Tuesday, January 26, 2010

A Sure Thing

"We put our hope in the Lord.
He is our help and our shield.
In him our hearts rejoice,
for we trust in his holy name.
Let your unfailing love surround us, Lord,
for our hope is in you alone."
Psalm 33:20-22 NLT

Have you ever played the slot machines? Have you ever watched someone else play the slot machines? You put your coin or token in the slot and pull the handle. You hold your breath and hope for a winning play. It's a game of chance.

Hope is like a coin or token. We all have a measure of hope. It's what we put our hope in that counts. I think many times we play the slots with hope. We take our token of hope and we put in something or someone and pull the handle. A game of chance. We put our hope in many different things. Sometimes it pays off, sometimes we lose.

We look for the sure thing. But we play the game of life by chance. There is only one sure thing to put our token of hope in, Jesus Christ. The psalmist said that because he put his hope in God alone, his life would be protected, joyful, and surrounded in love. Even in the tragic or difficult time of life, we can be secure in God's love.

What are you putting your hope in today? How's it paying off?

Monday, January 25, 2010

The Reason

"I reflect at night on who you are, O Lord;
therefore, I obey your instructions."
Psalm 119:55 NLT

I read this passage this morning and it really moved me. The writer affirms why we follow Christ. Because of who he is. I don't feel forced to follow Christ. I do so because of his great love for me. I want to follow him. He has rescued me from hurts, habits, and hang ups. He gives me strength for today and hope for tomorrow.

Before I had a relationship with Jesus as my Lord and savior, the Bible was boring. It was nothing but a bunch of "do's and don'ts." I thought,"Who needs this stuff!" But when my life was in crisis, Jesus became very real to me. Not as a harsh God waiting for me to screw up, but my father, my friend, and my Lord.

We can become focused on the rules of scripture. Fear, duty, and approval can be the motivation to obey God. Many just give up. But when we focus on the person of Jesus Christ, our love for him becomes the motivation to obey him.

To focus on Jesus you have to get to know him. Once you experience the love he offers, religion and rules go out the window. Obeying Christ becomes an expression of love.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

All of You

"Let all that I am praise the Lord;
may I never forget the good things He does for me." Psalm 103:2 NLT

What an awesome verse!

There are times when a verse hits you and you have to share it. And this is one of those. This is a verse that you can claim, no matter where you are in your faith walk. You can be just a beginner or a seasoned veteran. Just claim it!

Right now, this very minute where are you spiritually? Are you joyful? Are you worried? Are you peaceful? Are you scared? God is your Father and He understands.

What can you do? You can let all that you are, praise Him; and may you never forget the good things He had done and will continue to do, for you.

As a side thought, when He says 'all', does that mean just the good stuff and we hide the bad? No, all means just that--"all"--the good, the bad and the ugly. Should the thought of that help keep you on the upper path? It should. Because don't we want to give Him the best 'us' that we possibly can? But we are human and it's not a perfect world. As long as He knows that you are striving to be your best, He is a forgiving God.

Our God--your God--is an awesome God!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

True Faith-Life

"Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don't try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way." James 1:2-3 (The Message)

WOW! Is that how you would look at tests & challenges--a sheer gift? I would tend to think of it as a punishment. But when you read this version, it seems like a privilege if you were to go through a trial. And isn't that the way we should look at it?

Like any parent, your Heavenly father wants the best for you. He wants to help you become the very best you that you can be. If everything was always rosy and sweet--no bumps in the road--no trials in the courtroom--He knows we would become complacent. We'd get lazy--bored. We'd think that we have everything under control. God is nice, I'm glad He's out there, somewhere.

Trials and challenges are a gift. It shows us that our Father cares for us. He is pruning us, grooming us, for better things. It also shows us that as things are not always going our way, whether it's an attack from Satan or a gift from our Father, He's there with us. That either way, our faith life is growing and being gleaned for our betterment.

We humans are a strange tribe. Since the beginning of time, we seem to have had to go through trials and tribulations in order to have any true growth. Think about Adam & Eve. Think about the Israelites roaming in the desert for 40 years. Remember David. The list could go on.

God wanted us to have a simple, easy life, but we apparently had other plans. I know that even though I wouldn't wish to go through the trials in my life that I have, it was during those trials that I grew so close to my Heavenly Father. At times I had to lean and cling to Him for dear life. I had to get down on my knees, literally, and just cry out to Him for peace and comfort. And He did. I cherish those moments and memories.

How about you? Have you ever been there? If and when you are, please know your God loves you and will help you through. Just give it all to Him.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Acts of Kindness

"'Here is a simple, rule-of-thumb guide for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you, then grab the initiative and do it for them. Add up God's Law and Prophets and this is what you get.'" Matthew 7:12 (The Message)

Did you ever hear that when you were growing up? You did something mean to your sibling or to someone at school, and your mom would say, "Now, do unto others..."

It's a wonderful verse to live by. I know that I have used it a few times on my boys and at times, even on myself. How about you? It seems that the people of this world don't always remember. It's a 'me' society. It's all about 'me'. Hey, focus on 'me'! What's in it for 'me'?

Can you imagine if the Lord was in that frame of mind when He roamed this earth? Where would we be today? Certainly not in the blessings of today. If we are of Christ, we should imitate Him, should we not? Shouldn't we be looking for ways to serve His people, not just to see what we get out of it for ourselves, but for the simple reason of just doing?

Jesus didn't think twice when He touched lepers, gave water to the thirsty, feed the hungry, healed the sick, raised the dead. He just 'did'.

He didn't wonder what award He was going to get, how much He would get paid, how long the article in the paper was going to be. He just 'did'.

How about us? How about you? Let's just 'do'. Let's try to spread the love of Jesus just a little further by doing random acts of kindness. It'll be amazing if each of us will just do one act of kindness to someone, and then that someone does a random act of kindness, and so on.

Aren't you just a little bit curious? Do it! You'll be blessed by the outcome!

Friday, January 15, 2010

The Promise of Feathers

"He will cover you with his feathers.
He will shelter you with his wings.
His faithful promises are your armor and protection." Psalm 91:4 NLT

A story was sent to us and this Bible verse was attached to the end of it. Apparently it is a true story.

It was about a couple of park rangers that were walking through a forest that had just been on fire. They saw this eagle sitting at the base of this big tree. Well, the eagle and the tree were dead. So, one of the rangers knocked over the eagle because he thought that it was eerie that even though the bird was dead, it was still upright. Well, when he knocked over the bird, she fell over and out came 5 little birds. They were amazed!

What they figured is that the mother knew that she could not fly out 5 babies chicks and she wouldn't leave them and save herself, so she moved them down to the ground, instinctly knowing that heat and smoke would rise up. She then hide her babies under her wings to protect them, and protect them she did--at her own sacrifice.

Isn't that what the Lord does for us? Doesn't He protect us when we need protection? Move us to safer ground when we are in the wrong or dangerous place?

Isn't that what Easter is all about? Sacrifice? But sacrifice doesn't start with Easter. It started with Christmas. He graciously sacrificed His spot in Heaven for 30 some odd years to be here for us--to protect and sacrifice. He did that for you and for me.

Feel His soft and warm feathers cover and protect you. He promised you He would. You can trust Him.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Showers of Blessing

“'I will make a covenant of peace with my people and drive away the dangerous animals from the land. Then they will be able to camp safely in the wildest places and sleep in the woods without fear. I will bless my people and their homes around my holy hill. And in the proper season I will send the showers they need. There will be showers of blessing.'" Ezekiel 34:25-26NLT

The note at the bottom of the page in my Bible states this about the word "Peace" or in Hebrew "shalom"--Peace is more than absence of hostility; it is fullness of life enjoyed in complete security.

Is that what you are seeking? Is that what you need in your life? I know I do. I seek it every day. And what humbles me is that my Father is willing to give it to me every single day. His everlasting peace--just for me--just for the asking. The peace that withstands ALL understanding. Isn't that amazing?!

"Showers of blessing"--Blessing, the power of life promised to God's people through Abraham, is beautifully symbolized in the life-giving effects of rain.

Have you ever just stood in the rain and let the cleansing, cool water droplets just run over your skin. Felt the stress, the ugliness of the day, the conflict in your soul--washed away?

God wants this for you. He wants to have you in a relationship with Him so that He can give you peace and wash you with showers of blessing. Do you?

All you need to do is ask. Sincerely and humbly. Get your heart and spirit right. Then ask. Can you? Will you?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Our Proclaimation

"Sing a new song to the Lord!
Let the whole earth sing to the Lord!
Sing to the Lord; praise his name.
Each day proclaim the good news that he saves.
Publish his glorious deeds among the nations.
Tell everyone about the amazing things he does.
Great is the Lord! He is most worthy of praise!"
Psalm 96:1-4 NLT

I'm getting ready to speak at a men's ministry dinner tonight. I'm going to share my testimony. As I read this passage from Psalm 96, I was encouraged about my opportunity to share my story. I am looking forward to sharing with a group of men how Jesus has impacted my life.

I got to thinking that you don't have to be a preacher or worship leader to share the good news, salvation, and amazing things about God. You just need to open your eyes and heart to the awesomeness of God. Look for the hand of God in your life and those around you. We have so much negative press and attitudes in our culture. We look for the worse. But, if we would be willing to view our lives as a blessing from God, and see him in the little as well as the big, we will have a new perspective on life.

Look for the wonderful hand of God in your life. Share the good news with others!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Today is the Day!

"No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good,
and this is what he requires of you:
to do what is right, to love mercy,
and to walk humbly with your God." Micah 6:8 NLT

You know. You know when you are doing good or bad. I don't care how old you are, when you are doing something that you know is not right--sinful, bad, deceitful--you know it. You look over your shoulder, making sure that no one had seen you, that no one heard what you said, whatever the situation is. Am I right?

God has told you what is good. "And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise." Philippians 4:8 NLT

Why not start this new year with this simple verse of rightful living? Imagine the sense of release. The sense of peace that you will be experiencing.

When I was in my 20's, I wanted so badly to be loved. I wanted my prince charming to find me and my search would be over. My heart's desire would be fulfilled. Well, you know that country song, "looking for love in all the wrong places"--at that point it was my life song. No, I wasn't all over the place. But I was in a relationship with someone that I knew I wasn't suppose to be in. I thought, "Oh, my Lord wants me happy. This is OK. I'm not hurting anyone." But it just didn't feel right. I bargained with the Lord. I told Him I just wanted to be loved--to be accepted as I was. And this was the closest I could find.

Long story short, through all my mistakes and going off on wrong paths, God honored me with my prince charming. And the reason that I am sharing this embarrassing part of my past is to one, show that God can work through all mistakes and He honors us even if we don't always honor Him. Secondly, the peace I felt and still feel to be knowing that I am living the life that He had choose for me. That I can be truthful and I'm not living 3 different lives inside one life. At times, that is what I was doing. It was horrible. Peace--true peace--is so awesome.

So, no matter what you have done in your past--it's not too much for God. Today, right now do the right thing. Give it all to Him. Ask Him for forgiveness. Let Him wash you clean. Show mercy, (forgiveness) to others, as He has shown towards you and be humble. Not like some, that act like they are lower than dirt. But know that you even though you are a special creation from God, your Heavenly Father is still God. The one and only!

Today is the Day! How exciting!

Living Faith

"God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago." Ephesians 2:8-10 NLT

Do you wear your faith on your sleeve? Or do you hide and bring it out when it is beneficial to you?

In this day and age it seems that it's not 'cool' to be a believer. It seems as if it's something to be ashamed of. It's something--that if it is offensive to someone else--our right of Christian freedom is taken away.

Yesterday, watching one of the football games--I was encouraged. First of all, I'm not a major football fan. I hardly know any of the major teams, let alone the college teams. But all the men in my family was watching one of the games--the Gators and Wildcats. That's when it happened. I noticed that the quarterback for the Gators had something printed in the black paint under his eyes. I looked closer--it said Ephesians 2, under one eye--8-10 under the other. I thought, WOW! I didn't know what the score was, but I hoped his team would win because he was showing his faith for ALL to see. His name was TEBOW--it was right there on the back of his shirt.

And then they did win! When the camera was on him and the reporter asked him to comment, he said first and foremost, he gave all the praise to his heavenly Father. Then he went on to thank his team and coach. What a witness! When he praised his heavenly Father, the crowd just stood up and roared--it was AWESOME. It gave me spiritual goosebumps. This was all done on national television. God is still in control!

So, if you ever feel discouraged for all the ungodliness in this world--look up! God has these little gems of hope and encouragement everywhere. It could be in the brilliance of the setting sun, the cry of a newborn baby, the unexpected phone call from someone special or the gentle movement of a breeze.

God choose you long before you choose Him. It wasn't something you could have bought, bartered or worked for. Salvation was a gift that you just had to want bad enough to ask your heavenly Father for. The gift was always there. You have to be emotionally and spiritually ready to open and receive it.

So go ahead--wear your faith on your sleeve, your shirt, or in some cases, your face. Just make sure that you are truly wearing it where it matters most--in your heart.