Archive for June, 2012


Week of June 29

Today I Will Make a Difference

Today I will make a difference. I will begin by controlling my thoughts. A person is the product of his thoughts. I want to be happy and hopeful. Therefore, I will have thoughts that are happy and hopeful. I refuse to be victimized by my circumstances. I will not let petty inconveniences such as stoplights, long lines, and traffic jams be my masters. I will avoid negativism and gossip. Optimism will be my companion, and victory will be my hallmark. Today I will make a difference.

I will be grateful for the twenty-four hours that are before me. Time is a precious commodity. I refuse to allow what little time I have to be contaminated by self-pity, anxiety, or boredom. I will face this day with the joy of a child and the courage of a giant. I will drink each minute as though it is my last. When tomorrow comes, today will be gone forever. While it is here, I will use it for loving and giving. Today I will make a difference.

I will not let past failures haunt me. Even though my life is scarred with mistakes, I refuse to rummage through my trash heap of failures. I will admit them. I will correct them. I will press on. Victoriously. No failure is fatal. It’s OK to stumble… . I will get up. It’s OK to fail… . I will rise again. Today I will make a difference.

I will spend time with those I love. My spouse, my children, my family. A man can own the world but be poor for the lack of love. A man can own nothing and yet be wealthy in relationships. Today I will spend at least five minutes with the significant people in my world. Five quality minutes of talking or hugging or thanking or listening. Five undiluted minutes with my mate, children, and friends.

Today I will make a difference.

From Shaped by God (original title: On the Anvil)
Copyright (Tyndale House, 1985, 2002) Max Lucado

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Wait

Be Still

“And the Lord appeared unto Isaac the same night” (Gen. 26:24).

“Appeared the same night,” the night on which he went to Beer-sheba. Do you think this revelation was an accident? Do you think the time of it was an accident? Do you think it could have happened on any other night as well as this? If so, you are grievously mistaken. Why did it come to Isaac in the night on which he reached Beer-sheba? Because that was the night on which he reached rest. In his old locality, he had been tormented. There had been a whole series of petty quarrels about the possession of paltry wells. There are no worries like little worries, particularly if there is an accumulation of them. Isaac felt this. Even after the strife was past, the place retained a disagreeable association. He determined to leave. He sought change of scene. He pitched his tent away from the place of former strife. That very night the revelation came. God spoke when there was no inward storm. He could not speak when the mind was fretted; His voice demands the silence of the soul. Only in the hush of the spirit could Isaac hear the garments of his God sweep by. His still night was his starry night.

My soul, hast thou pondered these words, “Be still, and know”? In the hour of perturbation, thou canst not hear the answer to thy prayers. How often has the answer seemed to come long after I The heart got no response in the moment of its crying — in its thunder, its earthquake, and its fire. But when the crying ceased, when the stillness fell, when thy hand desisted from knocking on the iron gate, when the interest of other lives broke the tragedy of thine own, then appeared the long-delayed reply. Thou must rest, O soul, if thou wouldst have thy heart’s desire. Still the beating of thy pulse of personal care. Hide thy tempest of individual trouble behind the altar of a common tribulation and, that same night, the Lord shall appear to thee. The rainbow shall span the place of the subsiding flood, and in thy stillness thou shalt hear the everlasting music. –George Matheson

None to Help But God

 
None to Help But God

 

“Lord, there is none beside thee to help.” (2 Chron. 14:11, RV).

 

Remind God of His entire responsibility. “There is none beside thee to help.” The odds against Asa were enormous. There was a million of men in arms against him, besides three hundred chariots. It seemed impossible to hold his own against that vast multitude. There were no allies who would come to his help; his only hope, therefore, was in God. It may be that your difficulties have been allowed to come to so alarming a pitch that you may be compelled to renounce all creature aid, to which in lesser trials you have had recourse, and cast yourself back on your Almighty Friend.

Put God between yourself and the foe. To Asa’s faith, Jehovah seemed to stand between the might of Zerah and himself, as one who had no strength. Nor was he mistaken. We are told that the Ethiopians were destroyed before the Lord and before His host, as though celestial combatants flung themselves against the foe in Israel’s behalf, and put the large host to rout, so that Israel had only to follow up and gather the spoil. Our God is Jehovah of hosts, who can summon unexpected reinforcements at any moment to aid His people. Believe that He is there between you and your difficulty, and what baffles you will flee before Him, as clouds before the gale. –F. B. Meyer

***

“When nothing whereon to lean remains,
When strongholds crumble to dust;
When nothing is sure but that God still reigns,
That is just the time to trust.

“‘Tis better to walk by faith than sight,
In this path of yours and mine;
And the pitch-black night, when there’s no outer light
Is the time for faith to shine.”

***

Abraham believed God, and said to sight, “Stand back!” and to the laws of nature, “Hold your peace!” and to a misgiving heart, “Silence, thou lying tempter!” He believed God. -Joseph Parker


Longing to Be Loved

June 15, 2012

Longing To Be Loved
Gwen Smith

Today’s Truth
“The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.” (Zephaniah 3:17)

Friend to Friend
Every once in a while one of my children surprises me with unexpected sweetness. Like most children, my kidsare sweet on a regular basis, but I’m talking about a special, take-my-breath-away sweetness that creates a time capsule moment for my mommy heart. A moment that I will cherish forever.

I had one of those special conversations with my middle child, Hunter, when he was nine year-old. It was bedtime. Teeth were brushed. Jammies were on. Prayers had been prayed. The smell of shampoo lingered from his freshly showered head as I brushed a stray hair from his eye. That’s when he initiated “project: unexpected sweetness” with an innocent question: “Mommy, do you know what I love?”

“What do you love, Hunter?” I asked quietly.

“I love being loved,” he said thoughtfully. “Yep. I really love being loved.”

As I lay beside him in the dark room I could scarcely process the vastness of his statement. It was the simplest of thoughts, delightfully honest, yet one of the most profound and insightful statements I’d ever heard come from his lips. From his heart.

When he spoke those four little words, “I love being loved,” he communicated several things to me:

· He had a deep longing to be loved.
· He knew he was loved.
· His love tank was being re-filled as I tucked him in.
· His greatest need is love.

Like Hunter, our greatest longing is also to be loved… to feel safe, adored, and content in love.

I don’t know where this devotion finds you today, but I sense God nudging me to tell you that He loves you. Completely. Perfectly. Eternally. (Yes, I’m talking to you!) He knows your name, He knows your heart, He knows your circumstances, and He hears your prayers. He loves you and desires for you to rest in His love.

God’s love is not based on performance or beauty. It’s not based on position or abilities. Many times we mistakenly think that if we could just do this or that better – that God would love us more. That if we just hadn’t done this or that – God would love us more. The truth is this: God will never love you more or less…no matter what. His love is complete and you are the object of His heart. Savor the special sweetness of God’s love for you today. Linger on thoughts of His affection for you.

But don’t take my word for it – take His! The Bible tells us that God’s love for us is unstoppable, unsearchable and unbreakable: “…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.”

No matter what you’ve believed in the past, choose by faith to believe this now: you are valued, priceless, and adored by God. “Take in with all Christians the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:18–19, MSG).

When you embrace the deep love of Christ as a personal reality, you gain traction for powerful, meaningful living that begins with forgiveness and continues on in truth and grace. Go in His love today. Be assured of it. Share it. Be changed by it. Change others with it.

An Open Invitation

The hero of heaven is God. Angels don’t worship mansions or glittering avenues. God is not the grand marshal of the parade; he is the parade! He’s not the main event; he’s the only event! His Broadway features a single stage and star: Himself. He hosts the only production and invites every living soul to attend.

At this very moment God issues invitations by the millions. He says, “Come, enjoy me forever.” Yet many people have no desire to do so. He speaks; they cover their ears. He commands; they scoff. They don’t want him telling them how to live. They regard his son as a joke and the cross as utter folly. They spend their lives telling God to leave them alone.  ~ Max Lucado

Mary Had a Little Lamb

June 14, 2012
Mary Had a Little Lamb
Mary Southerland

Today’s Truth
He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young (Isaiah 40:11, NIV).

Friend to Friend
As a little girl, I really did have a little lamb whose fleece was white as snow. I can remember the day my mother showed me the lamb and explained that she did not have a bottle with which to feed the stray lamb. I did. I agreed to let the lamb have my bottle if I could have the lamb. I have been fascinated by the unique relationship between sheep and their shepherd ever since.

Shepherds live with their sheep, finding places for them to eat and drink, providing shelter from the storms and protection from the heat. Sheep must eat the right amount of the right kinds of grass at the right times…or they will die. If the sheep eat too little one day and too much the next day, some of the bacteria that live in the stomach of the sheep will reproduce at abnormal levels, creating toxins which cause sudden death. This problem was even more complicated for the shepherds of the Bible.

The type of shepherding referred to in the Bible is not the farming of fenced pasture lands but nomadic grazing. The shepherd must carefully plan the path and lead the way so the sheep have neither too little nor too much grazing and are able to get to the water hole on time. Pastures are often lost to extreme heat which means the shepherd has to scour the countryside in search of green grass. Several flocks of sheep are gathered together at night in a sheltered place so shepherds can share the watches of the night, protecting the sheep from wild animals and thieves. Good shepherds are always willing to risk their lives to save their flocks from any harm, any enemy and even from themselves.

Sheep are dumb, can never be left alone and often stray, requiring the shepherd to find and rescue them.  A shepherd never pushes his sheep but rather leads his sheep, going before them, making sure they are not walking into danger. The needs of sheep, compared to the needs of other animals, are greater because of their instinct to be afraid and when faced with a fearful situation, to run. Without a shepherd to care for the sheep, they will not last long.

Personally, I definitely fit the profile of a sheep. I can’t count the number of times I have stubbornly stuck to my plan, foolishly thinking that it was better than His plan, only to end up in some pit somewhere, calling for help. Psalm 40:1-3 has become my life maxim – with one exception. I rarely wait patiently! Remember, I am a sheep!

Psalm 40:1-3 “I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.  He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the LORD” (NIV).

I sometimes allow fear to drive me to a place where I am trapped by doubts and darkness…until He rescues me. I try to satisfy my hunger by eating the wrong things found in the wrong places at the wrong times. The result is always the same; my soul remains ravenous for what is good while stuffing my heart and mind with what is bad.

Like every sheep, I don’t like to be pushed. Good shepherds do not push, no matter how great the temptation.  A good shepherd stands in front of his sheep, gently calling their names, leading them to a place where he has already been, positioning himself between danger and his sheep. When I am tired and ready to give up, I tend to withdraw from the other sheep and even from my Shepherd. Many of us have somehow bought into the lie that we can make it on our own or that the rules, the commandments of God, do not necessarily apply to us…just those other sheep. The longer I serve God, the more I realize just how much we need each other and how much we need Him.  When will I learn that I cannot do life on my own – as a sheep or as a shepherd?

A good shepherd is willing to lay down his life for his sheep, just as Jesus Christ laid down His life for you and for me. I am so glad He was willing to lay down His life for every single sheep – the cute, fluffy ones as well as the dirty, broken lambs like me. Maybe it is time for us all to stop, listen for His voice, seek His plan and remember that we are indeed needy sheep who are called to love and lead other needy sheep to the Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ.

TEACHING MOMENT:

31 And the Lord said to me [Moses], Behold, I have begun to give Sihon and his land over to you. Begin to take possession, that you may succeed him and occupy his land.

I want to elucidate a powerful point brought forth in this scriptural passage and others. There is a dynamic working in this interaction between Moses and God. The dynamic is faith. Not static faith, but a faith that is expressed by obedient and correspondent movement.

“I have begun to give…begin to possess…” In this dynamic, God says I have began the blessing process, but it requires a correspondent action by you. At the same time that I am giving you must be taking. God is telling Moses, “I am doing my part, but you must do yours to receive the full manifestation of the blessing.”

Many of you are waiting on your breakthrough; that moment at which you rise from the ashes of turmoil and despair. You are anticipating the burden of abandonment being lifted. You prevision walking out of the dungeon of financial ataxia, but have you taken it? God is saying to you, I have begun to give, begin to take. He is asking you to step out on faith. Faith is dynamic, meaning that it requires the power to move and then the corresponding movement to be effective.

Walking out onto a path already laid is not faith. Stepping out onto the water before it parts, now that’s faith. Take it. You want your blessing of spiritual elevation? Take it. You want your liberation from the dark abyss of dwarfed goals and colorless dreams? Take it. You want to bring harmony back into your marriage? Take it. You want financial elevation and stabilization? Take it. You want a more powerful and effective ministry? Take it. You want to start your own business? Take it.

Express your faith through your actions and watch God move.

Bishop Rick Wallace

Christian Impact

20 Then Job arose and (Z)tore his robe and shaved his head, and he fell to the ground and worshiped. 21 He said,

(AA)Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
And naked I shall return there.
The (AB)Lordgave and theLord has taken away.
Blessed be the name of the Lord.” (Job 1:20-22, NASB)

22 (AC)Through all this Job did not sin nor did he [m]blame God.

As I sit here preparing for my sister’s funeral I am reminded of a sermon preached at the funeral of another close relative. The preacher was also a relative and he also drew his topic from the above text. The topic was posed as a Question: Can God Trust You With Trouble? Out of all of the multitudinous sermons I’ve heard and preached, this one resonates through my soul fluently and incessantly. What I have learned is my faith is not substantiated by the fruit of my conquered moments. It is not justified by the bounty I have accumulated. My faith is validated and confirmed in the midst of trials and adversity. So today I pose the same question to you: Can God trust you with trouble?

When we look at Job in the whole of this passage we see a man that has lived his life in a way that was pleasing to God. In fact, God gives Job one of the most stellar reviews of anyone in the Bible. Let’s look at how God describes Job in chapter 1.

And the Lord said to Satan, Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who [reverently] fears God and abstains from and shuns evil [because it is wrong]? (Job 1:8, AMP)

God uses words like blameless and upright to describe Job. I want you to take notice of something extremely relevant to the apprehension of this message in full. At the very same time that God is giving Job this sparkling pure review, He is volunteering him for the spiritual and physical hail storm of the ages. “Have you considered my servant Job…” God is saying to Satan if you are looking for someone to test, I volunteer Job. Understand this; if God volunteers you, you are definitely prepared for the moment.

Why would God offer up His best to endure the worst? I will tell you why. In the legal world whenever there is a testimony given the opposition has the right to cross examine. In other words, the testimony is not allowed to simply stand on its merits, it must hold up under cross examination. The same is true with the Christian life. When you make your proclamation of faith you must understand that at some point your testimony will be cross examined by the vicissitudes of life. No matter how tight you walk the line. No matter how often you pray. Irregardless to the depth of your scriptural knowledge, you are going to have to endure the cross examination of the enemy.

For all of Job’s loyalty he reaped disaster. For all of His righteous living he encountered darkness. For every passionate prayer he prayed he was met with news of death and loss. As we move through the book of Job we learn that he did not understand his heartache. He could not lay a finger on its source; however, the one thing he knew is that he had not done anything to deserve it. Wait, maybe he did. When you live within the will of God and walk in your purpose, you put yourself dead in the crosshairs of the enemy. When you make your proclamation of for God I live and for God I die, you become public enemy #1.

The scriptures tell us that in all of this, Job did not sin. Not only did Job refrain from sinning, but he found a way to praise God in the midst of his pain. When I think about this, that same question keeps ringing in the back of my mind: Can God trust you with trouble? When all of the eloquent words in the world can’t rescue you, and the unadulterated force of the enemy is leveled against you and your loved ones, will God be able to trust you with that pain?

When you can’t pray away the loneliness, will you still praise? When you can’t speak away the darkness will you still show gratitude? When in return for your love your friends become your accusers, will you still proclaim the greatness of God? Oh, it’s easy to shout his praise when all is well in your life, but when the phone rings only to bear more bad news, can you still sing of his worth?

Your legacy will be established through the way you engage your trials. Your greatness will be unveiled as you press inexorably toward your mark. Will your story reveal your valor or that you simply folded under the pressure? God wants to trust you with trouble, can he?

Be blessed,

Bishop Rick Wallace

Christian Impact

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