Archive for January, 2010

Be a blessing!

Friday, January 29th, 2010

The phrase, “I just wanna be a blessing” has become a joke among us in the past few years. When I do something for someone else and they thank me, sometimes I make light of it by saying, “Oh you’re welcome. I just wanna be a blessing.” And they usually come back with the sarcastic answer of, “Oh you are!”

jesus-servingChrist has given us the mandate to be a blessing to others. He tells us that in order to be first in His kingdom, we must be last on the earth, and we must serve others. Serving others is not popular, and certainly has become an exception rather than a rule. For most of us, what is first and foremost on our hearts is Me, Me, Me, Me, Me! What is in this for me? What can I gain from this? What will I get out of it? Did anyone notice me? Me, Me, Me, I, I!

Not so in the kingdom of God.

“Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, ‘If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all’” (Mark 9:35).

I imagine this wasn’t a very popular subject for Jesus to broach with His disciples. The setting for this lesson was that the disciples were discussing who was the greatest among them. Jesus nipped that in the bud real quick! I’m sure they could’ve crawled under the table, or rock, or whatever was close by. Christ isn’t impressed with how impressed others are with us. He wants us to have a servant’s heart, putting ourselves last and others first. He wants us to be a blessing.

How are you doing with this? Be a blessing today and see how good it feels!

Have a great weekend – and if you’re in the radar for a Winter Storm – enjoy!

Hope

The Twelve Tribes of Israel

Friday, January 29th, 2010

Oh Father, Your word is so powerful! You have blessed my heart over this last week through the stories of Jacob and Joseph! Joseph – “Prince among his brothers!” What an amazing example of faithfulness through intense persecution! The thread You have woven through Your word is incredible – it is all there – blessings for obedience, cursings for disobedience, the sovereignty of Your time and Your ways, the fulfillment of each and every prophecy down to the smallest detail – You aren’t missing anything, are You, Lord? Nothing! Oh Father, it is almost funny how perfect You are! We will reap what we sow – You have told us so! It will all come to pass just as You have written.

 

It seems like Father that when we just read pieces and bits of Your word, we miss some of its power. And little fulfillments of Your plan and purpose go right over our heads But when we take the time to digest much of Your word and read the stories in whole, as You have written them, we glean even more of Your truth.

 

I want to remember some of the powerful things You have taught me through Joseph’s story this week. I don’t think I ever stopped to ponder before that his mother died when he was only 17 years of age. His mother, Rachel, the chosen and loved wife of Jacob dies in childbirth while giving birth to Joseph’s only full blooded brother, Benjamin. Jacob had worked for Laban for 7 years to obtain Rachel’s hand in marriage and after those 7 years, Laban tricked Jacob and gave him Leah, the oldest, to be Jacob’s wife. But Jacob loved Rachel and agreed to work another 7 years for her hand in marriage.

 

Rachel, Jacob’s love, was barren but Leah began giving Jacob sons – the twelve tribes of the nation of Israel – Reuben, Simeon, Levi and Judah. Rachel’s heart was broken and she decided to help You give her a son. (Oh, how many times I “help You out!”) So she gave her handmaiden, Bilhah, to Jacob so Bilhah could have sons for her. Bilhah did and those sons were Dan and Naphtali. Well, Leah comes back into the picture and decided that was a good idea since she wasn’t bearing any more sons and gave her handmaiden, Zilpah, to Jacob. The plot thickens! Zilpah has Gad and Asher! That must have relieved some of Leah’s tension because afterwards she was able to bear Jacob two more sons – Issachar and Zebulun. Now Jacob had 10 sons! And then the scripture says, “Then God remembered Rachel; He listened to her and opened her womb. She became pregnant and gave birth to a son and said, “God has taken away my disgrace. She named him Joseph, and said, “May the Lord add to me another son.” He did, and the other son was named Benjamin! Born as Rachel took her last breaths on this earth! No wonder Jacob treasured the sons born to Rachel – what a journey to even get to their births! You aren’t missing any of our journeys, are You?

 

Your timing is perfect – as are Your ways – and You will accomplishment and bring forth in right season that which You have ordained! 

 

Oh Father, as I go to study Your word about Noah’s journey with a friend now – speak loudly to our hearts in Jesus name, Amen!

The journey is too much for you…

Thursday, January 28th, 2010

mountain-top1In 1 Kings 19 we find that Elijah was very weary from the battle and many were out to kill him. He hid in a cave, exhausted and spent. An angel appeared and told him that the journey was too much for him to handle on his own, he needed to eat and drink to regain strength. Later God called him to go to the top of the mountain, for He (the Lord) was going to pass by. You can read all of this in 1 Kings 19.

What encouragement this passage has been to me today! And it reminded me of one of our faithful friends that reads our devotionals every day. Just a couple of weeks ago she emailed and asked me where the scripture is that says God never puts more on us than we can bear. She and I together decided that sounds good and is used very often, but there is no scripture to back it. Now with this discovery in 1 Kings 19, it is confirmed that in fact sometimes our journey is too much for us. It is then that we must go to a quiet place and spend time one-on-one with the Lord. He will pass by and He will renew our strength.

Is the journey that the Lord has placed you on too much for you? Stop trying to fix it or figure it out. Take a respite from the journey and spend some quiet time with your Father.

“The angel of the LORD came back a second time and touched him and said, ‘Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you.’ So he got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God. There he went into a cave and spent the night. And the word of the LORD came to him: ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’ He replied, ‘I have been very zealous for the LORD God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, broken down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.’ The LORD said, ‘Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by’” (1 Kings 19:7-11).

Hope

A breath of fresh air…

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010

I love how the Lord works! This morning, after a very discouraging night of basketball and a sleepless night for Clay and myself as we wrestle with what to do and not to do, I sat at the breakfast table, opened my Bible and asked the Lord to please give me a Word for the day! We are in Psalm 23 tonight in our Ladies Bible Study, so I decided to go there this morning. I needed to see God as Relational. Here’s the Word He gave me…

“He restores my soul” (Psalm 23:3).

I glanced over at The Message version and said, “Aaahh” as I read…

“He lets me catch my breath” (Psalm 23:3 The Message).

catching-your-breathI cried as I poured my heart out to Him! I let Him know right quick that I’m fully aware this journey is not complete, I know there are still two weeks left of the season! I know that while Caleb is handling everything so well that it must be eating away at him. I know this particular trial will not end before February 12th. And I went on to tell the Lord that I am so uncertain about things with Hannah’s Hope Ministries. Am I “executive directing” in the right direction? Am I following His lead? This journey, while very rewarding, brings with it its own uncertainties. But Lord, I need to catch my breath! I need a breath of fresh air today!

Mid-morning Alexia called and asked if I had lunch plans. I did, but offered to change them if she needed me. She asked if I would attend a meeting with her and three gentlemen who are planning the National Day of Prayer in May. I rearranged some things and at 12:00 noon the Lord answered my prayer. He allowed me to catch my breath! It was a great meeting and those three godly men are so tender to Alexia’s role at Carolina Pregnancy Center. Close to the end of the meeting Mr. Hugh asked me about Hannah’s Hope and how we’re doing financially, etc. I opened up and said far more than I had planned but all three of them were so tuned in to me, and suddenly I found that they are tender to our ministry as well! Then they offered to gather around Alexia and me and pray for the ministries and our roles in them. Oh my, did I ever receive a breath of fresh air! God is so good and He is awesome in this place! I floated out of that room when the meeting was over and am still breathing that fresh air now 3 hours later.

What about you? Are you weary on your journey? Do you need the Lord to let you catch your breath? Tell Him! Ask Him for a breath of fresh air! Don’t expect Him to remove from the journey, just ask for a moment to catch your breath. He is so faithful! Inhale, and enjoy the breath of fresh air!

Hope

Through it all you saw me…

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

As I was praying for a sweet, sweet friend this morning who is battling depression the Lord brought to my mind the name that Hagar gave to Him. She gave to God the name, “The God Who Sees Me.” Hagar was broken and lonely and in a state of despair and God spoke to her heart and reminded her that He is fully aware of where she is and what she’s going through. He is the God Who sees me.

This morning I was listening and singing again the song, When I Cry and was not surprised to hear this same phrase.

waters-ragingYou’re the one who calmed the raging sea
You’re the one who made the blind to see
You looked through all of heaven and eternity
And through it all you saw me

Yes, God spoke the worlds into existence. He calmed the raging sea. He made the blind to see and the dumb to talk and the dead to rise. Through it all He saw me. As I prayed for my little friend, I prayed for myself as well that I will be very aware of and comforted by the God Who sees me. Thank you, Father that you’re not too busy twirling the earth around on its axis, and making the clouds produce rain, and the earth to quake, and the sun to shine, and the birds to chirp, and the winds to blow, to see me and be fully aware of my situation. Through it all you saw me.

“She gave this name to the LORD who spoke to her: ‘You are the God who sees me,’ for she said, ‘I have now seen the One who sees me’” (Genesis 16:13).

Thank you for speaking to me this morning, Lord. You are the God Who sees me - through it all.

Hope

When I cry…

Monday, January 25th, 2010

I’ve been listening to a song by Marshall Hall with the Gaither Vocal Band and have had it on my mind for a week. Here are just a few of the lyrics…

jesus-crying3When I cry, You cry
When I hurt, You hurt
When I’ve lost someone
It takes a piece of You, too
And when I fall on my face
You fill me with grace
‘Cause nothin’ breaks Your heart
Or tears You apart
Like when I cry

I can so relate to this song! Although my love for Caleb could never compare to the love that God has for us, I know exactly what this song is saying. I only remember two times in Caleb’s life when he cried really hard from a broken heart, and both times tore my heart out. The first was when he was five years old and I sat him on the counter in the kitchen of my sister, Carla’s house and told him that we would not be living with his daddy anymore. He was very smart at age 5 and he knew something was up. He didn’t ask questions, he didn’t argue, he just cried. And all I could do was pull him up against me and cry with him.

And then 9 years later when he was cut from the 8th grade basketball team. Caleb didn’t make the 7th grade team and while he was disappointed, he was DETERMINED to work on his skills and make the 8th grade team. Every day of try outs he came home so excited that he scored the most points, he finished first in the drills, oh how excited he was! And we were excited for him! But on the last day of cuts he came out of the school and I could tell as he walked across the parking lot he could hardly hold back the tears. I was absolutely sick for him. Clay was out of town, out of the country actually so I couldn’t pick up the phone and call him for wisdom or pointers for counseling. I was on my own with this one. We got home and Caleb went upstairs. I called his name a couple of times and when he didn’t answer I walked up to his room and there he was lying face down across the bed, crying. This coming from a kid whom I had not seen cry in a very, very long time. I stood there for a minute trying to think of what I could possibly say that would make him feel better, that would heal his little broken heart. I realized that this was not the time to pull out the “God has a plan and a purpose for your life” or “Everything happens for a reason” or “God is growing you and wants to use this trial to build character.” As an adult I knew he’d get over it and life would go on but for a 14 year old, this was major stuff. Instead of saying anything I walked across the room, crawled on the bed beside him and did all I could do, I put my head on his back and hugged him up close and I cried as hard as he cried.

And still 4 years later nothing tears me apart more than for Caleb to hurt. Recently there have been lots of opportunities for me to shed tears for him. I haven’t seen Caleb cry over his current situation on the basketball team, but I’ve seen his down-trodden expressions, I’ve watched his shoulders slump and his blood pressure rise, Clay and I have voiced concerns about his discouraged demeanor while on the bench. And I can tell you that if I dwell on it long, I cry and I hurt ’cause NOTHING tears me apart like when Caleb hurts.

God loves you. When you cry, He cries. When you hurt, He hurts. When you’ve lost someone it takes a piece of Him too. When you mess up and fall on your face – He fills you with grace. ‘Cause nothing breaks His heart or tears Him apart like when you cry.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lnKD8ktFnBc

“When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. ‘Where have you laid him?’ he asked. ‘Come and see, Lord,’ they replied. Jesus wept. Then the Jews said, ‘See how he loved him!’ (John 11:33-36).

Hope

Who was, and is, and is to come!

Friday, January 22nd, 2010

Oh how I needed the reminder of the truth of Revelation Song today! Here are just a few of the words…

sun-in-cloudsHoly, Holy, Holy
Is the Lord God Almighty
Who was, and is, and is to come
With all creation I sing:
Praise to the King of Kings!
You are my everything,
And I will adore You…!

I cannot sing this song without raising my hand and worshiping Him! At the end of a looooooong week with Clay out of town, basketball drama intensifying, scholarships to apply for, house and dog to take care of, I am feeling the stress! I so needed to do what I did – and that was google this song and just sit and listen to it. He is holy, holy, holy - yet He loves me! He was the God of Jacob, He is our God, and He is the God for all that is to come. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. Nothing, absolutely nothing, happens to us but what it filters through His mighty, holy hands first. He is so in tune with my life. When am I gonna get it?

I am so thankful that I serve the God Who was, and is, and is to come! He has always been and He always will be. He’s not going away. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to me but I’m not leaning on my sense. Here are a few more words…

Jesus, Your Name is Power
Breath, and Living Water
Such a marvelous mystery

He is our Power, our Breath, our Living Water! While it’s a mystery, it is a marvelous mystery. Click on this link and allow the cares of today to be pushed to the back burner while you worship Him for being Who was, and is, and is to come!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ZUTt8XINPY

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come” (Revelation 4:8).

We’re having an Open House with Carolina Pregnancy Center this Sunday afternoon from 1:15 – 3:00. Please drop by! 109 Metro Drive – We’d love to see you!

Hope

The Blessings of Praying Together!

Friday, January 22nd, 2010

Father, You have reminded me this week of the privilege, beauty and importance of corporate prayer – praying together with brothers and sisters of like mind! Oh Father, we gain such strength when we pray with others. Certainly it is no wonder that You said in Your word, “Where two or three are gathered in My name, there I am in the midst of them.” Matthew 18:20. Oh Father, You just continue to write upon my own heart the importance of praying together. I received a phone call early one morning this week from a precious sister in Christ just expressing her desire to be able to verbally – out loud – pray to You. She is praying in her heart, she is praying through her writing but feels as if there is a missing element in her prayer life as she carries burdens to big to shoulder alone. We prayed together on the phone and it was such a blessing to hear her pour out her heart to You.

 

You bring to mind three of the reasons it is so important for us to pray together through what I learned from Miles McPhearson at the MIT event I attended earlier this year. 

 

1. Corporate prayer offsets corporate opposition – Ephesians 6:10-20 says “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. . . . And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.” We are in spiritual warfare and corporate prayer offsets corporate opposition.  Oh Father, we don’t really understand the battle we find ourselves in, do we? A battle against rulers, authorities, powers of this world, spiritual forces of evil. Certainly those evil forces are united. We need each other – there is great strength when we stand arm in arm, shoulder to shoulder in the battle.

 

2. Corporate prayer ensures comprehensive prayer - I Corinthians 2:9 – “It is written, No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him.”  Oh Father, You desire to accomplish much through our prayers, through our lives on this earth – more than we can conceive of – not only in this world but in the world to come! And Father, You use others of like mind and spirit to teach us even as we pray together. It is such a blessing for someone else to beautifully voice exactly what you were thinking but have been unable to put into words. It is such a blessing to hear another from the body of Christ petition You on my behalf or on behalf of my children and loved ones. How powerful that is!

 

3. Corporate prayer empowers the person praying – Galatians 6:2,10 – “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.” Oh Father, You strengthen us, You empower us and make us bolder as we pray together. Who is going to pray for my encouragement in the battle if I am always praying alone? We are a people dependent on each other – we have been created for fellowship! “Praise our God, O peoples, let the sound of His praise be heard.” Ps. 66:8

And  Father, You remind me again this morning through the life of Job that is was through his prayers for his friends that You began the process of restoration and healing in his own life. Job’s prayers released Your blessings over his life. “After Job prayed for his friends, the Lord made him prosperous again and gave him twice as much as he had before.” Job 42:10 Prayer – communication with our Heavenly Father – is so powerful! Father, I know that You have brought much and great healing to my own heart through praying with and for other people. I have said many times, that if You will give me at least one person a day to pray with everyday for the rest of my life, I think I will be okay!

 

Free us to speak to You together, Lord! Free us from our “politically correct prisons” that somehow make us feel uncomfortable to speak to You aloud together! Let our words and supplications to You be as natural as our conversations with those we speak with all the time. “Set me free from my prison that I may praise Your name. Then the righteous will gather about me because of Your goodness to me.” Psalm 142:7

 

Oh Father, thank You for times of prayer with other believers. Thank You for the people You have brought into my life to pray with and the blessing we each receive every time we come to You together in prayer! Thank You for the way You cover and get rid of our sin and ourselves as we pray together – we can’t harbor things against those we pray with. Thank You for the bond that we experience through prayer that is a little taste of the bond we will experience eternally in heaven with You!

 

Father, I can’t imagine that there is not much corporate prayer going on right now in the country of Haiti. Oh Father, I am certain the believers are crying out to You together – crying out for You to reveal Yourself in amazing ways through these earthquakes. You have reminded me again, even through Job, that every bit of suffering we walk through, Your heart and desire is that we come to know You in a new and deeper way. Oh Father, reveal Yourself and Your presence to precious souls in the country of Haiti. Use this tragedy to bring many to an understanding of who You are! In the name of Jesus, we pray together, Amen.  

 

Father, I have been so blessed and encouraged by listening to John Piper’s poems on Job this week – “The Misery of Job and the Mercy of God.” If they could be of blessing to someone else, here is the web adress:


http://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceLibrary/OnlineBooks/ByTitle/2441_The_Mise
ry_of_Job_and_the_Mercy_of_God/

 

 

 

 

 

I’m glad I’m in the ark!

Thursday, January 21st, 2010

noahs-arkI’m not doing this devotional because of all the rain we’re getting in Spartanburg today, although it is quite appropriate! This morning during our prayer time, our “Still prayin’ in Cowpens!” partner, Di, said in a prayer, “I’m glad I’m in the ark!” We loved that! By the time we said Amen an hour and half later we all had something to say about being in the ark.

You know, this world is a big ole mess. There are waters of disappointment flooding all around us. There are waters of discouragement, heart breaks, unfair treatment, sin, sickness, death, the list goes on and on. The waters are high and sometimes it feels as though they will sweep over us. But as Believers of Christ, we are in the ark! And we are safe! We will not be overtaken! We may be hurt now and then and we may get tossed to and fro from the storms, but the ark will not be overturned.

Di ended her prayer with, ”And I’m not getting off the ark until I enter the portals of heaven.” Woo Hoo!! When that door swings open on the ark, we will step off into our heavenly home where there will be no more crying, no more pain, no more death, no more fiery darts from the evil one! Woo Hoo! I’m glad I’m on the ark!

“Let the beloved of the LORD rest secure in him” (Deuteronomy 33:12).

How about you? If you’re on the ark, rejoice! You are resting secure with the Lord! If you haven’t accepted Christ, do so – then you can be glad you’re in the ark as well!

Hope

Something’s just not right…

Wednesday, January 20th, 2010
img_0565

Here I am!

I’ve had my hair cut 4 inches in the last few weeks, last week being the most recent sheering. Since that cut the crown has not wanted to do what it’s supposed to do. Something’s just not right with it. I thought about waiting another 4 weeks until my next appointment but decided if I did that my hair would really be a mess and totally out of control. So I called my hairdresser today and the receptionist said to drop by and Ashley would fix it. When I arrived Ashley was at the front desk and said, “Hey, Hope. What’s up?” I answered, “Something’s just not right with my hair” and I showed her what I was talking about. A section just wanted to flop. I hate it when that happens! But in all the years I’ve gone to Ashley I’ve never had to go back in and fix anything. She knew there must be a problem. She ran her hands through my hair and immediately said, “Yep, it’s too heavy on top. I missed it.” She sat me in a chair, wrapped the apron thingy around me right quick, took the scissors and comb and in less than a minute I was good to go!

So it is with our spiritual life. We need to be so aware of our spiritual condition that when something’s just not right, we immediately call the Master and allow Him to trim us up! Don’t kill time and ignore the problem, it’ll only intensify if we do. He’ll take His spiritual scissors, the Word, and He’ll snip off whatever doesn’t need to be there that is causing us to be burdened down or ineffective. It won’t take any time at all for Him to do it, either. So be on top of it! As soon as you sense a problem, take it to the Master and nip it in the bud!

“Test me, O LORD, and try me, examine my heart and my mind” (Psalm 26:2).

“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23-24).

Hope