This Little Light – A Devotion

This Little Light

Isaiah 60:19-22 (NLT)

“No longer will you need the sun to shine by day, nor the moon to give its light by night, for the Lord your God will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your glory. Your sun will never set; your moon will not go down. For the Lord will be your everlasting light. Your days of mourning will come to an end. All your people will be righteous. They will possess their land forever, for I will plant them there with my own hands in order to bring myself glory. The smallest family will become a thousand people, and the tiniest group will become a mighty nation. At the right time, I, the Lord, will make it happen.”

 

I love my children. I find that I am constantly thinking about them. Sometimes one or other times all five and just how very blessed I am to have been given the privilege to be their mom. They are a lot of work. My kids are not perfect. But the joy that they bring to my life is exceeding and abundantly more than any effort it has taken to raise them. I will not bore you with the many ways that they are amazing today. They are all my little lights though. Our sons have become men and moved on to fulfill their life callings. One the adventurer always on a new mission. While our silent, intellectual guy fights to finish his mechanical engineering degree. Our oldest daughter has been married one month. We now only have two not-so-little people at home. The house is growing quiet. The rooms are getting bigger. The little lights are leaving. Now what?

Last I spent the evening cleaning house preparing for the weekend, it was a whirlwind of activity and when I was finally ready to settle down I realized that it was only a few minutes before our youngest child’s bedtime. Our teenager long since in bed, she was now snuggling down for the night and mommy was sad. I wasn’t ready for her to go to bed. I was exhausted, too. As she lay in bed, I wrapped my arms around her and began kissing her little face and chubby cheeks. I held her tight and smelled her hair. I am not ready for her to grow up either but she is right before my eyes become an independent and opinionated your woman very much like her oldest sister. I find that these children the Lord has so graciously given me are a light in my life. They bring joy in just being even when they are too much to handle at times. They are a constant source of love. God is speaking to my heart today about the little lights in our life that He has placed there. How many times we have taken our light for granted? It is not a ministry. It is not a mission. It is not a mandate even though it resembles a commandment. We are the Glory of God. What is God’s Glory? It is a reflection of God’s Love.

Matthew 5:14-16 (Message)

“Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.”

 

Our acknowledgement of God does not make Him who He is. Our acceptance of Him does not make Him Lord of our life. See Jesus is our Savior through repentance but His Lordship is unquestionable that at His Name every knee will bow and tongue confess who He is. We are in this world but not of this world. Repentance is turning to face our Creator, admitting our wrongdoing and shortcomings to accept His Great Grace. By doing so, we begin to reflect the Love of the Father if we hold this position of righteousness. It is in that moment we become godly or god-like. The Light of His Love shines on us. It begins to permeate our heart, mind and soul until we begin to reflect His Love and project it to others. Not in the words that we speak but how we live, what we do and how we love. A true reflection cannot be seen through dirty glass. You must clean the glass to see through it much like a mirror. You are a Child of God. He created us all. We abandoned His Love to do our own thing. Upon returning, He adopts us back into the family and we are one with God again through the sacrifice of His Son – Jesus. Where is the pride in that – there really is nothing else to boast about except God’s Love. The closer we live in step with God following the example of Jesus – the greater the reflection. We simply fan the flames of faith until our passion for Christ exceeds are lust for the world. The more generous we are with our life, the greater our reflection of His Love that will prompt others to want to know and love the God who we serve.

Isaiah 58:10-11 (NLT)

Feed the hungry, and help those in trouble. Then your light will shine out from the darkness, and the darkness around you will be as bright as noon. The Lord will guide you continually, giving you water when you are dry and restoring your strength. You will be like a well-watered garden, like an ever-flowing spring.

 

Any woman who has ever been pregnant gets unwarranted advice? The horror stories that other woman share are ridiculous. I can’t believe how many woman almost died in childbirth or so they think. I had three very easy deliveries and two slightly difficult ones. The crazy thing is the less medical intervention that I had the easier the delivery was. God obviously knew what He was doing when He designed a woman’s body to bear children. However, I remember around baby number four thinking of horrible things to say back to those people. My all-time favorite comment is “have you figured out how that happens yet?” My response, “Yes, and apparently I am pretty good at it.” Was this the right response? No. Was it spoken in love? Absolutely not. Did it open the conversation to something else? I didn’t want it, too. Am I the Light of the World? Yes, but I have failed miserably many, many times. If we are the Light of the World, then God has placed a beacon in us that attracts others to us. The more we walk in the Love of God the more we will encounter. God will use you to reach out to others. He promises that when we give of ourselves in such a way that He will “guide us continually, giving us water when we are dry and restoring our strength.” My love for my kids allows me to give to them when I think that I have nothing left to give. God loves me. I am His Child. He gives to me from His Abundance. When I live in close proximity to Him, this is an endless overflowing of love and adoration that infuses my heart to overflow to others.

Psalm 97:11 (Message)

Light-seeds are planted in the souls of God’s people, joy-seeds are planted in good heart-soil.

 

Being the light of the world as Jesus intended was not meant to drain us of energy and power but to infuse our life with light-seeds. We will prosper basking in the Light of His Love and it will grow into a surplus we share with others. I love to tell people how God has healed our son of cancer. I love to tell them how He healed our youngest daughter of asthma. I love to tell them how He took a single man, a single mom and three rambunctious kids making a beautiful family out of our obvious mess. I love to tell people of all the near misses that turned out to be miracles. God has been good to us. His Love for us obvious and ridiculous. In the beginning of my walk with Jesus, I would forget my blessings and become obsessed with our mess. But after all we have been through and I mean through…how can I not tell others about my God, my Father and His Love? It is undeniable because the outcomes in our life are not natural. Those light-seeds blossom into joy-seeds and soon I am happy for no reason at all or at least that’s how it feels. Faith comes alive. Hope is real. I don’t need good days, happen endings and no problems to be happy, joyful, peaceful and loving. I can love because I know that I am loved. No matter how things look today – I know that God is working all the details out to perfection. As faith becomes confident hope, joy and peace are the true reflection of our love affair with God the Father through Jesus His Son.

Psalm 112:4 (NLT)

Light shines in the darkness for the godly. They are generous, compassionate, and righteous.

 

The Light of God’s Love gives us faith and confident hope that allows us to see past the circumstances we face and the people who seem to be the problem. All we know is that God’s Love is up ahead and I will not let anything stop me from getting closer to Him. To be god-like or godly requires us to live in love with others as God is in love with us. When I got in bed last night after tucking our daughter in, all I wanted to do was go and scoop her up again. I wanted to hold her tight, snuggle with her, and just let her sleep close to me. But she is becoming a young woman and probably would not appreciate the sleep interruption so I forced my eyes shut and held the covers tightly over me to keep myself from giving in. Why? I love her. I love her with all my heart just like her siblings. I miss them each day I don’t see them or talk to them. The fill my heart with light and love. If my husband and children fill me with such love and joy even in their imperfection, what about a God who loves me perfectly? I want His Light to shine in my life. It begins by accepting His Love. Living in it, basking in it, choosing it, wanting it, desiring it and walking in it every day. I cannot imagine the Father’s Love for me when I consider how much I love my children. It is incomprehensible. All I can do is hold my life close to Him and attempt to reflect the Love that can light a universe.

Proverbs 4:18 (NLT)

The way of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn, which shines ever brighter until the full light of day.

 

Driving past houses this holiday season, there are Christmas trees in almost every window and lights on many of the homes. I wonder if God is not asking us to accept His Light in our heart so it shines just as brightly. The Light of His Love reflected in our attitudes and actions can change another person’s life forever. Do not take for granted the power of kind words, a smile, holding a door or allowing someone to go ahead of you. Hugs are helpful. Taking the time to listen to another person speak is truly a gift rather than considering your own response while they are talking. Time is the greatest gift of all. Don’t bother getting all wrapped up in creating the “perfect” Christmas party or packaging presents if there is no love offered by sharing time then what’s the point? God’s Love came down to rescue us on Christmas. It is my profound privilege to honor Christ on His Birthday by allowing His Light to light up my life like a candle on His Cake. This little light of mine…it is up to me to let Him shine!

2 Corinthians 4:6-7 (NLT)

For God, who said, “Let there be light in the darkness,” has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ. We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.

 

The Good Life – A Devotion

The Good Life

Philippians 4:11-13 (NLT)

Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.

 

Who would have ever thought that watching ten minutes of a house hunting show could provoke such thoughts? As my daughter stalled in bedtime preparations, I watched the beginning of the next show waiting for her to finish her prolonged routine. It was one of those shows where a family looks at three houses to choose their next destination. The very thought of moving makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. What a task! I thought our last move over ten years ago would kill me. Five kids and an entire life packed up just to move across town. I confessed then that I would die of old age in this house. Nevertheless my husband and I have always enjoyed looking at different houses spending countless weekends wandering through open houses and new construction. When the economy changed, our options became limited. The family of six on the screen had decided to forego their 2500-ft house to live in a 600-ft house offering just 100 feet per person. They were joining the new trend of tiny houses. Just enough to live in for those who want to really live. They felt that in their current structure physically that the family was divided each in their own living space with little interaction. While I fully embrace the fact that our children can find a quiet place to study or just take a time out, I long for their company as they become lost in their rooms. Our teenage daughter only comes out to eat or if the Wi-Fi goes down, but very seldom to interact with everyone else. This family on television intrigued me.

The family decided for one summer that they would just pack up the minivan and travel. They visited thirty states and chalked up over 8,000 miles on the van but in the end thoroughly enjoyed sharing such a tight space together along with the adventure of living. So now they planned to downsize, paying cash $30,000 to $50,000 for their home of no more than 600 to 900 feet to live in close proximity. They wanted not only to limit the walls but financial obligation for the good life. At first, I could not imagine sharing such a small space even with the two remaining girls at home but then I felt a sparkle in my heart if you will. Could we do that? Could we sell our house and many possessions to downsize even cutting our house in half? What would it be like to live together so closely? Our house grows larger as our kids become adults spreading us farther and farther apart. What if we returned to the 1400-ft home we left to come here? I am intrigued. I am aware. This thought of a simple life may not be my own but a gift from the Holy Spirit.

Not that I was ever in need….so many of us could say that if not completely inundated by the world’s philosophy that more is better and money solves our problems. Money only gives us more options. If our heart has a problem, it only will add to it. Have I learned like Paul to be content with whatever I have? I am learning. In fact, I have felt the urge to simplify our life for several months now since returning from caring for our son. I don’t really want more “stuff” to take care of but to live, love and enjoy my family. Contentment comes from Christ. When I learn to be content no matter how much or how little I think that I have, it is then that I can experience the fullness and satisfaction given to us by the Lord. Otherwise, I am trying to live for God and the world which never leads to anything promising. I can do everything through Christ. Can I find contentment through Christ? To do so would give me the peace of mind and satisfaction that makes a good life.

Micah 6:8 (NLT)

No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.

 

What does the Lord require of me? He wants me to do what is right, to love mercy and to walk humbly with Him. How did all this other stuff become so important? It is called distractions and the enemy will throw them at you as long as you keep grabbing them and letting them pull you off course. I find it quite ironic that in a season that has become so materialistic that the Lord has chosen to speak to my heart about choosing less over more and a simplified life. Has He not seen the kids Christmas lists? Would a simple life make it easier to hear the Voice of God and do what He says? Yes, I think so. Consider this…what if the North Star shown in the sky today signifying the birth of our Savior would anyone see it? If it is close to a city whose lights illuminate the sky would it stand out with any significance? Would it draw the attention of those who are out looking at the wonderful Christmas lights displayed by many? Would we look up from our endless lists and countless to-do’s to see that something has changed? Probably not. But something significant is happening in the hearts of God’s People as they become more inclined that less is definitely more.

John 3:30 (NLT)  He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.

 

Jesus is inviting us to clear our life of clutter in order to gain clarity. He must become greater and greater in us. This will happen when I become less and less. This is the part about walking humbly with our God that is misunderstood. We are called to live a simple life. A good life doing what is right, loving mercy, and walking humbly with our God. I am not saying that people with money or things cannot do this. I am only saying that in my life I am prone to distraction. I cannot just let things go and do what God has called me to do. So for me, maybe less is more and that is God’s Gift to me this Christmas. The message that as I simplify my life as an act of worship to pull my family closer together than Christ will fill our family with more joy, peace and contentment than ever before. I want a good life. We have had some tough times. I know that I have missed three years of our daughter’s life to care for our son. I want that time back. God is offering to me by asking me to make more room for His Presence. The rest is up to me.

Psalm 39:4-7 (NLT)

Lord, remind me how brief my time on earth will be. Remind me that my days are numbered—how fleeting my life is. You have made my life no longer than the width of my hand. My entire lifetime is just a moment to you; at best, each of us is but a breath. We are merely moving shadows, and all our busy rushing ends in nothing. We heap up wealth, not knowing who will spend it. And so, Lord, where do I put my hope? My only hope is in you.”

 

Thank you Lord for reminding me of the brevity of life today. There are many meaningless things vying for my time today. Help me to realize that this motivation of my heart for a simple life is a calling to move not only myself but our family into Your Presence, increase our faith and secure our confident hope. Lord, keep me moving in the right direction even when I am not sure what that is. Make me sensitive to Your Spirit and compelled to reach my destination. Give us grace as we go. Prepare our hearts and minds for the days ahead. Lord, make us willing to change to have all that you promised. Thank you for always meeting and exceeding our wants, needs and desires with Your Very Best. I trust you as you lead us to the good life!

Proverbs 4:10 (NLT) My child, listen to me and do as I say, and you will have a long, good life.

Until He Comes – A Devotion

Until He Comes

Philippians 2:12-13 (NLT)

Dear friends, you always followed my instructions when I was with you. And now that I am away, it is even more important. Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.

 

On those days when we wonder how much longer? How much more can I take Lord? When will this trial end? When will I overcome? Will this test be over soon? Will life get any better than this? We all have those days even strong Christians who believe in the Lord. We walk by faith not by sight, but perception is influential to our flesh. We become tired and weary sometimes overwrought with the circumstances in our life. Then there are the seasons that we coast right through often taken for granted as easy – we miss the rest that is offered in such times worrying about things that really don’t matter at all. We wait on the return of Jesus Christ. But sometimes we forget what life is all about and allow the enemy to make it about something inconsequential and meaningless. Caught up in this holiday season of shopping, wrapping, cooking, parties and such. Running from this Christmas performance, chorus concert, band showcase, church pageant to the next. Wondering what the words “Happy Holidays” and “Merry Christmas” really mean when there is no Santa Claus with an endless budget and surplus of gifts. It is time to stop and catch our breath for a moment. In the stillness of the morning with the Word of God, a steaming cup of coffee or a glass of our favorite tea, and stop running around trying to make life perfect. We need this time to allow the Holy Spirit to speak to our heart and remind us what really counts. Christmas is not a vacation from our pursuit of Christ but the opportunity to focus on it. There were no light displays on the manager but a single star pointing to no ordinary baby but the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. There was no grand splendor of choral productions and epic soundtracks just angels singing over a newborn baby. It was a silent night. It was a holy night. All was calm and peaceful. Where is our peace in this season called Christmas? Where is our love? Where is our joy? Where is the King? He is with us. He is in us. He is beside us and all around us. We must remember this until He comes.

 

Matthew 24:45-51 (NLT)

 “A faithful, sensible servant is one to whom the master can give the responsibility of managing his other household servants and feeding them. If the master returns and finds that the servant has done a good job, there will be a reward. I tell you the truth, the master will put that servant in charge of all he owns. But what if the servant is evil and thinks, ‘My master won’t be back for a while,’ and he begins beating the other servants, partying, and getting drunk? The master will return unannounced and unexpected, and he will cut the servant to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

 

One favorite quote for Christmas among Christians is that “wise men still seek Him.” This is true, but are you seeking Him this Christmas? Am I? I must look inside myself and evaluate my own heart to determine if Christ is indeed the center of not only Christmas but every other day of my life. I am working on becoming a faithful servant to a Faithful Master. He has given me this life – everything and everyone in it. I am the steward of many blessings yet often I find myself complaining and wanting other things. I lose sight of the fact that I have more than I imagined. There are many, oh so many, things that I take for granted. The Lord has put me in charge of all that He owns. I have an endless supply of resources and everything that I need not only to survive but live a life worthy of being called a Child of God. Am I living it? He expects me too until He comes. When He comes back, it will be unexpected but it is hinted that the signs of the times will proceed His Arrival. Sin will be rampant. It is. Love will grow cold. It has. It will be as it was in the Days of Noah. Oh, the master is close. What must I do to be ready until He comes?

 

Matthew 14:28-31 (NLT)

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?”

It is impossible to please God without faith. Where is our faith? Jesus will be looking our heart to find it. Will we have it when He comes? Faith believes. It is the foundation of confident hope that allows us to live above our circumstances, through every situation and withstanding every problem that we face in life. Tests and trials allow us to see how far we have come and how far we must go to fully trust and rely on the Lord. This is essential on the day that He arrives. Otherwise, everything we do in life is futile. Where is your faith? Has the storm in your life sucked it right out of you? He says, “Yes, come.” Will you keep moving in His Direction or give up when getting to Him seems impossible? The Lord will catch you in your weakness and then work to make you strong. Our strength is demonstrated in our weakness and inability to stand strong. This is when we allow the Lord to be our strength. We need Him to see us through. With each trip over the side of the boat, you will grow stronger. So don’t give up just keep swimming as Dory always says.

Matthew 11:27-28 (NLT)

 “My Father has entrusted everything to me. No one truly knows the Son except the Father, and no one truly knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.” Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.

What are you worried about today? Is it really worth all the stress? If you are a Child of God and Jesus is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, we are covered. Why? God has entrusted EVERYTHING to Jesus. If He is Lord of our life, then the Master has entrusted us with just that “EVERYTHING”. Why do we suffer lack? Why do we do without? What’s the problem? I don’t know ask yourself. I am having to ask myself. “You have not because you asked not” only works if you believe. If I believe that Jesus Christ has complete control of EVERYTHING in my life, it should eradicate worry, stress, and anxiety completely from my life. I should live in perpetual peace, love and joy not based on my surroundings but surrendered to His Love. I will only give Him my burdens, if I trust Him to take care of them. Otherwise, I will be weary and carry burdens never intended for me that have already been laid upon the shoulders of My Lord. Where is my trust today? Without faith, I cannot please God. Without trust, I know that I am lacking in faith.

Matthew 19:20-22 (NLT)

“I’ve obeyed all these commandments,” the young man replied. “What else must I do?” Jesus told him, “If you want to be perfect, go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” But when the young man heard this, he went away sad, for he had many possessions.

 

Have you ever left a store and realized that you haven’t paid for something? Maybe you left a carton of soft drinks under the buggy? Or when you lifted your handbag out found something had slipped underneath it? What is your response? Did you feel guilty? Did you rush back in the store to make things right? Did you toss it aside and keep moving? I remember before I became a Christian thinking well that’s there tough luck or I am too busy to go back in or I will pay them for it on my next trip. After I came to know Jesus Christ, I have to make things right. What if every time we realized that we are hanging on to something that doesn’t belong to us that we ran back to Jesus to make it right, imagine the potential in our life.  I can obey the Word of God to the letter (if such a thing were possible), but if I was not willing to follow Jesus what’s the point? I must determine the treasure in my heart. What is the value of Christ in my life? Is He worth enough to work to maintain a close relationship with Him until He comes? How much time do you give the Lord each day? What is the value of your commitment to Christ? Is it worth giving up some things or everything you hold dear?

Matthew 26:33-35 (NLT)

Peter declared, “Even if everyone else deserts you, I will never desert you.” Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, Peter—this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny three times that you even know me.” “No!” Peter insisted. “Even if I have to die with you, I will never deny you!” And all the other disciples vowed the same.

 

Peter believed in his heart that he would never abandon Christ. But he did… How many times have I abandoned my commitment to Christ? I think never. But that’s not true. Every time I decide to do things my way – I deny Christ. Every time that I decide not to tell others of His Great Love – denied again. Those times in life when I settle for lesser things or decide to compromise – yep, I have denied Him yet again. When I try to do it myself because I do not have the faith or patience to wait on the Lord. Every single complaint, gripe and grumble is my lack of faith and desertion of Christ in my life. Where is my commitment? It is something that I must evaluate and hold on to daily. I must be conscious of my relationship and proximity to Christ otherwise I will be inclined to follow my flesh. I must strive in my commitment to Christ – until He comes.

Matthew 21:8-9 (NLT)

Most of the crowd spread their garments on the road ahead of him, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. Jesus was in the center of the procession, and the people all around him were shouting, “Praise God for the Son of David! Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Praise God in highest heaven!”

The day that ordinary men and women spread their garments on the street and deemed the “Triumphant Entry” wasn’t a special day. It was not preplanned or an organized event. It was a heart movement that became a great worship service. Where is our worship today? There are days when I head to the gym as part of my routine and other days that it is my therapy. On those days that I need therapy, I usually forgo the usually hip/hop workout mix to engage in worship. So as I begin to work on my cardio for a healthy heart, I invite the Lord to renew, revive and refresh the Spirit-filled part of my heart as well. We need to worship God every single day to prepare for our future. We worship every day to remain in His Presence. We enter worship to make it through this moment to the next as we graciously and boldly enter His Throne Room to scoop up the grace and mercy left there for us to have. God knows what we need and when we need it. He has already provided it. Worship takes us to where it is.

Matthew 19:13-15 (NLT)

One day some parents brought their children to Jesus so he could lay his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples scolded the parents for bothering him. But Jesus said, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.” And he placed his hands on their heads and blessed them before he left.

Finally, have we lost our wonder today? We are to come to Jesus like a child. No kid ever worries about Christmas just whether or not they made the “nice” list. When we worry and stress about life in general, we lose our wonder. Wonder is that hopefulness that comes from the faith we have in our heart to expect the unexpected from our Lord and Savior. Our Master, Jesus Christ, wants us to have all the things that our heart desires but we must come to Him wondering what He will do next with expectant, faithful and hopeful hearts like a child. It’s Christmas. Well-lit and decorated trees still take my breath away. The smell of fresh baked cookies still makes me stop and breathe a little deeper. I still cry when my children open their gifts on Christmas morning in sheer elation.  I wonder how the Father feels when I express such elation at all the great things He is working in me and through me. It’s Christmas! I have a long list of things to do until He comes. Not Santa, but Jesus. I must learn to live the life of a servant who is much like a child keeping residence in their parent’s home. May we never lose our wonder!

Philippians 2:1-5 (NLT)

Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose. Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.

 

I must not get wrapped up in all the negative feelings and emotions that this world has given the holidays when we celebrate thankfulness and giving. These are attributes and attitudes of Jesus Christ. He laid down His Life so we could live in complete fulfillment. We are to be filled with the love, joy and peace of total contentment and full satisfaction. These are found in things like faith, trust, commitment, worship and wonder for those who live in the Presence of God. Maybe you have drifted or wandered a bit, no worries. Come right in boldly into the Presence of Your Father – He’s been waiting on you. We must strive to have the same attitude as Christ until He comes. We must be tender and compassionate until He comes. We must love one another until He comes. Work together until He comes. I cannot wait until He comes!

Philippians 2:9-11 (NLT)

Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Just Look Around – A Devotion

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Luke 6:28-31 (NLT)

Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, offer the other cheek also. If someone demands your coat, offer your shirt also. Give to anyone who asks; and when things are taken away from you, don’t try to get them back. Do to others as you would like them to do to you.

 

With my new motto glaring at me from the other side of the room, I am reminded today that “there is always, always, always something to be grateful for.” I consider myself a “thankful” person who tends to be optimistic about things most of the time but for some reason Christmas has always been a struggle for me. I am not sure why but will confess that for most of my life I have fought depression over the holidays for no real reason. God has finally broken me of that but at a very high price. It took three years of spending Thanksgiving and Christmas visiting doctor’s appointments, accompanying our son to his infusion treatments, or escorting him to radiation that finally broke me of my holiday funk. I refuse to be overtaken by anything but joy this Christmas as I think about what the Lord has done in our life. Yes there have been many struggles. There has absolutely been a great deal of pain. But just as promised, the Lord has brought us through them all. Our son is currently cancer-free, just finished school and will soon be home to eat all our food. Our daughter is spending her first Christmas with her new husband. Our wanderer/adventurer/soldier son will cruise in soon. Thankfully we still have two “not-so-little” girls at home to celebrate the season with us. We are making new traditions. We are doing things a little differently mixing it up if you will. No longer will we rush past the holidays to get to the New Year but enjoy our family and life that we have been given.

Rah, Rah, Rah! My elation is also tempered by the realization that there are many who are still struggling this year. One particular family whose daughter is fighting the same cancer our son has been battling is in a hospital room as we speak. The family has been through many traumatic events over the last year some health-related and others not related to their health at all. I keep up with their journey on Facebook and check in with mom off and on. She is overwhelmed and rightfully so. It is hard enough to focus on one child who is gravely ill but quite another to manage your family with it. My heart and mind think about those who are not able to provide a nice meal for their family this Christmas while I pour over Pinterest for ideas. I think of the parents who are struggling to give their kids gifts when ours have more than enough. I have been there before. As a single parent of three small children with no assistance, my grandparents would send money for me to provide for them. I would use it to make them dinner and provide gifts for them squirreling some away for the next month’s deficit. I was so very thankful when the discount toy store opened in the mall with all of last year’s gifts at a fraction of the cost. Those days are long gone but as they flash through my mind, the Spirit presses my heart to remember. My greatest calling in this life is to be a blessing. Bless those who curse me. Pray for those who hurt me. Offer others more than they demand. When others take, let them have it. Do to others as I would like them to do to me now and back then when I was struggling. It’s time to take a look around.

Luke 6:36 (NLT) You must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate.

 

I must be compassionate. Compassion is not part of human nature although some people are giving by nature, we do not want to give beyond our personal comfort. God is love. He has called us to love one another. Jesus commanded us to do so. To give our life to Christ requires that we give our life to others just as He asked. What better time to try than Christmas? The media tells us to give until it hurts. Buy, buy, buy. Overload, overload, overload. It begins with helping those around us. Smiling at the mom holding up the line with three squirming, squealing children. Holding the door for the person who is in such a hurry or struggling to get by. Allowing others to go ahead of you in line. Letting the crazy driver have the parking space opting to walk just a little farther to preserve the peace. Our sinful nature tells us that we are entitled to fairness but the Spirit of God inclines us to give up our way to have His Way. His Way is love and compassion for all people. His Grace says they get it whether they deserve it or not just like me. His Mercy is new every morning so mine should be, too. I must see to the needs of others in order to prove that I trust the Lord to meet all my needs. There is always someone who is praying for what you already have and take for granted. Maybe it has been given to you to meet their need. Perhaps we would see them if we choose to take a look around.

Luke 6:37-39 (NLT)

“Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn others, or it will all come back against you. Forgive others, and you will be forgiven. Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full—pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.”

 

When we decide not to give to someone in need, when we have the means to do so – it is an act of judgment. Did I really just write those words? God is speaking to me directly today. I condemn others when I decide what they need and don’t need based on my personal assumptions rather than listening to their cry for help. Who am I? Faith says, “Give and you will receive!” I used to take so many things for granted. I really did. When the health of my child became my greatest desire and deepest need, everything changed because my perspective did. No longer looking at what the world thinks makes us successful and important, I began to see the importance of the Fruit of God’s Spirit. When money could not heal our child, Jesus did. When money could not meet our need or give us the desire of our heart, Jesus did not once but five times so far. Now I see that time is our greatest commodity, so this Christmas rather than worrying so much out perfection I have changed my perception. Time is the only thing that I have that cannot be replaced. I should share it with those who are important to me. I should tithe it because it is valuable giving some of it away. There is a promised attached to our giving. “Your gift will be returned to you in full-pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap.” There is no mixed words or hidden implications for “the amount you give will determine the amount you get back.” Before you stroke a healthy check for the offering or dig into your pockets for a few dollars for the homeless guy by Walmart, this is not a bad thing but is it what you really want back. Is money enough? I don’t think it is what God is after – He is calling us to give compassion this Christmas in the form of time, talent and treasure. We are His Hands and Feet. We are His Body. Money is not the answer but the Love of God is. Again, you still should give if your heart is led to do so but make sure that you are being led by your heart.

Luke 6:43-45 (NLT)

 “A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. A tree is identified by its fruit. Figs are never gathered from thorn bushes, and grapes are not picked from bramble bushes. A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart.”

 

The next time you are sitting by the tree, drinking a cup of your favorite hot coffee, looking at your Christmas list, why not inspect the fruit on your tree. What fruit is your life producing? I am doing the same with mine. I want new traditions this year. No more depression, worry or stress, but a season of joy, peace and love. I will not get it if I do not give it. I don’t just want to be a good person. I want to be God’s Girl this Christmas. It’s time to take a look around.

 

Luke 6:46-49 (NLT)

“So why do you keep calling me ‘Lord, Lord!’ when you don’t do what I say? I will show you what it’s like when someone comes to me, listens to my teaching, and then follows it. It is like a person building a house who digs deep and lays the foundation on solid rock. When the floodwaters rise and break against that house, it stands firm because it is well built. But anyone who hears and doesn’t obey is like a person who builds a house without a foundation. When the floods sweep down against that house, it will collapse into a heap of ruins.”

 

Our life is built on a foundation of faith. We are called and conditioned to prosper in this life. Everything God does has meaning and purpose whether we can see it now or not – we know it as a condition of His Great Love for us. We must become compassionate. We must love others and treat them as we want the Lord to treat us. We are called to love one another. It is the only commandment that Jesus Christ gave us to do. You get to decide what you will give. Faith demands it. Confident hope cultivates it. Opportunities surround us. We must just look around!

John 13:34-35 (NLT)

“So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”

God-Ready – A Devotion

God Ready

Psalm 14:2 (Message)

God sticks his head out of heaven. He looks around. He’s looking for someone not stupid—one man, even, God-expectant, just one God-ready woman.

 

Sitting in the Christmas production at church yesterday, it hit me. This year is almost over. Praise God! We made it. Looking back, the last three years have been a struggle but now we are about to enter a new year. I have always loved the New Year and thought of new beginnings. However, the past few years of our life have made time seem to string into one long chapter. Where is the fresh and new beginning that I have longed for? Each time the calendar flips I have believed this would be the beginning of something wonderful after all the tears that have been planted in the past. With a dear friends baby sleeping peacefully snuggled against my chest and my husband’s arm around me, I am watching our new son-in-law praise the Lord with all his heart to the left his wife, our oldest daughter surrounded by the children who are performing radiant in the glow of the soft lights. To the left our other two daughter’s whisper and laugh with their friends. I am content. As I watch before me, the choir sings praise to the Lord as the drama team depicts Jesus Christ ministering to people. Healing bodies, releasing them from bondage and mending their hearts – I know all these people. But I see past their faces to the reality that this is the God I serve, the Jesus I know and the Spirit who lives in me. I am overwhelmed. I begin to sob hoping no one will notice in this moment of pure revelation instead of a new year that the Lord is making a new me.

As time passes through Christmas moving to the New Year, I want the next couple of weeks to be the time God prepares me to be God-Ready in the coming year. Each year I have decided what I wanted in the New Year. I have joined my faith with pastors who declare new seasons of life. But this year, I do not want anything but Jesus. I put my faith and full expectation in His Plan and Purpose for 2015. I one to be the one person who is God-expectant and God-ready when the ball drops in time square. When He looks, I want Him to see me. Not for who I am, but who He has decided that I will be.

2 Corinthians 5:14-15 (Message)

 Our firm decision is to work from this focused center: One man died for everyone. That puts everyone in the same boat. He included everyone in his death so that everyone could also be included in his life, a resurrection life, a far better life than people ever lived on their own.

 

I have seen the dead brought back to life. In a physical sense, I have watched the Lord heal our son’s body not once but on five separate occasions. Each diagnosis would make the prognosis worse in the eyes of the world, but God just keeps making Him better. I don’t get it but I have come to expect it. Each medical team more surprised than the next due to the gravity of the disease that attacked his body, but blown away when the Lord touches him and heals him completely each time. I don’t understand it. But when I think about what the Lord has done in his body I cannot help but believe. I have seen it with my own eyes. Not only that the transformation in me spiritually over the course of the last fifteen years, I do not know how I ended up on my feet. Right before I gave my whole life to Christ, I was a mess. God’s Hand of Protection surely saved me and the three little people who I had in tow. They are now wonderful, thriving adults. I am proud of my children for they represent the goodness and faithfulness of God. They are not perfect but they love Him. With all the craziness in our life, the centrifuge force of it all has pressed me closer into the center-focus of my life – Jesus Christ. He has given me life, resurrection life and a far better life. Why should I try to do anything on my own?

Isaiah 43:16-19 (Message)

This is what God says, the God who builds a road right through the ocean, who carves a path through pounding waves, the God who summons horses and chariots and armies— they lie down and then can’t get up; they’re snuffed out like so many candles: “Forget about what’s happened; don’t keep going over old history. Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new. It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it? There it is! I’m making a road through the desert, rivers in the badlands.

 

It is human nature to get caught up in the past. It is what we know and much more comfortable than the unknown reality of the future. We dwell on the past often choosing to live there rather than to step out in faith and embrace the future. I keep waiting for Jesus to part the sea and move the ocean as He has done before, but maybe this time I am supposed to walk on water. I keep trying to deal with the enemy that comes against my life but He has probably already planned to deal with them effectively sparing their very souls. I am holding on to what God has done, but He wants to do something new for me in the coming year that requires letting go of what He has already done. I must strive to be alert. I must be present. God is doing something new. I know it. I can sense it. I even feel it. But am I afraid of it? It happens if to the most faithful and God-loving people. To think beyond what we know and can perceive requires more faith that can be made into confident hope.

Mark 4:14-20 (Message)

“The farmer plants the Word. Some people are like the seed that falls on the hardened soil of the road. No sooner do they hear the Word than Satan snatches away what has been planted in them. And some are like the seed that lands in the gravel. When they first hear the Word, they respond with great enthusiasm. But there is such shallow soil of character that when the emotions wear off and some difficulty arrives, there is nothing to show for it. The seed cast in the weeds represents the ones who hear the kingdom news but are overwhelmed with worries about all the things they have to do and all the things they want to get. The stress strangles what they heard, and nothing comes of it. But the seed planted in the good earth represents those who hear the Word, embrace it, and produce a harvest beyond their wildest dreams.”

 

What if in the coming year rather than deciding what we want or think God will do that we expect His Word to come to pass in our life? Plain and simple with no further expectation than Jesus Christ who is the Word of God wrapped in flesh. As we sow God’s Word in our life, we must not limit it to human expectation. We must become diligent and careful farmers. We are planting God’s Word in our life. How many times do we name our seed and try to make it what we want it to be rather than calling it by its given name? Jesus! I expect Jesus Christ is 2015. That’s it. Nothing more and certainly nothing less. I will continue to sow His Name through my life from the first day to the last of the upcoming year and see what happens. I will not dwell on the past but simply visit the field to see if there is a harvest yet. If not, I will keep moving and planting. I will protect My Seed from the enemy by planting it deep in faith and surrounded by confident hope that can only happen through a close relationship with Jesus Christ who provides and protects all that is mine. I will not be shallow but allow time and tests to develop my character so that my emotions no longer dictate the harvest in my life. I will pluck the weeds “worry about all the ‘things’” in this life in order to let my seed grow deep roots into the Love of God. I will not let stress strangle out my blessing and prosperity as it has so many times in the past. I am only human so on those days that I am not successful I will apply liberal amounts of His Grace to get through and back on track so His Goodness is always in my life. I will be the God-Expectant, God-Ready believer who hears the Word and “embraces it to produce a harvest beyond my wildest dreams!”

Ephesians 3:14-20 (Message)

My response is to get down on my knees before the Father, this magnificent Father who parcels out all heaven and earth. I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit—not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength—that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in. And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you’ll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God. God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.

 

Our family has been through a great deal over the last three years, at first I wondered if my response to the coming year was that of a shell-shocked human being. Surveying my heart, I am at peace and it is well with my soul. I know that God is good. He is working every detail for my good, I believe that but now I must live what I believe. I do that by being God-Ready. My expectation, faith and hope are all wrapped up in the Word of God whose Name is Jesus. I want to stay right there this year and not get carried off by my own ideas of success and prosperity. I want what is eternal even on the days that I live in the external. I ask the Holy Spirit to do His Work in me this year and keep my feet firmly planted in the faith that I have found giving me the patience and strength to wait on the Lord in all things rather than just some things as I do so many times. I want to live a full life. I want the fullness of God to fill my life this year. I believe God can do anything. He has proven it over the last three years. May I take that same faith and apply it to every aspect of my life believing that God can and will do more than I could even think to ask for. He promises a life beyond my wildest dreams! That’s so crazy to think true after the many times that I have wandered off, but by faith I believe. I expect Jesus in 2015. I will be God-Ready!

Revelation 21:3-5 (Message)

I heard a voice thunder from the Throne: “Look! Look! God has moved into the neighborhood, making his home with men and women! They’re his people, he’s their God. He’ll wipe every tear from their eyes. Death is gone for good—tears gone, crying gone, pain gone—all the first order of things gone.” The Enthroned continued, “Look! I’m making everything new. Write it all down—each word dependable and accurate.”

Quiet Circle – A Devotion

Quiet Circle

Psalm 94:12-15 (Message)

How blessed the man you train, God, the woman you instruct in your Word, providing a circle of quiet within the clamor of evil, while a jail is being built for the wicked. God will never walk away from his people, never desert his precious people. Rest assured that justice is on its way and every good heart put right.

 

The Lord provides a circle of quiet with in the clamor…doesn’t that sound good right about now. At a musical showcase, I heard the song “Silent Night”. It was my mother’s favorite song. She loved the image of Mary rocking baby Jesus soothing Him in the night while the world around her slept. I believe my mother searched for peace her entire life but did not find it until she met Jesus for herself last month. We are promised to have peace and joy on the earth yet sometimes in the midst of the “clamor” it seems so elusive. We move quickly and chaotically from one thing to the next driven by the demands of life rather than resting in the Presence of the Lord. I spend time with God every day but sometime upon leaving this place I am immediately thrust from this peace that I have found into the vortex of stress, worry and anxiety that the world wants to cram in its place. I imagine Mary and Joseph making the journey to Bethlehem. She was young and inexperienced when it came to childbearing but her body had begun to show the telltale signs of labor. She just wanted a quiet, private place to birth her child. Instinct took over and fear moved aside as she went into the stable offered by a kind soul and gave birth to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. She knew in her heart this was no ordinary baby. She knew that He belonged to God. Imagine her embracing the baby oblivious to the sights, sounds and smells of the animals all around as she basked in the light of pure love. I can remember my first baby when I as alone with him the very first time. As I look at him, I was overcome with a ferocious love that I had never felt before. I would die for this little human being if I had to. I wanted to wrap him in all my love and keep him safe for the rest of my life. Well, that little baby is now 24 years old and we have seen many things together in two decades of life. But even now as I recall that moment all those years ago, I think of the “circle of quiet within the clamor” and thank God for it. I believe that God has prepared a place very much like that in which He desires His Children to live. A stillness and quiet of His Love found only in His Presence that allows us to live in this world but not have to be affected by it. It is not a place of ignorance or random wandering, but a definite destination plotted according to His Plan. If you need to find peace today or escape the chaotic overload that comes with the season, all you have to do is step into His Love today.

Psalm 94:16-19 (Message)

Who stood up for me against the wicked? Who took my side against evil workers? If God hadn’t been there for me, I never would have made it. The minute I said, “I’m slipping, I’m falling,” your love, God, took hold and held me fast. When I was upset and beside myself, you calmed me down and cheered me up.

 

When I think of all the times I chose to step out in the flesh and leave the sanctuary of God’s Peace that He has prepared for my life, it’s frustrating. I want to live in His Presence. I want to believe for all things in Christ. Who stood up for me against the wicked? God did. I remember when I stop and think about it. Who took my side against evil workers? God did just last week. I know that if God hadn’t been for me and with me, I would not have made it this far alive and well. I know it, but I forget all the time. I cry out to God because I think I am “slipping” and “falling” apart. That’s the moment, God’s Hand sweeps me back up, holds me tight, like He’s been there to do all along. It is when I get upset and “beside myself”. When we allow the sinful nature to override the Holy Spirit in our mind and body, we get “beside” ourselves and step out of the Power of God because we do not believe that the Spirit of God is stronger than any other force in our life. Before you object, think about it. If I truly believe in the Power of God, why do I try to help Him when He is not fast enough? Why do I try to make things happen rather than waiting on His Perfect Plan? Why is my life filled with compromise and substitutions if I really believe that He is God and has prepared a great life for me found only in His Presence? God will meet us in our doubt and fear leading us back home. God will not meet us there and leave us there so if we choose to live in unbelief by continuing to remain stirred up, worried, stressed and anxious – He will wait for us to believe. The only way to freely enter the Presence and Power of God is to believe. This will require removing all the excess baggage that create our comfort zone and place of complacency.

Psalm 46:1-10 (Message)

God is a safe place to hide, ready to help when we need him. We stand fearless at the cliff-edge of doom, courageous in sea storm and earthquake, before the rush and roar of oceans, the tremors that shift mountains. Jacob-wrestling God fights for us, God-of-Angel-Armies protects us. River fountains splash joy, cooling God’s city, this sacred haunt of the Most High. God lives here, the streets are safe, God at your service from crack of dawn. Godless nations rant and rave, kings and kingdoms threaten, but Earth does anything he says. Jacob-wrestling God fights for us, God-of-Angel-Armies protects us.  Attention, all! See the marvels of God! He plants flowers and trees all over the earth, bans war from pole to pole, breaks all the weapons across his knee. “Step out of the traffic! Take a long, loving look at me, your High God, above politics, above everything.” Jacob-wrestling God fights for us, God-of-Angel-Armies protects us.

 

Jacob was less than perfect. He stole the birthright from his own brother. He had to flee for his life. Sleeping outside all alone and vulnerable, the Lord met Him there. God made Jacob a promise and showed him the angels bringing Heaven to earth. That did not stop Jacob from wrestled with the Lord later on. We still wrestle with God. We say we love Him, but then try to do everything our way according to our schedule. When we find ourselves, beside ourselves, left out in the cold alone – we cry out to God and He comes. We STILL wrestle with him. Human nature will always be contrary and direct opposition to the Will of God because in order to be who God create us to be our flesh must die so it fights to live on. No one will ever be set free from such battles until they step into Eternity. You are no different than anyone else no matter what they boast. They struggle just like you or they are a liar. By faith we are to fearless and courageous no matter what the circumstances of life. I find that only when rendered completely helpless do I find a way to completely trust the Lord. That is not His Intentions, but that His Children would step into the “circle of quiet” that His Love has prepared for us. It is this place of faith that God fights our battles handing us the victory. He protects us so we don’t have to worry or stress about life. He breaks every weapon formed against us disabling the enemy against us. God is a safe place. He is the quiet place that we long for.

Psalm 27:1-6 (Message)

Light, space, zest—that’s God! So, with him on my side I’m fearless, afraid of no one and nothing. When vandal hordes ride down ready to eat me alive, those bullies and toughs fall flat on their faces. When besieged, I’m calm as a baby. When all hell breaks loose, I’m collected and cool. I’m asking God for one thing, only one thing: To live with him in his house my whole life long. I’ll contemplate his beauty; I’ll study at his feet. That’s the only quiet, secure place in a noisy world, the perfect getaway, far from the buzz of traffic. God holds me head and shoulders above all who try to pull me down. I’m headed for his place to offer anthems that will raise the roof! Already I’m singing God-songs; I’m making music to God.

 

The Peace of God is His Gift to us. No one else can give it to you. You cannot make it for yourself. You should not expect it from any other source or at any other time than the present. God wants us to live in the circle of quiet that is His Presence. He wants us to be still and enjoy His Peace. The rest is up to you (and me). I want to be calm and collected in every situation. I want to be fearless including all the little things I stress and worry about each day. I am asking God this Christmas for one thing, only one thing – “To live with Him in His House my whole life long.” I want to contemplate (gaze at, study, behold, and ponder) His Beauty rather than trying to make my own life beautiful. You can put lipstick on a pig but it doesn’t make her a beauty queen. I want to study at God’s Feet every day. When I hear the clamor of the noisy world and buzz of traffic calling me to join the race, teach me to stay in Your Presence right there at Your Feet. Help my unbelief Lord that is bent on driving me nuts. Lord increase my faith so it will be strong enough to stand when tempted to run off. Jesus, be my hope that is stronger than the biggest anchor holding the largest ship in any fleet. I want to live in Your Presence Lord. I want to remain in the “quiet circle” of Your Love every day, all day and forevermore.

John 16:31-33 (Message)

Jesus answered them, “Do you finally believe? In fact, you’re about to make a run for it—saving your own skins and abandoning me. But I’m not abandoned. The Father is with me. I’ve told you all this so that trusting me, you will be unshakable and assured, deeply at peace. In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties. But take heart! I’ve conquered the world.”

 

Tight Spots – A Devotion

Tight Spots

Psalm 32 (Message)

Count yourself lucky, how happy you must be—you get a fresh start, your slate’s wiped clean. Count yourself lucky—God holds nothing against you and you’re holding nothing back from him. When I kept it all inside, my bones turned to powder, my words became daylong groans.  The pressure never let up; all the juices of my life dried up. Then I let it all out; I said, “I’ll make a clean breast of my failures to God.” Suddenly the pressure was gone—my guilt dissolved, my sin disappeared. These things add up. Every one of us needs to pray; when all hell breaks loose and the dam bursts we’ll be on high ground, untouched. God’s my island hideaway, keeps danger far from the shore, throws garlands of hosannas around my neck. Let me give you some good advice; I’m looking you in the eye and giving it to you straight: “Don’t be ornery like a horse or mule that needs bit and bridle to stay on track.” God-defiers are always in trouble; God-affirmers find themselves loved every time they turn around. Celebrate God. Sing together—everyone! All you honest hearts, raise the roof!

 

A sincerest apology to all those people who like abbreviated text and short devotions with just a glimpse of the Word, but Psalm 32 was just too good to condense. I needed to hear this today from the Message standpoint – that straight forward sometimes informal context that breaks down into everyday terms that apply to my life. I have been living in a tight spot for some time now. If it is not our son’s health, it’s work, wedding, family and life. Constantly moving, listing making and trying to stay one step ahead of the game only to discover that Christmas is now less than two weeks away. How in the heck did that just happen? We live in a constant state of pressure. The world produces crushing pressure to succeed, keep up with the Jones’, and never let them see you sweat. We put pressure on ourselves to be perfect or at least make everybody else think that we are. Even God presses us from the inside out to be who He called us to be, fulfill our purpose and prosper in life. All the pressure puts in a tight spot. Often I just want to stop everything, sit down and cry. But I refuse, no today I am going to celebrate God.

Lamentations 3:19-24 (Message)

I’ll never forget the trouble, the utter lostness, the taste of ashes, the poison I’ve swallowed. I remember it all—oh, how well I remember— the feeling of hitting the bottom. But there’s one other thing I remember, and remembering, I keep a grip on hope: God’s loyal love couldn’t have run out, his merciful love couldn’t have dried up. They’re created new every morning. How great your faithfulness! I’m sticking with God (I say it over and over). He’s all I’ve got left.

Along with all the other “things” this year, my birth mom died. I still can’t believe it when I think about it or say it or even type it. She was not a bad person. Our relationship was strained for the better part of my adult years by her ongoing struggles and my own inability to deal with those issues. So I went about raising my family with occasional conversations and cards back and forth. She never met our youngest child. Only our oldest have any recollection, but now that she is gone and there is not the pressure of guilt any more I think about her remembering things. Good things.

We all go through “things” in life. These things produce pressure. Am I doing the right thing? Am I handling this the right way? What does he think? What does she think? What does God every decision that I make? It is a pressure that I have put on myself and would gladly cast off if I could only figure out how to do it. For many years preceding my mother’s death, I agonized over reconciliation. I wanted to see her, talk to her, and hug her but I could not figure out how to do it without all the other complicated issues of her life suffocating my own. I remember praying, “God, how will you ever forgive me for this?” But I am reminded today that I keep forgetting this one thing, “God’s loyal love couldn’t have run out, his merciful love couldn’t have dried up. They are created new every morning!” We are imperfect people. God knows that so every day He prepares new love and mercy just for us so that we don’t have to live under the pressures of guilt, shame or even regret.

Psalm 139:7-12 (Message)

Is there any place I can go to avoid your Spirit? To be out of your sight? If I climb to the sky, you’re there! If I go underground, you’re there! If I flew on morning’s wings to the far western horizon, You would find me in a minute—you’re already there waiting! Then I said to myself, “Oh, he even sees me in the dark! At night I’m immersed in the light!” It’s a fact: darkness isn’t dark to you; a night and day, darkness and light, they’re all the same to you.

 

“When I kept it all inside, my bones turned to powder, my words became daylong groans.  The pressure never let up; all the juices of my life dried up.

 

I keep forgetting that God knows my heart. He knows the words that I am going to speak before I even think of them. His Spirit lives inside of me privy to all there is to know about me even things I have not discovered. No matter where I go or what I do – He is always with me. He goes before me and closes in the rear. Countless times I lose sight of this but the Lord never loses sight of me. So why do I try so hard to be someone else? God knows already who I am and what I do. He sees my heart examining it thoroughly and lovingly preparing the mercy and grace that I will need to remain in His Righteousness tomorrow. The Blood of Jesus covers the sins of my past even though I refuse to let go of them sometimes. What are you keeping inside today? It is causing a pressure cooker that will one day explode. Watch out! Because when it does… the best is yet to come. “Suddenly the pressure was gone—my guilt dissolved, my sin disappeared.” He knows. He still loves you. He is still making good on all the details. Yes, the Lord is perfecting your way according to His Way.

James 1:2-4 (Message)

Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.

You know that under pressure, your faith life is forced into the open. It is then it shows its true colors. Let’s be real for a minute, we talk the talk but do we walk the walk. Living in close proximity to God produces pressure. To move closer, we must allow His Spirit to transform us day by day. Nobody likes change. Our flesh hates it because it is a sacrifice of self. But there are some things that have to go to establish deeper intimacy with God to make room for more faith. It is not the “things” you are thinking of but rather a total surrender of self to Jesus Christ. My oldest daughter and I are extremely close. Always have been. We have been through a lot together. When she was younger, she could not stand for me to upset with her. None of my children are perfect, they are human making mistakes just like everyone else. So when she knew that I was unhappy with her, she would do whatever she could to make amends with me. Why? She could not tolerate the separation. So she would do whatever it took to keep our relationship close and intact. Fear of God is the enemy’s tactic to push us away from Him. Faith presses us into the Father moving us closer and closer every time. In His Presence is fullness of love, joy and peace that allows us to become who He called us to be rather than us trying to become who we think that we ought to be. God is not fooled, surprised or disheartened by you today – the Lord knows us and loves us just like we are. He has assumed full responsibility in making us who we should be, when we should be it, and how we become it. Whatever “it” is, the Lord uses the pressures of life to mold and shape us to fit more closely into His Plan. “Anyone who meets a testing challenge head-on and manages to stick it out is mighty fortunate. For such persons loyally in love with God, the reward is life and more life.” (James 1:12)

 

So…

James 1:13-18 (Message)

Don’t let anyone under pressure to give in to evil say, “God is trying to trip me up.” God is impervious to evil, and puts evil in no one’s way. The temptation to give in to evil comes from us and only us. We have no one to blame but the leering, seducing flare-up of our own lust. Lust gets pregnant, and has a baby: sin! Sin grows up to adulthood, and becomes a real killer. So, my very dear friends, don’t get thrown off course. Every desirable and beneficial gift comes out of heaven. The gifts are rivers of light cascading down from the Father of Light. There is nothing deceitful in God, nothing two-faced, nothing fickle. He brought us to life using the true Word, showing us off as the crown of all his creatures.

 

If you find that you are in a “tight spot” as I do today, celebrate God! He is working in you and through you to become all that He promised you would be. He is working out good things in your life which require change that forces us from comfort zones and complacency. The Lord is perfecting all that concerns us so we are required to let go of our expectation to embrace His Plan and Purpose for our life. Our sin is a problem not for God but us. He will deal with it – mercy and grace have provided full restitution. We must not hold on to sin and allow it to kill our faith but release it in the overflowing and overcoming Blood of Jesus Christ. God is opening the windows of Heaven over our life – it is up to us to hold our position of faith and trust in Jesus Christ believing that His Love is Unconditional. We have faith in Him and His Love for us that keeps us from letting go of hope when the pressures of life bear down on us. We never give up because we believe that His Glory belongs to us and it is worth having. We cannot bear to walk away because He becomes our life force when we press it rather than allowing the enemy to push us out with fear, doubt and anxiety. God is never ever trying to trip you up – He is trying to take you deeper into His Presence today where all His Goodness produces pleasure evermore. He wants to show you off not show you up! Embrace the tight spots in life. They are the pottery wheel of God as He molds us and shapes us to hold more and more of His Glory in our life. Celebrate God today! Let Him make you into the person you never knew you could be!

Psalm 139:13-17 (Message)

Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out; you formed me in my mother’s womb. I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking! Body and soul, I am marvelously made! I worship in adoration—what a creation! You know me inside and out, you know every bone in my body; You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something.
Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth; all the stages of my life were spread out before you, the days of my life all prepared before I’d even lived one day. Your thoughts—how rare, how beautiful! God, I’ll never comprehend them! I couldn’t even begin to count them—any more than I could count the sand of the sea.

Hula Hoops – A Devotion

Girl Playing with Hula Hoop

John 14:27-29 (NLT)

“I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid. Remember what I told you: I am going away, but I will come back to you again. If you really loved me, you would be happy that I am going to the Father, who is greater than I am. I have told you these things before they happen so that when they do happen, you will believe.

 

How ironic that in this season of gift giving and thoughtfulness that we lack the peace of mind and heart that Jesus Christ left us with? The world cannot and will not ever give us the peace that Jesus died for us to have and live in every single day of our life. If we could see peace, it would be like a hula hoop laying on the ground at our feet. We decide if we will stand in that place or if we choose to walk around it. I often joke about personal space being the same three-foot circle around us. One tends to get uncomfortable if certain people get too close and invade the secure perimeter. We must learn to protect our peace of mind as we do our personal space. If a person violates my personal space, I may take a step back to reestablish this “protective barrier”. We choose who we allow to come into intimate contact with us and anyone who does not respect it becomes an intruder. Our peace of mind belongs to us. It is given to every man and woman who asks Jesus Christ to be their Savior and Lord.

I Corinthians 2:15-16 (NLT)
Those who are spiritual can evaluate all things, but they themselves cannot be evaluated by others. For, “Who can know the Lord’s thoughts? Who knows enough to teach him?”

But we understand these things, for we have the mind of Christ.

 

We understand spiritual things because we have the Mind of Jesus Christ. Let’s think about that for a minute. Jesus knew that He was the Son of God. Do you? He knew that this was a temporary situation. Jesus knew that once His Mission was fulfilled on the earth that He would live forever with God. Do you? Jesus Christ looked at life from a totally different perspective than humanity. Do you? We have the ability to evaluate life from a spiritual perspective. We have the Word of God. We have the Spirit of God. We have the Spirit and Truth so we can worship the Lord no matter what we are facing in our natural life because our spirit is secure in the hula hoop of peace that was placed around us when we received salvation from our sin and stepped into the Righteousness of God through Jesus Christ. We must strive to change our mind. Shifting gears from natural thinking to spiritual thinking is not always so easy. We are born with a carnal mind given to our sinful nature. As we develop an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ, we allow Him access to our innermost thoughts and desires. He gets in our personal space and begins establishing us with faith, hope and love.

Psalm 84:5-6 (NLT)

What joy for those whose strength comes from the Lord, who have set their minds on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. When they walk through the Valley of Weeping, it will become a place of refreshing springs. The autumn rains will clothe it with blessings.

Yesterday, I spoke to a Practical Nursing class at the technical school where I work. An instructor asked me to share our son’s journey with them before they visited the local cancer center. I said, “Yes!” But within moments, wondered what in the world I was thinking. I am glad that we have made by the Grace and Goodness of God but it is indeed a “Valley of Weeping”. Well, true to the Word of God it gave way to a place of refreshing. Sometimes, we must remind ourselves how far we come to see the point in continuing our journey. It has not been easy since my return. Our son is doing well but other factors in our life have adequately filled the busyness and aggravation void left from the fight. As I shared with the roomful of soon-to-be caregivers, it was clear that some got it while others were too wrapped up in finishing the semester, getting ready for Christmas or really had no interest in our life story. But there were a handful that our little talk hit home to. We discussed the medical journey, as well as the mind’s trek – but I had to give God some glory. As I laid out my life, I became overwhelmed all over again at just how good God is to me. How His Love seems to be the thing that I come back to over and over again? I took a step…back into the peace that had been eluding me. The enemy will hand you as many worries, cares and anxieties as you are willing to accept but if your hands are raised in surrender and praise to God then he has nowhere to put them.

Matthew 5:44-45 (NLT)

But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike.

 

Our justice is Jesus Christ. If we take hold of this concept and write it on our heart, we will one day get over the fact that life is not fair. Say it again with me, “Life is not fair.” But we will be justified in our relationship with Jesus Christ. He gives us right standing with God that allows us to step out of our situation spiritually and expect supernatural outcomes even if our circumstances do not change. Unjust people even those who are in leadership will gang up on the righteous in their perception of weakness (Psalm 94:20-23), but in such an instance we are strong because greater is He who lives in us than he who is in the world. (I John 4:4) Your God is greater! Your Dad is bigger! You just have to gain confidence that He is for you not against you and will always come to your aid and protection. He is working for us! He is making good out of every detail in our life. (Romans 8:28) The Lord is perfecting all that concerns us. (Psalm 138:8) You don’t have to convince the enemy of that or even those you consider to be so on the earth – we must only convince ourselves. In our confidence is a hope that secures us in faith until we see the blessings, promises and prosperity of God fill our life.

Psalm 64:5-6 (NLT)

They encourage each other to do evil and plan how to set their traps in secret. “Who will ever notice?” they ask. As they plot their crimes, they say, “We have devised the perfect plan!” Yes, the human heart and mind are cunning.

 

In the words of my girl, Taylor Swift, ”the haters gonna hate!” It’s a fact! “Not everyone will celebrate you. In fact, very few will see the true potential in you or the purpose that God has for you. Why? It’s a secret. He isn’t necessarily going to let anyone else in on it until you are down with it first. The enemy wants to steal our blessings and kill our dreams. He works to discover what God is trying to accomplish in us and stop it on the spot. That is why it is so important to protect the peace of mind that we have with the Mind of Christ. We must stand against the enemy. But it is hard when he takes on the image of people we know and even some we don’t know who come against us in life. They are not the adversary. We are not fighting flesh and blood. If we begin to accept that some people are just not going to like us, love us or even tolerate us but continue to walk in love towards everyone we stay in the realm of hope that allows us to live peacefully with a secure heart and mind fixed on His Love alone. If we need the acceptance or affirmation of anyone else more than Christ, there is a breach in our perimeter that must be fixed. Somehow we have accepted the lie of the enemy that anyone else could possibly do more for us than Jesus – it’s a lie. In fact, you will find that you have less opposition in life walking in humility and submission as Christ did. If we allow our peace to be compromised, we will be convinced of many untruths. We must protect our peace above all else. Our peace is in the Love of God demonstrated by Jesus on the Cross. Laying down His Life, so I could pick up a “hula hoop” of peace and live in it.

Psalm 119:94-96 (NLT)

I am yours; rescue me! For I have worked hard at obeying your commandments. Though the wicked hide along the way to kill me, I will quietly keep my mind on your laws. Even perfection has its limits, but your commands have no limit.

I am a very transparent person. I have trouble keeping things pent up on the inside and tend to be very vocal. Big shocker for those who endure life with me. I do not do well with elephants in the middle of the room or things swept underneath the carpet as I am a lay it all on the table kind of girl. Reading this verse, I saw something for the first time that struck home. “I will quietly keep my mind on your laws.” We tend to read the stuff we like first. Like, “I have worked hard at obeying…” Nothing like a little validation, right? Or even “your commands have no limit”, we really like the good part. It’s the little things like patience and self-control that are the sticklers that we try to step over to get where we are going. Well, sorry it doesn’t work that way because I have tried. We must do it all to make it work. I must “quietly keep my mind”. What are you saying about your situation? What are you complaining about? What has got you so mad that you are venting? Words hold power in our life especially as believers. After all, we have the power of life and death in our tongue and to call those things that are not as though they were. Is it time to put our genie in a bottle? Bridle our tongue and bring it under the authority of Jesus Christ? We may be our own worst enemy and not even know it. We pray for God’s Grace and Glory to fill our life with His Love, Joy and Peace spraying venom on the seeds of righteousness and killing our harvest before it ever prospers. If I belong to Jesus Christ and truly believe, I must learn to quietly keep my mind fixed on the things that He told me to and stop worrying, stressing, mulling over the things God is still working on but choose quiet confidence as my platform of peace. I belong to God. I am a servant of Jesus Christ. They have assumed full responsibility for my life. Grumbling and complaining only means that I am not satisfied with our arrangements.

Psalm 119:169 (NLT) O Lord, listen to my cry; give me the discerning mind you promised.

 

Ask the Lord today to give you a discerning mind. He will do just what you ask. Read the Word of God to find the Way of God back to the peace that He has promised you. Step into the Presence of God that is our refuge of peace and fortify the boundaries of the heart and mind not allowing the enemy to invade your personal space. Faith and confident hope force him back from you. It is a solid position that is unaffected by the storms of life or any situation because the peace that passes all understanding belongs to you. It is your birthright! You are a Child of God. A Son or Daughter of the King. Everything you need has already been provide. Your Way was perfected by Jesus Christ. Walk in it today. Step into the Peace of God and fight to remain there. All you have to do is accept it! Tell the enemy to get out of your hula hoop today!

Philippians 4:6-8 (NLT)

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.

 

Don’t Fight It – A Devotion

Don't Fight It

Psalm 27:11-14 (NLT)
Teach me how to live, O Lord. Lead me along the right path, for my enemies are waiting for me. Do not let me fall into their hands. For they accuse me of things I’ve never done; with every breath they threaten me with violence. Yet I am confident I will see the Lord’s goodness while I am here in the land of the living. Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.

 

Is it okay if I brag on Jesus a little today? I hope not because otherwise you will find this post quite boring. A few months ago, we were notified that our school would have a program review. I work in a postsecondary school that administers Title IV funding which is the money used for education such as the Pell Grant. When I took this position several years ago, it was a mess. I begged and pleaded not to take this responsibility but after over a year of it being handed to me and handing it back – I ended up with it. Free money is awesome when it helps us with our education but administering is a huge responsibility. But when we were notified, I wasn’t too worried about it. The timing was terrible but let’s face it when is a good time for an audit. There were many mitigating factors that made it seem like this visit may turn out to be a disaster. The superintendent of our district is under a federal investigation. The principal of our school is on administrative leave due to an internal audit. Auditors have been digging in our school records for months now. Not to mention all the factors in my life on a personal level including fighting cancer, bone marrow transplant and our daughter’s wedding, fear began to stir up worry and anxiety. I knew the shortcomings in our process of distributing these grants and was excited to have the backup of the reviewer’s report to take the next step in improving our processes. However, the week before their arrival it was made clear that the problems surrounding our district and school would attempt to somehow influence the findings of our review. Now things were beginning to hit home. Stress overtook me. It entered my thoughts took over my hands and invaded my heart. Why, God? Why all this right now? So far, there is not a whole lot to praise Him for in my dissertation but wait there is more?

The fateful day of the federal reviewers’ arrival came more quickly than anticipating as the pages on the calendar seemed to flip furiously past like a dream. My first impression was quite relieved that she did not arrive on a broomstick with a bag of magic tricks sure to ruin my professional life. Instead, she was a pleasant woman with a big smile. But what about the others who would join in on our first meeting to negatively influence her process of review? Well, they arrived right on schedule ready to stir up trouble just as intended. I was hurt and angry before they came because of their obvious betrayal as my own co-workers. I was mad that all my hard work was under attack by people who up until a few days ago had no interest in what I did. I had been called a liar and it was even insinuated that I had somehow committed fraud. But when I arrived at school that morning, something inside me had changed. At first, I just thought I had lost my mind until I began to recognize the feeling rising up inside of me – peace. Was God about to do something? What was the Lord working in my midst? Why was the Holy Spirit quieting my soul rather than rallying my heart to begin swinging? It came to me the moment the introduction meeting began when the enemy tried to again stir up trouble, make accusations, and take control – the reviewer politely but firmly looked the internal auditor in the eye and said, “This is not appropriate and not the reason that we are here.” God was fighting for me. I didn’t have to say a thing. I didn’t have to do anything. All I had to do was stand and watch the Lord do His Thing!

There are many unfair situations in our life that do not always make sense. The constant in our life must be the Love of God and His Son Jesus Christ. If we could only see Jesus sitting at the Right Hand of God interceding for us, perhaps it would be more believable in the midst of real circumstances, devastating situations and perplexing problems that we face each day. The more we try to do good and be who God has called us to be – it seems things go from bad to worse as the battle for our soul heats up around us. Friend, I want to encourage you today to open your spiritual eyes and see that He is fighting for you today! No matter what you are going though you will be delivered just as God has promised, but not only that He will make His Goodness out of every detail along the way!

Exodus 14:13-14 (NLT)

But Moses told the people, “Don’t be afraid. Just stand still and watch the Lord rescue you today. The Egyptians you see today will never be seen again. The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.”

 

The enemy wants you to believe that God has brought you all the way here to leave you in vulnerability. Trusting God takes us out of our comfort zone as we must rely fully on Jesus to get where we are going. But like Peter, when our walk outruns our faith we begin to sink in doubt and despair questioning God’s Motives and Intentions for our life. Our son has had cancer five times now. Each time that he has relapsed, the enemy has attacked my mind with fear and doubt. But why would God heal our son five times completely showing His Power and Glory only to allow him to die from this terrible disease. He is a walking and breathing miracle by faith. Our faith in God cannot run out. I believe that not only does his life depend on it but so does mine. As our son walks in the Glory of God, when the enemy attacks it doesn’t seem to affect him but he simply overcomes. If you were to meet our son, one thing would be obvious to you. There is not much emotion in this kid. He was designed by God this way so has never become emotionally or mentally attached to his problem which would create hopelessness. His very intelligent and logical “mechanical engineering” mind has decide that God is who He claims to be, Jesus is His Son, and that he is filled with God’s Spirit which keeps healing him by faith. He doesn’t anticipate that there will be a problem. He is a scientific thinker who has proven God’s Existence and Faithfulness so implicitly believes. His head is in the right place so our son has confidence. I wish that I could think like he does sometimes. Instead, when I try to get out of the boat to “walk on water” with the Lord, I am a sinker and swimmer rather than staying on top of emotions such as fear, worry and anxiety. Moses told the people not to be afraid, but that was a tall order after fleeing for your life from Egypt with little more than one could carry and now being pursued by their army. Things were not “looking” good. Stay calm. That’s easy for you to say. Stand still! You’re kidding right! Watch the Lord rescue you! The Lord has not brought any of us out in faith to see us destroyed but it is up to you and I to stand still and watch the Lord rescue us.

Deuteronomy 31:6 (NLT)

“So 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.”

 

The demise of the human family and the fact that love has grown cold has definitely impacted people. I do not know many people who do not have abandonment issues. Sin has become rampant and trust is definitely an issue. I do not trust too many people implicitly. Could probably count on one hand the people who I have total confidence in. Isn’t that sad? When we apply this ideology to relationships, it is easy to see why people do not trust God. Most children grow up with no dad or part-time fathers in the home. Mothers are forced into both roles. Some can hack it while others resort to addiction to people, alcohol, or drugs to cope. We immerse our lives in an unrealistic media that only further encourages loose relationships and a lack of commitment so it is easy to see why we do not know how to trust the Lord! God will never fail us or abandon us. He is constant when it comes to you and I with unconditional love and acceptance thanks to Jesus Christ. His Grace is ALWAYS enough to keeps us firmly in covenant together. You have to believe that for it to have any impact in your life today. In spite of yourself, you must believe so that you will be strong and courageous in confident hope that holds a position of faith no matter how things look around you.

Joshua 23:9-11 (NLT)
“For the Lord has driven out great and powerful nations for you, and no one has yet been able to defeat you. Each one of you will put to flight a thousand of the enemy, for the Lord your God fights for you, just as he has promised.
So be very careful to love the Lord your God.”

 

If the Word of God is true and so far that has been my experience, then God has prerecorded every moment of our life. This has to mean that He knows what will happen next which can only mean that He has gone before us. He is the Alpha and Omega – the Beginning and the End. God is omnipresent. He is everywhere all of the time – past, present and future. I know this because the Word of God said that it is true. I believe it because I have chosen to put my faith in God. I will not experience it unless I commit my life to His Way. When I do, it is still an act of faith because I cannot see the Lord but must act on faith. This is how I love God by trusting Him. I find it very annoying when my children remind me of the same thing over and over and over again especially if it something that I intend to do for them. When they don’t believe or trust me, I get frustrated because I don’t ever intentionally let them down but strive to give them a good life! I am only human which means I am a mixture of weaknesses and faults which are a sure bet that at some point in their life I will inevitably let them down. Consider how God feels. He will never leave us or forsake us. God is perfect in all His Ways but we don’t trust Him enough to wait for Him. We do not think that He is powerful enough to fix our problem so we try to do it ourselves. The Lord is fighting for us today. Isn’t it time that we took a step back and let Him do His Work in our life. This is how we love Him by trusting and believing that He loved us first.

2 Corinthians 20:17 (NLT)
“But you will not even need to fight. Take your positions; then stand still and watch the Lord’s victory. He is with you, O people of Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid or discouraged. Go out against them tomorrow, for the Lord is with you!”

 

The Word of the Lord for us today is this – you will not even need to fight! What battle do you think you are fighting today win or lose? Well, we are both wrong because God didn’t tell us to fight. He told us to hold our position. Stand still. Watch the Lord’s Victory. This is key to the successful life of prosperity that the Lord has promised us that reminds us if we trust the Lord that we will be “successful” in everything we do. The enemy is a thief who wants to take it from you which means that you had it all along. Jesus died to give us an abundant life full of love, joy and peace among other things. We will never experience these three essentials or faith, hope and love the key ingredients of eternity unless we win the war within ourselves. We must hold our position of faith. Stand in confident hope. Watch the Lord’s Victory given to us because of His Great Love. We become afraid in the absence of faith. We are discouraged in the absence of hope. We will never become separated from God’s Love unless we choose to walk away from it.

Galatians 5:16-17 (NLT)

So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions.

 

The struggle to stop fighting our way through life is real. It begins inside of us. When we invite Jesus to be our Lord and Savior, He gives us His Spirit to help us overcome our weaknesses in life. Our sinful nature inside of us is not too happy with the invasion so a war begins. It permeates our mind, soul and body. We must overcome this battle through obedience which leads to strength and courage as we see the good things God has promised come to pass in our life beginning with overwhelming victory. The greatest force to reckon with is unbelief. We have to believe that God is who He says that He is, willing to do what He says He will do and that He never changes His Mind. As the Lord becomes our constant, all the details of life will begin to resolve themselves to the Plan and Purpose of those who surrender their mind, soul and body to Jesus Christ. We must fight for faith. (I Timothy 6:11-12) Nothing more or anything less. Faith in God become trust. Trust leads to obedience which fortifies our faith making it confident hope that wins every single time.

Philippians 1:27-28 (NLT)

Above all, you must live as citizens of heaven, conducting yourselves in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ. Then, whether I come and see you again or only hear about you, I will know that you are standing together with one spirit and one purpose, fighting together for the faith, which is the Good News. Don’t be intimidated in any way by your enemies. This will be a sign to them that they are going to be destroyed, but that you are going to be saved, even by God himself.

 

Intimidation is the enemy’s tactic to call us to action rather than stepping back on faith to allow God to move in our life. Pride will not go down without a fight. I celebrate victory today in that I did not have to do anything but trust God to be delivered from the most recent attack my life has been under. God is constant…still. He has proven that He is faithful…again. I will trust Him even if today becomes another battle raging all around me. I know that my Redeemer lives and I am more than a conqueror in Jesus Name! So I will stand and be delivered.

Romans 8:37 (NLT)

No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.

One Foot in Front of the Other – A Devotion

Put One Foot in Front of the Other

Proverbs 4:25-27 (NLT)

Look straight ahead, and fix your eyes on what lies before you. Mark out a straight path for your feet; stay on the safe path. Don’t get sidetracked; keep your feet from following evil.

 

It’s that time of year! “Santa Claus is coming to town” or at least that’s what we keep telling our kids getting them all hyped up for Christmas morning. Meanwhile, adults try to finish the year with the added stress of the holiday season. I know, I know it shouldn’t be stressful but it is. After a crazy year with all the twists and turns our family has faced, I really believed that this holiday season would be the best ever. I even proclaimed it to the world on Facebook so it had to be true right? Well, the enemy heard what I was up to with all the faith and optimistic talk so he has worked overtime to throw a monkey wrench in my plans. Work has kicked into overdrive, the lists just keep remaking themselves, it seems like one thing gives birth to ten more as I just try to finish this year on a high note. I found words of wisdom in Proverbs. Instructions on where to go from here. Simple and straightforward, I want to walk in the Truth but the distractions in this life can be so overwhelming. Detours are invitations to be delayed in route. Disappointment is a lingering fear as I try to make this the best Christmas ever. Look straight ahead. Fix your eyes on what lies before you. Mark out a straight path for your feet. Stay on the “safe” path. Don’t get sidetracked. (That’s a good one.) Keep your feet (mouth, eyes and ears) from evil. Got it. God help me to make it through this season and into the next.

“Santa Claus is Coming to Town” used to be one of the Christmas shows watched and enjoyed by our children. Who knew that valuable wisdom would be hidden in the crazy animation that was years before it’s time? Kris Kringle sings to the Winter Warlock about changing his nasty ways and it goes like this:

Put one foot in front of the other…and soon you’ll be walking across the floor. You put one foot in front of the other and soon you’ll be walking out the door.

 

You never will get where you’re going if ya never get up on your feet. Come on, there’s a good tail wind blowin’ a fast walking man is hard to beat.

 

If you want to change your direction, if your time of life is at hand, don’t be the rule, be the exception a good way to start is to stand.

 

Who would think something so profound could be found in a simple Christmas special? But if you think about it, it really is a good bit of advice and lines up with the Word of God for our life today. In a season to be celebrated, it is sad to think how many people become overwrought and overwhelmed in the revelry. It’s true. As believers, we have more to celebrate than anyone else because love came down to rescue us. This marks the first day of our new beginning and we have everything to celebrate because our life is now completely subject to change. But we must change our direction, mark a new path, but first we must learn to stand.

Hebrews 12:10-13 (NLT)
For our earthly fathers disciplined us for a few years, doing the best they knew how. But God’s discipline is always good for us, so that we might share in his holiness. No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way. So take a new grip with your tired hands and strengthen your weak knees. Mark out a straight path for your feet so that those who are weak and lame will not fall but become strong.

Coming to Christ changes our expectation in life, but many times we do not consider the change of direction that we must take to have this new life. God is not Santa Claus. He is God. It is up to us to mark out a straight path for our feet so that we will not fall but become strong again. Discipline is to train by instruction. Punishment is different. Our parents often use punishment to redirect behavior that is not modified by instruction. However, God uses discipline. He gives us His Word to redirect our life and have all that He promised. We align our life with the Word of God and things will begin to change. We will begin to see the miracles, signs and wonders that we hoped for become a reality in our life. It is all about the Word of God coming to pass. We must walk in the Word. Such activity will create an uprising on the inside of us as our old man does not want to give way to the new creation that we are becoming. So the battle begins. All we can do is begin to walk step by step in the Word of God line by line and precept by precept. This will create change in our life for the better and the Promises of God will be ours.

Proverbs 8:22-31 (NLT)

“The Lord formed me from the beginning, before he created anything else. I was appointed in ages past, at the very first, before the earth began. I was born before the oceans were created, before the springs bubbled forth their waters. Before the mountains were formed, before the hills, I was born—before he had made the earth and fields and the first handfuls of soil. I was there when he established the heavens, when he drew the horizon on the oceans. I was there when he set the clouds above, when he established springs deep in the earth. I was there when he set the limits of the seas, so they would not spread beyond their boundaries. And when he marked off the earth’s foundations, I was the architect at his side. I was his constant delight, rejoicing always in his presence.  And how happy I was with the world he created; how I rejoiced with the human family!

 

Jesus is the Word of God. (John 1:14) To follow Jesus is to follow the Word and to do the Word means to follow Jesus – there is no separation between God’s Word and His Son. If we want the fullness of what Jesus has to offer, then we must do what the Word of God says to have it. If we align our life with His Word, then we will live in agreement with Jesus Christ which promotes love, joy and peace in our everyday existence. Nothing can separate us from God’s Love. (Romans 8:35-37) Victory belongs to those who choose to never be separated from God’s Love whose name is Jesus Christ, the Word of God made flesh. If you walk in the Word, you will always win. If you follow Jesus, He leads us from victory to victory. We just have to take a stand and then put one foot in front of the other. This is not a sprint but a marathon from now until the end of our natural life when we step into eternity to live with Him forever.

Acts 17:22-30(NLT)

So Paul, standing before the council, addressed them as follows: “Men of Athens, I notice that you are very religious in every way, for as I was walking along I saw your many shrines. And one of your altars had this inscription on it: ‘To an Unknown God.’ This God, whom you worship without knowing, is the one I’m telling you about. He is the God who made the world and everything in it. Since he is Lord of heaven and earth, he doesn’t live in man-made temples, and human hands can’t serve his needs—for he has no needs. He himself gives life and breath to everything, and he satisfies every need. From one man he created all the nations throughout the whole earth. He decided beforehand when they should rise and fall, and he determined their boundaries. His purpose was for the nations to seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him—though he is not far from any one of us. For in him we live and move and exist. As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’ And since this is true, we shouldn’t think of God as an idol designed by craftsmen from gold or silver or stone. God overlooked people’s ignorance about these things in earlier times, but now he commands everyone everywhere to repent of their sins and turn to him.”

 

Paul noticed an altar marked “To the Unknown God”. I wonder how many people worship at that altar today. God wants all mankind to know Him. He sent His Son Jesus Christ to die for our sins so that we could be reunited with Him. God desires us to have knowledge and understanding of Who He is and What He desires in us. His Word clearly and definitely gives us the markings and boundaries for our life to walk in His Presence. But only those who WANT to know Him will actually take time to study the Word and use it to mark the straight path for their life. If you want all that God has for you, you must mark a straight path according to His Word, Will and Way to have all that He promised. Otherwise, you will live a life of frustration in wanting something that you cannot have. God has no need of us. God wants us. Think about that for a minute especially in the time of year when we try to give until it hurts to consider the One True God who want to give us everything for nothing in return. He just wants us!

Romans 8:26-30 (NLT)

And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will.  And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And having chosen them, he called them to come to him. And having called them, he gave them right standing with himself. And having given them right standing, he gave them his glory.

I woke up this morning with worry circling my thoughts, today is going to be a busy day. It was 2:00 AM and I tried to “will” myself back to sleep which resulted in about three hours of tossing and turning. The enemy has been working overtime to try to stop me. He want to steal my joy. Convince me I am not loved. He is determined to destroy my peace. Well, I refuse to let him do  it. We fought too hard to make it here and I intend to keep walking in the Word, following Jesus and giving Glory to His Name. Today may be a tough one, but I am promised victory if I mark a straight path using His Word, fix my eyes on the prize that is before me, keep my feet on the straight path not chasing after all the stupid distractions I am offered, but determine to stay in the safety of His Refuge. I will not get sidetracked with worry, doubt, fear, stress or anxiety which are totally contradictory to the faith that I have in you Lord. I know that God is good all the time. I must walk in that wisdom today even when the outlook is not good. The Holy Spirit will help me in my weakness. God will make everything work out for my good because He loves me and I am called according to His Purpose. God knew me from the beginning. He created me for this moment. I will win if I just put one foot in front of the other.

Ephesians 2:13-14 (NLT)

But now you have been united with Christ Jesus. Once you were far away from God, but now you have been brought near to him through the blood of Christ. For Christ himself has brought peace to us. He united Jews and Gentiles into one people when, in his own body on the cross, he broke down the wall of hostility that separated us.

Colossians 1:19-23 (NLT)

For God in all his fullness was pleased to live in Christ, and through him God reconciled everything to himself. He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ’s blood on the cross. This includes you who were once far away from God. You were his enemies, separated from him by your evil thoughts and actions. Yet now he has reconciled you to himself through the death of Christ in his physical body. As a result, he has brought you into his own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault. But you must continue to believe this truth and stand firmly in it. Don’t drift away from the assurance you received when you heard the Good News. The Good News has been preached all over the world, and I, Paul, have been appointed as God’s servant to proclaim it.