Friday, December 31, 2010

Celebrating God's Goodness

"They will celebrate Your abundant goodness." Psalm 145:7a

God is good all the time, and all the time my God is good. His goodness abounds in big ways and small ones. Sometimes I get so caught up with the things that are weighing me down in life that I miss His daily displays of kindness. When I take time to recognize even the littlest things God does each day, I have much more to celebrate and praise Him for; my outlook on life is much more upbeat. "Celebrate" is an upbeat word that implies commemoration. It means to applaud, boost, bless, cheer, compliment, exalt, praise or proclaim. Celebrating and praising God in the day to day, not just when big things happen, changes my heart to one of gratitude and thanksgiving, vs. one that is dissatisfied or complaining. A life that seeks to celebrate God's goodness is one that surely encourages others and blesses the Father. His goodness abounds and God's Word instructs us to celebrate it!

How would my outlook on life change if I began to celebrate God's goodness in my words, actions and attitude on a regular basis? If I began to look for the good in things? In times past, while walking through difficult trials, celebrating or praising God in the little things gave me renewed strength and faith to press on, keep serving Him - believing and hoping He would eventually work it all out for my good.

The end of the year seems a fitting time to reflect back and "celebrate" - whether through words of praise, a testimony shared or a prayer of thanksgiving to the Father - all that God has done. Isaiah 63:7 says, "I will tell of the kindness of the LORD, the deeds for which He is to be praised, according to all the LORD has done for us - yes, the many good things He has done for [us], according to His compassion and many kindnesses."

At the Mattox house we have MUCH to celebrate and be grateful for. Though our personal list is much more specific, some general categories include:

  • spiritual growth
  • marriage blessings
  • deepening friendships
  • abundant provision
  • health and healing
  • ministry opportunities
  • answered prayer

How has God shown His abundant goodness to you this year? What's on your list to celebrate?

Father God, I thank You, I praise You, I celebrate Your goodness. Your compassions never fail. Your mercies are new every morning. Your kindness cannot be measured. Thank You for blessing me and my family. I love You Lord Jesus, Amen.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Be Still & Quiet, My Soul

"My heart is not proud, O LORD, my eyes are not haughty... I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me. But I have stilled and quieted my soul... O [Pamela], put your hope in the LORD, both now and forevermore." Psalm 131

My heart should not be proud, nor my eyes haughty. I should not concern myself with great matters - especially those that do not involve me. For those I can just pray. Before the LORD I should still and quiet my soul, and always put my hope in Him.

Father God, please help me to be humble and gentle in all things. Keep my heart from thinking proud thoughts. Lord, I want my words and thoughts to always please You. Keep me courteous, gentle, modest, respectful, polite, reserved, simple and submissive as it pleases You. I ask this in Your Holy Name, Amen.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Worth in God's Eyes

"Indeed, the very hairs on your head are numbered. Don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows." Luke 12:7

God's Word says that I have so much worth that He even keeps track, at any given moment, of how many hairs are on my head!

It matters not what the world says.
It matters not how I feel.
It matters not how others treat me.
All that matters is what God says.
He believes in me.
He cares so much that I am never forgotten by Him.
I am always on His mind.
He says I have great worth and value, period.

Father, help these truths sink in and penetrate my heart I pray. Use the truth to change the way I view myself on days that I struggle, and give me eyes to consistently see myself the way You do. I ask this in Your precious name, amen.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Fragrant Prayer

"May my prayers be set before You like incense..." Psalm 141:2

"...the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints." Revelation 5:8

My prayers, as a believer, are like incense to my Lord. Incense is a spice that generally produces a pleasing fragrance when burnt. An incense offering was meant to please God in hopes that He would respond favorably to a request or need, if it pleased Him to do so.

Prayer examined in contrast with incense indicates that petitions produce a fragrance that is acceptable and pleasing to the Lord. Just as smoke from the burning incense rises and is carried upward, it symbolizes the ascent of our prayers to God's heavenly throne. There the prayers of the saints (believers) are collected in golden bowls as incense producing a fragrant aroma before the Lord.

Every word of every prayer - whether spoken boldly, or uttered through tears, whispered quietly or prayed silently - produces a sweet and fragrant odor that is wafted up to my Father in heaven. He knows my heart, He sees my struggles, He hears my praises and sees my tears...and He counts them all precious. Like the beautiful fragrance of the finest perfume, my petitions please Him. He treats each one as something of great worth and value, collecting them in bowls of gold.

Father God, thank You for silencing all of heaven to hear my prayers. Thank You that each word spoken in prayer is a fragrant offering, of great worth to You. Thank You for collecting each one. Just as You collect my tears in a bottle, you collect my prayers in bowls of gold. They are precious to You, which means I am precious to You. Thank You for loving me so! In Jesus' name, amen.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Love Notes

As I read from the Epistles of John this morning I noticed a common thread on the theme of love. I am calling these threads "Love Notes". I want to learn to how to weave this kind of love - God's love - into my life in such a way that I become more and more a reflection of Him in my earthly relationships...

God's love is made complete in me when I obey His Word. I must obey and love others.
(1 John 2:5; 4:12)

I must not love the world or anything in it. (1 John 2:15)

I am a child of God. I am so loved by my Father that He delights in lavishing His affections on me. (1 John 3:1)

From the beginning, God has commanded, "Love one another." (1 John 3:11, 23; 4:7, 11)

I know what love is, the deepest meaning of love, through Jesus' death on the cross. He laid down His very life for me. So I am commanded to lay down my life for others - putting them first, and me last. (1 John 3:16; 4:9-10)

Love gives out of abundance to those in need. (1 John 3:17)

Love does more than talk about it - love backs it up with actions that line up with God's Word. (1 John 3:18)

God is love. Because I live in love I live in God, and He in me. (1 John 4:16)

If my actions reflect Jesus in this world, I will be able to stand with confidence on the day of judgement. (1John 4:17)

Love does not fear. Perfect love drives fear out because fear cripples and hinders, but love grants peace and confidence. If I fear, I must have more growing to do in the understanding and application of love. (1 John 4:18)

The reason I can love is because He first loved me. Before I existed, He knew me. He was delighted in me and already loved me. (1 John 4:19)

Love is able to love the person, not the sin, regardless of the measure. I cannot hate someone and yet claim to love God. The two cannot co-exist. (1 John 4:20-21)

Because I love God, I must love His children and obey God's commands concerning them. (1 John 5:1-3)

I am called to walk in love. God's Word says this means walking in obedience to all that He commands. (2 John 6)

I am loving well when I am faithfully serving others - both those whom I know and those who are strangers - in a way that honors the Lord. (3 John 5-6)

A note penned on the pages of 1 John in my Bible sums these Love Notes up in this way: "My earthly relationships overflow from my relationship with God."

In other words, if I am not loving God well, with all my heart, mind, soul and strength, my earthly relationships will be lacking and suffer. I must learn to love God well!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

That You May Believe

"But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name." John 20:31

All scripture is God-breathed. It is not reflective of any one author's personality because God supernaturally directed every word that was written to ensure its perfect accuracy. God's Word is His "infalible revelation to man". He chose to write it through select, chosen authors, but it is no less accurate than if He had written every word with His own hand.

The Word of God was written to record the events of the past, teach history, impart the law, share through literature, record prophetic messages and prophesy about the future. All this so that we might "believe that Jesus is the Christ" and have "life in His name", which is salvation.

Thank You Father for breathing life into Your Word so that I would believe. Thank You that Your Word is my manual for life, my daily bread, and the source by which I am equipped for every good work. In Jesus' name, amen.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Blessings

Wishing you a merry and blessed Christmas,
from our home to yours!

The Mattox Family

Friday, December 24, 2010


He came.
He died.
He rose.
I believe. you?

He came one starry night in Bethlehem. He came to live among us, so He could experience life as we know it. He could have stayed in heaven, but God sent Him down. He sent Him as a baby, born of a virgin, in a stable. No royal accommodations. He would sleep in a manger. As He grew, He grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men. At age thirty-three, He would fulfill His destiny. He was born to die... to pay the penalty for your sins and mine. He didn't deserve it. He had lived a perfect life. He was willing to die because great was His love for us. He would be buried in a tomb, but not for long. Three days later He rose from the dead. He conquered death on the cross. He gained the victory so that I might live forever with Him, pardoned from my sin, because I chose to believe. He did the same for you.

On this, the eve of His birth, do you believe? Are you willing to trust Him with your life? Talk to Him in prayer. Tell Him that you believe. You believe He was born of a virgin, lived a perfect life, died a cruel death on a cross, and rose again three days later, that you might live. When you trust Him and commit your life to Him, He is faithful to pardon your sin and give you best gift of all... eternal life in heaven with Him. He's offering the gift, no strings attached. Will you receive it?

Thursday, December 23, 2010

A Fruitful Life

The words of Jesus... "I am the true vine, and My Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit He prunes so that it will be even more fruitful... Remain in Me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in Me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in Me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing." John 15:1-2, 4-5

My Lord is the Master Gardener. He works to trim and prune, shape and water with the end product in mind, a tree that bears much fruit. His goal is to garden in such a way that He makes each branch on the vine more and more fruitful to the glory of God. This is what pleases Him. A fruitful life is one that He has cleansed, one that abides in Him, and one that walks in obedience to His will. Remaining or abiding in Christ means living a life in which I consciously choose not to allow things into (or back into) my life that separate me from My Father. The only way to bear this kind of beautiful fruit that pleases my Lord is to steep myself in Christ through prayer and time studying His Word; through listening for and responding to His voice, and acting in obedience. Then and only then will I bear "much" fruit. Fruit that glorifies the Father. Fruit that models Christian character, conducting myself in a moral and righteous way that reflects Christ. For apart from Christ, His Word says, I can do nothing... nothing that truly matters anyway.

My Lord has been cleansing and pruning this branch called "Pamela" for a number of years now, probably more than I can count or have even been aware of. He has been thoroughly cleansing me of the things that once hindered, pruning to the point that it hurts, and teaching me to walk more closely with Him. The more fully I know who the "Vine" is, the more this "branch" can know His will and produce good fruit for His glory, and not my own.

Lord Jesus, make me fruitful for You, whatever it takes. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


"Now get up and stand on your feet. I have appeared to you to appoint you as a servant and as a witness of what you have seen of Me and what I will show you." Acts 26:16

God appears to His people.
God appoints His people.
In this case, He is appointing Paul to be a servant and a witness for Him.
He is calling him to testify about what God has shown him, and what he will reveal to him in the future.

God has appointed me also, to be a servant and a witness for Him. To serve as He calls and to give witness to what He has done in my life, and we He has yet to do! Specifically He is calling me to put these things into words through journaling, writing and sharing via blog.

God's Word also says in Acts 23:11...

"The following night the Lord stood near Paul and said, 'Take courage! As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome.'"

This reminds me that I must be obedient to answer the call to future endeavors He puts before me, opportunities to share, and not just be content with what and where I have shared in the past.

The Lord also led me to this passage today, with instruction as to what and how to share:

"When you talk, do not say harmful things, but say what people need - words that will help others become stronger. Then what you say will do good to those who listen to you." Ephesians 4:29 (NCV)

Words have the power to hurt. Words have the power to heal. Words have the power to make one stronger. Words can do a heart good. I must choose my words wisely.

Oh Father, I want to be obedient in this. Help me Father to choose to be. Help me to designate time to journal and write and blog, and when I do, give me Your words - words that will help others become stronger and do their heart good, as well as my own. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Monday, December 20, 2010

He Loved Me Enough

"Jesus said, 'If you hold to my teachings, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.'" John 8:31b-32

My words, my thoughts and my actions are the guage by which people can tell whether or not I am a follower of Christ. God's Word says if I am His disciple, I will strive to live according to His Word.

As I have sought to live in a manner consistent with God's Word; as I have basked in His truths and applied them to my life, they have proven powerful. Powerful enough to break the chains that bound me, heal the wounds that hindered me, correct my distorted views and set this captive free! I have learned God's truth and His truth has indeed set me free. My God loved me enough not to leave me in chains.

Father, Your Word is truth. Your Word has power. Your Word sets captives like me free. Praise You Lord, in Jesus' name, Amen.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Sustained in Humility

"Great is our Lord and mighty in power; His understanding has no limits. The LORD sustains the humble... The LORD delights in those who fear Him, who put their hope in His unfailing love." Psalm 147:5-6a, 11

My God is UNDERSTANDING; His ability to understand is not limited by anything! He promises to sustain the humble, not the proud. He delights in those who fear Him and put their hope in His love that does not fail.

When I fail and come to my Lord with a repentant heart, His understanding and ability to forgive have no limits. He is a merciful God. When I humble myself before Him in repentance, honesty about my failures, feelings or circumstances, He is faithful to uplift, uphold and sustain me... thank You Jesus. Thank You for delighting in me when I fear You (causing me to act in obedience according to Your will), and put my hope in Your fail-proof love.

Thank You Lord Jesus for Your unlimited forgiveness, understanding and sustaining power. Thank You for delighting in me. May my heart delight in obeying You. I love You. In Jesus' name I pray, Amen.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Practical Humility

"...when you are invited, take the lowest place... For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted." Luke 14:10a, 11

I should make it my goal, my nature, to treat others as more important than myself, giving them the place of honor; this is true humility. When I don't, and think of myself more highly than I ought, God often humbles me in a matter of moments. When He does this, I am usually caught off guard and quickly realize the error of my ways, and the need to repent.

It is by watching the example of those more humble than I that I learn how to raise the bar of my own level of humility... hold a door, let others go first, go through the food line last (even if it means my favorite dish will be gone!), make others feel important in a sincere way, listen more and speak less.

Lord Jesus, thank You for modeling this kind of practical humility to me through people You have placed in my life throughout the years. Long after I have forgotten other details about these individuals, I still remember their kind, "others first" nature and the impact it had on my life. The mannerisms of a truly humble person stand out and look way more like You than this "me first" world we live in. I pray You would continue to show me ways to be humble in my words and actions towards others, that I may look more like You each day. In Your loving name I pray, Amen.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Light Up Your World

"The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it." John 1:5

Jesus is the "light". And I am a vessel through which the light of Jesus can shine. Believers are to be lights shining with and for Jesus in this dark and depraved world. Until the Lord opens the eyes and woos the heart of the unbeliever toward Him, the light in me does not make sense to them. It may seem foolish, be scoffed at, made fun of or turned away from because they have not yet realized their need for a Savior, redemption from sin, and simply believed.

This Christmas my heart's desire is to focus on Christ and shining a light for Him. I am choosing to simplify the season, serve the needy, spend time together as a family, and find ways to shine the light of Jesus into the darkness. How will you shine?

  • serve at a local ministry
  • give out of your abundance
  • spread God's love through word and deed
  • feed the hungry
  • visit the lonely
  • meet a need or volunteer a service
  • bless your enemies
Father, thank You for the gift of Your Son, Jesus. Through His presence in my life I can reflect light into a dark world. Please give me opportunities to do this in practical ways I pray. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Christian Conduct

"The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen." 1 Peter 4:7-11

God's Word is full of directives for conduct as a Christian. The book of Proverbs is bursting at the seams! But today the Lord had me focused on this passage in 1 Peter. It gives clear and simple instruction for these end times we are living in.

When I pray, pray with a clear mind and practice self-control. I am learning to keep a piece of paper handy when I have my quiet time. If I get distracted by my "to do" list or other things as I start praying, I can write my thoughts down therefore clearing my mind to pray. Having them written down assures me that I won't forget about them later.

I am also called to exercise self-control in order to have an effective prayer life. Indulging in or harboring things not pleasing to God will directly affect my communication with Him. I must come to Him with clean hands and a pure heart if I want my prayers to be heard and move His heart.

When I love, I am called to love others deeply. When I let my guard down and let people into my heart to love and be loved by, I am blessed. A love that grows and runs deep is very forgiving. When one of us falls down, the other loves enough to forgive or disregard the offense and the communication or relationship is restored. I am so thankful for friends and family in my life whose love runs deep.

When I am hospitable, I should be so with a happy heart. No one wants to be invited over to hear me grumble and complain. That wouldn't send them off feeling blessed or encouraged. I like people to walk away feeling loved on, hopeful and built up, even if they came in the door downtrodden. Much of that depends on the tone I set when I am exercising the gift of hospitality.

When I speak, I should speak as though God is speaking through me. I must seek to be yielded to the Holy Spirit and spend much time in prayer and God's Word, getting to know His character and His ways. Then prayerfully, the words I write and the words that come out of my mouth will be pleasing to the Father - a relection of Him - my mouth, a mouthpiece for His purposes.

When I serve, I should serve in God's strength. Whatever I try to accomplish in my own strength and power may eventually fail. If God has called me to serve Him in some way, I should work at it with all my heart, relying on the strength and power He desires to give me. In this way I am empowered by Him to accomplish the task in a way, and with an attitude, that prayerfully brings Him praise - not me.

Father, thank You for the clarity that comes from studying Your Word. Thank You for clear instruction on how I should behave as a Christian. Lord Jesus, I desire to represent You in a way that brings You honor and glory. Empower me to live a life and conduct myself in a way that accurately reflects You. In Jesus' name I pray, Amen.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Remain Faithful

"But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit. Keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life. Be merciful to those who doubt; snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh." Jude 20-23 

Building up myself in the most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit is a picture of sanctification. To be sanctified means to be set apart for God. Believers are set apart for God by redemption. At the moment they believe, they are saints made holy in God's sight. Believers are sanctified by the work of the Holy Spirit through the Scriptures. John 17:17 says, "Sanctify them by the truth; Your Word is truth." As I bask in the truths of God's Word and apply them to my life - allowing them to shape me and instruct me how to live - I become more and more like Him. I am transformed into the image and likeness of Christ. (2 Corinthians 3:18)

Keeping myself in God's love as I wait for my eternity means obeying His commands; walking in obedience to the things my Lord asks of me. God's Word says in John 15:10, "If you obey My commands, you will remain in My love, just as I have obeyed My Father's commands and remain in His love."

To those who doubt, hesitate or waiver in their faith, God calls me to be merciful. I should encourage them and build them up in the Lord. To those who are going the wrong way - those caught up in the sin and sensuality of the world - I should snatch them from the fire and share the Good News that they might be saved. To the sinner I must show mercy, but make clear that the sin does not please God. The Message version of the Bible puts it this way, "Be tender with sinners, but not soft on sin." I should love the person, not the sin.

Father God, thank You for loving me enough to keep purifying and sanctifying my life. Thank You for setting me apart from the world for Your purposes. Help me to walk in obedience and remain in Your love. Help me to have a heart of compassion and show mercy to those who need it, encourage those who are hesitant, witness with my life, and deal tenderly with sinners just have You have dealt tenderly with me when I have sinned. Help me to remain faithful as I serve You. Thank You for empowering me to do such things through the Holy Spirit. In Jesus name I ask these things, Amen.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Just a Thought

Just a quick thought today...

"...we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter." Daniel 3:16

I am often prone to feeling a need to justify my words or actions. I know this is rooted in experiences from the past, and it is unhealthy and more importantly, unnecessary. As I read this word, knowing that I am justified in Christ and Christ alone, it prompted a prayer...

Lord, please prick my heart and shut my mouth when I feel the need to justify myself. As long as my words and actions line up with Your truths, I am good! And if they don't, I need to be repenting and seeking forgiveness vs. justifying wrong behavior. I ask this in Your precious name, Amen.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Bold Faith

"So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised. For in just a very little while, 'He who is coming will come and will not delay. But my righteous one will live by faith. And if he shrinks back, I will not be pleased with him. But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved." Hebrews 10:35-39

Some days my confidence wanes, but most days my mustard seed faith keeps me moving forward, looking upward, believing God. His Word tells me that such confidence is richly rewarded. One day I will receive all that God has promised me. With that end in mind, I examine God's Word to see what I must do from now until then. It says that I must persevere, press on, endure the road laid out before me, and do my best to carry out God's will for my life. I must live by faith - not by sight -  and not shrink back if I want my Lord to be pleased with me. This to me describes bold faith. Unashamed faith. Believing faith. Confident faith. Pressing on through any kind of weather faith.

These are difficult days, but God says press on anyway. Do it in fear if you have to, but stand firm and do whatever God calls you to do. Embrace God's Word as you go. Ask the Lord for a word - a nugget of truth - each day as instruction and encouragement for the journey. Examine, embrace and uphold every word, and step out in faith.

Father God, I thank You for the living, breathing Word of God. It is Living Water for my thirsty soul. I thank You for the instruction and encouragement it gives me each time I drink it in. Prepare me Lord for the day ahead. I press on in You, believing Your promises. I ask You for bold faith and the temperment of a gentle and quiet spirit. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Laughter & Joy

"He will yet fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy." Job 8:21

Because of the great things my God has done for me my mouth shall be filled with laughter and my lips with shouts of joy!

My God has done so many wonderful things for me, they are too numerous to count. So why is my soul downcast today? I need to focus on the good things! I should speak about my God and His goodness, even in the midst of difficult situations, because my God who was faithful yesterday never changes. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. Though hard times come, joy comes in the morning. In other words, joy might seem to take a little vacation, but as sure as I can count on my God, I can count on my joy to return if my focus is on Him. Joy and laughter should be evidence of God's goodness in my life...and prayerfully it will draw people to Him.

Father, lift up my downcast spirit today I pray. Help me to focus on Your goodness. You have done so much for me and I am ever so grateful. Fill my mouth with laughter and my lips with shouts of joy. I pray and ask this in the Matchless Name of Jesus, Amen.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Depending on God

"But if it were I, I would appeal to God; I would lay my case before Him. He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed, miracles that cannot be counted." Job 5:8-9

"With God we will gain the victory, and He will trample down our enemies." Psalm 108:13

I should appeal my case to the Lord - the only One who can truly do something about it. I should expect Him to do wonders and miracles that I cannot even fathom. Through God I gain victory because He tramples my enemies, not me.

Hear my cry, oh Lord. Plead my case before the Father. Do wonderous and miraculous things as You answer, I pray. Be glorified and gain victory, in Jesus' name. Amen.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Godless Chatter

"Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly." 2 Timothy 2:16

Godless chatter means talk that is worldly, empty, vain, useless, worthless or foolish. I believe this includes words that tear down instead of build up, rambling on about things of little importance, or talk about things that are none of my business (a.k.a. gossip). I am reminded of a word spoken by a pastor years ago that has always stuck with my husband and I: "If you're not part of the problem, or part of the solution, it's gossip." That instruction has both directed me and convicted me in many conversations over the years.

God's Word is saying if I elect to indulge or "treat myself to" such talk, I would be expressing words that hurt vs. words that heal, entertaining shallow conversations, talking about others to people I am not at liberty to share the information with, and would therefore reflect my Lord less and less. I must be diligent about guarding my tongue and choosing my words wisely, and selective about the company I keep. I like the way The Message version sums up this passage: "Words are not mere words, you know. If they're not backed up by a godly life, they accumulate as poison in the soul."

If I want to live an effective life for Christ, I must continue to exercise restraint with my tongue. I must be careful about what I take in with my ears. I must build others up, and pray about any thoughts I am tempted to speak that would tear down. I must surround myself with godly, like-minded people who speak words of life and encouragement. In this way I will become more like Christ and look less and less like the world.

Father God, I ask You to put a muzzle over my mouth when I am tempted to speak in a way that would hurt, tear down others, or misrepresent You. Help me to guard my ears and avoid situations, conversations and entertainment that is not pleasing in Your sight. And I ask You Lord to surround me with people that are growing in their faith and are passionate about their love for You, so that I am encouraged and built up. In Jesus' Name I thank You for hearing my prayers and answering. Amen.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Upward Focus

"I have often told your before and now say again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their God is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things." Philippians 3:18-19

Many believers sadly are living in opposition to the cross. Living a life in which many other things are competing for first place in their lives, the place Christ must be. These rebels are destined for destruction. Their appetites for food and lust and things ungodly have becme their god. Instead of responding with conviction and turning from wicked, evil or immoral ways, they glory blindly in what should be their shame. Instead of focusing on God's work, they are siding with earthly things and mesmerized or captivated by the temporal and tempestuous things of this world.

How then shall we live? God's Word is full of instruction. Here are a few examples...

Live as children of the light, reflecting or glowing with the love of Christ. 
"You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden." Matthew 5:14

Carry out the Great Commission.
"Go into all the world and preach the Good News to all creation." Mark 16:15

Swim upstream, go against the grain. You are not to be like the world.
"If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you." John 15:19

Do not give in to and believe the world's lies. Renew your mind daily with the truth of God's Word so that you can know and do the will of God.
"Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is - His good, pleasing and perfect will." Romans 12:2

In other words...

Light up your world.
Be kingdom focused.
Swim upstream.
Align yourself with God's will.

Father, help me to live in a way that is pleasing to You. In a way that reflects the love of Christ to those around me. Use me to lead others to You. Keep charting my course as I swim upstream and seek to know and do Your will in my life. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

I Am Loved

Some days I have to show myself grace. Other days I must remind myself that I am loved. By the God of the universe, I am loved.

When I come under spiritual attack, I often take extra measures. I know I've heard Beth Moore talk about actually sleeping with the Bible open on her head or chest when necessary. When I feel the need, I tend to tuck an index card with scripture under my pillow before going to bed at night. The one currently on my nightstand says this:

I am loved.
I have always been loved.
I will forever be loved.

...because my God says, "I have loved you with an everlasting love." (Jeremiah 31:3).

Think I'll tuck it under there tonight for good measure!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Not My Will...

"'Abba Father,' He said, 'everything is possible for You. Take this cup from Me. Yet not what I will, but what You will.'" Mark 14:36

The Father's will always prevails. He has the power to make anything possible, if and when He wills it. His timing is perfect. He keeps reminding me, His timing is perfect.

Father God, I know that You see me. You see the aches, the passions, the desires of my heart. You never forget me. When I can't see Your hand, I know I can trust Your heart. I have faith that You are always working behind the scenes. I know that Your timing is perfect. Yet I keep asking and seeking and knocking. I ask You for comfort. I ask You to make a way for so many things where there seems to be no way. I ask You for provision. I ask You to do the impossible once again... but not My will, but Yours be done. You know what is best, and I choose to trust You, even when it hurts. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Monday, December 6, 2010

God's Best

Borrowing this devo thought from a friends FB status yesterday...

... that every relationship rests on three legs: accepting, supporting and challenging. That's really it, isn't it? You want your relationships to be grounded on accepting each other as you are. On supporting each other through the inevitable ups and downs. On challenging each other to become more, to grow, to flourish. Which one of these is the more difficult one for you, and how are you going to practice it in the next 24 hours?

On this day, after investing years in growing a friendship, loving and accepting each other, leaning on each other through life's many ups and downs...encouraging some dear friends to grow and flourish is the hardest. Today, God's idea and mine on how to do this are far different. His idea is hard to swallow. As I have reflected on all that God is doing and how I can encourage my friends, a familiar verse from Proverbs echoes in my mind...

"In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps." Proverbs 16:9

Selfishly, I want God to work out His challenging, growing and flourishing right here, locally. But His idea, is to do it somewhere else. Today I must practice this by loving my friends enough to let them go, knowing that when God determines their steps, His way is His best for them. As much as I may want things to work out my way, that's my selfish side talking. That's me planning the course of our future. But when I set that aside, and believe God is answering prayer, making a way where there seemed to be no way, doing what seemed impossible...I am reminded that He has everything under control, and He knows best. In that mindset, I can say to my friends in an unselfish way...

"May [God] give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed." Psalm 20:4

Sunday, December 5, 2010

God Gave Me An Idea...

"So God gave me the idea..." Nehemiah 7:5 (NLT)
"So my God put it into my heart..." Nehemiah 7:5 (NIV)

Nehemiah did not take credit for the idea he was about to execute. He fully understood that it was an idea imparted to him by God. For doesn't God's Word say that, "every good and perfect gift is from above"? A good thought or good idea would be a gift from God above, meant for the carrying out of His good works and purposes.

When I face challenges, I can ask God to give me an idea. A thought to solve the problem. A thought to change my perspective. A thought to direct my steps. I can ask Him to put a thought, an idea, in my heart.

Lord Jesus, I am facing some challenges in several areas of life. I ask You now to please put Your thoughts into my heart as I need to make changes, move forward, hold back. Change my faulty thinking and make my thoughts Your thoughts, so that I can be certain I am doing Your will and walking in Your ways. Let Your thoughts echo until I understand and do as You ask. In Jesus' Name I Pray, Amen.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Unexpected Blessings

"And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds." Hebrews 10:24

I was at the mall yesterday running an errand before meeting a friend for lunch when I got an unexpected blessing. As I rounded the corner headed to my destination a stranger spoke the words "God bless you ma'am!" in the sweetest way. It was spoken as if right into my ear because we passed in such close proximity. I was aware enough to know I was passing a couple walking hand in hand, but wasn't paying close attention, and didn't take note of their faces... I was in my own little world. I don't know what prompted the word of blessing, but it caught me off guard in a good way, and touched me!

After mentioning the experience to my friend, she was reminded of this video she'd seen of an unexpected Christmas blessing bestowed on unsuspecting patrons at a mall...

Unexpected blessing are sometimes the best kind. Little acts or words of kindness can make someone's day. And while we may never know how great the impact, God knows just what each person needs... and when. He might wish to use you, or He might want to use me, to express His love at just the right moment.

These thoughts reminded me of a note I used to have posted inside my bathroom cabinet that said "How can I bless others today?" In accordance with God's Word we are to spur one another on to love and do good deeds. Would you be willing to ask the Lord how you might bless someone unexpectedly in the coming days, and then come back and post a comment about what God prompted you to do? Or post how you've been blessed by someone else's unexpected act of kindness towards you, like my experience at the mall. Being a blessing IS a blessing. I would love to read about God's hand at work in and through your life! And as we share ideas, we also receive ideas, to spur one another on...

Friday, December 3, 2010

Build My People Up

"We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him up." Romans 15:1-2

After cross-referencing this verse in multiple translations, I understand it to say that especially when I am strong in my faith and convictions, I have an obligation to bear with or be considerate of those around me. Those who are sensitive, those who might fail or disappoint me, those who doubt or are weak in their faith. I must not seek to just please myself. I shouldn't be "me-focused" but "others-focused". I am called by God to help my neighbor, my family member, my friend, my co-worker, or whomever God puts in my path, to do what is right by edifying them, strengthening them, and building them up spiritually in the Lord.

Thank You Lord for the many people that have had (and continue to have) patience with me as I have grown up in my faith. Thank You for those that faithfully interceded on my behalf. Thank You for the timely advice and encouragement from friends. Thank You for giving me a song for every season to praise You, or to keep a flicker of hope alive. Thank You mostly for Your Word - the many scriptures that have sustained me. Help me Lord to be an encourager and lifter of spirits to those around me that need to be built up in You today. In Jesus' Name I Pray, Amen.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

How Beautiful the Feet...

The feet of my co-laborers and I spreading the Good News
of Jesus to people on the streets of New York City

"How, then, can they call on the One they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the One whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, 'How beautiful are the feet of those who bring Good News!'" Romans 10:14-15

This passage ends with a word of praise: "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring Good News!" My God says to me that when I am sharing the Good News of Jesus with others, not only is the message and act of obedience a thing of beauty, but even so my feet.  Feet are beautiful in His eyes when they are used to walk across the room, across the street, or around the world as an instrument for His glory, to bring Good News to ears that need to hear.

Examining this passage in reverse order, I see God's instruction. In order for the lost to hear, I must go when and where God prompts. When I go, I must be willing to open my mouth and testify to what Christ has done for me, and what He has done for those I am speaking to. Once they have been told, they have the option to believe. They now have that choice as a result of the obedience of the one whose feet dared to go and bring them the Good News!

God's divine plan for all to know Him is carried out through the command of the great commission in Acts 1:8. His desire is that each one of us would dare to go somewhere. That we would boldly open our mouths and share the Gospel. That one by one, His children would be eternally delivered from sin and into a personal relationship with Him.

I am personally praying about the specific country God is calling me to next. Where is He calling you? Across the room, across the street, around the world? Don't be surprised if He calls you to all three or any combination thereof! How will they know unless we tell them? How would you have know had someone not dared to walk across the room and tell you?

Father God, I am eternally grateful for those that dared to open their mouths and tell me the Good News. And I am honored to be used by You to do the same. Thank You that already in my lifetime You have called me to Jerusalem (locally), Judea (Florida), Samaria (this nation), and to the ends of the earth (internationally). Please continue to use me to be Your hands and feet - my hands to write, my mouth to speak, and my feet to go - to testify about Your goodness. Each time You use me, I am blessed beyond measure! In Jesus' Name, Amen. 

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

I Am Secure

"Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? ...No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus..." Romans 8:35, 37-39

God's Word says that nothing can separate the believer from the love of Christ. As a believer, with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, I am secure. To be convinced of these things means I absolutely believe God's Word is true and am pursuaded beyond doubt. Nothing I could dream up, nothing I could imagine, nothing that I could say, do or think would ever cut me off from God's love for me. He will never throw His hands up at me and say, "That's it... she's crossed the line one too many times!", because my God also promises over and over in His Word to never leave me, forsake me or abandon me. And when my God says never, He means it to the 5th power... never, never, never, never, no never! He wants me to know He is serious about that and He keeps His word.

Now this is not to say that if I make poor choices I can just skate by. Poor choices without God's forgiveness lead to a break-down in communication with Him. When I say, do or think something that is not pleasing to Him or does not line up with His Word, it is my responsibility to seek His forgiveness and make right the situation. The keeps my hands clean and my heart pure before Holy God. Where sin keeps me bound up, repentance and forgiveness keep me free, unchained and in right relationship with Him. His Word is saying that even before I confess, when I am in between sin and forgiveness, or being attacked on all fronts, in the midst of trials and suffering, or persecution or poverty, under threats or oppression, or whatever the case, if by faith I have trusted Christ, my salvation is secure in Him.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Give with a Happy Heart

"Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver." 2 Corinthians 9:7

When God pulls on my heartstrings to give, the notion to do so is usually accompanied by specific direction as to "what" or "how much" to give. If out of obedience I agree in my heart to give what God instructed me to, then I should immediately get busy about my giving assignment. I should do so with a smile on my face and a happy heart as one who wants to give out of love for her Lord, not grudgingly, reluctantly or with attitude, because "God loves a cheerful giver".

Thank You Father for blessing my family and showing us practical ways we can bless others with our time, talents and treasure. Make us a blessing to others as we enter int to this holiday season. In Jesus' Name I Pray, Amen.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Sifting Through Life

"Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil." 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22

Two verses. Three words of instruction. These three represent a form of sifting I should do in my life on a day to day, moment to moment basis as a believer. Whether sifting through my own thoughts, situation, things spoken to me, about me, or life in general, I must sort through to determine what is of the Lord, and what is not. Just as I have learned to take my thoughts captive, this instruction is like a sieve. A gadget I can put things through to sort the good from the bad; the godly from the ungodly.

First, God's Word instructs me to "test everything". Test it for truth and accuracy against what God's Word says about such a thought, comment, circumstance, situation, Himself, or me. Once tested, I should "hold on to what is good". That is, I should hold on to, as Philippians 4:8 instructs, whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy. Whatever falls through the sieve that is false, ungodly or even hinting at evil of any kind, should be discarded. I should let those things go and avoid or abstain from them. In using God's Word as a sieve in this way, I can more accurately navigate my thought life, my responses and spiritual warfare, and live a life pleasing to Him.

Thank You Lord for Your Word which guides and instructs my life. Help me Lord to sift out things that are not pleasing to You and only hold on to the good. Use the good I pray, to make me more like You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.


Sunday, November 28, 2010

Just a Thought...

Just sharing a thought I've had after a really long season of sifting...

"Sometimes I believe we are sifted to prove where our loyalties lie."  ~ Pamela Mattox

To elaborate just a tad, sometimes I believe we are allowed to be sifted so that Jesus can prove to the enemy where our loyalties lie. He gives Satan permission to sift us as wheat. In Luke 22:31-32 Jesus says "Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers." My Bible is marked March 1, 2005 when the Lord gave me that verse and impressed upon my heart that I would begin a season of sifting. I'm still not sure if we're done yet, and I know I am not the only one in the world being sifted. Prayerfully, it will be proven that our loyalties, regardless of how difficult the circustances we endure, lie with Him.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Safe in His Arms

"Those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion, which cannot be shaken but endures forever." Psalm 125:1

"Those who trust in the LORD" encompasses all believers. Everyone, Jesus says, who has been "born of water and the Spirit" (John 3:5). Those who have been "born again" with new life in Christ (John 3:7), who trust in, lean on and confidently put their hope in the LORD. These believers "are like Mount Zion". Mountains symbolize firmness and stability. Mount Zion's root meaning is "landmark", translated "fortress" or tower of strength. It is called in Isaiah "The City of Righteousness". A place representing those who know God and who are known by God. So everyone who trusts in the LORD is secure, like a fortress. Psalm 46:5 says, "God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at the break of day."

One this secure "cannot be shaken", moved or defeated by the power of any adversary. The secure endure forever - standing, abiding, lasting in Him. Those committed to God shall be safe from their enemies. Our troubles shall last no longer than the God-given strength we are given to bear them. The enemy may come against the righteous - the person, their family, their property, their health, their wealth, their freedom or name - anything that is a part of them, but he cannot touch their soul. The believer's soul is secure and sealed with Christ until the day of redemption (Ephesians 4:30).

My Jesus, my trust is in You. I lean on and place my confidence in You and You alone. You are my Rock, my Fortress and in You I am secure and cannot be shaken. Though the enemy may come against me, Your Word promises that You will be my help and my Safe Place. My soul is secure in You. As Phil Wickham sings, I will be safe in Your arms, Lord. Thank You in Jesus' name.

Friday, November 26, 2010

The LORD is My Help

"I will lift up my eyes to the hills - where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD." Psalm 121:1-2

Where do I turn when I am in need but to the LORD. When I am helped it is always because the LORD chose to help me. As I plead for help in my struggles I must turn to the LORD. He is my ever-present help in times of trouble, trial and struggles. He is my "Need Meeter". His Word is meant to be my guide. Should help appear to come from any other source - comfort or encouragement from a friend, a much needed hug, a timely phone call, the right song at the right moment, a check in the mail, an eleventh-hour save, a way out - it is because He deemed it so. He often chooses to use the hands and feet of those who care about me to minister when I am desperate or distraught, with just the right touch at just the right time. The LORD is always faithful to meet my needs, how ever He chooses to help!

Father, forgive me for worrying. I know it adds nothing to my day. I turn my heart to You and leave my cares at Your feet. You are my help in times of trouble. You are my shelter in the storm. You are the Maker of heaven and earth - nothing is too difficult for Thee! In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Praise the Lord

"Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. Praise the LORD." Psalm 150:6

Praise God in the sanctuary.
Praise Him in the heavens.
Praise Him for His acts of power.
   ...for His surpassing greatness.
Praise Him through music.
Let everything that has breath, praise the LORD.

To praise literally means to admire, commend, exalt, bow down in order to lift up another, to honor, proclaim, rave over, sing the praises of, and to worship. Praise also includes expressions of gratitude. On this day set aside to give thanks, I have considered the ways giving thanks to Him includes all these things. I should give thanks to God in the sanctuary, and will give Him thanks one day in heaven. I am called to thank Him for the powerful ways He has worked in and through my life. I thank Him for who He is - the characteristics of Himself that I know Him by, and the ones I have yet to understand. Though my voice is not the most joyful sound to my ears, He says it is to His - so I should thank Him through song. As long as I have breath in me my attitude should be one of gratitude and I should be thanking the LORD!

Thank You Lord Jesus for the mighty ways You have moved and worked in my life. Thank You for being my Father, Healer, Deliverer, Redeemer, Restorer, Provider, Sustaining Power, and for being Able to do more than I could ever ask or imagine. Help me Father to be reminded all through the day of Your greatness, that I may praise You and give You thanks. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Boldly & Unashamedly

"...enable your servant to speak Your Word with great boldness... After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the Word of God boldly." Acts 4:29, 31

Through the power of the Holy Spirit God's people are able to speak the Word of God boldly; He enables them. In difficult times, in threatening times, in uncertain times, in peaceful  times. Whatever the setting, God can give power to speak His Word with great boldness and unashamedly by the filling of the Holy Spirit. Pray and ask Him!

Father God, Please fill me to overflowing with the Holy Spirit and give me the power to speak the truth in love with great boldness in every situation...unashamedly. Help me to be outspoken in giving You praise, honor and glory. Please remove all fear to be bold, because when I am focused on fear, I am focused on the wrong person. Thank You Lord that through Your power I am able. In Jesus Name I Pray, Amen.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Make My Heart Clean

"...the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man unclean." Matthew 15:18

My thought life is important to God, and it is directly connected to my mood, attitude and tone. Whatever comes out of my mouth is a reflection of the condition of my heart. God's Word says, "For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks." (Matthew 12:34) The actual words I speak however, convey only a small part of the message. My attitude, tone and body language communicate even more.

If I dwell on thoughts that are not pleasing to Lord, or thoughts that do not represent truth, my heart will eventually lead me to sin with my lips, or worse. Psalm 39:1-3 speaks volumes to me about how something affecting my heart can eventually make it through my lips and not only affect me, but others. It says...

     "I will watch my ways and keep my tongue from sin;
          I will put a muzzle over my mouth as long as the wicked are in my presence.
      But when I was silent and still, not even saying anything good, my anguish increased.
          My heart grew hot within me, and as I meditated, the fire burned;
          then I spoke with my tongue."

It takes a conscious effort to keep the tongue from sinning. God's Word says it is as though I should put a muzzle over my mouth when I am in the presence of someone who is grumbling, complaining, gossiping, or the like, so that I do not give in to temptation and chime in. Even more than that, though I may keep my lips silent, I must stay in tune with my thought life. If my inward thoughts are agreeing by "not saying anything good" and I choose to meditate on them, they can lead to my own feelings of anger, anguish, depression or despair... and my heart will grow "hot within me".

As I choose to dwell on such thoughts, or play over and over in my mind the events that upset me, they will become like fire burning within me, and likely come out of my mouth. I might speak words of anger or frustration about the situation bothering me, or it might show up in my general mood and tone to the point I take it out on someone unsuspecting and underserving, pulling them down with me.

The remedy? I must continually take my thoughts captive. I must replace each lie or negative thought with a life-giving truth from God's Word. (f.ex. I may be treated this way or that by so-and-so, but God's Word says I am precious in His sight.) When my heart and mind are focused on God, the Mender, Fixer and Healer, vs. on the details of a tough situation, my mood should follow and my lips reflect a heart that is right with Him.

Create in me a clean heart, oh God. A pure heart whose thoughts are fixed on You. Keep my lips from sinning, I pray. May my attitude, tone and mood be a reflection of You. Thank You for constantly moving in my life, refining me and working to make me more like You. In Jesus Name, Amen.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Immediate Obedience

"After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the Gospel to them." Acts 16:10 (emphasis mine)

Immediately after receiving a vision from the Lord about going to Macedonia to preach the Gospel, Paul and his companion got ready and went. God spoke. Paul listened. Paul believed what he heard God telling him and acted on it immediately. He acted with immediate obedience, without question or doubt, without hesitation, and without need for a second or third sign that this was what he was supposed to do. In faith, he just obeyed and left the details - the how, what, why - to God.

Father, help me to always be diligent in my obedience. When You speak or prompt, help me to walk in immediate obedience, knowing that any other kind is not obedience at all, and carry out whatever You ask me to do. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Faithful One

God is faithful to me.
God has always been faithful to me.
God will forever be faithful to me.

Because my God is Yahweh, The Faithful One, and He never changes.

Thank You Lord for Your faithfulness to me and to my family. You have always been faithful, therefore I know You will continue to be faithful in the future, for current needs and needs yet to come. Thank You Lord that I can always count on You!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Spiritually Prosperous

Matthew 5:3-12, The Beatitudes

God's Word says in the Beatitudes that I am blessed or spiritually prosperous (AMP) when certain attributes are experienced or displayed in my life. In her study A Beautiful Offering, Angela Thomas refers to the Beatitudes as the "When You Are's". I recalled that phrase as I read this passage again today. This is a paraphrase of how it impressed me...

I prosper spiritually when I am poor in spirit, for the kingdom of heaven is mine.
I prosper spiritually when I mourn, for I will be comforted.
I prosper spiritually when I am meek (or humble), for I will inherit the earth.
I prosper spiritually when I hunger and thirst for righteousness, for my God promises I will
     be filled.
I prosper spiritually when I am merciful, for I will be shown mercy.
I prosper spiritually when I am pure in heart, for I will see God.
I prosper spiritually when I am a peacemaker, for I will be called [a daughter] of God.
I prosper spiritually when I am persecuted because of righteousness, for the kingdom of
     heaven is mine.

I prosper spiritually when I am insulted, persecuted or falsely accused. It is then that I am called to rejoice and be glad, because great will be my reward in heaven, for in the same way the prophets who went before me were also persecuted.

Father, when I am feeling poor in spirit, grieving or persecuted, I know from experience that it drives me to You in prayer. Spending more time in Your presence and in Your Word always prospers me spiritually, because I get to know more intimately who You are. For that reason, hard as it is to do in my flesh under these conditions, I choose to rejoice and be glad because I am growing in my relationship with You, and that helps me walk taller and stronger in my faith. Praise You Jesus!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Power in the Name

"Jesus said to him, 'Away from me , Satan!' For it is written, 'Worship the Lord your God and serve Him only.'" Matthew 4:10
There is power in the name of Jesus. Power to cast away the enemy. Power to speak His words of life into my life. Power in proclaiming who He is - and what His Word says He can do. If I am not taking my every thought captive in obedience to Christ, but instead, buy into the lies the enemy plants in my head, I am showing regard for, or attention to, the enemy - knowingly or unknowingly. My God clearly says HE is the only one I should be worshiping and serving.

I must fix my mind on the truth about who God is and what His Word says. This requires devoted time in prayer and His Word. As I am learning to speak His Word - which are words of life - into my life, my family's life, my circumstances and so on, I sense the power of Christ within me. I have learned to speak it out loud so the enemy can hear me, because only God is omniscient, or all-knowing. Only God can know my thoughts, not Satan. Keeping my eyes fixed on God crowds out the enemy and leaves less and less room for attack. I do this through prayer, scripture, meditating on a passage or the names and characteristics of God, through writing about Him, filling my ears with Christian music, etc. When the enemy does rear his ugly head, as a believer, I have power and authority to speak to him in Jesus' name. I might say to him, "In Jesus' name you must get away from me Satan! God's Word says that He will make my enemies a footstool under my feet. You must flee. Your rightful place is under my feet!"

In this world we are promised trouble. We are also living in a spiritual battle. The enemy will come. He will attack. He will accuse. He will condemn. He will confuse. But I must take heart, knowing I can come against every attack with power in Jesus' name and speak life by exercising the sword of the Spirit, which is God's Word. It is "alive and full of power" and "sharper than any two-edged sword" (Hebrews 4:12, AMP). This means it is active, energizing, operative and effective. It is one of my God-given weapons (Ephesians 6:10-18). The sooner I recognize the enemy's schemes and address them, the better off and the stronger I will be. And as a safeguard, I should daily and out loud be binding the enemy from my family, my home, my marriage and breathing words of life, not doom and gloom, so that my eyes remain fixed on my Jesus.

Father, the enemy has been relentless as of late. Thank You for the many ways You have been reminding me of the power that resides within me because You live in me. Thank You for giving me eyes to see and wisdom to recognize the lies. Please give me strength in You as I stand firm, sword of the Spirit in hand, rejecting the lies, praising You for who You are, and praying Your words of truth and life - the active, powerful Word of God - into my life. Praise You Father in Jesus' Name, Amen.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Purpose of the Thorn

"'My grace is sufficient for you, My power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me." 
2 Corinthians 12:9

Paul, speaking of the "thorn" in his flesh, is told by Jesus, "My grace is sufficient for you..." A thorn in the flesh may represent a weakness, ongoing circumstance, infirmity, or even a disease that the Lord has divinely permitted in a believer's life. The reasons for the thorn seem to vary. In verse 7, it implies the cause is to keep the believer humble. Verse 8 shows how it can drive us into the presence of the Lord in prayer. And in verse 9, to show others the all-sufficient power of God's grace; that in Christ we are strong even through weakness.

Are my "thorns" keeping me humble - or making me angry and frustrated to the point I risk discrediting my witness?

Driving me to prayer - or a false source of comfort?

Showing others the sufficiency of Christ in my weakness - or do I have a complaining spirit?

Is it evident, that in spite of my circumstances, faults, weaknesses, infirmities, or disease, that Christ's power rests on me - or by my words and actions am I giving Christ a bad name?

Am I using that God-given power to bring Him glory - or bring Him shame?

Father, my heart's desire is to be gracious and humble, to be a woman of prayer, displaying Your  grace and sufficiency in my life in spite of my faults and weaknesses. I want my life to bring You honor and glory in all that I do and say. Empower me I pray. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Faith in God

My daughter and I have both been home sick this week. One of her make-up assignments from the teacher was to write on a topic of her choosing for a Public Speaking Program the school is participating in this week. As we put the finishing touches on her work last night I asked if I could have permission to upload her story - just as it was written - as a guest post on my blog for today. She excitedly said "yes!" Here is her story...may it encourage you!

~ by Emily Mattox, age 10

2008 was a begining of a tough 2 years for my family, but God was with us through all those difficult days.Thankfuly God was giving all of these songs to listen to and there were two special songs that he gave me.The songs that God gave me were "Walk on the Water" by Britt Nicole and "What Faith Can Do" by Kutless.

The trial began after my mom and me were getting sick constantly. We had an inspecter come in and he found toxic mold. You could not see the mold at all. He found it in the walls of our kichen and mostly in the walls of my bedroom.  Before we knew the mold existed I had reactive arthritus all over my body. For days I could barrly move or walk.

With toxic mold we could no longer live in our house. We moved in with my grandma thinking that we would only be there a few weeks, but we turned out living there 22 months! It took that long to get the house tested, cleared out of mold and our things taken to the dump. We lost about 95% of our belongings. My mom had to throw almost everything in my room away! Then we painted the rooms and the outside and got everything in the house done and put it on the market and sold it. Then we started looking for a new home.

My mom always wanted to live in Copper Ridge on a street called Amethyst. We were rejoysing to God when He answered her prayer and our realter found us a house on Amethyst!

The night that we closed on our house we invited some friends over that were praying for us and we wrote on the walls. You are probibly thinking that my family is crazy, but we wrote Bible verses on the walls and then painted over them. But we can always know it's there and think of the friends that wrote on our walls. Thirteen days later we got to move in after my mom and dad painted, bought new furniture and put it all together. Me and my brother had no idea what our rooms would look like. It was a surprise. When we got to move in and see it was like our own extreme home make-over!

It all ended up good but on tough days music and prayer really helped us. "Walk on the Water" by Britt nicole helped me the most. The lines that got me through were...

             Step out even when it's stormin',
             step out even when you're broken,
             step out even when your heart is telling you, telling you give up,
             step out so you can see where you're going,
    don't have to be afraid.

The song means that even through tough times you still need to press on and foucus on what you are doing. The other song, "What Faith Can Do" is based on having to make a new begining and not to give up. I have learned when life is hard I will always have faith in God.


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Treasuring God's Word

"I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my daily bread." Job 23:12

God's Word is to be treasured more than my daily bread...

How much do I treasure God's Word? Do I rank it of higher priority than food? Food sustains my life, but God's Word even more! I have learned through difficult and devastating trials that my "daily bread" can be so much less than what the world says it should be - and yet still be more than enough. What truly sustains my life each day is the life-giving sustenance of the Word of God. He has shown me that if I will come to the table hungry, He will feed me!

Father, help me come to the table of Your Word with a hunger for You; a hunger for a nugget of truth that I can cling to, bask in and marinate my life with each day. And help me to hide Your Word in my heart. Lord, I want to treasure Your Word more than my daily bread. Fill me up on You I pray. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Suffering & Deliverance

"We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many."  2 Corinthians 1:8-11

My God is my Comforter. He comforts me so that I can be a comfort to others. He came to comfort because He knew there would be discomfort in our lives. His Word tells us that His sufferings will overflow into our lives for the purpose of producing patient endurance. These sufferings will include hardships that come in all manner of degrees and descriptions. Sometimes the pressure will be great and seem beyond our human ability to endure. It can leave us feeling desperate or even under a sentence of death. So why does God allow such suffering? His Word says it is so that "we might not rely on ourselves", but on Him, for He alone has the power to raise up the dead. 

So what are we to do? We are to set our hope on Christ, who no doubt has delivered us before, and can do it again in response to our prayers and the prayers of others on our behalf. And when the answer does come, He asks us to give Him thanks. Thanks for the favor He granted us as a result of our petitions.

Thank You Lord that my prayers and the prayers of others for me are not in vain. You do hear our pleas and You will answer according to Your best for me. My hope is in You! In Jesus Name I Pray, Amen.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Bad Company

"Bad company corrupts good character." 1 Corinthians 15:33

I remind my children of this truth from God's Word often and encourage them to choose their friends wisely. Keeping company with the ungodly on a regular basis corrupts the character of the godly.

God's Word says in Galatians 6:7 that we will reap what we sow. When we sow extended amounts of time with ungodly friends in activities, conversations not led of the Lord, or in places not pleasing to God, we will eventually reap what we sow. Little by little we will lose our footing until we lose our way, give in to tempation...and sin. Repeated sin corrupts the once godly person's character. To corrupt means to tarnish, damage, defile, taint, hurt, mar, disgrace, dishonor, spoil or misuse the temple of the Holy Spirit - which is our body. We do this by subjecting the Holy Spirit to things displeasing to the Lord we view with our eyes, hear with our ears, speak with our mouths, think in our hearts, subject our bodies to, or activities we participate in, that are not God's best for our lives.

On another level, lack of knowledge about the spiritual world of warfare may cause us to unknowingly be keeping bad company with the enemy, Satan. He is deceptive and sneaky. He can corrupt good character by simply placing a negative or ungodly thought in the mind of a believer and trick them into thinking the thought is their own. If those thoughts are not taken captive and replaced with God's truths (2 Corinthians 10:5), we begin to believe his lies or nagging thoughts and act upon them. Sometimes they lead to sin which in turn, corrupts good character. Here is a classic example of the enemy's craftiness:

A husband and wife have a disagreement. Before long, Satan plants the thoughts in one of their minds, "They'll never change, my marriage is doomed, I can't keep living like this, I deserve better!" The enemy does it in such a way as to make them think these thoughts are thier own. Once they agree with the statements in their mind, their guard comes down, and it might not be long before the enemy dangles "the one" they think they deserve in front of their eyes. Because their guard is down, they might make an effort to talk to that person, linger to be around them, begin texting or talking to them via social networking, and so on...until they damage or even ruin their marriage, tarnish their once godly character, and find out the grass really wasn't greener on the other side. All because they kept company with thoughts planted by the enemy.

So how do we keep our character in tact? By keeping close company with like-minded believers who sharpen us, steer clear of things that tempt us (people, drugs, alcohol, gossip, pornography, and so on), and quicken our minds to recognize the lies and thoughts planted by the enemy, and replace them with God's truths.
Father God, help me to make good choices about the company I keep. Help me to steer clear of situations that tempt me. Help me to recognize immediately thoughts and lies from the enemy, and replace them with Your truths. Help me to stand firm in my faith, guarded with the sword of the Spirit (Your Word), and represent You well. I ask this in Jesus' name, Amen.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Just "Noise"

"If I could speak all the languages of the earth and of angels, but didn't love others, I would only be a noisy gong or clanging cymbal." 1 Corinthians 13:1 (NLT)

In order to be received well by others, God's Word says I must speak in love. I specifically think about this passage as it applies to my family - my husband and children in particular - those that would most often receive the brunt of a less than loving mood. If I do not speak to them in love, I am just "noise" to their ears. I don't want to be noise. I want my words to be spoken in love, reflecting the love of Christ within me, and received.

Father God, You deal with me so lovingly and no doubt, as a Father, speak words of love over me. Help me to speak that way to my husband and my children...words of love, words of life, that they might fall on a receptive heart and ears. I don't want my words to be noise because of the way they are spoken. I want my words to build them up, to be soothing, healing, encouraging, edifying, affirming, and most importantly, loving. Empower me to do Your will I pray. In Jesus' Name, Amen. 

Friday, November 12, 2010

Be Careful Not to Fall

"So if you think you are stading firm, be careful that you do not fall." 1 Corinthians 10:12

When we think we are standing firm and strong enough to resist temptation in our own strength, we have become wise in our own eyes. Beware! This is a dangerous place to be. To think we would never do this or that - in other words, standing firm - we are most at risk for tempatation or falling. The enemy lies in wait, looking for someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8). Who better than a believer that declares, as with a self-vow, that they will always or never do something. Instead, we should say, "Lord willing, I will never..." The moment we make a blanket vow, knowingly or unknowingly, implying that in our own strength we can resist something, the enemy sneaks a toe in the door and looks for opportunity to test that vow and bring the believer down. We are to stand firm, but not on our own. We are to stand firm in the strength and power of the Lord.

Have you made any self-vows, knowingly or unknowingly? These are "I will always" and "I will never" statements. One of the most dangerous examples I can think of is "I would never have an affair." Be careful. If you think you can resist this in your own strength, on your own good morals, watch out. The enemy is crafty. He might first get you a little disgruntled in your marriage, then dangle really good relationships in front of you, causing you to desire more for yourself. Even convincing you that you deserve it. Then no doubt he'll send someone along to pay you the attention you "deserve". And whether you ever go there physically, you have sinned once you go there in your mind, envisioning yourself with that person. The enemy crept in, tested the one who thought they would "never" and proved that given the right circumstances, they "would". Unfortunately I have seen it happen on more than one occasion. So walk carefully and on guard.

Father God, help me to stand firm and strong in You, in the power of the Living Word, fully armed and dressed for battle. In Jesus Name, Amen.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Change My Heart Oh God

"[The LORD] who turned the rock into a pool, the hard rock into springs of water." Psalm 114:8

God can totally change things. He has the power to change people, circumstances, and even hearts. He turned a rock into springs of water. My God can change my heart that way. Where it is hard, He can soften it. He can turn it into springs of water, flowing with life in Him.

Lord Jesus, I've been praying and asking You to make my heart right in a certain situation. After reading this passage I am reminded that You can make the hard places soft again - even flowing like springs of water - springs that reflect You, point people to You and make others thirst for You. Would You do that in my heart I pray? Turn the hard places into a wellspring of life again... In Jesus' Name I Pray, Amen.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Saturate Me, Lord!

"And he said to man, 'the fear of the Lord - that is wisdom, and to shun evil is understanding.'" Job 28:28

Fear of the Lord means to have a reverential trust in Him. It leads me to be humble, obedient and worshipful towards  Him. To shun evil is to hate what is not pleasing to God and turn away or steer clear from it. God's Word says that fearing God and trusting Him brings wisdom; turning from evil brings about understanding. As I trust the Lord and abstain from those things that do not please God, He makes clear the path that leads to life abundant in Him (Proverbs 3:5-6). Fools despise wisdom and discipline (Proverbs 1:7). Knowledge of the Holy One also brings understanding (Proverbs 9:10). The only way to gain this spiritual kind of wisdom is to spend time with God,  habitually walking and talking with Him, soaking up the Son by basking in His Word. When I know - truly know -  who God is, I can take Him at His Word, believing that He is who He says He is and He will do what He says He will do. Regardless of my circumstances, I choose to believe God and speak the Living Word of God into my life. As I do, I'm trusting Him, worshiping Him, believing Him, understanding Him more fully, and gaining wisdom.

Oh Father, saturate me with Your Word. Fill me up with grace and power to speak Your Word with great confidence. Sharpen my mind with Your Word and make me an effective tool in Your hands I pray. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Begin with Me

"This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom, but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words." 1 Corinthians 2:13

True wisdom comes not from this world, but from God alone. When I write, I pen the things the Holy Spirit impresses on my heart after spending time with Him in prayer and His Word. To the unbeliever it may sound like foolishness because they are things spiritually discerned. But to the believer who reads my blog, may they be a source of encouragement, conviction and challenge. May these entries always begin with application to my own heart and life first.

Help me Father to have a discerning heart, yielded to the Holy Spirit, and write as You inspire - not for man - but for my own spiritual growth in You. I ask this in Your Holy Name, Amen.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Adequate in Christ

" Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everybody. You should know that you are a letter from Christ...written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts. Such confidence as this is ours through Christ before God. Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God." 2 Corinthians 3:1-5 

Commending yourself is pride, and pride is sin. My life should be a testimony of what God has done, like a letter written on the tablet of my heart. My competence, my abilities, my sufficiency - anything that appears adequate within me - comes from God.

Thank You Lord that in You and You alone, I am competent, able and adequate to do everything You call me to do. In Jesus Name, Amen.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Not for Profit

"Unlike so many, we do not peddle the Word of God for a profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, like men sent from God." 2 Corinthians 2:17

As I pondered the thought of starting a blog, wondering if anyone would want to read what the Lord leads me to pen in my Life Journal, I believe He divinely pointed me to this scripture. I was supposed to be reading Galatians 3 that day, and thought I was, but glanced back and noticed an underlined verse in chapter 2. As I decided to write on that passage, I realized I was actually in 2 Corinthians - but right where God wanted me. It was as though He was speaking to and affirming my decision to blog and giving clear direction. This is what I penned that day...

My God breathes life into His Word so that I might understand the mystery of His Words and His ways. The wisdom I gain comes from a stirring in my heart and mind by the Lord after sitting at His feet, feasting at His table. So who am I to think I should make a profit from God's inspiration? All that I have, all that I am, all that I ever hope to be comes from the hand of God. I am simply called to speak and share with sincerity, as a woman called by God. May my pen be divinely inspired to write in a thought provoking way that encourages others with straightforwardness, honesty, transparency and goodwill, from the heart.

Father God, 

Thank You for Your Word; for clear direction as I put my toe in the water and venture out in obedience to share the things that You are teaching me.  I ask for Your blessings, Your favor and a boldness to share unashamedly. 

In Jesus' Name I Pray, Amen.