“Speak Life”

(Mark 5: 35-43) 35 While he was still talking, some people came from the leader’s house and told him, “Your daughter is dead. Why bother the Teacher any more?” 36 Jesus overheard what they were talking about and said to the leader, “Don’t listen to them; just trust me.” 37-40 He permitted no one to go in with him except Peter, James, and John. They entered the leader’s house and pushed their way through the gossips looking for a story and neighbors bringing in casseroles. Jesus was abrupt: “Why all this busybody grief and gossip? This child isn’t dead; she’s sleeping.” Provoked to sarcasm, they told him he didn’t know what he was talking about. 40-43 But when he had sent them all out, he took the child’s father and mother, along with his companions, and entered the child’s room. He clasped the girl’s hand and said, “Talitha koum,” which means, “Little girl, get up.” At that, she was up and walking around! This girl was twelve years of age. They, of course, were all beside themselves with joy. He gave them strict orders that no one was to know what had taken place in that room.

Did you ever hear that the strongest muscle in the human body is the tongue?  Most of us have heard so at some point, and though this little “fun fact” ins’t exactly true, the tongue is pretty fascinating when you think about it.  It can twist, it can bend, it can cup, and it’s often used playfully to blow raspberries and to make silly faces.  Interestingly enough, it isn’t just one muscle — it’s a network of several muscles, giving it the ability to bend and flex in many different ways, enabling us to speak, eat, drink, and swallow.  What is most amazing though, is that the tongue NEVER TIRES!  Think about that for a minute.  The one thing that is probably the most difficult for us to control and tame is also the one part of our bodies that never grows weary.  You know, much of what happens in the physical realm of our lives mirrors what is going on spiritually, so it does make sense that our tongues can get totally out of control when we don’t monitor it properly.  It’s like an annoying toy with brand new batteries (yeah, I was thinking of the Energizer Bunny too!) — eventually you’d have to stop being lazy and actually make the effort to reach over and physically turn that thing off! 

There is power in what we say.  The Bible tells us that, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.”  (Proverbs 18:21)  Our words verbalize what we are already thinking and feeling.  That is why we so often find ourselves with a “foot” in our mouths — because eventually what we truly believe comes spewing out, and it can be hurtful or embarrassing much of the time.  My grandmother used to tell me that there is always a little truth to every joke…you know, when you say something a that’s little mean and you quickly bandage it with a “just kidding” or a wink.  Be honest, if you didn’t think it…even just for a moment…it could never come out of your mouth.  Luke 6:45 says,  “A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart.”  Your words may not always be the truth, but they’re definitely your truth…reflecting what you think, what you feel, and who you are inside. 

The bottom line is that we are Christians, striving to live our lives as a reflection of Jesus, and as such we have to monitor what we say very closely.  When Jairus’ daughter died, all of the people surrounding his home began to chatter and gossip and speak death into Jairus’ ears.  Their words were a reflection of their measures of faith.  Jesus never once said that the girl was dead and that he would raise her from such.  Instead, He just spoke words of life.  What we speak into the lives of others can be life-changing.  A simple compliment can turn someone’s entire day around for the better…life.  A cutting remark can take root and hang on for a lifetime…death.   We must speak life, as much and as often as we possibly can!  We each have a powerful tool that never gets tired, so let’s use it the way our Lord intended us to— by confessing our sins and praying, by singing praises, by telling others of His love and faithfulness, and by encouraging one another with truth and love.

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.  (Ephesians 4:29)

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, I don’t ever want to be the Debbie Downer, busybody gossip standing outside with a casserole.  Instead, help me to bridle my tongue when it gets to flapping, so that I can instead be a Peter, a James, or a John — full of faith and life-giving words.  I want to be on the inside with You, Lord, where healing and life take place.  Amen.    

“Come to Me”

(Matthew 11: 28-30, The Message) “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

If you have come to the place where you are so tired that you’re saying it every day, and you’re dreading doing the things that you once loved to do, then you’ve gone too far for too long. 

When we think about strongholds in our lives, our minds typically go to the “big” things like anxiety, depression, or addiction (to name a few), but did you know that being overtired can also be a stronghold over you?  A stronghold is something that is part of your life that you cannot seem to bring under control.  Strongholds are lies told by Satan, with which we have come into agreement.  These things take hold of parts of (or even all of) our lives, and we have adopted them as our norm.  Becoming too tired is a direct result of overcommitting and lack of self control.  We have to learn, at some point, to use wisdom when we are asked to do things.  We have to ask ourselves, “Is this too much for me right now?  Can I fully embrace this commitment with a Godly spirit of excellence?  Am I saying yes to this because of my flesh or because of my spirit?”  The lie here (that becomes a stronghold in our lives) is that if we say no we are not being good friends, children, spouses, parents, employees, or even Christians. 

The Bible reminds us in 2 Corinthians 10: 3-5, “We are human, but we don’t wage war as humans do. We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments. We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ.”  Every lie that Satan tells is evident when we recognize that if it is contrary to the word of God, if it keeps us from knowing and serving God with full and complete joy, then it is a LIE!  We have to expose these lies for what they are, and cast them down, as we have been given all of the power and authority by Jesus Christ to do! 

Being continually beat down, tired, sluggish and stressed is NOT part of God’s will for your life…nor for any of our lives.  It is bondage.  It keeps us from Him, it keeps our family lives in disarray, it tears down our physical wellness, and it slows our minds…leaving us vulnerable to spiritual and mental attacks from the enemy. 

So what do we do about it?  Well first of all, say no…and say it a lot, at least for a while.  Slow down and breathe.  Take time to enjoy things and people again.  Mediate on the word of God and ask the Lord to reveal the things in your life that have led you into bondage and allowed this stronghold to be built.  Then tear that sucker down!  Replace it with the good things that God intends for our lives, and make the Lord your fortress and shield against these kinds of attacks on your spirit. 

Remember 2 Timothy 1:7… “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”  We have power over the enemy when we recognize his wiles and reject his lies. 

Today and every day, begin anew, with a refreshed spirit and a new perspective on how you intend to lead your life from this point forward.  We have to be our best selves if we want to make any sort of difference in this world. 

St. Francis of Assisi once said, “Do few things but do them well.  Simple joys are holy.”  There is something quite sacred about taking the time to experience joy, and to be clear and focused enough to do few things with great excellence.  The result is a tremendous testimony and a positive witness to the grace and blessings that come from God our Father.  Do not let Satan lie to you any longer.  You do not have to be so tired. 

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, I cast down the strongholds of stress and exhaustion in my life and I replace them with joy and rest.  Thank you for making me whole, for giving me peace, and for helping me have the wisdom to see the lies of the enemy and the boldness to say no to the things that will cause me to become burned out and exhausted.  I embrace your perfect will for my life.  Amen.

“To Love the Unlovable”

(Luke 5: 29-32, NLT) 29 Later, Levi held a banquet in his home with Jesus as the guest of honor. Many of Levi’s fellow tax collectors and other guests also ate with them. 30 But the Pharisees and their teachers of religious law complained bitterly to Jesus’ disciples, “Why do you eat and drink with such scum?”

31 Jesus answered them, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do. 32 I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners and need to repent.”

 

At my son’s pediatrician’s office, there are two waiting rooms – one for sick children, and one for those who are well.  The purpose of separate waiting rooms is to keep the well children from getting sick, obviously.  Children are young, and they have weak immune systems, so they have to be protected from infection and disease.  But who is there with them?  Sick or well, who is by the side of each child?  And who is it that moves among them, reaching out to administer healing to the sick, and to make sure that the ones who are well stay well and continue to develop properly?

Just like children in a pediatrician’s waiting room, some of us are sick and some of us are well.  We are all growing – some of us are much less mature than others – some of us need more attention…more care – and the ones of us who are sick have to take precedence over those who are in good health.  That’s just the obvious, natural way of it.  Wouldn’t you be in shock if you were at the doctor’s office with your sick child and you kept seeing all of these well children getting called back while your baby is leaned up against you, helpless, miserable and worsening by the moment?  You’d probably get up out of that chair and find someone to confront – you would advocate for your helpless child, wouldn’t you?

Well there are a lot of sick and helpless children of God out there, and they are stuck in a waiting room and they need someone to speak up for them.  They need to see the doctor, and they just don’t know how to get there…nor do they have the strength to figure it all out.

Brothers and sisters, we are not called to sit amongst ourselves.  We are not called to simply live out the ideal – the American Dream.  We weren’t created to sit back and enjoy a good, privileged life in the “well” waiting room of life while others are struggling and hurting – sick and tired.  The fact is, we were each created according to the purpose and call of God for our lives – which is to further His kingdom, to reach out and love those who have been deemed unlovable, to be the literal and physical representation of Jesus Christ to a lost world that is broken by sin.  That’s it, folks.  That’s our collective purpose, and sometimes we have to step out of our now to assess the how how are we living out that purpose?

The truth of the matter is that we often get wrapped up in each other – in our church lives –  and, subsequently, the heart of what we should be trying to accomplish gets lost amid the fellowship, the fundraisers, the projects, the systems, and even our worship.  Don’t misunderstand me…I fully recognize the importance of these routines.  We have to minister to the body, and it has be done in a very different way than how we reach out to the rest of the world, but we do have to continually ask ourselves, “Are we reaching far enough?”

“Healthy people don’t need a doctor – sick people do.”

Jesus said it.  So the truth is, you’re probably going to have to associate with scum from time to time.  You might have to hug someone who is dirty.  You’ll probably have to go places that shock you and make you sad from time to time.  That’s part of it, because that’s our broken world.  That’s why we have to solidify our own faith and be the strongest and best that we can be, so that we are able to withstand the things that we encounter as we seek to fulfill our purpose as ambassadors for Christ in the world.

 

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, thank You for my life.  I know that I am blessed far beyond what I deserve, and I pray that You will help me to never forget that.  As I continue to grow and mature in You, give me all of the boldness and compassion that I need to reach beyond my surroundings and love those who are broken by life.  May it all be for Your glory and honor.  Amen. 

 

 

“There Will Come a Day”

I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them.  He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.”  And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!” And then he said to me, “Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.” And he also said, “It is finished! I am the Alpha and the Omega—the Beginning and the End. To all who are thirsty I will give freely from the springs of the water of life. All who are victorious will inherit all these blessings, and I will be their God, and they will be my children.  (Revelation 21: 3-7, NLT)

Of every promise in the Bible, this is the one that I hold onto with the most desperation.  I can’t tell you the many times that I have had to close my eyes for just a moment to meditate on this very thing – to know, on the bad days…when I am hurting…when I am frustrated…when I am lowly and discouraged, that one day I have the promise of EVERYTHING being made new…restored…perfected…that one day my tears will forever be wiped away by the very hand that created me.  That’s something I can be comforted by no matter what happens.

I can’t help but wonder…what will that feel like?  It is truly unimaginable!  We live amongst so much heartache and hatred.  We face it every day of our lives.  It’s in everything that we watch and listen to, and it’s on the faces of strangers that we encounter, and even in the eyes of our loved ones.   Because of the rapid progression of sin in our world, hostility, distrust and heavyheartedness have become commonplace for us all.  We are used to it, so a life lived without that is not something that I think any of us could ever envision.  However, even though I can’t fathom it, I desire it.  Life without worry, pain, uncertainty, and depression – without hatred, vengefulness, mockery, and prejudice – without death, destruction, destitution, and despair – I don’t know this life…but I want to live it.  I am not worthy of this sort of freedom, but because of God’s love for me, for us, it is a gift that He stands holding out to us.  We simply have to reach out to Him and accept it.

It’s like a gift card.  It may not seem like much at the moment – just a seemingly small thing – but it holds so much promise!  I can tuck it away, and sometimes just knowing that it’s there is enough to make me smile.  When I am having a bad day, I know that I have the promise of something good, something that is completely free to me.  Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts, Chick-fil-A, they are all great and something nice to look forward to, but SALVATION, PEACE, ETERNAL JOY… now those are promises that I can live for each day!

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, thank You for the promise of a day when we all will forever be reunited with You.  Though things here get worse what seems like every day, there is nothing I can’t endure when I know that I have the fully redeemable gift of freedom in You that never expires.  Until that day, I will hold onto that assurance, and I will give this life the best of me while I am here.  May it be all for Your glory.  Amen.

“All the things we want are free…”

(1 John 2: 15-17) 15 Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. 16 For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world. 17 And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever.

There is freedom in simplicity. 

I always thought by now that my life would be much different than it is.  I must admit, I have been guilty of measuring my success by the standards of society, against the “American Dream,” and by what I have seen in the lives of others my age.  I had imagined more kids, a quiet and settled life in a house somewhere on a shaded street, and a general feeling of easiness that I thought (for some reason unbeknownst to me) would come to my life.  I had been lied to by life…by the things that I’d seen and been enticed to dream of for myself…and it took growing (both in age and in spirit) to realize that this particular ideal is not for everyone…

Everything that the world has to offer comes with a price, and it’s up to us to decide (because God is merciful and allows us the freedom of choice), “Am I willing to pay that price?”  The world is full of things that have been white-washed and bedazzled…situations and circumstances that have been made to look like the norm…all of which begin to feel like expectations…and when we are not careful about our intentions and our plans, we begin to desire much more than we are ever able to attain without greatly sacrificing our time, our resources, and our core values.  That same desire then twists our dreams until they morph into pressures and burdens, and we then become oppressed by a distortion of what used to be pure intentions and innocent goals. 

There isn’t anything wrong with working hard to provide nice things for yourself and/or your family, but what can easily happen is, when you become so focused on (and distracted by) perfection and living up to the rest of the world’s standards, you begin to want more and more…and nothing is ever going to be good enough again.  You see, when the things of this world become your ultimate goal and prize, there is no space left in your life for Christ to live and move.  You may have the house, the cars, the gadgets…you may take big vacations and have the grandest Christmases and birthdays…but at what price?  Do you work so hard, at two and three jobs sometimes, just to maintain a way of life that you really can’t afford?  Are you so deep in debt that you can’t ever see a way out of it?  Do you miss out on making memories and spiritual connections with friends and loved ones because you are always going and working?  Do you forfeit your time in worship because your work comes first?  These are questions you absolutely must be asking yourselves.  We have to be honest with ourselves about our intentions…about the what and why of our lives…because much of the time we are paying a much higher price than we should. 

Matthew 6: 33 tells us, Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.

I want to encourage you today, if you have been moving at a pace that is unhealthy both physically and spiritually…if you have lost sight of your purpose and God’s will for your family…if you have become beguiled and distracted by what the world has dangled in front of you all of your life, there is always hope…there is always peace…and there is freedom in simplicity.  Scale back financially.  Make time to sit down and truly enjoy your family.  Give as much and as often as you can.  Just slow down!!  And minimize the stuff.  Keep God at the head and the center of your life, and trust Him enough to let Him take the lead.  Let go.

Free

All those memories

Free

Didn’t cost us anything

All the shiny cars, perfect yards

Chasin’ store bought dreams

We work so hard to have it all

When all the things we want are free

– Free by Little Big Town

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, I realize that I cannot love both the world and You, so I ask that You would forgive me for setting my sights on excess when I know that as long as I seek You above all else, I have all that I will ever need.  I pray that as I let go of the distractions of the world, and I fix my eyes on You, that You would help me to revel in the sweet, simple things of life that are freely given to me by Your kindness and grace.  Thank You for the freedom of simplicity that is found when I am obedient to You.  Amen.

“It’s Gonna Be Worth It All”

(James 1: 14-15, NLT) 14 Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. 15 These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death.

I love to plant flowers and tend to them.  I always have.  I even love the satisfaction that comes from pulling weeds.  Each spring/summer, I almost always have a plan as to what flowers and greenery I am going to purchase, and how I’m going to get it all situated in my landscaping and various pots.  It is almost therapeutic to me, and I can’t wait to get my hands in the soil — bringing my imaginings to life!  However, this year, my heart just wasn’t in it.  I had a VERY stressful fall and winter, and by the time spring and summer came around, all I wanted to do was just be a little lazy before the busyness of my summer schedule began. 

So the plant sales came and went, and I bought nothing.  Planting time got away from me.  So I thought, “Well, I will just mulch, and weed, and water my perennials, and it will still be beautiful.”  However…I never bought the mulch…and though I pulled a few of the bigger weeds here and there, the usual glory of my summer flower beds was regrettably absent.  Each time I would walk past my empty pots and lackluster flower beds, I would feel this pang of what almost felt like guilt…and I would self-soothe with thoughts like, “It’s just one summer.  It’s not like it looks bad.”  And it didn’t…look bad, that is. 

Then…I got busy…as I always do in the summer.  So far I have spent a total of 4 weeks away from my home, only coming in for a few days here and there.  As you can imagine, things have become to look not-so-pretty.  Yesterday after church, I decided to take a little time for myself to lie out on my chair in the sun.  I went out, got myself situated and I settled in for some tanning.  As I sang along to John Mayer and sipped on my ice water, I began to look around…and there was that guilt again.  I looked to my left and I saw a rose bush entangled with some sort of vine-like weed that was curling its tendrils around many of the branches of my poor, bug-chomped roses.  Then I looked even further still at my hostas and my hydrangea, drooping from the summer heat and lack of daily waterings.  My hydrangea, which has always been a show-stopping shock of gorgeous, blueish-purple blossom bunches, had but one sad head that was droopy and pale.  My hostas were half the size they usually are at this point, and also had several of the same vines attempting to take them over.  I looked down to see that some large weed stalks (milkweed and dandelion) had also taken root among my day lilies.  In that moment, I was overcome with disappointment in myself.  I saw something that I had always loved deeply being overtaken by an army of unwelcome terrorists, simply because I had been lazy and selfish during the most important season for this little garden of mine.  So I got up, indignant, and I began to yank at weeds — bare feet and all — cursing them through my tears of frustration and anger at myself.  And I as I pulled and stepped on thorns, I began to receive revelation from God.  Isn’t it just like Him to use something as simple as a weed infested garden to gently teach a lesson? 

Our spiritual lives are much like my poor flower beds.  When we neglect them, even just for a season, things quickly get out of hand.  We can’t allow the enemy even one second of opportunity to sow seeds of doubt and sin into our lives.  Those weeds grow so fast.  We have only to turn our heads for one moment and they have sprung up out of the ground, grasping onto and choking out the nearest bit of beauty and life that they can find.  Sin, when left to grow and flourish, so quickly becomes an overwhelming force.  We may see one little thing that needs to be uprooted, yet in our laziness we think we will just take care of it later…but then later comes and that one little thing has reinforcements!  Friends, we have to uproot those weeds every single day.  It is an ongoing process that never ends, and as long as we stay on top of it — proactive and aware — it will never be too much for us to handle.  We just have to be vigilant.  And when we do go through lazy seasons…when it does get out of hand…we have to be willing to get up and fight. 

For the parents, we have to be just as vigilant with our children.  We can never let down our guards against the enemy.  He is seeking out our children, hungry for them, lurking at the ready to wrap his tendrils around their branches and squeeze the life and beauty from their blossoming souls.  We are parents, guardians, protectors…and we must never give up on our children — our future. 

When we are able to clear the ground of all of the junk that has been trying to take over, that is when we are able to confidently spread it with that protective layer of nourishing mulch — a covering of prayer — and plant those seeds of faith, hope, and love — the Word of God — drenching it all each day with fresh water — praise and thanksgiving — so that we can look upon our gardens — our lives and our families’ lives — with the pride and joy that comes with knowing we have fought…and won.

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, thank You for the things that You teach me through the seemingly mundane parts of my life.  I am reminded, more and more, of just how important my life is to You…and of how much You truly do love us all.  Help me, Lord, to never give up the fight.  There is much beauty and joy to be found at the end of each battle.  It’s gonna be worth it all.  Amen.

Sink or Swim

(Philippians 2: 12-13)  Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear.  For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.

No one ever said it would be easy…this pursuit of righteousness that we begin when we choose to live for Christ.  In fact, sometimes doing what’s right is the absolute hardest thing to do.  Sure, there are those who make righteousness and godliness look easy.  My grandmother was one of those people.  She just always did the right thing.  She was kind, thoughtful, reverent, prayerful, considerate, loving, generous, hard-working, accepting, forgiving, and just as Christ-like as a person could ever be.  Her life was a basket that was overflowing with every fruit of the spirit — and it spilled out into the paths of every person who ever had the pleasure of meeting her.  She made it look so easy.

Then there are people like me.  I have always sort of struggled with right and wrong.  I don’t typically see things in black and white, so the line between just seems a bit vague to me.  I’m a questioner and a skeptic, so I never take things as they are presented to me.  I want to know why.  I crave a deeper understanding.  I wanted to be one of those people who just ease into obedience and holiness without question, and I felt bad for having questions and for needing to know so much extra from God.  So many times I have stifled my own reservations and uncertainties, because I felt I should just be able to naturally trust and obey.  But it just isn’t easy for me…

But what are the “results” of our salvation?  Does that equate to ease and perfection?  Does that mean that we are all the same, without questions and struggles?  Of course not!  No!  These “results” are the obvious changes that are taking place in our lives as we go through our metamorphoses in Christ.  They are the things that make us unique individuals who are actively overcoming the battles that we face, both internally as well as on the surface. 

Whether we make it look easy, because it just somehow does come to us fluidly, never making any waves, or whether we are ones who jump in feet first and spend the majority of our swim thrashing and trying desperately to keep our heads above water, we are all in the same ocean together.  It’s a long swim, friends.  We are so blessed to have one another to hold onto when the waters get choppy and the waves overcome us.  We may look out at the vast and endless sea of our lives and think, “How can I do this with no end in sight?”  But God hasn’t called us to know it all — to have the answers we need.  He has called us to jump in, and our only job is to trust and obey, holding onto the anchor that is His word.  We can’t give up when it gets hard, because our lives are a testament to what He can and will do when we obey…so that others may see and know the beauty of this transfiguration that takes place when we offer our lives to Him. 

My life looks nothing like my grandmother’s life.  And do you know what?  That is okay.  It’s great even!  Because God created me to be exactly as I am.  My story will speak to others where my grandmother’s cannot.  My heart can go out to people that my grandmother’s could not.  My life is my own — in all of its frantic, mistake-laden, problematic flailing — it is mine, and I am going to work hard to show the results of my salvation.  When I mess up, I’ll keep on doggy-paddling, backstroking, treading water, or whatever I have to do!  Because I’ve come too far to drown now!

I can promise you this, you may not always want to do what’s right.  Sometimes it just feels good to be bad, because sin is what the flesh craves…day and night…and we tend to give into it from time to time.  However, remember that we are all works in progress.  God is doing a thing within us all — and if we are reverent, obedient, and daily seeking a deeper relationship with Him, then He will be faithful to His word…empowering us with the desire to please Him in every way with our lives.  Without Him, we simply cannot do it. 

It’s sink or swim, friends. 

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, when it feels like I’m in over my head, when things aren’t easy and I want to give up, help me to remember that I am not alone.  Give me every ounce of strength and desire that I need to keep my head above water…no matter what.  Amen.

“You Can Have It All, Lord”

(Isaiah 46: 3-4) 3 “Listen to me, descendants of Jacob, all you who remain in Israel. I have cared for you since you were born. Yes, I carried you before you were born. 4 I will be your God throughout your lifetime—until your hair is white with age. I made you, and I will care for you. I will carry you along and save you.

I occasionally catch myself in an ungrateful mindset.  I don’t mean to be that way, but I think sometimes my flesh just pushes me into wanting things to be a certain way, so I get unsettled and I see only the negative aspects of my surroundings.  It is easy to become engrossed in our everyday lives, and likewise distracted by feelings of displeasure and the desire to have it all just so. We busy ourselves with DIY projects and endless shopping excursions to find all of the perfect stuff to arrange in our homes, workspaces, and even our churches…just because we want things to be perfect.  We put thousands of dollars into education, savings…planning for a future we aren’t promised.  Hey, there’s nothing wrong with planning and bettering ourselves and our lives, but like they say, “all things in moderation.”  It can become a distraction…taking time, money, and effort away from what we should be doing.  Do our plans come from a Christ-centered place in our hearts, or from a place of worldliness? 

(James 1: 22-25) 22 But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. 23 For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. 24 You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. 25 But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.

All of which to say, now is not the time to get caught up in the mundane worries of life.  So your house is not what you picture in your head.  So you are not at the weight and/or size you’d like.  So you’d like to have an updated car.  So you haven’t achieved the goals you had set to reach by now.  That kind of stuff…it’s just not as important as we’ve come to believe that it is.  Instead of focusing on what you wish for, what you don’t have…why not begin each day with a thank you for what you do have?  Are your basic human needs provided for?  Do you have friends and family who love you?  I am betting on yes to both.  You’re way more blessed than you realize.  And why are we blessed?  So we can live, work, retire, and die?  Not a chance.  We are blessed to be a blessing to others.  We receive so that we can turn around and sow seed…grow something beautiful…all the while magnifying God to the world. 

If you have chosen to remain with God…faithful to Him in all ways…then He will never let you fall from His arms.  That’s a promise.  Whether or not you get what you want out of life, that’s just not a given.  You’ll definitely get what you give…what you work for…and, as promised, you will be carried, cared for, and loved.  Hebrews 13:5 says, Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, help me to begin each day more grateful to you than I have been before.  I refuse to allow the enemy to have that kind of leverage over me.  Whatever I have, whatever I do, I give and do it all unto You.  Amen.

The Power of God’s Word

[Pro 4:20-22 ESV] 20 My son, be attentive to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. 21 Let them not escape from your sight; keep them within your heart. 22 For they are life to those who find them, and healing to all their flesh.


How important is Scripture to you? Does it hold a place of value in the day to day movement of your life? Would your life be drastically different if you never read another verse, or never heard another teaching? If you suddenly decided the Bible is irrelevent, what would you base your belief system on?

I’m asking these questions because the foundation of our faith is based upon what God says about Himself in the Bible. Without it, we have no sense of direction. With it, we have a keen sense of awareness. The Psalmist confirms, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” [Psa 119:105 ESV]

The writer of Proverbs gives wise counsel concerning our interaction with Scripture. He offers the following four suggestions:

  • Give it your full attention. Wrap your mind around its concepts. Explore the details. (Matthew 5:18 ESV) 18 For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.
  • Hear it audibly. The sense of hearing identifies details more closely. Inflections of the voice can help determine the intensity with which the word is delivered. Faith is caught by the hearing of God’s word. (Romans 10:17 ESV) 17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.
  • Read it for yourself. One of the many ways that we learn is by visualization. The writer  warns that we should not let the written word of God escape our view. Find ways to view it. Place sticky notes around your house. Purchase decorative items for your house or office that remind us of Scripture. Put Scripture backgrounds on your phone or computer screen as a constant reminder.
  • Memorize it. Let it become second nature by adding it to your routines. Don’t say you cannot do it. Can you remember what channel your favorite TV show is on? Do you remember where you placed your car keys last night? How about your favorite casserole dish? Do you know where it is stored when not in use? Of course you do! And if you can remember these details, you certainly can train your mind to receive and compartmentalize various passages of Scripture.

You may be wondering why this is so important. The writer of Proverbs tells us why, “For they are life to those who find them, and healing to all their flesh.” That seems pretty important to me!


PRAYER: Thank You Lord for Your word! It inspires me daily while providing direction through the necessary movements of life. I am able to discern Your will from it. It protects me! It brings hope to hopeless situations. I delight in Your words… Amen.