Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Your Miracle...It's Waiting in the Bush

"And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold 
behind him a ram caught in a thicket..."
Genesis 22: 13

It's there...waiting in the bush!

I've been thinking a lot lately about Abraham. Remember the trip he and Isaac, his son, made up the mountain at God's command? They carried in their hands the wood and fire, ready to sacrifice...but Isaac asked, "Where is the lamb?" His daddy replied, "The Lord will provide..." A bit later in the story, we find the sacrificial altar ready and Issac himself being laid upon that altar.

It's a gruesome story at this point, for certain. Abraham had followed God's command. He had done everything right. Maybe it was a sort of nice breezy day, and everything was smooth sailing with no trouble in sight...after all, Abraham had trusted God to provide the sacrifice. He had been in control, had held it all together, up until this very moment. Now here he was with a knife in his hand ready to sacrifice his own promised child unto the Lord out of an act of obedience. One that wasn't required!

Most all of us know the rest of the story...how a ram was found caught in a bush and Abraham sacrificed it in Isaac's place. What a miracle! Even Abraham, although he had faith in God, couldn't SEE God's perfectly planned miracle. How God had set everything in motion for this ram to be available at just the right time, in just the right place! He couldn't see the anticipated outcome that God had in mind...and neither can we.

We go through the same types of tests in life as well. We might not be asked to sacrifice our children; however, we're asked to trust God, to go through tests and trials, and to be obedient, even when we don't understand. He wants to see if we're willing to press on even when we can't see the miracle He has waiting nearby in the bush. Always remember, He sees the big picture - we only see a snippet of it. The challenge and answer it always to trust and obey. Carry on, following His lead.

"...in the mount of the LORD it SHALL be seen..."(Genesis 22:14)  Hold on, trust God, move forward following the Him. Your miracle, your promise SHALL BE SEEN...it's there...waiting in the bush.

 

Monday, September 28, 2015

The Coin Toss - Make the Call!

"I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live..." 
Deuteronomy 30;19   

The coin flips through the air, "Head or tails?" the black-and-white striped shirt official shouts, "Make the call!"

It's football season! The notorious coin toss made at the beginning of an American football game. The team which makes the correct call may choose whether they will receive or kick the ball. It's a simple coin toss, head or tails, can it make that much of a difference we might ask?

I'm sure the men folk have their opinions and theories. I was thinking about it though - on a completely different level. Away from the turf of the field, beyond the noise of the crowd, far away from the smells of buttery popcorn and sticky cotton candy...and into the spiritual arena of our lives. God is a gentleman and will never force us into anything, we must make our choices. It's up to us to...make the call. There is no virtual whistle-blowing, no yellow flags being thrown out on the field, no referee calling for penalties. We are responsible for the choices we make and we must live with the outcome...whether good or bad.

Heads or tails. Think about it. We make choices every day. We decide what to eat and what not to eat, what to wear, who to hang out with and what to do in our leisure time. We have a choice whether we will make investments in things which are eternal or whether we will turn our focus to temporal things. 

We make important decisions all the time: will we open God's Word or turn to the pages of a sensuous novel? Will we listen to positive uplifting music or to worldly garbage that comes across the air waves? Will we choose to partake of unhealthy substances which will harm our bodies or will we choose to keep our bodies clean? Will we destroy or build up? Will we cause hurt or bring peace? 

You see? The choice is ours. While the coin of decision flips through the air, we quickly make very important, life-altering calls. The teenager who decides to get behind the wheel while intoxicated, the grown adult who decides to browse off into the uncharted, evil waters of the internet, the gentleman who decides, "Just this once", the woman who says, "Nobody will know"...never stopping to realize the power of one bad choice. A ripple effect of bad choices carries far beyond us at times, much like a stone being tossed upon the waters. 

We're none perfect. We all make bad choices in life and have to suffer the consequences. That's part of growing. However, if we find we're in a constant down-hill slide, there is still hope if we'll make the ultimate choice to turn our broken lives over to God. Make the call! Do we continue down paths which will lead us to destruction? Or will we hand God our mess and repent? It's our opportunity. Our Lord is full of mercy and grace, however, He is also a God of judgement. Isn't it amazing that He even gives us a choice of how He responds to us? It all hinges upon our choices.

So, I suppose, while HEADS or TAILS might not be such a deciding factor in who wins a ballgame;  when it comes to our strategy of living life abundantly, blessed or cursed...when it comes to deciding where we'll spend eternity...it's up to us. We choose to make the call. If you listen closely,  Heaven is cheering you on, God is waiting on your choice, you can do this. Choose wisely...the coin is in the air, "Make the call!"

*If you know someone who may be struggling right now, 
someone who might be making wrong decisions, hold them up in prayer. 
Ask God to open their eyes. 
Share this post offering hope to them and point them to the Word of God
and His amazing grace. 


Saturday, September 26, 2015

No More False Labels

" So the LORD blessed the latter end of Job more than his beginning..."  
Job 42:12

She's the woman who...
She's the wife of the man who...
She's the mother of the kid who...
She's the type of friend who...
She's the daughter of the woman who..

How many times have we been labeled or defined by words which simply get under our skin? We all have had "issues" and circumstances in our lives with which we'd rather not be associated with. Maybe it was a reputation we were suddenly highlighted with at the hand of someone who started a devilish line of gossip concerning us. Or perhaps it was the light in which we appeared after something quite unfortunately, beyond our control, defined a particular season of our life. Whichever the case, the words attached to the end of those sentences can often carry a giant sting and we attempt to hide ourselves away until the pain ceases.

There are people everywhere who are hurting by the sting of life. The Bible says we're only in this world a few days and we're full of trouble. (Job 14:1) In fact, while we're talking about  Job, think about all the words and phrases that could have been added to the end of his name. He went through tumultuous times during his life. He lost just about everything. Had he sinned? Had he been the cause of his own pain? Was he labeled as the "father who lost all his children in just a single day?" I wonder how others looked at him? What might have been said behind closed doors? Did they wonder what had he done, what terrible sin, to cause such devastation to come upon his life? Did they size him up according to what things looked like?

Yet, he was a man who God referred to as "...my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil..." (Job 1:8) He had done nothing wrong! He was simply going about his business doing life and the problems were brought to him served upon a silver platter from the very source of darkness itself. Job loved God, tried his best to live righteously, yet he had to live with the knowledge of knowing people were sizing him and his situation up. Not only did he have to deal with tragedy and loss within his life, he had to sort through all kinds of mental garbage that piled up as people would look on his life and define him as "Job, the man who..." I know, it was the same way in the Bible days, that's the nature of humans.

Yes, Job had to get himself back on track at times, but God was there through it all. Even when it seems almost impossible to do, let's not allow the labels of our circumstances to cause us to doubt God or who we are in Him. Let's not become distracted by the labels others place upon us. Though it may cause deep pain, when the wounds are carelessly ripped open again and again...know that those labels won't last always. It came to pass...there will be a time of mending. 

We have the promises of God to stand upon. We can press on knowing God is fighting for us and that our end will be just like Jobs. The LORD blessed the latter end of Job more than his beginning...that was a reflection of Job's TRUE label. My friend, it can be yours too...don't be discouraged by a temporary label...after all, it should really say: She's the woman who...is a child of the King. Her latter end will be greater than her beginning! I don't know about you, but I don't want to be sized up any other way, NO MORE FALSE LABELS FOR ME!

Dear God,
Help me to remember that 
no matter what comes into my life,
You are more than enough!
No matter what others label me as
You have great plans for my future
And only You can bring them to pass.
Help me to be patient and stand
upon your unfailing promises.
Remind me who I am in 
YOU!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Perfectly Planned - Autumn

"To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven..."  
Ecclesiastes 3:1

The warm sun shone brightly through the windshield, soft melodic sounds of classical strings streamed from the radio, beautiful autumn-colored leaves made their descent through the air...here I was peacefully driving along the back roads taking it all in. I might add, at my favorite slow-paced, relaxing speed of 45mph. On a funny note, other drivers DID NOT share my joy or the speed in which I expressed it. Proved by the constant stream of cars in the passing lane. However, this was one of those days in which I could've traveled on at that leisurely pace until the last drop of gasoline in the tank had been sucked dry. That, my friend, sounded like the perfect plan. 

I love autumn. It's my favorite season. It's rich colors, the crisp, crackling sounds of leaves underfoot as you enjoy a short walk with friends and family, the nippy feeling of cooler temperatures outside, the smells of fire pits, pumpkin and spices, the taste of S'mores around a campfire or sweet treats baking in the oven...it seems the perfect time to slow down and enjoy life to the fullest. To unwind. To rest.

Autumn follows a hot, busy summertime so we almost welcome it with open arms as we ready ourselves for Mr. Winter who is waiting quietly just around the corner. We embrace the changes. God designed it this way. Safe to say, "It was perfectly planned."

God blesses us with different seasons in our lives because, as much as some of us hate change, we need them. If you're like me, life can get really busy and hectic and there are days when I just need to take a "time out". Yes, on those days, I, and those blessed (or not so) to be around me, will readily admit I NEED a time out! Why do we get so wrapped up in the cares of life and let them overwhelm us so? There always seems to be "one more thing" we need to do before turning in, before sitting down to rest, before spending time with someone special, before...until we find ourselves running on fumes. Pure exhaustion.

Hello Autumn! There is a purpose for each season we go through. In this one, let's commit to slow down and enjoy each day for exactly what it is: a gift from God. Enjoy the journey...that phrase keeps popping up everywhere I turn. It's so true though. Let's invite this season into our lives with joy and thanksgiving, with a mind set that no matter what we're going through, this season...it was perfectly planned. Enjoy the blessings it brings and its God-given beauty.

It was perfectly planned by He who cannot make a mistake, who cannot lie and whose promises are forever settled in Heaven. Let's rest in knowing that. Enjoy His presence and what each day looks like. Enjoy the gift of time, "time out" and the presence of one another. No matter what any given day may bring, let's choose to slow down just a bit and find something beautiful in each, as well as in each other. This season...it's been "perfectly planned" just for us.  Blessings~

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

My Security Blankey

Can you picture Peanut's comic strip character, Linus, as the little guy wanders off with his baby-blue security blanket in hand? 

Maybe you have an adorable toddler in your life who dares to part with their special blankey. You know, the item that is worn, maybe frazzled or raveled a bit more than you'd normally accept as "keepable." It may have a rip or a patch or two where repairs have been made; nevertheless, it is a special item and thus you make allowances for its presence. Instead of disposing of it, you take special precautions to be certain it isn't somehow forgotten at a neighbor's house or carelessly left behind in a grocery store cart.

A blankey is a "comfort object"  which provides psychological support in difficult situations. Believe it or not, children aren't the only ones who have them. They are given to elderly and survivors. Oddly enough, college students and even us "normal" adults might take something special (not necessarily a blankey) with us when we leave home. It helps to serve as a reminder of comfort and security.

During prayer, this verse came to mind: "...and his train filled the temple..." Isaiah 6:1

Immediately following came this mental picture to my mind: me, hanging on tightly, with all the strength and determination I could muster up, to the bottom of a white garment which flowed down out of the heavens. My security. My peace.

I thought of my own wedding day almost 25 years ago. My nephew, probably about 3 years old, was to walk behind me, carrying the train of my wedding dress. After being pronounced, "Husband & Wife", my husband and I started down the aisle during the recessional. There I was, beaming from ear to ear, walking down the aisle on the arm of the love of my life. Somehow or another, my nephew thought he was supposed to "pull the train"! So, all of the sudden I found myself "fighting against the current" as the tug of the little guy, who was supposed to be coming to my aide, pulled for all he was worth. 

You know, life can get pretty scary at times. Trials, circumstances of life, tragic events...somehow they all tend to weigh us down a little heavier at times. We can quickly find ourselves rocking and reeling from the effects of setbacks of things which bring about shock, disappointment and feelings of failure. It's during these times that we have to struggle, or make more of an effort, to move forward down the aisle on the arm of our Love. 

Yes, its during these times that we can graciously grab a armful of God's train and hang on for all we're worth. I think its sometimes called a "bulldog grip." Our eternal security blankey. What a loving Father we have who would not only make earth His footstool, but would allow His presence to be so real in our lives, so saturating, so completely consuming, that we can literally grab hold of it in times of distress and be comforted with assurance and peace of mind. 

No matter your age or circumstance, whether you're brave or afraid, there is a security blankey available to you...grab on and don't let go.

Dear God,
Thank you for your presence,
for filling my every day with You.
Thank you that you're always near,
as close as the mention of your name.
Thank you for being what I can hang
onto during times of distress.
My trust is in You!

Monday, September 14, 2015

Valley Re-Runs

 "...and came unto the valley...and searched it out."  
Deuteronomy 1:24

In my mind I can see a little girl running through a waist-high field of grass, her red hair blowing in the breeze, as she makes her way toward...somewhere - Little House on the Prairie re-runs. Don't we just love the old classics?

And there I sat in the darkness, puddles of fresh tears made tiny ponds in the carpet and the pile of wadded-up tissue surrounded me like a miniature mountain-scape scene - my very own rerun. My heart felt desperately heavy, my mind sort of dazed and confused as my faith weakly wavered a bit. Yet, there I sat, at the feet of the only One whom I knew could satisfy my soul and faithfully lead me out of this valley and make me whole. 

I've learned that sometimes the Lord takes us through deep valleys to teach us more about Him, about ourselves and about things in our lives which may need attention. I've been in those types of valleys and have learned to embrace those experiences knowing that I must be "tried" in order to come forth as gold. (Job 23:10) Some valleys shape (to give a particular form) me.

Then there are times when He takes me through certain valleys again...it seems kind of like an old re-run. I've already walked this valley before, learned valuable lessons and God brought me through. And...here I go again. "What?! Seriously?! A re-run? Now? Why?" These re-run valleys hone (to make more acute, intense or effective) me.
I know the Lord is a good Shepherd though and He always knows best for me. This valley is a refresher course, I know what it's all about, that it won't be as intense as last time, but I find there is more I must glean from this valley than I could handle the first time through. You see, my Shepherd knows how much is sufficient for me in one dose.I must trust and rely solely upon Him. 

You've probably been there-done that and even muttered those same words to yourself during one of your own low times, "I should be over this. This is old news. Why is it affecting me so?" You might not care for re-runs either, but God always knows best. His desire is to bring us out of every valley and place us back upon the mountain, but as my pastor puts it, "We can't live on the mountain-top." Not many things grow on top of the mountain, that includes you and I, but there's always growth in the valley. 

I suppose in all reality, we should sit back and relax during these particular times - trusting our Shepherd to keep us. Don't fret. Let's pick up on what we didn't before and travel on. It's comforting to know that we don't have to STAY in this valley. Yet, He knows what is best for our good, where we will be restored most completely, and just the right time to bring us through with good fruit to show forth. 

Yes...there IS a purpose for this valley. We're going...somewhere. And while I wouldn't want to watch Little House re-runs every day...this particular "re-run" is going to be a classic!

Dear Lord, 
help us to be willing to move from the mountain top,
and into the valley below and search out the good things you have
for us to glean there. Help us to look at our valleys
as "good land", where we can grow in grace
and gather all the good fruit we can.
For your glory and honor.
 

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Lessons in the Frozen Food Aisle

"...greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world." 1 John 4:4

As I made my way through the frozen section of the grocery store, I heard a child speaking. I thought nothing of it, because I was child-free that day. I continued browsing, minding my own business; however, the little voice continued to get louder and louder. Now, mind you, I'm an introvert and have no problem minding my own business, especially when I'm out in public. 

So, I decided to ignore the voice - until I got a bit closer to where the voice originated from.  He-eey-yy!" she exclaimed. I turned in the direction of the louder-than-necessary voice and finally realized this little girl sitting in the cart was trying to get MY attention. Oh my goodness!  For the last minute or so, this precious little one had been trying to get my attention and I had been oblivious to the fact, no I had ignored her - wrapped up safely in my own little world.

I immediately made a connection with this dear little one as she offered me a sweet smile. Next, she asked my name. She had my complete attention now, so I replied. She smiled and seemed perfectly contented to have my undivided attention. Then, her mother pushed the cart on down the aisle and that was that. 

As I continued shopping, I heard yet another voice cautiously exclaiming, "You're not 'posed to talk to strangers!" I smiled. I knew it was the big-brother who had glared at me while I spoke to his sister a few moments earlier. He didn't say it just once, he said it over and over. I chuckled to myself and continued shopping. As I neared the front of the store to check out, I had to walk right past these children. Something within me decided that they'd have a blast in our Sunday school; so, I fished a church card out of my wallet and walked right up to their cart.

The little girl's eyes sparkled with joy as I introduced myself to her mother. It didn't take but a moment for the little boy to break out a smile and begin talking to me either - a stranger. I looked down into his chubby face after I finished talking to his mother and replied, "Now, we can talk to each other. We're not strangers anymore." He grinned from ear to ear as we giggled and chatted for a few more moments. There were no walls standing between us now, no obstacles standing in the way. I said goodbye and walked on toward the check-out, having satisfactorily completed the task at hand. 

Isn't that exactly what the enemy of our soul tries to do? He tries to intimidate us and tell us all the reasons we can't do something. We CAN'T talk to strangers. We CAN'T __________. I know, it might not be as simple as this example, but you get the point, don't you? What does he tell you? What does he hint around to you that you can't do because of this or that? What does he imply that you won't be "good enough" at because you have a this certain personality type? Though he cautions you, it's not intended for your good. It's actually a lie and it's always meant to hinder you from doing what God has called you to do. Think about it.

Next time you hear that voice falsely "cautioning" you, walk right up to the situation anyhow. Put on some holy boldness and do your thing. Let's tear down those barriers, walls and any obstacle which are constructed to block our paths to God's will. We can do all things through Christ because greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world. It will get easier each time we press through our doubts and fears. We are intended to do so much more than we do. We are over-comers! From now on, remember this:  Let's boldly face any "challenge", pass the aisle of any hesitant circumstance, check-out of any hellish hindrance in the frozen section and chalk each one down as a victory in Jesus. Can I get an "Amen!"?

Monday, September 7, 2015

Don't Take It For Granted


God so graciously places special people in 
our lives to impact it, 
to make an unmistakable difference; 
these people help us grow and encourage us to be 
all that He wants us to be. 
If you have that kind of person in your life, 
you're blessed. 
If you're strong enough to allow that type of 
relationship within your life, 
you're wiser than most. 
If you're smart enough to value that 
relationship and grow in it, 
you'll soon realize you have a priceless treasure.

Don't take it for granted.



Friday, September 4, 2015

More...Our Trademark

 "But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power
may be of God, and not of us. We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; 
we are perplexed, but not in despair; 
Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed...
2 Corinthians 4:7-9
 As a Christian, I long for more of God. I'm sure you do too. It's our trademark! I don't think a person can ever get close enough to satisfy that God-placed longing in our soul. Thus, we're continually seeking Him. To know Him more. To grow spiritually. For our relationship with Him to be more intimate. To show Him to others. To love like Him. When we desire more, there are times when we won't understand exactly what is happening in our lives.

For, as sure as we acknowledge the desire for more, the devil quickly takes notice and immediately goes on an all-out rampage to cause chaos with the sole intention of distracting and discouraging us. He once had the opportunity for more of God, but he overstepped his boundary, he wanted more of the wrong thing and ended up losing his position forever. He wants us to follow in his footsteps.


Believe me, the devil isn't going to just stand around and do nothing while we grow into mighty warriors. Not without a fight anyhow! He's going to wage all out war on us through our relationships, finances, health, etc. Whatever it takes to sidetrack us from seeking more...that will he do and on a magnified scale.

What just happened? Why did I suddenly have those thoughts or feelings? Where did that come from? How in the world did that slip up on me? 

My friend, the devil is slick. He is an impostor. He'll slip in at the most inopportune times, in the places of our weaknesses. He'll even be bold enough to wage an all out war on areas where we feel strongest. Remember, he's afraid of the power that works within us because he knows the magnitude of that power. He's been up close and personal with it himself. He also knows God has us in the palm of His hand...and He hates us for it.

God's power is at work within us when we're seeking more of Him. We may be troubled and perplexed by what is taking place, persecuted for taking a stand or cast down at times...BUT God. He won't allow our troubles cramp us up in a corner only to leave us there to die, He'll never forsake us or make us fight on our own and He will NOT allow us to be destroyed no matter how weak and hopeless we feel at times. Be encouraged, be courageous.

The treasure that lives within us will perform the miraculous and will sustain us. We will be victorious in battle with God by our side. He will get all the glory in every situation that badgers us if we'll keep close to him and be true, bona-fied Christians. Let's intentionally draw closer to Him each day; only He can fill that longing in our soul. Let's take our trademark seriously, let's wave our banners high...let's seek after more...it's our trademark.




Wednesday, September 2, 2015

What if...


"Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be
accepted of him. For we much all appear before the judgment seat of Christ;
that every one may receive the things done in his body,
according to that he hath done,
whether it be good or bad."
2 Corinthians 5:9-10

What if...
  •      today was the last day we had to serve God?
  •      today was the last day we had to make a difference in this          world?
  •      today was the last day we could share the Good News with         someone who is lost?
  •      today was the last day...

Would we do anything differently?
  •      Have we lived our lives out today as unto the Lord?
  •      Have we kept Him first? Were our priorities in order?
  •      Have our lights shone brightly in this dark world?
  •      Have we walked the walked? Talked the talk?

You know, it's something to definitely think about...each and every day. We know not when it might be our last. Only the eternal things, what we do for Christ, will last and count for anything on the day of judgement. Everything else will fade away to nothingness. It's all worthless. 

Lord, help us not to get wrapped up in the cares of life and miss the most important event in the history of mankind. Jesus is coming soon! Will we be ready? Only what we do for Christ will last~