Tuesday, November 26, 2013

givingThanks in ALL "The Times"

This Sunday, our pastor encouraged us to look back on our life with a grateful heart, and see how far God has taken us on His path of righteousness.

This morning, my husband and I woke up talking and reflecting about our life’s...where we came from, where we thought we were going and thankful about where we are now.

In every case as we reflected back, we could clearly see God’s sovereign hand orchestrating and directing our paths in every minor and every major event in our life's. Looking back, we could clearly see His hand - even though at the time we were unaware of His divine providence.  His hand guided us from when we first met each other, to having our children, to finding our careers and to the friendships that we have now.

However, what brought the most joy to our morning is when we reflected back to that sweet moment in our life's when we discovered that through Jesus Christ, we could have an intimate relationship with the God who created us. To know that we have the privilege to talk with our Creator, Savior and Heavenly Father is almost too much to take in. But as if that was not enough, He also gives His children the ability to hear Him and see Him answer us in His wonderful time and in His wonderful ways (John 10:27). We are so thankful to know that we can wake up each morning with confidence knowing that our Heavenly Father smiles upon us, thinks about us, plans for us and wants the best for us!

As we all reflect back on our life’s during this special Thanksgiving season, let’s give thanks to Him who uses the slow times,  the fast times, the weak times, the sad times, the strong times, the hard times, the good times, and the sweet times to bring us to a better place than we would have done for ourselves.

May we give thanks to Him for using ALL “the times” in our life for our good and His glory!

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

FATHER, thank you that you know the plans you have for us and they are good! Thank you that in spite of ourselves and in spite of all of our wanderings, doubts, complaints and unbelief at times, You faithfully and lovingly bring us to a place of fulfillment. Thank you that by your incredible grace you will ultimately bring us to a place where we will see you face to face. Thank you that when we falter in our steps, we are never beyond your reach. In Jesus’ Name – Amen.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

On Trial

“As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.” James 5:11

The Bible tells us that life can come with trials and sometimes many trials. But those who persevered and learned from them, the Lord who is full of compassion, grants them a reward.

The Bible as well as history books are filled with men and women and children who were challenged yet who persevered.  When I think of perseverance, one of the people I think of is a man named Abraham Lincoln – known as one of the greatest presidents in the United States.

Here is a sketch of Lincoln’s road to the White House:

1. 1816 His family was forced out of their home. He had to work to support them.

2. 1818 His mother died.

3. 1831 Failed in business

4. 1832 Ran for state legislature – lost.

5. 1832 Also lost his job – wanted to go to law school but couldn’t get in.

6. 1833 Borrowed some money from a friend to begin a business and by the end of the year he was bankrupt. He spent the next 17 years of his life paying off this debt.

7. 1834 Ran for state legislature again –won.

8. 1835 Was engaged to be married, sweetheart died and his heart was broken.

9. 1836 Had a total nervous breakdown and was in bed for six months.

10. 1838 Sought to become speaker of the state legislature – defeated.

11. 1840 Sought to become elector – defeated.

12. 1843 Ran for Congress – lost.

13. 1846 Ran for Congress again – this time he won – went to Washington and did a good job.

14. 1848 Ran for re-election to Congress – lost.

15. 1849 Sought the job of land officer in his home state – rejected.

16. 1854 Ran for Senate of the United States – lost.

17. 1856 Sought the Vice-Presidential nomination at his party’s national convention – got less than 100 votes.

18. 1858 Ran for U.S. Senate again – again he lost.

19. 1860 Elected President of the United States.

What will our road say about us? Let's continue to persevere through our trials knowing that God will use it for good in our life! With God's help, He will see us through to a glorious conclusion and with God's grace we will one day say what the Apostle Paul said, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have longed for His appearing." (2 Timothy 4:7-8)

FATHER, thank you for the many people in the Bible as well as in history who have been shining examples of perseverance, endurance and of never quitting the race marked out for them. Thank you Jesus for being the ultimate example when you endured the cross for us so that all of us could have the blessed assurance of eternity with you!Lord, when we fall, please give us the understanding that trials are not failures but rather opportunities to become a better steward for your purposes. In Jesus’ Name – Amen.


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Nothing We Have Done

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9

Grace: God’s unmerited favor. It is kindness from God we don’t deserve. There is nothing we have done, nor can ever do to earn this favor.

This morning I woke up with this word on my mind: GRACE. And then this scripture came ringing in my mind, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9

At breakfast time while enjoying a bowl of oatmeal with my daughter, we opened the book, Jesus Calling, to read the devotion for November 20th before she rushed off to school. Guess what scripture was referenced? Ephesians 2:8-9 – and this is what we read:

“Shift your focus from your performance to My radiant Presence. The Light of My Love shines on you continually, regardless of your feelings or behavior. Your responsibility is to be receptive to this unconditional Love. Thankfulness and trust are your primary receptors. Thank Me for everything; trust in Me at all times. These simple disciplines will keep you open to My loving Presence.”

Who needs to be reminded of God’s grace today?  Allow yourself to receive it – it is a gift that God is giving you!  

“Allow yourself to become fully aware of My pleasure shining upon you.” Jesus Calling

FATHER, Thank you for the gift of being your daughter. Thank you for showering us with your love and reminding us to receive the blessing of basking in your pleasure. Thank you for giving us this gift every day. Thank you for reminding us to receive it and enjoy the blessing of your sweet fellowship. In Jesus’ Name – AMEN.


Monday, November 18, 2013

Do The Clouds Stop At The Border?

“I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts from every nation the one who fears Him and does what is right.” Acts 10:34

On one of my husband’s outreaches to Mexico, a 7 year old boy approached him and asked him these questions: “Are you from the United States?” My husband said, “Yes”. The 7 year old boy then asked, “Do the clouds stop at the border?” It was a very cloudy day and in this little boy’s mind, he thought that the clouds stop right at the border and went no further. My husband said, “No, the clouds do not have borders.”

Maybe some of us have the same questions about God but instead it would be said like this: “Does God bless only certain people, certain states, certain countries, etc...”

God does not limit His blessings with borders. The Bible says that God does not show favoritism but accepts from EVERY nation the one who fears Him and does what is right.

In every nation, every kind of person is welcomed. This is precisely what Christ told the apostles in Matthew 28:19 when He said, “Go therefore and make disciples of ALL the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

If you feel God’s blessings have not reached your “borders”, all you may have to do is raise your “security gate” and let Him into your heart.

The Bible is very clear in saying that God accepts from every nation the one who fears Him and does what is right. Many times it is us that limit His blessings in our life. Let Him in and allow Him the opportunity to bless you with this promise and reassurance: “I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
"Your love, LORD, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds." Psalm 36:5


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Hey Buddy - Do You Need A Lift?

“He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap; He seats them with princes and has them inherit a throne of honor.” 1 Samuel 2:8

This morning the news shared a story that caught my attention for several reasons. The first is because I am a dog lover ever since my daughter brought our dog “Aussie” home after college. The story featured this headline: Dog Rescued from Dump –First to Climb Mount Everest.

The dog was found abandoned and starving in a dump in India. He was rescued and nursed back to health by his now new owner who fed him a high protein diet. After being nursed back to health, the dog’s new owner took her adorable dog with her to climb Mount Everest. He became the first canine on record to climb Mount Everest after trekking for 10 days – 17,000 feet above sea level.

What was the second reason this story caught my attention? If the kindness of a human, who is made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27), can have the love and compassion to rescue a weak and starving animal, just imagine what God can do for you!! His name is Love and He is lovingkindness!

You may not be starving and weak or even abandoned, but maybe your present situation seems hopeless. Maybe you cannot see over your circumstances and don’t see a way out of your situation. Be encouraged, there is a God who sees you!!!

In the story about the stray dog, the owner said that as she was walking by, the dog came running towards her. The dog was in a group of many stray dogs but this dog was the only one who came charging towards her. She accepted the dog with open arms in his hungry, weakened and broken condition.

Are you running towards God? His arms are open wide to embrace you and lift you above your circumstances and take you to a place you would have never imagined for yourself. He will nourish and strengthen you back to health - physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

It may not be Mount Everest that He will take you to, but it will be a place of peace and joy and a place that for you - will feel like the top of the world!

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18


Tuesday, November 12, 2013


“They could find no corruption in him, because he was trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent.” Daniel 6:4b

There have been many times in my life when I have been negligent. But every time I read this scripture, it inspires me and challenges me to strive for excellence. This scripture was said about a man named Daniel who trusted and honored God above all others. The way he conducted himself in both his personal life and his business affairs attracted the attention of King Darius the Mede, and Daniel earned a place of respect in King Darius’ kingdom.

Daniel worked diligently and responsibly and was not corrupt or negligent in any of his dealings.

Unfortunately, Daniel made enemies at work for doing a good job as his coworkers became jealous of the attention that he was getting and looked for ways to hold him back and tear him down. However, because he conducted his life with so much integrity, his enemies could not find legitimate charges against him, even though they tried.

To not be negligent means to be mindful, heedful, meticulous, responsible, thoughtful, observant, watchful and forethoughtful. Maybe seeing all of these words at once is too much to take in. Simply put, to be trustworthy and have no negligence in you means you are living life consciously, intentionally and making it your goal to follow Him.

By His grace, let’s strive to have that beautiful quality of integrity – doing the right thing when no one but God is looking.

Daniel was a man who sought the King, the God of all Creation. His dedication to Him, groomed him to be a man that caught the attention of earthly kings.

FATHER, Thank you for giving us Your standard for skillful living. Thank you that it begins with loving You with all of our heart. Thank you for your grace when we miss the mark. Thank you for letting us know that Your mercies are new every morning. In Jesus’ Name – Amen.

“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things will be given to you as well.” Matthew 6:33

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Rainy Rain

“Be glad, people of Zion, rejoice in the LORD your God, for He has given you autumn rains because He is faithful. He sends you abundant showers, both autumn and spring rains, as before. The threshing floors will be filled with grain; the vats will overflow with new wine and oil.” Joel 2:23-24

(The autumn rain softened the soil for planting winter wheat. The spring rain caused the grain to swell – ensuring a good harvest.) Commentary

The scripture above is a picture of God’s heart for His children. Just like earthly parents want the best for their children, God, the Author of Love, delights, rejoices and desires to shower, yes, shower His children with blessings.

May I share with you the big picture of when this scripture was spoken? Joel was a prophet of God who was called to encourage God’s people to repentance. Repentance is a change of mind that results in a change of action. God loves His children even more than we love our children and at the time God’s people had become prosperous and complacent. Taking God for granted, they turned to self-centeredness and sin. In other words, as I heard someone say, “They were more focused on their blessings than on the Blessor.”

I love that God desires to pardon sin and His heart always wants the best for His children. God sent Joel to encourage His people to turn back to God with their entire heart. God offered complete forgiveness and a reward for their change of mind and change of heart. 

God was already planning for their blessing. His desire was for them to turn their hearts back towards Him and be sincere as you they followed Him.

When people turn to God with a sincere heart, God pardons us, and He restores our relationship with Him! God does not promise individual wealth nor is He oppose to it. However, God promises something better: He will meet our deepest needs by loving us, forgiving us and giving us purpose in life!

The first rain is to soften our hearts so that God’s word can be planted. The second rain causes the seed that was planted in our hearts to swell with the joy of the LORD!

May we always be grateful to the Blessor and may He send you abundant showers – both autumn and spring!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Sweet Spot

I have heard that in sports, whether it is baseball, tennis or golf, one of the objectives of the players is to hit the ball on the sweet spot of their bat, racket or golf club in order to maximize the velocity/distance of the ball.

In order to meet this objective, the players must consistently practice to develop a swing that can be repeated when it is needed the most as well as to eliminate any bad habits. For a baseball player, the sweet spot is when he hits the ball with the middle of the barrel section of the bat. For a tennis player or a golfer, the sweet spot is usually at the center of the racket/golf club. This is where the players get the maximum speeds from the ball and if hit in the right direction, the ball goes the furthest.

Do you know that there is a sweet spot with God? The Bible says in Psalm 91:1, “Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty”. It means that at the center of your mind and at the center of your heart you will have peace and freedom of fear as you dwell, and trust and rest in His shelter.

The Bible says in Psalm 91:9-10, “If you say, “The LORD is my refuge,” and you make the Most High your dwelling, no harm will overtake you, no disaster will come near your tent.” It doesn’t mean you will never have challenges. It simply means that your focus amidst the challenges is not on the trouble but on God and His promises to protect you. Just like a player regardless of whether the player is winning or losing, is focused on “finding”, “seeking” and “striving" for the sweet spot, our focus regardless of what is going on in our lives, should be on entrusting ourselves to Him for His protection and pledging our daily devotion to Him.

Is it your desire to dwell consistently in the shelter of the Most High and rest in the shadow of the Almighty?  To dwell means to keep the attention directed upon God. It means to live as a resident there.

May I encourage you as I encourage myself to try focusing on God by reading and meditating on His Word on a daily basis.  Let’s make it a priority to develop good habits and dwell in the shelter of the Most High. If we do, overtime, we will develop a good habit of meeting God in the most wonderful, delightful, peaceful, sweet spot – both in our minds and in our hearts.

Athletes spend hundreds of hours and hundreds of dollars as they strive to reach that “eureka moment” when they hit at the sweet spot. Our God allows us to have that beautiful sweet spot moment with Him at any time of the day when we choose to open up His living Word and let Him breathe life, hope and peace into us.

“Because she loves me,” says the LORD, “I will rescue her; I will protect her, for she acknowledges my name. She will call on Me, and I will answer her; I will be with her in trouble, I will deliver her and honor her. With long life I will satisfy her and show her my salvation.” Psalm 91:14-16

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Open Hand

"You make a living by what you get...But you make a life by what you give." - Winston Churchill

Have you ever had the pleasure of meeting one of these people who live life with an "Open Hand" attitude? They not only share the extra things they have, but they share everything they have.

They are not living with fear thinking that if they give too much, they will not have enough for themselves or their family. On the contrary, they give with joy because they have an inner confidence that our God will supply all of their needs according to Christ’s riches. Their reward in giving is seeing the joy that their generosity brings to the life’s of other people.

Are you one of these people? If you are, may God continue to richly fill your hand so that you can continue to bless others with all liberty!

"And my God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:19

FATHER, thank you for giving us the example of being a generous giver. You give and give and give to us not because we deserve it, but you give to us because of Your grace. May our lives reflect You and may we remember Your promise in Your Word that says: “And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” (2 Corinthians 9:8) In Jesus’ Name – Amen.