Saturday, June 29, 2013

Return to Me

“I cared for you in the desert, in the land of burning heat. When I fed them they were satisfied; when they were satisfied, they became proud, then they forgot me.” (Hosea 13:5-6)

The book of Hosea opens a window for us into the very heart of God; it reveals God’s agony over His people who turned away from Him and then encountered destruction and turbulence. Like many of us, they grasped at any straw that might save them from this destruction, but even then, because of their pride and self-sufficient ways, they refused to turn to the Lord. But through God’s forgiveness and grace, He continued to offer them a message of hope and implored them to return to Him so that He could heal and restore them.





In times of blessing and when things are going well, it can be easy to rely on our success and be satisfied of our achievements. We become self-sufficient because we have been taught to do so. Being self-sufficient is a word described as the model American; these are individuals who do not need to be dependent on outside sources for their basic needs; folks who are capable of attending to any circumstance, problem, or hardship they encounter. We have been encouraged from an early age to be self-sufficient and to model and display a sense of pride and personal responsibility. When prayers have been answered and things are going as planned, we don’t always look up to God or even thank Him. But when challenges and trials knock us down, it is easy to call on God; when we are desperate there is nowhere to look but up!

“Sow for yourselves righteousness, reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unplowed ground; for it is time to seek the Lord, until He comes and showers righteousness on you.” (Hosea 10:12)

The truth is that we are not always equipped to manage our lives on our own; we need help from the one up above who made us. There are always going to be times when we are desperate and need help, and God operates very effectively in our weaknesses; it is in that place that He can show Himself strong! The truth is, God wants us to recognize and acknowledge Him in the good times and the bad times; He is all-knowing and He sees the end from the beginning and has a plan for every situation. We need His presence with us in every situation, and we should praise and rejoice with Him no matter what is going on in our lives. He allows us to experience blessings and also challenges so we can learn to love and trust Him in all things.

“But you must return to your God; maintain love and justice, and wait for your God always.” (Hosea 12:6)

Trials in our lives try to take our attention away from God, and we are going to struggle with circumstances that cause us to be distracted and rely on self as we try to battle and win by our own efforts. We like to be strong; we grow up thinking that  things depend on us and our strength and abilities But the purpose of going through trials are to perfect perseverance in us and to cling to Him in every circumstance. We can’t solve our problems and temptations by our own efforts, or fight the battle on our own. God calls us to live a life based on His resources and strength, and He is most glorified when we are dependent and wait on Him always!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Debt of Love

“Give everyone what you owe him: if you owe taxes, pay taxes, if revenue, then revenue, if respect, then respect, if honor, then honor.” (Romans 13:7)

Wouldn’t it be splendid if we could all live debt free?  It’s been said that the average household splits its debt among seven to ten credit cards and loans. It’s natural for many of us to convince ourselves that we have worked hard, and our rate of spending is normal; we deserve more and we can’t live without more! But for most of us, the burden of owing weighs heavy on us; it can put stress in our relationships, our attitudes, our jobs, and even our health. As believers, we should be as free from the burden of debt as possible; we are encouraged to live respectfully and worthily, fulfilling all laws, obligations and requirements. The journey of debt-free living is all about being a good steward of money, and involves commitment, determination, and self-control. There is however, one debt that we are obligated to…

…The only debt we should have is to love one another…

“Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law.” (Romans 13:8)

A person who is motivated by love will fulfill the law, because love is bigger, broader, larger, deeper, and richer than the law! We can fulfill the commands of the bible better by falling in love with God; when we love Him, our obedience to Him will flow out of that relationship. One debt we can never finish paying is the debt of love that we owe; it is the debt that cost God the life of His only begotten Son. Because we have been loved with an infinite love, we will never be able to repay or complete our obligation to love. In the same way, we are indebted to extend love, grace and mercy to each other. The only real value in anything at all is love! We can follow all the rules and the laws, but they can’t be done without love.

“Whatever commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: Love your neighbor as yourself. Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.” (Romans 13:9-10)

“Love your neighbor as yourself”… who is our neighbor and how do we love them? Our neighbor is more than just the guy next door; they are people in our communities, people we pass on the streets and in the hallways, they are even our enemies. When we love God with all our heart, we realize that everyone is part of His creation and we are indebted to love them. This love equips and enables us to love our neighbors in a genuine and sincere way, even those we are tempted not to love. When we have Christ’s life in us, we have the power to love even those who are hard to love. Whatever the situation demands it is a debt we owe to every person, every day. Every day holds an opportunity for us to pay this debt of love to someone who needs it, and those who are fortunate enough to owe this never ending debt will find it to be their greatest liability and dearest treasure!

“Love is as hard as nails. Love is nails…driven through hands and feet.” C.W. Lewis

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Sunday, June 16, 2013

Give a Little Kindness

“Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.” (Mother Teresa)

Being kind and good to others brings happiness which is contagious, causing others to be happy! One of the surest signs of our strength is kindness, because it shows that we are confident and self-assured. Galatians 6:10 says, therefore, as we have the opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.”  Being thoughtful and gracious to those that cross our path daily is a way of living that keeps giving long after the kind thoughts, words, and actions have taken place. Acting with kindness is a wonderful idea, but often it gets overlooked in the business of our lives, and/or we become too comfortable with one another to offer words of kind-heartedness and compassion. However, just one small act of kindness, or words of comfort and thoughtfulness, can not only change our day for the better, but it can also end up having a remarkable impact on those around us! When we give away our kindness to someone it’s not gone---it’s invested!

“Carry out a random act of kindness, with no expectation of reward, safe in the knowledge that one day someone might do the same for you.” (Princess Diana)

With an attitude of generosity, our experience of life will rise and soar to a higher level of richness and blessing. It’s so important to maintain an optimistic attitude to ensure that our acts of kindness are sincere and committed with genuine joy and cheerfulness rather than out of a sense of duty. We shouldn’t ask for anything in return because the greatest kindness expects nothing and comes with no strings attached. When we give without wanting anything in return it opens our hearts to a greater sense of peace, love, and joy. There are always opportunities to help those who can never pay us back, but compassion has a greater reward than any payback ever could! We should seek the honor that comes from God instead of wanting our egos massaged by the praise of other people.

 “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. (Galatians 6:9)

We live in a world where everything we do makes a difference, and when we are kind it affects more than just the person in front of us. We don’t have to do something big and recognizable to make a difference and we won’t necessarily change someone’s life with our acts of kindness, but smiles, thoughtful words, and encouragement do make a difference and can have a ripple effect even if we don’t see it.  It only takes a small effort to give a little kindness, and the joy we send out never leaves us. Instead it carries us along and multiplies itself again and again until it starts to make a big difference. We don’t need to look very far to find someone who deserves and appreciates kindness when we consider all the people that cross our paths each and every day. And even the smallest act of kindness can make a difference in someone’s day; the tiniest act of kindness may be a blessing that they will always remember!

“Therefore as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.” (Colossians 3:12)

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Saturday, June 8, 2013


“Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalm37:4)

What are some things you take delight in?

The word “delight” is such an uplifting and fun word; its definition is:

*something that gives great pleasure

*a high degree of enjoyment, joy, rapture

*extreme satisfaction

The things we delight in are most often what we love more than anything else, and our happiness is achieved not so much by one single event as it is on continuous daily delights in small things. Sometimes I think there are times when we simply need to STOP…take a deep breath…and take delight in all the things God had given us. It’s the little things in life that make it wonderful; if only we would pause long enough to appreciate those things and realize that we are truly blessed. We are often so busy with life that we miss the beauty that is right in front of us; children’s laughter, beautiful sunsets, brilliant shining stars on a clear evening, a quiet walk on the beach, chocolate (!), or spending time with our family and loved ones. We need to enjoy all the little things as much as the big things…OR…all the beauty and simple pleasures of life will just pass us by.

“Your words were found and I consumed them. Your words were joy and my hearts delight, because I belong to you.” (Jeremiah 15:16)

When you delight in something, it brings a smile to your face every time you think about it; it cheers your heart and you find yourself constantly turning towards it. A person’s delight may be found in all kinds of different things, however the Bible commands us to find our delight in the Lord. That same delight we find in our daily lives, we are to find in Him. One of the very things we all need to do to enjoy a day-by-day full and meaningful life, is to yield control of our lives to God so that we can experience His beauty, love, and power moment by moment. To do this, we need to commit everything we do and everything we have to Him so that we can experience great pleasure and joy in His presence.

The beauty of it is this

…there is a mutual love relationship when we exult over Him! When we rejoice over Him, He will take delight and rejoice over us with shouts of joy!

“The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.” (Zephaniah 3:17)

Have you ever thought that YOU are a delight?

The Lord rejoices over us today! You are a delight, bringing great joy to the Lord God who created you; imagine God breaking out in songs of happiness over us! We may not think we really deserve it, but what an amazing thing, that He would rejoice over us with singing. Have you ever considered what song He may be singing over you? I am pretty sure that whatever song it is, it is a song of love. We may be more apt to believe the other way around; us in awe and rejoicing over Him with love and thankfulness for our blessed salvation.  But the truth is, our Father in heaven is never more blessed than seeing His beloved creation obeying in the spirit with delightful joy and thanksgiving! The emotions of delight we experience over things that bring us joy are not even close to the way He delights and rejoices in us…what amazing love!

“May those who delight in my vindication shout for joy and gladness; may they always say, “The Lord be exalted, who delights in the well-being of His servant.” (Psalm 35:27)


Sunday, June 2, 2013

Sticks and Stones

“Besides that, they learn to be idlers, going about from house to house, and not only idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, saying what they should not.” (l Timothy 5:13 ESV)

I am sure you run into them every day; family, friends, co-workers, and even an acquaintance at church who is gossiping or starting a gossip. They will try to persuade you to believe in or act upon the rumors they have heard and are attempting to spread. And some people are like a magnet that draws attention to these rambling busybodies; maybe it makes them feel like part of the group, or more powerful, or maybe it makes them the center of attention. But what they really don’t know is that whoever is gossiping to them is probably gossiping about them! We see it going on around us almost every single day; and it’s easy to see what a tragic waste it is because nothing of value is ever really accomplished, and the damage that such negative remarks can make can never be fully repaired. Whoever said that “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”, may or may not have been on the receiving end, but I know from experience that words can be very painful! 

In “One Minute of Praise” Darlene McCarty writes, “How do you fix your thoughts? You guard your eyes from unclean sight. You guard your ears from verbal garbage. You allow only good things to occupy your mind or come out of your mouth.”

It’s so important to associate with people who challenge us to better ourselves physically, mentally, and spiritually rather than with those who spend time and energy on petty gossip in an attempt to destroy others. We shouldn’t be looking for garbage, and if we do hear it we shouldn’t believe it. It’s painful when someone we look up to hurts us by idle chit chat and gossip, but it’s even more painful when we unintentionally hurt someone who looks up to us! If we really want to avoid gossip, we need to let the gossip end with us instead of participating in it.   

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” (Ephesians 4:29 NIV)

When we encourage one another, saying encouraging words to other people's hearts, we have a much greater effect than when we criticize. I wonder how other’s see us; not only in the workplace but in our everyday environment. Do they see us as peacemakers who encourage, love, and want to help build others up? (That’s how I would love people to “gossip” about me!) You and I are called to build up and strengthen one another, and we must continue to study and be filled with the Word of God so that we can see people as individuals who need to be built up. It is important that we, as a sisterhood, learn what it takes to help strengthen each other. In our busy hurried up lives, we often don’t even take notice of the people around us who are broken, weak and discouraged, much less acknowledge or seek to understand them. God instructs us to take the time to notice, to consider, to understand and appreciate the people around us with a loving and compassionate spirit. We need to continuously seek ways in which we can encourage one another as God encourages us; He has made it our responsibility to foster the well-being of each other, not tear each other down!

“Let’s see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out, not avoiding worshiping together as some do but spurring each other on…(Hebrews 10:24-25 MSG)

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