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.

"Love Me" - The Heart of a Lost Teenage Girl

"Now let your unfailing love comfort me, just as you promised me, your servant."
Psalm 119:76 (NLT)


There was a teenage girl who seemed to have her life all together. She had many friends, excelled in school, was kind to others, and made her mom very proud. On the outside, this girl's life seemed amazing. The inside revealed a much different story.

I am this girl. I know that looks can be deceiving.

When I was 7, a neighbor sexually molested me. When I was 8, I witnessed my grandfather falling out of his beloved rocking chair, the victim of a stroke. At age 10, my dad went on a business trip, and never returned. My parents were getting a divorce. My world seemed to get worse by the year. What would happen next?

Tired of my heartache and circumstances, I decided to ask Christ into my life - only to be disappointed. Why did I still feel guilty and dirty (sexual abuse), disappointed and scared (my grandfather's stroke), unworthy and empty (my family was broken)? Was it too much to ask for someone to love me?

Jesus, if you won't fix my life, I'll do it myself. I proclaimed.

I was able to satisfy the people in my life through my achievements, but on the inside I was a wreck. My heart was still empty and aching. The outer me didn't seem to satisfy the longing in my heart, so I tried other, more destructive ways.

I gave into the temptation to feel loved and accepted by another person. While on an un-chaperoned beach trip, I crawled into bed with another searching-for-love soul. We were two people looking to feel complete -- but looking in the wrong places. This was a friend of mine, someone who loved and cared about me. That made it okay, right?

I had dreamed of what my first time would be like. My plans had been to save myself for marriage. I had visions of my groom carrying me into our beautiful honeymoon suite and there two would become one. Instead of a honeymoon suite, I was in a run down motel room. Instead of my groom, I was with a lost high school boy. I cried. What had I just done?

A friend picked me up the next morning and we drove home. I don't think I spoke the whole time. Growing inside of me were the bitter seeds of guilt, shame, disgust with myself, and the familiar emptiness.

After years of continuing to try to fill the emptiness in my heart with all the wrong things, I realized the truth. Jesus was there. He had been in my heart since the day I invited Him in. He was waiting and watching over me. I had to learn the hard way that He was the only One that could fill my heart completely.

I'm much older now. I'm far from perfect, but I've learned that there is nothing in this world that can satisfy the desires of my heart. Believe me, if it were available for purchase, I would've bought it. If it came from good looks and pretty clothes, I could've had that too. Or if it came from a human relationship, my heart would not hurt. But none of these things can do what Jesus does.

Do not be fooled by the promises of this world; believe the promises of God's Word. You are His precious child. He loves you. He desires a relationship with you no matter what has happened to you or what you've done. Trust and give Him the chance to be the One who fills your heart with love.

Dear Lord, I don't even have to ask to You to love me, because You already do. Oh God, please remind me often of how much You love me and help me not to give into what the world is offering me to make me feel better. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Monday, July 14, 2008

The God of the Valley

1 Kings 20:28
The man of God came up and told the king of Israel, "This is what the Lord says: 'Because the Arameans think the Lord is a god of the hills and not a god of the valleys, I will deliver this vast army into your hands, and you will know that I am the Lord'."

Whenever we stand on the mountain, we are able to see clearly. It is the best vantage point to see what lies ahead. Wouldn't it be great to live on the mountain all the time in order to anticipate what is ahead? God allows us to experience the mountaintop at times. Joseph's first mountaintop experience was as a young man. He had the favor of his father, Jacob. He was given a fine coat and even had a dream about his future. As a young man, Joseph had a sense of destiny about his life. God often gives us a picture of our future so that we will remember this picture when we are being tested to trust Him in the valley. This picture usually does not reveal how God intends to bring about the visions for our life.

However, none of us really derive the character qualities God desires for our lives while we are on the mountain. It is in the valley where the fruit is planted and harvested. It cannot grow on the mountain; it must grow in the valley. God is a God of the mountain, but he is even more a God of the valley. In the valley, it is more difficult to see ahead; the clouds often cover the valley and limit our sight. Joseph was thrust into a deep valley that left him wondering if the God of his father had forsaken him. Jesus hoped that He might be able to avoid the valley that caused Him to sweat blood. There is a valley that each of us must enter, usually unwillingly, in order to experience the God of the valley-and to experience His faithfulness in the valley. Once we have spent time in this valley, we come out with something we would have never gained if we had not entered it. The valley brings much fruit into our lives so that we might plant seeds into the lives of others. God does not waste valley experiences. If we are faithful in the valley, we will enter a new dimension with God that we never thought possible. There is a harvest of wisdom and virtue that can only be grown in the valley.

Has God brought you into the valley? Know that the valley is a place of fruitfulness; it is a place of testing. It is where God brings what you know in your head into your heart. The only value of knowledge is when it becomes part of your heart. Look for God in the valley today.

When Insecurity Turns Evil

Romans 12:15
Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.

Saul was the King of Israel. David was in Saul's army and beginning to build a reputation as a great warrior. One day when David came back from a battle, the women danced and sang: " 'Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands' " (1 Sam. 18:7).

Saul was very angry; this refrain galled him. "They have credited David with tens of thousands," he thought, "but me with only thousands. What more can he get but the kingdom?" (1 Samuel 18:8)

This statement caused something to snap in King Saul. From this point on, Saul was never the leader God intended him to be. He allowed insecurity to drive his every decision. Insecurity leads to the need to control people and circumstances. The need to control leads to anger once we realize we are unable to control the circumstance. King Saul could not accept, much less rejoice, over David's success. David's life would never be the same, because Saul sought to kill David every chance he had. Saul had a choice; he could have seen David as an up-and-coming general in his army who could have become an important part of his team and made the kingdom of Israel even stronger. Instead, he looked at him as a threat.

When you hear good news about fellow workers or associates, do you rejoice with them? If you find yourself comparing your life's circumstances to others and don't feel you measure up, recognize that this is one of satan's greatest ploys to destroy you.

Christ has given you all things in Him. He has a unique plan for you that cannot be compared to another. He alone is your security. Trust in the purposes He has for your life. And remember, "My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus" (Phil. 4:19 KJV).

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Get the Body God Planned for You

Pressure to live up to our culture’s current idea of a perfect body can leave you feeling bad about what you see in the mirror. You may think that if you could only get a thinner waist, thicker hair, longer legs, a shorter nose, a smaller rear end, or a bigger chest, you’ll feel better because you’ll look better.

But what if your perfect body is simply the one God created you to have – the unique design He planned for you before you were even born? What if you don’t have to agonize over your body and work hard trying to change it?

You can have the perfect body for you if you accept the body God planned for you and focus on taking care of it well. Here’s how:

Accept the body you have. Instead of fighting against God’s design, decide to operate within it to discover all the beauty and functionality God has placed there. Realize that, even though the shape of your legs or the size of your nose may not fit society’s highest standard of beauty right now, that doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with you. Understand that what needs to change isn’t your body itself, but your perception of your body. Embrace the reality that your body is nothing less than a temple for the Holy Spirit – a receptacle for God’s presence. Since God has chosen to honor your body by dwelling within it, choose to respect it yourself.

List what you like and dislike about your body.Make two lists: “Things I Really Don’t Like About My Body” and “Things About My Body I’m Not Totally Disappointed With.” On each list, write down what parts of your body are in their original condition (the way God made you), and what parts you’ve changed. Next to what you’ve listed for body parts in their original condition, write, “Blessings from God.” Next to what you’ve listed for body parts you’ve modified in some way, write, “I’m committing these to God.” Keep your lists to use in your personal prayer times.

Celebrate your uniqueness.You only have to think about the huge variety of beautiful flowers God has created to know that God seems to enjoy diversity. Recognize that He has created you to be distinctively unique among all the many people He’s made. Appreciate the fact that you’re one of a kind, and your body has been designed just for you – no one else. God knows you intimately; even better than you know yourself. So stop wasting your time and energy trying to change your body to be like other people’s bodies and start discovering more about your own God-given body.

Read the rest of the article here - Get the Body God Planned For You

Tested for Abundance

Psalms 66:12
We went through fire and water, but you brought us to a place of abundance.

It is nice to hear that God desires to bring us into abundance. In fact, many a preacher has promoted the goodness of the Lord and His ability to prosper His children. Alas, my experience is that this gospel of material abundance has little to do with the gospel of the Kingdom as our Lord works in the realm of the sanctified soul. The passage above tells us that God does in fact bring us into places of abundance. However, upon further study of the entire passage, we learn the route to this abundance.

For you, O God, tested us; You refined us like silver. You brought us into prison and laid burdens on our backs. You let men ride over our heads; we went through fire and water, but You brought us to a place of abundance (Psalm 66:10-12).

God's economy of abundance often has little to do with material blessing. In God's economy, abundance is often measured in wisdom and knowledge of Himself. It is then that we are truly blessed. Wisdom cannot be gained through intellectual pursuits. Wisdom comes only through experience. Real wisdom comes from the kinds of experiences that come only through the deepest tests.

Lessons of refinement, including prison accompanied by burdens, lead us through the fire and water. This is the territory that must be traveled to reach that place of abundance. It would seem strange that a loving God would use such means with His children. What we often fail to realize is that God's measuring stick is the character and likeness of Jesus Christ Himself in each of us. This cannot be gained through a life of ease and pleasure. Ease and pleasure fail to refine.

Is God using your marketplace to refine you today? Has He placed you in a prison or laid burdens on your back? Take heart if this is the place you find yourself, and realize that if you are faithful through the tests, you will enter a place of abundance that few will ever attain. The darkest hour is just before daybreak.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

An Audience of One

Romans 12:2

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is-His good, pleasing and perfect will.

What audience do you play to? Each day you are seen by many who will make a judgment about the way you handle yourself among different audiences. Politicians have learned to play to their audiences, customizing messages for the needs of their particular groups. Musicians have learned to play to their audiences. Pastors play to their congregations each Sunday morning. Businesspeople play to the audiences who will buy their product.

Christ has called us to play to one audience - the audience of Himself. When you seek to please any other audience in your life, you become susceptible to situational ethics and motivations based on the need for the moment. Your audience becomes a pawn in your hands because you know what they want. Is that wrong? Sometimes it is, sometimes it isn't.

Pure obedience to pleasing God in our lives will often meet the needs of those around us. It is God's will that you and I love our spouses, provide good services to our customers, and look to the interests of others before ourselves. This will result in meeting many needs of the audiences in our lives.

However, there are other times when our audiences are asking for something contrary to God's will. Politicians are often forced to appease their audiences, even though it may go against God's laws. When we are asked to go with the flow, we discover which audience is most important in our lives. Is it the audience of One, or the audience of many?

Today, be aware of which audience you are playing to. Ask yourself why you are taking a particular action. Is it to please the audience of One? Or is it to please the audience of others who might negatively impact you should you not play to their tune?

Running Toward a Dream

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us."

Hebrews 12:1 (NIV)

Do you have a dream tucked in your heart?

I suspect you do.

Sweet sister, bring your dream, whatever it is, back out into the light of day and press on.

I once had someone ask me what was the one thing I did that finally helped my dream of getting published come to pass.

To be honest, I can't say one thing.

Each part of the journey was essential. All the rejection letters. All the prayers. All the soul searching to check my motives. All the input from family and friends. All the studying and reading and researching. All the discouragement, and all the encouragement.

It was all part of it.

Step by step.

And looking back, I wouldn't have it any other way. After all, it was never really about getting a book published. It was about gaining a deeper relationship with God along the way.

Dear Lord, Help me discern which dreams in my heart are from You and which are not. Help me to make the pursuit be more about growing closer to You than anything else. And give me wisdom to know how to follow my dreams and the courage to take the next steps. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Taken from Proverbs 31 Ministries

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Mount Horeb

1 Kings 19:8
So he got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God.

Elijah and Moses were men of great zeal. They were passionate about their causes. Moses sought to free the Hebrews from the tyranny of slavery by killing an Egyptian with his own hand. Elijah, after calling down fire on the evil prophets of Baal, found himself spent physically and emotionally to the point he asked God to take his life.

Immediately after these two events, 500 years apart from one another, both men were led to the same Mount Horeb, the mountain of God. In Hebrew, Horeb means "desolation." This barren environment mirrored the condition of Moses and Elijah. For Moses, it was 40 years of barrenness. For Elijah, it was 40 days without food. Elijah became tired of standing alone for God.

As [business]people we often become so focused on the goal we forget to meet God at our own Mount Horeb. This was the place God met both Moses and Elijah. It was a place of renewal, a place of new beginnings, a place of personal encounter with the living God.

Perhaps Elijah's greatest virtue was his zeal. Indeed, we shall see that twice in his communication with God, Elijah speaks of having been "very zealous" for the Lord. But zeal, unattended eventually becomes its own God; it compels us toward expectations, which are unrealistic, and outside the timing and anointing of God.

To remain balanced, zeal must be reined in and harnessed by strategic encounters with the living God. We otherwise become frustrated with people and discouraged with delays. We step outside our place of strength and spiritual protection. Many of us become so consumed with our battles that we are no longer aware of the presence of Jesus. We have been traveling in our own strength. [Francis Frangipane, Place of Immunity (Cedar Rapids, Iowa: Arrow Publications, 1994), 5.]

Pray that Jesus will teach us that intimacy with Him is the greatest measure of success. Lord, guide us to the mountain of Your presence.

Wobbly Steps

"I'm not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made.

But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ,

who has so wondrously reached out for me.

Friends, don't get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this,

but I've got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward--to Jesus.

I'm off and running, and I'm not turning back." Philippians 3:12-14 (MSG)


After several months of continuous stress and challenges, I felt like giving up and saying, "This is just too hard, God. Find someone else for this assignment!"

Then, through an adorable little girl, God gave me encouragement to press on.

One-year-old Catherine is learning to walk. She takes a few wobbly steps and then falls down. She sits for a minute, as if to gather her determination, and then she pushes herself back up on her little legs. With each step Catherine attempts, we cheer her on like it's the greatest thing we've ever seen, as if we've never seen anyone walk before.

Then, when Catherine is getting tired or frustrated, her mom reaches down and holds her little hand. Catherine looks up at her mom, where she finds just the extra encouragement she needs to push herself back up and keep going. One wobbly step after another.

I think that's how God looks at us. Even our wobbly, uncertain steps please Him. He will never give up on us, and He will never be disdainful of our imperfect attempts to obey Him. He sees our hearts, which want to please Him, and He cares much more about our surrendered hearts than our perfect performance.

When we feel discouraged, frustrated or tired, we need to fix our eyes on Jesus where we'll find just what we need to press on.

Dear Lord, You know just how I feel. I feel discouraged, tired, and overwhelmed. I find such comfort in realizing that You know all about my feelings and all about my circumstances. As I set my eyes on You rather than my problems or my imperfect performance, I thank You that you will give me strength to press on and not to turn back. Thank You for holding my hand and walking with me. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Taken from - Proverbs 31 Ministries

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Understanding What God Has Given

1 Corinthians 2:12
"We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us."

God desires for us to know what He has freely given to us. One of the responsibilities of the Holy Spirit is to reveal His plans and purposes to us. They may be hidden for a time, but if we seek Him with our whole heart, we can know what He has given to us.

John the Baptist understood this principle. When asked if he was the Messiah, he replied, "A man can receive only what is given him from heaven" (Jn. 3:27). John understood his role in the Kingdom of God. He came to pave the way for the Messiah; he was not the Messiah himself. His ministry on earth was very brief, yet Jesus described his life in this way: " 'I tell you the truth: Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he' " (Mt. 11:11).

Once we understand what God has given to us, we can walk freely in our calling. However, if we strive to walk in a role that He never gave us, it will result in frustration and failure. God wants to reveal His plan to us by His Spirit. This requires a willingness to seek and accept what He gives us. It may be different from what we thought. It may require adjustments to follow His path for our lives. As we learn from the life of John the Baptist, obedience requires death to our own wills.

Ask God to reveal what He has freely given to you. Pray that you receive and embrace only those things He has reserved for you to receive and to accomplish in your life. Then you can be assured of a life full of meaning and purpose, and you can look forward to hearing those all-important words someday, "Well done, My good and faithful servant."

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Changing Our Paradigm of Experience

Exodus 3:3
So Moses thought, "I will go over and see this strange sight-why the bush does not burn up."

Have you ever heard someone say, "God doesn't work that way? He would never do that." Well, there are times when God chooses to confound the foolish in order to change our paradigm of experience. Moses had never seen a bush that burned but did not burn up. It got his attention and it drew him to God.

When Jesus appeared on the water in the middle of the night during a storm, the disciples exclaimed, "It's a ghost!" They had never seen a man walk on water. This led to a great miracle-Peter walked on the water, too. When Jesus asked Peter to catch a fish and get the coin from its mouth to pay their taxes, you can imagine what Peter must have thought about those instructions. When Moses got to the Red Sea, he ran out of options. God had an unexpected solution to the Israelites' problem-He parted the Red Sea to demonstrate His power and allow the people of Israel to cross over to flee the Egyptian army.

Each of these new paradigms was a stepping-stone of an encounter with God so that the individual would experience God in a new way.God used these times to enforce the principle that His ways are not our ways. Whenever we try to predict that God will act in a certain way, He changes the paradigm to keep us from becoming our own little gods.

Have you ever been guilty of judging someone for an experience they've had that you've never had? Did you dismiss it as extreme or something not of God? God is in the business of changing our paradigm from no personal experiences to God-experiences. However, if you operate on a level of rigid logic, you may never have the privilege of having the God-experiences. Keep your heart free to experience new paradigms with God today.