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 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


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.