“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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“Remain Strong in God!”

One morning as I was making a cup of coffee I ran out of creamer and had to open a new container.  I unscrewed the top and picked and picked at the protective seal underneath to no avail.  I couldn’t get it to rip off for anything.  Finally, out of frustration, I reached into the dishwasher and grabbed a knife and punctured a small hole in the top of the seal.  After that, it was easy for me to put my finger in the hole and manipulate the seal for its ultimate removal.  Coffee time!

This had me thinking about how the enemy works in our lives.  As long as we stay sealed up in Christ the enemy can pick and pick but our packaging in Him remains strong.  No wonder Nehemiah (Nehemiah 1-3) felt such a compelling urge to get the walls of Jerusalem rebuilt to their full strength once again.  Wherever there is a hole or a breach in any structure it allows an opportunity for an enemy to poke his nose into and gaining access to manipulate the circumstances of life.  It makes his job easier.

Paul encourages us, “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord,” (1 Corinthians 15:58).  Our diligence will pay off after a while.  We must be like a wall without a breach.  We must take our cue from Nehemiah to patch up any deficiencies in our spiritual walls.  We are the ones who have to be “steadfast and unmovable” to have our work count in the end.  If we stop building and maintaining our walls then they will fall to utter ruin and we will have nothing to show for our work.

We must work at the upkeep of all that God has given us.  “Let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not,” (Galatians 6:9).  Our press matters.  Our work matters.  Our walls matter.  We must continue forth with the mentality of Nehemiah when he stated, “I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down…” (Nehemiah 6:3).  The enemy wants to thwart your work so that holes and weaknesses can be left for him to poke and manipulate.  But, if we want to “reap” then we must not “faint.”  We must push forth in doing good and leave the benefits to God.

Obtaining coffee creamer that morning was a struggle until I broke the seal.  Don’t let the enemy break your seal.  Stay covered in Christ and push forth until the end for your reward is coming.  Now is not the time to give in or give up.  If necessary, ask God to help you repair what is broken that you may be whole once again.  Remain strong in God!  You can do this!

Be blessed.

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“Before there was Egypt, there was a promise!”

Many times when we discuss the land of Egypt within the confines of the Bible, our minds automatically trackback to the time when the children of Israel were in bondage there.  We see them under the weight of the taskmasters, dealing with oppressive circumstances that are beyond their control.  They stand by and watch as some are beaten, others are killed; lack and degrading situations run rampant throughout their time there.  Fear, hatred, and jealousy by others drove them to the place where they are residing; a place where tough days seem like they will never come to an end.

Often times, when people find themselves in a hard spot of life, or when they find themselves coming up short and just not happy with the way things are turning out at this particular time, they refer to that circumstance as their place of “Egypt.”  This is where heartbreak and troubling times lie.  This is the place where it seems everything is fighting against them and no matter what one does it just doesn’t appear that they will ever come out on top.  People may not have taskmaster’s whips to deal with, but other things just lash and lash out at them, making it hard to get back up again.

As hard as this may be to believe, I assure you your Egypt will not last forever.  I’m sure the children of Israel had doubts about this.  After all, their time there lasted about four hundred years.  Yet, even before this family of seventy ventured into the land and grew to the astronomical numbers we see in Exodus, God knew all about their time there before they were even there.

In Genesis 15:13 God told Abram, “Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years.”  Outside of that prophecy God also said, “And also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance,” (Genesis 15:14).  In this we see, there was a promise before they even set one foot in Egypt; before they even encountered a problem, God already had a blessing lined up for when they came out.

Today, we fight against so many unknowns.  We deal with all the this and that’s of life that it simply just weighs one down.  One might not find themselves in a literal state of captivity, but something just sits on them heavy, becoming an almost unbearable burden, that they just don’t know what to do.  With a feeling of exasperation, some just give up, content just to go through the motions of life, without grabbing hold of the feeling of hope because of the fear of being let down again, just to drift back into that state of uncertainty once more.

But, I am here to tell you today, continue hoping and never give up.  Your “Egypt” is not lost on God.  God knows what you are facing.  He knows every disappointment you are dealing with.  He knows every struggle you are battling.  He knows everything that you are fighting through and that’s fighting against you.

It may be hard to see the proverbial silver lining in a dark cloud at times or the light at the end of the tunnel, but we have something better.  We have a promise!  God told Abram when his people came out, they were coming out better than when they went in.  God was going to judge those who did them wrong, and God was going to bless them greatly.

Another promise Abram received was in a few verses prior to those noted above.  God told him, “Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be,” (Genesis 15:5).  Not only were they going to be blessed, but they were going to come out increased in the people they were.  To go from one individual to the millions they would come out to be, they were going to grow not only in number but in experience through their troubling times.  They would have to learn to endure some stuff in order to be the people who would eventually be fit to take on the Promised Land.

While it may at times seem like the hard times are breaking you, they may be actually making you.  So remember, before there was Egypt, there was a promise.  And, I don’t know about you, but I will take a promise of God over a so-called silver lining any day.  The promises of God are sure.  Through our relationship with Jesus Christ, we are told, “For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us,” (2 Corinthians 1:20).

In other words, no matter what you are facing today, Jesus has you covered.  No matter the obstacles or hard places that make you feel like you are in Egypt and you just want to give up, God has an unfailing promise of His love, grace, mercy, peace, and deliverance through even the most difficult circumstances.

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“You are not alone!”

There can be days when the heaviness of life just won’t seem to let up.  There can be times when burdens leave you spent and wrung like a dirty little dish rag.  And, sometimes it’s hard during these down times to find something to smile about; to find hope in the midst of darkness; to know that you are not forgotten in the middle of the mess.

But, no matter what you may be feeling or going through, Jesus wants you to know, “I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you,” John 14:18.  He wants you to know that you are not in this alone.  His presence refuses to turn His back on you.  His presence doesn’t want you carrying these troubles by yourself.  His promise says that He cannot leave you without comfort.  You and I are not without the love of the Father present with us.  He said, “I will come to you!”

Our Lord Jesus Christ will not abandon you to deal with life on your own!  He is your help in the neediest of times!  He is your strength in the weakest of times!  He is your source in the emptiest of times!  He will not turn away from you!  He went to the cross for you that He might ever be with you!  He’s with you in the midst of it all to ease the turmoil you may be feeling.  He is with you to console raging emotions and thoughts.  He is with you to support you when nobody else will.  He is with you to show you how the love of the Father is very real and active for you!

He does this all through His abiding Spirit.  His loving presence takes up residence on the inside of those who believe in Him.  He is in there to fill any emptiness one may feel.  He is there to bring healing to the hurt and damage inflicted by others.  He is there to walk with you through all the ups and downs of this life, no matter how difficult it may appear right now!

He is with us as the rescuer of our heart, meeting the spiritual need in our life that nobody else can.  We don’t have to wonder about it because Hebrews 13:5 assures us, “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.”

Did you see that word “never”?  By absolutely no means will He not ever be with you where you are and in what you are going through!  It can’t happen!  It won’t happen!  He loves you too much to leave you out there to deal with this world and this life on your own!

With confidence, let your prayer be, “Jesus, I need you,” and His promise stands sure that He is with you where you are through the power of His indwelling Holy Spirit.  You are not fighting this alone!  Every step of the way, He is there!

“Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the LORD thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee,” Deuteronomy 31:6.

“Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world,” Matthew 28:20b

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“Better Days are Coming!”

“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.” (Zechariah 9:9)

What do you do when you look around and all you see is a mess?  Nothing is as you’d hoped it would be.  Life all of sudden doesn’t seem to make sense.  You’re glad for where you are and what you have, but you also recognize in the midst of circumstances the discouraging realization that you still have so far to go.

Boy, if that doesn’t ring true for what many are experiencing today.  One day we went to bed and everything was normal.  Then, just as quickly, it seems we woke up to a new reality and everything was different.  Everything was harder than it was the day before.  Where there was once freedom, now a new reality of limitations and restrictions has taken over.

What does all this have to do with the above verse?  Simply this.  In the time of Zechariah’s prophecy, the children of Israel had returned home from Babylonian captivity some 15-20 years prior.  Even at this point in history, when they look around they still see nothing but the marks of destruction; they still see broken walls and broken dreams in the land, and discouragement was running rampant.

But in the midst of that discouragement, Zechariah brings a word of hope from the Lord regarding their future.

What seems to be their new reality is not all there is.  They might not understand their times of walking through the rubble and living in the ruins of their former life, but God has something – God has Someone coming on the horizon who is going to usher in the greatest story of rebuilding and restoration the world has ever seen or known.

Although God delivered His people from Babylonian captivity and brought them back to their homeland to start living and inhabiting it again, He is not as interested in their physical buildings that lay in rubble.  He is more concerned with their spiritual buildings, their hearts, that may have collected just as much dust in them as the ruins around them.

Therefore, through Zechariah’s prophecy, God focuses His people to not dwell on the mess of today, but rather, focus on the message for all the tomorrows to come.  For that’s where they and we will find hope for the future.

Zechariah lets them know better days are coming because there is a coming King like no other.  When He comes in, His appearance and riding may appear to the masses as lowly.  But this King’s reign will be a reason to rejoice in the midst of rubble and ruins.  The King’s coming would be a reason to shout because true salvation and deliverance have never been so close.  This King’s coming will be a reason to celebrate in full jubilation, and to shout, “Hosanna in the highest,” (Mark 11:8) because when He comes, victory comes with Him.  When He comes, restoration comes with Him.  When He comes, better days come with Him!

The triumphal entry of our Lord was prophesied hundreds of years before it occurred, and still brings a message of hope to us who hear it thousands of years later because it reminds us in the face of all the turmoil this world was bound up in, Jesus marched forth toward His destiny of the cross to bring more peace and victory than we could ever hope to receive on our own.   And, although things may not seem to be the way we planned or look how we envisioned, with Him as our hope and guide, we can be assured that if nothing stopped Him from moving forward into the hardest thing He would ever face just so that we all would have a better future, then nothing will stop Him now from being that source of faith that many so long for.

Even in the midst of adversity and hardship, Jesus is still riding in our lives with a message of hope and peace today.  Days and circumstances may seem discouraging, but you’re not riding through them alone.

When He came in on what we celebrate as Palm Sunday, “many spread their garments in the way: and others cut down branches off the trees, and strawed them in the way.  And they that went before, and they that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna; Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.  Blessed be the kingdom of our father David, that cometh in the name of the Lord: Hosanna in the highest” (Mark 11:8-10).  But we know His story didn’t stop there.  In Zechariah’s prophecy, He is also seen as the One who subdues enemies and brings everlasting peace for His people.

When Jesus fulfilled the prophecy of riding in on the donkey He didn’t stop there for you either.  He came to usher so much more in your life and mine.  Where do you find yourself today?  For many that question may bring some very difficult answers.  Although the answers may appear difficult and we may not find an immediate solution to those answers, one thing we can do is still celebrate this day in victory, by faith,  as we would any other Palm Sunday.  We may not be in physical church buildings, gathering together and shouting the victory, but I believe where we are we can set aside some time to still proclaim, “Hosanna in the highest!” because that day was not the end of His story, neither is it the end of ours.

What we are facing today cannot diminish His promises for all our tomorrows to come.  If He already walked into the hardest thing for us, surely He will see us to a victorious ending.  It may not always feel like it, and what’s going on around us may make many sway, but rest assured, what’s going on does not have the last word.  Jesus rode in victory and through His resurrection power (which we celebrate next week for Easter Sunday), He remains victorious today and forevermore!  Therefore, even if we can’t see it right now we know that better days are coming!

So hold on, my friends.  Don’t let what you see today make you question your tomorrows.  Nobody loves you like that same Jesus who rode in to save your life and mine.  The King has come once, and He’s coming back again.  Victory is His, and victory can be yours too.  One day this will all be over (both now, and in eternity), and every promise He rode in for will come to pass (2 Corinthians 1:20).  How can it get any better than that!

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“Be Anxious for Nothing!”

How many times have “anxious” thoughts robbed us of the enjoyment of today?  How many worried days have we spent trying to control the uncontrollable?  How many times do we expend all our energies and might to solve all the world issues only feel like a wrung-out washrag at the end of the day?

Worried thoughts have a way to compel us to look to ourselves for the answers that we can’t find.  Believing that in and of ourselves we are the all end authority to all of life’s issues, at least this is what the human intellect would have us to believe.  Rather, God exhorts us over and over to rely on Him.  To come to Him in prayer and relinquish all of our cares, worries, and frustrations on Him because He cares for us.

The Lord knows what a heavy load humanity can carry.  He has felt it in His own being.  As a matter of fact, He carried it all to the cross so that we wouldn’t have to carry these burdens alone.  Yet, when push comes to shove and trials and tribulations knock on our personal doors we feel a need to answer the call and find a remedy for our problems on our own.  As a result, we struggle to find the answer to the question of why we can’t find peace in the midst of it all.

In actuality, the reason peace seems so evasive to many of us is because of our personal insistence on trying to do it on our own.  We pick up the problems that we are going through with every intention of carrying them to the altar and leaving them with Jesus.  Walking away from the altar of prayer, we pick those same problems back up feeling a need to control the outcome on our own.  As if God can’t handle our specific needs. Our humanness gets in the way of His divineness.  The limits we see on humanity are then applied to God and it gets in the way of His wonder-working power in our lives.

The way to obtain peace during these anxious moments is to give whatever is bothering us; whatever is burdening us over to the Lord and trust Him to give us His best in the situation.  After all, when it came to the matter of saving us He already gave us His best, didn’t He?  How much more difficult would it be then for Him to work out our everyday worries for us?  I believe you would agree that the two can’t compare.  So, if He was willing to do that for you and me, should we not then trust Him to do right by our anxious thoughts?

Would you rather place all of your problems in your own hands or in the hands of God?  Maybe it’s time to try something new.  Give God a shot at wrangling in the worrisome so that you can experience true peace.  Let’s get rid of the anxious for something better.

Be blessed 🙂

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Is Reasoning Getting in the Way of Faith?

 

The age of reason.  Whether it is defined in the historical sense as the age of enlightenment the 18th century brought forth or an actual numerical age when an individual determines between right and wrong, reasoning brings with it the idea of intellect and thoughts coming together to form conclusions on certain matters.

Reasoning is not all bad.  It gives us a premise for investigating facts about the things we are thinking about and it helps us to make conscientious decisions regarding the best course of action to take; to study and be informed with the knowledge to go forth into whatever endeavor one is contemplating.

While reasoning is certainly a useful tool (and one is expected to use it every day in their life), there are some things we just think about too much.  There are some things we just analyze too much.  And, there are some things we just want to know too much about, too much (yup, I went there).

Never once in the Bible did God instruct one in their calling to go, to research what He is offering and make an informed decision of whether you agree or not, to see if everything is up to par according to our terms, and then give Him your decision.

Nope.

Our intellect, our reasoning capabilities cannot even touch the scaffolding of God’s high and holy intellect.  He said, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.  For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9).

When God calls someone to some extraordinary feat, all He usually says is, “Go, or do.”  He doesn’t give the ins and outs of details.  He doesn’t even give the ending away of how it will all turn out.  He just gives the command and it is up to the heart of the hearer to respond positively like Isaiah did, and say, “Here am I; send me,” (Isaiah 6:8).  With total abandon, he offered himself to God for His holy service.

Today, it is not so common for one to be as generous in their faith and obedient in their walk with Him; to let go and follow through without a certain amount of reasoning involved.  We want clarity on all the if’s, when’s, what’s, how’s, where’s, why’s, and who’s that are involved.

But, this quote really struck me as powerful.  It says, “The more you go with the flow of life and surrender the outcome to God, and the less you seek constant clarity, the more you will find that fabulous things start to show up in your life,” (Mandy Hale).  And, in a moment of personal confession, I realized when it came to certain things, that’s exactly what I was doing: seeking more clarity.  I wanted questions answered or I reasoned within myself with my personal “know-how” of why it wasn’t feasible for me to do such and such.  That outlook got in the way of just stepping out in faith and going or doing.

When Jesus called Peter to come on the water with Him, Peter didn’t question.  He just went (Matthew 14:28-29).  When God called Abraham to leave his homeland without even knowing where he was going, “Abram departed, as the LORD had spoken unto him,” (Genesis 12:1-4).  There are oodles of examples in the Bible of people who just go or do with faith as their only method of reasoning (see Hebrews 11 for some examples).

Faith is most perfectly defined in God’s written Word where it says, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen,” (Hebrews 11:1).  But, clarity and reasoning beckon for the “substance” to be uncovered and the “evidence” to be exposed.  And, that’s not what a true faith walk is all about.

Whatever side we are leaning on determines if we are letting our reasoning, and our desire to know, get in the way of our faith.

I don’t know about you, but I want to see the wonderful happen.  I know that God has so much more in store for His people.  But, we must not be our own greatest hindrance.  When human reasoning comes before Him, it must bow down, and we must walk forth in faith.  We will never see the fabulous until we stop reasoning ourselves out of faith.

“Who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of aliens. Women received their dead raised to life again.” (Hebrews 11:33-35)

Imagine what your faith can do if you unleash it today!

 

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“Plant Kindness”

“Be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” (Ephesian 4:32)

Is kindness a lost art?  The world, with its troubles and woes, has hardened so many.  Where is the tenderhearted?  Where are those who will show compassion to their brother and sister?  Where are those who forward their rights to let another pass freely?

Kindness is a fruit of the spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) not grown on many trees these days.  A fruit forgotten in the “go get’m” mentality of many.

But kindness, if properly nourished, can transform lives and branch out beyond the individual.  Its seeds can blow in the wind and land on others, causing this precious fruit to plant, root, and grow farther than before, taking over the land of darkness to show His marvelous light.

Be kind.  Let tenderness grow where hardness tries to invade.  Give space for love to flourish.

Remember, you have been forgiven, dear friend.  The ultimate gift of kindness has been extended to your very soul.  Sow worthy fruit of that great gift.  Sow fruit that will last into eternity.  Sow fruit that will gain a heart to know Him through you.  Sow fruit that lets another know they are loved, they matter, and they, too, are important.

The flourishing of kindness makes a greater impact than the ugly fruit of hatefulness.

The sprouting of kindness pokes its head out of dismal soil, and says, “Friend, I see you as a person and I care about you.”

When kindness grows to be the biggest tree in all the forest, it overshadows and outshines everything else and shows others this is how we stand, live, and love.

What you plant today will grow tomorrow.  Why not plant something beautiful?  Plant kindness.

 

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God Gets Personal!

 

Omnipresent and personal, those words are kind of an oxymoron, don’t you think?  Yet, that’s what God is known as.  He is never kept within the walls of the status quo erected by the human mindset anyways.

Yes, omnipresent (everywhere at the same time) and personal (individually based)  are contradictory in the finite statement of the human mind, but not in the loving nature of God.  When we think of omnipresent we think of God’s work as being far-reaching.  He can extend His love, power, and authority through an infinite number of channels to touch an infinite number of lives all at the same time.  Yet, the heart and life of each individual soul are precious to Him.  You and I are a special creation to Him.  Fashioned uniquely.  Designed particularly to be you.  And, loved personally.

This is a role only God can fill.  He can govern the universe while at the same time lean in close to hear from you; paying special attention to just you.

So, if you feel lost in the vastness of all that is going on in your world today, be encouraged.  The same God that is running everything also has His eyes focused on you personally.  The same God that is everywhere all at once is reaching specifically to your heart.  And, there He gets personal with you.

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“Dear God, You are wonderful!”

Have you ever had those moments in life when you couldn’t really articulate the heart, but just the simplest of phrases seem to come to the forefront of your mind.

One of those moments just hit me, and all I could think was, “Dear God, You are wonderful!”

You see, many thoughts come through our heads, and it’s literally when we start thinking of all that He has done for us, for this new day that He brought us through to see, and all the beautiful stuff in between, all my mind and my heart could say was, “Dear God, You are wonderful!”

Moments like that hit every Christian during their days and journeys on this earth.  Moments of reflection that cause us to spout in adoration the appreciation we feel for Him. The psalms are written because the hearts of individuals have been touched in a way that only God can touch them and their soul couldn’t help but tell of the goodness they found in Him, and inspire others through their words, songs, prayers, and recountings of His moving in their lives.

My soul takes joy when I read that the Lord will hear when I call (Psalm 4:3) and that He has set the godly apart for Himself.  When I read simple words that tell me He is my shield (Psalm 3:3), I feel so loved and protected under the safety of His refuge (see also Psalm 17:8).  When Your Word tells me, “Thou preparest a table for me in the presence of mine enemies…” (Psalm 23:5), a tear of joyfulness comes in the midst of the concerns of my heart.  My times are truly in Your hands (Psalm 31:15) and over and over again in Your Word, Your goodness, love, and mercy show me just how valued I am in Your sight.

I really could go through His Word in the psalms and throughout this Holy Book and find reason after reason to say, “Dear God, You are wonderful!”

Nonetheless, today I will not allow my praise to be restricted.  Even if I have nothing magnanimous or grandiose to say according to others, I know that God loves to hear from His children, and I want to tell my beautiful Heavenly Father, “Dear God, You are wonderful!”

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