Friday, December 30, 2016

Learning from Victories of the Past

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, (Hebrews 12:1 NAS)

Learning from Victories of the Past
Looking back as a way to learn from the past and to move forward into the future is not a bad thing. However, looking back and remaining in or reliving the past leaves us stuck and paralyzed.

God’s desire is for us to grow and mature. He provides a “host of witnesses” to encourage us as we strive for excellence in our daily living. They have gone before us, set the path and are the shoulders upon which we all now stand. Take time to learn the qualities, characteristics, and strategies of Biblical and other leaders. What obstacles did they face? How did they achieve success? What can you learn from their stories? How will you apply it to the story of your own life? Tracie Morrison

God you have left us a legacy of greatness. We thank you that their stories live on to encourage us as we run our race each day. When we start to slow down or come to a complete stop, or want to turn back, give us strength. Help us to let go of anything that is holding us back. We declare that we are moving forward – we are pressing toward the mark — we are keeping our eyes on you! In Jesus Name, Amen!

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Blessed Christmas 2016

Living Water wishes you a Blessed Christmas!



Friday, December 23, 2016

Learning Contentment from a Tree

Learning Contentment from a Tree
I have to say that I greatly marvel at the wonder of God we call a tree. There are countless insights wonderful in the design and function of these plants we see every day. But in our busy and mired modern lives there is a particular insight that has brought great blessing to me. The Creator gave this same profound message to the shepherd David. He wrote this inspired insight about those engaged to godly living in the first Psalm.

They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. (Psalm 1:3 NLT)

Trees do not have feet, they have roots. So while a quality gardener can uproot a tree and relocate it, the process is traumatic. The first seasons after the transplant see a significant reduction in the fruitfulness of the tree. It takes a couple of seasons for the roots to expand so that they can absorb the nutrients needed to support a fruitful harvest. So trees that live long and fruitful lives have two things in common: they are planted in a good location and they stay there for a long while. In a word trees are content. They spend their entire lives without ever knowing what is around the corner. They see the deer run past, feel the wind blow through, and only improve their view by increasing the height and breadth of their present makeup.

People do not have roots, they have feet. In spite of this fact, past generations tended to be more like trees than we are today. In those days families in transition were described as settlers. They usually only moved around when something traumatic forced them to do so. As soon as they found a suitable place they settled with the intent of never moving again. Modern people have forgotten that a happy and fulfilling life is grown not found. We are too busy climbing the ladder, moving on to better opportunities, and broadening our horizon to let our roots expand and find the nutrients in the soil where we are.

So what is God teaching us with the trees we see every day? Uprooting our lives is sometimes necessary but always traumatic. A fruitful and fulfilling existence is not found elsewhere but by growing deeper where we are planted. If God has placed you where you are, then find faithful contentment there. God always plants his children along the river where we can find what we need to grow tall and strong. If your life is not a fruitful one then you have one of two problems: either you are not planted along the river or you are not allowing your roots to dig into the soil where God has planted you. Jeremy Higle

Friday, December 16, 2016

Larger Than Life

Larger Than Life
The expression “larger than life” is one I have heard and used myself to describe a thing that is so enormous the only way to convey the size of the matter is to compare it to something that everyone would consider the epitome of largeness.

At times life situations may seem to become more than one can handle. Those feelings, whether it be pain, heartache, anxiety, etc., can take on a life of its own and we cease to function as God intended and that is when the problem seems “larger than life.”

Exactly what is life that we would consider it a pivotal point to measure the enormity of a situation? It is the breath of God in us. “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” (Gen. 2:7 KJV)

How many of us ever stop and consider this truth? We breathe and live because of His breath in us. Everything we are and everything we do is because of it. That is why life is to be esteemed. We are created as individuals with a plan and a purpose. Our major thrust in life should be to work toward fulfilling His plan for our lives.

There seems to be only two times when we as humans really stop and consider life. First, the birth of a baby; it causes us to become newly aware of the miracle of life. Once again, God’s breath brings forth creation. The other is when we face sickness that is unto death. In these circumstances we find ourselves fighting to preserve life, not willing to let go. At these times, life and the living of it, becomes our most important goal.

If we did not consider life to be our greatest commodity, then we would give very little thought to our Lord’s death on the cross. We would not be able to understand the great sacrifice He made on our behalf. The Word tells us that “life is in the blood.” Jesus poured out His blood and died for us that we might have life and life more abundant.

Satan would have us believe that Death is larger than Life, but Jesus defeated Death at the cross. He proved the point by His resurrection three days later; and because He lives, those of us who have received Him as our Savior live also. Life goes beyond the grave. Once the breath of God is in us, life becomes eternal. Nothing is larger than life except the one who created it, God our Father.  Sylvia Hensel

HIS GREATEST GIFT
Jesus, I know You love me more than life
Because You gave Yours as a sacrifice.
No one could take it
You willingly gave it.
Your blood was not spilled, but poured out for me
As an act of pure love to set me free.
Your life seemed to be no longer,
But resurrection power was much stronger.
Death had no power and Satan conceded
Life was restored and Death was defeated.
Death and the grave have run their course;
Life proves larger because of its Source.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Keeping Christmas Simple

Every year we try to make Christmas meaningful, but instead we 
end up with shopping, spending, credit cards, 
traffic jams, crazy schedules ...

Here's taking a look how we can make a difference this year 
to keep Christmas simple and meaningful.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Large in His Charge

Large in His Charge
Looking back on tougher days, on harder days, and even on the easier days, I recognize that at the beginning of those days I never would have guessed it would have worked out the way it did. Not so much the ending, as much as the 'during' part of it. See ... I like to think I am a strong, independent, resourcefully tenacious person. But, without the Lord in my life, I'd be pretty pathetic, much more inclined to whine, and by far more willing to run/hide from challenges (in our hearts, we choose our own winnable battles).

But, when we are called by God, when we are committed to Him, when we are dedicated to His will in our lives, each day's challenges are matched with His strength. Sure, we each have 'an idea' how the day is going to go ... we have something of a routine, schedule, or plan.  But, as you encounter the variances in your day (flat tire, traffic jams, medical calamity, etc) a certain calm, assurance, and something of a peace empowers your soul ... in the Lord.  Otherwise, panic, terror, utter chaos all overtake your being.  Sure, we don't all handle our daily challenges the same way ... some even avoid 'the very appearance' of a challenge. But, Psalms 105:4 reminds us; "Seek the Lord, and his strength: seek his face evermore.", which is to say that you should NOT try facing your day alone ... not that we only turn to the Lord WHEN tragedy appears on our horizon.  When we have a constant, fresh, and consistent fellowship with the Lord, these tumultuous times will seem like nothing to you.

So, you cannot 'see' the future, but you CAN see the one who holds the future!  Jesus' presence in your life doesn't give you foresight, it only gives you His sight. Ephesians 1:18-20 states; "The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, (19) And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, (20) Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places,". As you approach your day, as you approach tougher times or easier times ... they all are God's guidance for your life.

How?

Consider a time when you were faced with a pending expense.  Maybe you had vehicle trouble (car/truck won't start) and the mechanic's shop has diagnosed the problem. If you have deep enough pockets, this pending news doesn't cause you panic ... for, you know you have the funding to cover the expenses and resolve this trouble.  Similarly, as you maintain a close and sincere fellowship with the Lord, His presence in your life leaves you with a confidence, an assurance, and certainly a peace. Deuteronomy 33:25 reminds us; "Thy shoes shall be iron and brass; and as thy days, so shall thy strength be.", which is to say that with the Lord in your life, with Jesus by your side ... you are Large in His Charge! G.W. Bill Elliott, Jr. MDiv

Friday, December 2, 2016

Language of the Spirit

Language of the Saint
Music is the language of the spirit, winging the joys and sorrows of our deepest emotions through words or captivating tunes. It is no wonder The Sound of Music remains a favorite to movie critics and viewers after decades. Cameras and audio crews combined the senses of sight and sound; creation linked with lyrics and as Maria climbed mountains the grass beneath her feet seemed to celebrate and harmonize.

“When you are set free, you will celebrate and travel home in peace. Mountains and hills will sing as you pass by, and trees will clap. Cypress and myrtle trees will grow in fields once covered by thorns. And then those trees will stand as a lasting witness to the glory of the Lord (Isaiah 55:12-13 CEV).”

God’s people have often been in bondage and experience his release and liberation; we break free from captivity to sin and his landscape joins the choir to his praise and glory! PamFord Davis

Friday, November 25, 2016

Learning to Give

It is possible to give freely and become more wealthy, but those who are stingy will lose everything. The generous prosper and are satisfied; those who refresh others will be refreshed themselves. (Proverbs 11:24-25 NLT)

Learning to Give
Everything we have is given to us by God: our lives, families, jobs, food, everything. At the beginning of time, God gave Adam life, the necessities to sustain life, and gave him Eve to share it with. God is still giving. God gave His only Son to die on a cross for our remission of sins. He continues to give His love, provisions, blessings, healings, and forgiveness. He richly blesses us at a continuous rate, not because we earn it or deserve it but because He loves us.

Giving is a way to express love. When we love, we want to give. We want to perform acts of compassion. We want to give friendship and loyalty.

Giving benefits everyone involved. This could be blessing someone with our time, talents, finances, love, attention, and/or prayers. The possibilities are limitless. We get blessed when we give and the person receiving gets blessed by what we give. It's a win-win situation.

Luke 6:38 explains if you give, you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full measure, pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, and running over. Whatever measure you use in giving- large or small - it will be used to measure what is given back to you.

The duty of a good steward is to give oneself to and for the service of our Lord. It is important to give freely, not expecting anything in return. Don't be greedy or selfish. Give cheerfully, with love. It is also important to be consistent with giving for this will be pleasing to the Lord.

If you have been blessed financially, give of your finances to help benefit someone in need. Feed the hungry, clothe the naked, or support missions. Use what the Lord has given you to make a difference. Cindie York

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Blessed Thanksgiving 2016

Living Water wishes you a Blessed Thanksgiving!


Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good;
For His lovingkindness is everlasting. (Psalm 118:1 NAS)





Friday, November 18, 2016

Landscape

Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord. (1 Corinthians 15:58 NAS)

Landscape
Life changing events happen at the strangest of times. They throw us off balance and leave us wondering what happened. Whether they are good or bad, the one thing they do is to change the landscape of our lives.

I remember being in awe of this very fact when I went to Parys. Before making the decision to go there I had no idea about the geological significance of the area and what had taken place at that very site. The Vrederfort dome area was the site of one of five earth changing extinction level events that scientists believe have changed the landscape of our planet. A massive asteroid hit our planet at that exact point and changed everything.

The strange thing is that this is all just part of nature. We don't want to believe that something like this is normal, but in the scale of our universe it most certainly is. If you are in the middle of a life changing event, hang on tight to God and he will guide you through the change. Ronwyn Hughes

Friday, November 11, 2016

Stain

Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: (Hebrews 12:14 NKJV)

Stain
Imagine a situation where a person is walking on the road wearing a pure white dress, his attempt all through the journey should be to avoid the dress getting stained by the innumerable opportunities available on the way and he needs to be more careful when he is walking through a passage or lane filled with dirt, filth and everything available to make his dress dirty.

Today, we are living in an age where sin is easily available, many countries, societies and groups of people have indulged themselves in sinful activities to such an extent that continuing in them has become the normal trend amongst them, earlier when people could call on God and were dedicated to Him in the little they had, God blessed them and they had great contentment, peace and solace, however now with more of everything, the people have forgotten God and thus discontentment, hatred, strife, lack of peace and many other unblessedness rule their hearts and lives.

God has not changed all these days, He is the same powerful to redeem, ready to forgive and willing to restore us always.

With God's help it is perfectly possible to move ahead in the blessedness and sanctity that God has desired of us.

Take note of this, the world will pull us to sin and it may also present a blessed future with the stains of sin, however we have to pursue/decide/yearn for holiness, failing which we will never be able to see our blessed Lord and for such who sin and love to live in sin is reserved the eternal hell, yet for those who pursue holiness and do it with God's help is reserved the eternal heaven and blessedness with the Lord ... the choice is our's, we have to pursue it, we have to maintain our sanctity. Abraham Pulickal

Friday, November 4, 2016

Celebrities Online

Now when Jesus heard about John, He withdrew from there in a boat to a secluded place by Himself; and when the people heard of this, they followed Him on foot from the cities. (Matthew 14:13 NAS)

Celebrities Online
Many of us are in a sense like celebrities online. We join social networks and leave behind trails of digital footprints of what we do and where we visit on the Internet. Our movements are tracked down by our followers and we are ‘stalked’ by different kinds of people. If we leave trails because we desire attention or to be followed, we might just get our reward or lose our credibility in full, depending on how well we behave online.

Jesus during His ministry on earth was famed for His teachings and the miracles He performed. Even when He withdrew to a secluded place to be alone to pray, frequently the crowd would track Him down. Jesus did not turn them away or see them as invading his private life but felt compassion for them and healed their sick (Matthew 14:13-14). Although He received inordinate attention wherever He went, Jesus did not feel annoyed that He was stalked. Even when Jesus saw the crowd that came to watch the spectacle—His humiliation on the Cross—before He breathed His last, He did not resent them. Instead, He prayed for them saying, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34, 48).

Such was the contrast between staged publicity and the other of genuine love and care for the public.

Are we making ourselves famous for the wrong reasons or are we doing it out of concern for others? Not all things in life can be done in secret, so we need not hide what must be done, even in public. Our intent is what matters most—are we doing it to show off or to care?

Mold us, dear Lord, to become more like You in reaching out to others with love and compassion rather than to bring popularity or fame to ourselves.



Are we doing good to show off or to care?

Friday, October 28, 2016

Unbreakable Bond

A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart. (Ecclesiastes 4:12b NAS)

Unbreakable Bond
A laid or twisted rope is one of the most common ropes used today. Laid rope of three strands is usually preferred because of its strength to carry a load or lash a structure. Such a rope is made by twisting three strands of fiber in one direction and then laying them together to twist in the opposite direction. This counter-twisting is what holds the finished rope together to make it stable and unified.

A bonding relationship is like a three-strand rope. Depending on how much we are willing to let the Lord guide us as a couple and in our family life will determine how our marriage relationship turns out. A relationship that lasts is one that has Christ at the center. Unless we have Him to hold fast our relationship like a threefold cord with strands bound together, our marriage and family can easily be broken or quickly torn apart (Ecclesiastes 4:12). 

With Christ as Lord, even in a strained relationship where a husband and wife go opposite directions in opinions or preference, they can stay strong to carry any load together and remain unified to move ahead in one direction. 

Dear Lord, thank You for holding fast our marriage relationship.


A relationship that lasts is one that has Christ at the center.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Seasons of Growth

For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. (1 Corinthians 13:12 NAS)

Seasons of Growth
Like the seasons in a year which spring forth from new life to growth, harvest, and then decay, the seasons of human life also spring forth different experiences, strengths and weaknesses during the different stages of our lives. Challenges of different sorts are faced during the different stages, and we learn to handle them differently as we grow in maturity. This is normal because while we were children, we behave, speak, think and reason like children, but when we become adults, we do away with childish things (1 Corinthians 13:11).

If we live our lives today continuing to make decisions following our old ways before we knew the Lord, we are unacquainted with God’s word and still in need of basic truths (Hebrews 5:12). If we think it is understandable or try to justify ourselves that we are doing so because we can only see God’s plan vaguely at this time, we have forgotten we are not without guidance. The word of God and the Holy Spirit in us is enough to lead us until the day when we shall know fully, just as we are fully known by God (1 Corinthians 13:12).

Like the earth which circles toward or away from the sun in the warming and cooling of a seasonal cycle, may we also surround everything we do according to God’s word and will in all circumstances.

Lay the seed and grow in us, dear Lord, the knowledge of Your word that we might grow in spiritual maturity. Guide us through Your word and by the Holy Spirit for Your will is our desire to fulfill.


Are we progressing and growing in our walk with God?

Friday, October 14, 2016

Knowing the Will of God

Knowing the Will of God
A young man facing the future and unsure of what the next year would bring, concluded, “Nobody knows what God’s will is.” Is he right? Does a lack of certainty about the future translate into not knowing God’s will?

The concept of knowing God’s will is often limited to discerning what specific situation we will be in at some future time. Although seeking God’s specific leading is part of it, another aspect that is just as vital is to follow the clearly defined elements of God’s will each and every day.

For instance, it is God’s will for us to be good citizens as a challenge to those opposed to Christ 1 Peter 2:15 “For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men” To give God thanks no matter what 1 Thess. 5:18 “In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you”, to be sanctified sexually, avoiding immorality 1 Thess. 4:3 “For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality”, to live under the Holy Spirit’s control Eph. 5:18 “And do not be drunk with wine, which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit”, to sing to Him Eph. 5:19 “Speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord”, and to submit to other believers Eph. 5:21 “Submitting to one another in the fear of God.”

As we submit to God in these and other areas, we are more likely to live in what Romans 12:2 “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is the good, acceptable, and perfect will of God.” Living with God’s smile of approval leads to His guidance for the future.

As we seek to know God’s will for the future, we must also act on what we already know now. Clifford Tate

Friday, October 7, 2016

Keep Your Heart Fixed

He shall not be afraid of evil tidings: his heart is fixed, trusting in the LORD. (Psalm 112:7 KJV)

Keep Your Heart Fixed
Before we finished from the University I remember we prayed on a particular issue, and it was as regards our relationship with God. We asked that if Christ tarried 50 years from now we should still be found in the Faith. Put differently we were asking God that he helps our heart to stay fixed upon him for as long as he tarries.

The plight of the double minded man is that he never receives anything from God and even his fellow men find him untrustworthy.

The one whose heart is fixed never fears even when the evil ones gather against him. David said "But thou, O LORD, art a shield for me; my glory, and the lifter up of mine head." When your heart is fixed on God you fear no evil.

The only security we have in life is our connection to the Father, every other ground is sinking sand. Your heart is God's dwelling place, he constantly knocks so that you might open and enjoy fellowship with him.

Keep your trust ALWAYS in the Lord.

Guard your heart; it's God's dwelling place. Keep your heart and mind fixed on him. Oluwatobi Adesanya

LORD, I receive grace to stay focused on you in Jesus Name. Amen.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Keep Your Eyes Fixed On Your Vision

Let your eyes look straight ahead, fix your gaze directly before you. (Proverbs 4:25 NIV)

Eyes Fixed on the Vision
Last night I let the parakeets out to play. They climbed on the top of the cage and the male bird had his eyes fixed on the shelf in front of him. I watched him and knew he wanted to fly over. Their wings have been clipped so they can't fly too high. He moved left to right in an effort to position himself before taking off. He attempted to fly over but missed the shelf. He climbed back up and did the same thing two more times. When he got ready to try once more, the female bird became a distraction to him and he stopped trying.

When we have our eyes fixed on a vision and are getting into position to move forward, there are distractions. Many of us get distracted and fail to keep moving towards our goals. You may not get it right the first time and the distractions may come but keep your eyes fixed on the things you want to accomplish in life.

Do not give up. There are so many wonderful things ahead! —Ayana Elon


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

Friday, July 15, 2016

Joy in the Fellowship of God

Joy in the Fellowship of God
Being thirsty is something all mankind has in common. The cool refreshing taste of water brings it own delight (Psalm 63:1-5).

I remember waking-up from a surgery which had required anesthetic. In the first moments of recovery I experienced the most awful taste in my mouth; feeling much like having my mouth filled with cotton. I longed for, and begged for, just a drop of water. The first taste of water was only a small piece of crushed ice. It was wonderful!

Recently, where I live we were fourteen inches below the yearly average for rain. The earth was parched and cracked. Grass was grown and ugly. Gardens had to be watered daily—or die. Dear one, as I observed the earth through the summer, I compared it to David’s Psalm. My soul without God is parched, cracked, brown and ugly. I must “water it” daily with the Word of God. Jesus promised He would give us “living water”—and He does. What a joy never to experience a “dry thirsty soul” again!

"... but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.” (John 4:14 NKJ)

When David wrote this Psalm he expressed his desire for God as having a “thirsty soul.” He compared his life to a “dry and thirsty land”. David was in the wilderness of Judah when he wrote these words. He knew the meaning of thirst. He longed to be back in Jerusalem, to worship in the temple but he could not as he was in hiding from the rage of King Saul.

King David further expressed his search for God.

He meditated on Him day and night. He looked for Him in the sanctuary. He longed to see God’s power and glory. He found God’s loving-kindness to be better than life itself. In his search, He found God and was able to praise with his mouth and to lift his hands.

He found the satisfaction he was looking for—not in a place, not in an experience—but in a relationship with God. David said, “everyone who swears by Him shall glory!” What a relationship David developed with the Living God! E.J. Swanson

Father, Thank you for the “living water” that Jesus gives to my dry thirsty soul. Thank you for the relationship that is mine because of your loving-kindness, mercy and grace. Amen.

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