Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Standing Up

When they had departed from him (for they left him very sick), his own servants conspired against him because of the blood of the son of Jehoiada the priest, and murdered him on his bed. So he died, and they buried him in the city of David, but they did not bury him in the tombs of the kings. 26 Now these are those who conspired against him: Zabad the son of Shimeath the Ammonitess, and Jehozabad the son of Shimrith the Moabitess. 2 Chron 24:25-26 (NASB) Joash was responsible for the death of the prophet who spoke against his evil deeds. But, there was not a single Judahite who stood up and was willing to avenge the death of the prophet! Instead we find the sons of two foreign women. Their fathers are not even mentioned, and we have no idea if there was even any Israelite blood running through their veins. Yet they were the ones to stand and avenge the death of the prophet of the Lord. Last night Doug showed me an article about an atheist who has stated that the only true solution for Africa is not more social reforms but the true heart change that can only be brought about by a relationship with God! I am convicted and challenged that oftentimes I am not the one standing up for my faith or for the things of God. Many times the people who really have no reason to put forward the message of my Savior are the loudest voices in His favor. Where am I? Why am I not standing up and taking action? I must be! I must take my stand and be bold for my Savior. It is my job, for I am His child.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Words of Encouragement

But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called "Today," so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. Heb 3:13 (NASB) I have been greatly convicted of the need to be more "vocal" in my encouragement of others. When I know of a need, I am very quick to pray. Anyone can be assured of my prayers, that I guarantee! I find great delight in that. I love being behind the scenes, lifting people up and then seeing the answers to prayer and being able to rejoice in that. I'm not a call, write a note, sit with you kind of person. If I can shoot you a quick email, I probably will. Beyond that, though, I tend to stand back and just pray. God has been challenging me that I am not interacting with others as I should. When I pray for someone, that person needs to be told! If there is something specific that the Lord has laid on someone's heart to pray for me, and I'm seeing God work in that way, it is a huge boost to my faith to be told that someone was praying in that direction. I must do that for other people! I must verbalize the encouragement. That means stepping out of my comfort zone in a huge way to make phone calls and write notes at the very least. Sometimes it means going to someone. I am challenged to put social interaction behind my prayers.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Go to Him First

I don't have a specific verse this morning. Just read the second half of 2 Chronicles, and I think you can probably discern where a lot of my conviction and challenge is coming from right now. When faced with a challenge, I'm seeing the difference between seeking God first and acting or choosing other sources of wisdom first. God always works when we seek Him, no matter when it is, but His intervention is so much more amazing and powerful if we just seek Him first. And, when we go to Him before making any other decision, there is no rebuke. I am, at this moment, in a situation where I need to trust Him in this way. Are there ways I can try to solve this problem on my own? Yes, but once I've solved the immediate problem, there is still the long-term issue that has to be dealt with - an issue only He can ultimately solve. I must admit that I've gone over the "we can do this or this" solutions, but there is still a great deal of anxiety with those. Ultimately, my challenge is to realize that with the problem in His hands, I have so much more peace! So, I am challenged to make sure that I don't delve into human solutions first, but instead seek God and His wisdom and direction first. When I do that, it's up to Him to choose whether He allows it to be handled in a totally miraculous way or in a perfectly practical manner.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

He Will Strengthen Me

For the eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His. 2 Chron 16:9a (NASB) These words were spoken to Asa, king of Judah, after he chose to rely on the king of Aram for support instead of God. I've probably used this verse before, either on this blog or the thoughts blog, but it struck me again today, and I can't ignore it. There's more to the verse... You have acted foolishly in this. Indeed, from now on you will surely have wars. 2 Chron 16:9b The Lord longs to strengthen us, but we look so many other places for our strength and support. I can't imagine why! Just as the Lord had strengthened Asa to conquer armies that should have massively overwhelmed his own, so the Lord could have strengthened him to conquer his most recent threat - the king of Israel. In the same way, I often rely on the Lord through one thing, but then falter in the next. The result is that I see great victory when I rely on Him, but failure in the smallest issue that I try to solve myself or with the world's help. I am challenged to make sure that I do not falter. I must keep my heart completely His, for He is just waiting to strengthen me. What a treasure!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Friend of God vs Slave of this World

"But they will become his slaves so that they may learn the difference between My service and the service of the kingdoms of the countries." 2 Chron 12:8 (NASB) "No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you. John 15:15 (NASB) The first verse is found in one of the many stories of the rebellious kings of Judah. In this particular story, Rehoboam had decided to forsake the Lord and lead the people of Judah in that direction, so the Lord sent Shishak of Egypt to conquer Judah. Then Rehoboam and the people acknowledged the Lord, so He determined to not destroy them completely. He did, however, allow the people of Judah to become of the slaves of Shishak. That is a very brief overview of the politics of Judah at the time, but it's very interesting when compared to John 15:15. The truth of the matter is that God does not want us to be enslaved to anyone or anything in this world. There is a reason we are instructed to not worry, not covet, and to love instead of hate. Worrying, coveting, and hating, among many other things, enslave us to the prince of this world and the things of this world. How many times does our Father look down and long to see us in His service where He calls us His friends and reveals to us His very own thoughts? How many times does He instead allow us to see what it's like to be in bondage to our worry and stress? I will be honest - I am not going to abandon following the Lord like the Judahites did. I am convinced, as I have been for the last 25+ years, that there is nothing for me apart from my Lord. But, even so, I see the battle - as Paul did - between the Spirit within me and my flesh. I do succumb to worry, stress, anger, frustration, envy, and so much more. I am challenged, in light of this, to acknowledge quickly when those things begin to come over me and to actively fight them. I do not want to be in their service. I want to be in the service of my King, the One who does not call me His slave, but rather calls me friend.

Thursday, December 18, 2008


Listen, O my people, to my instruction; incline your ears to the words of my mouth. Psalms 78:1 (NASB) This morning the thought occurred to me that I truly do desire to seek the Lord's wisdom and direction. I ask Him daily to speak to me. But, I wonder, how often to I walk away without truly listening? Am I like my daughter who asks a question only to ignore the answer? I am challenged today to make sure I listen to His voice, whether it be an unsolicited word or an answer to my question. I must stop and truly listen!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Several Thoughts

For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, 13 which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words. 1 Cor 2:11-13 (NASB) (I selected these primary verses in 1 Cor 2, but I would recommend reading the whole chapter - if not more!) I have been incredibly struck this morning by three separate but interrelating thoughts. The first one is a phrase that tends to get kicked around every year around this time...Jesus is the Reason for the Season. Nice, catchy little phrase, but very limiting. Jesus isn't just the Reason for Christmas - Jesus is the Reason, period. He is - or at least He should be - my reason for absolutely everything I do (see 1 Cor 10:31). As I was mulling over that thought, I began to read 2 Cor 2. I was really focusing around verse 14 for my devotional reading, but I got caught up in the whole chapter. The significance of having the Spirit of God dwelling within me - the Spirit which knows the very thoughts of God and reveals them to me! - is overwhelming. If I flounder along in my thoughts and actions, it's because I am not surrendering to that Spirit which is within me. I have no excuse for following the ways of this world, other than that I squelch the Spirit. May it never be! May I be disciplined to do everything according to that Spirit within me. Then I read a blog post by a former pastor's wife this morning. I challenge you to click on the link and read it as well. I am challenged to not be a "typical" Christian. I don't answer to my denomination, my church, or anyone's concept of what a Christian should be. I answer to God - to His directions outlined through Scripture. I am challenged to be the Christian He has instructed me to be. Essentially, my challenge today is hard to define, so read the Scripture and the blog post and discern for yourself what the challenge might be. Think how our lives could be revolutionized to truly live the way Christians are intended to live!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The FULL Armor

Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. 14 Stand firm therefore, HAVING GIRDED YOUR LOINS WITH TRUTH, and HAVING PUT ON THE BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS, 15 and having shod YOUR FEET WITH THE PREPARATION OF THE GOSPEL OF PEACE; 16 in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 And take THE HELMET OF SALVATION, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Eph 6:13-17 (NASB) I have realized that some days I go to put on my armor, but I don't get the full armor put on. I might forget to pick up that shield some days. Other days I might leave my sword behind. Scripture includes the word "full" for a reason - we do have a temptation to do it halfway sometimes. I am challenged to make sure I have every piece of my armor put on properly as I face the day. That is the only way I will be able to stand firm and be fully equipped to face what this fallen world will throw my way.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Move Over

"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly." John 10:10 (NASB) "If we will but let our God and Father work his will with us, there can be no limit to his enlargement of our existence, to the flood of life with which he will overflow our consciousness. We have no conecption of what life might be, of how vast the consciousness of which we could be made capable." George MacDonald There is a depth of existence, the surface of which I occasionally scratch. I read through Scripture and biographies of people who were passionately in love with our Lord, and I see an abundance of life that stretches through every experience and emotion. That's what I long for. But, I know there is a great deal of "me" that has to get out of the way first. In order to receive the abundant life that Jesus talks about, I must forego my life. I am so greatly challenged this morning to get out of the way. Over the past few days my family has not seen Christ - they have seen me, and I have not been pretty. That's not abundant life, for myself or for those I love. I must get out of the way, permanently.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Sweeter than Honey

The law of the LORD is perfect , restoring the soul; The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. The precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; The judgments of the LORD are true; they are righteous altogether. They are more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold; Sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb. Moreover, by them Your servant is warned; In keeping them there is great reward.

Psalms 19:7-11 (NASB)

The Word of the Lord has everything I need. I am reminded and challenged to hide it in my heart, to utilize it for daily life, and to allow it to be my connection to my amazing Father. He gave it to me that I may know Him intimately, and it is not just a bunch of words. It is Life. Sometimes I just have to be reminded of that.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Word

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. Psalms 119:105 (NASB) When I was in college I took a class called Biblical Interpretation. I can remember the assignments. "Take this passage/verse and write 20 facts about it." It didn't matter what the facts were. They didn't have to be spiritual depth facts - just information. Anything that made us truly look at the passage. We brought the homework back to the next class session only to be told to take it and do it all again, not repeating any facts. On the one hand, I remember it being a pretty difficult challenge that, at times, I'd rather not have to attempt. On the other hand, though, the challenge opened my eyes to things in those verses and passages that I had never noticed before. It was a revolution in reading the Word. This morning I was complaining a bit to the Lord. I have been tired and unmotivated to get up in the mornings, which has put a little strain on my times with my Savior - primarily because my choices have left me to spend that time with Him while surrounded by loud, demanding children! I realized, deep in, that I have temporarily lost my passion to be with my Lord. I am not truly relishing starting the day in total focus and intimacy with Him that will carry on through the busyness of the day. So, what reason is there for removing myself from the warmth and coziness of my bed? That is a lengthier background than usual for the challenge, but it was necessary to explain how the Lord replied to my complaints this morning. He reminded me that I was lazy. Not necessarily in the "I won't do any work" sense of the word, but in the "I won't truly take the time to dig deep into anything" sense. If the Word of God is to truly be a lamp to my feet and a light to my path - if I am truly to know the passion and drive to get up in the mornings just to dig into that Word because I truly hunger for it - then I must dredge up a few of those Bib. Interp. principles and truly dig into the Word of God. That means I've got to get up on time. Yep, I'm challenged today to truly get back into the Word. Even if it means limiting my reading to one verse so I actually have time to concentrate before the events of the day must begin, then so be it. Laziness must be put aside. A passion must be renewed. Lord, help me fall in love with You again such that Your Word and time with You are the things that make me want to jump out of bed every morning!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near . Phil 4:4-5 (NASB) It seems that I regularly need to be reminded to rejoice. I'll be doing well, and then I'll start to slack off. Then I'll have a rotten day - like yesterday. Many things seemed to go wrong from the get-go. I got up late, struggled with a "quiet" time because of the chaos of not being able to have that time alone with the Lord before the kids were up, didn't get as much done in the morning as I'd hoped, had a rough time in school with Olivia and her math, and then messed up an ornament we'd spent a good deal of time making. Stress piled up and I was frustrated. I did not rejoice yesterday. As I got up this morning (a little earlier, thankfully!), I was asking the Lord to show me how to make today better than yesterday. He reminded me that it's greatly in my attitude. Junk will show up throughout the course of a day, but how I face it determines how smoothly the junk is turned into blessing. So, today I'm reminded to accept the challenge to rejoice always. Oh, and the gentle spirit thing? Yeah, well, that wasn't very evident yesterday either - working on that one, too!

Monday, December 8, 2008


'I know your deeds and your toil and perseverance , and that you cannot tolerate evil men, and you put to the test those who call themselves apostles, and they are not, and you found them to be false; 3 and you have perseverance and have endured for My name's sake, and have not grown weary. 4 'But I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Rev 2:2-4 (NASB) Whether we want to admit it or not, the outward expression of our Christianity is heavily influenced by our culture. Those of you who have traveled at all have probably seen this as you've observed the worship and daily expression of the faith of other cultures. American Christianity is greatly a works-based Christianity. We love the book of James and the idea of showing our faith through our works. Unfortunately, in making sure our works and actions reflect our faith, we often get caught up in the works rather than in the motivation from which the works should naturally flow. This passage in Revelation jumped out at me over the weekend, and as I have mulled over it I'm reminded of many other passages, such as 1 Corinthians 13 and John 14:15 where we are explicitly reminded that the motivation for all we do must be love. I am a task-oriented person. I am also a "do-right" person. I frequently want to do the right thing simply because the right thing is what I'm supposed to do. It appeals to my sense of morality, something that I've had for as long as I can remember. If I think anyone would think of something as wrong, I don't want to do it - even if it's an okay thing in my own mind. I am challenged to maintain my right choices, but to reevaluate my motivation. Am I acting simply out of that sense of morality and duty, or am I acting out of a passionate love for my Savior that manifests itself in my daily behavior? If I'm truly doing it out of love, then it won't even seem like work - it will be an outpouring of my love for my amazing Master. It will be an attempt to show the world, in a miniscule way, how much I love my Lord.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Words of the Wise

Then Pharaoh said to his servants, "Can we find a man like this, in whom is a divine spirit?" Gen 41:38 (NASB) Pharaoh and his advisors were in the dark. They were baffled by the wisdom and discernment of Joseph because their gods never truly provided that wisdom or discernment. In Joseph they saw a man who truly did have the attention of some divine being. They didn't understand God or his love for His children, but they knew Joseph was different. Many in our society today stand in high positions of power and authority and must uphold an image of wisdom and discernment. But the truth is that they are in the dark. They do not received wisdom from any of their gods. When they see people in whom there is true wisdom, they are amazed. Unfortunately, as Christians we spend more time complaining about the world's immoral behavior than we do living lives that show the wisdom and discernment that come only from our amazing God. I am challenged to be sensitive to the voice of the Lord. I am challenged to stand in this world as the light that Christ commanded me to be. There is a "divine spirit" in me - the Holy Spirit, God Himself - and the world needs His wisdom. I am a vessel through which that wisdom can flow. God's Truth will be proclaimed in this world, of that I am certain. My obedience or lack thereof, in the long run, is not going to stop His message. But, the truth of the matter is that I can refuse to be a vessel through which that message flows. I desire to be like Joseph. No, I don't want to be second in command of a powerful nation. What I do want is for people to see that I am connected to Someone who can truly answer their questions - not that I can do it, but that there is One who is in me who CAN do it. That is my challenge.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


He gives strength to the weary, And to him who lacks might He increases power. Isaiah 40:29 (NASB) I woke up this morning feeling less than well. I have the typical sinus pressure and gunk of this time of year, and I would rather be in bed right now. I don't want to face this day. I don't want to deal with responsibilities. Typically when I feel this way, I am not a very fun person to be around. I barely have what I need to deal with the basic aspects of functionality, and I don't need anything or anyone to add to my distress. That's a pretty selfish way to spend this day! God promises strength to the weary. If I don't feel well and don't have much in me, then maybe I need to back off of relying on what I have and step up in relying on what He has to give. He has promised to give me strength. He has promised to supply all my needs. He has promised to be everything I need. All I have to do is receive. I have to determine that I will not be selfish and holed up in my little pity party. I will accept the strength and provision He is offering. My challenge today is to put aside my own idea of how my day is going to be because of my physical condition and instead accept God's offer of strength and sustenance.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them. Heb 11:16 (NASB) As a very visual person, I often cling to what I can see. The unknown is a bit terrifying to me, and often through my life that has included the unknown of spiritual things, including an eternity in the presence of Almighty God. But, the more I grow, the more I see that as long as all of my desires lie in what is here on this earth, no matter how noble, I will continue to be stunted in my growth. My desires must lie in longing for the things of God, both what He presents for my growth in this life and what He is preparing for me in eternity. The people represented in the chapter of faith had figured out that concept. They knew that they must long for something more than what they could see here in this life. As a result, God was not ashamed to be their God and to call them His people. I long for the same thing to be said of me. I am challenged to desire a better country, a heavenly one, and all that is related to it. I am challenged to no longer crave things of this life - I desire to only utilize the things of this world inasmuch as they draw me closer to the better country for which I am destined. I also want to share a quote. I have read Oswald Chambers off and on for years, and even though I don't always agree with his perspectives and ideas, I am also frequently struck by the power of some of his words. This quote greatly stood out to me today... "I am called to live in perfect relation to God so that my life produces a longing after God in other lives, not admiration for myself." (My Utmost for His Highest, Dec 2) This is my truest longing.

Monday, December 1, 2008

God First

"You shall have no other gods before Me. Ex 20:3 (NASB) Over the past week I have known God's presence in a beautiful way. He has been in everything, and He has shown Himself in every way. It has been a joy to be in His presence. But, I have to confess that I have not worked to make sure He was first. Holidays mean snuggling in bed until the kids wake up and then having them join us for some fun, sweet snuggles. Holidays mean a divergence from the normal schedule and routines of life. Holidays mean less discipline. So, frequently, holidays mean that I let my focus be distracted. I have noticed a greater agitation in myself as I've gone through my days. I've noticed that even though I have seen and experienced Him in so many ways, I have not necessarily been able to draw as easily on His strength and peace. I have let other things have a higher place in the use of my time, my thoughts, and my energies. So, I'm challenged today as we start December. I'm challenged to make my "days off" be days off from the alarm, from the normal routine off the day, but not from making sure I have no other gods before Him. I am challenged to have no other gods, period. I am challenged to make sure He's not just first - I must make sure He's everything.