September 7, 2016
“The vine is dried up, and the fig tree languisheth; the pomegranate tree, the palm tree also, and the apple tree, even all the trees of the field, are withered: because joy is withered away from the sons of men.” Joel 1:12 KJV
Joel opens with the impoverished condition of Israel–a fact God’s people knew already. Their question is one every believer grapples with during times of hardship and distress. Why was God withholding His blessings? Had they committed a great sin that they needed to repent of? Or had they neglected something God required of them?
Joel’s answer surprises us. Their crops had failed because God’s people had lost their joy.
As you look at your circumstances, Satan prods you to despair, but God calls you to renewed joy in your relationship with Him. Seek His face and wait in His presence with joyful expectation, for you are a child of the King, and He has promised to meet all of your needs.
December 30, 2014
“…I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works….” Titus 3:8 KJV
A delicate balance exists between what believers are responsible for and what God has already done in and for us. Finding this balance creates daily challenges, for whatever good we may do, be it prayer, Bible reading and study, or ministry work in and outside the home, we must guard against slipping into rituals that display the proper form of living but neglect the source.
Many plants, including grape vines, reproduce only if a close relationship exists between the male and female counterparts. Believers are the Bride of Christ, and our fruitfulness depends on an intimate relationship with our heavenly Bridegroom. How much of the responsibility for the health of this relationship falls upon us? Our Bridegroom woos us daily. How we respond is up to us.
November 11, 2014
Tapping into God’s Power
“…I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of His power.” Ephesians 3:8 KJV
Are you struggling to fulfill God’s calling for your life? Trying to manage all of your responsibilities may feel like a juggling act. You get one straying ball into harmonious motion with several others and immediately drop one. Then, as soon as you turn your attention to whatever ball you’ve neglected, you find yourself neglecting something else.
Settle it once and for all in your mind–no matter how organized, energetic, and dedicated you may be, your abilities will never be sufficient. And that is precisely what God wants you to accept. For then and only then can you walk in the truth–He wants you to live continually tapped into His “power that worketh in us” (Ephesians 3:20).
November 2, 2014
Maintain Good Habits
“…be careful to maintain good works.” Titus 3:8b KJV
It’s been said that it takes three weeks to form a good habit and three days to break it. Sustaining a good habit clearly requires care and maintenance. Otherwise, no warning would be needed. When we think our lives are in order, we are in danger of becoming complacent. An onslaught of immediate responsibilities and difficulties can deflect us from worthy plans, no matter how sincere our commitment may be.
The remedy lies in discovering where and why our resolve breaks down, so that we may seek God’s specific help. Our heavenly Father does not want His children to be blindsided by the enemy’s efforts to derail us. So let us be careful, laying our plans and our hearts at His feet, tapping into God’s strength and wisdom, for “we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works… (Ephesians 2:10).
October 24, 2014
Say What God Says
“Stand…above all, taking the shield of faith…and the sword of the Spirit….” Ephesians 6:14, 16, 17 KJV
When you decide to trust God, your enemy will “come in like a flood” ( Isaiah 59:19b).
Satan’s first line of defense against Eve in the Garden of Eden was simple–to get her to doubt God’s Word by engaging her in a debate. In that moment, her enemy moved her away from her secure foundation. How could Satan have accomplished this? Eve had fellowshipped with God in the cool of the evening. She’d basked in His love and provision.
The answer lies in understanding the nature of debate. Debate involves exploring opinions. To debate, you must reason and clarify your thoughts. But God warns, “My thoughts are not your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8a). How, then, can you, as child of God, effectively meet this attack? Find out what God says and let His words come out of your mouth.
Remember, your only offensive weapon is “the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God” (Ephesians 6:17b).
October 13, 2014
“No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper….” Isaiah 54:17a
“You are exactly where you are supposed to be.” We’ve all heard this–often when we feel as if the opposite were true. Rather than bringing comfort, these words can trigger a flood of regrets, what ifs, and I-can’t-believe-I-did-that. The enemy swoops in, condemning us, telling us we deserve whatever’s happening. Satan puts this spin on our situation with one goal–to drive us away from God’s presence.
Shrugging off our shame, we argue, “All things work together for good to them that love God… called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28). But do we grasp the extent of God’s sovereignty?
We are where we are supposed to be at any given moment because God makes it so. We are on His potter’s wheel, and He turns everything–even our willful mistakes and grossest sins–into tools to bring about His perfect purpose in us and through us.
October 6, 2014
“He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the Word; and the care of this world… choke the Word, and he becometh unfruitful.” Matthew 13:22 KJV
We all know other things can steal our time with God. Signs of spiritual malnourishment–impatience, anxiety, and irritability–spring up when we become too busy to linger with the LORD.
We never intended to wander from the Good Shepherd’s still waters and green pastures, but somehow we find ourselves in another field, struggling through each day. The thorns of our old nature pierce our hearts and minds, and we become focused on ourselves. This is how our enemy beguiles us away from our role as fruit-bearers for others.
When we’ve moved away from our position in Christ–abiding in Him and drawing from His supply, the remedy is always the same: “Draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh to you” (James 4:8 KJV), and He will bless your life with fruit.
October 2, 2014
“…without Me ye can do nothing.” John 15:5 KJV
Even our earnest desire to please God can be twisted and used by Satan to move us away from the new way of living that God has provided for us through Christ. We try our best to think, talk, and act so that our heavenly Father will be happy with us. And when we fail to measure up, we try even harder. Until we are exhausted and discouraged.
What could be wrong? Our hearts and motives are right. We are following “the first commandment” to “LOVE THY GOD…WITH ALL THY STRENGTH” (Mark 12:30 KJV). But the more natural effort we expend, the farther we seem to get from who we want to be.
The answer lies in recognizing that our natural strength is insufficient. We have strength to yield and to abide in Christ. The rest is up to Him.
October 1, 2014
Worry: A Blessing or a Curse
“Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and He shall sustain thee….” Psalm 55:22a KJV
One evening after a meal of Chinese takeout, my granddaughter cracked open her fortune cookie and read aloud, “Every burden is a blessing.”
Every burden can indeed be a blessing when its weight prompts us to pray for God’s help in our situation. We don’t usually consider worry a good thing. Worrying adds stress and pressure, creating the urge to do something. Unfortunately, we often don’t know what course to take to bring about a resolution or a relief from the pressure.
Worry is similar to physical hunger. God designed hunger as the body’s signal to take in nourishment. Pressure and worry are signals, too–reminders that we can’t manage on our own. We need to pray and ask God to carry our burdens, and He will make a way for us. Seeking His help brings blessings He has planned for us.
September 29, 2014
The Power of Memory
“They [the Hebrew children in the wilderness] remembered not His hand, nor the day when He delivered them from the enemy.” Psalm 78:42
When we neglect to remember all God has done for us in the past, we lay down a priceless weapon–our confidence in God and His promises. When we remember what God has already done in our lives, we can bring our every concern to Him knowing He will undertake for us. We can rest because He has good plans for us.
Resting in His love, mercy, power, and provision is the one position from which the believer can win every battle. Why? Resting is the position of strength and certain victory because resting is abiding in Christ. When you abide in Christ your victory has already been won in His death and resurrection, and you are aligning yourself with His finished work.
September 28, 2014
VICTIM OR VICTOR
“Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us.” Romans 8:37 KJV
Since this is God’s promise to believers, why do we so often feel defeated? What are these things? Roman 8:35 lists these things: tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril, or sword. Clearly, this is a comprehensive list of any “problem” that could confront us. Our God, our loving and omnipotent Abba, has got it all covered for His children.
Yet, still we are subject to worry, defeat, and even despair while God is waiting for us to take Him at His Word. He has made us “more than conquerors.” We become victims when we try to handle life without seeking Him and all He has provided. His grace is sufficient for us. Let our spirits from deep within cry out a resounding “Hallelujah! Victory is mine.”
September 27, 2014
REACT OR RESPOND
“He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” Romans 8:32 KJV
How much more peace we would enjoy if we cast every care, no matter how small or large, upon the One who cares for us and holds all things in His hands! The carnally-minded person regards lying vanities–anything that disagrees with God’s Word on a matter. Just as natural vanities are often superficial, so a lying vanity is a surface reaction. We must learn to live from the depth of our spirits, where our convictions trump emotions and human reasoning every single time.
Father, please forgive me that my knee-jerk reaction to so many problems is to try to figure out what to do, rather than to run to You in prayer. Help me to trust Your leading. Amen.