7 So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. 8 All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. 9 I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. 11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”


When I was just in highschool, I was told by a close friend of mine that I had a tendency to be negative. Oh, when she told me that I felt a loathing I hadn’t felt before. I started thinking of other people I thought that about myself and how they drained the energy from me, and… How could she think that of me? But, I started paying closer attention to my conversation and reactions, etc., and, to my horror, I realized she was right. I cannot tell you how much I hated to admit to that.

At that point, I made it my priority to change that about myself. I didn’t want to be known as the “Debbie Downer” or “Negative Nancy” among my peers. Months went by, and with much effort I took time to think about the words that would escape my lips. But, the thoughts that entered my mind were another story. Although the negativity I dwelt on didn’t get a voice, it still caused damage to my inner peace.

I got so frustrated with myself. What’s wrong with me? Why can’t I fix this? I’m trying so hard!

And then I read this Scripture.

The most important line would be the last- “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” When Jesus gave His life for us, it wasn’t just for our salvation. He ever lives to make intercession for us; to take our sorrows, our grief, our fears, our weaknesses, etc. He came that we may have life… abundant life!

Abundant- more than adequate; well-supplied; abounding; richly supplied; lavish.

When I read that, something new registered with me. I claimed to be a follower of Christ, and yet, for some reason, I didn’t feel that my life was “abounding or richly supplied.” Oh, how wrong I was! I realized I needed to work on the relationship I had with Him. Something was off. I should be experiencing unspeakable joy (1 Peter 1:8), sustainable peace (Colossians 3:15), and overflowing thankfulness (Colossians 2:7). Going forward I determined that my outlook would be clearer and my life would be lived differently.

I can’t say it’s always been easy. There’ve been periods throughout my life that were trying. I battled fear and frustration. Defeat knocked at my door. My words stayed positive, but my mind needed redemption at times. But, that was okay. I knew Who I could lean on and trust to redirect my thoughts. (2 Corinthians 10:3-5)

Just today I heard a clip of a sermon that resonated within me. When you ask, “Why does the enemy keep attacking me?” Remember, it’s because you won’t go down! If you have to face sickness, do it while rebuking it in the name of Jesus. When regret and loss bring you to tears, quote verses of hope through your crying. Should fear take a tight grip on your life, plead the blood of The One that can break every chain!

He came so we could live an abundant life! We will not be defeated! We are blessed, protected, cherished, and provided for! We are His.

Let’s take the words of Apostle Paul and pray them over our lives today:


Prayer: “But we have this treasure… to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.” We can live life abundantly because of You, Jesus. We thank You for that today!


“Withholding Nothing”

(2 Corinthians 9: 11-14)11 Yes, you will be enriched in every way so that you can always be generous. And when we take your gifts to those who need them, they will thank God. 12 So two good things will result from this ministry of giving—the needs of the believers in Jerusalem will be met, and they will joyfully express their thanks to God.  13 As a result of your ministry, they will give glory to God. For your generosity to them and to all believers will prove that you are obedient to the Good News of Christ. 14 And they will pray for you with deep affection because of the overflowing grace God has given to you.

Finances are a touchy subject for so many of us.  Some of us have been through some really hard times, and had nothing but our own hard work to pull us out of the ditch.  Some of us have had some help from loved ones along the way.  Some of us are still in the struggle, just trying to get through to the next pay period.  For so many of us, it’s been a fight.  I’ve felt that way a lot in my own life…like it’s just always a climb, and never that exhilarating coast downhill.  In fact, my husband and I were just recently talking about how even though we are making more money these days, we still seem to have those really hard weeks when things are just super tight.  The truth is, we aren’t always the best stewards that we can be with our money.  We are faithful with our tithe and offering, and we often go the extra mile in situations where we see need, but we just aren’t always very mindful, I guess you could say.  We can, and should, do better.  Why??  Because when we are good stewards with every penny, we are showing God that we can be trusted with more.  I have always said that I would like to be wealthy enough to be able to give to my heart’s content.  That truly is my desire, but how can I ever expect God to entrust me with abundance if I am too frivolous with what little I have now? 

When God blesses you financially, don’t raise your standard of living. Raise your standard of giving.

-Dr. Mark Batterson

Instead of going out and making unnecessary upgrades to our lives — just because — we must make it a habit to first pause and ask God what He would have us do with our increase.  Sometimes, it is that upgrade you’ve been longing for…just because.  But other times?  Other times — often much of the time — there is someone out there who needs it more than we need something shiny and fun.  We have to be sensitive to what God is doing around us, and let Him do some of it through us as well.  When you see a need, respond.  When you feel that internal push to give, don’t hesitate…just respond.  Folks, it’s just money.  It’s a tool — an avenue — that can change someone else’s life more than you would imagine. 

When we are able to let go of our finances, to release that control and allow God’s perfect will for our earnings to take place, that is when blessings will flow and create a ripple effect.  When we give, it doesn’t just allow God to bless our own lives with more, it allows someone else to experience the peace of provision.  What’s even more though, the love of God becomes evident in the lives of all who are blessed by this intricate, endless domino effect that you have begun.  It’s a beautiful thing. 

So let me encourage you today, to prayerfully consider what kind of steward you truly are with your money.  Look for opportunities to do whatever you can to make someone else’s life just a little bit easier. 

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, you know my heart so well.  You see my inner desires, and you know that part of who I am and what makes me tick is my desire to be a blessing…to be helpful to others.  So I ask that would help me use wisdom to be a better steward of my finances, so that I can give as much money, love, and provision as I can, to people who need it more than I do.  As always, all of the glory goes to You, Lord.  Amen. 

THAT’S the Difference Maker!

Exodus 33:12-17- Moses said to the Lord, “See, You say to me, ‘Bring up this people,’ but You have not let me know whom You will send with me. Yet, You have said, ‘I know you by name, and you have also found favor in My sight.’ Now therefore, if I have found favor in Your sight, please show me now Your ways, that I may know You…” And He said, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” And he (Moses) said unto Him, “If Your presence will not go with me, do not bring us up from here. For how shall it be known that I have found favor in Your sight; I and Your people? Is it not in Your going with us that makes us distinct, I and Your people, from every other people on the face of the earth?” And the Lord said to Moses, “This very thing that you have spoken, I will do, for you have found favor in My sight, and I know you by name.”


Moses has had quite the ride by this point in his life, no doubt. And, as we have previously read, he was getting up there in age. This is probably my own interpretation of this passage of Scripture, but when I read it, I see a very tired man, just ready to stay put for awhile. You know, take a break… bask in God’s blessing. But, then his whole world is rocked again. God’s commanding him to take the people of Israel and move on from Sinai. I imagine Moses thinking, “What? Another long and hard journey with this mumbling, grumbling bunch of people? Do I really have to do this again? Will any other nation try to destroy us? We’re unsettled and have no place to call our own… easy targets. Will I have protection?”

But, God, understanding and caring about his concerns, assures Moses that He will be accompanying them on this trip. (My presence will go with you…)

With those words, I see (a still very much exhausted) Moses, take a deep breath- full of surrender- (maybe even chuckle a bit as he has learned by this time that God’s way is best) as he relents his argument and says, “Ok… but only because You’re coming with us. If Your presence won’t be coming with me… just let us stay here… because YOU are what makes our journeying different than everyone else’s!

I love that. It reminds me that just because I’m a Christian and have the favor of God overshadowing my life, doesn’t mean I get to find a comfort zone and stay put the rest of my life. It means the exact opposite. God has a plan for my life- a specific plan- and it’s going to require me packing things back up and hitting the road, so to speak, over and over again. And, there may be times I find myself surrounded by a bunch of “Debbie Downers!” Still, His plan is always going to be the one that is greatest for my life. (He already knows how my story ends!)

There may be hardships along the way; times of disappointment and confusion, hurt and betrayal, fear and sorrow… An “easy” life is not what separates a believer from a non-believer. It rains on the just and the unjust. His presence. That’s the difference maker. Seeing His plan unfold in our lives, the evidence of His hand working on our behalf, and having peace during the most heartbreaking and chaotic moments- yeah… that’s what makes us distinct.

Take a moment to reflect on your life. Do you remember specific times God moved in a way that didn’t make sense, but somehow it happened and you were more than okay? Can you recall a moment of heartbreak, partnered with a grief so heavy you could hardly breathe, and yet, somehow, you managed to smile and put one foot in front of the other? Any frightening moments that were soon surpassed by an unexplainable, unspeakable joy? Unexpected blessings? Promotion? Dreamed of opportunities? Answered prayers?

That’s His favor… made possible by His presence in your life.

The Creator of all things sees you. He hears you. You matter to Him. He knows your name! As a child of God, this life- even at its worst- is incredible… because you will always overcome. He is with you on this journey. He fights for you, comforts and holds you… How blessed we are to dwell in His presence!


Prayer: Thank You, God, for this life You’ve given me. Thank You for walking right beside me each step of the way! Help me to never forget that Your presence is the most important thing in my life. It’s the very source of all my strength, rest, comfort, and joy. It is what sets apart a Christian’s life from everything else. I love You, Lord… more than I could ever say. Continue to walk close to me, and draw me closer to You. In Your precious name, amen.

Sometimes Ya Gotta Wrestle

Genesis 32:24-28- “And Jacob was left alone. And a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day. When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he touched his hip socket, and Jacob’s hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him. Then he said, ‘Let me go, for the day has broken.’ But Jacob said, ‘I will not let you go unless you bless me.’ And he said to him, ‘What is your name?’ And he said, ‘Jacob.’ Then he said, ‘Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed.’”

If you go back and read the chapters leading up to this story, you’ll understand that Jacob was weary. His mind, his body, and his spirit… I’m sure were worn out. He’d been done wrong by his wife’s family, and he was afraid of his own.

(Genesis 31:4-7- So Jacob… said…, “I see that your father does not regard me with favor as he did before. But the God of my father has been with me. You know that I have served your father with all my strength, yet your father has cheated me… But God did not permit him to harm me.”)

(Genesis 32:6-11- And the messengers returned to Jacob, saying, “We came to your brother Esau, and he is coming to meet you, and there are 400 men with him…” Then Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed… …. And Jacob said, “Oh, God,… please deliver me from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau, for I fear him, that he may come and attack me…”)

In life crises such as these, I’m sure it would’ve caused him mental exhaustion, anxiety, and deep sorrow. Still, he pressed on. And then when he was staring God in the face, he continued to strive some more. He didn’t wallow in his situation. He didn’t take residence in his state of fear. He didn’t make a place for distress to feel at home. No. He wrestled through the night. He wasn’t going to let go – He wasn’t going to give up – until God blessed him.

Have you ever felt like you’ve been praying about the same situation for an extremely long time? Weeks, months, even years go by and you’re still asking God to move on your behalf? Whispering prayers throughout the day; calling out to Him in the evening. Kind of like you’re “wrestling” with Him?

I have. And I’m sure I’m not the only one.

My husband and his family prayed for my father-in-law’s salvation for over 13 years. Can you imagine the nights it must have started feeling like an impossible feat? All their efforts and time; all those wishes and hopes; I’m sure they were starting to seem as nothing more. Still, they didn’t give up. They continued to “wrestle.”

I only met my father-in-law one time before he gave his life to the Lord. That’s right. After 13 years of no desire to change, one night my father-in-law (to be) couldn’t sleep. As soon as the sun came up that next morning, he made his way to a church and within mere minutes he was crying tears of joy, as he’d made up his mind to follow Jesus.

All those weary moments vanished from memory for my husband and his family. The nights that left my mother-in-law exhausted from wrestling loneliness, concern, and unanswered questions… well, they no longer existed. They wouldn’t give up – they wouldn’t let go – until they got their blessing.

And they did.

Sometimes, I believe we let go just a little too soon. We quit right before the progress is made. Moments before the answer comes, we turn and walk the other way. We unknowingly put time limits and stipulations on the way God should move, and when those things don’t seem possible anymore, we convince ourselves that He’s already said “No.” But, His ways are higher than ours and He is not restricted by time. So while He’s working… sometimes, we must wrestle. We have to endure to the end… of every situation. While He is more than capable of doing anything simply by speaking the command, He knows we will benefit most by being a little more involved. Spiritual blessing, a lot of times, must be preceded by physical effort. We must press on and keep fighting. That’s how we prevail. That’s when we receive blessing.

Prayer: Jesus, thank You for bringing so much good out of bad situations. Thank You for teaching me about patience and endurance… and for allowing opportunities to come my way that strengthen my faith and grow my trust in You. I know that You are for me and desire only good things for me, so in times where I must “wrestle,” help me remember there is always a reason and a blessing on the other side. I love You, Lord. Continue to build my endurance. In Your name I pray this. Amen.

Hold Out For The Best

(Genesis 24:1-8 ESV) “1 Now Abraham was old, well advanced in years. And the LORD had blessed Abraham in all things. 2 And Abraham said to his servant, the oldest of his household, who had charge of all that he had, “Put your hand under my thigh, 3 that I may make you swear by the LORD, the God of heaven and God of the earth, that you will not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I dwell, 4 but will go to my country and to my kindred, and take a wife for my son Isaac.” 5 The servant said to him, “Perhaps the woman may not be willing to follow me to this land. Must I then take your son back to the land from which you came?” 6 Abraham said to him, “See to it that you do not take my son back there. 7 The LORD, the God of heaven, who took me from my father’s house and from the land of my kindred, and who spoke to me and swore to me, ‘To your offspring I will give this land,’ he will send his angel before you, and you shall take a wife for my son from there. 8 But if the woman is not willing to follow you, then you will be free from this oath of mine; only you must not take my son back there.””

As I grow older, I become more convinced that God has a master plan that is being worked out in the spiritual realm. Since He knows the end from the beginning, He knows in advance where life’s chess pieces will land. My choices are not a surprise to Him and He is definitely not saying, “Oh, that one caught me by surprise.” He is not in Heaven wringing His fatherly hands wondering what His next move should be. NO! He is already aware and is commanding angels in the unseen realm to set the table of blessing.

Abraham made it very clear to his servant what his wishes were as it pertained to choosing a wife for Isaac. Either a woman from his country and clan would return to marry Isaac, or there would be no wedding at all. No Canaanites. No relocating Isaac. No compromise! “The LORD, the God of heaven…will send his angel before you, and you shall take a wife for my son from there.” Period. Done deal. Finito. In his best Jesus voice, “It is finished.”  Good for you, Abraham!

By reading the rest of the story we learn that God remained faithful to His promise to Abraham and provided a beautiful young woman named Rebekah to be Isaac’s wife. Coincidence? Or, Divine providence? Consider the timing of Abraham’s servant, the arrival of Rebekah at just the time he needed water, the exact words spoken that had been secretly uttered in prayer. A coincidence? Nope. God was directing the activities of this historic scene through the activity of angelic beings.

Today, let me encourage you to take a chill pill… relax in your Rhema… Refuse to accept second best when God has already promised the VERY best.

PRAYER: Father, I have seen with my spirit eyes what I believe you intend to do in me and through me. Help me to remain focused on that vision. After all, that’s the vision which will bring YOU the most glory! Amen. 

Before The Blessing Comes

(Genesis 41:38-40 ESV) And Pharoah said to his servants, “Can we find a man like this, in whom is the Spirit of God?” Then Pharoah said to Joseph, “Since God has shown you all this, there is none so discerning and wise as you are. You shall be over my house, and all my people shall order themselves as you command. Only as regards to the throne will I be greater than you.”

I think it’s safe to say that we all want God’s best blessings in our lives. Right? The problem is that we often disqualify ourselves by not properly understanding how to position ourselves to receive.

If the Spirit of God dwells in us, we have the necessary elements to fulfill our purpose. But, we must learn to live in the reality of God’s promises whether they are visible or not.

Joseph lived daily with the knowledge of his purpose, but had yet to see it materialize. He was unjustly imprisoned, kept in a PITiful place, where he was denied the basics of proper hygiene. He spent everyday in the presence of others whose fate appeared as dreadful as his. It certainly did not seem like the kind of place where dreams could come true. So, how did Joseph respond?

Instead of being poisened by anger he became positioned by action!

Prior to Joseph’s promotion, he acted with kindness toward other prisoners. He lived in such a way that evidenced an indwelling Spirit of God. He shaved! Don’t let that slip by. He didn’t approach Pharoah with a rebellious attitude that could have kept him from the presence of the very man who could facilitate his dream. Instead, he went to great lengths to present himself in the most favorable light. And it paid off BIG!

(Genesis 41: 50-52 ESV) Before the year of famine came, two sons were born to Joseph. Asenath, the daughter of Potiphera priest of On, bore them to him. Joseph called the name of the firstborn Manasseh. “For,” he said, “God has made me FORGET ALL MY HARDSHIP and all my father’s house.” The name of the second he called Ephraim, “For God has made me FRUITFUL IN THE LAND of my affliction.”

If God made a promise to you, He will put everything in place to see that promise fulfilled. Your responsibility is to be positioned to receive it! So, get ready.

PRAYER: Father, I’m grateful for what you have planned for me. Help me to live in such a way that when I am called for, I will be positioned properly to release the anointing you have reserved for me. Amen!

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