“You Have to Work It!”

“He who tills his land will have plenty of bread, but he who follows frivolity will have poverty enough,” Proverbs 28:19, NKJV

“Something for nothing!”  It seems to be the way of the world.  Many are searching for the next big thing that is going to push them toward success yet when the face of work peeps around the corner they run in the opposite direction.   The truth is, life takes work and a lot of it.  Anything worth having is going to take work.  Something will never come out of nothing,  It takes an effort of heart and mind, strength, and endurance to see the results we may desire for our futures.

For example, the farmer will not dare to go out into the field hoping to reap that which he has not sown for.  If no seeds were put into the ground and the field had not been tended to – if the work has not been done, he knows that when the time of harvest comes there will be no produce, no benefits to reap from.  Yet, many still go out into the field seeking to reap when they have not planted.

“He who tills his land!”  He who works it!  He who puts forth an honest effort knowing that if he keeps persevering and keeps pushing forward eventually he will reach the point of plenty, of being able to reap off of the goodness he put into it.  Your land is what God gave you.  It is your gift, your ability, your talents, and skills.

Many put a lot of faith in things that will not produce a harvest.  Work what God gave you!  Guard what you do with your time and efforts.  Are they leading you to where you want to be?  Is what you’re doing sowing into your future?  Will you be able to reap “plenty” from the seeds you have planted today?  We only have one life to live, by the grace of God, make it count!  Work it today!  God bless you in all your endeavors today 🙂

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God is our very present help!

Dear Friends, are you in a present time crisis?  Has trouble found you when you least expected it and at the very wrong time possible?  The wonderful thing about being connected to the wonderful, heavenly Father is that no time is an inconvenient time for Him to come and help – even right now, presently.

God is never bound by the limits we experience or others we may run to for a source of hope and strength.  God is also the only One who not only knows us completely through and through, but He knows more about the details of our struggles, hurts, and pains than any other.  In His omniscience, there is no part of us – no part of anything we endure or go through that He is not aware of.  As such, there is no other place, person, or thing where we can truly find the satisfaction of help where we need it the most.

Please, do not misunderstand me.  God is not to be beckoned and treated as if He is an imaginary genie to grant our every wish on a whim.  No, but He is a promise keeper and so much more, who invites us to come to Him and seek His face – seek what He has to offer and trust His will and His timing – trust Him alone and above all during the times of conflict and uncertainty.

He, in His perfect love, is concerned about you and the things that are presently before you.  And, He knows that you are concerned about them too, and thus, He has allowed these assurances of His love and willingness to be available for help to be declared over and over in His holy Word, such as what the psalmist wrote when he said, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble,” (Psalm 46:1).

There are times when I need Him in all those areas.  I need to find that in my weakest moments, in Him I can obtain strength.  When the storms are angry and blowing tempestuously in my life, He is my refuge and safety.  And yes, when troubles in any shape and form rear its ugly head, that God is our very present help – our right now source through it all.

Oh, if only every day were sunshine and rainbows, but alas, we know that there will be times when things and situations stir that makes us uncomfortable, shake us a bit, or cause some unsure feelings to arise.  But, the truth of what the psalmist wrote still stands just as sure today as it did when it was originally written, and the summation of that verse states that God cares deeply and lovingly for you.  Why else would He concern Himself with your present circumstances?  It is His love for you that compels Him.  It is His concern for you that causes His eye and heart to see what you are dealing with and moves Him to come to your aid.

Come, and take comfort in these blessed words that speak of His help and care for His people, and for you:

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;

Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah.

There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High.

God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early.

The heathen raged, the kingdoms were moved: he uttered his voice, the earth melted.

The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.” (Psalm 46:1-7)

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There are some mornings…

There are some mornings while making the bed, I long for the ending of that very day when I climb back into the bed and the day is done.

Why is that?  The end of the day signals completion.  All the toils, all the works, and worries are now being laid to rest.  My evening routine tells me it’s over for now.  Settle in peace for the night as the cares of the day come to a close and the door shuts on what is behind.  Let the heart, mind, and body lay down and take its rest to prepare for the new ahead.

Facing the new sometimes comes with inspiration and energy.  But, there are times when facing the new feels like an arduous task, asking for so, much when I feel like I can give so little.

Today is the beginning of today.  Whether I’m facing it wanting to climb back into bed or if I feel I can take on the world – regardless of how this day may feel, I am grateful for it.

The psalmist declared, “This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it,” (Psalm 118:24).  Why?  Because no matter how the picture of today is painted for us, it is a gift.  This day is a bestowing of God’s grace into my life, and for that, I settle my heart in His peace and I can rejoice in this day.  When the ugly tries to poke its head into the newness of this day, I can reflect on the beauty of God and let all that He is wash over me, comfort me, and hold my hand through it all.

I admit every day will not seem some glorious affair, but when we have our wonderful, glorious God, we can look to Him and look for ways to inject His beauty into the ugly parts – letting His light shine in those dismal areas, and re-inspire, reinvigorate, and re-energize us for this day.  Because wherever God shines, it will be made beautiful regardless of how it appears.

While there are some mornings that may make us scratch our heads, there is always our God who is ever faithful and forever in love with His creation – with you.  Therefore, we can still find reason to rejoice!

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“Believing Beyond”

Difficult situations are something no one will escape this life without experiencing.  Even Jesus told us ahead of time, “In the world ye shall have tribulation…” (John 16:33).  So, as much as we want to avoid them or not have them there at all, what do we do with the difficulties and adverse times when they come?

I think it is not so much about what we do with them.  I believe it is more important to discuss how do we respond to them.  Our responses give us and the world a little insight into what is on the inside of us.  Our responses show what we carry in our hearts and what we genuinely believe, for it is out of the heart where the issues of life flow (Proverbs 4:23).

In prayer, I was reminded of the great truth that it is not all about how we see things.  Our perspective can often be overshadowed by the many factors of our story, our emotions, and so forth.  But, when faced with challenging times, how do we react?

Negative experiences tend to draw negative responses from us.  But what if we can turn that on its heels?  What if we could take what appears to be upside down and turn it right side up?

Mind you, when we go forward in this, it is not going to be based on what one sees because we are already coming from a perspective of not liking what we see.  Rather, what do we want to see?  What is our prayer for change in these types of situations?

Take, for instance, the very familiar story of the dry bones in the valley (Ezekiel 37).  Ezekiel knew what he saw before him.  They were literally dry bones.  No life was there.  No possibility of something better beyond what he could see.

But God encouraged Ezekiel to do something unusual.  To look beyond how his humanness wanted to respond to what was before him, and in essence, God was encouraging him to speak life over what appeared completely dismal and unrepairable (Ezekiel 37:4-10).  In that, Ezekiel got a chance to participate in experiencing something not only wonderful – but something truly altogether miraculous.

What miracles are you praying for today?  What looks like a valley of dry bones before you today, but you want to see a change in it and speak life over it?

Another thing I was reminded of in prayer was this great truth: “(For we walk by faith, not by sight:)”, (2 Corinthians 5:7).  What is seen is not nearly as important as the faith one has – as what one believes.  When challenged with the question, “Can these bones live?” (Ezekiel 37:3a) Ezekiel could have looked at the impossible dead things before him and not have reacted as God was prompting him to.  He could have based everything on what he currently saw.  Rather, he got into agreement with God, and declared, “O Lord GOD, thou knowest,” (Ezekiel 37:3b), and a few verses down, Ezekiel said, “So I prophesied as I was commanded…” (Ezekiel 37:7).

Both Martha and Mary were challenged in this area when Jesus came after Lazarus had died.  Both responded to what they saw, and said, “Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died,” (John 11:21, 32).  But Jesus encouraged them to believe beyond what they could see.

Jesus, standing at the grave of Lazarus commanded the stone to be rolled away.  Again, how they saw things were how they responded.  It was Martha who spoke up and said, “Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he had been dead four days,” (John 11:39).

Jesus’ response to her reaction was, “Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?” (John 11:40; see also 25-26).  Jesus’ response was for her to look beyond what she saw, and just believe for more.  Believe that He could do and speak something miraculous in what is dead.  And in Ezekiel’s case, it was believing that that which appears to be dry and beyond repair can now experience a new life.

What are these experiences speaking to you today?  Is God trying to shift our focus from always seeing the negatives?  Is He trying to encourage us to speak life into areas that need such a miracle they appear they could never be resuscitated?

Remember what the Bible says, “(For we walk by faith, not by sight:)”.  Is it time to start seeing beyond?  Is it time to start speaking beyond?  Is it time to start believing beyond?

Wherever and whatever God is calling us to today if He is calling us, it is because He believes that we can.  Even if we do not see immediate changes to our circumstances as they did, keep going in faith and believing, because God applauds and is pleased with genuine faith, for the Bible reminds us, “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him,” (Hebrews 11:6).

All the greatest stories in the Bible begin with faith.  And all that faith begins with believing beyond.

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1

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“Unchanging Joy!”

“The joy of the LORD is your strength.”  Those words penned from Nehemiah 8:10 we generally claim or hear quoted when people are experiencing adversities or may have a monumental task ahead of them.   Sometimes they are even expressed in moments of celebration.  For days of sorrow or for days of peace, any day is a good day where a child of God can declare, “The joy of the LORD is your strength.”

One thing I have learned in life is that we do go through many different seasons and circumstances.  Some good.  And yet, some which can make one feel a little void or empty.  Happiness and joy can’t seem to be found in any activity or normal pleasure.

During these seasons, one must remember that life will always act as a variable. It may seem a simple thing to say or write, but in the midst of the challenges and sorrows, yes, it is sometimes hard for us to see these truths, therefore, we must be gently reminded of how things really are at times.  And that is life changes.  Things get added and taken away.  Some changes affect how we feel and when we base our feelings on these variables we experience many ups and downs.

What then?  It is the unchanging, the solid, the constant that we need to build everything else upon.  As long as we live in this world things will always change.  One hundred percent of our time will not stay in a state of sameness.  We will have times of exaltation, growth, and increase.  But, we will also experience those things that grieve us, break our hearts, and spend our energies with the multitude of tears flowing from us (see Ecclesiastes 3:1-11).

Therefore, since we are susceptible to these changes we must base our life, our joy, our foundation to everything else upon Him who never changes.

God is our constant!  “For I am the Lord, I change not,” He exclaimed in Malachi 3:6.  We also have this promise written through James: “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning,” (James 1:17; emphasis added).

Our Heavenly Father will always be the wonderful, Heavenly Father that He has always been.  No matter how your circumstances may feel to you right now, that truth will never change.

That being said, if the happiness and joy you once felt or usually feel have escaped you today, perhaps it is because we have become more dependent on too many changing factors rather than filling our heart, mind, soul, and life with the true joy of Him and from Him that never changes.

In dealing with many sorrows and afflictions himself, David penned his own beautiful words, declaring the assurance of his joy.  He stated, “And my soul shall be joyful in the LORD: it shall rejoice in his salvation,” (Psalm 35:9).

When we bring our all to focus on God… When we tune our souls into the proper source, we will find that situations may still be adverse, but because I have Him, because I have a relationship with God, and because His salvation has raised me from far worse than where my soul would be without Him, I can still rejoice!

I think it’s safe to say that we all want it to feel good all the time.  But feeling good and have everything go our way or turn out just as we desire is not a prerequisite for true joy because those things and feelings will also and always change.  But my God won’t, and when it is He that I open my heart to and allow all that He is to shine on me and everything that I am feeling, then I can experience that true, unchanging joy!

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“It is wonderful to see the grace of God at work in our lives today!”

 

As I ponder this day, the new beginnings of this morning, this thought spoke deeply to my heart: It is wonderful to see the grace of God at work in our lives today!

As I muse over previous days and times, and that musing sometimes leads to disappointments, His grace speaks, “Not today.”  That was in the yesterdays gone by, but today is a time to rejuvenate what His faithfulness has always longed to fulfill in you.  Today mercy comes to the forefront and speaks on your behalf and declares what God has for you it shall come to pass as long as you believe, trust, and hold on to His unchanging hand.

His grace becomes not your crutch or something you take for granted, but your true inner support of strength.  Daily we depend on Him.  Daily we need Him to reach way down into our lives and do the impossible, work where flesh and blood can’t and revive His purpose, His goodness, His anointing, and His will in me.

Grace is more than just a word to toss about.   When the unworthiness of our being edges in, grace magnifies His love in showing what He freely gives.  Grace speaks to the crevices of the heart and fills it with something indescribable, something wonderful and beyond compare.  To bask in the newness of the grace bestowed upon me this day is to bask in the pleasure He seeks to give to a fallible creature such as I.  To lay myself out before Him and feel His rays of peace shine down on me is the best way to start this day.  Surrendering my all to Him.  My desires.  My failures.  My hurts.  And, even my expectations.

We all carry spiritual luggage from our previous days into the new day.  Carrying about the weight of it and allowing it to slow our progress for what God has in store for our new.  Lay it aside, dear Friend, and don that blessedness He so freely gives.  Put on His grace and let it cover you where you feel you need to be covered.  Let it build you where you feel the need for restoration, and let His grace carry you when it’s hard to hold yourself up and walk the days before you.

God’s grace is a beautiful thing.  We know what we deserve, but we see what He gives in spite of it.

Grace, His love for us in action.  The cross secured it for us, and daily His grace lets us know He’s in this for the long-haul.  He is still fighting for us.  He still believes in us and He is willing to pour on us abundantly what our lives can’t find anywhere else.

Father God, thank You for Your blessed grace.  Words cannot express my gratitude for this anointed gift You so freely pour out into my life, but I hold the thought and truth of it near and dear to me, allowing it to wash over me and renew my steps and my life in You daily.  It is so wonderful to see Your grace at work in my life personally today.  No words of thanks will ever be enough, but Lord, I thank You anyway.  In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, I pray, AMEN!

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Devotion | “I Come Quickly!”

Once, while attending Bible study, this verse in Revelation 22:12 became a point of reference.  But, as I perused through the rest of the same chapter I noticed those words written in red, indicating Jesus speaking, were written exactly the same way three times: “I come quickly,” (see verses 7 and 20 also).  This really got my attention for any good Bible student knows that if Jesus repeats anything it means to take special heed to it.  This statement which is triple repeated is as a warning siren beckoning one to be aware of what’s about to happen.

Preoccupation with this world has so many in its clutches and has lulled multitudes into a false sense of security.  How many of our waking hours are spent on the temporary trappings of now instead of the glory that awaits our future?  Our time on this earthly sojourn is not infinite.  Time will pass.  Days will turn to night and eventually, at our proper time, we will step into eternity or as some say, when Jesus cracks the sky – then, it will all be over.

Will we be ready or caught unawares?  On more than one occurrence that coming day and the Lord Jesus Christ are described as happening by surprise as if a thief came in the middle of the night (1 The. 5:2, 4; 2 Pet. 3:10; Rev. 3:3; 16:15).  Just as suddenly, the end will arrive.  There will be no processional heralding His coming as during the time of His triumphal entry.  Only what is heard in 1 Thessalonians 4:16, but by then, it’s already too late.  The preachers, teachers, and sharers of His Word are heralding now from the pulpits, at the street meetings, and witnessing through the many avenues available even as we speak.  Rather, without warning, He shall appear.

At that time we will all be forced to answer for the life we lived while here.  What will our story tell?

As much as mankind tries to dismiss the truth of the second coming or sweep it under a spiritual rug – it will happen.  Jesus is coming back.  Now is the time to get ready.  Tomorrow is not promised.

“Even so, come, Lord Jesus,” (Revelation 22:20).

Blessings~

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“Regrowth!”

There are so many times the Lord could have taken away from us, but instead, He gave.  Our daily steps before the Lord probably have not been the picture of perfection.  I know I personally have had many ashes during my lifetime that needed beautifying.  And yet, every day when I wake up, every day when I open my eyes, I am blessed with the gift of new mercies (Lamentations 3:22-23), as are you.

Those mercies are much needed, as anyone can easily testify to.  Because, as I am walking forward, I can easily take a look back and cringe at the litter my previous pathways left behind.  But that renewed mercy smiles at me and encourages me in the newness of this day before me.  It helps to push me to walk where my feet may have previously felt unworthy to walk.  It draws me to step out of the door into what is presently before me, bidding me try again.  Believe again.  Make the effort to do better again.  It draws me to see God is still in the business of using me for His works, for His kingdom, and for His glory.

Reading Judges 16, I see how Samson broke away from the stipulations God placed on him through the Nazarite vow of not cutting his hair and the suffering that came because of it.

But then, there is this one verse out of his whole story that jumped out at me: “Howbeit the hair of his head began to grow again after he was shaven,” (Judges 16:22), which was the symbol of his Nazarite vow.  It was by grace that God allowed for regrowth.  He could have just washed His hands of Samson and kept away what he had lost, but God is the one that allowed for the grace and mercy of regrowth.

Every day we are given is another chance for us to experience that same kind of regrowth.  It may not be our hair, but maybe there was something we let go of, something we didn’t guard or tend to as we should have, something we may have neglected, and as a result, we didn’t end up where we were supposed to be.

But with the new mercy of today, we have a chance for regrowth.  We have been given the grace to plant again and work in the fields God has given us.  Samson used his regrowth period to go out with a bang.  What can you do with yours?  If we are here today, that means our story is not over.  The grace for God’s regrowth is real and very present for us today.

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“Overlooked? Not by God!”

 

Do you ever feel like life is a series of “Duck, Duck, Goose” games?  There you sit in your circle, surrounded by other people.  Then, the opportunity comes.  The one who can tag you as the next one that can rise from the circle begins to make their turn around the circle.  They look at each one sitting and try to take in the possibility of who gets to be the privileged one; who gets to be “goose.”

All eyes and ears are opened to that one.  They watch.  They listen.  They wait in anticipation to see if the chance and opportunity to rise and run falls on them.  As the game proceeds, the favor of that one doesn’t fall on you and you are left to sit in the circle once more.

Times of sitting and waiting is rarely fun unless you see the possible potential that can flow from that downtime.  Often, many people, in many circles, of life are overlooked and passed by without a second glance.  And, while it seems the favor of man has continually ignored and/or snubbed you, in your downtime, there is One who sees.

It’s so easy in life to get caught up and focused on the human to human point of contact and favor.  While a better use of our time, down or not, should be focused on our human to God contact, and the potential of growing more in Him.

While David was a young man in his circle, he was overlooked not only by his brothers but his father too.  When the prophet Samuel came to pay a call to anoint the next one to rise out of the circle, the next one to be king, David wasn’t even thought of when all the sons of the house lined up according to the potential that human eyes could see.

But, in his downtime, there were oodles of potential growing and producing a God-fearing, dedicated life beyond the eyes of what man can see.  In my opinion, it is possible that even David himself didn’t see everything in him like God saw it, for he didn’t force himself to be seen by others and noticed.  It was not until Samuel exhausted all possibilities before him did he bother to ask was there another option.  Was there someone else who should be considered for this great honor?

He heard the whisper of God speak, “Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart,” (1 Samuel 16:7), and as all the possibilities passed before him, he found out the Lord didn’t choose any one of them, even when man thought and believed they were the logical choice.

No, but in his overlooked season, a heart was developing in David that caught God’s attention when others neglected to see the power of potential growing within him.  A heart that loved God from the inside out.  A heart that was sensitive to the leading and moving of God.  A heart that had faith in God that would allow him to stand before a literal giant and make him fall.  A heart in David was growing and maturing for God alone.  This is what piqued God’s interest in him.  Not the outward stuff that others could see and overlook him for.  But God was excited and drawn to those things on the inside that only He could see.

Height.  Stature.  Good looks.  Outward talent and so forth will all fade and deteriorate over time.  But a heart that is truly after God will last and endure.

What we need to remember and take away from this story is that God sees it all.  Although it is not right, many will continue to judge by only what they see on the exterior of all you have to offer.  But God sees all the possibilities within.  And, although many may overlook you, God has not.

Don’t sit in your circle idly waiting for other’s approval.  Rather, wait on God, and live for Him.  Once again, David didn’t seek their attention.  He was outside with the sheep doing the work he was assigned to do at that time (1 Samuel 16:11) when he was called to be anointed the next king of Israel (1 Samuel 16:12-13).

Wherever you are in life, keep your focus on God.  Live a life that is pleasing to Him from the inside out.  Worry less about what others think and rest your hope in what God alone sees and knows all about you.  This is not a game to Him, and He will never overlook you!

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“My eyes look to You, Lord!”

“Behold, as the eyes of servants look unto the hand of their masters, and as the eyes of a maiden unto the hand of her mistress; so our eyes wait upon the Lord our God, until that he have mercy upon us.” Psalm 123:2

Father God, may our eyes focus more on You than what’s going on around us.  There are so many things pulling for attention.  There are troubles and disappointments that try to take a stand and demand to be noticed.  But Father God, may our eyes and our hearts rest on You and all the promises of heaven through every trying time.  May we see clearly, through it all, You are still for us.  You are He who is daily faithful, and daily offers grace and mercy.  You are where we find the strength to draw from when we feel weak.  When we feel like we’re at the end of our rope, it’s Your Spirit that whispers, “Hold on, for your story is not over.”

Father God, as we lift our eyes and our hearts to You, we place in Your hands our needs, our worries, our hurts, our everything.  You know it all better than we do and it’s in You we put our trust.  In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, we pray, AMEN!

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