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Boldly Live


 

Yesterday was the second candle lighting for Advent at our church.  My boys had been assigned that candle.  So, each member of the family contributed.  The baby boy (almost eleven) was excited.  An eager beaver.  He was going to sing, “Seek Ye First” with his dad.  As the day approached, anxiety set in.  By the eve of the service, he was scared silly.  I was sure he would back out.

He didn’t.   You could see the fear in his little eyes getting up there in front of others.  My older son and I joined them, just to help him get through it.  He braved it.  And made it.

And because of my imprisonment, most of the believers  here have gained confidence and boldly speak God’s message without fear.  — Phillippians 1:14

Last night, before bed, he shared with me about just how frightened he really was.  He said he had been sick at his stomach all week worrying over it.  But on Wednesday at church, the teacher had taught them about boldness.  How even when Paul was imprisoned he still spoke boldly for God.  And how he inspired others to do the same.  He told me he knew he had to do it.  So, he kept reading and re-reading this scripture from Phillippians.  He highlighted it in his Bible.  He prayed every night for the courage to follow through.  He even taped the scripture on the inside of his bedroom door to remind himself.  He said, “I don’t think I did too bad and I don’t think I did too good.  But I know God was proud of me for being bold for him.”

I was amazed.  He had not come to me or his dad until the night before to let us know he was shaky.   This ten year old little boy, just a babe in Christ, was growing in his relationship with the Savior.  He knew he could only draw strength from God.

As the night wore on, I couldn’t get this off my mind.  We all have things that shake us to our very core with fear.  Fear robs us of so many things in life.  Satan does his best to keep that cloud of the unknown, the fear hanging over our heads.  If he can keep us there, frozen in fear, we are of no use to God.

Often what we fear the most is following God in the plans He has for us.  Trusting Him completely.  Our plans, our ways, are much more comfortable.  We can control the plans we have for ourselves.  When we decide in our hearts and minds, God’s plans are too hard, too uncomfortable, too much for us to handle.  We are closing the door for Him to show His power in our lives.  We are closing the door on our ability to grow in our relationship with Him.

In my youth group, I see this all the time.  Kids are devoted to everything.  But God.  They can attend functions only if it doesn’t interferre with basketball, football, cheer, FFA, showing animals, band, rodeos, parties, hunting, boyfriends, girlfriends.  The list goes on.  And they think they are admirable for being devoted to those things.  They put their 100% into doing their best, being prepared to the best of their ability for all these things.  And they have nothing left for God.  They have no time for Him.  And they think that’s ok.  It’s easy to do.  It’s expected.  Their teachers, their friends, and even their parents do not expect or encourage them to live boldly for Christ.  Making a stand for God is scary.  It’s hard.  And it’s unexpected.

We adults are no different.   Our kids see us putting everything else before God so why shouldn’t they do the same?  Serving God, praising God, following God are afterthoughts.  Something to do when we have time or feel like it.  Do we actually live a life of boldness for Christ?  Do we actually face those fears satan plants in our hearts, step out of our comfort zone, and follow Him?  Oh, how our lives would be different if we did.  Every day.   We could change our world.

As I reflect on my own life, I don’t want to say, I chose to live in fear.  I chose to follow my own plans for my life.  I know better than God.

I want to choose to live boldly for God.  And that means putting Him first.  Following Him, no matter how scary the path.  As I reflect on my relationship with God, I hope to have the boldness of a ten year old boy who could have easily said NO to God.  No one would blame him.  But instead, he chose God.  To follow Him.  To be obedient to Him.   If you are a Christian, you must be bold.  You must step out and do something for God.  Stop making excuses.  Stop putting it off.  Stop putting everything else before God.  Stop letting the fear of following Him with all you have keep you stagnant.

It’s time to grow.

The time is now.

 

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Posted by on December 5, 2011 in Daily Devotions

 

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A Life of Thanks


O Lord my God, you have performed many wonders for us.
      Your plans for us are too numerous to list.
      You have no equal.
   If I tried to recite all your wonderful deeds,
      I would never come to the end of them.   –Psalm 49:5

We are wrapping up the end of November.  Most of us have enjoyed time with family, good food, and good times.  The Thanksgiving holiday calls on us to look back, to reflect on our many blessings.  If you are a Facebook fan, your news feed has probably been flooded with posts of Thanksgiving.  These posts of Thanksgiving are indulged by all types of folks.  Christians and the lost, young and old, kindhearted and spitfires alike.

As I’ve read through these posts of Thanksgiving, I began to wonder how many of these people realize from where these blessings flow.  Do they realize that God is responsible for their many blessings?  Do they recognize Him at work in their lives?  Do they even care?

It’s all too easy to take God for granted.  All that He does for us, all the He gives us, all that He carries us through.  We neglect to give Him credit for His mighty hand at work in our lives.  To praise Him for His love. I find that so many times our relationship with the Almighty can easily become one-sided.

God, I need this.  Please give it to me.

God, get me out of this mess.  I need your help.

God, I am sad, lonely, angry, hurt.  Please ease my pain and heal me.

God, please protect me and my family.

God, please bless me.  Bring me that car, house, job, boyfriend, girlfriend, that my heart longs for.

Then, when things don’t go our way, we question Him and often become angry or disheartened with Him.

God, I don’t understand.

God, why?

God, you have failed me.

God, you have left me.

God, you don’t keep your promises.

As you look back at all these all too common prayers that fall on God’s ears, notice how self-centered they are.  Notice how it’s all about what God can do for you.  Or should do for you.  Or failed to do for you.

How often do our prayers thank Him specifically for all He does for us?  How often do we ask Him what we can do for Him?  How we can bring His kingdom glory?  How we can live for Him?  Follow Him?  Dedicate our WHOLE life to Him?

If we truly believe in the many blessings God has bestowed on us…if we truly believe He has the power to give us our heart’s desires (if He so chooses)…. if we truly believe in the greatness, the almighty power, the abounding love, the faithfulness of God…..

How can we not LOVE Him?

How can we not want to dedicate our whole life to Him?

How can we not want to step out of our comfort zone and live fully for Him?

Today, I challenge you to look at the many excuses we give to God.  The excuses we give to Him for not being faithful to read our Bible.  To neglect our prayer life until we need Him.  To skip out of church.  To skip out on working for Him.  For putting Him last in our list of priorities.  Instead of thinking of yet another excuse for NOT following Him, pray about what you can do to bring Him glory.  What do you need to do to follow Him?  Be faithful to Him?  Serve Him?

Spend time in prayer today thanking Him specifically for the blessings in your life.  Take time to praise Him for His work in your life.

Determine today to not only say thank you, but to live a life of thanks to Him.

 

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Posted by on November 28, 2011 in Daily Devotions

 

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My Superhero!



Superheroes.

They are invincible.  Strong.  Determined.

We are drawn to them because of their supernatural powers or abilities.  It seems they are so powerful, they can do anything they set their mind to.  Superheroes seem to instinctively know when someone is in trouble, and they immediately race to the rescue.  Yet, they are only human.  Like you and me.  They overcome limitations that stop us in our tracks.  Superheroes are the good guys.  They kick evil in it’s booty.  They can swoop in and rescue the helpless.  They feel pain and sorrow, yet they are committed to the greater good and will sacrifice themselves, their happiness for those in need.   They fight the good fight…….and win.

Jesus is the ultimate superhero.  He lives up to the definition and expectations of  a superhero.  When most hear the name of Jesus, they think of him in the amazing.

Miracles he performed. Raising people from the dead.  Feeding the thousands with only a few loaves of bread.  Walking on water.  Causing the blind to see.

Putting His life on the line…for us.  And being brave enough to follow through.  He payed the ultimate price for our good.

This is the stuff superheroes are made of.

But, what resonates for me most is …….Jesus wept.  (John 11:35)

This man, this superhero, this Son of God, wept.  Hearing of His mighty works.  His mighty power.  That’s the Jesus I have heard about over and over and over.

But knowing that he was a man with real feelings, real sorrows, real struggles, makes Him so much more real to me.  It’s so very easy to think about Him as a being that could never understand my measly little human heart.  He is so busy doing the work of the universe, how can he possible care or concern himself with me?

This verse reminds me of just how much Jesus LOVES.   He loves me.  He cares for me.  He understands my sorrows, my fears, my pain.  He understands because He has been there.

His heart has hurt.  Just as mine so often does.  I wonder how often do I grieve His heart with my actions and lack of faith?  Yet, no matter how many times I mess up, He is there.  Waiting for me to run back to Him.  With arms open wide and full of love, forgiveness, mercy, and grace.

He is ready and willing to heal my broken heart.  To mend my pain.  To carry me through my sorrows.  He understands.  He has been there.

He is waiting to pull you through when you have been betrayed.  Wronged.  Mistreated.  Abused.  He has been there.

He longs to see you resist temptation and is waiting help you.  To overcome and flee Satan’s attempts to pull you from following God.  He has been there.

He will rescue you from despair.  Pull you out of the pits of sadness so you can see the light.  Have hope.  Peace.  And even joy.  He has been there.

I so often take for granted the gift I have in my Savior.

I forget that although He is more powerful, more mighty than anything I could ever begin to imagine, He understands my sinful heart.  He understands my thoughts and feelings.

He knows every bad thing about me.  Yet, He loves me anyway.

I turn from Him.  Yet, He loves me anyway.

I fall back into sin.  Yet, He loves me anyway.

I take Him for granted.  I neglect to spend time with Him.  I rarely give Him the thanks He is due.

Yet, He loves me anyway.

Now that is a Superhero!

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Posted by on November 15, 2011 in Daily Devotions

 

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Hopeful


I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.   ——–John 16:33

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.   —-Romans 8:28

I’ve had a rough couple of days.  I have a child with a chronic health condition that is exasperating.  Although this problem is not new for us, it’s still difficult to deal with at times.  A new round of appointments confirmed that he has taken a few steps back.  This means more meds.  More tears.  More frustration.  Even though we have been through this before and had plenty of setbacks in the past, for some reason, it was harder on me than usual.  Probably because he was taking it hard himself.  It is so hard to see your child go through things that are invasive and difficult when you can do nothing to help.  I slipped into a funk over the weekend.  The dread of getting back into the routines ahead were weighing heavy on  my mind and heart.  The dread of dealing with more problems and watching my child hurt completely overtook me.  My heart literally hurt.  I napped.  A lot.  I cried.  No, I bawled.  The waterworks had been turned on and were flowing as if a pipe was broken.   Considering I rarely cry, this was a big deal.  I threw myself a full blown pity party.  I let the sadness, frustration, and fears completely take over.

Finally, I decided it was enough already.  All this crying, all this sadness, made me feel hopeless and helpless.  I opened my Bible and this verse in John is what I found.  I spent the better part of two days feeling sorry for myself.  Feeling sorry for my child.  Wallering in my misery.  I allowed my pity party to steal my peace.  My joy.

Opening my Bible changed it.  Reading God’s word changed my perspective.  Yes, I have troubles.  Yes, my baby boy has more difficult days ahead.  But God is there.  He is in control.  He has overcome the world.  Surely He can handle my problems.  He will carry us through. I know I can trust that good will come from this somehow.  I may be fighting hopeless feelings, but I can be hopeful through Him.  His love never fails.

It was time I stop worrying and hand over my fears, my hopeless feelings to the one who holds the world in His hands.  When we face challenges, trials, troubles, and heartache, it is so important to cling to Him.  In His word.  In prayer.  In worship.  He is a reason to hope, to believe, to sing.  Praise Him!

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Posted by on November 14, 2011 in Daily Devotions

 

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Real Love = All of Me


Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” 

—Matthew 22:37

In today’s culture, we are in love with everything.  Love is only a feeling.  And we use it ever-so-loosely.  How many times do we throw around this word?  I love chocolate.  I love blogging.  I love shopping.  I love music.  I love my computer. I love the new picture album I found at Ross yesterday.

It only takes a few minutes scrolling through the Facebook news feed to see how easily, quickly, and carelessly love is ‘experienced.’  People love their new boyfriend/girlfriend they have only known a few weeks.  They love them as long as they feel like it.  As long as being with them makes them feel good, feel happy, feel content.  When the feeling subsides, the love fades, they break up and move on to the next person, falling in love almost instantly…..again.  When the going gets tough, this kind of love runs.

This ‘love’ is not love at all.  The Bible talks of agape love.  It is a verb.  It is action.  It’s more than a feeling.  It is sacrificial love.  I thank God everyday His love for me is not our definition of love.  How quickly I would be tossed to the side if His love was as fleeting as the love we give to so many things.  His love was put into action for us when He gave His son to die for us.  A sacrifice was made for us.  So we would have the opportunity to live eternally with Him.

The Bible calls us to love the Lord with ALL our heart, soul, and mind.  With everything we have.  It does not call us to love God with only a feeling, but with action.  Sacrificial love.

Do you love God?  If so, what kind of love do you have for Him?  Do you love Him with all you have?  Or do you love Him only when you feel like it?  When it’s convenient?  When you need Him?  What do you sacrifice for Him?  Does the love you have for Him translate into action?  What do you DO for God?

He doesn’t want part of you.  He doesn’t want a part-time love.  Only a feel-good love.  He commands us to love Him with ALL our heart, our soul, and our mind.  He wants ALL of you.

This song was written for the singer’s unborn baby that was diagnosed with heart defects.  It so reminds me of how our God loves all of us.  He holds nothing back despite our brokenness, or sin, our lack of faith in Him.  His love is there for those who seek Him, trust Him follow Him.  He is worthy of our love.  We should give Him our all, love Him with reckless abandon.  He is worth every fear, every tear, every trial.  He wants all of us.  What’s holding YOU back from giving Him your all?

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Posted by on November 12, 2011 in Daily Devotions

 

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Is Your Faith Full??


Ivan Aivazovsky's painting Walking on Water (1888)

Image via Wikipedia

Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. “You have so little faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?”    —Matthew 14:22-33 NLT

I’m sure most have heard the story about Jesus walking on water…..  While Jesus was on the mountainside praying, a storm came and the disciples were caught up in the fury of the waves.  Jesus walked out on the water to get to them.  Of course, SEEING Jesus walking on water wasn’t enough to convince them of the power of God.  They cried out that it was a ghost!  Peter, still not believing it was Jesus, even after He reassured them of who He was, asked Jesus to prove it was Him.  “Call me out on the water,” he asked.   Again, lacking faith, belief.   Needing proof.   Jesus did, and as Peter began to walk on water, fear overcame him and he began to sink.  He cried out to Jesus, who as usual, came to the rescue and pulled him from the water.   His response to Peter is our verse for today.

All too often, I find myself in Peter’s shoes.  Not quite believing in the ultimate power of God.  Sure, I say I believe.  I even DO believe…on a small level.  But my faith stops short of the big things.  My faith….or lack thereof, prevents me so often from following God’s calling on my life.  Instead of putting my faith COMPLETELY in Him.  In His power.  In His timing.  In His plan….. I begin to listen to myself instead.  It’s too hard.  There is no way it will work.  I can’t do it.

Not only do I listen to those voices in my head, I entertain them and allow them to dictate what I will or will not do for Christ.  If I am to grow in my relationship with Him, I must STOP listening to this nonsense!  God will call you out of the comfortable.  He will call you to do things that you feel you cannot do.  If His calling on our life were easy, we wouldn’t really need Him, would we?  When I have to lean on Him, depend on Him to achieve His plan for my life, His glory is shown.

Do you have something today you feel called of God to do?  How strong is your faith?  Do you believe he can make a way where the human eye can see none?  It’s time we stop selling God short.  Start believing Him for His promises, His power, and His word.  We need to be FAITH—FULL.

He can do ANYTHING He sets his mind to do. 

But we must have faith.  We must let go of doubt. 

We must choose to listen to HIM….and BELIEVE. 

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Posted by on November 8, 2011 in Daily Devotions

 

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God is Good…All the time!


Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good!
His faithful love endures forever.—Psalm 107:1

 

November is here.  That means Thanksgiving is just around the corner.  It’s a busy time of year.  It seems our busy-ness just snowballs from here until the start of the new year.  With all the holiday plans atop our normal hectic schedules, it’s very easy to look past what’s important.  We muddle through life, just trying to meet our obligations. We are so busy, we lose sight of our blessings.  We don’t have time to give Him thanks, because if truth be known, when busy-ness sets in, it’s often God who is pushed to the side first.   In fact, for many who proclaim to be Christians, He stays pushed to the side anyway.

We are so accustomed to God’s generosity,  the blessings he gives, we take them for granted.  It’s almost as if we expect him to be good to us, so when He blesses us, we aren’t truly thankful, because somehow, we believe it’s God’s job to be good to us.  That’s what He is supposed to do.   We would try to show other’s God’s goodness, His light, but there just isn’t enough time left at the end of a long day.

How arrogant!  How obnoxious!

Some would say that’s not true.  You do truly appreciate God.  You truly love Him and thank Him for His blessings.  But what do your actions show?  Is there evidence in your life that shows you follow God?  In your daily routine, would people label you as a Christian?  Or is your light hidden beneath a bushel basket?

But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people.You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.  —2 Peter 2:9

I know life is demanding.  And you are already exhausted at the end of the day just trying to survive.  I know, believe me.   I’m right there with you.  But, without Him, I would have nothing.  I wouldn’t have strength and endurance for that busy day.  Without all of His blessings, where would I be?  Without His arms wrapped around me in times of trials, how would I make it?    Although, I don’t thank Him as I should, I neglect to follow Him when I know better, He carries me through.   His love is there, always.

I have to continually remind myself of this….God is first. 

The blessings He pours out on my life.  His kindness, His generosity, His faithfulness to be there for us always….it’s something I do not want to ever do without.

The Bible tells us not only of God’s goodness, but also that He is faithful.  He is loving.  And it never ends.  It endures forever.   As Christians, we are called to show God’s goodness to others.  We have been chosen by him.

He loves us!  He LOVE US!

Grasp that fact!  The God of the universe LOVES you and me! He pours out blessings on our life, even when we aren’t faithful to Him.

Imagine for a moment, that you committed yourself to Him 100%.  Imagine what your life would be like!

Today,  I will be making a list of all the things I am thankful for.  Today, I will go to Him in prayer and praise Him for all He has given me.  Today, I will seek Him.  His direction for my life.  And I will follow.  It’s the least I can do for Him.

Won’t you join me?

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Posted by on November 2, 2011 in Daily Devotions

 

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