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  #2251  
Old 09-30-2011, 08:09 AM
d'gal d'gal is offline
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*I think I have done this one before, but I feel led to use this devotion today. The Lord always knows what to do and for whom this is meant. d'gal


What to do When You Don't Know What to do

“O our God, will You not judge them? For we are powerless before this great multitude who are coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are on You.” 2 Chronicles 20:12


Have you ever been there? At a place in life where the troubles and problems before you are so great and so numerous that you don’t know what to do?

In the Old Testament, good and godly King Jehoshaphat found himself in that uncomfortable place. The enemies of Judah had banded together to make a super army … and they were coming to wipe God’s people off the map. The circumstances were dire and destruction seemed certain.

Jehoshaphat did not know what to do except pray and get his eyes on the Lord. And that is exactly what God wanted him to do. When he took his eyes off his problems and put them on the Lord, God responded in mighty power.

IN YOUR PROBLEMS
Are you facing great and frightening problems today? Is it cancer? Is a layoff coming? Is the marriage ending? Is some destructive addiction taking you down? Is the devil coming at you with both barrels?

What do you do when life seems to be caving in all around you?

You join with Jehoshaphat and honestly say, “God, I am powerless in this problem I am facing, and I don’t know what to do. But I choose to take my eyes off my problems and put them squarely on You.”

You see, you and I are not able to handle the problems of life, but God is able. And God will arise in your trouble IF IF IF you will just look to Him and trust Him, no matter what.

THE POWER OF PRAISE

In the story of Jehoshaphat in 2 Chronicles 20, it is interesting to note that God told him:
1. Do not be afraid because I am with you.
2. Do not be dismayed because I am able.
3. Do not think this is your battle because it is Mine!

How’s that for an answer to prayer! So, the people gathered the next day to face the enemy. Judah’s army was ready, but they did not have to fight. In fact, it was the choir who led the army out to the battlefield. And when the choir began to sing and praise the Lord, the Lord responded to their praise (their praise was proof of genuine faith) and routed the enemy before their very eyes. WOW!

What to do when you don’t know what to do? Get your eyes on the Lord and praise Him! There is great power in praise! Praise shows God you know He is in control, and you trust Him.

The wonderful old song says it best:

When you’re up against a struggle, that shatters all your dreams.
And your hopes have been cruelly crushed by Satan’s manifested schemes.
When you feel the urge within you to submit to earthly fear,
Don’t let the faith you’re standing in seem to disappear.
Praise the Lord. He can work through those who praise Him.
Praise the Lord. For our God inhabits praise.
Praise the Lord. For the chains that seem to bind you,
serve only to remind you, that they drop powerless behind you,
when you praise Him.

Read 2 Chronicles Chapter 20 today and be blessed as you trust God to see you through.

Pastor Jeff Schreve, From His Heart devotions.
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  #2252  
Old 10-03-2011, 08:07 AM
d'gal d'gal is offline
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The Trust Factor

"Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him and He will make your paths straight." Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV)

Yesterday I went into a job interview—junior high substitute teacher; how brave am I? When I walked out of it, I had a whole new calling.

Thing is, I don't want a new calling. I like the ones I've been living with—wife, mom, novelist, children's author. I didn't think God had anything else up His sleeve, and I was okay with that. I'm not a big fan of change.

The man interviewing me told me he has a gift of discernment. Then he did something I've never seen or experienced: he spoke a word over me.

This kind of thing didn't happen in the church in which I was raised. To me, a gift of discernment meant having a reliable sense about whether or not someone's teaching was biblical, or if someone was telling the truth. It didn't mean God could give someone else a glimpse into His plans for me. Yet what this man told me fit, like the one missing puzzle piece, into the changes I've been going through lately on both a personal and a professional level. As he spoke, I knew that what he was saying was truly from the Lord.

But I didn't leave his office glowing with excitement. In fact, I wasn't excited at all about what he told me, despite the fact that it spoke directly to my heart. It would require that I open my hands and release things I've been holding too tightly. And I'll be honest, part of me really doesn't want to.

I like my life just as it is. Remember, God, how I'm not a fan of change—even when it means seeing another dream realized?

The bottom line is this: I struggle with trusting God.

In my novel Composing Amelia, Amelia struggles with the same thing. She'd rather stay with what is familiar than trust God to give her a calling she'll love but can't envision right now.

I don't want to be like Amelia. I don't want to be short-sighted, dubious of God's desire or ability to bless me, or resistant to the future He has for me. But my lack of trust, fear of the unknown, and reluctance to give up my comfortable life are threatening to hold me back from obeying Him. And that's definitely not good.

So I have a choice to make.
Will I believe that God's plans are better than my own?
Will I risk stepping out of my comfort zone?
Do I believe the growing pains I'll face will be worth the blessings that will come?
Do I trust God to really take care of me? Or am I going to cower beneath my desk with my fingers in my ears and pretend like yesterday's meeting never happened?

What about you? What changes is God nudging you towards that have you digging in your heels and tightening your grip on whatever you know you need to release? Do you believe the rewards are worth the pain? Or that God's perfect plan is worth leaving your complacency and comfort behind?

Do you trust Him? Or are you hiding and hoping He passes you by?

The unknown is scary. But ultimately—for me anyway—it's scarier to think of what I might miss if I don't let go. And so I say a prayer, open my hands, and peer beyond the edge of what I know, into the vast expanse of the future where a giant question mark dominates the landscape. Do you see it, too?

Today let's choose to trust God and not require that we like or even understand what He is calling us to do. Let's submit to Him, believing that the path He calls us to take will always be worth the change, worth the risk, worth the effort, simply because He has chosen it for us.

Dear Lord, I praise You for Your love and for Your desire to see me grow. I thank You for the promise in Scripture that You are always with us, every step of the way, regardless of whether or not we see or feel You there. Forgive my uncertainty and doubts about the future, and give me the strength to take the next step You are directing me to take. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Alison Strobel


*This devotion seemed to be calling my name. yes, I too struggle with trust.. I depend on the Lord for everything, even my next breath. yet, when things around me seem to fall apart, son in prison, sister dieing, finances, grandchild problems, kid problems etc etc. I have to stop and wonder... God what is going on? are You really here and working for the good of us? that is a trust issue. and then I realize, I have to trust Him, because He is my only hope every single day.
d'gal
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  #2253  
Old 10-04-2011, 08:11 AM
d'gal d'gal is offline
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I Need a Shepherd


Today’s Truth
He tends his flock like a shepherd. He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young (Isaiah 40:11, NIV).

Friend to Friend
Shepherds live with their sheep, finding places for them to eat and drink, providing shelter from the storms and protection from the heat. Sheep must eat the right amount of the right kinds of grass at the right times or they will die. If the sheep eat too little one day and too much the next day, some of the bacteria that live in the stomach of the sheep will reproduce abnormal levels, creating toxins which cause sudden death. The shepherd must carefully plan the path and lead the way so the sheep have neither too little nor too much grazing and are able to get to the water hole on time. Pastures are often lost to extreme heat which means the shepherd has to scour the countryside in search of green grass.

Several flocks of sheep are gathered together at night in a sheltered place so shepherds can share the watches of the night, protecting the sheep from wild animals and thieves. Good shepherds are always willing to risk their lives to save their flocks from any harm, any enemy and even from themselves.

The needs of sheep, compared to the needs of other animals, are greater because of their instinct to be afraid and when faced with a fearful situation, to run. Without a shepherd to care for the sheep, they would not last long. Sheep are dumb, can never be left alone and often stray, requiring the shepherd to continually find and rescue them. A shepherd never pushes his sheep but rather leads his sheep, going before them, making sure they are not walking into danger.

Personally, I definitely fit the profile of a sheep. I can’t count the number of times I have stubbornly stuck to my plan, foolishly thinking that it was better than His plan, only to end up in some pit somewhere, calling for help. Psalm 40:1-3 has become my life maxim – with one exception. I rarely wait patiently.
Remember, I am a sheep!

I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the LORD (Psalm 40:1-3, NIV).

I sometimes allow fear to drive me to a place where I am trapped by doubts and darkness until He rescues me. I satisfy my hunger by eating the wrong things from the wrong hands found in the wrong places at the wrong times. The result is always the same; my soul is soon ravenous for what is good because I have been stuffing my heart and mind with what is bad.

Like every sheep, I don’t like to be pushed. Good shepherds do not push, no matter how great the temptation. A good shepherd stands in front of his sheep, gently calling their names, leading them to a place where he has already been, positioning himself between danger and his sheep. When I am tired and ready to give up, I tend to withdraw from the other sheep and even from my Shepherd. Many of us have somehow bought into the lie that we can make it on our own or that the rules and commandments of God do not necessarily apply to us like they apply to those other sheep.
The longer I walk with God, the more I realize just how much we need each other and how much we need Him. When will I learn that I cannot do life on my own – as a sheep or as a shepherd?

Let’s think about the sheep for whom we are responsible as shepherds here on earth. We are all called by God in different ways to do different things, but we are all called to be a shepherd to someone. We live in a world filled with people who, like sheep, are lost, confused, hungry, lonely, and in desperate need of a Savior. Family members, friends, co-workers and neighbors are all part of our flock. And sometimes their needs are overwhelming.

You live with your sheep or everywhere you go you run into someone from your flock. Your phone rings off the wall, e-mails pile up and you are constantly trying to rescue one of your sheep who is in trouble. The feeding schedule of your flock is not an easy task either. Since sheep must eat the right amount of the right foods at the right time, you must always be prepared to feed them, according to their needs – not yours.
As a shepherd, you must know your sheep so well that you can lead them – not push them – in the right direction. The natural inclination of every sheep in your flock is to run when they sense danger. You may be trying to lead your sheep, but they are either too afraid or too stubborn to let you lead. You may be standing in the middle of their escape route, which may also mean that they will run right over you in their frantic stampede to escape. Remember that they are afraid and in desperate need of rescue.
Your job, as their earthly shepherd, is to care for them and to continually point them to the Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ. Remember, a good shepherd is willing to lay down his life for his sheep, just as Jesus Christ laid down His life for you and for me. Do you love your flock enough to lay down your life for each one – the cute, fluffy ones as well as the dirty, broken lambs?

Maybe it is time for us all to stop, listen for His voice, seek His plan and remember that we are indeed needy sheep who are called to love and lead other needy sheep to the Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ.

Let’s Pray
Father, thank You for laying down Your life so that I can live now and eternally. I am desperate for You. I am lost without Your love and power at work in my life. I don’t know where to go or what to do. I am afraid, Lord. Right now, I surrender every part of my life to You. Please be my Shepherd and my Guide. Help me love and care for the people in my life and point them to You, Lord. Use me to love others and serve them in a way that pleases and honors You.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen.

Now It’s Your Turn
Read Psalm 23:1-6 once a day for one month. Let it soak into your heart, mind and soul and become a living reality in your life. As you read Psalm 23, consider the following questions:
  • In what ways are sheep dependent on their shepherd?
  • How do shepherds care for their sheep?
  • Compare the two lists. What similarities do you find in your own life?
Mary Southerland, Girlfriends in God devotions
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  #2254  
Old 10-05-2011, 07:56 AM
d'gal d'gal is offline
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Damaged Goods

"The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise." Psalm 51:17 (NIV, 1984)

I walked down the aisle of the discount grocery looking for a bargain that I couldn't live without. It's always hit and miss in this store...and I had missed...again.

But, I passed by a bin that caught my eye. "Damaged Goods." It was filled with dented cans and missing labels...no real rhyme or reason, just random items that were not shelf worthy. And suddenly, I knew just how they felt.

Life sometimes delivers the unexpected. Lessons learned in the school of hard knocks bruise us, dent us and remove the label that defines who we are. We feel as if we have been tossed into a bin, no longer worthy of a place on the shelf. Some people substantiate the lie that we are second class failures and all hope is gone.

So, I leaned over and intentionally chose a dented can with no label from the bin. I got it home and placed it on the can opener with anxious anticipation. The whirr of the can opener finally penetrated the metal lid to reveal....peaches!!! I let out a school girl squeal! I love peaches!! What a treat to open this can and be greeted by one of my favorite fruits. The can was damaged but the contents were still good...and sweet.

God must have smiled...because at that moment the sunshine beamed in my kitchen window. I knew in my heart there was a lesson.

I have been damaged. We all have to some degree. I am not living the life that I dreamed about when I was a kid. However, the damage that I have suffered has made the contents of my heart so much sweeter, so much more compassionate, so much more in pursuit of Jesus. I have been looked down upon and judged by many who have seen my label missing and slapped on their own.

I've wanted to say, "Don't judge too quickly. My damage has not defined me...but, it is refining me." I may sometimes be at the bottom of the life's bin, but Jesus paid as high a price for those of us at the bottom as He did for those that are proudly displayed on the top shelf.

Look around. Is there someone in your life, your family or your church that you consider "damaged goods"? Don't miss an opportunity to reach out to them, to love them. You just might find a friendship that is good...and sweet.

Dear Lord, my life hasn't turned out exactly turned out like I thought it would. But, I know that You can still use me. Please forgive me for labeling others and judging them by their outside circumstances instead of the work that You are doing in their heart. Help me realize that we all have dents but that's what keeps us desperate for a Savior. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Application Steps:

Write down all the life circumstances that have 'dented' your heart. Ask God to use your dents and scratches for your good and His glory.

Have you been judged unfairly? How did that make you feel?

Reflections:

Is there someone I am judging unfairly?
By their circumstance? Or life situation?
What can I do to reach out to that person today?

Power Verses:

Psalm 34:18, "The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit." (NIV)

Isaiah 61:1, "The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners..." (NIV, 1984)

Carol Davis, Encouragement for Today
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  #2255  
Old 10-06-2011, 08:07 AM
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I Have a Shepherd


Today’s Truth
Know that the Lord is God. He made us, and we belong to him; we are his people, the sheep he tends. (Psalm 100:3, NCV)

Friend to Friend
Shepherding was one of the oldest callings in Israel, even before farming. Shepherds traveled from place to place, living in tents while driving their flocks from one pasture to another. The sheep and their shepherd lived together every minute of every day. In fact, they were so intimately bound together that individual sheep, even when mixed with other flocks, could recognize the voice of their own shepherd and would come immediately when called by name.

A shepherd owned and marked his sheep. In some cases, the sheep were even branded, although branding is no longer an accepted method of identification because of the damage it does to the wool. Today, the ears of sheep are pierced with identification tags, but for thousands of years, shepherds around the world marked their sheep by notching their ears with a sharp knife. Each shepherd had his own distinctive notch that indicated identity and ownership.

When we come to Jesus Christ in complete surrender and begin the journey of becoming a fully devoted follower of Christ, we are redeemed by His forgiveness, made whole by His grace and marked with His love through the presence and power of the Holy Spirit.

You were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13, NIV).

For years, I desperately struggled to be a Christian with only head knowledge of who God was and wanted to be in my life. The result was a pitifully shallow existence with stress and frustration as my constant companions. To make things worse, I was up to my neck in ministry at the time.

I grew up in a Christian home, attending church just about every time the doors were open. I sang all of the right songs, spoke all of the right words and did all of the right things in front of all the right people. I fervently prayed that my works would validate my faith and desperately hoped that by following the rules, I would please the Ruler. It was not until middle school that the authentic life and spiritual integrity of a dynamic youth pastor made me hunger and thirst for something more. I wanted to know God - not only as my Lord and King - but as my Shepherd, the one who would lead me, provide for me and love me like no other.

During a special Saturday evening revival service at our small country church, I sat in my usual spot, desperately clutching the back of the pew in front of me while wrestling with God over the condition of my soul and my eternal security. After all, I was a very active church member, a soloist and pianist for our worship services, and even directed a children’s choir. I never missed a service unless I was deathly ill. I was a leader in our youth group, rarely failed to attend a youth activity and often brought friends who were lost, unlike me, of course, and needed to know God. How embarrassing to walk down that aisle, admitting to everyone that I had been living a lie. I clung to that pew in sheer arrogance and argued that I was a Christian. I must be – right? Look at all of the good things I had done. I looked like a believer, talked like a believer and even acted like I was fully devoted to God.

Then a startling certainty hit me like a ton of bricks! I knew all about God but I did not know Him. It wasn’t enough for me or for God. I have come to realize that God’s perfect love settles for nothing less than an intimate and loving relationship with His children. That night I met Jesus Christ as I surrendered all that I knew about myself to all that I knew about Him.

While the course of my life was changed forever, I quickly discovered I still had to deal with life on a daily basis and still had to face stressful situations. I also discovered who I really am - a sheep - and being a sheep is awesome! When I am afraid, Jesus Christ is there to bring peace. When my heart is broken, the Holy Spirit comforts and restores me. Even when I found myself in a deep, dark pit of clinical depression, Jesus Christ, my Shepherd, led me from the darkness into the light.

I began to understand the incredible truth that Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd, has planned my very existence, prepared a plan in response to His love for me, and even made provision for the payment of my past, present and future sin. I am wanted, chosen and marked for God. I no longer have to live life on my own because I have a Shepherd. God's love precedes me, goes before me and surrounds me as I live each day. Knowing we are loved fosters peace in our hearts, and when our hearts are filled with peace, there is little room for stress.

Actually, when you think about it, sheep don’t come across as stressed-out creatures. In fact, they seem almost oblivious to danger. Sheep don’t seem to worry about where their next meal is coming from, if they will have a place to sleep each night, when the next enemy or thief will attack, or even what the next day holds. When sheep are sick or in need, they simply turn to their Shepherd, instinctively knowing He will take care of them and comfort them until healing comes.

We need to remember and often revisit the fact that we are all sheep and that Jesus Christ really is our Shepherd and nothing else really matters.

Let’s Pray
Thank You, Lord, for being so faithful to me – even when my faith is small and my strength is gone. Help me learn how to trust You more and turn to You first when I am in trouble. I surrender my fears to You, Lord. I need Your love and guidance to get me through each day. I need Your protection from people and circumstances that are harmful. You are my Source and my Deliverer. Help me choose to trust You in such a way that brings You glory and honor.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen.

Now It’s Your Turn
Record the following promises in your journal. Beside each promise, write the words of Psalm 23 that substantiate that promise. I have listed a few to help you get started.

God promises to meet every need in my life. “I shall not want.”
God gives me rest and peace. “He leads me beside quiet waters.”
God gives my life purpose and direction.________________________________________ _
God comforts me when my heart is broken. ______________________________________
God promises that He will never leave me._______________________________________
God gives me victory over my enemies. _________________________________________
God promises me eternal life. _________________________________________________



Mary Southerland, Girlfriends in God devotions
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  #2256  
Old 10-07-2011, 07:47 AM
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Are You There God?
How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? Psalm 13:1, NIV

Are you there, God? I am hurting. Please be near to me.

I remember the first time I cried out like this to God. Really cried out from a place of pain and agony. Of confusion and of understanding that was little to none.

Still really just a child, I was only 17 and had just learned of what was really going on in my family. It apparently had been broken and troubled for many years. But I did not know up until then, and had been shielded from the truth.

In one afternoon, though, everything I had believed in—the image of a strong family unit I thought I knew and could trust in—all came crashing down. Like a house of flimsy cards.

A couple of years later, my parents would divorce. And this time of trial in my life would continue through many more years of grief, withdrawal, and searching for something or someone to offer comfort and heal my pain.

I dare say I felt a lot like David did in Psalm 13:
How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me? Look on me and answer O LORD my God. Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death; my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,” and my foes will rejoice when I fall.

Now David was in a serious time of trial when he wrote this. He was facing an illness, and his condition was dire. His enemies would have liked nothing more than to see him defeated (even unto death).

I know this feeling, too. In a different manner—but in the same reality—I was also asking to be delivered from my circumstances. From the horrible pain of the dissolution of my family as I knew it.

Whether divorce has touched you in some way or not, all of us have been through some sort of trial that has shaken us to the very core. That has rattled our bones. That has turned our lives upside down. Whether it be a broken relationship, the death of a loved one, the dashing to pieces of a dream, childlessness, defeat in your career or prolonged singleness . . . we all know what it means to lose something or to have a void in our lives.

During times like these, I believe that the enemy would like nothing more than for our faith to die and for us never again to bear fruit. But it is during our trials that we must continue seeking God. For it is while our faith is being tested that we are being molded into the image of Christ.

As believers, we are advised many times throughout Scripture to expect trials. Yes, we will know both suffering and rejoicing as we walk with the Lord. We are promised as such. And whether we are just coming out of a trial, are currently in the midst of one or are unknowingly getting ready to go through one, we must cling to the knowledge that trials produce a faith that results in praise.

Never forget: God is there. He is good. He is sovereign. And he is in control.

But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing to the LORD for he has been good to me (Psa. 13:5-6).

Intersecting Faith & Life:
Like the old hymn says, “there is a balm in Gilead to make the wounded whole” (Jer. 8:22). Only God can heal us and bring us through. Let us cling to the knowledge that despite our trials, God sacrificed his Son for us and is worthy of our praise.

Further Reading:
1 Peter 1:6-9, NIV
James 1:2-4, NIV

Laura MacCorkle, Crosswalk devotions

*I chose this one today because, well let's be honest.... who of us haven't cried out...God are you there? Are you listening? Do you care? and the answer to each of those questions is YES. He is there, He is listening, and He cares more than you can imagine. God does answer, but only in His time. He knows the whens wheres and whatfors. We go thru the desert time - looking for something to quench our thirst. And He is there, waiting. go ahead, cry out to Him and then learn to wait on Him. He will answer.
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d'gal
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  #2257  
Old 10-10-2011, 08:30 AM
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How to Let Peace Rule


Today’s Truth
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts (Colossians 3:15a, NIV).

Friend to Friend
Understanding peace does not guarantee the presence of peace. I can fill my days with so many tasks, meetings, appointments, tasks and activities that peace disintegrates before noon.
In Colossians 3:15, Paul encourages us to “let the peace of Christ rule” in our hearts. The word “rule” is an athletic term meaning “to preside at the games and distribute the prizes.” Sounds like a typical day in the life of a woman to me!

In the Greek games, there were judges who rejected the contestants who were not qualified and disqualified those who broke the rules.
Today, we would call them “umpires” and the playing field of peace would be our hearts. “Heart” refers to “the center of one’s being.” Peace begins its reign in the center of our being; then works its way out into every nook and cranny of life - if we allow peace to rule.

Admittedly, there are times in life when an umpire seems like a good idea because many of us relish a good fight. We say we want peace, but not at the price of giving up control or surrendering personal agendas. We must stand firm in our resolve to pursue harmony and peace, even if it means giving up rights and yielding control.

Relationships must be committed to peace. It is difficult to wage war with someone who has laid down their weapons in an act of surrender. Ah, there’s that dreaded word again - surrender. Surrender is the heart beat of peace. The choice to surrender initiates the process of allowing peace to rule. I guess you could say the peace of God is our “umpire” and in every situation and stands ready to make the calls that will lead us to rest in and trust Him – when we choose to let peace rule.

The work of peace is always unleashed by our choices which invite the Holy Spirit to work in and through us.

Choose to be obedient.
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him (Colossians 3:16-17, NIV).

The lakes in Florida are beautiful, but relatively shallow as well. Over the years, they fill up with the silt and mire that wash off the shore. In time, they accumulate 2 to 3 feet of mire and decaying vegetation at the bottom. Soon that mire begins to deprive the lake, plants and fish of valuable oxygen and eventually the lakes literally die. In order to halt this process, a program has been put in place to drain the lakes periodically and expose the mire. After the mire is exposed, workers come in and dredge the mire – restoring the lake bottom to its original condition. The lake water can then be raised and soon the lake, its vegetation and fish are thriving again.

Our lives are much the same. We need to regularly expose and eliminate the "mire" or sin in our lives. The more we seek God, walk in obedience and nurture our relationship with Him, the stronger our peace will grow. When we have a personal relationship with God, we also have access to all of God’s power and all of God’s peace. How much power we receive from Him and how much peace we experience in Him depends upon how right our relationship is with Him.

Choose to be accountable.
Admonish one another with all wisdom (Colossian 3:16b, NIV).

“Admonish” literally means “to warn, to instruct or correct.” Paul is talking about obedience that is guarded by accountability. As John 14:23 (NCV) states, how much we love God is measured by how much we obey God. “Jesus answered, ‘If people love me, they will obey my teaching.’” Obedience is easier in an atmosphere of accountability.

Dan and I learned countless life lessons in ministry but one of the most important lessons was in the area of accountability. Hardly a week passes without a distressed phone call from some pastor or pastor’s wife, asking for help in their marriage, their ministry, or their personal lives. The problems ranged from drug addictions and alcoholism, to extra-marital affairs, prodigal children, mishandling church funds or…well, you name it! Every phone call serves as a reminder for us to be diligent in our efforts to maintain integrity. Wooden office doors at the church have been replaced with glass doors. We have a staff of professional counselors who handle the mounting demands and need for ongoing, personal counseling. Weekly staff meetings always include a time of holding each other accountable for time spent with children, dates with spouses as well as blunt conversations concerning potential temptations or struggles. Accountability is a hedge of protection that helps protect us from the storms and temptations in life.

After planting several pine trees in our front yard, I was concerned that they were not growing straight, even though we had planted them straight. One of our neighbors told me not to worry. “The winter winds are coming,” she explained. “The pines will grow against the wind and naturally straighten themselves while gaining strength to survive the winter.” Her words of plant-life-wisdom ring true for each one of us.
Obedience and accountability encourage peace and strengthen us for the storms of life.

Let’s Pray
Father, I am weak and recognize my helplessness to be obedient without Your strength and power. I have sinned against You, Lord. I now confess that sin and choose to turn away from it. Thank You for the forgiveness and restoration I find in You.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen.

Now It’s Your Turn
Spiritual maturity is not measured by how much we know. Spiritual maturity is measured by how much we do. The confession of sin is an important spiritual discipline we need to cultivate in order to grow in Christ.
Read and memorize the following verses of Scripture:
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8, NIV).

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and purify us from all our unrighteousness (1 John 1:9, NIV).

Mary Southerland

*I admit it, even though I know I am walking with the Lord, and Trust Him in all things, etc etc... sometimes, as a mother with a child in prison, it is hard to keep peace in my heart. worry about my son, anxiety, etc seem to crowd that peace at times. I have to remember that those negative things come from the enemy. not God. I have to confess my fraility and failures and regain His presence and His peace in my heart. How about you ? if you are struggling with constant negative feelings, give all that to the Lord. Let Him trade those in for His peace for you. trust me, you will feel better inside your heart.
hugs. d'gal
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  #2258  
Old 10-11-2011, 08:04 AM
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Trusting God No Matter What


Today’s Truth
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight (Proverbs 3:5-6, NIV).

Friend to Friend
There is nothing wrong with us trying to understand why bad things happen. However, the Bible clearly tells us not to depend on or lean on our ability to answer the tough question…why.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart,” the writer of Proverbs tells us, “and do not lean on your own understanding,” (Proverbs 3:5).

Ultimately, God is in control and His ways are higher than our ways. God reminds us, “’For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts’” (Isaiah 55:8-9).
Dr. James Dobson, in his book, When God Doesn’t Make Sense says “trying to analyze His (God’s) omnipotence is like an amoeba attempting to comprehend the behavior of man.” It is simply not possible.

But one thing we can be sure of, “all the ways of the Lord are loving and faithful,” whether we understand them or not (Psalm 25:10). “Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known” (1 Corinthians 13:12). It may not be until we cross over from the temporal to the eternal that we understand the many “whys” of life. Until then, we must trust in the sovereignty of God.

No matter what you have gone through or what you will go through in the future, God promises: “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand,” (Isaiah 41:10).

God wants to know if you will trust Him no matter what your outward circumstances may be. Will you say with Job, “Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him,” (Job 13:15)?

Let’s Pray
Dear Lord, I thank You that Your ways are higher than my ways. I make a poor god even on my best days. I thank You for being an all-knowing, all-seeing, ever-present God who knows what’s best for me. Forgive me for questioning You and help me to trust you more.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen.

Now It’s Your Turn
What area do you have the most difficulty trusting God? Your marriage? Your children? Your finances?

Do you believe that God understands that area of your life better than you do?

Are you willing to trust God even though you do not understand His ways?

Meditate on the Scriptures that are mentioned in today’s devotional.

Sharon Jaynes, Girlfriends in God devotions


* ah those 3 words sure can make a difference in how much - how far - how long - we will trust in Him. "no matter what''. that means that no matter what your 'feelings' or your ears or eyes tell you about whatever thing is happening.... keep trusting. easier said than done sometimes, but this is what we need to do. so when the enemy comes and tries to tell you ''it aint gonna happen'', you can tell him to bug off because ''my God is faithful to complete that which He has promised" no matter what!
hugs. d'gal
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  #2259  
Old 10-12-2011, 08:14 AM
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I Haven't Got Time for the Pain

"In my distress I called to the LORD; I cried to my God for help." Psalm 18:6a (NIV, 1984)

I knew I needed to talk with someone about the pain that was still buried in my heart, but I didn't want to talk about it. I was tired of hurting and afraid I'd fall apart or slip back into depression if I let it all come to the surface.

I didn't have time for falling apart. Plus it was in the past and I thought it would eventually just go away.

Have you ever avoided dealing with pain because it would take too much time? Or have you tried to pray away the pain only to realize healing is a process, but one you're not sure you want to go through?

Although we can't go back and change circumstances or relationships that wounded us, we can go back and process our pain with Jesus. In fact, we won't heal from our hurts unless we do.

When left unresolved, the pain from our yesterdays can creep up in our todays and keep us from experiencing all God has for our tomorrows.

This happened in my relationship with my husband several years into our marriage. I don't know exactly when it started, I just remember feeling a lot of anger and realizing I had a critical spirit towards JJ.

One day I sensed God showing me damaged emotions from my childhood I hadn't dealt with or healed from. Circumstances that happened in my past were now hindering my present, casting shadows of fear and doubt over my future.

I decided to make a time line of my life, marking key "emotional" events. As I prayed over it, I wrote down any painful emotions and memories I could remember.
Although it wasn't easy, I asked the Holy Spirit to remind me of experiences and relationships that had wounded me, what affects they'd had on me, how far from God they took me and how they had hurt me and others.

Years of disappointment as a child in a broken home with a broken heart led to a significant sense of loss. Yet, I never grieved the happily-ever-after I longed for but didn't have. Unfulfilled hopes led to bitter expectations.

During that time God showed me how I wanted JJ to make up for what my dad had never been as a father to me, or as a husband to my mom. Hoping to create my own version of "happily-ever-after," I became controlling and critical.

I thought if I could get JJ to be the husband and dad I wanted him to be, my broken dreams would get put back together. Maybe he could provide security and shelter for the little-girl-emotions that were still crushed inside my heart.
But my strategy wasn't working. Instead, I needed to cry out to God with my hurts and call on Him for help. And, I needed to take time to respond to what He was showing me.

Time to seek God for my security and hope by letting Him be the father I longed for. Time to grieve things I wanted from my father that I would never have. Time to invite God into my hurting places so He could heal my wounded emotions and set me free from my fear of never having a happy ending.

Finally, I needed to forgive my father and release my feelings of anger, abandonment, disappointment and hurt. I also needed to confess my sin of unrealistic expectations and let go of what I thought was my right to "happily-ever-after."

It was a process that took time, prayer, courage and tears, but it was worth it. Over time I was able to let go of my past and my pain as I took hold of hope and healing. I was also able to accept JJ for who he was and trust God to make him the husband He knew I needed, instead of the one I wanted.

When we allow Jesus to search our hearts and bring His perspective into our pain, redemption comes. Whether it is the pain from our yesterdays or hurts from our todays, when we give Jesus time to pour His truth into our wounds, His love flows into our pain and makes us whole again.

Dear Lord, please give me the courage and help me take the time to walk through the process of letting You heal my hurts and restore my heart with hope. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Application Steps:
Make a time line with key events that brought painful emotions and memories. Ask Jesus to reveal how they affected you, your relationship with God and others. Then ask Him to walk you through the process of replacing your pain with the healing balm of His presence and promises.

Reflections:
"Although we can't go back and change the circumstances or relationships that have wounded us, we can go back and process our pain with Jesus." — A Confident Heart

Power Verses:
Psalm 18:1-2a, "I love you, O LORD, my strength. The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge." (NIV 1984)

Renee Swope, Encouragement for Today devotions.


*I think that healing past hurts will help us to learn to Trust God more in the trials we are facing. Seek Him and let Him renew your heart and heal those deep hurts that have been hidden away.
d'gal
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  #2260  
Old 10-13-2011, 09:20 AM
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A Stone’s Throw Away—Rock On!

Slings aren’t seen much in our culture, but in the David-and-Goliath days, they were like an extension of a militiaman’s arm. Among the soldiers of the tribe of Benjamin were 700 men and “every one could sling a stone at a hair’s breadth and not miss” (Judges 20:16).

Stones used in slings weighed up to a pound, were round (between a golf ball and tennis ball), and could travel up to 100 miles per hour when launched. David launched the stone at Goliath where it “sank into his forehead, and he fell on his face to the earth” (1 Samuel 17:49).

Preparing for Our Giants
The apostle Paul states clearly that “we do not war according to the flesh” (2 Corinthians 10:3)—and slings and stones are definitely weapons of the flesh even if they were used in obedience to a spiritual directive from God. So, when we battle our giants, what kinds of stones do we need to deposit into our shepherd’s bag or our heart?

In my book Slaying the Giants in Your Life, I listed twelve giants that I see Christians facing all too often: fear, discouragement, loneliness, worry, guilt, temptation, anger, resentment, doubt, procrastination, failure, and jealousy. And there are more.

We are not like the Israelite soldiers who were frozen with fear on the battle lines. “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7). We are called to take up our spiritual stones and defeat our giants.

Here are five stones you should have with you at all times:

1. Promise of His Presence. If there was one thing of which David was confident, it was that he was not going to fight Goliath alone—and he wasn’t counting on the Israelite soldiers! He knew that God was with him and had his back. Do you believe these words of Jesus: “Lo, I am with you always”? (Matthew 28:20) You should because, if you know Him, He is with you to help you defeat your giants.

2. Power of Prayer. Read what David said to Goliath: “I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts” (1 Samuel 17:45). Jesus said, “Whatever you ask the Father in My name He [will] give you” if we abide in Him and His words abide in us (John 15:16). Do NOT try to defeat your giants apart from prayer. DO believe you can defeat them through prayer.

3. Provision of Promises. David went to face his giant with five stones; we go to face ours with way more than five promises from God. We have been given “exceedingly great and precious promises” through which we may be “partakers of the divine nature” of God (2 Peter 1:4). If your carnal nature is taunting you, partake of God’s nature through His promises.

4. Practice of Peace. The Israelite soldiers facing Goliath were filled with anxiety for forty days, wondering when Goliath the giant would crush them. They should have done what Paul exhorts: Commit everything by prayer to God, with thanksgiving, “and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7). If you aren’t facing your giants with peace, you can’t face them with power.

5. Preparation of Partners. David and Goliath were leaders—representatives of their respective armies. So David had partners, fearful though they were. But as soon as David gained the advantage, the army rushed to join him and defeat the Philistines. Don’t go into battle alone. Even if you have to take the lead in defeating your giants, make sure you have fellow soldiers to join you in routing the enemy.

Those are your modern spiritual missiles with which you can defeat the giants in your life. Like David, you have to bend down, pick them up, and take them with you into battle. Don’t leave home without them.


David Jeremiah, Turning Point devotions
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  #2261  
Old 10-13-2011, 10:30 AM
szcunane szcunane is offline
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[quote=dutchgirl1;6392724]I Haven't Got Time for the Pain

"In my distress I called to the LORD; I cried to my God for help." Psalm 18:6a (NIV, 1984)

I knew I needed to talk with someone about the pain that was still buried in my heart, but I didn't want to talk about it. I was tired of hurting and afraid I'd fall apart or slip back into depression if I let it all come to the surface.

I didn't have time for falling apart. Plus it was in the past and I thought it would eventually just go away.

Although we can't go back and change circumstances or relationships that wounded us, we can go back and process our pain with Jesus. In fact, we won't heal from our hurts unless we do.

When left unresolved, the pain from our yesterdays can creep up in our todays and keep us from experiencing all God has for our tomorrows.

I so needed to read this. I have been pushing so much pain deep inside and it has been making me sick - -I had taken the "just get over it and move on" mentality, but I was never getting over it. this has given me a lot to think about. do i have the courage to go back?
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  #2262  
Old 10-13-2011, 02:02 PM
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sz............ believe me I understand. my youngest daughter holds her past and past hurts close to her. her life has been a mess, she is also an alcoholic. she cant seem to let go or to allow the Lord to minister to her.
we pray daily for her, and it is so hard to know there is nothing I can do but pray. that is good, yet my mothers heart wants to do so much more to help her. maybe that is partly why she lives in Alaska... away from us - she carries guilt and wont allow us to talk to her. as soon as you start to ask something, it's ''well I have to go now.''
just remember, never look back on the past w/o having the Lord tell you and know that He is there. cant ever do it alone.

hugs
d'gal
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Old 10-14-2011, 08:18 AM
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posting 2 today.... I guess you can consider one for today and another for tomorrow or both today. have a great wknd. see ya monday.

The Broken Way



Today’s Truth
Moses answered the people, 'Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the LORD will bring you today ... the LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still (Exodus 14:13-14, NIV).

Friend to Friend
While at a football game of my son Preston’s, I had a moving conversation with another team mom. It was the first time we’d ever dialogued beyond socially expected niceties.
Between cheers that went up to our football-playing boys, she stumbled upon the fact that I was a Jesus-loving girl and was excited to share about how God has intimately drawn her heart to his over the past five years. How He met her where she was, ministered to her through the hands of others. How He sparked life into her soul through His Son Jesus Christ. She was radiant and she spoke with excitement, joy in every sentence, praise on her tongue for the God who gives her strength and life. This dear lady opened her heart and told me of her grueling battle with an aggressive form of breast cancer.

She was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 35 – as a wife and mother to three small children. Initially, she was angry with God for allowing a disease to ravage her body, furious that her husband and children might have to live without her. Though she fought to understand the “why” of it all, she confidently testifies that God used the pain-filled journey on the broken road of cancer to lead her to saving Grace. She is now grateful for the broken way that God breathed new life into her soul as she battled death in her body.
As she spoke, the troubles of my life faded to a humble corner of my heart. Her words reminded me that God really can and should be glorified through each hard place we find ourselves in. I was freshly reminded to trust God.

Life is filled with challenges. The struggles we endure often leave our hearts breaking and our minds aching for reprieve. I’ve not battled cancer, but I have experienced my fair share of times when I’ve been crushed by circumstances that are beyond my control … just like her. As a wife, mother, daughter, and friend, I’ve learned that hard times are inevitable and that they hurt.

Toward the end of our conversation about her cancer and faith, my new friend confided that fear still tries to invade her days. She said that she constantly has to choose faith and to trust God instead of dwelling on the possibilities of another future diagnosis.
Every one of us doubts at times. We all fail to trust. But Scripture assures us that even when we are faithless, God remains faithful. As we walk broken paths that challenge our faith, the truth remains that God does deliver in and through the pain.

Though there are struggles that we might take to the grave with us, God is still good. Each hard place is an opportunity for Jesus to show His power in and through our lives.

When we find ourselves on the broken way, we often feel like we are wandering in the wilderness. In Exodus 13:17-14:31, we see a dreary desert drama of the Israelites. Stop here to read the full account now if you can.

When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter. For God said, "If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt." So God led the people around by the desert road toward the Red Sea (Exodus 13:17-18a, NIV).

As God moved through the leadership of Moses to bring His people from captivity to freedom, from poverty to inheritance, the Israelites were not led the easy way. They didn’t get to take the “paved” road – even though it was shorter.
They had to walk through the desert. God led them the harder way because He knew it was best for them in the long run. Sometimes we are led the harder way too. The broken way. Even though our minds conceive an easier solution, He knows what is unknown to us, He sees what is unseen to us, and His ways are trustworthy and best.

By day the LORD went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night. Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people.” (Exodus 17:21-22, NIV)

“Then the angel of God, who had been traveling in front of Israel's army, withdrew and went behind them. The pillar of cloud also moved from in front and stood behind them, coming between the armies of Egypt and Israel. Throughout the night the cloud brought darkness to the one side and light to the other side; so neither went near the other all night long.

Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and all that night the LORD drove the sea back with a strong east wind and turned it into dry land. The waters were divided, and the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left (Exodus 14:19-22, NIV).

God has given us his Holy Spirit to lead us by day and by night, to be our Strength, our Power, and our Direction in the deserts of life. Just as God made a way for the Israelites when they called on Him as they faced a seemingly impossible Red Sea situation, He will make a way for you. Call on His name. Trust His plan. Reach for His hand.

Let’s Pray
Dear Lord, forgive me for the times when I try to navigate the broken path of life on my own. When my heart is heavy with burdens, please give me Your strength and remind my soul to trust You. I need Your guidance and power today.
In Jesus’ Name,
Amen.

Now It’s Your Turn
Do you feel like God has led you through the desert?
Do you trust that He can and will make a way for your broken paths to be made straight when you call on Him?
Grab a journal (if you’re a journal girl). Spend a few moments contemplating the circumstances of your harder way. Then lift your eyes from your situation to your Savior. Call on God, and say to your soul: Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the LORD will bring you today...the LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still (Exodus 14:13-14, NIV).

More from the Girlfriends
I’ve seen it in my own life. God delights to deliver us from our hard places in and through the pain. Hang in there, friend. He knows each tear you’ve cried and He has never left your side. In the words of a beloved hymn by Helen Lemmel, “Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full in His wonderful face and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.”

Gwen Smith, Girlfriends in God devotions
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Old 10-14-2011, 08:21 AM
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Getting My “Belay On”

He will not let your foot slip—he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. Psalm 121:3-4, NIV

Recently I went indoor rock climbing with my friend.
I met Lindsey and her family early on a Saturday morning and was dressed appropriately. Not-too-snug pants? Check. Long-ish shirt that just about covered the bum? Check. No aversion to wearing rented-out climbing shoes that might be stinky and have been worn by hundreds, possibly thousands, of others? Check.
I was almost ready to rock and climb!

So then I stepped into the harness (like an airy, seatbelt-looking set of briefs). Next, I clipped myself to the belay device which was secured to the floor. And then my friend Lindsey took on the role of belayer while I was the climber.

“On belay?” I asked. “Belay on,” she replied, as I learned is the customary verbal safety exchange between climbers. And then I began my way up the wall, Spidey-style, with one toe in one tiny foothold at a time. It was pretty exhilarating, I must say. And from time to time I would pause to make sure I was making a good judgment call as to where to place which hand and where to wedge each toe. But should I have fallen, I knew that the rope (and the belay device) would have caught me . . . even if Lindsey wasn’t holding on to the rope or taking out the tension. I trusted that I would be held secure come what may.

Soon, I safely made it to the top of the wall, smacked the pole on the ceiling as a sign of “victory,” and indicated I was ready to come down. I let go of the wall, and tapped my toes lightly against the wall all the way as Lindsey gently let me down.
It was a great start. But then it was my turn to be on the ground and for Lindsey to climb. Suddenly I didn’t like all of the responsibility that I was about to take on. All of the instructions that she gave me started swimming around in my head. I even had the guidance of her sister (who had competed in rock climbing events for years!) right next to me. But I was still afraid that I might forget something or do something that would harm Lindsey while she was climbing up the wall. I didn’t trust myself or my lack of knowledge and expertise.

Once Lindsey was safely back down, and I had sweated a bucket, I quickly said, “Yeah, I don’t want to do that again.” And after we all had a good laugh, I proceeded to climb a few more walls before I said my goodbyes and left the gym.

Driving along on my way back home, I pondered what had made me feel so uneasy about being responsible for someone else . . . and why it had felt so much easier and freeing to climb when someone else had my back.

And that was it. I realized that because there was someone else—someone who was an expert and knew better—who was holding on to the rope, watching my every move, ready to release or hold the lever at any given moment and shouting out words of encouragement or guidance to me, I was able to relax and just enjoy the thrill of the climb and concentrate on whatever step I was on or planning on taking next.

It seems so simple. Because it is.

Just like my relationship should be with God, because he has already promised that he will watch over me. And when I’m not in control, then I am free to follow his instruction. I am unencumbered by excess this, by fiddling with that, by worries, by fears, by wondering if I’ll ever be able to do everything correctly and make sure everything turns out “right” in my life.

But thankfully as his child, God’s got my “belay on.” And he is all the protection I will ever need.

Intersecting Faith & Life:
Who’s got your back in your life? Or rather, who’s got your “belay on”? Is it you? Or is it something or someone else? Bottom line, wherever you are putting your trust will tell you a lot. Ask God to help you let go and “climb” with freedom. If you are his, then he’s got your back and will always have your “belay on.”

Laura MacCorkle, Crosswalk devotions

"Leaning on the Everlasting Arms" (1887)
Words: Elisha A. Hoffman
Music: Anthony J. Showalter

What a fellowship, what a joy divine,
Leaning on the everlasting arms;
What a blessedness, what a peace is mine,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.
Refrain
Leaning, leaning, safe and secure from all alarms;
Leaning, leaning, leaning on the everlasting arms.
O how sweet to walk in this pilgrim way,
Leaning on the everlasting arms;
O how bright the path grows from day to day,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.
Refrain
What have I to dread, what have I to fear,
Leaning on the everlasting arms;
I have blessed peace with my Lord so near,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.
Refrain
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  #2265  
Old 10-17-2011, 08:26 AM
d'gal d'gal is offline
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the following devotion is in 3 parts, but all in a series. sometimes we have to look at our own life and home to understand and get thru what is going on in our own lives and the trials we may be facing.....

#1
It’s Remodeling Time!
11For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw—13each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. 14If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. 15If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire. —1 Corinthians 3:11-15
Have you ever done some remodeling around your house? Home improvements are fine, but do they really deserve such a high priority in our lives? Many people pour much time, energy, and money into remodeling their homes, but few expend any significant effort on remodeling their families.
God wants us to have maturing, loving, Christ-honoring families, and His Word gives us all we need to make this a reality. In the next few days, I will share five biblical keys to begin the most important renovation project that you will ever undertake: family remodeling.
Here’s the first key: COOPERATE.
In Psalm 127:1, Solomon writes, “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain . . .” Wow! Maybe you’re thinking, “Hey, I know some things about building a family, too. Sure, I might not be able to build a family as well as God can, but only He can build a house?” Yes, only God can build a house!
God has a big heart of love for anyone who wants to get on His program, but He has a big hand of judgment for anyone who pursues an alternate plan. Remember, “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain . . .” And 2 Chronicles 13:12 says, “ . . . Do not fight against the LORD, the God of your fathers, for you cannot succeed.” So, all in favor of cooperating with Him in this family remodeling project?
Let me give you two practical steps. First, make sure you have the right foundation. First Corinthians 3:11 says, “For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” If you’re trying to build your home on anything other than Jesus, tear it down to the ground and rebuild it on the basis of a personal relationship with Him.
Once this has been settled, make sure God has your full cooperation. Here are a couple of questions that should demonstrate where you stand. As He tries to build your home on the foundation of Christ, are you for Him or against Him? Are you helping Him or hindering Him?
Think of it this way: let God be the General Contractor on the remodeling job, and you become the best common worker you can possibly be.
Prayer: Dear Father, You are The Master Builder. Forgive me for thinking I could build my home better than You. Help me to be sure that You are building my house, and get me out of the way when I hinder Your work. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Journal:
· Does God see in me a cooperative spirit?
· Is it easier for God to do what He wants to do in my family because I’m there, or is it harder?
James McDonald devotions
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  #2266  
Old 10-17-2011, 08:27 AM
d'gal d'gal is offline
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ggggrrrrrrrrrrr... we need our EDIT button back. seriously.!
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  #2267  
Old 10-17-2011, 08:29 AM
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(lets see if I can make this one go in better)

#2
Focus on the Blueprints
24Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house upon the rock.25And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock.26And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it. ~Matthew 7:24-27

Ready for the next phase of your home improvement project? Yesterday, we talked about the first key in family remodeling: cooperate. Psalm 127:1 says, “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain . . .” Simply put, you must cooperate fully with God if you want your family to prosper.

Now here’s the second key to family remodeling: CONCENTRATE.

A number of years ago, our church family purchased a large, vacant warehouse to convert into a functional church building. It was amazing to watch the builders constantly consulting the blueprints. It should be no different for us. Almighty God has given us the blueprint—His Word—telling us how to build a family, a home, and a life. We need to concentrate on the blueprint.

That’s the message of Matthew 7:24-27, where Jesus contrasts the wise man who hears and acts on God’s Word (builds on the rock) and the fool who hears but does not act on God’s Word (builds on the sand). Both encounter storms, but only one house remains standing. Can you guess which one? The one that required more effort and more time—the one built on the rock!

Without exception, every family encounters storms. Financial crises, health issues, and the death of a child or loved one are just a few of the storms that families face. I don’t know which heartache is headed for your home, but a storm is certain to come. Is your house built on sand, vulnerable to total collapse? Just imagine the regret and shame, the pain and devastation! But if your house is built on the rock, it will stand firm and endure.

Don’t miss the important truth that both builders in Matthew 7 heard God’s Word. That ought to dispense with the notion that the people building on the sand are relaxing in bed rather than worshiping God in church on Sunday mornings. Not so! They are hearing God’s truth regularly, but they are doing nothing about it. Does that describe you, loved one? Don’t wait for the storms of life to force you to your knees. Let the Word of God change your course of action right now, and in humility acknowledge that you need to start doing what you’re hearing. And so I challenge you right now: concentrate. —James MacDonald
Prayer: Father, thank You that You show me the way to be wise in the way I build my home. Please forgive me when I am not intentional in my building, when I just float along. Help me to build my house on You and Your Word so that when the storms of life come, the whole thing doesn’t wash away. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Journal:
  • Am I a hearer of the Word or a doer?
  • How much time do I spend reading the “blueprint” of God’s Word and making sure that my home, family, and life match the plan?
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  #2268  
Old 10-17-2011, 08:31 AM
d'gal d'gal is offline
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#3

Bring on the Fumigators!

15Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world. 17And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.
—1 john 2:15-17


How are the renovations coming along? We’ve been learning how critical it is to (1) cooperate with God and (2) concentrate on His blueprint.

Now we turn our attention to the third key to family remodeling: FUMIGATE.

Instead of little termites, we need to fumigate the awful things that we allow into our homes, our minds, and our kids’ minds. First John 2:15 says, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” That’s pretty clear—and pretty convicting.

Here’s the first thing to guard: things that we see. You could fill page after page with television programs, movies, and videos that we should not permit in our homes, while a Post-it note could contain the things that we actually should allow ourselves to view. In practice, though, it’s the opposite! There are very few things that we filter out, and the tragic fact is that our minds and hearts are constantly filled with garbage.

Here’s the second worldly influence: things that we hear. Another huge issue in our families is the music that our kids listen to. I am shocked at the naiveté of parents who equate the music of twenty years ago with the music of today. The pain, anguish, rage, and wickedness of the world has been transferred directly to the music of our day, yet parents permit their kids to listen to it night after night. I don’t understand why a dad can’t walk into a room and say, “That’s over. We don’t listen to that in this home. All those CDs—give them to me. And we are cleaning out the iTunes. We’re done with that in this house.”

Finally, the third worldly influence: public school education. Don’t mistake me. There’s nothing wrong with sending your kids to the public school, but it is very wrong not to evaluate what they’re learning and who their friends are.

The people with whom our families associate, what they listen to, and what they watch—all of these factors are part of what determines the kind of person each member of our family will become. We’re not going to give ourselves any opportunity to sin, because we know that we will. I say this with great urgency: fumigate! Rid your home and your life of every worldly pollutant. The character of Christ cannot be formed in a mind that is filled with garbage. —James MacDonald

Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, this world is filled with so much that pollutes and corrupts our minds. Forgive us for allowing these things into our homes without much thought. Help me to have the courage to take a stand for what will and won’t be allowed in our home. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Journal:
· Does what I allow into my home and mind show that I love the world or I love God?
· What steps can I take today to begin the process of fumigating? What will I absolutely no longer allow?

(end). James McDonald, Walk in the Word devotions
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  #2269  
Old 10-18-2011, 08:30 AM
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How to Trust When You're Troubled


Some of you are facing what could easily be called an unsolvable problem. It’s you I hope to encourage today. Often the situations with no human answers form the basis upon which God does some of His best work.


This is illustrated beautifully in the life of Job, who, in my opinion, is a living example of unsolvable problems. Job’s biography includes a clipboard full of questions about suffering.


Is God fair? Is this situation just? What is a person to learn when going through deep waters of suffering?


In Job, we have a unique and rare look within the veil of heaven and behind the scenes on earth.
The Lord said to Satan, “From where do you come?” Then Satan answered the Lord and said, “From roaming about on the earth and walking around on it.” The Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job? For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, fearing God and turning away from evil.” (Job 1:7-8)

What would God say about you if He were to address Satan right now and tell him about your life? “Have you considered _______,” and then He calls your name. As he describes you, what would He say? With some of you, it might fit very closely to what He said about Job—“blameless and upright.”


Job’s life was a wonderful model of courageous living. Job trusted God in the good times. Now the scene was set to determine if Job would trust God in humanly impossible situations.


The next chapter of Job’s life is a dark one. He endured loss like few have known. His home . . . destroyed. His family . . . perished. His health . . . ruined. His finances . . . wiped out. His friends . . . questioned his godly reputation.


In the long process of working through his questions and struggles, Job finally resolved to trust God—no matter what. He had worshiped. He had humbled himself. He had sat in silence. He finally responded to his wife, “I accept what God has sent. I have accepted good, now I accept adversity.” Read that once more. It is the secret of his stability.


I find three real reasons Job could respond like this. First, he looked up and was comforted by God’s sovereignty. He saw more than God’s actions; he saw His heart. He accepted what God gave and took away. He saw God’s sovereign love, and he said to his wife, “Should we not receive both without question?”

Job also looked ahead and was reminded of God’s promise. In chapter 19, Job said,
“I know that my Redeemer lives, / And at the last He will take His stand on the earth.” (19:25)

Job was reminded of God’s promise that at the end all will be made right. Looking ahead, he felt spurred on.


Lastly, Job looked within and was shaped by God’s instruction. Job 42:6 states that he looked at his life, and he repented “in dust and ashes.” He saw that God had instructed him in his suffering and illness as in no other way. He said, in effect, “Lord, for the first time, I honestly can say, ‘I give myself to You as never before.’”


It’s a courageous thing for a believer to give himself to a sovereign God while facing impossible situations. Perhaps that’s exactly what you need to do right now. I recall what a wise and surrendered person once prayed:
Lord, I am willing to receive what Thou givest. I am willing to lack what Thou withholdest. I am willing to relinquish what Thou takest. I am willing to suffer what Thou inflictest. I am willing to be what Thou requirest. Lord, I’m willing.

My friend, if your days have been difficult and nights have been like a tunnel, dark and long, find your comfort in God’s sovereign control and everlasting love. Your Savior knows your breaking point. The bruising and crushing and melting you are enduring are designed to reshape you, not ruin you. Your strength and courage increase the longer He lingers over you. Remembering Job’s secret can make all the difference.



Charles R. Swindoll
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  #2270  
Old 10-19-2011, 08:01 AM
d'gal d'gal is offline
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Avoiding Burnout Part 1
by Sharon Jaynes,
Girlfriends in God devotions

Today’s Truth
Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place where he prayed (Mark 1:35, NIV).

Friend to Friend
I sat on the edge of my seat as I watched my son’s first track meet. The crowd was abuzz as moms and dads chatted, waiting for their teens to dash, sprint, or endure the eight laps of the thirty-two hundred meter race. But when the boys lined up for the hurdles event, the visiting stopped and the crowd watched with rapt attention. Why? In the hurdles event, the stakes were higher. It became less about who would win, and more about who would gracefully leap and clear the metal roadblocks or tip and topple over the barriers.

Hurdles - they are not simply found on the asphalt of track and field but also in the great race called life. As women, we struggle finding balance with our many roles and responsibilities. Our flame of enthusiasm begins to diminish when we are doing more than God intended or when we are doing what God intended, but on our own strength rather than His.

In the Bible we see many who experienced times of burnout. After Jonah’s miraculous delivery from the big fish and prophetic announcement to the people on Nineveh, he sank into a depression and wanted to die (Jonah 4:3). After Elijah called down fire from heaven that miraculously burned up the sacrifices of Baal, the fire in his own life went dim (1 Kings 18-19). Elijah prayed, “I have had enough, LORD. Take my life,” (1 Kings 19:4). Both of these men wanted to quit.

How do we avoid those same feelings of burnout? The first step is to realize that it can happen and does happen to the best of us.

What was God’s response to Elijah? Let’s take a look at 1 Kings Chapter 19.
  • He allowed Elijah to sleep. (19:5) – rest
  • He sent an angel to provide food for him to eat. (19:5) – refreshment
  • He allowed Elijah to sleep again. (19:6) – more rest
  • He sent an angel to provide food for him to eat again. (19:7) – more refreshment
  • He caused Elijah to ponder what he was doing. “What are you doing here?” (19:9) – reflection
  • He spoke to Elijah personally. (19:11) – response
  • He caused Elijah to ponder what he was doing, again. “What are you doing here?” (19:13) – reflection
  • He told Elijah what to do next. (19:15) - redirection
  • He showed Elijah who He had appointed to help him. (19:16) - reinforcement
Rest
Refreshment
Rest
Refreshment
Reflection
Response
Reflection
Redirection
Reinforcement

Girlfriend, exhaustion is epidemic among us gals. I tell you what… let’s talk more about this tomorrow. For today, just rest in knowing that God has a plan for your life and that He loves you dearly!

Let’s Pray
Dear Lord, I’ll admit, I’m tired today. I need the refreshment that only You can give. Send the Holy Spirit to reinforce my spirit today! I am expecting His energizing force! Help me to reflect on You and Your goodness all day long.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen.

Now It’s Your Turn
Go back up to the R’s and note what each one of those ideas would look like to you. Be realistic. I know Hawaii would be a great idea for refreshment, but that probably won’t happen in my life today.

For example: Rest – stop all activities at 8:00 p.m. rather than 10:00 p.m. and soak in a long hot bath.

devotion continued w/sharon jaynes

Avoiding Burnout Part 2

Today’s Truth
Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place where he prayed (Mark 1:35, NIV).

Friend to Friend
Yesterday, we looked at the problem of burnout or exhaustion. Burnout is defined as “a state of mental and/or physical exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress.” Sound familiar? We also looked at several men in the Bible who struggled with spiritual and mental exhaustion. So if the great leaders of the Bible struggled with exhaustion, how dowe avoid it?

The most effective way to avoid burnout is to be in constant communion with God, the Father. In Mark chapter one, Jesus gives us the key to avoiding overload: “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place where he prayed,” (Mark 1:35 NIV).

Early in the morning Jesus went off by Himself and spent time alone with His Heavenly Father. Interestingly, Simon and his companion interrupted Jesus’ time of prayer. “Everyone is looking for you!” they exclaimed. The day before, Jesus had healed many men and women. No doubt, the disciples and the townspeople wanted Jesus to return to perform more miracles. But Jesus had a different idea…”Let us go somewhere else - to the nearby villages - so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.”

I don’t know about you, but by 8:00 in the morning, my phone is ringing with people making requests and demands on my time. How do we know when to say “yes” and when to say “no?” How do we know what God’s will is for us on any given day? Jesus gives us the answer right there in Mark 1:35. We begin our day with God by praying and asking Him to give us our marching orders.

Would it have been a good and noble thing for Jesus to go back to Capernaum and minister to the people there? Yes, it would have been good, but perhaps not God’s best. Because Jesus had spent time with God in the morning, He knew what God’s plans were for Him that day and He could say “yes” and “no” with confidence.

Inviting God to fuel and fan the flames of enthusiasm for life each day is the key way to avoid burnout. But our friend, Elijah, gives us an example of how God tenderly re-ignites that flame if it has dimmed to a mere flicker. No matter where you are on the continuum of blazing spiritual passion or smoldering wick, here are some ideas to avoid burnout or rekindle the fire.
  • Rest often. (God rested on the 7th day.)
  • Refresh with proper diet.
  • Re-evaluate priorities and responsibilities on a regular basis (monthly).
  • Relegate and delegate.
  • Review commitments regularly (monthly).
  • Resist saying “yes” to demands and requests that do not line up with what God has called you to do.
  • Resist being ruled by your schedule and allow for divine appointments from God that may not be on your schedule.
  • Remove superfluous activities that interfere with or choke out with God’s agenda.
  • Refocus on what God has called you to do rather than what others would like for you to do.
  • Remain in close and constant communion with God.
Let’s Pray
Dear Lord, You know that I have a tendency to take on too much. Please help me to hear Your still small voice telling me when to say “yes” and when to say “no.” Today, I commit to remain in constant communion with You. You are my strength and my provider.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen.

Now It’s Your Turn
Go back and look at the activities that you engaged in last week and ponder the following questions:
  • Were they all necessary?
  • Could they have been done more effectively by someone else?
  • Was there anything on your schedule that you wished you had said “no” to?
  • Consider memorizing today’s Key Verse and making it the filter for your daily activities.
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  #2271  
Old 10-20-2011, 08:40 AM
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Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6, NLT).


God has a unique plan for each one of us that is beyond human understanding or expectation. It is called His will.
God has been making His will known from the very beginning of time. In the Garden of Eden, God revealed to Adam and Eve His will or plan for their lives. It is important to note that with the revealed plan He also gave them the choice to obey because He is a loving Father and a gracious God. Knowing that His way was right, God still allowed Adam and Eve to choose the wrong way. They blew it by making the wrong choice - but He still loved them and forgave them. He will do the same for you.

The Bible promises that God’s plan is the best plan; the one for which we were created. Psalm 32:8 “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life.”
God agrees to not only show us the plan, but He promises to provide all of the strength and resources needed to carry out that plan. His sufficient and constant power is unleashed by our choice to accept and follow His blueprint for victorious living.

We were created by the One who knows us best and loves us most. There are no accidents with God. He never has to say, “Oops!” Before we were ever conceived in the heart and mind of man we were conceived in the heart and mind of God - wanted, loved and planned since before the world began. He had a plan in mind and lovingly, purposefully created us in response to that plan.

I know that there are days when the will of God seems completely wrong and we simply do not understand. Every moment is pregnant with darkness and our hearts are numb, paralyzed by fear and doubt.
We are treading water in the storm tossed sea of life, desperately longing to see Him walking on the treacherous waves toward us, rescue in His hand. It is in those shadowed moments that we must choose to trust the Plan Maker even though our faith is small and we cannot understand the plan. His ways are higher than our ways.

His thoughts are higher than our thoughts. And one day, every one of our question marks will be yanked into exclamation points as we see that high plan as He sees it – perfect!

Girlfriend, set aside your meager agenda. Lay down your limited life arrangement and look for God to meet you at the point of surrender - power and victory in His hands. Now that is a great plan!

Let’s Pray
Lord, I want everything you have for me in this life! I don’t want to settle for anything less than Your best. Teach me how to seek and follow You with my whole heart and how to fully trust You to direct my steps. Thank You for Your love and grace that completes me and fills my life with hope.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen.

Now It’s Your Turn

Read Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV) “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”

These verses contain three steps we must take in order to experience one promise that God will make our paths straight. Grab your journal and in your own words, explain what each step requires and what you think God means when He says that He will make our paths straight.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart_________________________________________

Lean not on your own understanding_____________________________________ ____

In all your ways submit to him_______________________________________________

He will make your paths straight__________________________________________ ___


Mary Southerland, partial of devotion. Girlfriends in God.

*I know this devotion talks about trusting our lives to Gods plans. I think this includes trusting Him with His plans for our kids. They made choices that resulted in prison. sometimes they are innocent of a crime.... 'wrong place wrong time' idea. but they still did something that caused them to meet up with consequences. Maybe God allowed this to happen to help bring them (and us) to learn to trust His choices and plans for our life rather than us making unwise choices - look to Him and learn to trust Him in every facet of your life. He wont steer you wrong.
d'gal
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  #2272  
Old 10-21-2011, 08:21 AM
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it was a tough decision this morning. read a couple really good devotions. I decided on this one for 2 reasons...... one, sometimes we see ourselves as not deserving Gods Grace and Love. two... how we see others, maybe someone who has harmed or hurt us... we need to find the forgiveness and leave them in God's Hands for His judgement.. as todays devotion will point out....Christ died for all - it is whether we or they accept that. *d'gal

Bearing It All

2 Corinthians 5:21
He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

Do you understand the concept of Christ's bearing the sin of the world? I can only imagine a fraction of what it means. Mark Mosley captured a small drop from the ocean of truth encompassing this profound act of infinite sacrifice.

This is his humbling reminder of just how far Christ went on our behalf:

Jesus bore the sins of the Assyrians, who gloated over the captives they had skinned alive; the sins of SS troops, machine-gunning women and children running from burning synagogues with clothing ablaze.

Jesus bore the sins of child molesters, making sure their victims never have to testify; the sins of the Pharaohs, sacrificing thousands of laborers' lives, to build themselves deifying tombs.

Jesus was tossed about in these endless storms: enraged fathers beating toddlers to death; pimps seducing runaways into lives of drugs and prostitution; church ladies cannibalizing other church ladies over coffee; Canaanites throwing their children to Moloch, their sun god; impoverished parents in China selling their children into slavery.

Jesus bore the sins of embezzlers; gangsters; bullies; rapists; liars; the indifferent; the sadistic; the self-righteous Bible-believing leaders praying long and loud, while their wives sat in back pews praying that heavy make-up covered their bruises.

It is a scene of unbearable horror and unspeakable madness. He is the accused for us all, bearing the weight of abused children; families destroyed by adultery or apathy; civilizations decaying; wars ravaging victims. Yet, through it all, deep in the terror of hell, He keeps His eyes wide open.

He is not just a bystander caught in the accident; He has come deliberately. He will accept it all, absorbing the full force of this storm of wrath in His body, His mind, His heart, and His soul, until there is nothing left to feel.

Finally, the tumbling will slow a bit; the storm will slacken, and Jesus will lift Himself on His nailed feet to snatch a gasp of air and force His swollen tongue to shout, "It is finished—I've come; I've seen; I've paid for it all."

I would add to that last line, "And I have borne all this for them."
The mercy that God expended upon mankind at the cross was immeasurable. Christ died for the worst of sinners, and loved the most hateful of enemies. What a powerful reminder of God's enormous love! Christ bore our sin and our punishment so we could bear His righteousness and His reward.

This is the greatest reversal in all of human history: Sinners become sons of God, because the Son of God became sin . . . for us!

Prayer Point: Although you can never begin to grasp the extent of Christ's sacrifice on your behalf, thank Him for the part that you can understand: that He took your place on the cross so that you could have a place with Him in heaven.

Extra Refreshment: Read John 3—another testament of God's love toward fallen humanity.

Stephen Davey, A Wisdom Retreat devotion.
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  #2273  
Old 10-24-2011, 08:16 AM
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back to the 'house remodling'...these are good to read, and do, because we have to have our 'house' in order. we cant have a cluttered up spiritual life and expect to find peace in Jesus. if your house (heart) is still needing some remodeling touches, allow the Lord to move in and let Him do some cleaning. alot of us carry cobwebs in the corners.
d'gal

Let's Work it Out


16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be conceited. 17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20 To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by doing so you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. —Romans 12:16-21


The foundation has been laid, the blueprints are being consulted, and the house has been fumigated. What comes next as you continue your family remodeling project?
Here’s the fourth key to family remodeling: MEDIATE.

We must resolve conflict quickly. This isn’t always easy, but Romans 12 gives us some specific steps that we can take in order to become better mediators.
We need to be aggressive. Verse 16 says we must “Live in harmony with one another. . .” This is the first step toward conflict resolution. If you are not on good terms with somebody, you need to go and work it out . . . immediately.

Second, we must be humble. Paul continues to tell us in verse 16 not to be haughty. Humility is a great way to bring a conflict to a quick end!

Third, we need to be positive. Romans 12:17 says “. . . do what is honorable. . .” As you interact with people, focus on the things about them that are strong; don’t focus on their weaknesses.

Fourth, if we want to improve at resolving conflict, we need to be peaceable. Romans 12:18 says to “. . . live peaceably. . .” In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says, “Blessed are the peacemakers.”

Fifth, we must be forgiving. Verse 19 says, “. . . never avenge yourselves. . .” Forgiveness is moving from You owe me, to You owe me nothing. Forgiveness is the choice to release a person from the obligation that resulted when they hurt you. There are no enduring relationships without forgiveness.

Sixth, we need to be kind. Romans 12:20 is teaching that kindness “. . . will heap burning coals on his head. . .” In other words, kill ’em with kindness! And that’s not wrong. That’s the loving, peaceful way. That’s God’s way. Give Him an opportunity to work through your merciful kindness. (It also helps you to forgive!)

Seventh, if we’re going to improve our conflict resolution, we must be strong. We need to endure. Verse 21 says, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

If we would just take these seven principles to heart, how much conflict do you suppose would get resolved? It would be unbelievable! And so I urge you: mediate. Work hard at solving problems and settling conflicts.


Prayer: Dear Father in heaven, this world is full of conflict. It seems that everywhere I turn there are more relationships strained by unresolved conflict. Thank You that You give us the directions we need in Your Word to mediate these conflicts. Help me to follow Your Word and begin to work hard at solving the problems and conflicts in my life. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Journal:
How do I typically resolve conflict?

What are the unresolved conflicts in my life right now? How do I begin to resolve them?

James McDonald, Walk in the Word devotions.
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Old 10-25-2011, 08:55 AM
d'gal d'gal is offline
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Choosing Well

"A wise person chooses the right road..." Ecclesiastes 10:2a (NLT)

There are times when I do not choose well.

I watch things on TV that tarnish my heart. I behave in ways that erode my marriage. I spend money I do not have, say things I do not mean, leave things undone that need to be finished. I react in anger and it misrepresents Jesus.
I have holes: internal voids that limit and define me...and it shows.

If that were the end of my story, I would be in deep trouble. I would break things that couldn't be fixed. I would destroy things that couldn't be restored. I would damage relationships, beyond repair. I would live, unfulfilled and prideful, without my soul feeling settled. Left alone, sometimes my holes have produced such things.

But there is another element to my story, and it brings me great hope. Jesus...with the supernatural ability to fill even my broadest of gaps...draws me into Him, asking me to choose the thing that will make my soul well. It is an important choice to make, for every believer. It is one that results in wholeness.

The decision to choose what will make our soul well is not always easy. Sometimes it will require us to break from something we love that has become a toxic habit. Often it will ask us to give up our will for the will of the Father.

I love today's verse in Ecclesiastes that talks about this choice, "A wise person chooses the right road..." This verse shows us that even when things happen to us without our permission or by the choice of another, we still have a choice in what we will do next.

In my book, {w}hole, I share the story of my family being involved in a scandal that turned our lives upside down when I was in college. In the wake of our turmoil, I did not choose well...acting in ways that ultimately hurt me and others.

But at a certain point I decided I wanted to be different. I wanted to be better and allow God to change my course by committing to truth, even if it hurt. It was a choice I have never regretted, a choice that set me on the "right road" — a road that led to healing and wholeness.

Wholeness—soul wellness—does not come to those who are only halfway committed to it. It is for the person who is tired of living for themselves or as a victim to their experiences...the one who desires to find their true identity...the one with worldly success who still longs for more. Wholeness is available to the person who wants to no longer be defined or limited by anything and is willing to do whatever it takes to change.

Any sacrifice we must choose to make our soul well is always worth the price. Abundance of joy, richness of God's favor, stability of truth and completeness of fulfillment are ours when we decide we are no longer willing to live with holes but instead, desire to be whole.

When we offer our holes to Jesus, we give Him the opportunity to fill them up with Him.

And that, my friend, is always choosing well.

Dear Lord, I want to choose well. Help me not to stand in my own way of wholeness and healing. Where habits need to be broken, I ask that You give me the strength to break from them. Help me not to invest in things that erode my hear; instead, help me press into You and draw from Your deep well of wisdom, peace and love. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Application Steps:

How have you chosen well in your life (things that have brought you freedom, etc.)?

When you have not chosen well, what has been the difference, and what can you learn?

Reflections:

What do I need to do to position myself to make better choices? Is there something I need to break from that prevents me from this choice for wholeness?

Power Verses:

1 Thessalonians 5:23-24, "May God Himself, the God who makes everything holy and whole, make you holy and whole, put you together - spirit, soul, and body - and keep you fit for the coming of our Master, Jesus Christ. The One who called you is completely dependable. If He said it, He'll do it!"

Isaiah 56:4, "For this is what the Lord says: I will bless those...who choose to do what pleases me and commit their lives to me."

Isaiah 9:6, "His names will be Amazing Counselor, Strong God, Eternal Father, Prince of wholeness. His ruling authority will grow, and there'll be no limits to the wholeness he brings."

Lisa Whittle, She Seeks devotions
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Old 10-26-2011, 10:02 AM
d'gal d'gal is offline
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God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Psalm 46:1

I want to tell you about something the Lord showed me the other morning.

My husband and I have made a habit of sitting outside early in the mornings with our first
cup of coffee, while it is still dark, before the sun comes up. As it begins to get a bit more light, the birds start coming in for the seed we throw out for them. We get little finches, which we call ‘dickie birds’, and we get quail and doves.
There is a small bush that sits near the water that is also there for their pleasure. Oft times, when a perceived threat is nearby, all the birds scurry into hiding, then come back out. One morning we did see the threat, a small hawk flew in and tried to snag a quail. (missed!).

Just before the sun begins to blind our eyes, we share our morning time prayer before starting our day.
This one morning, a few days after the hawk episode, as my husband was praying, I had my eyes open and watched the birds. The finches flew into a bush, then slowly came out and continued searching for more seed.

That is when the Lord showed me something awesome. Just as the birds use the bush as a refuge in times of fear or trouble, so we should be with the Lord. He is our High Tower and Refuge in times of trouble. We should stay close enough to Him that when trouble threatens, we can run to Him and be safe. But, also, if we wander too far from Him, and maybe we grow complacent, then we may not sense the danger lurking near us, and we are far from Him to seek His refuge.

The enemy (satan) is like that hawk, seeking his prey. Don’t let yourself be seduced by his lies and complacency.

Lord, teach me to stay close to You. Help me to keep my eyes trained on You, and help me to know and how to sense danger from the enemy. Remind me daily that You are my Refuge, where I am safe. Remind me Lord to put on my armor every morning.
In Jesus Name. Amen

Just like Peter, when he began to walk on the water to Jesus, he took his eyes off the Lord, looking at the storm around him, beginning to sink. But he called out and asked the Lord, his strength and refuge, to save him. And the Lord did.

One way to help keep us safe and aware of the enemy, is to daily put on the Whole Armor of God. Each piece of armor is for our protection against the enemy’s different attacks.

By d’gal. 10/26/2011

Heavenly Father,
Your warrior prepares for battle.
Today, I claim victory over satan by putting on
the whole armor of God.

I put on the Girdle of Truth.
May I stand firm in the truth of Your Word
so I will not be a victim of satan's lies.

I put on the Breastplate of Righteousness.
May it guard my heart from evil so I will remain
pure and holy, protected under the blood of Jesus.

I put on the Shoes of Peace.
May I stand firm in the Good News of the Gospel
so Your peace will shine through me and be a light
to all I encounter.

I take up the Shield of Faith.
May I be ready for satan's fiery darts of
doubt, denial, and deciet so I will not be
vulnerable to spiritual defeat.

I put on the Helmet of Salvation.
May I keep my mind focused on You
so satan will not have a stronghold on my thoughts.

I take up the Sword of the Spirit.
May the two-edged Sword of Your Word
be ready in my hands so I can expose
the tempting words of satan.

By faith your warrior has put on the whole armor of God.

I am prepared to live this day in spiritual victory.

amen.
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