Monday, December 21, 2009
Find a solitary spot each moment to pray. Perhaps it’s in your car, in the kitchen, or in the bathroom, whatever it may be, spend some time with your Savior this week. He is the reason for the season, isn’t he?
Lord, in all the business of Christmas, please help me to stop and spend some time with you.
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Are you lonely today? Has someone rejected you? Cry out to Jesus, he’s ready and waiting to help you through.
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
“So be careful to do what the LORD your God has commanded you; do not turn aside to the right or to the left. Walk in all the way that the LORD your God has commanded you, so that you may live and prosper and prolong your days in the land that you will possess.” (Deuteronomy 5:32-33).
I’ve known the Ten Commandments for as long as I can remember. They were ingrained into me as a little girl. They’ve been listed before me so many times, that I’ve started to forget how important they really are. Out of all the rules and laws, these ten were what God saw as the most important. They were the laws he wanted to set down for all generations to follow. Why? Because He knew that his people were an imperfect people in an imperfect world.
I like to thin that I’ve always kept the Ten Commandments, but that’s untrue. I slip up in one area or another on a regular basis. Without realizing it, I often put things before my God. This could be in a relationship, a hobby, a book, or even time spent in the internet. When I value these things above God, I am in fact “worshiping” them as a god. Ouch. I had a tough time even writing that last sentence, but it’s oh so true. For me it’s a daily battle of giving up myself and focusing on my Saviour instead. I’ll leave you today with a rather long passage of scripture that is oh so dear to me. Please, read through these scriptures, and contemplate the daily struggles of your life and then claim victory from them in Christ Jesus:
“But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.
Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippines 3:7-4).
Friday, December 11, 2009
How quickly I forget the great things God has done. One thing I’ve been amazed to see over the course of this Bible study is how closely I identify with the Israelites. Time and again I fall back into the same practices. I make the same mistakes. I start to doubt my God. And time and again I have to fall on my face and ask him for forgiveness once again. That’s why these words of caution from todays reading are so important, even to me. I too, have things I never want to forget.
What things do I never want to slip from my heart, you may ask?
That day when I was a friendless, broken twelve year old girl, and God spoke to my heart and told me that He was ready and waiting to be that friend that would never leave or forsake me.
The long night of grief when I was nineteen and he gave me a peace that passes all understanding.
That moment when I pledged my life to my husband at the age of twenty-five, and God began the task of teaching me what true, agape love was really like.
And so many other moments in between. My life has been radically changed by my Savior. Each and every day he’s pushing me to grow and change and become more like him. Sometimes I fail, but other times I’m victorious. In all of this, God is ingraining lessons on my heart each and every day, things I never want to forget, things I want to change me forever.
What lessons has God taught you over the years? What things do you never want to forget? Is there anything that you want to start afresh today? How will you go about that?
Thursday, December 10, 2009
It’s just one small verse, but it catches my attention every time I read through the gospel of Luke. This verse says that Mary “treasured up” the moments when she held the Savior of the world in her arms. The Greek word for treasured is syntēreō which means to “preserve or to keep with one’s self, to keep in mind.” She preserved these memories of a beautiful, simple time, so that she would have them in later years. She considered the honor and privilege of being chosen to be the earthly mother of Jesus. She did not take these experiences lightly, but instead she treasured them.
How often do I go through life and not really consider the blessings God has given me. How many mornings do I wake up, look at my husband, and not thank God for him? How many times do I open the cupboard, take out some food, and not thank God for his provision? How many times to I truly praise my God for what he has done, like Mary? She truly considered and treasured up all that God had done. I need to do the same. From now on, I want to start my day, not by griping and stressing, but being thankful for all of the small and big things God has done in my life.
What about you?
“The LORD has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy” (Psalm 126:3).
Monday, December 7, 2009
76And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High;
for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him,
77to give his people the knowledge of salvation
through the forgiveness of their sins,
78because of the tender mercy of our God,
by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven
79to shine on those living in darkness
and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the path of peace."
John had a very special purpose in this world. He was the one who prepared the way for the coming Messiah. He would live his life preaching the good news, and even die a brutal death because of it. John’s purpose was clear from the moment he entered this world. My purpose has not always been as clear. I look at myself, at the life I live, and at the spiritual gifts God has given me, and wonderful how these things will ever be used for his glory. I wonder if my life will ever have any significance. I wonder if I’ll ever amount to anything. Have you ever felt similarly? Have you ever felt that you’re life has no real purpose? In these verses above, we have a great reminder of what truly matters in this world. Jesus. Our ultimate purpose is to worship him and proclaim him with every ounce of our being (see Matthew 28:18-20). If we’re doing this, that’s all that truly matters. Jobs, stations and life, even relationships, may come and go, but the Lord will always be there, waiting for us to totally surrender and worship him. He has shone the light on the dark parts of our lives and saved us from a life of sin. For that, I’m eternally grateful. Yes, my earthly, day to day career might still have a big question mark hanging over it, but I know that my ultimate purpose and identity is secure in my Savior. What about you?
Lord, thank you that my real purpose has been known since the day you created me. I’m meant to worship you and live my every moment for you. Please teach me how to do this today.
Thursday, December 3, 2009
‘My soul glorifies the Lord
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has been mindful
of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
holy is his name’” (Luke 1:46-49).
Something just wasn’t right. Instead of being joyful, I was grouchy today. Instead of enjoying this beautiful Winter day, was resentful and unhappy. Instead of living each moment for the Lord, I gave today over to my uglier half. It wasn’t very pretty, I’ll admit it.
Sometimes I think that Satan sees the beautiful possibilities in a day and tries all the harder to keep us from succeeding. He knew that I was going to Bible study, so he tried his hardest to put me in a bad mood. For today he succeeded. Hopefully next time I’ll know better.
And so, although the day is almost over, I’d like to start anew. I’d like to thank God for all of the wonderful things he’s given me today, and every day. So here goes:
It was wonderful waking up to fresh snow on the ground this morning. It was my favorite kind of snow, light and fluffy, but not messing with road travel or anything.
It was wonderful having a few minutes with my husband, before he left for work. Most days I sleep through the time we leaves, but this morning we actually had a few minutes to talk and sip on coffee today.
It was wonderful having Bible study at the church today. I love the fellowship that comes with women of all ages and backgrounds come together and pour over the word of God.
It was wonderful coming home to a warm house, a full fridge, and a lit Christmas tree.
These are things I’m thankful for today.
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
I am now back after a wonderful holiday spent with family and friends. I love this time of year. It’s a time for singing carols, baking cookies, giving gifts, and being reunited with family and friends. Most of all, it’s a time to be thankful. This Christmas I am thankful for the words the Angel Gabriel speaks to Mary in Luke 1: 37. The angel tells her that “nothing is impossible with God."
How wonderful this simple truth is. God can do anything he sets his mind too. Nothing is outside of his reach. I’m so thankful that he can look past any circumstance and work for the ultimate good (Romans 8:28). I’m so thankful that he sees every part of my life (Psalm 139). And I’m thankful that he will do things in his own timing, as we saw with Elizabeth. He knows our deepest desires and wants us to be happy. All he asks is that we delight in him (Psalm 37:4).
What does delighting in him mean? For me, it means delving into his word, praying with utter abandon, and rejoicing over all of the small gifts he has given me already. Instead of pining over the things I want so bad, I’m leaving them in his capable hands.
For today I’m just going to be thankful.
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
After seven months we said goodbye to our cat today. We admitted defeat and returned him to the Humane Society. As hard as we tried, we couldn’t teach an old cat new habits. As hard as we tried to train him, he wouldn’t stop biting.
It was hard to admit defeat. A part of me never wanted to give up, but I had too. It was hard for me to admit that enough was enough. My husband and I had tried everything we could think of, but the cat wouldn’t change. He was an old cat with set ways, ways that didn’t a line with our lifestyle.
I know there will be other pets. I know that we will be fine without him. But for right now, at this moment, I wish we didn’t have to let go. I wish that our cat was always the cuddly, affectionate cat he was 98% of the time. And I wish he wasn’t a demon cat for the other 2%. Why can’t there be a perfect cat? Why are cats imperfect, just like us humans?
The only answer I can come up with is that we live in an imperfect world. Sometimes we can’t change the habits of an animal, as hard as we try. That’s just the way it is. Sometimes we just have to let go of a pet, as much as it might pain us to do so.
This imperfect world is messy. We saw some of that messiness in yesterday and today’s reading. Sometimes this messy world really hurts. That’s why I’m thankful for a God that understands what I’m feeling. Defeated. Melancholy. Sad. I’m thankful for a God who sent his son to die on the cross and save me from my sins. I’m thankful that one day, all of the imperfection and pain of this world will pass away (Revelation 21:4). I’m thankful for a God that meets me where I am each and every day.
“O LORD, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O LORD” (Psalm 139:1-4).
Friday, November 13, 2009
I love the picture of the cleansing water in Numbers 19. When the Israelites sinned, a sacrifice had to be made. The ashes from that sacrifice, mixed with water, were something the Israelites could visually pour over themselves in an act of cleansing. This was a physical act of a spiritual change in their hearts. Through the sacrificial cleansing they were forgiven. For them this was a process they had to go through time after time. It wasn’t until Christ’s death on the cross that all of the sins of the world were forgiven. Christ became the ultimate living water for each of us. Jesus revealed this living water to the Samaritan woman in John 4:13-14: "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life." Through his death on the cross Christ gave us everlasting living water. This water cleanses us more completely than any act of sacrifice we could ever do. This water is complete. It covers every sin we’ve ever committed and ever will. Daily I’m in need of this reminder that his living water covers me and purifies me day by day. Daily I’m in need of the reminder that this earth and all of its woes will one day pass away.: “For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes." (Revelation 7:17). Until then, I pray for cleansing as I face each day.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
I myself want to daily live a life that puts God first and foremost. I want to fear him with every breath I take, giving him the respect that is due him. What about you? What does fearing the Lord mean to you?
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
I admire Caleb. While the rest of the spies were afraid and spread that fear throughout the Israelite camp, Caleb (and Joshua) stood up and proclaimed that the Lord would provide. While the other spies went on and on about the giants of the land and how scary they were, Caleb told the people that they could “certainly do it” (Numbers 13:30). What bravery, what trust in God’s provision. God honored Caleb by giving him a special gift. He would be one of only two people that would make the entire trip from Egypt to Canaan. Because of the Israelites lack of faith, the original groups fate would be thus: “In this desert your bodies will fall—every one of you twenty years old or more who was counted in the census and who has grumbled against me. Not one of you will enter the land I swore with uplifted hand to make your home, except Caleb son of Jephunneh and Joshua son of Nun.” (Numbers 14:29-30). Caleb, Joshua, and the descendants of the original group would one day have the honor of entering the promise land. Until then they would have to wait in the desert for the unfaithful to die out. What an awful consequence for the sins. I could say that they got what they deserved, but I have to take the plank out of my own eye first (Matthew 7:3).
How often to I find myself griping about the very life God has given me? How often do I wish that things could be different? How often to I fail to give thanks to my Lord for all that I have? And how often to I worry, instead of trusting that He will provide in the future?
Today’s reading has certainly given me a lot to think about. What about you?
Lord, help me to be more like Caleb, not complaining or worrying, but instead trusting that you will provide in any and every situation.
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
Fear is a thing that often holds me back. It holds me back in secular settings, in moments when I could profess my faith. It holds me back in worship services, when I don't go forward and kneel at the altar because I’m worried about what people will think. Fear holds me back from truly believing that God can do the impossible, much like Moses who doubted that God could provide enough meat to feed all the people (Numbers 11:21-23). I loved God’s response to Moses here. God says, “Is the LORD’s arm too short?” In other words, is there anything God can’t handle?
What a great reminder that God’s arm reaches everywhere, to every point of our lives. He is more than able to provide for each of and heal us of our fears and physical ailments. He is God after all. He doesn’t want our doubt, but instead wants our faithful surrender, as we sit at his feet and worship him.
Are you fearful of anything to today? How could you more fully worship God today?
Monday, November 2, 2009
Jesus warns us in these above verses to be alert and ready for his emanate turn. Oh how I look forward to those days in eternity, where there will be no more sickness, no more hardships, and no more death. Won’t that be wonderful? Until then, we are warned to not sleep through our Christian lives, but to live every moment for Christ.
What does sleeping mean in the above verse? The Greek work for sleeping used in verse 36 is “katheudō” which means to literally fall sleep or to metaphorically “yield to sloth and sin or to be indifferent to one’s salvation.”*
There have been times in my life when I have definitely been “indifferent” to my salvation. You see, I’ve been a Christian my entire life. I’ve read the verses, sung the hymns, and heard the way a proper Christian should act over and over again. This causes me to become callous to the things of God. From time to time, God has to shake me and remind me of the tremendous gift he gave me in my salvation.
He wake me up to the fact that he didn’t create me to live a mediocre, Christian life, but to live a life that is completely and utterly fulfilling and joyful. He has to wake me up to the fact that he didn’t create me to just mingle in my Christian circles, but to reach out and touch the unlovable and share with them the amazing love of Christ. He has to wake me up to the fact that life as a Christian should never be ordinary, but extraordinary.
Are you spiritually asleep today? How do you need to wake up?
*Blue Letter Bible. "Dictionary and Word Search for katheudō (Strong's 2518)". Blue Letter Bible. 1996-2009. 2 Nov 2009.
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
I do love God more than any earthly thing. This is something easy for me to say. The harder thing is to proclaim that I love my neighbor as much as I love myself. There are few people in my life that I can truly say this about. Most other people I sometimes love, on a conditional basis. Other people I don’t love at all.
These are the ones that rub me the wrong way, make fun of me, degrade me, or lie to me on a regular basis. These are the people who seem hopeless and lost, but Jesus calls me to love them just the same. And so I reach out, with empty hands, at my whit’s end on how to love them, and ask my God to reveal some good in these creatures. I ask him to help me love them with a love that could only possibly come from him, because on my own the feelings would be closer to hatred then love. And he answers and gives me a love for them that is amazing and past all understanding. He’s just amazing like that.
Is there anyone you need to reach out and love today? Ask God for help, he’s ready and waiting to help you love them, when you can’t on your own.
Monday, October 26, 2009
I’ve been thinking today about the stress in my life. At first glance it wouldn’t seem like my life isn’t all that bad. I spend my days taking care of the house, running errands, and freelance writing. As much as I think I’m relaxed, I allow myself to be stressed by my lists and deadlines and relationships. I stay busy every day, hardly ever stopping to relax. All the time I have a reminder of the stress in my frequent tension headaches. Doctors can’t help them, medicine can’t help them… it seems as if they’re without a cure. Yesterday at church I asked for prayer about my tension headaches. As my pastor was praying for me, he encouraged me to find peace in my daily life, with the hope that this would relieve the tension in my neck.
Peace. A word I honestly don’t know the meaning of. And so I began a search to see what God’s word has to say on this topic. In my search, I came up with 247 times that a form of the word peace was used in the New International Version of the Bible. This is what I found:
Our God is a God that promises peace for those who love him, as Leviticus 26:6 tells us. He desires for us to live peaceful lives. It’s a fruit of the spirit (Galatians 5:22), a desired state of the heart: “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace” (Colossians 3:15), something we should seek: “He must turn from evil and do good; he must seek peace and pursue it” (1Peter 3:11) and a way to guard our hearts from the evil one: “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7).
I pray that each of you would have a renewed sense of peacefulness in your life today. It certainly is a wonderful thing to let go of the stresses of the world and to grasp onto the peace of God.
Friday, October 23, 2009
Oh how I want to worship him in any and every situation. This is my prayer today, that when the next hardship comes my way, I will be able to depend on the Lord like never before.
“When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider: God has made the one as well as the other” (Ecclesiastes 7:14a).
Thursday, October 22, 2009
From an early age society has taught me to be independent and self-serving. In this world there is little room for humbleness and servitude. Many people will step on your toes and push you out of the way to succeed. For them, wealth, power and fame are the epitome of success.
Jesus has an entirely different viewpoint on success. In eyes, the truly successful are the servants of all. This is not easy, in any meaning of the word. Being a servant is one of the most humbling things a girl can do. But it’s what my Jesus calls me to do. Whether this means folding laundry and cleaning toilets, making food for someone who is on bed rest, or whatever else God wants me to do today, I am ready and willing to be a servant.
Ever since I read Mark 10:43-44, the words of the song, “Make Me a Servant” have been running through my head. I haven’t been able to find the author of the song, but I’d like to share the lyrics with you, just the same. May this be the prayer of your heart today:
“Make me a servant, humble and meek
Lord, let me lift up, those who are weak.
And may the prayer of my heart always be;
Make me a servant, make me a servant,
Make me a servant, today.”
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Sometimes things seem hopeless. I know I’ve been struggling with a situation as of late that never seems to improve. I’ll do well for awhile, and then fall back into the old temptations once again. It seems as if I have to give this issue back to God over and over again. At times this is extremely frustrating. That is why I found these verses today to be so encouraging.
God did the impossible by cleansing me from my old nature and giving me eternal life. If he can do this, I know he can handle this other struggle in my life. The verses above do not say that with God “some” things are possible. The verse says that “all” things are possible.
Today I praise God that he really can take care of this issue in my life. He is ready and waiting for me to surrender it to him, and to move on with life, praising him for continued healing.
What seemingly impossible issue do you need to give over to God today?
Lord, thank you that with you, there truly is nothing impossible.
This verse left me wondering what it means to be “salty” as a Christian. Strong’s Concordance tells us that the Greek word for “salt” is halas. We all know that salt is used both to season and preserve food. But in the Greek, it could have also been used to mean something different. Along with the expected definitions, Strong’s also suggests that halas could mean “wisdom and grace exhibited in speech.” How interesting.
Shortly before these words in Mark 9:50, Jesus had been talking about stumbling blocks and Christians. He warned us against causing our fellow believers to fall. Then he has this statement about Christians and saltiness. Perhaps he was calling all of us to show grace and wisdom in the way we approached different situations. With wisdom and grace, our eyes might be opened to areas of struggle for our brothers and sisters. Without wisdom we would act hastily and foolishly.
For me, it is often my tongue that get’s me into trouble first. In the past, I’ve been known to tease and taunt, or to give into a situation too easily. Christ is calling us to live salty lives, not governed by our tongue, but by the wisdom and grace that comes from the Holy Spirit.
I know that I need the Holy Spirit to bring some saltiness into my life today, what about you?
Lord, thank you for these verses today, that encouraged me to take a closer look at how I’ve been acting as a Christian. Please bring renewed saltiness into my life.
Monday, October 19, 2009
Sometimes I forget to truly ask God for help in different areas of my life. I go about my day, proclaiming his goodness, but never truly asking for his help and guidance.
Have you ever been in a similar circumstance? Do you need to pray to God for help today? May we never underestimate the power of simple prayer.
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Once a year the Israelites had a day in which they celebrated the fact that their sins were forgiven. On this day a goat was taken, called the scapegoat. This goat was symbolically released into the wilderness, serving as a symbol for the people. This goat didn’t deserve the penalty placed on him. But I believe through him, God was showing the people that sins never go unpunished. Someone or something had to pay the price.
Until Jesus came into the world, that price was meant over and over by animals. God knew that these animals would never be enough to forgive his people of their sins, once and for all. Instead, he gave his own son up as the ultimate scapegoat. Jesus, like the goat, was undeserving. His life was unblemished and pure. Yet, he gave up everything for you and for me. That day in which he died on the cross was our “Day of Atonement.” On that day he covered all of our sins so that we could be reconciled with our perfect God.
I’m so thankful for the price Jesus paid for you and for me.
I’m so thankful that he was the scapegoat so that I could fellowship with my God.
What about you?
*Blue Letter Bible. "Dictionary and Word Search for kaphar (Strong's 3722)". Blue Letter Bible. 1996-2009. 15 Oct 2009. < http:// www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
1) God should be reverenced and feared. He wanted the Israelite people to give him the honor and respect due him, thus he laid down specific laws on how men should approach him in his tabernacle and how he should be worship.
Reading all of these regulations for the building of his tabernacle, I couldn’t help but be in awe. The tabernacle must have been a glimpse of heaven on earth. As I read about the somewhat disgusting ritual of sacrifices, I couldn’t help but be thankful that I don’t have to go through the daily process of offering up sacrificial lambs at a temple. Instead, I can be eternally grateful that the Lamb of God paid the ultimate sacrifice for me.
2) Human beings are sinful. They always have been. In our sinful state we need some clear boundaries of what is right and what is wrong. These Old Testament boundaries included the Ten Commandments, along with all of the other rules and regulations set down in the Pentateuch. These rules gave the Israelites something to base their lives upon. They could clearly see the boundaries God had put in place. Although some of these boundaries are no longer applicable, others are things we follow on a day-to-day basis, like how to treat our spouse, prepare food, deal with infectious diseases, and clear up mould. These rules were for their own good, even if it was hard to hear at times.
This book of rules has much to offer you and me. I’m excited to see what we’ll read about next, and how we might be able to apply it to today’s culture and times.
Friday, October 9, 2009
On our own, we are dirty and impure. But Jesus did something wonderful for us. He came into this world and died for our sins. His death and resurrection paid the ultimate price. Now we are free to stand before the Lord, no longer blemished and impure, but clean and white.
I’m so thankful for that price that was paid for me, and for you as well. On my own, I’d never measure up. Without God I’m like that dirt outside my window that somehow missed being covered by the snow this morning. With God I’m the grass, completely white and beautiful.
Thursday, October 8, 2009
The balance between ritual and respect is such a tedious one. Even in my own life, there are things I do, because I’ve always done them that way. I no longer think about why I say certain prayers, or wear certain clothes to church on Sunday.
For me, today’s reading was a reminder to focus on what’s really important in life. This sort of living doesn’t focus on the rules of Christianity, but instead focus on the God we love and serve and the people we’re called to preach the good news to.
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
For me, at least, it’s hard for me to believe in the impossible at times because I’m stuck in this world where everything is measured and figured and explained away. It’s hard for me to comprehend things that are past my brains capabilities. It’s hard for me to understand that God has always existed and always will, because I live in a world where each of our days is numbered. It’s hard for me to understand. I could go crazy trying to figure everything out. And so I don’t. I live by faith, not by sight (1 Corinthians 5:7).
To close my thoughts for today, here’s a few verses to consider:
• “How great is God—beyond our understanding! The number of his years is past finding out” (Job 36:26).
• “As you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in a mother's womb, so you cannot understand the work of God, the Maker of all things” (Ecclesiastes 11:5).
• Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26).
• “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1).
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
I hope that I would have responded in faith. I know that if I saw him today, I would fall to my feet and worship him. He has done so much for me, how could I do anything else?
What will you say to Jesus when you see him face to face?
Monday, October 5, 2009
Do you have something impossible on your heart today? What area of your life do you need to give over to God?
Lord, thank you that you are a God that heals. Please help me to have the faith to believe in things that seem impossible.
Thursday, October 1, 2009
In a world where people have become jaded, it’s hard to understand a love that doesn’t leave them or forsake them.
In a world where love is conditional, it’s hard for people to understand the unfailing love of God.
In a broken word, it’s hard for me to express what this love is like, but it’s real. This kind of love comes from God, who sees the entire picture. This kind of love isn’t conditional on how I act day in and day out. If it was, I would fail miserably. God loves each of us completely, and always will. He loves us so much that he gives us a choice when it comes to accepting this love. He allows us to chose salvation through Jesus Christ, or reject it. If we accept his love, his promise is clear, he will love us continually, forever.
In Romans 8:28-29, the Apostle Paul tells us this: “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
As for me, my heart is so glad that I know about such a love. Without it, I don’t know how I could wake up and face each day. Like the Psalmist, I want this to be my prayer: “Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.”
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
“He also said, ‘This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. All by itself the soil produces grain—first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come’" (Mark 4: 26-29).
Sometimes I get caught up in my human nature and wonder how God could ever love someone like me, I see the imperfections and failures, God sees the end result. I have been a Christian for two decades, but I still feel so young in the faith. I feel like a tiny sprout slowly growing into a stalk, like in the parable above. I feel like I’m still starting out. I still have so much to learn, so far to grow.
What’s wonderful is that God sees the outcome of that little seed, even when I can’t. He sees the promise in me, when I’m filled with doubt. He sees a beautiful plant, ripe for the harvest, when I’m still just a little sprout.
Where do you see yourself in this parable today? What is God saying to you as you read these words?
Lord, thank you for the reminder that you do have a wonderful future in store for me.
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Sometimes uprooting is tough
Sometimes I dislike the struggle
Sometimes I fight letting go
Just the same, my prayer is always this:
May my ears be ready and willing to listen to your word
May my tongue proclaim your mercies, which are new everyday
May my eyes truly mirror your love and faithfulness
May my feet walk wherever you want me to go
May my heart be changed and renewed
May my life bear lasting fruit that can only come from you.
Monday, September 28, 2009
I’ve often wondered why most of my conflict occurs with fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. They are the ones I struggle at getting along with the most. They are the ones that I get extremely jealous of. They are the ones that are sometimes the hardest to love.
I think Satan would be perfectly happy if we lived our entire lives totally consumed with fighting fellow believers. For when we’re caught up in each other, we really can’t reach out and minister to others. We’ve become caught in a trap. We bite and tear our brothers and sisters down, instead of joining together, putting aside our differences, and learning to love with the love of Christ.
This verse above, from Mark 3:34-35 spoke to my heart as I read it today. In these verses, Jesus makes a distinction between his earthly family and his heavenly family. His earthly family had just determined that he was “out of his mind” (vs.21). They thought he was crazy for such stories and healing all the people. Perhaps they even thought he was possessed. Whatever the case, they clearly were not following God on this matter. They didn’t yet seem to believe that he was the Son of God. On the other hand, Jesus’ heavenly family included all of the people who did believe that He was the Messiah. It even includes you and me! We, also, are considered Jesus’ brothers and sisters. What an honor! And how undeserving we all are.
As hard as it is, I have made an effort to love my fellow brothers and sisters. This hasn’t always been easy. There have been times in which I’ve had to pray for years for a certain person, asking God to help me love them. The beauty of surrendering my feelings to God, though, is that he answers back tenfold. He has blessed me with some wonderful friendships, friendships that started out rocky at first, but through love, turned into something wonderfully deep.
My encouragement to all of you today is to not let Satan get a foothold in your relationships. Don’t let personalities, or jealously, or harsh words come between you and your sisters and brothers in Christ. Instead, give the relationships over to God. You won’t be disappointed.
Friday, September 25, 2009
As I read the story of the Golden Calf today, I was once again amazed at how quickly the Israelites seemed to turned their back on God and revert back to their Egyptian idols. When God’s presence left them, they immediately turned back to something they could understand, something tangible. How foolish of them.
But how often do I react similarly?
There have been times in my life when the presence of God wasn’t always that evident, when I felt alone and abandoned, and instead of reaching out to God, I reached out to other people, or to food, or to entertainment, to fill in the missing gap. There have been times when my faith has wavered, just like that of the Israelites. I could point fingers at the Israelites and show you every foolish thing they did, but I have to be honest here and admit that I often fall up short as well. My faith is often not as strong as I want it to be. When times are good, it’s easy for me to point out how God provides. But when times are bad, it’s often difficult for me to hold onto those truths.
This is why I’m so thankful for the godly people in my life. These people point me in the right direction and remind me to cling to God when times get rough. For, I don’t want any “Golden Calf” incidences in my life. Sometimes I need all of the encouragement I can get to remind me to grasp on to God and never let go.
Encouragement from fellow believers is a wonderful thing. If you’re facing a rough time, or even if you’re not at the moment, I encourage you to find a good support system, it makes all the difference when times get tough. In addition, immerse yourself in scripture. God’s word is a powerful tool to help us through rough times. Treasure his words upon your heart; you’ll never regret it.
When I’m tested in the end, I want to come out as pure as gold, refined and tested by my creator in good times and bad: “But he knows where I am going. And when he tests me, I will come out as pure as gold. For I have stayed on God’s paths; I have followed his ways and not turned a side. I have not departed from his commands, but have treasured his words more than daily food” (Job 23: 10-12).
Thursday, September 24, 2009
What do you see when you look at me?
Do you see my imperfections and faults?
Do you see the ways I failed today?
The ways I took life into my hands once again?
Or do you see me broken at your feet,
crying out to start over once again.
Do you see my words rising up to you,
calling out for forgiveness and renewal?
Do you see my life as an incense
mixed uniquely just to serve and honor you?
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
All of this came back to me as I read through the tabernacle description today. I found myself wishing I could see this spectacular work of art for myself. But guess what? The same, intentional hand that created the tabernacle created you and me as well. Isn’t that amazing? As I look in the mirror today, I am, in fact looking at God’s dwelling place. He lives inside of me. I am an amazing work of art that was planned down to smallest detail. As are you.
What does being “God’s dwelling place” mean to you?
As God’s holy dwelling place, how are you living your life today and everyday?
I know for me, being God’s holy dwelling place, means that I have to stop being quite as critical of myself, and instead love myself the way God created me to be. As 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 says, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.”
Friday, September 18, 2009
Today, I have some things I need to lay before the cross. I have some things I need his blood to wash over and make whole again.
The world’s temptations can be so strong and so consuming. I’ve grown up in a society that puts such an emphasis on appearances and perfectionism. To the world I live in, there is a perfect body type, a perfect weight, and a perfect way to look. I don’t fit into any of these. Because I don’t, I’ve been taught that my whole life needs to revolve around obtaining this physical perfection. To the world, it doesn’t matter what I’m like on the inside, it’s only how I look on the outside. If I’m overweight I need to diet, if my skin is pimply I need to fix that, if I don’t have those clothes, I need to buy them. Even as a Christian girl, I seem to take what the world says as truth. Magazines, movies, television shows, even the Internet show me this image as something to obtain, at any cost.
To God, there is no such thing as gaining beauty or perfection. To him, I already am beautiful. As one of my favorite passages of scriptures states, “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth” (Psalm 139:13-15).
He created every single part of me. I am no mistake. And so, once again, I need to lay the worldly image of what I should look like at the foot of the cross, and pick up a totally different image. This image is that of an imperfect girl, saved by faith. It’s the image of a work of art, made exactly as her creator wanted her to be. It’s the image of a girl who likes to be healthy, exercise, and wear pretty clothes, not to meet some “earthly perfection,” but because her body is home to something wonderful, the Holy Spirit: “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).
What do you need to lay at the foot of the cross today?
And once again I rejoiced in knowing what comes next in the gospel story. I rejoiced in knowing that Jesus would rise from the dead on the third day, paying the complete price for my sins, and for your sins as well.
And I wondered. I wondered if I had become callous to his word. I wondered if the story of his crucifixion and resurrection had become to commonplace in my life. I realized that I don’t often get as excited about Christ’s death and resurrection as I should. Often, in church, I sing songs of worship, but I’m just singing words. I’m not truly thinking about the cost of Jesus’ death and resurrection. I’m not truly as thankful as I should be. And I’m not excitedly sharing that message with the world around me. Instead, I feel foolish at times, irrelevant, and silly for bringing up the cross. Which is wrong.
For he is just as relevant today as he’s always been. He’s still the Savior of the world, ready and waiting to redeem us each and every day.
What about you? Are you excited about Christ’s message today?
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Sometimes I forget to trust. I start fretting and start grumbling about the little things. Like the Israelites in today’s reading, I forget about all of the wonderful times God has provided for me in the past. I forget about all of the times when God gave me some “manna” from heaven. At times, this manna was a meal on the table, at other times, this manna came in the form of a comforting friend, a sense of direction, or an overwhelming sense of peace.
Today, that manna is peace. Peace about the past, peace about the future, peace knowing God will provide. When I try to do things on my own, I worry. When I give those things to God, I have a peace that passes all understanding. God gives me just enough to get through each day. And then the next morning, we start all over again. Once again I have to turn to him, and reach out to him for strength. And once again he provides. He always does. He’s just waiting to be asked.
What kind of manna do you need today? Is it literal food on your table? Or is it something else?
Lord, thank you for providing manna today and every day.
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
As I read these verses, I started to think about all the things I worry about on a daily basis… the list was a long one. It includes everyday things, like the dirtiness of my house, balancing the budget, finishing an article, and bigger things, like military deployment. I worry about the future, if I’ll be a good mother, how we’ll provide for a family, if my future children will know their grandparents. I stew about things that have yet to come to pass, forgetting about God’s unending provision up until now.
And then I’m reminded of the words of Moses in Exodus 14. In this passage of scripture the Israelites have just escaped from the hands of the Egyptians. They have seen God’s miraculous miracles, yet they are still fearful of what lies ahead. Instead of trusting God, they panic and want to return to slavery in Egypt. Moses tells them to do one thing: be still. He doesn’t tell them to fight, he doesn’t tell them to stay busy and do as much work as possible, he just tells them to be still and watch for the deliverance of the Lord.
Today I need deliverance from my own worries and fears. With the possibility of my own husband fighting a war overseas, I can be fearful and distraught, or I can trust that the Lord will deliver my husband from harms way. I can worry about my future role as a parent, or I can trust that God will be my deliverer even then. I can fret and complain, or I can be still and let God work. The choice is always there. Sometimes I hold onto my fears, other times I let go.
Today, I’m ready to let God fight my battles, both big and small. What about you? What battles, physical, mental, or spiritual, are you facing today? Where do you need to be still and let God take control?
Monday, September 14, 2009
Over vacation my reading included Exodus 1-13 and Matthew 24-26. In the first part of Exodus God delivers his people from the hands of the Egyptians through a series of miraculous signs. He takes the Israelites out of Egypt, and begins to lead them to the promise land. My favorite verses form this section are found in Exodus 4:10-12. In this chapter, Moses admits that he is very under qualified for the task God has given him:
“Moses said to the LORD, "O Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue” (Exodus 4:10).
God’s response to Moses here is what I love so much:
“The LORD said to him, "Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or mute? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? Is it not I, the LORD ? Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say" (Exodus 4:11-12).
So often I doubt the very abilities and gifts God has given me. I compare myself to others and see how I don’t even begin to measure up. Here, God reminded me that He makes no mistakes. He has created me (and you) just the way he wanted to. He gave me these talents and gifts for a reason. And he will be there to teach me and help me to grow as a Christian. God’s ways are no my ways, so who would I be to neglect or doubt the talents God has given me?
What about you? Do you have certain gifts that you are afraid to use? What are they and why are you afraid? Is it rejection? Insecurity? Fear of the future? Give your fears to God and let him work through you. Remember, God used Moses to free the whole nation of Israel, he can use you as well.
In the book of Exodus, God saved his people from the bondage of slavery, in Matthew, God redeems all people from the bondage of sin. In Matthew 24-26, Jesus is getting closer and closer to that ultimate moment of sacrifice. My favorite image from this section of scripture is that of the woman who anoints Jesus’ head with oil. Found in Matthew 26:6-13, the woman’s act of worship is a beautiful one. This woman doesn’t care what others think, but instead worships her Lord unabashedly.
Reading this made me think of times I had held back from worshiping God. Other people may have been watching, or I just didn’t feel like it. The list of excuses could go on, but the point is there, just the same. I didn’t worship my Lord completely. I didn’t give him every thing I am. In the future I don’t want to make that mistake again.
I want to give everything I am to God, worship him with all of my heart, and let him work through me.
What about you?
Lord, help me to worship you completely today and every day. Use my gifts for your kingdom and draw me closer to you.
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
Have you ever read a book and felt God speaking to you through the pages? This is how I felt the first time I read The Christy Miller Series by Robin Jones Gunn. At the time, I was a young girl, struggling with a desire to be popular in school but to also stay true to my convictions.
Because of my love of Christy Miller, I quickly picked up the Katie Weldon books. I wasn't disappointed. Like Christy Miller, Katie Weldon is an extremely real and down-to-earth character. I truly identified with her as a friend. Gunn is definitely not afraid to portray a character with faults.The final book in a trilogy, Coming Attractions follows Katie’s final experiences in college. Having recently graduated from college, I identified with Katie’s confusion about the future. I won’t spell out the conclusion to the story, but I will say that I was extremely surprised yet delighted in the end. In essence, Katie comes to a realization that God writes a more beautiful love story than any of us can understand.
Coming Attractions was a well written, fast read. I would recommended it anyone, young or old, who wants a nice book to read on a Saturday afternoon while sipping on a cup of tea. You won't be disappointed.
Robin Jones Gunn has over 70 books published to date. Her books have sold over 4 million copies worldwide. She has been married for 32 years and has 3 grown children, and one cuddly golden retriever named Hula. She "loves God and loves telling stories."
For more books about Christy Miller and Katie Weldon, visit Robin Jones Gunn’s website. You can also find a link to Coming Attractions on Amazon.com.
If you’d like to read more blog responses to Coming Attractions click here.
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
“Judah, my son, is a young lion that has finished eating its prey. Like a lion he crouches and lies down; like a lioness—who dares to rouse him? The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from his descendants, until the coming of the one to whom it belongs, the one whom all nations will honor. He ties his foal to a grapevine, the colt of his donkey to a choice vine. He washes his clothes in wine, his robes in the blood of grapes. His eyes are darker than wine, and his teeth are whiter than milk” (Genesis 49: 9-12).
Now consider this verse: “But one of the twenty-four elders said to me, ‘Stop weeping! Look, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the heir to David’s throne, has won the victory. He is worthy to open the scroll and its seven seals’”(Revelation 5:5).
I don’t think the connection between these two passages is an accident. The prophetic words Jacob speaks at the end of Genesis are a wonderful promise about what was to come. Already God had a plan of redemption in mind. These words in Genesis are a prophetic picture of the true Lion of Judah, who would one day come and ride a donkey through Jerusalem, being hailed as the Messiah. His robes would then be soaked with blood, much like wine, as he died on the cross for all of our sins.
What a beautiful, prophetic picture of a redeemer.
Are you in need of the Lion of Judah today? What part of your life do you need him to redeem? He is ready and waiting. Let him redeem you today. As the lyrics to the song “Hail, Hail, Lion of Judah” by Donnie McClurkin say,
"Hail, hail Lion of Judah!
How wonderful You are!
Hail, hail Lion of Judah!
How powerful You are!
The Lion of Judah shall break every chain
and give to us, oh my,
the victory again and again"
Prayer: Lord, thank you for being the Lion of Judah. Please help me to trust in you, and let you fight the battles in my life, for I am nothing on my own.
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
In a self-centered world, what does a true servant look like? They seem to be few and far between. People seem more interested in improving their own looks, furthering their own careers, and buying the newest gadget on the market than in really helping others.
But Jesus calls for a different kind of living. In today’s reading, he seems to be saying that a servant isn’t someone looking for recognition and power. Instead, a servant is humble at heart. They are ready and willing to be used by God. Joseph, in the book of Genesis, seemed to have such a heart. He gave God the credit for interpreting dreams and for putting him in a position of power. He was always ready and willing to help whomever was in need, whether Potiphar, the Prison Guard, Pharaoh, or his own estranged brothers.
A servant is humble. A servant recognizes that there is someone much greater at work in the situation. A servant looks for needs and others and meets those needs. A servant thinks of others before themselves. A servant has the heart of God.
Are you a servant of God today? How does he want to use you? Listen for his voice.
Prayer: Lord, make me a servant. Open my heart and show me my purpose for today and always.
Monday, August 24, 2009
“Don’t be upset, and don’t be angry with yourselves for selling me to this place. It was God who sent me here ahead of you to preserve your lives. This famine that has ravaged the land for two years will last five more years, and there will be neither plowing nor harvesting. God has sent me ahead of you to keep you and your families alive and to preserve many survivors. So it was God who sent me here, not you! And he is the one who made me an adviser to Pharaoh—the manager of his entire palace and the governor of all Egypt” (Genesis 45:5-8).
What a forgiving, loving heart! Instead of “getting even” with his brothers, Joseph chooses to save them from the famine.
Have you ever had a situation in which you looked back and saw God at work? How did you respond to your circumstances after that?
For me, one situation that comes to mind is losing my job. I have to admit that I’ve had times since them that I didn’t think to highly of my former bosses. I was hurt and angry that they would let me go.
This angry attitude really doesn’t get me anywhere; what does is looking for the good that’s come from that situation. For one, if I still had that job, I probably wouldn’t be writing to you now. I love writing; I look forward to my time with my coffee and laptop every day. What a blessing that God has given me the time and resources to do this.
Prayer: Lord, help me to love and forgive those who have hurt me. Please help me to look for the good in every situation.
Friday, August 21, 2009
I wonder what I would do in a similar circumstance. In our reading from Matthew, Jesus says to give to “give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and give to God what belongs to God” (Matthew 22: 21). Jesus is talking about money here, but I think we could use Pharaoh the respect this as meaning praise and honor as well. We could say, give to due to him, and to God the respect due to him. Joseph did this in Genesis, and I would hope that I would do this as well. I hope that I always respect my leaders, but honor my God most of all.
What about you? Would you stand up for your faith, even if your life was on the line? Would you honor your leaders, but honor your God most of all?
Prayer: Lord, give me the strength to always keep you first and foremost in my life. Help me to always give you the glory due to you, for I can do nothing on my own.
Thursday, August 20, 2009
Temptation can be such a rough thing. Satan knows exactly where and when our weaknesses are the greatest. For me, sometimes it really is just turning around, walking away, and saying a prayer that makes the difference. It’s wonderful to know that God is right there, ready and willing to provide a way out of whatever is tempting me (1 Corinthians 10:13).
When Joseph fled from the temptation Potiphar’s wife offered, he was thrown into prison. Even then, God was there and “showed him his faithful love” (Genesis 39:21). What a wonderful way of putting it! Even when Joseph was as lowly as it could get, God was still there, loving him and providing for him.
Oh how I need some reminders of God’s faithful love today. It’s wonderful to know that he is there in the good times and in the bad. He will never fail me or abandon me.
And he’ll never abandon you either. He will help you through whatever temptations you’re dealing with today. He loves you with an unfailing love.
As Deuteronomy 31:6 says, “Be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.”
Prayer: Lord, thank you for your unfailing love. Please help me to be courageous today, and to cling to you like never before.
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
In Matthew 21, tells his disciples: “You can pray for anything, and if you have faith, you will receive it” (vs. 22). This is a great verse. But what does it mean?
Matthew Henry, writes, “Faith, if it be right, will excite prayer; and prayer is not right, if it do not spring from faith. This is the condition of our receiving—we must ask in prayer, believing. The requests of prayer shall not be denied; the expectations of faith shall not be frustrated.”*
If we ask for something that is selfish and not for the heart, God is able to discern this. He can tell the difference between a “material” need and a true, heartfelt concern. He promises that he will answer the prayers that come from the heart. His answers may not always be in our timing, or even the answers we want to hear, but he does answer them. All we have to do is believe.
Do you believe that God can do the impossible? Or have you given up on a request that has been there for years?
Prayer: Lord, give me the faith to believe that you will provide today and every day.
*Henry, Matthew. "Commentary on Matthew 21." . Blue Letter Bible. 1 Mar 1996. 2009. 19 Aug 2009.
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
As I read Dinah’s story, and then the story of the blind men and Jesus, I started to wonder if my eyes had been blinded in any way.
What had become so commonplace to me that I no longer even recognize it for the awful thing that it was?
I’ll admit, it’s often easier to sit in my cozy, safe home and immerse myself in a book, then to think about the people who aren’t in such a safe place and don’t have the novelty of reading the newest bestseller.
Perhaps they’re being abused, or lonely, or on the streets.
No matter the case, it’s easier to look right by them. If I look right by them, then they’re not my issue. I don’t feel connected. I don’t feel they’re pain.
I remember this homeless man who sold roses by the side of the road, rain or shine. I used to see him every Sunday morning as my husband and I drove to church. I always wanted to buy a rose from him, but we were always in too much of a hurry. The service was about to begin. We didn’t want to look bad by being late. Who knows what he would use the money for. Excuses. Excuses. They were all excuses so that we could get out of helping the man. We closed our eyes so that we didn’t have to help.
My question for you today is, what have you closed your eyes to? What are you missing in the world around you?
May our prayer be the same as the blind men in Matthew 20:33 who cried, “Lord… we want to see!”
Monday, August 17, 2009
Jacob and Esau are about to come time an understanding on what it means to forgive and love. In this place, there is no room for jealousy.
For jealousy is such an evil thing. In Matthew, we see how there is no place for jealousy in the in the Kingdom of Heaven. God knows best when it comes to the gifts he gives us in this world and the next. As the landowner (God) says in Matthew 20:15, “Is it against the law for me to do what I want with my money? Should you be jealous because I am kind to others?”
It’s really not our place to compare our lot in life with others. This can be so tricky sometimes. I long for a comfortable life with all the latest electronic gadgets. I want to be successful in the home, in my career, in my relationships. I want all these things. But through this parable God is showing us that he really knows best. He knows what each of us needs to get through each day.
It’s about being thankful.
It’s about trusting.
It’s about believing that he knows best.
Prayer: Lord, thank you for the things you have given me in this life. Please help me to not compare myself with others, but to instead be thankful for all that you have given me, each and every day.
Friday, August 14, 2009
And that’s where a Savior comes in.
On our own there is nothing we can do to obtain salvation. We are too evil and too self-centered to ever enter the kingdom of heaven. As Jesus says in Matthew 19: 26, God is the one that does the impossible thing. He bridges the gap between our sinful natures and his perfect on. Through Christ’s death on the cross, he has made a way for us to inherit eternal life. If we accept salvation through Jesus Christ, we leave our sinful, deceitful natures behind, and take on a new life.
I’m so thankful that God did the impossible and gave me the opportunity to spend eternity in heaven with him.
Prayer: Lord, thank you for taking this sinful creature and making something beautiful out of it! Thank you for doing the impossible and giving me eternal life.
Right after this, we turn to Matthew 18, where Jesus tells his disciples to forgive indefinitely (“ seventy times seven!” (Matthew 18:22). This is definitely not the kind of attitude Esau had in Genesis. He wanted to kill, but Jesus wants us to forgive.
Why? Because Jesus has already paid the ultimate price for our sins. He forgave us, so we need to forgive others (as the parable of the Unforgiving Debtor demonstrates).
Forgiving is easier said then done. I know there have been times in my life when I responded to a situation like Esau. No, I didn’t want to kill anyone, but I became bitter over certain injustices and held a grudge against that person. I felt that by “withholding” my forgiveness I was somehow “punishing” that person more. But that’s not my place. God calls me to forgive no matter how hard it may be.
By forgiving and loving that person, I am furthering the kingdom of God, instead of hindering it.
Prayer: Lord, please help me to forgive today, however hard it may be. Help me to love that person with a love that can only come from you.
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Consider this following passage:
"So Isaac stayed in Gerar. When the men who lived there asked Isaac about his wife, Rebekah, he said, ‘She is my sister.’ He was afraid to say, ‘She is my wife.’ He thought, ‘They will kill me to get her, because she is so beautiful.’ But some time later, Abimelech, king of the Philistines, looked out his window and saw Isaac caressing Rebekah. Immediately, Abimelech called for Isaac and exclaimed, ‘She is obviously your wife! Why did you say, “She is my sister”?’ ‘Because I was afraid someone would kill me to get her from me,’ Isaac replied. ‘How could you do this to us?’ Abimelech exclaimed. ‘One of my people might easily have taken your wife and slept with her, and you would have made us guilty of great sin.’ Then Abimelech issued a public proclamation: ‘Anyone who touches this man or his wife will be put to death!’" (Genesis 26: 6-11).
Sound familiar? Isaac fell into the same fear that consumed his father Abraham. He became worried about his own safety, and so he lied about his wife being his sister.
Well, I haven’t lied about my husband being my brother, but I have dealt with "worrying” my entire life. This is a trait I come by quite naturally. My mother was a worrier and her mother was a worrier.
I’ve found something about worrying. It’s never a good thing. When I start worrying too much, I stop letting God work in my life. I take a situation into my hands, and it never works out well in the end. This is true for Isaac and for Abraham as well. They really had no reason to lie about their wives, but they were worrying, and so they took things into their own hands.
What traits have your parents passed on to you? Are these good or bad things? Do you ever need to give these things back to God?
Prayer: Lord, please take away my worrying. As you say in Matthew 6:25-27, worrying does not add a single moment to our lives. You are in control of everything, so I give control back to you today.
Monday, August 10, 2009
Prayer: Lord, help me to be an encourager and comfort to my husband. And give me the strength needed to follow him wherever he leads in this life. Thank you for being my Lord and Savior yesterday, today and forever more.
Friday, August 7, 2009
God’s ways are not our ways. These last two chapters of Job remind us of just that. The Lord knows what we should and shouldn’t have. He doesn’t have to “repay” us for anything we do for him, as the above verse says. He doesn’t have to “give” us anything for the good deeds we do on this earth. He deserves our praise and adoration. He gives and takes away without our opinion or say.
In the book of Job, we read about a man who was blessed abundantly. Then, one day God allowed all of that to be taken away. Why? Because he wanted to see how Job would react to the situation. Although Job grieved, he did stay true to the Lord, praising him even in the hard times. And so, God blessed him in the end even more abundantly than before.
God desires our worship and adoration in good times and bad. I’m reminded of the song by Tree63 called “Blessed Be Your Name.” In this song, there’s a refrain that goes, “You give and take away/You give and take away/ My heart will choose to say/ Lord, Blessed be your name.”
May this always be my attitude, in the good times and the bad.
Thursday, August 6, 2009
There have been things in my life that didn’t get cured all at once. I still struggle with certain physical ailments to this day, namely chronic migraines. These migraines follow me on a daily basis. I have to admit that I’ve become half-hearted in my prayers concerning them. A part of me has given up on being healed, which isn’t right.
Of course I should learn to accept this “thorn” God has given me (2 Corinthians 12:7), but at the same time, I should never forget that he is a God of miracles.
I want a faith like this Gentile woman, who kept on asking until God answered her. I want to “pray without ceasing,” (1 Thessalonians 5:17 KJV) believing that Jesus will ultimately heal me, if not in this world, than in the next.
Prayer: Lord, thank you for this reminder that you are a God of miracles. Please help me to never cease in praying for healing.
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
Reading this reminded me of times I had unintentionally hurt people with my words. I can still see the crushed faces of my friends, as my jesting words struck a chord deep down. It hurt them. And there was no turning back.
James 3:6 refers to the tongue as a “flame of fire.” It is a small thing that can do a lot of damage. With one word, a spark ignites, catches fire, and may cause tons of pain in the end. This pain may spread, build up, and carry on for years. It may build a wall, ruin a friendship, or brutally tear down a person’s self esteem. The power of the tongue should not be taken lightly.
As Jesus says in Matthew 15:17-20, it’s not what goes into our mouths, but what comes out that defiles us. I believe Jesus’ words serve as a caution to you and me. We really need search our hearts and ask if our outward words and actions are really showing what we believe deep down. And then we need to take the correct steps to remedy the problem.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to start any fires.
Prayer: Lord, please tame my tongue. Help me to think before I speak, so that every word I say brings glory to you.
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
“Meanwhile, the disciples were in trouble far away from land, for a strong wind had risen, and they were fighting heavy waves. About three o’clock in the morning Jesus came toward them, walking on the water. When the disciples saw him walking on the water, they were terrified. In their fear, they cried out, ‘It’s a ghost!’
But Jesus spoke to them at once. ‘Don’t be afraid,’ he said. 'Take courage. I am here!'
Then Peter called to him, ‘Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.’
‘Yes, come,’ Jesus said.
So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. ‘Save me, Lord!’ he shouted.
Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. ‘You have so little faith,’ Jesus said. ‘Why did you doubt me?’
When they climbed back into the boat, the wind stopped” (Matthew 14:24-32).
My life was so happy this past year. I was a newlywed, in love, starting a home with my best friend. I felt as if my feet hadn’t touched the ground in months. I was walking on water with Jesus, so happy, and so in love with the gift God had given me.
But then I heard some news, some news that would drastically change the next year of my life. In that moment I was grieved. I cried, I moped, I was no longer thankful for the life God had given me. I was afraid for what the next year would hold. I began to sink. Into depression. Into doubt. Into grief. I was feeling sorry for myself.
And then God asked me to look up. He asked me to make a decision. Would I wallow in self-pity over this new, harder, season of life, or would I be joyful, even now? Would I continue to sink in this water, or would I let him pull me out, and hold me on top of the water?
Yes Lord, I cried, Save me. Pull me out of this depression. Give me joy again.
And he did. No, this harder season isn’t gone. But Jesus is there, holding my hand, and helping me take one step each day. He’s helping me walk on the water. There’s no place I’d rather be.
Prayer: Lord, please help me walk on the water today, for I can’t do it on my own. Take my worries and cast them far from me. Be my Lord and Savior today and every day.
Monday, August 3, 2009
A few things stick out to me.
• Jesus left the crowds to be alone. He wanted quiet time, away from the masses. But the people followed him. Instead of yelling at them, the Bible says that he had “compassion on them and healed their sick” (vs. 14).
o There have been times in my life when I desperately wanted some quiet time. I have to admit that I didn’t act as graciously as Jesus when that time was interrupted.
• When the people became hungry Jesus told the disciples to feed the people.
o Isn’t it true that we often lack the faith to move forward? We look at a seemingly bleak situation, and forget to trust God to provide. I think that’s what the disciples were doing here, and I think it’s a great lesson in faith for all of us as well.
• Jesus provides the food.
o Jesus saw a need, and he provided for it. I’m so glad that I serve a God that cares about the little things. He is willing to provide for things be and small, all I have to do is ask for help. Whether it be food, a job, or the attributes of patience and kindness, all I have to do is ask.
Prayer: Lord, thank you for the lessons we can glean from your word each and every day. Help me to be more patient, and to trust you with the details of life, big and small. Thank you for providing for me each and every day.