Monday, August 3, 2020

Are you uncomfortable?

"And behold, the whole city came out to meet Jesus. And when they saw Him, they begged Him to depart from their region." (Matthew 8:34)

As I read the above Scripture, I thought, why would they want Jesus to leave their area? So I meditated on this for a moment and then it hit me. Jesus made them uncomfortable. Scared. Fearful. What we do not understand, often evolves into fear, unfortunately.

In the previous verses, Jesus had just healed two demon-possessed men. In fact, he cast the demons into a herd of swine, causing them to run off into the sea, killing themselves. The people who were keeping the sheep fled and told everyone what had just happened and that's when the folks came to see Jesus.

Who is this man, right? What is He doing here? How did He do that? We don't understand and we don't want Him here causing trouble so He must go.

An interesting train of thought when you really think about it. Whenever Jesus is doing something in our lives that makes us uncomfortable, we're quite the same. We may not say, go away with our lips, but our actions will do the talking for us. It is manifested in our disobedience to the nudgings of the Holy Spirit or God's Word. It is when we intentionally act out against what we know to be true.

The Good News is that God still loves us and is giving us chance after chance to get it right. If God is doing something in our life that makes you uncomfortable, I encourage you to run closer to Him and not further away. Remember that ultimately, God wants your heart and desires a relationship with you. I believe everything that happens in our lives can be reconciled to that fact.

Prayer: Ask God to search your heart and reveal to you any area where you may be running from Him because of discomfort, fear, or uncertainty. After He has revealed it to you, I encourage you to be intentional in pressing in toward God and surrendering that area of your life to him. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Monday, July 27, 2020

The small things

“Who dares despise the day of small things, since the seven eyes of the Lord that range throughout the earth will rejoice when they see the chosen capstone in the hand of Zerubbabel?” (Zechariah 4:10)

In the above-referenced Scripture, The Lord was encouraging His people from despising what seemed small in the rebuilding of the temple.

We often ignore the small things that appear to be unimportant, but yet have the greatest impact if missing or not functioning. Big toe, baby toe, tongue. What about tasks? Washing dishes or scrubbing toilets? Or what about having experience in your career field but having to start at the entry-level? Or what about ministry? You really want that solo but instead, you have to sing in the choir for years before you're ever handed a mic? Or maybe you've been called to preach/teach, but somehow you're serving in the infant room every Sunday during church service?

Or shoot, look at what's happening around us. Could this be a time of rebuilding? Though it is uncomfortable, I challenge you to be still and see the value in the "small things."

God is always moving, even when it doesn't seem like it. Stand in hope that the small things are part of His big master plan. Don't despise them because they have purpose. Instead, ask God what He wants you to learn in the small things.

Monday, July 20, 2020

I will stand at my watch and station myself on the ramparts;
I will look to see what he will say to me, 
and what answer I am to give to this complaint. (Habukkuk 2:1)

Habukkuk is questioning God about what he sees before him - the destruction of Judah, the lack of justice, and evil prevailing. Why isn't God stepping in? God does answer the prophet with a response that gave me pause. See verse 1:5. God is working but told Habakkuk that he wouldn't believe His work even if He told him.

"God, why aren't you doing anything" can be the cry of many of our hearts during this time. Is evil prevailing? Why is our justice system broken? Lord, where are you in the midst of this madness?

God is a Holy and just God. I believe He is working. And as in verse 5, we wouldn't believe what He was doing if He told us. Though what we perceive as normal has been twisted upside down, that doesn't change who God is. In fact, everything changes except God. There is an appointed time for every season of life (see Ecclesiastes 3), we must only trust in God's love and character. Habukkuk 2:4 reminds us that the just (us, God's children) shall live by faith.

Our faith, our hope, is not in things of the world, a government, a church, or any other institution, but in the Lord Jesus, our Savior. He is loving and He cares for His children; so don't be weary in doing the right thing, but keep a posture of love, humility, hope, and peace. Be led by your faith in Christ Jesus. 

Monday, July 13, 2020

Running to God's voice

 But Jonah ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the Lord. (Jonah 1:3)

Jonah's story is familiar. God gave him a direct command and he ignored it, hoping to flee from God. Is that even possible? This was my Bible study recently, and I want to share my notes/thoughts of encouragement/observations.

*Run to God's voice and not away from Him when He speaks. Even when what he has said seems scary, trust Him.

*There is no place we can go to escape the Lord. He is omnipresent.

*My disobedience can cause storms in other people's lives and vice versa. Is there anyone in my life running from God?

*It's funny how Jonah was the person to cause the trouble, yet he was on the boat resting peacefully during the storm. (Think about that)

*If the crew knew Jonah was running from God (Jonah told them so), why did they allow Him on the boat? Money? Because they didn't know God or His power? (Have you encouraged disobedience in the life of those around you?)

*Only after the storm did they question Jonah about who he was. He told them to throw him over the ship, yet they refused and the storm became rougher. Once they finally overthrew Him, the storm calmed. They vowed to serve God after this. I suppose Jonah running wasn't all bad. Several men were saved that day and witnessed the power of God because of Jonah's disobedience.

Though God can use even our disobedience to draw others to Him, we shouldn't make it a practice to walk in our own way. My sincere prayer for you and me is that we'll make it a practice to run to God's voice and not in the opposite direction.

Monday, July 6, 2020

Let love lead

Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went home. And in his upper room, with his windows open toward Jerusalem, he knelt down on his knees three times that day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as was his custom since early days. (Daniel 6:10)

I recall the story of Daniel in the lion's den but it had been so long since I've read it that I'd forgotten the details. He was sent to the lion's den because other nobles who were jealous of him, tricked the king into signing a decree that anyone who prayed to any God for the next 30 days would be thrown in the lion's den. This decree backfired on those who tried to destroy Daniel.

*The enemy tried to tear down/attack Daniel's faith. His accusers knew that he was faithful and they knew this trick was sure to get him destroyed by lions. They were partially right. The decree worked, but they didn't count on God saving Daniel. They didn't know God's power.

*God is faithful. There are times when things don't turn out well like they did for Daniel, but one thing we do know is that God is faithful. He honors those who honor Him! God will not forsake the righteous - His chosen ones. And we are made righteous through the blood of Jesus.

*Don't be jealous. Sounds simple, but those feelings can creep in and cause you to do crazy things that can/will backfire. See the folks who set the trap for Daniel? Well, they ended up in the lion's den and suffered the exact fate they had planned for Daniel.

*Our decisions affect those around us. Not only were those men thrown in the lion's den, but so were their wives and innocent children. Be careful not to do crazy stuff that will harm the innocent.

*God protecting Daniel in the lion's den drew others to Him and taught them about His power. I'm certain that was an uncomfortable situation for Daniel, but sometimes God allows us to go through stuff so that His power can be demonstrated.

This coronavirus business is madness, but at the end of it, I see more of God's people returning to Him and honoring His name. Everyone is suffering, some way more than others, but we know suffering brings about endurance. (Romans 5:3-5). We must love one another. Daniel 6 would not have happened if love was leading the nobles.
#ChooseLove #ChooseJesus

Thursday, May 21, 2020

I may not show it, but I'm still grateful

How can I know all the sins lurking in my heart? Cleanse me from these hidden faults. Keep your servant from deliberate sins! Don't let them control me. Then I will be free of guilt and innocent of great sin. May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. (Psalm 19:12-14)

I may not show it, but I'm still grateful... said my nine-year-old to me last night after I fussed at her and her younger brother about their lack of gratitude. At that moment, I was out of words. I simply blinked...slowly, then turned to walk away. All I could think was how in the world can you be grateful and NOT show it?

You know how children are? Toys that they plead for and finally receive, are found under sofas, in between cushions, or simply lying around on the floor like they mean nothing. Naked dolls. Matted hair. Action-figures missing pieces. Stuff like that. I don't know about you, but nothing about that says, "I'm grateful."

But then I began to think about this a little more. Am I the same way with my Heavenly Father? I don't want my sentiments with Him to mirror my child's. I want to show my thanksgiving to Him and not just give Him lip service. I want my heart and my actions to be in alignment. I'm sure there are things that I've asked for and received that I may not always seem grateful for. What about you? Promotion? Help out of undesirable circumstances? Opening up your womb to have children? A new car? Ministry? Healing? Whatever that thing may be, my prayer for you, me, and this child of mine, is that we'll be grateful and our actions will show it.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for being Jehovah-Jireh, our provider, for You have provided so much for us in our lives. Help us to never lose sight of Your place in our lives and Your love for us. May our heart, mind, and spirit be in alignment to show our honor and thanks to You. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Saturday, April 4, 2020

Don't Forget

But you must not forget this one thing, dear friends: A day is like a thousand years to the Lord, and a thousand years is like a day.  The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent. (2 Peter 3:8-9 NLT)

I don't know about you, but when Facebook first introduced the On This Day feature, it was kind of creepy. Actually, it still is rather creepy to see anything you post on Facebook will show up on the yearly anniversary of the original post date, right? However, depending on what you post, it can be a good thing.

A few days ago, a picture popped up in my timeline reminding me of a sermon titled, "Don't forget."(See picture below) At the end of the sermon, we were encouraged to take a picture and post it to social media so that it would appear in our memories. When it popped up, I went to look up the Scripture and I was simply in awe at the reminder, especially in our current environment.

Surely with the rise in numbers of people contracting the virus, the deaths, the lack of toilet paper, and the shenanigans happening at the grocery store, it may seem to us like God has forgotten about us and that He is being slow to act, but we can find encouragement in 2 Peter 3:8-9. His promises are still good and He hasn't forgotten about us. In fact, His Word tells us that He doesn't want anyone to be destroyed (eternally separated from Him), but that He wants us all to repent.

Father in Heaven, we praise Your name in spite of everything happening around us. Help us to keep our hearts and minds focused on You. Forgive us of our sinful thoughts, deeds, and ways and give us strength and courage to return to You. Strengthen our spirit and body. Guide us in Your truth. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

You must go

  Jeremiah 1:5-9 NLT "I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb. Before you were born I set you apart and appointed you as my prophet to the nations.” “O Sovereign Lord,” I said, “I can’t speak for you! I’m too young!” The Lord replied, “Don’t say, ‘I’m too young,’ for you must go wherever I send you and say whatever I tell you.  And don’t be afraid of the people, for I will be with you and will protect you. I, the Lord, have spoken!”  Then the Lord reached out and touched my mouth and said, “Look, I have put my words in your mouth! Today I appoint you to stand up against nations and kingdoms. Some you must uproot and tear down, destroy and overthrow. Others you must build up and plant.”

As I meditated on these verses this morning, I couldn't help but think about the virus that plagues our nation at this very moment. I'd honestly rather hear less about it, but its news is everywhere I turn and affecting so many people. It can be downright depressing. However, the great news is that none of this surprises God.

As we learn in today's verse, He knew us before we were even formed in our mother's womb. (Take a moment and meditate on that fact.) Before my mom conceived me, God knew me, my decisions, and the person I would turn out to be. Considering that He knew me, tiny me, in the midst of this great universe, surely He knew that this virus would come. He knows what we have to go through and when/how this will all end. Even as we all go through this together, we have to remember that we, God's children, have been appointed to speak life and to keep our hope in Him, regardless of what we see around us.

Though you may have an excuse for why you can't speak up for God, perhaps like Jeremiah, you think you're too young or too old, not enough knowledge of God's Word, or too shy, know that God will give you the words to say. By no means am I advocating misquoting scripture or trying to come up with things to say, but I believe that in the right timing, God will give you the right words for the person(s) they're meant for. Today's Scripture is a great reminder that God will put words in our mouths! As God's children, this is certainly time for us to be light in this dark world.

Prayer: Father God, thank You for Your goodness and mercy. Thank you for your sovereignty. Even in the midst of this chaos, we will still praise Your name because You are worthy. Guide us so that we may be the light of the world and the salt of the earth that You have called us to be. Strengthen us in Your truth that You are all-knowing and all power is still in Your hands. Protect Your children with Your Holy hands. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

#IStillBelieve #TellYourStory

A couple of hours ago, my husband and I went to an advanced screening to see I Still Believe.
In case you haven't heard anything about it, it's a new movie based on Jeremy Camp's early years as a musician, sort of. I was choked up most of the movie trying to hold back tears. I left the theater with a headache because I fought the tears. I knew if I let them loose, I wouldn't be able to stop. Thinking about it now makes me want to cry.

Without spoiling the movie, I'd say One big takeaway for me is that we should all tell our story and if only one life has changed because of it, then what we've gone through would all be worth it. God gets the glory. Often what we go through isn't for us, but for the growth of others, to draw them closer to Christ. Depending on the level of difficulty, this can be a tough pill to swallow.

But as I pondered my takeaway, I started to think of my story. What is it that I could share with the world? What is it about my life that would draw someone closer to Christ? I don't have a sad, heartbreaking story. But is that the only thing that draws others to Christ? Heartbreak and difficulty?

God has kept me. What do I mean by that? I've done some crazy things in my life, but not too crazy. There've been times when I've crossed the line, but I quickly turned around. Imagine life with a toddler who you're constantly yelling, "aht aht!" Yea, those aren't real words, but we say them to get the toddler to change direction. Too hot! Too dangerous! Too cold! Too sharp! Too close to the edge!

Many years ago after starting college, I can recall one of my "church mothers" calling to check on me as I was heading out of town to do something I shouldn't have been doing. Maybe she knew. Maybe she didn't. But I believe that was a warning from God to turn around. I was going too far left. Did I turn around? Literally? No. But her call changed the course of my weekend, I think. "aht aht!"

I can recall when my college classes first began and I wanted to hang out on the plaza. Don't judge me. Everything was fresh and new and I wanted to see what was going on. My new friend wouldn't have it. She looked me squarely in the face and said she wouldn't go with me because she wasn't majoring in Plaziology 101. "aht aht!"

Wrong guy for you. Let him leave. "aht aht!"

The next time you might kill yourself and your friend driving drunk. Be sober. This is not the life I have for you. "aht aht!"

Turn around and take heed to your friend's story. I sent her to you for a reason. "aht aht!"

I have many "aht aht" stories...stories where God let me know many times that He was right there with me when I wanted to do something crazy, but instead, He gave me the courage and grace to turn around. The more I think about it, I guess these were immature times when I hoped God wasn't quite watching and I wanted to test the waters. But God is faithful and I'm thankful for that.

God has kept me. God has proved to me over and over again that He's with me and that He hears and answers my prayers. There are many times that He answers prayers that I haven't even taken the time to pray about. Faithful. He loves me and I am so grateful that He shows me over and over again.

No matter what your story is, I encourage you to share it and the love of God. You don't know who it may help. If it can help only one person, then it would all be worth it. And no matter what, keep the faith. :-)

God has kept me and He'll do the same for you!

Go see the movie and take some tissues so that you won't walk away with a headache like I did. #IStillBelieve