I CHRONICLES 16:11 (KJV)Seek the LORD and his strength, seek his face continually.
Things just didn't go right last week! It started on Monday morning when I poured hot tea in my stainless steel mug and it came out the bottom! It went from bad to worse through the whole week-a speeding ticket (my first ever!), bad news from a friend, problems with the flooring in my home, a big business disappointment, difficulties for my family, and my own personal physical problems. Everything seemed to go wrong!
Thankfully, right after my very rough Monday morning, the books in my library needed to be arranged and God used that little chore to give me an extra boost that stayed with me through the rest of the difficult week. It's hard for me to put books on the shelf without rummaging through most of them. In fact, the only one I easily managed to move without opening at all was my dictionary! It amazed me how things I previously underlined stood out to me that morning. Here are some of the nuggets of assurance and hope the Lord handed me as I thumbed through the pages of my books:
Psalm 139:17-18 (KJV) How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: when I awake, I am still with thee.
Psalm 37:3-5 (NKJV) Trust in the LORD, and do good; Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness. Delight yourself also in the LORD, And He shall give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, And He shall bring it to pass.
Isaiah 43:19 (NKJV) Behold, I will do a new thing, Now it shall spring forth; Shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness And rivers in the desert.
Psalm 119:105 (NKJV) Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path.
2 Corinthians 9:8 (NKJV) And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.
Hebrews 13:5-8 (NKJV) Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, 'I will never leave you nor forsake you.' So we may boldly say: ' The LORD is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?' Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
Matthew 28:20 (NKJV) . . . lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.'
What precious thoughts! God is with me and God is for me! He will never leave me! No matter how difficult things may be, I simply need to seek His face and He is there providing all I need for every need. Even when I don't see or feel Him, I know He is there.
Thank You, Lord, for giving me reminders of hope that I could carry with me all week long. It helped to remember Your faithfulness and love when the hard things of life came my way.
JOHN 13:15 (NKJV) For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.
For years I've been telling parents, 'The best way to teach your children anything, is to model it for them.' Children learn how to behave and how to speak by looking at the adults around them. If you want your children to be honest, then you be honest. If you want them to be kind to others, then you demonstrate kindness regularly. If you want them to exercise patience, then be an example of that before them. Modeling is the best way to teach character and virtue to your children'-and there is no exception to that rule!
God the Father teaches His children how He wants us to live in the same way. He instructs us not only through His written Word, The Holy Bible, but He models for us all of the traits of goodness and righteousness that He wants to instill in us.
Ephesians 4:32 (NKJV) And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.
Leviticus 19:2 (NKJV) You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy.
I John 4:7-11 (NKJV) Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
Romans 2:11 (NKJV) For there is no partiality with God.
2 Peter 3:9 (NKJV) The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.
Everything that God expects of us as His child, He models for us. Everything! Search the scriptures and you'll see it time after time. But God not only models these qualities for us, but He gives us His indwelling Holy Spirit to actually produce them in us as we yield to Him. We can stop living in our own wisdom and strength, look to Him as the perfect example, and rely on His Spirit to make us all that He wants us to be. It's His desire and delight to be our example. Indeed He is the perfect model for His children.
Prayer: Loving Father, we are so blessed to have such a clear example of how You want us to live. Thank You for the gift of the Holy Spirit who works day by day in our lives to make us more like You.
MICAH 7:18Who is a God like unto Thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of His heritage? He retaineth not his anger forever, because He delighteth in mercy.
The tiny book of Micah in the Old Testament relates the prophet's awesome message to the children of Israel. While the first three chapters of the book pronounce judgment on God's people who have grown cold to His ways, chapters four, five, six and seven are full of hope and beauty, revealing the way that God will rescue His beloved and bring glory to Himself. Tucked into these pages is an exciting glimpse of God's tough and tender sides. Like the contrast between denim and lace, we see God's stern discipline toward His children and also His delicate love and mercy.
God's people were living in crisis because of the consequences of their own sinful choices. Many times that's the cause of a crisis. You know the feeling "I got myself into this mess; now how do I get myself out?" At other times suffering comes as the result of someone else's poor choices or sinful behavior. Or perhaps a crisis is no one's fault, but it's due to a physical illness or some sort of natural disaster. Interestingly, no matter what the cause of a crisis, the way to victory is always the same, and it's always available to those who seek it: Accept your situation for what it really is. Don't try to minimize or deny it. Honestly tell yourself and God just what you are going through (Micah 1:8-16; 7:1-7). Adjust your perspective. Instead of sitting in the pit of fear, despair, hurt or anxiety focusing on all the negatives and overwhelming stress and danger in your situation, focus on God as your only Deliverer. (Micah 4:9-10).
Acknowledge your weakness and helplessness. Stop depending on your own efforts or those of other people to solve your problems. Israel suffered because of her rebellion against God's ways, but He had a plan to rescue His people . . . and He had the power to actually perform that plan! He is greater than your crisis (Micah 4:1-10). Ask for forgiveness for any known sinful thoughts, attitudes or behaviors on your part. Humble yourself before God and repent of any and all wrong doing on your part (Micah 6:8).
Actively seek to do things His way. Study the Word and/or get counsel from mature believers to know how to do right in this situation (Micah 6:8).
Avoid the tendency to worry over what will happen. Remind yourself of His promises, and be assured that He will work out all the details for your good and for His glory (Micah 4:10-13).
Abundantly praise and worship God for His love and mercy. Putting your energy into glorifying God takes the focus off of you and your crisis and puts it on the One who is worthy of praise (Micah 7:18-20).
Prayer: Sovereign Lord, You are just and You are holy, yet Your loving kindness and mercy extend to me in my time of crisis. How great are Your ways! How good is Your love!
Ephesians 1:18-20 (NKJV)That you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places . . .
It's right here! It's waiting. It's ready. It's available. And it's free to be accessed at any moment by anyone who truly knows Christ as Savior!
What is this wonderful thing available to me? It's not a package nor a product, but the power of a Person-the living Holy Spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ, given to every believer at the moment of salvation.
This is the same power that raised Christ from the dead, and it's living in you and in me. That's mind-boggling! But it's true.
Read through the New Testament and you will see that the Holy Spirit gives us the power to overcome temptation, to make right choices, and to grow His fruit in our lives.
We have no reason then to live in defeat and discouragement because this power is available to us 24/7 every day of the year. That's amazing!
PRAYER: Heavenly Father, the gift of Your power astounds me! Keep me from negating it, neglecting it, and never utilizing it so that I may live righteously for You.
WORDS TO PONDER: " Because we have God's Spirit, we have everything we need to succeed at life and godliness." -Mary A Kassian and Nancy Leigh DeMoss, True Woman 201: Interior Design
2 Chronicles 7:14If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.
Memorial Day'-the very name suggests a time to pause and pay tribute to someone or something that used to be. In this case, we set aside time to honor those who fought and died for our country. But does their sacrifice really mean anything to me? Oh, yes, I'm grateful for their commitment, and I appreciate the freedom I have in America, but do I treat that freedom as a precious gift given by those heroes'-one that I value and esteem so much that I will do what I can to care for and protect it?
While there are monuments and museums throughout the country that depict famous battles and pay tribute to military heroes, I firmly believe that the greatest way I can honor those who have unselfishly paid for my freedom is not to build greater monuments or erect taller statues. It's not to write more poems or sing louder songs to their praise. Although these are certainly noble marks of respect, as an ordinary citizen, my greatest means of paying homage to those who fought and died is to do my part to preserve the morals and values on which this country was founded.
Knowing that the greatest nations in history all met their demise not by external defeat, but by internal moral decay, I understand that much of the battle for our strength and freedom will be won or lost within our own borders. While I cannot fight on foreign soil, fly a fighter jet, or crawl across the desert sands to protect my country, I can live a life of moral purity. And I can teach and encourage others to do the same. Indeed, I can a stand for truth and righteousness as I live a life of integrity.
In addition, I can pray for those in positions of leadership as well as those who currently serve in our military and their families. I can pray for and support those who previously served and returned home with life altering physical or mental disabilities.
If we as Christians would live each day reflecting the life and legacy of the Lord Jesus Christ, then each day we would honor those who fought and died for the United States of America, and truly every day would be Memorial Day.
Lord, although I'll never serve in my country's military forces, please use me to preserve this great nation as I seek be conformed to Your image day by day, and to live in truth and righteousness.
PROVERBS 3:5-6 (NKJV) Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths.
The voice on the phone sounded frantic when Jane, our administrative assistant, answered the call. One of our newer clients was trying to find her way to our office and be on time for her counseling appointment. Although she had been here before, this time she was trying to find it on her own'-and she was lost.
'I'm sitting in the parking lot of an insurance office!' she exclaimed. 'Where are you? How did I get here?'
The dear lady borrowed a book from our library when she came for her first appointment and had it on the car seat next to her as she drove up for her second visit. Being unsure of where she was, she opened the book, found our address on the front page, and typed the location into her GPS to direct her to our office. The problem wasn't that the GPS didn't work properly; it was that the address in the book was our old address! It was an older book and we failed to put a new address sticker inside when we moved several years ago. She was headed to the wrong destination.
In The Principle of the Path, author Andy Stanley vividly points out that '. . . in every area of life, we are moving in a specific direction toward a specific destination.' Our choices take us each step of the way and sooner or later we wind up wherever we have been headed. 'Direction determines destination.'
Although my intentions and my determination are important, if I'm headed the wrong direction, I'll wind up at the wrong destination. Only setting my focus on the right destination, and taking each step in that direction will get me where I want to go. Each choice I make, then, becomes an intentional step toward my destination, or one that leads me away from it; therefore, each choice, each day is profoundly important!
PRAYER: Heavenly Father, help me see clearly the destination You set before me. Keep my life moving in that direction and that direction only as I follow the light of Your Word and the voice of Your Spirit.
WORDS TO PONDER: "The course you have set relationally, financially, spiritually, and professionally will determine where you end up in each of those respective arenas. This is true regardless of your goals, your dreams, your wishes, or wants . . . Your current direction will determine your destination."
LUKE 1:38Then Mary said, "Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word."
It's usually Christmas when we read through Luke chapters 1 & 2, however, this year my heart is drawn to the life of Mary as we celebrate Mother's Day.
Here we see a young, dedicated Jewish woman who experienced . . .
A BRIEF ENCOUNTER with an angel that changed her life forever. He called her "highly favored one", and "blessed".
A BOLD EXPLANATION that God had chosen her to supernaturally bear the long-awaited Messiah, the Savior of His people.
And Mary became for us A BEAUTIFUL EXAMPLE of trust, humility, and obedience.
Trace her life through the gospels and you'll see that she never stopped believing in the promises God gave to her through the angel.
As followers of Christ, it behooves each one of us to follow her example. May we wisely listen to His message, willingly accept His direction, and without hesitation submit to His plan for our life-and never stop believing His promises.
PRAYER: Heavenly Father, as we celebrate this special day, let us never forget that trust, humility, and obedience lead us to joy and l deeper intimacy with You.
WORDS TO PONDER: "My soul magnifies the Lord,And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior . . .For He who is mighty has done great things for me,And holy is His name.-Mary, Mother of Jesus (Luke 1:46, 49)
HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY!
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ROMANS 8:28-29 (NKJV)And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.
Yes, spring is here and with it come the rains and frequent storms. While I know these are a necessary part of life, they interrupt my day, and often bring a dreariness that makes it hard to be joyful.
So I wait for the storm to pass, but then I recall the little saying, 'Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass, it's about learning to dance in the rain.'
As a child, dancing in spring rain was almost magical. Rain drops falling on my head and in my face brought laughter as youthful feelings of joy and exuberance drenched my soul. But all too often now I see the rain as an intrusion and an unwanted annoyance.
Sadly, that's how I often view the difficult and unsettling things that come into my life; however, of one thing I can be sure-my storm is never a surprise to God. Even before the clouds begin to gather, my loving Heavenly Father sees what I cannot catch sight of at that moment. Whatever He allows into my life is all a part of His plan and purpose, and as I rest in the comfort and security of His promises, my perspective changes. The storm is no longer an intrusion in my life, but rather an opportunity for God to shape and mold me more and more into the image of His Son, Jesus Christ.
So when the storm clouds gather, and the rain begins to fall, when lightning flashes around me and thunder rolls, in this I can be confident'-He is in control! I can trust Him to work all things for good. I can rest in His promises. I can even dance in difficult times and let the joy of the Lord drench my soul for I know that all is well. Because of His faithfulness, His goodness, and His ever-abiding presence I can even learn to dance I the rain.
PRAYER: Loving Father, let me not fear the storms of life, but rather find joy and strength in allowing You to do Your wondrous work in my life.
WORDS TO PONDER: 'Our confidence flows out of His steadfastness.'-Sheila Walsh, The Shelter of God's Promises
JAMES 1:17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights.
As I look around me today, I see that I am blessed, yet I am keenly aware that any and all of my blessings could be taken from me at any moment. I'm reminded of a dear friend whose recent diagnosis of MS robs her of hopes and dreams for the future. And I see another friend swirling in the aftermath of losing a job of nearly 30 years. Recently I sat with a lady whose son was killed in an accident. Her heartbreak and loss continue day after day and hour after hour. The truth is that all we have is not ours, but belongs to God, and we must live with open hands, ready to hand to Him anything and everything we possess at any time.
Yes, all I have belongs to God. I haven't earned it nor do I deserve it. These things are gifts given to me and I am the only the caregiver, the steward, to watch over them and use them wisely. When and if God allows these things to be removed from me, it is as if I simply hand them back to Him for He knows best. But in the giving there is often pain, hurt, sorrow, doubt and fear for sometimes I do not understand His ways. Even though I cannot comprehend His plan, I can trust Him for He is my loving heavenly Father. So I trust with open hands'-and yield with an open heart.
Christian author and musician Sheila Walsh puts it this way, 'When our dreams seem to go sour or remain unfulfilled, hopelessness can dominate our lives'-or we can hold on with open hands, knowing that we have hope because God is faithful,' (from Life is Tough, But God is Faithful).
Loving Father, help me always to keep my hand and my heart open to You, knowing that Your love will protect, provide and prevail in every situation. Truly, Father, You are faithful.
2 PETER 3:18 (KJV)But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be glory both now and for ever. Amen
Most often when I read II Peter 3:18, my focus goes to growing in Christ and deepening my relationship with Him, but recently I stumbled on a quote that made me pause and examine Peter's use of the little phrase 'our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ'. It's amazing how incredibly those four little words point to the multiple relationships Peter had with the Lord'-and the same can apply to every true believer in Christ. Look at what each word in that one little phrase implies:
Our '- That is personal. Christ belongs to a specific group; He belongs to me. He's me personal Friend.
Lord '- Christ is my Master, my Teacher and the One I follow and obey.
Savior '- He is my Redeemer and Rescuer who takes me from the old way of life to a new one.
Jesus '- His human name reminds me that He really lived on earth so He knows the struggles and difficulties I face. He is my Brother.
Christ '- He's my Messiah, the Promised One sent from God who is worthy of all praise.
Because of Jesus, Peter's life was changed! Once a rough and impetuous fisherman, Peter became a great evangelist and the first one to preach the gospel to the Gentiles. He who once denied the Savior became a dedicated follower and friend who later willingly laid down His own life for the Master.
How would you describe your relationship with the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ? Is He a personal friend? Is He the Master whom you follow and obey? Has He taken you from the old to a new way of life and become your Redeemer? Do you know that He knows and helps you through your struggles? Do you see Him as the One sent from God who is worthy of all praise?
As theologian J. Niebor has well said of Peter, 'He obeyed Him as Lord, he loved Him as Saviour, he adored Him as the greatest human, Jesus, he worshipped Him as the mighty anointed Son of God, Christ,' (from Walk Through the Bible, by J. Vernon McGee)
Peter's one little phrase is certainly full of meaning for him and for all believers. Knowing and feeling all of this, then Peter breaks forth in praise'-'To Him be glory for now and forever!' And we should praise Him, too!.
PRAYER: Lord Jesus, we praise You and bless Your Holy name for being able to know you in so many different ways.
WORDS TO PONDER:Bless the LORD, O my soul,And forget not all His benefits:Who forgives all your iniquities,Who heals all your diseases,Who redeems your life from destruction,Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies,Who satisfies your mouth with good things,So that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.