Saturday, July 30, 2011

Keep it Simple

For 7/30 and 7/31, I want to use a passage from 1 Corinthians 7:29-31, "I do want to point out, friends, that time is of the essence. There is no time to waste, so don't complicate your lives unnecessarily. Keep it simple —in marriage, grief, joy, whatever. Even in ordinary things—your daily routines of shopping, and so on. Deal as sparingly as possible with the things the world thrusts on you. This world as you see it is on its way out." MSG

A crisis is currently coming to a head in our government.  None of our elected officials can agree on anything, but I think we can all agree that things have gotten out of control and don't seem to be coming back anytime soon.  With this news on our televisions every day, in real time play-by-play in Congress and the Senate, we all wait in anticipation for the outcome.  We hope for the best for our country, ourselves, and our children.

Considering where we are in this modern day crisis, I found it interesting to see how the passage above is broken down in the Life Application Bible.  The footnotes say that Paul was urging believers in Corinth not to regard marriage, home, or financial security as the ultimate goals in life.  He said, as much as possible, they should live unhindered by the cares of the world, not getting involved with burdensome mortgages, budgets, investments, or debts that might keep them from doing God's work.  Paul points out that a married man or woman must take care of earthly responsibilities, but they should make every effort to keep them modest and manageable.

The same principles that applied to Corinth, can benefit our society, but I am afraid we've put the horse before the cart, friends.  If we had been modest and kept things manageable, maybe our financial position as a country would be different.  We have burdensome debt that is higher than most of us can even count.  However, with no real game plan, the best thing we can do is go back to the main plan.  Simplify things and ask for God's help in working out the rest.  This world is only our temporary home, but we should live responsibly while we're here.  With God's direction, we can learn to do that.  May we be teachable and humble enough to realize it.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Roadside Assistance

The 7/29 verse today is from Ecclesiastes 7:29, "I discovered that God created people to be upright, but they have each turned to follow their own downward path."  NLT

Indeed, God created man for His own pleasure.  He wanted relationship with us.  Everything in the Garden of Eden was beautiful...until!  Until man, and woman, defied God and ate of the tree of good and evil.  The devil had tempted them with something they were forbidden to have; they could eat of anything, anywhere else in the garden, except this tree.  Satan dangled an ample double-dose of envy and greed in front of their noses.  The temptation to be like God and to attain His knowledge was too much for them to resist.  The humans took the bait and swallowed the hook, along with the fruit.  Bad idea; bad fruit, everlasting consequences.

What has changed since then?  God hasn't.  He still showers us with grace and mercy, despite the crooked paths we've chosen to take through sin and bad decisions.  He still wants to be in close relationship with us.  To be honest, humans haven't changed a whole lot either.  We've certainly gotten even more wayward as a society.  We've indulged in the wrong fruit!  Anything goes, if you can twist it, or spin it, enough to the right audience.  It's a tiresome circle of "do what you want" mentality.  The teacher in Ecclesiastes got it right when he said that God created us to be upright, but we choose our own downward path.  With sin in the world, and part of our human nature, it has been that way through the ages. 

I could end there and just leave us all feeling hopeless that sin separates us from a Holy God and causes us to act like total screw-ups.  But God didn't end there.  He loves us too much.  He may let us choose our own path, the stairway to heaven or highway to hell, but He also provides much-needed roadside assistance.  God constructed a glorious U-turn, if you will.  He made a WAY for us to always come back to Him, to choose the right path, through Jesus Christ.  There is always hope for us in Jesus.  He wants to make our paths straight so we can better enjoy the journey and end up at the right destination.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

My Promise

The 7/28 verse for today is 2 Samuel 7:28, "For you are God, O Sovereign Lord. Your words are truth, and you have promised these good things to your servant."  NLT

While these are King David's words to God, they might as well be mine.  The Lord promised King David many things and was faithful to deliver on His promises.  David was overcome by the grace and goodness of such a sovereign Lord.  So am I.  King David talks about God building a house for him, an eternal dynasty. 

I may not be a king or have a dynasty, as the world would perceive it, but the Lord has promised me a home, as well; an Eternal Home.  That is my Kingdom.  I certainly won't be the ruler, but I will be forever in the presence of the One who is.  That is my promise...oh what a good thing!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

National and Personal Security

The daily verse for 7:27 is Daniel 7:27, "Then the sovereignty, power and greatness of all the kingdoms under heaven will be handed over to the holy people of the Most High. His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all rulers will worship and obey him."  NIV

I guess one could say that Daniel was a dreamer.  His dreams have been called the key to all biblical prophecy.  I don't claim to understand it all, but I'm mindful that God included Daniel's dreams in scripture to portray His sovereignty.  Daniel, his friends, and fellow countrymen, faced tremendous trials and situations.  Daniel could have caved under the pressure, given up and given in, but he didn't.  Instead, he looked to God to deliver him.  He put his faith in a faithful God.  In Daniel's day, God was in control and He will always be in control.

Today, we are becoming more and more unglued as a country and a civilization.  We could despair about any number of things in our society, like natural disasters, terrorists attacks, mass murders, personal and national financial crisis, sinful and lewd behaviors - to name a few.  You name it, if our society hasn't taken it to the extreme yet, we are well on our way there.  But we could learn a lot from Daniel's example and from his dreams.  No matter what he was confronted with, he had faith that God was sovereign.  He believed that and he lived like he believed that. 

As a nation, and as a people, we can know that the same God that reigned in Daniel's time, still reigns today and will reign forever.  When nothing else seems secure in this world, we need not despair.  Just as Daniel did, we can look to a sovereign God and find our security in Him. 

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Avoid A Wipe Out!

The verse for 7:26 is from Matthew 7:26, "But anyone who hears my teachings and ignores it is foolish, like a person who builds his house on sand." NLT

This verse continues a thought we were camped out on a couple of days ago, wherein it says listening to Jesus' teachings is like building a house on solid ground. Today, we are expanding upon that passage to introduce the flip side of listening to Jesus' teachings.

Sand is known to collapse and move with the pressure of water. As life's inevitable storms hit us and threaten to wipe us out, if our house is built on sand, it can easily collapse. It has no foundation to stand upon. As this verse implicates, it's just foolish.

This makes me think of how Jesus was a carpenter before He started His ministry. He went from building structural things to building spiritual strength in His followers. No one can deny, He was, and is, a smart carpenter, despite His project. He knows how to build and is the best One to teach us to do likewise. We would be wise to listen to Him.

Monday, July 25, 2011

The Way

The verse for 7/25 is from Heb 7:25, "Therefore he is able, once and forever, to save those who come to God through him. He lives forever to intercede with God on their behalf."  NLT

This verse attests to the power of Jesus to be our Savior, permanently!  In the Old Testiment there were many priests responsible for coming to God on behalf of His people, to offer prayers and sacrifices for their sins.  They were human and they eventually died and had to be replaced by new priests. 

When God made Jesus our High Priest, He certainly eliminated the need for the former kind of priests.  Instead of offering other sacrifices, Jesus became the ultimate sacrifice.  No other sacrifice could ever measure up to His perfection and value.  He became the way for everyone to reach a Holy God; the very best way and the only way. 

What a plan!  Our God is brilliant.  Not only did He allow us access to Him through His son, Jesus, but He also gave us the blessing of having Jesus intercede with Him on our behalf.  I don't know about you, but if there is anyone I want praying and imploring with God on my behalf, it is Jesus.  How fortunate we are.  How blessed we are that God has provided The Way!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Key

The 7/24 verse for today is Matthew 7:24.  Jesus said, "Anyone who listens to my teaching and obeys me is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock."  NLT

I was reading Greg Laurie's preface to a devotional he authored entitled, For Every Season Vol III.  It talks about the storms of life and their inevitibility.  He said the key isn't avoiding the storms, because no one is able to do that.  The key is being ready for the storms.

As in everything, we have choices to make.  God allows us to make our own choices in life - good and bad.  In the Message translation of the passage above, it enlikens a smart carpenter building his house on the solid rock as a picture of taking Jesus' words to heart and putting them into practice.  Will doing so exempt us from the storms?  Unfortunately not, but when the storms come, we can be ready.  We can choose to be fixed to the Rock.  Again, that is the key.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Live Free

The verse for 7/23 is from 1 Corinthians 7:23, "You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men."  NKJV

How valuable are you?  God thinks you're precious.  You are the apple of His eye.  The bible says that He bought us with a price, a high price.  God gave His one and only son as the payment for our sins.  We are His.  We belong to Him now.  So, if God purchased us, why do we sometimes act like we still belong to someone else, to the world, to our old sinful ways?  I believe the battlefield is in our minds, as Joyce Meyer and others would say.  If we don't believe we are who God now says we are, we will still act like who we were before we believed in His plan of salvation. 

I love the way Psalm 139:17 talks about how God thinks of us, "How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!  How vast is the sum of them!  Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand.  When I awake, I am still with you."  It sounds like we are a big deal to God.  We weren't an unplanned purchase.  Before we were even born, our God was thinking of us.  His love for us was displayed on the cross as His son died for us.  We can believe it.  He really loves us and we are free to live for Him now.  Let's not serve any other Master, when the One that loves us so paid such a precious price to set us free.

Friday, July 22, 2011

How Great Is Our God!

Today is 7/22 and the verse of the day is 2 Samuel 7:22, "How great you are, Sovereign Lord! There is none like you; we have always known that you alone are God."  GNT

In this verse, King David is extolling the goodness and sovereignty of God.  And through the ages, our God has remained the same.  While people change and culture changes, our God does not.  We, as humans, try to employ different methods of explaining who He is.  He doesn't really need our antics.  One only has to see the beauty of creation to know that He exists.  The way He created mankind is complex and intricate, and so very detailed.  Only God can do that.

Even with such a wonderful God, this world can be a place of sadness and trials because we were born amidst the sin within it.  But our God is still God.  He is yet faithful.  And He loves us more than we could ever know.  He is with us in every high and every low.  When we accept Jesus as the payment for our sins, we are taking on the best insurance plan that was ever conceived.  Obedient lives for eternal salvation - I call that mercy.  He also throws in wisdom and knowledge to help us navigate our way.  It is so simple, we have trouble understanding it. 

God's ways are definitely not our ways.  His ways are far superior.  He is our Sovereign Lord and there is none like Him.  How Great is our God!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Obedience is the Ticket

The 7/21 verse of the day is from Matthew 7:21, "Not all people who sound religious are really godly.  They may refer to me as 'Lord', but they still won't enter the Kingdom of Heaven.  The decisive issue is whether they obey my Father in heaven."  NLT*

I didn't write it; I'm just the messenger!  This is Jesus speaking to us.  The question is, are we listening?   I consider everything in the bible to be the inspired word of God and important for us to take seriously.  Picking and choosing what we want to follow from the bible and ignoring what makes us uncomfortable, or challenges the way we live and the choices we make, is like playing spiritual roulette. We can get away with it for a while, maybe even a lifetime, but this verse indicates that obedience to God is the ticket for entry into heaven.  It is that and so much more.  God reaches and teaches us through obedience.  I believe it is the key to understanding God's grace and enjoying relationship with Him.  Obedience, out of love, is a true and fulfilling freedom. 

Religion is made by man.  A lot of people get caught up in the "trappings."  They get trapped by the parameters of their religion and totally miss out on getting to know the God it is supposed to represent.  My suggestion is direct, but I believe it needs to be.  If our so-called religion does not lead us into an authentic deeper relationship with the true God, we need to get rid of it!  We should start all over again and ask God to be real to us.  I think He will oblige.  It is up to us to want to know Him fully and be led by Him.  He tells us how to do that in His word. 

Are you like me?  Do you often disregard directions?  When I buy something, I tend to try to figure it out on my own and throw the directions aside.  It is usually not a good idea, because I either mess it up or it takes much longer than it would have if I had only looked at the directions.  The same is true for God's Word.  He gives us directions for the best life, but we often try it on our own, mess it up, and waste precious time and effort doing it.  That makes me say, "DUH!"  I also think it breaks God's heart.  He tries to help us, but we are a stubborn and prideful people.  To our detriment, we like to do it our way.

I don't want to stand before God on Judgement Day and have to find out the true meaning of today's verse.  I hope I'm smarter than that.  This time, I'm going to read the directions given to me in God's Word.  I think they will help me put together a bigger, better picture of who God is and what His best is for me.  I think it will help teach me His ways and how I can love Him more.  As I seek and obey Him, I believe I will inevitably find and know Him.

As I often do, I'm going to take this verse home with a favorite translation, the Message.  Matthew 21-23 says this, "Knowing the correct password—saying 'Master, Master,' for instance— isn't going to get you anywhere with me. What is required is serious obedience—doing what my Father wills. I can see it now—at the Final Judgment thousands strutting up to me and saying, 'Master, we preached the Message, we bashed the demons, our God-sponsored projects had everyone talking.' And do you know what I am going to say? 'You missed the boat. All you did was use me to make yourselves important. You don't impress me one bit. You're out of here." 

If that makes you say, "Ouch!", look at it further and read the directions. They're only there for our good.

*Note: I often use a NLT bible from 1997.  It has been updated since then, but I love this older translation for it's clear and concise delivery.  I often use and similar resources to look at various translations, but this version is one of my favorites, especially for this verse

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Overcome by Goodness

The verse for 7/20 in from 2 Samuel 7:20, "What more can I say?  You know what I am really like, Sovereign Lord."  NLT

King David is overcome by the grace of God in the verse above.  In his prayer, he seemed to be in awe that the Lord had been so good to him, had blessed him so much, and had amazing plans for his future.  He was a part of God's plan and he was bewildered as to why.  In this verse, it seems like he is saying, "Okay Lord, it is me, David.  You know my shortcomings.  You are aware of my sins.  Why in the world would you choose to use someone like me?"

I'm no King David, but I can certainly relate to his wonder at the goodness of God.  I am often amazed that God has done so much for me.  As I begin to recount some of His blessings, it seems more like fantasy than fact.  People who have not experienced His character, as I have, may have trouble believing He has done such great things for me.  It's hard for me to believe as well.  In King David's case, it was hard for him to believe.  Yet, he could not deny God's goodness.  Neither can I.  God has blessed me.  He has been better to me than I could ever deserve.  He knows who I am.  I am selfish, and opinionated, and sometimes irrational.  I have sinned against Him.  I still do.  Like David, I am aware that He is glorified through the plan He has for my life.  I am humbled. 

The Message translation says the following about this passage, in verses 18-21, "King David went in, took his place before God, and prayed: "Who am I, my Master God, and what is my family, that you have brought me to this place in life? But that's nothing compared to what's coming, for you've also spoken of my family far into the future, given me a glimpse into tomorrow, my Master God! What can I possibly say in the face of all this? You know me, Master God, just as I am. You've done all this not because of who I am but because of who you are—out of your very heart!—but you've let me in on it.

Despite our inadequacies, God has a plan for our lives.  We may wonder why He extends such grace and attentitiveness toward us.  It matters not, because He will bless whom He chooses.  He knows our hearts and He knows where circumstances can bring Him glory when they are surrendered to Him and His purposes.  I am certainly grateful that He has a plan for my life.  I am an underserving recipient of grace.  Amazing!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Our God is Grace

The verse for 7/19 is Micah 7:19, "You will be merciful to us once again. You will trample our sins underfoot and send them to the bottom of the sea!"  GNT

It's hard to fathom the compassion of our loving God.  His grace goes beyond all human logic.  His mercies are new every day.  We can be assured that, when we confess our sins, He is eager to forgive us.  In that same mercy, I believe He is eager for us to grasp the wisdom and knowledge to know Him as our Lord; to know His character; to know His attributes; to want to follow Him.  Yes, God's mercy toward us shows His faithfulness to want what is best for us.  In His mercy, He knows that we cannot always discern what is best for us.  Subsequently, He knows that we frequently make the wrong decisions and behave poorly.  Who else would put up with our antics, but a merciful loving God?

When I think about God's mercy and compassion, I'm humbled and amazed.  God devised a plan to redeem us from our sin.   We did not deserve grace, but that is just what we got.  One would think that God's plan to bridge the gap between Him and His people would not bring Him further pain.  Yet, He sacrificed that which was most valuable to Him to be the only valid payment for our sins.  He sacrificed His son for our sins.  Not fair to Him, by any means, but a remarkably beautiful picture of grace.  The Savior on the cross is grace.  Forgiveness of our sins is grace.  The opportunity to have a relationship with our God is grace.  The chance to spend eternity with God in heaven is grace.  His amazing love is nothing short of grace. 

I cannot adequately explain grace with words, but I know what it looks like.  It looks like our Lord.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Just Remember

The daily verse for 7/18 is from Deut 7:18, "Do not be afraid of them; remember what the Lord your God did to the king of Egypt and to all his people." GNT

Are there things in your life that seem so large, or out of control, that you feel like you have no chance of overcoming them?  We would all be well served to look to the Lord our God and follow Him through our seas of despair and out of our individual deserts.  God did not deliver His people out of Egypt immediately.  As a matter of fact, things got a lot worse for the people of Israel, in their captivity, before they got better.  Yet, when God finally delivered His people from Egypt, no one could doubt His power.  He completely annihilated the enemy; they were crushed under His mighty hand.

The same hand that delivered His people from their enemies, can also deliver us from our enemies.  It doesn't matter whether your enemy is a situation, a person, or multiple people.  When Christ is our King, He can overcome any enemy in our life.  We just need to trust Him for the outcome and know that He is able to part the seas in our lives.  So, if you are currently walking through the waters, remember that He can bring you through to the other side.  He has done it before and He can, no doubt, do it again.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

That Girl

The verse for 7/17 is from Psalm 7:17, "I'm thanking God, who makes things right. I'm singing the fame of heaven-high God."  MSG

This verse wraps up a Psalm wherein King David had lamented a time of great evil and injustice.  Despite man's unrighteousness, David was confident in yet one thing, God's righteousness.  He knew where his help came from and he knew God would always be the final judge, in every situation.

I think I might be able to come up with a similar psalm today.  The world is full of evil and injustice.  A young woman was just acquitted of the murder of her 3 year old.  Her child had been missing for 31 days before she ever reported her missing.  There is great evidence of foul play, but no clear evidence of who did it.  We all have our opinions and speculations, but that is just what they are.  God knows who did it and final judgement is in His hands.  Our emotions tend to rise in indignation that a child's life was the cost of negligent behavior, at best.  At worst, well, we don't even want to go there.  Everyone else is already speculating.

Now that I have pushed some hot buttons, let me ask you, what do you think would happen to this young woman if she was, indeed, guilty of murder, but came to a point where she asked Jesus to forgive her and committed her life to Him?  As much as many of us cringe at the thought, I can tell you what would happen.  He would forgive her and she would spend eternity in heaven with him, right alongside the child that is already there.  That doesn't seem fair, does it? 

Let's look at another scenario.  What if a girl had sins so great that someone had to die for her to pay the debt of those sins?  What if she ignored what her Savior had done for her for more years than she cared to admit and neglected to accept His love and sacrifice for her?  When she finally came to her senses and realized the truth of the mess her life was in, and the depth of her betrayal, she asked for forgiveness and, even before the words were out of her mouth, her sins were forgiven.  Instead of the death penalty she deserved, she was going to be rewarded with freedom to walk in love for a lifetime, and on the streets of gold for eternity.  Again, it's not really fair that she would be deserving of a pass, is it?  Thank goodness, my Judge doesn't give me what I deserve!  That girl is me, and I'm so glad my God is my ultimate judge.  Even though I've been unrighteous, He is still righteous and He forgives me.

As the NIV translation puts this verse, "I will give thanks to the Lord because of His righteousness and will sing praise to the name of the Lord Most High."  Without Him, I would be doomed; guilty as charged.  I'm so grateful He has forgiven me and cleansed me of my sin...anyway!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

How's your Fruit?

The 7/16 verse is from Matthew 7:16, "You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act. Can you pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?" NLT

Do people at work, and among your circle of influence, know that you are a Christ follower?  Is there something about the manner in which you conduct yourself and your affairs that makes you different than the average Joe?  The bible says that Christians are to be in this world, but not of it.  That means that we are to represent our beliefs and our Savior in a worthy manor.  We should be examples of integrity and grace and have have a demeanor that is desirable to others. 

I know that some of us are a little zealous in our presentation, even as Christians.  People have said that God is looking for good fruit, not religious nuts!  Our entire life should show the balance of humility, love, and grace that would represent our Lord well.  His Holy Spirit lives within us and is there to guide us, if we would only tune in; pay attention to how He directs and guides us.  That takes a good measure of surrender on our part.  Our willingness to do that, will reflect how well we can be identified in our faith.

Are you different than others in this world?  Do others know it?  Have they seen it?  Have you told your story of how Jesus made and makes a difference in your life.  The verse above references plants that yield fruit.  Is the fruit you yield good fruit or sort of rotten?  I'm working on my own garden, so my fruit will be more desirable.  I realize that, if I look like everyone else in this world and I'm not really making a difference for God's kingdom, then I am really no different than everyone else.  With God's help and my surrender, I want to be different.  Let's work on our gardens friends and bear desirable fruit.  Let's make a difference for Christ in this world.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Stay Focused

The verse for 7/15 is from Romans 7:15, "I do not understand what I do; for I don't do what I would like to do, but instead I do what I hate."  GNT

I think most of us can relate to this verse.  Our sinful natures seem to go into auto pilot sometimes.  Even when we know that we want to do good, we aren't always able to follow through.  Things like selfishness, greed, jealosy, gossip...any number of sins, can quickly take us down a path we never intended to go.  I think the struggle between our spirit and our flesh is a battle that was waged when Adam and Eve gave in to the temptation of sin.  They couldn't resist.  So often, neither can we.  We come from a long line of self indulgent humans.

Another verse in the bible that refers to the ongoing struggle we have with our sinful nature is Galations 5:17, "For what our human nature wants is opposed to what the Spirit wants, and what the Spirit wants is opposed to what our human nature wants. These two are enemies, and this means that you cannot do what you want to do."  GNT

Bottom line, God gave us free will.  I often say it is one of our greatest gifts, but it can also be one of our biggest curses.  I sometimes wonder why God allowed us so much freedom to make our own choices.  Didn't He know we would just make a royal mess of things?  I'm sure He did, but in His grace, He wants our choices to be just that...our choices.  He wants our devotion toward Him to be voluntary.  He wants us to make decisions and do things out of sincere love for Him.  How do we do that?  Maybe it takes a lot of practice.  Maybe it's a lot of trial and error.  Yes, it's definitely a lot of error!  Maybe we should just consult Him more often, before we act.  Now that's a thought!

Even though we will always have the struggle between right and wrong, and good and evil, I think there is something we can do to try to curb our sinful behavior.  We can change our focus.  If we are looking at something from a perspective of what will please us, we are most often being selfish.  When we are able to put our focus on Jesus and surrender our will to His, we are more likely to defeat our sinful nature.  As in everything else, the choice is ours.  Let's hope we can learn to make the right choices more and more as we keep our focus on Jesus.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Prayer - a gutsy move

The verse for 7:14 is from 2 Chronicles 7:14, "Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land." NLT

This verse is special and significant to me.  I have applied it and watched God move.  There is no concrete evidence as to why this happened, but I have confidently drawn my own conclusions.  In a presidential election some years ago, it appeared that a candidate whom I considered the wrong man for the job was winning the race on election night.  One tv station had already projected a win and others were ready to follow suit.  A very important state had all but been "called" in favor of this candidate.  Heartsick, because I felt like the other candidate would more readily make good ethical and moral choices for our country and our future, I got on my knees by our couch, with my bible open to this verse and began to pray for God to put the right man in office.  I'm convinced that I'm not the only one.  Almost instantly, it seems like the election results became confusing and chaos all but broke out.  The state that had been "called" came under questions of validity and the tide started to turn.  It took several days to announce who won the race.  It may have even been several weeks, but the outcome was very different than what had originally been projected.  It was very controversial, but I was thankful.  I truly believed God had intervened as His people prayed.  Many of you will, no doubt, find this hard to believe.  Well, I cannot help that.  I simply say, it is what it is.

Gov. Rick Perry of Texas has ordered a day of prayer and fasting for August 6, 2011.  His rationale: "seek God’s guidance and wisdom in addressing the challenges that face our communities, states and nation."  I love this guy!  I have no qualms about saying that I would gladly back him in an election.  Anyone as politically incorrect as him, must have a backbone instead of political correctness.  I applaud him and his executive decision; a gutsy move.  He's just taking his state's, and our country's, problems to the most powerful source in the world, our Lord.  In my humble opinion, that's both humble and brilliant.

Gov. Perry is following the biblical principal in today's verse.  He is asking people to come together and humbly pray for God's intervention in our world's problems.  He has invited every governor in the country to attend and to issue similar proclamations.  Not surprisingly, he is also coming under fire for his plan. Opposing groups claim he is showing favoritism toward Christianity and violating the separation of church and state.  The truth is, our enemy knows that prayerful, humble people can move the hand and heart of God.

Please join Gov. Perry in his call to pray for our nation.  As we humble ourselves and seek Him, I truly believe our God will hear, forgive our sins, and heal our land.  He is the only One who can.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


Today is 7/13 and the verse of the day is Matthew 7:13, "You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way."  NLT

Human reasoning, and some religious teachers, would tell us that it doesn't really matter how we live because there is no hell.  Many people think we live here on earth for a time and then we die and go to heaven, period.  God's Word says something different.  God says our eternal destination is our choice to make.  We can choose His way, through following Jesus Christ or we can reap the consequences of not accepting Jesus as our Saviour and live in eternal separation from Him in hell.  One would have to ask, why do we even have the bible and why did Jesus have to die a horrible death on a shameful cross, if it really didn't matter in the end?  I, for one, do not buy into the false teachings that say we are all home free, with or without Jesus.  I have to believe God's Word.  For me, it is the moral and spiritual compass for a blessed life here on earth and eternal life forever in heaven.

My fear is that many people do not even read the bible and, therefore, they have no idea what it really says about heaven and hell.  They fall prey to the opinions and teachings of others.  I was astounded earlier this week as I sat at a funeral and heard the religious leader say something like this, "Hell is a lot of different things to a lot of different people.  To me, hell would be like going to a party and not being able to get to the guest of honor.  God is everywhere, so God is in hell.  If we were in hell it would be like being at the party and not being able to talk to God."  I kid you not!  I think radars were going off in my mind, spirit, heart and soul!  I felt like I left my body and looked around at the others present to see if they took the devil's bait...hook, line and sinker.  My heart sank that this religious leader believed this and actually repeated it to others to influence them to believe it, as well.  He was in a place of authority and, unfortunately, people will listen to him and not even question the validity of his beliefs.  I'm afraid many people will be at the party, only to find that it is a masquerade.

People have to know that the bible's accounts of hell are nothing like a party.  It looks more like a terrible nightmare that I don't even think our human minds can, or want to, comprehend.  Yet the fact remains, there is a heaven and there is a hell.  The choice is ours as to whether we want to go to the real party or to a masquerade.  We have to be very intentional about our RSVP. 

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Golden Rule

The verse for 7/12 is from Matthew 7:12, "Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets."  NLT

Many of us know this as the Golden Rule.  Luke 6:31 says it similarly, "Do to others as you would like them to do to you."  Simply put, this means to think of others, treat others, respect others, love others in the manner that you yourself want to be thought of, treated, respected and loved. 

Granted, it is easier said than done, but what a great concept.  I don't think we would be so ready to do things like neglect our loved ones or to yell at others if we first considered how we would feel on the receiving end of that situation.  There are probably any number of behaviors and actions we would reconsider if we always remembered the Golden Rule.

I think Jesus mentioned this more than once, because He knew what a blessing it would be if we could get it right.  Imagine if we all just extended our hearts to others with no expectation of anything in return.  Imagine if we all did that just because we knew it was the right thing to do.  Imagine if we lived this life the way Jesus taught us to live.  I imagine we would all be much better off for it.  The cycle and circle of goodness would be un-ending...just the way Jesus intended it to be.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Hope Floats

The verse for 7/11 is from Genesis 7:11.  I've included verse 12, also, from the Message, "It was the six-hundredth year of Noah's life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month that it happened: all the underground springs erupted and all the windows of Heaven were thrown open. Rain poured for forty days and forty nights."  MSG

Because God considered Noah the only righteous man left on earth, He had instructed Noah to build an ark that would save him and his family from the flood God was going to use to wipe out the earth.  The bible says Noah consistently followed God's will and enjoyed a close relationship with Him.  I guess that is why he didn't blink when the Lord gave him this monumental building project that went on for about a century.

I imagine the scoffers were sure that Noah had lost his mind, when they asked him what he was doing.  After about 10 years of being obedient and continuing to work on the project the Lord had given him, I suppose people just shook their heads and laughed at him.  After about 50 years of building, my guess is they thought there could be no greater fool in all the earth.  Had they still been around after 100 years, when the floods came and Noah and his family floated to safety, I think they might have seen Noah get the last laugh.  However, something tells me this obedient, righteous man was not laughing at those who scoffed at him.  He probably felt much pity and mercy for them because of their destruction.

Do you have a situation in your life where you feel like God is taking His time in bringing about His promises or His blessings?  Are you about to give up, or are you afraid that others will laugh at you for still being consistent and faithful to God's will for you?  Take heart and look at Noah.  You aren't 600 years old, and you probably haven't been waiting 100 years!  You may have been waiting for what seems like 100 years, but know that God will give you all you need to complete the work He began in you.  Keep in close relationship with Him and let Him continue to be your hope for the future.  Haven't you heard?  Hope floats!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

No regrets

Today is 7/10 and the corresponding verse I've chosen for the day is 2 Cor 7:10, "For God can use sorrow in our lives to help us turn away from sin and seek salvation.  We will never regret that kind of sorrow.  But sorrow without repentance is the kind that results in death."  NLT

I don't know what your story is, but I know that God has used the sorrow in my life, in my husband's life, and in our marriage, to help us turn away from sin and seek salvation.  Because of where God has brought us and what He continues to do in us, I will never regret that kind of sorrow.  Both individually and collectively, we both know our marriage would be dead and maybe we would too, had it not been for the repentance we experienced in our sorrow.  It's so amazing how God can take broken vessels and make them whole again, even better than ever.  He is into restoration.

There are only two ways to go when we face a crisis in life.  We can run to God or we can run away from Him.  When we run toward Him, He always brings life into our situation.  Some degrees of sorrow take us to the depths of our souls, and God is the only hope we have of being pulled out of our despair.  When we reach for Him, He is always there to envelope us in His loving arms.  When we give our hurt, our despair, our sorrows over to God, He holds onto us as He helps us rise above the ashes.  The only other option would be to allow ourselves to sink deeper into our despair.  It would eventually kill us, both spiritually and physically. 

God used my sorrow to lead me to Him and to live for Him.  No, I would never again want to go through some of the more frightening and lonely times I've been through on my journey towards God, but I know He used these situations to bring me closer to Him and to strengthen me in Him.  For that, I am thankful.  I have no regrets.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Amazed by Faith

The 7/9 verse of the day is from Luke 7:9, "When Jesus heard this, he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd following him, he said, “I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel.”  NIV

I'm a little intrigued by the passage above.  I like the part that says Jesus was amazed.  How would you like to be known for amazing the most amazing man ever born?  I want to be first in line for that! 

The story surrounding this verse is one of great faith.  The officer who was told about Jesus by the Jewish leaders was not even one of God's people; He was a Roman.  When He heard who Jesus was and what he could do, he showed uncommon faith in asking for his servant's healing.  He felt that he was unworthy to be in the presence of such a holy man and knew that Jesus only had to speak the word for his servant to be healed.  He knew that Jesus did not even have to come in person in order for healing to occur, and voiced that He believed that Jesus had only to speak the words and his servant would be healed.  And so he was.  What an unusual story of faith.

Faith is often an integral agent to the movement of God.  But there is sometimes ignorance and confusion around this issue of faith.  While Jesus ended up healing the servant in the above passage, there have been many other instances where people have not been healed.  Unfortunately, there are people who question a person's faith when God doesn't heal in their situation.  I have to admit, this shortsightedness annoys me.  There is no fail proof formula for God's healing.  That power is His, and His alone.  If we had the formula, we might start acting like we knew more than God.  Imagine us humans doing that!  It's not like we don't already attempt to do so every chance we get. 

We are never absolutely sure when, how, or even if God is going to heal in every situation.  I think the important thing to remember is that He really wants us to leave the results completely up to Him.  I think He only expects us to believe that He can.  One of the greatest gifts God has ever given me is my faith.  I didn't always recognize it, or even know what it was.  But God was so gracious to me, to give me exactly what I needed.  I still do not know if I have ever amazed Him by my faith, but I hope I never stop believing God is who He says He is and that He can do what He says He can do.  He taught me how to do that through the faith He gave me.  To say that I am grateful is such an understatement.  Yet, I don't know any other way to say it.  I am grateful!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Knock! Knock!

The verse for 7/8 is from Matthew 7:8, "For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened."  NLT

Obviously, God is not some kind of cosmic Santa Clause who fulfills our every whim.  That is NOT what the verse above is saying.  I do believe it is referring to God's immense love for us.  I don't think we can even begin to imagine how much our Father in heaven loves us and how much He wants to bless us.  While our God is holy, He still invites us to come to Him.  He is approachable when we seek Him, above all else.  My thought is that, when our priority is loving and pleasing God, He will give us fringe benefits that exceed anything we could ever ask for or imagine. 

I love the way this passage reads in the Message translation.  Verses 7-11 give us a pretty clear understanding of how willing our God is to hear us and give us His best for our lives:
"Don't bargain with God. Be direct. Ask for what you need. This isn't a cat-and-mouse, hide-and-seek game we're in. If your child asks for bread, do you trick him with sawdust? If he asks for fish, do you scare him with a live snake on his plate? As bad as you are, you wouldn't think of such a thing. You're at least decent to your own children. So don't you think the God who conceived you in love will be even better?"

So, He's not hiding from us and His intention in not to trick us or harm us.  For all who seek Him, He will be found.  Knock! Knock!  Who's there?  God is!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

God's Number

Today is 7/7 and the verse I've chosen for the day is Micah 7:7, "As for me, I look to the Lord for help.  I wait confidently for God to save me, and my God will certainly hear me."  NLT

It is common knowledge that the number 7 denotes completion and perfection.  I've heard it called "God's Number" since He is the only One who is perfect and complete.  Today we've got double sevens in the date and the verse we're examining.  While there may be great significance in the number 7 as it is used throughout the bible, it is not something we're going to hang our hats on today.  We don't necessarily have to look at everything that may be behind a number to know that God's Word is already packed full of clear and ample truth.  We don't really have to hunt for formulas or hidden meanings when we know that He is the author of truth and He wants us to know His truth.

I say all of this simply to say, there may be wonderful and amazing things that can be uncovered in numerology, but my main focus remains upon the number one influence in my life...God.  The verse above speaks very well for me.  I look to God, alone, for my help.  I have confidence that my Savior always hears me and comes to my aid in His perfect grace, His perfect will, and His perfect timing.  I don't have to look any further for complete truth and perfection.  How do I know this?  He has proven it to me over and over again.  All I really need to know about numbers is that God's got mine...and that about sums it up.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Just Do It!

The verse for 7/6 is from Exodus 7:6-7, "Moses and Aaron did exactly what God commanded. Moses was eighty and Aaron eighty-three when they spoke to Pharaoh."  MSG

What an epitaph that would be: "She did exactly what GOD commanded."  But, how many of us would be accurately eligible for that epitaph?  I wish I could say, unequivocably, that I would; that I do everything my God commands.  However, there's a problem with that...I'm human and I still have the propensity to sin.  In my thoughts, my words, and my actions, I still sin.  Not nearly as much as I once did, but I do still break God's heart and His commands. 

So what am I to do, now that I know I'm not perfect?  Should I use it as an excuse to just sit on my laurels, because I think I'm not good enough?  Hardly.  Look at Moses and Aaron, a couple of senior citizens by any one's assessment.  Granted, Moses initially tried to get out of his job assignment, but he finally stepped up as God's man for the job.  We could use excuses, similar to those Moses first used.  I could say something like, "Lord, I'm fifty years old.  I'm getting too old and I don't speak well, nor do I particularly want to!"  To all of this, I think the Lord would kindly tell me to just let Him handle all of the minor details.  His motto would probably be, "Just do it!" 

I commend Moses and Aaron for being active and obedient seniors.  I only hope that I can be as obedient as they were, even if faced with an assignment that is an undesirable one.  While I may not be eligible for an epitaph saying that I did exactly what God commanded, I am eligible for one that says, "Her desire was to do exactly what God commanded."  I have a feeling God can use that, regardless of my age or ability.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

It's Critical!

The daily verse for 7/5 is from Ecclesiastes 7:5, "It is better to be criticized by a wise person than to be praised by a fool."  NLT

The Message translation says similarly, "You'll get more from the rebuke of a sage than from the song and dance of fools."  Once again, wisdom wins.  A lot of us want to be encouraged in our folly, instead of having someone point out that we're not exactly acting the right way.  If anyone dares to tell us we're making a mistake, or let's us know they disapprove of our bad behavior, we like to use the age-old crutch that other's shouldn't judge us.  In some cases, they shouldn't.  But in other cases, we would be so much better off to have someone wisely tell us to re-evaluate what we are doing.  To me, good accountability is much more profitable than empty praise.  One can make you a better person.  The other can be an agent of destruction. 

Yet, criticism is a hard pill to swallow, even when it is constructive.  We all know that people do not like it when we disagree with them, and then proceed to tell them why!  But when criticism is done wisely, it is a result of love and respect.  I think we could all be spared a little sorrow and heartache if we took heed to constructive criticism.  A real friend doesn't let you keep barreling down a dead-end road.  A real friend loves you enough to tell you you're going in the wrong direction, then puts their arm in yours, helps turn you around, and walks with you in the right direction.  I'd rather have that kind of friend any day. 

Monday, July 4, 2011

Choose Your Proverbial Pathway

I must apologize.  I've been out of pocket, out of town, sort of out of my mind, for the last week or so.  My daughter got married in Kentucky and we had lots to do in so little time.  Internet service was limited for me and I got behind in posting the Verse Each Day.  I'm trying to catch up on posting now.  Thanks for being patient with me.  Today, A Verse Each Day, will be Four Verses in One

The verses are based on Proverbs 7:1-4, "Dear friend, do what I tell you; treasure my careful instructions.  Do what I say and you'll live well.  My teaching is as precious as your eyesight—guard it!  Write it out on the back of your hands; etch it on the chambers of your heart.  Talk to Wisdom as to a sister.  Treat Insight as your companion."  MSG

As always, the Message translation puts things more bluntly than I could...well, maybe.  I have been known to tell it like it is, or at least like I see it!  Whether that is always a good thing, is sometimes questionable.  Anyway, in the verses above, King Solomon is telling his son, and all who would be wise enough to listen - including me and you - that we need to be watch out for the disguises of sin and wise up to the importance of following God's instruction.

This is something that I can see so well in my mind's eye, but I find it hard to communicate to others.  I don't know that it can be understood well, unless people are ready to obey God's instruction.  Maybe it is just one of those things that becomes illuminated, individually, in one's spirit as they begin to live, totally, in God's world and wisdom.  Recently, I've been reminded that countless people have a sort of varying, fluctuating attitude towards God and the world.  Many of us want to live according to the pleasures of this world.  We say we love Jesus, yet we proceed to disobey His teachings.  But, I've found that straddling a fence can leave you stretched pretty thin.  One foot in the world and one foot following God, is still totally out of step with God's purpose for our lives.  I think that is sort of what King Solomon meant...if we treasure what God says, etch His instruction on our hearts, our lives will represent the evidence of that.

Wisdom and insight; these gifts come from God.  They're given freely, but not always the initial path we choose.  On the pathway of life, we come to a fork in the road.  One way leads to the ways of the world and the other way leads to God's ways.  You can't go both ways.  The decision must be made to choose your path. 

A measure of surrender and obedience is required to travel the path of wisdom and insight.  This helps us take the one foot that is left in the world and fully plant both feet in the way of the Lord.  What's so difficult about that?  I have an idea.  It's hard to give up the fun we have when we sin.  We'd much rather live that fast life than give it up for the truly good life.  I've lived both and I can tell you that the good life, God's way, wins - hands down - for me. 

I have not always done everything correctly.  Neither do I do everything correctly, even now.  However, I'm convinced that, if I talk to wisdom as to a sister and treat insight as a companion, that I will be firmly planted in God's pathway for my life.  That's exactly where I want to be.  I can almost hear the Lord saying, "This is the way.  Walk in it!"