Thursday, December 20, 2012

Here Comes Santa Claus

When my children were young, every year on Christmas Eve we left cookies and milk out for Santa by the fireplace. One year we also left carrots for the reindeer. My children were beginning to question the existence of Santa Claus, so that year we decided to feed the reindeer. After the kids went to sleep, we ate the cookies and removed the milk. We got rid of most of the carrots; however, we took a couple and broke them up and threw them up on the roof.
This particular year my children received new bicycles from Santa Claus. On Christmas morning after they had opened their gifts, they got dressed and went out to ride their new bikes up the driveway and down the sidewalk in front of the house as we knew they would. A few minutes later they came running in the house shouting, “There are carrots on the roof. The reindeer dropped carrots on the roof.” It didn’t take a lot to reaffirm their belief in the existence of Santa Claus.
As adults we know that Santa Claus is not a real person. He is the product of a legend passed down over the years and transformed into what our children and grandchildren now believe. It’s a nice tradition that both I and my children and now my grandchildren enjoy every year.
Traditions are important, but it is more important that we don’t lose sight of the truth of Christmas. As we get older, we no longer believe in Santa; but the truth of Christmas is eternal.
I believe in the truth of Christmas. Jesus Christ was born. He lived, he died, he rose again, and now he sits at the right hand of the Father making intercession for us. I believe. Do you believe? One more question. Have you confessed and made Him your Lord?
Believe in the magic of Christmas; but more importantly, believe in the truth of Christmas.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas

This was my White Christmas a couple of years ago. It doesn’t happen very often in Texas; and when it does, it doesn’t last very long. I love snow, as long as I don’t have to drive in it.
                The beauty of the snow and the reflection of moonlight off of the white snow at night is beautiful. It’s clean, radiant, pure. While you may not always be guaranteed snow at Christmas, you can be guaranteed another kind of white Christmas this year and every year.
Our lives are washed whiter than snow through our acknowledgement of God and His Word. First we acknowledge our sin (Rom 3:23). Second we acknowledge the payment for our sin is death and separation from God (Rom 6:23). Third we acknowledge that Jesus died to make the payment for us by dying in our place (Rom 5:8). Fourth we acknowledge Jesus Christ as our Lord (Rom 10:9-10). He washes us white as snow.
Isaiah 1:18 says, “Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.”
Jesus was born to give His life for us. His life showed us perfect love, and then He showed the greatest love of all by dying on a cross to pay the price for our sins. As we celebrate His birth, we can know that it was the beginning of the fulfillment of our dream for a truly white Christmas.
Merry Christmas! May yours be white!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Silver Bells

                I love Christmas time. Just like the song says, in the air there’s a feeling of Christmas. The smell of Christmas trees and greenery, the sight of decorations and lights, the sound of bells and carols, the taste of chocolate fudge and banana bread, and the feeling of wonder are all part of this season. Everywhere you look, you can find Christmas. Even stoplights blink bright red and green. It’s Christmas time in the city and everywhere.
                When I think of silver bells ringing at Christmas, I think of angels singing. Although scripture doesn’t actually say the angels sang at the birth of Christ, it does say they praised God. “And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” (Luke 2:13-14).
                The angels praised God and called the shepherds to worship Him also. Music is a large part of worship in our churches, and bell choirs have performed melodies for Christmas for years. Bells have also rung in the steeples of churches in years past calling others to worship.
                I don’t hear bells at church any more, but other things call me to worship. Christmas carols call me to worship. Scripture telling of the birth of Jesus calls me to worship. Counting my blessings calls me to worship. Helping others in need calls me to worship. Prayer calls me to worship.
What calls you to worship? Remember to worship our Savior, and remember Silver Bells reminding us that soon it will be Christmas Day.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Happy Holidays

 
Which Holiday?

               



          I have decided to make it a point to tell someone Merry Christmas every day from now through Christmas. My intention is to be friendly, encouraging, and bring to their attention what we celebrate this time of year. I have to be careful, though, not to get legalistic. When someone says Happy Holidays, my response can simply be Merry Christmas. What I really want is to ask, “which holiday, what are you happy about?”
Let’s get specific. Tell me Merry Christmas or tell me Happy Hanukkah, but don’t degrade the time of year by simply making it a holiday for nothing but fun. Pick a holiday to celebrate and be committed. Let’s have fun and be happy and merry for a reason. The reason for this season is Jesus’ birth. If you are celebrating Hanukkah, you are remembering God’s faithfulness in the miracle of the Menorah burning for eight days with only one day’s supply of oil during the rededication of the temple.
                So far this year when I have said Merry Christmas, others have responded, “you too”, “thank you”, “Merry Christmas”, and a couple have given me blank stares or totally ignored me. That’s okay. I just moved on. Remember which holiday you are celebrating, and let others know.
               
Merry Christmas

Saturday, December 1, 2012

The Most Wondeful Time of the Year

Every year at work we have a contest either by department or individually for best Christmas decorating. This year the contest is individual, and the theme is Christmas words or phrases. I chose the phrase which is the name of a song, It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year. These are pictures of my office partly decorated. I will finish it next week. 
Christmas is my favorite holiday, and this is my favorite time of year. I love the decorations and cool weather, although Texas doesn’t always cooperate in the weather department. Everything Christmas encompasses is a celebration, and to me, all of this is for Jesus. It’s the biggest party of the year – every year.
If you were to throw the biggest party you could imagine for someone you loved, what would you include? What about decorations, lots of food, lots of gifts, lots of people, joyful music, a cake, a tree, candles, bells, ribbons, bows, tinsel, and lights? If someone threw this type of party for you, how honored would you feel? I believe Jesus smiles when we celebrate His birth as long as all of the partying is for His glory and we remember why this is the most wonderful time of the year.
My prayer for you this time of year is that you would know Christ and experience the wonder of Christmas.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

What's In the Way?

                I think every major road in the Dallas/Fort Worth area is under construction. The mess has also spilled over onto some of the side roads. Trying to get somewhere more than a few miles from home usually includes roadblocks and detours. This time of year becomes even more frustrating since there seem to be more cars on the road for shopping and traveling. There are cars in my way, there are people in my way, and there are orange construction barrels in my way. Everywhere I go, something is in the way of my tried and true path.
                The same thing happens in other areas of my life too. I can’t get where I want to be, but more importantly I can’t get where I need to be.
Where I WANT to be:
Sometimes family and friends are in the way of the day I had planned for myself.
Sometimes a coworker is in the way of that finished project.
Sometimes unexpected bills are in the way of my next purchase.
Where I NEED to be:
If I am honest, sometimes the internet and TV are in the way of where I need to be.
Many times my expectations, emotions, selfishness, and attitudes are the things in the way.
Where do I really need to be? What is in the way? Sometimes it’s just me in the way -- my selfish desires, my laziness, my earthly pleasures.
                Where do you want to be this Christmas season? Where do you need to be this Christmas season? You may want to be sleeping fifteen extra minutes, but you may need to be spending that time with God. You may want to be at home relaxing, but you may need to be giving grace and kindness to the cashier at Walmart. You may want to be left alone, but you may need to be holding someone’s hand. You may want someone to help you, but you may need to be helping someone else.
                Most importantly, is where you WANT to be where you NEED to be?
 “And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Candles

We are candles.
Blocks of wax molded by God.
He placed a wick inside each of us that only He can light.
We are candles.
We were made to shine His light to the world.
Candles are different colors, scents, and shapes.
But we are all candles.

Where is your candle?
It might be on a mantle.
It might be used for decoration without being lit.
Is your life just on display or is your wick lit and burning for God?

Where is your candle?
It might be on a table for a romantically lit dinner.
The wick sheds just enough light for an intimate conversation for two.
Are you sharing intimate conversations with God?

Where is your candle?
It might be on a birthday cake with a light representing each year of life.
Each year the cake burns brighter as another candle is added.
Each year of your walk with Christ brings about a brighter burning in your life.
What is your spiritual age? Does the light you shine in the world reflect that age?

Where is your candle?
It might be in a dark room giving light to those who cannot see.
This is our purpose as candles.
To shine light in the darkness.

God’s love for me is a candle that never burns out.
My love for Him is a candle that burns brightly to the end.

I am a candle.
Someday my wick will burn out.
My prayer is that His light will shine on because I burned brightly.
I am a candle.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Speak the Truth in Love - But SPEAK IT

                It’s time to stand up and stand on the Word of God. God’s Word is truth, and we must speak it. Even if you don’t see the fruits of your voice, God has promised His Word will not return void. “So shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:11 ESV).
                When confronted with things contrary to God’s Word, we need to speak. When you speak truth, it brings light into the darkness. We speak, not out of judgment and condemnation, but out of love. We don’t need to argue or prolong a discussion if it’s not profitable, but we do need to offer light in the dark. If we truly love others with Christ’s love, then we need to share God’s Word.
                Our place is not to judge, but it is our responsibility to speak the truth. We have been called. 2 Cor 5:20 says, “We are ambassadors for Christ.” Only God can convict and bring about change, but the Word must be spoken in order to be heard in order to be believed. “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17 KJV).
                My encouragement and challenge to you and to myself from this day forward for the rest of our lives: Be committed to speaking the truth of God’s Word because of His love.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

One Nation Under God – Where is Your Hope?


I feel a great burden for spiritual awakening in America, but what can I do? I am only one person.
 Prayer is the key that opens the lock.
Prayer is the hammer that breaks the rock.
Prayer is the substance that seals the breach.
Prayer is the influence beyond our reach.
Prayer is the rudder that guides the boat.
Prayer is the life vest that keeps you afloat.
Prayer is the light on a path that is dark.
Make sure you pray before you embark.
Prayer is the beginning of a Godly desire.
Prayer is the spark that starts the fire.
Prayer is the warmth that melts the ice.
It is the only answer that will suffice.
Prayer is the stitch that mends the ripped seam.
Prayer is the river that starts as a stream.
Prayer is the touch that comforts the weak.
Prayer parts the clouds as God’s face we seek.
Prayer opens the eyes of blind hearts to see
Prayer casts the vision of a nation set free.
Prayer opens the ears of deaf hearts to hear
To relinquish control and let God’s Spirit steer.
Prayer is the hope for a nation torn apart.
Prayer, my friends, is where we must start.

Prayer is all these things, but it doesn’t accomplish anything until you pray.
Thinking about prayer is not praying.
Believing in prayer is not praying.
Reading about prayer is not praying.
PRAY.
Join me in prayer for our nation.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Unmasked

Who am I really – behind the mask you see?
Questions to ask:
1. What percent of my money do I spend where?
2. What percent of my time is spent with my family?
3. What percent of my time is spent on me?
4. What percent of my time is spent with God?
5. If what I do is an overflow of what is in my heart, what does that say about my heart?
Each question is a cause for reflection on who I really am. In my self-examination, I cried out to God about the selfishness I found in my own heart and asked him to replace it with His love for others. The next morning, he gave me this verse that I am clinging to as I look to Him. “God gave him another heart” I Samuel 10:9. I am trusting God for His heart as I walk with Him.
                Who are you really? Take off the mask, and ask God to give you another heart--His heart.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

My Whole Heart

       Last month I was studying Psalm 119 and noticed the reference to our Whole Heart several times. This month in reading through other Psalms, I see the same reference. In studying the words whole heart, it communicates the complete center of my being.
       I reviewed different places in scripture referencing my whole heart or all my heart to see what I am to be doing with my whole heart or from the complete center of my being. Here is what I came up with.
From the complete center of my being, I should:
Praise God
Seek God
Keep God’s Word
Cry out to God
Trust God
Love God
Serve God
Fear (stand in awe of) God
Walk in truth
Turn to God
Rejoice in God
Believe God
       There are others, but these stood out. I am not just to praise God, but I am to praise Him with my whole heart, with everything I am, with nothing left back. It is the same with each one. I am to seek Him with everything I am, keep His word, cry out to Him, trust Him, love Him, serve Him, fear Him, walk in His truth, turn to Him, rejoice in Him, and believe Him with my whole heart and nothing left back. 
       Wow! What would my life look like if this is how I lived each day holding nothing back from God? Scripture also has promises that go along with this type of lifestyle. God promises His blessings, His mercy, His rest, His direction, and that as we seek Him we will find Him. My challenge is to live for God in each of these areas with my whole heart, from the complete center of my being.

“Thus Hezekiah did throughout all Judah, and he did what was good and right and faithful before the Lord his God. A
nd every work that he undertook in the service of the house of God and in accordance with the law and the commandments, seeking his God, he did with all his heart, and prospered” (II Chronicles 31:20-21).

Monday, October 22, 2012

Thankful for Oranges

My grandson started kindergarten this year. He called me the other day to tell me he received two oranges at school. He spoke so fast, I could barely understand him. Why would a five year old be excited about oranges, especially a five year old that doesn’t even like oranges? I assumed it was the thrill of having received something and began to consider my own attitude of thankfulness. Am I excited and thankful for the things I receive every day, or do I have expectations that cause me to discount the blessings in life?
It’s eye opening to discover the things we can learn from children. They are thankful for simple things. For example, one Christmas when my daughter was four years old, she colored a picture from her coloring book and wrapped it as a present for her two and a half year old brother. When he opened the present, she began showing him how she colored each detail. I was amazed at his sincere response, “Thank you, Katie”. She made it for him, and he was thankful.
Children are easily molded and follow our example. We can teach them to be thankful with words, but the results of what they learn will be based on what we show them with our actions. What they see will be what they learn.
Remember a five year old so thankful for two oranges that he called his grandma to tell her about it. Of course, I later learned that the behavior system for kindergarten at my grandson’s school has changed. It’s no longer green for good behavior, yellow for a warning, and red for uh-oh, I’m in trouble. A rainbow of colors ranging from red (which is now the best) to orange to yellow and several other colors now reflects behavior. I think there might even be a purple with green polka dots somewhere in the rainbow. Five year olds must be smarter these days in order to understand this system. My grandson sure expressed excitement about his oranges, and I gained a lesson in thankfulness.
Have you received any oranges this week that you don’t like? Remember to be thankful for what you receive. Unlike kindergarten, you can always bless someone else by passing your oranges to them. It truly is more blessed to give than to receive.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Good Works With a Passion

                If it became illegal to be a Christian and interviews were conducted with those you see every day, would there be enough evidence to convict you? The interview questions would not ask what you say. They would ask how you live. Are you doing anything that would cause others to know you believe?
                I’m in the middle of Beth Moore’s Bible Study on James. James emphasizes a faith that produces works. Reading in Titus, Paul expresses the same thing as James. Titus 1:16 states that “they profess to know God, but in works they deny Him”. Titus 3:5 tells how we were saved by His mercy and not our works of righteousness; but then in verse 8, Paul states that “those who have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works”. Our works are an acknowledgement and fruit of our belief.
                What is your passion? Where can you serve? I have friends that love to work with children. I love my children, and now I love my grandchildren; but I can’t say that I love working with other people’s children. I have friends that love working with the elderly. I love my mom, but I am not comfortable in ministry with the elderly. That doesn’t mean I don’t have anything to do with children or the elderly, but it does help me narrow down my passion and where God wants me to serve. My heart is with women in general. I also love to organize and entertain. I love to study, learn, and write.
                What about you? Where is your passion, and how can you work within that passion in service to God and in good works reflecting your salvation?

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Remember When

                I face some consequential decisions right now. Okay, all decisions have consequences, but I am currently needing to make more than a day to day decision. A few weeks ago my pastor said that if you want specific answers from God, you need to ask specific questions. With that in mind, I have taken my need for direction to God.
                This morning while reading in Psalm 77, I was reminded to remember the works of the Lord. He is the God who does wonders. As I reflect on this, it encourages me to see His answers to prayer in the past.
                In I Samuel 17 David stepped up to fight Goliath, the giant. When Saul questioned his youth, David told Saul how God had delivered him in the past from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear; therefore, he trusted God to deliver him from Goliath. He was able to look back on how God had provided before in order to step out and trust God’s deliverance again.
                Do you remember what God has done for you? While I don’t journal in the same way others might, I have started keeping a journal with my daily Bible study and how God speaks to me and answers my prayers. This way I can look back and remember the works of God in my life and have confidence in his continuing answers to prayer.
                When faced with life’s day to day decisions, I remember his day to day answers. When faced with life’s larger decisions, I remember his larger provisions and direction and have confidence in His answers to my prayers and direction for my path.
                Are you facing decisions? Take them to God, and have confidence in His answer by remembering what He has done before. Remember when.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Silently Wait

                Have you ever heard someone recite a list of everything wrong in their life and then say, “but I’m trusting God to take care of me”? Are they really? Psalm 62 spoke to me recently. I am to silently wait with quiet trust in God because from Him comes my deliverance in every situation. My hope, what I long for, comes from God alone.
                If I am trusting in God, I am talking to Him about my needs. Why do I need to share with everyone else? There are times we may be compelled to share with someone that can pray with us. That is great, as we are called to pray for one another. Otherwise, complaining and possibly hoping others will meet our needs is not trusting God.
                How do you think others see you? Do they see you trusting God and hear about how He has met your needs, or do they only hear you talking about God and still complaining about your problems.  Sometimes we just want to complain when we should be trusting God, silently waiting for Him.
                I want to share with others how God has met my needs and let them know I am trusting Him for everything. I want to stop complaining. And so, I will silently wait and share what He is teaching me along the way. God meets my needs. He is my deliverer.

“Truly my soul silently waits for God; From Him comes my salvation. My soul, wait silently for God alone, For my expectation is from Him” (Psalm 62:1,5 NKJV).

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Speechless

Sometimes I am speechless. This is not a word my husband associates with me. When I tell him I’m out of words, he tells me I must be mistaken. He doesn’t think I ever run out of words. Reading the Bible gives me inspiration for writing, but many times I find myself speechless. The magnitude and grandeur of God’s Word can’t be expressed.  I have no words, and for me that is rare.
Today I am speechless. Leave a comment, and tell me what makes you speechless?

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Effective Efficiency

                Everywhere I look in business and at home, I see articles and tips on being effective or efficient. Seven steps to a more effective life. Five steps to highly efficient teams. Three ways to get it all done in less time by being more efficient. There is something to be said for efficiency, as long as we are still effective.
                When my son first went to college, he wanted to manage his time well. In his effort to be efficient, he would cram everything possible into one load of laundry. His efficiency saved time, but it wasn’t effective. The clothes didn’t get as clean, and they came out wrinkled.
                I am naturally a planner and very organized. The spices are alphabetized in the pantry, the towels need to be folded a certain way, and I am the queen of list making. To get things done, I have a schedule. Sometimes my day is planned by the half hour. When running errands, I list everything in order of stops so I’m not running back and forth across town. I like to think I am efficient and effective.
                The morning starts with time for God, but should God really be put into a time slot? Yes, I believe starting the day with prayer and time in the Word make a big difference in my day, but relationships can’t be planned. Sometimes I need to slow down and let go of the plan.  Approaching my prayer time with a list of what to pray is okay, as long as I am also open to God’s leading to pray for something that is not on my list. I also need to be open to spending a little longer reading a certain passage of scripture that God is speaking through. This might mean a longer prayer time and some rearranging of my schedule. It can be hard for a control freak like me, but I have learned that God’s plan for my day will always be better than my plan.
                I need to slow down, be still, and let God lead. I want my prayers and my life to be effective. Sometimes that means letting go of my efficiency.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Overwhelmed

                Anyone else feel overwhelmed? Maybe it’s that stack of mail you haven’t gone through in a week or two. Maybe it’s preparing Thanksgiving dinner for 30 people or getting your house cleaned before they all show up and again after they leave. Maybe it’s that closet that needs to be cleaned out or that garage full of junk. Maybe it’s a new project at work. Maybe it’s a financial crisis. Maybe it’s a decision on which to college to attend. Life’s situations can be overwhelming.
                There are many books and articles that have been written on how to handle an overwhelming task at hand. Large tasks have to be broken into smaller tasks to make them manageable. But what about pressures in life that just make you want to stop and do nothing? It’s hard to put one foot in front of the other and keep going. Things have gotten out of hand and you are truly overwhelmed. You feel beaten, crushed, inundated, exhausted, devastated, and overcome.   You feel like you have been covered or buried beneath a mass of something. That something could be paper, projects, debt, or emotions.
                When I feel overwhelmed and exhausted to the point I want to throw my hands up and give up, I turn to scripture. Does reading the Bible make my stack of mail go away? No. Does reading the Bible complete my work project for me? No. Does reading the Bible make Thanksgiving dinner or clean my house? No.  Does reading the Bible automatically pay my bills? No. So what good does it do when I am overwhelmed with this life?
                Reading scripture overwhelms me. That’s right. Open and read through the Psalms or Proverbs. Read in the Old Testament how God delivered His people over and over again. Read in Romans how God showed his love for us by giving His Son to die in our place. I am overwhelmed with God’s love, mercy, and grace. I cannot fathom such a love that no matter what I have done or not done, Jesus loved me enough to die in my place. I am overwhelmed with the wisdom contained in scripture. Everything I need is there. I am overwhelmed by His strength. I am overwhelmed with the peace that comes from the time I spend in God’s Word. And once I am overwhelmed by God, I am no longer overwhelmed by life. God is my strength, my deliverer, my protector, and my hope.  I stand amazed and overwhelmed.
                I can’t wait to be overwhelmed each day as I watch how God will OVERWHELM what I thought was overwhelming.  God’s overwhelming trumps life’s overwhelming every time. Have you been overwhelmed by God’s love today?

Monday, September 24, 2012

Today or Tomorrow

                If you had a bank that credited your account each morning with $86,400—with no balance carried from day to day—what would you do? You may have heard this asked before. This analogy is in relation to time. Every day we are given 86,400 seconds. Every night they are gone. There are no balances carried forward. You can’t save it, store it, loan it, or invest it. You can only use it, spend it.
                We would like to believe that if given $86,400 each day, we would spend every penny each day before midnight. At first you probably would; but if you knew it would be there again tomorrow, over time most of us would come to take it for granted. After all, what you don’t spend today, you will once again have the opportunity to spend tomorrow.
                If, on the other hand, you were given $86,400 to spend today without any guarantee that you would receive it again tomorrow, you would spend it all and spend it in the most profitable way possible. It’s the thought that you have it today but might NOT have it tomorrow that would cause you to spend it wisely today.
                Procrastination puts off today what can be done tomorrow even when it should be done today. What if you knew there was no tomorrow, or what if you knew there would never be another time you could do one specific thing? Would you do it today?
                Now forget the “what ifs”. Fact: The time you spend with God today will not be the same as the time you spend with Him tomorrow. He has something special for you today. If you don’t get together with Him to know what He has for you, you miss out. And even if you don’t believe it, there is no guarantee that you have a tomorrow.
                Don’t put off today what really can’t be done tomorrow. Meet with God, and receive what He has for you today. It won’t be the same tomorrow.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Road Trip

                Yesterday I read Proverbs 19, and this verse stood out to me. “Cease to hear instruction, my son, and you will stray from the words of knowledge” (Proverbs 19:27 ESV).
                If I decided to take a road trip from Texas to Wyoming, I would study a map before I left. I would also take that map with me and probably bring along a GPS just in case the map wasn’t clear in certain areas. With the map, the GPS, the sun rising in the east and setting in the west, and the directional indicator on my rearview mirror, I would feel pretty confident in my ability to get to Wyoming.  Every day of my trip, I would check my map and other tools to make sure I was on the right road.
                In life, the Bible is our roadmap. Many of us consult it and then take off on our own without it. This verse says that when we cease to hear instruction, we will stray from the words of knowledge. It’s kind of like turning off that voice on your GPS. First you quit listening to the voice, then you quit looking at the screen, and pretty soon you are lost.
                When we quit studying our road map for life, we quit hearing instruction, and pretty soon we stray from the knowledge needed to make a critical decision at the next crossroad. We have to stay in the word, abiding (living) in it and continuing to learn from it or we will stray off the path God has for us.  We need fresh direction every day.
                Just like a roadmap. Take His word with you on the road trip of life.

Monday, September 17, 2012

24/7

I once assumed all the Christian women I knew (especially those that went to a Bible Study or spoke at a retreat or were married to a minister) listened to Christian music, spent daily quiet time with God, read their Bible every day, prayed every day, and heard from God every day. These were things I felt I should be doing. If I didn’t do these things, I wouldn’t want anyone to know; because most every other woman did them, or so I thought.
I was amazed the first time I mentioned a popular Christian song in a women’s group as a comparison to something we were studying and received a lot of blank stares communicating they had no idea what I was talking about. They were evidently not familiar with the song. Granted, not everyone is musically inclined or enjoys the same type of music I enjoy. I am not condoning legalism in someone’s musical taste.
Another occasion also brought surprise. I admired a certain woman for her faithfulness to study the Bible. I mentioned to her that I was writing a book on prayer and how to get started when you don’t know how to pray. She shared how she felt like this many times and would sometimes write out her prayers to get started. What? Surely with her faithfulness to Bible study, she must be a prayer warrior. Surely she had to make no effort in her prayer life.
We are not alone in our walk of faith. It was good for me to realize that none of us does it perfectly. We should not condemn ourselves for a less than perfect walk with God. God doesn’t condemn us; however, he does sometimes convict us. Conviction comes from the Holy Spirit. He may use what our pastor says or what someone else says or something we read to pierce our heart, but it will be conviction--not condemnation. It will reveal to us an area where we need to make changes for the better. It won’t cause us to suffer with guilt.
I have recently been convicted about what I would call 24/7 with God. Whatever that may mean to you, I’m trying to figure it out for me. I know it involves walking with Him 24/7. It’s not just spending time with God in the morning or at the end of the day. It’s minute by minute as life happens. It’s not waiting until my scheduled prayer time to talk to God about a need or someone’s prayer request. It’s every minute, every hour, every day. Do you think that too extreme?
The benefits of 24/7 will mean I am much more likely to make the right decisions, shine with His light to others, experience joy, as well as love, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control--all the fruit of the Spirit. It means my spiritual jewelry box will be full to overflowing. I’m committing to strive for 24/7. Will you make this commitment with me? If not, ask yourself why not? It’s not about being perfect. It’s about spending your life 24/7 with the one who is.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Purpose

Joseph had dreams. No matter what life threw at him, he never lost sight of those dreams. God used each situation to accomplish His purpose. Joseph told his brothers, “you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good” (Gen 50:20). Has God given you a dream? Have you discovered your purpose?
Romans 8:28 is a familiar verse, “All things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” What this verse doesn’t say is that God causes all things to happen. What it does say is that all things that happen work together for a purpose defined by the remainder of the sentence.
For good
To those who love God
To those who are the called according
To His purpose
No matter what this life may throw at you, if you love God and are part of the called (a believer), it will work together for good  and  to His purpose. You have to be willing to trust Him and be part of His purpose.
Ask yourself what purpose God wants to accomplish through your life. Are you willing to let God work out the things life throws at you to accomplish His purpose? Sometimes our perceived defeat is all that stands between God and His purpose being accomplished. “Greater is He that is in you than He that is in the world” (I John 4:4). Do you believe it? Do you believe His word?

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Seeking Wisdom

                As we remember the events of September 11, 2001, we pause to remember those who lost their lives and to give thanks to those that continue to serve our cities and our country. Events such as 9-11 and election years with their political banter can cause us to be uncertain in the direction we should take in our lives.
                I’ve been reading one chapter from the book of Proverbs each day this month. Proverbs continually tells us to seek wisdom. When we seek after something, we pursue it. We search for it or hunt for it. I am reminded of the childhood game of hide and seek and also of annual Easter egg hunts. We should seek wisdom with the same passion as a child playing hide and seek or hunting Easter eggs. The question then becomes, how or where do we seek wisdom?
                In I Corinthians 1:22-24 Paul says he “preached Christ crucified . . . the power of God and the wisdom of God.” Colossians 2:3 says of Christ, “in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”
                So if I am going to seek wisdom with the passion of a child searching for hidden Easter eggs, I am going to look to Christ. We find Christ and His wisdom in scripture. We see the Old Testament saints looking forward to Christ, and in the New Testament He was manifest in the flesh. We see Christ portrayed in the lives of the believers in the New Testament as they walked in the good works of their calling as an example to us. I see Christ in answered prayers. I see Him in the miracle of new life when a baby is born giving us renewed hope to continue our journey. I see Christ in the changed life of a new believer. I see Christ throughout scripture as He tells us, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you” (Matthew 7:7).
                James says “if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask.”  If we are seeking and we ask, we will find and receive.
                Seek wisdom – Seek Christ.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

My Project Manager

In Psalm 23:1, David said, “The Lord is my shepherd.” He didn’t say the Lord is my tentmaker or the Lord is my builder. He had firsthand experience in being a shepherd. He knew what a shepherd did and how a shepherd cared for His sheep.
Most of us have been taught about a shepherd and his sheep in order to truly understand what this meant.  But what if David weren’t a shepherd? What other analogy might he have used?
I know what my role is at work and where my strengths are in everyday life. The Lord is not only my shepherd (because I have learned what that means); He is also my manager, my planner, my organizer, my project manager, and my life controller. These are areas that I know firsthand. Here is one way this speaks to me.

The Lord controls my life, I shall not worry.
He makes me sleep peacefully at night.
He leads me beside fulfillment. He restores my soul.
He leads me down paths He has prepared, because He knows best.
Even though I walk through the valley of the unknown,
I will not fear, for You are with me.
Your omniscient GPS and Your compass comfort me.
You prepare a plan before me in the presence of the chaos around me.
You anoint me with love, and my heart overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life,
And I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

I challenge you to write this for yourself. Is God your financial planner, your police officer, your home manager, your teacher, your assistant, your dispatcher, or your guide? Sometimes the hardest area to surrender to God is the area you know best. What is your career, or what are your strengths? Let God be those things to you, just as God was a shepherd to David. Leave a comment, and let me know what God is to you.


Monday, September 3, 2012

Ruby Red Slippers

We all remember Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz. She walked down the yellow brick road because she was looking for a way home. What she didn’t realize was that she had the ability to go home at any time. She just didn’t know it. She was walking in the ruby slippers that gave her a way home.
According to Ephesians 2:10, “We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”  God wants us to walk in the good works He has prepared for each of us individually.
In order to walk this path, He has provided ruby slippers designed just for you. They are covered in rubies of His love. They fit perfect. They don’t pinch, rub, or slip. They are designed for you to walk in His love comfortably.
Everything you need to walk in the good works planned for you, God will provide.  Just click your heels three times. Ask Him for what you need, listen to what He says, and act on what He tells you. Remember, there’s no place like home. If you have wandered off of the path God has for you, pull those ruby slippers out of your spiritual jewelry box, come back home, and rest in the arms of God.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Rubies of Love

                I love my husband. He always remembers my birthday, our anniversary, and special holidays. He talks to me, and he listens to me. He wants to make me happy. We have a great relationship of knowing when something is more important to the other and knowing when to give and take. He is supportive and would gladly stand between me and harm’s way. He stands strong in His faith. His love for me is patient, kind, sharing, hopeful, enduring, and he has promised to love me forever. Sound like the perfect guy? Sorry, he’s taken. He’s mine.
                The color red is a symbol of love. We see red in hearts at Valentine’s Day, a dozen red roses,  and red I Love You scripts on birthday and anniversary cards. We’ve all heard the familiar poem, “Rubies are red, violets are blue . . .” which usually ends with I love you. Rubies are red, and rubies signify love. 
                My husband likes to give me jewelry. He likes to find different types of stones with matching ring, necklace, and earrings. It’s ironic that one of the stones he hasn’t chosen yet is rubies. Maybe he will read this post and come up with a good idea for Christmas.
                Despite everything good I can say about my husband, neither of us is perfect. As much as my husband loves me, his love doesn’t compare to God’s love. God’s love is perfect. It casts out fear. God’s love never fails. Even when I don’t deserve it, God loves me. Even when I hurt God’s feelings, he loves me. Even when I forget to talk to Him or acknowledge Him, God loves me. If I ignored Him for a year, He would still love me. Every time I sin, I mess up fellowship with God; but He loves me, and He is ready and waiting for me to turn back to Him.
                God has given me rubies. He has given me every precious stone. They are like gifts all neatly wrapped and waiting to be opened. All I have to do is open them by spending time with Him in His word. What is stopping me from filling my spiritual jewelry box? What is stopping you?

Monday, August 27, 2012

Diamonds are Forever

                When you get married, you pledge to love each other forever. A diamond is a symbol of that forever love. It is supposed to be endless, constant, infinite, limitless, immeasurable; but it doesn’t always work out that way. People disappoint. We become disheartened. Our feelings and emotions get in the way and cloud our thinking. People hurt each other.
                God’s love never fails. It never ends. It is truly forever.  According to scripture, “Riches do not last forever” (Proverbs 27:24). Scripture also tells us, “the word of the Lord remains forever” (I Peter 1:25). Hebrews 13:8 says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” The things of this earth will pass away, but God’s love, His Word, His Son are the only things that last forever. When the riches of this world are gone, God’s Word will still remain.
                When I look at the diamonds in my wedding ring, I am reminded of the love that my husband and I share. I am also reminded of God’s perfect love. His love for me is greater than the love my husband and I can show each other, and His love is forever.
                Fill your spiritual jewelry box with diamonds from His Word. These precious stones will truly last forever.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Diamonds - A Girl's Best Friend?

           What makes a good best friend? Is it someone that shares what’s going on in your life or someone that knows your secrets? Is it someone that’s there for you in good times and bad? Does your best friend know everything about you? Do you share the same friends and enemies? There are no secrets among best friends.  A best friend will listen. A best friend forgives.
So what makes diamonds a girl’s best friend? According to the song, diamonds are reliable. They don’t grow cold or lose their shape or lose their charm. When others disappoint, diamonds are a girl’s best friend.
I remember singing a different song as a child that said, “My best friend is Jesus.” If Jesus is my best friend, then wouldn’t we share the same friends and enemies? James 4:4 says “friendship with the world is enmity with God” and “whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.”
If Jesus is my best friend, then He would share what He knows with me, and I would share with Him. In John 15:12-15 Jesus talks about friends. Verse 15 says, “. . . I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.” He has shared with us. Are we sharing with Him?
I love how all He heard from the Father, He made known to us. These words are free and readily available. They are the diamonds of our friendship with Jesus. They are the precious stones in His Word. He is speaking from scripture, but you can’t hear if you’re not there.
Talk to Jesus today, and place the diamonds of a true best friend inside your jewelry box.