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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“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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“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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“The Vision of You”

The vision of you. Do you know who you are or has this world’s offerings stripped you of who you are really meant to be? To God, you are something beautiful to behold. Today, when you woke up, the vision of you was before the eyes of God, and what He sees is His beautiful creation in you. Don’t settle for anything less than what God sees in you and for you.

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“Purposing the Heart”

Reformations on the outside don’t always equal change on the inside.  It has been proven time and again throughout history, and even throughout the Bible.  A great leader can rise up and make the necessary plans and put programs into place that should foster positive growth in a specified area.  But, if those toward whom the program was geared to serve don’t have a true heart for change, then what we see is a lot of outer stuff being switched around without any real inner transformation taking place.

Jehoshaphat was such a leader.  Jehoshaphat reinvigorated the spirit of worship toward God once more for the people of Judah.  He, himself, “sought the God of his fathers, and walked in His commandments,” (2 Chronicles 17:4, NKJV).  And as such, he was compelled to make the “Book of the Law” available to anyone who would hear.  So he sent leaders throughout the region to teach God’s Word (2 Chronicles 17:7-9).

Another area of reformation that saw positive changes was with the judges.  Men who judge honestly and not take bribes.  Men who would “act in the fear of the LORD, faithfully and with a loyal heart,” (2 Chronicles 19:9, NKJV).

After many ups and downs during his reign, and even a miraculous victory that was won just through praise (2 Chronicles 20), when it came time for Jehoshaphat’s reign to end and he was noted as “doing what was right in the sight of the LORD” (2 Chronicles 20:32, NKJV)), the very next verse tells us the status of the people.  “Nevertheless the high places were not taken away, for as yet the people had not directed their hearts to the God of their fathers,” (2 Chronicles 20:33, NKJV).

Leaders are just that – leaders.  They can go out in front of the pack and try to lay the course for the best plan of action but it is up to the individual to let the compass of his/her heart to be guided in the right direction.  There is a personal responsibility to have a purposeful heart that will intentionally pursue one’s own relationship with God.

How we get on in our relationship with God cannot be put off on another.  We can’t shun the charge to follow wholeheartedly after Him and claim that it’s the fault of others for why we didn’t follow through.

The reason for the lack of follow-through lies literally at the center of one’s heart.  A heart that is not fully devoted to God is a heart that won’t be inclined to continue to live for Him when those people who bring that positive influence are no longer in our lives.  We have to want God for ourselves.  Our hearts have to be intentional in our daily living for Him.

How do we do that?  What does that look like?

A purposeful heart will diligently seek after God.  Seek Him through prayer.  Seek Him in the Word.  Seek Him in times of worship.  A heart that loves the Lord will want to know more about Him and these avenues can help turn one in the right direction.  The psalmist said, “With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments. Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee,” (Psalm 119:10-11).

“I sought thee . . .”

“I hid” the word in my heart . . .

“I” denotes it is one’s personal obligation to charter the course of their own heart; to fill it with the purpose of God; to choose “the way of truth,” (Psalm 119:30).

Leaders can lead but we must make it up in our own minds and hearts to want all of Him as our own.  We must have a purposeful heart that steps closer to Him and not turns away (Proverbs 4:26-27).

David, a man after God’s own heart, became knowns as such because his desire, his goal, the purpose of his own heart was totally for God.  He is quoted as saying, “One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to enquire in his temple,” (Psalm 27:4).  All the days of his life he wanted his heart directed toward God.

Purposing the heart is being intentional in going after God for one’s self.  Nobody else can do it for you.

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“Peace on Earth”

Sin has destroyed peace.  Circumstances try to overrun peace.  Emotions can’t seem to grab hold of peace but, if this time of year teaches us nothing else, it’s that peace is still a very real thing to not only seek after but to find.

The Savior was born for peace.  He came to reconcile, restore, and offer peace to mankind of the likes they never could have else wise imagined having.  His peace is not commercial and it’s not superficial.  The peace of Christ is an inner peace that comes from knowing that even through the hardest trials of life, God’s love for each of us is so magnificent that He offered us this great gift, the best Christmas gift we could ever hope for, through His Blessed Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Peace should not be so elusive for the heart to behold.  While the Shepherds were in that field on that holy night, the chorus of the angels rang out, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men,” (Luke 2:14).  Peace is part of the salvation package; it’s part of the gift we have received through Him.  While it may not always seem like it or even feel like it, in Christ you have a peace which, “passeth all understanding,” and this peace “shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus,” (Philippians 4:7).

Your life hidden in Him is something beyond human comprehension.  You are cemented in a joy that cannot be moved because the One who holds your hope cannot be moved.  Your Redeemer came as a babe and reigns as Victor and He, being the Author of your salvation, is not only your eternal reward in heaven, but He is your peace on earth today.

Father God, Help us through this season.  Not just the holiday season, but these seasons of life that we find ourselves wrapped in.  There are so many questions of why that we may not always understand.  There are circumstances that often we just cannot figure out.  Thankfully, You know it all together and you didn’t ask us to try to know the beginning from the end because You already do.  You asked us to have faith and just rest in the peace that Your Son has already given us.  For many, this time of year is very hard.  For some situations, we can’t begin to imagine the hurt and confusion one carries, so we stand and pray that people everywhere would feel a refreshing of Your peace in their lives today.  AMEN!

“God’s Got You Covered!”

 

Do you ever feel opened and exposed during the trials of life?  Do you ever feel that the enemy has free pickings when it comes to your heartache?  Well, he doesn’t!  The enemies of this life may chase you, hunt you down and all together seek to make your life miserable, but the enemies do not have the last say over anything.  God, in His complete sovereignty, has you covered!

If anybody knew about being constantly chased by enemies seeking to take their life it was David.  Saul, in a jealous pursuit, saw something special in David, the favor of God, and wanted to destroy David.  There were days when David may have felt like giving up.  There were days of hiding in caves and pretending to be a mad-man to seek solitude in other countries.  But, through it all David dealt best with his enemies through prayer.  He declared who his God was and committed his trust to Him.  In Psalm 140:7, “O God the Lord, the strength of my salvation, thou hast covered my head in the day of battle.”

To be covered means to be concealed and to be protected.  The battles of this life may at times make us feel that we are an open target to everyone who can’t stand the favor of God on us, but be of good cheer, God’s got us covered!  “As the mountains are round about Jerusalem, so the LORD is round about his people from henceforth even for ever,” (Psalm 125:2).  And, if God is like a mountain surrounding us then there is no adversary that can break through the covering He has over us.  It may feel like we are on the run sometimes but God is still that protecting force that “covered my head in the day of battle.”  Commit your heartaches, your battle and your enemies to God and let Him be your covering today.

“The God Who Touches Me…”

The God who touches me is the God who loves me.
Saved, my sins He has thrown into the deep sea.

He carries my soul in His hand day by day.
He wraps His strength around me; my fortress, my stay.

He covers me in light that shields from the dark.
He is the armor that protects from all fiery darts.

He’s my Shepherd and the Lamb, who leads and sacrifice.
My safety; my salvation came at His high price.

The God who touches me cares beyond what we know.
His love on display is the grandest show.

In it we see eternity play out.
His best became our rest; no reason to doubt.

On His throne He sits in heaven where we bow at the knee.
Never forsaking us, in His presence, till we are there home free.

The God who touches me, I reach out for Him too.
As the woman grabs His hem and is healed through and through.

To feel His virtue; His power; His love – it’s so real.
His Spirit overwhelms; on my heart is His seal.

Taking me to heights in heaven to know,
where for eternity I bask in His unimaginable glow.

 

 

 

 

 

“Never Give Up!”

Here’s a thought for today: “NEVER GIVE UP!”

Many of us had beautiful dreams as a child. Dreams of how life would be and the things we would do. Some of those dreams were childish because we were children. But, some of those dreams were real aspirations to do something great in this life and to push past what’s before you right now.

I am here to tell you today, don’t let go of those dreams. They are still in you and they are still waiting to see their realization come to pass. Life may get hard sometimes in the race before us, but keep pushing on. Believe God has your best in mind always, and NEVER GIVE UP!

God bless you!