Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Lord, I Don't Know What to Do

Leah Dipascal
"Show me the right path, O LORD; point out the road for me to follow." Psalm 25:4 (NLT)
Do you ever feel like you're going in circles and not making any progress? At least not the kind of progress you were expecting.
Are the constant appeals of our world pulling you in a million different ways, causing you to question if you're headed in the right direction?
If you're like me, you have plans and dreams you want to fulfill. But life is confusing at times. And most days it seems like you're just surviving instead of living out those dreams or accomplishing your goals.
Numerous distractions.
Too many choices.
Endless interruptions.
There have been days I've felt like one foot was fixed to the floor, while my other foot scurried in every direction. Expending a lot of energy and mental fatigue, but going nowhere. Can you relate?
Wouldn't it be awesome to wake up every morning and be assured you're on the right path towards your goals? To know with certainty that you're headed in the right direction? To feel confident with each step, without constantly questioning yourself?
Too many times I've second-guessed a decision I was confident about. I want so desperately to follow God's will that I'll pray, but then feel uncertain, not wanting to make a wrong move. I wonder: Maybe this isn't what I'm supposed to be doing. Maybe this isn't part of God's plan for my life.
As I've wrestled with indecision and insecurity, I've sought God's Word for help. A few months ago, I found a priceless nugget of truth in the Bible. It addresses our desire for guidance and shows us what to do when we need clear direction.
King David composed these words in a beautiful psalm, tucked within the pages of the Old Testament:
"Show me the right path, O LORD; point out the road for me to follow. Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in you" (Psalm 25:4-5).
These verses reveal David's humble and teachable heart. He wanted to be guided by God and led by His truth. David knew God was his Savior and placed all his hope in the One who created the right path for him.
We find the answers to David's request for guidance only a few short passages away. Promises we can claim for our own lives:
"The LORD is good and does what is right; he shows the proper path to those who go astray. He leads the humble in doing right, teaching them his way. The LORD leads with unfailing love and faithfulness all who keep his covenant and obey his demands" (Psalm 25:8-10, NLT).
Based on these verses, when our hearts are humble and truly seeking God's will, we can be confident of this:
1. God will always show us what is right for us.
2. When we get sidetracked, God will direct us back to the right path.
3. We are not alone. God leads and teaches us along the way.
4. God leads those who obey Him with unfailing love and faithfulness.
If you're unsure about some things in your life, don't wait another day to figure it out on your own. Ensure your heart is in the right place of humility, and then ask God to help you. Once you've asked, trust that God is directing you.
If you know you've gotten on the wrong path, seek God for direction instead of looking to the world for answers. As you take steps to follow and obey God's voice, He will lovingly show you the way.
Months ago I asked the Lord to etch these verses onto my heart and mind, so I'd always have them with me — especially on days when I feel like I'm going in circles and lacking direction.
Today, I'm praying these verses over you.
Dear Lord, help my friend come to You when she's in need of direction. Remind her that the world can't offer what she deeply longs for, nor does it hold her future, but You certainly do. Thank You for guiding her today. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Monday, September 29, 2014

The Difference

Renee Swope
"My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ ..." Colossians 2:2 (NIV)
I noticed something was different as soon as he walked in the door. Andrew, my 16-year-old son, had come home from exercising at the gym and instead of looking exhausted, a bright smile stretched across his face like a crescent moon.
Before I could ask what was up, Andrew said, "The custodian stopped me in the hallway and told me I 'looked like a champion' after working out."
The comment made Andrew feel great. Just knowing someone actually noticed his hard work lifting weights made him want to give the guy a hug! But that felt awkward, so he just said "thanks" and kept walking.
"But, when I got to the exit door," Andrew went on to say, "I decided to drop my bag and run back to thank the guy for encouraging me! And it made me feel so awesome!"
The next morning, Andrew told me he couldn't stop thinking about what had happened at the gym. He said, "From now on, any time I feel like I'm supposed to encourage someone, I'm gonna do it! Not just because of how good it will make them feel, but because of how good it makes me feel to focus on other people and not be so focused on myself all the time."
I did everything I could to hold back the tears. Yes, I was proud of Andrew's decision, but more than anything I was captivated by the difference I saw in my boy's eyes. And with his permission, I want to share why.
For months, we watched our outgoing, happy, encouraging kid withdraw from us and from friends. We listened as he vented deep doubts and questions about God, compounded by frustration and uncertainties about his own purpose in life.
Overwhelming concerns had occupied every square inch of my thoughts. My greatest concern came as I watched Andrew sink into a pit of discouragement as he insulated himself with negative input, anger towards God, his circumstances, and consuming self-focus.
My husband and I prayed. We wrestled with God. We talked through Andrew's questions and doubts whenever he was willing. And we loved on him as much as we knew how.
But now, many months later, I am still amazed by the difference a few words of encouragement made. Words offered by a stranger who noticed him, encouraged him and inspired him to give away what he had received.
In today's key verse, the Apostle Paul shares how his life's goal was that others be "encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge" (Colossians 2:2-3).
Could it be that encouragement unites our hearts in love with God and each other? Then it unlocks spiritual riches of understanding to help us grasp all that is ours in Christ?
Just today, Andrew told me again how his heart changed that night after coming home from the gym. He said for the first time, in a long time, he felt the power and presence of God's love, which he had been shutting out for months. And in the days that followed, he started to turn back toward hope and ultimately turn toward God.
Dear Lord, thank You for the gift of Your encouragement. Help me slow down to hear You speak words of hope into my life, reminding my heart that You see me, value me and have a purpose for me! In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

The Last Weekend of September '14

Just Nine Doors Down
Karen Ehman
"'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these.'" Mark 12:30-31 (NIV)
In the two years since we'd moved into our new neighborhood, I'd seen her on my walks. Sometimes she was rolling her trash can out to the curb. Or in her front yard watering her flowers. I'd smile and say "Hi" for a brief second.
After all, my neighborhood is big; my life is busy. So I'd pop my headphones back in and keep walking to my house, just nine doors down.
Awhile back, there were flashing lights, sirens and all things alarming in our neighborhood. A fire, maybe? ... I thought as I drove into my neighborhood, returning from an errand-running venture. My mama's heart raced. My 12-year-old son was home alone. Had he burnt some toast and set the smoke alarm system blaring? Or worse?
As my car approached, I saw it was not my house, but another house nine doors down. Relief for my soul.
And though the rescue vehicles were parked in front of my nine-doors-down neighbor's house, no fire appeared to blaze there either.
Must have been a false alarm, I reasoned to myself.
Two days later, I heard the awful news. No fire. No smoke. Just a terribly saddened soul.
You see, just nine doors down, something happened in the mind of my nameless, flower-watering, smile-and-say-hello fellow human being. Something told her this life wasn't worth living anymore. And she agreed.
Now her heart no longer beats. Her flowers still grow, but she can't water them anymore. I can still walk by her house, lost deeply in the Jesus-music blaring on my iPod. Staring straight ahead. Rushing to the next thing on my to-do list for the day.
Nine doors down, there will be no more hand-waves. No smiles as I stroll by. And no more thoughts of, I should stop and find out her name. I haven't really met this gal yet. If I'd reached out and befriended her, would she have seen Jesus in our friendship?
Could we have walked the neighborhood streets together? Maybe gone for coffee to get to know each other a bit? Would a glimpse of the perfect God in the life of an imperfect me perhaps beckoned her to have a relationship with Him, too? Would she have found God's purpose and peace instead of finding a way to end her emotional pain?
God only knows.
I am a woman who wants to love God, but so often I am too busy to really love the people He puts plainly in my path. But this love, as today's key verse declares, is more important than all the sacrifices we could make.
I cannot beat myself up. But I can do something. So can you. We can pause, permitting God to tap us on the heart, gently interrupt us and rearrange our day.
We can go deeper ... beyond a hurried "Hi!" to an authentic, "How are you?" When God knocks on our hearts, we can knock on their doors.
Will you do it? Will you try? Then once you've reached out, leave the results to God. Our job is obedience. God's job is results.
Trust me, it is AWFUL to get to know your neighbor through the tales and tears of her relatives at a memorial service. I wish I had made the time and gotten to know her personally.
May we all respond to those taps on our hearts today and not ignore them. God just may use us as He saves a life.
After all, remember it isn't that far of a walk ... just nine doors down.
Dear Lord, I want to be aware of the times You tap my heart, asking me to reach out to someone. May I pay attention and respond, so they might know You. In Jesus' Name, Amen
Have a Blessed Weekend...

Friday, September 26, 2014

Our Great Helper

Seeing then that we have a great high Priest… Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. Let us come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need (Hebrews 4:14-16).

Our great Helper in prayer is the Lord Jesus Christ, our Advocate with the Father, our Great High Priest, whose chief ministry for us these centuries has been intercession and prayer. He it is who takes our imperfect petitions from our hands, cleanses them from their defects, corrects their faults, and then claims their answer from His Father on His own account and through His all-atoning merits and righteousness.

Brother, are you fainting in prayer? Look up. Your blessed Advocate has already claimed your answer, and you would grieve and disappoint Him if you were to give up the conflict in the very moment when victory is on its way to meet you. He has gone in for you into the inner chamber, and already holds up your name upon the palms of His hands; and the messenger, which is to bring you your blessing, is now on his way, and the Spirit is only waiting your trust to whisper in your heart the echo of the answer from the throne, "It is done."
--A. B. Simpson

The Spirit has much to do with acceptable prayer, and His work in prayer is too much neglected. He enlightens the mind to see its wants, softens the heart to feel them, quickens our desires after suitable supplies, gives clear views of God's power, wisdom, and grace to relieve us, and stirs up that confidence in His truth which excludes all wavering.
Prayer is, therefore, a wonderful thing. In every acceptable prayer the whole Trinity is concerned.
--J. Angell James

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Faith Amid Storms

He hath acquainted himself with my beaten path. When he hath searched me out, I shall come out shining (Job 23:10, free translation).

"Faith grows amid storms" -- just four words, but oh, how full of import to the soul who has been in the storms!

Faith is that God-given faculty which, when exercised, brings the unseen into plain view, and by which the impossible things are made possible. It deals with supernaturals. But it "grows amid storms"; that is, where there are disturbances in the spiritual atmosphere. Storms are caused by the conflicts of elements; and the storms of the spiritual world are conflicts with hostile elements. In such an atmosphere faith finds its most productive soil; in such an element it comes more quickly to full fruition.

The staunchest tree is not found in the shelter of the forest, but out in the open where the winds from every quarter beat upon it, and bend and twist it until it becomes a giant in stature this is the tree which the mechanic wants his tools made of, and the wagon-maker seeks.

So in the spiritual world, when you see a giant, remember the road you must travel to come up to his side is not along the sunny lane where wild flowers ever bloom; but a steep, rocky, narrow pathway where the blasts of hell will almost blow you off your feet; where the sharp rocks cut the flesh, where the projecting thorns scratch the brow, and the venomous beasts hiss on every side.

It is a pathway of sorrow and joy, of suffering and healing balm, of tears and smiles, of trials and victories, of conflicts and triumphs, of hardships and perils and buffetings, of persecutions and misunderstandings, of troubles and distress; through all of which we are made more than conquerors through Him who loves us.

"Amid storms." Right in the midst where it is fiercest. You may shrink back from the ordeal of a fierce storm of trial…but go in! God is there to meet you in the center of all your trials, and to whisper His secrets which will make you come forth with a shining face and an indomitable faith that all the demons of hell shall never afterwards cause to waver. --E. A. Kilbourne

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Grief of Mind

When Esau was forty years old, he took as wives Judith the daughter of Beeri the Hittite, and Basemath the daughter of Elon the Hittite. And they were a grief of mind to Isaac and Rebekah. Genesis 26:34-35

Do you have relationships in your life that are "a grief of mind"? Think about those people who really challenge your thoughts. It is as if you just cannot get along with them no matter how hard you try and you cannot accept who they are or what they do no matter how much you pray. However, for some reason, you cannot escape the relationship either. These people quench our peace and rob us of joy. Why can we not just live life without personality conflicts?

The answer has to do with the two greatest commandments. We must love the Lord with all our hearts, minds, souls and strength and we must also love others as ourselves. Jesus says in Luke 6:32-36 that, if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive back, what credit is that to you? For even sinners lend to sinners to receive as much back. But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. He is kind to the unthankful and evil. Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful.

God wants us to learn mercy, kindness, thankfulness and love. We cannot love God with everything we have and then not love others. We can have people in life that are a grief of mind but God desires that we learn to love with His heart, touch with His hands and see through His eyes. We can only do that through a dependency on the Lord through His Holy Spirit. God wants us to be more like Him and He can change us if we work with Him through all this.

To overcome these personal conflicts, try stepping back from the issues and pray that you can have a discernment to change the dynamics of the relationship. That person may not ever change but you can. Be proactive in prayer if you know that you will be interacting with that person and ask the Lord to check your spirit before you act out in the flesh. Slowly but surely, you will begin to have victory and God will receive the glory.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014


by Shawn McEvoy, Crosswalk.com Managing Editor
So they all ate and were filled. Mark 6:42 

The title of my devotional today strikes me as oxymoronic. Miracles, after all, are defined as acts of God, amazing and marvelous events, and "seals of a divine mission" (Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary). Generally speaking, there's nothing small about them.

What I'm talking about, then, are instances of heavenly intervention in the lives of believers that impact what we would consider "minor" areas of our existence, the things that cause us to make statements like: "It showed me that God cares about even the small things in our lives," always as if that's a profoundly shocking proclamation. Nobody ever responds by saying, "Well, duh…"

I think that's because it never stops being a mind-blowing concept - the Creator of the universe, who hears the prayers and praises of billions simultaneously and loves each one the same, provided, perhaps, just the right amount of money for a struggling single mom to buy her child a pair of shoes. It's not the parting of the Red Sea to preserve for Himself a people, or the resurrection of His son to purchase the redemption of humanity. It's, for lack of a better term, a mini-miracle.

I remember one time in our Adult Bible Fellowship class my friend Karen stepped in to teach our continuing series in Mark's gospel. We were in Chapter Six, focusing primarily on the Feeding of the 5,000. As she began her lesson, Karen admitted that she'd never quite been able to visualize this scene, or understand exactly what the miracle was meant to show. I mean, there is the lesson of provision, but the human body can go without food for quite some time. Jesus Himself fasted in the wilderness for 40 days (Matthew 4:1-4). So it's not like life and death were hanging in the balance if the people who had followed Him to this "desolate place" went without dinner that night.

It could be, Karen suggested, that Jesus just didn't want the people to go away; He had just suffered the death of His cousin John the Baptist, and recently endured the "amazing unbelief" (Mark 6:6) of those from His hometown of Nazareth. It could be Jesus took immense delight in this multitude foregoing their bodily needs to attend to His Word. It very well could be our Lord simply wanted to do something "just for them."

Maybe, Karen said, that's why she always tended to overlook this miracle a little bit. "You know how sometimes when God does something that you know was 'just for you,' and you tell someone else about it, and they're like, 'That's cool and all,' but it just doesn't carry the same meaning for them?"
I knew exactly what that was like, and I liked where she was going. I could see an even greater personalization in mini-miracles, in God drawing delight from blessing our socks off in ways that speak to our individual hearts. The idea also gave me greater permission to attribute to the Lord all sorts of transpirings that I had chalked up to my own efforts, happenstance, or even worse, had gone without noticing.

If, for instance, I told you about the time we thought we'd lost my wife's keys - including several costly ones - only to find them sitting precariously on a single steel beam of the auto transport behind our moving van, maybe you'd respond the way my friend Scott did: "You got lucky, dude." Yeah, well, I guess that's why Karen says sometimes these events are "just for us." I saw those keys, I knew the bumpy route and wet weather we had traveled, I was astounded, I was humbled. I decided that giving credit to the Lord for things that bless you is never wrong, as suggested by James 1:17.
I just don't do it enough.
I wonder how many mini-miracles I've missed out on by being impatient, angry, or inattentive. In his book Blue Like Jazz, Donald Miller imagines Moses telling those worshipping the golden calf, "Your problem is not that God is not fulfilling, your problem is that you are spoiled" (92). Romans  1:20 would seem to indicate that the Lord's hand is evident everywhere - "people can clearly see His invisible qualities." I like that verse very much, because I like to think of myself as on the lookout for God.

But that brings me to the other ways to miss miracles - by not accepting them or expecting them, by resenting them or wanting to earn them. I quote from Blue Like Jazz again, where Miller admits, "I love to give to charity, but I don't want to be charity. This is why I have so much trouble with grace" (84).

Can we get past the affront of accepting a free gift? If we can, we might see the Lord trying to say through the Feeding of the 5,000 and even today, "Here I Am, stay here, spend more time, no need to go away, please accept this, put yourself in My hands, keep your eyes open, I love you."
After all, says Matthew 7:11, "If you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him?" Mini-miracles are the treats God brings home to His kids, those who seek him with childlike faith, those who consider themselves "the little things in life." Well, duh…

Intersecting Faith & Life: Try bringing something small home to a loved one today to remind yourself of how much joy the Lord gets from giving.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Choosing Friends

Proverbs 13:20 He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.

Many parents have told their children to “choose your friends wisely”. In today's language they say “be careful who you hang out with”. Our verse today is saying the same thing. We need to be careful of whom we “walketh” with. They will effect our life for good or bad. We truly are known by the company we keep.
We should have a wide variety of acquaintances that we associate with to get a broad view of different ideas. BUT we don't need to “walketh” or live like them.
I have counciled wives that married a scoundrel with the idea of changing them. The only person changed was the wife.
I have learned thru time that the only person I can change is myself.
Christian friends, be careful of your friends; they do have an influence upon you.
God Bless;

Walter D. Hill D. Min.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Unloved Christians

Psalms 18:3 I will call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised: so shall I be saved from mine enemies.

Christian friends, there are some folks in this world that just don't like us. They hate us because of what we believe, what we have, and who we are. Yes, we have many enemies all about us. Some of our enemies we can recognize and be aware of. Others are concealed, and , sometimes those that we trust turn out to be enemies.
But, Christian friends, don't give up hope on others. Our LORD will save us from them. I have found that most folks who ,seemingly, hate Christians just don't understand us. Other people of pagan faiths hate us because of who we believe in. Those people hate Jesus and the name of JESUS. Be aware of those that have religion and deny the Deity of Jesus.
Jesus said He is the only way!
Which way are you headed? 
Call upon Jesus, He will help in this hour of need.
God Bless;Walter D. Hill D. Min.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

The Power of Silence

"Be still, and know that I am God"(Ps. 46:10).
Is there any note of music in all the chorus as mighty as the emphatic pause? Is there any word in all the Psalter more eloquent than that one word, Selah (Pause)? Is there anything more thrilling and awful than the hush that comes before the bursting of the tempest and the strange quiet that seems to fall upon all nature before some preternatural phenomenon or convulsion? Is there anything that can touch our hearts as the power of stillness?
There is for the heart that will cease from itself, "the peace of God that passeth all understanding," a "quietness and confidence" which is the source of all strength, a sweet peace "which nothing can offend," a deep rest which the world can neither give nor take away. There is in the deepest center of the soul a chamber of peace where God dwells, and where, if we will only enter in and hush every other sound, we can hear His still, small voice.
There is in the swiftest wheel that revolves upon its axis a place in the very center, where there is no movement at all; and so in the busiest life there may be a place where we dwell alone with God, in eternal stillness, There is only one way to know God. "Be still, and know." "God is in his holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before him." --Selected
"All-loving Father, sometimes we have walked under starless skies that dripped darkness like drenching rain. We despaired of starshine or moonlight or sunrise. The sullen blackness gloomed above us as if it would last forever. And out of the dark there spoke no soothing voice to mend our broken hearts. We would gladly have welcomed some wild thunder peal to break the torturing stillness of that over-brooding night.
"But Thy winsome whisper of eternal love spoke more sweetly to our bruised and bleeding souls than any winds that breathe across Aeolian harps. It was Thy 'still small voice' that spoke to us. We were listening and we heard. We looked and saw Thy face radiant with the light of love. And when we heard Thy voice and saw Thy face, new life came back to us as life comes back to withered blooms that drink the summer rain."

Friday, September 19, 2014

A Method for Maturity

Read Psalm 131:1-3
Lord, my heart is not haughty, nor mine eyes lofty: neither do I exercise myself in great matters, or in things too high for me.Surely I have behaved and quieted myself, as a child that is weaned of his mother: my soul is even as a weaned child.  3 Let Israel hope in the Lord from henceforth and for ever.

One day King David was walking through the palace, and he heard a child crying. What was going on? The child was being weaned. The mother was saying, "Now, my child, you are growing up, and it is time for you to be weaned." The child was saying, "You don't love me; you hate me. If you loved me, you wouldn't do this." Then David went to his desk, got his pen and wrote Psalm 131.
The problem with too many of us is that we have grown old without growing up--we still need to be weaned. The weaning process is important. God's goal for your life is maturity, and His method for maturity is weaning. He has to wean us away from things we think are important.
How do you convince a child that he doesn't want to be attached to his mother for the rest of his life? Love him? Yes! But he must grow up, step out and be a man. And so it is with us. God has to wean us away from the things of the world, from the cheap toys that we hold on to. He wants to give us the best, and His desire in weaning is our submission. The weaned child of Psalm 131 was not losing; he was gaining. He was moving out into a larger life. Likewise, God has to take things away from our lives, not because they are bad, but because they are keeping us from the best.
The next time you whimper and cry because God takes something away from you, remember: He might be weaning you. He might be saying, "Get closer to me. Step out into a life of maturity and let's go together."

Tears filled my eyes as I listened to this video... 

Thursday, September 18, 2014


By Skip Heitzig

2 Corinthians 6:14 says, “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers.” The illustration mirrors 
Deuteronomy 22:10  “You shall not plow with an ox and a donkey together.” That mismatch would make a funny-looking team—and an ineffective one as well!

Paul is warning believers against forming binding relationships with unbelievers that would hinder them from maintaining godly values or a solid Christian witness. We could apply it to a variety of things today, from starting a business venture with an unbeliever, to marrying an unbeliever.

You’ve heard of missionary dating. The idea is, “Well, he’s not a believer, but as I witness to him and just love the Lord, he’ll become a Christian.” Maybe. It happens—but only rarely! What generally happens is the believer gets taken down to the level of the unbeliever. They try not to “force” anything on the unbeliever, or “turn him off,” and the result is their value system gets compromised. That’s why Scripture warns against it.

So in 1 Corinthians 7  Paul talks about marriage, divorce and remarriage, and says that we are to remarry “only in the Lord” (v. 39). In other words, if you’re a Christian woman, marry a Christian man. If you’re a Christian man, marry a Christian woman.

That’s not to say that if you’re already married to a non-Christian you can dump him or her, because that would contradict the Word. “If any brother has a wife who does not believe, and she is willing to live with him, let him not divorce her. And a woman who has a husband who does not believe, if he is willing to live with her, let her not divorce him” (vv. 12-13).
The question here is about entering into that yoke of relationship. God knows that you won’t be happy in life pulling in two different directions. You’re trying to walk the straight path—to plow straight ahead, so to speak—and the unbeliever doesn’t want to go in that direction, to love God with all his or her heart. So you’ll be held back from having the freedom to serve the Lord, to love Him, and to influence people for His kingdom. God knows you won’t be happy doing that.

I have warned people against this, and I’ve heard too many of them say later, “You were right!” But it was God who was right; the warning is right there in Scripture. God wants you to be fulfilled. He doesn’t want you to be miserable! And yet so often I meet people who think God really has it in for them. “Why would God put that in there? He must not love me!” Why? “Well, because I’ve never met any Christians that are worth dating, so why would God say that?” Because God really does love you, that’s why!

If you think like that, it might be hard to understand…but God actually knows more than you do! God sees further down the road than you do. And He wants you to be able to “plow straight ahead” in your life, to be able to glorify Him, and be fulfilled and satisfied while you’re doing it.

This doesn’t mean you are to cut off all associations with any unbelievers. That would defy the very reason you’re left on the earth—to be salt and light.
But in marriage, the closest of relationships, you should bind yourself only to one who shares your Christian values. That mismatched team just won’t work!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

But God ... He's Not Very Lovable Right Now

by Jill Savage

"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres." 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (NIV)

My emotions swirled in frustration during a particularly difficult season of my marriage. My husband's disillusionment with life, God and our marriage had taken him to a place of rock-bottom depression. It was one of the darkest seasons I'd ever experienced.

"God, show me what you want me to do," I whispered in desperation.

"I want you to love him." I heard deep in my soul.

Immediately I responded, "But God ... he's not very lovable right now."

"I know, Jill. Sometimes you aren't either," God whispered back.

"Okay, Lord. I get that. You love me when I'm not very lovable. Show me how to do the same."

That conversation with God launched a much-needed lesson about what real love looks like in everyday life as a wife and a mom.

Love is a blend of affection, devotion and loyalty. It is part emotion and part commitment. Real love — unconditional love — is hope blended into the reality of life.

Two years after that hard season of marriage, I found myself in a difficult season of parenting. As a mother of five, we'd faced plenty of parenting trials, but none quite as challenging or long-suffering as this season with one of our children. I knew God needed me to respond in love to my child who was anything but lovable in this hard time.

Our imperfect family members need to know that our love is never in doubt. It always protects, trusts, hopes and perseveres.

When God is the leader of our lives, He asks us to deny ourselves and follow Him. That means resisting the way we want to react and instead choosing to respond the way God wants us to respond.

There's a battle that happens inside of us between doing things our way and doing things God's way. When we let God win that battle, we take a step of maturity in our faith. We also get to experience a sense of joy when we experience the victory of handling things God's way instead of our way.

I opened my Bible to 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 and began to perform a parenting love audit as it related to my child:

Love is patient. Am I patient with my child who is so different than I am?

Love is kind. Am I kind when it takes my child twice the amount of time to do something than I think it should?

Love does not envy. Do I wish my child were more like someone else's child?

Love does not boast. Am I quick to share what my child does well or hide areas when my child doesn't seem to measure up?

Love is not proud. Am I hesitant to share how I'm really doing or how my child is really doing out of a fear of what people will think?

Love does not dishonor others. Do I ever dishonor my child, demanding that he be someone other than the unique person God has made him to be?

Love is not self-seeking. Am I ever selfish in my interactions with my child?

Love is not easily angered. How much energy do I waste being angry at my child?

Love keeps no record of wrongs. Do I have an ongoing list in my head about everything my child has done wrong?

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices in the truth. Do I keep my mind focused on God's truth about my child?

Love protects. Do I protect this unique human being God entrusted to me even when he challenges my authority?

Love trusts. Do I trust that God has a bigger picture in mind for this child's life?

Love hopes. Do I hope and believe the best for this child, or do I dread what tomorrow might bring?

Love perseveres. Do I keep my mind on the future possibilities rather than focusing on the difficulties and challenges I'm dealing with today?

Thank You, God, for loving me with all my faults. And thank You for the imperfect people I live with. I know You use their imperfections to help me mature and mold me to be more like You. I also know You use my imperfections in that process, too. Help me to keep Your Truth embedded in my heart, so I can love without stopping, even when they don't feel so loveable. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Parents Have to Live It

By Alan Smith

At one point during a game, the coach said to one of his young players, "Do you understand what cooperation is and what teamwork is all about?" The little boy nodded in the affirmative.

"Do you understand that what really matters is not whether we win or lose, but that we play together as a team?" The little boy nodded yes.

"Good," the coach continued. "And, when a strike is called, or you're thrown out at first, you don't argue, curse, attack the umpire with a bat, or throw dirt in the opposing team members' faces. Do you understand all that?"

Again the little boy nodded, "Well, sure, coach. That's what you taught us."

"Good," said the coach. "Now, please go over there and explain all that to your mother."

I've been to a few Little League games when the above conversation needed to take place! It's sad to see parents who act in an irresponsible manner because you know that they are teaching their children (and others' children) to behave in a similar manner.

God has given those of us who are parents an awesome responsibility -- not only to teach our children what is right, but to live in such a way that they can see that we are willing to practice what we've been teaching them to do.

Moses told the parents of Israel to take the laws which God had given them and "teach them diligently to your children...." (Deut. 6:7). But before telling parents to do that, he warned them: "Therefore hear, O Israel, and be careful to observe it...." (Deut. 6:3).

Before we can teach a love of God and others to our children, it must be in our own hearts. May God bless those of you who are parents as you strive to do just that. May your life be so filled with a desire to follow God that your children will be open to hear all that you have to say to them.

Monday, September 15, 2014


John 3:5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

Everybody wants to go to heaven, but, nobody wants to die. Everybody wants to go to heaven, their way. Folks want to work or pay their way to heaven. Some folks are just willing to wait until judgment and hope they will be good enough.

In our verse today, we are told we must be born of water( the natural birth) and of the Spirit( the rebirth of God’s Spirit) ,or, born again ,IE, saved.

A drowning person can not save their self. They must have help. We can not save our self, we must have help. Our help come from above. His name is Jesus and there is no other name given unto man that can save.

The only thing man can do is to “believe” upon Jesus. In believing, we receive faith to continue to follow Jesus.

Trust in Jesus, He will see you through any trial. Who do you believe and trust in?

God Bless;
Walter D. Hill D. Min.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Rooted and Established

"And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ." Ephesians 3:17-18 NIV

My husband and I have been working at digging out some small bushes that have formed a boundary down one side of our garden for many years. They’ve become old and woody and we want to replace them with some prettier shrubs. We had no idea when we began the job – just how hard it would be to get these little bushes out. Having chopped them down to just above soil level, we began trying to dig the first stump out, but the ground was hard and the roots went down a long way. We dug deep and pulled hard but there was no budging them. In the end my husband decided he’d have to tackle the job with an axe and a sledgehammer.
As he swung the axe and hammered and dug and pulled – the words ‘rooted and established’ came to mind. Those bushes were certainly rooted and established in that ground. Even with the axe and sledgehammer we still haven’t managed to completely remove them, and I’m very sure that after we’ve planted the new shrubs, one day we’ll see the old ones shooting up again from those remnants of the roots we didn’t manage to separate from the soil they were planted in.

It was such a picture of just how deeply rooted and established we are in the soil of God’s love. When I looked up Ephesians 3:17-18 I was reminded that Paul doesn’t pray for us to be rooted and established in God’s love. He bases his prayer on the fact that we already are rooted in the love of God, just like those bushes whose roots had gone down so deep, and that we are established in the love of God, like a house that stands on a broad and deep, solid and firm foundation. His love for us is so strong that it holds us absolutely securely and we can’t be pushed, pulled or plucked from that place. Paul’s prayer is that we would know (as much as we can) the truth of the richness, the splendour and the greatness of the soil of that amazing love we are held in.

Just as the roots of those bushes are utterly inseparable from the ground in which they’re planted, we’re held just as safely, just as securely in the rich soil of the love of God. And nothing can change that. Paul asks the question, ‘Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?’ We could probably add to his list … things like: my fears, my insecurities, my doubts, my sin, my pain, my wounds. But then Paul answers the question for us, ‘For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.’ (Romans 8:35, 38-39)

In our heads we know this is truth. But because of life’s experiences our feelings can often tell us the opposite. We may feel insecure, we may doubt, we may feel unworthy or have deep-seated fears. Maybe you wonder how you can really know deep in your innermost being the deep peace and joy that comes from being held so securely in God’s heart of love.

Having come from a place of being absolutely adamant that God couldn’t possibly love me, I want to encourage you that, though it is a work of the Holy Spirit, there are vital steps we can take to actively enter into the prayer that Paul prayed. Spending time with God is important. It’s very difficult to develop a relationship with someone, and to know you’re loved by them, if you don’t spend time with them. And spending time with others who know Him and His love is important too, as well as developing a thankful heart attitude, feeding on His Word, taking it in, and allowing it to penetrate deep. These are the keys to coming into that place we all want to be – of truly knowing just how strongly and safely we’re held in His love.

Prayer: Father God, thank You for the truth that I’m rooted and established in Your love. I know it in my head, but I long to know it deep in my innermost being. Please help me not to be passive, but to actively yield to Your Holy Spirit as You draw me into that place of truly knowing just how securely I’m held – so securely, in fact, that nothing can pluck me from Your arms of love. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Not Defined by the Size of Our Jeans

by Emily T. Wierenga

"Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you." 1 Peter 5:6-7 (NASB)

The moon was a slice of white in the night sky.

It looked like the rim of a coffee mug, the mug with a picture of a teddy bear saying "I love you beary, beary much" ... the mug my brother gave me when I was 13 and hospitalized for anorexia.

Here I was again, in a green hospital gown, only this time, I wasn't hypothermic and 60 pounds.

This time I was holding a baby doctors had said I'd never be able to have. He was 8 pounds, 2 ounces, his name was Aiden Grey and I couldn't stop crying. Because he couldn't stop hiccupping.

"Is he okay?" I touched the nurse's elbow as she straightened my sheets.

She smiled. "Yes," she said. "There's nothing that can be done for hiccupping — it just has to take its course," and I tucked Aiden close to my heart, because I couldn't tuck him back into my womb.

I have two sons now, and I've had two miscarriages too, and there's nothing harder than watching your body fail your baby. But God — He never fails.

He is always there. Even in the miscarriage.

He was there when I was a pastor's kid who began starving herself at age 9; when I was an 18-year-old hippie who ran away from home and traveled the world searching for faith. When I came home to a mother who was dying from brain cancer, who still sang Great is Thy Faithfulness from somewhere deep her in sleep.

In the midst of our pain, He is there, hanging from a cross, only to rise again.

When I was young I stopped eating to avoid feeling pain. Now, I'm learning to wait for the resurrection. I'm learning to trust God in the ache.

This past spring, I looked out my office window, saw snow on the ground, and my 2-year-old jumping on our trampoline.


His clothes strewn around him, and he was singing.

I laughed even as I ran to cover him, but secretly, I was envious. I envied the freedom to sing naked, oblivious to the audience of a highway running perpendicular to our house.

Perhaps this is a picture of what God's Word invites us to do in 1 Peter 5:7, where it says cast "all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you."

It's not easy to truly cast our anxiety on Jesus in a world that tells us we are defined by the size of our jeans. It's a lot easier to hide, than trust Jesus with our pain, or our questions about who we are and if we matter.

And I think it's somewhere in there, in that quiet place of being loved — in the mother's embrace of her baby — that we find ourselves.

The other night in a rare moment of quiet in my house, I felt as if I had stepped straight into love. Like it had been waiting there for me the whole time.

I saw the real me: a passionate, scatter-brained 33-year-old woman who loves the world deeply and laughs loudly and needs alone time. Who gets paint on the kitchen table when she's making art, who would rather write than do housework, who has tattoos, who cries when her sons refuse to listen to her.

And suddenly I knew who I was. Right in the middle of that sacred moment surrounded by Legos and train tracks.

I was loved.

It's who we all are, friends.

We're not defined by the size of our jeans. We're not the sum of our Twitter followers or the square feet of our house.

We are God's daughters, tucked in His arms, where He aches over hiccups, where He longs to carry our worries, and where He would die for us.

He did die for us. Yes, this, friends.

We are loved.

Dear God, help me know You love me. Help me feel Your caring arms around me today, even in the dark. Help me hear Your voice singing over me. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Friday, September 12, 2014

The Not Afraid Of FEAR

Proverbs 15:33 The fear of the LORD is the instruction of wisdom; and before honour is humility.

The word “fear” in this verse does not mean “scared of, and, afraid to be close to”. Rather, this word “fear” used here gives the meaning of reverence, respect, and acknowledge of a superior being. In south Georgia English, I take it to mean, “its wise to respect our God”,and, to obey Him! The second lesson in this verse speaks about pride. Few people respect or honour a prideful person. Most of us look down upon, with criticism, those that brag about them selves all the time. Pride is a sin often addressed in the Bible.

Humility and pride is a state of mind. They expose our inner selves, and, who we really are. Do we think only of our selves, showing pride, or are we concerned about other folks before we are about our selves?

Humility is a virtue we should all strive to achieve.

God Bless;
Walter D. Hill D. Min.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Not a Default Destination

But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death. - (Revelation 21:8)

I believe there are people inside the church today who will be outside the gates of heaven. Being in a church does not mean you are getting into heaven. We, as individuals, must put our faith in Jesus Christ because one day we will stand before God all by ourselves.

Heaven is not the default destination of every person. It is promised only to those who have believed in Jesus Christ. We have this warning in Revelation 21:8: “But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”

It takes courage to be a Christian. People will harass you and make fun of you. You may even be physically harmed. Some have lost their lives because they believed in Jesus. It takes courage to make your stand for Christ, especially in our culture today.

The cowardly won’t make it into heaven. Some are afraid of what others think, which I have always found amazing. I don’t think we would be as concerned about what others think of us if we realized how rarely they do. If you are cowardly, meaning that you won’t stand up and follow Jesus, then you won’t have any value system. You won’t have any absolutes. You will pretty much do what you want.

That leads to being abominable—being wholly caught up in wickedness and evil, pulling out all the stops and removing all restraints. It is going whole hog into evil.

Revelation 21:8 is a warning that we need to heed. Some people may say, “Well, I don’t agree with that.”

God makes the rules, and we can either follow them or reject them. But it is not for us to edit God.

Copyright © 2013 by Harvest Ministries. from Pastor Greg Laurie

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

When Potholes Fill Your Path

Alicia Bruxvoort
"The path of the righteous is level; you, the Upright One, make the way of the righteous smooth." Isaiah 26:7 (NIV)
On the night before he began kindergarten, my youngest son, Joshua, announced he'd "rather go to jail" than go to school.
His big brother mumbled something sarcastic about the prison bars in the principal's office, while his sisters attempted to soothe Joshua's anxieties by pointing out the perks of being a kindergartener.
"Did you know that when you lose a tooth at school you get to bring it home in a tiny treasure box?" my daughter Hannah asked.
Joshua grinned and poked his finger in his mouth to check for loose teeth. But when it was time to brush those pearly whites and head to bed, his smile faded and fears returned.
What if my legs get cramped on my carpet square?
What if my ears hurt from listening all day?
What if I forget to raise my hand?
What if I'm the only one who can't read?
To be honest, Joshua's worries resonated with my own. I'd prayed unceasingly over the school year to come and was certain God had placed my son in the kindergarten classroom that would best meet his needs. Yet I just couldn't imagine my littlest boy thriving in any classroom at all. He loved piles of dirt more than stacks of books and preferred hammers over pencils.
Joshua's eyelids drooped and his breathing slowed. Then, before he surrendered to sleep, he voiced one last concern: "I can't go to kindergarten tomorrow, Mommy. I don't have even one wiggly tooth!"
I assured my son that loose teeth weren't a prerequisite for kindergarten, and I headed to the kitchen to pack lunches for morning. Minutes later my husband found me crying over the peanut butter, and I had to confess the angst preying on my mind. "I can't figure out how Joshua's going to make it through the school year."
"You don't have to figure it out," my husband gently replied as he wiped a smudge of peanut butter off my cheek. "That's God's job."
Have you been there before? Perhaps you've sought God's direction, followed His lead, only to find yourself walking a path marked by concerns that cause you to stumble.
Sometimes the potholes in our path make us wonder if we are really on the right road. Unanswered, difficult questions can make us doubt the direction we've been given.
However, today's key verse reminds us it's not our job to fix the chinks in our trail. If we let God lead, He will smooth the way: "The path of the righteous is level; you, the Upright One, make the way of the righteous smooth" (Isaiah 26:7).
Whatever the path looks like, God has a plan for every step (Jeremiah 29:11). We may be trekking toward a new school year or stepping into an empty nest; stumbling along a painful detour or skipping into a new job; but no matter where we're headed, God is aware of every gap in the road He's established for us.
Joshua's school year wasn't perfect, but God was faithful. And nine months later, as we waited for the big yellow bus to chug up our street on the last day of school, my son admitted he'd changed his mind. With a toothless grin, he conceded. Going to kindergarten was definitely better than going to jail!
The bus slowed to a stop, and Joshua climbed aboard. He pressed his face against the window and waved good-bye. That's when I noticed a splash of white hovering at the top of his gaping grin.
Soon a new tooth would inhabit that endearing hole in his smile. Because that's just how God works, faithfully filling every gap in His own way and in His perfect time.
Lord, I don't have every step figured out, but I'm thankful You do. Fill me with courage when my path is packed with potholes. Give me faith to follow Your lead and awaken me to see You at work as I travel along the road You've prepared for me. Thank You for providing direction and peace in Your perfect timing. In Jesus' Name, Amen.