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Thursday, January 29, 2009

We Are Not Forsaken

I am currently reading through the book of Isaiah, and I admit that a lot of it goes completely over my head. I have to be very careful when I read passages like this because I find myself reading the words without really paying attention to what I'm reading. I often catch myself doing this and make myself go back and read it again.

Every now and then, there is a verse or two that just jump off the page. I don't know why or how, but some verses reach out and grab me. The verse that really got my attention this morning was Isaiah 41:17. When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue faileth for thirst, I the LORD will hear them, I the God of Israel will not forsake them.

In our day, we have no idea what it means to be truly thirsty. I know I often say, "I'm about to die of thirst," but the truth is we are blessed and have no idea what it's like to go without water. But, I don't think this verse is just talking about water. I think it's talking about anything we may need. I don't think it would be harming the Scripture if we inserted another word in place of the word "water."

When the poor and needy seek money, and there is none. . .I the LORD will hear them, I the God of Israel will not forsake them.

When the poor and needy seek peace, and there is none. . .I the LORD will hear them, I the God of Israel will not forsake them.

When the poor and needy seek acceptance, and there is none. . .I the LORD will hear them, I the God of Israel will not forsake them.

When the poor and needy seek love, and there is none. . .I the LORD will hear them, I the God of Israel will not forsake them.

When the poor and needy seek employment, and there is none. . .I the LORD will hear them, I the God of Israel will not forsake them.

When the poor and needy seek companionship, and there is none. . .I the LORD will hear them, I the God of Israel will not forsake them.

There are many words that we could fill in right there. Perhaps you even have one that describes what you are needing right now. The point is that no matter what we need, the Lord will hear our cries, and He will not forsake us. He has our best interest at heart. He will meet our needs in His own time. Our job is simply to trust Him.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Are You Feeling Stressed?

Back in October, I posted a devotion entitled "Making a Point." If you weren't able to read that, I'll briefly fill you in.

In Psalm 107, you will notice that verses 8, 15, 21, & 31 all read exactly the same. Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men! I mentioned that if God repeated this same message four times that it must be very important. Everyone agree?

However, I was so fascinated by those verses that I missed some other powerful repetitions. In my reading this morning, God brought them to my attention.

Vs. 6 - Then they cried unto the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them out of their distresses.

Vs. 13 - Then they cried unto the LORD in their trouble, and he saved them out of their distresses.

Vs. 19 - Then they cry unto the LORD in their trouble, and he saveth them out of their distresses.

Vs. 28 - Then they cry unto the LORD in their trouble, and he bringeth them out of their distresses.

Did you catch that? This one passage tells us four times that the Lord delivered His people out of their distresses. You may be wondering what that has to do with us today. Do you realize that "distress" is a synonym for "stress"? Are any of you acquainted with stress? I think if we're honest, we would all agree that life can be very stressful. Trying to make ends meet. Economic crisis. Living from paycheck to paycheck. Wondering if we'll still have a job tomorrow. Let's face it, life is stressful. But, here's the good news: God can deliver us out of that stress. How? I'm glad you asked.

1. He leads us in the way we need to go. - vs. 7
If we are faithful to follow the Lord's leading, we will stay in His will. If we are in His will, then all will be well. Does that mean no bad things will happen? No, but it means we will have peace knowing that we are where God wants us to be.

2. He brightens our days. - vs. 14
Ever feel like you're surrounded by darkness? Ever feel like there's no light to be found? I have, but the truth is Jesus is the Light. He can brighten even our darkest days if we'll allow Him to. Spend a few minutes with Him and see if you don't notice a ray of light on the horizon.

3. He speaks to us - vs. 20
What a privilege to know that the God of this world takes time to speak to His children! He has given us His Word as a lamp for our feet and light for our path. He speaks to us through messages and songs. He nudges our heart and whispers to us in His still, small voice. God still speaks. The question is, "Are we listening?"

4. He calms our storms or our souls - vs. 29
The McKameys sing a song entitled "Sometimes He Calms Me." The message of the song is that sometimes it is God's will for us to go through a storm, but during those times in which He will not calm the storm, He can calm us. He gives us sweet peace to make it through the trial. He knows what we need, and as much as we don't like it, sometimes we need the storms. But, even during those times, we need not stress, for God can calm our troubled hearts.

Before we leave, I want to add one thing. Did you notice that before God delivered Israel from their distress, they cried to Him? Yes, God knows our problems, but He still wants us to talk to Him. Spend some time with Him today and pour out your burdens to Him. Cry on His shoulder. Then allow His peace to settle over you and trust Him to bring you out of your distress.

Monday, January 26, 2009

I Just Need to Praise the Lord

If you came here for a devotional today, I'm sorry. I will try to post one tomorrow, but today I just need to praise the Lord.

For those of you who don't know, I attend Bible Baptist Church in Pickens, SC. God is really doing a great work there, and I'm thrilled to be a part of it!

Yesterday morning, we had 107 people in attendance (instead of our usual 70-80.) We had three new families join the church. Praise the Lord!

We were privileged to have Dr. Richard Hughes and his precious wife, Shirley, with us on Sunday morning and evening. Both services were sensational, and God moved.

Last night, tears flowed freely as people knelt at the altar and turned their burdens over to God. I'm pleased to say that a number of our teens dropped to their knees as well. Some of us were so overwhelmed that we felt like jumping and running (but we didn't.) Even after the service was over, many of us found that we couldn't leave. We just stood around talking about what a great day God had allowed us to have and praising Him for the work He is doing in our church.

If you do not have a home church, we would love for you to visit. We are a small, but friendly, church, and we love to have visitors. If you would like to be a part of what God is doing in our little church, feel free to stop by or contact me for directions.

Saturday, January 24, 2009


For those of you who caught the typo in yesterday's blog entry, I apologize. I try not to do much writing work when taking cold medicines because they really do create some problems with my thought process. You should have heard some of the stuff I was saying yesterday. Weird!

Anyway, I have fixed the typo. (Hopefully, there was only one.) Thank you to those of you who were kind enough to point it out to me. Writers make mistakes too, but I'm going to blame that one on the meds. Yucky stuff!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Drops of Character

Have you ever watched an icicle form? Did you notice how the dripping water froze, one drop at a time, until the icicle was a foot long or more?

If the water was clean, the icicle remained clear and sparkled brightly in the sun; but if the water was slightly muddy, the icicle looked cloudy, its beauty spoiled.

Our character is formed just like an icicle. Each thought or feeling adds its influence. Each decision we make--both great and small--contributes its part. Everything we take into our minds and souls--impressions, experiences, images, or words--helps create our character.

At all times, we must be aware of the "droplets" we allow to drip into our lives. Acts that develop habits of hate, falsehood, and evil intent mar and eventually destroy us, but habits born of love, truth, and goodness silently mold and fashion us into the image of God.

--God's Little Devotional Journal

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Facing the Giants

Below, you'll find clips from my all-time favorite movie. Now, I'm not a football fan AT ALL, but this movie blesses me each time I watch it. It is a Christian movie, so there is no fear of bad language, nudity, etc. To me, it is an awesome reminder of how good God is and what He can do for us if we'll allow Him. If you haven't seen the movie yet, I highly recommend it! Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

It's Great to Have Friends

A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly. Proverbs 18:24a

As many of you already know, last night I signed up for an account on Facebook, as well as Twitter and Squidoo. By this morning, my e-mail box was full of requests and confirmations of friendship. I had the opportunity to talk to people that I haven't spoken to since high school. One person even commented that even though we didn't know each other very well or for very long that she wanted to be my friend because I had always been kind to her. I couldn't have asked for a better compliment.

However, her comment reminded me that people are always watching. Am I always the Christian example I should be? If not, why not? I will be the first to admit that I've blown it more than once, which leads me to wonder, 'Who was watching then?' It's a thought that should keep us on our toes and grounded in the Word of God. We need to be so full of God's goodness that it simply overflows into everything we do and say. After all, we have a testimony to uphold, and that is very important.

Don't have any friends? Perhaps you haven't been showing yourself friendly. Nevertheless, there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother. He loves us unconditionally! Now, that's a Friend worth having.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

God Speaks

I just wanted to share with you some interesting things from my devotion time this morning. If you did not read yesterday's post, you may want to do that before reading this one. It will make more sense that way.

My question yesterday was should I help God out or should I get out of the way and let Him work? In my daily Bible reading today, I found the answer. I was reading in Isaiah 30. In verse 7, it says "Their strength is to sit still." My ears perked up. Then, I read on. Verse 18 "Blessed are all they that wait for him." Okay, God, you have my attention. Everyone ready for this? Read on to verses 20 & 21. "And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity, and the water of affliction, yet shall not thy teachers be removed into a corner any more, but thine eyes shall see thy teachers; and thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left." WOW!!!! It doesn't get any clearer than that, does it? "This is the way."

Still, there was a part of me saying, "That's just a coincidence. It has nothing to do with what I'm going through right now." So, God spoke a little louder. I started flipping through my little devotion book, and a title caught my attention. I read the passage, and I was convinced that it was indeed God who was speaking. I'd like to share the devotion with you. (Don't worry. It's short.)

God's Good Timing

Why does God wait until the money is gone? Why does he wait until the sickness has lingered? Why does he choose to wait until the other side of the grave to answer the prayers for healing? I don't know. I only know that his timing is always right. I can only say he will do what is best. . .Though you hear nothing, he is speaking. Though you see nothing, he is acting. With God there are no accidents. Every incident is intended to bring us closer to Him.

Grace For the Moment by Max Lucado

Monday, January 19, 2009

What Am I Supposed To Do?

Last week, I posted an interesting query about David. Did he run from Saul because of a lack of faith in the Lord or just plain common sense? The more I've thought on this question, the more I've realized that things are not always cut and dry. Finding and doing the will of the Lord can be very complicated.

For example, right now I'm going through some things that I've been praying about for a long time, yet it seems like I'm getting nowhere. It sometimes makes me doubt if my prayers are even getting through. But, more than that, I find myself wondering if this is one of the times I'm supposed to just sit back and watch God work a miracle or if this is one of the times I'm supposed to respond to an opportunity to bring that miracle about. Does that make sense?

Throughout the Bible, we see story after story of people who tried to "help God out." In the process, they made a huge mess! I don't want to do that. On the other hand, I don't want to ask God for something, and then just sit back and expect Him to do all the work. The Bible also tells of God working great miracles through willing servants. So, the question is, do I try to help or do I stay out of the way and let God work? Hmm!

It's strange how sometimes I can hear God's voice so clearly, yet other times all I hear is silence. I know He is with me. I know He has heard my prayer. And, I know He will answer my prayer in His time. Until then, I will continue to pray that He will make His will clear to me. After all, I don't want to make a mess of things. I want God to be pleased with my "performance" in this situation. I want to do what's right.

For those of you reading this and saying, "What in the world is going on?," just relax. It's nothing major. It's just another part of life where you come to a crossroads, and you have to decide which way to turn. I don't take any decisions lightly, so even "simple decisions" can become a stumbling block for me. I've been accused of being too detail-oriented, but I think in our Christian walk, the details are important.

Anyway, thanks for listening! Today's was an unusual post, but it feels good to voice the confusion that I'm facing right now. Sometimes, it even helps to put things into perspective.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Did David Have to Run?

A thought struck me from out of the blue yesterday. I have no idea where it came from, but it raised some interesting questions, and I've not been able to stop thinking about it.

We all know the story of Saul's jealousy against David and how he chased him and tried to kill him. My question is this: when David knew that Saul was angry with him, did he really need to run? After all, God had promised David that he would be king. So, Saul could not harm David, right? Was David's flight a lack of faith or just common sense?

This train of thought led me to wonder if it might have been God's will for David to stay put. How would things have been different? Would fewer people have been killed? Would David have earned such a faithful following?

I have no answers for this. If I were being chased, my first instinct would be to run, but our first instinct is not always God's will. Is it? I did not find anywhere in the Bible where the Lord told David to run, but I may have missed it. Interesting, isn't it?

I would love to hear what some of you think about this. Please let me know if you have something to add. I'm truly intrigued by this question at present, and would welcome any feedback.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

You Raise Me Up

I'm telling you, I can't get this song off my mind. As the day goes on, I realize that the Lord probably intended it for me. There have certainly be some trials today, and this song has helped to lift my burden. Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Are We Really Too Busy?

I, for one, think life has become too hectic. It seems there is always something to do, somewhere to go, etc. Many times I feel like I don't have time to stop and catch my breath, but is that really the case?

I had a friend recently tell me that she didn't have time to do a particular thing, but later on in the conversation, she told me how she had spent several hours talking to people online. Which is it? After that, I noticed that several people around me were complaining about not having the time to do the things they want to do, yet again, in the same conversation they revealed countless time-wasters that they indulged in daily.

All of this made me wonder if I do the same thing. Do I complain about being busy when in fact, I'm just wasting time? Now, don't get me wrong. We all need time to relax every now and then. That's not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about the hours spent on the cell phones, in front of the television, or at the computer. I'm talking about the numerous minutes that pass by without our awareness. Makes you think, doesn't it?

The moral of the story? I guess it would be to not complain about being too busy unless you can say without a doubt that you have not wasted any time. (That would stop a lot of complaining. Wouldn't it?)

I'm not really sure why I felt the need to mention that in the blog today, but it's been on my mind for a while, so I guess I just needed to vent. That being said, I hope you all have a wonderful day!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Where's My Pillar?

It seems like a lot of things lately have revolved around seeking, finding, and obeying God's will. This theme has carried from my devotions to sermons, songs, and even my own Sunday School lesson. Somehow, the topic even came up in the car while Jason and I were out and about. Anytime, I see a theme running so rampant through my life, I have to stop and ask, "Okay, God, what are you trying to tell me?"

I want SO MUCH to do the Lord's will, but honestly, sometimes I don't know if it's His voice I'm hearing or my own desires. Many times the Lord will literally have to beat me over the head with something before I'm convinced that it is His voice that I've been hearing. Jason and I often laugh over how difficult it is for God to convince me, but the truth is that I'm ashamed of it. After all, I should know His voice. Why can't I distinguish it from my own or from the myriad other noises that assault me day after day?

In my devotion time this morning, the author referred to the story of God leading the Israelites through the wilderness. You know the story. By day, they followed a cloud, and by night, a pillar of fire. With such obvious symbols, the Israelites could be assured of two things: (1) God was in their midst; (2) They were heading in the right direction.

I don't have much trouble remembering that God is always with me. However, when it comes to knowing that I'm going in the right direction, I feel the need to ask for those pronounced symbols. I find myself asking God, "Why can't you lead me with a cloud or a pillar of fire?" "Why can't you make it that obvious for me?" When I receive His answer, I'll let you know what He says.

In the mean time, all I can do is study God's Word and keep a close relationship with Him in prayer. While the Bible may not tell me specifically whether to take a certain job or to invest in a certain business, it does give us vital information that we need each and every day. I've seen the Lord use a verse in the Scriptures to answer a very specific question, so I know that He will answer me when it is His time.

The second part is that precious prayer time. I need to remember that I'm not only there to talk, but also to listen. I need to work on tuning out the noise around me and focusing on God's voice so that I will recognize it when He speaks to me.

Would I rather have a cloud and a pillar of fire? Probably. But, is that what would be best for me? Probably not. God has a way of helping us to grow, even when it's difficult and frustrating.

If you, like me, have trouble distinguishing God's voice, take heart. Read the Bible. Ask God for His direction. Then, listen to His answer and obey.

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.
John 10:27

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Too Busy Not To Pray

I have a new book recommendation for you. It's entitled "Too Busy Not to Pray" by Bill Hybels. As I've mentioned before, I don't like a lot of books that deal with prayer because I feel that they over-complicate something that should be simple. When a book tells me exactly what words I should or should not use when praying or what time of the day I should pray, I get aggravated.

All that being said, Bill Hybels book is different. He does not give a formula for prayer. Instead, he enlightens on many different aspects of prayer. For example, he deals with things that may be preventing your prayers from being answered, how to know if a prompting is your own desire or the Holy Spirit, how to keep a better focus during your prayer time, and many other lessons that I've found very helpful and informative. The main drive of the book is to help us to make prayer a priority in our lives (something I feel we all need to be reminded of once in a while).

That's all I have for today. I pray you each have a blessed day!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The Source of My Song

Since the week of Christmas, I've been on Cloud Nine. I'm not sure why, but I've had such joy and peace for the past couple of weeks. That is, until yesterday. Yesterday, I fell off my cloud.

It's not that any one bad thing happened. It was just a bad day. I received three different phone calls telling me that someone I know was either sick or in the hospital. I worked for hours on a writing project that just would NOT come together. Then, to top it all off, I paid the bills. (Does anyone else get depressed while doing this?) I went to bed tired, tense, and frustrated.

In my prayer time this morning, I was pouring my heart out to the Lord. I told Him of my disappointment of not being on Cloud Nine anymore. I explained to Him how precious it was to have such peace, joy, and faith like I had had for the past couple of weeks. Then I said these words, "But, I guess it had to end some time. After all, I can't always be on Cloud Nine."

No sooner had the words left my mouth that the Lord reminded me of a song by Rodney Griffin.

The source of my song is the Savior.
The reason for my singing is the Man from Galilee.
It does not depend upon my circumstances,
For Jesus is the source of my song.

I got the point! Who says we can't always be on Cloud Nine? If Jesus is truly the source of our song, bad days shouldn't get us down. Instead, they should remind us of how good God has been to us and aware of what He's trying to teach us.

Today has been a little better than yesterday, but I still don't feel the peace I had before. However, I know I can have that peace if I will keep focusing on Christ instead of the circumstances around me.

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
Philippians 4:8

Monday, January 5, 2009

New Year's Resolution

I'm back! I pray that everyone had a wonderful holiday season. I know that I did, but I find myself ready to get back into a "normal" schedule. That being said, here's a thought for the new year.

As we pack away the Christmas decorations and nativity scenes, let's not forget that every day is a reason to celebrate. Not only that, but let's also not pack God away with the holiday stuff. What do I mean? As we settle back into our routines, it's easy to operate on auto-pilot and forget all about God. That is, until we need Him.

Have you ever thought about how much we use God? He gives us the rain we need, and we complain. So, He gives us sunshine, and we fuss about the heat. He offers us blessing after blessing. Some we accept with gratitude, but many we grab without a second thought of where they come from. We neglect our daily time with God because, after all, we're very busy. We go to church out of duty or habit, not really seeking an opportunity to worship the Lord of Lords. But when trouble comes, boy, we're down on our knees in a hurry. Aren't we?

How sad! As this new year has begun, one of my resolutions is to stop treating God like a spare tire or a genie in a bottle. Yes, He is a help in the time of need, but He is so much more! This year, I want my time with God to be special and precious. I want it to be more than me reciting a list of my wants and needs. I want to spend time with God as my Father, my Friend, and my Comforter. I want to stop using God and start treating Him with the love and respect He deserves.

I challenge each of you this year to focus some attention on your daily walk with God. (For those of you who don't think you need help in this area, you can ignore the following.) As you enter into your special time with the Lord, don't forget about praise, worship, and thanksgiving. And don't forget to take some time just to bask in the presence of the Lord.

God loves each of us, but I'm sure He wearies of only being called upon to grant wishes. Let's not fall into this trap. It will take some time and effort on our part, but He is worth it!

But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.
Matthew 6:6