Archive for July, 2008

He’s always around…

Thursday, July 31st, 2008

A friend shared with me this week that as she sat in church service on Sunday morning her heart was very heavy for her husband who has cancer. She said that as she was fighting back tears she bowed her head, rested her Bible in her lap and it fell open to Psalm 46. What perfect timing for the reminder that God is our refuge and strength! He is ever-present! This is a great tag to my update yesterday in that His big ole arms are always open waiting for us to run to them and hide from our troubles.

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1).

I like the ever-present part! We don’t have to wonder where God is or when He’s going to show up. He’s always around. There are times that we want to cry out, “God, where in the world are You!? Why can’t I feel Your presence? Why am I so burdened?” I’ve felt that way many times myself. But God is constantly aware of where we are and what we’re facing – He’s ever-present. All He wants us to do is recognize His presence and allow Him to carry us, to comfort us, to shield us.

Quite often my devotionals are random and I wonder why God prompts me to talk about certain subjects. It seems that lately our focus has been on burdens and cares and worries and heartaches and sicknesses and fears. Then I receive emails from some of you that tell me how timely a particular devotional is and I’m reminded that God knows exactly what He’s doing! I don’t need to wonder, I just need to obey.

Breathe a sigh of relief today…God’s always around to take care of you.

We leave this evening for our annual reunion with Clay’s extended family. I just love his aunts and cousins! We’re going to Natural Tunnel, VA for the weekend and I don’t know if there is cell service in that area. If there is, I’ll post a devotional. If you don’t hear from me, you’ll know why. Have a great day!

Hope

 

The shelter of His wings…

Wednesday, July 30th, 2008

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem…how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!” (Luke 13:34).

Oh, how the Lord longs to gather us into His arms, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings – but we’re not willing! All He wants to do is shelter us from the fiery darts of Satan, but we’re so stinkin’ independent that we think we can handle everything on our own. Why does He not just gather us anyway and make us stay under His wings? Because He created us with a free will and He allows us to make our own choices.

Imagine with me a loving, sovereign God spreading His arms and allowing the wings of His snow white robe to shelter us. If we’re under His wings, when a fiery dart comes our way all we have to do is turn and hide in the folds of His big ole wings. But if we’ve stepped out from under His wings by taking matters into our own hands and doing things our way or the highway, then we’re no longer sheltered and the darts pierce us painfully. Does this mean Satan can destroy us? Not if we’re Christians! Satan can never take us down, but he can make us feel like we’re spiraling downward at rocket speed! If we live our lives in our own will trusting our own judgements and decisions, then we will face much heartache, much oppression and we’ll feel defeated, even though we’re not. But if we’re in the shelter of His wings, those darts may come at us and we may get hit from time to time but we will not experience hopeless despair because we know that we are covered by His big strong arms.

What is the only stipulation for claiming your spot under His wings? Obedience. That’s the only requirement. Obedience secures our spot in the fold of His wings. And with obedience to His Word, there is great peace – even when the darts are coming faster than we can duck! We’ll feel pain but we will not feel despair. Outside of His wings, we’ll feel pain – and we’ll feel despair. If you’ve stepped out on your own, run back and claim your spot by obeying His truths. Oh the comfort in the shelter of His wings!

“He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart” (Psalm 91:4).

Hope

 

We’ll leave the light on for you…

Tuesday, July 29th, 2008

And I’m not referring to Motel 6! For those of us parents with older, fiercely independent children, we have to train ourselves to doze off while waiting for the child to come in at night. It’s so funny to hear my friends talk about this – how the dad goes to bed and snores with not a care in the world and we moms sleep with one eye open and one eye lazily closed until we know that our child is home, safe and sound. Only one time did I fall fast asleep before Caleb got home and that was last year when I was recouping from surgery. Caleb walked into the bedroom quietly and called my name and it scared me to death! As for leaving a light on for him, if Clay is responsible for “locking up” at night and Caleb isn’t in yet he absentmindedly closes the garage, locks all doors and turns off all the lights. I used to think it was a stepdad thing until I talked to several moms only to find out even some biological dads do that. Not me! I leave the spot lights on outside, garage door up, both locks on the kitchen door unlocked and the bright light in the kitchen burning until I know he’s home. I don’t do all of that just for his convenience. Mostly I do it so that he knows I’m expecting him and looking forward to his return.

Luke 12:35 tells us to keep our lamps burning in expectation of Christ’s return. The modern day phrase would be to leave the light on for Him. We are to be watchful, anticipating His return. He doesn’t expect us to pack our bags and sit on the front porch waiting on Him but He does want us to be on guard with our hearts and lives shiny and clean in preparation for the Master. Oh if each of us Christians lived our lives as if He was going to show up today, how much heartache we’d avoid!

Don’t get so comfortable in this life that His return startles you. Live your life this day as a promise to the Lord that you’ll leave the light on for Him – expecting Him anytime.

“Keep your lamps burning…” (Luke 12:35).

Hope

Sweet surrender…

Monday, July 28th, 2008

The Lord never ceases to amaze me. First of all, let me apologize for the late update. But the truth is I have to wait until the Lord confirms in my heart what I’m supposed to say. Sometimes it’s there when I wake up. Sometimes I just get busy and wait for it to hit me. It just hit me. As I was saying, the Lord never ceases to amaze me. Last night was our monthly visit to the Detention for Juvenile Justice and one of the young ladies poured her heart out to us. She is serving time for assault and battery, a 4 time repeat offender, because she is always getting in fights over her two children (she’s only 17). She says that she just can’t surrender her heart to the Lord because she’s not willing to give Him everything – she’s not willing to let Him have her children. That door swung wide open for me and yep, I waltzed right through. I was able to share my heart on the matter of who our children really belong to. Here is my story…

I have been a Christian since I was 8 years old. I’ve never felt like I needed to “sew wild oats,” nor have I ever been out of church. Have I lived above reproach? No, unfortunately I have not. But for most of my life I have sought to do God’s will and put Him first. However, one area that I shyed away from was saying, “God, please take Caleb and use Him in any way you see fit for your glory.” I was never able to completely give Caleb to the Lord for fear of what that might mean. I didn’t fear that Caleb may end up in Africa, although that would not be my first choice should he relocate. Rather I feared that God’s will for Caleb’s life may be to take him to heaven before He takes me. But Hannah’s journey with sarcoma taught me to trust the Lord completely. I came to realize that God has a plan and a purpose for each of us and He had our days numbered before we were formed in our mother’s womb. If you’re out there in www land and you were formed in your mother’s womb, raise your hand? That’s what I thought. All of us. So He has each of our days numbered. There is not one thing that can be accomplished by my holding on to Caleb and worrying myself silly over what could happen to him. In essence, our children do not belong to us. Deb has said that so many times. They belong to the Father and they are His to do with as He sees fit. Whether we agree or not. I shared all of this with that young lady and she heard me. I just hope she listened. If not, she’ll spend the rest of her life in and out of detention centers and eventually prisons. I guess I was in a prison of sort in that I was bound by fear for Caleb’s well being. I praise the Lord that I have been set free from the fear! Does that mean that I no longer pray for Caleb’s safety and well being? Absolutely not! I still pray that he outlives me and that I never have to experience the broken heart of a parent who lost their child. But I trust the Lord and know that His grace is sufficient – and He doesn’t need me to fight Caleb’s battles.

So this morning in my Jesus the One and Only study I was in Luke 12…and right there was the scripture for today.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” (Luke 12:22-25).

Worrying doesn’t accomplish a thing. It doesn’t buy us any time, it doesn’t increase our value, it doesn’t do a thing but cause ulcers. Experience the sweet sensation of surrendering your cares, whatever they may be, to the Father.

Hope

 

A sustaining strength…

Friday, July 25th, 2008
“Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall” (Psalm 55:22).

Notice in this verse that there is no promise that God will keep any cares or troubles or sorrows from coming our way. It says He will sustain us. I looked up “sustain” in the Merriam-Webster dictionary and here are a few of the definitions…

“to support the weight of; to carry; to bear under”

No matter how heavy the weight of our worries and fears, God will support that weight, He will carry us, He will bear underneath the load. There is comfort in knowing that His mighty hands are underneath the heavy load we often carry. With that in mind we realize that we will not fall under the weight. This verse promises that God will not allow the righteous to fall. There is nothing that Satan can throw at us that will take us under if we trust in the Lord, if we cast all our cares on Him. He is our sustaining strength.

I am at Dr. Corso’s office today and there are many that pass through this lobby who I’m sure feel that they may fall under the weight of their illness. But what hope we have in Christ! Our sustaining strength!

I hope you have a fun weekend. We are going to Bluefield, WV tomorrow for the 90th birthday celebration of Clay and Deb’s pastor from their childhood. I’m looking forward to meeting his family as I’ve heard much about them and they followed Hannah’s story so closely. Have a blessed day!

Hope

Claim what’s yours!

Thursday, July 24th, 2008

“The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law” (Deuteronomy 29:29).

God has given us His Word and it is ours forever. That’s why He exhorts us to hide it in our hearts because it’s ours to keep. No one can take it from us. Once it’s engrained on our hearts there is no snatching it from us. But we can’t just scan the pages of His Word and expect it to stick. We must study it. Now don’t freak out on me. You don’t have to memorize it, although if you have that talent then by all means do. But if you’re like me and it’s all you can do to remember what day of the week it is then at least read it and practice it. Be doers of the word, not just hearers (James 1:22).

It’s rather common for me to ask Caleb to do something and mysteriously enough it doesn’t get done. When I question him about it he says he didn’t hear me. I remind him that he mumbled affirmation of hearing me. He did hear me, he just didn’t listen to me. Are we guilty of doing that with God’s Word? Do we hear what He’s saying but let it go in one ear and out the other? Allow God to inscribe His truths on the tablet of your heart today. The truths that He reveals to us are ours forever! Claim what’s yours!

Hope

 

Take a minute to catch your breath…

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2008

The Psalm for today is Psalm 23. Many of us can probably quote those few verses. I read it today in The Message translation and verse 3 took on a whole new meaning.

“True to your word, you let me catch my breath and send me in the right direction” (Psalm 23:3 The Message).

“He restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake” NIV.

Oh how He wants us to slow down, take a minute to catch our breath and allow Him to send us in the right direction. I’m sure most of us spend much of our time rushing from one appointment, ballgame, meeting, family gathering, etc. to another and by the end of the day we’re physically and mentally exhausted. And I fear that quite often we realize that we’ve been going in so many directions that we’ve not accomplished much at all. Or even worse, we are headed in the wrong direction. The Psalmist reminds us that God restores our soul and guides us in the path of righteousness, He allows us to catch our breath and then sends us in the right direction. My visual of this verse is me running full speed ahead absolutely exhausted. I approach a crossroad with many paths going in various directions and suddenly I’m overwhelmed. I bend over resting my hands on my knees and gasp for breath until my heart rate slows to a normal beat and my breathing is not labored. Once I catch my breath I look up and suddenly the road that I’m to take is obvious and all the others are just winding paths of insignificance. That’s what God does for us when we allow Him to. He slows us down, allows us to catch our breath and then makes our path clear – sends us in the right direction.

Take a minute today to catch your breath…and see where God leads you.

Hope

 

Choose not to be distracted…

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2008

Martha and Mary are two sisters that I can relate to. They are opposite as night and day. While growing up my siblings and I had babysitters that were “old maid” twins and their names were Martha and Mary. I’m telling you their mother could not have named them more appropriately. Martha was always in a tizzy and was a bossy tail if I’ve ever seen one, and Mary was so meek and mild-mannered. I was scared to death of Martha! But I knew Mary was going to soothe any ills that Martha had inflicted. Martha was a great Christian lady with pure intentions. But she was always busy doing something and wanted us to be the same. My young perception was that she was a grouchy old lady. Mary, on the other hand, was so humble and sweet and loving, and she was never too busy to sit down and spend quality time with us. They seemed old as dirt then, 35+ years ago. They were probably only in their late 60s or early 70s but they seemed 100 at the time. They wore house dresses with aprons. Martha was plump and boisterous and Mary was thin and frail. Do you have the mental picture yet? Well, everytime I read about Martha and Mary in the Bible I have the visual of our little ole babysitters.

Let’s jump to the Bible characters. The book of John tells us that Jesus loved Martha and Mary and their brother, Lazarus dearly. You need to keep that in mind while we discuss this next part. When Jesus and his disciples were passing through this family’s village, Martha invited them to stay in their home. We can assume from this that Martha had the spiritual gift of hospitality. It did not ruffle her feathers one iota to have company drop in. But – the downside to that hospitality gift is that she felt like she had to be busy “preparing” constantly. When Jesus was reclining in the living room probably chatting with his dear friend Lazarus, Mary was sitting at His feet taking in everything He was saying. Martha kept running around like a chicken with her head cut off and she finally took it as long as she could. She stopped, probably put her hands on her hips and said, “Jesus, do you not care that I’m busy preparing all this food for you and Mary’s not doing anything? Make her get up and help me!” Jesus responded, “Martha, Martha, Martha.” Don’t you imagine He was shaking His head back and forth each time He said her name. Then He went on to tell her that she was awful busy fretting over lots of stuff, but Mary was doing what was important – and He pointed out that Mary chose the better activity. Keep in mind Jesus loved Martha so it was a reprimand through a heart of love. I’d say He was telling Martha, “Don’t sweat the small stuff.”

“As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, ‘Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!’ ’Martha, Martha,’ the Lord answered, ‘you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.’ (Luke 10:38-42) Emphasis mine.

Was Jesus telling Martha that it was not necessary to prepare and that serving was a waste of time? Not at all. Preparation is good, and serving is a must. But what He wanted her to see was how easy it is to be so distracted by doing good things, ministering for example, that she misses out on spending time with Him. Ouch! I imagine there are many times Jesus looks down from the throne of my life, shakes His head and says, “Hope, Hope, Hope. What you’re doing is an awful lot of stuff! But you’re distracted by those good deeds and you’re not choosing to spend quality time with Me. That’s what’s important.” Attending church “stuff” is important, serving in various areas of ministry is important, the many things we do on Sundays at church are good things, but none of these deeds can take the place of quality one-on-one time with Jesus. Sitting at His feet, learning from Him. Mary chose not to be distracted.

Hope 

Radiating His Glory

Monday, July 21st, 2008

Oh Jesus, You are continuing to teach me so much through Your word. I am amazed at the power and relevance of Your word. Early in the summer, You took me to the book of Exodus when I was teaching Bible School and You have continued to take me back to that book all summer long. Oh Father, if we only knew how much You desired to speak to us and lead and guide us by Your word, we would treasure Your word in a whole new way. There are so many truths in the chapters I have been reading that You are challenging me with.

Over and over You speak of Your glory and how You will show and display Your glory. So many times You said, “And I will gain glory. . . and they will know that I am the Lord when I gain glory.” “But I have raised you up for this very purpose, that I might show you my power and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” You desire to show Your glory and Your power so that we might know who You are!! You tell us in the 19th Psalm that the heavens are declaring the glory of God. You are showing us Yourself, Your power and Your glory all the time. And the purpose and reason is so that we might know who You are and who it is we are serving! Your glory is for our utmost good! We continually need to be gaining a higher view of who You are! We need a large view of our God! And when we gain a higher view of who You are, then everything else falls into proper perspective!

You want us to know You. Everywhere we look You are showing us Yourself so that we might know You! I have just read that the book of Exodus contains more miracles than any other Old Testament book. Why is that? Why did and why do You perform miracles? All through the book You continue to say, so that “they might know that I am the Lord.”

And so Lord, more than ever in my life, I desire to see Your glory displayed! I desire to see Your glory displayed through my life, through the life of the body of Christ at large, through our churches, through our schools, through our work places. We are desperate to see Your glory! Otherwise, we are just playing games. The world needs to see Your glory displayed in all the earth.

In chapter 14:31 the scripture says that “when the Israelites saw the great power the Lord displayed against the Egyptians, the people feared the Lord and put their trust in Him.” They had seen Your power, they had seen Your glory!

In chapter 33:11 You “spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend” and You promised to go with Moses and give him rest.” Moses told You he didn’t want to go anywhere You weren’t going to go with him. And You told him You would go. What an amazing promise from the Creator God of the Universe.

And then Moses asked You to show him Your glory. I believe You were pleased when Moses asked to see Your glory! You wanted him to see Your glory, just like You want me and everyone else to see Your glory!  And in Your mercy, You told Moses he could see Your glory, but he couldn’t see Your face. You were going to put him in the cleft of the rock and cover him with your hand until You had passed by.

Moses went up on the mountain with You and he was there for forty days and forty nights without eating bread or drinking water and You gave him the Ten Commandments. The scripture says “When Moses came down from Mt. Sinai with the two tablets of the Testimony in his hands, he was not aware that his face was radiant because he had spoken with the Lord. When Aaron and all the Israelites saw Moses, his face was radiant, and they were afraid to come near him. But Moses called to them; so Aaron and all the leaders of the community came back to him and he spoke to them. Afterward all the Israelites came near him, and he gave them all the commands the Lord had given him on Mount Sinai.

“When Moses finished speaking to them, he put a veil over his face. But whenever he entered the Lord’s presence to speak with Him, he removed the veil until he came out. And when he came out and told the Israelites what he had been commanded, they saw that his face was radiant. Then Moses would put the veil back over his face until he went in to speak with the Lord.”

Lord, that is so precious! I love that! It was like Moses removed that veil so that he could get every single bit of Your glory he could get while he was in Your presence! And then he protected that glory by covering his face when he went to the people. Now, Father, today You have made access through Your Son, Jesus, so that I might come into Your presence and look upon Your glory! I desire for my life to radiate Your glory! Yesterday morning Greg spoke about “The Residue of Glory!” I love that thought! May my life, my our lives as the body of Christ leave a residue of the Glory of our God to all of those around us! May it be so, even this day, in the name of Jesus I pray, Amen.

 

Unleashed for the Lord…

Monday, July 21st, 2008

Here we are, another Monday and I’m stealing thoughts from Pastor Danny’s sermon on Sunday. We continue our study of Mark. In Chapter 11 Jesus sent two of his disciples to the village ahead and instructed them to look for a donkey tied up at the entrance of the village, a donkey that had never been ridden. They were to untie the donkey and bring it to Jesus. The disciples did as they were instructed and people looking on asked why they were taking the donkey. They told them that the Lord needs it. The disciples spread their cloaks across the little colt and Jesus rode it into Jerusalem, with many ahead and behind him shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!”

That’s a great story but never until Danny brought it out yesterday had I considered the donkey. He was unleashed and used in a great way for the Lord. The Lord needs us, too! Danny wasn’t calling us donkies, nor am I calling you one! But if He can use a donkey, just think of what He can do through our lives! Danny posed the question for each of us to ponder, “Is my life unleashed for the Lord?” Then he listed a few things that we may be tied to and challenged us to unleash those things so that the Lord can use us.

Here are a few for you to consider…Are you tied to unforgiveness? Are you tied to an addiction? Are you tied to tradition? Are you tied to bitterness? Are you tied to unbelief? Untie whatever has you bound and bring it to Jesus. What freedom comes from being unleashed for the Lord!

“As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage and Bethany at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples, saying to them, ‘Go to the village ahead of you, and just as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ tell him, ‘The Lord needs it and will send it back here shortly.’ They went and found a colt outside in the street, tied at a doorway. As they untied it, some people standing there asked, ‘What are you doing, untying that colt?’ They answered as Jesus had told them to, and the people let them go. When they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks over it, he sat on it. Many people spread their cloaks on the road, while others spread branches they had cut in the fields. Those who went ahead and those who followed shouted, ‘Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest!’” (Mark 11:1-10).

Hope