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.