen me. When I'm discouraged and defeated, He will lift me up. When I'm anxious and fearful, He will give me courage. When I'm worried, He will comfort me. I can run this race called life, knowing that whatever I face, God is with me. All I have to do is turn to Him and ask and He will renew me. Thank You God!!

"If we are whimpering, and sniveling, and begging to be spared the discipline of life that is sent to knock some smatterings of manhood into us, the answer to that prayer may never come at all. Thank God! If you are not bleating to get off, but asking to be given grace and strength to see this through with honour, "The very day" you pray that prayer, the answer always comes." - A. J. Gossip

Dear Lord, Thank You for renewing my strength and energy. When I rely on You and Your promises, You always come through for me. I lift up to You praise and worship for answered prayer, strength, comfort, courage, hope and peace. All come from You. Let me draw energy from You today and may Your will take priority over my own. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Am I Listening?

"But whoever listens to me will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm." - Proverbs 1:33 NIV

I haven't been listening to God lately. I've been allowing Satan to place distractions in my way when it comes to Bible study and this blog. First it was out-of-town relatives visiting...I had to make sure they were entertained and taken care of. Then it was getting ready for Thanksgiving...I had to make sure the house was clean and my part of the cooking was done. Then Thanksgiving itself...I had a houseful of guests to feed and make comfortable. Then Black Friday shopping and a trip up north. Since then, all I've want to do is sleep. Oh yes, Satan has placed plenty of distractions in the way...but I've let him.

It's not that God, through the Holy Spirit, otherwise called my conscience, hasn't been talking to me. He has. I've chosen not to listen. I may have skipped a day or two of Bible study but I've gotten caught up. I've prayed each day, just not as long as I usually do. I thank Him for my blessings, just not as often as I should. AND...I'm making excuses for my behavior and my choices.

I've been having trouble prioritizing my days because I'm trying to do it myself and not allowing God to have priority in my life. Instead of praying and getting into His Word first thing each day, I've chosen to sleep or throw a load of laundry in the wash or do the dishes I left in the sink from the night before or play on my phone or........anything but spend time with God FIRST. No wonder I've been in a's one of my own making.

It's amazing how much more I get done, how much more energy I have and how much smoother my day goes when I listen to and spend time with the Lord first!! I know this to be a fact, yet I've made the choice the last few weeks to push Him aside for my own selfish pursuits. God's voice has been getting louder and louder and I'm now making the choice to listen again. I like how my day unfolds when He's in charge. With His help, I made the decision to pray, do my Bible study and blog before anything else this morning. He lead me to several verses this morning that have brought peace and joy to my soul and have reminded me that He is in charge and I have so much to be thankful for. He reminded me that He is with me constantly and that, if I will be still and listen, He will lead me. Am I listening? I'm so glad to be able to say today that I am.

"Just as in prayer it is not we who momentarily catch His attention, but He ours, so when we fail to hear His voice, it is not because He is not speaking so much as that we are not listening. We must recognize that all things are in God and that God is in all things, and we must learn to be very attentive, in order to hear God speaking in His ordinary tone without any special accent." - Charles H. Brent

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for never giving up on me. Thank You for Your Holy Spirit who works in me even when I resist. Guide me to hear and listen to You each day. I always want to put You first. Help me to resist Satan and the distractions he places into my life. Guide me each day through prayer, Your Word and the Holy Spirit. In Jesus' name I ask, Amen. 

Friday, November 18, 2011


"All Scripture is God-breathed  and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." - 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NIV)

I've slacked off on posting my blog the last few days, but God has still been guiding me in my Bible study each day. There are just some days where I think I've blogged so much about the subject I'm studying that I feel I have nothing else to say about it. However, God still has alot to say about every subject and it's not up to me to decide whether the subject has been talked to death or not. Today, though, I just want to blog about what I believe the Bible says about certain things.

As this verse in Timothy says, I BELIEVE the Bible is God's Holy Word. I believe everything in it, no matter how far-fetched it may seem to others. It is God-breathed and every word in there is there for a reason. Every miracle happened: Moses parted the Red Sea (Exodus 14:15-30 NIV); Jesus walked on water (Matthew 14:22-25 NIV); Jonah was swallowed (and not killed!) by a big fish (Jonah 1:17 - 2:10 NIV); Jesus suffered, died and rose again on the third day to conquer death and offer us eternal life through salvation (Mark 15:21 - 16:7 NIV); God blessed Abraham and Sarah with a child in their old age (Genesis 21:1-7 NIV); Joshua collapsed the walls of Jericho by only marching, blowing trumpets and shouting (Joshua 6:15-20 NIV) - these are just a few of the miracles God has performed and that I believe are true.

Other things the Bible says that I believe:

I BELIEVE that Jesus is the Son of God. He took on human form for one reason: to take on my sin and become a living sacrifice for that sin so that, through Him, I would have eternal life. "For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him." (John 3:16-17 NIV).

I BELIEVE that we cannot go to heaven by doing good deeds; we MUST accept Jesus' grace and mercy by accepting Him as our Lord and Savior in order to have eternal life in heaven. This is a gift we cannot earn. "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast." (Ephesians 2:8-9 NIV). And Isaiah 64:6 NIV tells me: "All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away."

I BELIEVE that once we are saved, we can never lose our salvation. Jesus sacrificed Himself one time. When you accept Him as Your Savior and your name is written in the Lamb's Book of Life, it cannot be removed from that book. "I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, no one can snatch them out of my Father's hand. I and the Father are one." (John 10:28-30 NIV). And "In all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8:37-39 NIV). Also, Ephesians 1:13-14 NIV reveals: "And you also were included in Christ when you heard the Word of truth, the gospel of your salvation.. Having believed, you were marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession - to the praise of His glory."

I BELIEVE that all those who do not accept Jesus as their Savior will go to hell, because, no matter how good of a person we think we are, we are all sinners. God is just and righteous and will not allow sin to go unpunished. That's why He sent Jesus to pay for our sins. God gives us our whole lives to come to the realization that Jesus is His Son and for us to accept that He is the ONLY way to heaven. If we make the choice not to accept Jesus, they we've made our bed with the devil and choose to spend eternity in agony. It's not a choice God wants us to make, but He has given us free will to choose: Heaven or Hell.  "Then He will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels....Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life." (Matthew 25:41 & 46 NIV). And John 3:18 NIV says, "Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son.".

I BELIEVE Jesus is alive and in Heaven, sitting at the right hand of God, waiting for the day of Rapture to take all of His believers up to Heaven with Him. "After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, He was taken up into Heaven and He sat at the right hand of God." (Mark 16:19 NIV). In Matthew 26:64 NIV, Jesus Himself says, "Yes, it is as you say," Jesus replied. "But I say to all of you: In the future you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven."

The question now is: what do YOU believe? Have you accepted Jesus into your heart as your Lord and Savior? Do you believe He is the Son of God and came to die for your sins? Do you realize that Jesus is the only way to Heaven; otherwise you're headed for hell? Don't believe this just because I do or because I said so. Find out for yourself. Study His Word. Believe!!

"He who created us without our help will not save us without our consent." - Augustine

Dear Gracious, Loving God, I lift up my thanks to You for my salvation and for the guidance of the Holy Spirit and Your Word. I pray for those who do not yet know Your Son as their Lord and Savior. May their eyes and hearts be opened to the truth; may they desire to know Jesus. Lead them to Your Son, dear God. In Jesus' name I ask, Amen. 

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Art of Acceptance

"In his heart, a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps." - Proverbs 16:9 (NIV)

God grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change
Courage to change the things I can
And wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
As it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
If I surrender to His will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
And supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.
(Reinhold Niebuhr)

I think we all know the Serenity Prayer, at least the first 4 lines. But the rest of the prayer is just as important. There are so many circumstances in this life that are out of my control. Cancer, divorce, abuse...death. Not a thing I can do to change any of them. But God can!! What? God can change death? Yes, I believe He can. Jesus overcame death on the cross and because of His sacrifice, even though my human body may die, I have eternal life because I accepted Him as my Lord and Savior. That was the first time I practiced the art of acceptance. And that's how I know that God can change death!

We all have plans for our lives. Marriage, kids, vacations, time with friends, nice home, great job. We never plan to have anything bad happen. But it does. Our marriage falls apart, we lose our jobs, our kids get sick, our parents age and we have to care for them, the bills pile up, the vacations don't happen, loved ones pass away...on and on. When the trial and troubles come our way, we have two choices: cry and complain and rail about how unfair life is OR accept what has happened and lean on our Father who is faithful to see us through. Only one of those choices will lead to peace about our circumstances. Guess which one that is?!

He knows his plans for us; His will is bigger than ours. He doesn't force us to follow His will and purpose, but He can and does allow circumstances to lead us there. Proverbs 19:21 (NIV) says, "Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails." His purpose WILL prevail!!

It's easier to practice the art of acceptance when I'm living in God's will. When I give Him control of my plans, they seem to go much smoother. When I'm trying to be in control...not good.! We're studying the book of Jonah at church and he's the perfect example of the lengths God will go to to bring me back into accepting those things I cannot change and surrendering them to Him. As I pray each morning, I am learning to give God my plans for the day and asking Him to show me which of those plans are more important to Him. I'm also learning to ask God for His leading when it comes to decisions I have to make throughout my day. When I say I'm learning, it means more often than not that I forget to give my plans to God but through His Word, such as this verse, He reminds me to keep practicing the art of acceptance. His will be done, not my own.

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and he will make your paths straight." - Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV)

Dear Heavenly Father, teach me to accept those things in my life I cannot change. When I am discouraged, give me hope. When I am anxious, give me peace. When my plans fall apart, give me acceptance. I place my trust in You and the purpose for which You made me. Your will be done in my life, Lord, not my own. Direct my paths. You are the God of my life and I give that life to You. In Jesus' name, Amen. 

Thursday, November 10, 2011

I Want to be Rich!!

"But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that." - 1 Timothy 6:6-8 (NIV)

I have been blessed in this life. God has provided me with a home, food, clothes, vehicles, furniture - all of the creature comforts - yet I seem to only be able to focus on what I don't have. I'm not content because I don't see myself as being rich, at least not by the world's standards. To be rich in this world is having money to burn. To be out of debt and not have to worry about bills coming in. To travel wherever and whenever I want. To buy whatever I want. To live in a big house. To wear fancy clothes. To eat in nice restaurants and not have to cook. But, according to, I'm in the top 4.62% of the world's richest people!! What?! I'm richer than 95% of the rest of the world?! Really?!

However, the world's standard of being rich is not the standard by which God says I'm rich. Paul is telling Timothy here that, if he has food and clothing, he considers himself rich. What would Paul think of me if he saw all the "stuff" I have and hear me still worry about money and being rich in this world? He'd probably tell me to get my perspective straight. He told Timothy, "People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction." (1 Timothy 6:9 NIV). Paul also told Timothy to, "Command those who are rich in this present world (that would be me; I'm in the top 5% aren't I?!) not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment." (1 Timothy 6:17 NIV). God wants me to be content with what He has given me. He wants me to put my hope and my faith in Him, not in the riches of this world, and know that He will provide for me all that I need and even the things I desire!! If Paul can find contentment just in being fed and clothed, surely I can find contentment in all that I have!!

Solomon had the right attitude and perspective about being rich. In Proverbs 30:7-9 (NIV), he said the following: "Two things I ask of you, O Lord; do not refuse me before I die: Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown You and say, 'Who is the Lord?'. Or I may become poor and steal and so dishonor the name of my God." This is the perspective I desire to have when it comes to being rich. God, provide for me what I need for today.

I desire to be rich by God's standards. I want to be rich in faith, rich in mercy and grace, rich in love, rich in humility, rich in obedience, rich in contentment, rich in worship, rich in Jesus. These are the riches that matter; that build up my treasure in Heaven. That is where my real prosperity lies. I want to be God!!

"Our ultimate aim in life is not to be healthy, wealthy, prosperous, or problem free. Our ultimate aim in life is to bring glory to God." - Anne Graham Lotz

Dear Heavenly Father, I am rich by the world's standards but I desire to be rich by Yours. Teach me to be content with all that You have provided for me. You have blessed me with so much. Help me to see how wealthy I really am in You. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Living Righteously

"So we make it our goal to please Him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. For we must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad." - 2 Corinthians 5:9-10 (NIV)
Whom do I seek to please? Myself? Others? God? Yes, and usually in that order, too. Boy, have I got it backwards!! In this verse, Paul makes it clear that my goal in life is to please God FIRST. And make no mistake, I WILL be judged for my actions here on earth!

Whether I'm home alone or out and about, my goal is to live to please God. But what pleases Him? Living righteously, for one thing. Romans 14:17-18 (NIV) says this: "For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God.", what does living righteously look like? I can find an answer to this is several verses of the Bible. James 1:19-22 (NIV) tells us, "My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires." OUCH! There's my pitfall again!! I must get this anger thing under control - under God's control - if I truly want to live righteously. What else? Well, Peter gives me these instructions: "Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. For, 'Whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech. He must turn from evil and do good; he must seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil." (1 Peter 3:8-12 NIV) Wow!! Basically, watch my mouth, be kind, and don't seek revenge. Okay...understood. Let's look at one more. Paul and Timothy say the following in their letter to the Philippians: "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things." (Philippians 4: 8 NIV) I must be careful what I think about!! Tough one because that's where Satan attacks the hardest. If the enemy can control our thoughts, he can control our lives. I definitely need God's help with this one!

I could quote many more scripture verses that tell me how to live a righteous life and be pleasing to God. But I think there is one passage that sums it up perfectly, at least for me. "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no records of wrong. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices in truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love NEVER fails." (1 Corinthians 13:4-8a NIV) If I choose to love - no matter who, no matter what, no matter where, no matter when and no matter how  - then I will be able to overcome my anger, I will have no trouble watching what I say or how I act, and Satan will have no foothold in my thoughts. Then I know I can reach the goal of living a life that is pleasing to God.

"The One who calls you to a life of righteousness is the One who, by our consent, lives that life of righteousness through you!" - Major Ian Thomas
Dear Lord, I desire to live my life so that it is pleasing to You and not to myself. I have accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior but there is so much more to living a righteous life. Please help me to keep Satan out of my thoughts and to be careful of what I say. Most of all, God, teach me to love as You love. May I see all others as You see them, Lord - made in Your image and loved by You. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

What is My Passion?

"May He give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed." - Psalm 20:4 (NIV)

What am I passionate about? What excites me and brings me joy? Sunday morning serving in the nursery with 2 1/2 to 3-year olds. Getting and keeping their attention during story time when I'm teaching them something out of the Bible. I especially love it when they can answer questions about the Bible story! Traveling with family and friends. Going to Disneyland with my children & grandchildren. Shopping for other people, especially children. Seeing the faces of the person or persons I'm gifting to when they open the package. Spending quiet time with my husband. Get-togethers with friends. Going to small group. Going to church. Volunteering. All of these things bring joy and excitement to me. What do they have in common?

Other people. As I'm seeking God's purpose for my life, what I'm finding is that I desire to be around others. Serving them, helping them, teaching them - DOING for them. I love to volunteer - whether it's to serve at church or church functions or at something that has nothing to do with church. I serve in the nursery pretty much every Sunday and it doesn't grow old. I love the kids and I love the other Servant Ministers who serve with me. Tomorrow evening and Friday morning, Dennis & I are volunteering as hosts at the 24/7 Prayer Event at church. I volunteered to help at the women's Regenerate conference in September. We volunteered at MLB FanFest this past summer. I'm not saying all this to toot my own horn, but to point out to myself that each of these opportunities to volunteer - to help - brought me great joy and excitement.

I'm also passionate about spending fun time with family and friends. Whether it's Disneyland, camping, shopping, going to the park, going out to eat, small group, playing games, just sitting around talking or quietly watching a movie, I feel full and content when I'm doing these activities with others. I'm finding my passion is all about others. I feel blessed and closest to God when I'm doing these activities. Why? I believe it's because it takes the focus off of me and places it on someone else.

So how do I find God's purpose for me in my passion? How do I get the desires of my heart? Psalm 37:4 (NIV) tells me exactly what I need to do: "Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart." Put God first, in all that I do, delighting in Him and His Son, and the Bible promises He will show me His purpose for my life and He will make me successful at it!! Seems I delight in being with and serving other people, to stop thinking about myself and my life. I desire to serve, to volunteer, to make people smile, to lift them up and encourage them. Just thinking about doing that brings me joy. I think I'm on my way to finding my purpose!!

Are you still wondering what God's will is for your life? For what purpose did He create you? Then figure out what you're passionate about. Ask yourself, "What is my passion?" It may just lead you down the road to finding His purpose for you!! 

"I don't know about you, but I want to do more than survive life - I want to mount up like the eagle and glide over rocky crags, nest in the tallest of trees, dive for nourishment in the deepest of mountain lakes, and soar on the wings of the wind." - Barbara Johnson

Dear Lord, thank You for this verse. Thank You for focusing my mind on what I'm passionate about as I seek Your purpose for my life. I desire to seek You and delight in You and Your Beloved Son first and foremost each day. Teach me to see each day as another opportunity to ignite my passion for You and for Your purpose. Your will be done and not my own. In Jesus' Precious name I pray, Amen.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Obedience Equals Love

"This is love for God: to obey His commands. And His commands are not burdensome." - 1 John 5:3 (NIV)

Obedience - is it really all it takes to show God my love for Him? According to this verse...Yes! Being obedient to God is accepting Jesus as my Lord and Savior and following Him in being baptized. Done. So, I'm good, right? Nothing else I need to do, right? WRONG!

There is much more to being obedient than accepting Jesus as my Savior. That's the first and most important step but there are many others. I know about the 10 Commandments: I shall have no other gods before Him, I shall not have idols, I shall not misuse the name of the Lord, I shall remember the Sabbath and keep it holy, I shall honor my father and mother, I shall not murder, I shall not commit adultery, I shall not lie and I shall not covet anything belonging to my neighbors, friends or family. (Exodus 20:3-17 NIV) Jesus also clearly stated what the greatest commandment is in Matthew 22:37-40 (NIV): "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments." Okay, I understand all of this. These commandments aren't always easy but John was right when he said they're "not burdensome". These are things I can be obedient to God in.

Then Jesus ups the ante a bit. In the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:3 - Matthew 7:27 NIV), He clarifies and instructs me on just what the "Law" and being obedient to it really means. When God commanded me not to commit murder, He also meant that I must not be angry with anyone. I can't be angry with ANYONE?!! (vs. 5:21-22) Whew, tough one, especially since anger is my biggest pitfall. Being obedient just got a little harder. When God commanded me not to commit adultery, He also meant that I mustn't look lustfully at another person or divorce my spouse. (vs. 5:27-32) Well, I haven't divorced my spouse but I have to admit I've salivated over other good looking men a time or two! Uh oh...more obedience trouble. When God commanded me not to have any other gods before Him and not have any idols, He meant that my treasures, the "things" I love the most, should be stored up in Heaven and not on this earth. (vs. 6:19-24) My home, my bank account, my job, my furniture, my vehicle, my family and friends - my "stuff" - are not to be more important than God in my life. Unfortunately, sometimes they are. Strike three in my being obedient. Then there are the other commands that Jesus gave me in His Sermon: love my enemies, turn the other cheek, don't seek revenge against those who wrong me AND forgive them (what?!) (vs. 5:38-48 & 6:14-15), don't seek accolades when I help someone in need (vs. 6:1-4), pray in secret (when it's specifically just between me and God) and fast in secret (vs. 6:5-13 & 6:16-18), don't make oaths - simply let "yes" be "yes" and "no" be "no" (vs. 5:33-37), don't worry or be anxious (big trouble in the obedience department for me with this one!!) (vs. 6:25-34), don't judge others (oh man, another black mark for me!) (vs 7:1-6), and watch out for false teachers, preachers and prophets, which means I must be studying my Bible to know what is false and what is true (vs. 7:15-23). Wow...this obedience thing sure seems to be burdensome.

It's not, though. I can do this. I can be obedient and show God I love Him. It can't just be in my actions; it has to be from the heart. I can't just say it, I have to feel it and show it. And on the days when I mess up - which is every day!! - God shows His love for me with His mercy, grace and forgiveness. Even though He forgives me, He still expects me to follow His commands: "Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called the least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 5:19 NIV). I intend to practice these commands, to continue to learn to be obedient to them. Will I stumble? Oh yeah!! Will I get back up and move forward? Count on it! I want to show God just how much I love Him and he has given me the instructions on how to do so. Obedience is God's love language!!

"Our Lord told His disciples that love and obedience were organically united. The final test of love is obedience." - A. W. Tozer

Dear Heavenly Father, I desire to be obedient to You so that You will know how much I love You. Lead me in being obedient to You and to Your commands, dear Lord. May not only my actions and words be obedient to You but my heart also. I want to thank You for Your mercy, grace and forgiveness when my disobedience rears its ugly head. When that happens, please help me to get back on track in obedience to You quickly. I place my life and faith in You today and each day forward. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Laughter IS the Best Medicine

"Clap your hands, all you nations; shout to God with cries of joy." - Psalm 47:1 (NIV)

"Cries of joy"...another phrase for laughter. I mean, what else would you call it? God wants to hear our laughter; see our joy. In Ecclesiastes 3:4 (NIV), the Bible says there's, "a time to weep and a time to laugh."  As an adult, I want to learn from my grandchildren - they can find joy and laughter in just about anything. A funny face, a tickle, a movie, being chased around the house, each other, the dogs playing, being outside, reading or being read to, cartoons, being held, going for a ride, a dumb joke, a game....I could go on and on. It doesn't take much to make them laugh and they do so on a daily basis.

What happened to me? Why don't I laugh every day? Even in the midst of troubles and sorrows, there is always a reason for joy. His name is Jesus. Philippians 4:4 (NIV) says, "Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!" That doesn't mean only when everything is going great and life is a breeze. It means even when life has handed me the biggest bucket of lemons it possibly can, I have a reason to laugh and be joyful. I have Jesus in my heart and Heaven as my eternal home. My troubles here on earth are fleeting; I have a whole eternity in Heaven, singing & praising, to look forward to. That alone should bring me daily joy!

When we find a reason to laugh, it changes things. It can bring light into a dark situation. It can release tension. It can bring out the child in us. It can heal. It can strengthen. It can make us see things differently. It really is the best medicine!

I decided this morning that I was going to find a reason to laugh, starting today and every day from now on, no matter what else may be going on around me. You know what? It wasn't hard to find one today!! Actually I found several reasons to laugh and the day isn't over! All I had to do was change my mindset - how I perceive things. God puts plenty of blessings and miracles into my life - I intend to stop and take some time each day to see them and enjoy them. And laugh!
"Laughter may not necessarily get you out of the tunnel, but it will definitely light your way." - Barbara Johnson

Dear Lord, thank You for the gift of laughter. Thank You for Jesus and the joy He brings to my life. May I keep my focus on Him and find reasons to laugh every day. Let me put a smile on my face each morning and share it with all I come into contact with. In Jesus' name, Amen. 

Giving Credit Where Credit's Due

"But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us..." - 2 Corinthians 7:6a (NIV)

I've been known to pat myself on the back a time or two for things I've succeeded at or accomplished. I get puffed up with pride at some of the things I've done. But the talents, abilities and knowledge that have allowed me to be successful in certain areas of my life aren't my own....they're gifts from God. So the credit for my successes belongs to Him  first...NOT ME!

When I take credit for the things I do, I'm short-changing God. I'm not being obedient or humble. I'm usually full of pride and puffed up with my own self-worth. That's completely wrong. When I look at things realistically, I usually haven't accomplished things on my own. God has always opened the door, put people into my life that I learn from, put me in the place where I was able to succeed. It's never been by luck or's always been by God. The credit for every good thing in my life belongs first and foremost to the Lord. Secondly, to all those in my life who have taught me, encouraged me, pushed me and believed in me. And, lastly, to myself.

Jesus gave credit where credit is due. In John 8:54 (NIV) He said, "If I glorify myself, my glory means nothing. My Father, whom you claim as your God, is the one who glorifies me." If Jesus gave credit to His Father first, then who am I to take the credit for what I accomplish?

Jesus also tells us in Matthew 5:5 (NIV) that "Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth". Not the proud, not the puffed up, not the self important but the meek and humble. My devotional says it best, I think: "There is no such thing as a self-made person. All of us are made by God." He created us, He loves us, He comforts us, He forgives us, He shows us grace and mercy, He heals us, He protects us....He deserves the credit for anything great that happens in our my life. God...I lift up my hands and my heart and give You all the credit, honor and glory for my life. That's where it's due.

"It is very easy to overestimate the importance of our own achievements in comparison with what we owe others." - Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Awesome God, You are the reason I'm able to do the things I do. Only through the gifts You've bestowed on me am I able to achieve success. May I never take the credit for Your accomplishments, Lord. You are due the honor and glory first, above all else. May I be Your humble and obedient servant. In Jesus' name, Amen.