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  #2401  
Old 02-03-2012, 08:22 AM
d'gal d'gal is offline
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Knock It Off!



1What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? 2You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. 3You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. - James 4:1-3

My dad was not a yeller . . . he was the death stare machine. One look from him at the dinner table when I was “acting up,” and I was down for the count. “Woe” was the person who got that death stare! But for some, the expression of anger or frustration isn’t limited to just a look.
Tirades, tantrums and outbursts are the synonyms that summarize what happens to many of us when we can’t hold it in.

The word “woe” is used at various times throughout the Bible. We see it in Habakkuk and in the Gospels. So what exactly is a “woe?” A “woe” is a warning. It’s God’s way of saying, “Knock it off.” Quit living like that, and live like my son, my daughter.

A big “woe” to watch out for: when anger or violence seems like an option that’s valid, we must put on patience. So why is it that we accept anger as not only a typical response, but a valid one when wronged? In short, because we’re thinking of ourselves first.

James says in essence that when we get ticked off, it’s because we haven’t gotten our way, what we want or what we think we deserve. And if they won’t give it to us by choice, we’ll take it by force. We power-up, get loud, slam doors, and in some cases, become physically abusive. Anger almost invariably makes us say and do things we’ll regret.

Even “just” anger does not entitle us to a sinful response. What can we do to live more like God’s true children?

Well, first, realize—This is really making me angry. Good. Identified. Isolated. My anger alarm just went off; that’s a normal, God-given indicator that I need a next step.

Now ask Why? And How am I responding?

And as the quippy statement goes, "right in the middle of sin is the little letter 'i'"
My point isn’t to make any of us out to be no-good-rotten-selfish-meanies, but to humbly acknowledge that when we think about why we’re feeling flush in the face, it’s often about us. Then, we have to let it go. We’ve got to channel the energy to a godly and productive goal.

Be angry and yet do not sin. Work it out.

Journal:
How do I handle anger?
How does taking the extra moment to ask why I am angery help me to respond rightly?

Prayer: Almighty Father, I simply do not respond to anger and frustration well. I know that people watch how I respond because they want to see if You are making a difference in my life, but I keep getting it wrong. Please forgive me and help me to take that extra time to examine both my motive and response. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Joel Anderson - from James McDonald, Walk in the Word devotions
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  #2402  
Old 02-03-2012, 11:01 PM
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Psa107:20 He sent his word, and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions.(Today Allow God to send Jesus to bring healing in everywhere you hurt.)
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  #2403  
Old 02-06-2012, 07:54 AM
d'gal d'gal is offline
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Directionally Challenged

"I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you." Psalm 32:8 (NIV)

We were off the beaten path for about an hour when we realized we were lost. I pulled the car into a small motel to ask for directions. There were two elderly men sitting behind the counter with their feet up, watching a small television set.

Clearing my throat to get their attention, "Excuse me. Can either of you direct me back to the interstate?" I asked. They just looked at me with a blank stare. So I returned to the car and gave my friend the bad news. "Well, we're lost and we're going to die."

"No, we're not," she said in a comforting way. "Look! There's a gas station across the street. Maybe someone in there will be able to help us." There was hope in her voice, but not in my heart.

To me, the shady, rundown building across the street looked like a hang-out for serial killers. The paint was peeling and the shrubbery was overgrown. Nothing about the store said, "Welcome." There was no way I was gonna walk into a nest of potential murderers willingly. However, my friend persuaded me otherwise. "We won't talk to anyone," she promised. "We'll just go in and buy a map."

Once we were inside the creepy, timeworn building, I scanned the place for our killer. When it appeared to be safe, we got our directions and got out of the store.

And eventually, we made it home. But not without learning a great lesson: Life is full of dead ends and confusing directions that can lead us off course.

From time to time we can get lost spiritually if we don't look to God as our source for answers and guidance. When it happens to me, there are certain signs. Life seems dull, scary, uneventful and without purpose or clear direction.

Sadness sets in and my days look lonely, cold and dark. I lose confidence in decision-making, too. Without seeking clear directions from God, it's easy to become confused about which way to turn. Eventually I can start to feel like I'm lost.

It doesn't have to be this way. We can turn to God for help. In today's key verse, God makes this promise: "I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go: I will counsel you with my loving eye on you." We don't have to go it alone as if we're feeling our way through the darkness. God is there to light our path.

No matter how intentional we are about staying the course, without God's direction we'll end up in a place we never intended to go.

Whenever we need direction — whether it's raising a strong-willed child, changing jobs or dealing with a difficult relationship — God will faithfully provide the counsel we need. And we can find God's counsel in His Word, through prayer and by relying on the Holy Spirit to pave the way before us. Practicing these principles is the only way we can be sure of reaching our destination.

It's true. There will be obstacles along life's way and, at times, the path we take will feel unknown, but God wants to guide, equip and lead us each day as we learn to depend more and more on Him.

Dear Lord, I've been wandering aimlessly alone. Today, I learned that You desire to guide and counsel me. Because You care about the details of my life, I will seek Your Word and follow the path You've set before me. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Reflect and Respond:

Do I feel lost or confused about God's direction in my life?


Set aside a time each day to read a portion of God's Word and journal about what you read. Journaling will help you map out God's course for your life.

Power Verses:

Psalm 119:105, "Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path." (NIV)


John 8:32, "Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." (NIV)

Micca Monda Campbell, Encouragement for Today devotions
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  #2404  
Old 02-06-2012, 08:01 AM
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For I determine not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified." 1 Corinthians 2:2

"Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,
Nor have entered into the heart of man
the things which God has prepared for those who love Him."
1 Corinthians 2:9

"We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in
despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed -"....
2 Corinthians 4:8-9
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  #2405  
Old 02-07-2012, 09:03 AM
d'gal d'gal is offline
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Starting Fresh

"This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone: a new life has begun." 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NLT)

It was a typical holiday scene. My mother hummed an off-key tune in the kitchen. My father lounged in his faded blue recliner, while my husband and brothers talked about the football game on TV. The younger children played cards, while the older kids talked about my daughter's recent acceptance into college.

As I viewed the scene, I stood still in my tracks. Wait! When did we become a "typical family?"

My past will never resemble a Hallmark card. My mother had her first baby at 15. She lost her footing as she tried to be a young mother and wife. She was physically and verbally abused by her young husband and fled at age 20 to start over. Alone and pregnant—with me—mom met a good man and later they married.

But the emotional baggage took its toll on that relationship, and later on our entire family. She often threatened suicide. She raged. She lashed out physically. She begged for forgiveness. If I let my guard down to love, the next day or the next week a new scene would unfold. My heart hardened at a tender age.

Flash forward 25 years. I am no longer a child. I'm a woman with young adult children of my own. God has healed my heart.

As I stood in the living room I realized that I still viewed my family through the past. I had let go of the resentment, the anger. I loved my mother and father, but I still saw my extended family as broken. In far too many ways our relationship was founded on that perception.

I stepped back and took a good long look. Who was my mom now? How had she grown? Did I recognize what God had performed in her life?

The answer was no, and I was not alone in this thinking. My siblings also wrestled with this. No matter what my mother did, no matter how much she had overcome, she still had a scarlet letter branded on her. She was marked "B" for broken.

My family had been "normal" longer than dysfunctional. I realized it was time to step into the present and leave the past behind.

That day I fully transitioned from child to adult. I reflected on what God can do in spite of a broken past. I rejoiced in what had taken place in the heart of my mother and our family. It didn't just change me, but it changed my mother and our relationship. Somehow she knew we had crossed a new threshold. The burden of guilt was eased as she looked into my eyes and realized I saw her fully as the woman she had become.

Several holidays have passed since that day. My mother still hums off-key. I still bring desert. But when I look at my family, I don't just see a family gathering, I see a portrait of God's grace.

Dear Jesus, do I recognize the miracles You have done in my loved ones? Do I hold on to resentment even if that person has changed? Give me new eyes to see. Paint the picture fresh for me as I extend the mercy You so freely gave to me to one person in my life today. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Reflect and Respond:

Refocus: I'll take the spotlight off my childhood and put it on to the present.


Be Realistic: Even normal families have conflict. There is no such thing as a perfect family.

Relent: Do I rehash bad family memories or bring up the past to punish a loved one? Am I willing to begin a new conversation?

Receive: Amends may be awkward and not what I think they should be. True grace is receiving a gesture with the same spirit with which it is offered.

"If we treat people as they ought to be, we help them become what they are capable of becoming." — Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

Power Verse:

Matthew 9:13a, "Then he added, 'Now go and learn the meaning of this Scripture: I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.'" (NLT)


T. Suzanne Eller, Encouragement for Today devotions

*wow. this could almost be me. not that my mom was like that. no.
but myself being broken and what God has done in and thru my life, and my kids.
Thank God for His Grace and Mercy and un-ending love for us.

how many of us can truly identify with todays message ?

d'gal
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  #2406  
Old 02-08-2012, 08:24 AM
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A Balanced Life


Today’s Truth
Now as they went on their way, he entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet and listened to what he was saying. But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to him and asked, "Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me." But the Lord answered her, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her (Luke 10:38-42, NRSV).

Then, six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus was who had been dead, whom He had raised from the dead. There they made Him a supper; and Martha served, but Lazarus was one of those who sat at the table with Him.

Then Mary took a pound of very costly oil of spikenard, anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil (John 1:3, NRSV)

Friend to Friend
As I watched the movie “Twister” for the first time, I was reminded of the small Texas town where I grew up. Tornadoes were a common occurrence in Brownwood.
In fact, we sometimes had “tornado drills” in order to prepare for the next storm.

When ominous dark clouds began to gather and the possibility of tornadoes increased, warning sirens screamed through that quiet little town, sending every man, woman and child scurrying for safety. Our safe place was an old, musty storm cellar in the back yard where my family huddled until the “all clear” siren sounded.

Life is filled with storms and twisters – overcrowded schedules, impossible demands, unrealistic expectations, emotional bankruptcy, physical exhaustion and personality conflicts. Chaos often reigns, spinning emotions out of control.
Frustration, confusion, stress, and darkness are all too familiar companions.

During those turbulent times, my first reaction is to run and hide until the storm passes over, but I have come to two realizations; first, there will always be another storm and second, what I must do is learn how to prepare for storms before they hit. Storm preparation begins with a balanced life.

Most women I know constantly struggle with this issue of balance. We find it difficult to set boundaries, fail to establish margins of time for the unplanned or unexpected, and unwittingly surrender our God ordained priorities to the empty, vain addiction of just “doing the next thing.” Balance becomes a casualty of this ongoing battle.

Frustration, failure and darkness prosper in an imbalanced life, thriving on the vacuum of clear purpose and sure direction. The pit of despair is a common destination for those who refuse to measure and balance the sometimes overwhelming demands of work, home, family, friends, and personal growth. Frenzy and confusing darkness will reign until a holy balance is firmly entrenched in its place.

It is a balance only God can bring and is wonderfully illustrated through the lives of two women in the Bible, Mary and Martha. Mary and Martha present a profoundly simple but practical three-step plan for living a balanced life of power and purpose.

Now I have to admit that Martha is a girl after my own heart. A perfectionist and recognized by all who knew her as disciplined, strong-willed, energetic and practical, Martha seemed to know who she was and where she was going.
Because of her leadership in the community, people listened when she spoke.

Martha was single, financially secure and owned her own home which she shared with her sister, Mary, and their brother, Lazerus. They were a close family, living in a small town named Bethany located two miles from Jerusalem. Martha was a wonderful cook, her home clean and always in order. In fact, she might well have been considered the “Betty Crocker” of Bethany. Martha had the gift of hospitality and entertained often, freely welcoming friends as well as strangers into her home. Religious leaders, business executives, and virtually anyone in need, including her close friend, Jesus, knew they had an open invitation to this home. Martha seemed to be an intense woman with deep feelings and sure convictions. She loved truth and was quick to share her strong beliefs, the mark of an unwavering faith. Martha certainly had faults just as we do. I am convinced that, at times, she may have missed some of the higher moments of life because she was “too busy.” Sound familiar?

Mary, the sister of Martha, is an entirely different story. She lived for the higher moments in life. A free spirit and strong individualist, Mary probably saw little value in material wealth, a clean house, cooked meals and strict schedules. Nothing could compare to the cherished treasures of quiet, peace and freedom. I don’t think Mary missed many of the “Kodak moments” of life. I suspect she was an avid learner who thrived on anything that compelled her to think and reflect. Mary was almost childlike in her hunger for truth - especially spiritual truth and like her sister, felt things deeply. Sometimes those feelings drove her to do things that others could not understand. For example, it was unusual for a woman to sit among men. But Mary did. She sat at the feet of Jesus while He taught His disciples. Lost in the wonder of hearing new truth, Mary seemed oblivious to her critics and did not appear to notice or even care what people around her thought. She found it easy to abandon herself to those she loved and thrived on the relationships in her life. Relationships with people like the man named Jesus. Mary was brave. To go against the “norm” by daring to be so different and perhaps even live in the shadow of her very successful and highly regarded sister took courage. Mary was human and imperfect. To some, she may have seemed lazy and flighty or even given the perception of being a procrastinator.

Mary is often considered the spiritual one while Martha is thought to be the not so spiritual one. We tend to look at their lives and say we should be like Mary. However, I want us to realize that the lives of both women offer invaluable life lessons and truths about balance. God is not the author of confusion nor does He create chaos, setting His children up to drown in the raging seas of darkness, burnout and exhaustion. We do a great job of that all on our own. But we can learn important lessons from Mary and Martha, apply them to our lives today, and experience a balance that will bring peace, purpose and power to our crazed world.

Let’s Pray
Father, help me learn to cherish and make time to simply sit at Your feet and be in Your presence. At the same time, Lord, show me how to live a life of integrity in which I am a woman of my word. Teach me how to discipline my steps and invest my time in a way that pleases You and honors the plan You have for my life. Only You can bring a holy balance to my life as I surrender my agenda and every priority to Your perfect plan. I do that right now.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen.

Now It’s Your Turn
I encourage you to set aside time this week to spend in solitude. Examine your life in the light of balance. What priorities are obvious? What areas are out of balance? How has this imbalance affected your life? What changes do you need to make in order to live a balanced life of purpose?

Mary Southerland, Girlfriends in God devotions
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  #2407  
Old 02-09-2012, 09:14 AM
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A Balanced Life
Part 2

Today’s Truth
She (Martha) had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet and listened to what he was saying (Luke 10:39).

Friend to Friend
A balanced life is focused on right things. Focus is always found at the feet of Jesus. Mary lived out this truth. In fact, Mary, more than any other person in the New Testament is associated with sitting at the feet of Jesus.

What does it mean to “sit at the feet of Jesus”? We must first stop. Now that is a novel idea for most women. Mary stopped what she was doing - helping Martha in the kitchen - and came to sit at the feet of Jesus. Of course, Martha immediately began complaining that she had been left to do all the work while her sister wasted time sitting at the feet of Jesus. I have discovered there will always be someone who will misunderstand or complain when you choose to do what Jesus told Martha was “the better part.”

Luke 10: 40-42 “But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to him and asked, ‘Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me.’ But the Lord answered her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.’"

Mary made a choice and so must we. Choosing to sit at the feet of Jesus requires decisive planning, purposeful scheduling and a willful determination. Every day, God wants relationship building time with us, which means that time at His feet, in His presence must be our highest priority. Jesus gently rebuked Martha because she had forgotten what was really important.

It is amazing to me how I can squander away the best part of my day, leaving Him with the leftover scraps of time and then have the audacity to complain that my life is void of power and purpose. Distractions come from every side. Some of those distractions are good and wonderful things, but they are all still wrong things if they keep us from stopping to spend time with God.

Every day, we choose where to invest our time. We plan everything from committee meetings and church activities to lunch appointments and choir practice - but fail to schedule the most important activity of all, spending time with God.

Are you desperate for the peace and balance only He can bring? Then it’s time to stop, take inventory of the demands upon your time and begin investing the best part of everyday sitting at His feet. Being wrapped up in God’s work can easily become a shabby substitute for being wrapped up in His presence. And we can only be wrapped up in God’s presence when we learn to wait on Him.

I absolutely hate to wait, on anyone or for anything. Waiting robs me of control and forces me to face the unknown. But waiting on God brings priorities into a right focus and releases the catalyst that may very well change my life course.

Waiting is not a passive use of time. Waiting is active spiritual obedience. In each waiting room of life, He is at work preparing me for the circumstance and the circumstance for me. Psalm 5:3 (NLT) “Listen to my voice in the morning, LORD. Each morning I bring my requests to you and wait expectantly.”
From those still, quiet moments of waiting and seeking comes a balance and focus that takes root and grows. It is through the choice to wait on God that the seeking heart – the expectant heart finds every need met.

We not only must stop and be still in order to sit at the feet of Jesus, we must learn to listen. Time spent seeking God and listening for His voice is vital. Deuteronomy 30:19-20 (NIV) “Now choose life…listen to his voice, and hold fast to him.”

Countless voices clamor for our attention. The key to a balanced life is training our hearts toward God and teaching our spiritual ears to listen for His voice above all others. I taught third grade for several years while my husband attended seminary.

My class was one of seven third grade classes, which meant that the first few days of school were chaotic. The PE teacher was a welcome sight when she appeared at my door to take the students outside. It was the responsibility of each teacher to pick up her students when PE was over. Seven teachers trying to get the attention of over two hundred students was especially interesting on the first or second day of school when the teachers didn’t know their students and the third graders didn’t know their teacher. However, after only a few days, an amazing thing happened every year. When the teachers lined up, it took only a word or two for the students to come running. They quickly learned to recognize the voice of their new teacher above all the rest because they listened to her voice all day long.

The voice of God comes to us in many ways but every voice must be held up and measured against His main voice, the Word of God. To sit at the feet of Jesus, we must learn to stop, be still, and listen for His voice and then rest. Rest will not come until we have heard His truth. However, when we have learned and applied the truth of God we can then rest in Him and our world falls into perfect balance. Resting in Him requires trust.

When our son, Jered, was seven years old, he fell while skateboarding, cut his chin and needed stitches. We raced to the nearest emergency clinic where we met a young doctor, who at first glance, seemed friendly enough. Jered, however, took one look at the strange doctor and panicked. It was his first experience with stitches. After several attempts to gain Jered’s trust and cooperation, the doctor grew impatient and said, “Son, this won’t hurt. If you cannot be still we will have to put you in restraints.” Now I had two major problems with those statements. First of all, there were not going to be any restraints placed on my son. And secondly, of course it would hurt. Glaring at the doctor I explained, “If you will just tell Jered the truth and explain what you are doing he will be still for you.” The doctor looked at me as if I had just arrived from another planet and said, “Right!” Before I could rip off his head, Dan told the doctor we had a plan. I knew what my plan was but thought it wise to consider Dan’s. Holding Jered’s head still, Dan softly explained what the doctor would do and told him to fix his eyes on me while I told a story. It worked. Jered calmed down and the stitches were done in a matter of minutes. Even though he did not fully understand or trust the process, Jered did fully understand and trust us.

Truth is always the basis for trust and trust is always the basis for rest. We rarely take time to stop, be still and listen, allowing His truth to soak into our hearts and minds where trust and faith grow strong on a steady diet of truth. As a result, our faith is weak and rest is hard to find. When we learn to sit at the feet of Jesus, we will know Him better, trust Him more and find the rest we so desperately crave. Clarity of purpose and a right focus will come. And that, my friend, is the cornerstone in a life of balance.
bv
Now It’s Your Turn
Oswald Chambers writes, “We can choke God’s Word with a yawn; we can hinder the time that should be spent with God by remembering we have other things to do. ‘I haven’t time!’ Of course you have time! Take time, strangle some other interests, and make time to realize that the center of power in your life is the Lord Jesus Christ.” What is the main focus of your life? For the real answer, take a long, hard look at where you spend your time, money and energy. What changes do you need to make to bring your life into a right balance with God?

Mary Southerland, Girlfriends in God devotions.
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  #2408  
Old 02-09-2012, 09:22 AM
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Bad Moments Don't Make Bad Moms

"But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved." Ephesians 2:4-5 (NIV)

Do you ever feel like the ping pong ball in a heated match bouncing between feeling like a good mom to a bad mom?

I volunteer to keep the class guinea pig over spring break much to my daughter's delight. After all, we have a hamster we adore so we're highly qualified... GOOD MOM!

Two weeks before spring break our pet hamster has an accident and makes an early exit from this world. I get a letter from the principal informing me after hearing about our unfortunate hamster situation, we are unfit class guinea pig babysitters... BAD MOM!

I delight the teacher by showing up on time to read to the class... GOOD MOM!

That same day I get an e-mail from a teacher listing three parents who haven't turned in permission slips and I'm on the list for all the world to see... BAD MOM!

I make sure my kids pack something healthy for lunch... GOOD MOM!

The schedule falls apart and I feed them sugary cereal for dinner... BAD MOM!

I so desperately want to be a good mom. And sometimes I feel like I am, when life is clicking along with good attitudes, healthy hamsters, turned in permission slips, and a pot roast for dinner.

But let's be honest. The days where everything turns out right and there's a pot roast on the table are sometimes few and far between. And I find myself feeling like a failure.
Have you ever been there?

The other day I was processing these things with my friend, Renee, when a strange theme seemed to arise. I just started laughing. I told Renee that many of my days tell the same story... I was on the verge of a breakdown and then I spent some time with Jesus and He made things better.

Renee quipped back, "Well, isn't that where most of us live?"

Not that we're on the edge of a breakdown, but we live in a place of utter dependence on God. I know I live in constant need of His love, encouragement, wisdom, perspective, strength, patience and grace.
Anything I do right as a mom is because of my constant dialogs with God. I've learned to talk with Him in honest plain language and say things like, "Hey God, I feel like a bad mom because I snapped at my kids. But my circumstances don't define me, right? You do. So, I'm receiving Your grace and letting go of those feelings pulling me down. Please help me."

I must remember the truth of today's promise in Ephesians 2:4-5, "But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved."

God's grace is always willing to step in. Not that it excuses me from being more patient, organized or responsible. But it reminds me, "Lysa, you are doing better than you think you are. My love for you is great!

Stop bouncing from feeling good to bad to good to bad. In the good times, rejoice and thank Me. In the not so good times, call out to Me quickly."

With God we're never a bad mom. We might be having a bad moment... or two... or seventeen. But a few bad moments do not define us.

God's grace is there to cover us. Teach us. And even in the middle of a bad moment, interrupt us, redirect us and change me.

Forgiveness is there.
Love is there.
A second chance is there. And another one after that.

You are a good mom my friend...even if, like me, you've had a few bad moments... you are the exact mom God knew these children needed.

Let's live in that truth today.

And who cares if we are labeled unfit to watch the class guinea pig? As I stepped back from the situation I realized that saved us from some undue stress anyhow. Smiles.

Dear Lord, I know that only You can fill me. I am thankful Your grace is always there to cover me, especially on my tough mom days. Help me to stop bouncing from feeling good to bad. Teach me, redirect me and change me today. In Jesus' Name. Amen.

Related Resources:
If you're having one of those "I feel like a bad mom" moments, read Lysa's blog today. It will be one you print off and save!

Reflect and Respond:
With God I'm never a bad mom. I might be having a bad moment... or two... or seventeen. But a few bad moments do not define me as a bad mom. God's grace is there to cover me. Teach me. And even in the middle of a bad moment, interrupt me, redirect me and change me.


Power Verse:
Colossians 3:15, "Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful." (NIV)


Lysa TerKeurst, Encouragement for Today devotions.
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  #2409  
Old 02-10-2012, 07:47 AM
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When Everything Goes Wrong

17When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. 18The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. - Psalm 34:17-18

Have you ever felt like nothing in your world was going right? When my kids were growing up, I used to read them one of their favorite books, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. You might be familiar with this story about a boy who experiences the absolute worst day of his life. We all have experienced troubles and know the feeling of having a "crushed spirit."

When circumstances are difficult, all too often this affects our attitude towards God and can also inhibit our worship. After all, why should we worship when it seems like life is falling apart at the seams?

The Psalmist gives us three profound reasons why we can worship the LORD even in the midst of the deepest valleys.

We can worship because He hears us. This does not mean He merely hears our cry, but this word implies action. God is so unlike us; when He hears, He acts. And He acts immediately! He does not sit idly by, but intervenes in even the most desperate situation.

We can worship in the midst of trials because we know the Lord promises to deliver us. Keep in mind, this word deliver does not mean that He will remove us from our difficulty. Isn’t it true that at times we cry out to the Lord but it seems as though our situation doesn’t change? Do not mistake unchanging circumstances for God’s lack of deliverance. His promise to deliver us is made evident in the way He sustains believers even through the hardest times.

Finally, when everything goes wrong, we can worship Him because the Lord is close to us. He is not a distant, uninvolved, uninterested God, but a loving Savior whose arms reach out to us in the midst of our brokenness.

Maybe you are in the midst of a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day, month, or even year. Maybe you resonate with the notion that in the midst of a valley, it’s hard to worship. Take some time today to thank God that He hears our cries, He promises to deliver us, and we can rest assured that He remains close to us even in our darkest moments.

Journal:

Have I ever experienced a difficulty that inhibits my worship?

Which of these three promises do I need to be reminded of; God hears my cry, God promises to deliver me, or God is near to me?

Prayer:
Father, thank You for being a personal God who is involved in my life. Thank You for hearing my cries. I want to worship You in the midst of this difficult time. Help me to see that Your promise to deliver me from trouble is Your promise to see me through till the end. Thank You for being near to me, especially when I am hurting the most. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Ron Zappia - Senior Pastor - Harvest (part of James McDonald / devotions
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  #2410  
Old 02-13-2012, 08:12 AM
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When Believers Bite

15Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will.
16The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. 17The former proclaim Christ out of rivalry, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment. 18What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice
.
- Philippians 1:15-18

Bites hurt! I remember when I was in junior high and a neighbor’s aging Great Dane took a surprise lunge at me and sunk its teeth into my arm. I had known that dog for years, so when it bit me it was a total shock. And wow, did that bite hurt! Today, I bear a scar on my arm in memory of that bite.

The apostle Paul’s circumstances were rough at best. He was in jail for boldly proclaiming the great news of Jesus Christ. While in jail for Christ—wham! Out of the blue, he gets bitten. The bite is not from a dog, but from a few members of his very own family—his own brothers in Christ. How sad is that? And, wow, how that must have hurt!

Most of Paul’s brothers and sisters in Christ were deeply grateful and concerned for Paul. Most were being challenged to live with increasing boldness for Jesus Christ as a result of his example. That was the reality with most, but then there were the “some.” The “some” were a small number of individuals that were envious of Paul and saw him as a ministry rival rather than a ministry partner. The “some” saw Paul’s imprisoned situation as an opportunity to bring him down. So they lunged and sank their teeth into Paul.

This would seem to be the time for Paul to wield his apostolic authority and have those boys taken to the dog pound. Or maybe these circumstances would be the final straw for Paul to throw up his hands and walk away from ministry thinking, “This is ridiculous! People are a pain! I’m out!” Instead, even in the pain of the bite, Paul remained single-minded: “. . . whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice.” Paul saw life as all about Christ, all about the name of Jesus being lifted high and wide—even when believers bite.

Have you been bitten by others? Maybe even been bitten by a brother or sister in Christ? Bites hurt! And some bites bear lasting scars. Yet, our lives are not about our comfort. Life is not about me and it is not about you. Life is about the fame of the name of Jesus Christ. Therefore, even in the pain of the bite, when Christ is proclaimed, “In that I rejoice.”

Journal:

When was the last time I was “bitten” by a brother or sister in Christ? How did I respond?

Are the scars I bear from previous injuries reminders of my choice to forgive, or do they point to a root of bitterness?

Prayer: Almighty Father in heaven, sometimes I have to shake my head at how believers behave toward one another. I confess that I have been “bitten” and have also done some “biting.” Forgive me for that. Help me to keep my focus on You and Your glory, and not on the pain of my wounds. In Jesus’ name, Amen.



Doug Helmer - Senior Pastor - Harvest Church (part of James McDonald ministries)
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Old 02-13-2012, 09:54 PM
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Good Evening how are you doing today hope you doing great Psa45:2Thou art fairer than the children of men: grace is poured into thy lips: therefore God hath blessed thee for ever.
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Old 02-14-2012, 09:00 AM
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Unconditional Love

Romans 5:6-11

Scripture tells us that love is the very essence of who God is (1 John 4:7).

So if you don't believe that He loves you unconditionally, you'll never really know Him or have genuine peace about your relationship with Him.

How do you define "love"?
It is Jesus unselfishly reaching out to mankind, giving Himself to us and bringing good into our life regardless of whether or not we accept Him. Romans 5:8 tells us that His care and concern are so immeasurable that He laid down His life for us while we were still His enemies. In fact, the Bible says that He first began to express His love toward us before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:3-5). That means your actions had absolutely nothing to do with His love for you!

God's commitment to us has absolutely no conditions or restrictions and isn't based on whether we love Him back. Nor does He have more love for "good" people who may strike us as more worthy. He loves us even in our sin, even when we don't repent. Does that give us license to disobey? No. It gives us power to live holy lives, walk obediently with Him, and learn to love Him the way He deserves. To follow Him is to receive the love He has been offering all along.

Every single moment, whether awake or asleep, we all live under the canopy of the Lord's wondrous, absolute love for us. But to fully experience that love, you must receive it. Say yes to this amazing gift that God wants to pour out on you. Bask in it, and let it overflow to those around you.

Charles Stanley devotions.
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  #2413  
Old 02-15-2012, 07:06 AM
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Even in the Darkness

"...all that night the LORD drove the sea back with a strong east wind and turned it to dry land." Exodus 14:21 (NIV)

Does God feel far away? Do you feel alone and afraid? Does life seem dark?

At one point I answered "yes" to each of these questions. Following a tragic incident in my life, fear filled my heart. God seemed so distant and I felt completely alone.

During that very dark time, God lead me to the story of the Israelites' escape from slavery in Egypt. Initially, Pharaoh agreed to let God's people go, but soon after they left, he changed his mind. He began to pursue them with 600 of his best chariots. The approaching army terrified the Israelites. They cried out to their leader, Moses.

Moses reminded the people of God's promise that He would deliver them. But circumstances barreling toward them said otherwise. The Israelites heard the rumbling of the chariots charging at them. They saw a huge body of water blocking their only escape.

Can you imagine their fear? The reality they knew was that Pharaoh's finest soldiers were pursuing them, and there was a colossal obstacle, the Red Sea, preventing their escape. God's people had no idea the miracle awaiting them.

When Moses stretched out his hand over the water, Scripture says, "...all that night the LORD drove the sea back with a strong east wind and turned it to dry land" (Exodus 14:21b NIV). Because it was dark, the Israelites couldn't quite see what God was doing.

In the black of night, the Lord tirelessly worked on behalf of His children to deliver them, just as He had promised.

It's as if the words of this story leapt off the pages of Scripture and into my desolate heart.

Although the Israelites could not see or hear God, He was moving in the midst of their darkness. I too could not "see" or "feel" God, but He was at work around me in invisible ways - present and active on my behalf to carry me through my bleak place.

In the dark, we have two choices. We can take matters into our own hands, turning to drugs or alcohol to numb the pain, seeking advice or reading the latest self-help book, never knowing if any of them is the way to healing and wholeness. Or we can look to God. We can open His Word, knowing He guarantees healing and wholeness.

Would you like the truth of God's Word to come alive for you? Would you like Him to come alongside you? You need only ask. The Lord promises, "You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart" (Jeremiah 29:13 NIV). Like He was for the Israelites, He is there for us. And He is always working on our behalf, even when we can't see or feel Him.

Today, if you are in the darkness; if your circumstances are threatening to consume you; if you feel utterly defeated... seek the Lord. Ask Him to rescue you and remember this, He is there... parting your "Red Sea" even now.

Dear Heavenly Father, it is so difficult to walk through darkness. You feel so far away. I feel so alone. Thank You for the promise that You will never leave me or forsake me, and that there is nothing in all creation that will ever separate me from the love I have in You and in Your Son. Walk ever so closely with me during this darkness, Lord. Speak to me. Give me hope. Show me the treasures in my darkness. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Reflect and Respond:

Isaiah 61:1, "The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to...bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captive and release from darkness for the prisoners..." (NIV)

God the Healer, Jesus the Redeemer, binds up my brokenness, shows me the way to freedom, and releases me from the darkness. He is waiting for me.
Sometimes God allows difficult circumstances to do a mighty transformational work in our lives. Are my difficult circumstances part of His refining process to help me trust Him and make me more like Him?

Power Verses:

1 John 1:5b, "God is light; in him there is no darkness at all." (NIV)


Romans 8:38-39, "For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus." (NIV)

Wendy Blight, Encouragement for Today devotions.
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  #2414  
Old 02-16-2012, 07:53 AM
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And Hannah was in distress of soul, praying to the Lord and weeping bitterly.”
I Samuel 1: 10
Amplified Bible

EXPLORATION:
“A Father With an Unlimited Supply of Hankies”
Grief – “Deep mental anguish and sorrow.”
“The soul would have no rainbow had the eyes no tears.”
John Vance Cheney
What experience in my life brought me a great deal of grief?
How did I go about handling my grief and sorrow?
“The finest flowers are often found growing in the soil of sorrow.”
G. B. Duncan

INSPIRATION:
“Give sorrow word; the grief that does not speak whispers thee o’er – fraught heart, and bids it break.”
William Shakespeare

Years ago, if you had told me that Hannah would be teaching me some of the most wonderful lessons on establishing an effective and fervent prayer life, I would have doubted what you were saying. Especially when it comes to having faith that your unanswered or delayed answers to prayers will be answered in God’s time and God’s way.


In deep despair and utter grief, Hannah, a childless woman, living in a contentious home with two wives, one barren and one who had a child, couldn’t take life and its troubles anymore, so she went to the only person she could trust and count on – her Father in heaven. And she laid her breaking heart open before Him at the temple.

I appreciate the way Marcia Mount Shoop, a minister in Chapel Hill, North Carolina describes Hannah’s prayerful approach to the God of heaven and earth. “Here the God who is involved in the dynasty that 1 and 2 Samuel will track is the God who hears and holds people like Hannah…She is there as her whole self – cultural baggage, broken dreams, audacious hope, and all.” This is how Hannah came to her Father.

She didn’t hold back anything. She brought her grief and sorrow. Her tears and wailing. For she understood that while her Father was Master of the universe, He wasn’t too busy to be Master of her world, too. Isn’t that astoundingly wonderful to know.

I love the way St. Augustine expresses this very thought when he wrote these touching words: “We are tossed on a tide that puts us to the proof, and if we could not sob our troubles in Your ear, what hope should we have left to us?”

Filled with emotions that were overflowing and misunderstood by family, friends and clergy, Hannah came to her Father to pray. As she walked into His dwelling place of comfort and His haven of hope, she gave Him her grieving heart.

So often I fear, in the most painful moments of our own lives, when our emotional state is out-of-control, just because those around us can’t understand or don’t want to handle the searing pain that finds it’s expression in our tears, we unfortunately make the assumption God can’t or won’t want to deal with our sorrow either. Yet, at the moment of our most striking loss and shocking pain is when heaven’s arms are opened widest to embrace us in a circle of hope and healing.

William Booth, who along with his wife, was the founder of the Salvation Army, describing the day his wife informed him that she had cancer, penned these touching words: “I was stunned. I felt as if the whole world was coming to a standstill. Opposite me on the wall was a picture of Christ on the cross. I thought I could understand it as never before. She talked like a heroine, like an angel to me. I could only kneel with her and try to pray.”

I love to hear Elvis Presley sing the old song, “Where Could I Go But to the Lord.”

“Living below in this old sinful world
Hardly a comfort can afford
Striving alone to face temptation,
So now won’t you tell me,
Where could I go but to the Lord.”
J. B. Coates

While Hannah’s husband regaled her with, “Am I not enough?” and Peninnah, the second wife, mocked Hannah with, “Where’s your God now?” Hannah brought her tears and grief and sorrow to her Father whose ear is always ready to hear, no matter the state we are in.

Hannah’s life profoundly teaches us that in all times of unsurpassed sorrow due to unanswered prayers it will be true that, “The clouds of sorrow will reveal the sunshine of His face.” - Hilys Jasper

“Earth has no sorrow that heaven cannot heal.”
Thomas Moore

AFFIRMATION
God’s Faithfulness
“But God is not like human-kind;
Man cannot read the Almighty mind;
Vengeance will never torture thee,
Nor hurt thy soul eternally.
Then do not in this night of grief,
This time of overwhelming fear,
O do not think that God can leave,
Forget, forsake, refuse to hear.”
Emily Bronte
1818-1848


Dorothy Valcárcel, a Transformation Garden devotion
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  #2415  
Old 02-17-2012, 07:54 AM
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Buddy Straps


Today’s Truth
Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble.(Ecclesiastes 4:9-10, NLT)

Friend To Friend
Every family has one… that certain individual who gets injured and banged up more than their fair share. That person who spends the majority of your family’s health care budget on their co-pay needs because, for whatever reason, accidents mysteriously, regularly and relentlessly hunt them down and throw a good bit of hurt on them. In our family, this person is my teenaged son, Preston.

We’ve been up, down and all around when it comes to Preston’s breaks, bandages and bruises. So it was a bit old-hat to be sitting in a small examining room a few weeks ago, waiting to see the doctor about yet another injury. This one happened in gym class. Preston climbed up a rope, made it to the top, and then had the bright idea of letting go of the rope instead of scaling down safely. Brilliant. He broke his big toe… in the middle of basketball season. Nice.

The doctor looked over the x-rays and had good news for us: Preston only had a hairline fracture in his toe. It would heal quickly. He would be immobilized in a funky shoe for a week or two, and then he would be able to get back to playing basketball as soon as the pain subsided.

As we prepped to leave, the doctor told Preston that once he was able to put weight on his foot, he would need to use a “buddy strap.” The strap would hold his broken toe snugly to the healthy toe right beside it for support. A nurse then handed my son a few black Velcro strips and explained that he should wear them to play basketball as soon as his pain was manageable. The support of the buddy straps would help him get back in the game quickly.

My eyebrows raised and my mind reeled as I pondered the similarities between buddy straps and friendships. There are a million times when my heart or circumstances are fractured. Each wound and challenge threatens to keep me immobilized both emotionally and spiritually.
In those times, it always benefits me to first seek refuge in the stable arms of God and to then buddy-strap my heart to a few godly girlfriends. As the psalmist cried out, so I cry out:
For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him. He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken(Psalm 62:5-6, ESV).

Then, after seeking God, as I ready myself to put one foot in front of another, my girlfriends rally as my buddy straps and provide prayer support, wisdom and encouragement.
When one friend is weak because of life-fractures, it is a blessing for a strong and healthy friend to come along side to help her.

We need each other as Christian women. Our lives are filled with as many life-fractures as the next person… so we often rally to speak words of encouragement, truth and hope to one another.
At times, we even speak correction. As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another (Proverbs 27:17).

Where does this find you today?
Do you have some life-fractures and challenges?
Are you the buddy strap to any of your friends who are struggling?
Perhaps you’ve got both going on.
If so, then praise God. Praise Him for trials – which can grow you in perseverance, character and hope (Romans 5:4) and for His provision of friends in your life that love you, challenge you and cheer you on through the hard times. And praise Him for the opportunity to be a buddy strap in return.

Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10, NLT).

Let’s Pray
Dear Lord, thank You for giving me access to Your grace and strength through Your Son, Jesus Christ. You are my Strong Tower, my Refuge, my Shelter, my Help and my Hope. I am so grateful that when my days are filled with hurt and struggles that You are right beside me – and that You have blessed me with some buddy straps. Please help me encourage my friends toward your grace, hope and truth today.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen.

Now It’s Your Turn

Who are you a buddy strap to?
Are you sensitive to the needs around you or do you not “have the time” to worry about other people’s problems?

Think of three girlfriends in your life who have been your buddy straps, then pause to pray for each of them. Bless them today. Send a card or an email. Text them or post on their wall. Connect to say thanks.


Gwen Smith, Girlfriends in God devotions

*I think that is part of what we do here on this forum. We 'meet' together and encourage each other.
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Old 02-20-2012, 07:50 AM
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I am putting in 2 devotions today as they seem to go hand in hand. this first one is FAITH - Hebrews 11:1

Faith is . . .

Hebrews 11:1
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.


My favorite professor often quoted from Lewis Carroll's book entitled Through the Looking-Glass.
He especially used the conversation between Alice and the White Queen:

"How old are you?" asked the queen.

"I'm seven and a half, exactly."

"You needn't say ‘exactly'; I can believe it without that. Now I'll give you something to believe: I'm just one hundred and one, five months, and a day."

Alice protested, "I can't believe that!"

"Can't you? Try again—draw a long breath, and shut your eyes," the queen urged.

Alice roared, "There's no use trying; one can't believe impossible things!"

To this the queen responded, "I daresay you haven't had much practice. When I was your age, I always did it half-hour a day. Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast."

The unregenerate man on Main Street, USA believes this is the meaning of faith: take a long breath, close your eyes, and begin to believe things that are impossible to believe.

What do you think? Maybe you have been afraid that this is its meaning. It is not!

We expect this kind of thinking outside the church, yet we are shocked when we find it inside the church. Faith is not an elusive, passive thing—it is alive and active.

The fruit of faith is substance and evidence—that which shows in our lives and proves what we believe.

So what is faith? Faith is the act of:

· considering Jesus Christ worthy of trust as to His character and motives;

· placing confidence in His ability to do just what He says He will do;

· entrusting the salvation of our soul into the hands of Christ;

· committing the work of saving our soul to the care of the Lord.

This means taking ourselves out of our own keeping and entrusting ourselves into the keeping of Jesus Christ.

This means that we listen to what God is saying in His Word. Paul exhorted Timothy, his son in the faith, to "accurately handle the word of truth" (2 Tim. 2:15) because it is "profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work" (2 Tim. 3:16-17).

A friend once asked, "When was the last time God spoke to you and what did He say?" Then he held up his Bible and said, "This is where He is speaking. Are you hearing Him? Are you obeying Him?"

How about you—are you walking by faith? "Now, faith is . . ."

Prayer point: Take time in your prayer life and Bible reading, treating it like a conversation. Before reading the Scriptures, ask God to help you hear Him. After reading the text, ask God to help you obey Him. Pray as the apostles said to the Lord, "Increase our faith!" (Luke 17:5).

Stephen Daley, a Wisdom Retreat devotion
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  #2417  
Old 02-20-2012, 07:54 AM
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#2


God, Could You Please Hurry?


"He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end." Ecclesiastes 3:11

I completely lost my patience and started yelling, "Hurry! Hurry! Hurry!"

Those of us who have lived in rural areas know that tractors on the road are a fact of life. However, just because they're the norm doesn't make them any less irritating if you're in a rush! I followed a tractor down one of our narrow two-lane roads recently. I could only take the snail's pace for so long before blowing up. But all that yelling, "Hurry! Hurry! Hurry!" didn't speed up the tractor.

How often have I approached God's timing the same way? And it never hurries Him up either.

When God doesn't operate at a pace that pleases me, and I want Him to hurry, I'm reminded of Sarah, Abraham's wife. I have feeling she felt the same way. After waiting ten years for a baby that God had promised (read Genesis 12-21 for the complete story), Sarah decided to "help" God.

Surely ten years was too long for anybody to wait. So Sarah gave her maidservant Hagar to her husband, and the two of them had a child. Soon the two women were at odds. Talk about a soap opera!

Finally, fifteen years later, the child promised by God to Abraham and Sarah was born. God was not late. His timing was perfect. It was Sarah who was in a hurry and rushing things, but she found out there was a price to pay for manipulating her circumstances.

I know Sarah and I are not alone in our desire for God to hurry up. I once heard it said that we are people with gods on our wrists.

In Isaiah 55:9 God says, "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts" (NIV).

God's timing is part of His ways. I may be tapping my watch, but He is never late. He may seem slow, but He is always right on time.

Has God made a promise to you that seems sluggish in coming?

Has He planted a dream in your heart that has yet to come to fruition?

Don't give up hope! God is faithful, and you can rely on His perfect timing. Fix your eyes on Him and enjoy the journey to your destination. There are things to be learned along the way that will enhance the joy of a promise fulfilled.

Dear Lord, sometimes I don't understand Your timing. It's often very hard to wait, but I trust You. I want to rely on Your ways and Your timing. Help me to learn what I need to learn as I wait. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Reflect and Respond:
What are some of the plans or dreams you believe God has placed in your heart?


Have you manipulated circumstances to try to see those dreams come true, or are you focused and committed to waiting for God's timing?

What does God want you to learn in times of waiting?

Power Verses:

Psalm 130:5, "I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in His word I put my hope."


2 Peter 3:9, "The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance."


Amy Carroll, Encouragement for Today devotions
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Old 02-20-2012, 09:25 PM
szcunane szcunane is offline
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I admit, I hate waiting! and I want God to talk a little louder! I'm listening so hard that sometimes it hurts!
and I keep praying to accept His timing . . .

but I WILL trust Him, even when I don't know why,
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Old 02-21-2012, 05:46 AM
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Thou shalt not be a victim.
Thou shalt not be a perpetrator.
Above all, thou shat not be a bystander.
By unknown
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Old 02-21-2012, 08:29 AM
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Originally Posted by szcunane View Post
I admit, I hate waiting! and I want God to talk a little louder! I'm listening so hard that sometimes it hurts!
and I keep praying to accept His timing . . .

but I WILL trust Him, even when I don't know why,
I understand - believe me! right now going thru some things, and it seems the Lord is either just taking His time in answering or not listening... oh I know He listens, this is just how I am feeling right now. Last night was our online prayer w/some friends. I was praying exactly this kind of problem, and what comes to mind.........................

When Jesus was teaching some things, and the crowd started walking away because they didnt want to hear the hard things, Jesus looked at His disciples and asked if they too would walk away. Peter responded........
(and this is how I ended my prayer)... "Lord, where else would we go, for only You have the Words of eternal life."

so, even in my frustrations, even when the Lord is silent, even when everything is crashing down on us in life........... still will I follow Him. He has the Words of Life, only He is Life.

hang in there.
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Old 02-21-2012, 08:34 AM
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Sponge Theology



Today’s Truth
A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of (Luke 6:45, NIV)

Friend to Friend
What is really inside will come spilling out for all to see when life puts the squeeze on us. My Mama used to say “What’s down in the well comes up in the bucket.” In other words, a crisis will usually reveal what is really in our hearts. It is easy to do and say the right things when life is calm and everything is going right, but what we say and do when chaos hits and the pressure is on tends to paint a more accurate picture of who we really are. It is kind of like sponge theology.

Suppose you have five sponges lying on your kitchen counter. Each member of your family has been cleaning different areas of your home, but the sponges all look the same. You are curious about what was cleaned but you can’t tell just by looking at the sponges since they all look the same. So what do you do?

You squeeze each sponge to see what happens. As you squeeze the first sponge, brown cola comes pouring out. Someone must have cleaned the kitchen with that sponge.
Upon squeezing the second sponge, you see blue tub and tile cleaner oozing out of the sponge which leads you to believe someone used that particular sponge to clean the bathroom.
In the third sponge, you find motor oil and conclude your husband was using that sponge to clean the garage.
The fourth sponge produces a puff of baby powder when it is squeezed. The baby’s nursery was obviously cleaned with that sponge.
Finally, the last sponge is dripping with floor wax which tells you someone used that particular sponge to clean the hall floor. As you lay the last sponge down, you look again at their similarity.
They all look the same -- until they are squeezed.

We are a lot like sponges when it comes to our faith in God. We look and act as if God is Lord of our lives. We say all the right things to all the right people and do right things in order to prove we are right. But what is really inside? What do our hearts really look like?

When a crisis comes and the pressures of life squeeze us mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually, what comes out?
Do we respond to that difficult person in anger or with patience and love?
Does revenge spill out in ugly words to that person who has hurt us more times than we can count or do we take a breath and remember that God loves them and that hurt people tend to hurt people?
Does the pain of unresolved sin flood our hearts and minds as guilt spills out of our heart with a vengeance?

Just like the sponge, we can only squeeze out what is put in. Fill your heart with the things of God. Stay in the Word each day. Spend time with faith builders who will encourage you in your faith. Seek God and His plan for your life. Pray about everything so that when life puts the squeeze on you – and it will – the very nature of God will come pouring out.

Let’s Pray
Father, I want my faith to be more than just talk. I want it to be real and authentic, flowing from a heart set on You. Forgive me when I play religious games and pretend to be someone I am not. I am a sinner saved by Your grace. Teach me how to walk in that grace so that when the hard times come and the pressure is on, You come pouring out of my life.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen.

Now It’s Your Turn
Think back to the last time you were surprised by your reaction to a situation or a person. What does that tell you about the condition of your heart? Set aside time to spend alone with God. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal any sin that needs to be faced and confessed. Give Him permission to purify your heart so that no matter what life throws at you, God will be honored by how you respond.


Mary Southerland. Girlfriends in God devotions.
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Old 02-22-2012, 07:49 AM
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Marching into the Sea (Faith)

So the children of Israel went into the midst of the sea on the dry ground, and the waters were a wall to them on their right hand and on their left. Exodus 14:22

Hebrews 11:1 in the New Living Translation says that faith 'gives us assurance about things we cannot see'. And God allows us to find ourselves in places where we cannot see. Faith says, in those places, "Trust God's promises".

Moses and the Israelites found themselves in such a place when they marched out of Egypt. They were on the banks of the Red Sea and the Egyptian army was closing fast. They couldn't see a way out; only faith would see them through. It seemed like madness to march through the water - who had ever seen such a thing before? Nobody!

But that was God's instruction to Moses. Not only did they have to believe the waters would part but that the waters wouldn't crash back upon them as they walked across the floor of the sea. So they marched into the place where the Red Sea had been and they were saved.

The purpose of places in which we lose our vision is to strengthen our faith. If that is where you are today, let God's promises give you assuance about the things you cannot see.

The beginning of anxiety is the end of faith, and the beginning of true faith is the end of anxiety. George Muller.

this devotion taken from Turning Points devotions by David Jeremiah.
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Old 02-23-2012, 07:09 AM
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Seeing Beyond the Dent

"Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing." 1 Thessalonians 5:11 (NIV)

A close call with a truck on the freeway left rubbery black smears on my oldest son's car. Unfortunately, Josh's younger brother had borrowed it and caused the accident. Relief and annoyance mixed together in Josh's heart.
Even though apologies and assurances to pay were offered, Josh knew his brother didn't have the money to repair the damage. And since the cost of the repair was probably less than the insurance deductible, Josh decided to barter babysitting services for a friend's detailing services. It was a smart and gracious solution.

His friend worked for eight hours painstakingly removing the black streaks, and we all thought the car looked great. Josh was proud of his decision to not charge his brother and find a creative way to repair the car.

At least, until he showed his car to some friends. Rather than see the good, all one person said was: "You can still see the dent!"

Later that day, Josh complained in private, "All that work, and she only saw the dent!"

I reaffirmed his generous choices and tried to bring back his joy in the repair. But the damage was done. My son left me standing in the kitchen pondering the careless comment. And wondering how many times I've only seen the dents.

There was a time when I could have made that comment. Too often I had neglected the efforts my children made and only seen the negative. Too often I had failed to acknowledge progress in others and only seen what remained to be done. Even in my own life I tend to focus on what isn't instead of celebrating what is.

The critical spirit displayed in a careless comment flourished in me at one time. Yet I knew that disapproving attitude wasn't compatible with the Jesus-follower I wanted to be. It was opposite to scriptures I'd read, like today's verse in 1 Thessalonians which tells us to encourage and build each other up.

So years ago I asked God to remove any remnant of unhealthy pride from my heart. I begged His forgiveness for judgmental, critical thoughts and words, and asked for His spirit of love and mercy to fill all those unkind places. I wanted to stop looking at the "dents" and instead see the beauty of effort.

It took lots of honesty and confession to deal with my ingrained habit of seeing the problem. Even after I reined in my words, my heart still needed attention. Yet each time I faced the ugly truth about what was going on inside, criticism loosened its grip, allowing me to celebrate imperfect progress – in others and myself.

Do those critical thoughts still pop up? Yes they do. I'll be honest, I saw the dent that remained on my son's car too. But I immediately redirected my thoughts towards the generosity of a brother who forgave. I chose to focus on his creative solution and the kindness of his friend. And I thanked God my response that time had been to see the positive and to celebrate with my son.

Repairs are happening all around me. God is working in the lives of those I love; He is working in mine too. My prayer is to get to the place where I don't even see the dents.
Instead, I want eyes and a heart that rejoice with the smallest improvement, that praise potential and acknowledge effort. As I seek to live out Jesus' request to love others, a critical spirit needs to die, and a loving one needs to take its place.

Dear Lord, thank You for seeing the good in me. Your thoughts are not critical and condemning, instead You celebrate every little bit of progress I make. Your belief in me makes me want to do better. Help me to give that gift to others and myself. In Jesus name, Amen.


Reflect and Respond:
A critical spirit is often rooted in underlying emotions. What are some of the reasons women are critical of others?


To start to change a critical spirit, commit to identifying and affirming verbally or in writing, positive progress in three people you know.

Power Verses:
Hebrews 3:13, "But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called "Today," so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness." (NIV)


Colossians 3:16, "Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts." (NIV)

Glynnis Whitwer, Encouragement for Today devotions
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Old 02-23-2012, 01:21 PM
szcunane szcunane is offline
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Originally Posted by dutchgirl1 View Post
I understand - believe me! right now going thru some things, and it seems the Lord is either just taking His time in answering or not listening... oh I know He listens, this is just how I am feeling right now. Last night was our online prayer w/some friends. I was praying exactly this kind of problem, and what comes to mind.........................

When Jesus was teaching some things, and the crowd started walking away because they didnt want to hear the hard things, Jesus looked at His disciples and asked if they too would walk away. Peter responded........
(and this is how I ended my prayer)... "Lord, where else would we go, for only You have the Words of eternal life."

so, even in my frustrations, even when the Lord is silent, even when everything is crashing down on us in life........... still will I follow Him. He has the Words of Life, only He is Life.

hang in there.

you know, I sit here and wonder - how do people without the Lord get through each day? without Him, especially the Spirit giving comfort and peace, I just don't think I could do it. I keep hearing "BE STILL and KNOW that I Am God" . . .oh, this person of action has been grounded with this broken foot - -and so, I smile and think, okay God, I am still - physically, but slow my mind! I KNOW, without a doubt that He is who He says He is . . .and so, like you, I will trust. I was thinking about this being the beginning of Lent, a time of reflection . ..and sometimes reflecting can be so hard . .because to me it involves some evaluating where I stand in my relationship with God . .and if I am growing. I wasn't reading the devotionals for a few weeks - -while on the pain meds I had problems concentrating. I spent last Saturday with some quality God and me time and caught up with all I missed . . .it is amazing how God speaks when I'm ready to listen. This journey, even without our children incarcerated can be a hard one. . . .all I can say is "Oh, Lord, where you lead I will follow . . even if I don't like the path we are going down" . . and when I think He is slow in responding, or when the answer is No, I pray for strength to accept it . . . what is the serenity prayer? Lord, help me to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.

keeping you in prayer - - Susan
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  #2425  
Old 02-27-2012, 08:26 AM
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@ Susan........ my hubs came into the office the other day to read a scripture to me.... he ended reading the whole chapter. wow. it really speaks to us right now. Read Lamentations 3. hubs main verses were towards the end, but the whole chapter is good. whoever thought encouraging words like this could come from something called Lamentations.
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