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Just Keep Swimming!


When you’re in over your head, I’ll be there with you.  When you’re in rough waters, you will not go down.  When you’re between a rock and a hard place, it won’t be a dead end.     –Isaiah 43:2, MSG

In over your head.

An analogy of an inexpert swimmer who has encountered water that is too deep.

Oh, how often I have found myself ‘in over my head’!!  It’s a common problem for all of us.  Even the Bible had some troubled swimmers.  Eve never expected talking to the serpent would lead to the fall of man.  Joseph never imagined he would be thrown into a pit when he shared his dream with his brothers.

Sometimes we get ourselves into these situations.  You volunteer to help the coaches with the team, but you end up being THE coach.  You make a bad financial decision and now financially, you’re sinking.

Often times, we can look back on the situation and see a decision we could have made differently.  We see how we should have known better.  Others, we are completely blind-sided.

Even with the best of intentions, we can find ourselves drowning in the burdens, cares, and disasters of life. Circumstances can quickly spiral out of control and although we feel our self quickly sinking, we can’t muster the energy, even the breath to call out for help.   It’s easy to feel alone.  Frozen in fear.  Hopeless.  Abandoned.

During these times, these trials, it’s so important for us to remember the word of God.  His promises to His children.  

When you’re in over your head, I’ll be there.  You are not alone.  No matter how far you fall.

When you are in rough waters, you will not go down.  You will not be given more than you can bear.

When you’re between a rock and a hard place, it won’t be a dead end.  There is light at the end of the tunnel, be it ever so faint!  He will always give you a way out!

During the past week.  I HAVE felt like I was drowning.  The waters of my life have been so rough, that each time I managed a small breath, I was once again overcome by rough waters…. too deep for me to find a foothold.  My rock and a hard place was more like a huge boulder and a brick wall…. so large I could not see a hint of daylight.  My circumstances and situation have not changed.  In fact, as each day passes, I can feel the situation becoming more hopeless.

But then, I randomly opened my Bible, and this scripture is what I found.  God speaking to me.

I am not alone. I will not drown.  He is my foothold. He will be my light to find my way out.  No dead ends!  Satan can take his hopelessness and flee because God is at my side.  And He never fails!!

Today, I urge you to memorize this scripture.  I surely am.  What a wonderful promise of God to claim in times of despair!   And in the famous words of my friend, Nemo…………..

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Posted by on February 20, 2012 in Daily Devotions

 

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Reality Check!


What do you spend most of your free time doing?

What ‘thing’ in your life gets the most attention?

Who does your heart truly belong to?

Where does your mind go when it wanders?

What hobbies consume your time?

What are the desires of your heart?

Who do you serve?

Look back over these questions again. Be completely honest with yourself.

We live in a society that is busier than ever.  Life is non-stop.  I often have trouble sleeping at night simply because that to-do list that is ahead for the next day overwhelms me.  How will I get it all done?  It is very easy to become consumed by the busy-ness of life and it’s demands.  But once we have managed to take care of all the ‘gotta get it dones’…..things such as work, keeping your home in order (yes, you DO actually NEED clean clothes), helping the kids with their homework….. What takes over?

For many, hobbies consume our time.  Hunting, fishing, shopping, sports, crafting…. the list can go on and on.

For others, it’s activities our kids are involved in.  Or if you are a kid, activities YOU are involved in.   Dance.  Music lessons.  Cheer.  Football.  Basketball.  Band. Softball.  Raising animals for Ag.  Baseball.  Twirling.  Track.  The list goes on and on and on.

We pour ourselves into these things passionately.  And they aren’t bad things.  We want to be the best…..we want our kids to be the best, so we pour our time and energy into getting them to every practice, getting them equipped with training camps and equipment, practicing at home between games/events.  Whatever it takes to help get a win.  Success, victory will be ours!  Um, I mean, theirs!

But the Bible tells us very clearly, we cannot serve two masters.  We cannot devote ourselves to two masters.  And although there are many, many good quality things available to fill our time, I can’t help but wonder, do these extras…..become our master?

The answer lies in our priorities.  Is your first priority to God?  Or is He placed on the back burner during ball season?  Is your utmost concern on your spiritual condition or the spiritual condition of your children?  Or are you more concerned over winning the next game?  Making the next practice?  Do you simply know and believe God or do you experience a real relationship with Him?  When faced with the reality of choosing church over these things, what do you choose?  How often do you skip out on church because you are tired and exhausted from pouring yourself into these extras??

So often we wonder why things don’t go right in our lives.  We question where God is when trials come our way.  Where are all those blessings He promises when our lives are unraveling?  Yet, we often have not given Him full reign in our daily lives.  We want His blessings.  We pray for Him to pour them into our lives.  We cry out to Him when our lives fall apart for help.  Yet, we neglect our relationship with Him.  In fact, so many times, we practically have no relationship with Him at all.  We try to get up and go to church, but we neglect to walk with Him through prayer, reading our Bible, and simply spending time with Him during our week.  We claim to be His, yet we neglect to be obedient to Him in even the smallest things.  We want Him there when we need Him.  To swoop in and rescue us.  But we aren’t willing to devote ourselves to Him.

Sometimes we need a good reality check.  Take inventory of what’s important in life.  God doesn’t want halfway Christians.  He wants you devoted to Him.  Following Him first.  Before ALL other things. He wants you to experience Him daily.  Not just to know Him, but to love Him.  Live for Him.  The greatest happiness you will ever find is in learning to balance what’s important in life and devoting yourself to Him first.

 

No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.  — Matthew 6:24

 

 

 
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Posted by on February 13, 2012 in Daily Devotions

 

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Hiding Places


So they asked the LORD, “Where is he?”    And the LORD replied, “He is hiding among the baggage.”     1 Samuel 10:22 NLT

In our scripture verse today, Saul was doing his best to hide from being chosen as king.  The lots were cast, he was chosen, yet he was hiding among the baggage.  When the people could not find him, they asked God.  Of course, He knew Saul was hiding and He knew right where he was at.  What Saul didn’t know, didn’t realize, is that you can’t hide from God.

Have you ever been guilty of doing something, saying something, or even thinking something you were so ashamed of, that you hoped no one would ever find out?  We would rather forget these things ever happened.  We wish we could take back those words, or erase the thoughts from our mind.  Many have had things happen to them that they don’t want to remember.  Sometimes we can be so hurt, so mistreated, it would be easier to forget it than to deal with the guilt, shame, and even the scars left behind.

Often times, when faced with these circumstances, we hide.  We allow the shame, the guilt, and the fear of exposure to drive our actions, so we hide.  From each other.  From ourselves.  And from God.  After all, if we can keep it hidden, we can pretend it’s not there, right?  We do everything we can to bury the feelings, bury the guilt, bury the pain.

But God knows all our hiding places.  God knows all our faults.  Every thought, word, and deed.  He knows.  No matter how hard we struggle to keep them hidden.  He knows about the most embarrassing thing we have ever done.  He knows our shame.  He also knows our pain.

The good news is that even after we have come to Him.  Given our life to Him.  Put our faith in Him.  He is still knocking on the door of our soul.  He longs for us to come out of our hiding places and bear our deepest, darkest, and most painful secrets.  He already knows them anyway.  He longs for us to share with Him, not to humiliate us, but to offer healing and comfort.

When we share our hearts with Him, our WHOLE heart, we open ourselves up to the fullness of His power in our lives.  The power of His presence.  The power of love, mercy, and forgiveness.  The power of grace. It’s a mighty, healing power found only in Him.

We can choose to live our life hiding.  Trying desperately to hide the pain, the shame, and the guilt.  But we will be so busy keeping hidden, that we are exhausted.  And ultimately miss out on God’s best for our life.  Invite Him in. Even into your hiding places in your soul.  He is waiting.

 

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Posted by on February 6, 2012 in Daily Devotions

 

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I WANT it, and I WANT it NOW!!!


 

We live in an instant society.  We want everything in a hurry.

We log onto the internet and can open multiple pages at a time.  While you wait for a YouTube video to load, you can read the news, catch up on the latest gossip via Facebook, and even shop on Amazon.  No waiting.  We expect to drive through and pick up a quick dinner in less than five minutes.  We rarely use the stove to warm food…after all, the microwave produces heated food in a minute or two.  Don’t have the money saved to buy a new TV?  No worries.  You can run down and sign up for no payments and no interest for 6 months.  Take the TV home today and pay later.  No waiting.

Waiting is not something Americans are comfortable with.  So it’s no wonder, that when it comes to life choices, we don’t want to wait.  We want that perfect spouse NOW.  We want that new house NOW.  We want to be successful NOW.

But sometimes God answers our prayers by saying, “Not now.  Wait.”

This answer to prayer is a very hard one to accept.  We don’t understand why God would make us wait….and wait….and wait.  Often waiting is followed by giving up.  We become frustrated and decide for ourselves that we know better than Him.  If He won’t give us the answer now, we will do it ourselves.  It’s during those times that we often make life choices we later regret.

So why does God force us to wait on answers?  Why do we have to wait for what He has for us?

My pastor has been preaching on finding the will of God.  And this past Sunday, he brought something up I had never really thought of before.  We are constantly asking God to show us what He wants of us.  What to do.  We are constantly asking Him for the desires of our heart.  Yet, we often don’t do what He tells us.  The Bible is full of His instruction on how to live our life.  How often do we ignore what the Bible says because it’s not something we want to do?  It’s hard.  Being obedient to His word is uncomfortable, so we ignore His instruction that is clearly in black and white and pray and ask Him to send us a sign, a direction. Have you ever thought that He just may be making you wait because He is waiting for you to be obedient?

God wants us to be faithful and obedient to Him.  He wants us to use the Bible to help guide us and govern our life choices. When we choose our timing instead of His, we can miss the blessings He has in store for us.  When we refuse to wait on God, we will always be settling for second best.  His will is always better than anything we can do for ourselves. His will for our life includes following His commandments.

Even when it’s hard.

Even when it’s not what we want.

Even when we have to wait.

Follow Him.

Be obedient to Him.

Wait on Him.

 

You must be willing to wait without giving up.  After you have done what God wants you to do, God will give you what He promised you.                    –Hebrews 10:36

 

 

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Posted by on February 1, 2012 in Daily Devotions

 

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He is There!


Stressed.

Frightened.

Anxious.

Overwhelmed.

Worried.

Discouraged.

Down-hearted.

Defeated.

Have you ever had a time in your life, even just a day in your life, where all these negative emotions were bombarding you all at once?  Have you ever felt that everything was against you?  No matter how hard you try, something always knocks your legs out from under you?

At times I feel like these things are my forever companions.

Everyday chaos of life.  Bad news.  Tragedy.  Trials.

There are so many things in life just waiting to give you a good punch in the gut.  To grab you by the ankles and pull you under just when you get your head above water.  You are fine one minute, the next you are drowning in the burdens of life.

Often times these feelings, these emotions are screaming so loudly in my ear, they almost drown out God’s voice of comfort and peace.  If I allow the problems of life to take over, it’s very easy to think God isn’t there.  After all, I can’t hear Him with all in my life that’s pulling me in every direction, screaming…

WORRY!

YOU’LL NEVER MAKE IT!

YOU CAN’T TAKE ANYMORE!

HOW WILL YOU EVER SURVIVE THIS?

YOU HAVE TO FIX THIS!

THINGS WILL NEVER GET BETTER.

YOU ARE DEFEATED.

The Bible tells us…..Be still and know that I am God.  (Psalm 46:10)

Be still.

Stop thinking about your problems.

Stop letting anxiety overtake you.

Just be still.

Meditate on Him.

He is God.  Nothing you face in life is too big, too hard for Him.  And He will carry you through it.  When life threatens to overtake you, consume you with pain and worry, seek Him.  The Bible is full of promises.  Promises of love, comfort, and peace.  Even amidst the trials.

Take your fear, your worry, your problems….and lay them at His feet.

Take those promises and claim them.

Stop listening to the screams. 

He is there.  To love you when you feel unloved.

He is there.  With the strength you need to overcome.

He is there.  To help you in your time of need.

He is there.   When your heart is breaking.

He is there.  Whispering…..

I love you.  You CAN do this.  You WILL get through this.  There is hope.  I will give you peace. 

Be still.  And hear His voice.

 

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Posted by on January 31, 2012 in Daily Devotions

 

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Judge Not!


 

**This post comes from a devotional book one of my boys has, “Discovering Purpose.” I just picked it up for the first time in a couple of months and it spoke to me so strongly, I thought I would share. Christians can easily turn their backs on others because they stand in judgment and somehow believe they are better than the non-churched or the lost.  EVERYONE needs Jesus.  It’s only by grace you are saved.  Not who you are.  Not where you come from.  His grace is free to ANYONE who seeks.  It’s important for us to remember we are called to BRING OTHERS TO HIM and LOVE OTHERS!  Not just those we deem worthy.  Let us rejoice when someone seeks Him, for whatever reason.  I’ve seen many, many walk in the church doors because they were forced to come by a family member, to impress a boyfriend/girlfriend, or just because they want to hang-out with a friend…..and God changed their life!  God can do ANYTHING for ANYONE. When you make someone feel unwelcome or unwanted or simply uncomfortable when they come to church, you just might be responsible for running them off from God.  We should always be careful not to stand in the way of God’s plan!  Instead, let’s devote ourselves to being apart of it!

Stop judging others, and you will not be judged.  Stop criticizing others, or it will all come back on you.  If you forgive others, you will be forgiven.     —Luke 6:37

Here’s something worth thinking about:  If you judge other people harshly, God will judge you in the same fashion.  But that’s not all (thank goodness!).  The Bible also promises that if you forgive others, you, too, will be forgiven.  Have you developed the bad habit of behaving yourself like an amateur judge and jury, assigning blame and condemnation wherever you go?  If so it’s time to grow up and obey God. 

When it comes to judging everything and everybody, God doesn’t need your help… and He doesn’t want it.  So the next time you’re beset by the temptation to judge another human being’s motives, catch yourself before you make that mistake.  Don’t be a judge, be a witness.

You’re ability to judge others requires a divine insight that you simply don’t have.  So do everybody (including yourself) a favor:  don’t judge.

 

 

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Posted by on January 18, 2012 in Daily Devotions

 

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Can’t Fix Stupid!


You just can’t fix stupid.  It’s one of my favorite sayings.

It applies to so many!  For some, it seems they feed off of stupidity. Live in a perpetual state of stupid. In their choices.  In their language.  In their attitudes.

It’s harsh, I know.  But in reality, I think most are guilty from time to time of becoming exasperated with those around us.  It’s easy to sit back and see others’ mistakes (while conveniently overlooking our own).  The foolishness in their life choices or even their everyday decisions.  It’s easy to judge them and their crazy behavior.

But it only takes a moment of retrospection to realize that I can be just as ridiculous as any other.  I have walked down that road of selfish, irrational, ridiculous, stupidity in my life choices more times than I care to recall. I even revisit it every now and then.  Stupidity seems to be an old friend of mine that I just can’t let go of.  I’m sure that phrase I throw around so readily has been thrown in my direction a time or ten.  We all have our moments.

Sometimes our irrational behavior is a result of silliness.  Folly. It’s usually short-lived.  A moment of insanity.

Other times it’s a result of being uneducated.  You simply don’t know any better.  When you learn better, you do better.

Even still, sometimes erratic behavior comes as a result of being hurt.  Deeply.  We throw caution and wisdom to the wind because we just want to feel better.  We tire of the burdens we carry, the problems life throws at us, and throw our hands in the air.  Just do what feels good.  Sure, it may be a mistake.  But in the moment, we get a little relief.  And that makes it easy to ignore the consequences that will follow later.

It’s easy to become impatient with others when they live in a state of perpetual stupidity.  You just want them to grow up.  To get a grip.  Enough already.  They made their bed, now they can lay in it!

But we are called to a higher standard.  We are called to love those, even in their moments of stupidity. Even when bad choices consume their lives.  Even when they fall into a cycle of negative behavior.

The Bible commands us to be tenderhearted.  Patient.  Kind.  Gentle.  Have mercy on others.  Yes, even when enough is enough.  Even when they need to get a grip.  Even when they need to grow up.  We must love others through their times of struggle.  At times we may have to help them pick up the pieces of their broken lives.  The mess they’ve made.  It’s at those times it’s important to handle them with tenderhearted kindness.  Mercy.  Humility.  Gentleness.  And definitely patience.

After all, that’s exactly what the Father does for us. I’m sure He daily shakes His head in disbelief at my choices.  My thoughts.  And my actions.  Yet, He never washes His hands of me.  He picks me up, dusts me off, helps to put the pieces back together.  And even renews my heart and soul. His mercies are new every morning!

Let’s remember to treat others the way He treats us…. with compassion.  No, you can’t fix stupid. But you can love someone through it.  Pray them through it.  And show them God’s love through our care and love for them.

Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.   –Colossians 3:12

 

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Posted by on January 16, 2012 in Daily Devotions

 

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