Saturday, April 30, 2011

Stop It!

The 4/30 verse for today is Eph 4:30, "Don't grieve God. Don't break his heart. His Holy Spirit, moving and breathing in you, is the most intimate part of your life, making you fit for himself. Don't take such a gift for granted. "  (MSG)

I love The Message version of this verse.  It demonstrates that there is a transaction that took place when we accepted Jesus Christ as the Lord of our life.  We exchanged our old life for a new one and got the ultimate gift of the Holy Spirit as a bonus.  Too often, we don't even realize that this is the bargain of a lifetime!

When I think about breaking God's heart, it breaks mine.  A God that would care enough to live inside me, to guide me in the best possible pathway for my life, is worthy of my honor.  Yet, why are there times we take such a precious gift for granted?  I think it's because we realize that He sometimes leads us in a different direction than our human desires want to take us.  The book of Ephesians gives us a wealth of wisdom for living a godly life.  We can embrace it or reject it, but blessings or consequences will result from our choice.

As Christians, God lives in us and we take Him through every experience in our lives.  I could mention any number of behaviors that break His heart, but I think we are all well aware of them.  We can choose His way or we can choose to drag Him with us through our bad decisions and willful sin.  But we should be mindful that, when our behavior opposes Him, He knows; He is there; and it breaks His heart.  So, what are we going to do about that?  I don't know about you, but I hear a tender voice inside saying, "Stop it!"

Thursday, April 28, 2011

"Well Done, Good and Faithful Servant!"

The 4/29 verse for the day is Acts 4:29, "Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness." (NLT)

This verse is so timely to me.  Yesterday, the world heard the news that we had lost a faithful servant of God and men.  David Wilkerson, founding pastor of Times Square Church and Teen Challenge, was killed in a car crash in Texas on April 27, 2011.  I felt sadness at our loss, but joy that he was finally in the presence of the God he served with great boldness and conviction.

In Acts Chapter 4, Peter and John had been arrested and interrogated by the religious leaders for teaching about the salvation and power of Jesus Christ.  Filled with the Holy Spirit, Peter boldly told them that the same Jesus they had crucified had been raised from the dead by God.  The leaders recognised them as men who had been with Jesus.  They released them because they did not know how to punish them further without starting a riot.  Too many people had witnessed the miraculous power of Jesus and believed what Peter and John were preaching.  Peter and John united with other believers in prayer and asked God to enable them to speak his word with great boldness.

Pastor David Wilkerson embodied this type of boldness as well as any modern day teacher, preacher, saint or servant I can think of.  There have been many naysayers over the years protesting the validity and power of what he has said, taught or written.  But, just as this verse demonstrates, God knew there would be scoffers against Peter and John.  He also knew there would be those that scoffed at what David Wilkerson had to say.  And He knows some will scoff at what you and I have to say about our Savior.  Some of us will cower or compromise under that pressure.  David Wilkerson never did.

My husband and I have had the opportunity to see and hear Pastor Wilkerson preach at Times Square Church many times.  However, one special Sunday will always stand out in my heart and mind above all other times we visited the church.  Right before the 9/11 tragedy, we were in the service at TSC.  We soon found out they had been praying for many weeks, 7 nights a week.  Pastor Wilkerson had been impressed to have the church cancel all meetings and speaking engagements and to pray in unity about a calamity he sensed was coming to NYC.  He got up behind the podium himself that morning, and, amidst much prayer and crying, he humbly spoke of this.  I remember him saying his knees were shaking as he stood there.  I will never forget how closely I felt the presence of God in that service that day. 

A little over a week later, too many of us witnessed the horrendous calamity and events of the tragedy of 9/ll, right before our very eyes on national television.  I was stunned that someone had actually been listening closely enough to God to tell others to pray.  He must have known it would sound a bit preposterous; he was asking people to join him in prayer for a calamity he could not even describe.  Yet there were believers who joined him in prayer.  He must have felt a little like Noah when God told him to build the Ark.  With no rain in sight and years of construction, I'm sure many people thought he was out of his mind.  But his family believed him and joined him in the building project.  No doubt, a few heads were shaking and a few eyes rolling at Pastor Wilkerson.  It did not deter his boldness and obedience to God.

Peter and John were recognised as men who had been with Jesus.  My heart tells me that is also true of Pastor Wilkerson.  He must have spent a lot of time in prayer with Jesus to know Him and recognise His voice so well.  He is no doubt with Jesus now and I am convinced he has heard, "Well done, good and faithful servant!"  Yes, I recognise him as a man who has been, and forever will be, with Jesus. 

Pastor Wilkerson's death did not take God by surprise. I've attached a link which includes a blog he wrote the same day of his death. It's very telling about this man of God and his unfailing faith. In the 4th Chapter of Acts it mentions that everything that happened did so according to God's eternal will and plan. The same can be said today. Thank you, Pastor David Wilkerson. You will be greatly missed.

Love said "YES"!

The verse I've chosen for 4/28 is John 4:28.  For the sake of completion and understanding, I will quote both John 4:28 and 4:29, "The woman left her water jar beside the well and went back to her village and told everyone, 'Come and meet a man who told me everything I ever did!  Could this be the Messiah?'"  (NLT)

I have a fondness for today's date, 4/28, because it is my 27th wedding anniversary to my wonderful husband, Bill.  I can relate to the woman at the well because there was a time in our marriage when the consequences of sin had me in denial and isolation.  I didn't want to be around anyone who may know the truth about the mess my marriage had become.  Yet, when I was thirsty for a Savior to change me and my marriage, Jesus was there to reveal to me that He knew my condition and He loved me anyway.  I am so grateful to Him for His loving grace and so grateful to my husband for saying "Yes" to Jesus and, therefore, "Yes" to us. 

Just like the woman at the well, I want to go tell everyone about the man that knew everything about me!  I am convinced that He is the Messiah.  Because I met Jesus and have gotten to know Him, my life has been changed forever.  I'm thankful that I've been married 27 years to a man who has become the mate God intended for me; a man whose heart has been molded by God to love me and honor me as his treasured wife.  I love him so much and I'm thankful that our marriage honors God and puts Him first.  That is indeed the secret to our success. 

But, most of all, I'm thankful for Jesus, the Messiah, who met me where I was and loved me anyway.  I will spend a lifetime telling everyone about Him and an eternity thanking and praising Him.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Lock the door!

The 4/27 verse of the day is from Ephesians 4:27, "Don't give the devil a chance."  (GNT)

I feel like this needs an exclamation point; not just a mere period.  This verse should be written on our hearts and posted in our brains.  Let's not overlook the wisdom of the Apostle Paul as he gives direction on how to live a successful Christian life.  This verse is an essential part of that.

Earlier in scripture, in Eph 4:26, Paul is talking about not letting anger lead us into sin.  Some versions of Eph 4:27 refer to anger giving the devil a foothold.  What does all of this mean to us?  I think it means that anger opens the door to all kinds of thoughts and behavior that can lead to loss of control and further sin.  If that door is open, the devil will take every chance to put his foot into our lives so he can always have access.  A lady once joked with my husband after a sermon, "Don't be gettin' in my house!"  Well, if the devil has his way, he'll be in your house lounging on your couch, sleeping in your bed and sitting at your table, waiting for you to serve him.  It's up to us to shut the door and lock it before he gets his foot into it.

I believe the devil is a stalker.  He lurks and leers and takes notice of everything we say and do.  After a while, he begins to recognize our hot buttons and tries to orchestrate things to trip us up at every opportunity.  He is like a puppeteer who pulls the strings and pushes the buttons of those who fall for his tricks and are vulnerable to him.  His job description includes verbiage like steal, kill and destroy.  We need to be aware of someone with a resume like this.  Let's not wait until we see him coming to post a "no vacancy" sign on the doors of our heart and mind.  Now is the time to alert the neighborhood watch that a prowler is on the loose.

The first and best defense against the devil will always be God.  He can slam the door in the devil's face better than anyone I know.  But just like humans, we're always answering the door bell or leaving the door open for an intrusion.  So how can we keep theft from this prowler at a minimum?  My take would be, if you're a candidate for anger management, maybe mellowing out would be a good idea.  Just lock the door and chill...and let God get the doorbell.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

My most trusted favorite

The 4/26 verse for today is Proverbs 4:26, "Mark out a straight path for your feet; stay on the safe path."  (NLT)

When I'm going to an unfamiliar place, I have to rely on my GPS, map quest, or some navigation tool to get me there.  In years past my guide would have been a road map, but in today's culture that may seem outdated.  I mean, who needs to unfold the pages and figure out all the turns when we can just have a voice tell us where to turn and when to do it?  We can even choose a variety of languages and dialects for the voice that, literally, tells us where to go.  That's just a slight upgrade on your run-of-the-mill road map.

I have several "favorites" saved in my GPS.  These are regular places to which I often travel, mostly for work.  Most of the time I know how to get there on my own, but when I'm in a busy area and the places I start or end up get juggled around, I need to just be able to push in a favorite and let the voice do the talking.  That trusted favorite gets me where I need to go, time and time again.

Life is a little bit like that, I think.  Our journeys get busy and confusing.  Sometimes we make a wrong turn and go down a broken road.  But we can always find our way back to the right path with the proper navigation system; God's word.  Unlike regular road maps or technology that becomes outdated, the bible has timeless direction.  It is forever enhanced by a voice called the Holy Spirit.  This voice can direct us in the best pathway for our lives.  If we listen to His voice, our path will become straighter and safer.  Now that's the direction I want to go.  God's way is by far my most trusted favorite!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The King and I

The 4/25 verse of the day is John 4:25, "The woman said, 'I know the Messiah will come--the one who is called Christ. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.'" (NLT)

Recently we were back in Kentucky visiting and had the opportunity to tour a horse farm steeped in tradition and history. While I loved the feel of this horse farm, it wasn't what I was expecting. It was different, more normal really, than another horse farm I had toured several years earlier. This one really seemed like a farm. There were wooden barns with stables and hay and all the sights and smells that come with horse farms.

I had gone on a private tour with some co-workers to the other horse farm several years earlier. I told the tour guide the name of the farm and that it was totally different from the current farm we were touring. The other farm didn't even seem like a farm. The barns were more like massive structures of brick or stone and the interior was quiet immaculate and filled with grandeur and opulence. The walls were made of some kind of expensive wood, like oak, and the floors seemed spotless. I was convinced that these horses were better off than many humans, or at least their digs were much fancier.

I thought all horse farms were going to be this way. The previous farm I had toured was owned by two Arab brothers. I had even gotten to meet them outside of the main house and had the chance to shake hands with them. I really had no idea who they were. The guide informed me that one of the brothers had since died and the other was now the leader of Dubai! Wow, I had met royalty and didn't even know who he was. Furthermore, at the time, I could have cared less. I was more in awe of the barns than a prince who had since become the king of his country!

Can you relate to being in the presence of someone important, maybe even royalty, without having the slightest clue of who they really were? That was the case for the woman at the well with Jesus in the verse above. She was talking about a coming Messiah who was already in her presence! How could she not know who He was?

You'd think we would know Jesus if we met him, right? I mean, we've seen enough pictures, haven't we? I meant that facetiously, but we really have seen pictures of Jesus in our mind's eye and the stories of Him in the bible leave pictures in our hearts. Those pictures don't really have a face; they don't need to. They just need to have a "place" in our hearts.

Now, before you go getting too hard on the woman at the well, think about how blind we once were. Before you saw Jesus for who He really is, did you recognize all the times He met you where you were; showed up when you were in your shame, isolation or denial? This woman showed up at the well in the heat of the mid-day sun. No one else in town came to the well at this time. They came either earlier in the morning, before the sun got hot, or late in the evening, as the day got cooler. For her to show up alone there is good reason to believe that she was ashamed of being there when the others came for their water. She was ashamed and isolated and probably ridiculed for the life she led.

Jesus soon pegged her for her lifestyle. She was in yet another of a long line of relationships, and the man she was currently living with was not her husband. Nabbed! But not disgraced. The author of grace showed her His best seller. He told her who He was. Truth be known, He was only there to introduce her to the face of grace. He knew her thirst could never be quenched with the water she was drawing from the well. She needed to meet the Living Water to be washed of her sin and shame. He met her where she was. She would never be thirsty again.

Maybe you've never met an earthly king face to face. Even though I did, once, it didn't really leave much of an impact on me. On the other hand, when I finally met, and recognized, my King, I couldn't deny who He was. I gotta tell you, He's one tall drink of water and the only One who will ever quench my thirst. He's my Prince of Peace; my King of Kings. I guess I've come to recognize real royalty when I see Him, huh?

Happy Thanksgiving!

The 4/24 verse for today is Rom 4:24, "It was for us, too, assuring us that God will also declare us to be righteous if we believe in God, who brought Jesus our Lord back from the dead."  (NLT)

The following verse, Rom 4:25, goes on to say, "He was handed over to die because of our sins, and He was raised from the dead to make us right with God."

The verses above are referring to Abraham and how he believed God and, because of that belief in God, he was declared righteous.  Without God declaring us righteous, we have no hope.  But, especially on this day, Resurrection Day, I'm reminded that God made a way, not only for Abraham, but for me, for you, for all of us...if we only believe.

Resurrection Day marks the day that the stone was rolled away, it could not hold our Saviour!  He has risen and He lives!  Be still, my one has ever done, or will ever do, anything that monumental for me.  I can't say "Thank You Jesus!" enough.  But I want to.  Especially today, I want to say "Happy Thanksgiving!", because I am filled with thanks for my Saviour.  He suffered, died, and rose again....all so I could live forever in eternity if I believed in Him.  I do believe and I call this a glorious day.

Some may call it Easter, but I say, "Happy Thanksgiving!!!"

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Heart choices

The 4/23 verse of the day is Proverbs 4:23, "Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life."  (NLT)

The amazing organ.  God designed it to sustain our lives physically and spiritually.  It's interesting that when we talk about love we sometimes picture a heart.  When we feel things, we know the heart is one big sensory organ for allowing us those sensations.  The heart is our lifesource and it pumps our blood throughout our body to other organs, thereby giving them life as well.

When we say our heart is broken, it usually means that we have felt something to the depths of our soul, most often toward something or someone else, and something has happened to affect or sever that relationship in some way.  I have had heart break and heart ache in life.  I think it's safe to say that none of us are exempt from that.  But something always comes back to me when I reflect upon those times.  It is what was within my heart during those times that helped me deal with my hurt.  It is what is within my heart now that helps me live my life in a meaningful way.  It is who is within my heart that makes all the difference in the world to me.

Before I asked Jesus to come into my heart, it was physically healthy.  But it was spiritually dead.  You know, just because we're alive, doesn't mean we know how to live.  The blood pumping through my heart and body gave me physical life.  I needed more.  So, by inviting Jesus into my heart, I got a heart transplant.  He gave me His life, His blood and His Holy Spirit. 

Now that I have the true lifesource inside my heart, there's a HUGE difference in my quality of life.  It's sure to help me make the wisest decisions for my life.  I'm so grateful for my heart transplant.  This heart choice will determine the best course for my life.  That's enough incentive to guard it well.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Sunday's comin'!

Today is 4/22, aka Good Friday. I've chosen Mark 4:22 for today's verse, "Everything that is now hidden or secret will eventually be brought to light." (NLT)

Truth somehow has a way of making itself known. I find it revealing that this verse falls on Good Friday. Good Friday is only good for us. Jesus went to the cross on this day. He suffered and died a horrific death as the only sufficient sacrifice for our sins. It was a dark day, but He knew that the Light would soon arise from the darkness.

It's Friday, friends, but Sunday's comin!

Click on the blue title above to hear S.M. Lockridge's heartfelt sermon.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Eleventh Hour

The 4/21 verse of the day is from Romans 4:21, “He was absolutely convinced that God was able to do anything he promised.” (NLT)

My husband often recounts the story of taking our, then, teenage daughter and her friend to Madison Square Garden for Christmas to see one of her favorite bands. He did not have tickets, but he wasn’t concerned. Being from NYC and somewhat of an avid concert aficionado throughout his life, he had a good track record of getting into shows. He promised her they would get tickets and she was convinced that he would deliver on that promise.

What my husband didn’t realize was that Dave Matthews was really the bomb at that time. His concerts always sold out. This Garden concert was no exception. We had driven all the way from Lexington, KY to “The City”, as my husband affectionately calls his beloved NYC. Upon arriving, they found out that the previous night’s show had sold out and that only a limited amount of people without tickets had gotten into the show after standing on the cancelled tickets line for many hours. He was still confident, though. He always got tickets!

After 4 hours in the cancelled ticket line, my daughter started to get a little concerned. She said, “Dad, are we going to get tickets?” He had been praying silently the entire time, something to the tune of, “God, I promised my little girl we would get into this show. Please help me deliver on my promise.” He told her, "yes", they would get tickets. She smiled, reassured that they would get in. Her friend looked like she would cry. My husband started thanking God for something that looked like it was going to be impossible. The warm up band was playing and The Dave Matthews Band was due to come onto the stage at any moment. Talk about the Eleventh hour!

Suddenly, what had seemed impossible happened. The man who had been in front of them in the line had witnessed their conversation. He knew they had driven all the way from KY. In an act of kindness, he decided to call a friend whom he knew could get tickets. He left the line and returned shortly with 3 tickets. They weren’t cheap, but he said he understood how important getting into the show was to the girls, and decided to help. My husband jumped at the chance to fulfill his promise to our daughter and snapped up the tickets. He silently thanked God for making a way for the impossible to become a reality. A great time was had by all, and they ended up in specially made box seats right by the stage!

This story sort of reminds me of the confidence Abraham had in God. God had promised Abraham that he would be the father of many nations and that his descendants would be as numerous as the stars. Abraham believed God; he was convinced that his father could do what he promised. Then the bible goes on to say, “even though such a promise seemed utterly impossible.”

Abraham and his wife, Sarah, were not young when God promised these things to him. They were much more likely to be pushing walkers than strollers and Sarah had never been able to have children. She even chuckled at the absurdity of having a baby at her age. Yet, Abraham “believed” what the Lord had promised him. Because of his belief, God declared him righteous and, after some time, gave them a child, Isaac. Considering the circumstances, it had seemed utterly impossible that Abraham would father many nations and descendants, but God had promised that he would. Abraham believed God and the impossible became a reality.

I want to be like Abraham and believe God’s promises. I don’t want to give up when it seems like God has forgotten me, or I think it’s too late for anything to happen. God’s word is true and He gives us many promises, therein. I am convinced that God is able to do anything he promised…I choose to believe Him. After all, He’s got a great track record.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


Today's verse for 4/20 is 1 John 4:20, "If someone says, 'I love God,' but hates a christian brother or sister, that person is a liar; for if we can't love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see?" (NLT)

This verse is hard to swallow. As a matter of fact, the more I chew on it, the more I'm inclined to feel busted. That's right, I'm busted! I can't tell you how many times I've thought or made a comment along these lines: "I'm good with God, but it's people that I have a problem with!"

While I cannot think of anyone that I actually hate, I'm certainly not as fond of some people as I am of others. There may be some people I don't feel inclined to spend my free time with; they annoy me or irk me in some way. In that case, I'm ashamed to realize that God is talking about me in this verse. As much as I would like to, I can't rationalize that this verse does not apply to me since I don't actually "hate" people, but I just don't "like" some as well as others. Yep, I'm busted.

What I like about this translation is that it is one of the few that includes the word "christian" brother or sister in it's content. Christians are called to a higher standard of living. That comes from having the Holy Spirit living within us to direct us in the best way we should live, from reading God's word for wisdom and knowledge, and from knowing him personally in our prayer life. We are held accountable to love other christians well; to go to them when we just can't get along with them and try to work out our differences. Non-christians don't always get this. Actually, not all christians get this either. I haven't always gotten it in the past, but I want to correct that in the future.

When I say that I love God, I want it to be on his terms. I have to wonder if all of us really love an invisible God when we can't even love those around us. I need to seek God's forgiveness and grace to help me love them as he does and I need to reconcile with anyone that I may have a problem with. I don't want to be a liar in God's eyes, so I'm asking for his help to love well, horizontally, so I can truly love him, vertically.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The "Catch"

The 4/19 verse of the day is Mat 4:19, "Then He said to them, 'Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.'” (NKJV)

This verse has great significance to me. Before my husband became a pastor, we were visiting NYC and attending a conference at the Brooklyn Tabernacle. Even though it was for pastors, it was also for non-pastors or other lay people in ministry. Whatever the excuse was to get to the Brooklyn Tab...we were there.

What we did not expect was the message God was going to deliver to us those few days. Joseph Stowell was the speaker and I can remember tears streaming down my face as I realized the call of God on Bill's life and mine. He was teaching from this passage and God was using him to speak directly to us. There was a fishing trip in our future!

Up until that point, I had resisted Bill going into ministry as a vocation. How were we going to pay the bills if he pursued a job in ministry. Yes, I know, for someone whose top spiritual gift is faith, I was not a good candidate for faith's poster child at that point. I was more like Jacob, wrestling with God's will. God won...and I have never regretted putting on the waders and setting out to unknown waters.

It's quiet comical as I look back on it. God had stripped us of Bill's career; we had lost our home and I was still too thick headed to give up my "comfort." What comfort?! We were failing miserably because I, mainly, was running away from God. I'm quiet surprised I didn't get swallowed up by a whale or something!

Thank the Lord, for knocking me up the side of the head (for lack of a better depiction of how he had to reach me!). I cannot express adequately the great joy we've had telling others of God's grace, goodness, love and plan of salvation, through Jesus, since he sent us out fishing. We've been able to be part of some good "catches" by God! Whether he sends us out for the serious deep-sea fishing or has us sit alongside a calm stream, I know he will keep sending the fish our way. We're just gonna show up and let him help us catch them.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Forecast: Sunny and Bright!

The 4/18 verse of the day is Prov 4:18, "The ways of right-living people glow with light; the longer they live, the brighter they shine." (Message)

As I was driving home from work today, I heard a great version of "This Little Light of Mine." Funny, one of the singers was Bruce Springsteen, and I had never heard him sing it. I like his music, but, I have no idea where he stands spiritually. He sure does have a great platform from which to shine a bright light though, doesn't he?

I think of people like Mother Teresa and Corrie Ten Boom. Their lights kept glowing brighter throughout their lifetimes, but death could not even extinguish the glow; it shines brighter today than ever before.

I want to become a light so bright that people have to start wearing sunglasses around me. Right now I feel like I'm more like a partly-cloudy kind of gal, but I'm hoping for more and more sunshine as the days go by. This little light of mine...I'm gonna let it get your Ray-Ban's ready!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Golden Ticket

The 4/17 verse of the day is 1 Thes 4:17, "Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air and remain with him forever." (NLT)

No, this is not a line from a Star Trek movie, where we're waiting for Scottie to beam us up. But, I'm still trying to get my little mind around the full implications of this truth. Jesus is coming back for us friends! I believe that with my whole heart. He tells us it is so.

Today is Palm Sunday. It marks the last Sunday of Lent and the first day of the Holy Week in the Christian tradition. This is the day when Jesus rode triumphantly into Jerusalem where he was welcomed with open arms. It is also the basis for the Palm Sunday processions.

The accolades for Jesus on the original Palm Sunday didn't last long in Jerusalem. By the end of the week people had turned against him and he ended up being crucified. Of course, this was all a part of God's plan. He allowed it to fulfill scripture and give the only sacrifice sufficient to cover the sins of humankind...Jesus was our sacrifice.

Jesus did rise from death and came back to earth for a little while, but he then ascended back to heaven. Before he left, he promised that he would return again someday for all believers and that those who had already died in Christ and those believers who remained on earth, would be caught up in the clouds with him. It sure seems like that promise was a long time ago.

I sometimes grow impatient for his return. Natural disasters, wars and immorality have us all wondering if he's going to come for us in our lifetime. In my selfishness, I want him to return today, but I also know that not everyone is ready for his return. In his mercy, he is waiting for those that don't believe in him to do so. Believing Jesus died for our sins and putting our trust in him is like getting a free golden ticket that will take us on our journey to eternity.

I want to be caught up in the air with Jesus and remain with him forever. I've made reservations for my golden ticket and I'm looking forward to the flight. I heard there's a great deal going on and you can still get your golden ticket before it's too late. It's completely free...Jesus comped us all! So what are you waiting for, make the transaction and secure your reservation. It'll be the trip of a lifetime...for eternity.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

For such a time as this

It's 4/16 - April 16th. The 4:16 bible verse for the day is HEB 4:16, "Let us have confidence, then, and approach God's throne, where there is grace. There we will receive mercy and find grace to help us just when we need it." (GNT)

I used the Good News Translation for today, because I wanted to say that it is "Good News" that we can come to God with our prayer requests. It's even "BETTER NEWS" that he hears us. The "BEST NEWS" is that he, in his mercy and grace, answers our prayers in just the right way and at just the right time...his way and his time. Let's face it friends, he does know better than we do.

Have you ever known someone so well, that you were pretty confident how they would respond or act in a certain situation? Maybe your spouse, or your children, or your parents? Maybe you know someone who is always there for you. You know that, when you have a need, that person is going to do whatever is in their power to help you. That trust and faith in them comes from knowing them, spending time with them, and being rather confident of how much they care for you and what you might need. I think our confidence in God and our willingness to go to him with our needs may also be reflected in how well we know him; how comfortable we are in his presence. I believe he wants us there. He loves us that much.

This makes me think of the story of Esther in the bible. She knew that going to the king's throne uninvited was something that was just not done. Going into the inner throne room could result in death. She went anyway, because too much was at stake and she took that risk. Good for her, and the Jewish people, he welcomed her and granted her requests. The sight of her was pleasing to him and he welcomed her into his presence. It was the right time and she was the right person to take the needs of her people to the king.

While that story might encourage us, I'm still really grateful that our king is not an earthly king. We have a heavenly king and we can be confident when we approach him. Our king is God; he is holy. He welcomes us at all times; we can always go before his throne. Have you been in the throne room lately? His arms are open wide...for such a time as this. His grace and mercy will comfort you when nothing else can. We may not always get what we want, but we can be certain that he will give us what we need. And, sometimes, his presence is all we need.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Grace Benefits

The 4/15 verse of the day is 1 John 4:15, "If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the son of God, God lives in him and he in God." (NIV)

On this traditional tax day, April 15th, people are often filled with dread because they know it is the deadline for paying any taxes they owe. You've heard it said that only two things in life are certain: death and taxes. I disagree. I'm looking toward the sky everyday to see if Jesus will return before I have to experience death!

The verse above is proof that I have a good insurance plan for eternity. I have acknowledged that Jesus is the son of God. His very spirit lives in me and directs me in the way I should go. Sometimes I don't listen as well as I should, but, nonetheless, he lives in me. Because I believe in Jesus as the son of God, my future, both here and in heaven, are secure. There's no better insurance or assurance than that.

We heard a friend recently talking about relationship with God. He said we can have a friendship with God, which God wants, and it's a beautiful thing. He said we can continue to grow in that friendship and develop a son/daughter-ship with God. That seems to deepen the relationship just a bit, doesn't it? We are most often closer with father-son or father-daughter relationships, than we are with our friends. Then, he said the ultimate relationship with God would be one-ship. Awe, that's the goal, becoming one with God. When we become more like Jesus, we develop this oneness with God. That's what I want for my life. The verse above, indicates that this is also what God wants for my life.

Today, on April 15th, most of us will have paid our taxes or made other arrangements to pay them later. If we are lucky, we have, or will, get money back for overpaying them during the year. That's always a plus! This year we've been given a little grace in that taxes are not due until April 18th because of some holiday in our capitol. That's totally random and unexpected, isn't it? Well, that's just like grace. It is undeserved and unexpected, but God gives it to us anyway.

God has already taken care of our eternal debt through Jesus. That's a certainty I count on. I've sent in my "return" of belief and love to him. The benefits for this payment, made by Jesus, are amazing and undeserved. The benefits are current and eternal. Now that's grace.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

If you Rebuild it - He will come

The 4/14 verse of the day is from NEH 4:14, "Then as I looked over the situation, I called together the leaders and the people and said to them, 'Don't be afraid of the enemy! Remember the Lord, who is great and glorious, and fight for your friends, your families, and your homes!'" (NLT)

This has always been a special verse to me. Nehemiah didn't throw his hands up and quit when things got tough. He got on his knees and prayed. Seemingly, a bunch of underdogs were banning together to do the impossible...BUT GOD changed all that. With God, perspective changed. With God, the underdogs became over comers. With God, fear disappeared and courage was born. With God, a story about a wall became a story about the Rock.

Wouldn't it be great if we could apply this story in Nehemiah to our own lives? What might happen if we remembered to pray and expect great things from our great God when the walls around our lives started to crumble? Our fear and despair may start looking like a cup half full, instead of a cup half empty, if we remembered the Lord and his greatness in our circumstances! Looking to the Lord might empower us and give us the confidence to fight for our friends, our families and our homes.

We seem to give up our treasures without a fight these days. Families are fractured, relationships are busted, and stability is shattered. Too often, we just cower and hand that which is precious to us over to the enemy. We go ahead with divorce because it's too hard to stay married. We wring our hands, but don't know what else to do as our kids are engulfed in alcohol, drugs and sex.

What is wrong with this picture? It's not the way God intended us to live. With prayer, persistence and praise we can build a wall that cannot be penetrated by the enemy. We can save our marriages, our children, and our relationships. But we first have to decide they are worth fighting for. They most certainly are, so roll up your sleeves, ask God to help you rebuild the structure of your families and relationships, and watch him ROCK your world. He is able...we just have to be willing. If you rebuild it...He will come.

Artist God

The 4/13 verse of the day is Amos 4:13, "He who forms the mountains, creates the wind, and reveals his thoughts to man, he who turns dawn to darkness, and treads the high places of the earth-- the Lord God Almighty is his name!" (NIV)

I have always had a great appreciation for God's creation, but when we had the opportunity to live near Boulder, CO for a couple of years, I felt like I was living in a 3D art show...and the artist was our Creator God. Not only did I move from Kentucky to Colorado, but I moved from feeling appreciation for God's creation to feelings of awe and wonder, love and praise for the Creator, himself. I may not be a very cultured kind of girl, but I know the ultimate artist and I've seen a few free shows. I am an avid fan now and I want to see so much more of his wonderful artwork and beauty.

I find myself taking snapshots like a crazy fool! If you could see my camera on my phone, you would think I've lost my mind. I have more clouds, sunsets, oceans, mountains and flowers than you could shake a stick at. I see it, feel it, and want to capture it! I'm always shouting, "God, you're GOOD!" I think he knew that I need reminded of who he is in every way possible. He sets pictures before me, so I cannot deny his power and wonder. He makes me feel like he is lavishing beautiful, wonderful gifts upon me that touch my heart, mind and soul. I feel him in the sun, the stars, the moon and the wind. And when I see him and feel him, there is no doubt that the LORD GOD ALMIGHTY is his name!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Divine Surgery

The 4/12 verse of the day is Heb 4:12, "For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart." (NIV)

I have a pink tee-shirt with this verse on it. I got it at a Living Proof conference near Chicago. Living Proof is a ministry led by Beth Moore. She teaches bible studies to women around the world. She lives in Texas with her husband and the woman has a southern twang and a heavenly perspective. Her heart and passion for Jesus surpasses even the biggest sized dreams and attitudes. She is a Jesus lover and wants to help women learn to study the bible so we can get to know and love God better. She is a firecracker for Jesus and I love her ministry.

To borrow a little insight from Beth, we are to be "living proof" that God's word is alive and active in us. John 1:1 says that "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." I don't have to be a Rhodes scholar to know that God is found in the Word; He is the Word. God wants to be known by us and he makes himself known in his word.

I believe that the closer we get to God, through his Word, he continuously performs divine surgery on our hearts, minds and souls. His Word gives us wisdom and revelation. It gives us the ability to see right from wrong and good from bad, and the desire to make the best choices for our lives. As with any surgery, the purpose is to get better. Our lives should be living proof that the surgery was successful and that our God is the Great Physician.

Monday, April 11, 2011

411 Newsflash

The 4/11 verse for the day is from Exodus 4:11, "Who makes mouths?" the LORD asked him. 'Who makes people so they can speak or not speak, hear or not hear, see or not see? Is it not I, the LORD?"

Here's a little 411 newsflash for us: When God chooses to use us, we best let him. Fear or inadequacy may make us feel like we can't be used by God. We would be wrong.

How likely was it that God would use Moses to free his people, the Israelites, from slavery in Egypt? The man had commited murder, fled to the wilderness to hide and tend sheep for forty years, and had a speech impediment to boot! Had the Israelites been able to have an election to choose the man God would choose to deliver them, I don't think Moses' resume would have put him at the top of their list. Yet, God insisted that Moses was, indeed, his man for the job. No matter how ill equipped he believed himself to be, it wasn't really about him or what he could or couldn't do. It was about what God could and would do through him, if he just answered the call. Moses just had to say "yes".

While Moses was nothing special, God certainly worked through him to do special things. At first, Moses protested that he wasn't good enough to do what God was asking. He used the excuse that he wasn't a good speaker and, therefore, could not be the spokesperson to go talk to Pharaoh and demand that he let the Israelite people go. God countered that it didn't matter; He would equip, guide and empower Moses to do what was required. Moses still made excuses and, finally, God gave him additional help through his brother Aaron, who was a good speaker.

It's funny how God eliminates all of our lame excuses when we follow his will for our lives. Not only will he equip us for anything he asks us to do, but, like Moses, he will even give us a PR person to help get the job done. We can be assured that, if he wants us to do something, it's not because we are so great, anyway. It's because He is great and he wants to do great things through us for his glory.

So, what have you been telling God you're not capable of doing? What excuses are you making? What fears do you have? God's 411 for us today might be that, despite our perceived weaknesses, he still wants to use us to accomplish his purposes. It's really not about us and what we can't's about God and what he CAN do.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Alright by me

The 4/10 verse for today is from 1 Chronicles 4:10, "Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, 'Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.' And God granted his request." (NIV)

Many of us recognize this as the prayer of Jabez. A little over 10 years ago a book was written about this humble prayer. Bookstores couldn't stock their shelves fast enough with this book. People were desperate to find out how their prayers could be answered like Jabez' prayer was.

I wonder how many of us truly understood the heart of Jabez. Yes, he wanted the blessing of God; he cried out for it. I interpret this as a plea, not just a casual request. He also prayed that God would enlarge his territory. Whether this was for actual land or just for more people to influence, I will leave to theologians, but my simple understanding prompts me to believe that Jabez' motives are at the heart of this prayer. More importantly, I tend to believe that Jabez' motives were pure and that is why God answered his prayer. Jabez' heart was revealed in that he asked that God's hand be upon him; he wanted God to be with him. I don't imagine that is a request God often wants to refuse.

In continuation of the plea Jabez is making of God, he asks that God keep him from harm so he would be free of pain. Some people may view this as purely self-serving, but, to me, it's an honest request. I often pray it for myself and my family. Do I understand that sometimes there will be pain in life? Yes, I get that. But do I feel like God loves me enough to help me to walk with him in a manner that helps me be in step with his plan for my life and know that his protection is available for me and my loved ones? You bet!

Will God answer all of our prayers just like he did Jabez' prayer? No, that experience is unique to the Jabez. But I am grateful that my prayers are also unique to God and that he answers them in his good and perfect will. And that's better than alright by me.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Slaves no more

The 4/9 verse of the day is Gal 4:9, “And now that you have found God (or should I say, now that God has found you), why do you want to go back again and become slaves once more to the weak and useless powers of this world.?” (NLT)

Have you ever done something before and made a vow to never do it again, only to find, in a few months or years, that you’ve forgotten your vow and you’re right back in that same situation? Frustrating, isn’t it? We all do it. That’s why I often think that I could have some Jewish blood; not because I’m Jewish, but because I can certainly act as poorly as the Israelites ever did. I groan; I moan; I complain: I whine; I’m impatient; I’m prideful; I’m selfish….you name it and I, unfortunately, can claim it! I’m not proud of it, but it’s true. Something tells me I’m not alone in my propensity to gravitate back towards my sin. Some of you may be able to relate to me on that one.

I’m really bothered when I do that sort of thing, though. Because, when I accepted Jesus as my Savior, he forgave me and saved me from every sin I had ever committed or will ever commit in the future. God has provided me with all the knowledge and power I need, through the bible and his holy spirit, to make the right choices and live a godly life. Why, then, do I return to the things I said I’d never do again? Why do I get sucked into gossip sometimes, even though I know how toxic it is? Why do I become a slave, as this verse asks, to the things of this world; things that seem so attractive to me, but can never fulfill me? Why do I put other people, things, and dreams before serving my God and being obedient to him; thereby making false idols out of things that have no power or strength? I could blame the Israelites for being a bad example, but that just wouldn’t be fair, now would it? No, this is all on me.

It does seem preposterous that we would ever want to be slaves again after we’ve been set free, doesn’t it? Even after God used Moses to deliver the Israelites from the bondage of slavery in Egypt, they went around in circles in the desert for 40 years instead of moving forward in the right direction. All they had to do was follow God, wait on him, and learn to be free. He even showed them the way, much like he shows me. I sure hope I'm a much quicker study than they were.

Friday, April 8, 2011

No sweat

The 4/8 verse of the day is 1 Tim 4:8, "Physical exercise has some value, but spiritual exercise is much more important, for it promises a reward in both this life and the next. (NLT)

This is such good news to me. I know I need to exercise, physically, but I never find it easy or convenient. Someone once told me if I made it a habit that I would get to where I liked it....they were wrong! I hate physical exercise. However, I am well aware that my health, well-being and state of mind are all enhanced by physical exercise. For that reason, I will drag myself to the gym and struggle to burn my 200 calories on the elliptical machine or treadmill. After all, that monthly membership should get some use. Thank God for warmer weather around the corner. At least I love the outdoors and sunshine and can go for walks, hikes, and bicyle rides. That might be the closest I come to getting jiggy with this exercise thing.

While my struggle with physical exercise may indicate a lack of commitment, it could also be attributed to the fact that I just have no desire to sweat...not my favorite thing to do. I know there is value to it and I am really trying to get serious about working out for my health. All of this effort is for this life, though. Yes, I do want to be as healthy and agile in this life as possible, but I know that physical exercise will only benefit me on this side of heaven. What is much more important to me, is that I couple my physical health with the peace of mind and power that comes from spiritual exercise.

If I don't work my body muscles, they become weak and my body starts to look and feel like it. Likewise, if I don't use my mind to learn more about God and how I can get to know him better and live a better life for him, myself and others, my spiritual muscles are not used. I become stagnant and don't have the power I need to live a life that is strong in the Lord. Worse, I don't have the heart I need to love others, to love them unconditionally, or to show compassion to those in need.

If I'm spiritually weak, I don't know how to flex my spiritual muscles for effective prayer or spiritual battle. For goodness sake, if I know that there is someone out there whose main objective is to kill, steal and destroy me, why wouldn't I want to get spiritually fit so I could fend him off? Investing my time to get my head and heart spiritually fit makes perfect sense to me, but I find that sometimes I also get a little lazy or become complacent in my spiritual workouts. I find myself too busy and don't take time to read my bible. I wake up late and forget to pray in the morning before going out of the house. I decide not to worship or listen to Christian radio in my car one day and switch to talk radio. These things lead to irritability and aggravation; chaos instead of peace. If only I had maintained my spiritual fitness!

Yes, both physical and spiritual exercise are important and essential for this life. But one of them trumps the other. You see, we won't need physical exercise in heaven...Thank you, Lord! He gives us the bonus plan by giving us glorified bodies. I can really dig that plan. But when we choose to join the club for spiritual workouts, we get more than just a lifetime membership. It comes with a promise of life for glad I don't have to sweat it!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The cart before the horse

The 4/7 verse for today is from James 4:7, "So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you." (NLT)

I can't tell you how many times I've heard this verse misquoted. People are forevermore saying, "Resist the devil and he will flee from you." Then, they wonder why he never really goes anywhere, or shows up more often than ever in their lives.

The first part of this verse is key. Without it, we have no chance of accomplishing the desired result. We can try to fight the devil and resist him in our own strength, and may even be somewhat successful for a little while. But we don't have the necessary strength, willpower, or weapons to keep him at bay for long. He is relentless and he never gives up. His mission for his entire miserable existence has been to steal, kill and destroy us. His mission hasn't changed. We have no defense against him...apart from God. Yet, we need no other defense, when we have God. Asking God to help us gives us more strength than an entire army. In fact, who needs an army when God is the Commander in Chief?

It's wise to be aware of the devil's schemes, but it is even wiser to let God do battle for us whenever possible. If the devil sees that we are walking alone, he will show up on every corner. In contrast, he will be more apt to flee if he sees God walking beside us. Let's be careful not to put the cart before the horse, like so many people tend to do, with this verse. I don't know about you, but I don't want to get trampled.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

No worries!

I love the Message version of the verse I've chosen for 4/6. The verse is Phil 4:6, "Don't fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God's wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It's wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life."

There is nothing like clarity to give us a better perspective. While the Message translation, above, is quiet easy to understand, it is still difficult for us to put into practice. Just like the rebellious Israelites, we also have a track record of trying everything else, before we do that which God suggests that we do. This verse is telling us to pray, instead of worry. So, why do we continue to worry so much? May I suggest that it is because our focus is on our problems, and not on Jesus?

This translation helps me with that focus problem. It's like watching a metamorphosis occur in my spirit. I can visualize how heartfelt petitions (telling God what I need) and praises (thanking God for who is is and what he has already done) "shapes" my worries into prayers. It allows me to trade in the impossible for the possible. As I do this, God's peace settles over me, giving me the reassurance that he is in control. Lastly, I can see "The Light" at the end of the tunnel (Jesus, himself), which changes my perspective on things. Yes, this metamorphosis is a thing of real beauty. God gives my prayers flight and lightens my burdens.

I don't know about you, but there is simply not enough room for both worry and Jesus in the center of my life. One of them has to go, so I'm kissing my worries good-bye. How about you? Are you ready to trade your worry in for Jesus? Trust me, it's a great choice.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Are you a wise guy...or girl?!

The 4/5 verse of the day is Proverbs 4:5, “Learn to be wise and develop good judgment. Don’t forget or turn away from my words.”

Sometimes it is very clear to us, through either a moral inclination or a desire to obey God, whether or not something is right or wrong. Yet there are times when rationalizing our conduct or behavior is common because the issue may not be black and white, but scattered with shades of grey. We may not find explicit instruction in the bible for some situations. Yet the moral and spiritual compass we develop by knowing God and his ways, through his word, will always point us toward the best choices is life.

Many people think they are wise by the world’s standards, but true wisdom comes only from God. I think we may be prudent to check ourselves and our actions every now and then, by asking things like, “Is this a wise thing to do? Is there a better choice I should make? Is this the best behavior for me? Am I honoring God with my actions? Am I doing or saying something that would influence others in negative ways?”

What a killjoy, right? Wrong. A friend was discussing this with us today. He remarked that the wisdom of God and his instructions for us are not just a set of rules for us to follow to keep us from having any fun. An all-knowing, all-wise God loves us enough to give us words of wisdom that are only for our own good. We can only benefit from his instruction. Oh for the wisdom to always remember that!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Choose Life!

The 4/4 verse of the day is a two-fer. The content of Mat 4:4 and Luke 4:4 is almost identical. Jesus must have really wanted us to get this concept. Mat 4:4 says, “Jesus answered, ‘It is written: “Man does not live by bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” This is mirrored in Luke 4:4, “Jesus answered, ‘Man does not live on bread alone.’”

It is interesting to me that both of the New Testament books of Matthew and Luke have almost identical verses in chapter 4, verse 4. No one has to convince me that every word written in the bible is somehow important to us. But I am especially mindful when God finds is necessary to repeat something in different parts of scripture. I think he really wants us to get the importance and significance of the point he is trying to drive home when he does that.

To add impact to the importance of this repetition, we can find more reference to the above scripture content back in the Old Testament. In Deut 8:3, God is talking to the Israelites, stressing how they were humbled and their hearts were tested to keep his commands in their lengthy desert experience. The latter part of that verse concludes with, “to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.”

This is incredible to me. God is so intentional about providing us the necessary wisdom to truly live life. He put a need in our hearts to feed and grow on his truth for our spiritual health. Dietary sustenance is one thing; it is necessary to keep our bodies alive. But spiritual sustenance, God’s truth, is the only thing that will give us true life. Feeding our bodies is a life of mere existence. Feeding our spirit and soul with God’s word and truth is truly living.

I heard my husand quote something from Greg Laurie recently. He said, "You can have a saved soul, but a lost life." That's incredibly tragic. Especially when God has left us instructions on how to live better than that. Friends, let's live on his word, apply it to our lives, and choose LIFE.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Picture of his love

The 4/3 verse of the day is from Lev 4:3, “If the high priest sins, bringing guilt upon the entire community, he must bring to the LORD a young bull with no physical defects.” (NLT)

You may be thinking this is a very odd verse for the verse of the day. What is its significance amidst all the other encouraging and meaningful verses that I could have chosen for today? I have to admit, I can understand how this may puzzle you, but please read on and I think you will better understand why I've shared this.

When I read this verse today, I knew God was showing me a picture of the sacrifice Jesus made for us and he impressed me to write about it. You see, the high priests were humans; humans like Adam and Eve, the very first humans God created, and humans like us. Adam and Eve sinned against God and, because of their disobedience and sin, guilt was ascribed to mankind from that point on. That includes today; this point in time. Because of their sin, we are born in sin. That is our very unfortunate ancestry gift from Adam and Eve. I can think of a much better inheritance from them, but, then so could God. That’s why he made a way for the only perfect sacrifice for us, just like the young bull in the verse above.

As Easter approaches this month, many of us are mindful that there was a sacrifice made for us; a sacrifice that makes atonement for our guilt and sin. The LORD gave his own son as that sacrifice. The verse above is a picture to me of God’s love and mercy in sacrificing his perfect and sinless son, Jesus, to pay a divine price for the sin represented by our entire community, humankind.

I’m thankful God included this verse, this story in the bible. He was giving us a picture of the ultimate sacrifice to come. Sometimes I just don’t get it, even though he gives hints, illustrations and truth throughout his word to represent how he's always had us on his mind. He cared enough to establish a way to redeem us and to show us through pictures like this in his word. Please give us the wisdom of your sight, Lord, so we can see this and other pictures of your love throughout your word.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

God Hugs

God Hugs

The 4/2 verse of the day is Dan 4:2, “I want you all to know about the miraculous signs and wonders the Most High God has performed for me.” (NLT)

There was an abundance of great scriptures to choose from today, but I was drawn back to this one because God brings back to my mind so many illustrations of miraculous signs and wonders in Bill’s and my own life. Like Daniel, I want you all to know what the Most High God has done for me!

God is so good! Every time I think of his goodness, I cannot help but be filled with gratitude and emotion. I don’t deserve this kind of faithfulness from God, yet he remains ever diligent about making his presence known to me. You may not be one who believes God moves in miraculous ways today; you may think that, if that ever happened, it only happened for those people who lived back in the days of Moses, or Abraham, or Jesus, when he was on this earth.

Well, I’m not worthy to even walk in the shadows of the aforementioned people, but I can tell you most emphatically that the same God who performed all those miracles in the bible, cares about our small needs and large needs, our small dreams and large dreams and he still shows up in our lives if we but look for him. Before you dismiss my claims as sensational (which are, by the way, because our Lord happens to be so sensational in the greatest sense of that word!), please let me share with you only a fraction of the times and ways he has and continues to show up Bill’s and my life today. I will probably cry as I write this (and I’m on a plane, so that will be lovely). But, like I said before, God’s goodness overwhelms me and I hope you will begin to see why and begin to believe, if you don’t already do so, that he is still on the scene today, ready to respond to the 911’s in our lives.

Before I go into some of the stories that make Bill and I so thankful, I want to say something important. There will always be trials in this life and we will not always get the miracles we wish or hope for, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be opportunities to see the hand of God move more often than not. I’m glad I’m not God, because I don’t know the answer to his timing or wisdom in the way he moves or answers prayers. But I do know that he is God, his word is true, he is who he says he is, and he will do what he says he will do. I just believe that and trust him to act upon his Godly wisdom and not my human understanding. Besides, being God is way above my pay grade and I’d be letting a lot of people down, if I were doling out the wisdom, gifts and miracles. We’d be one hot mess, for sure! Again, that’s why he’s God and I’m not.

I consider the way God gave me wisdom to accept salvation through Jesus Christ a true blessing and miracle in my life. I might consider it an even bigger miracle in Bill’s life (he was just more hard-headed than me). I know the way he saved our marriage and has given us a relationship to be surpassed by few to be a whopping miracle. I know the way he allowed the cancer to be removed from my body, and the way my radiation treatments went so well, and the fact that I did not have to have chemotherapy, was all from his hand; another series of miracles. These are only a few of the ways, albeit major ways, God has made me an irrevocable believer in the validity of miracles, but it only scratches the surface of the number and depth of things he continues to do for us (and I’d daresay you, as well) daily. I feel like God is full of surprises and blessings that he wants to pour out on us. I like to call them hugs and I especially like to feel them when he gives them. I don’t want to ever miss out on a God hug.

Bill cracks me up. It gives me great joy to watch him walk with God. It gives me even greater joy to hear him tell stories of how he moves in his life. It may be small to some people, but, to him, it’s the greatest thing ever! That’s what God wants from us I think; faith like a child, faith that doesn’t measure or qualify events in our lives based on a culture that will think we’re off our rocker for believing in a supernatural God. Bill could care less…and shows it quiet often! I love that he could give two hoots about being politically correct, or even that culturally sophisticated, but would give his life for the cause of Christ and a boatload of people that don’t believe he died for us and wants to redeem us of our sins. He lives to tell people the stories God writes for us every single day. And many of us anticipate his telling us. In his own New York kind of way, he adds a lot of animation to a story. Yes, it’s a joy!

He (Bill) has been traveling a bit and has some great stories about his air travel. I can’t even give it justice on here, but I will try to give a much less animated version than he would, in my Kentucky kind of way. Recently he flew to Florida and the lady at the airline counter asked him, “Are you somebody important, Sir?” Jokester with a purpose, that he is, he cunningly says, “Well I am a King’s kid”. She said, “Well, you must be because I have you in the computer as a VIP and it won’t let me charge you for the extra bag you want to check. You must be a King’s kid!” He continued on to the gate, after calling me to tell me that the first miracle of the trip had already happened. He later called back to elaborate. He got to the counter to see if he could change his seat for leg room. They said, “Oh Mr. Rieser, we’ve been paging you. We’re holding a plane for you a few gates down.” Turns out, they had booked him on a flight going to Detroit and connecting to Orlando. All other Orlando connections had not gotten out that day for some reason, but he had been treated as a VIP and they had even held a plane for him. They told him that he would have a few hours layover in Detroit, but at least he would get to Florida and his seat would be in First Class….like royalty, I tell you…yep, a King’s kid! I just believe that God wanted a lot of people to hear Bill’s stories down in Florida and made sure he got there to share his God appointments and gave him extra material to boot; just like God! I’m so grateful Bill has a heart, eyes, and ears to recognize God when he becomes our holy travel agent, among other things. I’m even more grateful that he has the audacity to tell people.

By the way, we are going to Arizona right now and we just flew over snow-capped mountains. It gets me every time…sniff, sniff. I consider his creation, especially the mountains out west, another miracle. They are majestic and awesome, just like their creator. But as we were preparing to leave from the airport, Bill went up to see if we could get a seat with legroom, like he always attempts to do. Nowadays, there is a significant up-charge for these premium seats on United, and Bill knows this, but the lady at the counter said, “We usually charge for this, but I’m going to give it to you at no charge.” That’s all she had to say. Bill looked at me and said, “First miracle!”

Yes, we’re believers in the miraculous. Think what you want and say what you will, but we’re quite happy living in our own little world with our own stories of God’s miracles. Some are small; others are Huge, but they are all God hugs to us and we’ll take them and say, “Thank you, Lord!”

Friday, April 1, 2011

Never give up

The 4/1 verse of the day is 2 Cor 4:1, "And so, since God in his mercy has given us this wonderful ministry, we never give up." (NLT)

I love this verse! It reminds me of what God has done in my own life and in the lives of so many of you. He will use us if we let him; he will entrusts us with wonderful ministries that bring him glory.

God's mercy has allowed my husband and me to be involved in wonderful ministries and we are the ones blessed by what he allows us to see and do. I love the way he can use our messes and turn them into blessings, for us and for others. That really is mercy. He allows us all to tell our stories of his love and faithfulness; how he turns our ashes into beauty. God allows us to share our stories because others can identify with what we have gone through and can start to believe that God can help, forgive, love, redeem and bless them in like manner.

I'm thankful today, and always, for the wonderful ministry God has given us. I pray that we will be faithful to never give up.