Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Those people

The 5/31 verse is from Luke 5:31, "Jesus answered them, 'Healthy people don't need a doctor--sick people do.'"  (NLT)

On the heels of Jesus asking Levi to leave his unpopular life as a tax collector and follow Him, Levi threw a banquet in his home, honoring Jesus.  The attendees were fellow tax collectors and others the religious leaders considered scum.  They complained and looked down their sanctimonious noses at what they considered the local riff-raff.  They couldn't believe Jesus was hanging out with "those" people.  I think "those" people must have made Jesus smile.  I think He probably knew that those who knew they were sinners, like tax collectors, would be more apt to follow Him than those who thought they already had it all together, like the religious leaders.  As always, He was right.

Even today, there are seemingly "good" people who don't think they're sick.  They don't realize they're just as much in need of Jesus, as a common sinner.  There are others who realize they are sick and in need of the Great Physician.  At Celebrate Recovery, we have many of "those" people.  Jesus has invited them to leave their old lives behind and follow Him.  Now, they just want to be in His presence and celebrate what He has done for them.  At CR, we like to say that those who have been forgiven much, love much...and worship accordingly!  No pomp and circumstance, just grateful praise for our Jesus.  Oh how I love "those" people!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Cut out the garbage

The verse for 5/30 is from Mat 5:30, "And if your right hand leads you to sin, cut it off and throw it away.  It is better for you to lose a part of your body than to have all of it go into hell."  (God's Word Translation)

In His wisdom, God knew what sin would do to us.  And, in His wisdom, He tells us over and over again to resist temptation, to flee from the enemy, to turn away from sin.  What is it about sin that makes us think it is worth the pain it causes us and others?  How do we fall for the devil's schemes, when the author of truth exposed his lies from the beginning of time?  I suppose it is our human, sinful nature, but God wants us to recognize our sin, and stop our behaviour, while we still can.

The Message translates verses 29-30 this way, ""Let's not pretend this is easier than it really is. If you want to live a morally pure life, here's what you have to do: You have to blind your right eye the moment you catch it in a lustful leer. You have to choose to live one-eyed or else be dumped on a moral trash pile. And you have to chop off your right hand the moment you notice it raised threateningly. Better a bloody stump than your entire being discarded for good in the dump."

Now, that'll give you something to think about!  Getting rid of sin in our lives may require extreme measures.  I think these verses are saying that unbridled sin will leave us in a heap of destruction.  Little by little, it will consume every part of us, until our whole life is filthy; nothing but garbage.  On the other hand, calling our sin what it is, and cutting out it's cancer before it spreads to our entire life, will save us from total ruin.  There's no shame in preserving a less than perfect body or life.  The shame is in not trying and losing everything.  We can't go backward and start over, but we can move forward and cut out the garbage.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

If Only!

The 5/29 verse of the day is from Deuteronomy 5:29.  The Good News Translation puts it this way, "If only they would always feel this way! If only they would always honor me and obey all my commands, so that everything would go well with them and their descendants forever."

The Israelites were fearful that they could not withstand God's presence and glory if He spoke directly to them again.  Moses is reviewing God's commandments to them and how they wanted Moses to go to God and hear what He had to say and, then, bring it back to them.  The Israelites had seen the greatness of God and thought they would surely die and be consumed by the fire if He spoke directly to them again.  Out of their reverence, awe, and fear of God, the Israelites vowed to listen and to obey anything God told Moses to tell them.  Like a proud father, God was pleased with their reverence.  I think He knew that, right at that moment, they saw His power and knew that He, alone, was God. 

Somewhere in their journey in the desert, God's people lost their way, in more ways than one.  It didn't take long for them to become impatient with God's timetable.  The same God they had vowed to obey, was suddenly not worthy of the reverence they had given Him before.  He wasn't moving fast enough for them and not in the way they expected.  They started to play God, themselves, because they thought they could do a better job at getting themselves out of their situation than God could.  What they failed to realize, is that disobedience will always make a bad situation even worse.  They began to disobey God and go their own way.  It did not go so well for them, if you remember.

The same is true for us.  When we disobey God's best for us, we try to play God.  We forget how Holy He is.  We forget WHO He is.  We just forget.  It does not go too well for us either, when we do this.  When we hear the word "obey" we kind of freak out.  People don't like to be told what to do.  We'd rather make a mess of our lives, by rebelling against God, and His best for us, than simply following His commands.  His only desire, in giving them to us, was to help us know the best way to live, so it would go well for us and our descendants.  You see, God is not into watching us squirm.  I think He'd much rather see us dance with pure joy.

If only we could see that God loves us so much, that He always has our best interests in mind and at heart.  If only we could see that obedience to God takes us out of bondage, instead of imprisoning us.  If only we could stop playing God and let Him be God.  If only we could stop squirming and start dancing.  If only we could see that the pathway to freedom is along a road called obedience.  If only we would take that road less traveled.  Yes, if only!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

The Invitation of a Lifetime

The verse for 5/28 is from Luke 5:28, "So Levi got up, left everything, and followed him."  (NLT)

Jesus had given Levi a personal invitation to come and be His disciple.  At the time, Levi was a tax collector, a less than honorable profession.  Most people would not have given someone like Levi the time of day, much less given him an invitation like Jesus did.  Maybe that kind of grace, alone, was enough to get Levi's attention, but I think it was more than that.  I think Levi saw the face of Jesus and couldn't resist what he saw there.  I think He saw love, grace, mercy, kindness, compassion, acceptance and salvation in the face of the Savior.  How could he say no?

Sometimes, I wonder how people can turn Him down, when Jesus says, "follow me."  It seems like a personal invitation from Jesus would be hard to turn down.  Yet, many of us have chosen not to follow Him, at least for a while.  I think when we are finally in a situation where we come face to face with the real Jesus, like Levi did, we have no choice but to do what he did.  I know that, once I saw Him, face to face, I had to say "yes" to the invitation to follow Him.  When we leave everything behind, it's only because we see that He really has something better for us.  He is better for us.  Yes, His is an invitation of a lifetime.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Older Than Methuselah

Today's 5/27 verse is Gen 5:27, "So Methuselah lived 969 years, and he died."  (Amplified Bible)

I love verses like this.  Normally, you wouldn't see this quoted or discussed very often.  That's why it's fun for me to share my Facebook Page, "A Verse Each Day", with you.  It gives me an excuse to bring out obscure verses in the bible and comment on them.  I really get excited when such a verse has coinciding numbers with the date.  Today is one of those days.  Genesis Chapter Five is about the history of the descendants of Adam.  I think Methuselah gets the AARP prize for endurance.  Thus comes the term, "older than Methuselah". 

This part of the bible in so intriguing to me.  I love both the New and Old Testament, but some of the information in the Old Testament just fascinates me; like the verse above.  How many people do you know that even live to be in their 100's, much less way up into their 900's?  That really blows my mind!  I'm starting to feel creaky and cranky at the youthful age of 50...if I multiply my age by almost 20, I'd be Methuselah's age.  I guess it's pretty obvious that we're just not as resilient in our generation as Methuselah was in his.

I was really curious about this monumental difference in life spans a few years ago.  I searched the bible for any information as to why Methuselah lived to be almost 1000 years old.  What I found surprised me, to say the least.  In the sixth chapter of Genesis, it appears that God had gotten a little exasperated at the antics of people and, in verse 3, He declared, "My Spirit will not put up with humans for such a long time, for they are only mortal flesh.  In the future, they will live no more than 120 years."  It goes on to talk about the wickedness of people breaking God's heart and making Him sorry He ever created them.  It makes me want to say to the spoilers, "Thanks a lot for cutting life short for the rest of us.  What were you thinking?!" 

It also gets me to thinking about how twisted and evil today's world has become.  It sort of makes me pause, and wonder how long God is going to put up with us.  I know I won't live to be older than Methuselah here on earth.  I'll be grateful for each day the good Lord does allow me to live.  But the birthdays I really look forward to celebrating are on a celestial realm.  In heaven, we will all celebrate birthdays for eternity.  Maybe then, we can finally say, "We're older than Methuselah." 

I'm looking forward to those senior years in my eternal home.  Can you picture it now?  A thousand years into eternity, and we'll be doing a holy zumba around the throne of the King.  Now, that's what I'm talkin' about!  Let the good times roll.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Awesome God!

The 5/26 verse of the day is Luke 5:26, "Everyone was gripped with great wonder and awe, and they praised God, exclaiming, “We have seen amazing things today!”  (NLT)

Luke recounts stories of Jesus' miracles, and healings, and teachings in chapter 5.  It is obvious that Jesus is no ordinary man, as He displays His grace and power to touch and teach others.  In the account above, Jesus healed a paralyzed man by commanding that he stand up, pick up his mat, and walk.  The man jumped to his feet, picked up his mat, and went home praising God. As people witnessed this, they were amazed and also praised God.   In this translation, it says everyone was "gripped with great wonder and awe."  I don't imagine this was a low-key event.  I think every one's eyes were opened to the greatness of God and it changed them, and their perspective, of who He was. 

Many proverbs in the bible talk about the fear of the Lord leading to such things as knowledge, wisdom, and even life.  Some bible translations say that the people who saw Jesus heal this man were full of fear.  Fear is accurately described as reverential awe. That's a good, healthy fear that recognizes God for who He is and what He does, and responds accordingly.  I think the people in this passage had that kind of fear and I am inclined to believe it led to their knowledge of who Jesus was and their wisdom of what He had done.  All of a sudden, they had a whole new perspective on life.

I think we use the word "awe" far too loosely. We describe almost everything, from A-Z, as "awesome", and, thereby, misuse and misunderstand true "awe".  Many of us have been touched by Jesus; we have seen the amazing things He has done.  It should fill us with true awe, and wonder, and fear.  The kind of good, reverential fear that makes us want to jump up from whatever is keeping us down, pick up our proverbial mats, and walk.  

God reached down and touched me, and healed my marriage.  He has healed me to walk free of breast cancer for the last 1.5 years.  He continues to give me knowledge, wisdom and life.  I am in awe of Him and I view Him with adoration and reverent fear.  I have seen the amazing things He does, so what am I supposed to do?  I just have to praise Him!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Touch

The 5/25 verse is Mark 5:25, "A woman in the crowd had suffered for twelve years with constant bleeding. "  (NLT)

Jesus was the answer to this woman's problem.  She had heard about Him and she believed that she would be healed if she could touch the hem of His robe.  She went to great lengths to do so, and Jesus said her faith healed her.  Jesus is also the answer to any problem we have.  He heals in many ways.  Sometimes He heals our health issues on this side of heaven, but, sometimes, He heals us by taking us home to heaven where we will never have to worry about sickness again.

Just like in the bible, we are faced with situations in this life that have, sometimes, gone on for a very long time. We can spend years trying to find answers and, literally, exhausting ourselves, our resources, and everyone around us. Whether ours is a health issue, or a heart issue, or a mind issue, many of us would do anything to find the answer to our problems.  

No matter what the issue is, Jesus has the power to change it for you.  He can heal relationships, or addictions, or hurts.  When we get to the point of seeking Him, above all else, His power goes out to us.  The power of Jesus will always change us and change our circumstances.  If you've been trying to find an answer to your problems, why not try Jesus?  Reach out, touch Him, and let His power change you forever.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Jesus, take me away!

The 5/24 verse of the day is from Gen 5:24, "He enjoyed a close relationship with God throughout his life.  Then suddenly, he disappeared because God took him."  (NLT)

Enoch...he and Elijah are the only humans to never encounter death.  God just took them home.  Oh, how I wish I could be like them.  I've said that for years; not only because I don't want to encounter death, but because I want that kind of close relationship with God.  I know life will end for everyone, including me, someday, but I can't help but hope He just takes me instead.  I'm actually looking forward to being in heaven; it's how I get there that still causes me some angst.  I know that's ridiculous, because it is in God's hands, but I've talked to Him about it on many occasions.  Calgon is not the only thing I've wanted to take me away.  I've also prayed for Jesus to return in my lifetime and just take us away.

When my daughter was young, I used to talk to God about not wanting to be separated from my husband and daughter in death.  I would just be praying out loud in front of her and say something like, "God, could you please just take us all together?"  What I meant, was that I hoped Jesus would return in our lifetime, so we wouldn't have to encounter death and be separated from one another.  I guess I didn't make that quiet clear, though.  I learned, some time later, that she was afraid we might die when we went somewhere as a family.  Vacations were especially traumatic for her, I learned, because she was fearful that God would answer my prayer!

I hope my daughter has recovered from all the trauma I've caused her in life.  I really had good intentions!  I still want to see Jesus in the sky and break out in a victory shout.  Yet, I want as many people as possible to make that journey with me.  Just knowing more loved ones will join us, helps me be patient for His return.  Until then, I'm working on my quest to enjoy a close relationship with God throughout my life.  Something tells me that is what really matters.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Live out Loud

The verse for 5/23 is from Acts 5:23, "The jail was securely locked, with the guards standing outside, but when we opened the gates, no one was there!” (NLT)

This verse conveys a time in the early days of the Christian church when God was multiplying the faith and numbers of believers.  The religious leaders of that time were jealous and jailed the apostles for performing miracles in Jesus' name and boldly telling others about Him. But the jail couldn't hold them, when God set them free.

This is a great reminder to me that no one or nothing can hold believers captive when Jesus sets us free!  The Lord sent an angel to that jail, the night before, who opened the gates and set the apostles free, telling them to go give people the message of life.  They were part of bringing many people to belief in Jesus.  The One who set them free to go tell others about His love, is the same God who sets us free and tells us to do the same.  Sharing our stories of what Jesus has done for us is giving people the message of life.  We're free to live out loud, when God sets us free.  Let's make sure we're heard.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Weapon of Words

The 5/22 verse is from Mat 5:22.  In the Message, verses 21-22 say this, "You're familiar with the command to the ancients, 'Do not murder.' I'm telling you that anyone who is so much as angry with a brother or sister is guilty of murder. Carelessly call a brother 'idiot!' and you just might find yourself hauled into court. Thoughtlessly yell 'stupid!' at a sister and you are on the brink of hellfire. The simple moral fact is that words kill."

In the verses above, Jesus is teaching his disciples.  I don't think anything He ever said was inconsequential or irrelevant to us, today.  If it was important enough for Him to teach, I think we should take notice and look inside ourselves to see what He might be trying to teach us.  This passage is talking to me.  Previously, I would have bet my life that committing murder would not be on my list of broken commandments.  I was wrong, according to what Jesus said.

You see, I've been known to mutter "idoit" under my breath occasionally, especially toward my fellow drivers.  I'm also notorious for borrowing Bill Engvall's "You can't fix stupid" phrase, when people really get on my nerves.  I'm not proud of either.  I used to rationalize using these words and phrases by thinking they weren't that bad, compared to the language some people use.   I can't use that as an excuse anymore.  My words come from the same kind of place uglier words come from....a dark heart.

When Jesus teaches that we are committing murder by even being angry with, or calling our brothers and sisters demeaning names, I think He is graciously saying something like, "Child, please look at your own heart.  How can you love your neighbor, your brother, or your sister, if you are feeling this way towards them?"  If we're honest with ourselves, we cannot.  Another part of me thinks Jesus is reminding me that my pride is, falsely, placing me in a superior position to the individual I am looking down upon.  I've come to realize that I'm just a mess when I think badly of someone and call them ugly names.

I use the "I" word far less, these days, than I used to.  But, I need God's help, daily, to help me love others the way He does, and to learn to use self-control so I will honor Him and others in the things I say and do.  I'm working on not throwing words around carelessly anymore and I'm thankful that Jesus has alerted me to my condition.  Now, I know that I don't have to use physical weapons, like guns or knives, to kill someone.  My heart, my mind, and my tongue are just as lethal as physical weapons.  My prayer, going forward,  is that God will help me use only words that bring life and love.  Not doing so could be deadly.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Judgement Day

The 5/21 verse of the day is from 1 Thes 5:21, "but test everything that is said.  Hold on to what is good."  (NLT)

Today is May, 21, 2011.  Most of us have heard 89 year old Harold Camping's prediction that the world will end today.  He is convinced of this and is telling the world, through his radio broadcasting, that Judgement Day is today.  There are billboards declaring that Judgement Day is May, 21, 2011.

Everything within me wishes that this poor misguided man was right on this.  I would be ecstatic if Jesus came back today and took all believers home to heaven.  But I'm not banking on it.  Only God knows when Christ will return, and, in His mercy, He has given the world more time to know His Son as their Savior.  One day, He will say, "Enough", but no one, but God, knows if that is today.

I've got plans to go to all four of our church services this weekend and celebrate baptisms of people who want to go public with the decision they have made to follow Christ.  I'm also cleaning house today to get it ready for the Open House we're having tomorrow.  I'm so hopeful that God will send the right buyer to be blessed in, and by, this house, so they can live in it for years to come.  That won't happen if today is Judgement Day. 

The Message says this about 1 Thes 5:19-21, "Don't suppress the Spirit, and don't stifle those who have a word from the Master. On the other hand, don't be gullible. Check out everything, and keep only what's good."

Harold Camping may mean well, but the bible is our source of truth.  It's so important that we know for ourselves what it says.  We don't have to listen to the beliefs of others and worry about what is going to happen, or when it is going to happen.  Living our lives to honor Jesus Christ, every day, is really living.  Living in anticipation of His return, whether it is today, tomorrow, next week, next year, or not even in our lifetime, is the way He wants us to live.  Be ready today, if God wants this to be the day.  Be ready at any point in your life that God appoints as the day of Christ's return to earth.  The way we do that is to read the bible and know how the Words of Life instruct us to live, and, then, live our lives to honor our Savior.

Within the bible, we find the truth of what God says about May 21, 2011, being Judgement Day.  It says, "But the exact day and hour? No one knows that, not even heaven's angels, not even the Son. Only the Father knows."  Believe it, friends, and just live your lives as if He could return ANY day.  The truth is, it could be anytime, but only God knows that for sure.  Let's just let Him be God and make that decision.  He is so much better at it than we are. 

Friday, May 20, 2011

Status Update

The 5/20 verse for today is Mark 5:20.  In verses 18-20, the Message says, "As Jesus was getting into the boat, the demon-delivered man begged to go along, but he wouldn't let him. Jesus said, "Go home to your own people. Tell them your story—what the Master did, how he had mercy on you." The man went back and began to preach in the Ten Towns area about what Jesus had done for him. He was the talk of the town. "

Here is a man who had been severely tortured by demonic possession.  Earlier in this chapter, the bible describes Jesus demanding a legion of demons to come out of him.  He spent his days and nights in the tombs of the local cemetery screaming and beating himself with stones.  The locals tried to restrain him and he always broke free; he could not be restrained.  After Jesus ordered the demons out of this man and into a herd of pigs, all 2000 pigs plunged to their death down the steep hillside into a lake.  All the herdsmen literally ran into the city and into the nearby countryside telling everyone what had just happened. 

That's not a story you hear every day, so everyone rushed onto the scene to see for themselves what had just happened.  They saw the previously insane man, from whom Jesus had just driven out the legion of demons, sitting there perfectly sane and clothed.  They all knew what a transformation this was.  Those that had seen what happened to the man and the pigs could not stop talking and they were telling everyone about it.  The crowd freaked out and their fear of what had just transpired caused them to beg Jesus to go away and leave them alone. 

That is where we pick up on verse 18-20.  As Jesus is leaving, this man, who had just been delivered from such a horrible existence, pleaded to go along with Jesus.  But, Jesus, who must have known just how much our stories speak to others, told the man to go back and tell everyone what the Lord had done for him and how merciful He had been to him.  The man began to do just that and he told everyone in the area.  There could only be one reaction to such a story....they were amazed at what he told them!

I heard a funny account today of how social networking dominates our thinking, and we can't wait to use our social network of choice to tell everyone we know about our "status".  This story reminds me of social networking.  Sometimes, we put the most ridiculous comments in our status updates.  Guilty!  Or we often check others' updates to see what they are thinking or doing, even though their status updates can be as ridiculous as ours.  Can you imagine if the man who was delivered of the demons, or the people who saw it happen, had access to social networking tools back then?  This account of what occurred that day would certainly be a YouTube sensation.  Talk about viral; everyone would be tweeting about it!  I mean, really, this would be something worth talking about. 

So, do you have a status update?  I have a feeling the Lord wants to do, or has already done, something great in your life.  Why not let him bring sanity to your life today?  Believe me, you won't be able to keep it to yourself when He delivers you from your once-crazy life.  You may even want to jump onto facebook as quickly as possible to tell everyone you know how merciful the Lord has been to you.  I'll be looking for your status update!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Inheritance

The 5/19 verse of the day is from Gal 5:19, "When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures,"  (NLT)

I've gotta tell you, there are some heavy subjects in many of the 5th chapters in the books of the bible.  I had a hard time even picking which verse to elaborate on today, because there are so many impactful verses to choose from.  I tend to bring out this controversial stuff, though, because sin is so widely accepted in today's culture and the world is just upside down in the way it views things.  What God warns us not to do, for our own good, is exactly what our culture likes to do, and wants everyone else to accept as right behavior.  I'm sorry, but God didn't give me a political correctness gene.  Even if God's word seems old-fashioned and no longer culturally relevant to the majority of the world, I'm still thankful to be in the minority that takes Him and His word as truth that is to be believed and practiced.  That is the reason I talk about it.  Too often, people just don't talk about these things for fear of offending someone.  I have to wonder if that is why the world, even the church, is in the shape it is in today. 

The Message translation says this about Gal 5:19-21, "It is obvious what kind of life develops out of trying to get your own way all the time: repetitive, loveless, cheap sex; a stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage; frenzied and joyless grabs for happiness; trinket gods; magic-show religion; paranoid loneliness; cutthroat competition; all-consuming-yet-never-satisfied wants; a brutal temper; an impotence to love or be loved; divided homes and divided lives; small-minded and lopsided pursuits; the vicious habit of depersonalizing everyone into a rival; uncontrolled and uncontrollable addictions; ugly parodies of community. I could go on. This isn't the first time I have warned you, you know. If you use your freedom this way, you will not inherit God's kingdom."

That's pretty graphic.  Unfortunately, it's happening in our own neighborhoods; even in our own homes.  The good news is that grace covers a multitude of sins.  Grace, however, does not give us a license to behave any way our sinful nature desires.  Every day, my behavior falls short of God's perfect will for me, but as I seek His truth, I find that my heart becomes more filled with Him and that leaves less room for my sinful desires.  Some say that our hearts can lead us astray.  Maybe they can, but may I suggest to you, that a heart that is filled with the love of God and His Spirit, isn't as easily led by a sinful nature.  Especially if it is guarded by truth.  We can satisfy our sinful natures or please the heart of God by becoming more like Him.  We have to live life on purpose.  The choices are ours to make.  We should all weigh truth against our behavior and choose wisely.  There's a great inheritance at stake.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Choose Your Influence

The 5/18 verse of the day is Eph 5:18.  The Message version continues through verse 20, "Don't drink too much wine. That cheapens your life. Drink the Spirit of God, huge draughts of him. Sing hymns instead of drinking songs! Sing songs from your heart to Christ. Sing praises over everything, any excuse for a song to God the Father in the name of our Master, Jesus Christ."

This subject may be taboo, but I'm approaching it with my heart.  I'm either bold or stupid, or maybe both.  But, I'd like to think I've sought God's leading and responded accordingly.  I think it is important to talk about all things that are in the bible, so we can live our lives according to God's direction, not our own desires. 

Personally, I hate what the influence of alcohol does to people.  I have seen too many lives and relationships cut short by alcohol abuse.  It takes little more than one drink for me to have loose lips and have no discipline or control over what I say.  I know God does not want me to go there, so I don't.  Bill's history of drinking, before He came to know the Lord, almost destroyed him and our marriage.  He had no discipline and used alcohol as a vice to numb his pain.  It caused further pain.  God eventually healed our marriage and set Bill free from alcohol abuse.  We would have to be crazy to do anything that would take us back to that kind of bondage.  We are both so very grateful to just say "no" to that kind of manufactured influence in our lives and relationship.

Impaired judgement begins the moment alcohol begins to alter your thinking and behavior.  Some people do not have the discipline to know when that occurs and to stop drinking; some people do not want to.  I have researched this subject backwards and forwards and I wish I could say that the bible says not to drink, but it doesn't.  It says not to get drunk.  Of course the trouble there is that people do not exercise proper judgement and discipline to stop drinking before their thinking and actions are altered.  In my opinion, a lot of potential thought and behavioral problems have a more fertile ground to grow and become sin when one's judgement is impaired by excessive alcohol use. 

I think the verses above are urging us to choose wisely.  We can easily worship our social and private influences; putting temporary pleasures before God's best for our lives.  Scripture advises us to choose God's wisdom and will.  When we do that, we will have the discipline to have self control over our desires and actions.  Getting drunk cheapens our lives and our experiences with others.  There is no high like the high that comes from the sweetness of letting God's Holy Spirit direct our lives.  When the influence we seek is from God, our lives tend to exemplify His place of honor in our hearts.  I'll take the real influence over a temporary imitation any day.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

In Touch

The 5/17 verse for today is 1 Thes 5:17, "Never stop praying."  (NLT)

When my dad was 70 years old, he accepted Christ as his Savior while watching Charles Stanley on television.  My mom had been praying for him their entire married life.  I am so thankful for my mother and her faith and love for the Lord.  I'm sure Daddy is really thankful too, as he now spends his days with the Lord in heaven.  She never gave up and kept on praying.  I know it was God's will that my dad would come to know Him, so, that, along with Mom's persistence in prayer, finally melted my dad's resistance so he could make the choice of a lifetime.  The Lord is so good and was so patient with Dad all those years as Mom sought Him in prayer.

There was another time in my life, where prayer was all I had and God used Charles Stanley to minister to my spirit through his radio broadcast.  Dr. Stanley and the Lord have encouraged me like a tag-team more than once.  I'm glad Dr. Stanley was in touch with God through a prayer relationship.  I can attest to the harvest from the sweet fruit of that relationship.  The situation I'm referring to was when my marriage was on the rocks and I had to give everything over to God.  Through long road trips for business, I prayed and listened to Dr. Stanley on the radio.  His words were like manna from heaven; I knew they were God's words for my heart.  Before long, God miraculously turned my marriage around and saved my husband.  Oh Happy Day!

Some years later, my husband, now serving as a pastor (I told you the Lord was good!), went on a conference to Andy Stanley's church.  Charles Stanley is Andy Stanley's father and was going to be the speaker at the last session of the conference.  I got so excited!  I planned on writing Dr. Stanley a letter to tell him how much his ministry had personally touched my life over the years, and have my husband give it to him at the conference.  The fact that his ministry is called "In Touch" has real significance to me.  I never did get the letter written, but I told my husband, along with his co-workers, that I had been praying that Bill would meet Dr. Stanley and have a chance to speak with him.  I told everyone that I really thought the Lord was going to answer that prayer.  They all thought I was crazy, because thousands of people would be at that conference and chances of Bill getting to meet Dr. Stanley were almost laughable.  But I was praying!

When Bill and his co-workers got to Atlanta, where the conference was, they were having lunch at P.F. Chang's restaurant.  Bill soon called me and said, "You'll never guess who is in the restaurant!"  I guessed, "Charles Stanley...but don't go over and say anything to him!  You'll ruin the whole thing!"  A little disappointed that he couldn't go before God, Bill reluctantly said okay.  We hung up, but he called me again 30 minutes later.  He told me I would never believe what happened and gave the phone to a co-worker so he could tell me what went down.  Charles Stanley had walked right up to Bill, introduced himself and had Bill introduce him to everyone else.  He said something like, "Tell me who you are, where you're from and what you're doing here."  Everyone at the table had their jaws dropped at this point.  They had all but laughed at my audacity to say that I thought God would answer my prayer and now that answer was standing right in front of them, talking to them.  As this guy was relaying this story to me, all of a sudden I heard, "Hold on just a minute...."  Charles Stanley had walked back up to the table and told my husband he thought he was supposed to talk to him some more.  Bill told him a little about my dad and that his wife had prayed he would get to meet Dr. Stanley.  Bill said something like, "Will you talk to my wife?" All of a sudden, I heard that unmistakable southern drawl saying, "Young lady, first of all, I want to make sure you're this man's wife!"  Full of awe, I confirmed that I was and went on to tell him how his ministry had touched my life and that I had prayed my husband would get to meet him.  He said, "That just goes to show you the power of prayer, doesn't it?"  Oh, yes, it did!

That's just another one of those things I call God hugs, but it came about through prayer.  I'm so glad I am "In Touch" with God through prayer.  It's one of the most exciting and fulfilling experiences a person could ever have in this life.  So stay in touch, Friends, and keep on praying!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Pure Hearts = Powerful Prayers

The 5/16 verse of the day is from James 5:16, "Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results."  (NLT)

I believe in prayer.  I don't understand it completely, but I wholeheartedly believe God hears us when we pray and answers according to His wisdom, not ours.  I think our motives and the condition of our hearts is key to how, when and why God answers prayers.  I don't know everything, but I don't need to.  All I need to know is that, if my heart is pure and I put the outcome of my prayer in God's hands, He will do exceedingly more than I could ever hope or imagine.  I'd rather trust in His knowledge, power, and wisdom than my own.  I am weak, but He is strong.  I am selfish, but He is faithful.  I am only human, but He is Almighty God.

In my prayer devotional, Magnificent Prayer, I came across the following quote by A.C. Dixon, "When we depend upon organization, we get what organization can do; when we depend upon education, we get what education can do; when we depend upon man, we get what man can do; but when we depend upon prayer, we get what God can do!" 

We can depend upon this world and mankind, with all their technology and limited knowledge, but when this world ends, so will they.  I'd rather depend on a faithful, everlasting God who promises to hear me when I pray.  And I'd much rather talk with God and get the depth of His wisdom and power, regardless of how He answers my prayers.  Just being able to talk with Him and be in His sweet presence, is all I need to be a fan of prayer forever. 

Sunday, May 15, 2011

The LIFE Sentence

The verse for 5/15 is from Romans 5:15, "But there is a great difference between Adam’s sin and God’s gracious gift. For the sin of this one man, Adam, brought death to many. But even greater is God’s wonderful grace and his gift of forgiveness to many through this other man, Jesus Christ."  (NLT)

WHAM!  We showed up in a world with the odds against us....thanks to Adam.  Some people blame Eve for being disobedient to God, and, yes, they would be right to say that she made the ultimate error in judgement.  Yet, Adam was the man of the garden and a rib was not the only thing he lost with the creation of Eve.  It seems that his backbone was mysteriously misplaced, somewhere along the way.  We can lament their bad choices and blame them for inheriting a world of sin, but it is what it is.  They were only human and we cannot change history.

God saw that we were hopeless and knew that Adam's sin put us in a world of hurt.  How gracious of God to love us so much that He made "Perfection" to come down to rescue us.  In His mercy, He gave us Jesus Christ; the only One who could put us back in right standing with God.  As much as Adam got it wrong, our destiny is no longer defined by his sin.  Now, we can seek forgiveness through Jesus Christ and receive the gift of Eternal Salvation.  What a mulligan God gave us.  We went from having no shot to getting a free shot.  We once were dead, but now we live.  Thank God, for the Perfect Lamb who made it possible for us to have a LIFE sentence instead of a death sentence!

The Message translation further brings the above verse alive, as it continues through verse 17 to show us how Jesus is the difference between life and death.  It says, "Yet, the rescuing gift is not exactly parallel to the death-dealing sin. If one man's sin put crowds of people at the dead-end abyss of separation from God, just think what God's gift poured through one man, Jesus Christ, will do! There's no comparison between that death-dealing sin and this generous, life-giving gift. The verdict on that one sin was the death sentence; the verdict on the many sins that followed was this wonderful life sentence. If death got the upper hand through one man's wrongdoing, can you imagine the breathtaking recovery life makes, sovereign life, in those who grasp with both hands this wildly extravagant life-gift, this grand setting-everything-right, that the one man Jesus Christ provides?"

I think that says it all.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

In Living Color

The 5/14 verse of the day is Mat 5:14.  The Message translation continues through Matthew 16 and says, "Here's another way to put it: You're here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We're going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don't think I'm going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I'm putting you on a light stand. Now that I've put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you'll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven." (The Message)

This paints a beautiful picture to me.  I've seen courageous people who radiate with God-colors.  I think when people are willing to let the Holy Spirit shine through them and live their lives in "color", that color is as beautiful as a rainbow after the rain.  And it offers just as much hope.  Brilliant, shiny colors are attractive to people.  They want to know your source of light and color.

It makes sense that, since we are inhabited by God's Holy Spirit, when we believe in Jesus, that we are to become the light of the world.  Like stars in the sky, we are to shine brightly in a dark world.  Pretty soon, a multiplicity of great light begins to extinguish the darkness.

I'm always amazed at how God uses what was once our dark stories to create tapestries of light.  We are often the source of light that God uses to help other people who are still hiding in the dark secrets and shady corners of their lives.  If we hide our lights, how can we help them out of their shadows?  I can't really put a name to the color that God creates and illuminates in our lives, but I know what it looks like.  It's a magnificent and glorious display of splendor.  To me...just another one of God's ways of making beauty from ashes and adding hues of beautiful light and color in the process. 

Anyone who has accepted the love of Jesus and believes in Him, has an array of God-colors in their life.  That light is not meant to be hidden, so go ahead and shine.  You may be amazed at how many people are drawn to the Light.


Friday, May 13, 2011

Menu options

The 5/13 verse for the day is Heb 5:13, "And a person who is living on milk isn't very far along in the Christian life and doesn't know much about doing what is right." (NLT)

We all love our children and we give them milk until they are hungry for more.  At first, milk is the only thing they can digest safely, but as they start to grow, they yearn for something of more substance.  There comes a day when milk isn't enough and a healthier, more balanced diet must be given to them if they are going to continue to grow.  In the beginning it's okay to be a baby, but there comes a time when everyone needs to grow up for their own good.
You could say that I am especially direct with Christians about learning the truths within God's word, so they can learn to live in the freedom He has reserved for them.  Yet, I am well aware that love and grace will always open the door for truth, so I give all the kudos in the world to those whose example of love leads people to Christ.  I want to be more like them, because a welcome and loving atmosphere can break down defenses of people who would, otherwise, not be interested in hearing anything about God.  But, God is quick to remind me that He uses each of us in unique ways to accomplish His will; some people nurse and some people nurture.  Both kinds of people have their place in God's master plan.  Just like His children need milk when they are babies, they need meat to mature into something more.  Truth is meat.  Without it, we never learn to walk and run as mature Christians.  Truth is also love.  God loves us too much to leave us ignorant of His loving truth.
If you find yourself at God's table, be prepared for whatever He wants to feed you.  If you've been cutting your teeth for a while, it may be time to move from the booster seat into a big chair.  There's plenty of meat on God's menu, so come hungry and be prepared to be fed.

Ain't Nobody Gonna Burst My Bubble!

The 5/12 verse for today is Psalm 5:12, “For you bless the godly, O Lord, surrounding them with your shield of love.” (NLT)

The godly are those devoted to God. One definition of love explains it as the fatherly concern of God for humankind. In my mind, I see love as everything good, and right, and true being given to undeserving humans from a Holy God. My thought process says that to be godly, one must experience and appreciate the love of God.

What a comforting thought, to think that God surrounds the godly with His shield of love. Think about the beauty of God, Himself, giving the godly a protective barrier or cover. The very nature of the word shield indicates to me that we are in need of protection. God knows and sees the enemy of our souls and the dangers we face every day. He is responsible for keeping us from harmful elements more than we ever realize. Does it keep bad things from ever happening to us? No, we’re living in a fallen world – not a fairy tale. I know there are trials for all of us in this world. But I also know that the love of God takes us through trials with more peace than we would have, otherwise. He surrounds us with His supernatural peace.

I am so thankful for the blessings of God. My protection comes from a very real God with a very real love. It’s like my very own bubble…and I like living there.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Not Guilty Anymore

The 5/11 verse for today is Romans 5:11, "So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God--all because of what our Lord Jesus Christ has done for us in making us friends of God."  (NLT)

Where would we be without Jesus?  All of us are born into a broken world where we are separated from a Holy God.  Prior to God's plan of salvation and redemption for us, through the death and blood of Jesus, we were doomed to eternal damnation in hell, apart from God.  But God gave us one way out of hell.  The only way we can be in right relationship with God is by accepting Jesus, the sacrifice that bridged our separation from God.  I don't think we can ever truly grasp the depth of that sacrifice; the depth of that kind of love.

For Christ followers, our outlook is suddenly bright.  Hell is no longer our penalty for sins and we are declared "Not Guilty Anymore!"  I rejoice in that kind of relationship with God.  I would be remiss if I didn't say, "Thank You Jesus!"

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Lions and Tigers and Bears!

The 5/10 verse for today is from 2 Sam 5:10, "And he became more and more powerful, because the Lord God Almighty was with him."  (NIV)

I've come to realize that God raises people up and, likewise, allows people to fall.  Few people are humble enough to be able to handle God-given authority.  Some, like King David in the above scripture, are clearly out of their element by outward appearances, yet God sees their thoughts and motives.  God sees their hearts. 

When David was young he was considered somewhat unimportant; he tended sheep and fought off lions and tigers and bears!  Well, really, just lions and bears, but it appears that he would have fought off anything that threatened harm to the sheep he was responsible for.  With God's help, David was able to kill the giants in his life and he gained notoriety among important people.  He became friends with the king's son, but the king became jealous of this audacious young whipper-snapper and set out to kill David.  Yet, God was with David and made him victorious against evil plots, time and time again.

The Book of Psalms in the Old Testament is thought to be penned, largely, by David.  It's real and it's raw.  There are times of praise and worship, and times of sin and sorrow, that are both poetic and poignant.  David was not perfect by any means, but he is often referred to as a man after God's own heart.  God saw David's heart, sought out David, and was with David. 

There are a few characters in the bible that remind me of my husband.  The Apostle Paul is one of them; David is another.  The reason he reminds me of David is not because he is at all powerful, but because of his heart.  I've watched God put him in the middle of bible scholars who have spent years studying the bible.  Many have suggested that he doesn't have enough finesse, skill, training or experience to be of influence.  What really excites me is that he doesn't!  But God sees his heart and is with him. 

From outward appearances, Bill, like David, appears to be way out of his element, but, alas, God is with him.  He guards his sheep and fights off the lions, tigers, and bears that threaten them.  He's still slaying giants and he's still not perfect, but he continues to be a man after God's own heart, as he praises and worships God.  Just like David in the Psalms, he's real and he's raw.  I have to smile, because I find that rather poetic and poignant.

Monday, May 9, 2011

You be the Judge

The verse I've chosen for 5/9 is from 1 Cor 5:9.  I'm including verses 10-13, as well, for additional insight and completion of thought.  The Message says, "I wrote you in my earlier letter that you shouldn't make yourselves at home among the sexually promiscuous. I didn't mean that you should have nothing at all to do with outsiders of that sort. Or with crooks, whether blue or white-collar. Or with spiritual phonies, for that matter. You'd have to leave the world entirely to do that! But I am saying that you shouldn't act as if everything is just fine when a friend who claims to be a Christian is promiscuous or crooked, is flip with God or rude to friends, gets drunk or becomes greedy and predatory. You can't just go along with this, treating it as acceptable behavior. I'm not responsible for what the outsiders do, but don't we have some responsibility for those within our community of believers? God decides on the outsiders, but we need to decide when our brothers and sisters are out of line and, if necessary, clean house."

Okay, I've put it out there.  It's heavy, BUT it's in the bible.  If God thought this was important enough to be breathed into the pages of His Word, I think it's important enough to examine.  It takes our "uncomfortable" meter through the roof, because we have always heard that we are not to judge others, lest we be judged.  We've become rather comfortable with that, in my humble opinion, because we don't want to be called out in our own shortcomings.  Why ruffle any feathers?  To each his own.  Well, not so much, according to this passage. 

The Apostle Paul included these words in his letter to the church of Corinth.  This city was known for immorality and Paul had planted a church smack-dab in the middle of it.  That doesn't sound any different than what we are doing today.  After all, God wants us to reach all people with the truth of the Gospel.  Much like today, the church at Corinth was faced with problems, moral and ethical.  After all, it was comprised of people.  Paul attempted to tackle some of those problems and answer questions the Christians at Corinth had raised.

I believe the truth that Paul had for this church in the New Testament, stands true for believers today.  Basically, Paul told that church that if they were to cut themselves off from people who indulged in sinful behaviour, there would be no one left to hang out with.  He was very specific, though, as to the type of behavior that was not acceptable for Christians.  He stressed that we are not to judge outsiders.  Their hearts have not been changed by the Savior of the World.  They are only doing the things of the world and their fate is for God to judge.  Conversely, Christians are a new creation.  They are supposed to have traded the old for the new life.  The only way I can even imagine that a Christian would not be aware of this is if their church doesn't teach about it or if they are not studying the truths within the bible.  Whichever, it is, I am inclined to believe that God has more for believers than what they may be settling for.  If we are to take Paul's words to heart, we shouldn't just look the other way.  If we love people, we should care enough about them to have some difficult, yet loving, conversations.

As a culture, we've been taught to accept the things of this world.  As Christians, we are in this world, but not of it.  We should not be living in the dark any longer, either spiritually or physically.  Does darkness cast shadows upon the Light?  You be the judge.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Search Me, O God!

The 5/8 verse for today is Matthew 5:8, "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God."  (NIV)

I looked up the word "pure" in the dictionary.  I found it very telling that the term "free of" was at the heart of the definition.  Pure can be defined as free of dirt or taint (spotless or stainless), free of harshness or roughness, free of what weakens or pollutes, or free from moral fault or guilt.

Likewise, I was curious about the Greek word for "pure".  It is "katharos", which means to be clean or pure, physically or ethically.  In a physical sense, it means to be purified by fire or to be like a vine cleansed by pruning so it can bear fruit.  In an ethical sense, it means to be free from corrupt desire, sin and guilt, or to be free from falseness.  Another definition is to be blameless or innocent.

I LOVE that Celebrate Recovery's 4th Principle correlates with this verse.  The 4th Principle says, "Openly examine and confess my faults to myself, to God, and to someone I trust."  Step 4 says, "We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves."  I don't care WHO you are, you can benefit from applying this verse, this principle and this step to your life.  If I'm unpacking this correctly and I'm in tune with what I sense the Lord is telling me, it would stand to reason that, if I want to "be free", this is a good place to take some action.  Just looking at the definitions above, I can see how God would want to use this to help us be free of things that keep us from being all He wants us to be.

I think it's important to mention that committing one's life and self to Christ, first, is the key to unlocking the wisdom of this verse.  The Holy Spirit is our guide to doing an effective moral and spiritual inventory.  Until we allow Him to do the necessary pruning in our lives, we will never know the depth of freedom we can experience from past and current hurts, habits and hang-ups.  The Great Physician is just standing by, poised to do radical heart surgery so we can finally see Him with a pure heart.

Psalm 139: 23,24 says, "Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my thoughts.  Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life."  That is my prayer, Lord, for me and for others who want to be "free of" the hurts, habits and hang-ups in our lives.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

"Bless His Heart"

The 5/7 verse of the day is from Matthew 5:7 of Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, "Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy."  (NLT)

Mercy.  It can be described as lenient or compassionate treatment, especially toward one's offender.  I think if I could choose one word to embody mercy it would be "heart".  Showing compassion to someone that, especially, doesn't deserve it, indicates a heart of love and mercy to me.  Jesus showed us such mercy.  None of us deserved the mercy He showed us as He died on a cross in payment for our sins.  While "heart" is the word I think best embodies mercy, the person who embodies it like no one ever can, or will, is Jesus.  He wants us to be like Him in showing mercy to others; especially those that have offended us, or don't deserve it.  I believe showing such mercy will not only bless others, but bless us, as well.

I'm a Kentucky girl and today is the Kentucky Derby.  We love to say things like "Bless his heart!"  To honor my "Old Kentucky Home" and throw in a horse story that I feel has a lot of heart, I submit to you the story of Secretariat.  Secretariat is considered by many to be the greatest thoroughbred racehorse of all time; a triple crown winner.  I toured Claiborne Farms in Kentucky recently; the farm where Secretariat is buried.  Upon doing an autopsy at Secretariat's death, his heart was found to weigh 22 lbs, almost three times the size of a normal racehorse's heart. 

Secretariat began as an underdog who no one would have believed to be a winner.  Yet, as a select few people in the horse industry showed mercy to the owner, this horse proved to be the biggest, fastest horse of, what some would say, all-time.  I say the thing that made him such a blessing to those he encountered was his heart.  It was later determined that Secretariat had a gene for a large heart that was passed down through the X chromosome. 

Our X Factor comes from our Father, God.  No matter what condition our heart begins with, we get a life-giving heart transplant, through God's mercy, when we believe in Jesus.  You could say that it makes our heart larger, in a spiritual sense.  As we run the race called life, we can imitate our bloodline and finish as a winner.  We've been given more mercy than we ever deserved and can show our Father's heart by turning around and giving it away to others who don't deserve it either.  I say go ahead and "Run for the Roses" and be blessed!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Eat, Drink and Be Blessed!

The 5/6 verse for today is Matthew 5:6, "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled."  (NIV)

I think some things are no-brainers.  If we want and seek God's will for us, I believe we will be blessed.  I think Jesus is suggesting that in this verse.  Righteousness means to be in right standing with God.  If we seek to be in right standing with Him, I have to believe that He is faithful to show us what that looks like.  To hunger and thirst suggests that one yearns for something.  I believe, to hunger and thirst for righteousness, means we yearn to be in right standing with God; we cannot get enough of Him.  Only He can satisfy our need.

As believers in Christ, I also think our hunger and thirst for righteousness comes from responding to the Holy Spirit's guidance in our lives.  If we respond to Him, I believe He will direct us to learn more about His character and, as we do, we will get hungrier and thirstier for more knowledge of Him.  Blessings come as we read God's word, get to know Him through prayer, and obey Him.  We don't have to do these things; we get to.  When we realize this, I think we turn a corner and move from obligation to adoration.  When we truly know Jesus, we come to adore Him.  We just can't help ourselves.

So, how's your appetite today?  If you're hungry and thirsty, try the Bread of Life and the Living Water...you will be blessed.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Remembering Truth

The 5/5 verse of the day is Matthew 5:5, "Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth."  (NIV)

That's sort of like an oxymoron, but, then, a lot of things Jesus tells us to do seem contrary to the way of the world; His way is different than the way of the world.  I believe Jesus is telling believers to be mild and humble and let His way lead us in victory over the world and it's ways.

Another 5:5 verse that correlates well with this is 1 John 5:5, "And the ones who win this battle against the world are the ones who believe that Jesus is the Son of God."  I LOVE THAT!  I just have to remember it.  I have to remember that God gives grace to the humble, but opposes the proud.  I have to remember that I can do ALL things through Christ, who strengthens me.  I have to remember that God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life! 

That's victory friends, and it's not in self accomplishment.  It's in surrender to God's will and way.  We just have to believe, remember, and walk in it.  God takes care of the rest.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Lifter of my Head!

The 5/4 verse of the day is Mat 5:4, "God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted."  (NLT)

Mourning is what we do when we grieve a great loss.  It can be for a person, a job, a pet, a relationship, a marriage, even a way of life.  Our losses are hurts that leave empty holes in our hearts.  There's only one person I know who specializes in filling up empty heart holes...God!

I've mourned the loss of my dad and special family members.  I knew Daddy was ready to be with God and he had suffered far too long.  Somehow, knowing that he would be healed in heaven made it easier for me to let him go.  God started comforting me even before Daddy went to be with Him.  I knew I'd get to see Daddy again; God's comfort assured me of that.

I've had other kinds of losses and hurts in this life that left me so helpless, I thought I would not be able to survive.  But when I became helpless and called out to God, He came to my rescue and lifted me out the the depths of my despair.  No one else would have had a rope long enough to pull me out of my hole.  I grabbed on and held on tight.  God knew my tender heart and He handled it with loving care.  What a blessing and comfort my God is.  He is my rescuer and the lifter of my head.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Just gravy

The 5/3 verse for today is a direct quote from Jesus as He taught the infamous Sermon on the Mount.  In Matthew 5:3 Jesus says, "'God blesses those who realize their need for him,' for the Kingdom of Heaven is given to them." (NLT)

I know just a tad about the principles of Jesus' Sermon on the Mount.  The first several scriptures in Matthew, Chapter 5, are the basis for the eight steps to recovery from any hurt, habit or hang-up in the Christian recovery program, Celebrate Recovery.  I am going to take advantage of what I have learned over the past few years my husband has led the Celebrate Recovery program at our church, and utilize these next few days to comment on those principles.  After all, who's better than Jesus to give us direct wisdom and healing? 

We often hear people quote a saying, "God helps those who help themselves."  That misguided statement originally came from Benjamin Franklin, a deist, who believed a superior being was not concerned about things, or people, on earth.  To me that is an example of how satan takes something and uses it to twist people's perception of who God is and how much He cares for us.  Our God knitted each of us in our mother's womb and knew us even before we were born.  There is proof throughout the bible, history and creation that He really cares about those He created.

Jesus' words from the Sermon on the Mount are the wisdom we need to pull us out of any pit and help us to focus on the Big God who created us; not the big problem that is consuming us.  Proverbs 28:26 says, "Trusting oneself is foolish, but those who walk in wisdom are safe."  The Message version of Matthew 5:3 says, "You're blessed when you're at the end of your rope.  With less of you, there is more of God and his rule."  The bible also says in 1 Peter 5:5 that God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.

From everything I can ascertain from God's word, Benjamin Franklin got it wrong; lots of people get it wrong.  God got it right.  He's patiently loving us and loved us so much that He left us written instructions to help us get it right.  But sometimes we can't see what is right in front of us.  Our distractions and the lies we believe are all we can see.  Something tells me that when we stop making things all about us and start making things all about Him, we might just be on to something.  In our need for Him, we realise and receive true blessings.  If we humble ourselves enough, I think we will begin to realise that knowing Him is really the true blessing.  Everything else is just gravy.

Monday, May 2, 2011

The Royal Wedding

The 5/2 verse for the day is 2 Cor 5:2, "We grow weary in our present bodies, and we long for the day when we will put on our heavenly bodies like new clothing."  (NLT)

Every day, in my job, I see frail broken bodies.  I pray for, and with, people and tell believers that those bodies will not burden them in heaven.  Our souls have a one-way ticket to heaven and our failing bodies would just be extra, unwanted baggage for that journey.  I don't really know what a heavenly body looks like, but I know the ONE who makes them.  I trust that He has a plan better than any I could come up with. 

I am curious about what my heavenly body will look like, though.  I've always been a little insecure about my earthly body.  I daresay I'm not alone in that.  Thousands of teenagers and adults are so obsessed with body image, that they will do unthinkable things just to try to look good.  The treatment of their bodies is subject to what they believe in their minds.  What they see in the mirror does not often reflect reality.  The truth is, they're in a world of hurt.  But that hurt and those bodies will never leave this world.

Our bodies get old, we get diseases, and we have accidents; they won't last forever.  But the good news is, they don't have to.  When we get to heaven, we won't need them.  We will be clothed in splendor and glory at the real Royal Wedding.  The King will be there and He will have all of our bodies tailor-made.  Beauty will likely be increased exponentially, on all levels, when we are in the presence of the Maker. Our focus will be on the Beautiful One, and I would like to think that our perception will be perfected so we know that is what truly matters.

In heaven, our souls will be in the home we've always longed for.  We'll finally be comfortable in our own skin.  When we look in the mirror, I'm hoping we will look a lot like Jesus.  I'm so excited that we all have an invitation to be fitted in new clothes for the Royal Wedding....I hope to see you there!

Sunday, May 1, 2011


It's May...Yeah!  The 5/1 verse today is from 1 John 5:1, "Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is a child of God.  And everyone who loves the Father loves his children, too."  (NLT)

God is so gracious to adopt us!  We were born into a fallen and broken world, children of a sin nature.  Without some kind of intervention we would have been separated from God forever.  But, He made a way, through His own son, Jesus, for us to be redeemed and to become His children for now and through eternity.   The process is simple and it can happen as soon as we ask Jesus to be our Savior.  It's a covenant that can never be broken.  Our name is written in His book.  Our pictures are in His heart.

I view adoption as a great picture of love.  You choose to love someone through adoption.  The second part of the verse above says that everyone who loves the Father loves his children too.  Many people choose to show God's love through adopting children that are not theirs, biologically.  But those adopted children become their children and they love them as their own.  Just as God does for us. 

At the 2011 Dove Awards for Christian music, the band Third Day sang their song, "Children of God".  The lead singer, Mac Powell, had three biological children and adopted two more.  During the song, he was joined on stage by Steven Curtis Chapman, who also has adopted children and has an organization that aids people in adoptions.  Mark Hall, from Casting Crowns, who was himself adopted, joined them also.  At the end of the song, children and adults came on stage wearing t-shirts that read, "Adopted".

You may click on the blue title above or the link below to view the video from the Dove Awards.  It's a beautiful picture of God's love.  Yes, I am so grateful to be an adopted child of God.