Thursday, January 31, 2019

Afternoon Scripture Reading - Philippians 3:20-21

Philippians 3:20-21 New International Version (NIV)

20 But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.

Morning Scripture Reading - Philippians 1:3-6

Philippians 1:3-6 New International Version (NIV)

3 I thank my God every time I remember you. 4 In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy 5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, 6 being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Afternoon Scripture Reading - Galatians 5:22-26

Galatians 5:22-26 New International Version (NIV)

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.

Mid-Week Message - Temptations

"No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; he’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; he’ll always be there to help you come through it."  1 Corinthians 10:13 (MSG)

My weakness is sugar.  Candy, cookies, cakes, pies, ice cream.  All those wonderful treats that most people are able to enjoy a small amount of draw me in and I can't stop indulging.  I will eat until I am sick and still want to eat more.  Once I get a taste, it becomes my only focus.  Like an addict, I will go to great lengths to obtain more.  I would be perfectly content eating nothing else.  I know that about myself and it isn't something that I like admitting.  

I guess each of us faces something that tempts us beyond what we think we can endure.  If that weren't so then there wouldn't be so many self-help books and support groups.  Whatever the action or substance is becomes more powerful physically and mentally in our lives than we could ever have even imagined.  Not only do we develop overwhelming cravings but we also carry the guilt associated with not being able to say "no" and for how it changes us and effects those around us.  How we wish we could just gain a solid foothold and we pray and beg the Lord to set us free from our captor.  

Whatever it is that we battle, we must understand that Satan will move in and use it to create a chasm between us and our Lord.  Guilt and shame can become a huge wall that separates us from openness with our Savior.  Our self-esteem is ruined so we can't allow ourselves to believe He still loves us,  that we can find forgiveness or that He can cleanse us and set us free.  

On August 1, 2017, I was deeply engulfed in this exact situation.  My life for months had been consumed by food.  My high weight had soared to an unbelievable number and I found that I could not even close my own car door.  I had to have someone close it from the outside and it was terribly humiliating to me.  On that day I had to take my car into town for an oil change.  As I was driving I found that I couldn't think of anything else except a dessert sold by one of the fast food restaurants.  For some reason, which I now realize was the Lord's intercession, I got angry and began talking out loud.  I remember exactly what I said.  "These thoughts are not from the Lord because He does not tempt me.  These thoughts are not my own because I do not want to live this way.  That means they can only be from one other source.  Satan, leave me alone!  I belong to Jesus Christ and am covered by His blood.  You are not allowed to do this to me.  In the name of Jesus, leave!"  Then an amazing thing happened.  The thoughts disappeared immediately.

I have not had any of those foods since that day.  I finally understood that God's Word applied even to me.  I could resist the devil and he would flee from me.  How I wish I had made that discovery before I had spent so much of my life losing a battle that I didn't even need to fight.  Each time those thoughts come to mind now, I counter them the exact same way and they vanish.  Since that amazing day I have lost one hundred pounds.  No one has to shut my car door for me now and I am beginning to get back out to meet with friends again.  

Telling you this story has been on my mind for many months.  Friends who know my story have encouraged me to write about it.  As a Chaplain, I have been reluctant to admit to what I had done to myself.  Through the tender love of the Father though, I realized that maybe my story could help someone else that is struggling with something similar.  I am not an addictions counselor and would never say this is the solution for everyone.  However, I have put it into the hands of the One who loves us all and He will use it in whatever way He sees fit.  

I pray for each of you and for any struggle that you might be facing.  I don't know what your battle is but I know Who does and I know that He has an answer for you just as He had for me.  The encouragement that I can offer is simply to immerse yourself in His Word and take it to heart.  His promises are for each of us.  Everyone.  No one is excluded.  Grab on and don't let go.

Morning Scripture Reading - 1 Corinthians 10:11-13

1 Corinthians 10:11-13 New International Version (NIV)

11 These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come. 12 So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! 13 No temptation[a] has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted[b] beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted,[c] he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.

1 Corinthians 10:13 The Greek for temptation and tempted can also mean testing and tested.
1 Corinthians 10:13 The Greek for temptation and tempted can also mean testing and tested.
1 Corinthians 10:13 The Greek for temptation and tempted can also mean testing and tested.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Afternoon Scripture Reading - Philippians 2:25-30

Philippians 2:25-30 New International Version (NIV)

25 But I think it is necessary to send back to you Epaphroditus, my brother, co-worker and fellow soldier, who is also your messenger, whom you sent to take care of my needs. 26 For he longs for all of you and is distressed because you heard he was ill. 27 Indeed he was ill, and almost died. But God had mercy on him, and not on him only but also on me, to spare me sorrow upon sorrow. 28 Therefore I am all the more eager to send him, so that when you see him again you may be glad and I may have less anxiety. 29 So then, welcome him in the Lord with great joy, and honor people like him, 30 because he almost died for the work of Christ. He risked his life to make up for the help you yourselves could not give me.

Morning Scripture Reading - Proverbs 20:7

Proverbs 20:7 New International Version (NIV)

7 The righteous lead blameless lives;
    blessed are their children after them.

Monday, January 28, 2019

Afternoon Scripture Reading - Galatians 3:21-22

Galatians 3:21-22 New International Version (NIV)

21 Is the law, therefore, opposed to the promises of God? Absolutely not! For if a law had been given that could impart life, then righteousness would certainly have come by the law. 22 But Scripture has locked up everything under the control of sin, so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe.

Morning Scripture Reading - Acts 16:29-34

Acts 16:29-34 New International Version (NIV)

29 The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. 30 He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”

31 They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” 32 Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. 33 At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his household were baptized. 34 The jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them; he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God—he and his whole household.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Afternoon Scripture Reading - 1 Timothy 4:11-14

1 Timothy 4:11-14 New International Version (NIV)

11 Command and teach these things. 12 Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity. 13 Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching. 14 Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through prophecy when the body of elders laid their hands on you.

Sunday Praise & Worship Message - Trust Him and Seek His Will

This weekend my wife and I went exploring the Georgia countryside. As we were driving and enjoying the scenery, we both noticed a marker near a mailbox that read, “Proverbs 3:5-6”. We both recognized the verses and read them again, “5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. 6 Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.

As we continued to drive through the countryside, we continued to meditate on these verses. God was truly sending a message to us and it is a message that we, as believers, need to always remember and have written on our hearts in indelible ink. There are two very valuable lessons in those verses that should be the basis for all of our actions in life.

The first is that we need to trust in the Lord and learn not to use or depend on our own judgment or understanding. It is too easy for us to follow our own desires which can be misguided by the ways of this world. We see things that we want or desire or want to do things that we think are best for us. We should be trusting God in all that we do and not looking to others or ourselves for the answers to our situation. It is so easy for us to follow our own judgment and understanding. We think we know better and we do not rely on God to guide our steps. 

The Psalmist writes in Psalm 37, “23 The LORD directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives.” As Christians, our steps along the path of righteousness are laid out before us by the Lord and are directed by Him. The direction of our steps should not be our own. 

Think about it this way. While my wife and I were driving around Georgia, we relied on the GPS in my phone to get us from point to point. I am sure many of you have heard stories about how the maps are sometimes wrong. I have had my fair share of map errors when I trusted exclusively in my GPS. But, there is a GPS that will never fail you. It is not the one you are thinking about. It is the one called “God’s Plan for Salvation (GPS).” If we follow that GPS, we are never going to be led astray or lost in a field or dead end. God will always show us the way by directing our steps and making sure that each step is placed solidly on the firm rock of our faith. There is nothing left to chance when we allow the Lord to direct our steps and we can rest most assuredly on the fact that we will never get lost or directed to an unknown or wrong destination.

The other lesson from Proverbs 3 is that we should seek His will in everything that we do. It is not enough to simply casually pick and choose which steps are our own or should be left to God. All of our steps should be guided by Him by seeking out His will in our lives and everything should be done in accordance to His will. When we do that the Lord will show us the path that we need to take. We do not have to question the next steps along the path. God will make sure that we have the right directions and that we will reach our destination.

Jeremiah writes in chapter 9, “23 This is what the LORD says: ‘Don't let the wise boast in their wisdom, or the powerful boast in their power, or the rich boast in their riches. 24 But those who wish to boast should boast in this alone: that they truly know me and understand that I am the LORD who demonstrates unfailing love and who brings justice and righteousness to the earth, and that I delight in these things.’ I, the LORD, have spoken!

By understanding the Lord, we begin to understand the measure of His love for us. It is unfailing and eternal. We also understand that God is just and righteous and that He delights in these things. These are the traits of God and we can rest assured that there is no wavering in the Lord. The Lord is always just and righteous and eternal. When we rely on other things or boast about our knowledge, power or riches, we are telling God that He does not matter to us. We have done everything through our own power and capacity. By doing that, God is pushed out of our lives and becomes nothing more than a footnote. We begin to trust our own understanding and we soon find ourselves no longer seeking His will in our lives. We have relegated Him to a position of being unimportant in our lives and we, by our actions, tell Him that we do not need Him at all.

Over the past couple of years, I have heard celebrities say that all that they have and are is due to their works. Some even go as far as to say that God had nothing to do with it. It was all their hard work and effort. When we become that arrogant to believe that and no longer understand our relationship with the Lord, we will soon find ourselves making the wrong decisions in our lives. We no longer follow God’s wisdom and His direction of our footsteps. In time, we soon find ourselves lost and in a place we do not want to be. Remember the story of the earthly GPS and the stories of people getting lost when they trusted it. By trusting the heavenly GPS, we can know that we will find our heavenly destination and that we will always remain on the path of righteousness.

In Psalm 20, the psalmist writes, “7 Some nations boast of their chariots and horses, but we boast in the name of the LORD our God. 8 Those nations will fall down and collapse, but we will rise up and stand firm.

If we rely on the things that we know and trust and not in God, we are surely destined to fall down and collapse like the nations of old. If we keep our trust in the Lord and seek His will in all that we do, we, without any doubt, know that we “will rise up and stand firm.” We do not have anything to fear or worry about when we are grounded in our faith and follow God’s wisdom and allow Him to lead us through life. No matter where we go in life, God will make sure that we will never get lost nor feel that we have been abandoned or forsaken.

As you start a new week, I ask that you always seek God’s will and that you trust His wisdom and not your own. If you do that you will have nothing to fear or to dread. God will always lead you to peaceful green pastures and provide you living water. He always looks after His children and will not allow anything to harm them or bring them destruction. 

Jeremiah writes in chapter 29, “11 ‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord. ‘They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. 12 In those days when you pray, I will listen. 13 If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.’

If we truly seek Him with our hearts, we will find Him. If we truly listen and trust Him, we can rest assured that we will see His “plans for good and not for disaster” that will give us a future and a hope. 

By trusting in His wisdom and seeking Him in everything we do, we will know that we can stand firm in His grace.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.

Morning Scripture Reading - 1 John 5:13-15

1 John 5:13-15 New International Version (NIV)

13 I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life. 14 This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Afternoon Scripture Reading - 1 John 5:1-5

1 John 5:1-5 New International Version (NIV)

Faith in the Incarnate Son of God
5 Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well. 2 This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. 3 In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, 4 for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. 5 Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.

Morning Scripture Reading - 2 Corinthians 6:3-10

2 Corinthians 6:3-10 New International Version (NIV)

Paul’s Hardships
3 We put no stumbling block in anyone’s path, so that our ministry will not be discredited. 4 Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; 5 in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; 6 in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; 7 in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left; 8 through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors; 9 known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; 10 sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything.

Friday, January 25, 2019

Afternoon Scripture Reading - Isaiah 42:10-13

Isaiah 42:10-13 New International Version (NIV)

Song of Praise to the Lord
10 Sing to the Lord a new song,
    his praise from the ends of the earth,
you who go down to the sea, and all that is in it,
    you islands, and all who live in them.
11 Let the wilderness and its towns raise their voices;
    let the settlements where Kedar lives rejoice.
Let the people of Sela sing for joy;
    let them shout from the mountaintops.
12 Let them give glory to the Lord
    and proclaim his praise in the islands.
13 The Lord will march out like a champion,
    like a warrior he will stir up his zeal;
with a shout he will raise the battle cry
    and will triumph over his enemies.

Morning Scripture Reading - Ephesians 4:20-24

Ephesians 4:20-24 New International Version (NIV)

20 That, however, is not the way of life you learned 21 when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. 22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Afternoon Scripture Reading - Psalm 40:1-3

Psalm 40:1-3 New International Version (NIV)

Psalm 40[a]
For the director of music. Of David. A psalm.
1 I waited patiently for the Lord;
    he turned to me and heard my cry.
2 He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
    out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
    and gave me a firm place to stand.
3 He put a new song in my mouth,
    a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear the Lord
    and put their trust in him.

Psalm 40:1 In Hebrew texts 40:1-17 is numbered 40:2-18.

Morning Scripture Reading - Isaiah 43:16-21

Isaiah 43:16-21 New International Version (NIV)

16 This is what the Lord says—
    he who made a way through the sea,
    a path through the mighty waters,
17 who drew out the chariots and horses,
    the army and reinforcements together,
and they lay there, never to rise again,
    extinguished, snuffed out like a wick:
18 “Forget the former things;
    do not dwell on the past.
19 See, I am doing a new thing!
    Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
    and streams in the wasteland.
20 The wild animals honor me,
    the jackals and the owls,
because I provide water in the wilderness
    and streams in the wasteland,
to give drink to my people, my chosen,
21     the people I formed for myself
    that they may proclaim my praise.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Afternoon Scripture Reading - Jeremiah 29:10-14

Jeremiah 29:10-14 New International Version (NIV)

10 This is what the Lord says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place. 11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity.[a] I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”

Jeremiah 29:14 Or will restore your fortunes

Mid-Week Message - Knowing Truth

"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)

When I was in the ninth grade in Junior High, the English teachers combined classes and presented a program that was meant as an avenue for enlightenment.  They showed videos of the Vietnam War and talked about all the reasons being tossed about as to why the United States was involved.  They also played a myriad of popular songs that were rumored to actually be written about drugs.  One of those songs was "Puff the Magic Dragon" by Peter, Paul and Mary.  What I had always believed to be a wonderful children's song, they said was actually about marijuana.  It bothered me because I had never seen it that way so I did a bit of research.  The writer of the poem, a man named Leonard Lipton, says that he penned the song in 1959 after reading an Ogden Nash poem entitled "Custard the Dragon."  Peter Yarrow of the music group, found the poem and wrote the music for it and published it as a song.  Leonard Lipton said he did not write the poem with any drug ideas in mind and was appalled that people would believe a song would ever be presented to children that touted drug usage. To this day, I wonder how many of my fellow former students still believe what they were taught that day.  If they never took the time to check it out for themselves, then I would suppose they do.  

Each day we are bombarded by multiple types of media and told what to think, and sadly many people take everything in as truth.  Programming that used to be vehicles for the delivery of actual news, has now become a series of commentaries and individual interpretations of the news.  While we are hearing about events that actually happen, we are receiving the information through a haze of someone else's thoughts rather than simply hearing the facts and making up our own minds about what they mean.  Rarely do I talk to others who do their own research to determine whether what they take in that is being presented as fact is actually true.  Because something is written in the a newspaper or aired on television it is blindly accepted.  

I wish I could say that this never happens in other places.  However, schools have also been found to either be selective in what is taught, thereby only presenting one side, or actually teaching what is only conjecture as fact.  Our students aren't being taught the art of investigation wherein they learn to weigh all of the data and form their own beliefs and opinions.  Even more sadly, this also happens in churches.  

A very wise man told me years ago to use wisdom even when listening to preachers and teachers.  I wish I could say that everything said from a pulpit is exactly what the Lord would wish to have said.  My friend's advice was to know the Word of God personally and to check out what is taught to make sure what I heard was solid and true.  His words were, "Eat the fish and spit out the bones."   Over the years, these words have stuck in my soul so that I listen carefully to know whether what is being taught is in line with scripture.  I read the text for myself.  Just as with the song I mentioned above, it is always good to go directly to the author for clarification.  

We serve a very big God.  Somehow, some way, He is able to have a personal relationship with each one of us as if we were His only child.  His desire is that we get as close to Him as possible and the best way to do that is through His Word.  Through the Bible He has revealed Himself and will draw us near.  We all need to be in a good, Bible teaching church.  We need the fellowship and teaching that we can trust to be from the Holy Spirit.  The only way we will know if that is occurring though is by seeking God on our own, through prayer, through the reading of His Word.  We have to get to know Him personally so that we can hear His voice and walk in His truth rather than what the world would have us think.  With great love, God bless you.

Morning Scripture Reading - Deuteronomy 32:3-4

Deuteronomy 32:3-4 New International Version (NIV)

3 I will proclaim the name of the Lord.
    Oh, praise the greatness of our God!
4 He is the Rock, his works are perfect,
    and all his ways are just.
A faithful God who does no wrong,
    upright and just is he.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Afternoon Scripture Reading - John 8:31-32

John 8:31-32 New International Version (NIV)

31 To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

Morning Scripture Reading - Proverbs 18:10

Proverbs 18:10 New International Version (NIV)

10 The name of the Lord is a fortified tower;
    the righteous run to it and are safe.

Monday, January 21, 2019

Afternoon Scripture Reading - 1 John 4:19-21

1 John 4:19-21 New International Version (NIV)

19 We love because he first loved us. 20 Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. 21 And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.

Morning Scripture Reading - Galatians 6:1-6

Galatians 6:1-6 New International Version (NIV)

6 Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. 2 Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. 3 If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves. 4 Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else, 5 for each one should carry their own load. 6 Nevertheless, the one who receives instruction in the word should share all good things with their instructor.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Afternoon Scripture Reading - 2 Corinthians 5:16-21

2 Corinthians 5:16-21 New International Version (NIV)

16 So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:[a] The old has gone, the new is here! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21 God made him who had no sin to be sin[b] for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

2 Corinthians 5:17 Or Christ, that person is a new creation.
2 Corinthians 5:21 Or be a sin offering

Sunday Praise & Worship Message - Simple Childhood Truths

A couple of days ago I was reading an article about overthinking problems. I, like many others, tend to overthink problems and plan out every detail. Like a skilled chess player, I plan each move and try to anticipate my opponent’s next move. There would be a series of countermoves to each move. In time, I find myself pacing the floor and experiencing another sleepless night. I have worked myself up into a frazzle and the only thing I have to show for all of this extraneous activity is baggy, tired eyes and no solution to my initial thought.

I am sure that many of you have done the same thing from time to time. You worry about every little detail only to find, like me, that the problem was not that big of a deal and it would actually solve itself. Having gone through those types of situations, it does not stop me from doing the same thing all over again. I soon find myself doing the exact same thing to resolve the next problem or issue in my life.

As I read the article, the author suggested that we should not concentrate on what can go wrong, but rather what can go right. If you think about it, the author’s advice is perfect. We spend too much time thinking about what could go wrong rather than look at what can and will go right. While I continued to read the article, I began to think back to my childhood. As a child, I really had no problems to worry about. My parents provided my brother and myself with food, shelter, clothing and the necessities of life. When I became a parent, I took on the worries of providing for my family.

If you look at today’s society, many things can go wrong. A spouse could lose a job, have a medical problem or pass away. All of a sudden, your life turns upside down and you begin to think about all of the things that could go wrong. Look at all of the things that you have in your life: mortgage, car payments, credit card bills, utilities, food and the list goes on. Missing a payment could spell the end of your financial life. Has your blood pressure increased? Is your heart racing? For me, the mere mention of missing a payment scares me and I begin to sweat and worry. There are times when I wish I could become a child again and have no worries.

While it is impossible to travel back in time to become a child, there are certain things we learned during our childhood that can help us get through the tough times and set our thoughts on our Heavenly Father who provides us with everything we need.

When I was in the fifth grade, before heading to the cafeteria for lunch we would bow our heads in prayer and ask God to bless our food. Children learn a very simple prayer for God’s blessing. “God is great. God is good. Let us thank Him for our food. Amen”.

Do you remember this little prayer? I bet each of you could have repeated it when I started that small prayer. If you really think about this simple prayer, you will see that there are fundamental truths about God. These truths are illustrated throughout the entirety of the Holy Bible. We see God’s awesome power throughout the Old Testament. 

David, in 1 Chronicles 29, sums up God’s greatness perfectly in a prayer of praise, “10 O Lord, the God of our ancestor Israel, may you be praised forever and ever! 11 Yours, O Lord, is the greatness, the power, the glory, the victory, and the majesty. Everything in the heavens and on earth is yours, O Lord, and this is your kingdom. We adore you as the one who is over all things. 12 Wealth and honor come from you alone, for you rule over everything. Power and might are in your hand, and at your discretion people are made great and given strength.

Look at the words that David speaks. He talks of glory, victory, greatness, power and majesty. God rules over all things in Heaven and on the earth. Everything is His and His alone. He gives greatness and strength to those He chooses. He truly is great. 

The next thing in the little prayer that is illustrated is God’s goodness. It is a very simple sentence like the one before it. God is good. He provides only good things to His children.

James, in chapter 1 of his epistle, writes, “17 Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow.

God does not change or lie. It is impossible for Him to do so. All good and perfect things come to us from His bountiful hand. He is only capable of giving us good things and will never give us anything that would cause us harm.

Jesus, in his Sermon on the Mount as recorded in Matthew 7, tells us, “9 You parents—if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? 10 Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not! 11 So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.

Once again, a very simple truth is provided in that simple little prayer. Since God is good, He will only give us good gifts. It is up to us to approach the throne of God and ask Him for those good gifts. As long as we seek Him we will find Him and if we ask, He will give in accordance to His will and plan for our lives.

As we grew older, we forgot the simple truths of that prayer. We overthink and spend too much time worrying about things in our lives. All we have to do is go to God in prayer and ask for His wisdom, guidance and help in whatever we face. All throughout the scripture, God reminds us that all we have to do is seek Him and we will find Him. Once again, that is a very simple truth that we often forget. God is always there even when we think He is not.

It is so easy for us to forget the childhood truths that we learned and not apply them to our adult lives. We seek help and guidance from everywhere and everyone else. Earlier in Matthew 7, Jesus tells us, “8 For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.” 

It is not a hard thing to do. We just, once again, overthink how we should approach God. It starts with realizing that we can go our Heavenly Father by professing that Jesus is our personal Savior and Lord and it is only through him that we can speak to the Father. 

The author of Hebrews tells us in chapter 4, “16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

It is Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross and the spilling of his blood for our sins that allows us to go boldly to God’s throne and obtain mercy and find grace when we face trials, troubles and tribulations. There are no secret rituals that we have to perform to gain access to the Father. It is, once again, a simple truth. If we accept Jesus as our Savior and Lord, we have access through him to the Father. There is nothing that separates us from Him.

As you go through this week and face issues that seem insurmountable, remember that simple prayer and the truths in it. God truly is great and good. He will provide for your every need and guide your footsteps. When you choose to seek Him, you will find Him. When you ask, you will be given. Knowing those simple truths will allow you to stand firm in His grace.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.

Morning Scripture Reading - Proverbs 21:2

Proverbs 21:2 New International Version (NIV)

2 A person may think their own ways are right,
    but the Lord weighs the heart.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Afternoon Scripture Reading - Galatians 3:26-29

Galatians 3:26-29 New International Version (NIV)

26 So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

Morning Scripture Reading - 1 John 4:4-6

1 John 4:4-6 New International Version (NIV)

4 You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. 5 They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. 6 We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit[a] of truth and the spirit of falsehood.

1 John 4:6 Or spirit

Friday, January 18, 2019

Afternoon Scripture Reading - Matthew 18:19-20

Matthew 18:19-20 New International Version (NIV)

19 “Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”

Morning Scripture Reading - 1 Corinthians 2:6-10

1 Corinthians 2:6-10 New International Version (NIV)

6 We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. 7 No, we declare God’s wisdom, a mystery that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. 8 None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 9 However, as it is written:

“What no eye has seen,
    what no ear has heard,
and what no human mind has conceived”[a]—
    the things God has prepared for those who love him—

10 these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit.

The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.

1 Corinthians 2:9 Isaiah 64:4

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Afternoon Scripture Reading - Matthew 5:43-48

Matthew 5:43-48 New International Version (NIV)

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor[a] and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Matthew 5:43 Lev. 19:18

Morning Scripture Reading - Luke 16:10-12

Luke 16:10-12 New International Version (NIV)

10 “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. 11 So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? 12 And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own?

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Afternoon Scripture Reading - Hebrews 5:7-10

Hebrews 5:7-10 New International Version (NIV)

7 During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. 8 Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered 9 and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him 10 and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek.

Mid-Week Message - Trusting God's Ways

"My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the LordAnd my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts."  Isaiah 55:8-9 (NLT)

I'm sure we can all remember asking one of our parents for something when we were children.  I don't know how it was in your family, but the automatic answer in my house never seemed to be "yes." Usually the answer was, "We'll see", or "I'll think about it," or maybe even "Go ask your father."  Whatever the answer was I felt the need to explain all my reasons for why I needed whatever it was I was asking for.  Of course, I was attempting to convince my parents that they needed to agree with me and decide in my favor.  Sometimes I was successful but quite often the final answer was "no."  

It was very difficult to understand how they could answer negatively when I was so clear in laying out my thoughts and desires.  What I didn't understand at the time was that they knew more than I did and therefore knew if my requests were frivolous or could pose hazards or risks.  Now that I am an adult and also a parent, I am aware that there were probably many times they wished to give me what I wanted but couldn't for some reason that was beyond their control.  Age has given me greater understanding and perspective.  

That being said, I have to confess that I often approach God in prayer the same way I used to approach my parents with a request.  It is something that He has shown me that I am not very proud of.  I have had to learn that it isn't my job to convince the Lord of anything.  Since He is all-knowing, He sees my needs and desires before I do along with everything else in my life.  He knows what is ultimately good for me and what is not and He has perfect timing for the blessings He sends my way.

This past year was dreadfully hard for my family.  So many things collided that caused us to wonder how we would make it through.  I spent hours before the Lord crying out, asking Him for help, reminding Him of His promises and telling Him what we were going through and what we were feeling.  So many times I forgot about His sovereignty as I begged Him to just listen to our needs.  I failed to recognize that His ways are not our ways and His thoughts are not our thoughts.  I let my heart dictate my words and overpower the knowledge that His timing is always perfect and that He would never fail to take care of His children.  In His great love though, He soothed my soul and assured me that He knew.

One night, after a particularly rough time and as I was drying my eyes after telling Him how afraid I was and asking Him if he was watching and knew what we were going through, I turned the radio on to a Christian station.  I came in right as a song was coming on.  It was "Fear Is A Liar" by Zach Williams.  Then the song right after it was "He Knows" by Jeremy Camp.  I cannot tell you how it ministered to me to know that those songs at that time were not a coincidence.  They were reassurance from above.  Now that we have started a new year, I can tell you that I never needed to be afraid or worry that the Father didn't understand our plight as He has now answered those petitions and turned things around for our family.  Just at the right time.  

Brothers and sisters, our Creator is never negligent.  He is intimately involved in our lives and aware of every joy and heartache we experience.  Though this last year was trying, it would have been much less so if I had remembered that rather than listening to the lies of the enemy and allowing myself to be overcome with fear.  He has always seen me through whatever I have faced and I should have known He would do so again.  His love never falters and He will always be present no matter what we are experiencing.  We have only to trust that His Word is true and look for Him.  

As I thank Him for His extended hand to me and my family, I also lift each of you up and ask for His blessings for you as well.  Life is full of unknowns, so let's hold on to the One who never changes, who always understands and will never leave us to do battle on our own.  Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

Morning Scripture Reading - Ephesians 3:20-21

Ephesians 3:20-21 New International Version (NIV)

20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Afternoon Scripture Reading - 2 Timothy 3:10-17

2 Timothy 3:10-17 New International Version (NIV)

10 You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, 11 persecutions, sufferings—what kinds of things happened to me in Antioch, Iconium and Lystra, the persecutions I endured. Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them. 12 In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, 13 while evildoers and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, 15 and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God[a] may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

2 Timothy 3:17 Or that you, a man of God,

Morning Scripture Reading - John 13:34-35

John 13:34-35 New International Version (NIV)

34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

Monday, January 14, 2019

Afternoon Scripture Reading - Philippians 2:14-18

Philippians 2:14-18 New International Version (NIV)

14 Do everything without grumbling or arguing, 15 so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.”[a] Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky 16 as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain. 17 But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. 18 So you too should be glad and rejoice with me.

Philippians 2:15 Deut. 32:5

Morning Scripture Reading - Ephesians 5:1-2

Ephesians 5:1-2 New International Version (NIV)

5 1 Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children 2 and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

A Beautiful Prayer to Begin the Day and Week

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Afternoon Scripture Reading - 1 Peter 1:13-16

1 Peter 1:13-16 New International Version (NIV)

13 Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. 14 As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. 15 But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; 16 for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”[a]

1 Peter 1:16 Lev. 11:44,45; 19:2

Sunday Praise & Worship Message - Think About Heavenly Things

During my illness, I have had a lot of nights where my mind was cluttered with a lot of thoughts about things that could happen. I would often find myself tossing and turning all night long or weeping bitter tears as I considered the possibilities of my circumstances. I began to concentrate more and more on the things that might or could happen rather than remaining in the moment and close to the Lord. I struggled to return to my peaceful pasture that the Lord has provided me, but the things and thoughts of this world quickly pulled me back. Once again, my mind filled with more thoughts of what could happen. My heart was gripped with fear, uncertainty and doubt. In time, I could barely hear God speaking to me. His voice was being drowned out by the noise of this world.

Has this happened to you? I am sure that I am not alone. We all, from time to time, get caught up in the world and its concerns. Those things could be medical issues, financial problems, spiritual battles and so many other things like addiction to alcohol, drugs or even food. The voice of this world is the seductive tongue of Satan who seeks out those who are troubled and have moved ever so slightly away from the observation of the Shepherd. We wander just a bit and there is Satan, like a roaring lion, ready to pounce and devour us.

By letting our minds concentrate on the things of this world, we give the deceiver of man the chance to whisper words of fear, uncertainty and doubt. He begins, like a skilled orator, to build his case and then begins his cross-examination. He questions us about God and what He has promised us. He asks, “Did He really promise you this or that? Is He even there for you? Where is He now?”

In just a few questions, the skilled deceiver has us thinking about everything else but the Father. We begin to wonder about the promises, whether He is even listening, or even if He is there. Satan is a skilled adversary who knows exactly when we are weakened by the toils, trials and troubles of life. He knows when to pounce and sink his fangs deep into our souls to envenom us with his putrid poison of fear, uncertainty and doubt.

As the poison courses through our heart and mind, it begins its insidious work to destroy our relationship with the Lord. Our thoughts are no longer of Him but rather of the things we face in this world. There is, however, an antidote to Satan’s virulent venom.

The first thing is to not allow yourself to fall into self-pity and the “woe is me” spiral. Self-pity just leads to opening the door for Satan to come into your mind and begin his assault on your faith. If you remain grounded in your faith, the enemy does not even dare come near you. He knows that all you have to do is rebuke him in the name of Christ Jesus. Just the mention of his name will send him packing and running back to his lair with no prize to claim.

When I was in the hospital for three weeks, my weak moments came between midnight and two in the morning. After all of my intravenous medications, pills, shots and blood tests were complete, I had about two hours before the routine started again. As I would try to go to sleep, there were times when my mind would wander to moments of doubt and questioning the outcome of my treatment. I would sometimes think about why I was going through all of this and what was the reason. After all I had been faithful and continued to preach the Good News through our ministry website and witnessed to hundreds of people. It is then Satan would begin to whisper into my ear the hardest question to answer from a hospital bed, “Where is your God now?”

I would begin to wonder and weep as I tried hard to hold on to my faith. I found myself with the blankets pulled up tight and wishing it would all go away. I was hoping that all of it was just a horrible dream that would soon end, but it was not a dream. It was real. I began to slip in my faith and wonder where He was and why I was having to go through this. 

When this happened, God sent someone to me, a fellow follower of Christ Jesus. Sometimes, it was a nurse or a nurse technician who would just come into the room for a few minutes and we would share scripture. There was one thing that was so common about all of those moments. Each of us needed something to help us in the next step of faith along the path of righteousness which God had laid out before us. One nurse told me, “I had planned on ‘calling out’, but something in my heart said that I needed to come to work. You were the reason.” We shared our faith and prayed together. At that moment, Satan was stopped in his tracks and he slithered back to his lair without a prize.

By, as Paul puts in Colossians 3, thinking about “the things of heaven, not the things of earth”, the two of us were able to minister to one another and strengthen our faith at the same time. By the both of us looking up rather than down, we saw the glory of God and knew that He was in control and was ministering to us by having us minister to each other. God will provide you, at your moment of weakness, the courage to get through those moments and continue to build a stronger relationship with Him.

So, as God told Joshua in chapter 1 of his book, “9 This is my command--be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the LORD your God is with you wherever you go”, we, too, must be strong and courageous. We should not let fear, uncertainty and doubt rule our lives. There is no place for them. We need to fix our thoughts on Him and think of those things that are heavenly and righteous. 

Paul, in chapter 4 of his epistle to the Philippians, writes, “8 And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” 

By thinking about things that are excellent and worthy of praise, our hearts and souls are filled with praise and not pity. Our minds are not cluttered with all sorts of worries. We are able to rest peacefully in the green pastures and enjoy the living water that He has provided to us through His son Christ Jesus. He sets a table for us and anoints our heads. We are His children and nothing can take us away from Him. 

So, I encourage you to fix your thoughts on Him and those things that are true, honorable, right, pure, lovely and admirable. Do not lose sight of Him and remember that you have the power to rebuke Satan. He has no power over you unless you allow him to do so. If you find your faith waning a little or a lot, seek out fellow followers of Christ Jesus. We are all part of one body and we work together in harmony to support each other. Remember the words of Paul in 1 Corinthians 12, “12 The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ. 13 Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit.

I know it is difficult not to focus on things of this world. They draw us back and we begin to feel alone and powerless. But, we are far, far from that. We are given the power to overcome those things through the blood of Christ Jesus and the New Covenant. We should not allow the troubles of this world to get us down and keep us down. You can rise above and overcome them by being strong and courageous and knowing that “the LORD your God is with you wherever you go”.

When you have moments when you begin to falter or waver in your faith, remember the words of Paul in his second letter to the Corinthians, “18 So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.

The things in this world are temporary and will soon and surely fade away, but His unfailing love for us and our faith and love for Him will transcend all and last forever. Armed with these words, you can rise above and overcome all fears, uncertainties and doubts and stand firm in His grace.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.

Morning Scripture Reading - Philippians 4:10-13

Philippians 4:10-13 New International Version (NIV)

10 I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. 11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Afternoon Scripture Reading - Isaiah 1:16-17

Isaiah 1:16-17 New International Version (NIV)

16 Wash and make yourselves clean.
    Take your evil deeds out of my sight;
    stop doing wrong.
17 Learn to do right; seek justice.
    Defend the oppressed.[a]
Take up the cause of the fatherless;
    plead the case of the widow.

Isaiah 1:17 Or justice. / Correct the oppressor

Morning Scripture Reading - Jeremiah 17:10

Jeremiah 17:10 New International Version (NIV)

10 “I the Lord search the heart
    and examine the mind,
to reward each person according to their conduct,
    according to what their deeds deserve.”

Friday, January 11, 2019

Afternoon Scripture Reading - Proverbs 21:3

Proverbs 21:3 New International Version (NIV)

3 To do what is right and just
    is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.

Morning Scripture Reading - Micah 6:6-8

Micah 6:6-8 New International Version (NIV)

6 With what shall I come before the Lord
    and bow down before the exalted God?
Shall I come before him with burnt offerings,
    with calves a year old?
7 Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams,
    with ten thousand rivers of olive oil?
Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression,
    the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?
8 He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
    And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
    and to walk humbly[a] with your God.

Micah 6:8 Or prudently

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Afternoon Scripture Reading - Titus 2:11-14

Titus 2:11-14 New International Version (NIV)

11 For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. 12 It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13 while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.

Morning Scripture Reading - Psalm 5:12

Psalm 5:12 New International Version (NIV)

12 Surely, Lord, you bless the righteous;
    you surround them with your favor as with a shield.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Afternoon Scripture Reading - Romans 12:1-2

Romans 12:1-2 New International Version (NIV)

A Living Sacrifice
12 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform 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.

Mid-Week Message - Pig Story Wisdom

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand.  The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”  Matthew 7:24-27 (NIV)

Each year the Lord gives me a word or a phrase to concentrate on.  Last year, the word was "trust."  Of course I never know at the time why He gives me what He does.  Last year I found out why fairly quickly though.  My husband had gotten ill with what we thought was a simple sinus infection at the end of December.  By February, however, he was in surgery and fighting for his life.  That illness brought about a series of changes and difficulties for our family and "trust" became the most important word in my life.  This year, as I continue to lean upon trusting Him, He has given me the word "wisdom."  

I have always admired Solomon for asking the Lord for wisdom when he was told he could ask for anything, and I am so glad that his story is included in scripture.  I wonder how many of us would have chosen as well if given the same option.  While I sincerely hope that I would put similar thought into such an offer, I fear that I would reach for something more immediately gratifying.  Actually, I would probably ask for the needs of my family members to be met because that is more concerning to me than anything that I desire personally. 

There are lessons about being wise all around us.  We have only to open our eyes and ears to find them.  Even the youngest among us are exposed to opportunities to see the difference between wisdom and foolishness.  The story of The Three Little Pigs has been on my mind since I started pondering this subject.  We all know that there were three pigs who needed to build houses for themselves.  The first one was in a hurry to get it done so he could return to having fun so he put together the fastest thing he could think of which was a house of straw.  The second pig put a little more thought into his and chose sticks to build his home out of.  Neither of these two considered the future dangers that their choices could encounter. Just as the man who built his house upon the sand, once the high winds came, the houses fell.  But the third little pig took his time to plan for unforeseen occurrences.  I'm sure he looked at all his options before he made his choice and he chose wisely.  His house of bricks stood up to everything the "big bad wolf" threw at it because it was sturdy and well built just like the house built on the rock.  

The "rock" represents our faith.  When we entrust the Father with our cares and turn to Him with our needs, concerns and fears, we are exercising wisdom.  We are seeking His counsel, and asking for His direction.  Wisdom comes from seeing from the standpoint of the mind of God.  When we ask Him to show us how He sees our lives and circumstances, we are asking Him to make us wise.  We begin to move beyond worldly understanding and lean more upon Him to teach us to see through spiritual eyes and hear through spiritual ears.   The more we do that, the closer we draw near to Him and the more our hearts and minds are transformed.  Being one with Him will be our greatest desire.  

I am excited about this new year and feel that by giving me this word the Father has asked me to move closer to Him because He is the source of wisdom.  I hope you all will come along and that we can embark upon this adventure together.  Keep your eyes and ears open for other examples, such as the simple fairy tale I spoke of.  Ask God to reveal Himself through unexpected sources.  He will.  You just have to be watching.  God bless you.  

Morning Scripture Reading - 1 John 2:15-17

1 John 2:15-17 New International Version (NIV)

On Not Loving the World
15 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father[a] is not in them. 16 For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. 17 The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.

1 John 2:15 Or world, the Father’s love

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Afternoon Scripture Reading - Psalm 78:1-8

Psalm 78:1-8 New International Version (NIV)

Psalm 78
A maskil[a] of Asaph.
1 My people, hear my teaching;
    listen to the words of my mouth.
2 I will open my mouth with a parable;
    I will utter hidden things, things from of old—
3 things we have heard and known,
    things our ancestors have told us.
4 We will not hide them from their descendants;
    we will tell the next generation
the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord,
    his power, and the wonders he has done.
5 He decreed statutes for Jacob
    and established the law in Israel,
which he commanded our ancestors
    to teach their children,
6 so the next generation would know them,
    even the children yet to be born,
    and they in turn would tell their children.
7 Then they would put their trust in God
    and would not forget his deeds
    but would keep his commands.
8 They would not be like their ancestors—
    a stubborn and rebellious generation,
whose hearts were not loyal to God,
    whose spirits were not faithful to him.

Psalm 78:1 Title: Probably a literary or musical term

Morning Scripture Reading - Isaiah 43:16-21

Isaiah 43:16-21 New International Version (NIV)

16 This is what the Lord says—
    he who made a way through the sea,
    a path through the mighty waters,
17 who drew out the chariots and horses,
    the army and reinforcements together,
and they lay there, never to rise again,
    extinguished, snuffed out like a wick:
18 “Forget the former things;
    do not dwell on the past.
19 See, I am doing a new thing!
    Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
    and streams in the wasteland.
20 The wild animals honor me,
    the jackals and the owls,
because I provide water in the wilderness
    and streams in the wasteland,
to give drink to my people, my chosen,
21     the people I formed for myself
    that they may proclaim my praise.

Monday, January 7, 2019

Afternoon Scripture Reading - 1 Corinthians 15:20-28

1 Corinthians 15:20-28 New International Version (NIV)

20 But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. 22 For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. 23 But each in turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. 24 Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27 For he “has put everything under his feet.”[a] Now when it says that “everything” has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ. 28 When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all.

1 Corinthians 15:27 Psalm 8:6