Friday, March 26, 2010

He Meets Us There

by Kathy Lay

This Week's Verse: Matthew 7:7, "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you."

Anyone familiar with my dad knew that the man enjoyed food. Restaurant gift cards were always a great gift option because we always knew they'd be used with pleasure.

As my brother, sister, and our spouses shared stories the other day as we gathered around Dad, my brother-in-law commented that Dad's chili was always an adventure unto itself because you never knew exactly what he'd throw in. Each dish was an experimentation because Dad was into sampling and dabbling and bringing taste to new heights.

So imagine the difficulty that my brother, sister, and I faced when told that Dad's condition was worsening and that he would never again swallow. The doctors said we should start considering whether we wanted Dad to have a feeding tube. Or not.

At one point in the hospital room I was alone with Dad. He was peaceful at the moment and I decided to take the opportunity to speak with God about the whole feeding tube situation. I didn't want to starve Dad but I didn't want to prolong his suffering either.

From these thoughts I turned to my Bible reading for that day which happened to be John 6. Certain scriptures began to jump out at me and I knew God was speaking to me specifically about this situation. Verse 27 said, "But you shouldn't be so concerned about perishable things like food. Spend your energy seeking the eternal life that I, the Son of Man, can give you. For God the Father has sent me for that very purpose." Verse 35 said, "I am the bread of life. No one who comes to me will ever be hungry again..." And verse 51 said, "I am the living bread that came down out of heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will live forever; this bread is my flesh, offered so the world may live."

Friends, my Jesus had spoken His Will through His Word once again. That's what he does! I felt assured of the following: 1) God would take Dad home before we even had to make the decision, or 2) If we did have to make the decision, we need not worry because Jesus is the only nourishment Dad needed. And He had it taken care of.

It turned out that we did have to make the decision, but the nourishment of His Savior was all Dad needed to sustain him for his journey home to meet his maker.

I envision Dad sitting at the banqueting table right now, enjoying a meal with Jesus unlike anything he'd ever had here on earth and he's grinning from ear to ear and possibly sharing a joke.

And I can see that because the Lord showed me everything would be fine. God met me there in the circumstance.

He always does when we ask him to.

Lord, thank you for bringing my earthly father home to you, my heavenly Father. What a meal you must be sharing! And thank you for always meeting us in our circumstances when we only invite you in. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

What circumstance to you need to invite God into right now? Ask Him to meet you there and then go to His Word to see what He has to say.

Power Verses:
Proverbs 8:17, "I love those who love me, and those who seek me find me."(NIV)
Isaiah 58:2, "For day after day they seek me out; they seem eager to know my ways, as if they were a nation that does what is right and has not forsaken the commands of its God. They ask me for just decisions and seem eager for God to come near them."(NIV)

Friday, March 19, 2010

In a Relationship With...

by Mollie Thompson

This Week's Verse: Jer.29:11, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (NKJV)

How sweet are the words of this week's verse. God our Father has plans for us – each and every one of us. None of us are here by random accidents. None of us are mistakes. None of us are a bother to God. We each have a purpose designed by God – the Creator of the Universe. In Jesus, we are not hopeless or helpless or worthless. No mistake is too big or too hard to overcome by the will of God. Isn’t that refreshing?

This verse was written when the people of God had really messed up and they were in captivity. It’s sort of like when we put our kids in time-out, or when we ground them from opportunities they would like to participate in. It’s a way of sitting them down, and saying, “Hey! Pay attention! I have some good stuff for you if only you will listen to me and do what I tell you. Now you’re going to stay here until I tell you it’s time for you to get up.”

The punishment from God came for the good of His people. They were on a self-destructive path and wouldn’t listen to Him. He had to get their attention. Their ears were getting tickled by the world and they liked what they were hearing. It suited them.

But God knew they were getting farther away from Him and His good and His truth. He had good planned for each and every one of them, but they had to get back with His program. They had to get back in relationship with Him.

And that’s the big thing God has been showing me lately. The big thing about Christianity is the relationship we are to be continually establishing with our Father and with His Son and with His Spirit.

The closer we are in relationship with Him, the more we will be able to be led by Him, the more we will be able to line ourselves up with that good future and hope He has for each and every one of us.

Father, we get so busy with the things of life. We get so carried away with our own hopes and dreams we have for our future and for the future of our families. The world can promise us (or at least tempt us with) some pretty amazing things. Then we get our eyes off of you and start doing things our own way. Please forgive us for this. Please help us get our eyes back on you. Help us to remember how big you really are, and that your plans are the best. And if we need a time-out, please provide us with one. We love you so much. Draw us back into relationship with you – no matter what it takes. In Jesus' most precious and Holy Name. Amen.

On Facebook there’s a spot to tell your “Relationship Status.” It’s really a big deal when you are single and then you get to announce the name of that somebody special you are in a relationship with. Somehow that makes your relationship “official.” How official would you say your relationship is with Jesus Christ? How in tune would you say you are with the plans God has for you? Do you talk to him enough to say you are in relationship with him?

Power Verses:
Proverbs 14:12, "There is a way that seems right to man, but in the end it leads to death."(NIV)
Jeremiah 33:2, 3, "This is what the LORD says, he who made the earth, the LORD who formed it and established it—the LORD is his name: 'Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.'" (NIV)
Psalm 34:8, "Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good; Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!"(NKJV)
John 21:17, “[Insert your name here], do you love Me?”

Friday, March 12, 2010

When Giving Up is Good

By Bethany Lashbrook

This Week's Verse: 1 John 4:10, “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”(NIV)

Easter is fast approaching, and with that comes the season of Lent. I looked up Lent and found out that it comes from a word lenten, meaning springtime. Lent is a period of forty days of fasting, prayer, and penitence before Easter. Let’s take a look at these three words:

Fasting: abstaining from some or all food and drink.

Prayer: seeking to activate a connection to God through deliberate intentional practice. Prayer may be individual or communal and can take place in public or in private. It may involve the use of words, song, or complete silence.

Penitence: Sorrow for sins or faults.

Early Christians prepared for Easter by fasting and praying for three days. In some places this was extended to the entire week before Easter, which is now known as "Holy Week". Currently, this time has been extended to forty days because of the length of time Jesus was tempted by Satan in the desert.

I don’t know about you, but abstaining from food and Yahoo is hard enough for me. I’m not talking 40 days either – just one day!! Clint and I debated giving up something for Lent this year. We never decided on what to give up, so that’s what we did – gave up. Neither of us sacrificed anything for our God.

It’s so hard to sacrifice something, isn’t it? Yet, John 3:16 states, "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (NIV, emphasis mine)

God gave me His Son. HE SACRIFICED HIS SON FOR ME! Yet, I still find it hard to sacrifice something for Him. Even though Lent has started, I believe it is time to show the Lord how much he means to me and give something up for Him.

I have from now until Easter to do some sort of fasting, prayer, and penitence. Letting you all in on it will help to hold me accountable! I will let you know how I did after Easter. In the meantime, if sacrificing isn’t your choice for the holiday, remember to prepare your heart for Easter – for the death, the burial, and the resurrection of our Lord, Jesus Christ.

Lord, please help me to prepare my heart for Easter. Show me what it is that I need to sacrifice for this season. Help me to stay strong, remain in prayer, and keep my eyes focused on You, so that I may give YOU the glory when I complete this season of Lent.

-To prepare your heart for Easter, read one of the gospels that give details of Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection.
-Would you consider giving up something from your life with me? It would be great to have the support of Christian women on this new adventure!

Power Verses:
Hebrews 9:26, "He then would have had to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now, once at the end of the ages, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself."(NKJV)
Romans 1:2-7, "The sacred writings contain preliminary reports by the prophets on God's Son. His descent from David roots him in history; his unique identity as Son of God was shown by the Spirit when Jesus was raised from the dead, setting him apart as the Messiah, our Master. Through him we received both the generous gift of his life and the urgent task of passing it on to others who receive it by entering into obedient trust in Jesus. You are who you are through this gift and call of Jesus Christ! And I greet you now with all the generosity of God our Father and our Master Jesus, the Messiah."(MSG)

Friday, March 5, 2010

Praise is a Disinfunktant

(Today's devotion is a re-run of an early devotion entitled "Funk-Be-Gone". I thought it's message would resonate with a lot of us right now.)

by Kathy Lay

Verse of the Week: Isaiah 61:3,"...the garment of praise for a spirit of heaviness..."

I had a conversation with a dear friend that went something like this:
Me: And how are you today, Love?
Her: Oh I don’t know. I just feel like I’m in a funk. I can’t get excited about anything and I just feel apathetic.
Me: I’ve been going through a little something like that too. It’s like I’m just going through the motions…

I had another conversation with another dear friend that went something like this:
Me: How’s it going, Babe?
Her: Oh, I just feel funky lately, kind of numb, but like the littlest thing could set me off into tears.
Me: That’s strange. It seems there are several of us going through the same funk.

A third conversation that was strikingly similar confirmed it—does that qualify as an epidemic? Present in each of these conversations was the word “funk.” Definitions of this term (yes, I really looked) include “a depressed state of mind,” “to shrink back from undertaking or facing something,” and a sense of “dread.”

Actually, I could check off each of those definitions as a symptom I’m experiencing, and it sounds like a lot of others could too. Girls, we’re being robbed! Our joy has been stolen! How can we get it back?

Praise the Lord that he thinks of everything, even restoring our joy--even when we settle into our funk so deeply that we’re not sure we can or even want to come out. His remedy is simple. Not necessarily easy, mind you, but simple: praise him.

Isaiah 61:3 describes God’s promise “To console those who mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning,” and “the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;” (NKJV). We just have to choose to be obedient and put it on.David wrote in Psalm 34:1, “I will bless the LORD at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.” The man after God’s own heart didn’t only praise when things were rosy, he continually praised. Even in a funk.

We know God doesn’t need us to put on the garment of praise for His sake, so it must be for our own good. Become undignified before your Lord (2 Samuel 6:22) and let him fill you with his joy. Let your praise be your "disinfunktant."

Father God, we lay our funk at your feet. We want to be effective for you and we need your power to sustain us in that. Accept our praise as a fragrant offering that pleases you and unleashes your oil of joy. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Application: Be alone with God and put on your garment of praise. Pick out a praise song you love and belt it out at the top of your lungs.

Power Verses:
Hebrews 1:9,"You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy." (NIV)
Psalm 9:2,"I will be filled with joy because of you. I will sing praises to your name, O Most High." (NLT)