Tag Archive: faith


July 15, 2013
Ask and You Will Receive
Mary Southerland

Today’s Truth

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you (Matthew 7:7, NIV).

Friend to Friend

I have always loved giving gifts to my children – all kinds of gifts including hugs, kisses, time, and love – as well as material things like toys, books, and clothes. When the kids were young we didn’t have much money, so the gifts were small, but the kids didn’t seem to mind. I often scrimped and saved in order to buy a certain item for a birthday or for Christmas, and loved every minute of it.

Dan and I now have five grandchildren and I am in so much trouble! I want to give them everything! I know I need to give them the important things such as love, time and training in the ways of God, but I find myself in the same situation I was in when our son and daughter were babies – little money but a big desire to give.

I once took our daughter-in-law shopping for Jaydan and Lelia, our five-year-old twins. I had a list of items I wanted to purchase but was disappointed when I found only half of the items on the list. However, it was getting late, and the babies began to “tell” us that they were ready for dinner and bedtime. We checked out, loaded the babies into the car, and headed home.

When Jodi leaned over to kiss my cheek and thank me for the gifts, I looked at her and said, “You are so welcome, honey, but it’s not enough!” Jodi chuckled, but I was serious! “No, you don’t understand,” I continued.  “We have to go shopping again because I haven’t given the babies enough and my heart is not excited enough yet!” I know. I am totally ruined, but I am going to try very hard not to ruin Jaydan and Lelia. (The projected success rate does not look good right now, but I promise to work on it.)

On the way home, I began to analyze my words and my heart. I fully realize that material things won’t satisfy the deepest needs of our grandchildren. I am also committed to investing time in their lives to help them find Jesus Christ and discover His plan for their lives. Honestly, I don’t really know how to explain what I feel for our grandchildren, but it is sort of like watching my heart walk around on the outside of my body. I know I can love them in so many ways…and I do…and I will…but I always want to give them more.

Our Father has the same heart – a giving heart – when it comes to giving His children good things. The problem is that we don’t really believe that truth. We tend to measure His love and benevolent heart of giving by how much we have done or accomplished, or even by what we haven’t done and promise not to do.

We are missing the truth that God’s love simply cannot be measured. God doesn’t love us because we are so lovable. God loves us because He is love.

One of the most tragic results of our unbelief is an ineffective prayer life. We pray, not really believing that God wants to or really will answer those prayers. Jesus addresses this issue in Matthew 7:7-11.

Matthew 7:7-11 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him?”

Jesus is teaching about prayer and about the very nature of God. He relates it to something we all can understand, the child-parent relationship. The son has been out in the fields working all day long and by the time he comes home, he is starving. His family is seated at the dinner table as dishes of steaming, delicious food are being passed around. I can almost see that tired and hungry boy’s eyes zeroing in on the food, salivating in anticipation of the meal before him. Then imagine that the father, seeing the hunger of his child, picks up a rock, tosses it to his son and says, “Here! Eat this!” Jesus is driving home the truth that good fathers want to give their kids good gifts. Now if this is true of earthly parents (and grandparents), imagine what our Heavenly Parent wants to give us – if only we would ask.

No one’s voice sounds sweeter to God than your voice, girlfriend. Nothing in the universe could keep Him from giving you His full attention when you pray. In fact, He longs to hear your prayer. In Psalm 34:8, the psalmist invites us to “taste and see that the LORD is good.” In this verse, “Lord” means “Jehovah, Abba Father.” In other words, your Abba Father, Dearest Daddy, is inviting you to come to Him in childlike faith, with a hungry heart so He can fill it with the gifts of peace, contentment and a satisfied spirit.

Don’t think you have to figure out a way to steal a blessing from God. Don’t believe you have to trick Him into giving up what He would rather keep for Himself. It is God’s very nature to give to His children. He has made all of His resources available to you. Do not doubt for a moment that He is a giving God with a heart that longs to bless, to encourage, to empower and to love you. God is not only able to answer your prayer, but God wants to answer your prayer. Ask and you will receive.

Pray Praying!

    Pray While Praying

Lord Heal

Lord, there is someone hurting today. Someone has been left to bear a most pressing burden on their own; lift that burden and give them rest. Someone has been seized by the unbearable pain of abandonment; hold them in your arms and caress away the hurt. Someone is perplexed by the enigmatic conundrums that seem to plague their lives; simply this moment so that they can exhale.

Lord, somebody is at the point of giving up, shine a light into their darkness so that they may see that they are standing on the edge of a breakthrough. Lord someone has been convinced that their life is not worth living, reveal the cross so they will see that you thought so much of their life that you gave yours to save it. ~ Dr. Rick Wallace

Taking a Leap of Faith
Sharon Jaynes

Today’s Truth
“I can do everything through him (Jesus) who gives me strength,” (Philippians 4:13 NIV).

Friend to Friend
Several years ago, on a trip to Kauai, my husband and our friends, Larry and Cynthia Price, decided to go on a zip line through the jungle. After being jostled and tossed like ragdolls in the back of a retired army jeep, we finally made it to the top of the mountain from which we were going to zip down—risking life and limb I might add.

I hopped out of the jeep and eyed the cable suspended high above the valley below. After watching Cynthia fly through the trees, I climbed up onto a wooden platform and surrendered to Jack, a jovial, burly Hawaiian, who strapped me into a harness and placed a helmet on my head. With a simple click of a metal buckle, he attached my harnessed body onto a seemingly flimsy steel cable. As I stood on the edge of the platform eyeing the disappearing earth below my feet, I had a choice. I could say, “no thanks” and ask to be released from the cable, or I could jump.

I chose to jump. My body flew over the treetops and the stunningly beautiful gorge. I was Tarzan’s Jane and this was my jungle. Airborne. Exhilarating. Risky.

Jacob was with us that day. He was a stranger among our little band of adventurers. Jacob was alone. No friends. No spouse. No family.

“Jacob, what brings you up to this mountain today?” I asked.

“I’m afraid of heights,” he answered.

I then noticed the thin line of perspiration beading over his upper lip. The slight tremble in his voice. The mechanical one-foot-in-front-of-the-other halted gait up the hill.

“You’re afraid of heights?” I asked. “Then why are you here?”

“I’m going to conquer it today,” he determinedly answered.

I was struck. We were here to have fun. He was here for a totally different reason. When Jacob stood on that platform, I prayed for my new friend. For Jacob this was not just a joy ride…or just maybe it was.

I’m not saying that God told Jacob to go to the top of a mountain, attach his body to a flimsy cable, and fly over the gorge at the risk of life and limb. But I am saying that obedience often requires a leap of faith. Too often we say yes to God, but live the no because of fear. We stand at the precipice of belief and a decision has to be made. Am I going to trust God or not? Am I going to attach my heart to the cable of His love and take a leap of faith, or am I going to freeze in fear because I don’t trust that He has my best interest in mind? Am I going to settle for safety and miss the thrill of seeing God work through me?

As we live and move and have our being in Jesus, God will take us to some amazing places. And there will always be a choice. Will we jump headlong into the adventurous journey of His perfect plan, or will we hang back for lack of faith? Jacob stood on the platform, took a deep breath, and jumped. He flew over the treetops, careened over the river, and landed safely on the other side of his greatest fear.

We clapped and cheered. Jacob took a bow. God smiled.

In Him we live and move and have our being…and sometimes we soar.

Let’s Pray
Lord, sometimes I’m just flat out afraid. Afraid I’ll fail. Afraid I’ll be rejected. Afraid I won’t be good enough. Lord, forgive me for all those “I’s.” Forgive me for focusing on my weaknesses rather than Your strength. Today, I’m believing that I can do all things that You call me to do because I know that You will give me the strength I need.
In Jesus’ Name,
Amen.

November 6, 2012
Are We Having Fun Yet?
Sharon Jaynes

Today’s Truth
I [Jesus] came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows),” (John 10:10 Amplified Bible).

Friend to Friend
C.S. Lewis says that most Christians lack “merriment.”  I like that word. “Merriment.” Just moving the words across my lips is fun. And I think Lewis is right. We lack merriment and we don’t expect it. Many Christians look like they’ve been weaned on a dill pickle. My goodness, if there is anyone who should exude merriment, it is a person who knows Jesus as Savior and Lord. We, above all people, have something to be merry about!

What God desires, not from you but for you, is life to the full (John 10:10). There’s nothing ho-hum about that. I read Jesus’ words in John 10:10 and I am famished for glory moments of life to the full. I want to see God, to experience His presence as I live and move and have my being in Him.

John wrote, “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!” (1 John 3:1). He didn’t simply use the word given, but lavished. Webster defines lavish this way: “given or provided with great generosity and abundance, to bestow with large generosity, profusion, a downpour.” Ponder those words separately.

Lavished.
Provided with great generosity.
Abundance.
Bestow with large generosity.
Profusion.
Downpour.

Do these words reflect your expectations in your relationship with Jesus? C.S. Lewis said it well:

“We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”(C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory (New York: HarperCollins, 1949,1976,revised 1980), 26.)

The first statement in the Shorter Catechism of Westminster Confession of 1646  states that man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. Enjoy Him! To enjoy God is to glorify Him. Just as He takes delight in you, He longs for you to take delight in Him. You simply can’t separate the two.

Are you enjoying God? As you live and move and have your being in Him, is there a smile on your face and a skip in your step? Do you expect the rich adventurous faith-filled life that you read about in the Bible? Do you expect to experience God’s glory today? If not, perhaps you need to raise your expectations of what your relationship with Jesus can be.

Once we’ve tasted the sweetness of His fruit, to settle for anything less than the bountiful orchard of His blessings will always disappoint. Oh yes, there are heavy-laden branches filled with low hanging fruit just waiting to be picked. If only we would reach up high enough, raise our expectations, and pluck them from the tree.

Let’s Pray
Jesus, forgive me for acting like I’m doing You a favor for following You. I know that you came to give me life to the full. Help me to stop walking around like I have life to the half-full. Today, I’m going to laugh, to smile, to enjoy being in Your presence. I am going to keep my eyes open for moments of sudden glory as You make Your presence known to me!
In Jesus’ Name,
Amen.

November 5, 2012
Be My Portion, Part 2
Gwen Smith

Today’s Truth
“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in Him” – (Lamentations 3:24, ESV).

Friend to Friend
I sometimes run to God as if He’s a celestial Wal-Mart purposed to satisfy my every want. Change my family. Fix my job problem, God. Do it my way! Instead of leaning in to hear the whispered will of the Lord, I selfishly shout my will, my desires and my demands. Lord, give me relief from life-pressures instead of giving me strength to endure them. When I’m desperate to fill my mega-sized heart-cart with things that I want, I rob myself of what really matters: the pursuit of God and the blessings found in Him alone.

The truth is that even those of us who are Jesus-girls, you know… good Christian women who strive each day to live for Christ… continually sin and wallow in the shallow, unsatisfying waters of discontentment. We tell God what we’d like Him to do for us so we can be happy and then expect Him to intervene in ways that suit us. We blur the lines between our wants and our needs – between our plans and God’s plans.

In part one of this devotion, we were reminded to rest in God. We looked at His care of the sparrows, considered that God loves us even more than he does the birds of the air, and were challenged not to worry. Today, we focus on prioritizing God above all else. Matthew 6:33 instructs us to seek God first: to look to Him as our Ultimate. Our Portion. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. (Matthew 6:33, ESV)

David modeled this beautifully when he called out to God in the midst of trouble and recognized Him as being enough. I cry to you, O Lord; I say, “You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living” (Psalm 142:5). In Psalm 119, the psalmist recognizes God as his portion and takes the moment of surrender a step further by tethering his satisfaction with obedience. You are my portion, O Lord; I have promised to obey your words. I have soughtyour face with all my heart; be gracious to meaccording to your promise (Psalm 119:57-58).

Life is unpredictable. There will always be days that we want to yell, C’mon, God! Throw me a bone here! I could use a little help, please! It is not a bad thing to call to God in the midst of our struggles. In fact, we should! We must! The big game changer, however, is not God’s presents – but His presence. Refuge from our circumstances and contentment in the midst of them is found in the center of our surrender.

So what’s the connection point between our longings and His provision? Perhaps the better question is not what but who? The late pastor and theologian Charles Spurgeon said it this way, “It is not ‘The Lord is partly my portion,’ nor ‘The Lord is in my portion’; but He Himself makes up the sum total of my soul’s inheritance. Within the circumference of that circle lies all that we possess or desire. The Lord is my portion. Not His grace merely, nor His love, nor His covenant, but Yahweh himself.”[i]

Once again, Spurgeon hits the nail on the head. We are distracted cravers when we expect our people, places and things to fill our hearts as only God can. God loves us so much. Why do we forget this all the time? His plan is perfect and we can trust Him. He knows our needs and desires. When we seek Him as the answer instead of for the answer, God enables us to rest in confidence that He’s working on our behalf and in our best interest, to bring glory to Himself through our lives.

Set your list of wants aside today and seek God. Go before Him with a heart of worship and adoration. Get lost in His presence. Remember His mercy. Relish His grace. Love Him. Seek Him. Choose Him as your Portion.

Let’s Pray
Dear Lord, Please be my Portion. Forgive me for the times when I seek Your blessings before I seek Your heart. You are all I need. In Jesus’s name I pray, amen.

“One of the most common causes of failure is the habit of quitting when one is overtaken by temporary defeat.” ~ Napoleon Hill

Doubt Your Doubts

October 29, 2012
Doubt Your Doubts
Mary Southerland

Today’s Truth
Hebrews 11:1 – “Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”

Friend To Friend
Billy Graham once said, “Most of us do not understand nuclear fission, but we accept it. I don’t understand television, but I accept it. I don’t understand radio, but every week my voice goes out around the world, and I accept it. Why is it so easy to accept all these man-made miracles and so difficult to accept the miracles of the Bible?”

Faith is a personal issue and often demands that we give up what we can see for what we cannot see, but just because we can’t see it, doesn’t mean it isn’t there. Let me share some ways to weaken your doubts and strengthen your faith:

  • Read the Bible consistently.

Romans 10:17 “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.”

You may have heard the familiar Old Chinese saying, “There is a good dog and a bad dog fighting within each of us. The one that is going to win is the one we feed the most.” The same is true when it comes to faith and doubt. We weaken our doubt by strengthening our faith in God. The Word of God feeds the new nature God gives us when we surrender our life to Him. As that new nature grows stronger, the old sinful nature becomes weaker and as that old nature becomes weaker, faith in God grows. A steady diet of the Word produces strong faith. Read the bible each day. Memorize a verse of Scripture each week.

  • Turn to God constantly.

Mark 9:14-29 tells of the man who brings his demon-possessed son to Jesus Christ and pleads, “If you can do anything, take pit on us and help us.” Jesus responds, “If I can! All things are possible to him who believes.” The dad exclaimed, “Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief!”

Sounds just like us. We believe but we also doubt. In those moments, we must be honest enough to cry out to God. Jesus didn’t punish this man for his doubt. He healed his son. God always responds to honesty.

  • Focus on God continually.

Psalm 34:6 “This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles.”

We focus on the mountain while crying out to God for help, wondering if He really will do anything. We need to remember what God promises and does not promise. God does not promise to remove the mountain or that we will even understand the mountain. However, God does promise to help us climb the mountain and He does promise to climb it with us. We must make the continual choice to fix our gaze on God and our glance on the circumstances. When doubt comes, refuse it.

  • Seek out faith-builders persistently.

Ecclesiastes 4:12 “And one standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer; three is even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.”

We need to look for people who will encourage us to be faithful instead of constantly looking for ways to undermine our faith. Did you hear about the farmer that had a brilliant dog? He also had a neighbor that was negative – no matter what. If it was raining, the farmer would say to his neighbor, “Boy, look at it rain. God’s washing everything clean.” The neighbor said, “Yeah, but if this rain keeps up, it’s going to flood.” Then the sun would come out and the neighbor would say, “If it keeps that up, it’s going to burn the crops.” The farmer thought, “What am I going to do with this guy?” He made a plan. The farmer trained his dog to walk on water. He didn’t tell his neighbor – just took him duck hunting. Boom! Boom! They got two ducks. The farmer said to his dog, “Go get ’em.” The dog sprinted across the water, picked up the ducks and hopped back in the boat, nothing wet, just his paws. With a confident smile, the farmer asked his doubting neighbor, “What do you think of that?” The neighbor quickly replied, “He can’t swim, can he?” Do you know people like the neighbor? Run from the doubters in your life. We struggle enough with doubt on our own and should not compound it by investing time in doubters and cynics. Look for people who walk in faith, who believe God and study His Word. They will encourage and build your faith while weakening your doubts.

Women have so much in common. We have the same problems, the same fears and the same doubts. Don’t let fear and doubt wreak havoc in your heart and mind. Stay in God’s Word. Don’t be afraid or ashamed to cry out to Him when you are afraid. Keep your eyes on Him and look for other women who do the same. Will you join me in a new commitment to becoming a woman of faith? Remember, when doubt knocks on the door, just send faith to answer it – and you will find no one there.

Let’s Pray
Father God, I want to become a woman of faith, but I am so weak. I constantly battle fear and my faith seems so small. Please give me a new thirst for Your Word. I choose to focus on You, Father, instead of focusing on my circumstances. Help me find faith and learn to be a faith-builder each day. I now turn to You, Lord.
In Jesus’s name I pray, amen

“They that sew in tears shall reap in joy.” (Ps. 126:5).

I know that you are going through some dark times in your life right now. It seems that the more you press the deeper you sink into your pit. I just want to stop by and let you know that God responds to the tears of His saints. The scripture says that those that sew in tears shall reap in joy.

Your tears are temporary, but they are compelling the movement of God in your situation. God told Moses, “I have heard the cries of my people in Egypt…I have come to deliver them.” I just want you to know that if you need to shed some tears right now, its okay. Just know that God is about to show up and bust a move in your life.

My Bible tells me that weeping endures for a night, but joy comes in the morning. Well, my friend, God sent me to tell you that morning is near. The sun is dawning just over the mountain top. Hold on with all that you have in you, for God is about move in the midst of your mess. He is about to rescue from the darkness of depression and establish you on the platform of promotion. Your broken heart is about to be mended and set ablaze with a passion for praise.

So, go ahead and cry if you must, God is about to personally wipe every one of those tears from your eyes. ~ Dr. Rick Wallace

October 25, 2012
Overcoming the Fear of Rejection
Sharon Jaynes

Today’s Truth
“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us,” – (Romans 8:37 NIV).

Friend to Friend
I can still remember when God first gave me a glimpse of what my future held. Writing, speaking, radio ministry, mentoring. A host of insecurities rose to the surface and the fear of rejection wrapped its fingers around my skinny neck. But God assured me I was not alone, and He was perfectly capable of doing everything He promised. I only needed to be obedient and say “yes” to Him.

We have only to flip through the pages of the Bible to see that overcoming the fear of rejection is a thread that runs through the record of history.

  • Noah overcame the fear of rejection when he obeyed God and built an Ark on dry land.
  • Abram overcame the fear of rejection when he left his homeland with no clear direction as to where he would go.
  • Jacob overcame the fear of rejection when he returned to his homeland and his brother whom he had deceived.
  • Joseph overcame the fear of rejection when he refused Potiphar’s wife’s sexual advances.
  • Moses overcame the fear of rejection when he went before the Pharaoh and demanded the Israelites’ release.
  • Joshua overcame the fear of rejection when he told the army their orders were to march around Jericho in silence for seven days.
  • Ruth, the Moabite, overcame her fear of rejection when she gleaned wheat in the field of a Jew.
  • Samuel overcame the fear of rejection when the people decided they wanted a King rather than God to be their ruler.
  • David overcame the fear of rejection when he offered to slay Goliath.
  • Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego overcame the fear of rejection when they refused to bow and worship King Nebuchadnezzar.
  • Esther overcame the fear of rejection when she went before the king to plead for the lives of her people.
  • Each and every one of the prophets overcame the fear of rejection as they delivered God’s message of judgment to the people.

When we turn the final page of the Old Testament and look into the New Testament, we see the same pattern of courage. Jesus, his disciples, Paul, and the expanding body of believers all faced and overcame the fear of rejection. Paul’s attitude was “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21). It doesn’t matter what anyone thinks! “If God is for us, who can be against us? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen?  It is God who justifies” (Romans 8:31, 33).

And then the ultimate rejection occurred when our Lord and Savior hung on the Roman cross. “He was despised and rejected by men” (Isaiah 53:3). But Jesus overcame the fear of rejection and the result was his glorification. He knew crucifixion was imminent. Just before He was arrested Jesus prayed with His disciples: “Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you,” (John 17:1).  He didn’t mention His rejection and death on the cross that was ahead of Him. He prayed that God would be glorified. That was foremost in His mind and on His heart. Likewise, I believe that we overcome the fear of rejection when glorifying God is foremost on our minds and in our hearts.

The apostle Paul faced rejection at every turn. In his letter to the Thessalonians he wrote:

“We had previously suffered and been insulted in Philippi, as you know, but with the help of our God we dared to tell you his gospel in spite of strong opposition. For the appeal we make does not spring from error or impure motives, nor are we trying to trick you. On the contrary, we speak as men approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please men but God, who tests our hearts,” (1 Thessalonians 2:2-4).

Whether it is sharing the gospel or the scars of our past, there will be some who do not accept us. We certainly are not above the prophets in the Old Testament or the disciples in the New.  Not everyone liked what they had to say, but they pressed through the fear and walked in faith.  It is because of them we have the gospel at our very finger tips!

Let’s Pray
Dear LORD, thank You that I am more than a conqueror through Christ Jesus. Help me not to give up when times get tough, but to persevere with endurance. I know that not everyone will like me or what I have to say about You, but I pray for the courage and the power of the Holy Spirit to speak when You lead and to keep quiet when You lead. Help me know the difference.
In Jesus’ Name
Amen.

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