Shake, Shake, Shake

March 31

His voice that time shook the earth to its foundations; this time-he's told us this quite plainly-he'll also rock the heavens:"One last shaking, from top to bottom, stem to stern."  The phrase "one last shaking" means a thorough housecleaning, getting rid of all the historical and religious junk so that the unshakable essentials stand clear and uncluttered.
Do you see what we've got?  An unshakable kingdom!  And do you see how thankful we must be?  Not only thankful, but brimming with worship, deeply reverent before God.  For God is not an indifferent bystander. He's actively cleaning house, torching all that needs to burn, and he won't quit until it's all cleansed. God himself is Fire!   Hebrews 12:26-29

What you plant in your mind, stays in there. I read this verse on Saturday and later that night, while in the kitchen with one of our grandsons, I was singing…"Shake, shake, shake your Mama BOOtie." :-)
I think it came from studying how there are things in our lives Jesus wants to have shaken out!

In the Bait of Satan this 15th day of study talks about where Jesus explains to Peter in Luke 22:31 that Satan asked to "sift you like wheat."  Jesus didn't come up with a way for Peter to opt out of this process. Instead Christ prayed, "that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren." Luke 22:32

It was Peter's pride that allowed the devil to come in thinking he could shake Peter to the point of losing his faith.  Bevere's lists three worldly things that God will shake from our lives.
The lust of the flesh.
The lust of the eyes.
The pride of life.
Next Bevere's explains that Jesus knows the character building and faith strengthening that could come from this process and writes, "God is way ahead of the devil." He lists God's purposes in allowing shaking.
To bring your life closer to its foundation.
To remover what is dead, such as pride, from your life.
To harvest what is ripe within you.
To awaken a dormant area of your spiritual life.
To solidify your life so that the truth in your spirit man can no longer be separated from your soul and body.

Let's pray.
God, our Father, who loves us like no other, shake out the things in our lives which are detrimental to our spiritual growth, to being one with Christ, or to being a light in a lost world.  On Christ the solid Rock we stand. In the name of the Rock, Jesus we pray. Amen

Taste Jesus and See that He is Good

We've gone to the ATM machine….Ate Too Much

March 29-30
Taste and see that the Lord is good.
Psalm 34:8

I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
John 10:10

My mind keeps drifting back to a woman who visited recently and bluntly inquired of me, "Why do you do what you do?"   Ah, a good question for us all to ask ourselves.  While reading a Charles Stanley devotional the other day I found myself saying, "That's it!  That is what I want others to understand and experience."

Stanley wrote: "Eternity begins the moment we are saved; there is no reason to wait until heaven to enjoy the Lord's riches.  At salvation, we received every good gift that God intends to give us: forgiveness, redemption, righteousness, a place in His family, and much more…spiritual growth broadens our capacity to recognize and enjoy His grace in our lives."

Fellowship with Jesus thrills my heart! After an extremely busy day, I realized I'd had no "sit alone with Jesus" time.  As I climbed into bed, I imagined myself in a jam packed crowd, like a concert scene. I could see Jesus way up ahead.  Lifting my hand in the air, with my best non-princess wave, I was waving saying, "Jesus!  Over here!  Can you slip away with me?  Let's get out of here and go somewhere quiet."


Words


March 28
Encourage one another daily, as long as it is called "Today," 
so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness.
Hebrews 3:13 

Currently, I am participating in a study on spiritual disciplines. Each week we take a characteristic of Christ and work to incorporate that trait into our lives. This week has been the virtuous life and I chose to be intentional in speaking encouragement and affirmation into our grandchildren who have been with us.  While successful in the attempts with our grandchildren, I failed to carry out the same affirmation upon my husband.  Tired from creative grandmothering, when he came home, I was a sour puss towards him.  While placing a two year old on the potty, I looked up on the wall behind the toilet and read…listen, laugh, encourage.   I had scored an A+ on the preschool level, but an F in the spousal category!  I thanked God for placing those words spot on in my face and sought forgiveness from my man.
The next day, being even more exhausted, I snapped again, but without even a sign in my face I was quick to kiss and correct!  The thought of Jesus' 40 days in the desert and Satan's temptation moves he placed upon Christ made me realize that in my power this is not doable, but through the power of the Holy Spirit, I can overcome my grumbling.

Let's pray:
Lord, as long as today is called Today, fill us with your Holy Spirit and find us faithful to be daily encouragers to one another. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Pansies

 Pansies in the snow...
Not pansies in the snow at 8:00AM as it began to fall.
March 27
Coming to Him, as to a living Stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, 
you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, 
offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.  
1 Peter 2:4-5
"The revealed Word of God is the solid rock on which we are to build our lives and ministries. Its commands and laws are not optional: they are mandatory. Just because a command or law in the Word might be offensive, we do not have the option of offense and disobedience. The only option we have is to obey."

In just over 3 weeks we will be rejoicing on Easter morn, with shouts of "His is risen! Alleluia!  While that is such an eternal victory over death, the sacrifice takes on much deeper meaning and there are life lessons to be tasted which transform us (more than often through trials) as we walk back through the stories of the life of Jesus.

John Bevere's book The Bait of Satan keeps signaling a light to go off in my brain and make a connection.
"Trials and testing locate a person. In other words, they determine your spiritual position.  Be sure that you build your life on God's revealed Word, not on what others do or say.  Keep seeking the Lord and listening to His voice as He speaks to your heart.  Don't do or say things just to please everyone else.  Seek Him, and stand on what  is illuminating in your heart!

This chapter in the book has us flash back to John 5:16 where "we find that during the last days of Jesus' walk on earth, life became more difficult for His ministry team. The religious leaders and the Jews were persecuting Jesus, seeking to kill Him.  When things started looking up and the people wanted to take Him by force and make Him king, He refused and walked away. (John 6:15)

The disciples were starting to take offense. They'd left jobs and their families to follow this man who they assumed would become king.  In John 6:66 we learn that MANY left and walked with Jesus no more.  What is the old saying, "When the going gets tough"…in this case many high tailed it home!

Has God's Word offended you? I'm sure there are parts where I've diverted my eyes or days where I haven't wanted to allow God's truth to seep down deep! I've been a pansy!

Lord, You are a God of truth, a God we can trust, a solid rock on which we can stand, knowing You will not waiver. Continue to build our spiritual house, may we be seen as a holy priesthood designed by You and may the sacrifices of our lives be acceptable unto You. In Jesus' Name

His House


March 26


One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord 
all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple.  
Psalm 27:4 

Some of our grandchildren are here for the week and I decided to put this play house on the bed for our granddaughter to sleep in.  She LOVES it.  Her joy made me think about how we are going to feel when we see the house Jesus has prepared for us.  Remember he was a carpenter by upbringing!

Just as this little room of her's is within our home, the place Jesus is preparing for us is within His heavenly home!

 My Father's house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?   John 14:2 

The Sure Foundation


The snow isn't this deep yet, but it is beautiful!
March 25
So this is what the Sovereign Lord says:
"See I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation;
the one who relies on it will never be stricken with panic."
Isaiah 28:16

"Without a foundation in His Word, we will be easily offended by unexpected trials and tribulations."

I'm still hanging out in the book of Judges with Gideon and learning such deep lessons.  Gideon faced an enormous trial with his 300 men. They were outnumber 450 to 1.  Priscilla Shirer lays out four key points for us when facing a battle. Great advice on how to set a sturdy foundation to avoid being offended or demolished by unexpected trials.
I tried to evaluate how I've faced our daughter enduring a miscarriage this week in relationship to these points.
1) Begin the battle on your knees bowing before the Lord in worship.  
           I began by crying out to the Lord, but I didn't establish a position of worship.
2) Face the battle from a stance of victory.
           I did get to the place I believed with all my heart God will give her the desires of her heart and
           he knows, even better than her Mama, what is best for her life and his plans for her life to
           prosper.
3) Advance into the battle from your assigned place.
          Circumstances prevented me from taking the position I wanted…right beside my daughter.
4) Approach the battle at just the right time.
           Listen for His voice and go only when God tells you to go.  This has been tough.

Pray:
God, thank You for Your Word which is life giving. Please illuminate it in our lives today and as it falls upon our hearts and minds in times of tribulation may it be a soothing balm bringing peace, comfort, and healing.  In Jesus' Name, Amen


March Madness


March 24
The game was tight, the atmosphere tense.  My husband, who had started upright in his recliner was now positioned like a sliding board as defeat loomed near, causing him to slide lower and lower into his chair.  Then the tide turned, a foul was called and the shots made! He was on his feet, nose almost to the TV screen screaming, "Yes, yes! Along with 1,000's of other fans who bounced up and down in their seats watching their teams. March Madness is a sea of emotions!

Watching the variety of emotions in these basketball games drew me to think of the contrast of emotions Jesus experienced that last week of his life.

In John 12:13 we picture this scene: "They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting, "Hosanna!" "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!"  "Blessed is the kid of Israel."

Were the same people in the crowd where we read seven chapters later:  As soon as the chief priests and their officials saw him, they shouted, "Crucify! Crucify!"  But Pilate answered, "You take him and crucify him. As for me, I find no basis for a charge against him. 

Because of Christ's willingness to shed his blood on the cross, we can live victorious lives!  No loss can cripple us.  No sorrow steal our joy!  All the madness  of this world will one day cease and we will see the one who came in the name of the Lord, the one who conquered death, face to face!  Amen!

Real Life


March 22-23
While this has been a rough week, we have never been alone.  I thank God for where he has led me in my quiet times this week. Nothing has happened yet as far as our daughter miscarrying on her own.  This morning God blew me away with his provision. Here is an email I sent our daughter.

Dear One. 
What an emotional week this has been.  My heart has hurt for you, my precious daughter, who has endured so much disappointment in your lifetime.
Each day God has blown me away in my quiet time.  Yesterday, I was able to have a good cry.  I headed out to run a couple errands. Entering a shop, as I was gathering Easter basket goodies, a sweet friend who works there greeted me with "How many grandchildren do you have now?"  DART  With a huge lump in my throat I shared about what you are enduring. Then we went to dinner with friends and the husband's first question for me was that same one.

This morning as I went to Godtube, I felt there would be another dart, as I saw this picture of the pregnant woman...I opened the video anyway and was blown away by the gift God has given me.  Check out the last verse...my life verse. 
Once again, no one could ever convince me there is not a God who knows our every thought.

I love you, I do trust in the Lord to use this to bring Him glory and 
I believe with all my heart He is going to give you that little girl who long so for.
Love,Mom

I do find comfort that Mallory and Jackson's little one is in heaven as well, with so many other children who never walked her on earth.  Having watched two of our children go through this only deepens the compassion I have for others who walk this same heartbreak. 
Thank you so much for your prayers.  I pray this video and devotional on Godtube blesses you in what you are facing today.  Today's post was supposed to be "March Madness."  I will post that one for tomorrow or Monday.
Love, Boo

Self-Preservation

Life preservers.
March 21
If you forgive anyone's sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.
John 20:23

"Love forgets wrongs so there is hope for the future."

I think I may have to read this book, on not taking an offense, for the rest of my life. I'm hoping the ole adage, " twenty-one days makes a habit" will kick in here.  We say the dumbest things sometimes with the best intentions.  One woman, when hearing about our daughter's dilemma emailed, "Well, you just need to accept with a large family these things are going to happen to you."  There wasn't a lot of healing for a raw open wound in that comment.  Then another precious woman, will all the well meaning in the world, began telling me how this is usually for the best…I knew where she was going and there was absolute truth in her thought process, but right now in this mother's heart my feeling is what our daughter is going through is not the best. It's incredibly painful emotionally and physically.
Absolutely no offense taken towards either of these women, because I know they mean well.  (And doing this study is keeping my heart attitude quite accountable!)

Today's chapter from The Bait of Satan is perfect for where I'm standing.  In this stance as a mother, I can't change what has happened or how we are all hurting, but I can trust that this battle for our hearts and a hope for another pregnancy for our child is the Lord's and I have seen his victorious love for her revealed over and over again.

For the battle is the Lord's, and he will give al of you into our hands.  1 Samuel 17:47

The past five pages I read this morning (middle of the night) are filled with wisdom related to why we flee churches, relationships, etc.  Self-preservation!  We'd rather look at the wrongs of others, run instead of restore, and avoid humbly face an issue that could point to our own sin.

Bevere writes: "Often God's plan causes us to face hurts and  attitudes we don't want to face.  Yet we run from the very thing that will be strength to our lives. Refusing to deal with an offense will not free us from the problem. It will only give us temporary relief. The root of the problem remains untouched…Jesus desires to heal our wounds. But we often do not let Him heal them because it is not the easiest road to take.  It is the path of humility and self-denial that leads to healing and spiritual maturity.  It is the decision to make another's well-being more important than your own, even when that person has brought you great sorrow.  Pride cannot travel this path, but only those who desire peace at the risk of rejection. It is a trail that leads to humiliation and abasement. It is the road that leads to life."

Let's Pray:
Have thine on way Lord, have thine on way. Thou art the Potter, we are the clay! Give us hearts to listen, to learn and to accept Your ways are best Father.  May we be fast to forgive others and not take on an offense.  Help us recognize You are our Protector and we don't need to guard our hearts from hurt, but give them to You to work with in ways that lead to a life of peace. In Jesus' Name, Amen


Hiding From Reality


Spring is coming.
March 20

They are always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of truth.  2 Timothy 3:7

For as many are lead by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God.  Romans 8:14

"Offense blocks spiritual growth, 
but suffering and obedience teach us to a deeper relationship with the Lord and with others."

Whew, this study is one that has me meditating, absorbing and asking God to guide me in truth as he takes me deeper and deeper into an understanding of my faith.  Bevere's writes in a very thought provoking manner.  He points out that "physical growth is a function of time" while "intellectual growth is a function of of learning." Spiritual growth on the other hand is "a function of obedience."

Memorizing scripture and placing it in our hearts has always been a task in which I saw great benefit, but it didn't come easily to me.  I've admired people who can just spout off verse after verse.  Bevere's takes the 1 Timothy verse above and explains in relationship to scripture memory, that it is not enough to give "mental assent" to this process…a mature Christian takes the process to obedience of truth.

Listen: "Now we understand one reason why we have people in the church who have been Christians for twenty years, who can quote verses and chapters of the Bible, have heard a thousand sermons, and read many books, but still wear spiritual diapers.  Every time they meet with difficult situations, rather than responding in the Spirit of God, they seek to protect themselves in their own way.  They are always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of truth….
We can see clearly that it is the mature sons who are led by the Spirit of God. Immature Christians are less likely to follow the leading of the Spirit of God. Most often they react or respond emotionally or intellectually to circumstances they face.  They have not yet learned to act only on the Spirit of God's leading."

Let's Pray:  "Savior, like a Shepherd lead us", please don't let us go astray.  Give us minds to comprehend Your truths and hearts that are quick to obey. In Jesus' Name, Amen
March 19
Those who are planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God.  
They shall still bear fruit in old age; they shall be fresh and flourishing to declare the Lord is upright.
Psalm 92:13-15

I haven't even opened the book, but I like the idea of being fresh and flourishing for the Lord in old age!

"If we keep changing the place where we are planted, 
we will never grow spiritually the way God intends."

Yesterday, as we waded through the grief related to our daughter facing a miscarriage, the lab results for our daughter in law in relation to her pregnancy, and a couple other shocking bits of news, my husband tossed up to me a quote of mine…."Life is a lot."  Yes, it is, so we  trust in the Lord, cling to each other and keep on keeping on knowing heaven is coming and we have lessons to learn in the waiting.

Bevere's writes boldly about the importance of us being planted in the "house of the Lord."  He relates our hopping around trying to find the perfect church home or relationships where people agree with everything we say, to how deadly constant uprooting and transplanting of a plant can be.  We have to put down roots and weather some storms to grow and mature.

Listen to what he says: "Many people go from church to church, ministry team to ministry team, trying to develop their ministry. If God puts them in a place where they are not recognized and encouraged, they are easily offended. If they don't agree with the way something is done, they are offended and go somewhere else.  Offended people uproot themselves, complain, blame the leadership, and never realize their own flaws. God continues to refine and mature us by increasing pressure in the areas where we need to grow.  If we keep changing the place where we are planted, we will never grow spiritually the way God intends.  Thank God for the church He has planted you in and ask Him to mature and prosper you there."

Let's pray:
Father, life is complicated. Our hearts are easily wounded. Yet, you know all this and your Word leaves so many teachable moments on how to persevere along the path and become more like Christ on the journey.  Grow our roots deeper in the places you have planted us, so we may weather the storms. May we not be wishy washy people who pull up roots and run for softer soil.  We do give you thanks for the establishment of the church. Create in us hearts which are assets to the Body of Believers, building one another up, serving and giving in joy and coming into your presence with passionate worship.  In Jesus' Name, Amen

No Heartbeat


We find comfort in knowing that this grandchild we will not hold here on this earth is being loved on not only by Jesus, but by his/her great grandparents.
March 18
Oh, Lord, I cant sleep and my mind is searching for the scriptures of assurance that this rawness of pain will subside. Does the verse exclaim that you will turn our mourning into joy?   You turned my wailing into dancing, you removed my sackcloth and clothes me with joy.  Psalm 30:11
There are these things in life we cannot fix Lord and the only place we can run is to your arms.  For the past hour I've tossed in my bed, wishing I was in another city alongside my daughter, who learned yesterday at her 10 week sonogram that her baby had no heartbeat and had stopped growing at 6 weeks.  Joy has been snuffed out and a cruel game of waiting to miscarry has begun.
Where we had been waiting in joy for the births of four grandchildren, now our hearts mourn the loss of one we will never know this side of heaven.
This loss was experienced four years ago when one of our daughter in laws lost her baby, while visiting here. It is a horrific pain.
Oh Father, we trust in your sovereignty.
A few hours later one of our sons (there are 5 of them) emailed needing prayer for his son, wife and unborn daughter.  Our grandson has been diagnosed with Fifths disease, which he will recover from, but the doctor explained it can be extremely dangerous for babies in utero and in rare cases cause the baby to be born stillborn.  So those two precious parents must wait for lab results to see if our daughter in law is immune to this disease.
Oh Father, we know you love these little ones more than we are even capable of loving them.

Today we rejoice with my husband, who celebrates his 60th birthday, and another son who shares this birthdate and turns 30th.  I've chosen to forego The Bait of Satan study today and just cling to Jesus.



Yesterday, our daughter started her day reading Jesus Calling.  "No detail of your life is hidden from Me. I view you through eyes of grace, so don't be afraid of My intimate awareness.  Allow the Light of My healing Presence to shine into the deepest recesses of your being-cleansing, healing, refreshing, and renewing you. I will never leave you or forsake you. When no one else seems to understand you, simply draw closer to Me. Rejoice in the One who understands you completely and loves you perfectly."

God knew when Sarah Young wrote those words for March 17th that our daughter would be reading those in her grief and despair.

God's provision gets even better.  In a study group on spiritual discipline, which met 30 minutes after I got off the phone with our daughter, the women gathered around praying and weeping with me.  My study assignment for this week was to meditate on a verse of Scripture, be attentive to what God wants to tell me and turn the verse into a prayer.  I decided to read the verses on the Jesus Calling entry for the 17th.  My husband handed me a Bible off the shelf, which I had never used. The Grandmother's Bible. Not only did it have incredibly applicable devotionals for what I was experiencing, it also had a couple prayers written up from the passages. My assignment was done for me, which was greatly appreciated in my state of grief.

May these verses testify to God's unfailing love and the reality that He knows every beat of our hearts from the first one, until the last one before He calls us home.

O Lord, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before the word is on my tongue you know it completely, O Lord.   Psalm 139:1-4

Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit guaranteeing what it to come. 
2 Corinthians 1:21-22
This verse led me to read 2 Corinthians 1:3-4
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.
The aside devotional stated: "God is always willing to renew and revive us with the comfort of his loving presence, filling us up again so that we can comfort others. We can't rely on our own resources as we give out comfort to our friends, our children, our grandchildren, we will only run dry and be overwhelmed by their need. Instead we are to turn to God. He's the only One with an overflowing supply."  
Then right there on the page was this format for prayer and I inserted our daughter's name.
"I praise you, God and Father of our Lord, Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and God of all comfort.  Comfort our daughter in all her trouble so that she can comfort those in any trouble, with the comfort she herself received from you.

The last verse suggested for yesterday was Joshua 1:5 As I  was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will neither leave you nor forsake you.
And the prayer: "Lord, help our daughter to be strong and courageous. Help her to not be terrified or discouraged, but to remember that you, the Lord her God will be there with her where she goes.

If we seek the Lord, we will find Him and he will supply our every need.
Love to each of you this day.
Boo

How Spiritual Vagabonds are Born

March 17
The Lord forbid that I should do this thing to my master, the Lord's anointed,
to stretch out my hand against him, seeing he is the anointed of the Lord.
So David restrained his servants with these words, and did not allow the to rise against Saul.
1 Samuel 24:6-7

"God often places us in uncomfortable places and under increasing pressure 
so that we may be shaped by His love and refining fire."
John Bevere

David's heart rang true to what the Lord knew it to be!  David realized God had chosen Saul, and even though Saul had become a rotten egg, David left him to the Lord's bidding.

This was such a powerful chapter in The Bait of Satan as to how the enemy can cause turmoil in our hearts toward the church where God has placed us.  Bevere makes the comment that churches are not cafeterias where we pick what we like and if there is something we don't like we just up and leave and go looking elsewhere.  He used the Biblical story of Samuel being under the authority and tutelage of a corrupt priest named Eli.  There were two wicked sons on the scene as well who took offerings by manipulation and force and were fornicators.  How long would we last under such a minister?

Bevere's asks: "Did Samuel go look for another place to worship?  Did he go to the elders to expose the wickedness of Eli and his sons?  Did he form a committee to put Eli and his sons out of the pastorate? No, he ministered to the Lord!  God had placed Samuel there, and he was not responsible for the behavior of Eli or his sons. He was put under them not to judge them but to serve them. He knew Eli was God's servant, not his. He knew God was quite capable of dealing with His own."

I will be honest. I'm struggling with this concept.  We were in a church for years not realizing our pastor was having an affair with a church member for 15 years, all the while counseling others who were struggling in their own marriages.  Do I believe God is sovereign and exposed this travesty in His perfect timing?  I guess so. :-)
For you shall go out with joy, and be led out with peace.
Isaiah 55:12

Whew, many people "go out" grumbling, slinging complaining words and stirring up chaos, not peace, in the body of Christ.  Do we pray for the protection of our church and church leaders daily?  We should pray for our church family as much as we pray for our biological family.

The questions posed at the end of this day's devotional are an excellent self check.

1) Do I run from God's refining pressure?
2) Do I complain under pressure?
3) Do I justify my sin and condemn sin in others?  (Now there's a biggie.)
4) Do I expect spiritual leaders to be perfect when I am not?   
5) Am I willing to listen to God and wait on His leading?  (May the proof be in the pudding.)
6) Am I willing to leave in PEACE?

Let's Pray:
Father, thank You for establishing the institution of the church.  May we count it a huge blessing to have a place to go to worship you and bring you our tithe for the advancement of the Kingdom.  We pray today for the leaders of our churches to be filled with wisdom and keep their hearts clean. Anoint the pulpits of churches world wide and may truth be taught in love.  May we be sewers of peace and not kindlers of discord. Lord, grow our churches!  In Jesus' Name, Amen

Jesus Does it All-Daily Check

March 15-16

The other night on Hannity a young surfer, trying to make it as a band member, when challenged by Sean as to why he didn't work stated he was just "living the dream"of "The American Way."  It was chilling to see someone admit, with arrogance, that the great thing about America was that it allowed tax payers to pay for others to not work and live for their dream.  He wanted the free handouts of healthcare and food stamps. He didn't need the housing because he lived with a friend.  I'm sure he would not have done the Hannity show for free!  When Sean offered to get him a job paying $80,000 a year he said he didn't want it.

As believers we get some amazing free handouts from Jesus.  Check out these four key points from Priscilla Shirer's study on Gideon.  I've printed them up on a card and placed it in my bathroom as a daily reminder of all God is providing for me!
1) He saved me. (Justification)        May I never forget the day I asked Jesus into my heart.
2) He changed me. (Sanctification) May I always be willing to go deeper.
                                                        Becoming like Christ is an unending process.
3) He positions me. (Location)        May I be more expedient in my obedience.
                                                        Reflecting on all the times I've been unwilling to move into action
                                                        for the Lord makes me sad.
4) He strengthens me.(Fortification)May I remember "not my might but your's Lord."

The Skit Guys have a video clip called "On the Way to the Cross."  Watch it and recall some of the many things Jesus did on his way to the cross and realize he is still at work for us today.  All his hand outs are free, if we just believe.

http://www.godtube.com/watch/?v=JE200CNU&utm_source=GodTube%20Today&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=03/15/2014
               

Who Will Avenge Me?

March 14
Vengeance is Mine, 
I will repay, says the Lord.
Romans 12:19

This verse had me thinking of all the times in life where I've been able to sit back and someone else does the dirty work. Usually my amazing husband.  He is not a shopper, but is quick to offer to be my personal valet service, dropping me at the store, driving off to find a parking place and then watching for me to come out and he pulls right up! My husband is awesome about clearing the table and doing the dishes.  A night out at a restaurant where someone else cooks, serves, clears and cleans is also a delight.  As a school administrator my husband listens to "issues" and often without involving an offended party, he takes care of the issue in a creative way.  We do not have garbage pick up in our county, but blessed ole me sleeps with a  man who has a pick up and hauls off our trash without me ever having to ask. I know you are thinking…."You better be good to that man!"

God will haul off the trash in our lives as well!

Bevere's writes: "Churches split, families divide, marriages shatter, and love dies, crushed by an onslaught of words launched in hurt ad frustration. Friends, family, and leaders offend us using words sharpened by bitterness and anger that aim a deadly blow. Even though the information may be factual and accurate, often our motives are impure.  Any sowing of discord or separation among brethren is an abomination to God.  (Proverbs 6:16-19)

When Rejected By A Father

Davedaddy with his grandchildren and great grandchildren.
March 13
And he will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children,  
and the hearts of the children to their fathers,
lest I  come and strike the earth with a curse.
Malachi 4:6

"I don't know what a loving Father looks like.  My father died when I was four." 
"My father was an alcoholic and I have no fond memories of  him."
"I remind my father of my mother, whom he divorced years ago. He wants nothing to do with me. He's remarried and started a new family."
All of these quotes have been stated by women sitting in our living room at one time or another.

Being raised by a father who was the most extravagant giver with a loving and selfless personalty makes it difficult to comprehend the depth of the hurt these women suffer.  They would tell you the lack of those traits in a father makes it difficult to embrace God as Father.

See, my father, look at this piece of your robe in my hand!  I cut off the corner of your robe but did not kill you.  See that there is nothing in my hand to indicate that I am guilty of wrongdoing or rebellion. I have not wronged you, but you are hunting me down to take my life. 1 Samuel 24:11

Saul was David's king, mentor and father figure who flat out let jealousy and suspicion overtake him as he sought to kill David. It is an amazing story where David finds himself TWICE standing over a sleeping king with the opportunity to kill him and thus protect himself, but he doesn't lift the sword.

The opportunity to "make things right" through retaliation and revenge might bring relief in the moment, but it doesn't bring peace in our hearts.  John Bevere made this statement:
"If your father figure or leader is doing something sinful and wrong, instead of being offended, 
pray for that person.  God will correct him-that's His job, not yours. Refuse to take up an offense." 

Let's turn it into a prayer:
God, how blessed we are to call you, Father.  If our earthly father figures or leaders over our lives are doing something sinful and wrong, instead of being offended teach us to pray for that person.  Remove the responsibility from us to "correct them."  This is Your job, not ours. Though the pain may be great and frustrations about, may we refuse to take up an offense. In Jesus' Name.




Is God in Control?

March 12
For God sent me before you to preserve life…And God sent me before you to preserve a 
posterity for you in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance.
So now it was not you who sent me here, but God.
Genesis 45:5, 7-8

"No man, woman, child, or devil can ever get you out of the will of God!
Nothing can come against us without the Lord's knowledge of it before it ever happens.
If the devil could destroy us at will, he would have wiped us out a long time ago,
because he hates man with a passion."
Bevere

We must avoid the blame game and remember God is in control and has the ability to work all things together for his good and for the advancement of his kingdom.  The humanness in me would have loved to have been in that room when Joseph's brothers showed up before him as second in command in Egypt. HELLO! Here's a very interesting thought. Had Joseph remained offended and disposed of these siblings, which he certainly had the power to do,  "he would have killed the heads of 10 of the twelves tribes of Israel. This would include Judah, from whose lineage Christ would descend."

Let's pray:
Father God, you are in control!  You are a big God!  Remind us this day, that taking an offense and picking up the reins of control in our own lives can take us right out of Your will.  Where there are hurts, help us to not retaliate, but to lay our burdens down at Your feet and then look to You for directions on where to step next. In Jesus' Name, Amen

How Could This Happen to Me?

March 11
Joseph said to them…"But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good."
Genesis 50:19-20

"Satan hopes we will take his bait of offense so that he will have a foothold into our lives."
John Bevere

Ah, the story of Joseph.  The story begins as a travesty and the hurt heightens as this wealthy youngster, betrayed by his own brothers, becomes a faithful slave and is once again deceptively trapped by Potiphar's wife and tossed into the vilest of prison conditions.  My mind has a difficult time comprehending how this fellow kept keeping on with his eyes on God.  Yet, then I think of some current day situations of friends, whom I love, and the depth of their hurt and betrayal by family carries a similar storyline.

Bevere writes a reflection of the probable mental anguish Joseph is in at this point.
"Can you hear his thoughts in the damp darkness of this dungeon? I served my master with honesty and with integrity for over ten years. I'm more faithful than his wife. I stayed loyal to God and my master, daily fleeing sexual immorality. What is my reward?  A dungeon!
It seems that the more I try to do what is right, the worse it gets!  How could God allow this?  Could my brothers steal my promise from God, too? Why hasn't this mighty, covenant God intervened on my behalf?  Is this how a loving, faithful God cares for His servants?  Why me?  What have I done to deserve this?  I only believed I'd heard from God."

If only we can allow our faith to position us to the place where we can look up and see the sovereignty of God.   If only we can remember God's faithfulness to all the generations who have gone before us and believe that being God he can work this together for our God and restore to us what has been lost.
The restoration will most likely not look like anything we could conjure up or imagine, but it will have the look of a work done by God which brings him glory and exceeds our wildest dreams.

Let's pray:
God, we give you praise!  We give your our hearts when they are happy and when they are hurting.  We choose this day to not fall into Satan's trap of offense, but we believe that You are capable of taking what was meant for evil against us and turning it into good for Your kingdom and our lives. In Jesus' Name, Amen

Sing Our God is Greater   www.youtube.com/watch?v=p-6YdT1DEO8

Walls of Protection

March 10
For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, 
bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.
2 Corinthians 10:4-5

"We must come to the place where we trust God-not our flesh-
to protect us from offense."  Bevere

And the walls should come tumbling down, but they don't.  We build them up again and again to protect ourselves from being hurt.  Guilty as charged!  I think back on numerous times in my life when I have chosen to step away from a relationship (with a brother or sister in Christ even), because it was more comfortable to do so than seek reconciliation.  That equates to selfishness, although I'm sure at the time I said, "Self preservation." Actually, I think they may be the same thing, especially when we are trusting in our own strength to see it through. 
We forget the power that is available to us "to do all things, through Christ who strengthens us."

Let's pray: Lord, Your power is mighty and capable of destroying strongholds.  Help us come to the place where we trust You and not our flesh.  May we say, "He is my Lord and God," and mean it.  Open our eyes to the truth that taking an offense is a sin.  May we start today by resisting the temptation to take on an offense.  In Jesus' Name, Amen

Cry to the Lord

March 8-9
Heading off this morning to a women's conference to praise the Lord with the masses!  
It has been a lot of work for the women at the local church putting this conference together.  Our pastor's wife heads up this conference and we've tried to keep her prayed up so she will not grow anxious over the details.  Here are some scriptures we prayed over her.

For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
Romans 10:13

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous.
Do not be afraid; do to be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.
Joshua 1:9

Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.
Proverbs 16:3

Let's pray these things together now for the work the Lord has for each of us to do. Then be sure to click on the song below, raise your hands in the air and sing along!  (My husband caught me doing this earlier.)

Father, we adore you!  We lay our lives before you and desire to be pleasing in Your sight. When the enemy rears his ugly head remind us to not be afraid or discouraged, but to stand strong and courageous as Gideon and his 300 did, knowing You go before us and area with us wherever we go.
When the testing times arise, may our automatic cry be…"Save us, Lord."  Be upon every detail Father of our lives.  In Jesus' Name, we come to You. Amen.

Massive Offense-Great Expectations

March 7
My guess is today is the last snowfall for the season. The floodlights are on and I've been up since 4:30 watching the beauty of the snow and standing in amazement of all the wonders of God's creation. While many people find the snow "offensive," I love the way, here in the south,  it makes us stop and be still.  Tomorrow's forecast is for 63 degrees, so we will all be up and out again!
Now on with our study, which is convicting me more and more.  Clean up on aisle Boo!

And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another.
Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many.  And because lawlessness will abound, 
the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved.
Matthew 24:10-13

Jesus is giving the signs of the end times in this passage.  So in addition to the prophetic fulfillments we've seen in Israel and the weather, we can add this description of how even Christians will act.  Keep our eye to the sky.  Jesus is coming back!  :-)  I know... Keep our faces flat on the ground too, praying for the salvation of many.

For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption,
but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.
And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.
Galatians 6:8-9

Bevere expresses, "You need to realize that when you sow the love of God, you will reap the love of God.  You need to develop faith in this spiritual law-even though you may not harvest it from the field in which you sowed, or as quickly as you would like."

The Lord says, "In My greatest hour of need, My closest friends deserted Me. Judas betrayed Me, Peter denied Me, and the rest fled for their lives.  Only John followed from afar.  I had cared for them for over three years, feeding them and teaching them. Yet as I died for the sins of the world, I forgave.  I released all of them-from My friends who had deserted Me to the Roman guard who had crucified Me. They didn't ask for forgiveness, yet I freely gave it. I had faith in the Father's love.
I knew that because I and sown love I would reap love from many sons and daughters of the kingdom. Because of My sacrifice of love, they would love Me."

Jesus gave it all.  He fulfilled God's expectations.  We set ourselves up to take an offense because we walk in self-centeredness.  We need to free ourselves up from expectations. I think of the times I've probably been offended, when I gave a gift and received no thank you note.  Did I give the gift to get an acknowledgment.  (I think it may be more the upbringing of "You need to write a thank you note!")
Still I can see how a little offense can brew.  You include someone in the gatherings in your home, yet not once have they ever invited you in for so much as a cup of coffee.  The offense brews.  You've driven carpool 5 times to their 1 and think "I'll never do this again, she has too many issues." Instead of seeing how God may have placed you in that person's life for such a time as this. "The pastor spoke to Genevieve this morning, but didn't even look in my direction.  Well, maybe I just won't put my tithe in today."  We can be huge messes in the offenses we take upon ourselves.

Bevere says, "If I have expectations about certain persons, those people can let me down. They will disappoint me to the degree that they fall short of my expectations. But if I have no expectations about someone, anything given is a blessing and not something owed."

Let's Pray:
Lord, replace the expectations we have of others with the unconditional love we have for them.  In Jesus Name, Amen.


The Heart's True Condition

March 6
The English language can be so confusing. We have carrot, carat and karate?  The first is a vegetable,  the second a system of weight for diamonds and the third relates to the purity of gold. Twenty-four karat is considered pure gold, but is so soft it is not practical for jewelry making.  18 karat
gold (18K) contains 18 parts of gold and 6 parts of another metal.  The smaller the karat value the less pure the gold.
Look at what Bevere states and apply this to our spiritual lives.  "Refined gold is soft and pliable, free from corrosion or other substances. It is when gold is mixed with other metals (copper, iron, nickel, and so on) that it becomes hard, less pliable, and more corrosive…Immediately we see the parallel:  A pure heart is like pure gold-soft, tender, and pliable. Hebrews 3:13 states that hearts are hardened through the deceitfulness of sin!

In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be,
you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, 
being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it tested by fire, 
may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
1 Peter 1:6-7

The fiery furnaces of life can make us shine brighter and increase our purity!

I don't know about y'all, but I am only two days into this study and amazed at how quickly I take offense at the words and actions of others.  I'm thinking back to a recent time when I was "offended" in a place I thought God had sent me.  Leaving in my car, I issued up this inquiry to God. "What was your purpose in putting me through that?"  I kid you  not, His reply, "To refine you like gold."  Then today he has me studying this lesson.  That's how the Lord works on me. :-)  The next step was for me to remember how much God loves the people who offend me and for me to love them as Jesus does through the power of the Holy Spirit.

"One way the enemy keeps a person in an offended sate is to keep the offense hidden, cloaked with pride.  Pride will keep you from admitting your true condition. Pride causes you to view yourself as a victim. Because you believe you were treated unjustly, you hold back forgiveness.  Though your heart's true condition is hidden from you, it is not hidden from God. Being mistreated does not give you permission to hold on to an offense.  Two wrongs do not make a right."  John Bevere

Anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see.
Revelation 3:18

Let's pray the 1 Peter verse into our lives.
Father, because of your great love for us, we can greatly rejoice that though we are grieved by various trials, we know there is benefit to the testing of our faith and it is that faith which allows us to persevere until the revelation of Christ!  What a day of rejoicing that will be!  Give us hearts which are willing to be filled with Your Holy Spirit and strengthen for the day!  Give us eyes that keep their focus upward and in the Word, watching for your guidance and provision.  Check our hearts and keep them from taking up and offense.  In Jesus' Name, Amen

I was reading Jim Daly's post on Focus on the Family and he related how not only did Christ not take offense when the soldiers and high priests came into the garden to arrest him, but he healed the ear of the high priest's servant, Malchus, when Peter cut it off.  Daly writes he thinks Peter was actually going for Malchus' throat and missed!




Taking an Offense

March 5
It is impossible that no offenses should come.
Luke 17:1
Well, this study on not taking an offense is a much needed chapter in my life. By 7:45 AM Monday, I had taken offense for others. These individuals probably hadn't even taken offense of the actions brought against them, but I had taken it for them!  Whew, it robs your joy, interrupts your fellowship with the Lord, and turns you into a grumbler!  Got to give it up.

The book I'm journeying in through this Lenten Season is The Bait of Satan by John Bevere.  
The sub-title: "Living free from the Deadly Trap of Offense."

Here we go!

And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare (entrapment) of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.
2 Timothy 2:24-26

"Many people are unable to function properly in God's purpose and calling for their lives 
because of the wounds, hurts, and offenses in their lives.  
They are handicapped and hindered from fulling their potential.
Most often it is a fellow believer who has hurt them."
John Bevere

David laments in Psalm 55:12-14

If an enemy were insulting me, I could endure it; if a foe were rising against me, I could hide. 
But it is you, a man like myself, my companion, my close friend, with whom I once enjoyed fellowship at the house of God, as we walked about among worshipers. 

Lord, you are such an example of one who does not take offense.  Oh,that we could have hearts that reflect Your character.   Oh, that we might know the truth and it would set us free from the offenses we hold in our hearts.  Oh, that we would stay clear of the devil's traps today and not quarrel, but be gentle to all, be able to teach and be patent and humble towards those who are in opposition to us!  With God all things are possible. In Christ's name we pray. Amen








Eternity

Heaven's lakes will be even more amazing than Lake Tahoe
March 4
Charles Stanley caught my attention in a devotional last week were he stated: "There's an issue of supreme importance that we often forget about in the busyness of life and the daily challenges of relationships. It is the question of where people will spend eternity."

When we attend social gatherings and are meeting a new group of people what are some of the first questions we encounter.
1) Where do you live?
2) Where did you grow up?
3) Where do you work?
4) Where are you spending eternity!  How wild would that be!

Stanley goes on to say: "Looking at the human race from a divine viewpoint, we understand that at the end of time, there will be two groups: those who will live forever with God and those who will experience eternal death, separated from Him.  Every living person's final destination will hinge on the simplicity of receiving God's forgiveness for his or her sins."

For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 
Romans 5:6-8

Lenten Prep


Life is full of preparations.
Preparing to put on my daughter's bridal veil.
Preparing her child to be christened.
 Our son preparing to change his first diaper.
Preparing to enter fatherhood,
Another son and daughter in law preparing my Daddy to enter heaven.
March 3
I prayed fervently for a friend who had his colonoscopy last week.  Having endured this process twice, I know the prep is the worst part.  Our system has to eliminate anything that can obstruct the doctor's view.  In order for us to see what God is up to, to experience the thrill of hearing God's directive voice and be able to live with a peace that passes understanding we have to eliminate "stuff" from our lives.

The beginning of the Lenten season is two days away.  Every year I think about giving up sugar and my prep probably consisted of baking a huge dessert to indulge in the days before!  :-)  Just did a cheesecake  and my favorite hazelnut tortes!

Instead of focusing on cutting some "thing" out for lent, I'm diving into John Bevere's book, The Bait of Satan,Living Free From the Deadly Trap of Offense.  The book includes a 30 day devotional supplement to take you deeper into Bibilical truths related to resisting an offense and repenting of and getting rid of offenses which may have impacted your life in the past.  I think it's going to be a great way to approach the Easter season with appreciation for the depth of what Christ has done for us.
I encourage you to order the book and read along! It is out of stock through Lifeway, but I was able to purchase it on Amazon.

Here are some wonderful verses related to Christ and preparations.

This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah: "A voice of one calling in the wilderness, 'Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.'"  Matthew 3:3

The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son.  Matthew 22:2

When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial.  Matthew 26:12

So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them and prepared the Passover.  Matthew 26:19

Pilate had a notice prepared and fastened to the cross. It read:  "Jesus of  Nazareth, King of the Jews.
John 19:19

Then they went home and prepared spices and perfumes.   Luke 23:56

On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb.   Luke 24:1

However, as it is written: "What no eye had seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived"-the things God has prepared for those who love him-  1 Corinthians 2:9

For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.   Ephesians 2:10

But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.  1 Peter 3:15

Removal


March 1-2
Not everything we read in God's Word is feel good, flowery, and fluffy.  I had a trifecta last week.
Those always perk my ears up to inquire if God is trying desperately to speak to me. It began with me praying for someone and sensing God simply saying, "Stay away." I didn't want to stay away, it's someone I really thought would be fun to be friends with.
The next day I was doing Bible Study with some women and one person brought up Matthew 7:6 on her computer.  I was familiar with the first part of the verse, but part B was a kicker that caught my attention.
Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs.
If you do, they may trample them under their feet, 
and turn and tear you to pieces.
Matthew 7:6

Yikes!  Trampling on me and God's Word is one thing, but tearing me to pieces is something I'd like to avoid.  Then on day three of this adventure which had me thinking, this Rick Warren quote pops up on Facebook.

"God sometimes removes a person from your life 
for your protection. Don't run after them."
Rick Warren
God is for us!  Let's never forget.