Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Knowing versus Doing

Philippians 3:10
I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection....

If I asked you the purpose for which God made you, what might you say? You might give a lot of answers that required some action on your part. However, the simplest answer to that question relates to one primary thing: fellowship. The most important thing God desires from us today is to have a deep and intimate fellowship with each of us.

The apostle Paul said he wanted to know Christ, and by knowing Christ he could experience the power of His resurrection. I find this to be the hardest thing for many of us businesspeople to do. So often it is much easier to be busy with the urgent (or even Christian) activity than spending quiet moments before the Lord. Before we realize it, days have passed since our last quiet time with Jesus.

Jesus understood how important quiet moments were with the Father. "After He had dismissed them, He went up on a mountainside by Himself to pray. When evening came, He was there alone" (Mt. 14:23). The more mature I become in my relationship with the Lord, the more precious this time becomes to me. It is a time I look forward to almost daily. It offers me a time to reflect, to share my concerns with my Lord, and to hear Him speak. In the last few years I have begun prayer walks, which accomplish three things: fellowship, prayer, and exercise. It has changed my prayer life. I have come to understand that Jesus views us as His friend and He wants to spend time with us. We are depriving Him of His time when we put Him aside for the urgent. An interesting thing happens when we make prayer a priority: Urgent things seems to wane as we focus on Him. He makes all these other things fall into place.

Are you taking the time to get to know Him today?

Monday, November 24, 2008

I am Back!

On my journey that I started last year! I fell off for a little bit...life, circumstances, issues that led me to believe that I needed to pull away from the very God who was pulling me that much closer! I am back! Full force! This walk is not an easy one; it was never promised to be, but I am going to do it because God has asked this of me!

All the while I'm thinking things are going bad because God is allowing them to...um no! Things fall apart when you pull away and your relationship suffers with the One and only One who will be with you FOREVER!!!

God really has something special for me and I am not going to mess this up! (at least try not to, lol!) We all fall, but God is always there to pick us[me] up!

When things get hazy, too much or overwhelming, get on your knees and pray! PRAY! Stick it out! You are there for a reason! He has something so special planned and He is just getting you(me) ready for the major task that only you(I) can do!

Life isn't all peaches and cream , but you know what, it could be A LOT worse and I am thankful for that!!! The Lord keeps waking me up and blessing me to see brand new days; new days to get right!

Bottom line, God is never, will never and has never left me, it was me who was doing the pulling away - no more!

You ever notice how you cling to God so much more during troubles, trials, storms, but then when they pass, you think you are in the clear so your relationship with Him kind of slacks off? Then you wonder why you find yourself back in another storm so soon after you seemingly just got out of one? God uses all of those circumstances to bring us closer to Him, so he likes when we are near Him and TRUST in Him. He is teaching us to not only cling to Him during the troubled times, but during those beautiful times when He blesses us beyond measure and we have NO idea how we made it through!

I love the Lord! There is no way I could have made it through yesterday and woke up with a smile and burdens lifted off of me without His love and gentle whisper that everything will be ok if I only just believe and trust!

Good morning and have a blessed day!!!

Thank You Power

"Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."

1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NIV)


In my (part-time) job as a university teacher, I'm frequently reading research. I know, I know ... it sounds as dry as an over-cooked turkey. Sometimes it is but often I find interesting stuff in that scientific prose. For example, this week I read about a study from the University of California that showed just how great it is to be grateful.

The researchers found that grateful people report higher levels of positive emotions, more satisfaction with life, and more vitality and optimism. All good qualities I want more of in my life. They also found grateful people show lower levels of depression and stress - two things I'd like to experience less in my life.

What's more, they found that people who keep journals about gratitude on a weekly basis are healthier. They exercise more regularly, report fewer physical symptoms, and feel better in general than people who journal about neutral or negative life events. That sounds great, and I'll take all the help I can get in the exercise department.

Finally, the research showed that people who daily count their blessings report higher levels of alertness, enthusiasm, determination, and energy. Wow, the benefits of being grateful are remarkable and many! I guess that shouldn't surprise me after considering today's key verse. The Bible urges us to give thanks ... all the time ... in every situation ... because this practice is the will of God.

Let me be clear, there are terrible things that happen to us that may not be the will of God, but us praising God and giving thanks in spite of them certainly is the will of God. As Christians, we can always find reason to give thanks -- thanks for the salvation of Christ, the nearness of God, and the counsel of His Spirit for starters. The psalmist declared, "I will give thanks to the LORD because of his righteousness and will sing praise to the name of the LORD Most High" (Psalm 7:17, NIV). We can do that too.

Christian poet John Milton once wrote about every grey cloud having a silver lining. Purposing to give thanks, no matter the weather, will train us to look for it. Continuing in this manner day after day ensures that gratefulness will become our normal mode of operation.

No wonder those researchers found that people regularly counting their blessings grow happier, healthier, and more optimistic. After all, that research wasn't discovering anything new, but rather confirming the will and wisdom of God. God already knows how great it is for us to be grateful. Now "science" does too.

What can you give thanks for today?

Dear Lord, thank You for this day. Thank You for Your Son and Your Spirit, given to me. Thank You for the provision of shelter and food I have today. And Lord, thank You for this reminder to become more mindful of my blessings. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Application Steps:

Start a gratitude journal. At the end of each day between now and Christmas, take a few minutes to jot down 3-5 things you are thankful for. Keep the notebook and pencil by your bed. Your list can include "big" things like good health, or "little" things like pansies in bloom. Give thanks to God for all of these.

See if you feel any happier, healthier, or more optimistic after a few weeks of regularly giving thanks. I'll be doing this right along with you, so stop by my blog to let me know how it's going with you, and to read some of the things for which I'm thankful.


How often do I give thanks to God?

Do I notice, or remember, the little blessings in my days?

Do I want to feel happier, be healthier, and think more optimistically? More importantly, do I want to do the will of God?

Power Verses:

Psalm 118:19, "Open for me the gates of righteousness; I will enter and give thanks to the LORD." (NIV)

Spiritual Warfare

Ephesians 6:12
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood....

Have you ever heard someone say, "I will never do business with another Christian"? I hear this comment quite often in my dealings with Christian businesspeople. This comment represents the battle that rages against us by the enemy of our soul to destroy the witness and effectiveness of Christian businesspeople. We must realize that we are in a war-a war for the souls of men, a war to discredit all that a Christian stands for, a war that is designed to divide Christian against Christian.

Satan's ploy in the life of Christian businesspersons is to do several things to make them ineffective as soldiers in the marketplace. First, he wants to discredit them by allowing them to fail other people in their professional services. This often shows up in failing to perform what they committed to do or performing in an unsatisfactory way. Sometimes, this is a result of a downright failure of the businessperson to perform with excellence. In other cases, it may be a misunderstanding in the midst of the service that causes strife and division instigated by the enemy.

The result in both cases is the same: a division among Christians and even non-Christians, further resulting in a damaged witness for Christ. The apostle Peter admonishes us to "live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day He visits us" (1 Pet. 2:12).

There are times when each of us is thrust into situations out of our control. Sometimes this results in our inability to pay a bill on time, or to deliver a service. Defeating satan in these battles requires extra communication with those with whom we are dealing. If the motive of your heart is to do right, then God will give you favor in order to work through these difficult spots. Ask God today to show you where the enemy is seeking to make you ineffective.

We wage a spiritual war that is not flesh and blood. We must fight this war with spiritual weapons applied to practical daily living.

I am back!

On my journey that I started last year! I fell off for a little bit...life, circumstances, issues that led me to believe that I needed to pull away from the very God who was pulling me that much closer! I am back! Full force! This walk is not an easy one; it was never promised to be, but I am going to do it because God has asked this of me!

All the while I'm thinking things are going bad because God is allowing them to...um no! Things fall apart when you pull away and your relationship suffers with the One and only One who will be with you FOREVER!!!

God really has something special for me and I am not going to mess this up! (at least try not to, lol!) We all fall, but God is always there to pick us[me] up!

When things get hazy, too much or overwhelming, get on your knees and pray! PRAY! Stick it out! You are there for a reason! He has something so special planned and He is just getting you(me) ready for the major task that only you(I) can do!

Life isn't all peaches and cream , but you know what, it could be A LOT worse and I am thankful for that!!! The Lord keeps waking me up and blessing me to see brand new days; new days to get right!

Bottom line, God is never, will never and has never left me, it was me who was doing the pulling away - no more!

You ever notice how you cling to God so much more during troubles, trials, storms, but then when they pass, you think you are in the clear so your relationship with Him kind of slacks off? Then you wonder why you find yourself back in another storm so soon after you seemingly just got out of one? God uses all of those circumstances to bring us closer to Him, so he likes when we are near Him and TRUST in Him. He is teaching us to not only cling to Him during the troubled times, but during those beautiful times when He blesses us beyond measure and we have NO idea how we made it through!

I love the Lord! There is no way I could have made it through yesterday and woke up with a smile and burdens lifted off of me without His love and gentle whisper that everything will be ok if I only just believe and trust!

Good morning and have a blessed day!!!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

The Pure in Heart Will See God

"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God." Matthew 5:8 (NIV)


There once was a Pharisee named Simon, who was quite sure that if God had a list of favorites, he would be near the top. As a member of the Jewish elite, he prided himself on keeping the Ten Commandments and wore robes to set himself apart from the common rabble of humanity. And as a Jew, like generations before him, Simon was waiting for God to send the promised Savior.

There once was a woman who was just as certain. However, she was certain to be on no one's list. She knew she was worthy of nothing but contempt from the men and women she encountered. She was a woman who had kept neither God's nor man's rules, and had no hope of ever being accepted.

Then there was Jesus in the middle of it all. Confusing and bewildering, He was breaking man's laws to follow God's, and showering love on those who believed they deserved it least.

These three individuals are the key players in a story found in Luke 7, verses 36-50. Simon had invited Jesus to dinner, then showed Him no common courtesy. Jesus' feet weren't washed, His cheeks weren't kissed and His head wasn't anointed with oil. Everyone in attendance would have noticed these breaches in polite behavior. The air must have been thick with tension. It was as if Simon had slapped Jesus in the face.

As the dinner progressed, a woman crossed the courtyard. She knelt beside Jesus, tears coursed down her checks, landing in splashes on Jesus' feet. She took her unbound hair and gently wiped the muddy spots from Jesus' feet. She then anointed them with perfume. Jesus' feet were dirty, cracked and calloused. But they were beautiful to her.

Scripture doesn't tell us how this woman knew about Jesus. But it is clear she knew enough to act with an extravagance that speaks of great love and gratitude.

Simon must have been disgusted with this display of emotion. Simon the judge, whose heart was bound by pride, judges the woman and Jesus. There was no love in Simon's heart.

It's at this time that Jesus reads Simon's thoughts. Simon said to himself, "If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of a woman she is -- that she is a sinner."

Jesus then goes on to acknowledge Simon's thoughts, and teach a lesson about forgiveness and love.

What strikes me about this story isn't the parable that Jesus teaches, which is important enough to address on its own. But it is the fact that Simon had been waiting all his life to see the Messiah. Jesus was the fulfillment of the promise to all of Simon's ancestors. And yet, when the Messiah -- God incarnate - walked into Simon's home, Simon didn't recognize Him.

In Matthew 5, Jesus taught what we now call "The Beatitudes." In verse 8, Jesus speaks these words, "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God." The truth of these words was demonstrated in the story of Simon.

Simon made sure the outside of his life looked really good. But he neglected the condition of his heart. Simon didn't see his need for forgiveness, or his need for a savior. The woman in the story had just the opposite condition. The outside of her life was a wreck before she met Jesus, but she knew her desperate need for salvation. Her heart was stripped of pride and was overflowing with love. Now consider, which one saw God?

A pure heart ...the ability to see God ... is it possible for me? Only with God's help and a willingness to be brutally honest about the sin that's been hiding in my heart. I know I would rather have the heart of that woman and see God act in my life, than be bound by pride and miss Him.

Dear Lord, thank You for revealing Yourself to those who humbly seek You. Help me to uncover any ignored or overlooked sin in my heart. I long to stand before You with a pure heart, and I know I need Your help. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:

Who Holds the Key to Your Heart? by Lysa TerKeurst

The Confident Woman: Knowing Who You are in Christ by Anabel Gillham

P31 Woman Magazine

Visit Glynnis' Blog

Application Steps:

Pray Psalm 139:23-24. Ask God to reveal any sin lurking in your heart. Commit to asking God's forgiveness for this sin, and His help in dealing with it.


What risk does this woman face in coming to Simon's house and bowing at Jesus' feet?

What are some sins that are easy to keep hidden in our hearts?

What risks and benefits do we face when we are honest about the sin we can keep hidden in our hearts?

Power Verses:

Luke 7:47, "Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven--for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little." (NIV)

Psalm 139:23-24, "Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." (NIV)

Psalm 51:10, "Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me." (NIV)

What's Left?

"The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him." Nahum 1:7 (NIV)


Times are tough. People everywhere are losing their jobs, their homes, and their hope. If it has happened to you, then you know how devastating loss can be. You know what it feels like to be at the mercy of a job interviewer, or enslaved to a credit lender. It can leave us feeling less than.

Most of us seek identity in our jobs, dreams, talents, or peers. The people we love, the things we own, and the job we do often defines who we are. When we lose those things, we feel as though we have lost our identity. After that, what else is left?

The good news is--there is more left than we realize. This was true for Daniel after King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. The king ordered for some royal family Israelites to be taken into captivity. The order specified those who were attractive, smart, healthy, and who would make good servants to the king. Daniel was among them. They were also told what to eat and what to drink.

I imagine most the captives were distraught by all they had lost. They had been taken from their home, their land, and their people. But Daniel and his friends responded differently than most. They chose not to look at what they had lost but rather what they still had left.

Daniel had faith. He knew that the true King was large and in charge. Nebuchadnezzar may have been king of Babylon , but God was the King of Daniel.

Trusting God to work on his behalf, Daniel asked that he not have to defile himself by eating the king's food. Despite the official's hesitation, he granted Daniel's request due to God's favor.

As children of God, we do not have to lose heart or succumb to the world's ways either. No matter what kind of situation we are placed in, God can make the impossible possible. The Lord also gave knowledge and understanding to Daniel along with his three friends. This caught the king's attention. No one else in the kingdom could compare to these four. So, they entered the king's service without violating their faith and remained there until a new king took the throne.

Unfortunately, everyone experiences times of loss--a job, a friendship, a dream. Even so, our worth and identity are not found in these things. Nor is it found in our failures or losses. Your value and mine is in God and the amount of faith we have in Him.

When we find ourselves in our own Babylons, let's not look at what we've lost but at what we have left--our faith! It may be shaken but it can't be taken. Faith, like Daniel's, provides hope in a God who is large and in charge over every authority. That, my friend, is no loss. That is great gain.

Dear Lord, My focus has been on my circumstances instead of on You. Today, I chose to put my trust in You. I believe that You are aware of my situation and are working on my behalf. Fill my soul with peace and help me to rest in Your care. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:

Do You Know Him?

Visit Micca Campbell's blog

Trials of Today, Treasures for Tomorrow by Janet Eckles

Application Steps:

Read about Daniel's story and exercising your faith in trying times at Micca's blog.

Instead of focusing on your loss, make a list of all you still have left.


Where do you get your worth from?

How can faith in God see you through hard times?

Power Verses:

Psalm 138:7, "Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You preserve my life; You stretch out Your hand against the anger of my foes, with Your right hand You save me." (NIV)

1 Peter 5:7, "Cast all your anxiety on Him because he cares for you." (NIV)

Belief or Unbelief

Romans 4:3
..."Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness."

Each morning we awake and go about our day based on one of two beliefs: Either we believe in God and our every action is motivated by this central value, or we do not really believe and our actions reflect so.

You can be a believer yet act as though there is no God. Whenever you fret over life circumstances, you immediately demonstrate unbelief. Whenever you move out of fear or anxiety, you believe a lie about God's nature.

Each day your actions affirm or convict you of your belief system. It reveals who the central focus of your life really is-you or God. It reveals who you place your ultimate trust in-you or God. It is one of the great paradoxes for believers. One day we can believe Him to move mountains. The next day we can question His very existence.

  • Peter believed God and walked on water.
  • A sick woman touched the hem of His garment and was healed.
  • A Canaanite woman believed and freed her daughter from demon-possession.

In what circumstances do you act as an "unbeliever"? Ask God to increase your level of trust so that your actions match up with one who believes every day.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Choose to Trust, Part Two

Today's Truth
"But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed."
(2 Corinthians 4:7-9, NIV)

Friend to Friend
Yesterday we learned that when the widow Naomi faced a very difficult season, she looked past her own need to the hopes, dreams, and needs of her loved ones. In spite of her dismal circumstances, she chose to trust God and bless others.

Do you ever feel like a victim of circumstance?

There are times when life isn't ideal. There are times when life doesn't seem fair. As she entered Bethlehem, Naomi lamented to friends and family. She told them not to call her by her name. "Call me Mara, because the Almighty has made my life very bitter" (v. 20). Naomi didn't try to sugarcoat or hide her pain. Her circumstances were choking the life out of her, and for a time she allowed her situation to overshadow her trust in God.
Oh, how I've been there. I bet you have too. Perhaps you are there now. Be encouraged. In time, God did a work of restoration in Naomi's life that took her from bitter to better, and in time, He can do the same for you.

Though she displayed bitterness when she returned to Israel, Naomi continued to trust her Lord. Healing didn't come to her overnight. Naomi waded through a great deal of emotional baggage and disappointment. But Scripture shows us that even in her sorrow; Naomi maintained her faith in God. She praised Him for the kindness that Boaz showed Ruth and spoke of God's goodness even in her uncertain times (Ruth 2:19-20). She praised God in the hard times, and He restored her broken heart.

God breathed hope into the souls of Naomi and Ruth through their kinsman-redeemer, Boaz. The book of Ruth goes on to tell a fascinating story of how God lovingly cared for and blessed Naomi as He used the faithful friendship and kindness of Ruth to "renew her life and sustain her" (4:15). She went back to Bethlehem as a broken, hopeless widow and was restored by the loving hand of God.

Just as God did for Naomi, He wants to transform the painful pieces of your life into beautiful blessings. He has not forgotten you. He is intimately familiar with your pain. Don't turn away from Him. Continue to trust God. He will never leave your side, and He can bring restoration to your situation just as he did for Naomi and Ruth.

Like Naomi, when I've experienced difficult times, I've had to choose to trust God. Some days I choose well. Some days I don't. My courage to trust is bolstered by playing praise music, meditating on God's goodness, reading Scripture, and praying. Those things collectively renew my mind and strengthen my faith.

Take comfort that He knows every issue on your heart and is able to shoulder your burdens. Your challenges do not fall outside the scope of God's ability to intervene. God is mysterious, He is powerful, and He is able! When you lift your eyes from your situation and fix them on your Savior, you will find peace in the pain and strength in the struggle.

But in the darkest moments, I choose to trust and hang on to faith. When all else fails, all that's required of us is that we choose to trust and hang on to our faith.

Let's Pray
Holy Father, Your greatness is unsearchable and Your power is beyond what I can imagine. Please help me to honor You with my life -- in every circumstance -- and to trust in Your ability and desire to intervene in my life. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Now It's Your Turn
Is there something that has caused you to become bitter? Reflect on this and spend some time in prayer. Ask that God would reveal any hidden anger or bitterness in your life so He can deal with it and bring healing.

If you are in a difficult place right now, here's a promise from God's Word for you to memorize: "He will yet fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy" (Job 8:21).

More from the Girlfriends
I recently heard it said that, "When we work, we work...but when we pray, God works." I pray that you will seek Him earnestly today in prayer!! If you'd like to be drawn into His presence through music, turn up your speakers and CLICK HERE!

Today's devotion is an excerpt from Gwen's book, Broken Into Beautiful. To order the book, please CLICK HERE.

Gwen Smith is a worship artist, songwriter, speaker, and author. For more information, visit her website at: http://www.gwensmith.net/

Seeking God?
Click here to find out more about
how to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

Girlfriends in God
P.O. Box 725
Matthews, NC 28106

Click here to learn more about hosting a Girlfriends in God conference in your area.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Good Things Versus God-Things

Romans 8:14
Because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.

The greatest sign that you and I are maturing in our walk with God is when we can discern the difference between "good things" and "God-things." When the people of Israel journeyed out of Egypt through the desert, they were led by the cloud by day. They could move only as fast as the cloud. If they went ahead, they went without God's presence. If they lagged behind, they also lost God's presence.

Each of us must have the discernment to know when God is leading in a matter, or if it is simply a good idea. There are so many things in which you and I can be involved, and the more successful you become, the greater the temptations to enter into things where God has not called you. Entrepreneurs are especially prone to see all the opportunities.

I recall one time when I entered into a project that I thought was a great idea. It would help many people. After two years, the project had to be discontinued. It was a great lesson on understanding what projects have God's blessing on them. There are some projects you and I might get involved in that result in little fruit compared to the investment put into them. That is because they may never have been birthed by the Holy Spirit.

As sons of God, we are called to be led by the Spirit. This requires a level of dependence on God in which many of us really do not want to invest. It requires listening, waiting, and moving only when God's Spirit tells us to move. Businesspeople are "action" people. We know how to get things done, but our greatest strength can be our greatest weakness.

Today, ask God to make you a Romans 8:14 man or woman who is led by the Spirit of God. Pray against lagging behind or moving ahead. Ask God to reveal whether the next project you consider is a "good thing" or a "God-thing."

A Question of Ownership - READ THIS

Matthew 10:39
Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.

Otto Koning was a missionary in New Guinea. He worked among a native tribe that had known only their village ways. One of those village ways was stealing from others. When Otto and his wife arrived and moved into a hut, the natives often came by to visit. The Konings would notice that after the natives left the missionaries' home, various household items had disappeared. They saw these items again when they went to preach in the natives' village.

The only fruit Otto could grow on the island was pineapples. Otto loved pineapples, and he took pride in the pineapples he was able to grow. However, whenever the pineapples began to ripen, the natives would steal them. Otto could never keep a ripe pineapple for himself. This was a frustration, and he became angry with the natives. All during the seven-year period in which this took place, Otto preached the gospel to these natives, but never had a conversion.

The more the natives stole, the more angry Otto became. Finally, one day Otto had a German Shepherd dog flown in from another missionary to protect his pineapple garden after other frustrated efforts failed. This only further alienated the natives from him.

Otto took a furlough to the United States and attended a conference on personal rights. At this conference, he discovered that he was frustrated over this situation because he had taken personal ownership of his pineapple garden. After much soul searching, he gave his garden to God. Soon the natives started having problems among their tribe. They discovered that Otto was the reason for their problems because he gave his garden to his God. The natives saw a correlation between what Otto had done and their own lives being affected by calamities in their village. When Otto gave his garden to God, he no longer got angry and was free from worry. The natives started bringing him fruit from the garden because they didn't want any more calamities to come into their village.

The light came on one day when a native said to Otto, "You must have become a Christian, Otto. You don't get angry anymore. We always wondered if we would ever meet a Christian." They had never associated Otto with the kind of person he was preaching about because his message did not line up with his life. Otto was broken in spirit when he realized he had been such a failure.

At the end of seven years, he witnessed his first conversion, and many began coming to Christ once he fully gave his garden to God. The fruit grew so abundant that Otto began exporting it and growing other types of fruit, such as bananas. His village became the most evangelized in the whole region, yet for seven years he had not one convert.

Otto realized something each of us must realize: To gain your life you must lose it, along with your possessions. It was only when he gave all his possessions to God that he became free from them. God measured back to him manyfold once He had complete ownership.

Do you have some possessions that you need to give up to God today? Let God have all that you have. Become a steward, not an owner. You will be surprised at how well God can take care of His possessions.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Are You a Romans 8:14 Christian?

Romans 8:13-14
For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.

Joshua and Caleb are described in Scripture as men who had a different spirit. They were two of the 12 spies sent into the Promised Land to determine if it could be taken, as God had promised it to them. The other ten gave a bad report that instilled fear in the people, which ultimately caused a rebellion. This resulted in an entire generation dying in the desert. Joshua and Caleb were the only two who were led by the Spirit of God, versus the spirit of fear. They were the only ones to enter the Promised Land from their generation.

Are you a person led by the Spirit? The verse above tells us that those who are led by the Spirit are sons of God. "But because My servant Caleb has a different spirit and follows Me wholeheartedly, I will bring him into the land he went to, and his descendants will inherit it" (Num. 14:24). Caleb was a Romans 8:14 man! The Spirit led him. He was not led by fear.

Many of us have failed to enter into our own Promised Land because we have failed to be led by the Spirit rather than by fear. Fear prevents us from entering into what God has promised for each of us. God has reserved an inheritance for us that is exceedingly good. God described the Promised Land as a land of milk and honey. Our own Promised Land is the same. But you must be led by the Spirit to enter in. You cannot be led by fear, reason and analysis, or even skill. The Spirit must lead you.

Commit yourself to being a Romans 8:14 man or woman. Then you will enter into the land God has promised for you.

Starting Over

James 1:9
The brother in humble circumstances ought to take pride in his high position.

Do you find yourself in humble circumstances? If so, James tells us that we are to take pride in this "high" position. These two things would seem to be an oxymoron. Most of us would not consider humble circumstances a high position. Successful business tells us that being on top means being wealthy, attaining favor and status, or having power to influence. However, Jesus influenced not from power, but from weakness.

J.C. Penney is a name synonymous with department store. He first launched his chain of "The Golden Rule" stores in 1907. In 1910 his first wife died. Three years later, he incorporated as the J.C. Penney company. In 1923 his second wife died giving birth to his son. In 1929 the stock market crashed and he lost $40 million.

By 1932, he had to sell out to satisfy...creditors. This left [Penney] virtually broke. ...Crushed in spirit from his loss and his health suddenly failing, Penney wound up in a Battle Creek, Michigan sanitorium. One morning he heard the distant singing of employees who gathered to start the day with God: Be not dismayed, whate'er betide, God will take care of you.... Penney followed the music to its source and slipped into a back row. He left a short time later a changed man, his health and spirit renewed, and ready to start the long climb back at age fifty-six.

By 1951 there was a J.C. Penney store in every state, and for the first time sales surpassed $1 billion a year. [John Woodbridge, ed., More Than Conquerors (Chicago, Illinois: Moody Press, 1992), 340-343.]

The success of J.C. Penney can be traced to God's mercy in his life to bring him out of his humble circumstance. Do you find yourself in a humble circumstance? God is the only one who can help you see your humble circumstance from His viewpoint-a high position. It is a high position because of what God is going to teach you in this place. He does not intend you to stay there; it is merely a stopping place to learn some important things you would not learn otherwise. Press into God and trust Him for the outcome to your circumstances.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Fulfilling Vows

Ecclesiastes 5:4
When you make a vow to God, do not delay in fulfilling it. He has no pleasure in fools; fulfill your vow.

Have you ever had a business relationship with someone who made a commitment but later said, "Well, things changed, so I cannot honor our original agreement." Sometimes this may be the case, but often it is simply an opportunity to avoid fulfilling an agreement. God is big on fulfilling vows. God's nature is righteousness and truth. You will always see God honor His Word. He expects the same of His people.

God says there are consequences when we do not fulfill our vows. Subsequent Scripture verses reveal the following:

It is better not to vow than to make a vow and not fulfill it. Do not let your mouth lead you into sin. And do not protest to the temple messenger, "My vow was a mistake." Why should God be angry at what you say and destroy the work of your hands? Much dreaming and many words are meaningless. Therefore stand in awe of God (Ecclesiastes 5:5-7).

God tells us that He will destroy the work of our hands for failure to fulfill vows. That's pretty strong language. It gives us an indication of how important fulfilling vows is to God. He will not prosper our work if there are unfulfilled vows in our lives

Are there any unfulfilled vows in your life that may be hindering your projects? Vows show up in many areas of our lives-marriages, businesses, personal friendships. Unfulfilled vows in any one of these could be the reason your work may be hindered.

Ask God today if there are any unfulfilled vows in your life. If so, begin today to make them right so that you may be successful in whatever God calls you to do.

Product Testing

Matthew 25:21
His master replied, "Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!"

Testing allows one to discover how well a product is made when placed under extreme stress. Increasing the pulling pressure between two objects reveals the amount of tension that can be withstood in a chain link. Eventually, the "choking" point occurs. In sports, we ascertain the "choking" point for athletes by putting them into a pressure situation. At what point will the athlete lose concentration and collapse under the pressure? It is under these stressful times that we discover how well we have been trained to withstand the pressure and make right decisions regardless of outside influences.

In my younger days I played sports. I came to observe that we fail under pressure usually because we reach a point where our ability to focus on execution yields to concern about outcome. This worry about outcome forces us to lose our concentration. The fear of failure begins to rule our emotions and actions, which ultimately results in our failure. What we fear has come upon us. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

In life, we see giving in to pressure in the form of compulsive behavior, withdrawal, anger, abuse, moral failure, and dishonesty, to name just a few manifestations.

Jesus never yielded to pressure. He never made decisions based on outcome. He always made the right decision. He always performed the same no matter what the circumstance. He lived a life based on absolutes, not circumstances. He never gave in to "situational ethics."

As God entrusts us with more and more responsibility, He brings more and more pressures into our lives to "test the product," to make sure that He can give even more responsibility to us. This process helps us see where we are in our maturity and determines our level of future responsibility.

Are you a product that can withstand the product test? Will you perform as the Maker designed no matter what outside pressures come? Know that you cannot perform well unless you are continually in relationship with and obedient to the one who made you. Trust the product developer today. He has made you to perform well under pressure.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Prosperity in Afflictions

Genesis 41:52
The second son he named Ephraim and said, "It is because God has made me fruitful in the land of my suffering."

When Joseph was elevated to rule over the Egyptian kingdom, he revealed some profound truths gained from the experiences of his years of adversity. He named his first son, Manasseh for, he said, "God has made me forget all my trouble and all my father's household" (Gen. 41:51b). His second son was named Ephraim because, "God has made me fruitful in the land of my suffering."

Whenever God takes us through the land of affliction, He will do two things through that affliction: 1) He will bring such healing that we will be able to forget the pain, and 2) He will make us fruitful from the painful experiences.

God does not waste our afflictions if we allow Him the freedom to complete the work in us. His desire is to create virtue that remains during the times of testing so that He can bring us into the place of fruitfulness in the very area of our testing. He has never promised to keep us from entering the valleys of testing, but He has promised to make us fruitful in them. He is the God who turns the Valley of Achor (trouble) into a door of hope (see Hos. 2:15).

If you are in the valley of affliction, now is the time to press into Him. When the time comes to bring you out of this valley, He will heal your memories and bring fruit from this very time.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

The Anointing Comes With A Price!

*A beautifully timed email that I received from a friend*

August 1st, 2008
It’s a wonderful day to be a child of God. What a week this has been. For some it went by very fast; for others you could not wait until Friday came. Isn’t it amazing how people can be placed in the same situation but respond to it differently? Some people breakdown, while others fight back. Some run and hide, while others stand firmly. Some ask why me, while others say why not me. Could it be possible that the very thing you are complaining about is the tool God is using to position you? I know it is hard to believe or receive, but sometimes God will allow certain things to happen to prove to the devil whose side you are on. Read Job 2. Stop allowing the enemy to pollute your thoughts. Just because you are being challenged today does not mean God is punishing you. He could be bragging on you.

Today, I have been commissioned to come and minister to you. Do you realize your anointing comes with a price? Do you realize God notices your sacrifices? He recognizes your faithfulness. Imagine how He must feel when you are complaining because someone else has what you feel you deserve. Child of God, before you covet your neighbor’s house and/or possessions …

  • Make sure you are ready to pay the price they had to pay.
  • Make sure you are ready to cry like they have.
  • Make sure you are willing to suffer the way they have.
  • Make sure you are prepared to lose friends like they have.
  • Make sure you are able to stand in the midst of hell like they have.
  • Make sure you are willing to fast as much as they have.
  • Make sure you are willing to pray and consecrate as much as they have.
  • Make sure you are able to say ’no’ when everyone expects you to say ’yes’.
  • Make sure you are willing to be faithful to God, even when other Believers are compromising.
  • Make sure you are ready to experience severe spiritual warfare.
  • Make sure you are ready to be lied on, laughed at, kicked around, ridiculed, gossiped about, and/or criticized.
Beloved, there are people who would love to have what you have, but they are not willing to suffer through what you have. The Anointing Comes With A Price! Cherish it. Value it. Nurture it. Appreciate it. The Bible declares in Isaiah 10:27 - And it shall come to pass in that day, that his burden shall be taken away from off thy shoulder, and his yoke from off thy neck, and the yoke shall be destroyed because of the anointing.

Scripture Reading for Today: Exodus 20:17, Psalms 37

May God Bless you at Your point of need!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Fear Not!

2 Timothy 1:7
For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.

God calls each of us to engage in spiritual warfare at times. Whenever satan wants to come against one of God's children, he does so by trying to intimidate through fear.

Goliath's formidable size and arrogant boasting intimidated Saul and Israel's army. And because God's anointing had fallen from Saul, he was unable to respond with courage to Goliath's charge. Fear paralyzes and torments. That is why Saul could not respond.

The anointing had fallen on David, who was just a young boy, but mighty in spirit. David did not cower at the size or shouts of the giant Goliath. He saw Goliath through the eyes of God, who saw him as a mere speck. David had righteous indignation for an affront to the armies of the living God.

David did not weigh the risk of failure because his faith was resting totally in God. That is another important factor in overcoming fear-complete trust in God.

When the Lord began training me to confront fear, the training grounds were a groundless lawsuit, intimidations, and calamity that confronted my very existence. Learning that these were merely tactics of the enemy, designed to instill fear, allowed me to stand firm in God's power to overcome.

Do not fear sudden calamity if you are walking uprightly before God. It may be setting the stage for a great victory that will bring praise and honor to your heavenly Father. These battles are training grounds for greater victories to come.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Seeing What Others Cannot See

2 Kings 6:17
And Elisha prayed, "O Lord, open his eyes so he may see." Then the Lord opened the servant's eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.

Several years ago, a movie was made called Field of Dreams. The story is about a man who had a vision to build a baseball field in the middle of a cornfield on his rural farm. He did not know why; he just knew he was to do it. To the chagrin of his neighbors, he built the baseball diamond in the farm community. One night some players showed up. The man realized these were no ordinary players, but were actually the great players from the past. When the skeptical neighbors came to view this phenomenon, they were unable to see what the farm owner could see. This made it even worse for him. Now he was really a lunatic in their eyes.

This fictitious story has a spiritual application for us. First, if God tells us to "build a ball field," we should do it. It is not for us to determine the reason we are instructed to do it. Once we are obedient, God will allow us to see what others cannot see. It is the rite of passage for those who are willing to risk all for God's purposes. God increases the spiritual senses to levels we never knew before. Those around us will observe this.

Do you want to see what others cannot see? If so, it will require a level of obedience that will go beyond human reason. It may require risk and ridicule from others. But you will see what others cannot see.

Going Without Jesus

Luke 2:43
...they were unaware of it.

Mary and Joseph traveled to Jerusalem for the Feast of the Passover. Jesus was 12 years old. They were evidently very distracted by the excitement and business of the Feast. In fact, Mary and Joseph began their return trip to Nazareth only to realize well into the trip that Jesus was not with them. It would be three days before they would be reunited with their 12-year-old son. It caused quite a scare in Mary and Joseph, and they reprimanded Jesus for "wandering" off.

As a parent, I find this story truly amazing. How can parents of the Son of God not know their son is not in their presence? Yet this story illustrates how each of us can become so busy that we continue to operate not realizing that Jesus is no longer with us. Obviously, there was very little fellowship taking place between Jesus and His parents during the trip.

Are you experiencing daily, even moment-by-moment, fellowship with Jesus? If not, you will wake up one day and realize Jesus is not with you in your endeavors. It may, like Mary and Joseph, create a certain fear in you that you may have lost a very important relationship. Doing business without Jesus' presence leaves us powerless and prone to live in fear. Jesus said He would never leave or forsake His children. However, we can walk away from His fellowship by refusing to be with Him. Do not let this happen to you. He longs to have daily fellowship with you because He loves you.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Crosswalk: Women's Newsletter - GREAT READ!

Do you ever find a book that you devour? And then you enjoy it so much and get so much truth from it you go back again. Even a third and fourth time you return to it. You highlight in it, the corners are folded, the pages are worn? I have found a few books like that.

One of them is Listening for God by Marilyn Hontz. One of the things I have learned from her book is that there is a difference between "dry" times and "dark" times.

Dry times result when we do not actively pursue our relationship with Jesus. When we are busy with other things. When we are preoccupied, distracted, maybe even "doing" ministry. We just aren't making time for Him, pursuing a relationship with Him, communicating and listening to Him. Those are dry times.

Dry times are something I can change. I am in control of how long these times last. I can resolve these times by getting back on my face before God, by rekindling that relationship, by returning to Him.

Malachi 3: 7 (NIV) "Return to me and I will return to you."

James 4:8 (NIV) Come near to God and He will come near to you."

He is there waiting for me. I just have to take the first step. I do not have to be in the dry place longer than I allow myself to be. It is not that He is being silent during these times... it is that I am not listening.

Dark times, on the other hand, often occur when we are seeking the Lord and occupied with Him, yet we feel our prayers bounce off the ceiling... silence. These times tend to lead to questions like "God, Where are you? Why aren't you speaking? Why can't I feel you? Why can't I see you? It is so dark."

Marilyn shares that these are the times He uses to teach us to depend on Him for who he is and not how we feel about him. This time forces us to trust the Lord alone and not our feelings. And then she shares this: "God often speaks loudest in His silence. These times can be spiritually enriching."

When I read that, I thought What? What does that mean? How do the dark times spiritually enrich my life? How does God speak loudest during these times?

Is it because I have to listen so very quietly, to look so very carefully, to strain to see one sign, to work so hard to feel one little thing of Him? And why do I depend on my feelings so much anyway?

Then the truth came. I can't depend on my feelings. I must depend on Him for who He is. I must trust in Him based on what I know of Him and His character.

The only place I can learn about Him, who He is, and His character... is in His word, the Bible. Could it be that these times of "silence" (no feelings) are so spiritually enriching because these are the times that drive me hard into His word?

When things seem to be going well, when all is as it should be, when I'm "feeling" Him and His presence, do I pursue Him in his Word like I do when He's quiet? Do I read until I find a truth? Do I crave for any new insight from Him? Do I examine my world under a microscope looking for the smallest of signs that He is still around, that He exists, that He still cares?

I would have to say that during the "good" times I read His word with more of an "Amen, uh-huh, beautiful, absolutely right" type of attitude.

During the dark times I read, study, take apart, and digest everything I can looking for some truth, some encouragement, something to hold on to, to cling to, to be a promise for my heart alone. I long to learn something about Him and who He is and will be for me... something new about His character.

In doing this I am teaching myself more about the very God of the universe, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. I am learning intimate promises and attributes about the Savior of My life, my Father.

Maybe that's why these dark times come. These are times when I need to be driven into Him through His Word... hard!

That's why I can't determine the length of these times. He knows what I need to learn. He knows what I need to see. He knows what changes need to occur in my heart and spirit before I can come out on the other side.

My only choices in the "dark times" are either to continue with Him, pursuing this life as He has called me to live it... or to give it up and lose all that I have, everything I've worked for. The Christian life must be one of daily obedience, surrender, and commitment. I can choose to follow at all costs, or not. The choices are pretty simple, really.

As I look back during other dark times in my life, I would have to say I have learned something in every one of them. Something new about myself, my world around me, and something new about God. Each one of those previous dark times has built my character, taught me God can be trusted, produced in my spirit a desire to persevere, to make it, to survive.

Marilyn also shares these encouraging words. "I know it is lonely, but keep going! You will come out of that dark, long tunnel with a deeper knowledge of God. This is a time when, in faith, you love him purely for who you know him to be - not just for what he can do for you or how he makes you feel. Continue to pursue God."

I believe I can be in a dry time. I believe I can be in a dark time. I believe to be in either place "feels" the same... silence, alone, dark, desperate.

I now recognize that when I realize I am there, in one of those places, I must determine in my heart which place it is.

Am I in the dry place? Dry because I haven't been spending time with Him? If so, I need to reconcile that!

Am I in a dark place? I know of no sin in my life, I know I am spending time with Him, and yet He seems so distant. During those times I've got to hold on for dear life, to persevere, and to trust Him for who I know Him to be.

The beauty of either of these places? They should each drive me hard into His Word, prayer and pursuing Him!

Monday, July 21, 2008

God's Double-Talk

Exodus 4:21
The Lord said to Moses, "When you return to Egypt, see that you perform before Pharaoh all the wonders I have given you the power to do. But I will harden his heart so that he will not let the people go."

Have you ever had a boss tell you to do something only to have him sabotage your ability to complete the task? Nothing is more frustrating than to begin to carry out a task and have your superior thwart your effort to do what he asked you to do.

Moses must have felt this way after God told him to go to Pharaoh and tell him to release the people of Israel. He said, "I am going to give you the power to release the children of Israel by the miracles I will do through you." Yet at the same time, He told Moses they would not be released because He was going to put a hard heart in Pharaoh. How do we reconcile this?

In my own life, I knew God called me to certain endeavors. Yet every time I turned around, a roadblock stood in my way. It took years of plodding along before the light came on as to why there was such a distance between what God called me to do and the manifestation of that calling. When David was anointed king of Israel, it was years before he realized the manifestation of that calling. There were a number of reasons for these delays.

In the case of Moses and Israel, God wanted to demonstrate His power in such a way that generations would be able to hear the story of their deliverance from their ancestors. God wanted greater glory from the situation. God also wanted to deal with Egypt by sending specific plagues. Finally, the very process built character in Moses and tested Moses to see if he would stay the course.

There is a time for everything. If God has called you to some endeavor and you are frustrated that it has not manifested, know that times of preparation and simmering are required before the vision can be achieved. Seldom does God call and manifest something at the same time. There is preparation. There is testing. There is relationship building between you and God that must take place. Once this is complete, you will see the vision materialize.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Avoiding Detours

Proverbs 3:5-6
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.

I turned off the interstate to get gas for my car. I was returning from a speaking engagement and it was very late. As I turned onto the road, I looked for the entrance ramp to get back on the interstate. It was dark and I could not see any signs. I made a turn to the right that appeared to be the turn I needed to make. I could see the interstate was next to the road. As I continued down this road, the interstate was on my left. It soon became obvious it was not the entrance road but rather a frontage road. I assumed it would take me to the next interchange. However, the road soon turned away from the interstate. It grew darker and darker. The road became a dirt road. I realized I was not going to get to the interstate on this road. Being a bit frustrated that I had made the wrong turn, I turned around and went back, losing valuable time.

It is easy to make assumptions about the path we are on. If God's Spirit has not enlightened our reasoning, we are inclined to make the wrong choices. Our choices seem right at the time, but later we discover these choices have led us away from God because they were based on our own reasoning.

Acknowledge God in all your ways today. Lean completely on Him to reveal His direction for your life. If you do so, He will direct you to the desired destination He has for you.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Power of Unity

John 17:21
That all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in Me and I am in You. May they also be in Us so that the world may believe that You have sent Me.

What is the greatest power that allows the unsaved to make a decision for Jesus Christ? It isn't prayer, though this is important. It isn't good deeds, though deeds indicate a fruitful relationship with God. It isn't good behavior, though Christ commands us to be obedient as sons. The greatest power God's children have over darkness is unity. Jesus talked a great deal about His oneness with the Father and the importance of unity in the Body of Christ. It is the most difficult command Jesus gave to the Church, because it wars against the most evil aspect of our sin nature-independence.

In the last days we are seeing God's Spirit convict His children of the lack of unity among His Church. We are seeing God move between blacks and whites, ethnic groups, denominations, and parachurch groups. There is much work to be done. The walls of division and competition among His Body are a stench in God's nostrils. He sees the competition and the pride of ownership and weeps for the lost who cannot come to Him because they cannot see Him in His Body. When His Body is one, the unbelieving see that Jesus was sent by God. It is like a supernatural key that unlocks Heaven for the heathen soul. The key is in the hand of Christ's Church.

When there is unity, there is power. Scripture tells us five will chase 100, but 100 will chase 10,000 (see Lev. 26:8). There is a dynamic multiplication factor in unity of numbers. We are a hundred times more effective when we are a unified group. Imagine what God could do with a unified Church.

Jesus prayed that we all might be one, as the Father and He are one. He wanted the same love God has for Jesus to be in each of us. When this love is in us, we are drawn to each other with a common mission. The walls fall down. The independent spirit is broken. Competition is destroyed. Satan's accusations are thwarted. Our love for each other is manifest to the world around us. Lost souls begin to seek this love that is so foreign to them.

Have you contributed to an independent spirit within His Body? Are you seeking to break down walls of competition among Christians, churches, denominations, and ethnic groups? Until we walk in the spirit of unity, we will hinder those in whom God has reserved a place in Heaven. Pray for His Church to be unified.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Benefits of Obedience

Isaiah 48:17
This is what the Lord says-your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: "I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go."

My career has been in marketing and advertising. Early on, I learned to distinguish the difference between features and benefits. Features represent characteristics of a product or service. Benefits are those things that directly profit or benefit me by using the product or service. For instance, my new computer has incredible speed and lots of memory (feature). This allows me to do things more quickly and easily (benefit). People are more concerned about the benefits than the features.

God tells us in the above verse that there are some direct benefits to the features of His nature. He is a God who is committed to teaching His children in the way they should go. What is the real benefit of His teaching? He answers this in the next verse. "If only you had paid attention to My commands, your peace would have been like a river, your righteousness like the waves of the sea" (Is. 48:18).

The Lord tells us that the benefit of allowing God to teach us and lead us in the way is peace and righteousness. Here is a guaranteed promise from God. I often use guarantees in my advertising claims. Here is God's immutable guarantee: You will have peace like a river and righteousness like the waves of the sea! What a great promise!

Are you trusting God with the very details of your life so that He can lead you in the way you should go? Are you allowing Him to teach you? Seek the Lord today for what He wants to teach you and allow Him to lead you, and you will ensure peace and righteousness in your life.