Monday, September 30, 2013

"The Obvious Choice?"

There came a day when Jesus used these words, "You cannot serve both God and mammon." Luke 16:13b Such a statement implies a question, "Which will you serve?" The answer is an obvious one that we all, as His servants, will boldly proclaim, "God, of course!"

Choosing God over mammon is an easy choice in words and intentions, but not always as easy or as obvious in the realities of everyday life. I love that the widow gave her last two mites as a gift to God! Luke 21:1-3 She is one of my heroes of faith! I know that for myself, when things are tight financially, and its a choice between tithe and my own needs, the choice is still easy. God! To be honest, for me it becomes a hard choice, or rather, when I struggle and worry about what to give is when it comes down to a choice between diapers and milk for the babies or paying my tithe. That is when I struggle. In the parable of the sower, Jesus acknowledges such a struggle as, "the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches." Again, to be honest, most of the time I make the right choice and trust that He will provide the diapers and milk. But, once in a while I fall short, I miss the mark. I make the wrong choice. I'm sorry to say, mammon sometimes wins. Sometimes the cares and concerns choke out the trust that I, that we, need to have in Him. Paul talks about his struggle this way, "For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not do, that I practice." Romans 7:19 Sometimes we all, like Paul struggle with the right choice.

Lord, forgive me the times in my life that "I don't do thing I know to do," and thank you Lord, for the diapers and milk!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

The Authority in the Story!

"And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching. For he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes." Matthew 7:28-29

Whenever Jesus taught in parables, spoke in the synagogues, and read scripture, people were astonished. Young and old were amazed at the authority He used while teaching. He didn't sound like one of their teachers. He wasn't speaking in a stuffy monotone. He wasn't acting like God was boring or a quick money-maker. He took the authority of God, and taught those people!

This is just another facet of Jesus that we need to use as a model for our lives. We may not all stand before millions with the Word of God, but even if we only speak to a few kids every week, a couple of co-workers, or an old neighbor, we need to have the authority of God. Otherwise, His message will be ignored.

There will always be some who say something like this: "Isn't this little Joe, who grew up down the street?", "Haven't we known Kala's parents for years?", "I'm best friends with her sister! What makes Jillian's message so special?" Sometimes we will even be the ones who say those things.

You can only stand against those questions with the authority of God. You won't dare speak to them unless you have that jaw-dropping, Jesus-walking, Pharisee-knocking, Holy Spirit power in your life, to back up your words!

One day, each of us will stand before someone who needs to hear about Jesus. No matter the difficulties, the magnitude of listeners, or the scoffers raising doubt, you and I need to stand there with Jesus' authority so we can share His story.

---Joy


Saturday, September 28, 2013

"Saw The State Of Things"

Now it happened the day after that He went into a city called Nain; and many of His disciples went with Him, and a large crowd.

And when He came near the gate of the city, behold, a dead man was being carried out, the only son of his mother; and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the city was with her.
    
When the Lord saw her He had compassion on her and said to her, "Do not weep."
    
Then He came and touched he open coffin, and those who carried him stood still. And He said, "Young man, I say to you arise."
    
And he who was dead sat up and began to speak. And He presented him to his mother.
    
Then fear came upon all, and they glorified God saying, "A great prophet has risen up among us"; and, "God has visited His people."
    
And this report about Him went throughout all Judea and all the surrounding region. Luke 7:11-17

I feel like the people of the day. I have such a desire to share this event with you and spread the news to the whole world that, "God has visited His people!" Jesus is so amazing and I love Him so much! Did you know that You can tell that someone is loved by the way they are talked about! If you love someone you can't stop talking about all the things you love about them. So, once again I have to use these words in reference to this event in my Lord's life. "It is one of my favorite!" I know I have a lot of favorites but I can't help myself. He is so amazing, wonderful, and awesome! I love that He comes across a funeral procession, sees a mom's sorrow, and does something about it! He doesn't see the state of things, feel bad for her, and keep moving. Instead, because of His compassion for this woman's sorrow He uses three little words, "Do not weep." and then proceeds to make that a reality in her life. He turned a time of death and great sorrow into a time of celebration and rejoicing. He took this young man's trip to the grave and instead gave him a second chance at life. The thing that I love most about this event is that He did it, not because of any one's great faith, but because He saw the state of things and cared enough to change them!

This event in the life of my Savior reminds me of the moment He said to the Father, "I'll go. I'll pay the price."  It reminds me of the moment He cried, "It is finished!" He conquered death, hell, and the grave to give us life just because He saw our need for a Savior and He cared enough!

But I am poor and needy; Yet the Lord thinks upon me. You are my help and my deliverer;  Psalm 41:17a

Ps: It says that he who was dead sat up and began to speak. I wonder what his first words were? What are ours?

Friday, September 27, 2013

The Prisoners Who Just Listen

"About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them," Acts  16:25

The time that Paul and Silas healed a girl whose demons were being used to tell fortunes, they were thrown in jail by her owners. When it was almost midnight, they started praying and praising God, rather then focus on their negative situation. The prisoners were listening to them.

Are we focused on negative situations, rather then focusing on God? Are we allowing ourselves to be held prisoner?

"Let everything that has breath praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!" Psalm 150:6

"Kings of the earth and all peoples, princes and all rulers of the earth! Young men and maidens together, old men and children! Let them praise the name of the Lord, for his name alone is exalted; his majesty is above earth and heaven." Psalm 148:11-13

Everything and everyone are supposed to praise God. Don't be the one who doesn't praise. Don't be the person who stands there with the dumb, bored look on your face. Don't ever allow yourself to be the prisoner who just listens! Be the one who praises Him at all times, in all circumstances!

Praise the Lord!

---Joy


Thursday, September 26, 2013

"Whose Likeness?"

As for me, I will see Your face in righteousness; I shall be satisfied when I awake in Your likeness.
Psalm 17:15

I love this verse! It reminds me that the goal is to look like Him. To walk, talk, and act like Him. To serve like Him. Most of all, to Love like Him.

Jesus used words like, "If you've seen Me than you've seen the Father."  or "The Father and I are one." He was the best example at mirroring the likeness of His Father. In Hebrews 1:3 it says that Jesus is an 'exact  representation' or as another version puts it the 'express image' of the Father's glory. In plain English, He takes after His Dad! His words and deeds always reflected His Father's heart. Whose likeness do we reflect to those around us. Do our actions truly reflect His heart for our lives and for the lives we touch?

Psalm 40 says that, "Many will see and fear and will trust in the Lord." As we let Him have more and more control of our actions and as we let Him work in and through us we will be a brighter reflection of Him.  Many will be drawn into His presence when we too can hear words like, "You act just like your Father."

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Encourager

In Job 2:11-13, his three friends hear about all the evil that has befallen him. They meet together and set out to Job's house. When they first saw him, they couldn't believe it was him! They went to him immediately. They wept, tore their clothes, and sprinkled dust on their heads for him. They sat on the ground with Job for 7 days and 7 nights.

His friends started off by supporting him, but soon they stopped, and they said some terrible things about Job. It's almost like a guy who walks up to his friends and shares with them how incompetent he feels at work, and then they agree. Or like when a man tells his wife about some difficult situations at work, and the wife's response is that she hates his job.

"And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near." Hebrews 10:24-25

How are those responses supposed to stir up love? How are they supposed to encourage?

Until the end of time, we are supposed to have each other's backs, and encourage each other! We should not say things that will only make the other person feel worse. When someone is in a tough situation, they don't need someone to put them down, they are doing that themselves! They need a touch of Jesus, and if we are the ambassadors for Christ that we claim to be, then we need to give His encouragement and love. Be the kind of person who will lift up the arms of another when that person is too tired. Be someone who will bring thoughts of love, good works, renewed faith, and encouragement to the table.  Be the encourager.

---Joy



Tuesday, September 24, 2013

"One Thing"

Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus' feet and heard His word. But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, "Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me?" And Jesus answered and said to her, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her." Luke 10 38-42

Think about it ...Jesus is in your home. Your sitting at His feet, hearing Him speak, focused on His words. What an amazing place to be! Question is, "Would you be distracted with much serving or sitting focused on His words?"

It was a natural consequence for Martha to take care of the guests in her home. When you have people come you tend to focus on serving them, making sure their needs are met, tending all the details, the cooking, the cleaning. Its a balancing act, time with the guests, time with the details of serving and being a good hostess. How welcome will they feel if all your time is spent in the kitchen on the details and none is spent talking and listening to them?
  
Like Martha we get distracted from time in His presence. We have the same opportunity to "welcome Him into our home and to spend time with Him." Are we so cumbered and distracted with the details of our day that we don't spend time with Him choosing the 'good part.'  Time at His feet is the choice we are all faced with each day, and the one thing that is needed most!

Monday, September 23, 2013

The Samaritan Stop

"Jesus replied, 'A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying 'Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.' "
Luke 10:30-35

This man was beaten and left for dead. He was dying, and, "the Lord's people," ignored him. They passed on by, too busy with their own lives.

I'm sure we would never intentionally pass by someone who was physically hurt. But there is more then that. What about spiritually lost and emotionally damaged? There are people all around us, whose souls are in rough shape. They hang in the balance. Every day, we pass by them. We ignore the problem, too focused on our problems or our own schedule. We could be the friend, the mentor, the listening ear. We could be the human hand God uses to save them from drowning, but blissfully pretending not to notice is so much easier.

God give us a Samaritan heart! One that will not ignore the cries of those in need, whether audible or silent. Give us eyes to see them. Let us be the ones who stands for the lost. Let us be the ones who stop.

---Joy

Sunday, September 22, 2013

"Never Too Busy"

Now there stood by the cross of Jesus His mother, and His mother's sister, Mary the wife of Cleopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus therefore saw His mother and the disciple whom He loved standing by, He said to His mother, "Woman, behold your son!" Then He said to the disciple, "Behold your mother!" And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home.  John 19:25-27

Three verses from here Jesus is using the words, "It is finished!" He then bows His head and gave up His spirit.
Moments before He finishes what needs to happen to take care of all eternity for the whole world He takes time to take care of the here and now for His Mom! The here and now is important to Him. We are important to Him. While on the cross dealing with eternity He brings comfort to the thief beside Him and makes sure that His mom is going to be looked after.

If this isn't a testament to the fact that He is never too busy to care for our day to day life, what is? Lots of times I get to hear people say things like, "I just bother Him with the big stuff." or "He doesn't care about little stuff like that." Its crazy! Of course He cares! He cares about every little thing that matters to us. He cares about us enough to take care of eternity and He cares enough to help with the day to day.  It says in the word that 'you have not because you ask not.' If you have a need, just ask. Nothing is to big or too small for Him. It is all possible because He cares about everyone of our days and no matter what He is never too busy!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

A Great Stand

Jesus foretells the disciples that they will all abandon Him in His hour of need. "Behold, the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered each to his own home, and will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me." John 16:32

Sure enough, that's exactly what happened.

"And immediately, while he was still speaking, Judas came, one of the twelve, and with him a crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the scribes and the elders....And Jesus said to them, 'Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs to capture me? Day after day I was with you in the temple teaching, and you did not seize me. But let the Scriptures be fulfilled.' And they (His disciples) all left Him and fled." Mark 14:43, 48-50

There will be moments in all our lives where we need to make a stand for what and Who we believe. There will be more moments in our lives where we will be called upon as a source of strength, encouragement, and another body who will stand up. Sometimes, it's not about our great stand, but standing up with a friend for their great stand.

Jesus has more great stands coming up in the future. I want the courage to be standing there with Him.

---Joy

Friday, September 20, 2013

"The Strongman's Secret"

This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: 'Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,' Says the Lord of hosts. Zechariah 4:6

I was reading through Judges and came across the account of Samson. Samson, probably the best known strong man going. After all he killed a lion with his bare hands. He killed thirty men in Ashkelon to pay the men for his answer to the riddle. He used the jawbone of a donkey and killed a thousand men with it. He pulled up the gates of a city and carried them to the top of a hill. His exploits were all about his strength. When they tried to capture him they paid Delilah to, "Entice him, and find out where his great strength lies, and by what means we may overpower him..."

Interesting to note that none of his exploits were accomplished by his power or strength but by someone. The lion attacked - '...And the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon him, and he tore the lion apart ...' Judges 14:6 The thirty men - 'Then the Spirit of the Lord came upon him mightily, and he went down to Ashkelon and killed thirty men, took their apparel, and gave the changes of clothing to those who explained the riddle. Judges 14:19 The jawbone - 'Then the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon him; and the ropes that were on his arms became like flax that is burned with fire, and his bonds broke loose from his hands. He found a fresh jawbone of a donkey...' Judges 15:14-15

The same Spirit of the Lord that equipped Samson equips us. Our secret to doing great exploits for the Lord is the same as his because its, 'Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit says the Lord!'

Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Battle Unseen

"And behold, a hand touched me and set me trembling on my hands and knees. And he said to me, 'O Daniel, man greatly loved, understand the words that I speak to you, and stand upright, for now I have been sent to you." And when he had spoken this word to me, I stood up trembling. Then he said to me, 'Fear not, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand and humbled yourself before your God, your words have been heard, and I have come because of your words. The prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days, but Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I was left there with the kings of Persia, and came to make you understand what is to happen to your people in the latter days. For the vision is for days yet to come.' " Daniel 10:10-14

Daniel was praying for an interpretation to a vision he had, but it took 3 weeks for that answer to come, because the messenger had been fighting the forces of evil alone. One of the archangels, Michael, had to come and help fend of the evil forces in order for Daniel's message to be delivered.

Whether we want to acknowledge it or not, there is a spiritual realm. The forces of God and Satan fight daily over us. And Satan wants to stop any answer to prayer, any message of hope, and any interpretation that God sends us. You are greatly loved by God, so He is not going to ignore you prayers. He is answering them.

When you feel like you hear nothing back from God, you need to first ask yourself, are you standing in the way of receiving God's message? If your own attitude is not what's causing the problem, then you need to pray. Pray for the battle you can't see. And don't lose faith while you wait for the answer. It's coming.

P.S. Keep in mind that God usually answers in His still, small voice. Don't be watching for the writing on the wall (That was a bad message, too!). Listen for God's voice.





Wednesday, September 18, 2013

"This Day Challenge"

Joshua's challenge to 'choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve'(Joshua 24:15) is one that we all need to look at and remember that it is also the challenge we need to respond to each and every day. It is issued at this point for a reason. He is about to 'let the people depart, each to his own inheritance.' Joshua 24:28 He knows that they have been serving God under his leadership but that now they will be making the same day to day choices to serve Him on their own. Will they look to God each day, each decision? He challenges them to choose THIS day to serve God.

THIS is the day we all need to consider. Will He be the one we follow? Will He be the one we serve today? THIS is the day we need to decide about. Here, now, today's choice is the one that matters. Joshua knew all about their past victories with God and he knew that wouldn't guarantee future ones without the right choice to serve Him each and every day.  He knew that each battle and therefore each victory came because He had chosen to serve God on that day, that battle. He had chosen to listen and to obey each word that God had spoken.

This is the day we decide to serve Him. THIS is the day that matters! Will we serve Him today?

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Wit, Wisdom, and God in the Storm

"Some went down to the sea in ships, doing business on the great waters; they saw the deeds of the Lord, his wondrous works in the deep. For he commanded and raised the stormy wind, which lifted up the waves of the sea. They mounted up to heaven; they went down to the depths; their courage melted away in their evil plight; they reeled and staggered like drunken men and were at their wits' end.* Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. He made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed. Then they were glad that the waters were quiet, and he brought them to their desired haven." Psalm 107:23-30

*Instead of, "and were at their wits' end," the Hebrew meant, "and all their wisdom was swallowed up."

We go about our lives, routines, and business, and a storm comes. It sends us up and down, and in directions we didn't even know. We stumble around. We are at our wits' end. All our wisdom has been swallowed up. Then we call on God?

Too often we rely on our wit and wisdom to get us through a storm, when we should be relying on God. Don't make God a last resort. Call on Him sooner, rather then later.

"He made the storm be still...and he brought them to their desired haven." Amen.

---Joy







Monday, September 16, 2013

"Freely Given"

"There was a certain creditor who had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. And when they had nothing with which to repay, he freely forgave them both. Tell me, therefore, which of them will love him more?"

Simon answered and said, "I suppose the one whom he forgave more." And He said to him, "You have rightly judged." Luke 7:41-43

Jesus spoke these words because the Pharisee, Simon, had invited Him to his home to eat and had then proceeded to juded Him because He was letting a woman who was well known for her sin touch Him and anoint His feet with oil.

After He spoke these words He explained how the woman had shown her love for Him the whole time He had been there while Simon hadn't shown Him even the slightest bit of hospitality. He was illustrating to him his own heart attitude and his judgement of of Him and the woman in question.

I think we all need to remember that we all owed a debt that He has freely paid for us. We all have sinned and fallen short. We have all missed the mark. We need to make sure that we aren't so busy judging what others are doing that we forget that he forgave our debt as well. We need to make sure that we who have invited Him into our lives give Him the place of honor He deserves. A debt forgiven deserves to be appreciated!

He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you But to do justly, to love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God? Micah 6:8

Sunday, September 15, 2013

The Parable of the Four Garfield's

"And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, but when the sun rose they were scorched. And since they had no root, they withered away. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. He who has ears, let him hear."

Most of us are familiar with the Parable of the Sower (Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23), but do you know the Parable of the Four Garfield's?

My new husband is very fond of Garfield, and one day he found these four, stuffed Garfield's...

The first one has a smug grin, a spoon in his hand, and a bowl of half-eaten pasta on his head. Seed #1: He didn't understand the Gospel. He had something precious, and the enemy (in this case hunger) came before he could appreciate and learn.

The second one has a big smile-with a knocked out tooth, crutches, and a big bandage! Seed #2: He was all excited about the God-stuff he heard, but it hadn't taken root in him yet. He was taken down by a loose step in the world. One he didn't see, because he hadn't learned to look for it yet.

The third one has a sweater, matching hat, and skates on his feet. Seed #3: He heard all the Gospel, but he was overtaken with the cares of the world, fitting in, and the deceitfulness of riches. He spends all his time, trying to fit into the world, feigning a cool exterior.

The fourth one is an older looking Garfield. He has a mustache, overalls, and a fishing poll with a fish on it. Seed #4: He heard the Gospel, learned the Gospel, and let it take root in his heart. He was wise from his time with God, and he had learned to recognize the tricks of the world. Because of his faithfulness, he had started catching fish-souls for God!

Which lasagna-loving Garfield are we? Which one should we be? Which one truly knows God? Which one will do his part to help the other Garfield's in this world?

---Joy

Saturday, September 14, 2013

"The Group Of One"

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

As you may have guessed today's snack is about being thankful. I've had a number of opportunities lately to be thankful. Lots in fact! The 'in everything give thanks' implies both good and bad. So for all that 'Hard' things that have been happening I have been 'praying without ceasing' and He has been providing. That means I have been doing a lot thanking!

I taught a lesson this week on the Ten Lepers and how only one came back to thank Jesus to my first graders. At the end the question was asked, "Which one did the right thing?" The ones who received and kept moving or the one who took time to say, "Thanks!" and to praise Him for His kindness? They obviously knew and chose the correct answer even though they are little.

Anyways, I would like to take a minute and make sure that I'm part of the ONE who says, "Thanks!" How about you? Which group will you be in? 

Friday, September 13, 2013

The Hokey Poky

"If anyone of the common people sins unintentionally in doing any one of the things that by the Lord's commandments ought not to be done, and realizes his guilt, or the sin which he committed is made known to him, he shall bring for his offering a goat, a female without blemish, for his sin which he has committed. And he shall lay his hand on the head of the sin offering and kill the sin offering in the place of burnt offering." Leviticus 4:27-29

Before Jesus came, they people could not have a direct relationship with God because of their sin. God absolutely can not be around sin. So, in order to have a limited relationship with God, sacrifices for their sin. And the sacrifice covered them until the next time they sinned, which could be just a few minutes later! It was such a lengthy list of procedures. Some people would even call it a bunch of hokey poky.

God's solution:

"And Peter said to them, Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." Acts 2:38

"But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you." John 14:26

"But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me." John 15:26

We know that Jesus took our place, and He became the ultimate sacrifice for our sins. And after He died and rose again, He went back to Heaven, and sent the Holy Spirit in His place. Among the common man! Now we can have the Holy Spirit inside us today!

Do you see how blessed we are? We live in a day where we don't need to make sacrifices for every individual sin, we just need to repent. We can have the Holy Spirit in our lives, guiding us, helping us, teaching us. We have it so easy compared to the Israelites!

We can look at all the rules we live by as life sucking, but truthfully, we are blessed. We can look at our relationship with God as boring, but guys, we are blessed to be able to have a relationship so close to God! Don't blow this off! You can look at the "Christian" stuff like it's some hokey poky, but we are so blessed! Use this blessing! Repent, and get to know God! Don't waste the gift.

---Joy













Thursday, September 12, 2013

"Our Gift To Him"

And from there He arose and went to the region of Tyre and Sidon. And He entered a house and wanted no one to know it, but He could not be hidden.

For a woman whose young daughter had an unclean spirit heard about Him, and she came and fell at His feet. The women was Greek, a Syro-Phoenician by birth, and she kept asking Him to cast the demon out of her daughter.

But Jesus said to her, "Let the children be filled first, for it is not good to take the children's bread and throw it to the little dogs."

And she answered and said to Him, "Yes, LORD, yet even the little dogs under the table eat from the children's crumbs."

Then He said to her, "For this saying go your way; the demon has gone out of your daughter." And when she had come to her house, she found the demon gone out, and her daughter lying on the bed. Mark 7:24-30

Again we find the account of someone who shows us a great example of what Jesus calls, "Faith" (Matthew 15:28) Again, we don't know her name but we do know that Jesus was impressed by her response and He met her need and cast the demon out of her daughter.

It starts when she heard about Jesus and sought Him out. She found Him and came and fell at His feet. The same account in Matthew says she came and worshiped Him. She had decided that He was the answer that her daughter needed. My favorite part is that it says that she kept asking! She kept asking and didn't give up. Verse 23 in Matthew says, "But He answered her not a word. And His disciples came and urged Him saying,'Send her away, for she cries after us.' His first response was silence. His second was His comment about feeding the children first. His silence and His comment gave her the opportunity to show that she understood who He was and that faith doesn't depend on where you were born but by faith in Him as LORD!

She didn't give up in either case. She didn't let His silence or His words sway her from what she knew, that He could help! She kept asking even when His disciples were telling her to leave, even when others didn't think she was worthy because of where she came from. She knew that He was her help and she didn't let go! How often do we let go of the miracles that we need even though we know that all things are possible with Him? When the answer doesn't come immediately we should not give up but we should follow her example and be persistent in our 'knowing that He is well able!' Maybe if we feel that He is being silent, He is really giving us the opportunity to give Him, our LORD, the gift of our faith!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Line of Faithfulness

Psalm 89 talks about God's promise to establish King David's offspring on the throne forever. God says that even if David's children majorly disobey Him, He would punish their transgressions with a rod and their iniquity with stripes, but:

"But I will not remove from him my steadfast love or be false to my faithfulness. I will not violate my covenant or alter the word that went forth from my lips. Once for all I have sworn by my holiness; I will not lie to David. His offspring shall endure forever, his throne as long as the sun before me. Like the moon it shall be established forever, a faithful witness in the skies."
Psalm 89:33-37

God goes on to say that He would not back out of His promise, no matter what stupid thing David's descendants did. As we saw, not all of David's descendants walked with God. The kingdom completely divided under the rule of David's grandson. But there was always someone from David's line on the throne. Even today.

"In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin's name was Mary." Luke 1:26-27

Jesus is the current King from the line of David.

God was not false to His faithfulness. He did not violate the covenant or change His mind. He promised He would not lie to David. Those verses are for us. So we could see them today, and see God's faithfulness. So that as we go through life, we would know that all of God's promises to us would come to pass. Whenever you start to doubt, look at this amazing testimony. God is faithful to His word. Forever.

---Joy

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

"His Disciples"

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. John 13:34-35

According to the Strong's Concordance the word disciple here means; a learner, i.e. pupil and it comes from a root word that means; to learn (in any way). Jesus spoke these words in the upper room just after Judas, one of his disciples had left the room to go and betray Him. Jesus knew that and still He spoke these words to the remaining disciples as He was preparing them for what came next.

He said that all will know. All will recognize that we have been His pupil and that we belong to Him if we will have learned what it is His heart to teach us, that we LOVE ONE ANOTHER. He used the words. "love one another" three times. It was important to Him that they, that we, understand that loving, caring for one another was an important part of what He was imparting to them because everything He had done so far and what He was about to do was all about His love for them, for us.

Loving one another stuff is important because it means we have learned by His example! We have truly been pupils that have been taught by the Master. Sometimes I think we are so busy being Priests and Levites that we forget to be Samaritains and to stop long enough to be moved by compassion.  Jesus asked the question, "So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the theives?" And he said, "He who showed mercy on him." Then Jesus said to him, "Go and do likewise." Luke 10:36-37

"As I have loved you, that you also love and another."

Monday, September 9, 2013

Forget Folly

"Let me hear what God the LORD will speak, for he will speak peace to his people, to his saints; but let them not turn back to folly." Psalm 85:8

I looked at this verse a little differently this time. Despite our freewill and our stubbornness, can God keep us from turning back to folly? Will He keep a hand on us, not allowing us to turn from the right to the left? Or are we balancing on our own?

"Teach me your way, O LORD, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name." Psalm 86:11

It's not God forcing us to be good. He won't put some type of hold on us that will keep us from doing things. However, if we focus on God, ask Him to teach us His ways, walk in His truth, and unite our hearts to fear His name, then we won't turn back to folly. If we are united to Him, totally focused on Him, then we won't turn to the right or the left. At any point, we could lose our focus. That's when we turn to folly.

Be totally focused on God, and you won't see the folly on either side of you. Learn His ways, and you'll say, "Forget folly!" Let your heart be completely united to God, and He won't let you turn to folly. Not because you can't, but because you are so busy learning awesome, new stuff.

---Joy

Sunday, September 8, 2013

"Lay eyes On Him"

O God, You are my God; Early will I seek You; My soul thirsts for You; My flesh longs for You In a dry and thirsty land where there is no water. So I have looked for You in the sanctuary, To see Your power and Your glory. Psalm 63:1-2

As a foster mom I have had the privilege of loving some pretty awesome little ones. Two years ago a little four month old little girl and her two older brothers came to live with me. I had them six and a half months. During that time the baby and I formed an especially close bond. Last year a six month old little guy and his older two year old brother came to stay. They lived with me eleven months before they went home to mom and dad. Again the baby and I became really close and luckily for me I also developed a pretty good relationship with both sets of parents! I say that because it means that I didn't have to say goodbye forever! I get to see them each week when they come and spend a night visiting me.

I tell you all that because there is that moment when I show up to pick them up for their weekly visit that is the BEST! They spot me, yell my name, their little faces light up, and they run for all they are worth to get to me. They jump into my arms and I get the best hugs and kisses ever. The little three year old that I have now does the same thing when I show up at daycare to pick him up each day. There is something about that moment when all their excitement at your presence makes something amazing happens in your own heart. That moment isn't just about how much they love you and their pleasure, its also about how much you love them and the pleasure you feel as you lay eyes on them!

I think it must be like that with God! He loves when we come to him with all our adoration because He first adored us! I hope your visits with Him in the sanctuary are filled with that same moment of recognition, pleasure, and adoration when you lay eyes on Him each day!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Suspicious Blessings?

Has someone ever done something really nice for you, and then you're immediately suspicious of what comes next? There are two clich├ęs that make us doubt anything nice someone does for us. First, when someone does something nice for you to butter you up for the big favor they want from you. Second, when someone does something nice for you so they can tell you some bad news.

I know I've been on the receiving end, and the giving end. I was not above doing "extra" chores in an attempt to get my mom to let me go hang out with my friends. This isn't a new concept to us. We all know both sides of this coin.

But has this warped the way we look at a blessing from God? Yes, God will bless you for obedience, and yes, there are good seasons and bad season in your life, but when you become suspicious of God's blessings, then the devil has won a victory you didn't even realize. You've started to doubt God's love and blessings in your life.

God's love doesn't come with a catch. His blessings are not the calm before the storm of hard knocks. God loves to bless us. And when we doubt God, it's a stepping stone away from Him. It's may be one you don't even realize, and before you know it, you are hundreds of miles away.

Don't doubt God. His blessings and His love are for you, and there is no catch.

"Now you have been pleased to bless the house of your servant, that it may continue forever before you, for it is you, O LORD, who have blessed, and it is blessed forever." 1 Chronicles 17:27

---Joy

Friday, September 6, 2013

"Rest In Him"

"Listen, all you of Judah and you inhabitants of Jerusalem, and you, King Jehoshaphat! Thus says the Lord to you 'Do not be afraid nor dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours, but God's. Tomorrow go down against them. They will surely come up by the ascent of Ziz, and you will find them at the end of the brook before the Wilderness of Jeruel. You will not need to fight in this battle. Position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the Lord, who is with you, O Judah and Jerusalem! Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them, for the Lord is with you." 2 Chronicles 20:15-17

Isn't it nice to know that when we turn to Him for help, God responds with these words? "Do not be afraid nor dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours, but God's."

When you don't know what to do or how to deal with the situation before you, do what Jehoshaphat did, turn to God and trust Him with the outcome!"O our God, will You not judge them? For we have no power against this great multitude that is coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are upon You." 2 Chronicles 20:12

If we, like Jehoshaphat, will put our focus on Him instead of the problem and trust Him with the outcome, then we too will know the same outcome that Jehoshaphat received. Not only did God fight and win the battle He gave Him rest. It says in verse 30 that, 'the realm of Jehoshaphat was quiet, for his God gave him rest all around.

If we will put our eyes upon Him in any situation and make Him the focus of our praise then we too will know that He is always with us and we can know what it means to 'rest in Him!'

Thursday, September 5, 2013

The Potato Casserole Abundance

My favorite food is potato casserole. In the short amount of time that my husband and I have been married, he has made it twice. They are not small, one dinner batches either. They have been several meals a day for several days kind of big. But that's okay. Awesome even. I love to eat this! I want it at almost every meal. An abundance of potato casserole is wonderful.

"You crown the year with your bounty; your wagon tracks overflow with abundance." Psalm 65:11

For me, starting the day with potato casserole and a cup of coffee is the crown of my day.

Our favorite food, a good book, a day out with some friends, lobster at the beach- we all have those things that crown our day. We would love an abundance of it!

But sometimes an abundance of such things isn't good. Too much food, drink, and reading time could land me with an upset stomach and a headache.

Everything in moderation. Except for God. He is the only thing in this world that you can never have enough of to satisfy you.

"You crown the year with your bounty; your wagon tracks overflow with abundance." Psalm 65:11

Imagine an overflow of God. An abundance of His knowledge and teachings in your live. Imagine Him being the crown of your day.

He can be your abundance.

---Joy

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

"Key to Being Blessed"

Then Amos answered, and said to Amaziah: "I was no prophet, Nor was I a son of a prophet, But I was a herdsman And a tender of sycamore fruit. Then the Lord took me as I followed the flock, And The Lord said to me, 'Go, prophesy to My people Israel.' Amos 7:14-15

Amos is busy telling Amaziah that the prophecy he had just delivered, and those to come, were not his idea, they were God's.  He wasn't anyone special. He was just your everyday, hardworking guy that God called and equipped to do a job. Its nice to know that God can use everyday people like Amos, you, and I. Amos was minding his own business tending his flock and his fruit crop of sycamore trees when God called him to speak for Him. The cool thing - Amos heard him and obeyed!

Its nice to know that I don't have to be anyone special to be called by him. I just need to hear his message and deliver it to whom he wishes. Today that someone is you and the message is this:

And it happened, as He spoke these things, that a certain woman from the crowd raised her voice and said to Him, "Blessed is the womb that bore You, and the breasts which nursed You!" But He said, "More than that, blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it!" Luke 11:28

Want to be blessed? Its simple. Listen and obey!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Dealing with Your God-Fix-This List

"Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will tell what He has done for my soul. I cried to Him with my mouth, and high praise was on my tongue." Psalm 66:16-17

So the author of this Psalm told those who feared God to come and hear; He would tell them what God had done for him, for when he cried out to God, high praise was on his tongue.

There is a footnote in my Bible for the word "on." In Hebrew the word used was "under." So high praise was under his tongue.

Seeing this verse and the footnote made me think: what if we had high praise on our tongue rather then under our tongue? What if instead of going to God with our please-fix-this list, we went to Him with high praise first? If we first went to God with praise, instead of a long list of stuff that needs to be fixed, then wouldn't that in itself help fix the problem? Praising God frees us because God freed our souls. So instead of focusing on all the things that need to be fixed, give God high praise.

It's the best way to deal with our fix-it list.

---Joy



Sunday, September 1, 2013

"He Says It Best"

Sometimes I think we forget that God speaks. We think we need to explain and expound when in truth; He says it best!

For thus says the Lord, Who created the heavens, Who is God, Who formed the earth and made it, Who has established it, Who did not create it in vain, Who formed it to be inhabited:

"I am the Lord, and there is no other. I have not spoken in secret, In a dark place of the earth; I did not say to the seed of Jacob, 'Seek me in vain'; I the Lord, speak righteousness, I declare things that are right.

Assemble yourselves and come; Draw near together, You who have escaped from the nations. They have no knowledge, Who carry wood of their carved image, And pray to a god that cannot save. Tell and bring forth your case; Yes, let them take counsel together. Who has declared this from ancient time? Who has told it from that time? Have not I, the Lord? And there is no other God besides Me, A just God and a Savior; There is none besides Me.

Look to Me, and be saved, All you ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other.

I have sworn by Myself; The word has gone out of My mouth in righteousness, And shall not return, That to Me every knee shall bow, Every tongue shall take an oath. He shall say, 'Surely in the Lord I have righteousness and strength. To Him men shall come, And all shall be ashamed Who have incensed against Him. In the Lord all the descendants of Israel Shall be justified, and shall glory,'" Isaiah 45:18-25