Thursday, June 30, 2011

The 6/30 verse is from 2 Chronicles 6:30, "then hear from heaven, where you live, and forgive. Give your people whatever they deserve, for you alone know the condition of the human heart." NLT

The main undercurrent in this passage is praise. The prelude into this can be loosely translated to say, "No matter how bad things get, a grateful heart - full of praise- can color your world from pale to bright. That is, if your motives are pure and your heart is right.

It is really a bit scary to tell God to give us what we deserve. What if we have sin or unforgiveness in our heart? What if we have worse? Do we want God to give us what we deserve? We deserve death, but our God is gracious. If we can get our hearts around that, I think God will reveal His love and Presence in our lives. He, alone, knows the condition of the human heart. Let's be careful not to get what we deserve.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Got it?

The 6/29 verse is Matthew 6:29, "yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are.". NLT

God is into the small stuff, as much as the big stuff, as this passage illustrates. We are a complex people who worry about things like what to eat and what to wear. Simple creatures, like birds, don't have such worries, yet God provides food for them. He even created them with built-in GPS systems to help them navigate toward warmer weather in the winter. By, the way, I want to put in a request for one of those!

Simple things, like flowers, bloom at just the right time, in just the right temperature. They just do it; no worry involved. Their beauty is often matchless, from no effort of their own...God did all the work. He takes care of them and He will do the same for us.

King Solomon could buy beautiful things, but nothing as beautiful as what the Lord created. All the little details of the birds, and flowers, and people are God's handiwork. If He does such a beautiful job with things that don't matter nearly as much as we do to Him, why are we always stressing? He's got this; He's got us. Got it?!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Attitude Adjuster

The verse for 6/28 is from Luke 6:28, "Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who insult you."  GW

That's a hard one isn't it?  But the way of Jesus is to love them anyway.  The way of Jesus is to be kind.  It could be just the impetus that softens their heart and their attitude.  God has a way of adjusting our attitudes when we do as He asks.

If Jesus told us to do it, there must be merit to it.  I think I'll do what He says and leave the results up to Him.  He can certainly take care of poor attitudes...both mine and theirs!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Exercising in Futility

The 6/27 verse is Matthew 6:27, "Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? Of course not." NLT

Jesus spends quiet a bit of time and effort telling us how futile it is to worry. As a matter of fact, He tells us NOT to worry! If there was ever something easier said than done, I think it might be adopting the principle of not worrying. Human nature and doubt seem to have us wringing our hands a lot, when we should be raising them. Why can't we just trust Jesus and His words and turn our worries over to Him? I wish I knew; I would be on to something.

So I guess I get more exercise than I realized. But far too often, it is the wrong kind of exercise. I tend to exercise in futility at times, when I give in to worry. I would be much better served to let God be God and give my worries over to Him. I am going to try to exercise my faith more, and my worry less. There is no doubt which is the healthier option, both spiritually and physically. It's time to lift my hands in surrender and praise and learn to exercise more in faith. Who wants to be my exercise buddy?

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Favor and Peace

The daily verse for 6/26 is Numbers 6:26, "May the LORD show you his favor and give you his peace."  NLT

This is the third of a three-part blessing the Lord instructed Moses to have Aaron give to the people of Israel.  I don't know about you, but I really love the way the LORD thinks and acts!  I covet His favor and peace and that is how He wraps up this blessing. 

I'm really thankful to be a child of God because that means He also wants to show me His favor and peace, just like He wanted to show the people of Israel.  I have experienced his favor and peace so many times.  I'm not boasting in who I am or anything I have done, but I am boasting about who God is and what He has done.  He is so good and faithful.  He has the amazing power to bless me with His favor and peace.  But I'm no more special than you or anyone else.  He also wants to show you his favor and give you his peace.  Put yourself in the best position to be able to receive that blessing today.  You will be amazed at how much He wants to give it to you.

I'm never going to apologize for telling others how wonderful He is and how He has blessed me.  I hope He never stops giving me new material because I long to live forever in His favor and peace.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Wedding Blessing

The 6/25 verse is from Numbers 6:25, "May the Lord smile on you and be gracious to you."  NLT

This is the second part of a blessing God gave Moses to give to Aaron, specifically for His people.  It makes me think of a proud parent who wants to give good gifts to his children because he is pleased with them, or just because he is head over heels in love with them.  We love our children, but God's love for us is all that, and more.  We can't even touch the love He has for us.  I think it is on a totally different dimension than our human minds know how to comprehend.  But I want to.

I think about my own child.  She's getting married this week and I could not be more happy for her.  My heart and my mouth are smiling on her and her fiance.  If I could give them the world, I would.  That's how much I love them.  Yet, God loves them even more.  My prayer, for a very long time, has been that God will give them hearts that love Him above all else.  To me, that's the greatest gift they could ever have.  That gift will open the storehouse to life and love, peace and protection, grace and goodness, and a multitude of other blessings.  That gift will open up their hearts and eyes to the wonder of who God is and who He wants them to be. 

I can't think of anything that would more valuable for our kids than having a heart for God and honoring Him with their entire life.  To me, that's the ultimate gift.  I wish I could wrap it up with a big bow and give it to them as a wedding gift.  I think I'd be taking credit for a gift that isn't mine to give, though.  It's God's gift and I believe He wants to give it to them freely.  May God smile on them and be gracious to them as they become husband and wife.  Please bless them Lord!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Unlimited Text Messaging

The verse for 6/24 is from Numbers 6:24, "May the Lord bless you and protect you."  NLT

This is part of a special blessing that Moses was instructed to give to Aaron and his sons, by the Lord, for the people of Israel.  In the next couple of days I will follow up with the rest of the blessing.

I can think of very few things more significant and exciting than getting a special blessing from the Lord to designates you as His own.  This message may have originally been intended for the people of Israel, God's chosen people, but God has also adopted me as one of His own, thanks to Jesus.  That means the message and blessing He gave Moses for the people of Israel, is also for me.  Thank you for your Word and blessing, Lord!  I like to call it my very own text message.  I'm signed up for the unlimited plan!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Tough Love

The verse for 6/23 is from Ephesians 6:23, "May God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give our brothers and sisters peace and love along with faith."  GW

This is the way the apostle Paul concluded his letter to the Ephesians.  The crux of the letter was to help Christians in Ephesus be aware of who they were in Christ and to motivate them to live that out in their earthly walk.  We can learn a lot from Paul and from what he wrote to the Ephesians.  As Christians, we can put ourselves in their shoes.  Paul has already given us a recipe for success.  Why try to re-invent the wheel on how to live successful Christian lives?  My own opinion is that we all struggle with obedience.  Especially, when it's contrary to popular public behavior and opinion.  We'd rather do things our own way, even though it often leaves us in a mess.

So, as Paul puts his stamp and signature on this letter, we can be assured that there is wisdom and love therein.  I think taking Paul's words and advice to heart would behoove all of us.  I can think of nothing more satisfying than my Father and the Lord Jesus Christ giving me peace and love along with faith.  I am convinced that those things will occur in greater measure as I become increasingly more obedient to God and His ways.  Paul's message may be tough for some to hear, but it was written with love.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

In Life's Jungle

Today is 6/22.  The verse for today is from Daniel 6:22, ""My God sent his angel, who closed the mouths of the lions so that they would not hurt me. I've been found innocent before God and also before you, O king. I've done nothing to harm you." MSG

Daniel's experience in an actual lion's den, makes me think of how many times I've been in my own virtual lions' dens.  I know many of you can relate.  There should have been no way on earth that Daniel could survive his adventure with the lions.  Yet, not only did he survive, but he wasn't even injured.  There wasn't a scratch on him.  His God had protected him by shutting the lions' mouths!

This story really impresses me for many reasons, but one of the most significant is how Daniel's situation was used to bring glory to God.  The king was so moved by God's protection of his servant Daniel, that he declared Him to be the living God!  Daniels faith in God and God's faithfulness to Daniel, had just come full circle.  Somehow, I think that happens often.

With my own struggles in life, I've come to realize that I can still trust God.  I could have been destroyed, but God shut the mouths of the lions who wanted to devour my life.  My lions were infidelity, cancer, financial troubles, fear, and name a few!  They could have eaten me alive, but I know my God protected me.  I cannot help but praise Him as I come out of the lion's den.  I pray that, like Daniel, people will see that I trust God and that He has protected me. 

Yes, in life's jungle, I've been in a lion's den, or two.  But I hope that my God has been glorified because of it.  How about you?  Have you been in your own lion's den?  Are you there now?  My prayer for you reflects what the king said to Daniel, "May your God, whom you worship continuously, rescue you!"

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Upside Down

The 6/21 verse is from Luke 6:21, "God blesses you who are hungry now, for you will be satisfied.  God blesses you who weep now, for in due time you will laugh."  NLT

Why does it seem like Jesus taught from a different perspective?  He was always saying things like this.  His view seemed upside-down from the world's view.  Yet, His way is the right way.  Our way is the one that is upside-down.  Our knowledge, or lack thereof, is of an earthly nature.  Jesus has the wisdom and knowledge of His Father in heaven.  Do you think we will ever begin to figure this out?  I sure hope so.

I've taken this passage from the Message to help me illustrate Jesus' words.  Verses 17-21 read like this,
"Coming down off the mountain with them, he stood on a plain surrounded by disciples, and was soon joined by a huge congregation from all over Judea and Jerusalem, even from the seaside towns of Tyre and Sidon. They had come both to hear him and to be cured of their ailments. Those disturbed by evil spirits were healed. Everyone was trying to touch him—so much energy surging from him, so many people healed! Then he spoke:
'You're blessed when you've lost it all.
God's kingdom is there for the finding.
You're blessed when you're ravenously hungry.
Then you're ready for the Messianic meal.
You're blessed when the tears flow freely.
Joy comes with the morning.'"
Far be it from me to put a theological explanation to this.  I'm afraid I would fall far short.  My take?  I think Jesus is saying that when you get to where God is all you need...that's all you need.  Works for me!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Living Under My Rock

The 6/20 verse is from Matthew 6:20, "Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal."  NLT

Unless we've been living under a rock, most of us have heard this verse at some point in our lives.  Yet, how many of us stop to consider what it really means?  I've heard it said that where we spend our time and money is indicative of what is important to us.  If we focus our time and money on this world, we may be satisfied for a little while, but it won't last forever.  Time can never be regained; once you spend it, it's gone!  And money, well, you can't take it with you when you die.  I'm sure you're thinking this is really encouraging, thus far!

We may not be able to see it initially, but there really is encouragement in this verse.  God's wisdom is pointing us toward the joy of real treasure.  It's in a relationship with Him, through His son, Jesus.  Spending our time with Him and caring about the things He cares about is a treasure in itself.  It's like we get the dividends here on earth.  But its so much more.  It's an eternal blessing that will last forever, unlike things on this earth that come and go, and can be lost or stolen.

We can live for the things of this earth, with no guarantee, other than the fact that those things will eventually pass away, as will we.  Or we can live for our Lord and store up our treasures in heaven.  Earthly treasures are fleeting, but heaven is secure.  I think I'll choose the security of heaven.  I just want to live under my rock....The Rock of Ages, The Rock Eternal.  Yes, He is my Rock and my Salvation.  What a treasure! 

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Beyond the Curtain

The verse for 6/19 is Hebrews 6:19, "This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary."  NLT

An anchor is something that keeps us from drifting.  When we "hold on" to the anchor we are secure.  Earlier verses in this chapter of Hebrews talk about God's oath to us, His promise to bless us for our faith and patience.  God does not lie, He promises to be our refuge and tells us we can take courage and hold on to His promise with confidence.  The verse above is talking about this confidence in our Father.

God's inner sanctuary is a place that requires us to hold on to the anchor.  Life makes us drift sometimes, and we get lost.  But Jesus has gone before us, to allow us to lay hold of God's promises.  The anchor never drifts.  We just have to let go of other cumbersome things is our life, so our hands will be free to hold on to the anchor. 

I don't know about you, but I want to go beyond the curtain to God's inner sanctuary.  His anchor keeps me from drifting too far so I can stay grounded in Him.  Thank you, my Father, for this hope and confidence that your promises are true.  My prayer is that I will hold fast to You and your promises and that the inner sanctuary will become a place of great familiarity for me.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

The King's Kid

The verse for 6/18 is from 2 Cor 6:18, "I will be your father, and you shall be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty."  GNT

Tomorrow is Father's Day.  I was fortunate to have a wonderful earthly father.  But, there are many people who do not have that privilege.  My husband did not have the love or presence of his earthly father.  He didn't realize, until much later in life, how many wounds are inflicted from the abandonment of a father.  People are often left scared and find themselves looking for significance in all the wrong places. 

My husband's story doesn't end here, though.  It actually begins.  When he was at his lowest, he opened his heart to the love of his Heavenly Father.  His Father God embraced him and reminded him that He had always been with him; Bill had just been looking in the wrong places.  God promised Bill that He would be his Father and that Bill would be His son.  What a deal.  Bill became adopted into the Royal Family.  Now he's the King's Kid!

On Father's Day, tomorrow, I think about my wonderful Dad and I rejoice that he is with His Father in Heaven.  I also rejoice that, next to my dad, my husband is the best earthly father I know.  He's the baby daddy!  He loves our daughter with his whole heart and has her best interest at heart.  He makes her laugh and he makes her feel loved.  He's an A#1 Dad in my eyes.  But, I also rejoice that he can celebrate Father's Day every day because of his Heavenly Father.  His Abba Father knows every hair on his head and His thoughts of him outnumber the grains of sand.  He is the apple of His eye.  And when he wakes in the morning, He is still with him.  What a wonderful Father!

I send out my love to all the fathers in my life; my earthly father, my wonderful husband, and my Abba Father!  Happy Father's Day!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Set Apart

The verse for 6/17 is from 2 Corinthians 6:17.  These are the words of God, "Therefore, come out from among unbelievers, and separate yourselves from them, says the Lord.  Don’t touch their filthy things, and I will welcome you." NLT

As much as we would like to say it doesn't matter, or righteously insist that we're just being a good example, I think it does matter who we spend our time with and where we hang out.  It matters to God, so it should matter to us.  Yes, there are times when people won't come to know Jesus if we don't show Him to them through spending time with them.  However, the time we spend and the things we do with unbelievers should be contemplated and carried out very seriously.  We should let God direct us on what is appropriate and what is not.

Jesus hung out with some crazy people, but you'll notice that they began following Him and His ways after a short time in His presence.  So, since we are all imperfect people and we are in relationship or contact with other imperfect people, how do we discern when we're hanging out with the wrong people or in a compromising situation?  It's a fine line: do we or don't we?  I think, like anything else, we have to go back to what our motives are and ask ourselves if it's really God leading us to do what we do.  Or is it just us trying to either be someone's Savior or satisfy our own desires?  I think it takes some examination by us and God.

Let's look at the Message, verses 14-18, to see what God says about this subject.  "Don't become partners with those who reject God. How can you make a partnership out of right and wrong? That's not partnership; that's war. Is light best friends with dark? Does Christ go strolling with the Devil? Do trust and mistrust hold hands? Who would think of setting up pagan idols in God's holy Temple? But that is exactly what we are, each of us a temple in whom God lives. God himself put it this way:

"I'll live in them, move into them;
I'll be their God and they'll be my people.
So leave the corruption and compromise;
leave it for good," says God.
"Don't link up with those who will pollute you.
I want you all for myself.
I'll be a Father to you;
you'll be sons and daughters to me."
The Word of the Master, God."

We can reason all we want, but let it be for God's purposes.  Let's reach the unbelievers, but in a fashion directed only by God.  There is a right way and a wrong way.  Let's ask Him to show us which is which.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Home Team Advantage

The 6/16 verse of the day is from 2 Kings 6:16, "He said, "Don't worry about it—there are more on our side than on their side." MSG

Sometimes our enemies and circumstances seem so numerous that we become discouraged.  Such was the case in this Old Testament account of Elisha and his servant being surrounded and outnumbered by a mighty army that had come to destroy them.  The servant was overcome, as if to throw up his hands in defeat and cry, "What will we do now?"  Elisha, the prophet, was undaunted.  He prayed for God to open his servant's eyes, and when He did, the servant saw horses and chariots of fire all around them.  Elisha then prayed that God would blind the eyes of the enemy and He allowed Elisha to lead them away.  Suddenly, the home team had the advantage.  God was on their side!  They just had to recognise it and ask Him to help them win the battle.

How many times have we felt defeated and not asked our God for help?  How many times has He provided help and we just haven't recognised it?  How many times are we in a battle that we shouldn't even be in?  After many scars and bruises, I've come to realize that my best battle plan involves surrendering to my Lord so He can open my eyes and win the battle for me.  Having the Lord on my side far outweighs any number of enemies or problems that come my way.

How about you?  Are you in a battle today?  Are your problems and enemies weighing you down?  Ask God to help you open your eyes to His power in your life.  Ask Him to help you see that there are more on your side than on their side.  Ask Him to help you recognise that He is on your side.  The battle is not ours; the battle is the Lord's.  Go ahead, give it to Him.  I pray that He diverts your enemies.  But more than that, I pray that you will know how much He loves you and that He is bigger than any situation or problem that has come against you.  He is bigger than satan's plan to destroy you.  Be still and know that He is God.  He is with you.  Ask Him to open the eyes or your heart.  Ask Him to show you peace and victory.  Ask Him to help you surrender it all to Him.

It's funny somehow, but we think of surrender as weakness.  Surrender to God is actually the agent that brings strength.  In our weakness, He is made strong.  In our weakness, the strength of Christ leads us.  Through surrender, our eyes are opened to a God that can do anything.  Through surrender, it doesn't really matter what He does or doesn't do.  Through surrender, we realize that the battle is already won because we are His and He is ours.  Through surrender, we begin to see with our hearts and not with our minds or flesh.  Through surrender, we realize we are not alone and that, truly, there are more on our side than on their side.

Open your heart to surrender, I believe you will see things a whole lot differently.  I believe you will realize that you have the home team advantage and the MVP on your side.  You're on the winning team, friend.  Start playing like it!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Amazing Grace

The 6/15 verse is Romans 6:15, "What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? By no means!" NIV

God's grace. It's so wonderful and amazing. God's grace took the debt of our sin and paid for it with the blood of Jesus Christ. How should we react to such grace? I think the verse above is asking us if we think we can just take that kind of grace for granted and continue to live as we always have and sin as we always have. It goes on to say that would be a negative!

Many of us do just that. We take God's grace for granted. I love the way the Message translates this passage. Verses 15-18 say it much better than I can, "So, since we're out from under the old tyranny, does that mean we can live any old way we want? Since we're free in the freedom of God, can we do anything that comes to mind? Hardly. You know well enough from your own experience that there are some acts of so-called freedom that destroy freedom. Offer yourselves to sin, for instance, and it's your last free act. But offer yourselves to the ways of God and the freedom never quits. All your lives you've let sin tell you what to do. But thank God you've started listening to a new master, one whose commands set you free to live openly in his freedom!"

So, in case anyone is still in the dark, God's grace gives us the freedom not to sin. Going back to our old way of life would just jeopardize that freedom, and I hope I never take that kind of grace for granted.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Dancing in my underwear

The verse for 6/14 is from 2 Samuel 6:14, “And David danced before the Lord with all his might, wearing a priestly tunic.”  (NLT)

Originally, I had chosen a different verse for today and had written it yesterday so I could publish it first thing this morning. Yet, I felt like it wasn’t really what God wanted me to share with you. He drew me back to the verse above and impressed me to comment on praise; on worshipping Him.

Recently, my husband gave me one of the best compliments I have ever gotten. He told me I was a worshipper! This is someone who knows me; who sees me day in and day out; who sees me when the church, and the world, is not watching. It warmed my heart to be recognized for what I most wanted to do and be. But, I have to tell you, becoming a worshipper has been a process. Depending on what culture or church we grow up in, or have gotten accustomed to, we tend to adapt our worship to what is “acceptable” in that setting. Some people get very uptight about worship. I think we analyze it too much. That’s why I love what David did.

David was the king. When he finally felt like the Ark of the Lord could be safely brought back to the City of David, he did so with great celebration. The king abandoned any reservations of what people might think and danced to honor the LORD in what many people say was his underwear! Now, I think we need to stop a little short of exposing our underwear, but I'm all about giving the Lord all we have without caring about what others might say or think. David’s own wife was even filled with contempt for his expression of worship. When she communicated her disdain for David, he replied that he was dancing for joy before the Lord. I’m far from being qualified to explain the meaning of why this happened, but the bible goes on to say that she remained childless throughout her life. Maybe she should have tried dancing in her underwear more often instead of trying to control what her husband did. I’m just saying!!!

I like when King David said, “He appointed me as the leader of Israel, the people of the LORD. So I am willing to act like a fool in order to show my joy in the LORD. Yes, and I am willing to look even more foolish than this.” WOW! That encourages me to let the LORD direct my worship; not my society; not my culture; not even my church! In my process of falling in love with my LORD, I've learned that our worship of Him is personal.  For some of us, that is more expressive than others.  And that's okay with me.  As for me, I figure if I can cheer on my favorite sports team with "woohoos" and fists pumps, I can certainly express my gratitude, awe, and wonder to Him with as much, or more, excitement.  I'm not beyond dancing in celebration of who He is and what He has done...and I often do!  If others don't want to join in, that's okay too.  They're free to worship however they like; however the Lord leads them to do so.  My only observation would be that man should not dictate how one should worship.  That is between the individual and God. 

I have an audience of ONE. No matter who else is around, He is the one I adore. Don't judge me...I’m dancing in my underwear….on the inside!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Daily Surrender

The 6/13 verse for the day is Romans 6:13, "Do not let any part of your body become an instrument of evil to serve sin. Instead, give yourselves completely to God, for you were dead, but now you have new life. So use your whole body as an instrument to do what is right for the glory of God."  (NLT)

Sometimes I need daily reminders of what Jesus did for me on the cross.  In view of His sacrifice, I am blessed with new life.  My mind should think better.  My eyes should see things in a new light.  My heart should burst with love for the grace my Savior has given me.  And my hands and feet should serve God and others.  I should know that each new day is a day the Lord has made, and rejoice and be glad in it! 

Unfortunately, I don't always do these things, but I want to.  I think daily reinforcement of focusing on God and His Word would help me to use my whole body for His glory.  This verse says to give ourselves completely to God.  I think that is a daily surrender.  As I opened my eyes this morning, I am reminded to thank God for the miracle of life.  He doesn't have to give me another day, but He has done just that.  What am I going to do with this day?  Today, I choose to praise Him with my mind, my heart, my body, and my soul.  Today, I give myself completely to God so I can glorify Him with my entire body.  It changes everything.  O, what a beautiful day!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

My Moses Complex

The verse for 6/12 is Exodus 6:12, "But Moses protested to the Lord, “The Israelites wouldn’t listen to me. Why would Pharaoh listen to me? I’m such a poor speaker.”  (GW)

Moses was, by all appearances, a very poor candidate to carry out God's plan to get the Israelites out of Egypt.  Because he stuttered and felt ill-equipped to carry out God's plan, Moses complained to the Lord when he was asked to go tell Pharaoh to let the people of Israel go.  But I think God was more interested in his availability, not his ability. 

As we track the story of the Israelites being released from the bondage of slavery in the land of Egypt, we see that the plan was not really contingent upon how well Moses communicated with others, but it had more to do with how well he communicated with God.  God even allowed Aaron, his brother and a more accomplished speaker, to help Moses with the task at hand, but it was really Moses that God chose to complete His purposes.  Moses was the Charlton Heston for the job and Aaron was the best supporting actor.  In all sincerity, we can see where it is true that God doesn't call the qualified, but qualifies the called. 

I am terrified of public speaking.  I have a Moses Complex second only to that of Moses, himself.  I am not a good speaker.  I forget what I'm supposed to say and I often become so emotional that I cannot even speak at all.  My fear of not doing a good job, or of making a fool of myself, has often kept me on the bench instead of in the game, where God wanted me.  It's pretty ironic, really, since I have a college degree in Speech Communications.  As I have pondered this more and more, over the years, I've come to realize that I've put too much emphasis on what I could, or couldn't, do and not near enough trust in what God can do.  I'm not proud of my selfishness, but I still find myself wanting to play it "safe."  I feel like God can always find someone better than me to do the job.  Of course He could, but God is not asking them; He is asking me.

Take from this whatever you will, but God really got my attention in this respect recently.  Bill and I had just had a little "conversation" while traveling, where he said I should be teaching more and that he would like me to come along beside him in that area.  I quickly asserted that teaching was not my gift and that I needed to stay involved in writing or doing something more behind the scenes.  We agreed to disagree on the subject.  A short while later, while driving in the car, we listened to a sermon that had been recorded some time earlier at the Brooklyn Tabernacle.  The Pastor, Jim Cymbala, was illustrating a point and decided to call on a couple of people from the audience to help him make his point.  We both grinned a little as he called out "William" to the man he wanted to help him.  I told Bill he must be talking to him.  A few seconds later, my mouth dropped open as he said, "Carol, you come along beside William!"  He then went on to talk about "William and Carol" being a team and that William needed Carol's help.  It may have been mere coincidence that those names were so close to ours, but I chose not to ignore what had just occurred.  I sort of felt like God was talking to me; like He wanted me to stop complaining about my inadequacies. 

I'm not sure what God is asking me to do, or when He will ask me to do it, but I am certain that it's not really my abilities He is looking for.  He wants my availabilty, to be used by Him and for Him.  I may not be able to speak well, but I do realize that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.  As I keep my focus on what God can do, I will care far less about what I can or cannot do in my own strength and abilities.   Just like Moses, what is really important is not my ability to communicate with others, but my ability to communicate with God.  I think I'll stop complaining so much and let Him do more of the talking.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Moving On

The verse for 6/11 is Mark 6:11, "But if any place refuses to welcome you or listen to you, shake its dust from your feet as you leave to show that you have abandoned those people to their fate.” (NLT)

Anyone who is a Christ follower is in ministry.  God calls us to live out a testimony and tell others about Him; to always be prepared to give an account for the hope that we now live for.  He even calls some of us to commit our entire lives to that end.  But not everyone is going to listen.

We can't save the world, no matter how hard we want to, or how hard we try.  God gave us all a free will to make our own decisions.  We can choose to follow Him or we can choose to go our own way.  It's always a difficult thing in ministry to think that we are not the ones that God will use to make the difference in someone's life.  It's not that He doesn't want to use us, as much as it is people not being ready to surrender to what He wants them to hear.  We always have to be prayerful as to when to move on and leave them to their own fate, but sometimes we have to do just that.  We can only be faithful to what God calls us to do and sometimes it means moving on to a place where people will actually listen and turn to God. 

Talking to deaf ears and running up against brick walls at every turn doesn't work for any of us.  When we are truly sent by God to tell others about Him, to let Him be seen in us, He will extend our journey to those who will eventually listen.  Sometimes that means dusting off our sandals in one place and moving on to another.  We can always pray for the people we've left behind, but we cannot make their choices for them.  Free will is a gift that comes with blessings and consequences.  Unfortunately, it will always be everyone's own choice to make.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Best Dressed by Designer God

The verse for 6/10 is from Ephesians 6:10, "A final word, "Be strong in the Lord and His mighty power."  (NLT)

This verse is the beginning of one of the most valuable passages in scripture.  It doesn't stand alone.  And neither do we, thanks to the Lord and His mighty power.  He affords us His power to clothe ourselves for protection from a real enemy, the devil.  How kind of our God to give us spiritual direction on how we can withstand the attacks of Satan.  God tells us that we live in a spiritual world.  There are things going on around us that we do not see or hear.  It doesn't mean they aren't there.  Some of us don't believe that and we are battle-weary at the end of each day; we let the devil just wreak havoc in and with our lives.  Some of us do believe in angels and demons, and even the power of God, but we still let the devil have a heyday with our lives.  It's really sad to me that we can't utilize the power God has made available to us to help us be strong against these attacks.  Take heart and put on your armor, friends.  God has made it just for you.

I wouldn't dream of walking out of my house without putting on my clothes.  It would be a disaster for me and everyone I encountered.  The same is true for my spiritual clothing.  I am so thankful that God protects us and even gives us directions on how we can further protect ourselves.  We are naked without Him.  We are also naked without knowing how to strengthen ourselves for any spiritual attack that comes our way.  And, believe me, they are always coming our way.  I can envision them as being lined up like taxi cabs at an airport, just waiting to take us on a wild ride.  Our rides could be far less bumpy, and have a lot less detours, if we chose the right vehicle and the right driver. 

We don't have to run around spiritually naked and vulnerable to every attack that comes our way.  I love that God tells us how to stand firm.  I like reading this passage all the way through verse 18 and applying that wisdom to my life.  I feel like the best dressed girl in the world when I'm clothed in God's armor.  The Message version puts it this way, "Be prepared. You're up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it's all over but the shouting you'll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You'll need them throughout your life. God's Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other's spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out."

Friends, that's powerful, it's real, and it is available to all of us.  Other versions of this passage give us visual articles of clothing, or armor, we can put on daily so we will not be unprotected, or naked, against the devil and spiritual attacks.  We'd be crazy not to wear our clothes!  The bible tells us to use every piece of it so we can still be standing firm when we go through the battles in our lives.  His Word is like a belt of truth.  If we don't know it and apply it, we could be caught with our pants down - no belt!  Don't be caught with your pants on the ground!  And be adorned with God's righteousness.  Knowing God and doing what He says comes with fringe benefits.  Righteousness is a gift that flows from the inside to the outside.  We can be clothed with it when we believe God and act in His ways. 

And in all battles, we need a shield to protect us from arrows that come our way.  Faith, is that shield.  It cannot adequately be described or seen.  It is, again, just believing that God is who He says He is and can do what He says He can do.  I'm okay with that; more than okay with that.  God has proven Himself faithful to me when all I've had was faith to get through.  I don't want to be guilty of laying down my shield.  I need it everywhere I go and with anything I do. 

The bible then goes on to instruct us to put on the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit.  These battle terms may seem archaic to some, but it was written from a battle perspective.  I am glad I can view it from a battle perspective.  Christ followers have accepted Jesus as their Lord and Saviour.  That transaction, of giving our lives and will for His salvation and power in our lives, is monumental.  We don't often realize that the same power that raised Jesus from the dead is available for us.  His Word is our sword.  We are equipped for battle.  Sometimes, we just don't know it.  When we can rest in His assurance that He is with us and we can do all things through His strength, we are ready, friends.  God's word is like a double edged sword.  We have to know it to use it, though.  I think the enemy will often turn his tail and run at just the sight of a well yielded sword.  God's word is priceless and effective in our battles.  We need to wear it well.

Finally, prayer is essential to being well dressed and covered for battle.  Not only for ourselves, but for others.  We have to be in tune with God's Holy Spirit.  He lives in us and can direct our prayers for ourselves and others, making us ever alert to the plans of the enemy and how to defeat him.  I pray every morning to be covered by God's power and the blood of Jesus.  I am confident that I'm not going out naked.  Some days, I'm better dressed than others, but I know I need to suit up every day. 

I wish everyone could realize that we have a full wardrobe of the clothing of God.  It's beautiful and powerful and better than any designer clothing I've ever seen.  It was made by my Designer God and I wear it proudly and gratefully.  It makes me feel like the best dressed girl in the world.  Thank you, Designer God.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Lord's Prayer

The 6/9 verse of the day is one many of us are familiar with.  The Lord's prayer starts like this in Matthew 6:9, "This, then, is how you should pray: “‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name," (NIV)

While I say that many of us are familiar with the Lord's prayer, it occurs to me, that just reciting this prayer sort of defeats the purpose of the prayer.  This opening line gives reverence to the Almighty God for being Holy.  If we don't approach Him with a humility, coupled with a thankful and repentant heart, I'm not so sure we are doing much more than mumbling some words.  The Lord wanted more for us in this model of prayer.  As always, it wasn't as much about the words as it is about our attitudes; our hearts toward God and others.
The Message has an interesting way of translating this passage.  Matthew 6:7-13 says, "The world is full of so-called prayer warriors who are prayer-ignorant. They're full of formulas and programs and advice, peddling techniques for getting what you want from God. Don't fall for that nonsense. This is your Father you are dealing with, and he knows better than you what you need. With a God like this loving you, you can pray very simply. Like this:
Our Father in heaven,
Reveal who you are.
Set the world right;
Do what's best— as above, so below.
Keep us alive with three square meals.
Keep us forgiven with you and forgiving others.
Keep us safe from ourselves and the Devil.
You're in charge!
You can do anything you want!
You're ablaze in beauty!
Yes. Yes. Yes. "

All I know is that God's word should be taken seriously when it says, "Here is how you should pray."  To me, that means holding these words in my heart and really knowing what they mean as I utter them with my mouth.  If we could really get our collective minds, and hearts, around WHO He is and WHAT He can do, I think we would really be amazed and blessed.  Why not do more with the Lord's prayer?  Learning what it really means, today, could mean living what it truly means in the future.  I think it's worth looking into; don't you?  We can start by listening to this beautiful version of the prayer:

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Journey

The 6/7 verse of the day is Romans 6:7, "For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin." (NLT)

What a life-changing, liberating thought! We should all be walking around free of guilt and shame and filled with the joy of the Lord. Only if we could believe the Apostle Paul and the truth of God's word, we would be doing just that. If we have put our trust in Jesus by believing in our hearts that He is Lord and confessing it with our mouths, we have been given much grace and forgiveness. The old self and the old sins "died" and we became a new creation. What if we started walking in our new identity and started believing that we are now free of guilt and shame and the power that sin once had over us? What if we realized that we have the power of Christ; that we now have the power to choose to walk away from the power of our old lives and sins? It sure would be liberating for many of us. Instead, we let the power of sin hang around as if it still belongs in our life. The bible tells us it doesn't.

The Message translates this passage beautifully. Verses 6-11 say, "Could it be any clearer? Our old way of life was nailed to the cross with Christ, a decisive end to that sin-miserable life—no longer at sin's every beck and call! What we believe is this: If we get included in Christ's sin-conquering death, we also get included in his life-saving resurrection. We know that when Jesus was raised from the dead it was a signal of the end of death-as-the-end. Never again will death have the last word. When Jesus died, he took sin down with him, but alive he brings God down to us. From now on, think of it this way: Sin speaks a dead language that means nothing to you; God speaks your mother tongue, and you hang on every word. You are dead to sin and alive to God. That's what Jesus did."

Yes, God came down to us, in all His power and glory, and put sin to death. He bore the weight of our sins on the cross. Let's not make a mockery of it, by letting that same sin rule over our lives. We now have a new identity, a new life, and a new ruler. Give the Lord Jesus Christ His rightful place in your life and show the world who He really is and who you really are through His power. That's the life He wants for you and me. He gave His life for more than just reservations in heaven. He also gave His life to help us navigate the journey, along the way.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Don't be a Lazybones!

The 6/6 verse today is from Proverbs 6:6, "Take a lesson from the ants, you lazybones. Learn from their ways and be wise! (NLT)

I don't like ants, even slightly. Those tiny little pests often come marching into my kitchen, and my life, at the onset of warm weather. I can literally picture them , sort of like a cartoon, lined up to march from their anthill to my kitchen floor or countertop to haul off any crumbs I have not been diligent in cleaning up. But, I'm not laughing! They are so annoyingly persistent on reaching every stray morsel and hauling it back to their storehouse for future feasting. They may not be very big, but their work ethic is absolutely HUGE!

This proverb warns against laziness and says we could learn a lot from these little guys. They don't even have anyone telling them what to do, yet they persist in the task at hand...securing their future. Without their summer sojourns, they would not have food and shelter for the winter. Call it commitment; call it necessity; call it whatever you will, but they know that no one is going to do it for them. If they don't carry their share of the crumbs, their future could be even crumb-ier! (Sorry:0)

All bad jokes aside, we have responsibilities in life. If we are lazy, the quality of our lives could fall to the wayside. If we do nothing but play in mild weather, severe weather could take us by surprise; we could end up unprepared and I'll-equipped. I guess that is why the bible tells us we can learn from even an ant. They don't decide to take the summer off, or the day off; they have a work ethic that somehow let's them know they must labor while they can. It's like it is inherent in them to know that a season of winter is coming and they must be ready. Even though I dislike ants, even I am impressed at that! Just for their gargantuan efforts, I may let a few of them survive this summer....but, then again, maybe not! I think I'll just be reminded to work a little harder to keep my kitchen clean.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

The Prize!

The 6/5 verse for the day is from Deut 6:5. The Message version says, "Love the Lord your God, with your whole heart: love Him with all that's in you, love Him with all you've got!"

This scripture is of great importance. I think our Father wants us to get it right, because He repeats it in a number of other places. I don't believe He sits around idly, just saying repetitive words, but has purpose and passion for everything he says and does. I've counted over 14 cross references in other verses throughout the bible that say pretty much the same thing. You don't have to be a Rhodes scholar to know that giving your heart totally to God is a key factor in this thing called life. I think I get it!

Okay, so now I need to follow through and keep my eyes on the Prize. Our Lord is the Prize. Nothing on earth could ever satisfy us or fill our hearts like the love of Jesus. The natural response of loving Him back with all we have and all we are, is heart-healthy. When our hearts are full of love for the Lord, it pours out onto everyone else and in everything we do. Our Lord knew what He was doing when He asked for our total love and commitment. I'm working, every day, on giving Him more and more. The prize is worth everything!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

On a New Team

The 6/4 verse today is Romans 6:4, "For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives.". (NLT)

Bill recently used an analogy in a sermon, which I love. I'm going to borrow it today to help me illustrate this verse in a practical way. You don't have to be a former basketball player to appreciate the game and it's talented players. One such player is Lebron James, a phenom to say the least. Last summer, Lebron announced that, after playing with one team for several years, he had decided to leave that team to play for another team. His contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers had expired and he was considered a free agent. He chose to play for the Miami Heat instead, and signed a contract to seal the deal. He would give himself and his talents to his new team and they would pay a high price in that transaction. What a deal, right? It was high profile and it was the talk of the town. Everyone was abuzz about the change.

Bill's analogy follows. What if Lebron and the Heat came to Cleveland and the familiarity of the surroundings he had played in for so long was so overwhelming that it caused Lebron to go sit on the Cavaliers' bench. That wouldn't fly, because he's not on that team anymore. But what if he still was influenced by his familiar surroundings and went into the Cavaliers' locker room at half-time, instead of the Heat's locker room? That would be sort of dumb, now wouldn't it? I mean, who goes into enemy territory like that? after all, he's not on that team anymore. Subsequently, what if he was so influenced by his old environment, that he pulled off his Heat jersey in the middle of the game and asked for his old Cavaliers' jersey? He couldn't do that...because he's not on that team anymore!

You see, Lebron signed a new contract because he was free to do so. He is accountable to keep the terms of that contract now and abide by it's guidelines. To do otherwise would be a little wacky. There's too much at stake. Can you see a correlation between this analogy and our team status? What team are you on? If you've utilized your free will to be on God's team, you can't play on both teams. It won't work to go back to familiar sins and tempting're not on that team anymore! When you become a Christian, your new contract is such that you are leaving your old life and team behind to give yourself and your talents to God. God has already paid for your new contract with the blood of His son, Jesus.
I think that's a pretty sweet deal and we'd be crazy to want to go back to the old team, and our old way of life. We may not know all the plays of our new team right away, but our new coach is pretty awesome. He's Awesome God, full of love, patience, and long-suffering for our learning curve. Yet, He deserves our best and we should always give it to Him.

When we are baptized, we are leaving our old team and our old life. We are dead to those old ways. Just as Christ was raised from the dead, we are raised into a new life. We are on a new team. We were once considered free agents, but our new team makes us true free agents. We are free to live a new life as MVP's on a winning team. Put me in, Coach!

Friday, June 3, 2011

The Difference-Maker

The 6/3 verse for today is from Hosea 6:3, "Let us strive to know the LORD.  His appearance is as sure as the dawn.  He will come to us like the rain, like the spring showers that water the land."  (HCSB)

Earlier in the book of Hosea, God had said, "My people are being destroyed because they don't know me."  God's people had rebelled against Him and worshipped idols.  They had broken every commandment...and then some.  Their sin was literally destroying them.  They did not have a personal, firsthand experience with God; they did not know Him.  The prophet, Hosea, was urging the people to return to the Lord.  God was willing to heal and redeem them, but their hearts were hardened by sin.  Hosea knew the undying love God had for His people and he knew that if they seriously devoted their energy toward recognising the nature of God, they would see Him as the one true God.

Hosea's wisdom was spot-on.  Knowing God is the biggest difference-maker in life - and death.  Knowing His character draws us to Him and lets us experience His love and grace.  Knowing God opens our eyes, our ears, and our hearts to God's truth.  Knowing God gives us new and right perspective and perception.  Knowing God will bring dead dreams to life.  Knowing God will reveal truth from lies.  Knowing God will change our minds and our lives.  Knowing God is the true wisdom that will make a difference in our circumstance and situations. 

There is certainty in knowing God.  Hosea was trying to illustrate this to the people.  Just as the the sun rises at dawn and the rains come in spring, so too will the Lord come to us when we know Him.  Hosea knew that God's people had a chance to be redeemed if they would turn to God; if they would strive to know Him.  The same could be said for us.  When we call upon the name of the Lord, when we become serious about knowing Him and His character, we have a chance to be redeemed.  Our circumstances and situations can be redeemed, as well.  As surely as the sun rises and the rain comes, so too will our Lord show up when we know and love Him.

Are you like me?  Do you want to know Him more?  When the rain comes, let it be a reminder that God wants to pour into us so we can grow in our knowledge of Him.  And as the sun rises each day, let us be confident that the Lord is truly our difference-maker.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Mommas and the Pappas

The 6/2 verse of the day is from Eph 6:2, "Honor (esteem and value as precious) your father and your mother--this is the first commandment with a promise."  (AMP)

The Message version puts it this way, "Children, do what your parents tell you. This is only right. "Honor your father and mother" is the first commandment that has a promise attached to it, namely, "so you will live well and have a long life."

I was just pondering this verse recently.  The thought occurred to me, that when a young person thinks they know more than their parents, they probably just haven't lived long enough to know better!  I was once the same way.  I can remember thinking I was so wise and wonderful in my twenties, then I woke up to reality in my thirties.  I think I was playing God, and not very well, up until then.  It was as if a light bulb finally got turned on and true wisdom was illuminated.  I really felt dumb, though, when I realized how misguided I had been in my earlier immaturity.

I remember how everything in my world changed when I had our daughter.  All of a sudden, my perspective and priorities changed.  I don't think our children ever realize how much we love them until they have their own children.  It's funny how our lives mature, or not, and most of us are well into our thirties, with children of our own, before we realize that our parents were wise; they understood things we could not yet understand.  It's a very rare person that gets that early on in life.  I know I didn't.  But I did get it right, once God's wisdom took root in my heart.  I started to realize my parents were precious and that I should honor them, according to God's direction, and because I finally wanted to.

God has given parents a great responsibility for children.  Granted, some parents misuse that privilege, and that is inexcusable.  I am so sorry for anyone who was mistreated or abandoned by a parent.  That pain and healing is in God's hands and He will always be our loving Father, despite what kind of parents we have had or have.  I know my parents were not perfect, but they loved me and my sisters above all else and did the best they could to care for us and our needs.  I am so grateful to my mom and dad.  When I was young, I sort of disregarded their love and wisdom and thought I knew more than they did.  I was focused on my life.  When I think back about how I disrespected them and their feelings, I am ashamed and sorry for my lack of honor towards them.  That eventually changed, and I began to realize just how important parents are.  I just wish I had realized that when I was much younger.  I might have made them feel much more appreciated and loved.  I'm glad my light bulb finally came on and illuminated truth to me.  I attribute that to God's wisdom as we turn our lives over to Him.  It's like, He really makes us smarter!  He shows us how to trade the pride of self for the love of others; it's really an amazing transformation. 

Wherever you are in life, or whatever has occurred between you and your parents, ask God how you can honor them.  I think that starts in the heart.  Giving our feelings to God and letting Him help us reconcile any hurts or scars we have from our parents will help us move forward.  When our hearts are pure, we can learn to forgive and love, or at least let go.  If at all possible, go with God's plan to honor your parents.  I came to esteem and honor my parents and the blessings are all mine.  They became precious to me and it made my heart larger, bursting with love for them.  Thank you God, for your wisdom.  And, thank you, mom and dad, for your love.  You will always be precious to me.  I love you, mom and dad.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Holy, Holy, Holy

The verse I've chosen for 6/1 is from Isaiah 6:1, "In the year King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord.  He was sitting on a lofty throne, and the train of his robe filled the Temple." (NLT)

I love sharing this verse from Isaiah.  It makes me long for a glimpse of God's holiness.  In our earthly realm, it is hard for us to envision the true and utter holiness of God.  It has to be like nothing we've ever seen before, but Isaiah's account of his vision sort of takes me there.  That is, in as much as my human mind can wrap itself around holiness.  I have a sneaky suspicion that such knowledge is too wonderful to behold and it may take the confines of heaven to afford me that glory.  In the meantime, I'll wait in anticipation and borrow Isaiah's glimpse of holiness to tide me over until I see Him for myself.

One of my favorite worship songs, of all-time, utilizes this scripture as it exclaims the holiness of God.  Click on the blue link and listen to, "Holy, Holy, Holy."  I pray that it gives us just a glimpse of God's holiness.