Wednesday, May 16, 2012
Proverbs 24:27 Prepare your outside work, Make it fit for yourself in the field; And afterward build your house.
Proverbs 24:30-34 I went by the field of the lazy man, And by the vineyard of the man devoid of understanding; And there it was, all overgrown with thorns; Its surface was covered with nettles; Its stone wall was broken down. When I saw it, I considered it well; I looked on it and received instruction: A little sleep, a little slumber, A little folding of the hands to rest; So shall your poverty come like a prowler, And your need like an armed man.
I've been a little overwhelmed with all that I have going on in my life. So, as I was tread-milling this morning I was talking with the Lord about my dilemma and He brought to mind some scriptures about creating a plan for success. Success does not automatically happen; it takes planning and executing....work! But, praise the Lord, nothing is impossible with God! When we consult Him He will give us a plan that will work! Then we must do our part in working the plan.
So, looking into God's word for direction, I see in this Proverbs scripture that some things need to be done first and then you can proceed on to the others. He refers to the “lazy” man here and I do not want to be counted in that category. I plan to be a person of integrity, full of God's wisdom and ready to meet the challenges of the future. With that said, I will make some changes in my daily schedule so I can meet all of my obligations and take care of my own physical being as well. Sometimes you just need an attitude adjustment! You need to “tweak” your plan in order to get everything done. Thank You, Lord, for showing me how to correct the things in my life that have been hindering my progress.
I have always been a person who operated best on a schedule; up early in the morning with every minute of my free time scheduled. I knew what I was doing and exactly when it would be done. But my life totally changed when I found myself suddenly unemployed, newly married in a different environment and with so many hours of my day to fill but wondering what direction I was to take. I was used to my life being filled with a full-time job and church ministry involvements and I had every hour of every day scheduled. But you know, the seasons of life change and with each new season comes new adjustments. Now, my life has filled up again, but somewhere along the way I lost the structure needed to get it all done in the proper manner and time. I need to go back and pick up some of those time management skills that I had a few years ago!
A life with no planning, lived halfheartedly, almost to the point of being lazy will not accomplish the things that you need to do for success. You must create a plan and then work your plan. The lazy man above didn't take care of his vineyard. It was overgrown with thorns; the stone wall around it that kept out intruders was broken down; repairs needed to be made. And he was lying around “not taking care of business” as some would say! The writer of the Proverb said that “he looked on it and received instruction”. He looked at the condition of the lazy man's vineyard and it taught him some things. It taught him that when you manage your life halfheartedly with no plan or structure for success, sleep late and don't take of your property, or those things under your care, everything goes downhill; the end result is not good. In this case the lazy man's property was ruined and didn't produce like it should have with the end result being poverty! One of the keys to success is giving due diligence to what you have; taking care of your property, your life, and making sure that you prepare for the future. My weight increased because I became lax in watching my diet, not exercising as I once did and not staying on top of my life through proper food preparation and choices. I let down my guard and relaxed a little bit too much!
As I prayed about the obligations that I have and the need to improve my physical health, the Lord gave me some instructions to create a plan for success. One of the things He told me to do was to write my daily blogs the day before I want to post them. That will free my mornings to do my devotional, give me more time to get my walking and exercising done and my plan for the day started long before before noon! Then if I want to go somewhere with my husband I will be ready to walk out the door! He's fishing today without me because I didn't have everything done so I could feel comfortable in going with him.
He also had me review my teaching obligations that I do on a regular basis and plan ahead to meet deadlines early so I'm not stressing at the last minute. I'm so glad He understands me and doesn't condemn me for my shortcomings! Thank You, Lord, for helping me to get it all done!
The Lord also stressed the importance of goals. When I was under such a strict time frame to complete the courses that I needed for my Certificate in Christian Counseling, my instructor gave me a certain time frame in which every course needed to be completed in order to meet the deadline. I focused on those goals and was able to complete the courses two weeks early. I am still working on finishing my bachelor's degree but without the strict goals that I had before. I need to implement some new goals to finish in a reasonable time.
What about you? Have you found yourself overwhelmed by life? Maybe it could be that you're like me, just needing to make a few “tweaks” in your lifestyle!
Father, I thank You for always being there to help me make the necessary changes to my life. I know that You will give me the direction I need for successful living. Thank You for sharing with me what needs to change in order to get everything in my life done properly. Please help me to stay on schedule; to make my plan and then work it. I need Your help, Lord! I can't do this without You. I pray for my Spark Friends today that may be feeling the same way as me. Lord, please show them how to create their own plan for success and then how to work the plan to see that success manifested in their lives. Thank You for not leaving us to do this on our own, but for showing us Your way to get it all done! In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
Tuesday, May 15, 2012
2 Timothy 4:1-5 I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.
Do you ever get discouraged and wonder if you are doing what you're supposed to be doing according to the plan of God for your life? This morning has been one of those mornings for me and as I was praying about whether or not I was reaching people with my blog or if I should discontinue it, the Lord immediately spoke this portion of scripture to my heart. When I heard the words: “Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season”, I knew immediately what He was saying. Don't give up; don't quit spreading My word to those around you. Don't allow discouragement to cause you to give up!
To further confirm this charge when I looked at my emails I had a devotional where a lady was talking about recently being widowed after 61 years of marriage to her husband who had been a pastor in the ministry. She was talking about the many times he got up in the night to minister to someone who was hurting and then she quoted this scripture in Revelation 14:13 Then I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, “Write: 'Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.'” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, and their works follow them.” At the end of her devotional she said this: “One day the truth of Revelation 14:13 will prove eternally true for you if you remain faithful: Your works will follow you, just as He has promised.”
Your works will follow you! What a reminder this was to me! We don't always see the effect that we have on people in the here and now, but one day when we reach Heaven the results of our labors will be evident. We will see the impact that we've made on our world when the fruit of our labors is revealed. In the meantime we must continue to do what God has called us to do: Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season.....fulfill your ministry.
I like the way the Amplified Bible expands on verse 2:
Herald and preach the Word! Keep your sense of urgency [stand by, be at hand and ready], whether the opportunity seems to be favorable or unfavorable. [Whether it is convenient or inconvenient, whether it is welcome or unwelcome, you as preacher of the Word are to show people in what way their lives are wrong.] And convince them, rebuking and correcting, warning and urging and encouraging them, being unflagging and inexhaustible in patience and teaching.
Here Paul exhorts Timothy to keep on preaching the Word whether people seem to be receptive or not, whether what he says is welcomed or not, he is to continue to share the truth of God's word with people because they need to be rebuked and corrected when they are in the wrong, warned that their lives need to change, and encouraged and urged to continue on when they become tired and weary.
Hebrews 6:10-12: NLT For God is not unfair. He will not forget how hard you have worked for Him and how you have shown your love to Him by caring for other Christians, as you still do. Our great desire is that you will keep right on loving others as long as life lasts, in order to make certain that what you hope for will come true. Then you will not become spiritually dull and indifferent. Instead, you will follow the example of those who are going to inherit God's promises because of their faith and patience.
God has a plan for each one of our lives. He has a calling for you and for me. When we become discouraged and thoughts of quitting come into our minds if we will pray and talk with Him about it He will give the encouragement that we need to continue on; to be refreshed and encouraged to stay strong and fulfill the calling that He has on our lives. If we don't give up but will continue to the end we will inherit His promises! I pray that I might not become spiritually dull and indifferent! I am thankful that He doesn't give up on me, but He understands that I am simply a human being with weaknesses and frailties that go along with humanity. He sees my needs and quickly responds to my cries for help! He's my greatest fan, who never fails to cheer me on!
Thank You Father, for Your unfailing love and faithfulness to me! You are My God and I praise You this morning. Thank You for so tenderly reminding me that it's not the time to quit; it's not the time to “retire” from what You have called me to do. Thank You for encouraging me to continue on that someday I might see the difference I've made in the lives of those around me. I pray that I might have a great harvest of souls following me into Heaven's gates some day. Father, I pray for my Spark Friends this morning who may have become discouraged in doing what You have called them to do. I pray that You will refresh them and encourage them just as You have done for me. I pray, Father, that they may sense the urgency of this time that we live in and be encouraged to continue spreading Your word and Your love, to those that You have placed around them. Thank You, Father, for Your faithfulness to each of us! May You receive all the glory from those whose lives are changed because of something that we have said or done to turn them to You. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
Monday, May 14, 2012
As I was praying about what to say in my blog this morning this old song started running through my head: When peace like a river attendeth my way; When sorrows like sea billows roll. Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say, It is well; It is well with my soul.
So many people lack that peace; the undisturbed composure that is necessary to sway with the winds of adversity and not be broken. Peace elludes people so much in today's world. So many are scurrying around so disturbed by life, so torn up by the onslaught of pain and sorrow in their lives and yet God has provided peace for them but they will not turn to Him to receive it. He has given them the ability to overcome, but they will not use it. He has provided the way of escape for them, but they will not take it. I can imagine, this morning, how grieved the Father's heart must be when His children turn from Him and try to live life under their own power and ability. Many times I have experienced the peace of God that passes all understanding in my own heart as I endured the storms of life. God is waiting for people to turn to Him and receive His power and ability, His peace, to over come and live victoriously in the midst of the storms.
John 14:1 (AMP) Do not let your hearts be troubled (distressed, agitated). You believe in and adhere to and trust in and rely on God; believe in and adhere to and trust in and rely also on Me.
Jesus' words in John 14:1 give us a confidence that we can hold onto, a reliance upon Him just as we rely upon the Father. He went on further to say in John 14:27 that He was leaving us with a peace, His very own peace, that would never leave us; that was not subject to change as the world changes. But with the promise comes an admonishment; “Do not let your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. [Stop allowing yourselves to be agitated and disturbed; and do not permit yourselves to be fearful and intimidated and cowardly and unsettled.] He was saying, I have provided peace for you, but you have control over how you react to the things that happen in life. You must choose to keep your heart in peace, not allowing it to be agitated and disturbed. We must guard our hearts, friends, in order for peace to reign over the agitations of life.
When Jesus was getting ready to go to the cross He told his disciples that in this world they would have tribulations and trials and distress and frustration. It is a fact of life and as long as we live in a fallen world where the devil has freedom to wreck havoc in people's lives we will have opportunities to be troubled, fearful, intimidated and unsettled. We will have opportunity to be fearful about what is going on in our lives. But Jesus went on to say: “....but be of good cheer [take courage, be confident, certain, undaunted]! For I have overcome the world. [I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you.]
Jesus has deprived the world of power to harm us! He has conquered it for us! What good news! We do not have to live under our circumstances! We can live as God created us; as more than conquerors through Him who loved us! Hallelujah! What a Savior!
Yesterday my Pastor preached his fourth sermon in a series entitled “Joy” and it was on having joy in the midst of the storm. At the end he asked me to pray for those in our congregation that were going through difficult times that they might have peace. God brought back so many memories of difficult times in my own life and how He had carried me through those times and given me His peace that passes all understanding. He will do the same for you this morning. He will enable you to rise above the storm; to soar like an eagle over it and conquer the terror that comes with it. He has given us this promise in Isaiah 54:17:
But no weapon that is formed against you shall prosper, and every tongue that shall rise against you in judgment you shall show to be in the wrong. This [peace, righteousness, security, triumph over opposition] is the heritage of the servants of the Lord [those in whom the ideal Servant of the Lord is reproduced]; this is the righteousness or the vindication which they obtain from Me [this is that which I impart to them as their justification], says the Lord.
Did you get that? There is no weapon that the world or any demon in hell can bring against you that can win over you because of who you are in Christ Jesus. He has imparted to you His peace, righteousness, security and triumph over opposition! God has made you, in Christ Jesus, as a winner! You do not have to live under your circumstances any longer. You can win in life!
Jesus is your peace. He has broken down the wall of separation between you and the Father and provided peace in the midst of the storms of life. Will you turn to Him and accept His provision or continue to try to do things on your own?
Father, this morning I thank You for the great peace You have provided for me. Thank You, Lord, for enabling me to walk above the circumstances, to win against the opposition and to live as an over comer in Christ Jesus. I pray for my Spark Friends today that they will run to You when trouble comes and not try to live in their own power and ability, but will totally rely on You. Father, show them Your great love for them. Bring it home to them! Cause them to see the provision that You have made for them and how they can conquer trials and tribulations by living through Your ability and power. Thank You, Father, for giving them the victory through Christ Jesus! In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
Sunday, May 13, 2012
Proverbs 31:30 Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, But a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised.
My mother had a couple of sayings when I was growing up that have always stuck with me: beauty is as beauty does and beauty is only skin deep, but ugly goes clear to the bone. I don't think we realize how much our mother's have an effect on us! But this scripture puts it as clearly as I can imagine. The exterior of our beings is not the most important part; it is the beauty of a heart that reverences and respects the Lord that counts. We work so hard to get our bodies in shape by what we eat and the exercise we get, but how much time do we spend on doing the things that make for a tender, teachable, mold-able heart?
Romans 12:1, 2 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
Presenting our bodies to God as a living sacrifice places us in a position to be changed. It means that we are dedicating everything about us to Him as a living sacrifice. This is our reasonable service and spiritual worship. We yield ourselves to Him for Him to do His work in us. Then we are able to renew our minds to the truth of God's word so we can be changed. God has a good plan for our lives and we will understand it as we yield ourselves to Him, pray and study His word.
Romans 8:29 AMP For those whom He foreknew [of whom He was aware and loved beforehand], He also destined from the beginning [foreordaining them] to be molded into the image of His Son [and share inwardly His likeness], that He might become the firstborn among many brethren.
God's ultimate purpose for us in our lives is that we might be molded into the image of Jesus! That's the goal that God has for us! That's the ultimate beauty of a heart that reverences and respects the Lord!
Father, I thank You this morning for placing Your Spirit within me and making me Yours. I know that You have a perfect plan for my life and that You are working in me to change me and mold me into the image of Jesus. I present my body to You today as a living sacrifice that I might be pleasing to You and worship You in the manner that You desire. I pray that You will lead me in renewing my mind so I may know what is Your good, acceptable and perfect will. Father, I pray for my Spark Friends today that You will draw them to Yourself, giving them the desire to know You, to worship You and to be changed into the image of Your Son. Fill them to overflowing with Your love, Father, so they will shine like the stars in the darkest night. Change them, Lord, as You are changing me. Thank You for them, Father. I pray Your blessings on each of them today! In Jesus name. Amen.
Saturday, May 12, 2012
Hebrews 12:1-4 Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls. You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin.
This morning as I was praying about what to say in my blog this portion of Scripture came to mind. It's placement in Hebrews chapter 12 comes after we see in chapter 11 all those who have gone before us that God has placed in His “hall of faith”. They are the ones who stood steadfastly in faith believing for all kinds of promises that God had made to them. Some of them received those promises in their lifetimes and some didn't, but the testimony is still the same; they stood in faith believing to the end!
The ultimate example of a life of faith is that of Jesus, who the Bible records, is the author and finisher of our faith. It is by looking at His faith-filled life that we can stand in faith believing even when we don't see the natural manifestation of that for which we are believing.
The Word says that in order for us to run this race of faith there are several things that we must do:
1) Lay aside every weight – what is it that is weighing you down today? What load are you carrying that is too heavy for you to bear? In Matthew 6:25-34 Jesus commands us not to worry! Worry chokes the word of God from bearing fruit in our lives; it places what we are worrying about above God and the thing that we are actually worrying about becomes a god to us. It carries a higher place in our lives than the Lord because it becomes our focus. We need to lay those things on Jesus; He is our burden bearer.
2) And the sin which so easily ensnares us – sin breaks our fellowship with the Father. But it's very easy to get rid of. 1 John 1:9 says: If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. To confess simply means “to agree with”, so when we confess our sins to God we are agreeing with Him that it is wrong and we understand that we are in the wrong by holding on to them. The promise is that when we confess He forgives and cleanses us. Why do we continue to hang onto those things that are sin in our lives when forgiveness and cleansing is so readily available? With the forgiveness and cleansing comes the help that we need to overcome. He is just waiting for us to agree with Him and turn from those things that are placing a wedge between us and Him. Release your sin to God today and experience the forgiveness and cleansing that you need to walk before Him unashamedly. All of us have made mistakes, wrong choices in life. We are all forgiven, but that forgiveness does not apply to our lives until we confess the sin and receive the forgiveness. It is our choice.
3) Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us - how many times have you felt like you weren't going to make it through whatever it is that you are experiencing? We have need of endurance in order to make it to the end. Hebrews 10:35-36 says: “Therefore do not cast away your confidence which has great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise.” That word for endurance means constancy, perseverance, continuance, bearing up, steadfastness, holding out, patient endurance. It describes the capacity to continue to bear up under difficult circumstances, not with a passive complacency, but with a hopeful fortitude that actively resists weariness and defeat. Are you enduring by holding on to shoestring, or are you enduring the Biblical way by actively resisting weariness and defeat with a hopeful fortitude? I get the picture in my mind of the poster of the little kitten timidly holding on to the rope with a frightened look on its face and the caption that says, “If I can just hold on to the end”. That's not the way we are to run our race with endurance! We run actively resisting weariness and defeat with an attitude that says that we know we are going to make it because our God is with us, strengthening us and enabling us to win! He is bigger than our problems and the victory is in sight! The battle is already won! That's endurance!
Now, you may be saying, “but it's impossible to run the race of faith like that”! I can't do it! And you're right; it is impossible in and of ourselves to run the race of faith without falling or having thoughts of defeat and discouragement that cause us to stumble and at times, fall. But the key to running this race successfully is found in verse 2: looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith! He is the One who enables us to succeed! Our focus has to be on Him. When we take our focus off of Jesus we will sink, just as Peter when he walked on the water. But if we look unto Jesus our faith will be built up; we have the perfect example to follow. Here are the keys that Jesus used to win:
1) Who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross – Jesus looked not at the shame or pain of going to the cross, but at the joy of winning; the joy of paying the price for all mankind to be forgiven of their sins. Jesus kept His focus on the goal; the prize; the joy of what laid beyond the pain and suffering of the cross. He set His face like flint! (Isaiah 50:7; Luke 9:51) In Matthew 26:41 He gives us a key to success: “Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Are you watching out for the temptations that could come your way? Are you praying before you get to the temptations so you will be prepared when they come? Are you looking at the victory? Are you focusing on the joy of winning? Does the victory carry more weight for you than the pleasures that only last for a season? Where is your focus?
2) For consider Him – lest you become weary and discouraged. We can always look at what Jesus endured for us and see that what we experience on a daily basis running our race doesn't compare in any way, shape or form to what He had to go through. Our difficulties in life are nothing compared to His suffering on our behalf. He endured to the death! We have all strength available to us to win! He resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin. We are spoiled and pampered to the point of thinking we can't make it, but we can!
What is holding you back this morning from running your race and winning? Is it the temptation to eat to cover up your emotions; to comfort you when you are depressed? Do you need to resist the temptation to sit on the couch all day in front of the TV? Get up, folks, let's get motivated to do what is right for our lives; let's move; let's make healthy life choices! Let's see ourselves as the victors that Jesus has made us! He is the commander in chief of the army of God and we are in His army! Let's move out as bold, confident winners! Let's run our race with the victory in sight! In Hebrews 11:26 it is recorded that Moses won his race of faith by looking to the reward. Are you looking to the reward, or succumbing to the temptation?
Father, this morning I am thankful that You have made the way for me to win in my race of faith! Thank You, Lord, for securing the victory for me. I know that I can run my race with endurance by looking unto You, Lord Jesus, for You are the author and finisher of my faith. You are the One who put faith in me to begin with and You are finishing it as I yield to You and follow Your directions. Thank You for making me more than a conqueror in You. Father, I pray for my Spark Friends this morning, that You would encourage them to continue running their race with the goal in sight of winning. Father, I pray that You will build them up in faith and fill them with the vision of the goal at the end of the race. Give them the stamina to continue making the right choices that leads to the victory. Thank You, Father, for giving them strength to run! Please help them to lay aside the things that are holding them back, to confess their sins to You and receive Your forgiveness and cleansing. Thank You, Lord, for holding them in the palm of Your hand. Thank You for giving them the victory! In Jesus name I pray. Amen.
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