“Be Progressive”

“And the LORD said unto Moses, Wherefore criest thou unto me? speak unto the children of Israel, that they go forward,” Exodus 14:15

Have you heard of the phrase “two steps forward, one step back?” What if we could erase that end part? What if we could subtract from the equation the minus one step? What would the total sum of one’s life be if all they ever did was progress? If all they ever did was to add without factoring in any negatives?

“Two steps forward, one step back.” It’s a phrase that I have used and I know you have, too. But in reality, I actually think that we get too comfortable with that kind of mentality. Everything is not always going to go off without a hitch, we know that.  And yes, we will face obstacles at times, but it’s almost as if we expect to move back every time we try to advance forward. We are factoring in a negative from the very beginning and any time doubt is introduced into one’s advancement in this way, that will almost always sabotage one’s progress, taking away from all that they have done and gone through to move forward. It can subtract from and overshadow the positive with that seemingly bigger negative.

Don’t get me wrong. I know that there are many hard trials and circumstances that everyone will face. I will not trivialize the hurt and disappointments that one may come across in their life. But what will happen, if while we are on this journey, we try our best to look beyond the circumstances that we are in and be determined to move forward toward the promise anyway? What if for once we could factor out the negatives of life instead of factoring them in? Despite the chariots and the enemies pursuing us, we could be more determined to pursue the goals that God has for us.

That is what I really believe God wanted the children of Israel to do here. To stop looking for reasons for not progressing.  To stop looking for obstacles. To stop making excuses for why they can’t get to where God wants them to go. He had a glorious destiny for them. God had already shown them many, many miracles that led up to their deliverance from slavery in Egypt. Yet, as soon as a moment of adversity poked its head around the corner to spy on their progress, they stopped moving. Instead, they stayed in that unproductive state wallowing in self-pity: “Because there were no graves in Egypt, hast thou taken us away to die in the wilderness?” (Exodus 14:11), they cried.

God has a better plan for you than to keep you still, wallowing in the wilderness, in a state of self-pity. That’s why He said, “Wherefore criest thou unto me? speak unto the children of Israel, that they go forward.” Stop crying about it and just go! Move! Make some progress! No more backward! It’s time to go on in Jesus’ name! To move it or lose it!

Looking at the stuff one has been through and the possibility of hardship ahead can be very discouraging, but press on anyhow! There is a promised land for you and me to reach. That alone is enough to urge you onward and upward. So, go ahead – be progressive today. Say within yourself, “I’m going to make it this time!”  No turning back!

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Your Amazing IF

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IF has been around since the beginning of humanity.  IF usually comes with choice, consequence, and question.  But, what if the word IF can be a statement of faith?  What if the word IF can be a declaration of what you believe God can do in your life.

One of my favorite IF questions in the Bible led to a miracle occurring and the constraints of what is normally not possible being removed.  IF unlocks something amazing in one man’s life, never to be repeated by another human being except for Jesus Christ.  Tossed about in the waves of contrary winds, Jesus’ disciples are struggling in a boat in the middle of the sea when Jesus came to them walking on the water (see Matthew 14:22-33).  After Jesus greeted the men in the boat and calmed them, Peter asked, “Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water,” (Matthew 14:28; italics added mine).

I believe Peter knew wholeheartedly it was Jesus since some Bible studies use the word IF as SINCE.  Thus, I believe Peter’s IF is a statement of faith, even if it appeared to be an immature faith at the onset.  He believed in Jesus.  He believed if Jesus allowed him to, he would be able to do what is naturally impossible.  He, under the direction of the Lord, could do the amazing, and walk on water.

Now, many of us are very familiar with how Peter’s story here ends.  Seeing the waves his faith falters and Jesus is there to pull him up from his sinking condition and bring him back to the boat.  Yet, that isn’t the part I want to focus on here.  I want to focus on the power of the IF that drew him out of the boat in the first place.  Where other men stayed hidden, he literally threw it all to the wind, and with the chance of a lifetime, stepped out to experience the amazing.

We can laugh at Peter and put him down, but how many of us can honestly answer that we would have gotten out of the boat also?  You see, IF can be a hindrance that causes over questioning and actually act as a stumbling block for not moving forward into something wonderful.  But, IF can also be the catalyst to open a door of opportunity if it is approached with the idea that something amazing can come out of taking a chance with Jesus; to move on to the waters of the unknown with my eyes on Him.

The phrase “What if?” has birthed a lot of good quotes and with good reason.  In that two-worded question, we are daring to ask ourselves the question: “Do I stay in the boat or do I choose to walk on water?”  We are daring to see potential in ourselves to do more than the ordinary, to do something amazing with my IF.

Where is your “IF” calling you today or even this week?  What extraordinary thing may unlock for you if you take a chance with your amazing IF?  I believe God gives us dreams to pursue, but it’s our faith in active pursuit of that IF that will allow the amazing to happen for us, just like it did for Peter.  Jesus most certainly could have gotten to the boat without walking on water, but then Peter or any one of the other disciples would have never had the opportunity to ask and pursue something more.

Is Jesus calling you to walk on water?  Is He calling you to take steps of faith in pursuit of a particular IF?  If He is, keep your eyes on Him and allow Him to lead you to your amazing IF.

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“Wisdom is Better!”

“Wisdom is better,” is what I read twice during my devotional reading.  In Ecclesiastes 9:16, 18.  In verse 16 it states that “wisdom is better than strength” and in verse 18 it states that “wisdom is better than weapons of war.”  This had me thinking, how often do we resort to strength and weapons before choosing wisdom to fight the struggles in life?

Strength and weapons are carnal devices that depend on fleshly know-how and might.  Often these are the first resources that man runs to in times of difficulty and adversity.  Wisdom is dependent upon God.  “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; Fools despise wisdom and instruction,” Proverbs 1:7.

Would it not be more prudent in the days of trials to follow the path of wisdom whose author is God?  Many of life’s mistakes are made from rash human impulses instead of the patient endurance of wisdom that God provides.  Christians especially are admonished to “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.  In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths,” Proverbs 3:5-6.

“Wisdom is better!”  James 1:5 gives us the key to finding this wisdom to help with life’s choices.  He said, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be give him.”  God will freely supply for the heart that seeks wisdom rather than the harried messes of one’s own way.

Today, choose wisdom.  It’s always the better option.

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Heaven in My Heart

As I read over the page, speaking of the “two tables of testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of God” found in Exodus 31:18, my fingers etched the outlining of the words, and a feeling of awe and wonder came over me at the reality of it all.

Moses held in his hands that which was written by the finger of our Holy God. To say it is amazing would be an inadequate attempt at best to describe the wonder of what that must have been like to experience. But it didn’t stop me from still wondering: “What was that like to hold those very tablets?”

As I kept reading and following his story, in my mind, I saw him carrying those tablets, engraved by God as he descended the mount (Exodus 32:16), and my heart was quickly reminded of the promise spoken in Jeremiah of the time when God Himself said, “I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people” (Jeremiah 31:33).

And I thought, as much as I would love to hold that piece of our Christian history physically in my hands, I now have in my heart, through the power and indwelling of His Holy Spirit, God’s testimony, His very Word in the innermost part of my being.

Yes, my eyes would have loved to see and behold those external declarations of His Testimony, but my soul is ever so grateful for the internal and eternal work God’s Word and saving grace has done deep inside of me. No wonder the psalmist wrote, “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee” (Psalm 119:11).

It is in our hearts where we establish our faith and believe in the One who called us and loved us (Romans 10:10). The heart is where we hold our greatest treasures (Matthew 6:21). So, to have a piece of Him there in the recesses of my being; to have His Word, this piece of heaven living in me, I am still overtaken with awe and the wonder of it all.

As frail as humanity is and as short as we come from His glory (Romans 3:23), we are honored creatures to have the grace of this New Covenant go through the lineage of Israel and trickle-down upon us and flood our hearts when we receive Christ as our Savior.

In Mark, John the Baptist spoke, saying, “I indeed baptize you with water: but he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost” (1:8). At the baptism of Jesus, John witnessed “the heavens opened, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon him: And there came a voice from heaven, saying, Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Mark 1:10-11).

Jesus Christ is the one sent from heaven to dwell in our hearts. He is that Word made flesh (John 1:14). Through Him, the Father will send “the Holy Ghost. . . in my name,” Jesus said (John 14:26; see also VSS 16-17; Acts 1:5) to comfort us, to dwell in us, and change our lives forever.

There is no better time than now to seek a whole heart transformation. Deep inside, we know we need Him. Nothing else will satisfy.

In the anguish of his sins, David cried out in desperation, saying, “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10). A heart that is devoted to God, a heart renewed in Him; a heart that cradles and nurtures His Word and has His Spirit within them, a heart who has the Son – they are the ones who “shall be my people” and He will be their “God” (Jeremiah 31:33).  

It may not be a piece of history in my hands, but I’ll take heaven in my heart any day.

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Children: Rewards Packed with Potential

“And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children” (Isaiah 54:13), and “Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward” (Psalm 127:3) are just some of my favorite Bible verses when dealing with the subject of children. Those precious treasures God has blessed us with are a reward.

Children have always had a special place in the heart of God. 

Jesus showed the value in the lives of these innocent ones by teaching the adults that unless they put on childlike faith, unless they “Be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3).  

Days of parenting may not always be sitting by and watching children play in the best of their innocence and zest for life. Guiding young hearts may not always work out like the after-school specials or shows we see on tv. Some days of parenting can be difficult and frustrating, but may those days not take the focus from the heart of the child. Children are a beautiful blessing, and each one comes packed with potential.

From a lesson I previously published found here, I wrote:

“Youths especially come packed with potential. For example, Samuel was dedicated to God as an incredibly young child (1 Sam. 1:21-28) and became a righteous judge of God’s people. Josiah became king at the tender age of 8 (2 Chr. 34:1), and “in the eighth year of his reign, while he was yet young, he began to seek after the God of David his father: and in the twelfth year he began to purge Judah and Jerusalem from the high places, and the groves, and the carved images, and the molten images,” (2 Chr. 34:3) and eventually went on to make great reformations for God’s people in turning them back to true worship (2 Chr. 34-35) which all started while he was still young. Timothy learned from his grandmother and mother about true faith and helped the apostle Paul during his missionary journeys and in the establishing of new churches (2 Tim. 1:5). And let us not forget our Lord Jesus Christ who was found at the age of 12 in the temple with the “doctors” amazing all who saw Him and heard “his understanding and answers” (Luke 2:41-52).” 

May you find inspiration in the Word of God as He reminds us of the blessings of children. They are rewards packed with potential.  

More inspiration:

  • “But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 19:14
  • “Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 18:10). 
  • “Children’s children are the crown of old men; and the glory of children are their fathers” (Proverbs 17:6). 
  • “Praise ye the Lord. Blessed is the man that feareth the Lord, that delighteth greatly in his commandments.  His seed shall be mighty upon earth: the generation of the upright shall be blessed” (psalm 112:1-2). 

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“Our lives must be infused with power from on High!”

Our lives must be infused with power from on High – Holy Ghost power! “Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord of hosts.” Zechariah 4:6

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“Will I Be Worthy?”

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Will I be worthy

in that day

when the clouds part

shining redemptive rays?

 

Will I be worthy

before the Son

rising with the saints

together as one?

 

Will I be worthy

to gain a crown,

with robes of righteousness

as my dressing gown?

 

Will I be worthy

to bask in that glory

when the books are opened

exposing my story?

 

Will I be worthy

to hear, “Well done;”

to enter for eternity

where’s there’s no need for sun?

 

Will I be worthy?

The answer is, “No,”

if on my own accord

I try to go.

 

My own works cannot mark me as good,

but if on Christ’s sacrifice I have stood;

my unworthy, sinful, scarlet state

counts me as worthy, by His grace.

 “But ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus,

and by the Spirit of our God.” 1 Corinthians 6:11

“Stop the Madness!”

“. . . And bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ,” 2 Corinthians 10:5

“I cannot get this thought out of my mind!” That is the howl of frustration that has come from many persons I know. It has probably come from you, too. The relentless, almost like water dripping from the faucet thoughts, that drip, drip, drip their way into your mind. Sometimes making your head spin with a bothersome problem. If those thoughts were pleasant to us, then we would not mind it so much. It would cause us to feel as though we were walking through a field of flowers all day long. It’s when the invasion of unpleasant thoughts comes and messes with our peaceful reverie that we have a problem. These things continually bounce off the mind, not allowing rest for the soul.

The apostle Paul taught, “Take every thought captive.” The Christian must make a conscious effort to have a fly trap mentality. There is a barrier that every individual is to put up to guard their precious mind. That barrier is the Word of God. Whatever does not fall in line with Him and His Word is supposed to be trapped and discarded as refuse like that old, dirty fly trap. There is some bothersome stuff that people put up with every day. They are buzzing around your head and just plain ole getting on your nerves. I mean, you really wish you could tear it out of there and throw it away. Guess what? I have good news for you you can. Today, you can stop the madness because the Word of God declares, “You will keep him perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You!” (Isaiah 26:3, NKJV).

When you are dealing with all that annoying stuff, it is robbing you of the peace that God wants you to have in Him. As I am writing this, I am looking at my cats stretched out on the floor, sleeping. Outside there is some stonework cutting going on using a loud machine not far from my window. When the work first began, it caused their ears to perk up, and I think they were wondering what is going on out there. As time went on, they stopped wondering and started sleeping. I guess they figured, hey, whatever is going on out there does not affect me in here. I am in my safety. I am in my shelter. I am in my place of trust.

That is what God wants each of us to experience in Him. This kind of rest and peace only comes with first, trusting Him, and secondly, taking every thought captive. These two working together will give you the peace you so desire. After all, who does not want more peace? One can have all the money in the world and be miserable because there is no peace of mind.

Stop the madness. “Take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.” I once heard this described as a wrestling match. I forget who I heard it from, but the idea is taking hold of that thought, pinning it to the ground, and making it obey Christ. If that thought does not profit my spiritual growth in God or my relationship with people or any of the good stuff God wants for me, then it is to be pinned down. It is not allowed to get the victory today. It is not even allowed in the ring with me.

How do I do that? “Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things,” (Phil. 4:8). That is how you do it. I know from personal experience how easy it is to focus on all the negative stuff that tries to rob you of peace. But if you will change, on purpose, the focus of your thought life, you will begin to experience what God said you can have. I have heard it said that if you keep doing the same thing then you will keep getting the same results. No truer is that than here, in dealing with what you think throughout the day.

So, instead of letting all that madness of wrong thoughts overrun you – today, stand up against it. Take control of it and capture it. It is not allowed to have access. Today, declare, it is time to “Stop the madness!”

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“God, Guide Me Today Prayer” + 10 More Inspirational Quotes and Verses about God’s Leading and Direction

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Father God, 

Where I go today, I pray it be only in the path You have directed for me.

If I stumble today, I pray it only be into the deep waters of grace You have provided for me.

If I fall today, I pray that it only be into the arms of Jesus where I know I am held and loved.

No matter what comes my way and no matter where You lead me, I pray that my eyes will only be focused on You; my Rock and my Stay.  Please, God, guide me today for I don’t know what the day may hold, but I do know that You are holding my day!

Amen!

Proverbs 16:9 – “A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps.”

Psalm 37:23 – “The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way.”

Psalm 25:12 – “What man is he that feareth the LORD? him shall he teach in the way that he shall choose.”

Charles Stanley – “Earthly wisdom is doing what comes naturally. Godly wisdom is doing what the Holy Spirit compels us to do.”

Thomas Merton – “For each one of us, there is only one thing necessary: to fulfill our own destiny, according to God’s will, to be what God wants us to be.”

Frederick Buechner – “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”

Psalm 25:10 – “All the paths of the LORD are mercy and truth unto such as keep his covenant and his testimonies.”

Luke 22:42 – “Not my will, but thine, be done.”

Dr. Tony Evans – “When you realize God’s purpose for your life isn’t just about you, He will use you in a mighty way.”

Joanna Gaines – “God, . . . I trusted you with my dream and you took it far beyond what I ever could have dreamed or imagined.”

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