What kind of David are You?

“You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the LORD Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 46 This day the LORD will deliver you into my hands… 1 Samuel 17: 45-46

 

0005-smooth-stones CUT VERSIONWhere are the heroes?

Where are the warriors?

Where are the young boys who so believe in God that they would stare down the mighty giants in our land, unafraid?  Where are they, and where are we? In our faith journey, I mean?

Are we young Davids, newly arrived at the hillside battle and confused about what is going on with the enemy in the valley below?

Are we hopeful Davids, listening as a promise is made to reward anyone brave enough to step forward and fight for their Lord?

Are we Davids who dream of victory as we search the creek bed for five perfect stones?

Have we truly peeled off the heavy armor of this world (an armor that “might” protect us in a pinch, but is no way assured), or are we Davids who prefer to don a cloak of grace and a yoke that is light?

Which David are you?

David went to the battle young, inexperienced, minimized, and uninformed. He left as one acclaimed, honored, esteemed, and rewarded. How did that happen? What made the difference?

The secret to David’s success was belief in action!

Ask yourself this:  Do I believe that God can take the little resources I have and use them to accomplish giant-sized victories in my life?

If you do, its time to act.

Today, let’s show up, size up our opponent from God’s perspective, and make sure our giants know we serve the God of sling shots and smooth rocks.

No longer afraid, we proclaim:  Our God reigns! 

Father, help us to fear nothing today so much as space between you and us as we face the mocking, jeering, and faithless giants of our land. May You receive honor and glory and praise as we set about the battle. Watch over us, we pray.  Amen.

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Male Friends Matter!

000men suicides

I recently read a convicting write-up about the lack of close friendships among men.  With all that society puts on them, more than a few men are struggling to maintain balance in their lives. Take a look at these statistics:

The Center for Disease Control says almost 1 in 5 men will meet the criteria for alcohol dependence at some point in their life (CDC). A National Survey on Drug Use found that 1 in 10 men reported using illegal drugs in the last month (Survey). Men make up 75-80% of violent offenders in the United States (DOJ), and commit 83% of spousal murders (ABA). The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention says 77.9% of all suicides in 2013 were male (AFSP).

A study done by the University of Arizona and Duke University asked men how many close friends they had. The most common response was zero (Social Isolation).

If that’s not a wake-up call for our churches, I don’t know what is!

Men need friends.

Men need support.

Men need someone they can talk to who understand male needs.

Men need other men!!!

As the mom of sons and the wife of a veteran who suffers with PTSD, this information matters to me. Whether or not my men have men to talk to and gain advice and support from, matters to me.

The Good News: Encouragement is available to guys who seek God through friendships with other men. Take for example, Jonathan, son of Saul and heir apparent to the throne of Israel.  The Bible says: Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself. Jonathan took off the robe he was wearing and gave it to David, along with his tunic, and even his sword, his bow and his belt.  1 Samuel 18:3-4

That’s friendship.  Jonathan found the kind of male friend and role model he needed in David, and David found a true friend in Jonathan–loving, loyal, and fiercely protective.

Today, I would ask you to pray for the men you know who are struggling.

Maybe they are battling substance abuse today.

Maybe their marriage is on rocky ground.

Maybe they’ve thought about ending it all, or are struggling with depression during the holidays.

Maybe something happened this week that took the wind out of their sails.

They could be almost totally depleted of hope, because of the actions and behaviors of others.

Maybe they don’t have a friend, a male friend they can confide in, turn to, or look to for support.

Maybe God wants You to be that friend he needs.  Will you do it, will you reach out to a guy who could use a good friend?

Together, we get better!!!

What important changes have you seen manifested in the lives of your friends who’ve made it a habit to get-together with the guys?  What was the most impressive male bounding thing you ever witnessed?

For more on male friends and the support they provide, check out Christine’s blog at: Be Brave!

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Heart Moves

000hearts…everyone whose heart God had moved—prepared to go up and build the house of the LORD in Jerusalem. All their neighbors assisted them with articles of silver and gold, with goods and livestock, and with valuable gifts, in addition to all the freewill offerings. Ezra 1:5-6

My devotions this morning took me to Ezra 1, where I read about the moving of hearts by God’s will and how the Jewish people were physically moved by donations used to do His work. Twice, in the early parts of that chapter, Ezra talks about God’s power to move hearts.

I love that!

God has the power to move hearts, even stubborn hearts, in the direction He wants them to go.

We know from reading the Bible that God is our powerful Creator and King.

We know He rules over life and death.

We know He changes the fortunes of others with the flick of his lil finger.

We know nothing is impossible for God!

He beckons, and angels fly.

He jostles, and babies burst forth.

He smiles, and the whole of the world feels warmer.

He curses, and… well, we won’t go there today.

God’s Message speaks change into human hearts–miraculous change that begins inside of people. Inside, because only God has the power to move hearts. I can do a lot of things that affect conditions on the outside of my life, my home, my work, and even my church, but changing hearts, that’s something only God can do.

Today, if you need a change of heart, call out to our loving Savior. He knows when, where, and how to change human hearts and save struggling souls. You can trust Him to make your circumstances better, as He did for all those called to return to Jerusalem.

Hallelujah, what a Savior!!!

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If You’re Happy and You Know It…

000joy_fruitsosp[They] wept aloud when they saw the foundation of this temple being laid, while many others shouted for joy.  No one could distinguish the sound of the shouts of joy from the sound of weeping, because the people made so much noise. And the sound was heard far away.  Ezra 3:12-13

Have you ever been so full of joy that tears flowed down your cheeks?

Me, too. 

I once had a friend tell me that tears are a language God understands.  I think she got that from a song, although I don’t know what song, but it rang true with me and I have always remembered it. Tears, whether they are shed out of sorrow or out of joy, are a language God clearly understands.

We know from studying God’s Word that when we are sad, He is saddened.  Conversely, when we are joyous with good reason, God rejoices with us.  He cares for what concerns us, and our Lord is always, always, always happy to see our lives overflowing with joy.

God is with us in our joy!

Today, let’s thank God for the opportunity to experience times of joy in our lives.

Let’s thank Him for the chance to rejoice with others in the body of Christ.

Let’s exalt Him for the joy that he and His Son, Jesus, and the indwelling Holy Ghost have brought to our lives.

And let’s remember that when we share our Joy with others, that joyful act has the potential to change their eternal destinies.

No kidding.  Joy can reshape a broken life!

Pain is ours for a moment, but joy comes in the morning.

Today, let’s be people of joy, as we lift holy hands in celebration of our Joy Maker–our King and Savior, the only Lord Almighty.   May He always reign in our lives!!!

When have you experienced tears of joy that freely ran down your face?  When have you done something that brought another great relief and joy?

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His Love Endures Forever

000His loveThis morning’s devotions took me to Psalm 136, and what a rich time of blessing I had in those few moments when I remembered God through this psalm.

Psalm 136 speaks of the wonder of God, the majesty of his Plan, the work of His hands, and the hard places of life that exist for those who attempt to thwart Him.  It reminds me of Ann Voskamp and her book, One Thousands Gifts.  Have you read it?

Good book, but a hard, hard read, as Ann speaks in her own powerful voice about the need to bless God in all areas of our life, but most of all in the HARD.

The HARD, according to Ann, is that space and time in life when we don’t understand what God is doing.

We don’t understand why He’s doing it.

We don’t understand what purposes it will serve.

We don’t understand, and pain accompanies our confusion.

Psalm 136 talks about the wonder of our Great God, but it also speaks to the demise of those who stand in opposition to His work.

Today, I pray we all have an appreciation for how important it is to be on the right side of issues that arise in our lives.

It’s important to be on the right side of God’s divide. 

It’s important to listen, to obey, and to follow Him wherever He leads.

God is the most important thing! 

Hallelujah, what a Savior!!!!

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Devotional-November 5 2015

000brother 1
Having a lot of friends doesn’t shield any of us from misfortune, we know this, but we also understand that tough times don’t seem so tough when we go through them with a loyal and trusted friend.

Question: How wide is your friend circle these days?

Nothing is solved by doing nothing, and friendships like everything else, dwindle without attention, so let’s give them our attention right now.

Think Friendship, then read on…
Today, let’s praise God for the close friends he’s brought into our lives.

Let’s also ask him to make us a “friend, closer than a brother/sister” for someone else. I don’t know about you, but I have room for improvement in the friendship department, so I’m beginning the journey with prayer and meditation.

I’m asking God to show me what a good friend looks like.

I’m asking Him to improve my serve with regards to my friends.

I’m pleading with Him to make me a better person; a better friend, from the inside out.

I can’t do this alone. The job is just too big!

CS Lewis said: “True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.”

I think that same principle applies to friendship. I need to focus less on my needs, and more on what I can do for others. That is the way to escape self obsession and improve my serve.

Today, I’m not focusing on me alone, but on my friends, asking God to bless them with many blessings.

Jesus said that in this world people would the Christians by their love for one another.

Today, let’s show our friends He was right, especially those friend who are still living outside the kingdom walls.
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Just for Today

Just for today, I will be unafraid. Especially I will not be afraid to enjoy what is beautiful…  Anonymous

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.  Philippians 4:8 

In the circles I travel there is a reading that we often refer to entitled, Just For Today.

Have you heard of it? 
The value of  a Just for Today kinda mindset is that it asks me to practice a form of gratitude that shuns worry and fosters renewed appreciation for all the good things in life that God wants me to enjoy.

The genius of Just for Today is that it asks me to practice this discipline for one day only.

24 lil hours, that’s all!
Eighteen lil hours, if you’re like me and are not planning to be consciously reckoning with your world the whole day/night long.
Here is a lil exercise in Just for Today thinking, for those who want to stretch their faith muscle today.

Just for today: concentrate on what is beautiful.  Instead of worrying, embrace a godly confidence in prayer, and your Lord’s ability to meet your needs.  In addition to his mindset and commitment, provide physical evidence of today’s decision by smiling more, hugging a lil longer, and reaching out to others with stories of faith, strength, and victory!

Just for today: focus on what is right in the world, instead of listening to hours of bad news or discouraging reports.  Believe God is for you!

If you are so inclined, raise holy hands in thanks and praise of Him, caring little about what you lack, if you can even remember that sorta stuff after the blessing you’re gonna receive from putting God first.

Just for today, bask in the joy and assurance you have as God’s son or daughter!  Remember, there are no grandchildren in eternity. Only sons and daughters of the high King of Heaven. That means you have a set at the big kids table at the feast to come.  Praise God for that!

Remember that catchy chorus…

He is with us, He is with us, always, always!

He is with us, He is with us, always, always!
The song goes on to say:Our faith is sealed
Our hope is real
Come what may
We’re not afraidWe can trust our God, always, always
We can trust our God, always, always!!!

Today and every day, let’s celebrate our Lord, and let’s give Him praise!!!!

Just for today…[you fill in the blank, while you listen to the song].

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A Sometimes Confusing Gift

000understading HS

After several days of visiting, a prophet from Judea by the name of Agabus came down to see us. He went right up to Paul, took Paul’s belt, and, in a dramatic gesture, tied himself up, hands and feet. He said, “This is what the Holy Spirit says: The Jews in Jerusalem are going to tie up the man who owns this belt just like this and hand him over to godless unbelievers.”

When we heard that, we and everyone there that day begged Paul not to be stubborn and persist in going to Jerusalem. But Paul wouldn’t budge: “Why all this hysteria? Why do you insist on making a scene and making it even harder for me? You’re looking at this backward. The issue in Jerusalem is not what they do to me, whether arrest or murder, but what the Master Jesus does through my obedience. Can’t you see that?”

We saw that we weren’t making even a dent in his resolve, and gave up. “It’s in God’s hands now,” we said. “Master, you handle it.” Acts 21: 11-14

This last Sunday, I and a bunch of like-minded believers took up conversation for the purpose of discussing the sometimes confusing gift of Spirit-filled prophesy. I say sometimes confusing, because sometimes sorting out what is of God and what is of men is a difficult process.

What God wants for his children is clarity, I believe that, but when His message comes through frail humanity, clarity is sometimes lost in translation.

Here is what we learned from our study in Acts 21 on Sunday:

When a prophet named Agabus came down to Caesarea with a message for Brother Paul, he brought with him a clear understanding of the tinder box that was ancient Jerusalem. This prophet knew that the city was a hot spot of spiritual and religious controversy. Furthermore, he understood that factions within the Jewish community. Some refused to accept that Jesus was Messiah, while many thousands of others did believe, but still also cherished their Jewish way of life and the Law of Moses.  Because the unbelieving saw the believers as heretics of the worst degree, and Paul the worst of the worst, the Holy City had become a hostile environment for Paul’s contingent of converted Jews, Greeks, and Christian Gentiles.

Agabus knew the city was struggling in other ways, as well.  He knew, for instance, that assassins were active in and around the Temple area. He knew that members of the Jewish aristocracy sympathetic to Roman rule were being murdered. He knew crescent-shaped daggers had become the weapon of choice for heavily robed Hebrew nationalists, and he knew that instability existed within the ranks of Roman officials charged with keeping Jerusalem quiet, riot-free, and willing to pay her tax tributes to Caesar.

Those taxes helped continue Caesar’s oppression over Israel, Agabus knew this.

It is with this wealth of knowledge and a willingness to serve God that Agabus prophesied over Paul the same message others had relayed previously; namely: If you go to Jerusalem danger, persecution, and possible death await you there.

The Holy Spirit within had confirmed for Paul that this message was true. At some point, ministry for Paul became a mission fraught with danger and death, and still the Apostle would not waiver in his determination to finish his race and go in the direction that God’s holy finger pointed.

Note: Paul was not confused about what he needed to do to answer God’s call on his life and obey the Lord, Jesus.

Paul’s followers, well, they had a little less clarity concerning his calling.

What does all this mean for believers today?

1. That we need to lean in to God to hear clearly what he is saying to us at any given time, but especially when what he tells us is that obedience could mean suffering and persecution for us and/or those around us.

2. Once we have heard clearly what God wants us to do, we need to use that information to carefully sift through what others are suggesting we ought to do.

We need to ask ourselves, what motive does God have for saying what he is saying to me right now? Then we need to ask the same question about our fellows—what motives do they have as they offer their advice? The truth for us probably lies somewhere in the middle, in a place only the Holy Ghost can help us gain access to and benefit from.

Today, let’s pray for wisdom and discernment that we might understand clearly God’s message and mission for us, remembering that the safest place for any Christian to be, is in the center of God’s will.

Who has helped you sift through the confusing parts of your past? How do you handle the input you get from well-meaning Christians who don’t understand what God is asking of you?

 

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Not by Force

Not by force nor by strength, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. Zechariah 4:6

How is it that we find victory in this life?

God says the only way is by depending on His Spirit to guide us.

The voice of the world says, “Listen to me. Depend on governments I establish. Be like everyone else. Forget about God. You can see me, experience me, join me. Move over here, and listen to me!”

Pipe down World!

The world sings a convincing song many days, but as children of the Great and Mighty One, we need to turn the volume down on that noise.

Instead, we need to learn God’s song of grace.

We need to sing along with the music of forgiveness; attune our ears to lyrics that bring peace. We need to choose themes that include assurance and conviction and surrender to our King.

He’s got our back, all the time!

The world says: Push harder, work longer, be more determined.

God says that will never make you a winner.

Winning with God means we’ve followed His plan to the finish line.

Today, let’s ask Papa God to fill us with understanding of His victory song.

Let’s ask Him to confirm His plan for our lives.

Let’s lean on Him to show us the way.

Let’s rest from our worries by putting our lives in His capable hands.

Let’s let “Victory in Jesus” be our all day, all week, all year motto.

When have you found God’s plan to be a better plan than your plan? When has singing a new song made all the difference in your life?

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The Prophet Speaks…

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Joshua, standing before the angel, was dressed in dirty clothes. The angel spoke to his attendants, “Get him out of those filthy clothes,” and then said to Joshua, “Look, I’ve stripped you of your sin and dressed you up in clean clothes.”

I spoke up and said, “How about a clean new turban for his head also?” And they did it—put a clean new turban on his head. Then they finished dressing him, with GOD’s Angel looking on.

GOD’s Angel then charged Joshua, “Orders from GOD-of-the-Angel-Armies: ‘If you live the way I tell you and remain obedient in my service, then you’ll make the decisions around here and oversee my affairs. And all my attendants standing here will be at your service. Zechariah 3:4-7

I don’t know about you, but I love this reading from the Prophet Zechariah, provided by the Message Bible translators.

Why do I like it so much? I’ll tell you.

First, it talks about stripping away our dirty, dirty sins. Yay! I love that they can be completely gone because of Jesus’ sacrifice for us.

It also speaks of God choosing Israel, when the Accuser wants him to make another choice.  Remember: As wild branches grafted in, that promise is for US.

This text refers to God as “The God of Angel Armies”. What an image that title paints on the walls of my mind.

Finally, it makes a promise that if we are obedient with the small things, God will give us great things to do in his forever kingdom.

This passage is encouraging and rightly so, for God has great things in store for all those who will listen to Him, lean in for further instructions, use the puny strength they have for his purpose, and draw from His Mighty Strength to “get ‘er done.”

I love that!!!

We have the full strength and glory of God’s might and promise looming over us at any given moment in time.  All we have to do to access it is grab it. That’s not easy, but it is simple.

Listen to God.

Follow His lead.

Be courageous in His service.

Allow His strength to flow through you.

Hallelujah, what a Savior!!!

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