Change starts with me

light shineAs our world seemingly falls apart more and more each day. It is easy to point fingers and to blame others.

We see this being lived out live on TVs and the internet across America and the world.

But as I watch the chaos all around us. I realized how quick we too can jump on the bandwagon and join the crowd. How quick we can give into compromise and excuse sin.

If you have ever read the book of Judges, you know that the book ends with the verse, “and everyone did what was right in his own eyes (Judges 21:25).”

How did the Israelites get to this point? How did our world come to this?

For the Israelites it began when they failed to obey the word of God. Rather than driving out their enemies as God instructed, they lived among them. And because they failed to obey, but instead compromised, God allowed their enemies to become a thorn in their sides and a snare.

Rather than being a light and changing those they lived among, the Israelites became like their enemies, and began to serve the gods of the land. Before long the Bible makes it clear that they had turned from the Lord and done evil in His eyes. And in the midst of this a new generation came forth who neither knew the Lord nor what He had done for Israel.

I see this clearly among the world today.

As we (the church) have made compromises and excused sin, we have become more and more like the world.

As we (God’s people) have blamed others for our sins, the snares of this world have pulled us under.

As we (you and I) have become indifferent to sin, our hearts have grown cold for the things of God, and because our hearts have grown cold, we have failed to teach and train the new generation to know and obey God’s Word.

I noticed a pattern as I read this morning:

  1. When we fail to obey the Lord, we will make compromises and excuse sin.
  2. When we excuse sin, we will become hard hearted
  3. When we become hard hearted, we will become indifferent and calloused.
  4. When we become indifferent, we will fail to study God’s Word, much less teach God’s Word.
  5. When we fail to study and teach God’s Word, we will do evil in God’s sight and become like the world.

Oh it is easy to point fingers and to blame, but difficult to examine our own hearts. Yet, as we allow God to examine our own hearts and show us our sin, we realize change must begin with us.

God has called us as believers to be salt and light. To be like beacons on a hill. He has set us apart to be different.

Yet how easy it is to hide our lights under the bushel, to remain seated when we need to make a stand. To become indifferent to the things of God, and become more and more like the world.

Paul warns us in Galatians that a little leaven leavens the whole lump (Galatians 5:9). Solomon warns us to beware of the little foxes that seeks to destroy the vine.

Why? Because it is the little things that lead to the big. It is the small compromises that lead to indifference.

If we really want to change the world, and make a difference. The change must begin with us. And for any change to take place, we must get back to the basics. The study of God’s Word, time spent in prayer, and seeking to walk in obedience to the Word of God.

What does the world need now?

The world needs Jesus.

May you and I seek to be a light to change the world, rather than allowing the world to change us.

True change begins with us, the church, the people of God.

 

 

Learning to be content

learning to be contentMonday night our Sunday school class met with proper social distancing mind you and our teacher spoke on contentment.

She asked if we had learned to be content through this time of quarantine.

Everyone sat quietly and smiled, but no one really gave a response.

The past few days I have thought on this question and have studied the passage from Philippians where Paul says he has learned to be content.

And I was struck by the fact that this was something he had to learn.

I’ve home schooled my kids for years, and I have found that they each learn in different ways. Yet regardless of how they learn, there is certainly some repetition involved in their learning. Whether it is speaking the lesson aloud over and over, writing it down over and over, making up a song to sing over and over etc.

And no matter how they learned, it took time. It was a process.

As Christians we are all still learning. We are each learning how to be more like Jesus. We are each still growing in our understanding of who God is and of His amazing love for us. We won’t stop learning or growing until we die.

The fact that Paul says he has learned to be content, tells us that he had to endure some things on an ongoing basis in order to learn this.

So how did Paul learn to be content? Because if we keep reading we see he learned to be content with little and with much. He learned to be content whether well fed or hungry, whether living in want or in need.

He tells us the secret for contentment is found in realizing that he could do all things, go through all types of situations, endure all kids of circumstances, by depending on Christ who gives Him strength.

The past 40 some odd days of quarantine have certainly been a learning process for a lot of us.

Learning to be content when you are with your people 24/7. Learning to be content when things have gone wrong. Learning to be content with what you have on hand rather than running to the store. Learning to be content with your natural hair color (lol) until the salons open, etc.

And I think for most of us if we are all honest here, it has shown us that we are all still learning.

We have yet to arrive.

But that is okay, because our Father is a patient teacher, who gives us much grace.

So often I have found that when I struggle with contentment it is because I have lost focus.. I have begun looking around, comparing myself to others, and have my eyes on my situation rather than on my Lord.

Paul said he’d learned to be content because he had learned that he could do all things through Christ, who gives him strength.

Oh my when I try to do things in my own strength, watch out, there are going to be big problems. But, when I do things in His perfect strength and look to Him, peace abounds.

I don’t know about you, but I am certainly still learning…

I’m still learning to be content.

Still learning to focus my eyes heavenward.

Still learning to rely upon the Lord and lean not on my own understanding.

Still learning to trust.

I’m still learning.

But I rest in His amazing grace, knowing that He is not finished with me yet, but that He will be faithful to continue teaching me and growing me until that day!

Don’t beat yourself up if your still learning, we all are.

Rest in His perfect grace, rely upon His strength, and focus you eyes heavenward.

When we do this, everything else seemingly falls in place, as we are reminded afresh and anew of His love for us, and that He is still in control.

By Faith

maxresdefaultHow do we even process what is taking place today.

I’d like to block it out.

I’d like to pretend everything is normal and watch Hallmark movies with happy endings, and act as if what is taking place outside is not reality.

Yet it is reality.

And it is scary.

How do we process this.

How do we live in this unprecedented time?

Truthfully, it is easy to succumb to depression.

Easier still to allow fear to rule.

Yet, I know neither are the correct responses.

The only way we can live in the midst of this ongoing pandemic, is by faith.

“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance of what we do not see (Heb. 11:1).”

We can only make it through such desperate days by faith.

And I don’t say that as some pat answer, I say it because it is the truth.

When people are dying daily, we continue on by faith.

When we don’t understand, we keep pressing on by faith.

When the darkness seems to take over, we catch a glimpse of hope by faith.

By faith, we believe that God is good.

By faith, we know that He is in control.

By faith, we recognize that He has allowed this, and can bring good from it.

By faith, we trust Him for tomorrow, because He knows the number of our days.

By faith, we place our family in His hands, knowing He loves them more.

By faith, we keep putting one foot in front of the other and continue to live out this Christian journey in a way that seeks to point the lost to Him.

By faith.

Now, I did not say it was easy.

I didn’t say it comes naturally. For the enemy would like nothing more than to keep us drowning in fear and depression.

Which our flesh naturally falls for.

No it is a battle.

Paul said he beat his body into submission.

Why? Because our flesh is weak. Our flesh is sinful, and he had to train his mind to think right. He had to train his body to react the correct way. He had to work to live his days out in faith.

And likewise, so do you and I.

So what does this mean?

It means we have to be in God’s Word, where we are reminded of who He is and how much He loves us.

It means getting up early to meet with the Lord, and to be in constant prayer.

It means dwelling on that which is true, lovely, pure, and good.

It means rejecting the lies the enemy wants us to fall for.

It means confessing all sin, so the enemy has no foot hole in our lives.

It means being filled with the Spirit and not our flesh.

It means daily, moment by moment dependence on the Lord.

And as we do this, as we live out each new day by faith.

He walks beside us, and gives us the grace to keep moving forward.

To keep pressing on.

Press on dear friend.

I know this is not an easy time, and I know living by faith seems like a pat answer for the days which we are going through.

But if not by faith in the God of the Universe, who created you, who loves you, who died on your behalf. Then by what?

May we continue to encourage one another as long as today is called today.

And may His amazing grace carry us when we aren’t sure we can go on.

 

 

 

Peace in the midst of uncertainty

peace eliz. elliotIf you are like me, watching the news does nothing to give you peace.

Checking Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, likewise these do nothing for sanity and peace in this uncertain time.

I’m not saying we should not be updated on the status of the pandemic we are facing as a country and world, but I am saying, these sources can not nor will not bring you peace.

Our one and only source of peace comes from the Word of God.

As my husband reminded us this morning during morning devotions, “faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God (Romans 10:17).”

Other sources will fill our minds with questions, doubts, and uncertainties. But God’s Word reminds us that He is on His throne.

God’s Word reminds us of His love that was demonstrated at Calvary.

The Word of God speaks truth into our hearts, helping us to remember the character and love of God.

God’s Word encourages our hearts as we remember that the God we serve is the God of the impossible.

We must saturate our minds, our hearts, and our lives with God’s Word daily, and even more so today.

But, it is more than that.

For though reading and knowing God’s Word does bring encouragement.

The peace needed in these uncertain times is the result of prayer.

Philippians 4:6-7 makes it clear that when we present our request to the Lord, that God’s peace will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

Yes, these are uncertain times, and it is easy to slip into discouragement. Easy to fall for the gloom and doom the media overwhelms us with.

Which is why we must be encouraged in our faith as we read God’s Word, and overwhelmed by His peace, as we spend time praying.

I want to encourage you as God has encouraged me to use the time He has provided to saturate our minds with His Word, and to pray.

Sometimes we feel at a loss, as I’m sure many of us do now.

We want to do something, but don’t know what.

May I remind you, that one of the best things we can do is pray.

What we are unable to do, God can do through prayer.

Let us then be reminded of the goodness of God through His Word, and experience the peace of God through prayer.

For these alone will bring us the peace needed in these uncertain times.

 

 

Blessings in Disguise

il_570xN.744940149_cy1rLaura Story has a song called “Blessings.” I had always liked the song, but it took on a new meaning when I read the story behind the song.

Laura’s husband who was a healthy guy, one day began falling asleep everywhere he went. While he and Laura were talking, at work, and even one day while driving home. They saw doctor after doctor, but it wasn’t until an MRI was done, that they found out he had a brain tumor. The brain tumor was removed, but there were complications, and he lost all short term memory. The journey was hard, but in the midst God taught them much about how the difficult blessings lead them closer to the Lord.

I read a quote this morning from Spurgeon that said, “Anything is a blessing which makes us pray.”

As I thought on this and the song, I have been reminded afresh that oftentimes it is the most difficult times of life, that we grow the most in our walk with the Lord.

Many of the New Testament writers often spoke of rejoicing in tribulation. And though they were probably more spiritual than me, I think the main reason they could say such things, was because they knew that when walking the hardest roads, they were walking closest to the Lord.

I will be honest, this isolation thing is so not fun.

Reading the news of how many are infected, and how many have died is not encouraging.

Spending spring break at home, not very exciting.

And yet, I’ve also watched as the Gospel has been spreading like wildfire among social media, as preachers and teachers have recorded messages of hope for all the world to see.

I’ve watched as musicians have given free concerts online for all to see, and educational tools have become available for all.

People who have gone the extra mile to help others in need.

I’ve seen God at work in the midst of this time, and have been reminded that truly sometimes blessings do come in disguise.

We pray for blessings
We pray for peace
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
We pray for healing, for prosperity
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering
All the while, You hear each spoken need
Yet love is way too much to give us lesser things
‘Cause what if your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise
We pray for wisdom
Your voice to hear
We cry in anger when we cannot feel You near
We doubt your goodness, we doubt your love
As if every promise from Your Word is not enough
All the while, You hear each desperate plea
And long that we’d have faith to believe
When friends betray us
When darkness seems to win
We know that pain reminds this heart
That this is not our home
What if my greatest disappointments
Or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy
What if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are your mercies in disguise
-Laura Story
Blessings

Don’t give up!

Gal_6-9_v3_Photo1_Web_2000xLet us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers (Ga. 6:9-10)

I don’t know about you, but sometimes life is hard, and I just want to quit.

Sometimes I grow tired of doing what is right and tired of seeing no fruit of my labor.

Other times I wonder if my obedience is even worth it.

Yet, as I continued my study of Elizabeth today, I was reminded of Galatians 6, that makes it clear, that I am not to give up on doing what is right or good.

Elizabeth suffered a great disappointment, month after month, year after year. Though she prayed and asked for a child, though she continued to serve and obey God, her prayers were unfulfilled, that is until just the right moment.

She may have been tempted to question God, to want to quit. She may have grown weary in her service to the Lord despite her unanswered prayer. We are not told such things, but we do know she did not quit and eventually she was rewarded with a child.

As this time of quarantine continues, tensions are high and people are growing tired and weary.

As believers may we seek to continue to do good and not give up.

May we be sources of encouragement to others especially to our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.

Satan would love for us to give up, to throw in the towel, and to dwell on the bad.

Yet, God wants us to continue doing what is right, even when it is hard.

To keep loving, to keep forgiving, and to keep pressing on.

Whether we get our reward now or later is not the point, but we can rest assured that God sees and knows our faithfulness, and He will reward it.

 

Dealing with Life’s Disappointments

thebjzcxwc.jpgThere have been numerous disappointments for everyone lately.

My heart truly goes out to the seniors of 2020 as they  are missing out on the “last” of their final high school or college years.

Trips have been canceled due to airlines canceling flights because of country restrictions.

I even heard today that the 2020 Olympics have been canceled and I can’t imagine what those athletes must be feeling as they see their dream postponed for another year.

Weddings have had to be rescheduled and locations have had to change.

School trips have been canceled, along with spring sports.

And if we aren’t careful we can get discouraged real quick.

We can start questioning the Lord and even growing angry.

The devil would like nothing more than to lead us all to a state of grumbling and complaining, which in times like these, it is certainly easy to do.

But God.

He is still on His throne, and He is still worthy of our praise, despite all of life’s disappointments.

I read today in Luke 1 about Elizabeth and Zechariah. The Bible says they were righteous, obedient and blameless, yet they had tried and tried to have children for years, but were not able.

And I was reminded of the verse which says, “He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous (Math. 5:45)

Though Elizabeth and Zechariah had done what was right, they still suffered disappointment.

The age old question is, “If God is love, why do bad things happen?”

And the answer whether we like it or not is simply sin.

We (myself included) are so quick to forget the Lord’s blessings, that all we can see is the bad. It takes daily, hourly, moment by moment giving thanks to God for the good, to help us keep the right perspective.

The enemy longs to get us to question the Lord and His goodness. He longs to get our eyes on our problems, rather than on the Lord.

He delights in causing us to grumble and complain, for he knows this is sin and that it displeases the Lord.

Satan loves to cause trials and chaos in our lives, so we will blame God, rather than glorify Him.

And in times like we are living in today where the disappointments of life seem to rare their ugly heads everywhere we turn, if we are not careful we will fall for his tricks.

The truth is God owes us nothing, and yet He sent His one and only son to die in our place and to take the sins of the world upon Himself.

The truth is, He has already done far more for us than what any of us deserve.

And though Satan would like us to believe the lie, that God somehow owes us when we do what is right. This is far from the truth.

The Lord is challenging me in these difficult days to be thankful.

I Thes. 5:18 tells us to give thanks in all circumstances. And though this does not mean we have to be happy over our disappointments, it does tell us that we are to be thankful.

The truth is, most of us have it far better than others, and things though they are certainly bad right now, could be worse.

In the Psalms David speaks of offering up a sacrifice of praise (Ps. 49:14).

Sacrifices are not easy, they impose on our time, money, comfort etc.

So when David says to offer up a sacrifice of praise, this is something that is not natural, but rather is difficult.

Offering up a sacrifice of praise, then, means giving thanks even when life is hard. It means praising and honoring the Lord even in heartache and loss. It means having a right perspective and remembering the goodness of our God and focusing on this, rather than our losses.

May the Lord help you and me to have a right perspective. To recognize our blessings and to give thanks even in the midst of these trying days.

 

 

Where does our help come from?

th4N0HWF7MI saw a quote the other day by David Platt that said, “God, your heavenly Father, will supply all you need. You thought Amazon had everything until everybody started buying Clorox wipes and hand sanitizer. The supply line is empty. With God, the supply line is always full.”

And I was reminded of the verses, I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord,the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip—he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord watches over you— the Lord is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day,nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all harm—he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore (Ps. 121).

It truly is the Lord who alone is our help in times of troubles.

So often we (myself included) run to others in times of difficulty, or we expect the government to fix things. We rush to the doctor to get well when we are sick. We contact the plumber when the sink goes out, the electrician when the lights don’t work etc.

And obviously these are correct responses.

Yet far too often we come to the Lord last with our problems rather than first. We want someone else to fix our situation, rather than trusting God to do so.

Believe me I know, because I am guilty.

Yet, God has brought the world to their knees right now, and He truly is our one and only source of help.

When everything else has been stripped away, we realize quickly how much we desperately need the Lord.

Friend, when there is no where else to turn, He is there.

He is our source of help.

He watches over you and me.

He never slumbers so that we can.

He keeps us from harm.

He watches over our lives and He does so today, tomorrow and forever.

So in the midst of the craziness of life, don’t forget to look to the Lord.

He sees and knows your heart.

He has not been taken surprise by anything that has happened.

And you can find peace and rest, as you look to Him to be your source of strength.

Perfect love drives out fear…

cropped-soulrest_fb2.jpgThis morning I woke up thinking about the verse, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear (I John 4:18).”

As I thought upon this, I was reminded that God is love.

I was also reminded that fear comes not from God but from the enemy.

When we fail to remember that God is love, and how much He does love us, which was demonstrated by the cross (Rom.5:8) we will fall into fear.

Yet, when we think on the fact that NOTHING can separate us from the love of Christ, as stated in Romans 8:35-39.

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:“For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.  For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,  neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

All fear is swept away, as we are reminded that, we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

The enemy longs to fill our hearts, our minds, our thoughts with “what if’s.” He longs to have us question God, or give us disgruntle hearts. When he does this, he wins, and we will walk around defeated, angry, fearful, and full of doubt.

Yet, when we remember that nothing can separate us from the love of God, and that we are more than conquerors. We can rest in peace, knowing that the same God who loved us enough to send His son to die for us, is the same God who continues to love us now.

Thinking on the love of God cast out fear.

May we set our minds on Christ, and think on the things Paul mentions in Phil. 4:8-9

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

 

In the beginning God….

trusting God 1In the beginning God knew you and formed you. He created you for a purpose. You are His.

In the beginning God knew the number of the days of your life, where you would live, whom you’d marry, and all the joys and sorrows you would face.

In the beginning God knew the trials that this life would bring. He knew of the wars, famines, earthquakes, and tsunamies that would come.

In the beginning God knew of the Coronavirus.

He is not surprised by any of this. He sees and He knows.

And He is right there with us in the midst of this time of unknown.

He did not give us a spirit of fear.

He does gives us wisdom on how to act and what to do in the midst of such times, but He whispers in the midst of such times, “Do not be afraid.”

It all goes back to whether or not we truly believe those first few words of Scripture.

In the beginning God…

He was there in the beginning, He is here now.

Our God did not set the world in motion and simply let go.

He created the world, and He sustains the world.

We need not to isolate ourselves and live in fear.

Rather we need to use the wisdom that God has given us and seek to serve His body through this time.

We need to put our faith and our trust in the God who holds the world in the palm of His hands.

And continue to be the body of Christ He has called us to be.

May God give you and I opportunities daily to be His hands and feet, pointing a lost world to Him, in the midst of this time of uncertainty.