Tag Archives: Obedience

Take Up Your Cross, And Smile

I’ve been meditating on and praying through the “refresh” verse of the day meditation and prayer on the YouVersion Bible App each morning. Today went into following Jesus, which led my thoughts to “take up your cross daily.”

Usually in taking up the cross, most I know – including me – talk about taking our sin / sin nature up, or our sickness or whatever malady plagues us and hinders us: bearing up under it and pressing on despite it. Even just thinking about that is hard and heavy. So I asked God about that, and He brought to me a new understanding.

Jesus bore the hard and heavy of our sin, paying the penalty once and for all. He took that sin and shame to the depths of hell and left it there along with sin’s death. He now gives us freedom from it as a gift. All we need to do is receive it. We have no need to keep bearing that which is removed far from us in Christ. We need to take up our freedom in Christ and walk in it.

Jesus also bore our stripes for sin and sickness. By His stripes, we are healed. We don’t have to take that up and carry it. He bore that for us. And He helps us bear it now while we walk to full healing, whether that healing comes in this life or the next. Our health may prove a challenge, bringing opportunity to trust God and see all He will do in the midst of our struggle, but it can’t stop God’s purpose in us. There is always a way to serve and shine for Him when we seek His heart in every opportune moment.

Jesus also tells us that we should yoke ourselves with Him. Like Simon of Cyrene, Jesus is there to help bear our cross, but He does so willingly, not because He is required to by some enemy force. He says, “My yoke is wholesome (useful, good–not harsh, hard, sharp, or pressing, but comfortable, gracious, and pleasant), and My burden is light and easy to be borne.” (Matthew 11:30 AMPC)

As I think on that, I realize the view God has of the cross Jesus bore. That cross was not the sin and shame, sickness and death we look at. God sees freedom for His children. He sees the humility, selflessness, and obedient heart of Christ, which now lives in us. He sees mercy made new every morning, compassion that fails not, forgiveness made free and clear. He sees a willing heart made ready for God’s will. He sees Life, abundant and full.

Our cross to bear up under is yoked with Christ. It is freedom from sin and shame, sickness and death. It is one of willing surrender to the will of God, knowing that all He calls us to, He helps, provides for, and empowers us to do. It’s a cross set to please Him, honor Him, glorify Him. It’s a cross of eternal purpose that displays grace, mercy, forgiveness, love, selflessness, courage, strength, joy, contentment, assurance, power, and more.

The cross God left His children to take up daily and bear for all the world to see is light, easy, and an honor to His holy name. It has nothing to do with our physical strength, health, or struggles in this life. Those are simply opportunities to shine His Light and experience His power made perfect in us. Our cross has everything to do with our eternal perspective and assurance; with love for God and others that does hard things made easier in Christ.

Nothing can keep us back and hold us down when our heart is set on the eternal perspective of God’s purpose, plan, and provision. We experience God as we daily take up the heart of God, the mind of Christ, and the eternal perspective of a Life made new and easy in Him. By the understanding that God will complete and fulfill His purpose through our willing surrender, we partner in the cause of Christ to carry out our ministry to the glory of His name.

Love Is Something You Do

Love is not an emotion. Emotion can accompany love, but deep, abiding love is a choice flowing from who we are that reveals itself through actions.

Rick Warren writes, “Over and over again in the Bible, God commands us to love each other, and you can’t command an emotion. If I told you right now, “Be sad!” you couldn’t be sad on cue. Just like an actor, you can fake it, but you’re not wired for your emotions to change on command.

“If love were just an emotion, then God couldn’t command it. But love is something you do. It can produce emotion, but love is an action.

“The Bible says, “Let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions” (1 John 3:18 NLT, second edition).

“We can talk a good act: “I love people.” But do we really love them? Our love is revealed in how we act toward them.” (From YouVersion’s Forty Days of Love: Day 26)

This is essentially what God and I have been talking about today. Love takes action and shows it’s sincerity. And love is not hypocritical, expecting from others what I fail to do myself.

The example that has been the topic of conversation with my Father today is this. As a new widow, facing a medical test requiring help my sweet husband usually gave, I am having to figure out how to do this without him.

In this situation, I am finding that it is hard for me to call people and seek assistance when they never call or come by to check on me. Though they say, “Call me if you need anything,” the lack of any show of caring without a cry for help calls into question their sincerity. Couple that with knowing how busy people are and how overwhelming life is these days, and I feel like a nuisance in even considering bothering people with my problem.

That is the start of a vicious cycle. Feeling like a nuisance keeps me from calling or going by to check on others, not wanting to be a bother to busy, over stressed people. Which potentially leaves them thinking I don’t really care for them and am too busy to be bothered. Here we go on the round-e-round. 🔄

“So,” I question, “what should I do, Lord?”

His response?

Call. Go by. Love actively. Don’t worry about what the other person does or doesn’t do toward me. Be what Father God tells me to be. This love journey fits into the scriptural principle of giving. As we give into the lives of others, it is returned to us.

“Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure—pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return.” (Luke 6:38 NASB1995)

Here am I, O God. Send me.

Commit to Fellowship

I read this verse at the end of a devotional on the importance of committed church membership, and it hit me how important it is for people to have opportunity to make that commitment known by giving themselves “first to the Lord and then to us”. I know of churches who have cut out the necessity of a person coming forward to openly join the membership and work of a local church. The church I’m at now is one.

They have their reasons for that, but I also know people who come as spectators and hide in the background, never really becoming part of the fellowship because the practice makes it easier to hide. I even met one such person who said they preferred a large church because it was easier to hide in the crowd, unnoticed. That person disappeared shortly after and I’ve never seen them again.

As I think about that, I realize that one of the main reasons people I have talked with on the subject give for failing to greet someone they don’t know when they believe they may be a visitor is because of fear of welcoming someone who’s been there for years, unnoticed. So those who are visitors leave the experience feeling unnoticed and believing the church’s members are snobbish and unfriendly.

There’s great benefit to publicly joining a fellowship. It gives the members a chance to realize and acknowledge the new family member. Many members then reach out to invite that new one to get involved in the class or group or ministry they are in. Doors get opened to the new ones, making them feel a part of the whole and encouraging their involvement in the ministry called “church”. It lets the new member know they are welcome and feel there is a place for them in the body. And it gives opportunity for love bonds to form as we cuddle one another into the fold. It also destroys the lie of the enemy that there is better fellowship and acceptance at the local bar than in the house of worship.

I’m just getting back into face to face involvement with my local fellowship after several years absence while caring for my husband, doing church at home with him. The devotional read and these thoughts gleaned help me firm up my need to not only commit myself to the church ministry I am part of, but to make that commitment known. In that, I will seek guidance as to where and how I may serve alongside them.

What about you? Have you committed yourself first to the Lord and then to a local expression of His body called the Church? Won’t you join me in devoted fellowship as part of the family of God?

“They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.”
‭‭Acts‬ ‭2‬:‭42‬ ‭‬‬

Tactics of Persecution

‭‭1 Peter‬ ‭4‬:‭12‬-‭13‬, ‭19‬

“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation. …

“Therefore, those also who suffer according to the will of God shall entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right.”

Satan is the author of persecution. He tempts to the dark side. It is his goal to use the things we face in day to day life to tempt us away from faith-filled trust in God. The tempter desires to tempt us away from a life that honors God as God. He wants to ruin our testimony and rob us of peace, joy, and hope so we are ineffective as Christ’s ambassadors, the image bearers of God. In doing so, he causes us to doubt our Christian faith and walk away from God.

A man once said something ugly, condemning my Christian faith, then in one breath, quickly adding, “and no: I’m not persecuting you.” I don’t remember saying anything to him before or after. He was a passer by I did not know, nor have I seen him since. He spotted me as who I was in Christ, said whatever it was he said followed by the part I remember, and walked on, leaving me looking at him with “How rude” on my stunned face.

On one hand, he was correct. He was simply the unwitting instrument in the hands of him who was using the man to persecute Christianity. On the other hand, he was allowing himself to be that instrument, seemingly without understanding it’s source and purpose.

The same is true of a deadly diagnosis, the sudden death of a loved one, or any number of tragic events that leave us wondering where God is and how He could let such evil come upon one who loves and trusts Him. Anything that tempts us to doubt, fear, and turning from God is Satanic persecution of our Christian faith.

I believe Satan’s being the author and perfector of persecution is why God warns us to realize our battle is not against flesh and blood, but demons and principalities (Ephesians 6:10-18). Not only do we tend to focus anger toward the instruments of persecution, failing to love even our enemies and pray for those who persecute us, but we fail to realize enemy tactics of persecution through the temptation to doubt God that comes with our daily struggles.

This belief regarding tactics of persecution coming from the enemy of God has protected me from giving myself to fear, doubt, and unforgiveness. It has helped me separate the sin from the sinner so I can walk in God’s mandate regarding love and prayer. And it has kept me from allowing the fruit of God’s Spirit to be stolen and buried by the evil intent brought to life’s circumstances.

“… Trust in the Lord and do good; Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord; And He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, Trust also in Him, and He will do it. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light And your judgment as the noonday. Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him; Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, Because of the man who carries out wicked schemes. Cease from anger and forsake wrath; Do not fret; it leads only to evildoing. For evildoers will be cut off, But those who wait for the Lord, they will inherit the land.” – ‭‭Psalms‬ ‭37‬:‭1‬-‭9

“Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world. After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you. To Him be dominion forever and ever. Amen.”
‭‭1 Peter‬ ‭5‬:‭8‬-‭11‬‬‬

Morning Prayer: 12/7/22

Father, life is filled with continuum experiences, granting us understanding. I’ve been thinking a lot about that lately, mainly that You are good and we cannot fully understand Your goodness this side of glory. Evil is the opposite end of that continuum. As we do not know the fullness of Your goodness, we cannot fathom how evil bad can get.

Your call for us to overcome evil with good is vital to our days, Lord. Grant us daily to draw in closer to You so our understanding of what “good” is grows.

Out of the heart flows the wellsprings of Life. May our hearts be cleansed and made good as You are good, and may that goodness flow freely from our lives surrendered to You who are good, the source of good, and the only one who can make us truly good. In Jesus, amen.

Morning Prayer: 10/9/22

Let God’s Love Transform Lives

Father, thank You. You led me through a study on patience, the fruit born by Your Spirit in us and lived out through us in Christlikeness. That led to a deep study of love, for “love is patient.” Which led me to this devotional study aid. Love lets Your love transform lives: my own and those around me. Love is patient, trusting Your transforming power and the transformation process.

Love, a bookend flavor of Spirit fruit – it with self-control, holding all other fruit together; love for You first, then for all others as one should love self; love, out of which all other fruit flavors flow. Love patiently waits for Your transforming power to accomplish it’s purpose in those around us and in oneself.

Love is patient. And because it is patient, it chooses to forgive, not holding a grudge or tallying insults, but trusting and praying for Your transformation to be fully accomplished in self and in those we patiently love. Father, I pray to love as You love, not wishing any to perish, but all to come to repentance and be transformed.

Let Love – God is love – abound in me, producing patience that practices kindness; not being jealous or arrogant. Let Your love empower me to act becomingly; not seeking my own desire, nor being easily provoked, nor taking into account a tally of wrongs suffered, but rejoicing in righteousness and truth. Fill me with that love that bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things, knowing that true, godly love never fails. This I pray in Jesus holy name, amen.

‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭13:4-7‬‬‬

Choose Now

Choose Now

Morning Prayer: 9/13/22

Father, thank You for instructing me. Thank You for leading me to have a yearly focus for spiritual growth that includes a focal verse of scripture, a fruit of Your nature being established in me, and an action word. This year’s are Psalm 23 (AMPC), the fruit of patience, and instruction to “be intentional”.

Psalm 23 took me deep into trusting You as my Lord, King, and Shepherd who cares for me. I can trust You. Being intentional in practicing obedience that flows from that trust is empowering.

Then you reminded me that a focus on patience necessitates a study on all Your Word says regarding that fruit. In researching that, You led me to several devotional series focused on bearing the fruit of patience. Thank You for the depth of understanding that taught me. I pray to remember and grow strong in the intentional, faithful practice of these truths.

Now today starts the last devotional You led me to in this focus: And the Lord Shall Be King, by Vance K. Jackson. Wow. It is not specific to patience, but I knew it would be vital to me in my journey of growth in the bearing of this fruit. I barely began the first day’s reading and the switch flipped on. Not a switch of the light of new revaluation, but the switch that opened a floodgate of greater depth of commitment.

Patience is vital to right relationship with You as King. It flows out of a trust that knows You are faithful and trustworthy. Your timing is perfect, Your ways indomitable. To be impatient is to move against You and place my ways above Yours, saying that I know best the way and the time, placing myself as king.

Keeping You as Lord, waiting on You, moving with You, trusting Your ways and Your timing is vital to a life well lived. I know this. Help me better live it. I pray for the fruit of patience to be a vital aspect of my who as I bow before You. Grant me ability to intentionally be still, cease striving, be quiet, know and let You be God. Otherwise I wear myself out trying to do Your part as well as my own, doing harm instead of good. This I pray, knowing it is the heart desire of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, amen.

“Wait for the Lord; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the Lord.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭27:14‬ ‭‬‬

“Yet those who wait for the Lord Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary.”
‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭40:31‬ ‭‬‬

“Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it, until it gets the early and late rains. You too be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near.”
‭‭James‬ ‭5:7-8‬ ‭‬‬

“Let be and be still, and know (recognize and understand) that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations! I will be exalted in the earth!”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭46:10‬ ‭AMPC‬‬ (Read in several versions)

Morning Prayer: 8/24/22

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭45:1-4‬ ‭‬‬

Father, may our words always be founded on the good theme of godliness, righteousness, truth, and love, honoring You with every word. May our words flow from Your heart, knowing You are first to hear, know, and receive our every thought, bringing blessing or curse to Your name. I surrender my tongue to You as Your pen: the pen of the Ready Writer. May I be known as one belonging to You by my words.

Pour forth grace upon my lips, making Your message through me a blessing to those who hear, blessing me in Christ forever. Help me remember that the words of my tongue are a sword, piercing the heart of the listener for good or for evil. May I faithfully gird the Sword of the Spirit on my thigh, O Mighty One, using it properly for Your splendor and Your majesty! In Your majesty ride on victoriously, through my words from You and for You, for the cause of truth and meekness and righteousness. Let the right hand, bearing the Sword of Your Word in the power of Your Spirit, teach me awesome things. In Jesus, amen.

Overeating vs. Biblical Gluttony

I am truly enjoying the devotional study by Alisa Keaton, The Wellness Revelation, 40 Day Journey. She makes excellent points that are helping me turn my heart to a healthier lifestyle. However, I disagree with some points on day 9. Knowing many who teach this understanding of overeating being the biblical sin of gluttony, I give my opinion based on past studies years ago by people whose names escape me, but who foever changed my focus on this battleground.

On day 9, covering what the author calls the sin of gluttony: This teaching I take issue with. The dictionary definition of gluttony as overeating used in this devo is not the biblical view of gluttony.

In Bible days, people would come together for celebrations that lasted days and centered around a constant supply of food and drink. In the guise of celebrating, many would drink to drunkenness and eat until they were so full they couldn’t take another bite. But the glutton didn’t stop there. These would make themselves throw up, emptying the stomach specifically so that they could continue their gluttonous celebration. This is not the illness experienced by the person struggling with bulimia, but the sin of the party animal. This is gluttony.

There are many issues in our lives that can lead to our overeating: bad habits formed from childhood; emotions centered on self; sin or health issues that need to be discovered having nothing to do with gluttony. Overeating is more often out of bad habits like the tendency to eat too fast, or a symptom of unrecognized sin or some mental or physical health issue that needs to be addressed.

Focusing a person on a lesser definition of gluttony when that is not the underlying issue causes their focus on food to turn to a whole different level of struggle, with the wrong enemy of their flesh targeted. And the person fighting a false understanding of biblical gluttony, who cannot get control because of ignoring the underlying cause of their symptom of overeating, falls to feelings of defeat and gives up a fight they never truly engaged in because they were standing on a battle line that was never the issue.

To win the battle of the bulge, we must discern the true issues we as individuals need to address and point our arrows at that target. Lifestyle changes take time and there are many victories on the way to the desired goals. Find a habit or a trigger point in your life with food and drink. Start there. Win that hill, then move to the next habit, sin, or health issue and target that. Maintain possession of victories won while focusing on the next goal. Little by little, hill by hill, feel better and grow stronger.

By the grace of God, you and He together have got this.

The Wellness Revelation 40-Day Journey’. Check it out here:

Morning Prayer: 8/13/22

Yes! This ⬇️

Father, we tend to fight the wrong battles, focus on the wrong enemy, and walk as defeatists while condemning others. The fight before us is not against flesh and blood pawns. It is demons and principalities that deceive and mislead.

As long as there is life and breath, as long as God is, there is hope. We are tasked to fight the good fight of faith until Jesus comes and the final victory is won. We’re not to stop living, loving, hoping, trusting, and sharing the Good News of faith until that Day and Hour.

We wear ourselves out in the fight, not realizing all we have to do is stand firm in You who are able to make Your servant stand. We tend to look at the battle ground when focus on You and Your glory enthrones You and encases us in Your victory. Forgive us this failure.

Father, teach us to pray. Teach us to praise. Teach us Your way to fight the good fight of faith. Bless us with strength and perseverance, and grant us eyes that see Your army surrounding us, fighting alongside us against the true enemies that come against Your glory, Your truth, Your righteousness, and Your justice. Grant us perseverance, faithfulness, and trust until Jesus comes and the fight is done. In Jesus, amen.

Morning Prayer: 8/10/22

Oh, Father. I know the pain of the work of evil in family, and I know several families who are suffering the destructive force of the hand of evil. I pray You fill them with Your love, and deliver them from the self destructive power of hate, bitterness, unforgiveness, even blame toward self and feelings of guilt gets an ugly grip where it is not truth. Evil destroys lives and families if not dealt with properly. Please grant wise counsel to the hearts and minds of each family member. May they seek Your face as never before and help each other recover.

A thought came out of my mouth the other day when talking about the need to forgive. “I can’t afford to not forgive.” When I heard myself say that, Father, I knew deeper than ever the truth of that fact. Forgiveness is for my own sake, putting no obstacle between me and You who are my first, most vital need and necessity if I am to be of any use to others struck by the evil we face. In Jesus, empower these to love the unlovable for Your names sake and bring to these full healing and restoration in the process, enabling them to forgive those snared and used to work the evil done. Amen.

Morning Prayer: 8/8/22

‭Genesis‬ ‭17:1-11‬ ‭‬‬ (read chapters 16-17)

“… You shall fear the Lord your God; you shall serve Him and cling to Him, and you shall swear by His name. He is your praise and He is your God, who has done these great and awesome things for you which your eyes have seen.”
‭‭Deuteronomy‬ ‭10:12-21‬ ‭‬‬

Thank You, Father, that You desire our heart – for us to be wholehearted toward You, practicing our faith through surrendered trust in Your faithfulness.

You have taught me that my faith can only stand firm on You when my focus is Your faithfulness. We too easily make our faith the god that determines our outcome. Faith to believe and trust You is important, for without faith, it is impossible to please You; but, as Your faithfulness did not stop because of Abram and Sarah’s faith that took a wrong turn, in their attempt to make their own way to the promise by using Hagar, so Your faithfulness will prove itself in us and our situations as we put the focus of our trust in You. You still kept Your word to Abraham. You – who know our hearts – will be found faithful by us.

It is Your faithfulness that must be our focus for our faith to stand in agreement and cooperate with You. I pray for discernment of Your promises, trust to take You at Your Word, and clear vision to follow Your lead as we keep our focus on Your faithfulness with earnest expectation and hope in You who will do it. You will accomplish Your Word. Not one tittle of Your word will fall or fail, for, however long the wait, You are faithful and will show Yourself strong. This I’ve seen. This I know of You. In You I trust. In Jesus, amen.

Morning Prayer: 8/5/22

Father, they could not enter Your REST because of their unbelief (Hebrews 3:18-19). Remembrance of all You have done, both in days of old and in our days, holding to You with earnest expectation and hope that You, who have shown Yourself strong before are still strong and working on our behalf for Your glory today, increases our faith to believe and trust You in the here and now challenges of life. The things we remember and choose to set our mind, heart, and hope on is vital to our ability to REST in Your faithfulness. Help us, Father, to have right thoughts within us so we believe You and trust You more. Help us to set ourselves apart to You, knowing You will use us and work good in us, to us, and through us as we wait on You and walk faithfully with You. In Jesus, amen.

God is Faithful

“One of the greatest lessons I ever learned was that in order to seek God consistently, you need His assistance. The truth is we have an adversary. There exists a being that does not want us to succeed or to grow deeper in God.” Jovita Sheppard

I know many parents who are in deep grief over choices made and hardship suffered by their kids and grandkids in these days. I know that, for me, I have wondered what on earth happened; what I did wrong: such thoughts leading me to feeling like a failure as a parent.

None of us are perfect, and I certainly had my childhood baggage to get rid of as I learned more godly parenting skills. As Christians, we all realize our own issues and growing pains as followers of Christ and as parents, and we all hope and long to give our kids godly resources that help them live life stronger and better. When they don’t succeed at seeking and trusting God, we grieve and feel the failure. So, the other day, crying out to God again, He came clearly to my mind with this clear understanding:

“You were not a bad mother. You prayed to Me for your children and grandchildren from before they were birthed, giving them to Me. You spoke of Me to them and took them to My Word. You got them into church, and you instructed them in My ways. You continue to encourage them to seek Me. You live your faith before them and love them with My love. You have trusted My lead and followed Me as a parent. Trust me now.

“Stop beating yourself up and keep doing what I taught you to do: loving, praying, encouraging, instructing at every opportunity. They need you to be an ally and support. Don’t allow the enemy of your soul to take you into a defeated spirit where you cannot do these things with confidence in Me.

“I got you through all you experienced in life, using it to get you where you are and make you who you are. I will do exceedingly abundantly in their lives as well. You keep trusting them to Me and My glory will be known.”

Maybe you, like me, were not raised in church or taught about God and His ways. Perhaps, like me, you had to learn godly parenting through on the job training. Keep doing what God taught you to do, knowing He will not fail His good purpose and plan. He will bring good out of the mess we see.

Perhaps you have only recently become a Christian. It is not too late. Seek God and lay your cause at His feet. Trust Him to instruct you. Keep praying for those you love and live the faith you have boldly and unapologetically. Watch with earnest expectation and hope to see what God will do.

May God bless you and yours in these strategic days.

Morning Prayer: 7/16/22

Ephesians‬ ‭5:22-33‬ ‭‬‬

Father, thank You for my love relationship with Johnny. Thank You that he loves me in deep, abiding ways that satisfies my need. Help me, by Your grace, to respect him in ways that satisfy his needs. Help me…
R – Respond properly to him, Rejoice over his successes, and Recognize the good You’ve placed in him.
E – Edify that good, Encourage his strengths, and Exemplify him, following his lead and acting in tandem with him.
S – Set my heart to Satisfy his needs and desires as aligns with Your will and way, Satiate his needs above and beyond his expectations, Supplement him by being the helpmeet he needs as he needs help.
P – Set my heart to Protect his reputation by speaking highly of him, Promoting his good, and Proving him worthy of respect.
E – May I cooperate with You as You Establish him as a leader among men, Enhancing his strengths where I am able, working with You to Expand his borders of influence, and doing all I can to help Equip him for success.
C – Help my focus to Commune with him – listening fully with hearing ears and open heart, being careful to Communicate righteousness, truth, and love to him. May I practice Continence in my actions and reactions, adding strength to his own self-control and self-restraint, and lift my Countenance toward him in ways that lift his toward You.
T – make me faithful to Toast his successes and righteous effort, Tout his good, and be always available to help Tote his load, partnering with him throughout life.
In Jesus, amen.

Morning Prayer: 7/14/22

“Be happy [in your faith] and rejoice and be glad-hearted continually (always); Be unceasing in prayer [praying perseveringly]; Thank [God] in everything [no matter what the circumstances may be, be thankful and give thanks], for this is the will of God for you [who are] in Christ Jesus [the Revealer and Mediator of that will].”
‭‭1 Thessalonians‬ ‭5:16-18‬ ‭AMPC‬‬
https://bible.com/bible/8/1th.5.16-18.AMPC

Father God, thank You for teaching me the joy of a grateful heart. Thank you for instructing me to know that no one can take that joy from me, and that, even in grievous circumstances, the joy of a thankful heart flourishes, for that heart knows You. That heart believes the truth about You and Your faithfulness at all times. That heart trusts Your Word, believes Your promises, accepts Your ways, walks with You in earnest expectation and hope, knowing that You always work for the good of the one whose heart loves You and who is living a life that follows You with heart desire to fulfill Your purpose.

We can always give thanks from a truly grateful heart because You are the source and cause of our gratitude. It is You we give thanks for as we remember You in every circumstance, rejoicing over the potential and assurance of experiencing You in this life, through the troubling and the good. You never leave nor forsake us. You are for us and not against us. Even in hardship and tribulation, You grow us strong as we trust in You, making us ready for the fulfillment of Your purpose and plan, as You bring us to completion, made ready and adequately prepared for our Bridegroom and King. Thank You that You are always the one we can be grateful for in every circumstance.

Thank You, Lord Jesus, for loving us all the way to the cross, and for showing us the way to take up our cross of obedience to God at all cost, and to daily follow You with every step committed to the Father’s will and way. Thank You for taking all sin onto Your shoulders and experiencing the turning back of God’s rejection for us, so we who believe and receive Your gift of eternal grace never have to know that fate. And thank You, Father, for loving us and desiring this Parent-child relationship so much that You gave Your only begotten Son to accomplish it. May we forever keep our eyes on You with grateful heart. In Jesus, amen.

Morning Prayer: 7/5/22

Father, thank You for instructing me in how to honor a parent who did not behave honorably in her parenting. Thank you for empowering forgiveness, granting love for her in Your name, and instructing me to live in such a way as honors You, making her look good as a parent. And thank You for helping me smile and not correct those who brag on how great she must have been. I thank You for helping me understand her own childhood pain and the struggle it caused her, snd her mental issues from that. And thank You for healing me daily. Forgive me my own failures as my childhood effected my way of parenting. Bless my children to be free and not carry familial issues to the next generations. May each generation experience greater deliverance and freedom from these generational issues. In Jesus, amen.

Dreamers of Dreams

“Now when they had gone, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get up! Take the Child and His mother and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is going to search for the Child to destroy Him.” …But when Herod died, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, and said, “Get up, take the Child and His mother, and go into the land of Israel; for those who sought the Child’s life are dead.” …But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. Then after being warned by God in a dream, he left for the regions of Galilee, and came and lived in a city called Nazareth. This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophets: “He shall be called a Nazarene.””Matthew 2:13, 19-20, 22-23

In biblical days, God often used dreams to make the path clear for those following Him. I believe God, who is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and whose Word tells us of His use of dreams and visions in the latter days, still uses dreams to instruct, direct, and warn us.

Not all dreams are significant. Most are brought on by the days events and concerns, or the pizza that didn’t set well. From my experience there is a distinct sense of value on dreams worthy of focus. When that sense of importance comes with vivid recall of details in the dream, it is important to seek God for discernment.

There are people in life that are gifted with the ability to interpret dreams and visions. Some believe interpretation of dreams can be taught. I believe it is a gift from God that cannot be taught, but is given only through the work of His Spirit.

I’ve had many experiences of dreams from God, both my own, and the interpretation of the dreams of others. Like with the prophet, the dream and its interpretation prove to be from God when it is fulfilled in life. God never lies, and what He says always comes to pass.

When you have a dream you sense is significant, don’t just ignore it. Hand it over to God and ask Him to instruct you concerning it. He may give the interpretation to you. He may lead you to an interpreter of dreams. But God is faithful to respond to a seeking heart that is set to believe, receive, and walk out His will.

Come Quickly, Lord!

I look around at the trouble and turmoil in all the earth today, and I cry out, “Lord, come quickly! Surely Jesus is coming now, for it cannot possibly get worse on the earth. Surely evil has completed it’s appointed course.” But looking back at 200ish years ago, the time of the plagues and warring crusades; or a hundred years ago, with WWI, the Spanish flu, and WWII, we find the same cry of the heart that cannot fathom evil could possibly get worse.

Here’s the facts: evil has brought its trouble to the earth since Adam and Eve fell to it’s influence and were sent out of that glorious garden of God. Evil remained through the days of Christ, even as Jesus paid a price none of us could even begin to pay. Evil will remain and grow ever stronger until Jesus returns and ushers His own back into that garden of God. Each age watches for Him, calls for His “soon” return, and expects Him in our today, unable to fathom that evil will possibly get worse.

But only The Father knows the day or hour when He will say, “enough” to evil’s trouble, and send Christ to usher in the eternal Kingdom. Ours is not to know the day or the hour, but to live in such a way as to be ready, should His coming be our now. If, in a hundred years, some child of God looks back from their own trouble with thought of, “Surely today, Lord,” may they see faith and faithfulness in our life story to help them stand firm in the wait.

“Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming. But be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what time of the night the thief was coming, he would have been on the alert and would not have allowed his house to be broken into. For this reason you also must be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will.”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭24:42-44‬ ‭‬‬

Choose Love and Grace

“…heal instead of becoming bitter so you can act from your heart, not your pain.”

From experience I have learned that, my being prone to feelings of rejection or a sense of being judged by others because of past hurts, if I am not careful, I will choose to be offended where no offense was intended. Then I become the one who is passing judgment based on my sense of offense rather than seeking God’s truth regarding the other person and their opinion. Doing so closes my ears and causes me to refuse to seek God’s opinion about the insights and concerns of others, and then to deal improperly with a person who may be His messenger to my need. When that happens, I too easily become the offender. The hurting heart tends to hurt hearts.

God continues to teach me to choose love (1 Corinthians 13) and trust God to reveal truth. I am learning that sometimes others see something I am missing or refusing to realize. I need to allow God to help me evaluate their concerns and show me if it is wisdom and instruction from Him. My course has been rightly corrected many times as I refuse offense and seek God’s evaluation.

And there have been times when God showed me the misjudgment of another’s opinion, firming up my resolve. In these times, God always leads me to forgive the other person any offense I may feel, to keep loving and praying for them, remaining in right relationship with them.

The devil uses our tendency to offense to divide and conquer. God directs through wise discernment and love to unite and strengthen. Always choose love and grace over hate and offense. Let God deal with offense (Romans 12:14-21).

PS: I speak my concerns to people I feel love and care for. When I speak, it is out of a sense of God’s leading to do so. Offense is never my intent. Loving and encouraging others in wisdom and righteousness is my intent. I do so with prayer, trusting that I am speaking His truth, not my opinion, and with faith that God will lead the other person to His truth and His way for their situation. And I do so knowing that words from Him will prove true. God’s truth is all that matters.

God has taught me, if I am speaking His truth out of His leading with a right heart attitude and motive, a person refusing my words is truly a rejection of Him, not me. So, if my words are rejected, I have no need to be offended. God will prove whether the words are mine or His.

The thing that hurts more than the rejection of a person is when God tells me to stop speaking His truth to them. When God says to knock the dust off our feet and stop casting the pearls of His truths before those who trample them under foot, that is heart breaking.

We must be careful about choosing offense. Our offense may offend God.

‭‭Lamentations‬ ‭3:37‬ ‭NASB1995‬‬

‭‭Ezekiel‬ ‭33:33‬ ‭NASB1995‬‬

‭‭Jeremiah‬ ‭28:9‬ ‭NASB1995‬‬

5/10/22 Prayer

“Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”
‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭41:10‬ ‭‬‬

Father, anxiety over the horrors going on in these days is a plague to our hearts. It is too easy to become anxious over so many evils and atrocities we see happening in our day. Your word wisely warns us to not anxiously look around at these things and be overcome by fear, but to remember that You are God. Through trusting belief that knows You are working for our good, even bringing good out of things Your enemy intends for evil, we enter Your rest and find peace that umpires our hearts in these days. Only in keeping our eyes on You can we walk through evil days in ways that honor and glorify You.

Thank You, Lord, that as we turn our hearts to focus on Your faithful truth, You bless us with strength to persevere as we experience Your trustworthy help. Thank You that You uphold us with Your righteous right hand of power, protection, and provision. In Jesus, I rest myself in You and find your peace that passes all comprehensive understanding. Let Umpire Peace lead me in paths of righteousness, uprightness, and right standing with You, not for my earning it, but for Your name’s sake. In Christ, Amen.

Get Up and Turn Again

“I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, WHEN ONCE YOU HAVE TURNED AGAIN, strengthen your brothers.” Luke 22:32

We turn away. God doesn’t. Jesus knew that Peter would fall. He also knew that Peter would get back up, dust off, and turn back to follow Jesus: looking to Him and walking with Him anew. And Jesus knew that during the process, Peter would learn valuable truth he would then be able to use to strengthen and encourage others.

We are perfect in Christ, our essence already seated with Him in the Kingdom of God, assured of our position with Christ for all eternity. When we leave this world to cross over the line at those pearly gates, all of this world and worldliness will be burned away, so only righteousness and godliness enters in those Heavenly walls. All of this world that is still attached to us will be no more, but in our flesh existence and fleshly battles here and now, we are continually being perfected.

Just as a child learns by trial and error, gaining strength and maturing, so are we to do in this journey. Get up, dust off, turn back to Jesus, continue walking with Him, take what we learn to heart, and strengthen others. The more we do that, the better we get at letting go of world and worldliness now, the less there will be to burn away when our earthly body gives way to eternal glory.

1 Corinthians 3:10-17

God’s Weapon

“You caused sentence to be heard from heaven; the earth feared and was still– When God arose to [establish] judgment, to save all the meek and oppressed of the earth. Selah [pause, and calmly think of that]! Surely the wrath of man shall praise You; the remainder of wrath shall You restrain and gird and arm Yourself with it.”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭76:8-10‬ ‭AMPC‬‬

To my understanding, this says that when we have righteous anger, anger fed by God’s anger over an evil, it is a praise to His ears. He restrains and dictates that anger for His purpose, arming Himself with it for His use.

Father, I’ve experienced righteous anger, restrained and used by You. Thank You for that experience. I surrender my anger to You and trust You to use me as You will, to deal with every evil. Make me Your victorious weapon against evil. In Jesus, amen.

Set Your Hearts

“IF THEN you have been raised with Christ [to a new life, thus sharing His resurrection from the dead], aim at and seek the [rich, eternal treasures] that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. And set your minds and keep them set on what is above (the higher things), not on the things that are on the earth.” ‭‭Colossians‬ ‭3:1-2‬ ‭AMPC‬‬

The picture from YouVersion uses the word “heart” in place of mind. “Mind, thought, think, be mindful, understand,” is the more accurate translation, but I believe “heart” covers the intent of the passage. We are to set our heart’s desires on the things of God.

All we are is to want the things above where God is, not the things of this world. Beyond simply keeping God’s desire, design, and purpose in mind, we are to hold it as our greatest treasure, desiring alignment with it and achievement of it above all else.

Put your heart into it. Set your heart’s desire, with every thought, on things above where God is.

He Makes Me

From the 23rd Psalm, AMPC

I have had Psalm 23 in the classic Amplified version of scripture as my focus for meditation since the 1st of this year. A friend asked me the other day to share any insights I have in it. Awakened by a noise this morning at about 3:30 AM, I started reciting the chapter in my attempt to get back to sleep. Suddenly, as I quoted one line, new understanding grabbed me, opening up this beautiful passage as never before.

“The Lord is my Shepherd to feed, guide, and shield me: I shall not lack.”

This is God’s “who”. He is the Good Shepherd, not because it’s what He does, but because it’s who He is. It is His nature to feed, guide and shield.

The shield is everything from the Warriors shield, including the armor of God, with its helmet of salvation; to the anointing oil with its protective cover and healing balm; to the shield of shelter that hides us under His wing from enemy attach and the worldly elements of heat, cold, rain, sleet, and snow; hate, menace, and torment.

This is His “Who”. From provision of every need, to guidance – wisdom, discernment, to shielding, whether shelter or protective cover: we have no lack of Him – The Shepherd of our soul.

“He makes me…” “He makes me to…”. This is not force over me. It is action and purpose in me.

“He makes me to lie down in fresh, tender, green pastures.” He made us as receptacles. We are created for Him to pour Himself into us. He gives His first and best to us, satisfying and satiating us so that we lie down full and ready to enter His rest, sensing that we are safe and secure in Him. I am awestruck by the assurance He gives that causes my entire being to rest itself in Him.

“He leads me beside the still and restful waters.” This is not rapidly moving waters that can sound wonderful and make you want to kick back and mellow in the peace of it. It’s another place of provision and protection.

Sheep’s wool gets heavy and is very absorbent. When they get wet in deeper water, the weight becomes too great for their legs. Falling over, unable to get up, they drown. The Good Shepherd finds shallow, still or gently flowing watering spots where sheep can drink without drowning.

He does not “leave” them beside still waters. He “leads” them, remaining nearby and watchful, ready to help them up should they fall. Whether we bear the weight of this world, the weight of our responsibilities, or whatever weight is weighing us down and drowning us, the Good Shepherd is our Lifeguard, standing at the ready to respond to our need.

In these places of provision, guidance, and protection, “He refreshes and restores my life: my self.” “My soul (NASB).” The essence of who I am. We learn who we are – who He created us to be, as we walk with Him, knowing His Who at work in us. Then, as we get good at that…

“He leads me in paths of righteousness, uprightness, and right standing with Him, NOT for my earning it, BUT for His name’s sake.”

He directs us into righteousness for His reputation. As we follow Him, we don’t have to fret our ups and downs; only trust that He will get us where we need to be for the glory of His name. Our reputation should express His effective work in our lives.

I think of Moses prayer in Exodus 33. “And Moses said to the Lord, ‘If Your Presence does not go with me, do not carry us up from here! For by what shall it be known that I and Your people have found favor in Your sight? Is it not in Your going with us so that we are distinguished, I and Your people, from all the other people upon the face of the earth?’” (Exodus 33:15-16)

“Yes! Though I walk through the deep, sunless {or Son-less} valley of the shadow of death, I will fear or dread no evil, for You are with me! Your rod to protect and Your staff to guide, they comfort me.”

No matter how bad things are in the world around us, God is and ALWAYS will be God – The Good Shepherd who feeds, guides, and shields us. I shall not lack! So there is no need for me to fear any evil or dread anything I might possibly find or have to face in the valley. In that valley…

“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.”

He still Shepherds us in desolate, wilderness places of dark shadows. When the enemy is raising a raucous all around us, we can lie down, satisfied, satiated, safe, secure, and rested in Him. Though we may be unable to clearly perceive Him in dark, sunless places, we can trust He is there, working on our behalf. That is His Who and He is always doing Himself. Trusting that will strengthen our stance in dark places, for as He is, so also are we. Keep doing yourself in Christ.

“You anoint my head with oil!” This is a mighty shield of protection, I would liken to the helmet of salvation.

Flies, gnats, and other pests swarm the head of sheep. They lay their eggs in the skin, eyes, and ears. These form itchy sores as the larva eat the flesh and begin to burst forth. It causes the sheep to go nuts. They will thrash around, hitting their heads on rocks, trying to get relief and kill the infestation, even killing themselves in the process. Oil protects from the insects being successful at laying their eggs, kills and heals infested, infected areas, and protects the head from injury in head butts – whether in the battle, in discord, or at play with other sheep.

As we experience God feeding us and protecting us even in the midst of a swarming enemy, “My brimming cup runs over.”

We are the cup. The living water of God gushes from us to role downhill to other sheep, some not of His fold, drawing them in, refreshing them, helping them know, “He makes me to lie down….”

“Surely or only goodness, mercy, and unfailing love shall follow me all the days of my life!”

The original language’s first word, given here as “surely or only” can be translated to either surely or only: so take the “or” out.

“Surely only goodness, mercy, and unfailing love shall follow me all the days of my life!”

Back in Exodus 33, in verse 18 Moses requests God to show him His glory. God replies, “I will make all My GOODNESS pass before you, and I will proclaim My name, THE Lord, before you; for I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show MERCY and LOVING-kindness on whom I will show MERCY and LOVING-kindness.” (Exodus 33:19 AMPC)

“Surely only goodness, mercy, and unfailing love shall follow me all the days of my life!” We are meant to know, recognize, and express the glory of God. He who feeds, guides, and shields us does so in ways that expresses His glory and makes His name known…for His name’s sake.

“And through the length of my days, the house of the Lord and His presence shall be my dwelling place.” The house of the Lord…the Temple of God: that is what you and I are, corporately and individually.

His presence is in the house, Beloved. My brimming cup runs over. This is what He makes the “me” I am. He makes me.

Draw Near to God

Looking out the kitchen window to the hill blocking view of the valley below, I recognize the need to top the hill if I want to know the valley layout. God is atop the hill of the deep, sunless valleys of life. Stick close to the Good Shepherd, and he will reveal the paths of life and point the way through the valley.

The Eyes of the Heart

‭‭Luke‬ ‭18:18-27‬ ‭NASB

“A ruler questioned Him, saying, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments, ‘Do not commit adultery, Do not murder, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother.’ ” And he said, “All these things I have kept from my youth.” When Jesus heard this, He said to him, “One thing you still lack; sell all that you possess and distribute it to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” But when he had heard these things, he became very sad, for he was extremely rich. …”

The wealth of this man was not the problem. God blesses us with wealth and requires us to steward all He gives us in ways that honor Him. This man kept the laws of God and most likely gave to the synagogue and to the poor as God requires. But his heart had apparently fallen into trusting his wealth and taking pride in it, giving it the place of true treasure in his heart, a place belonging only to God. So Jesus points out to him the thing that stands in the way of His right relationship with God.

“… And Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God! For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. …”

Jesus had a purpose in making this distinction, both for this man’s eternity, and in training those who followed Him. You see, it was long believed that those with wealth were wealthy because they were right with God and pleasing to Him. They surely had a place in Heaven. Hearing Christ’s comment led an astonished disciple to ask,

“…“Then who can be saved?”

Thank God! Jesus assures our hearts, “The things that are impossible with people are possible with God.”

We get our eyes off of reliance on God too easily, trusting in self, wealth, kings, etc., turning God’s blessings into a god of our heart. God lovingly points these out to us so we may possess the relationship with Him that He waits to give us.

Nicodemus walked away, dejected, that day. But he apparently took to heart Jesus’s words and became one of the secret followers that helped to bury Jesus, and He stood against those plotting against Him. He may have been a coward and given to riches, but I believe God did the impossible in his heart and we will meet him one day.

How about you and me? What stands as hindrance to our relationship with and testimony of God in our lives? Will we let God work the impossible in us to get our eyes rightly focused for our eternal good and His eternal glory? Today is the day of salvation, for we don’t know that we will have a tomorrow. Choose well the Treasure of your heart.

I’m Praying for You

“Most people have never heard their name and God’s mentioned in a prayer. You may be surprised how willing a friend will be to accept your offer to pray for them.” From a NeedHim.org devotional

This is so hard for me to fathom, being from the Bible Belt and having many praying friends and acquaintances, but the fact is, though many have a belief that there is a God, few truly know Him or understand that He is ONE. And fewer still think of Him daily, much less constantly. We often don’t think to pray for ourselves, and may find it hard to believe that anyone cares enough to pray for us.

My prayer for each one today is that we know Him who is God, that we seek Him for ourselves, and that we each have at least one person we know we can call on with any need and they will be faithful to pray.

I often leave the blessing of Numbers 6:24-27, praying it over people even though I don’t know if they believe. It doesn’t matter if the one prayed for believes. It’s the faithfulness of God to keep His Word and the faith of the one praying that moves the heart of God. So be faithful to pray, and please know you can call on me anytime. I count it a privilege to pray for you by name. 💗🤗🙏🏼

Encourage Righteousness

“… Then the disciples came and said to Him, “Do You know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this statement?” But He answered and said, “Every plant which My heavenly Father did not plant shall be uprooted. Let them alone; they are blind guides of the blind. And if a blind man guides a blind man, both will fall into a pit.””
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭15:1-14‬ ‭NASB

I believe that Jesus loved the Pharisees and other religious leaders of the day, enough-so that He refused to fear insulting them for their good and the good of those looking to their instruction. Our teaching, exemplary lives, and testimonies of faith matter to God the Father. To me, the greater insult and act of hate is to see a professing Christian bear a testimony that leads others away from God and say nothing for fear of offending them. Better for them to be offended by me, and me by them, than to face God after living offensively toward His Lordship, will, and way.

I also know that we are called to deal with our own issues first and to take care that our attempts to help another is not an act of hypocrisy. We are always to act out of sincere love and care, for the good of others and the glory of God. And I know that we do not always know and judge our own heart rightly. Sin is so deceptive, our own hearts so deceived, that we don’t often realize the sin we practice. Thus, encouraging and building one another up in love is vital when God the Father directs it.

Anytime I am led to encourage a loved one to rethink a position taken or word said, it makes me look at self and make adjustments too. Hope of encouraging righteous living in others, encourages and strengthens self first, as I apply the truths professed to my own life.

It is vital any word of encouragement to look at ones self and adjust direction be based on God’s judgment, standing in agreement with His Word of law, will, and way, and not one’s own ideology. Why should another be dictated by my personal sensitivities, or me, theirs. But all must bow to God’s will and way. Judgment must always be based on what God has already judged.

In these days of lawlessness and evil, self-reliance and personal offensiveness, it is vital that we help one another realize when we are walking in the ways of this world instead of on the paths of righteousness that honors God as God. So if you love me and care about my relationship with God and the testimony I bear, love me enough to encourage my righteousness, even though it may insult or offend me for a moment. If your viewpoint aligns with God’s, He will help me see that and change my ways. And I pray to love you enough to speak truth, according to God’s Word, to you in kind.

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭18:15-17‬ ‭NASB