Tuesday, November 8, 2011

"Fruitfulness in Ministry"

"I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who makes things grow." 1 Corinthians 3:6-7

Some are called to be planters and others waterers, but God is the means by which one grows. God is the One who gives the increase. And increase is a continuing work of God. When a plant grows it is because God caused it to do so. David Guzik once said, "Real fruitfulness in ministry happens when we are peacefully content with what God has called us to do."

Verse 8 concludes by saying, "the man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose, and each will be rewarded according to his own labor." This reminds us that we are all on the same team - both planters and waterers - working toward the same goal. Reward is not given for our talent or giftedness in planting or watering, but according to our labor in doing so.

Lord Jesus, You are Sovereign over all things. Thank You for calling me to work for You. I know I cannot work without You. Show me daily what You want me to do. In Jesus' name, amen.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

"Playing Favorites"

"...God does not show favortism, but accepts men from every nation who fear Him and do what is right." Acts 10:34b-35

In our humanness, it is sometimes hard to wrap our minds around the fact that God has no favorites. He, with no impartiality, accepts everyone who fears His name and lives according to His Word.

I must admit, sometimes I struggle with insecurity in this area. I may look at others and see how they are growing in their faith or what they are accomplishing for the Lord, and think in the back of my mind, "They must be one of God's favorites!" The next day my thoughts might be turned the other way around. I might strive to do things without checking the motives in my heart and realize, I am secretly trying to earn a spot on "God's Favorites" list. In reality, these are foolish lies I am buying in to; deception from the enemy himself.

Truth is, according to God's Word (the standard by which I am to live my life by), God does not play "favorites". Hard as it is to comprehend some days, we are looked upon with favor, but not in such a way that one person is elevated above another. God's Word says in Psalm 5:12, "For surely You, O LORD, You bless the righteous; You surround them with Your favor." 

To be surrounded with favor means to be guarded on every side as with a shield. "...the favor of God is to the saints a defense on every side." (Matthew Henry)  It is meant to be a place of divine protection. A place I can feel safe and satisfied. As God's child I am favored...and so are you!

Lord Jesus, Help me to understand that Your favor is a form of protection in my life. A place of security and satisfaction. Help me to be satisfied in being favored by You! In Jesus' name I pray, amen.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

A Few of My Favorite Things...

A quiet morning at the beach...



Alone time with God and His Word...


Mid-morning sun and the sound of the crashing waves under my umbrella...


...joined by my husband and a good book!



"If I ride the wings of the morning, if I dwell by the farthest oceans,
even there your hand will guide me, and Your strength will support me."
Psalm 139:9-10

Thank You Lord, for meeting me at the ocean's edge.
Time alone with You at the beach is like therapy for my soul.

* * *

Just for fun!
Favorite beach memories...


Beach parties with the boys...


Beach parties with our girl (and sand bucket cake!)...


Beach weekends with family...


 ...and my favorite beach picture of all time.

(Miss you Billy Mattox!)







Sunday, August 28, 2011

Heart Matters

"I am He who searches hearts and minds, and I will repay each of you according to your deeds." Revelation 2:23b

My God sees my heart and knows the motive behind every thought in my mind. What is in my heart and on my mind matters to Him. His Word says that "Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart" (1 Samuel 16:7b). It also says that after He searches the heart and examines the mind, He will reward man "according to his conduct, according to what his deeds deserve" (Jeremiah 17:10). I am reminded as well that I am called to acknowledge the Lord, serve Him with wholehearted devotion, and a willing mind (1 Chronicles 28:9). Jeremiah said on more than one occasion, "for to You I have committed my cause".

If I surrender my will, my own fleshly dreams and desires, to God's will; if I make His cause, my cause...then prayerfully my hearts desire and my dreams will line up with His plans for me, and I will live a fruitful life for the kingdom.

Lord Jesus, Please forgive me for the times I have run ahead of You, making plans in vain without first consulting You, or waiting on Your will. I know full well that I may plan my way but it is You Lord, that orders my steps. Test my heart and know my thoughts. Reveal any offensive ways in me. Correct any motives that do not please or glorify You. Align my will with Yours O Lord. In Jesus' name I pray, amen.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Seasons of Drought



"Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose trust is the LORD. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit." Jeremiah 17:7-8


It's been a season of drought. Self-inflicted famine, if you will. It wasn't intentional...it just happened. One day out of the Word, led to two or three in a row at times. Then back to the Word, but for less time and getting seemingly less out of it. That led to fewer journal entries written, and even fewer I was willing to share. I have been feeling more and more depleted. My roots have not been getting nearly enough water, and any remaining moisture in them is drying up. It's time for a lengthy retreat with the Lord! I take full responsibility. I could use the excuses of unexpected circumstances, changes in life, and just being flat worn out...but they would be just that, excuses.

During a devotional time this week my pastor spoke on Matthew 5:6 which says,"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied." He explained that the less we are in the Word, the easier it is to stop being in the Word. But the more we get into the Word, the less satisfied we will be, and the more we will want to be in the Word. That's what it means to "hunger and thirst" for righteousness. To hunger and thirst for more of God. To get a satisfying filling from His Word, and then get hunger pains that make you want to go back for more. I want to be a woman like that. I want to get back to that place...

Father God, I am in desperate need of a retreat alone with You. Time to dwell in Your Word and get filled up on You. To talk to You about the things in my heart, and wait for You to speak to them. I thank You for speaking to the drought in my life before the roots dried up, and for giving me a constant desire to be in Your presence - and for the grace shown when I am not. I want to be a tree whose roots linger by the stream. A well watered tree bearing much fruit for You. Will You help me to re-organize my schedule to include regular, daily time with You again, and have the obedience to be there? Thank You in advance for what You have been doing to make this happen, and for what You surely will do... In Jesus' name, amen.


Saturday, August 6, 2011

Speak, Lord...

"He who belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God." John 8:47

God's children hear His voice. He speaks in accordance with His Word. The parable of the seed and the sower says in Luke 8:15 that seed (or words of the Lord) that fall on good soil, fall on those with a noble and good heart, who hear the Word, retain it and persevere by producing a crop. Those who hear God's voice and walk in obedience, bring the Father glory. Such believers approach the throne with the attitude of Samuel who said, "Speak, Lord, for your servant in listening."

Father God, As I walk and talk with You today, I pray Your Words fall on the fertile soil of my heart, and that my words and actions reflect a heart of obedience and bring You glory. Speak, Lord, for Your servant is listening... I ask this in Jesus' name, amen.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Fruitful Lips

"Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise - the fruit of lips that confess His name." Hebrews 13:15

When life is good, God is worthy of my praise. When life is frustrating, confusing or lacking direction, He is worthy of my praise. And when life is hard or painful, more than anything, I think He wants me to sacrifice the feelings of my flesh and praise His name. Sacrificial praise is costly - it costs me something and it may be inconvenient. On hard days praising Him can be difficult, but out of obedience to God to "continually" offer a sacrifice of praise, I must praise God anyway, especially when nothing in me feels like it. My words - spoken words, not just thoughts - should acknowledge Him, reflecting adoration and gratitude. Lips that praise His name are fruitful.


Father God, When life is good, praise comes easy. When life is hard, it can be a struggle. I have had many a hard day in the past - and will surely have more in the future - when my words of praise were barely more than a monotone act of obedience; a sacrifice of praise. In good times and in bad, I praise You Lord, because You are worthy. You are my God, and You are faithful. Each day, whatever comes my way, is a day You have said I should rejoice and be glad in. May my lips confess Your name through words of praise and bear fruit always. Today I choose to praise Your holy name. Amen.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

"I Saw the Lord..."

Isaiah's Vision

"In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said: "Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!"' Isaiah 6:1-3


This is a passage full of so much depth and symbolism. Ironically, after hearing a powerful mini-sermon on it this weekend at a Celebration of Life service, I came across it again in my Bible reading plan this weekend. My eyes kept wandering back to these three verses and the words, "Holy, holy, holy." I am certainly not a theologian and I feel I have only grasped a treetop portion of its truths in my own study of it, but will share what God has revealed to me...


For starters, we begin with a date stamp to give a time frame of reference. The vision given to Isaiah took place "in the year that King Uzziah died". Matthew Henry's commentary says that visions were given by God to "quicken and fix" His chosen ones to His service. In order to teach others about the knowledge of God, they needed to be well acquainted with God themselves.


In Isaiah's vision he "saw the Lord seated upon a throne, high and lifted up". He was exalted. The Lord was still enthroned in heaven and still in charge of all creation. He was seated on a throne higher and lifted far above all other thrones (the thrones of earthly kings). After His resurrection, God's Word says that He is seated at the right hand of the Father, and John 17:5 mentions it to be the same place He sat before the world came to be: "And now, Father, glorify Me in Your presence with the glory I had with You before the world began." It appears here too that the Lord is seated on His throne in the heavenlies at the right hand of God the Father, "and the train of His robe filled the temple."


According to David Guzik's commentary, kings of that time wore robes with long trains because they were hard to get around and work in. Wearing a long train meant the person was of great importance and should be shown honor and dignity and be served, much like a bride on her wedding day.


Above the Lord were seraphs, or angels, described here as having six wings. Two each covered their faces and their feet, and the two remaining were used for flying. Covering themselves with their wings speaks to their reverence and humility in the presence of the Lord. Their faces could not bear the lustre of God's glory. Even the angels are ashamed to show their faces before holy God because they too make error in the Lord's sight according to Job 4:18, "If God places no trust in His servants, if He charges His angels with error...". Even the angels are not perfect. Only Christ Himself is perfect. 


The wings that were not used as a covering were used to fly, and when needed, to make haste and tend to the Lord's work. Psalm 89:7 indicates that God is greatly feared in the assembly of the saints. It says, "In the counsel of the holy ones, God is greatly feared; He is more awesome than all who surround Him." He is supreme.


All the while the seraphs were calling to one another: "Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty, the earth is full of His glory." As Pastor Jesse Washington spoke on this part the other night, he pointed out that the Bible did not declare the Lord as "Good, good, good", or any other word three times in a row for that matter. No...because He is holy.


And because He is holy, the angel declared it with ever increasing intensity each time they spoke it: Holy, holy, holy. In the Hebrew language it was repetition that communicated intensity. He noted that this is the only word spoken in the Bible three times in a row. When the Lord called some of His servants names twice, He meant business. He was trying to get their undivided attention. So why would "holy" need to be repeated three times? Commentaries say that it was repeated once for each member of the Trinity; three times because there are Three Persons in the One God. Guzik says, "To say the Lord is holy says something. To say He is holy, holy says far more. To say holy, holy, holy is the Lord is to declare His holiness in the highest possible degree."

To be holy indicates apartness; to be set apart for a purpose. So what is the Lord in His holiness set apart from? "He is set apart from all creation and He exists outside of all creation. If all creation were to dissolve, the LORD God would remain." (Guzik) He is God and we are not. He is Divine, and we are mere man. He is Perfect. We are sinful. Our best is as filthy, dirty, pungent, repulsive rags compared to His holiness. 

Because God's standard is holiness, and our best is as filthy rags, we are presented with a problem. We cannot be present in the presence of holy God in our shameful, sinful state. We need a covering. And we are offered such a covering through the blood of Jesus, the One who wrapped Himself in the sins of all humanity on a cross in order to make a love sacrifice and payment for you, and for me. Placing trust and faith in the One who died for us, to cover our sins with His blood, is the only way one can be covered and made presentable in His sight. It is the only guarantee for being acceptable at heaven's gate, and being able to spend eternity with Jesus. Have you placed your faith in the only One that can cover you and make you presentable in God's sight? The One who longs to show you how much He loves you, and desires to have a personal relationship with you?

(Message me if you want to know more. I would be honored to introduce you to my Saviour, Jesus!)

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Acquainted with Grief

It has been a difficult week in the life of our church and my circle of friends...



"Why do the nations say, 'Where is their God?' Our God is in heaven; He does whatever pleases Him." Psalm 115:2-3

Every man has a god. Our actions reveal our god, because we become like our god.

The One True God is not an idol, or a figure carved of silver of gold by the hands of men. God Almighty "has established His throne in heaven, and His kingdom rules over all" (Psalm 103:19). "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to [Him]" (Matthew 28:18). God's Word says, "I know the LORD is great, our LORD is greater than all gods. The LORD does whatever pleases Him, in the heavens and on the earth, in the seas and all their depths" (Psalm 135:5-6). The LORD does what pleases Him, and brings Him the most glory. "...He does as He pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back His hand or say to Him: 'What have You done?'" (Daniel 4:35).

"Do you ask where He is? He is at the beginning and end of everything, and not far from any of us." ~ Matthew Henry

Ours is a church acquainted with grief and sorrow and suffering. This week, all of those emotions surfaced on a grand scale again as God called one of His faithful servants home. While serving as a counselor at our church youth camp, this 22 year old friend finished the race marked out for him. Called "home" in the presence of many friends and students, and his beloved young wife, the ripple effects of this loss impact people here and around the world.

Humanly we want to ask why He would choose to take a life so young - one that was making such an impact for the kingdom. But that question, hard as it is, must be changed to why not? As we walk with Jesus, and become like Jesus, we will become acquainted with the things He was acquainted with. Isaiah 53:3 says, "He was...a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering." So today, there are ripple effects of sorrow and grief, but because we are a church that grieves with hope and clings to Jesus, and one another, there will prayerfully be even bigger ripple effects. Ripples that represent lives impacted for the cause of Christ as they bear witness to a full life, lived for an audience of One (Jesus). 

This week it pleased the LORD to very carefully orchestrate the homegoing of one of His children. He has made provision in so many ways - seen and unseen. He has given his wife and family strength through the truth and comfort of His Word, through the prayers of friends too numeroous to count, and carried them when they could not carry themselves. May God in His Sovereignty continue to use the life of this saint for His glory and to further His kingdom, especially on this day, as we gather to celebrate the life of Jacob Fowler.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Fan the Flame

"For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of hands. For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline." 2 Timothy 1:6-7

Paul is found encouraging Timothy in this passage. Guaging by his words, it appears that Timothy was likely a warm and loving man, but may have had a timid or fearful streak in his personality and needed to be built up. Paul encouraged him to use the spiritual gifts God had imparted to him and often spoke to him about being strong and bold in that.

Timothy, timid in nature, needed to hear Paul's urging to "fan into flame the gift of God" so as to not let the fire burn out or grow dim. Passivity will not produce productivity for the kindgdom, regardless of one's gifts. The bearer of the spiritual gift must cooperate by will to fulfill the purpose of his God-given gifts. They must be stirred up, used often and kept fresh and in full flame to be effective.

When walking in the Spirit and doing kingdom work, God's Word says that fear is not from God. Verse 7 says I have not been given a spirit of timidity. I have been given power, love and a sound mind. Humanly speaking, we all deal with fear in one thing or another, but nonetheless I should press on and do what I have been called by God to do, even in fear. I can use the fear as a reminder to take my thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ and believe the fear is not from God. I can choose instead to take God at His Word and believe I have been given power, love and a sound mind, and walk in that.

The power Christ has given me is not for the purpose of controlling others, but to do His work, proclaim His Word and represent His kingdom well. God has my back and I am safe in His hands, doing whatever He calls me to do. He has also given me a spirit of love that I may serve others well. And I have been given a sound mind that in Christ, can remain calm and self-controlled even in crisis or confusion. It is my job to receive and walk in all that He has given me.

Fear and timidity will try to keep me from using my God-given giftedness to touch His people in a needy world. David Guzik puts it this way: "God wants [me] to take His power, His love, and His calm thinking and overcome fear to be used of Him with all the gifts He has given [me]."

Father God, I agree that I too tend to have a streak of timidity in me, but I also believe You are teaching me to have a voice. In this passage I am reminded that ministry doesn't necessarily fall into one's lap. I must do my part, walk in Your will and be disciplined in spending tme with You in order to keep fanning the flame. Set my heart ablaze for You, I pray. Help me to walk in the Spirit with strength and boldness, power, love and calm thinking so that I can serve You well. Use me Lord to touch this hurting and needy world. In Jesus' name, amen.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Training Ground

"...train yourselves to be godly."  1 Timothy 4:7

Godliness is not innate. It's not something I was born with. Not something I know how to do naturally. Romans 5:8 says, "...while we were still stinners, Christ died for us." I was born a sinner. To be godly is something God's Word says I must train myself to do. It is a matter of getting my priorities straight as a believer.

Verse 8 in this passage goes on to say, "For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come." Ancient Greek and Roman cultures put great emphasis on physical exercise. But here, Paul is telling Timothy that believers should put that same emphasis, that same effort, into the pursuit of godliness and the Christian life.

The word "godliness" is said to have come from the old English word "Godlikeness". It means to have the attitude and character of God. David Guzik's commentary says, "This was a worthy goal, much more worthy than the potential attainments of physical exercise. Bodily exercise profits a little in that it has some value, while exercising unto godliness is good for all eternity." To grow both physically or spiritually require two things: exertion and proper feeding.

The difference is that godliness is profitable for the here and now, and forever. Godliness makes this earthly life better, and I "should not hesitate to believe it or to tell people this." (Guzik) It may not make life cushy or comfortable, but it will be the best Christ has to offer me, and the most fulfilling because it is His will for me.

Charles Spurgeon once said, "I assure you, and there are thousands of my bretheren who can affirm the same, that after having tried the ways of sin, we infinitely prefer the ways of righteousness for their own pleasure's sake even here, and we would not change with ungodly men even if we had to die like dogs. With all the sorrow and care which Christian life is supposed to bring, we would prefer it to any other form of life beneath the stars."

God's Word says that only godliness - not sin or sucess, fame or beauty, wealth or achievements - leads to eternal life and happiness. Happiness that comes from the peace and joy that the pursuit of godliness brings.

Father God, as I spend time at Your feet, in Your Word, meditating on Your Truths and applying them to my life, may it be a training ground for godliness. I want my life to be a reflection of You. In Jesus' name, amen.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

My Sustaining Power

"...for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances." Philippians 4:11b

Paul, writing from prison, is telling the Philippians in his letter that he knows "what it is to be in need" and "what it is to have plenty" (v.12). Out of his experience he states that he has "learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want." Through his trials he came to the conclusion that he could do everything - endure through times of want and plenty - through Christ who strengthened him.

To be content means to require nothing from the outside; to have everything I need in Jesus because He alone satisfies in every situation.

Lord Jesus, You have been my Need-Meeter in difficult times; times of want. And You have been all I needed in times of need. You alone are my sustaining power. Thank You Jesus! In Your name I pray, amen.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Glance vs. Gaze

I have been pondering this thought taken from Hebrews 12 spoken by our middle school pastor. He was giving a word of advice to the students before leaving to take a position at a new church.

He said, "glance at people, but fix your gaze on Jesus". It reminded me to take notice of the people in my life, but stare long and hard at Jesus. Know Him. Know His heart. He's the only One that will not let me down.

Think about it!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Love Incorruptible

"Grace be with all who love our Lord Jesus with love incorruptible." Ephesians 6:24 (ESV)

I was reading from Ephesians 6 this morning - the familiar passage about spiritual warfare and the importance of daily putting on the full armor of God. As I read from the ESV version I noticed that Paul ended his letter to Ephesus with the words in the verse above. The phrase "love incorruptible" caught my attention. I wanted to know more about this love we should have for our Lord Jesus Christ.

Incorruptible with reference to love in this phrase would be a love that cannot be perverted, dissolved or disintegrated in any way. It is a love that is honest, honorable, indestructible, loyal, pure, persistent and trustworthy. How does my love for the Lord compare?

Father God, I pray for the grace and strength to love You with a love incorruptible all the days of my life. In Jesus' name, amen.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

A Poignant Moment

I wanted to journal about a moment that seemed to stand still last night. A moment that was so touching between Mandisa and our Bell Shoals Girlfriends.

We took a road trip - 210 women, to be exact - to Lakeland for "Girls Night Out". A concert event with Anita Renfroe and Mandisa. Our team had scoped out the best place to sit 200+ women together and chose the overhanging balcony. Well into the evening, after Anita Renfroe had made mention of her personal connection to our former music pastor as sort of an "insiders" comment, Mandisa began to share. In preparing to sing her incredible song called Broken Halleluah, she took time to recount the first time she ever sang that song in concert...

Mandisa had been scheduled to be the first "event" in our new worship center at Bell Shoals Baptist Church. Our worship pastor at that time, Simeon Nix had booked her. She went on to explain that just days before she was to perform, she got word from our church that our Senior Pastor, Forrest Pollock, and his 13 year old son had been tragically killed in a plane accident. But Simeon told her the church still wanted her to come.

Mandisa shared that she and her band took time to fast for three days to seek the Lord's direction in this most delicate situation. This would not be an ordinary concert. Having been at that concert personally, it was clear that Mandisa had not only been called to our church to perform a concert. She had been called by God to come and minister to a deeply hurting body of believers.

She went on to share the shock of receiving another call from our church less than three months later that Simeon Nix had too passed away. Just as we had, she asked God what He was doing. It was so hard to understand. And in times like that, our praise is often little more than a broken halleluah.

As she brought that beautiful song to a close, there were few dry eyes among those in our group. She transitioned into Blessed Be The Name. At that moment, it seemed clear to me why the balcony had been the place divinely chosen for us to sit. The people on the ground floor continued to sit through the song having no idea what a special moment God was orchestrating above them. Just seconds into that song our Bell Shoals ladies began rising to their feet, lifting hands to praise the Lord for His faithfulness to us. Tears flowing, time seemed to stand still for a moment as I took in the scene. Even the people to the right and to the left of our group in the balcony remained seated. For the most part, we were the only ones standing, our hearts connected with Mandisa, her band, and the Lord. The word that kept coming to mind was "poignant". As the song ended, we took our seats, and the ladies on the ground floor were none the wiser. The moment had almost been private in a sanctuary full of people. The moment was touching and tender...one I want to long remember.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Anger and Love

"And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption." Ephesians 4:30

After reading the wisdom of Charles Spurgeon on the matter of this verse, I took note that the verse does not say, "Do not make angry the Holy Spirit."  For many people, their hearts are just hard enough that the anger of someone towards them would not cause much pain. But for one to know their actions grieved another could move even the hardest of hearts. Spurgeon says, "...grief is a sweet combination of anger and love. It is anger, but all the gall is taken from it. Love sweetens the anger, and turns the edge of it, not against the person, but against the offense."

An offense commited against a friend of little patience may cause them to snap and be angry with me. But the same offense observed by a loving father would cause him grief. Spurgeon explains it this way: "...there is anger in his bosom, but he is angry and sins not; and yet there is love to neutralize and modify the anger towards me. Instead of wishing me ill as the punishment of my sin, he looks upon my sin itself as being the ill. He grieves to think that I am already injured, from the fact that I have sinned."

It seems the more you love someone, the more likely their offenses will cause you grief vs. anger. As a parent, I can attest. When my children sin my heart is much more grieved than angered. In the case of this verse, God's Word says that my sin would cause the Holy Spirit within me, who loves me beyond measure, to be grieved instead of angry. I too should be grieved - my heart distressed - if I thought I had hurt another, especially the Holy Spirit. All the more reason to guard my attitude, my heart, my thoughts, my mind; to guard what my eyes and ears take in, and what comes out of my mouth. The Holy Spirit is exposed to everything I take in or take part in. As Paul was writing the book of Ephesians the Spirit directed him to give warning not to grieve the Holy Spirit with whom I, as a believer in Christ, am sealed with for redemption day. A warning I strive to heed.

Lord Jesus, I ask You to strengthen me and guard my steps as I seek to protect myself from things that would grieve the Spirit in me. Help me to live each day for Your glory and to love others well. In Jesus' name, amen.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Beautiful Intercession

Do you ever have one of those days when you can't clear your head long enough to put your thoughts together in prayer? This morning was one of those days for me. After struggling for some time I told the Lord I wanted to read His Word for a while, and then pray after - hoping it would help to put my thoughts in order. As I did, I read a passage that made for beautiful intercession. It reminded me that praying God's Word back to Him - believing His promises about whatever is on my heart, and incorporating the two - is one of the most effective ways to pray...

Father God,

I wait in hope for You as I pray for __________________________________; You are my help and my shield. In You my heart rejoices, for I trust in Your holy name. May Your unfailing love rest upon me, O LORD, even as I put my hope in You.

In Jesus' name I pray, amen.


(Adapted from Psalm 33:20-22)

 

Saturday, June 4, 2011

A Remnant

"But for those who fear You, You have raised a banner to be unfurled against the bow." Psalm 60:4

Among the Israelites there was a remnant of people who feared God. They had a reverential trust, high regard, worshipful attitude and obedient heart toward the One whom they knew would keep His promises to them. Though they had been experiencing desprate times that made them stagger (v.3), they knew that the Lord would unite them ("raise a banner") against the enemy. With God they would gain the victory and He would trample down their enemies (v.12).

Lord Jesus, make me a remnant of the people of my day for You. One who trusts You without question in the big things, and especially in the small things, because sometimes they seem harder for me to leave in Your hands. Unite me with likeminded believers and fortify us so that we may stand strong against the enemy. In Jesus' name I pray, amen.

Friday, June 3, 2011

God of Patience

Today I am sharing some commentary notes by David Guzik that encouraged me as I was reading about Romans 15:5-6 which says,

"May God, who gives this patience and encouragement, help you live in complete harmony with each other, as is fitting for followers of Christ Jesus. Then all of you can join together with one voice, giving praise and glory to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ."

"Our God is a God of patience. We are often in so much of a hurry, and God often seems too slow for us. Often the purposes of God seem to be delayed but they are always fulfilled. God's delays are not His denials, and He has a loving purpose in every delay.

We love God's patience with His people - we need Him to be patient with us! Yet we often resent God's patience with His plan - we think He should hurry up. Nevertheless, God is patient both with His people and in His plan."

Thank You Lord for being patient with me. Forgive for my lack of patience with You when I can't see Your hand or Your plan as clearly as I would like to. I know that Your timing is perfect and You are faithful and trustworthy. Help me to rest in You. In Jesus' name, amen.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Amazed



Focusing on worship today. Be blessed by "Amazed" from Kutless' new worship album.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Don't Miss the Mark

"It is not good to have zeal without knowledge, nor to be hasty and miss the way." Proverbs 19:2

God has planted hopes, desires and dreams in my heart - things to be passionate about. But I must be careful not to get carried away in passion and zeal and put the cart before the horse. Lack of knowledge is ignorance. Unless I collect knowledge, wisdom and Godly advice through prayer, God's Word and wise counsel, I may miss the mark. I don't want to take false steps. I want to keep my feet firmly planted on the way God has mapped out for me.

Lord Jesus, as I explore and pursue things You have spoken into my heart, I ask You to order my steps that I may walk with You - not ahead, nor behind, nor off the beaten path doing my own thing. I want to walk with You, with knowledge, so that You can show me Your way. In Jesus' name, amen.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

A Proverbs Nugget

"I, wisdom, dwell together with prudence; I possess knowledge and discretion." Proverbs 8:12

Wisdom and knowledge put a good head on your shoulders and influence every decision made. Prudence goes against the grain of the world and avoids the enemy's schemes of temptation - both the subtle and the accepted - that lead God's people to fall. Discretion orders our words and actions aright so that they are profitable, directing others to Christ and bringing honor and glory to Him.

Lord Jesus, I ask that You grant me wisdom, prudence, knowledge and discretion to guide my steps. I want my life to be a pleasing aroma to You and point others to Christ. In Jesus' name, amen.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Eyes on the Goal

"Let your eyes look straight ahead, fix your gaze directly before you." Proverbs 4:25

As I walk and talk with Jesus on the journey of my life, I envision Him right beside me, yet straight in front of me. He is my Faithful Companion, and the One whom my gaze should be fixed upon.

God is not off in the distance. He is not a distraction on the right or the left. He is the goal set before me. The prize in front of me. A prize of high calling. The One whom I should direct all my efforts toward.

My Father, my Companion, my Friend - Help me to fix my gaze firmly on You. Amid the distractions of everyday life, remind me that You are of greatest importance. You are the prize! You are my treasure. I know that You love me - and I love You too. In Jesus' name I pray, amen.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Open Heart, Open Hand

"Do not withhold good from those who deserve it, when it is in your power to act." Proverbs 3:27

The phrase "do not withhold" is a command that implies God's expectation of me. He expects me not to hold tightly to the things He has given me, because His desire is that I would have a generous, servant's heart. Everyone has something to give, be it time, talent or treasure. God wants to use His children to bless others and meet needs when it is within their ability to do so. When God lays it on my heart to do or to give something, it is my responsibility to respond with obedience and a cheerful "Yes, Lord!" for God loves a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 9:7).

Galatians 6:10 says, "Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially those who belong to the family of believers."

I believe God wants me to give when I have plenty, and give even when I am in want, living with an open heart and open hand. Open to be obedient. For even when I am in want, I can give from the things I have excess of, or I can give my time, my talent, my treasure, a listening ear, or a smile and a word of encouragement. As a believer with a desire to love God and serve others I should be giving myself away!

Lord Jesus, thank You for teaching me to live with an open heart and open hand. I want to be Your hands and feet and serve those around me. And may You get the glory for any good that comes out of me. In Jesus' name, amen.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Ripples of Revival

I have been meditating for days on a passage of scripture the Lord led me to in my Life Journal readings. It was a familiar passage I had camped on before - one I could pretty well quote from memory...

"...if My people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land." 2 Chronicles 7:14

In verse 12 of this chapter the Lord dedicates a temple as a house of prayer and promises to hear and answer the sacrifices of prayer offered there. The verse above follows. What a picture of revival! I read an account of a powerful move of God reviving hearts at a Christian leadership conference years ago, and saw one portrayed in a movie once, but have never experienced corporate revival personally. It is something my heart is yearning for - first for myself, and then for those around me...

The body of Christ humbling themselves in prayer, seeking and worshiping the Lord with their whole hearts, turning from sin in genuine confession and repentance in order to awaken and cleanse their hearts in the presence of the Lord and His people in His house. For when this happens, God promises those with a clean, pure heart will hear from heaven, be forgiven of their sin, and lives will be healed.

Scripture is best interpreted by scripture. In 2 Chronicles 6:36-40, in the midst of Solomon's prayer, he describes the state of the people in need of revival:

“When they sin against You—for there is no one who does not sin—and You become angry with them and give them over to the enemy, who takes them captive to a land far away or near; and if they have a change of heart in the land where they are held captive, and repent and plead with You in the land of their captivity and say, ‘We have sinned, we have done wrong and acted wickedly’; and if they turn back to You with all their heart and soul in the land of their captivity where they were taken, and pray toward the land You gave their ancestors, toward the city You have chosen and toward the temple I have built for Your Name; then from heaven, Your dwelling place, hear their prayer and their pleas, and uphold their cause. And forgive Your people, who have sinned against You.

Now, my God, may Your eyes be open and Your ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place."

With reference to this verse, Deuteronomy 28:10 says, "Then all the peoples on earth will see that You are called by the name of the Lord, and they will fear You." Fear of the Lord means reverential trust and hatred of evil. I, for one, have given way to lack of faith at times and become too tolerant of some sin in my life. Mine is a heart that needs to be revived.

Psalm 103:2-3 says, "Praise the LORD, O my soul...who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases." Matthew Henry's commentary states, "Pardoning mercy makes way for healing mercy."

My key passage, verse 14 above, refers to revival at a national level that requires repentance, prayer and reformation. But I believe national revival will be the result of a ripple effect. Starting at the core would be a circle of prayer that changes hearts on a personal level first, then corporately in the church, impacting the community, and then the land. Sin blocks the communication lines between God and His people. "The forgiveness of our sins is that which makes way for all the other answers to our prayers" (Matthew Henry).

I have been pondering what my personal sin issues are. What things are keeping my heart bound and in need of revival. In her book called Brokenness, author Nancy Leigh DeMoss describes an account of just such an incredible move of God. An account of genuine revival. She closes the first chapter with words that bear so much weight and are a good reminder to me as I reflect on these things: "...the way up is down, death brings life, and brokenness is the pathway to wholeness."

Lord, I simply pray this passage from Your Word today: Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. (Psalm 51:10) I ask You to begin with me. In Jesus' name, amen.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Pour It, Lord!

"For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour out My Spirit on your offspring, and My blessings on your descendants." Isaiah 44:3

God often works in the realm of abundance. When I am thirsty for Him or seem to have hit a dry spell, He doesn't just want to give me a drizzle or sprinkle a few drops of His Spirit to keep me going. If I ask for and receive it in faith, His Word says He will "pour" out His Spirit on me. Not only does He want to pour out His Spirit; He also wants to pour out His blessings, on me and my family (my offspring and my descendants). David Guzik's commentary on Isaiah 44 says, "God is looking for dry ground to pour out His floods upon."

God wants to pour His freedom giving, abundant living, free flowing Spirit on His people. "If you experience a few drops, God wants to pour. If you are bone dry, God wants to pour. If you know the pour, God wants to keep pouring! We must learn to stop saying 'when' as God pours!" (Guzik)

Did you catch that last phrase? "We must learn to stop saying 'when' as God pours!" God's blessings are those things He deems best for me. Those things in my life that bring Him the most glory. Sometimes the blessing of His will comes through seemingly difficult situations, but if I believe "in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose" (Romans 8:28), then I must believe He will bring His good out of every hard, painful or uncomfortable situation, as well as the good ones. If I ask Him to bless me and pour out His Spirit upon me and then say, "stop...I didn't want You to bring it that way," then I am questioning His will and that must be so disheartening to His ears. If I truly trust that He knows best for me, then I cannot question the way He chooses to bless me.

There is an old hymn that says,

Showers of blessings, showers of blessings we need.
Mercy-drops 'round us are falling,
But for the showers we plead.

Are you willing to ask for and receive an outpouring?

Rain down Your blessings on me O Lord. Pour out Your Spirit on me like a flood. I ask for and receive it Lord. I desperately want more of You. In Jesus' name I pray, amen. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Unexpected Blessings

Read Psalm 78:11-25.

The Israelites so easily forgot the things the Lord had done and the wonders He had shown them when hard times came upon them again. I am trying to learn from their example and instead, choose to believe God's promises, remember His goodness and reflect on all He's done for me when hard times come. I want to remember the unexpected blessings and unusual ways God has answered prayer and given me the desires of my heart. After all, as referenced in this passage, who among the Israelites would have ever dreamed that God would meet their need for food by opening the doors of heaven and sending manna down like rain (v. 23-24)? Even in His anger over their disbelief in His ability to meet their needs, the Bible says in v. 23 "yet" God showed them favor and sent down "the bread of angels" (v. 25).

I serve a God with the most incredible imagination and unlimited resources. He answers my prayers and blesses me in ways and by means I could never imagine. Sometimes it seems God blesses just to bless - I love that! Other times, He brings blessing out of difficulty, lack of faith, or pain... and sometimes I can't see the rainbow until after the rain.

My God is always working in my favor. Always working the circumstances of my life together for my good and  for His glory (Romans 8:28). He is constantly working on me to make me better - to make me more like Him. He promises to meet my needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19). Even in my unbelief He may choose to bless, to convince me yet again of His faithfulness (Psalm 78:25).

Thank You Father for showing me the importance of believing Your every Word, learning from the living examples in Your Word, and trusting You to meet my needs and work all things in my life together for my good. Help me to keep reflecting on Your faithfulness in my life and not to forget all that You have done for me, so that I can walk in greater faith and confidence in You. In Jesus' name I pray, amen.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Heart Issues

"Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts..." Psalm 95:7b-8a

The Israelites had hardened their hearts at Meribah and Massah which were places they had quarreled with, and tested the Lord (Exodus 17:7). In this Psalm they are being cautioned to pay attention to their heart condition and not let that happen again. I must heed the same warning. If I want to enter into the Lord's rest (v. 15), I must receive what the Lord has to say to me, walk in obedience, trust Him and not let my heart grow cold or hard. I like the powerful and convicting word Matthew Henry conveys in his commentary, "Nothing is more offensive to God than disbelief of His promise and despair of the performance of it because of some difficulties that seem to lie in the way. The more experience we have have had in the power and goodness of God the greater our sin if we distrust Him! Hardness of heart is at the bottom of all our distrusts with God and quarrels with Him... The murmurings of Israel 'were written for our admonition' (1 Corinthians 10:11)."

Lord, let me hear Your voice, trust Your promises, learn from Your Word, and respond with a heart that is willing to be shaped by You. I ask this in Jesus' name, amen.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Minding My Own Business

"Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands...so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody." 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12

Continuing on in this passage from yesterday, God's Word says I should not only aspire to lead a quiet life, but I should be minding my own business. This is not to be minsconstrued as living isolated and apart from others with no concern for anyone but myself, but one who lives a quiet life and does not seek to stir up contention, strife or division. From another angle, this does not imply that issues between people should be brushed under the rug either. The Bible clearly says in Matthew 18:15, "If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you." Then gives further instruction on resolve. The Lord does not want us to turn away from troubles but face them and work through them.  2 Thessalonians 3:11 says, "We hear some among you are idle. They are not busy; they are busybodies." This verse gets to the meaning of the first. It is not God's plan that I should be idle and stirring the pot, so to speak, meddling in other people's business that does not concern me or my family.

Instead of meddling, Paul says in this passage that I should be busy working with my own hands. Busy about my own calling - doing diligently the things that Christ has called me to do personally. And I should work at those things with honesty, decency and credability so as to represent the gospel well. In this way I will gain the respect of outsiders (unbelievers). I should work hard and not be slothful, trusting God to be my Provider.

Father God, I thank You for your clear instruction. Help me Lord to cautiously mind my own business and keep my hands busy working on the things You have called me to. In Jesus' name, amen.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

A Quiet Life

"Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life..." 1 Thessalonians 4:11

God's Word says I should aspire or study to lead a quiet life. A life that is not caught up with self or the world and its entertainment, but caught up with God. Matthew Henry's Commentary says, "Satan is very busy to disquiet us; and we have that in our own hearts that disposes us to be disquiet; therefore let us study to be quiet." Let me study to be calm, peaceful and satisfied in Christ, intentionally listening for His still, small voice. Let me strive to live for what is right, true, good and godly and not for the thrill of the next fun thing. Though it is not a sin to have fun (within the boundaries of God's Word), if I am not satisfied with my life in Christ apart from having something fun on the horizon, my life may be lacking spiritually. I must examine whether I am truly living for Christ, or the next big thing. A convicting thought for me is to consider my words - do I talk more about Christ or my calendar?

Father, it is my desire to grow in You with a gentle and quiet spirit. Help me to strive for quiet, even when Satan tries to disquiet my life. Remind me quickly to bring whatever disquiet he stirs up to You, so that  through prayer and Your Word my soul can find rest even in the midst of a storm. Help me enjoy the blessings and pleasures You allow in my life, but live for You. In Jesus' name I pray, amen.
 

Thursday, May 12, 2011

A Clean Cup


"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but the inside is full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean." Matthew 23:25-26

The cup and dish in this parable represent our lives.  We often make sure the outside looks good and clean to others, while our cup may be full of self or other things displeasing to a Holy God. Only when we truly allow Him to clean out the inside of our cup from all the junk in our lives can our cup be clean in God's eyes.

As a follower of Christ, He is sanctifying me and constantly trying to cleanse me of all things that do not look like Him in my life. He is cleaning my cup! My response is my part in the process. I can either be a willing participant, quickly getting to work on the things He points out. Or I can go kicking and screaming and keep dealing with circumstances He allows to purge that sin from me until I cooperate. It's up to me how clean I want to be!

Lord Jesus, I truly do want my life to be a reflection of you. Show me how to change my faults that You bring to light into something that pleases You. Show me how to walk through the difficult circumstances You allow in a Christ-like manner. Teach me Your ways Lord that I may walk in them. In Jesus' name, amen.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

My Great Grandmother

After a week of being out of touch with blogging I am back today. Our family has experienced the death of two family members in the span of five days. An aunt in Kentucky and my husband's 98-year old grandmother here. In her honor, and as a proud mommy, today I am posting Emily's reflections of the incredible, godly woman we lovingly called "Grandmother" as shared during the service yesterday...



My Great Grandmother

My Great Grandmother was an awesome and wonderful Grandmother!! She was super thoughtful and we made so many memories together. She was a great Christian example to me.
Every time I went to see her she gave me a very loving hug, and said, “You have grown a little bit since the last time I saw you.” She often gave me a little present saying... “I thought you might like to have this.”  It made me feel so special.
I am thankful for many sweet memories. Since I was little my family helped put up Grandmother’s Christmas tree. I got to help decorate it and sometimes my daddy would lift me up and let me put the angel on top! It always made her so happy.  So did big family get-togethers. She loved her family!
When she got older and started using a wheelchair she used to give me rides in her lap. That was fun! Grandmother also just loved it when we brought her McDonald’s. She always liked to eat the same thing... a cheeseburger, coke and apple pie!
The most important thing about my Grandmother was that she loved Jesus. She was still going to Bible study and church every time she could at 98 years old, and she was the oldest member of First Baptist. I thought that was really cool! Grandmother prayed a lot. I prayed for her and I know she prayed for me. She probably has prayed for you too.
I truly loved her and will miss her so much.

Emily Mattox
May 8, 2011




Thursday, May 5, 2011

If You Are Willing, Lord

"While Jesus was in one of the towns, a man came along who was covered with leprosy. When he saw Jesus, he fell with his face to the ground and begged him, "Lord, if you are willing, You can make me clean." Luke 5:12

Jesus always has the power to heal (to deliver, rescue, save, answer my prayers...), but the key lies in whether He is willing. The answer likely hinges on whether the answer sought would bring Him the most glory. Because He knows all and sees all, He and He alone determines what is best for me. Sometimes His best is, "Yes, I am willing". Sometimes it is, "not now" or "no". Graciously receiving His answer is my responsibility.

When I pray, I should recognize Christ's power to heal or to answer, but should be praying, "If you are willing, Lord" - similar to Jesus' prayer in Mark 14:36, "Take this cup from Me. Yet not what I will, but what You will".

Lord, help me to remember to preface or conclude my prayers with an acknowledgement of Your will such as, "If You are willing, Lord". I only want Your best for me. In Jesus' name, amen.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Thoughts...

I had the privilege of attending a Bible study for women again last night. The topic was "Sanctified & Satisfied in Suffering" taught by Dawn Washington. I walked away with a page full of notes scribbled front and back after having my toes stepped on. I am telling you, you would think the speaker had been a fly on my bedroom wall the night before!

Here are some thoughts I am pondering over...
  • Forgetting to have faith and worrying in the midst of a storm is sin.
  • Wasting the grace God provides for us in the midst of suffering is senseless.
  • We often think, "If God would have just given me a warning that this storm was coming (be it death, disease or depressing circumstances), I could have been more prepared." Truth is, we have been warned! John 16:33 says, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
  • Suffering is not optional - it is part of the believer's life.
  • I shouldn't look at a suffering day as a bad day. In God's eyes it is a productive day. Productive because it prayerfully got me to spend more time with Him in prayer, in His Word, and meditating on His promises!
  • God is sanctifying me through His love and peace - not His wrath. He is not out to hurt me, but to heal me from my own sin sickness. This should change my view of suffering. He will sanctify me by whatever means He deems necessary, whether I like it or not. I cannot stop God from making me better! (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24)
  • Sometimes God is waiting to see how long I will wallow before pressing the reset button in my mind and get back to walking in faith. Faith is looking at the reality of my circumstances and still choosing to believe God.
  • When I am struggling, do I look like a woman who has been sucking on lemons, or like one at peace with God regardless of my circumstances?
  • Sometimes God sanctifies us by those closest to us - not the people we could care less about! We value the words of those we love and as women, we record them in our minds, rewind and play them over and over, then begin to nurse negativity, which gives way to nursing a low self esteem, questioning ourselves and our worth (ouch!).
  • Don't wait until you get to the other side of suffering to decide to have joy. Don't miss what God wants to show you in the midst of it. James 1:2-4 says to count it all joy. It doesn't say anything about waiting til later.
Psalm119:71 says, It was good that I was afflicted, that I might learn Your law." Sanctification through suffering is a good thing.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

A Servant Leader

"...the son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many." Matthew 20:27

The King of Kings and Lord of Lords did not come to be treated like royalty. There is only one Jesus, and His style of leadership was unique. We can learn much from His example.

Most kings, queens, presidents and modern day celebrities expect to be treated as such, as royalty. But not Jesus. He chose to walk and live among the people, to serve those who would normally be expected to serve Him, to associate with sinners and to lay down His life for them. He did not live in a mansion or a palace or even an upscale home. He traveled about as one who was homeless.

As a servant leader, Jesus was not haughty but humble. He could see beyond what was seen. Hear beyond what was being said. And He was yielded to the Holy Spirit to act and to do, to serve and to respond, according to God's will.

How does Jesus' style of leadership compare to your own? You're probably not a queen or a president, but you lead somewhere and influence someone. Even if just in your home, the way you lead influences your children. Everyone leads someone whether they realize it or not. What quality of Jesus' servant leadership style could you begin to apply today?

Lord Jesus, I want my style of leadership to look more like You and less like the world. I want to respond to others with a humble servant's heart. I want to hear Your voice and act according to the Spirit. Give me Your discernment I pray. In Jesus' name, amen.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Root It Out, Lord!

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

This passage perfectly sums up some of my personal prayers from this week. As I have searched my heart with the Lord He reveled to me - or reminded me - that anxious thoughts are most often rooted in fear. And anxiety can lead to offensive, or defensive behavior, or a downtrodden spirit. When I deal with the fear through prayer, the anxiety goes away.

Lord Jesus, I confess I have been struggling with the fear of _______________(name the fear). I have believed _______________ (state the lie). I choose to renounce that lie and believe Your truth that says _______________ (state a promise from God's Word). I confess that my anxiety and fear have led me to compromise my witness for You by _______________ (list any and all ways believing this lie or living in fear has held you back or kept you from serving Him). I choose now to live by faith in You and stand on the truth of Your Word, trusting You to heal my heart, guide my steps and protect me. In Jesus' name, amen.

Anxiety and fear are not the only reasons to ask the Lord to search your heart though. Whenever I am in the wrong, I want God to reveal it to me so that I can strive to walk blameless and upright before Him. It has been said that a good man (or woman) desires to know the worst of himself, I believe, so that he/she can make every effort to live above reproach. The believer truly concerned about his/her own heart would want the Lord to root out anything wicked, anything corrupt, selfish or not of God, so that he/she can walk in a way most pleasing to God and profitable for themselves.

Lord, I ask You to look deep into my heart today, to the places I cannot even see, and reveal to me the things that are not glorifying to You. Things that hinder my service to You. Things that keep me from loving others well, especially my family. Root it out, Lord! Show me what to do with those things so that I can walk upright, with clean hands and a pure heart before a Holy and Righteous God. In Jesus' name, amen.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Inside the Heart

"These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me." Matthew 15:8

Reading this verse I am reminded of what the LORD said to Samuel in 1 Samuel 16:7... "People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart." Humanly, it may be hard to determine where another person's heart is. Only the LORD knows where one's loyalties lie, or to where one turns when no one is looking. Lip service does not always equal heart devotion. God is interested in what is real inside the heart.

Some keep up a face of godliness to the world but live a far different life behind closed doors. This would be a loose definition of a hypocrite. The Greek definition of this word is "one who pretends to be what he is not". The dictionary defines a hypocrite as a "person who pretends to have virtues, moral or religious beliefs, principles, etc. that he or she does not actually possess [or practice], especially a person whose actions belie stated beliefs" (additonal words, mine). In other words, with reference to the key passage from Matthew above, saying one thing and doing another.

Q: Does my talk match my walk?

Father, wherever I may fail You, please help my talk match my walk. Help my public words line up with my private devotion. May my heart's passion for You remain pure and true and my words be the overflow of a heart whose affections are set on You. In Jesus' name, amen.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Walking on Water

"During the fourth watch of the night Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. 'It’s a ghost,' they said, and cried out in fear. But Jesus immediately said to them: 'Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.'

'Lord, if it’s you,' Peter replied, 'tell me to come to you on the water.'

'Come,' he said.

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, 'Lord, save me!'

Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. 'You of little faith,' he said, 'why did you doubt?'” 

Matthew 14:25-31

The disciples, sitting in a boat, seeing someone coming towards them cried out in fear thinking it might be a ghost. They failed to recognize it was Jesus until He spoke to them. He quickly quieted their fears and told them to take courage saying, "It is I." He didn't have to say His name because they knew His voice. Matthew Henry's Commentary on Matthew 14 expands on this point saying that our perplexing and disquieting fears come from our mistakes and misapprehensions concerning Christ. The more clearly and fully we know Him, (know His character), the more assurance we will have in trusting Him.

Being a man of courage, and trusting in the Lord, Peter called out to Jesus asking Him to call him out onto the water. He asked and then waited for God to clearly call him. He did not make any presumptions. He did not run ahead. He waited to be called. Jesus did not see his request to walk out on the water to Him as foolish, but saw his sincere faith and trust in Him to make the impossible possible and invited him. Once he was bid to "Come," Peter responded immediately in faith.

So, Peter began to walk on that water in faith, but when he noticed the wind begin to pick up, he doubted and began to sink. In walking on the water he knew Christ's power, and in his sinking he knew his own weakness. Matthew Henry says, "The strongest faith and greatest courage have a mixture of fear. Those that can say, 'Lord, I believe,' must say, 'Lord, help my unbelief.'" Only God's perfect love can cast out our fears. He goes on to say, "The lengthening out of a trial discovers the weakness of faith."

When we experience fear, even if only for a moment, we have forgotten who our God is. Sometimes the Lord may let us sink a bit to remind us that what we are doing for Him is done in His power and not our own. He may even let us sink to the point of crying out for His help before saving us. This makes me think of how we love a good suspense movie. The scenes can get intense as we wait for the rescue, but oh how good it is when the rescue comes! The Bible is full of such stories, so why would we think our lives any different? This is often how God works. When our faith is at its weakest, and our needs are at their greatest, our prayers should be their strongest. In fact we are encouraged in Hebrews 5:7 with Jesus' example to offer up prayers with loud cries and tears in our desperation. "During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission."

God often chooses to save us when we begin to sink. No matter how rough the storm however, there is no danger in going under if we are trusting in Jesus' everlasting arms to hold us up. We only need faith as small as a mustard seed to take the first step in trusting Jesus, but great faith or ever increasing faith to sustain us for the long haul. Faith that comes from seeing God move and work in our lives with great faithfulness, never letting us down, and remembering what He's already done for us when the next storm comes.

Father, Savior, Rescuer, Friend... I love You more than life itself. You have been so faithful to me. Give me courage to do great things for You and great faith to sustain me. Make the impossible, possible. Make Your way clear. Help me Father never to run ahead or make assumptions, but to keep in step and walk with You. In Jesus' name I pray, amen.





 

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

New Treasures

"He said to them, 'Therefore every teacher of the law who has been instructed about the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old.'" Matthew 13:52

According to my understanding of this passage, I should continuously reflect on and talk about the old things God has taught me in the past, as well as share the "new treasures" He reveals to me as I study His Word. There is so much to learn from the pages of scripture, I will forever be a student of the Word!

Father God, may I never grow tired of learning about You. Your character is so multi-faceted. Your Word full of hidden treasures. Full of mysteries. Grant me a hunger and thirst for You that can never be quenched I pray. In Jesus' name, amen.

Monday, April 25, 2011

After God's Own Heart

"Saul died because he was unfaithful to the LORD; he did not keep the Word of the LORD and even consulted a medium for guidance, and did not inquire of the LORD so the LORD put him to death and turned the kingdom over to David son of Jesse." 1 Chronicles 10:13-14

Saul died because of his unfaithfulness and lack of responsibility in a position of leadership. Humble at the beginning of his reign, he quickly became corrupted by pride and fear, and in the end, his potential was wasted. He was called and commissioned by God, but little by little he declined both in conduct and in character. He was disobedient to "the Word of the LORD". Because He neglected his relationship with the LORD and disregarded His commands, God's hand of favor was removed.

When life got difficult and Saul needed spiritual direction, he opted not to call on God who had called him into service. No longer being closely connected with the Lord he turned to a medium for guidance, and whenever one turns to any type of psychic or worldly counsel, destruction eventually follows. Saul turned away from the One who would have given him divine spiritual direction and he was put to death. The kingdom was handed over to David, a man after God's own heart.

This passage gives a somber warning to those called by God to act responsibly. Be careful to keep the Word of LORD, live by it daily, and seek God's direction in all things. Don't run ahead of Him. Don't turn away from Him. Walk with Him. Be a man or woman after God's own heart.

Lord Jesus, I want to walk humbly with my God and be a woman after Your own heart. I want to live my life according to Your Word. Help me Father to live for You alone. In Jesus's name, amen.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Joyful Dependence

"Because You are my help, I sing in the shadow of Your wings." Psalm 63:7

When I seek shelter in times of trial or trouble in the shadow of the Lord's wings, my safe place,  I can sing praises knowing my God is my help. I can joyfully depend on Him. There is  a confidence that comes from knowing my God is able to meet all of my needs as I seek Him in faith and in prayer.

When I am troubled I can find relief and confidence in remembering the times my God has helped me before and trust that He will help me again. He has never failed me - and promises He never will. I can trust God with my future because I know He works all things together for good and He has good plans for me.

Matthew Henry's commentary on Psalm 63 suggests that because the Lord is, and always has been, so faithful to help us we should resolve to never "desert Him, never distrust Him, nor ever droop in our walking with Him." That last part stepped on my toes this morning. My walk has been rather "droopy" this week. Instead of  "drooping" I should walk in confidence believing God. He is my Help, my Refuge and my Rescuer. I want to walk in joyful dependence on Him.

Lord Jesus, thank You for speaking to me through Your Word and in Your still, small voice these past few days. Thank You for lifting my spirits and reminding me to shift my focus from the problems to the Problem Solver. Help me to walk in joyful dependence on You. In Jesus' name, amen.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

My Favorite Young Man...


Spending the day with my favorite young man before he follows God's call to the ends of the earth to tell the people of Brazil about Jesus on a spring break mission journey...


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Sometimes...

Sometimes I just have one of those days where I want nothing more than to lay my head in my Father's lap and stay a while. Just stay there in a prayerful state resting in the security of His love and His presence. Today was one of those days...

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Just a Thought...

Just a thought to ponder from David Jeremiah...

"The Lord can use a stammering tongue better than a silent one."

In other words, He'd rather we share about Him, stumbling through it, than give in to fear and not share at all.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Blessed Troubles

"A righteous man may have many troubles, but the LORD delivers him from them all." 
Psalm 34:19

The troubles of a righteous man are tools in the hand of a holy God for the purpose of making good. Troubles, thorns and afflictions are meant to refine my character and make me more like Christ. My troubles, in other words, are meant to do me good, not harm. That doesn't mean they won't be painful, but through the pain God can create something good, something beautiful in me.

As a believer I can tend to look at non-believers and assess that they have fewer troubles than me, and that very well may be true. The trouble is, the unbeliever may be overlooking the most significant problem in their entire life... their sin, and their need for a Savior. If they overlook the biggest issue in their life, the worst evil of all will befal them and lead to their eternal ruin. In light of hell, these momentary troubles are the worst I will ever have to endure, because I have taken care of that sin problem and asked Jesus to be my Savior. I am assured that I will, between here and heaven, be rescued from all of my troubles. In light of these two options, I would rather go through life struggling, with God at my side, and choose to look at my problems as blessed troubles that I will one day be delivered from!

Lord, on days like today when I feel like the weight of the world is on my shoulders I am quickly reminded not to use that phrase. You, O God, are the only One that knows what the weight of the world feels like. Thank You for carrying that burden on Your shoulders to the cross because of Your great love for me. I trust You to be my Deliverer from the things that weigh me down in Your perfect time. In Jesus' name, amen.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Godly Success

"In everything he did he had great success, because the LORD was with him." Psalm 18:14

What makes one successful in the Lord? We know that the world measures success by money, fame and fortune, but not God. This passage refers to David's success, and Saul's fear of him, "because the Lord was with him."

Some versions replace "success" with "behaving wisely in all his ways". Here David has had spears thrown at him, been put out of the palace, faced powerful and determined enemies, but God... 
 

But even in the midst of awful circumstances, the Lord was with him. In so being, David chose to behave wisely because he was walking according to the Lord's will and His standards, not the world's. Saul was afraid of him because he had a different mode of operation. Saul had wisdom about things of the world like how to throw spears. David's knowledge however, came from the Lord. He trusted in the Lord, not the sword or the spear. This Godly wisdom may have seemed foolish to Saul, but yet he knew it was real and was therefore afraid.

Where does your knowledge come from? In whom or what are you placing your trust, especially in difficult situations? Are you a success by the world's standards, or the Lord's?


Lord Jesus,  I know that I must walk with You in order to gain godly wisdom. Your Word says that those who walk with the wise will become wise, and You are the wisest One I know. Help me Lord to grow in godly wisdom as I walk with You each day. In Jesus' name I pray, amen.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Break My Heart

This is the prayer that's been on my heart and mind...

Lord, would You break my heart for the things in my life that break Yours?

Dare to pray it with me?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

When Trouble Comes...

"...Samuel was troubled, and he cried out to the LORD all night." 1 Samuel 15:11

God promises that troubles will come. And when they do, He wants to be the first to hear about them. Yes, He already knows all about it, but He wants to hear about it from our perspective. How we perceive it, how we feel about it, what we're thinking. And He wants to comfort us. He wants us to first come to the throne, not the phone. He asks us to cast all our cares upon Him, not our spouse, our mother, our friends, because He cares for us far more than anyone else ever could. And He is the only One that can do anything about the things that trouble us.

Samuel was troubled over Saul's decision to turn away form the LORD. He was so distraught that he decided to forego sleep and talk to God about it, cry out to God until morning.

What has you distraught? Is anything weighing heavy on your heart? What have you done about it? Who have you talked to? To whom did you turn to first?

God wants to hear about our troubles. He wants us to cry out to Him...all night if we have to. Cry out until He answers, or brings resolve, or gives direction, or grants peace.

Thank You Jesus for never taking a break and never closing an eye to sleep. Thank You that no matter the hour I call, You are always and forever there for me with open ears and a compassionate heart when I have need. In Your precious name I pray, amen.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Purpose in the Thorn

"To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for 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. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong." 2 Corinthians 12:7-10

God has a purpose for allowing the thorns in our lives. It is to keep us from the temptation to be conceited, or think more highly of ourselves than we ought.

Thorns, according to God's Word, may come in the form of weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions or difficulties in things such as relationships, health, finances, work issues, and so on, to name a few. A thorn is that which makes us weak in our flesh, but through which we can be made strong in Christ. Though God can absolutely remove a thorn any time He so desires, it may bring Him more glory to leave it there as a reminder to not get prideful. And if He decides to leave it, He promises that His grace alone will be sufficient, more than enough, to endure it. For His power is seen more clearly and made perfect in His eyes through my weaknesses.

If I were perfect I wouldn't need a Savior. But since I am not, and never will be, I am eternally grateful for the Father that loves me and whose thoughts toward me outnumber the grains of sand on the seashores...faults, shortcomings, weaknesses and all.

Thank You Jesus, amen.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Find Rest, O My Soul

"This is what the LORD says: 'Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls." Jeremiah 6:16


God's Word says implies we are to ponder the path of our feet. We are to consider the ways of the wise who have gone before us; those who have diligently sought the Lord. Consider the paths such patriarchs as Abraham, Isaac and Jacob took to help determine where the "good way" is, and then walk in it. Considering which path to take also means determining which path not to take; the path of the wicked. We are to find the narrow path and take the high road. Determine to take the way that agrees with God's written Word and lines up with His promises. Then, God says, you will find rest for your souls. A spiritual kind of rest that only He can give. Though the path may be painful along the way, the return at journey's end will be well worth it.

Lord Jesus, my soul needs this kind of rest. It feels hard pressed on so many sides, and the only true rest for my soul can be found in You. I ask You Lord to order my steps, to help me determine where the high road lies, and give me courage to walk there with You, that I might find rest for my soul. In Jesus' name, amen.












Saturday, April 9, 2011

The Grateful Heart

2 Corinthians 9:10-13


"Now He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.

This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, men will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else."

This passage is set in the midst of an entire chapter on giving with a heart that pleases God. I have read through it many times, but today I was particularly drawn to verses 10-13 because they correlate with a deep work God has been doing in my own heart in recent years. Even more so in the past couple of months. So I decided to dig deeper, read commentary and thank God all the more for loving me enough not to leave me as the somewhat selfish woman I once was.

Reading these verses I am reminded that all I have and ever will have, comes from God. But as of late, He's taught me that not everything He gives to me is for me. My time is not my own. My talents are not for my own good or pleasure. And my resources are not only meant to meet my needs, but the needs of others. Sometimes I am called to be the means by which God passes provision along. I guess that makes me the middle-man, so to speak.

God gives regularly to meet my needs. Other times, He gives with an accompanying impression on my heart that I am to pass it on to someone in need. Being able and desiring to be obedient, be it a little gift or an extravagant one, now overwhelms my heart with blessing. Having been in great need and on the receiving end of generous giving was a humbling place to be. My own experience made me ever so grateful for God's goodness and renewed my faith in Him. God often uses His children to bless others, encourage them, renew their hope and give them a reason to thank Him.

I believe God blessed me with the gift of being desperate in order to show me personally what "liberal sharing" (as some versions call it) looks like, so that my heart would change at the deepest levels. Change to the point that out of my own gratitude I would learn to share liberally too. He has brought me to a place where my heart is filled to overflowing with more joy when shopping for someone in need than shopping for myself. I have always found it fun to shop for someone's birthday or to bless with a little gift just because, but this is different... this is indescribable joy in giving liberally to meet the need of another who is walking in a similar place of desperation, so that they too will be filled with gratitude to God and prayerfully have opportunity to one day do the same.

The Lord is teaching me to share so that no one He speaks to my heart about would be destitute. I can't solve the problems of the world. There is desperation everywhere. But I can walk in obedience to the one's God tells me to help so their faith is renewed, they know that God has not forgotten them and they will have reason to thank Him. Prayerfully this cycle I have been blessed to be a part of will produce a pay-it-forward kind of change. My life was changed because of the generosity of others when I was in need. Hopefully when God chooses to use me, the life of another will be changed in such a way that they too will be moved to do the same. God blesses so that we might be a blessing, in His name.

Thank You Lord for loving me enough to change me and use me as You see fit. I am ever so grateful... In Jesus' name, amen.