Friday, January 30, 2009
I don't like conflict.
I don't like pain.
I don't like to be hurt.
I don't like knowing those I love are hurting.
I don't like uncertainty.
I don't like my world being turned upside down.
Yet Jesus said, "In this world you WILL have tribulation."
Well, isn't that comforting!
No, but the rest of his statement is: "But be of good cheer, for I HAVE OVERCOME THE WORLD."
Our suffering has a purpose. It is to purify us as we are tried in the furnace of affliction. Just as a silversmith must return the ore to the fire many times to remove the dross, so we must go through trials and tribulations in order to transform us to the image of His Son.
Do you know how a silversmith knows when the silver is finally refined?
When he can see his reflection in it.
Yes, suffering is painful and none of us would rush to sign up for it. Yet, we must remember it is for a reason. II Corinthians 4:17 says "For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory".
If you are suffering today, if you are in the midst of a trial or conflict, ask God that HE might be glorified in it, that you might cooperate with Him in his eternal purposes and that He would be your strength through it.
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Ice has caused numerous accidents on roadways, thousands are without power on a VERY cold day, and many schools are closed to the jubilation of teachers and kids alike.
Funny how something so beautiful can be so deadly. Kind of like sin, isn't it? I will never forget the country song that said "I never knew the Devil had blue eyes and blue jeans." He appears as an angel of light, but brings with him nothing but death and darkness.
Sin can be so insidious. It can seem so right, so rational, so perfect...til it entraps us and takes us down. Eve bit hook, line and sinker. She listened to the voice of the enemy contradicting everything God has told her. Yet her desire to "be like God" overcame her desire to please Him. That is the case for sin every time. We want to be in control...not God!
Don't let sin overtake you. Be aware of the enemy's tactics. He is a liar. He has come for one purpose and one purpose only...to steal, to kill and to destroy!!
Keep your eyes on JESUS today. Remember, it's all about HIM. We are here for one purpose...and one purpose only...to glorify Him. Let that be the driving focus of your day today...to glorify the King.
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
If you are a woman living in the Memphis area, make plans now to attend REDEMPTION 2009!!! It's going to be an awesome event.
If you want to see the power of God move upon a city....DO NOT MISS THIS!
If you have never heard Priscilla Shirer....DO NOT MISS THIS!
If you want to see your city transformed for Christ....DO NOT MISS THIS!
If you want to see lives changed.....DO NOT MISS THIS!
If you want to have your batteries recharged.....DO NOT MISS THIS!!!!!!!!!!
Monday, January 19, 2009
Yesterday our Sunday School class (aka Connecting Points class) learned that a former member of our class had taken his life on Saturday night. His death was like a kick in the stomach for those in our class who knew him. No one could understand how this could happen. One said "I know he had at least 100 people that he could have called for help, and I am one of them". But...sadly he did not call. Why? Because it would have meant being real and not many want to do that.
Why do you think that is? I pondered that yesterday.
I believe it is because most adults carry with them a load of baggage brought with them from childhood and added to as they move throughout their adult lives. Hurts, offenses, wounds so deep that they have never spoken of them to a living soul, and wouldn't dare.
Max Lucado wrote a childrens book called YOU ARE SPECIAL. In this book, the lead character, Punchinello, can never earn a gold star, but instead only receives gray dots every time he messes up. He is covered with the dreaded gray dots! Soon he is so weighted down with the dots that he is totally hopeless.
Our churches are full of Punchinellos, all weighted down with their own personal load of gray dots. The dots have been accumulating since childhood. Some dots are larger than others. Some weigh more. Some people have more dots than others and those who have the most sometimes just can't bear the weight of those dots any more.
The only difference in us and Punchinello is that his dots are visible, ours are not. Most adults carry their dots in total silence. Oh they may reveal one or two, just so that others know a little about them. Or, if they feel really safe in a Bible study or class, they might even reveal a few really weighty ones. But no one ever reveals them all.
In Punchinello's case, however, he found a solution. The solution was found in a visit to the woodcarver. The woodcarver had created Punchinello. He loved him. When Punchinello realized that the only one that really mattered was the one who had created him, the horrid dots began to fall away. One by one as he received the woodcarver's love, the dots began to disappear. As he basked in the love and care of the kind woodcarver, he found that the dreaded dots that were hurled at him from others no longer stuck. Why? Because now he lived not to please his fellow townspeople who really didn't care about him anyway, but he lived to please the woodcarver and him alone.
God is our creater...our "woodcarver". He alone knows us totally. He knows it all! There is nothing that is hidden from him. We are fearfully and wonderfully made and while we were "yet in secret" He knew us. So with him we can shed our masks. We can "get real" with God! Stop pretending. He is not impressed or fooled. You may not get real with another living soul, but you can get real with Him. And I guarantee you if you do, if you pour your heart out to Him, He will be there, He will help you, He will give back to you what the dots have robbed you of. He will love you unconditionally and forever !
So....what are you waiting for? GET REAL with God today!
Saturday, January 17, 2009
BIBLE MEDITATION:“And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.” Galatians 4:6
DEVOTIONAL THOUGHT:Do you know what “Abba” means? It means “Daddy Father.” Have you ever thought about God as your Daddy? When Jesus taught us to pray “Our Father” in Matthew 6:9, He uses the same Greek word “Pater” “Abba Father.” American children say, “Da - Da.” But in the Middle East they say, “Abba - Abba.” Jesus says that we can call the great God of the universe, “Daddy.” I’m so glad that our Heavenly Father never gets too busy running this universe and commanding the angels that He forgets us. He wants to be with you like there is no one else on earth and nothing else for Him to do.
During our Thursday Bible study, we watched a video of Priscilla Shirer a conference where she spoke a couple of years ago. In that video she asked the question "Who's Your Daddy?" She proceeded to answer with this:
The beginning and the end.
He's the keeper of creation
and the creator of all.
He's the architect of the universe
He's the manager of all times.
He always was, always will be, always is,
unmoved, unchanged, undefeated, and never undone.
He was bruised, but brought healing,
He was pierced, but eased pain,
He was persecuted, but brought freedom,
He was dead, and brings life,
He is risen to bring power, and he reigns to bring peace.
The world can't understand Him,
armies can't defeat Him,
fools can't explain Him and leaders, they can't ignore Him.
Herod couldn't kill him, Nero couldn't crush Him,
the new age cannot replace Him and Oprah cannot explain Him away.
He is light, He is love, He is longevity, He is the Lord.
He is goodness, kindness and faithfulness, He is God.
He is holy and righteous, powerful, and pure.
His ways are right, His word eternal,
His will unchanging and His mind is on us.
He's our Savior, our guide, our peace, our joy,
our comfort, our Lord, and He rules our lives.
I serve Him because His bond is love, His yoke is easy,
His burden is light and His goal is abundant life.
I follow Him because He's the wisdom of the wise,
the power of the powerful, the ancient of days,
the ruler of rulers, the leader of all leaders,
His goal is a relationship with me.
He'll never leave you, He'll never mislead you,
He'll never forget you, He'll never overlook you and
He'll never cancel your appointment in His appointment book.
When you fall, He'll lift you up,
When you fail, He'll forgive you,
When you're weak, He's strong,
When you're lost, He's your way,
When you're afraid, He's your courage,
When you stumble, He will steady you,
When you're hurt, He will heal you,
When you're broken, He will mend you,
When you're blind, He will lead you,
When you're hungry, He will feed you,
When you face trials, He's with you,
When you face persecution, He shields you,
When you face loss, He will provide for you, When we face death, He will carry us all home to meet Him.
He is your God and that's who you belong to.
Saturday, January 10, 2009
by Max Lucado
Some years ago a rottweiler attacked our golden retriever puppy at a kennel. The worthless animal climbed out of its run and into Molly’s and nearly killed her. He left her with dozens of gashes and a dangling ear. I wrote a letter to the dog’s owner, urging him to put the dog to sleep.
But when I showed the letter to the kennel owner, she begged me to reconsider. "What that dog did was horrible, but I’m still training him. I’m not finished with him yet."
God would say the same about the rottweiler who attacked you. "What he did was unthinkable, unacceptable, inexcusable, but I’m not finished yet."
Your enemies still figure into God’s plan. Their pulse is proof: God hasn’t given up on them. They may be out of God’s will, but not out of his reach. You honor God when you see them, not as his failures, but as his projects.
God occupies the only seat on the supreme court of heaven. He wears the robe and refuses to share the gavel. For this reason Paul wrote, "Don’t insist on getting even; that’s not for you to do. ‘I’ll do the judging,’ says God. ‘I’ll take care of it’ " (Rom. 12:19 MSG).
Revenge removes God from the equation. Vigilantes displace and replace God. "I’m not sure you can handle this one, Lord. You may punish too little or too slowly. I’ll take this matter into my hands, thank you."
Is this what you want to say? Jesus didn’t. No one had a clearer sense of right and wrong than the perfect Son of God. Yet, "when he suffered, he didn’t make any threats but left everything to the one who judges fairly" (1 Pet. 2:23 GOD’S WORD).
Only God assesses accurate judgments. We impose punishments too slight or severe. God dispenses perfect justice. Vengeance is his job. Leave your enemies in God’s hands. You’re not endorsing their misbehavior when you do. You can hate what someone did without letting hatred consume you. Forgiveness is not excusing.
Nor is forgiveness pretending. David didn’t gloss over or sidestep Saul’s sin. He addressed it directly. He didn’t avoid the issue, but he did avoid Saul.
Do the same. Give grace, but, if need be, keep your distance. You can forgive the abusive husband without living with him. Be quick to give mercy to the immoral pastor, but be slow to give him a pulpit. Society can dispense grace and prison terms at the same time. Offer the child molester a second chance, but keep him off the playgrounds.
Forgiveness is not foolishness.
Forgiveness is, at its core, choosing to see your offender with different eyes. You don’t excuse him, endorse her, or embrace them. You just route thoughts about them through heaven. You see your enemy as God’s child and revenge as God’s job.
By the way, how can we grace-recipients do anything less? Dare we ask God for grace when we refuse to give it? This is a huge issue in Scripture. Jesus was tough on sinners who refused to forgive other sinners. In the final sum, we give grace because we’ve been given grace.
Cast of CharactersFrom
Facing Your Giants
© (Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2006) Max Lucado
Friday, January 9, 2009
Our lives we must review.
Reflection is our work to do.
In looking back perspective comes.
A Heavenly Father,
A Heavenly home awaits the pilgrim journey bound.
In holy purpose, mission… found.
What will this coming year bring?
Will He find us offering… the best we have to a God that’s true,
A God who’s walked the path with you?
Through illness, loss with little or much,
In trial, triumph, His precious touch…prevails.
Our times do change.
Our God does not.
HE is the ONE the saints have sought.
Through ages past , they lived and died—looked forward with committed lives.
Lamps made ready,
Souls a’ yearning.
REVELATION is HIS story.
Christ in me the hope of Glory.
In Him alone is liberty, freedom and transparency.
A forward faith stands with your brother.
Calling out to him , we build another.
Covering his back with fervent prayer
Preaching the Word reveals our care,
Serving others by the way we live,
Raising His standard of Truth to give.
Thus far He has helped us….this we know.
His Grace will grow.
His Life to know,
A people strengthened to live today,
Expectantly we bow in praise.
Happy New Year!
In All Things, HE Reigns!
Thursday, January 8, 2009
Almost any neurological symptom can appear with the disease, and often progresses to physical and cognitive disability. MS takes several forms, with new symptoms occurring either in discrete attacks (relapsing forms) or slowly accumulating over time (progressive forms). Between attacks, symptoms may go away completely, but permanent neurological problems often occur, especially as the disease advances."
WIKIPEDIA : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Multiple_sclerosis
I know four people with this disease. Ten years ago, I knew none. For some reason it is becoming more prevalent. Although advances have been made,there is still no cure.
I have two friends whose sons have MS. Both are in their 30's, married with children. Both are, thankfully, still able to work, although their symptoms are increasing. It is a frightening thing to live with....both for the person afflicted and for their families.
The other two that I know with this disease are both women, one of whom has had it a number of years and is now in a wheelchair. The other, quite uncharacteristic of the disease, was only recently diagnosed and is in her 50s.
Research for any disease is costly. Some diseases get more publicity than others. Some have celebrities that help push research forward. Other diseases seem to gain more sympathy and therefore, more is given to that research. For most of us, we do not give a lot of thought to any of these diseases until it reaches home. Then, it moves to the top of our priority list.
Today I am asking you to move MS to the top of your priority list and to make a contribution for the funding of research for this debiliating disease. You can do so by going to the website below and making a contribution in the name of one of the 4 individuals I spoke of above. His name is Brett Kern.
Brett, as well as the thousands of others in the country who are suffering from this disease, will be grateful for your contribution. Any amount will help. Every dollar brings them one step closer to a cure. And as you give, please say a prayer for Brett, asking the Lord to slow the progression of his disease and for a cure to be found SOON!!!
Tuesday, January 6, 2009
"God never gave you that property," said my friend who had entered my life at a time of great turmoil. These were hard words at the time. I was separated in my marriage, and my financial resources were drying up on all fronts. It was like rowing a boat with five big holes in it, not knowing which one to try to plug. My business, my personal finances, my marriage, all seemed to be drying up at the same time. My friend had made an observation about some land we had purchased years before. His point was that I had acquired something that God had never given me. In other words, it was not a Spirit-directed purchase that was blessed by God. It was not a by-product of God's blessing; it was a source of sweat and toil born out of the wrong motives of the heart.
When John's disciples came to him and asked if he was the Messiah, he responded that he was not and that one could only be what God had given him to be. He was a forerunner to the Messiah, and he was fulfilling a call God had given him. We cannot acquire and become anything that God has not given us. God gave John that anointing. We must ask whether we are trying to be or trying to acquire anything God has not given us. When we seek to acquire anything that God has not given us, we can expect God to respond to us like any good father would to a child. He will remove that which the child is not supposed to have.
David understood this principle. When he was preparing to furnish the temple, he told God in his prayer, "Everything comes from You, and we have given You only what comes from Your hand" (1 Chron. 29:14b).
In Os Hillman's devotion above, he spoke of John's annointing. God had equipped John for one specific purpose....to prepare the way for the Master.
God has gifted each believer for specific tasks He wants them to accomplish. He gives each of us at least one spiritual gift as well as other talents and abilities. He did not give us these for our own pleasure or so that we could draw attention to ourselves. He gave them to us so that we could use them for His glory!
He did not gift us all the same. Your gift may be totally different from mine. That is ok. A friend of mine in Bible study laughs when I speak of journaling, because that is the LAST thing she would ever do! I love to entertain, my daughter...not so much! I am comfortable speaking or teaching in front of a crowd. My husband panics at the thought! He is good with his hands, I am totally inept in that department.
Within our church's women's ministry there are a large number of circles...groups that have different functions. There is a hospital circle...women who visit those in the hospital and encourage and comfort them. There is a manna circle...women who prepare meals for those who are ill or in need. There is a God and Country circle who keep us abreast of ways we can take a stand within our country, pray for our leaders, and encourage others to vote. There is a writing circle...women encouraging other women in their writing abilities as they seek to share Christ through that medium. There are numerous others as well.
If one cannot find a place to plug in and use her gift there, she is just not looking! I see a lot of that within the church. Plentiful opportunities to "plug in" and get busy, but too many who are only pew sitters.
It does not matter your age or even your physical abilities. God has a job for you to do. He has specifically equipped you for that job. The jobs may change over time as your abilities change or the opportunities change. But God expects each of us to be on the job nonetheless.
What has God given you to do? What abilities, gifts, and talents has he equipped you with? Take stock today and then begin to find a way that you can utilize those gifts and abilities for the Lord. Don't get caught up trying to do someone else's job. Your job is specific to you. God wants to use you right where you are. Get busy!
Monday, January 5, 2009
To be a follower requires that you have a leader. CHRIST is our leader. In order to follow the leader you must keep your eyes upon the leader at all times. You must listen to His voice and to His instructions. You must trust Him, trust that He knows the way and that He will lead you in the way that is best.
This morning as I was having my quiet time, I heard a commotion outside my window. As I looked, the sky was filled with black birds who began to converge upon my yard and my adjoining neighbor's yard. There were literally hundreds of them and they completely covered our yards. I stood up and went to the window for a closer look. I watched in utter fascination as they continued to come, land, and begin to peck the ground for something to eat. They were squawking and eating. The last one had hardly landed when suddenly, as if someone had given the signal, they all took off! I mean they ALL took off...not one single bird remained behind. They did not fly off in 10 different directions. They ALL flew in the same direction, at the same time, at the same speed. They were obviously following a leader. Within seconds there was not a single bird left on our lawns or in any trees.
Oh that we would be such an obedient flock!
Saturday, January 3, 2009
Don't you love new beginnings? There is something about January that promises CHANGE....PROMISE....SECOND CHANCES! Like a brand new sheet of paper or a new notebook or a fresh box of crayons!!!!!!! All the old scribbles, doodles and messy pages are a thing of the past. Nothing staring you in the face but a nice blank, white sheet of paper just waiting for you to start fresh.
I always begin January with great hopes for change. Change in habits, change in weight, change in discipline, change in organizational skills. Somewhere about mid-month my enthusiasm begins to wane and I fall off the wagon, defeated and disgusted with myself. Maybe you relate.
It can be that way in our walk with Christ, too. We have a mountain-top experience. We re-commit ourselves to being more disciplined in Bible study and quiet time. We vow to confess our sins daily, to forgive more, to be more patient, kind and to lavish grace. We fully intend to be more disciplined and to be a 100% fully devoted follower of Christ. Then...we fail, we falter and we find ourselves wondering what happened to all of our good intentions.
Wow...you must think. You are sure starting the New Year on a sour note. Not at all. I'm just being real. That is the reality for all of us because we are human. It does not surprise God. It may surprise US, but it does not surprise Him.
What we must remember is that God does not love us based on our performance. HALLELUJAH!!!!!!!!!!! He just loves.
We humans judge each other mercilessly on the basis of performance,but God does not. So we must stop beating ourselves up over our failures and shortcomings. Instead, we need to just confess them to the Lord, repent even if it is for the 399,000th time, and ask His forgiveness...which He will lovingly give, and ask for the strength to press on, leaning on Him for help not to make the same mistakes again. He knows we are but dust. He knows our weaknesses and frailties.
The point is we never stop pressing on. As Paul put it:
12 I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. 13 No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us. (Phillipians 3: 12-14 New Living Translation)
So, my dear friends, let us press on in our pursuit of holiness. And when we fall... and we will... let us repent quickly, seek forgiveness and get up and keep moving! With our faces toward Him, our hearts open to His leading, our ears tuned to His voice and our focus only on Him. In 2009 may we seek Him with all of our heart and may our greatest desire be to point others to Him!!
God bless you all!!!!!!!!