Archive for March, 2012

Tell your “survival” story…

Thursday, March 29th, 2012

I asked God last night and again this morning to give me a good “word” for my web friends today. He did, but not in the way I would have chosen.

I’ve shared the verse below with you before. And after counseling a friend for an hour and a half this morning, crying with her, loving on her, laughing with her, crying some more, and breaking down after she went her way and crying my heart out to the Lord for her, I was quickly reminded of this verse. And you know what that means, if I need to be reminded I assume you need to be reminded too.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God” (2 Corinthians 1:3 & 4).

God does not bring us through our troubles so that we can collapse in the recliner, throw our head back and our feet up, and through a deep sigh of relief say, “Whew! Praise the Lord I survived that!” While it’s okay to do a celebratory collapse, the purpose of God’s comfort through any hard time is not so we can survive, but so that we can comfort someone else going through a similar storm.

A good friend called me last week and asked me to pray for her husband because he was considering sharing their story of 17 years ago. It was going to be hard and he wasn’t sure he wanted to do it. I encouraged her to encourage him to do it. I told her that he never knows who in the room is walking through their own private similar valley. He shared it. And this morning I hear from my friend who was in that room that sure enough is now facing the same storm, and she was deeply moved and encouraged by his testimony. I’m so glad my friend told his survival story!

Do you have a survival story? Please don’t keep it to yourself. Don’t have the opinion that because you’ve come out on the other side of the storm it never needs to be talked about again. God comforted you – not to make you comfortable, but to make you a comforter. Tell your survival story. Be a witness that God is faithful and His grace is sufficient and He will never leave us nor forsake us and that His ways are not our ways and His thoughts are not our thoughts but He has a plan and a purpose for all we go through. Someone needs to hear your survival story. Allow God to use you to comfort someone else.

Hope

Throw some scripture at the devil…

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

This week’s First Place 4 Health Bible Study is on temptation. Is it by chance that the very first sin had to do with food? Eve was tempted by the tree of good and evil – food. When Jesus went away to the desert and God allowed Him to be tempted, the first temptation Satan through at Jesus was food. These two truths have really struck a chord with me this week. We humans really do put a lot of weight (pardon the pun) in what we eat, when we eat, how much we eat, and how often we eat. So of course Satan will use something that is important to us to tempt us. Jesus feels our pain. He had fasted for forty days – I imagine He was quite hungry. But He did not give in when Satan tempted Him to turn the stone to bread. Lust of the flesh, wow we could go in a lot of directions with that. It covers far more than just hunger for food. It’s a longing to satisfy desires that are unhealthy. Ever been tempted with the lust of the flesh? So was Jesus. But Jesus did not give in to the lust of the flesh. Instead, He threw some scripture at the devil. 

The next temptation Jesus was faced with was the lust of the eyes. Satan took Jesus to a high place and showed Him all the kingdoms and their splendor – offering it all to Jesus if He would worship him. Have you ever been tempted by something that looked appealing, something that looked better than what you have? So was Jesus. But Jesus didn’t cave to that either. Instead, He threw some scripture at the devil.

And the last temptation Satan tried Jesus with was pride. He tried to convince Jesus to test the angels that keep watch over Him by throwing Himself off a mountain so that the angels would catch Him. Then He could brag about His accomplishments, brag about how important He is. Have you ever been tempted with pride? Ever felt self-accomplished? Ever been tempted to believe that you are better than others, that you have all you have because of your own efforts, disregarding God’s hand at work in your life? So was Jesus. But Jesus didn’t fall for that either. Instead, He threw some scripture at the devil.

Some could say, “Of course Jesus didn’t succumb to temptation. He’s Jesus! God on foot.” But Jesus was 100% human while on this earth. He became one of us so that He could relate to us. He was ever bit as human as we are, yet He did not sin. How did He do it? He knew the scriptures and He claimed them and He clung to them. And when necessary, He threw them at the devil.

Next time you’re tempted to give in to the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, or the pride of life, throw some scripture at the devil. He doesn’t stand a chance against the Word of God. And us? We stand EVERY chance with the Word of God.

“Because He [Jesus] Himself suffered when He was tempted, He is able to help those who are being tempted” (Hebrews 2:18).

Hope

God’s Word on the subject…

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

Tonight’s Revival message by Evangelist James Croft still has me “wowed.” The part of his testimony that he shared was raw and very personal, and God used it in an amazing way. James took us to Jeremiah 29 from The Message. What does God have to say about us being in a very difficult place? Perhaps depression, perhaps a divorce, perhaps the death of a loved one, perhaps an unexpected illness, perhaps the loss of a job, perhaps the brokenness of a relationship you hold dear. I probably won’t write a whole lot in this devotional, I won’t need to. God’s word paraphrased in The Message is very clear on the subject of untimely fierce storms in our lives.

I share the following verses with you. Please, please allow the Lord to speak directly to you through His Word. I don’t know what or where your Babylon is, but I can promise you that God knows you’re there and He will deliver you. In His time.

“This is God’s Word on the subject: ‘As soon as Babylon’s seventy years are up and not a day before, I’ll show up and take care of you as I promised and bring you back home. I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for. When you call on me, when you come and pray to me, I’ll listen. When you come looking for me, you’ll find me. Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you won’t be disappointed.’ God’s Decree. ‘I’ll turn things around for you. I’ll bring you back from all the countries into which I drove you’—God’s Decree—’bring you home to the place from which I sent you off into exile. You can count on it.’” (Jeremiah 29:11-14 The Msg).

Wow.

Hope

You love me anyway…

Monday, March 26th, 2012

There is no way we can start to fathom why or how much Jesus loves us. It makes absolutely no sense that He would. I love the song You Love Me Anyway...

I am the thorn in your crown
But You love me anyway
I am the sweat from Your brow
But You love me anyway
I am the nail in Your wrist
But You love me anyway

Everything Jesus went through from the beatings to the mocking to the crown of thorns to the nails to the cross to the sweat drops of blood to death was for me and you. Had it not been for sin, He would not have had to go through it. I am the thorns in His crown, I am the nails, I am the sweat from His brow. But He loves me anyway. It was for me and for you that He died. He couldn’t stand the thoughts of being eternally separated from us, so He gave all in order for us to have it all. What a Savior.

“But he was wounded for the wrong we did; he was crushed for the evil we did. The punishment, which made us well, was given to him, and we are healed because of his wounds” (Isaiah 53:5 NCV).

Hope

Buoyed by reality…

Friday, March 23rd, 2012

I had THE BEST quiet time this morning! Today’s FP4H study is on God’s grace. I could spend the day there! Oh wait, I DO spend the day there – and so do you! The study takes us to many scriptures of God’s saving grace, His keeping grace, His redeeming grace. Grace for every area, every phase of our life. Ate something you shouldn’t have? There’s grace for that. And on a much larger scale (pardon the weight pun) – there’s grace there too! Never accepted Christ? There’s grace for that. A Christian but facing temptations? There’s grace for that. A Christian and caved to temptation and carrying the guilt? There’s grace for that.

The closing prayer for today’s study is beautiful. “Dear Father, help me to live today buoyed by the reality of what You’ve done in my life.” Is that not AWESOME!?! Maybe you’re in one of the following places in your life, or as Di puts it, in one of these shapes. Let’s do a little Reality Check, and I’ll do this in first person. How in the world can I possibly stay afloat after all the mistakes I’ve made? I’m buoyed – anchored, kept afloat – by the reality that God’s grace has that covered. How in the world can I keep from going under with all the guilt that threatens to take me down? I’m buoyed – anchored, kept afloat – by the reality that God’s grace has that covered. How in the world can I keep from throwing my hands up in despair after all the bad things that have happened to me? I’m buoyed – anchored, kept afloat – by the reality that God’s grace has that covered. How can I possibly face another day? I am sinking in depression, despair, loneliness, anger, grief. I’m buoyed – anchored, kept afloat – by the reality that God’s grace has ALL that covered.

And we can’t miss one key component of this prayer. “Dear Father, help me to live today buoyed by the reality of what You’ve done in my life.” Today – we’re only asking Him for today. No need to worry about or fret over how to get through tomorrow. We only have to survive this day. We just need to get through the next thing, the next meeting, the next hour, the next minute! God’s grace is sufficient and it is divvied out based on the immediate need not by the week or the month or the year or the life time. He WILL get you through this day. Be buoyed – anchored, kept afloat – by the reality of what God has done already and is doing and will continue to do in your life. And before you know it you’ll be doing more than “surviving,” you’ll be thriving!

Grace, grace, God’s grace. Grace that is greater than all my sin!

I love this very familiar verse in the New Century Version…

“My grace is enough for you. When you are weak, my power is made perfect in you” (2 Cor. 12:9 NCV).

“God’s grace that can save everyone has come. It teaches us not to live against God nor to do the evil things the world wants to do. Instead, that grace teaches us to live in the present age in a wise and right way and in a way that shows we serve God” (Titus 2:11 & 12 NCV)

I hope all of you have a great weekend. I love this time of year. Spring is my favorite season – in spite of my allergies. Pass the Zyrtec, please!

Hope

We will serve our purpose…

Thursday, March 22nd, 2012

I drove to Di’s house this morning for our weekly prayer time, and as I crossed onto the last leg of Cannons Campground Road I noticed the row of trees on the left of the road were trimmed completely away on the back. The power line butts up to the trees and they are trimmed almost perfectly in order to not get in the way of the power. If you focus on the cut away part, they look quite weird actually. But once you get even with them you have no idea they’ve been pruned so drastically. The part of the trees that front the main road are full and beautiful and they provide a very nice shade as you travel down that section of the road. They had to be trimmed and pruned in order to serve their purpose.

If we focus on the areas of our lives that have been through the fire or the storms, the area that has been beaten up and battered by the weather, we will be discouraged by the view. But God has used each one of our hard times to prune away the unneeded areas of our lives, the part of our life that gets in the way of His Power. He has trimmed away a lot of “stuff” from my heart and life, and the pruning continues! He puts us through this painful process so that what’s left – the good stuff – will serve our purpose, and do so in a beautiful way.

Don’t focus on the pruned area of your life, concentrate on the spiritual growth that has taken and is taking place in your life. God knows what He’s doing, and you will serve your purpose.

“The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; your love, O LORD, endures forever— do not abandon the works of your hands” (Psalm 138:8).

Hope 

Tuned in…

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012

There is nothing more aggravating than when you’re listening to the radio and you get out of range. The static is so annoying. I know radios are almost a thing of the past (handheld ones at least) but sometimes there’s a need. The tanning bed I used to go to had radios in the rooms. I’d get the radio tuned just right, being very careful not to move the wrong way, and just as I’d get settled in the hot casket-like bed, the reception would go away. I had two choices, either continue tanning with the most annoying sound squawking in my ears, or push the 100 lb. hot casket-like lid up, climb out and find another station, get back in the now even hotter casket-like bed, lie down, and hope for the best. And then there’s the car radio. Another annoying moment when you’re really into a good song and suddenly klshkkkksshshhhhkkkkkkslskllkfkkkkkksllshhhssskkkkk – you’re out of range. Clay’s pretty good at tuning it out (pardon the pun) in hopes he’ll get back in range – especially when he’s listening to a ballgame. I usually put up with it as long as I can and then say something sarcastic like, “How’s that working for ya?” Reluctantly he’ll eventually see things my way and either turn the thing off or find a station within range.

Our relationship with the Lord can be much like that. If we’re not tuned in with the Lord, the static can be annoying. If we just half way tune in to His truths, we will get static from every direction. So many people, so many things, so many temptations, so many lies, are vying for our attention. We must tune it all out and tune in to what the Lord has to say. Keep your heart tuned in to His Word and His truths so that when the static of life tries to sneak in you won’t be distracted by it.

“Stay grounded and steady in that bond of trust, constantly tuned in to the Message, careful not to be distracted or diverted” (Colossians 1:22 The Msg)

Hope

The motive behind the ask…

Tuesday, March 20th, 2012

So many of the scriptures that we’re studying in First Place 4 Health have been about asking God for thing in faith. Scriptures like…

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you” (Matthew 7:7)

or

“If you believe, you will receive anything you ask for in prayer” (Matthew 21:22).

If you didn’t do your homework on these verses, you’d think that all you have to do is ask for anything, anything, and you’ll get it. But that’s not the case. God treats us just like we treat our children. The key is knowing Him intimately so you’ll know better than to ask for some things.

Caleb knows me very well. He’s lived with me for over 20 years, he’s spent countless hours with me, until he was middle school age we were inseparable. Caleb knows me, he knows how I think, he knows how I’ll react, he knows what I’m passionate about, he knows what doesn’t set well with me. He knows what to ask for and what not to ask for because he pretty much knows what I’ll say yes or no to. Why? Because I want what’s best for Caleb. I’m not gonna give him something just because he asks for it. It’s all about the motive behind the ask.

So it is with the Lord. If we know Him, really know Him, we pretty much know how He thinks. He wants what’s best for us. He’s not going to give us everything we ask for because that would not be in our best interest. So how do we know what to ask for and what not to waste our time with? We get to know God, our heavenly Father. Study His Word, pray to Him often. The better we know Him, the better we’ll know what to ask for. God knows the motive behind the ask. Make sure it’s a pure one.

Hope

 

Guilty I fall, forgiven I rise!

Monday, March 19th, 2012

Today has been a day of grace messages for me. They seem to pop up everywhere! My devotional this morning…

From the basin of His grace, our Savior scoops a palm full of mercy and washes away our sin. – Max Lucado

And then a Facebook friend posted these lyrics from Fountain of Life…

Guilty I fall, forgiven I rise.

Because of grace, no matter how many times guilt takes our feet out from under us, the blood of Jesus raises us to our feet forgiven – forgiven! And guilt can take our feet out from under us emotionally. We can be walking around having a good day, and from nowhere Satan throws guilt out in front of us and we hit the ground. I spent hours on the phone last night with a couple of individuals who are struggling. One in particular has a pretty good case to argue that she has been dealt a crappy hand in life. Her poor decisions have arguably contributed to some of her hard times, but a lot of them are out of her control. Oh if only she knew firsthand the grace and mercy of Jesus. I pray she will surrender to the Savior who can wash away all the sin, the pain, the hurt, the scars. My heart has been so heavy for her all day. Here is a small excerpt from today’s Grace for the Moment…

Our Savior kneels down and gazes upon the darkest acts of our lives. But rather than recoil in horror, He reaches out in kindness and says, “I can clean that if you want.” And from the basin of His grace, He scoops a palm full of mercy and washes away our sin.

Is that not beautiful? I cry again as I type it. Oh how He loves you and me! Without His basin of grace, I am filthy. In a heartbeat Satan can throw up my past mistakes and take my feet out from under me. But I’m here to testify that Jesus cleans us up and raises us up forgiven and set free!

I don’t have any idea where you are in your spiritual journey. I pray you’re walking hand in hand with this Savior who loves you so much. And I pray that you allow Him to dip into His basin of grace and clean you up on a regular basis. It’s yours for the taking, all you’ve gotta do is ask.

“The blood of Jesus, God’s Son, cleanses us from every sin” (1 John 1:7 NCV). Not some of our sin, not a good bit of our sin, not most of our sin – EVERY sin.

Guilty I fall, forgiven I rise!

Here’s an awesome video of Fountain of Life. Take a few minutes to watch it. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=umnjzH3HZH0

Hope

Rid me of myself…

Friday, March 16th, 2012

I have come to love my little iPod shuffle. I told you yesterday that I listen to music while I’m running. I find myself in a better frame of mind to worship when I’m out running by myself than I often am at church. Less distractions I guess. Yesterday I had a mini-Revival when Lead Me to the Cross came on. I’m just glad there was only an audience of one – me. Just me and the Lord (and the ducks.) Here are a few of the words…

Lead me to the cross where Your loved poured out

Bring me to my knees, Lord I lay me down

Rid me of myself, I belong to You

Lead me to the cross

As we approach the Easter season, let’s not get caught up in the eggs and bunny and miss the cross. What does Christ want His death on the cross to mean to me? He wants it to take me to my knees where I pour myself out. “Rid me of myself” – empty me of me. Even just a little bit of me is too much. Just a drop of me will get in the way of what the Lord wants to do in my life. I’m so guilty of allowing my own needs and wants and desires to control my emotions. If I allow the Lord to rid me of myself, then how can I get in the way?

Tomorrow morning I will run my first 5K. I have to say I’ve worked very hard. The Lord has allowed me to not miss one workout over 10 weeks. I’ve checked off every training session. Physically I’m ready. Mentally I’m psyched for it. So why have I been so anxious about it this afternoon? My stomach is in knots! It’s because I’ve never ran before in my life. This is all new to me and I know I’ll be running with a lot of seasoned runners. The thought of being out there acting like I know what I’m doing unnerves me. What if I stumble? What if I trip someone? What if I am too worn out to finish? What if I…? If you go back and read this paragraph and count the number of “I”s and “my”s and “me”s you’ll understand why I’m a nervous wreck. I’m depending on “me.” Total dependence on me will result in a total flop.

Dear Lord, I lay it all down. Rid me of myself and use me tomorrow to bring glory to You and You only!

“We know that our old life died with Christ on the cross so that our sinful selves would have no power over us…” (Romans 6:6).

“You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:22-24).

Pray for me!

Hope