April 13, 2014

Even The Donkey Knew

Matthew 21:2, “Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me.” (NIV)

For thousands of years people have been asking the question, “Who is Jesus?” Skeptics first began inquiring about Jesus’ identity during His earthly ministry. As Jesus traveled from town to town, performing miracles and fulfilling prophecy, many would ask, “Is He a prophet or a teacher?” Even though Christ clearly stated He was the Son of God, some still questioned His identity and still do today.

The Passover is one among the many times our Lord’s authority was questioned.

As Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, the citizens cried out, “Who is this?” Everyone noticed His arrival. Some were moved with joy by His presence and laid palm branches on the ground in His honor, others watched in wonder. The Pharisees were most likely filled with envy and indignation. However, Scripture tells us that though He was the King of Glory, Jerusalem knew Him not. (Acts 13:27, KJV)

Earlier that Sunday morning, as Jesus and His disciples neared the city, He said to two of His disciples, “Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me.” (Matthew 21:2, NIV)

Most Bible teachers claim that Jesus rode the donkey through town in order to fulfill the prophecy found in Zechariah 9:9, Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” (NIV)

Not only was prophecy fulfilled, but we also see an example of Christ’s all-encompassing knowledge when He revealed where the donkey could be found. More so, we also catch a glimpse of Christ’s ability to make Himself and His authority known to all living things as the untamed donkey yields to his destiny.

Donkeys, as well as their colts, were known as mean, stubborn creatures, and yet, having never been ridden before, amazingly this wild donkey submits to the authority of Christ. In doing so, the donkey testifies that Jesus is Lord. In this truth lies a very important insight. Within the heart of every living soul, whether man or beast, is the knowledge of God. He placed that knowledge there Himself.

The evidence of God is not only written on every heart and displayed in nature, but it’s found throughout Scripture as well. One recorded fact that proves Christ’s authenticity is found in the donkey’s humble obedience to submit to Jesus’ command. I believe that Jesus is sending us a message through an animal less intelligent than we, “Even the donkey knew Me.”

It’s true, if an untamed donkey can recognize the glory of the Lord, so can we even though we can’t visibly see Him. If we could see God, He’d just be another object like the sun and the moon. That would make Him a small God. He’s much bigger than that. The Bible tells us that God is a spirit. He is not anything you can see or touch. But that doesn’t mean He isn’t real! In fact, He is more “real” than the things you see around you that will eventually they will disappear—but God never will.

The greatest evidence that God longs to reveal Himself to us occurred over 2000 years ago when this invisible God became a visible person, Jesus Christ, who claimed, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9). God not only desired to reveal Himself then, but He wants to show Himself real to you everyday through a loving relationship with His Son.

Deep within you know, just as the donkey knew, that Jesus longs to enter your heart and take His rightful place as Lord of your life. Don’t let a donkey out smart you. Today is the perfect time to get to know God in a real way.

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March 27, 2014

A Palace Built For A King

As I sit on the white sand gazing out at the green waters of the ocean, the sun warms my body and my thoughts are carried by the wind. Then, one thought sticks in my mind. “Christ in me–making all things new.” It’s a difficult truth to grasp. C.S. Lewis brings light to the subject…

“Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of – throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.”
― C.S. LewisMere Christianity

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March 19, 2014

A Heart Like Jesus

Who doesn’t want a heart like Jesus? I do! Better yet, God wants to give me and you a heart like Jesus.

I came across this devotion, A Heart Like Jesus, by Max Lucado, and had to share it with you!

What if, for one day, Jesus were to become you? What if, for twenty-four hours, Jesus wakes up in your bed, walks in your shoes, lives in your house, assumes your schedule? Your boss becomes His boss, your mother becomes His mother, your pains become His pains? With one exception, nothing about your life changes. Your health doesn’t change. Your circumstances don’t change. Your schedule isn’t altered. Your problems aren’t solved. Only one change occurs.

What if, for one day and one night, Jesus lives your life with His heart?

Your heart gets the day off, and your life is led by the heart of Christ. His priorities govern your actions. His passions drive your decisions. His love directs your behavior.

What would you be like? Would people notice a change? Your family – would they see something new? Your coworkers – would they sense a difference? What about the less fortunate? Would you treat them the same? And your friends? Would they detect more joy? How about your enemies? Would they receive more mercy from Christ’s heart than from yours?

And you? How would you feel? What alterations would this transplant have on your stress level? Your mood swings? Your temper? Would you sleep better? Would you see sunsets differently? Death differently? Taxes differently? Any chance you’d need fewer aspirin or sedatives? How about your reaction to traffic delays? (Ouch, that touched a nerve.) Would you still dread what you are dreading? Better yet, would you still do what you are doing?

Would you still do what you had planned to do for the next twenty-four hours?

Pause and think about your schedule. Obligations. Engagements. Outings. Appointments. With Jesus taking over your heart, would anything change?

Keep working on this for a moment. Adjust the lens of your imagination until you have a clear picture of Jesus leading your life, then snap the shutter and frame the image. What you see is what God wants. He wants you to “think and act like Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5).

God’s plan for you is nothing short of a new heart.

“You were taught to be made new in your hearts, to become a new person. That new person is made to be like God – made to be truly good and holy” (Ephesians 4:23-24).

God wants you to be just like Jesus. He wants you to have a heart like His.

I’m going to risk something here. It’s dangerous to sum up grand truths in one statement, but I’m going to try. If a sentence or two could capture God’s desire for each of us, it might read like this:

God loves you just the way you are, but he refuses to leave you that way. He wants you to be just like Jesus.

If you think His love for you would be stronger if your faith were, you are wrong. If you think His love would be deeper if your thoughts were, wrong again. Don’t confuse God’s love with the love of people. The love of people often increases with performance and decreases with mistakes. Not so with God’s love. He loves you right where you are. To quote my wife’s favorite author:

God’s love never ceases. Never. Though we spurn Him. Ignore Him. Reject Him. Despise Him. Disobey Him. He will not change.

Our evil cannot diminish His love. Our goodness cannot increase it. Our faith does not earn it any more than our stupidity jeopardizes it. God doesn’t love us less if we fail or more if we succeed.

When my daughter Jenna was a toddler, I used to take her to a park not far from our apartment. One day as she was playing in a sandbox, an ice-cream salesman approached us. I purchased her a treat, and when I turned to give it to her, I saw her mouth was full of sand. Where I intended to put a delicacy, she had put dirt.

Did I love her with dirt in her mouth? Absolutely. Was she any less my daughter with dirt in her mouth? Of course not. Was I going to allow her to keep the dirt in her mouth? No way. I loved her right where she was, but I refused to leave her there. I carried her over to the water fountain and washed out her mouth. Why?Because I love her.

God does the same for us. He holds us over the fountain. “Spit out the dirt, honey,” our Father urges. “I’ve got something better for you.” And so He cleanses us of filth: immorality, dishonesty, prejudice, bitterness, greed. We don’t enjoy the cleansing; sometimes we even opt for the dirt over the ice cream. “I can eat dirt if I want to!” we pout and proclaim. Which is true – we can. But if we do, the loss is ours. God has a better offer. He wants us to be just like Jesus.

Isn’t that good news? You aren’t stuck with today’s personality. You aren’t condemned to “grumpydom.” You are tweakable. Even if you’ve worried each day of your life, you needn’t worry the rest of your life. So what if you were born a bigot? You don’t have to die one.

Where did we get the idea we can’t change? Jesus can change our hearts. He wants us to have a heart like his. Can you imagine a better offer?

The Heart of Christ

The heart of Jesus was pure. The Savior was adored by thousands, yet content to live a simple life. He was cared for by women (Luke 8:1-3) yet never accused of lustful thoughts, scorned by His own creation but willing to forgive them before they even requested His mercy. Peter, who traveled with Jesus for three and a half years, described Him as a “lamb unblemished and spotless” (1 Peter 1:19). After spending the same amount of time with Jesus, John concluded, “And in Him is no sin” (1 John 3:5).

Jesus’ heart was peaceful. The disciples fretted over the need to feed the thousands, but not Jesus. He thanked God for the problem. The disciples shouted for fear in the storm, but not Jesus. He slept through it. Peter drew his sword to fight the soldiers, but not Jesus. He lifted His hand to heal. His heart was at peace. When His disciples abandoned Him, did He pout and go home? When Peter denied Him, did Jesus lose His temper? When the soldiers spit in His face, did He breathe fire in theirs? Far from it. He was at peace. He forgave them. He refused to be guided by vengeance.

He also refused to be guided by anything other than His high call. His heart was purposeful. Most lives aim at nothing in particular and achieve it. Jesus aimed at one goal – to save humanity from its sin. He could summarize His life with one sentence: “The Son of man came to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10).

Jesus was so focused on His task that he knew when to say, “My time has not yet come” (John 2:4) and when to say, “It is finished” (John 19:30). But he was not so focused on his goal that he was unpleasant.

Quite the contrary. How pleasant were His thoughts! Children couldn’t resist Jesus. He could find beauty in lilies, joy in worship, and possibilities in problems. He would spend days with multitudes of sick people and still feel sorry for them. He spent more than three decades wading through the muck and mire of our sin yet still saw enough beauty in us to die for our mistakes.

But the crowning attribute of Christ was this: 

His heart was spiritual. His thoughts reflected His intimate relationship with the Father. “I am in the Father and the Father is in Me,” he stated (John 14:11). His first recorded sermon begins with the words, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me” (Luke 4:18). He was “led by the Spirit” (Matthew 4:1) and “full of the Holy Spirit” (Luke 4:1). He returned from the desert “in the power of the Spirit” (Luke 4:14).

Jesus took his instructions from God. It was His habit to go to worship (Luke 4:16). It was His practice to memorize scripture (Luke 4:4). Luke says Jesus “often slipped away to be alone so He could pray” (Luke 5:16). His times of prayer guided Him. He once returned from prayer and announced it was time to move to another city (Mark 1:38). Another time of prayer resulted in the selection of the disciples (Luke 6:12-13). Jesus was led by an unseen hand: “The Son does whatever the Father does” (John 5:19). In the same chapter He stated, “I can do nothing alone. I judge only the way I am told” (John 5:30).

The Heart of Humanity

Our hearts seem so far from His. He is pure; we are greedy. He is peaceful; we are hassled. He is purposeful; we are distracted. He is pleasant; we are cranky. He is spiritual; we are earthbound. The distance between our hearts and His seems so immense. How could we ever hope to have the heart of Jesus?

Ready for a surprise? You already do. You already have the heart of Christ. Why are you looking at me that way? Would I kid you? If you are in Christ, you already have the heart of Christ.

One of the supreme yet unrealized promises of God is simply this: if you have given your life to Jesus, Jesus has given Himself to you. He has made your heart His home. It would be hard to say it more succinctly than Paul did: “Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20).

He has moved in and unpacked His bags and is ready to change you “into his likeness from one degree of glory to another” (2 Corinthians 3:18). Paul explained it with these words: “Strange as it seems, we Christians actually do have within us a portion of the very thoughts and mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:16).

If I have the mind of Jesus, why do I still think so much like me?

Part of the answer is illustrated in a story about a lady who had a small house on the seashore of Ireland at the turn of the twentieth century. She was quite wealthy but also quite frugal.

The people were surprised, then, when she decided to be among the first to have electricity in her home.

Several weeks after the installation, a meter reader appeared at her door. He asked if her electricity was working well, and she assured him it was. “I’m wondering if you can explain something to me,” he said. “Your meter shows scarcely any usage. Are you using your power?”

“Certainly,” she answered. “Each evening when the sun sets, I turn on my lights just long enough to light my candles; then I turn them off.”

She’s tapped in to the power but doesn’t use it. Her house is connected but not altered. Don’t we make the same mistake? We, too – with our souls saved but our hearts unchanged – are connected but not altered. Trusting Christ for salvation but resisting transformation. We occasionally flip the switch, but most of the time we settle for shadows.

What would happen if we left the light on? What would happen if we not only flipped the switch but lived in the light? What changes would occur if we set about the task of dwelling in the radiance of Christ?

No doubt about it: God has ambitious plans for us. The same one who saved your soul longs to remake your heart. His plan is nothing short of a total transformation:

He decided from the outset to shape the lives of those who love Him along the same lines as the life of His Son. - Romans 8:29

You have begun to live the new life, in which you are being made new and are becoming like the One who made you. This new life brings you the true knowledge of God. - Colossians 3:10

God is willing to change us into the likeness of the Savior.

Shall we accept His offer? I’d love to read your thoughts on this statement:

“One of the supreme yet unrealized promises of God is simply this: if you have given your life to Jesus, Jesus has given Himself to you. He has made your heart His home. It would be hard to say it more succinctly than Paul did: “Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20). When we grasp this, we experience like change!

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March 10, 2014

You Complete Me

I’ll be honest. There are some things about my husband that really annoys me. For example, my husband is so tight with money he squeaks when he walks. That’s why I call him, “Squeaky.” He’s also a talker. Once we were at the theater and I excused myself to go to the Ladies room. When I returned, he had invited the entire row to our house for dinner. That’s not all. We have different views on cleaning, driving, parenting, and well, just about everything.

Sometimes I want to scream because of our differences. Others times I’ve wondered, “Did I marry Mr. Right or Mr. Wrong?”

I wonder if you’re shaking your head in agreement because you’ve noticed the differences between you and your spouse as well.

Over the next few post, I’ll cover the four commitments of marriage found in scripture. Believe it or not but there is a blue print to marriage designed by God. Marriage is His idea. Therefore, by following God’s instructions we can’t miss.

Commitment One: Receive Your Spouse

They say, “opposites attract.” I believe that’s true, but does this combination make for a good marriage? According to the wisdom of God, it does.

In the second chapter of Genesis we pick up on the creation of man. “Then the LORD God said, “it is not good for man to be alone; I shall make him a helper suitable for him” (2:18).  The key word to focus on is “suitable.” No other living creature was suitable for Adam. Therefore, God fashioned a woman from the rib he took for Adam, and brought her to him. That was a good day for Adam! Can you imagine his response when he saw her? “That’s what I’m talkin’ about, God! You nailed it!”

This truth was eye opening for me. God made for Adam exactly what he needed. The same is true for me. God gave me a spouse who, by his divine design, is suitable for me. To think other wise is to disagree with God’s provision for me.

Let’s face it. I’ve got gaps. He’s got gaps. Together we fill the gaps. Those things that aggravate me now once attracted me to my spouse. For example, I was drawn to the outgoing personality of my spouse because I was painfully shy. I never could keep my finances in order, but my spouse is great at it. He may be “squeaky” but I now feel safe instead of stressed. You could go as far to say through our differences we complete one another. His strengths make me stronger and visa versa.

So, how do I deal with those differences when they annoy me? I remember that my spouse is gift from God. He is God’s perfect provision for me. I must receive him as a gift by not focusing on his faults (or what irritate me) but the fact that his differences are filling in what I lack. When I start to become irritated, it’s not because my husband is doing anything on purpose. He’s simply being who God made him to be—a suitable partner for me. His differences are to better me as a person and us as a couple.

To get to this point in my marriage, I had to remind myself each and every day to receive my husband as Adam received Eve–as a gift. I must unconditionally accept his good habits and his bad habits. I must look beyond him to the God who knows what He is doing–and trust He knows best.

Receiving your mate is more than reciting it on your wedding day. It requires an attitude of continual acceptance throughout your marriage.

Application: You complete each other through your unique differences and weakness. In what ways have your differences completed each other? Make a list.

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March 7, 2014

Accepting Friendship

Hi there! Welcome to my blog! I’m so glad you’ve stopped by today. You may be a regular or maybe you popped over after reading my devotion today from Proverbs 31 Ministries, Three Ways To Be The Best Friend Ever. Either way, I imagine you struggle when it comes to friendship. Can I be honest? Everyone does from time to time. Even me. I wish we could sit down and talk over coffee about how my self-image and shyness kept me from being and having the friends I desired.

I’ve since grown from that girl. Today, I’m very out going and relational. I have many friends and I’m thankful. This I know. If I can do it you can too! Sometimes, it’s our own perspective about ourselves that holds us back. Take the relationship between Shrek and Donkey for example. If you don’t know these animated pair, allow me to introduce you.

Shrek is a boorish ogre, who finds a friend in a talking donkey (Played by Eddie Murphy) and unexpectedly falls in love with a princess (Played by Cameron Diaz), whom he rescues from a castle guarded by a fire-breathing dragon. This fairytale spoof emphasizes how humans place too much importance on outward appearances, and a lesson about friendship.

After freeing the princess from the castle, Shrek and Donkey escort her back to the village in keeping with the prince’s orders. Because the journey is long, they decide to camp out. Around the campfire, Donkey talks to Shrek about what life will be like once they return to Shrek’s home, a humble swamp.

Looking up at the sky, Donkey asks, “Hey Shrek, what are we going to do when we get back to our swamp, anyway?”
“Our swamp?” Shrek challenges. “There’s no our. There’s just me and my swamp, and the first thing I’m going to do is build a ten-foot wall around my land.”

Donkey is surprised. He thought they had developed a friendship that would result in sharing their lives and possessions once the quest was over.
“You cut me deep, Shrek!” Donkey confesses. “You cut me real deep just now. You know what I think? This whole wall thing is just a way to keep somebody out.”

The two argue and exchange verbal jabs. At last Donkey asks, “Who are you trying to keep out? Just tell me that, okay?”
“Everyone! Okay?” Shrek exclaims.
“Hey, what’s your problem, Shrek? What you got against the whole world, anyway?”

The huge ogre seems almost childlike as he candidly explains, “I’m not the one with the problem. It’s the whole world that seems to have a problem with me. People take one look at me and go ’Ahhh! Help! Run! It’s a big, stupid, ugly ogre!’ They judge me before they even know me. That’s why I’m better off alone.”

Donkey joins Shrek and says, “You know what? When we first met, I didn’t think you were just a big, stupid, ugly ogre.”
“Yeah, I know,” Shrek acknowledges with gratitude.

For the first time Shrek realizes someone has looked beyond his outward appearance and accepted him. There are many people today with the attitude of Shrek. They’ve isolated themselves from the rest of the world out of fear. Maybe you’re one of them. There’s good news is it can be different. You can have the kind of intimate friendship that David and Jonathan shared. You don’t have to be alone any longer.

To be a good friend you must see the value you bring to the table. (See post: Seeing Yourself Through God’s Eyes) Next, make a list of your qualities. I’m loyal and kind. I like to serve others. I can see when someone is hurting. I’m fun. I like to hike. I like movies. You get the idea. Once you have a list, you know what you bring to the table.

If you can identify a hurting person, comfort them.

If you like to cook, make someone a meal.

If you like movies, invite someone to go along. It’s really that easy. To have a friend is to be a friend.

Let me be your friend today. I’d love to pray with you or celebrate your joys with you! Just leave them in a comment.

Stop back by Monday. I’ll post about the Four Commitments of Marriage according to God’s plan.

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March 4, 2014

To Revenge Or Not To Revenge?

Nothing hurts my feelings more than an unkind word thrown in my direction. Right away my impulse is to go on the defense and respond with vengeance. But God says, “Vengeance belongs to Him.” I get that but sometimes I wonder if He really cares about who hurts me.

Have you ever felt this way? Something inside tells us if God really cared, I would have been spared such pain.

The truth is God is furious with those who have hurt you and me. In fact, God’s passion to execute justice on yours and my behalf is extreme. Yet, the God who longs for us to be like Him, urges us not to take matters into our own hands.

That’s hard for my mind to comprehend. But God didn’t ask me to understand His methods but to obey them. Even when I’m tempted to push past His divine laws and get even, I must remember His way is best. Though God’s ways are mysterious to me, they lead to inner peace.

Think about it this way. By retaliating, I’ve become just as bad as the person who wronged me. I tried explaining this to my child and he responded, “But they started it!” Sometimes I can be child-like and say to God the same thing, “But she started it!” Then, get even. Doing so actually exalts the person who harmed me. In a way, I elevate that person as a “ moral teacher” in my life. I’ve allowed him/her to teach me how to behave by agreeing with their ways instead of God’s. How dumb is that?!

If someone hurts me, I want to “teach him/her a lesson,” but if I try to retaliate, not only would I fail to teach him/her how to be godly, I would end up letting that person teach me how to be ungodly.

So what’s the best way to teach this person a lesson? We don’t do it by modeling ungodliness. They already know how to be that. We show them how good it is to be on the receiving end of loving-kindness. We can stop evil in its tracks when we refuse to duplicate their behavior and “overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21).

Returning good for evil is clearly divine revelation, not just because it appears in so many Scriptures, but because it is so contrary to human thinking. “Love your enemies,” sounds off the planet. It is! It’s from another world. It’s from heaven itself – a world so holy and superior that it is the opposite of the way this world thinks and acts. “Overcome evil with good,” sounds impractical but in reality there is simply no alternative.

God’s got your back. He’ll bring justice to those who have hurt you. Your job and mine, is to respond in loving-kindness.

Is God asking you to be a role model of godliness to another?

What evil can you overcome today by showing loving kindness?

This is a hard one. Let’s encourage each other. Leave a comment about how you overcame evil with good.

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February 27, 2014

Seeing Myself Through God’s Eyes

I confess. As far back as I can remember I’ve always had low self-esteem and a poor self-image. As a child I was painfully shy. When I reached high school, I’d walk the crowed hallway with my head down to avoid eye contact. No matter how hard I tried to act as if I had it all together, whenever I looked into my bedroom mirror it revealed something different. I can still recall the negative self-talk as I peered into the glass.

“You’re too short. You’re too fat. You’re not smart enough or even likable to others. You’re friends put up with you.”

Everyday, I wished I were different—taller, thinner, popular, pretty.

I wonder. Do you ever look in the mirror and wished you were different? Maybe you feel you’re too short, or too tall, or too thin, or too heavy. The list never seems to end. It might physical dissatisfaction, or feeling as though you’re not smart enough or outgoing enough that drags you down. I understand. I also know this has to change.

There are a multitude of studies that indicate the way you and I see ourselves determines to a large degree the way we act and react in life. That a person’s self-perception, self-worth, self-esteem tends to be a leading factor in her life.

In other words, if I see myself as a loser, I’ll end up acting like a loser. If I see myself as a victim, I’ll tend to let people victimize me. If I see myself as uncreative, I’ll never come up with any creative ideas. If I see myself as a piece of junk, I’ll begin to think I’m garbage.

The world’s definition of beauty only makes matters worse. The world tells us to be beautiful, we must have no defects, we must remain forever young, and we must maintain a perfect figure and have a “cover girl” face. I don’t know about you, but I don’t measure up to this image. And that depresses me because I long to be beautiful, successful, and confident.

Did you know the desire to be beautiful comes from God? However, because we live in a fallen world, we seek the good things of God in unhealthy ways. God’s definition of beauty is different from Hollywood’s.

“Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful” (1Peter 3:4).

When I read what God says is beautiful, I realized I had allowed the world to shape my understanding about beauty instead of my Creator. God says it’s a quite and gently spirit is more beautiful than the latest fashion.

Our world encourages women to cultivate a beauty that only last for a brief amount of time. God encourages women to cultivate a beauty that will never fade, but will only grow more attractive with the passing of time. In fact, when you become more and more the woman God has created you to be, there will be something beautiful about you that has nothing to do with outward beauty.

I decided from that day forward to stop the negative self-talk and look into the mirror of God’s Word to see what He thinks of me. It was life changing.

Today, I’m confident—not in myself—but in who God says I am. This didn’t happen over night. It took more than reading and memorizing verses that describe the way God sees me. It took faith. I had to believe His Word over my negative thoughts. Once I believed—really believed the transformation began.

Allow me to share what God says about you!

1.)  You Are Loved (John 3:16). God so loves you he withheld nothing—giving his only Son to die in your place

2.)  You Are Chosen (1Peter 2:9). Before God created the heavens and earth, He chose you to be his very own.

3.)  You Are Wonderfully And Fearfully Made (Ps 139: 14) God designed you in your mother’s womb. He planned your eye color, hair color and skin color to fulfill a specific purpose that is yours alone.

4.)  You Are Beautiful In His Sight (Song of Solomon 4:7, Gen 1:31). You were created in God’s image, and He declares all his work is wonderful! Including you!

5.)  You Are Forgiven (Eph 1:7). God doesn’t draw back from your sin. He draws near and forgives all.

6.)  You Have A Future (Jeremiah 29:11). When you think you’re at the end of your rope, you’re not at the end of hope. God has promised you a bright future.

7.)  You Are Part Of A Royal Priesthood (1Peter 2:9). You have purpose. God calls you to minister to others as he has ministered to you.

8.)  You Are An Overcomer (1John 4:4). Hang-ups, habits and hurts can’t keep you down because greater is the Spirit in you than the spirit of this world.

9.)  You Are Empowered (2Corn 13:4). The same power that raised Christ from the dead lives in you daily!

10) You Belong To God (John 1:12). You are a child of God because you have believed.

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February 25, 2014

God Cares For You

God must have anticipated certain events in the lives of His children that would cause them to become “worry-warts.” Even the most mature Christians today are quick to labor under the burden of anxious and excessive care such as personal concerns, family woes, cares for the present, and cares for the future. The Apostle Peter saw this anxious care as a heavy burden and offered us some wise counsel for dealing with it. Peter’s advice is to cast all our cares upon God. We are to throw the cares that distract us, wound our bodies and souls, and lay heavy on our hearts, upon the wise and gracious providence of God. You can do that because “he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7) Isn’t that amazing? You and I don’t have to carry the burden of our worries. God is willing to release us from our cares, and take our concerns upon Himself.

That sounds great. I have no problem casting my cares upon God. At first, the weight is lifted until God doesn’t respond to my need like I think He should. Then, it becomes hard for me not retrieve the burden.

After I lost my husband, I suffered with severe stomach pain. It was how my body dealt with the stress. I assumed by casting my situation on God and asking him to carry the burden meant that my stomach troubles would go away. The burden of not going to counseling once a week and not having that extra bill to pay was expected when I gave it over to God as well. But none of that ceased. I kept having stomach pain, which meant I still needed counseling for my grief. I had also hoped that the counselor would at least ease my debt, instead, she went up on her prices. What was the point of giving my burden to God in the first place if he wasn’t going to make it all go away? I wondered.

The point is this. When you and I cast our cares on God we are acknowledging that it’s His responsibility to care for us—not ours. We forget that God is painting on a large canvas. He sees the big picture. We only see what’s happening to us at the moment.

That’s why God allows events to come into our lives—good things and bad things; things that make sense and things that don’t. Every one of these incidents serves as part of his plan for our lives. What you and I may think is harmful and destructive God is using for our good—to bring us to completion in godly conduct and character. He will allow nothing to happen to us that isn’t first filtered through his screen of protection. In other words, what won’t destroy us God uses to better us. Ultimate harm would be if God left us in the state we are in.

During turbulent times, you and I have this promise. “We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed” (2 Corinthians 4: 8, 9; NIV).

God will not let our hardships destroy us. Though they may be tragic in and of themselves, He will use them for our good. You and I cast our worries on God because it’s His responsibility to give us what we need. As we trust him with the bigger picture of our lives, the weight is lifted and peace washes over our anxieties.

Why is it hard to let go of your burdens and trust them to God?

What is one way you can wait on God until He shows up with a solution? 

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February 20, 2014

Courageous Living

My daughter has struggled with fear her entire life. We first noticed it when she was a baby. She would hold her breath when we carried her down a flight of stairs. Then, at the age of five, she passed out while riding the Ferris wheel at the state fair. Her fears sometimes hinder her from even participating in life—from being an active contributor to society.

Over the years, my heart has broken for her as I’ve watched her hold back from doing the things she really wanted to do. Playing it safe only left her depressed. She lived most days looking at the world from behind a wall of safety glass, longing to be free. She’d often ask the same question, “Mom, why can’t I be full of faith instead of fear?” My answer was always the same. “You are full of faith. You just let fear crowd it out.”

Freedom came when Peyton decided that she didn’t want to live with regrets any longer. She pushed through her fear by exercising her faith in God. In doing so, her life is now marked by joy, peace, and courage.

Let me ask you, “How many times have you wanted to do something, plan something or even dare to dream, but you were too afraid?” You know deep within that your torment isn’t right. You know you’re missing out on life and opportunities, but you’re too scared to do anything about it.

Those of us who live with anxiety are living below the mark of what we were created to be. Worry and its accompanying emotions are not and never were part of God’s plan for His children. Yet thousands live this way each day.

I’ve often wondered about the eleven disciples who stayed in the boat instead of stepping out onto the water like Peter (Matt 14:33). Did they live with regret? I don’t know. They did, however, miss an amazing opportunity to walk on water with Christ! Sadly, most people stay in the safety of the boat their entire lives and then wonder why life seems so empty, miserable, and dull. They go through life missing opportunities because they’re afraid to really live the way God intended. What’s Christ response to all of this? “O man of little faith. Why do you doubt me?”

Doubt was the disciples’ trouble. When Peter threw one leg over the side of the boat, nobody believed he could walk on water. I can almost hear his friends calling out, “Peter? Have you lost your mind? You can’t do that!” And yet, while that thought was still fresh on the minds of his friends, Peter was already doing it. He was walking on water!

Is there someone in your life planting doubt in your heart and mind over something you’re already doing? If so, don’t listen. Don’t look back. Keep your eyes on Jesus and your faith will enable you to walk on water. Exercising your faith is key to courageous living. Like Peter, we are then able to step out of the boat into a world of possibilities.

Something to ponder:

Are you living with regrets due to fear?

What fears are you facing now?

What are you already doing that doubt is causing you to quit?

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February 14, 2014

God Still Speaks To Your Need

Gripped by the sorrow after Porter’s tragic death, I turned to God’s Word hoping to find answers. I desperately needed to know why the God I had loved since I was a little child would take away my life and my happiness. Instead of finding answers, I found something more precious than gold—God’s living Word.

Suddenly, I no longer needed to know, “Why?” I needed to know “Who” was the God of the bible.

Did you know that God speaks through His Word? Have you ever stopped to consider that when you are reading the Bible God is speaking directly to you? Oh, the things He has to tell us. God didn’t stop communicating with His people thousands of years ago as some speculate. Through His Word, He still communicates with us today about whom He is, His ways and His purposes for our lives.

As I began to really see God through His Word, the Bible became more precious than gold to me. I discovered that God was not my betrayer or a cold dictator. It’s through His Word that I heard Him whisper to my heart; “I am the all sufficient-one, your stronghold, your refuge and your strength. I am your ever-present help in times of trouble.”

Night, after lonely night, My Lord was faithful to meet me in my pain. His Word became the healing ointment that soothed my broken heart as He rebuilt its crumbled ruins. As I listened and obeyed His Word, it became even more precious proving true through and through. Soon, I found myself in love again. This time, the love of my life was God Himself.

How can you hear God speak to you from His Word? God is speaking to you when He nudges your heart, or when a verse pops from the page. Often the Lord is speaking when your eyes direct you back to a verse you have just read. When you encounter Him speaking to you in this way, stop and respond accordingly because He building a relationship with you. Your heavenly Father is reveling His ways and purposes for your life.

For example, when God revels something new to you about His character—stop and praise God for His greatness. When His Word convicts you—stop and ask for forgiveness and a pure heart. When His Word comforts you—stop there and rest in the arms of your Father while thanking Him for His mercy. As you learn to listen, you will learn about who He is, how to be His child, and the purpose God has for your life.

Once I learned to truly communicate with the Lord between the living pages, I developed a deeper relationship with Him. My faith deepened and my love grew for God and His ways.  I discovered I am never along. I have a daily compainon that loves me beyond measure and is ready to meet my needs.

Open your bible and let God speak to your heart today.

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