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Monday, May 26, 2014

Serving Effectively

What if, with all sincerity, you wanted to serve your country and decided to join the military? You had stellar ideas to help your country and your enthusiasm was off the charts.  You approach your commander the first day to lay out your plans and ideas and ask for his nod. You can only imagine how well that would go over! You would find out very quickly that if you want to be effective, you would first need to understand that the orders come from above. You may have great ideas, but you must realize that there is already a plan in place.

Many of us are very enthusiastic to serve the Lord. We want to use our gifts for his glory. We have great ideas and we genuinely want to be effective. So, we may start brainstorming and dreaming on our own. We may come up with great ideas and then say, "God bless this" without first asking Him what His ideas might be.

It's important to recognize that God really does have a Plan of Action. He absolutely wants us to be effective for Him, but the first thing we must learn to do is come under His Vision.

To SERVE simply means 'to be a servant' (Merriam-Webster). If you want to serve Christ, you must become a servant of Christ. And when we fully come under His command, we will find that we ARE the most effective and our gifts and talents can be used to the FULLEST.




"...understand what the Lord wants you to do."
 Ephesians‬ ‭5:17‬ ‭NLT‬‬

http://bible.com/116/eph.5.17.nlt

Saturday, May 24, 2014

What's Your Source?

You are my refuge and my shield; your Word is my source of Hope.
(Psalms 119:114 NLT)
*********
Many people are so delighted when they read or hear encouraging words about their life and future.  The little note found in your cookie at the end of a Chinese meal.  The horoscope that you want to believe is true.  The palm reader that tells you your future is bright.

Thing is, we all long for encourag
ing words that will give us the hope we are looking for.  But, we must be careful what we choose as the source of our hope.  Horoscopes and palm readers, for example, will only tickle our ears.  There is no credibility to them nor sustenance.  They are not rooted in Truth nor Love.  They will never bring Life nor Fruit.

But, thank God that He knows how much we need to be encouraged!  He recognizes how much we need a timely word.  He is aware of our longing for Hope.  And so He has given us His Word -- not words that patronize us, but words that truly stabilize us, feed us, and fill us with true Hope.

Psalm 119:114 says, "Your Word is my source of Hope." When we have God's Word filling our hearts and minds, we will never be satisfied with anything less.  His Word is the Great Source of our encouragement and HOPE!
 

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Guarding the Garden

Years ago, we built a small garden in our backyard.  I was very new to the whole thing.  We spent money, time, and labor to make it happen.  We did everything we could think of to make it prosper -- everything except a fence.

Well, that year, we found out the hard way that our neighbors had a family of bunnies living in their backyard.  They must have thought we had set up a buffet bar for them!  We came out the next morning to find our garden stepped on, picked through and chewed.  We learned our lesson quickly and promptly put a fence around it.

Proverbs 4:23 tells us to guard our hearts with all vigilance.   What's in there is precious.  Everything that God is planting and making is in there.   It's the Garden of our lives.   How careful, then, we need to be to protect it.  If we don't, there are plenty of little thieves that are happy to stomp on it and help themselves.

**********

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. (Proverbs 4:23 NIV)

Or

Keep and guard your heart with all vigilance and above all that you guard, for out of it flow the springs of life. (Proverbs 4:23 AMP)

Or

Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life. (Proverbs 4:23 ESV)
 
 
 
 

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Hush a minute, will ya?

We, ladies, can be so funny. You get us together in a group and we can become the chatty Cathy's. (Finally, an outlet to express ourselves!) The one problem we have, though, is knowing how to take turns in the conversation.  It may start out with one person talking.  But all of us are so eager to express ourselves that sometimes we don't let the other person finish before we jump in with our thoughts. We begin speaking over them.  Our voices start to layer on top of each other until suddenly it's no longer a back and forth conversation. All we are really doing at this point is talking to ourselves!  No one is really listening to each other attentively.  No one is really catching the fullness of each person's thoughts.  

Many of us might be good at talking to God. We have lots to say. But just like the chatty Cathy's, we hardly give God an inch of freedom to speak His mind without talking over Him. Even when we ask questions, we hardly pause to wait quietly for a response.  We think we are having a conversation, but really the communication is only going one way.  

Though I think it is very important for us to be ourselves and be free to express ourselves with God, we must be aware that there is another Person in the conversation.  If we are going to hear what He has to say, we must give him the quiet space and the time to do so.  We must hush and be attentive. 

The word "listen" is used many times throughout the Bible.  It reminds me of what I say to my children sometimes when they are speaking over me and not even taking a breath to give me a chance to insert a single word.  I'll say, "Will you hush a minute and listen to me?"

Do I care about what they are saying?  Of course.  But there are things that I know they need to hear.  Words of wisdom.  Words of correction.  Words of insight and direction.  And the only way they are going to receive it is if they quiet themselves and pay attention to what I'm saying. 

Are you giving God the space to speak in your life? Are you giving Him freedom to talk just as He is giving you freedom to talk?  Remember, His ways are higher than our ways and His thoughts are higher than our thoughts.  If He has something to say, we know that we will only benefit from it.  He's simply just looking for your attentive ear. 

Thursday, May 8, 2014

The Lover

A man went out and built an elaborate home for his future wife.  Many years and much sweat went into building this gorgeous home and landscape. But the man did not mind pouring his whole self into it.  His wife was worth it all to him. 
 
When the man married his bride-to-be, he took her to the secret place that he had prepared for her. No one in all the world had seen it yet.  She was the first to lay eyes on this magnificent home. 
 
He walked her through the gardens. He held her hand along the beautiful streams. 
 
He took her inside the mansion and showed her the beautiful paintings he had made just for her and displayed them along the walls of every hallway.  
 
He took her into the gigantic library where treasures of unknown things were safely kept. 
 
Then he showed her their intimate chambers -- the bedroom decorated in fine red silk and exotic flowers.  The smell of perfume filled the air along with music so beautiful that no ear had ever heard it yet and its sound seemed almost tangible. 
 
The wife was speechless -- stunned by its magnificent beauty. 
 
"How amazing you are," she said, trying to take it all in.  "How....why....All this for us to dwell in..." she stuttered. 
 
Then the husband bent down on one knee. He looked into his beloved's eyes and said, "All of this is for you, my love.  But, one thing you must know.  Though this home is beautiful and I have poured myself into it, it means nothing to me at all without you in it. It is not the house that matters to me.  What matters to me is you."
 

Monday, May 5, 2014

Liar! Liar!

He (the devil) was a murderer from the beginning.
He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him.
When he lies, it is consistent with his character;
for he is a liar and the father of lies. (John 8:44)

*******

How many of us walk around actually giving our attention to this liar everyday?! 
We not only give him our attention, we agree with him! 
Condemning thoughts like: "You're no good. No one loves you. You're such a failure." 
Or fearful thoughts:
"How will you ever pay that bill? 
Be fearful for your children. 
Be fearful for your future". 
Even thoughts of confusion and lack of clarity. 
Thoughts that steal our peace. 
Words that tear us down.

Are those God's words for you? Absolutely not! 
God's words are consistent with His character, too. God is Love. He is for us. 
We can know instantly the voice of the devil simply because we know
that's not who our Father is.

My friend, we DO NOT have to entertain the devil's lies or agree with Him! 
Jesus is the captain of our ship now. 
The devil has no right to 'get on board' and tell us what to do,
tell us who we are
or take anything from us. 
Begin rejecting the words that you have been hearing from him. 
Then seek to replace those words with God's Word.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Coffee, Showers, and His Presence


There are certain things in my day that I know I can freely access.

COFFEE! 
"The Nectar of Life" my husband's family calls it. I know I can take my coffee cup to the coffee maker every morning, press the button, and access it. 

SHOWERS
Is there anything better than a warm shower -- especially when you really need one? I know I can turn the knobs and have a flow of warm H2O when I need it.

Both of these things pour out for me when I want them and need them. I access them daily. I reach for them and they are there.

It's a picture to me of the Love of God. I awake each morning and turn to Him. I'm reminded that He's still with me. I'm reminded that He never left. Even through the darkest part of the night, He remained by my side. I'm reminded that He is accessible. I don't have to physically go somewhere special to encounter Him. He is there. In fact, He is in me.  

And so I take my 'cup' and let His 'Nectar of Life' fill my emptiness. I reach for the 'knobs' and let His Water flow over me. I'm reminded again of this simple fact: He will never leave me. He will never forsake me. His Love goes on and on for me. His Love will never walk out. His Love will never dry up. His Love is purposeful over me. His Love remains.