Friday, September 23, 2016

Keep the Devil Under Your Feet

I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13 NLT)

Keep the Devil Under Your Feet
Every day of my Christian walk, I meet some type of opposition from the enemy. The closer that I want to get to Christ, the bigger the obstacles are to overcome. I long to see the Lord's face and to feel His presence. This infuriates the devil. So, the devil retaliates to "try" and beat me down in every way possible. Why? If I am distracted by his tricks, I take my eyes off of the Lord. I am concentrating on the situation, the problem, and not the One who can cancel the assignments of the enemy. We look at how big our problems are and forget momentarily how much greater our God is. Peter was walking on the water and allowed the enemy to deceive him and he took his eyes off of Christ. Immediately he began to sink. If we take our focus off of Christ, we are weakened. Our faith is weakened. When we are weak, the enemy is more apt to attack! He definitely likes to kick us when we are down.

I am tired of giving the devil any foothold. If you give an inch, he will take a mile. He can only take what we are willing to give. I am fed up and fired up! Satan is on the losing side-read Revelation. His destiny is nearing and he is unleashing every attack possible to kill, steal, and destroy.

The devil loves manipulating our thoughts. In 1 Peter 5:8, we are told to be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. One minute, he is trying to confuse my thoughts, the next minute he is trying to overwhelm me with fear or doubt of some sort. Satan is the father of all lies and deception. He does his job well. As Christians, we need to make his job tougher, not easier. Why do we listen and believe his untruths for even a moment? We must learn to recognize when our thoughts are shifting into a negative or unpleasing state. Satan wants us to be brokenhearted, angry, and bitter. Satan wants us to be discouraged, confused, and defeated. He loves to make us doubt God. He loves to take our focus off of the Lord. Well, guess what? I am sick of the devil. I hate him and every thing he stands for. It is time to take a stand against satan. I refuse to allow that despicable devil to cloud my judgment any further. I am part of the Lord's winning team.

As for me, I will call upon God, and the Lord shall save me. Evening and morning and at noon I will pray, and cry aloud, and He shall hear my voice. He has redeemed my soul in peace from the battle that was against me, for there were many against me. Psalm 55:16-18.

Christians have the power to overcome the tricks and plans of satan, through the Lord God Almighty. The Bible explains to resist the devil and he will flee from you. Christians are not wimps but warriors. Romans 8:37 reminds us that we are more than conquerors through Christ. Be bold and courageous. We must follow Christ’s example and rebuke the devil. If God be for us, who can be against us? Greater is He who that is within me than he who is in the world. We must fight the devil with all of our might and keep him under our feet! Cindie York

Friday, September 16, 2016

Keep Chewing

Keep Chewing
I grew up in the land of dairy farmers; and the view of cattle grazing or following each other in straight lines back to the barn were common sights. The dairy cow is generally pretty mild, unless riled; and then they can kick or run at a pretty fast speed.

We can gain knowledge from one of their traits, chewing their cud. This is no fast food experience; they chew, chew and chew some more! Do you remember your mother’s advice, telling you to slow down while eating? She likely reminded you over and over to chew your food well before swallowing. Sometimes I think my husband swallows it whole; because he eats so fast!

Our Bible reading may follow the same patterns. That time should not be part of a speed reading event. To get the benefits of each morsel passage we need to take our time; and chew it up well for the digestion process. Maybe you did not realize that meditation is that simple!

If we get one simple truth or promise and work through it well, we’ll be strengthened and encouraged.I am not a big meat eater; but do enjoy a good steak occasionally, medium to well done. The chewing may take a while; but the pleasure of the flavor on our taste buds makes that time a pleasurable experience.

Set aside some extra time to read Psalm 119, which is filled with the psalmists instructions on meditating on God’s commands, law, and precepts, all descriptions of God’s word.

God spoke to His servant Joshua when he took up the role as spiritual leader, following the death of Moses. Imagine trying to fill his shoes! “This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success (Joshua 1:8 NAS).”Joshua had spent over forty years in the wilderness; he had his eyes fixed on his final destination of the Promised Land.

God promised he would be successful; he’d see his dreams become reality if he would keep chewing! PamFord Davis

Friday, September 9, 2016

Justifying Ourselves

Now the Pharisees, who were lovers of money, were listening to all these things and were scoffing at Him. And He said to them, ‘You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of men, but God knows your hearts; for that which is highly esteemed among men is detestable in the sight of God. (Luke 16:14-15 NAS - Mac Arthur Study Bible)

Justifying Ourselves
How silly we are to reason in our minds that we can justify whatever we say and do by our “goodness” or our “reputation” as a good person in the place where we live. The truth is, God looks upon our hearts and our lives and our motives and He knows what is behind everything we say and so. Many people are so caught up in the “look at me game” that they are able to conceal the “real” person nobody but them sees. But God sees us as we are and we need to be honest about who we are.

Try this, turn off all the distracting things in your life, music, radio, TV, Ipod, Blackberry, computer, telephone, cell phone, anything that makes a sound and distracts you and sit in silence for 15 minutes. Alone, no family, no kids, nothing to distract you and say, “Lord, show me myself as you see me.” Now wait ...

Bet it didn’t take you long until you got distracted or changed your focus did it? We aren’t through yet … get up and go to the largest mirror you have available and look in that mirror. Again ask, “Lord, show me myself as you see me.” Stare yourself down in the mirror and look inside yourself. Look into your eyes and ask yourself if you are pleased with the person who lives inside your shell? God wants more of you and He wants you to become focused on HIS character not yours.

We find a lot of ways to tell ourselves a lot of wrong things about ourselves. We justify how we are, the decisions we make, how we live, what we do, how we think and react to life by a system we have deemed as acceptable by the world. The problem is, we shouldn’t live for the world’s view of us if we are a Christian. We live for God. We realize that what we are, what He wants us to be, where He wants us to go and what HE wants for us is for us to follow His ways. We can’t justify the accumulation of “stuff” and “things” to be our priority and goal in life. Stuff doesn’t matter, God does! What we have to do is say to the Lord, “Show me your ways O Lord and give me the courage to follow them today and everyday.” Frances Loftiss Carroll

Friday, September 2, 2016

Just Scream

I will lift up my eyes to the mountains; From where shall my help come? My help comes from the LORD, Who made heaven and earth. (Psalm 121:1-2 NAS)

Just Scream
I can still hear Kate Winslet's character 'Rose' in the Titanic movie saying, “It was everything. It was my whole world and all the people in it, and the inertia of my life. Plunging ahead and me powerless to stop it.”

Have you ever felt powerless and just wanted to scream? I did today. There are times when you feel like you are screaming your lungs out and nobody's listening. There could be no less frustrating feeling than feeling that way about God. Does he hear me? Is he listening? Does he know how I feel?

God does! Though we don't see it or recognize the signs, every word we speak, every cry we make, God hears. Then one day when we least expect it, the answer comes and we are amazed. How did God do all that? Then as we examine closer we see every decision, every turn, every failure, every success that lead us to this point in time, and it all makes sense.

Moments of clarity from the mountain top are rare and precious. They last but a moment, but in that moment we are able to see clearly and know what path to take. With renewed faith in God's control in our lives we can have the courage to once again leave the mountain top and head back to the valley where the hard work lies.

Believe! Your mountain top is coming soon! Ronwyn Hughes

Friday, August 26, 2016

Just Loving It

For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother's womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well. (Psalm 139:13-14 NAS)

Just Loving It
Oh it really is becoming more and more fun! As you mix the colors together and make careful strokes on the page, you see an image appear. Different brushes provide different results and the picture is carefully laid onto the paper with each new stroke.

Then there comes that moment when the image is done, you can step back and say, I've finished!  It is new, it is unique and it is special!

That is the way God views us, unique, beautiful and spectacular, one of a kind original masterpieces and He placed every one of us on this planet for a unique purpose.

If you ever feel as though your life is pointless and that you have nothing to offer the world, stop that thought immediately! God loves every bit of you because He made you Himself! Ronwyn Hughes
 

Friday, August 19, 2016

Just Like Them

An argument broke out among them as to which one of them was the greatest. (Luke 9:46 NRS)

Just Like Them
It is too easy to judge the disciples for their blunders. They seemed at times ignorant, misunderstanding Jesus words regarding his purpose (Luke 9:45) or to engage in petty arguments about who would be the greatest amongst them in God’s Kingdom (Luke 9:46). They became jealous of another who caste out demons in Jesus’ name (Luke 9:40) when they themselves were unable to do so (Luke 9:49). At times their faith failed when they looked at surrounding circumstances rather than keeping their eyes fixed firmly on Jesus, (Matthew 14:30) and often they doubted what Jesus could do (Luke 8:24) when he was with them.

But today I want to read their story with empathy, not judgement. Yes, they stumbled, but don’t we? Believing that we are following Jesus, we still make mistakes and be blind to our shortcomings, just like the disciples.

And how does our Savior respond to our weakness, to our humanity? From conversations with his disciples we see that Jesus corrects and even rebukes (Luke 9:41, 55). Yet like a loving father who instructs his children, Jesus does so with our best interests at heart. We will get it wrong, only our Heavenly Father is perfect! Yet despite our human nature, He loves. He forgives. He understands. He remains faithful; even when we are not. Hallelujah! Jennifer Woodley

Father, thank you for your example in Jesus who demonstrated through his friendship with the disciples, that despite our failings, we can return to you to receive your love. Help us to remain true to you, in Jesus name. Amen.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Just Like a Child

“Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God. Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.” (Mark 10:14-15 NKJ)

Just Like a Child
Ever reminisce on your childhood days and wonder how life was easier and much simple back then? Happens to everyone. A songwriter expressed these words in his lyrics, “we sat down for a minute and grew up into men”. Adulthood may be an inevitable necessity that comes with responsibilities and adventures, but the heart of a child holds significant place in God’s kingdom, just as the scripture above reveals.

Mark 10:1-31 reveals a quest by four characters to inherit eternal life and enter God’s kingdom. They were the Pharisees, a rich young ruler, little children and even Jesus’ disciples — all of whom may have had different ideas on the approach to eternal life. We’ll look at each of them in that order.

The Pharisees were regarded as highly knowledgeable "keepers" of God’s law. They generally believed in a vast knowledge and ability to keep every detail of the Mosaic laws given in the old testament. While they may have regarded Jesus Christ as God-sent, they never really believed Him to be the messiah. Their questions were ultimately meant to test his knowledge of the law. The question bordered on the instant where divorce becomes lawful or unacceptable by God. But Jesus replied in verses 5-9 that divorce was not God’s will. It was a modification of the law by Moses because of the hardness of man’s heart. Obviously, little kids are not bothered about marriage, much more divorce! They have no in-depth knowledge of the law like the Pharisees, yet God sets them as a standard for His kingdom. All of our knowledge and ability to keep God’s laws does not guarantee us eternal life. No one can perfectly keep God’s laws on his own.

The rich young ruler approached Jesus humbly, in his quest for eternal life. Jesus sought his opinion on this subject by referring him to the commandments. Indeed, the young ruler could boast of keeping the commandments from his youth! The question is this; if he diligently kept all of the commandments as he indicated, why would he be uncertain of eternal life? And then Jesus gave him an answer that would see him walk away in sorrow. '21 Then Jesus looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “…sell whatever you have and give to the poor; and come, take up THE cross and follow me”. This was not a strict answer; the message was pretty much simple. Eternal life cannot be acquired by self-effort, or self-righteousness, or possessions, but can only be found in Jesus. Absolute faith in Jesus. Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” – John 11:25.

It would be expected of the disciples (having spent more time with Jesus than any of the others) to have a better revelation of this reality, but it seemed contrary. Thank God that He meets us at the level of our faith. The disciples loved to have a part in God’s kingdom too (like everyone else), but perhaps, like the rich ruler, they must have presumed that you have eternal life by keeping the commandments. This is evident in their response to Jesus’ comment (v23/24) on how hard it is for the rich to enter God’s kingdom. Apparently, Jesus had disqualified every means they thought was a guarantee of eternal life, so they were astonished and then murmured among themselves, “who then can be saved?” Jesus gave the ultimate answer to this mind-troubling question, “27 With men it is impossible, but not with God; for with God all things are possible”. He himself was God.

The little children were the favorites in this passage. The disciples must have had the impression that the front row in God’s kingdom was not meant for kids, hence they rebuked those who brought them to be touched by Jesus. On the contrary, Jesus pointed out that only those who are willing to receive the kingdom of God as a little child will enter it. How do little children receive? Remember again how things were less complicated as a child? That’s the heart of a kid receiving. They are entirely trusting and not bothered about their effort or performance. A young boy would trust Jesus with his entire lunch. A little servant girl would believe that the sick commander of a vast Syrian army would be healed in Israel without a price.

God wants us to trust and believe in Him with all of our hearts (not some part). He invites us into his kingdom and leads us all the way. We do not earn this invitation. We are granted this privilege only as a result of God's goodness. All we need do is believe and receive. Precieux Orhue

Friday, August 5, 2016

Just Keep Walking

Just Keep Walking
I don’t want to be “the Mom” today — the adult, the decision-maker, the one in charge, the one with calm and reassuring answers to fear-filled questions, the one who must rise this morning to face the aftermath of seven and a half inches of rain falling in less than two hours yesterday, flooding streets and basements, turning freeways, runways and parking lots into holding ponds and creating a sink hole that swallowed a stop light and a full-size SUV!

As three of my kids and I left the mall late yesterday afternoon, an eerie sky loomed in the west. Minutes later, fat mid-summer raindrops splattered the windshield, gaining momentum and quickly obscuring even the tail lights in front of us. “Mom,” asked my youngest daughter clearly worried, “can you see at all?”

“Enough,” I assured her, but the puddles were growing into pools and the farther we drove the worse it got. At one intersection, a river of water, mud and gravel surged across the road nearly bumper high. We made it through, but barely, and at the next intersection two men stood waist-deep in floodwater, waving their arms in warning. We couldn’t go back and we clearly couldn’t go on, so I did the only thing that came to mind and pulled my van into a stranger’s driveway, not out of the water, but still only inches deep.

“Leave everything in the van,” I told my kids, “and let’s go! We’re walking home!” Reaching for my youngest daughter’s hand, we crossed the road, and plunged thigh-deep into the culvert. In one sickening glance, I noticed my oldest daughter immobilized, shoes in hand, eyes wide, afraid to move, afraid to follow us one step into the floodwater. We didn’t have time for fear. We needed to climb the hill and get out of the storm. So I yelled her name, caught her eye, grabbed her hand, and dragged her in behind us. We were going home, and we were going there together. Then the sirens sounded.

“Mom,” yelled my terrified youngest child, “what are we going to do?”

“Keep walking,” I shouted, squeezing her hand. “Just keep walking.”

“Lord,” I pleaded, “are You kidding? Tornado sirens? Really??? Now?” If I hadn’t been living it, I’d never, ever have believed it.

Finally home, the night became a blur of sirens and severe storms. By morning, I was completely exhausted and had no desire to be in charge, but my husband was in Denver, one daughter had been stranded overnight with friends, and my oldest son had landed in Chicago en route from Guatemala and his third short term mission trip. Somebody had to be in charge and the only relatively qualified candidate was me.

Then I heard God whisper tenderly to my soul, “Oh, My weary child, rest in Me. My yoke is easy and My burden is light,” and suddenly the sufficiency of His love burst into brilliance, buoying my spirit and radiating light—just enough light—for my very next step. Just keep walking, I heard in my heart. It was enough, so much more than enough. It was exactly what I needed, for God absolutely always is! Cindee Snider Re

Friday, July 29, 2016

Joy Comes With the Morning

Then they came to Elim, where there were twelve springs and seventy palm trees, and they camped there near the water. (Exodus 15:27 NIV)

Joy Comes With the Morning
Are you going through hardship and troubles? Take heart and trust on the Lord for your deliverance. Depend on the Lord and your cry in the night will be transformed to joy in the morning. It happened for the children of Israel, Naomi and Ruth, and for Paul and Barnabas.

After three days traveling through the desert without finding water, the children of Israel came to the waters of Mara. But they could not drink the water because it was bitter. After much complaining and grumbling on their part, Moses cried out to God. God showed Him a peace of wood that he threw into the water making it sweet. (This healing of bitter waters symbolizes the Lord the Healer’s or Jehovah Rapha’s deliverance from our spiritual and physical needs, if we trust and obey Him) Thereafter they came to Elim, a place of sweet waters and shade. 

Naomi accompanied her husband and sons to a far away land to escape famine. The sojourn brought so much bitterness to her soul after her husband and sons died that she said, “Call me Mara, because the Almighty has made my life very bitter.” (Ruth 1:20)

But the seeds of God’s purpose and her joy followed her. She got a daughter in law Ruth who “loved her more than seven sons” (Ruth 4:15). She got her land back through Boaz the kinsman–redeemer. And she also got a grandson Obed, who would sustain her in her old age.

In Acts 14, Paul and Barnabas preached effectively and boldly at Iconium. Even though many believed, they had to run for their lives after strong personalities threatened to have them mistreated and stoned. They fled to Lystra where despite miraculous healing of a cripple, they were misunderstood and plotted against. Paul was stoned and left for dead. (Who knows the surpassingly great revelations he was shown during this time? 2 Corinthians 12:7). However God healed him and they were able to proceed to Derbe where there is no record of their persecution. God was giving them rest. 

If we pray and trust in the Lord, He will heal us and provide for us. He will give us deliverance and rest. There will be an Elim after a Mara. So keep strong in the faith. Wangari Murathe

Friday, July 22, 2016

Joy Through Contentment

I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:11-13)

Joy Through Contentment
I can’t tell you how many times throughout my life that I have read through these verses and not really given them any deeper thought other than thinking that Jesus gives me strength to do whatever it is I need to do. While that’s true, there’s something far deeper here than that.

Paul is one of the most powerful and influential people we find in Scripture, especially the New Testament. He goes from the extreme of murdering Christians to boldly proclaiming the name of Christ everywhere he went. Talk about a life change! What I find most appealing about Paul is how strength didn’t just come naturally to him.

One word here really sums this whole passage up, “learned”. As strong and bold as Paul was, there was so much learning he had to do before he became content. That’s a big word for us these days, “content”. Who is content? Are you? You may quickly mutter “yes”, but I would caution you before doing so. Look at your life and what you have and what you don’t have. Are you satisfied and happy with what God has given you even if there are some things you’d like to have, but don’t have now?

Paul really learned how to be content, whether he had much or very little. But that didn’t come easy. He had to learn through some very rough times. It’s all a part of learning and growing. None of us are perfect about it. However, if we continue to learn and grow and base our joy and strength on God and not what the world offers, we will truly learn how the Lord becomes our only source of joy and strength.

We all certainly need to learn how to be content, no matter the circumstances. I know I do! Being content is a daily struggle for me and I’m sure it’s for you all as well. For Paul, the joy of the Lord certainly became his strength. He was content, but it was only after years of growing through good and difficult times. We must learn and grow to be content with whatever we have or whatever we don’t have. The joy of the Lord should be our strength and we should be content with what He’s given to us. Zach Wood

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