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Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Your Ship Of Opportunity

No one had eaten for a long time. Finally, Paul called the crew together and said, “Men, you should have listened to me in the first place and not left Crete. You would have avoided all this damage and loss. But take courage! None of you will lose your lives, even though the ship will go down. For last night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve stood beside me, and he said, ‘Don’t be afraid, Paul, for you will surely stand trial before Caesar! What’s more, God in his goodness has granted safety to everyone sailing with you.’ So take courage! For I believe God. It will be just as he said. But we will be shipwrecked on an island.”

‭‭Acts of the Apostles‬ ‭27:21-26‬ ‭NLT‬‬
http://bible.com/116/act.27.21-26.nlt

***

What a ship to be on. Full of unbelievers. Full of fools. They didn't heed Paul's advice not to sail, and sure enough they all found themselves in trouble. They could have all gone down. But someone was on board who trusted God. Someone who was praying. Someone who had yielded their life to God -- Paul. And in that moment of crisis, God not only answered Paul's prayer to protect him, God went a step further in His goodness and generosity and decided to spare everyone on board. EVERYONE.

All believers have a 'ship' they are sailing in, and the ships are rarely filled with just believers. God places each of us in close proximity to those that do not know Him. And because we live in a fallen world, our ships often hit troubled waters. But it's in those moments that we get the opportunity, like Paul did, to show those on board the love, encouragement, and Grace of God. 

What 'ship' are you on today? Who are you in close proximity with that God would want to bless through you? What Godly wisdom can you offer the 'crew'? What encouragement can you offer to those on board? WHAT LIVES CAN BE SAVED on the ship because you are living in relationship with God?

God puts us all on ships. Do you see the opportunities at hand?

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Find His Pace, Feel His Rhythm, Let Him Lead


Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.
Galatians 5:25 NIV

or another version:

Since we are living by the Spirit,
let us follow the Spirit's leading in every part of our lives.
Galations 5:25 NLT

Thankfully, we do not walk this Christian life alone. If you have asked Jesus into your life/heart and asked Him to forgive you personally for your sins, He now lives in you. The Spirit of God, (yes, God, Himself) is now with you all the time. None of us are orphans. None of us have been abandoned -- and we never will.

But the Bible tells us that we are not only to walk with Him, we are to stay IN STEP with Him. This makes me think of my husband and I.

My husband walks faster than me. His stride is bigger. His legs are stronger. We both love to walk but it can get tricky when we try taking a walk together. I spend the whole time trying to keep up, as he's trying hard not to lose me in the dust. We are constantly aware of each other's pace. Inevitably, my husband will reach out his hand and grab mine. We both know that there is no way we are going to keep in step with each other unless we are connected --unless we consciously hold onto each other and find a rhythmic pace.

See, though the Spirit of God lives in us, we have to make a conscious choice to let Him be a part of our everyday lives. The Bible is saying: Now that you are alive in Christ, let Christ lead the way. Find His Pace. Feel His rhythm. Let Him lead. Walk with Him. Just like my husband and I must join hands in order to stay in step, so we must consciously connect with and yield to God's Spirit. And how satisfying it is when we find that flow with God - when we no longer just let Him walk next to us, but we truly connect and stay in step with His Spirit!

Thursday, February 16, 2017

DISCERNMENT 
is like looking at two identical berries 
(one is poisonous, the other not)
and being able to choose and eat the good one. 
May God give us the eyes to see the Good from Evil, 
the Healthy from the Toxic.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Confusion

Soon the whole city was filled with confusion. Everyone rushed to the amphitheater, dragging along Gaius and Aristarchus, who were Paul’s traveling companions from Macedonia. Paul wanted to go in, too, but the believers wouldn’t let him. Some of the officials of the province, friends of Paul, also sent a message to him, begging him not to risk his life by entering the amphitheater. 

Inside, the people were all shouting, some one thing and some another. Everything was in confusion. In fact, most of them didn’t even know why they were there.

‭‭Acts of the Apostles‬ ‭19:29-32‬ ‭NLT‬‬
http://bible.com/116/act.19.29-32.nlt
***

The devil comes to steal, kill, and destroy. Confusion is the web he spins. Deception is the song he sings. He is the father of riots and is Master Hater. He is the one at war with God, and therefore, us. He is invisible, but his work is not.

We do not have to be among those that get swept up in the confusion, though. God gives his followers a clear mind and discernment. He gives us eyes that cut through the fog of confusion. He keeps us 'sober' as we fill our minds with His Truth (His Word) and abide in Him. 

If you are in any kind of confusion today, be comforted to know that there is a way out! Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. God's Voice/Word brings Clarity, Truth, and Freedom. Remember, greater is He that is in you, than He that is in the world!

Friday, February 10, 2017

Fishing Alone

It's frustrating. Fishing all night and catching NOTHING? And it's not like these disciples didn't know what they were doing. They knew the art of fishing well. But that night, skill was not enough. What they needed was Jesus. They needed Jesus to speak. And as soon as Jesus spoke, there was an abundance! Those men saw the difference that day between striving in their own strength and flowing in God's.

Some of us labor hard, but we don't labor with God. We think if we just work a little harder, we'll prosper. But the Kingdom of God is not about striving in our own strength apart from God. No, no, no. If we do, we find ourselves like these men who fished all night with nothing to show for it.

But don't worry. Jesus is more than happy to show us 'where the fish are'. He WANTS us to prosper -- just not without HIM! If you feel like you are spinning your wheels or simply STUCK, consider if you are 'fishing' with Jesus or without Him.

***
Later, Jesus appeared again to the disciples beside the Sea of Galilee. This is how it happened. Several of the disciples were there—Simon Peter, Thomas (nicknamed the Twin), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples.

Simon Peter said, “I’m going fishing.”

"We’ll come, too,” they all said. So they went out in the boat, but they caught nothing all night.

At dawn Jesus was standing on the beach, but the disciples couldn’t see who he was. He called out, “Fellows, have you caught any fish?”

"No,” they replied.

Then he said, “Throw out your net on the right-hand side of the boat, and you’ll get some!” So they did, and they couldn’t haul in the net because there were so many fish in it.

Then the disciple Jesus loved said to Peter, “It’s the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his tunic (for he had stripped for work), jumped into the water, and headed to shore. The others stayed with the boat and pulled the loaded net to the shore, for they were only about a hundred yards from shore. When they got there, they found breakfast waiting for them—fish cooking over a charcoal fire, and some bread.

"Bring some of the fish you’ve just caught,” Jesus said. So Simon Peter went aboard and dragged the net to the shore. There were 153 large fish, and yet the net hadn’t torn.

‭‭John‬ ‭21:1-11‬ ‭NLT‬‬
http://bible.com/116/jhn.21.1-11.nlt

Thursday, February 9, 2017

The Provision of NOW

The Lord said to me, "When did I part the Red Sea?"

I knew what He meant. He wasn't asking me a history question. He continued to say, "Didn't I part the sea once my people got there?"

Again, I knew immediately what the Lord was getting at: The provision of the NOW. The need was not met 10 miles back. He did not part the water while they were still back in Egypt. No, God chose to wait and come through for them when they stood right in front of the point of impossibility.

I have to be honest.  If I were among the children of Israel and God took up a vote, I would have definitely voted for the waters to be parted BEFORE I got there, or at least been briefed on the plan. I would have wanted to see and understood the provision from far off. I'm much more comfortable with the idea of seeing in advance how it's all going to work out than the suspense of God coming through at the 11th hour. Give me my solid paycheck that I can count on. Give me the details of my life so I can plan accordingly. Give me all that I perceive as "security".

But I'm learning that God just doesn't always roll that way. Remember the widow that fed Elijah? She was literally at her very last meal when supernatural provision arrived. Talk about God waiting until her last morsel! Or how about Lazarus? It wasn't even the 11th hour in his case. Jesus waited until death appeared to win to finally arrive on the scene! But He proved to everyone that what we think is perfect timing, isn't always what God sees as perfect timing. He's never late. And even when death seems to win, He is still right on time because He's the Resurrection and the Life and has the power to raise the dead!

But I still can't help but question God's methods here. Is He just trying to be cruel when His Provision feels delayed? Absolutely not. God can't even be tempted to be cruel like that. He is Holy and Good. But He is also the Author and Perfecter of our faith. Consider this: If He had parted the Red Sea before His children got there, they never would have witnessed the miracle with their very own eyes. And Moses never would have personally been a part of that miracle by raising his hand over the sea. God was not just interested in getting His kids through the wilderness, He was actually more interested in taking the opportunity to build their faith and trust in Him, reveal Himself to them, and even let them partner with Him in the miracle!

See, God isn't trying to tease us or torture us when His Provision seems delayed. He doesn't play games with us like that.

What He is trying to do is show us that He CAN be counted on.
In a world filled with insecurities,
He is the One that won't let us down. EVER.

And I can't help but wonder.. could it be that if we see the Provision too far in advance, would we still cling to Him as closely and trust Him every step of the way?

***


When word reached the king of Egypt that the Israelites had fled, Pharaoh and his officials changed their minds. “What have we done, letting all those Israelite slaves get away?” they asked. So Pharaoh harnessed his chariot and called up his troops. He took with him 600 of Egypt’s best chariots, along with the rest of the chariots of Egypt, each with its commander. The LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, so he chased after the people of Israel, who had left with fists raised in defiance. The Egyptians chased after them with all the forces in Pharaoh’s army—all his horses and chariots, his charioteers, and his troops. The Egyptians caught up with the people of Israel as they were camped beside the shore near Pi-hahiroth, across from Baal-zephon.

As Pharaoh approached, the people of Israel looked up and panicked when they saw the Egyptians overtaking them. They cried out to the LORD, and they said to Moses, “Why did you bring us out here to die in the wilderness? Weren’t there enough graves for us in Egypt? What have you done to us? Why did you make us leave Egypt? Didn’t we tell you this would happen while we were still in Egypt? We said, ‘Leave us alone! Let us be slaves to the Egyptians. It’s better to be a slave in Egypt than a corpse in the wilderness!’”

But Moses told the people, “Don’t be afraid. Just stand still and watch the LORD rescue you today. The Egyptians you see today will never be seen again. The LORD himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.”

Then the LORD said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the people to get moving! Pick up your staff and raise your hand over the sea. Divide the water so the Israelites can walk through the middle of the sea on dry ground. And I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians, and they will charge in after the Israelites. My great glory will be displayed through Pharaoh and his troops, his chariots, and his charioteers. When my glory is displayed through them, all Egypt will see my glory and know that I am the LORD!”

Then the angel of God, who had been leading the people of Israel, moved to the rear of the camp. The pillar of cloud also moved from the front and stood behind them. The cloud settled between the Egyptian and Israelite camps. As darkness fell, the cloud turned to fire, lighting up the night. But the Egyptians and Israelites did not approach each other all night.

Then Moses raised his hand over the sea, and the LORD opened up a path through the water with a strong east wind. The wind blew all that night, turning the seabed into dry land. So the people of Israel walked through the middle of the sea on dry ground, with walls of water on each side!

Then the Egyptians—all of Pharaoh’s horses, chariots, and charioteers—chased them into the middle of the sea. But just before dawn the LORD looked down on the Egyptian army from the pillar of fire and cloud, and he threw their forces into total confusion. He twisted their chariot wheels, making their chariots difficult to drive. “Let’s get out of here—away from these Israelites!” the Egyptians shouted. “The LORD is fighting for them against Egypt!”

When all the Israelites had reached the other side, the LORD said to Moses, “Raise your hand over the sea again. Then the waters will rush back and cover the Egyptians and their chariots and charioteers.” So as the sun began to rise, Moses raised his hand over the sea, and the water rushed back into its usual place. The Egyptians tried to escape, but the LORD swept them into the sea. Then the waters returned and covered all the chariots and charioteers—the entire army of Pharaoh. Of all the Egyptians who had chased the Israelites into the sea, not a single one survived.

But the people of Israel had walked through the middle of the sea on dry ground, as the water stood up like a wall on both sides. That is how the LORD rescued Israel from the hand of the Egyptians that day. And the Israelites saw the bodies of the Egyptians washed up on the seashore. When the people of Israel saw the mighty power that the LORD had unleashed against the Egyptians, they were filled with awe before him. They put their faith in the LORD and in his servant Moses.

‭‭Exodus‬ ‭14:5-31‬ ‭NLT‬‬
http://bible.com/116/exo.14.5-31.nlt

Monday, February 6, 2017

But I Want To Be Liked

Then the Jews stirred up the influential religious women and the leaders of the city, and they incited a mob against Paul and Barnabas and ran them out of town. So they shook the dust from their feet as a sign of rejection and went to the town of Iconium. And the believers were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.
‭‭Acts of the Apostles‬ ‭13:50-52‬ ‭NLT‬‬
http://bible.com/116/act.13.50-52.nlt

The Jewish leaders were infuriated by Stephen’s accusation, and they shook their fists at him in rage. But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed steadily into heaven and saw the glory of God, and he saw Jesus standing in the place of honor at God’s right hand. And he told them, “Look, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing in the place of honor at God’s right hand!” 

Then they put their hands over their ears and began shouting. They rushed at him and dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. His accusers took off their coats and laid them at the feet of a young man named Saul. 

As they stoned him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” He fell to his knees, shouting, “Lord, don’t charge them with this sin!” And with that, he died.
‭‭Acts of the Apostles‬ ‭7:54-60‬ ‭NLT‬‬
http://bible.com/116/act.7.54-60.nlt

***

I confess. I want people to like me. I want them to have a positive opinion about me. I want them to tell me that they like me. I don't want anyone mad at me. And I certainly don't want them to ever be offended by me. 

But as a follower of Jesus, I can't be guaranteed any of that. The early church in the book of Acts did many wonderful, supernatural things. But they didn't win over every person's affection. Nope. In fact, they offended and angered some people so much that mobs were formed to chase Paul and Barnabas right out of the city and literally went as far as stoning and killing Stephen to death! 

If these followers of Jesus were worried about social acceptance, they were in for a tough ride. BUT THEY WEREN'T. They were in it to do the will of the Father and let Him love through them. They were in it to see the Gospel preached and spread. They were in it for God's approval, not man's. They lovingly moved forward as God instructed them, but didn't worry who would or wouldn't like them in the process. 

Here's the thing we need to remember. There is a spiritual warfare happening all around us. It's the fight for souls. God wants His kids back and the devil and all his minions are doing all they can to block and stop that from happening. When we choose to serve God, we are going to face opposition and hate simply because we have partnered with God in His battle. But we must remember that when people resist you, it's not You they are resisting. It's God in you that they are resisting. We must keep in mind that just as Jesus wasn't liked by all, neither will we. But this never stopped Jesus from loving and doing the Father's will, and neither should it stop us.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Only Human

As Peter entered his home, Cornelius fell at his feet and worshiped him. But Peter pulled him up and said, “Stand up! I’m a human being just like you!”

‭‭Acts of the Apostles‬ ‭10:25-26‬ ‭NLT‬‬
http://bible.com/116/act.10.25-26.nlt

When the day arrived, Herod put on his royal robes, sat on his throne, and made a speech to them. The people gave him a great ovation, shouting, “It’s the voice of a god, not of a man!”

Instantly, an angel of the Lord struck Herod with a sickness, because he accepted the people’s worship instead of giving the glory to God. So he was consumed with worms and died.

‭‭Acts of the Apostles‬ ‭12:21-23‬ ‭NLT‬‬
http://bible.com/116/act.12.21-23.nlt

***

As imperfect humans, we love to take credit for things. Even if we don't deserve the credit, we are inclined to take it simply because we love the applause of men and it makes us feel better about ourselves. Simply put, we love to be worshiped.

The scriptures above give us two separate scenarios where the people worshiped Peter and Herod. But the response of these men were very different. Herod gladly took it, but Peter immediately objected to it. Peter knew to give credit where credit was due, Herod did not -- and the result was to Herod's detriment!

As God moves mightily through His Church in these last days, we must remember that all worship is to God alone. We must learn from Peter's example and remind others (and ourselves) that we are only human and that any Power that comes from us is from God. Beware that you do not take credit for something that is not due you.


Saturday, February 4, 2017

HIS VOICE

Give unto the LORD, O you mighty ones, Give unto the LORD glory and strength. Give unto the LORD the glory due to His name; Worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness. The voice of the LORD is over the waters; The God of glory thunders; The LORD is over many waters. The voice of the LORD is powerful; The voice of the LORD is full of majesty. The voice of the LORD breaks the cedars, Yes, the LORD splinters the cedars of Lebanon. He makes them also skip like a calf, Lebanon and Sirion like a young wild ox. The voice of the LORD divides the flames of fire. The voice of the LORD shakes the wilderness; The LORD shakes the Wilderness of Kadesh. The voice of the LORD makes the deer give birth, And strips the forests bare; And in His temple everyone says, “Glory!” The LORD sat enthroned at the Flood, And the LORD sits as King forever. The LORD will give strength to His people; The LORD will bless His people with peace.

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭29:1-11‬ ‭NKJV‬‬
http://bible.com/114/psa.29.1-11.nkj


There is nothing like the sound of your parent's voice. When I was a kid, I could be in a crowded, noisy room, but if my mother said my name, I could pick it out distinctly as it shot like an arrow through the white noise. If I was doing something I shouldn't have been doing, my mother's voice shook me out of my rebellion as she firmly spoke my full name. But it was also that same voice that seemed to sing to me as she encouraged me not to give up on learning how to play the piano simply because I had trouble with one song. And it is her voice that could comfort me, even when nothing else could.

If a human voice could have such an effect on us, how much more does the Voice of our Heavenly Father affect us? Consider how powerful the voice of God is. In Genesis, it tells us that He spoke all things into existence. There was light, galaxies, earth and everything in it, including human beings, simply because He spoke it. Or in the Gospels, we see Jesus speaking Life everywhere He went. He would cast out demons, heal the sick, and even raise the dead, by simply saying the word.

The Voice of the Lord has power and authority to create, as well, as change things. But it also encourages us, disperses confusion, comforts us in our sorrows, corrects us in our folly, and navigates us through the darkest, thickest wilderness. John 10 tells us that if we know Him, we will know His Voice, as well -- like sheep know their shepherd's voice.

And His Voice will always result in this for us:


The Lord will give STRENGTH to His people;
The Lord will bless His people with PEACE.


Whenever I am personally distressed, confused, anxious, angry, frustrated, sad, fearful... Whatever the circumstance, there is always one thing that I look for in those moments: HIS VOICE. Like standing in a crowded, noisy room, I listen intently for the Voice of my Father that can shoot like an arrow through the white noise. I look for it. I wait for it. I refuse to go forward without hearing it. And then, like the faithfulness of the morning sunrise, it's there. Sometimes it's loud. Other times it's more like a whisper. Sometimes there are no human words to actually attach to it, I just know that it is Him, and still many times it a Scripture that He brings to mind because His Voice is the Word and will always line up with the Bible. However He speaks, the end result is always this: STRENGTH and PEACE.


Friday, February 3, 2017

Eternal Thinking

One day this life will be over
And there I will be with you forever
This day just a moment
A lifetime a breath
I'm here long enough
just to learn how to Rest

So I consider each moment a preparation
Of one who is about to meet the King
An Esther who's making herself ready
For one Day she will be His Queen

 I cherish the journey
 The sweet and the sour
 Because it's not about comfort of living
 For when I look back and see the mountains and valleys
 I see that it is YOU who has never failed me 

 This time on earth is so precious
 Not to run after things that we want
 But rather to discover our Father
 And discover that WE are truly all that HE wants!

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Agreeing With God

Oh, what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sin is put out of sight! Yes, what joy for those whose record the LORD has cleared of guilt, whose lives are lived in complete honesty! When I refused to confess my sin, my body wasted away, and I groaned all day long. Day and night your hand of discipline was heavy on me. My strength evaporated like water in the summer heat.

Interlude

Finally, I confessed all my sins to you and stopped trying to hide my guilt. I said to myself, “I will confess my rebellion to the LORD.” And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone.

Interlude

Therefore, let all the godly pray to you while there is still time, that they may not drown in the floodwaters of judgment. For you are my hiding place; you protect me from trouble. You surround me with songs of victory.

Interlude

The LORD says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you. Do not be like a senseless horse or mule that needs a bit and bridle to keep it under control.” Many sorrows come to the wicked, but unfailing love surrounds those who trust the LORD. So rejoice in the LORD and be glad, all you who obey him! Shout for joy, all you whose hearts are pure!

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭32:1-11‬ ‭NLT‬‬
http://bible.com/116/psa.32.1-11.nlt

***

If we ever feel a disconnect or break down in our relationship with God, we must remember this: the problem is not on God's end. He is 100% Holy, 100% Love, 100% Just, and absolutely 100% RIGHT. ALL THE TIME. When we don't confess our sins, we are basically arguing with God about who is right. We are holding our ground and our position and insisting that we are not in the wrong, so God must be. Even when it is blatantly obvious, we refuse to let go of our stance. Like the kid caught stealing a cookie. There are crumbs on the floor and on his lips as he holds the remains of it behind his back. Both the child and the owner of the cookie know the truth. But the child still shakes his head in denial that he even came near the cookie.

But Oh, when we decide to agree with God! When we admit to Him what He already knows anyway. When we pull out the cookie remains from behind our back, not so much to show Him, but more to show ourselves, that indeed God was right and we were wrong. It's in that moment that Mercy can now be extended and come in like a flood! It's in that agreement with God that we see His full forgiveness -- the forgiveness that has been waiting for us the whole time! It's in that confession that we find ourselves lifted up by our Father's arms, as He embraces us and says, "Now, let's start over. I've got some big plans for us Today."