January 23, 2018

God’s Perfect Provision

encouragementbloggraphicromans15Then the LORD said to Moses,
“I am going to rain bread from heaven for you.

The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day.
This way I will test them to see whether or not
they will follow My instructions.”

Exodus 16:4

*   ~   ♥   ~   ✞   ~   ♥   ~   *

The story of God supplying the children of Israel with manna is a beautiful example of God’s perfect provision.  He had allowed His children to hunger and starve in a desert…and they pretty much were without hope of finding food anywhere else.

It wasn’t His intention to starve them; He really could have met all their needs in a different way.  Have you ever wondered why He didn’t produce crops or just place a farm in their midst?  Or He could’ve taken their appetites away or allowed them to fill up on much less.  Or maybe He could’ve made them satisfied with just water.  HE is the Creator and He could do anything He wanted to.  But instead, He showed up and met their needs.  God literally rained down bread from Heaven six days a week for forty years to feed His children.

I think the reason He did it the way He did was to show them that it was all Him.  And that He alone was their Provider.  They were surrounded by nothing and yet they had what they needed. In fact, they had more than enough—they had plenty and they never had to ask.  He was testing them, too. In the verse above it says,”This way I will test them to see whether or not they will follow my instructions”.

Did you know that we are far more likely to be obedient to Him when we are in need?  Think of that for a minute:  If you are in Jesus and your life is chaotic and you are lacking in necessities, you are more likely to reevaluate your life and see where there may be an area where you are not being obedient. You may even pray for God to search you and reveal where it is that you need a change.

You may not have all the wealth in the world, but you will have peace and joy in Him.  And because He loves us so much and gave so much for us, we should live a life of obedience to Him—whether we have much or little.  In Jesus we have more than enough.  In Jesus we have a Protector and a Lover of our souls.  In Jesus we have eternal life.  In Jesus we have plenty….

God is so faithful, each and every single day.  He delights in obedience especially when it comes from a heart of love and devotion to Him.  Let’s ask Him to help us to become a child of God who obeys simply because we love Him.

*   ~   ♥   ~   ✞   ~   ♥   ~   *

Do you know this Jesus?  If not, then I ask that you pray this prayer with me today and ask Him to come into your life and be your Savior.

Dear God, I know that I am a sinner and my life is really messed up.  I have been living a life of disobedience and I am ready for a change.  I believe that Jesus is Your Son and He died to save me.  I confess Him as my Savior. I ask that He live in my heart forever and help me to become an obedient child of God.  Forgive me of my sins and walk with me in this life…in Jesus’ name, amen.

Love is the Home for Both

encouragementbloggraphicromans15

In the fifteenth chapter of Luke, starting with verse 11, we read the story of the prodigal son.  I’m sure you have read or heard this so many times but bear with me for a minute.  The actual word ‘prodigal’ means ‘the squanderer or the waster’.  And the prodigal son did squander his inheritance and totally wasted all that his father gave him.

If you think about it, we have all played both roles at some time in our lives.  Maybe at one point we are the older, responsible son—keeping everything in order and never disappointing our Father, and looking down on those who do and those who give the sinner a break.  We have also been the younger one—wasting our inheritance from our Father, turning to anyone or anything that will make us “happy”, and running so far the other way.  But instead of finding happiness and freedom, we find ourselves in slavery to this other life that we thought we wanted so desperately.  We find ourselves starving for real substance and we are desperate for the life we had before.

And then there’s the father who never gave up on his son, and continued to search and wait and believe that they will one day be a family again. The son returns and the father lavishes love and compassion and hugs. He gives him his best robe and a ring and acts as if nothing happened. Even when the older son gets mad and protests, the father does not judge him. He is fair and just, resembling our Father in Heaven.

Here is the story:

The Parable of the Lost Son

Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them. Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living.  After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.  When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’  So he got up and went to his father.  But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’  But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.  Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on.  ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’  The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’  ‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ ”

Luke 15:11-32 (NIV)

Which son do you relate to?  Have you run so far or are you a slave to something other than God?  Have you wasted all that God has given you for something you thought was better?  Or are you the older brother, looking down on the one who made the bad choices, and maybe a little bitter when he is given mercy by others?

God is your Father and He loves you.  If you have run away, He is ready to meet you where you are.  He is willing to accept you just the way you are and give you the finest life and the abundant blessings that are yours!  All you have to do is ask.  God’s arm reaches so far and you can’t ever outrun Him.

 *   ~   ♥   ~   ✞   ~  ♥   ~   * 

Do you know this Father I’m talking about?  Do you want this unconditional love that you’ve just read about?  Then pray this with me:

Dear God, I know I am a sinner and I need forgiveness.  I believe that Jesus, Your Son, died on the cross to save me from my sins and I will have Him in my heart forever.  I love You.  In Jesus’ name, amen.

Peace I Leave You

encouragementbloggraphicromans15

But as He came closer to Jerusalem and saw the city ahead, He began to weep.
“How I wish today that you of all people would understand the way to peace.
But now it is too late, and peace is hidden from your eyes.
Luke 19:41-42 NLT

Jesus really had emotions. Sometimes He wept and other times He danced with joy.  And there were times when He truly grieved.  In the Scripture passage above, Jesus wept because the city had refused Him.  And not only Him but the peace that only He could bring them.

As a parent, I truly want the very best for these precious children that I have been blessed with.  When I am no longer here, I hope that they have joy and peace and a faith that cannot be shaken.  Those long nights on my knees, praying over each one of their hearts and the days that were spent investing in their eternal future will pay off because, no matter what, they will know about their Savior.  I hope that they know that the things of this earth are so temporary and that only Jesus and a relationship with Him will give them eternal life. And while they wait on Him to return, that they will claim the peace that Jesus came to give them.

Isn’t that what Jesus wanted for us?  Right before His crucifixion, Jesus promised something so valuable—peace.

Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you.
I do not give to you as the world gives.
Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
John 14:27

He didn’t leave us fame or fortune or tangible things…although He can provide those things.  He left us something more beneficial. And if we are to be a Jesus follower and lead others to Him, we must have peace and joy to share with this struggling world.

What do you need from Him today?  Is there an area of your life where you find yourself needing peace?  I know that I have to be reminded daily that He doesn’t want me to worry about the cares of this world, so I write this verse so many places.  Maybe you have been struggling with something that you have been asking God to take away.  Don’t lose hope!  God may not choose to take your thorn just yet; however, you will still receive His peace.  And remember: regardless of the trial, Jesus will give you your inheritance…today, and everyday, He offers peace.

*   ~   ♥   ~   ✞   ~  ♥   ~   *

Do you know Jesus?  Do you need His peace today?  If so, I ask that you pray this simple prayer with me….

Dear God, I know that I am a sinner.  I am struggling today with so much and I just want to be free.  I believe that Jesus is Your Son and the Savior of the world.  He died for me so that I can live forever with You.  Help me to know more about You.  Thank You for loving me.  In Jesus’ name, amen.

God Sent A Fish

encouragementbloggraphicromans15

“Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.”  But Jonah ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish.
He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port.  After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the Lord.
Then the Lord sent a great wind on the sea, and such a violent storm arose that the ship threatened to break up.  All the sailors were afraid and each cried out to his own god.  And they threw the cargo into the sea to lighten the ship.  But Jonah had gone below deck, where he lay down and fell into a deep sleep.  The captain went to him and said, “How can you sleep?  Get up and call on your god!  Maybe He will take notice of us so that we will not perish.”  Then the sailors said to each other, “Come, let us cast lots to find out who is responsible for this calamity.”  They cast lots and the lot fell on Jonah.  So they asked him, “Tell us, who is responsible for making all this trouble for us? What kind of work do you do? Where do you come from? What is your country? From what people are you?”  He answered, “I am a Hebrew and I worship the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.”  This terrified them and they asked, “What have you done?”  (They knew he was running away from the Lord, because he had already told them so.)  The sea was getting rougher and rougher.  So they asked him, “What should we do to you to make the sea calm down for us?”  “Pick me up and throw me into the sea,” he replied, “and it will become calm.  I know that it is my fault that this great storm has come upon you.”  Instead, the men did their best to row back to land.  But they could not, for the sea grew even wilder than before.  Then they cried out to the Lord, “Please, Lord, do not let us die for taking this man’s life. Do not hold us accountable for killing an innocent man, for you, Lord, have done as you pleased.”  Then they took Jonah and threw him overboard, and the raging sea grew calm.  At this the men greatly feared the Lord, and they offered a sacrifice to the Lord and made vows to him.  Now the Lord provided a huge fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.

Jonah 1:2-17 NIV

*   ~   ♥   ~   ✞   ~  ♥   ~   *

I have been Jonah before.  I may not have gone to the lengths that Jonah did to escape…but I had my own boat I floated away in.  Oh, how miserable I was.  Like Jonah, there were many storms and I took some of my shipmates down, too.  But God sent a fish for me also.  In a different form, of course.

We are so loved by our Creator that He will go to any lengths to rescue us—even from ourselves, even when we are the cause.  And when we try to run away, He will send a “fish” to redirect us.  Oh, how He gives so much grace and mercy.

We don’t have to feel shame and guilt because we are already forgiven. God wants the very best life for us. That’s why He leads us to places that we may not want to be…but He knows what’s best for us and He has already seen the rest of our story.

*   ~   ♥   ~   ✞   ~  ♥   ~   *

What are you running from today?  Are you in the middle of a storm?  Hang on friend, help is in your reach.  Just ask your Guide to show you a new way!  Do you know Him?  Jesus longs to be in your life.  If you want Him to be your Savior then pray with me.

Dear God, I know that I am a sinner. I believe that Jesus is Your Son and that He died for my sins. I need forgiveness. I ask that You come into my heart today and be my Lord. Thank You. Help me to walk with You daily. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Imperfect Yet Beautiful

encouragementbloggraphicromans15

For His invisible attributes, namely,
His eternal power and divine nature,
have been clearly perceived,
ever since the creation of the world,
in the things that have been made.
Romans 1:19 and 20

So after a long day I am out walking my precious dog with my youngest daughter and I see it—the sky is blue and pink…and there are clouds drizzled in between the colors…and the sun is breathtaking as it gets ready to drop off behind the ocean.  I stand amazed at His handiwork.  And I think of how good He is and how all He gives is good!

Then the questions come:  “Why is there so much yuck in this world, mama?  Like why do bad guys steal Christians and their children over there?” I have to really think before I answer. Because haven’t I asked these same questions? When marriages end…and children suffer…when there is cancer and chemo…and childrens hospitals that are always half full….  How do I answer?

I begin to read in Genesis and how much God loved the first man and woman and how beautiful He made their their home. The Garden of Eden was flawless. Trees and flowers bore their fruit and food. Adam and Eve met with God everyday; they walked with Him in the garden. Life was beautiful. Until the enemy convinced them that what God gave wasn’t good enough. That they weren’t REALLY satisfied and surely they wanted more.  The fall of man was ingratitude. Here is the story:

The Fall  Genesis 3:1-19

Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”

The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”

“You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman.  “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.

Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.

Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden.

But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”  He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.” And He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?”  The man said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.”

Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?”  The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

So the Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and all wild animals!  You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life.  And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers;  He will crush your head, and you will strike His heel.”

To the woman He said, “I will make your pains in childbearing very severe; with painful labor you will give birth to children.  Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.”

To Adam He said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life.  It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field.  By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.”

God didn’t mess this world up…we did.  He saw that we needed help so He sent Jesus to die with all this sin on Him, so that we don’t have to. Jesus was the sacrifice to save us.  God is good and all He gives is good. There is beauty that comes from the ashes of all this hard.  We may not actually see the good that comes or the one person that was saved through it…but God does and that is enough.  Yes, this world is suffering but there is a day when there will be no more bad…only good. But until that day, let’s keep encouraging each other, praying for each other, and reaching out to those who don’t know Him and together we can change lives for Him.

*   ~   ♥   ~   ✞   ~  ♥   ~   * 

Do you know Jesus?  Have you ever asked Him into your life?  Oh friend, He is waiting. Will you pray with me?

Dear God, I know that I am a sinner, I need forgiveness.  I believe that Jesus is Your Son and the Savior of the world. I believe that You sent Him to die on the Cross so that I can live free and in eternity with You.  I ask Jesus today to come into my life and be my Lord.  Please walk with me and guide me and direct me.  Thank You for loving me.  In Jesus’ name, amen.

We Are Full Of Hope

encouragementbloggraphicromans15What strength do I have that I should continue to hope?
What is my future, that I should be patient?
Is my strength that of stone, or my flesh made of bronze?
Since I cannot help myself, the hope for success has been banished from me.
Job 6: 11-13

God created us to feel every emotion we as humans will experience in our lifetime. We never want to be so dead inside not to grieve. Tears are actually a gift…they take us to a place that words cannot. And they bring healing, yes, much healing. As much as this may hurt or cause us discomfort, can you imagine if you weren’t allowed to cry and grieve?

As Jesus’ followers, the world that we live in causes us to grieve on a daily basis. Then hope and faith are found also, when we rely solely on God the Father and Jesus the Son to fill us.  That which we lost, we gain in Him.

Job’s thoughts hit home.  “What  strength do I have…since I cannot help myself, so all hope for success has been banished.”  When we feel God has let us down, or didn’t answer the way we wanted, we feel like Job—hopeless because we have no control over the outcome.  We cannot always help ourselves. But He can!  He is always the answer! He is always your strength! The best part is this:

Life’s outcomes aren’t dependent on you…
Your future lies in His hands, His capable, strong hands.

Need proof? Let’s go to The Word:

Be strong and courageous, all you who put your hope in the Lord. Psalm 31:24

I will praise You forever for what You have done.
In the presence of Your faithful people,
I will put my hope in Your name, for it is good.
Psalms 52:9

__________, {put your name here} put your hope in the Lord.
For there is faithful love with the Lord, and with Him is redemption in abundance.
Psalm 130:7

Rejoice in hope; be patient in affliction; be persistent in prayer.
Romans 12:12

I pray that the perception of your mind may be enlightened
so you may know what is the hope of His calling.
Ephesians 1:18a

Let us hold on to the confession of our hope without wavering,
for HE WHO PROMISED IS FAITHFUL.
Hebrews 10:23 (emphasis mine)

Pain will fill our lives in different seasons and we will have loss in this life. So we must grieve when we need to but we must not be hopeless. Because His hands control everything and in Him is so much hope.  Sadness?  Yes we will feel it, but we will be happy and full of joy again.  Why?  Because He promised us!  And He can be trusted, even when you can’t trust anyone else.

He will bless you and He will love you.
And there may be sadness right now…
but joy comes in the morning!

*   ~   ♥   ~   ✞   ~  ♥   ~   * 

Do you know that God loves you so much that He sent His only Son to die in your place? And He would’ve done this for just you if it meant that you would live with Him forever. Jesus is waiting to come into your heart. Today is the day for change! Ready?

Let us pray:
God, I know I am a sinner. My life is out of control and I am so tired. I need You to be my God. I believe that Jesus is Your Son. You sent Him to die in my place so that my sins are forgiven. I will get to live in Heaven with You forever. Walk with me through this hard life and bring me into the light. In Jesus’ name, amen.

 

Feed My Sheep

encouragementbloggraphicromans15When they had all had enough to eat, He said to His disciples,
‘Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.’
John 6:12

America, the land of the free.  Also the land with plenty, so much that there really shouldn’t be so much hunger and poverty.  We don’t have to cross oceans to see hunger and poverty, although the levels are definitely different.  Not only is the world suffering from lack of food, there’s a lack of Jesus.  And because God doesn’t want to see anyone perish, He gave each one of us a spirit hungry for more of Him.  Before we go any further, I want you read John 6:1-15…a familiar story I know but we need to be reminded.  So read on:

Some time after this, Jesus crossed to the far shore of the Sea of Galilee (that is, the Sea of Tiberias), and a great crowd of people followed Him because they saw the signs He had performed by healing the sick.  Then Jesus went up on a mountainside and sat down with his disciples.  The Jewish Passover Festival was near.
When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?”  He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.
Philip answered him, “It would take more than half a year’s wages to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!”  Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?”
Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” There was plenty of grass in that place, and they sat down (about five thousand men were there).  Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish.
When they had all had enough to eat, He said to His disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.” So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten.
After the people saw the sign Jesus performed, they began to say, “Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world.”  Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make Him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by Himself.

You know, Jesus knew what these people needed before they did. The crowds had followed Him to hang on His every Word, and the disciples were trying to protect their Master and get Him away, but Jesus wanted to feed His sheep.  His people were hungry, not only for food but for His wisdom.  And today, there are multitudes who are hurting too, and can’t voice it…but we can.  We must spread the Word of Salvation to the lost.  We must teach His Word, because He entrusted it to us.

Over one billion people call themselves Christians, and not all are really born-again, God-fearing, Bible-reading and Bible-believing Christians.  Just as God knows every hair on their heads, He also knows which ones actually call Jesus ‘Lord,’ and He has made them ambassadors of Christ Jesus, commanding them to offer to all people in all nations the Bread of Life.  But how can a few reach so many?

In the story above, in verse 5, Jesus asked Philip, as they were faced with feeding so many people,”Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” Of course Jesus knew the answer, He was testing him. “He asked this only to test him, for He already had in mind what He was going to do” (verse 6).  Doesn’t Jesus sometimes place a question in our minds to make us seek Him for the answer?  Today our question is this: “How will you obey Me and reach out to my people?”

I know I am like Philip…I often feel ill-equipped, outnumbered, without confidence, and intimidated.  Sometimes the task at hand seem so huge that you don’t even know where to start!  And let’s be honest: sometimes we don’t even try.  But aren’t we to do it the same way it was done in John 6?  Miraculously…every time any one offers to anyone else the hope they have in Jesus, something miraculous happens.  Even if you feel like you don’t have anything to give, if you give it all to Jesus, He can do wonders with what you do have to give.

The boy in the story only had five small loaves of bread and two small fish and look what Jesus did with it!!  Because this little one was willing to give Jesus all he had, He multiplied it into all He needed.  You are all He needs…you can reach His people and you can change someone’s life. Whether you share your Jesus or your food, God can and will use you. Surrender all that you have. The world is needy, in all kind of ways, and God created us to do His work.

*  ~  ♥  ~  ✞  ~  ♥  ~  *

Do you know Him?  I urge you to read more of John’s Gospel and learn Jesus’ heart.  And pray this prayer with me:

Dear God, I know that I am a sinner.  I need forgiveness.  I believe that Jesus is Your Son and He died for me.  I want You to come into my heart and be my Lord.  Walk with me.  In Jesus name, amen.

Nehemiah And The Wall of Jerusalem

encouragementbloggraphicromans15

That pen is sitting there in front of you and the paper is calling you to try one more time…. And what resolution did you totally not do last year?  Then we make mental lists of why we CAN’T do anything and before you know it—we have failed before we ever started.  Have you been there?

The enemy, the deceiver, the father of  lies will do anything and everything to steal your joy and take your focus off of what is really important…and his main reason?  To keep you from doing God’s work and to discourage you along the way with your own words of failure.  Here’s an example in God’s Word:

Now when Sanballat heard that we were building the wall, he was angry and greatly enraged, and he jeered at the Jews.  And he said in the presence of his brothers and of the army of Samaria, “What are these feeble Jews doing? Will they restore it for themselves? Will they sacrifice? Will they finish up in a day? Will they revive the stones out of the heaps of rubbish, and burned ones at that?”  Tobiah the Ammonite was beside him, and he said, “Yes, what they are building—if a fox goes up on it he will break down their stone wall!”  

Hear, O our God, for we are despised. Turn back their taunt on their own heads and give them up to be plundered in a land where they are captives.  Do not cover their guilt, and let not their sin be blotted out from Your sight, for they have provoked You to anger in the presence of the builders.  So we built the wall. And all the wall was joined together to half its height, for the people had a mind to work.

Nehemiah 4:1-6

God has elected Nehemiah to lead His people in rebuilding the wall of Jerusalem. Oh how well they were doing!  They had all the tools they needed to be successful and everyone was working so hard.  Then comes the critics…how they ridiculed these children of God.  All of the sudden, these people who once had so much confidence were now questioning their ability to do anything.  They were feeling stupid and wanted to quit.  See, the enemy had come in and attacked right where they were vulnerable.

Have you ever had this happen to you?  God had spoken pretty clear about something He wanted you to do, or maybe He wanted you to lead.  Then someone mentions a fear of yours or puts one doubt in your head…and all that excitement and courage goes out the window.  Now you’re questioning if it even was God’s idea.  You’re about to give up, BUT GOD.  {His voice is louder than yours.}

(Back to Nehemiah….) Nehemiah was wise and He loved the Lord.  He knew how to handle people who would criticize him.  He went to God and had a discussion about all of them.  In Nehemiah 4:4 he says to God,”Turn their insults back on their own heads.” (We as kids may have said similar things, right? “I know you are but what am I?”)   Unlike us, he didn’t talk to his critics or try to defend himself.  He let God handle it.  He shared all of his feelings with his Heavenly Father, His Creator, Who knew him better than he knew himself.  What happened next?

“So we built the wall.
And all the wall was joined together for half its height,
for the people worked with all their heart.”

In other words, satan was defeated at his own game.  What he dished out didn’t take their focus off of what was important; it made them turn hard to God.  Their focus was on the work of their Lord and no one could destroy them.

So this New Year, instead of making impossible lists of goals and setting yourself up to feel like a failure…make another kind of list.  Like one that lists all the ways God loves you and wants desperately to be your Guide and so much more.  And when that doubt is thrown at you, you have His Word to lean on and encourage you.  His own words to guide and direct you in any task that He is asking of you.  You are ready and you are able to do it—you just have to be willing.  I’m going to leave you with some verses of encouragement and I urge you to write them down, post them on your mirror or wherever they are most visible.  And if you aren’t sure if you have Jesus in your heart, I urge you to pray the prayer below with me and take these verses to your heart that are posted below. Please let us know in the comment section so we can celebrate this special day with you.

 

For God did not give you a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.
2 Timothy 1:7

I have set the Lord always before me. Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
Psalm 16:8

Cast all your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous fall.
Psalm 55:22

My comfort is my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life.
Psalm 119:50

The Lord is my Strength and my Song: He has become my Salvation.
Psalm 118:14

*   ~   ♥   ~   ✞   ~  ♥   ~   *

Dear Heavenly Father, I know I am a sinner. I need forgiveness. I believe that Jesus is Your Son and He is the Savior. I ask that You come into my heart and stay. Be my Lord and Savior. I need You to guide me and give me that joy You promise. I’m tired of going this alone. Thank You for the Holy Spirit that I now have to guide me. I love You, in Jesus’ name, amen.

What Would You Have Given Him?

encouragementbloggraphicromans15

They entered the house and saw the child with His mother, Mary,
and they bowed down and worshipped Him.
Then they opened their treasure chests
and gave Him gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.
Matthew 2:11

In manger scenes, either on coffeetables or mantles, there is Mary and Joseph, the baby Jesus, a few animals, the shepherds, and the wise men.  As we know, though, Jesus was around one or two when the wise men found Him.  Herod was king then and he had called a meeting with his religious leaders.  He wanted to know where Jesus was to be born.  “In Bethlehem of Judea” they told him.  “For it is written by the prophet: for from you shall come a Ruler…Who will shepherd My people.”  Herod was threatened.  He told them to go and search for the child, and come back and tell him so he could worship Him.

And you, O Bethlehem in the land of Judah,
are not least among the ruling cities of Judah,
for a ruler will come from you
who will be the shepherd for my people Israel.
Matthew 2:6

The wise men went on their way, guided by a star in the east, and they were filled with joy.  The wise men brought gifts and worshipped Jesus for Who He was.  These gifts were extremely valuable and each one stood for something:

  • Gold – a gift of royalty
  • Frankincense – a gift for deity
  • Myrrh – a spice used to anoint a body for burial

The wise men were so excited to meet the Christ-child that they were willing to part with these gifts, out of love and respect and just joy.   They were honoring Jesus for Who He is and they worshipped Him because He was and is perfect.

There is much more to this story and I encourage you to finish reading the whole story of Herod and the wise men. (Read the whole account here.)  But for now, let’s search our own hearts.

What would you have been willing to give Him?

What is most precious to you and would you have  been willing to lay it at the foot of the manger on that cold night in Bethlehem? I would like to think that I would. And what about today?

Sometimes the things that we hold onto aren’t really so precious yet we have a hard time giving them to Jesus.  Sometimes our own ideas of how our life should go are hard to give over to God, and to wholly trust Him with it.  Even though we know in our heart of hearts it is the best thing for us and that God is our Sustainer and He does know what is best for us.  Yet we hold onto it.  Some days we lay them at His feet, only to pick them up not too long after.  We may not have a star to follow like they did, but we have the Spirit of God guiding us and directing us.  We owe Him so much…we can never ever repay the debt.  But on that night, so long ago, the wise men didn’t have a debt to pay. They just wanted to give all they had to the Baby Jesus.

   *    ♥  ~  ✝  ~  ★    *

Oh, friends, we too have so much to give Him!  It may not be gold, frankincense, and myrrh but we have our praise and we can honor Him with our lives every day.  Do you know this Jesus?  I really want you to.  He is so in love with you already, even if you aren’t yet.  But you will be once you get to know Him.  Why not start today?

Pray this simple prayer with me:

Dear Lord, I know I am a sinner and I need a Savior. I need forgiveness for my sins. I believe that Jesus is Your Son, Who was born and lived here on earth and died to save me from my sin. He rose again and is preparing a place for me.  I ask You to come into my heart and be Lord of my life.  Guide and direct me.  In Jesus’ Name, amen.

Don’t Leave Him In The Manger

encouragementbloggraphicromans15

The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David!
And you will recognize Him by this sign:
You will find a baby wrapped snuggly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.
Luke 2:11

Our first vision of Jesus is a baby lying in a manger, with shepherds and animals and Mary and Joseph all gazing at this beautiful baby.  It’s the Christmas scene, a beautiful one that we see on greeting cards and church programs.  But don’t leave Him in the manger.

Tiny, sweet, delicate and small, this helpless baby grew and lived an amazing life…
witnessed to many,
fed the five thousand,
healed the sick,
gave sight to the blind,
gave life to the dead,
and ultimately carried His own Cross and died for us.
Then He rose again after three days,
ascended into Heaven,
leaving us the gift of the Holy Spirit,
and He will come back to earth as King of Kings.

Out of that manger came a Savior Who came to earth to become a man, to walk the streets as we do, and to experience life before us…so that we could live by His example.  He was despised and rejected and hated by many.  And He was followed by crowds of people, longing to be healed.  He was loved by His Father, yet  sacrificed for us, God’s children.

Do you ever wonder what kind of follower you would’ve been?  Would you have believed that HE was who He said He was?  Would you have had the faith to touch His garment knowing you would be healed?  What is so amazing is that even today, your faith can move mountains.  Your faith in Jesus can still heal sickness.  Your faith in Him can bring plenty of provision to your family and your belief inHim can save your life.

Yes, He came as a baby and we still picture Him in the stable in the manger on that first Christmas night with the bright star leading the shepherds to Him.  But we can’t leave Him in the manger. We must bring Him into our lives, into our hearts and let Him lead us and guide us into being all that God has created us to be.  There is so much good that He wants for us, if only we will have the faith and the courage and endurance to walk with Him through the hard and sometimes the impossible.  And without Him, life is impossible.

He is for you and He is waiting with His nail pierced hands open to accept you into His Kingdom.

Do you want Him to be Lord of your life?

I pray, today, that you ask Jesus to come into your heart and to be Lord of your life.  If you made this decision today, I ask you to pray this prayer.

Dear God, I know that I am a sinner and I need forgiveness.  I believe that Jesus is Your Son and He came to earth as a baby and grew to be Son of Man.  He sacrificed His life on the cross for our sins so that we can live a life of freedom.  I want this for my life.  Walk with me now. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

*   ♥  ~  ✝  ~  ★    *

But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our sins;
the punishment that brought us peace was on Him,
and by His wounds we are healed.
Isaiah 53:5 NIV