Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Swim to Forgiveness

"But Peter said, 'Man, I do not know what you are talking about.' And immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed. And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the saying of the Lord, how he had said to him, 'Before the rooster crows today, you will deny me three times.' And he went out and wept bitterly." Luke 22:60-62

This may seem like a strange time to say this, but Peter is one of my favorite Bible people. Because we are so much like him.

Peter messed up huge right here. He ran when Jesus was arrested. He denied Jesus three times. Jesus looked right at him, and he realized what he had done, he ran again.

After Jesus' death and resurrection, He appeared to the disciples several times. One time was on the shores of the Sea of Tiberias...

"Just as day was breaking, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that is was Jesus. Jesus said to them, 'Children, do you have any fish?' They answered him, 'No.' He said to them, 'Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.' So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in, because of the quantity of fish. That disciple whom Jesus loved therefore said to Peter, 'It is the Lord!'  When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment, for he was stripped for work, and threw himself into the sea." John 21:4-7

When Peter denied Jesus, and realized his sin, he ran from God. Here he ran to God.

When we realize our sin, much to often we turn and run from God because we are ashamed. We feel unworthy to talk to Him after what we have done, and we punish ourselves.

We all know that this is the exact opposite of how it's supposed to be, but it is so much easier to avoid God. We all know that's wrong.

Run to God. When you slip up, go to God, immediately. We will all sin. A lot. But when we do, we are stronger when go back to God quickly.

Peter threw himself into the sea, and he conquered all his doubts, sins, and failures. He ran, ahem, swam to get back to Jesus quicker, even though he knew that Jesus knew what he had done. Something clicked in him that Jesus still loved him, and He forgave him. Don't wait a second longer. Start swimming.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

"To Do Or Not TO Do"

     Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.
     Now everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall. Matthew 7:24-29
   
To do or not to do? That is the question? Every day or rather every moment we are faced with the question, to do what we know is right based on the Word of God or to do what we know is not in line with the Word the of God. Jesus said if we hear and do, we are wise! If we hear and don't do, we are foolish! If we hear and do, we build on a rock. If we hear and don't do, we build on sand. If we hear and do,the rain, flood and winds will come and we will still be standing! If we hear and don't do, the rain, floods, and wind will come and great will fall.

Building a house is a process. It happens board by board, nail by nail. It happens with lots of choices involved, from basic layout questions like, where to put the kitchen, bedrooms, and bathrooms to specific details like what color to paint the walls or what carpet to put down. Jesus said, "whoever hears these sayings and does them," is building on a solid foundation. He had been talking for 103 verses straight when he ended with this illustration. Obedience to His Word means we are building in the right location! Location is everything. We choose to build on rock or sand.  We choose our location when we hear His sayings and choose to do them! By choosing to obey Him we survive any storm, trial, and temptation that comes our way. If we hear and DO we get to stand!  If we hear and DON'T DO then comes a fall, or rather as Jesus put it, "a great fall."
    

Monday, July 29, 2013

The Growing Time

Yesterday, my pastor said that there was a rain that started the crops, then a dry period where the plants are still growing, and then there is a later rain that brings the harvest.

But the plants are still growing in the dry period.

Abraham popped in my mind as I was mulling this over.

God promised Abraham a son, and that his descendants would be as numerous as the stars. Genesis 15:4-5

"And he believed the LORD, and He counted it to him as righteousness." Genesis 15:6

And then came the dry period. The waiting for something to happen, as nothing continued to happen.

In chapter 16, Sarai (also Sarah) took matters into her own hands, and she set Abraham up with her female servant, Hagar, so they would have a heir through her. That created quite a few problems. Notice that when we try to make God's will happen according to our plans, there are problems.

Abraham's promised son isn't mentioned again until Genesis 17:15. And at that point, a son was so physically impossible that when God said it, Abraham laughed. Then in Genesis 18, when they had some Heavenly visitors, they were told that Sarah would have a son, and she laughed. God then told them that a year from now, Sarah would have a son.

The promised son wasn't born until Genesis 21, one year after chapter 18, but many years after chapter 15.

Abraham believed when God first promised a son to him. But the dry period was so long...some doubt crept into his heart.

We all do this, God promises us something, and when it doesn't immediately happen, we doubt. The dry period takes us down.

Instead of doubting, we are supposed to be trusting in God. Thanking Him for fulfilling His promises. Growing in faith. Growing in Him. Otherwise, we will dry up.

The later rain, the fulfillment of promise is coming. Until then, grow.

---Joy

Sunday, July 28, 2013

"A Promise And A Solution"

He gives power to the weak, And to those who have no might He increases strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, And the young men shall utterly fall, But those who wait on the Lord Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:29-31

This is one of my favorite scriptures. I go looking for it when I've had one of those weeks where everything that has been hard, difficult, and overwhelming is piled up so high that it totally overtakes anything that was good. You know the kind of day I'm talking about! One where, O God, O God, O God, O God, O God is the cry you make all day long. When I'm in that place I go to these verses because they contain both a promise and a solution to help me through.

When I'm feeling weak and lacking the ability to deal with things, this verse promises that He gives power and increased strength. It also reminds me that 'even the young get tired and weary and sometimes trip and fall' so I shouldn't heap condemnation on myself  if I get to feeling tired and overwhelmed. 1 Corinthians 10:13 puts it this way, "No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to man;" Its normal, we all have times of feeling weak, lacking strength, or tripping and taking a fall, but the important thing to remember is how we deal with it. 

The solution is that we need to remember in those times of weariness to look to him because He is the one who gives power to the weak. He is the one who increases strength when our might fails us. He is the one who renews our strength to the point we soar like eagles, run without getting weary, and walk without fainting! The key is found in these words, "But those who wait on the Lord, Shall" If you look up the word 'wait' in the Strongs it means:  to bind together (perhaps by twisting). The solution is to bind together with Him! If we get 'tight' with God, then we get to receive all the power, might, and the strength to overcome and soar like eagles!


Saturday, July 27, 2013

Names and Change

Do you know the meaning of your name? It's amazing how parents will pick a name for a newborn, and that name is so perfect for their child. Believer or not, your name is God-given.

Especially in Bible days, when history was being made, your name reflected something about you, or the circumstances of that day.

Which is exactly what happened when Esau and Jacob were born. Esau was red and hairy, so his name means "hairy." Jacob was born almost at the same time as Esau because he was holding onto Esau's heel, so his name means "he takes by the heel," or "he cheats."

What a legacy to have spoken over your life...and Jacob did his fair share of cheating, tricking, and breaking the rules.

Both Esau's and Jacob's names changed later. Because they changed. Esau's name was changed to Edom when he sold his birthright for red stew. Edom means red.

Jacob's name changed after he wrestled with God.

"And Jacob was left alone. And a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day. When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he touched his hip socked, and Jacob's hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him. Then he said, 'Let me go, for the day has broken.' But Jacob said, 'I will not let you go unless you bless me.' And he said to him, 'What is your name?' And he said, 'Jacob.' Then he said, 'Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed.' " Genesis 32:24-28

Jacob changed. He wasn't the cheater anymore. And he didn't want that reminder and that legacy hanging over him. So he would not let go of God until God did something about that. He wanted a new name, a new legacy, and a real blessing from God. One that he had earned. One that was freely given to him. (You'll remember that he stole Esau's blessing by tricking their father, Isaac. Genesis 27)

When we are saved and born again, we are not the same anymore. We are changed. Jacob was changed. And this chapter is the biggest evidence of the change in him after he fled from Esau (Genesis 27 and 28).

Now I'm not saying go out and change your name, but is God and His changing power seen in your life? God saw Jacob's heart. He saw the change. That's one of the reasons why He blessed him, and changed his name.

Look at Jacob afterwards. He was forgiven. He was no longer the trickster. Some serious blessings came his way.

With God in us, we are all changed for the better.

---Joy



Friday, July 26, 2013

Amazing, Incredible, Awesome God

"I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgements and do them."  Ezekiel 36:26-27

We serve such an amazing, incredible, awesome God!  Who else but such an amazing, incredible awesome God could or even would do what He does in the heart of a man.  He takes our cold, hard, unbelieving heart of the past and in a moment He does this amazing thing. Here, now, in the present He works a miracle and touches our heart in a way that absolutely changes and transforms the heart we live our future with! I have to say it again. I love that we serve such an amazing, incredible, awesome God!

Just in case you need an excellent example, check out this guy's story: Acts 9:1-28:31

The past - Cold, hard, unbelieving heart  - Acts 9:1,2  Then Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any who were of the Way, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.

The present - Heart being touched and transformed - Acts 9:3-6 And as he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven. Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?"  And he said, "Who are You, Lord?"
And the Lord said, I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads." So he, trembling and astonished, said, "Lord, what do You want me to do?"

The future - Heart transformed and living for His glory - Acts 9:15-20 - But the Lord said to him, "Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel. For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name's sake." And Ananias went his way and entered the house; and laying hands on him he said, "Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you came, has sent me that you  may receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit."
Immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he received his sight at once; and he arose and was baptized. And when he had received food, he was strengthened. Then Saul spent some days with the disciples at Damascus. Immediately he preached the Christ in the synagogues, that He is the Son of God. (Etc.)

David put it this way in Psalm 51:10 "Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me." And that is exactly what God did for Paul. He gave him a clean heart and a steadfast spirit that equipped his future and enabled him to serve Him faithfully 'even unto death.'

It is also what He will do for you and I because He is an Amazing, Incredible, Awesome  God!


Thursday, July 25, 2013

Enoch Walked

"When Enoch had lived 65 years, he fathered Methuselah. Enoch walked with God after he fathered Methuselah 300 years and had other sons and daughters. Thus all the days of Enoch were 365 years. Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him." Genesis 5:21-24

"I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken." Psalm 16:8

Enoch was just like us. He had two parents he was supposed to obey, he had brothers and sisters that probably annoyed him at times. He grew up and met a girl, and had to deal with all that stuff! He fell in love, got married, and then had a bunch of kids of his own.

Genesis 5 is a genealogy from Adam to Noah.  So Genesis 5 is a whole lot of, 'this guy had this son, he lived another 600ish years, having other sons and daughters, and that all together he lived 700ish years.'

Notice in Enoch's verse it says that after he fathered Methuselah, he walked with God another 300 years. And then God took him.

See, Enoch didn't just live. He walked with God. He may have been just like us, but he has a relationship with God that we all covet. And that's because he walked with God. He had God always set before him. And because God was always before him, all that crazy stuff in life, the temptations, the trials, and the regular hard days didn't move him. He kept walking with God.

Strive for a relationship with God so intense that He can say something like, 'No, you didn't just live you life. You walked it with me. You set Me always before you. Way to go!'

---Joy

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

"Crowing Rooster Or Chariot Of Fire?"

     Then having arrested Him, they led Him and brought Him into the high priest's house. And Peter followed at a distance.
     Now when they had kindled a fire in the midst of the courtyard and sat down together, Peter sat among them.
     And a certain servant girl, seeing him as he sat by the fire, looked intently at Him and said, "This man was also with Him."
     But he denied Him saying, "Woman, I do not know Him."
     And after a little while another saw him and said, "You also are of them." But Peter said, "Man, I am not!"
     Then after about an hour had passed, another confidently affirmed, saying, "Surely this fellow also was with Him, for he is a Galilean."
     But Peter said, "Man, I do not know what you are saying!" And immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed.
     And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had said to him, "Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times."
     And Peter went out and wept bitterly.     Luke 22:54-62

Earlier while with Jesus, Peter had claimed, "Lord, I am ready to go with You, both to prison and to death." Luke 22:33 Jesus had told him that he would deny knowing Him three times before the rooster crowed. When the whole thing played out and Jesus turned and met Peter's eyes when the rooster crowed, each denial hit Peter full on as he remembered. All three denial's fresh off his lips. It says that he left and wept bitterly.

In 2 Kings 2:1-11 we see a different outcome.  Three times, in three different locations Elijah tells Elisha, "Stay here, please, for the Lord has sent me on to..." Three times, three locations, Elisha responds, "As the Lord lives, and as your soul lives, I will not leave you!" And when the prophets in Bethel and Jericho tell Elisha, 'Do you know that the Lord will take away your master from over you today?" He responded, "Yes, I know; keep silent!"  Three times, Elijah had tried to get Elisha to leave him. Three times Elisha refused to stay and determined to stay close. All three times he stayed close and  traveled on to the next destination all the time knowing that he was going to loose Elijah. Because of his determination to not leave Elijah's side he was asked by Elijah, "What may I do for you, before I am taken away from you?"  Elisha's response was simple, "Please let a double portion of your spirit be upon me." He was then told that, "if you see me when I am taken from you, it shall be so for you..."

Both these examples involved a man's choice and very different outcomes. One ended with a man broken, ashamed, and weeping bitterly. The other ended with a man getting to see a Elijah being taken in a chariot of fire in a whirlwind up to heaven and receiving a double portion of anointing. The difference can be found in Luke 22:54 ... 'And Peter followed at a distance.' When Peter was in Jesus's presence he made bold claims, when he followed at a distance, he denied Him, all three times! Elisha refused to leave Elijah's presence no matter how many times he was encouraged to! He was determined to stay close. It is a valuable lesson we as His people need to take heed to.  In His presence we get to be a part of amazing things like, seeing chariots of fire! We too get to make a choice - to listen for the crow of the rooster or to see the chariot of fire!





Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Laugh Attack

"He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision." Psalm 2:4

This verse...makes me grin.

Psalm 2 starts off from the bad guys point of view. The kings and rulers of the earth have decided to make some trouble for the Lord and His Anointed. Kill and destroy anything or anyone affiliated with the Most High.

And the author tells us that God is sitting up there laughing at their stupidity. From here, the chapter is finished from God's perspective as He tells the wicked that they don't have a chance against His Anointed. He will defend them, and the wicked will not find refuge because the only true refuge is in Him.

Everyone is after this poor man, and he cries out to God, and God laughs at the wicked! He laughs! God revealed that His response to such a threat was laughter. Not nervous laughter, but the kind of laughter that comes from knowing someone is going down. God says it's not going to happen, and that no on will touch His people. But what a courage booster God's laughter must have been to him! Here he was fretting and worrying, and God laughs because the wicked haven't got a chance.

When the wicked come after you, know that God laughs at their empty threats. Let that be a courage booster for you. Maybe laugh with Him. Take your refuge in Him.

You've all heard, "Ha! I laugh in the face of danger. Ha, ha, ha!" (Lion King)

But I like this better, "Ha! I laugh in the face of the wicked, at those who would dare lay a finger against us! God's taking them out!"

Monday, July 22, 2013

Three 'Immediately' Later

Mark 2:1-12 (NKJ) tells us about the encounter Jesus had with the paralytic and his four friends. As I was reading I noticed that the word immediately was used three different times during this life changing encounter. The first time, ... 'And again He entered Capernaum after some days, and it was heard that He was in the house. Immediately many gathered together, so that there was no longer room to receive them, not even near the door. And He preached the word to them. Mark 2:1-2
   
Jesus came to town, word started spreading, and immediately people dropped everything and they came! So many that they filled the house so that when the four friends brought the paralytic to him they couldn't even get near the door, never mind inside to Jesus.

This first 'immediately' has to do with peoples reaction to the news that Jesus was in the house! Its important to note that people were actually quick to come into His presence when it became know that He had come to town. They crowded in just to be in His Presence!

Next thing to happen is that the four men find a way to get him in through the roof down to Jesus. Jesus responds ...'When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, "Son, your sins are forgiven you." But some of the scribes were sitting there and reasoning in their hearts, "Why does this Man speak blasphemies like this? Who can forgive sins but God alone?" Mark 2:5-7

It is at this point we have our second 'immediately.' ...And immediately, when Jesus perceived in His spirit that they reasoned thus within themselves, He said to them, "Why do you reason about these things in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, "Your sins are forgiven you" or Arise, take up your bed and walk?' But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins"--- He said to the paralytic,... Mark 2:8-10

This second 'immediately' was in reference to Jesus and His response to 'the reasoning in their hearts.' As soon as He spoke the words to the paralytic, He knew the hearts of the men listening and He immediately addressed their heart attitude. He will always, immediately respond and get to the heart of the matter, whether it is our sin, paralyzed body, or a scoffing, doubting heart.

The next immediately, ---He said to the paralytic, "I say to you, arise, take up your bed, and go your way to your house." And immediately he arose, took up his bed, and went out in the presence of the all, so that all were amazed and glorified God, saying, "We never saw anything like this!"

This third immediately is probably the easiest to notice because when Jesus tells you your healed, then we expect an immediate response. I love that he did exactly what Jesus said. He immediately got up, took the bed and left. No questions asked, no "But Lord, you didn't specifically say ,'Your Healed?"  He just immediately responded and obeyed.

So,  after three 'immediately' responses later we get to my favorite verse in this encounter, ..."all were amazed and glorified God, saying, "We never saw anything like this!"








Sunday, July 21, 2013

First Sight

"Now Isaac had returned from Beer-lahai-roi and was dwelling in the Negeb. And Isaac went out to meditate in the field toward evening. And he lifted up his eyes and saw, and behold, there were camels coming. And Rebekah lifted up her eyes, and when she saw Isaac, she dismounted from the camel and said to the servant, 'Who is that man, walking in the field to meet us?' The servant said, 'It is my master.' So she took her veil and covered herself. And the servant told Isaac all the things that he had done. Then Isaac brought her into the tent of Sarah his mother and took Rebekah, and she became his wife, and he loved her." Genesis 24:62-67a

Isaac had gone out into the field to work, and he looked up, and saw...Rebekah! Say what you will about love at first sight, but I think this piece of history supports that it can happen.

But I would support it for an entirely different reason. It has nothing to do with this love story, or any bestseller that has been crafted. I believe in love at first sight because of God.

This great and powerful God not only loved us at first sight, He loved us before then, too. God is pretty crazy about us. He wants to love us. He wants to spend time with us.

When Rebekah first saw Isaac, and found out who he was, she covered herself. (There were legit reasons behind her response, but just go with me here.)

I think when we start to get a glimpse of that, we freak out a little bit. Similar to the movies when someone says, "I love you," and the other person freaks out, and avoids them for months because they are scared---the movies that make you want to bang your head into a wall!

Sometimes we get scared of that intensity of love with God. We know that we are not worthy to be called His love. We hide our face from Him, we look at the ground, we avoid Him.

He wants to take us and love us. Don't look away. Don't hide your face. Look up at Him. Look at the love in His eyes. Give Him your hand. He loved you before He ever set His eyes upon you.

A love story for generation after generation.





Saturday, July 20, 2013

"Huh?" Or " Yeah!" You Decide

Today we are going to take a look at 2 Kings 6:1-7. Every time I've read this account in scripture I've had the say reaction. HUH? It always makes me wonder what this miracle is all about?  Usually, throughout the Word when there is a miracle it is about setting someone free, or for healing, or for raising the dead, and you know, kinda big, God stuff. Here we have an ax head floating so a guy can return it to its owner.

But as one was cutting down a tree, the iron ax head fell into the water; and he cried out and said, "Alas, master! For it was borrowed." And the man of God said, "Where did it fall?" And he showed him the place. So he cut off a stick, threw it in there; and he made the iron float. Therefore he said, "Pick it up for yourself." So he reached out his hand and took it. 2 Kings 6:5-7

While on one level I just don't really get the significance of Elisha making the ax head float on another level I love it. Every time I read it I remember that He cares about all the areas of my life.  In this account we have a young man who is upset at losing his friends ax head. He cries out to Elisha for help and next thing you know he is fishing it out, no problem.  His first response is to immediately look to the man of God for help.  How often do I miss out because it doesn't occur to me that my drowning ax head would matter to God?

The next thing I like to notice is that Elisha's immediate response was to help. He didn't stop to think about it. He simply responded and did his thing. He wasn't full of himself. Helping with the ax head wasn't too insignificant or beneath him.  It reminds me that if I see a need and can help, even if its in a small way that it will bring glory to God.

So, even though I read it and go, "Huh?"  I also go, "Yeah!"  because as I read, it reminds me that He is a God who cares, even about the little things that matter to me in my day to day life. He cares enough to help, even with a lost ax head.


Friday, July 19, 2013

Claim Your Ground!

There use to be this cute little coffee/smoothie cafĂ© in the town next to me, and I always wanted to go there with my computer, get a yummy drink, and just write away. And when someone asked me what I was doing I'd say, "I'm working on a book." They would say, "Oh, your a writer?!" I'd reply, "I want to be a writer," looking forward to the day when I could say, "I am a writer."

What stops me from claiming who I am? What stops any of us from claiming who we are? If we can't give people some significant example of our passion, then we must not really be what we claim? I don't know about you, but I know that I do this too much in my life. I don't claim what is mine. I feel like my bears and lions, are not enough to slay my giants.

"Now his older son was in the field, as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. And he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. And he said to him, 'Your brother has come, and you father has killed the fattened calf, because he has received him back safe and sound.' But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, but he answered his father, 'Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours came,  who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!' And he said to him, 'Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.' " Luke 15:25-32

And I don't know about you, but I know I do this in my life with God, too.

At one point, we are all the lost son, but when we turn our life over to Jesus, there is a celebration. Then as we grow and start serving God, we get into a rhythm. Everyday we just automatically go into the field. When we see a new Christian get all these blessing from God, we can get a little cranky. "God, where is my blessing? Where is my abundance? Where is my magnificent destiny?" We cry out to Him, and he tells us the same thing. "You are always with me, and all that is mine is yours." We just need to claim it. We need to stop waiting for the day on the horizon. It's here! It's now! Claim everything you were meant to claim! Your destiny, your blessings, your abundance! We don't need to wait anymore.

David didn't let people's opinions stop him from claiming he was the guy to slay the giant. His time in the field prepared him, but when the moment came, he claimed his destiny. He didn't wait for someone to tell him he was ready. He took what God and given him, and claimed it.

Don't wait anymore. But in case you are, I'll tell you, claim it now!

---Joy

Thursday, July 18, 2013

"Increase Our Faith"

And the apostles said to the Lord, "Increase our faith."  Luke 17:5

"Increase our faith." There is a statement we've all probably spoken at one time or another throughout our walk with Him.  I know I have in my thirty four years of walking with Him. As a matter of fact I cry out for increase all the time.  Every time I read about someone in the Word doing the impossible or making some great stand for Him it moves me to cry out for more. 

Truthfully, doesn't it make you want to grab a slingshot and some rocks to go after giants when you read David's response to Goliath, "You come at me with a sword, with a spear, and with a javelin, But I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied." Or how about Elijah. Can't you picture him there calling for them to dump water on his sacrifice for the third time and then He is calling out to God with such confidence and conviction that God will respond, "Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that You are God in Israel, and that I am Your servant, and that I have done all these things at Your word. Hear me, O Lord, hear me that this people may know that You are the Lord God, and that You have turned their hearts back to You again." Then whoosh, fire from heaven! Sacrifice consumed!

I could go on ... speaking to the sun and moon, hanging with lions, speaking to dry bones, shouting at walls, fiery furnaces, building arks, walking on water, raising the dead, and healing blind eyes, lepers, and the deaf.  Every time I see in the Word someone standing for Him and being used by Him in such amazing powerful ways to bring Him glory, it makes me, like the disciples cry out, "Lord, increase my faith!"

The thing is, these men and women who have inspired us with their faith to stand and be used for Him are no different then you and I. They, like us were just normal everyday human beings who had a love for Him.  They, like us had a desire to serve and obey Him. They, like us just wanted to honor Him with their lives! They, like us, had the faith necessary to do what they needed to do! I know this because because Jesus said so.

Jesus had a response to the disciple request for an increase in faith! ...So the Lord said, "If you have faith as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, 'Be pulled up by the roots and be planted in the sea,' and it would obey you." Luke 17:6  Just so you know, these words aren't just Jesus giving His disciples a pep talk. They were the answer to the request! They are the "Increase!" He is telling them the secret to great faith is to use the little faith you have! Its powerful enough! It only takes a speck of faith and we all have that or we wouldn't be here.  He told them to use their little bit, their mustard seed faith and speak to the mulberry tree, send it to the sea, and it would obey! It wouldn't have a choice.  It doesn't have a choice!

I don't know about you, but I'm ready to tell the next giant I come across, "Back off, or your is going to lose your head!" The next time a mulberry tree that starts putting down roots where it doesn't belong is going to get to hear  "Take those roots and go jump in a lake!" Increase in faith comes as we believe Jesus when He says our, "little faith" is enough to overcome!





Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Righteous and Wicked

"I have loved you," says the Lord. But you say, "How have you loved us?" Malachi 1:1

"A son honors his father, and a servant his master. If then I am a father, where is my honor? And if I am a master, where is my fear? says the Lord of hosts to you, O priests, who despise my name." Malachi 1:6

"You have wearied the Lord with you words. But you say, 'How have we wearied him?' By saying, 'Everyone who does evil is good in the sight of the Lord, and he delights in them.' Or by asking, 'Where is the God of justice?' " Malachi 2:17

"Your words have been hard against me," says the Lord. But you say, "How have we spoken against you?" You have said, "It is vain to serve God." Malachi 3:13-14a

The sad thing is that God was talking to His people all this time. God had many more points in the book of Malachi.

"For the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish." Psalms 1:6

It's awful when you can't distinguish between the righteous, and the wicked. A holy people set apart unto God has blended into the world so much that neither they, nor God can see the difference anymore. His people had given up on serving God, they would rather do evil, they no longer honored and feared Him, and then they were incredulous that God loved them.

Sound familiar? Sounds like a lot of people we all know. Some who are even Christians. Those verses in Malachi sound an awful lot like our world.

Don't allowed yourself to fade into this world. Sometimes we don't even realize how much we have fallen. Don't forget all that God has done for you. Don't stop serving Him. Allow yourself to be separated from the world, and joined to God.

There is nothing that stings a Christian more then when someone says, "Oh, I never would have guessed that you were a Christian." And its like a knife in the gut when God says that.

Moses was so tight with God, that when he left the Lord's presence, his face shown with the glory of the Lord. Let's aim for that.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

"His Promise"

Have you ever come across a verse or a word in scripture that you felt was put there just for you?  Treasure that was put there for you to discover. A word that you knew was His personal promise to you!  To be honest for me its one of those things that I look for every time I'm in His word. I'm constantly on the lookout for a new promise to lay claim to every day! Today is no different, except today, HIS PROMISE is the message that I pray flows straight from His heart to ours. 'Lord, give us ears to hear and hearts to receive!'

"Now it shall come to pass, if you diligently obey the voice  of the Lord your God, to observe carefully all His commandments which I command you today, that the Lord your God will set you high above all nations of the earth.

And ALL THESE BLESSINGS SHALL COME UPON YOU AND OVERTAKE YOU, because you obey the voice of the Lord your God:
       *Blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the country.
       *Blessed shall be the fruit of your body, the produce of your ground and the increase of your herds, the increase of your cattle and the offspring of your flocks.
       *Blessed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl.
       *Blessed shall you be when you come in, and blessed shall you be when you go out.
       *The Lord will cause your enemies who rise up against you to be defeated before your face; they shall come out  against you one way and flee before you seven ways.
       *The Lord will command the blessing on you in your storehouses and in all to which you set your hand, and He will bless you in the land which the Lord your God is giving you.
       *The Lord will establish you as a holy people to Himself, just as He has sworn to you, if you keep the commandments of the Lord your God and walk in His ways.
       *Then all peoples of the earth shall see that you are called by the name of the Lord, and they shall be afraid of you.
       * And the Lord will grant you plenty of goods, in the fruit of your body, in the increase of your livestock, and in the produce of your ground, in the land of which the Lord  swore to your fathers to give you.
       *The Lord will open to you His good treasure, the heavens, to give the rain to your land in its season, and to bless all the work of your hand. You shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow. And the Lord will make you the head and not the tail; you shall be above only, and not beneath, if you heed the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you today, and are careful to observe them.
       *So you shall not turn aside from any of the words which I command you this day, to the right hand or to the left, to go after other gods to serve them. Deuteronomy 28:1-14

His heart, His promise to us today is that He will overtake us with blessings in every part of of our existence if we will choose Him!

In 1 Chronicles 7:12-15 God is talking to Solomon in a similar way, only this time He is talking about a heaven that He has shut up. He is telling Him the solution and He again makes a promise! A promise to a people who will be humble and seek Him and be obedient to His Word! ...  "I have heard your prayer, and have chosen this place for Myself as a house of sacrifice. When I shut up heaven and there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among My people," if my people will humble themselves and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to prayer made in this place."

In the parable of the prodigal son, the father 'saw when he was still a long way off,'  He saw because he was watching and waiting for his return and even though the son didn't feel worthy, his father blessed him with his best robe, sandals, a ring, a fatted calf, and a feast. Why? Because it was His good pleasure to restore him and to Bless him. Just as it is our Father's desire to overtake us with 'blessings and an open Heaven.'  He will keep His promise and we will experience all His blessings if we, His people will turn to Him, humble ourselves and seeks His face.







Monday, July 15, 2013

Believe What You Pray

And there appeared to him ( Zechariah ) an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense. And Zechariah was troubled when he saw him, and fear fell upon him. But the angel said to him, "Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elisabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John." Luke 1:11-13

And Zechariah said to the angel, "How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years." And the angel answered him, "I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I was sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. And behold, you will be silent and unable to speak until the day that these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time." Luke 1:18-20

Zechariah was in the Lord's presence in the temple, and the angel Gabriel appears to him, and says his prayers have been answered. He and his wife were going to have a son!

And Zechariah's first response was straight up doubt and unbelief.

      
Your prayers have been answered!
What are you talking about?? It's impossible. Completely impossible!


This isn't like the movie, The Princess Diaries, where shut up means gee whiz, oh my goodness, or no way!

He didn't believe in what he was praying.

Prayer is not something to be treated lightly or viewed as something we do because it is expected. Prayer is powerful. If you are going to pray for something/someone, expect results.

Our first response should never be, "No, that's impossible. It's not going to happen." It reflects that our inner attitude was that we never believed this was going to happen. Our response should be praise and thanksgiving. Belief. A reflection of our prayers.

When my prayers get to God, I don't want them to be laced with unbelief. I want them to be strong.

---Joy



Sunday, July 14, 2013

"Not Just Words"

     So Moses sent them to spy out the land of Canaan, and said to them. "Go up this way into the south, and go up to the mountains, and see what the land is like ... Then they came to the Valley of Eshcol, and there cut down a branch with one cluster of grapes; they carried it between two of them on a pole.  They also brought some of the pomegranates and figs.
     The place was called the Valley of Eshcol, because of the cluster which the men of Israel cut down there. And they returned from spying out the land after forty days.
     So they departed and came back to Moses and Aaron and all the congregation of the children of Israel in the Wilderness of Paran, at Kadesh; they brought back word to them and to all the congregation, and showed them the fruit of the land.
     Then they told him, and said: "We went to the land where you sent us. It truly flows with milk and honey, and this is its fruit. Nevertheless the people who dwell in the land are strong; the cities are fortified and very large; moreover we saw the descendants of Anak there.
     The Amalekites dwell in the land south; the Hittites, the Jebusites, and the Amorites dwell in the mountains; and the Canaanites dwell by the sea and along the banks of the Jordan.
     Then Caleb quieted the people before Moses, and said, " Let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it."
     But the men who had gone up with him said, "We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we." And they gave the children of Israel a bad report of the land which they had spied out, saying, 'The land through which we have gone as spies is a land that devours its inhabitants, and all the people whom we saw in it are great men of stature. There we saw the giants (the descendants of Anak came from the giants); and we were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight," Numbers 13:17- 33

So here we have the account of when Moses sent out some men to spy out the land and the report they came back with. In chapter 14:6-9 we have some additional words that Joshua and Caleb spoke in God's defense and His ability to take them into the land flowing with milk and honey. Which I would challenge you to go read as they are powerful and full of faith. Normally I would be focused on them because they were very powerful words that should have convinced the congregation to not fear but to go up and possess the land but today He has led me to share something a little different.

Back in Exodus 3:8,17 God had already told them during His "I AM" conversation with Moses that He would deliver them and bring them to a land of various 'ites.' and to a land flowing with milk and honey.'
The thing is it was not just His words that they were refusing to trust. It wasn't just words that should have caused them to believe the good report of the land.  It was everything that He had brought them through. He had brought them exactly to the place He had promised when He called Moses to lead them out of Egypt. He brought them to the edge of the 'land of all the 'ites' just as He had promised and He did it with more that words. He did it with plagues and by heaping up the waters to let them pass in safety. He did it with a pillar of fire and a cloud. He did it by feeding them with manna. He was with them in so many ways. He was ready to give them the land that He had promised and they didn't dare to enter in.

He showed them it was the land as they spied it out. The people, or rather all the 'ites' He had told them about before they left Egypt were there. They carried the fruit of the land back as proof. One cluster of grapes took two grown men to carry. The words from there own mouth testified that it was indeed the land 'flowing with milk and honey.' Yet, they rejected Him. It wasn't just His words they were rejecting. It was His loving care and provision every step of the way. The word "report here in this section of scripture means, "slander." They believed the words that slandered the 'place of provision' that He had brought them to even though the truth or proof had been carried on the shoulders of two men and placed before them.

God put it this way, "How long will these people reject Me? And how long will they not believe Me, with all the signs which I have performed among them?" Numbers 14:11 God didn't feel as though they were rejecting just some words He had thrown out there, He felt like they were rejecting Him. So, thought for today is this, "How often do we forget all that He has done for us every step of the way so that He can bring us to the place He has promised us? Are we rejecting His ultimate provision, His Presence?

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Make Your Dinner

Once when Jacob was cooking stew, Esau came in from the field, and he was exhausted. And Esau said to Jacob, "Let me eat some of that red stew, for I am exhausted!" (Therefore his name was called Edom, which means "red" in Hebrew.) Jacob said, "Sell me your birthright now." Esau said, "I am about to die; of what use is a birthright to me?" Jacob said, "Swear to me now." So he swore to him and sold his birthright to Jacob. Then Jacob gave Esau bread and lentil stew, and he ate and drank and rose and went his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright. Genesis 25:29-34

Too often we look at the short term. Esau said he was about to die. Dude, that's why he was eating. He needed food, or yes, his physical body would eventually die. Why didn't he stop and think about the fact that if he ate some food, he would live?

When you are spiritually exhausted, don't just sit there. That is when the enemy's offers will come. And they will be so tempting. You think they will fill you, but they won't. That single meal will only satisfy for a little while.

Esau is known for despising his birthright. Do you want to despise God, and the birthright He has given you? From inner most part of your hearts, you know you don't want to do that! Not at all!

So...

Get up and make your own dinner! Press into God! Spend time in His Presence! Talk to Him. Eat your spiritual food, because then you will live!

I read once that when you don't feel like reading your Bible, do it anyways. When you don't feel like praying, do it anyways.

Those are the times when you need to pray and be in God's Word more then ever.

---Joy

Friday, July 12, 2013

"Chosen"

     Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, "Arise go to Nineveh, that great city, and they cry out against it; for their wickedness has come up before Me."
     But Jonah arose to flee to Tarshish, from the presence of the Lord. He went down to Joppa, and found a ship going to Tarshish; so he paid the fare, and went down into it, to go with them to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. Jonah 1:1-3

"But you have today rejected your God, who Himself saved you out of all your adversities and your tribulations; and you have said to Him, 'No, but set a king over us!' Now therefore, present yourselves before the Lord by your tribes and by your clans."
     And when Samuel had caused all tribes of Israel to come near, the tribe of Benjamin was chosen.
     When he had caused the tribes of Benjamin to come near by their families, the family of Matri was chosen. And Saul the son of Kish was chosen. But when they sought him, he could not be found.
     Therefore they inquired of the Lord further, "Has the man come here yet?" And the Lord answered, "There he is, hidden among the equipment." So they ran and brought him from there; 1 Samuel 10:19-23

I ran across a verse today that made think about these two men and their responses to the call of God on their lives.  Saul was chosen to be king and Jonah a prophet with a specific word for a specific group of people. Both men had the same response, to run and hide. Jonah in a boat heading in the opposite direction, and Saul had gone and hid in the equipment.  In both cases they didn't get very far because God knew where they were. He sent the wind and a fish to get Jonah and He told the men exactly where to find Saul. He knew exactly where to find them despite their best efforts to run because He had a plan and a purpose, a job for them to do. 

The same is true for us. We are called! He has a word for us to deliver to someone, somewhere, at just the right time.  He has called and equipped us for His service to be 'kings and priests,'... 'a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light',' 1 Peter 2:9

In John 1:48 Nathanael asks Jesus a question, "How do you know me?" Jesus responds with these very important words., "Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you." You need to know that right now, in this moment, He sees you! He knows you and He has a call on your life.  You are called, here today, to this generation, to be a testimony for His glory and you need to not be afraid that He won't be there with you.

 The Bible is full testimonies of men and women called and equipped and not one of them fulfilled their call without His presence. Not once did He let them down. Moses did not drown and he was not in the middle of all that heaped up water alone. Who do you think reached down from heaven to hold it back? Who fulfilled the words He gave to Joshua and took down a wall with a shout. Or how about when He caused the sum and moon to stand still to help them win the battle.  Did He let the three young men who were thrown into a fiery furnace down? No, there were even witnesses that testify that they were not alone. How about when He told Peter one simple word, "Come," and then Peter walked on water.  He will not call you without being there with you to help!

So, I'll leave you with this, the verse that made me think about men hiding from His presence and the call on their lives and also with this question, "Does He have to send a fish after you, or will you trust Him to be with you?

'Am I a God near at hand says the Lord, and not a God afar off? Can anyone hide himself in secret places, So I shall not see him?" says the Lord. "Do I not fill heaven and earth?" says the Lord.  Jeremiah 23:23-24






Thursday, July 11, 2013

Running Ahead

"He entered Jericho and was passing through. And there was a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector and was rich. And he was seeking to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was small of stature. So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for He (Jesus) was about to pass that way." Luke 19:1-4

Just the bold print now: "...And he was seeking to see who Jesus was...So he ran on ahead...for He (Jesus) was about to pass that way."

How many of us would run ahead, so that we could see Jesus?

"And the LORD said to me, 'Go again, love a woman who is loved by another man and is an adulteress, even as the LORD loves the children of Israel, though they turn to other gods and love cakes of raisins.' " Hosea 3:1

Hits kind of hard. The parallel there is all to real for Christians.

Instead of running ahead, and going to dramatic lengths to be with Jesus, we ignore Him. We turn to other things. And time spent with Him is mediocre at best.

An infatuated girl will go to dramatic lengths (Ahem, borderline stalking *-* ) to see the one of her affections. She would show up early for a date. And once in love, they love spending time together.

How are we not like that with God? Why do we treat Him with disdain? Ignore Him. Treat Him like we have another god that we love more?

A real relationship isn't one sided. If you want to be deeper with God, then you will need to pursue Him, too. If you want to know who God is, then you will need to run ahead, climb trees, and meet Him.

You will never beat Him to the meeting place, but I think He likes it when we try. :)

---Joy

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

"Continuous Supply"

     Then the word of the Lord came to him saying, "Get away from here and turn eastward, and hide by the Brook Cherith, which flows into the Jordan.
     And it will be that you shall drink from the brook, and I have commanded the ravens to feed you there." So he went and did according to the word of the Lord, for he went and stayed by the Brook Cherith, which flows into the Jordan.
     The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning, and bread and meat in the evening; and he drank from the brook.
     And it happened after a while that the brook dried up, because there had been no rain in the land.
     Then the word of the Lord came to him saying, "Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and dwell there. See, I have commanded a widow there to provide for you."
     So he arose and went to Zarephath. And when he came to the gate of the city, indeed a widow was there gathering sticks. And he called to her and said, "Please bring me a little water in a cup, that I may drink."....
....The bin of flour was not used up, nor did the jar of oil run dry, according to the word of the Lord which He spoke by Elijah.  1 Kings 17:2-10, 16

In my Bible this section is titled, 'God's provision for Elijah.'  It begins with Elijah being sent to the brook and ends with  a widow, her son, her household, and Elijah being taken care of by a continuous supply of flour and oil.  Normally, I tend to focus on the widow and her responses and the roll they play in this amazing outcome.  A continuous supply of exactly what was needed. 

While it ended with God doing a miracle it began with God having a plan to provide what was needed. In verse 2 it tells us that God Gave Elijah specific directions on where to go and what the plan was.  ...' you shall drink from the brook and I have commanded the ravens to feed you there.'  When the brook dried up He told him it was time to leave.  Again, He gave Elijah specific directions on where to go and what His plan was, ..."Go to Zarephath, I have commanded a widow there to provide for you."

Normally I see the woman's heart, her willingness to sacrifice from the little she has. Normally I see Elijah's, the raven's, and the widow's obedience. Today I noticed something different. Today I noticed the Father's heart. He put the plan in place. He spoke to Elijah, the ravens, and the widow. He worked it all out so that they were provided for. He had a plan to give them a continuous supply of exactly what was needed.

In Matthew 6:25-34 Jesus tells us not to worry about food or clothes etc. After all He clothes the birds and the lilies of the field... How much more so will He care for us.  He has a plan! Its our job to listen, to be obedient, and to trust that He has a continuous supply of exactly what is needed!











Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Our Journey; God's Love

"When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son. The more they were called, the more they went away; they kept sacrificing to the Baals and burning offerings to idols. Yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk. I took them up by their arms, but they did not know that I healed them. I led them with cords of kindness, with bands of love, and I became to them as one who eases the yoke on their jaws, and I bent down to them and fed them." Hosea 11:1-4

These verses should have the title, "Every Man's Journey." Instead the title over this chapter is, "The LORD'S love for Israel."

God has chosen us, He has called us, brought us to Himself, loved us from the beginning. We are His children.

 But sometimes we decide to rebel instead. The more we hear God call, the more we run. The more we put our trust in the things of the world. We ignore His love.

But God has been loving us from the beginning. He even taught us how to walk! And He is not going to abandon us. God longs for us. He will pick us up! When we land on our rears, God is there to help us up, and to heal us.

God will bring us out of our earthy, eternal, and spiritual bondage. He is kind to us when it felt like everything and everyone else would rather spit on us then help us. God has taken the yoke from us, the burden that has weighed us down. But He doesn't stop there; God will then feed our hungry souls.

Our stubborn, foolish ways are a grand showcase to God's love for us.

---Joy

"His Word Of Choice"

 'If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes. " Mark 9:23

 "And he said to him, 'Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours.' Luke 15:31

"But seek the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you." Luke 12:31

'Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all things are fulfilled." Luke 21:32

Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us. Ephesians 3:20

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13

And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19

As a first grade teacher I have the privilege of teaching  my students how to read.  One of the most important tasks in that process throughout their first year is to teach them all their sight words. Those first few words are such a thrill for them when they find themselves reading  but by the end of the year as they are reading through the stack and it has become old and boring.

I think we are like that with God sometimes. We are all excited and so thrilled with knowing Him at first but after a while we can tend to take Him and our relationship with Him for granted. We stop noticing all the things He does for us. In the above verses there is a three letter sight word that He uses quite often. One that like my first graders we tend to take for granted and gloss over because we've read it so many times.

In the natural its just a three letter sight word but as His word of choice it becomes a powerful Blessing that changes everything! For example: what if we were to use a word that means the opposite. Instead of ALL try the word one.

"If you can believe, one thing is possible to him who believes."  One thing. What would you pick? Thankfully, He used a different word! We get to believe for it ALL!

And he said to him, 'Son, you are always with me, and one thing I have is yours.' One thing? What would you pick? Thankfully, He used a different word! That means we don't just get one thing. For our inheritance, we get it ALL!

So consider this....

'Seek the kingdom of God, and one thing shall be added.'
...by no means pass away till one thing is fulfilled.
....abundantly above one thing we ask or think...
'I can do one thing through Christ Jesus.'
...shall supply one need ...

No, thankfully His word of choice was ALL! So we get have ALL things added, ALL things fulfilled,  ALL things we ask or think, ALL things through Christ Jesus, and ALL our needs!

The word All may be a simple little sight word to some but, thankfully when used as His word of
 choice it becomes an amazing blessing from Heaven for all of us who believe!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

To Know God's Heart

" 'Do you think you are a king because you compete in cedar? Did not your father eat and drink and do justice and righteousness? Then it was well with him. He judged the cause of the poor and needy; then it was well. Is not this to know me?' declares the LORD." Jeremiah 22:15-16

The king of Israel of that time was very foolish. His father, Josiah, had done right in the eyes of the Lord. He is a king we have all heard about for his great deeds. However, his son, is another story. Jehoiakim undid everything Josiah had done to honor the Lord. This was when God called him out on that.

God was telling Jehoiakim that he was not a king because he lived in a fine palace. His father was a true king because he made it a daily part of his life to do justice and righteousness. His father was a regular, consistent help to the poor and needy. Then God says something really key, "Is not this to know me?"

Josiah was a good king because he understood the some of the basic desires of God's heart. Justice. Righteousness. And caring for the poor and needy.

Proverbs 31:9 says, "Open your mouth, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy."

There are a lot of verses that tell us to live in justice and truth. How interesting that they should be paired with caring for the poor and needy!

Living in justice and righteousness is something God wants for all of us, but God also wants us to love each other. To care for each other. If you have no love, then you got nothing. To know a basic principle of God's heart is to understand that God wants us to love and care for one another. That is how we will really come to know Him. That is how we will be proper kings, queens, leaders, teachers, and believers.

Caring for our fellow man needs to be made a daily part of our lives.

---Joy

"The Lion And The Bear"

David: "Let no man's heart fail because of him; your servant will go and fight with this Philistine."

Saul: "You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him; for you are but a youth, and he a man of war from his youth."

David: "Your servant used to keep his father's sheep, and when a lion or a bear came and took a lamb out of the flock, I went out after it and struck it, and delivered the lamb from its mouth; and when it arose against me, I caught it by its beard, and struck and killed it. Your servant has killed both lion and bear; and this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, seeing he has defied the armies of the living God. The Lord, who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine."

Saul: "Go, and the Lord be with you!" 1 Samuel 17:32-37

In this exchange we have David volunteering to do what no one else will, take on Goliath because his heart is full of this sentiment, "Is there not a cause?" verse 29.  Saul tells him that he is not able to because he is too young. So often when we feel passionate about standing for God there is someone who will try to tell us that it isn't possible or that we are not able.

I love David's response. Think about it. Here we have the king telling him, "You can't" and David doesn't give in. He doesn't give up on the idea when Saul is telling him how impossible it would be for him to win. David's response, " I've been preparing all my life for this moment. God helped with the lion and the bear when I needed Him and He will help with this Philistine." He didn't say, "He might help." he said "He will deliver me."  He had a confidence that God was on his side and that he would help because of his past experiences.  He remembered the lion and the bear instead of listening to the, "You can't," words of the king.

We all, like David have times of preparation in our lives and we need to remember past experiences and victories when we are facing new challenges, new giants. He will deliver us! We need to remember what He has done for us and to ignore the, "You can't" when it comes our way because HE WILL HELP!

 

Friday, July 5, 2013

Running to Egypt

Scene One: Leaving Egypt with the Egyptian coming right after them.

"They said to Moses, 'Is it because there are no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? What have you done to us in bringing us out of Egypt? Is not this what we said to you in Egypt: 'Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians?' For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.' " Exodus 14:11-12

Scene Two: Israel in the Wilderness of Sinai with very little food.

"And the whole congregation of the people of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness, and the people of Israel said to them, 'Would that we had died by  the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the meat pots and ate bread to the full, for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.' " Exodus 16:2-3

Scene Three: The people are grumbling against God and Moses because there is no water to drink.

"But the people thirsted there for water, and the people grumbled against Moses and said, 'Why did you bring us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?' " Exodus 17:3

We sit here and think that the Israelites were pretty stupid to want to run back to Egypt when something went wrong.

They were listening to the voice that told them this was stupid, that God wasn't with them, and what were they thinking leaving the security of the life they had?

They had better go back.

Times and circumstances may have changed, but the voice has never stopped talking.

That voice tells us that God doesn't have our back. That He won't keep us safe. That He can't provide groceries for our families. That He won't provide the money for that bill. That we are stupid for following God when we had security right where we were.

Sound familiar? We forget everything bad about that situation, and want to run back. We are scared. We feel the need to take matters in our own hands and fix stuff.

Instead of trusting that God will care for us.

That voice will always be there, telling us to turn back. However, if we would just remember what God has done for us, if we would just trust God to provide, then we would stop turning back to Egypt.

Egypt represents everything that isn't God. The world where the enemy lives.

We need to remember that God is our provider. He freed us from slavery. He took us away form bondage. He will NOT leave us to hunger or thirst. Not in any way.

Stop turning back to the world.

---Joy





"Day By Day Faithfulness"

Today we are going to look at an important lesson that we can learn from some young heroes of faith. I would like to take a look at their story just after they pass the "test of the delicacies"

In Daniel 1:5 it reads, "And the king appointed for them a daily provision of the king's delicacies and of the wine which he drank, and three years of training for them, so that at the end of that time they might serve before the king." Most people don't realize it but something we need to understand is that three years had passed between the ten day "veggie test," and the beginning of verse 18 where they were brought before the king.Three years of being faithful! Three years of keeping a vow made to "watch what they ate." Three years of choosing day by day to stand faithfully and not be defiled. How was it possible for these young men to keep their vow? After all they were living in the luxury of the palace, and being offered the king's food. The best in the land. It must have smelled and looked great! How did they resist the temptation to try the "king's provision" for three whole years?

The commitment level of these young men goes way beyond what a lot of us experience today. Example: How about the last time you were moved by a Sermon to increase the time you spend in His Word, (Your mealtime). You set your alarm to go off earlier than normal. (Great so far!) The next morning arrived with that dreaded noise you hate! You rolled over and then temptation struck. The "luxury" of the snooze button hits! Did you use it? Day by day, for three years these young men lived a commitment that went beyond just good intentions. Their intentions, plus action, equaled a day by day lasting commitment! Their commitment to eat God's provision instead of the king of Babylonian's brought about some definite results. Take a look at what was said about them in verse 19 after their three years of training in the Babylonian ways, "And among them all none was found like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah" Verse 20 says, "In all matters of wisdom and understanding about which the king examined them, he found them ten times better than all the others."

How was this possible? Easy! God was their source. We know this because it tells us that in the one and only verse that covers the three year time period. We find it sandwiched between the end of the "veggie test' in verse 16, and verse 18 the "end of the days" when they were brought before the king. Verse 17 tells us "As for these four young men, God gave them knowledge and skill in all literature and wisdom." God blessed and increased them as they were faithful to put God first and to honor Him day by day, one meal at a time, even in the midst of this Babylonian world in which they now found themselves in. Their day by day commitment along with the results of their faithfulness, offer us a perfect example of what Jesus spoke about in Matthew 6:33, "But seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you."

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Potter's House

"The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD: 'Arise, and go down to the potter's house, and there I will let you hear my words.'" Jeremiah 18:1-2

So God tells Jeremiah to go to the potter's house, and there Jeremiah watches the potter. God gives Jeremiah this incredible analogy where He is the potter and we are the clay.

Before giving Jeremiah this word, He first told Jeremiah to go to the potter's house.

God compares Himself to the potter. So it's reasonable to think that the potter's house might be the House of God, or God's presence.

Guys, we need to go to the potter's house, so to speak. We need to be in God's presence. We need to spend some time with the Great Potter.

Because of what Jesus did for us and the Holy Spirit, we can get in God's presence anytime. We can do it in the morning, the evening, on our lunch break, driving in the car, or while drinking our coffee. Those are normal, everyday things. We don't need to limit ourselves to just Sunday. Church is important, and we should definitely be there, but don't stop there. One on one time with God is priceless. If we would just take the time to get into the Potter's presence, well, awesome stuff will happen.

Go to the Potter's House.

---Joy





Tuesday, July 2, 2013

"A People Of Destiny"

The word "river" is a common five letter word that can trigger any number of images in your mind. For example, a peaceful picnic scene with the water gently flowing by in the background. The laughter of a young boy fishing off the bank with his dad. Perhaps it is a canoe out on the river gently flowing with the current as a young couple has eyes only for each other. The word "river" is a simple word and the image it brings to mind is different for all of us depending on our experiences. At this moment, it is a word that brings to mind the name of a man and a truth that is key to the life of every believer. A key that can open the door to the miraculous in our lives.

The reality is that for this man, the river was intended to be a place of tragedy and death, but instead it became the means of safety and provision, a place of destiny! Webster' Dictionary defines the word destiny as, "The seemingly inevitable succession of events." This one man's whole life can be summed up with the word, "destiny." His entire life was an incredible succession of events starting with the hand of God protecting him as an infant and ending with God providing him his resting place at the end of his days. He was a man of destiny, and start to finish, he lived a life filled with some amazing miraculous events!

From the moment of his first breath, death was a very real threat to him because the ruling powers of the day had decreed that he was to die! He was intended to be drowned in the river. His offense? Being born a boy. In order to keep him safe, his mother kept him hidden for the first three months of his life. We don't know the exact circumstances that caused her to make such a drastic decision, but what we do know is that she felt that the threat on his life was very real and that she was no longer able to protect him. She took a papyrus basket, coated it with tar and pitch, and then, she did what to you or I is the unthinkable-she said her good-byes and placed her three month old son in the basket. We can only imagine the tears and the heartache for this loving mother as she placed the basket containing her precious cargo into the river to be carried away by the river's current as she cried out to God, trusting Him with the outcome.

It was this decision at the river's edge, that set in motion the events that followed, events that allowed him to become the man of God, that we read about today. The events that transpired in the life of Moses, from the seemingly insignificant, to the most famous.The burning bush, Red Sea, Promised Land miraculous events, all became possible because of this specific moment! The moment when a loving mother placed her baby in the river and entrusted the life of her son into the care of a sovereign God. She dared to believe that God would, "Make a way where there was no way." She put her faith in God, trusting that, "His thoughts were of good and not of evil." She was believing that God's "plans were to prosper him, and to give him a hope and a future," (Jeremiah 29:11). It was this mother's act of surrendering his life to the will of God that brought about all the miraculous events that followed and that enabled Moses to have a relationship with God. A relationship that transformed him into a man of destiny.

Man had intended the river to be a grave (Exodus 1:22), but because of an act of surrender that same river became a place of destiny where God provided, prospered, and caused a future to unfold. A future that wasn't just about Moses, but a future that encompassed a whole nation being delivered and set free to worship the Living God. If we want to have a relationship with God like the one that Moses had, experiencing the miraculous and being used by God to reach this generation, then we too must come to that moment in time, that place of surrendering all of our life to the will of a sovereign God. We need to know and experience that moment of destiny where we are willing to surrender, to jump into the river of His will while trusting the outcome, not to the plans of man, but to His very capable hands! Only then can we become a people of destiny.

We use words like, "Here I am Lord, use me." as a declaration of surrender but they are all too often spoken from the safety of the river bank and because of this, the results that we see are only a fraction of what they could be. If we want to walk in the power of God and see the miraculous, Red Sea, Manna-type events in our daily lives the way that Moses did, then we need to be in the river letting God's will unfold! According to the Strong's Concordance the name Moses means, "... drawing out, (of the water)" and comes from a root word that means "to pull out." It was only after Moses spent time in the river that he came to a place where he was drawn out from it and thus named Moses. Moses was a man of destiny who fulfilled the will and purpose of God for his life, not only because he was literally drawn out of the Nile River but because as a man, surrendered to the will of God, he pulled a whole nation out of bondage. A destiny he realized only after his own personal encounter with God before the burning bush, were he was heard to utter, "Here I am," in response to God's call. (Exodus 3:4)

As believers we need to be a people in the river trusting God to provide, no matter what the situation or circumstance might be. He can't draw us out and into the miraculous until we've placed our trust in Him. Its only when we've left the safety of the bank and entrusted Him with the outcome that we are truly surrendered. Moses' mother had no idea what the outcome would be when she placed her son in God's care and we can only imagine her plea, her cry to God to care for her son as she placed the basket in the river. She had no idea that God would replace her heartache with joy and that He would bring her son back to her to love and care for as His nurse. (Exodus 2:8-9) The simple truth is that a surrendered life is key to being a man or woman of destiny!

Jesus was the perfect example of a surrendered life and He declared it clearly when he said, "For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of Him who sent me." (John 6:38) Consider the events following these words of surrender, "My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will." (Matthew 26:39) You and I see and experience the results of His surrendered life as we acknowledge His sacrifice and are drawn from darkness into light. We know that God once again took what was intended to be a grave and turned it into a way for a hope and a future-not for a single nation, but for all nations. A future that provided you and I with the opportunity to walk in the miraculous and to become a people of destiny!



Another Marriage One

"Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall be one flesh." Genesis 2:24

Okay, so this is a big deal for two people getting married. Never overlook this detail. Because once the covenant is made, it's not a detail anymore, it's your way of life with your husband. At least that's what the soon-to-be-bride thinks.

"In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. 'Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.' This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband." Ephesians 5:28-33

Scripture says that the joining of a man and a woman into one flesh is a big deal, a profound mystery. And from then on, you love your spouse like you love yourself because you are one flesh, and no one hates their own flesh. And to love like Jesus loves us. He nourishes and cherishes us. These are key details for a marriage.

Also, these verses directly parallel our relationship with Jesus. Husbands and wives should love, cherish, and nourish like Jesus does with us. Furthermore, when we ask Jesus into our lives, we become one with Him. We make a covenant with Him, and He is in our hearts. He is our life. The air we breath. If we all truly focused on The One, can you imagine just how close we would be with God? How much we would know His heart?

These are details that should never be overlooked. Because once the covenant is made, this is your way of life with Jesus.

At least that's how it should be.

---Joy

Monday, July 1, 2013

"Exceedingly Great Reward"

...the Word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, saying, 'Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward." Genesis 15:1 

"But you, Israel, are My servant, Jacob, whom I have chosen, The descendants of Abraham My friend. You whom I have taken from the ends of the earth, And called from its farthest regions, And said to You, You are My servant, I have chosen you and have not cast you away: Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:8-10

He has not dealt with us according to our sins, Nor punished us according to our iniquities.Psalm 103:10 

For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust. Psalm 103:14

I think today's snack has turned into a full course meal! Appetizer, meat, potatoes, vegetables, bread, and even a little desert.  The above verses are the verses that He led me to as I prayed and asked Him about today's word.  Well, all but the one I haven't shared with you yet. The one that has been on my heart to share for weeks now!

So, lets start with Genesis 15 as it was the first verse He brought to my attention in answer to today's asking.  Here we have an amazing, wonderful promise directed to Abram, "Do not be afraid, Abram, I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward."  He speaks directly to Abram and says,' I AM your shield, your exceedingly great reward.'   He is saying, "Abram, you don't have to worry, you get me! I'll protect you.  I'm all you'll ever need because He is the exceedingly great reward."  Abram doesn't even get it. Go look. He doesn't even acknowledge what God is saying to him. He just starts in with the woe is me.' What will you do for me. I have no heir, no descendents.' I'm sitting there thinking, "Hum, I would love for God to say that directly to me."

So as I notice all this and I'm thinking, 'Lord what do you want me to share today? Is this it, or is there more?  I start thumbing through looking? All of a sudden these words in Isaiah catch my eye, 'The descendants of Abraham my friend.'  Here is is speaking to the descendents of Abraham and He again is saying, 'You are my servant, I have chosen you and have not cast you away. Fear not for I am your God ... " So them I'm thinking, Yes! I can really grab hold of this promise. Now it has my name on it. I'm a descendent. (Grafted in, but a descendant nonetheless!) So, I'm now thinking this is all kinda cool and again asking, 'Is this it. Is this what you want me to share? Or, is there more?" I start thumbing through.

Next place He stops me. Psalm 103:10 'He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor punished us according to our iniquities. I keep reading, thinking, hum, maybe? Are you going to let me? Is today? Then I hit verse 14.  'For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust.' At this point, your probably going, Huh? Me, I'm going, YES!!!!  I get to share what has been on my heart to share but now its even more! I get to take you back to the garden! I promise it will make sense in few minutes.

Okay, so here it is Genesis 3:21-24. Also for Adam and his wife the Lord God made tunics of skin, and clothed them. Then the Lord God said, "Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil. And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever'-- therefore the Lord God sent him out of the garden of Eden to till the ground from which he was taken. So He drove out the man; and He placed cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way , to guard the way to the tree of life.

As a foster parent I am blessed to be able to have the responsibility to care for some amazing, little blessings. I am single and only have little ones under five so as  you can imagine there are times when I have to use certain measures to be sure that they are safe and protected. For example. I have a gate that goes up between the living room and the kitchen when I am fixing dinner. If I leave the room then my little guys are sure to follow. Crawling or toddling they are right there, but  its not safe for them. They could get burned, scared for life. Its just not the place for them to play. So they get trapped into the high chair or the gate goes up.  Either way they don't always like the measures I take to keep them safe from the harm that could effect their future. 

So many people think that when God put Adam and Eve from the garden that it was to punish them or that it was motivated by anger. It wasn't!  It says that first He clothed them. He took care of their shame! Their nakedness! He provided for them because He loved them! It says that, He acknowledged that because they had eaten from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil that measures had to be taken,... 'lest they put out their hands and take of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever...'   He didn't put them out of the garden in anger or as a punishment. It was because He loved them and it had to happen out necessity,(like my gate) to keep them safe from something far worse. It had to happen so that they, that we, don't live forever separated from Him. Psalm 103 'He has not dealt with us according to our sins...He remembers that we are dust.' In Isaiah He is telling the descendents, us, that 'He hasn't cast us away.' He was motivated not by a need to punish sin but by that moment when he held that dust in His hands and He started molding and forming it into a man. He  remembered  the moment He breathed into Adam and he took his first breath. He remembered how His heart was full of this thought, "Indeed it was very good!" 

His motivation has always been the same. To make a way because of  His love for His creation! He put them out of the garden to protect them from a worse fate--to live forever separated from Him.  Both Father and Son endured the moment when God had to turned His back while Jesus cried out, "My God, My God, why has thou forsaken me."  for the same reason, to make a way so that we wouldn't have to spend eternity separated from Him. He made a way so that we could  know how awesome being is His presence is. After all, God Himself  is our exceedingly great reward!