Thursday, February 4, 2016

LACED WITH GRACE..come, sit at the table

Today, I shared the following devotion with the readers of Laced With Grace (www.lacedwithgrace.com) ...


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When I was growing up, we had one rule in our house that could not be broken: everyone needed to be at the table at 5:00 pm to eat dinner together.


No exceptions were allowed. Mother had dinner ready and whatever we were doing, we better find our way home and “wash up” for supper. Television was turned off, ball caps were removed from heads and we did something we don’t see much today anymore…we talked to each other.


This was one of the most important part of our day to my Mother, most days, dinner time was the only time we could spend together as a family. Often dinner would be followed by “family meetings” and “groundings”, if needed.


We don’t eat dinner together as families anymore. I don’t know why; to me as a kid, it was the most significant time of my day. Bonding with my family; creating memories, feeling secure and safe in my home while listening to my family and learning from them. It was the one event that I could count on that gave me a sense of belonging.


Nowadays, dinner time is done in shifts because of our hectic schedules or in front of the television. Most dining tables, like mine, are used for storage or a makeshift desk during the week, cleared off only for when company comes to dinner.


There is such value in taking time to dine together. Not only for the beneficial family strengthening that I’ve already talked about but it also helps us to become more aware of one another.


Likewise, it is also imperative that we as Christians take time to sit awhile and dine with one another. Unfortunately, we tend to become like the family that all have their electronic devices out while eating; we allow distractions to keep us from recognizing the value of eating together. (Fellowship)
Jesus gave us a clear picture of what dining with one another looks like. It happened around the Last Supper Table with His Disciples.


Jesus took the time to explain to His friends how drinking from the cup would remind them of His sacrifice. (1 Corinthians 11:23-26)


And He talked about brokenness. Knowing that each of them would feel brokenness at times in their life’s, but nothing like how He would be broken.


When I think about that Last Supper, I can’t help to wonder what it was like for those Disciples to have the opportunity to sit around the table breaking bread with Jesus and fellowshipping with Him.
This is the kind of love, teaching, understanding and fellowship that we all miss out on in our homes and in our churches when we allow distractions to keep us from the table.
No longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the cornerstone, in Whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord.” -Ephesians 2:19-21
Maybe it is time to sit awhile around the table and become joined together!


DAILY DEVO...you can fix it or else!

If it is broke, we have a need to fix it. I, for one, do not like things that are broken or not working properly. For my OCD mind, it doesn't compute. Everything must line up the way it's suppose to or else...

Or else what? 

Or else, when the dishwasher is broke, I'll have to wash dishes by hand?

Or else, when the television goes on the blink, I'll have to buy a new one or worse...go without!

The thing about being a person who has a need to fix things is that the "or else's" may make sense on paper, but it still doesn't fix what is clearly broken.

This is why some of us have the need to not only fix things, but fix people. If you are a "fixer", you will not be able to stand by and watch two people that you care about being at odds with each other. You will set out to fix it and you will completely be blinded to the "or else" in the situation:

*You can talk to each one involved and tell them how to respond to each other or else you could pray for them.

*You can toss and turn and lose sleep over this unresolved issue between your loved ones or else you could give it to God and rest in His peace.

*You can talk to other people about what's going on between your loved ones or else you can leave it between them to work out.

Fixing a flat tire, fixing a broken window or fixing a clogged toilet is a job you and I can do. But fixing people is a job that only God can do.

'I will give them a heart to know Me, for I am the LORD; and they will be My people, and I will be their God, for they will return to Me with their whole heart." (Jeremiah 24:7)

Some things just aren't for us to fix...leave the fixing to God, for He knows exactly how to put all the pieces back together again! 

You can either trust Him ...or else!

Thursday, January 28, 2016

LACED WITH GRACE...the little engine that could


Today, I shared the following devotion with the readers of Laced with Grace. Check out this site for more daily devotions! Www.lacedwithgrace.com

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I don't know about you, but I was raised with the idea that I could do anything that I put my mind to. It goes back all the way to the children's book , "The Little Engine That Could." (I think I can! I think I can!)

The concept of doing anything I put my mind to didn’t end there either. As I got older, I was asked over and over what I wanted to be when I grow up…a model, a teacher, a mother, the President of the United States? I was told to reach for the stars, dream big dreams!
Working hard and setting goals is still ingrained in me and I strive to always be the best that I can be. But this idea of being able to take on the world and finding solutions to our problems in our own strength and ability is very worldly and not really realistic.
None of us are Superman. We cannot leap tall buildings or get strength from kryptonite. In fact, when we try to take on the world by ourselves, we essentially are saying that we do not need anyone’s help, including God’s.
But wait for it.
The moment things begin to get too tough, and we feel like Superman who has lost his powers, we begin to look around for God. Sometimes, by the time we reach out for the One Who holds all of our strength, it is too late. The damage is already done. Think about the turmoil in the city whenever Superman became weak, havoc took place when he was busy looking for His strength.
If Superman didn’t have control of his own strength, what makes us think we do?
The Bible is full of stories about men and women who thought they had all the answers only to find out they could not save themselves, nor anyone else.
As Christians, we have to place our trust NOT in what we know, but in what we believe!
Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1)
 None of us really need to look to the Bible for examples of what faithLESS looks like, all we have to do is look in the mirror. I am sure we all have countless of examples of how great we believed in something but in a moment of trying to see things in our own strength, we lost sight of what God’s strength looked like.I remember our first Trunk or Treat Festival that we organized at a former church. We had great dreams and big faith but quickly others began to whisper in our ear, “That’s not how we’ve ever done it!” (Don’t you just love those naysayers)!

We believed for hundreds to show up, they said “not that many”! We said we need to move this out to the gymnasium, they said, “no, the sanctuary will hold them”
Naysayers:1
FaithLESS:0
We held that first Trunk or Treat Festival in the sanctuary. Over 400 showed up and we broke so many fire codes in a building that held about half that.
After the naysayers pried their popped open eyes back to normal size, we learned an immeasurable lesson: walk by faith, not by sight and trust God by being still and letting Him show up!
“The Little Engine That could”, WITH GOD as the engineer, would certainly of said something different…“I think He can! I think He can!”
Trust me, God can! Trust God, He will!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

DAILY DEVO...what's for dinner...milk or meat?

It is fun watching my grandchildren learn new things. Seems like just yesterday the 3 oldest ones were just like the 2 new babies.

As I watched my older grandson try to feed himself with a spoon the other day, I couldn't help notice that he didn't quite have the technique down. He spilled and by the time the spoon got to his mouth, he had lost half the food on the way.

On the other side of the room was his baby brother. Only 2 months old, his only battle with food was getting enough milk through his bottle fast enough.

As children grow, so do their appetites and that's the way it's suppose to be. How strange would it be if teens and adults in this world still walked around sucking on bottles?

God wants His children to grow, He doesn't want us to remain babies. He wants us to move beyond the infant stages of milk and grow into the maturity of chewing on the meat of His Word.
It is no secret that in all aspects of life, we need to grow. Anything less would be unhealthy. But for Christians, growing just to grow is not what God intends for us. God expects us to grow so we can live a more Christ-like life.

Where you find yourself on the food chain is merely a matter of maturity, spiritual maturity that is...
"I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready." -Paul to infant Believers (1 Corinthians 3:2)

Like my grandsons; one of us can handle solid foods, while the other is not ready. In any given teaching, preaching or Scripture reading, you will find both "milk" and "meat". As a new Believer, you will be satisfied on the bottle but as you grow, the milk should no longer satisfy you. You will want more. You will look for more. You will grow more.

Today, God is sending out a dinner invitation: Christ is the dinner host and you are the guest. What will you be served...the milk or the meat?

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

DAILY DEVO...your past has purpose

I have a question to ask you today...do you live in the present or the past?

I think too many people lose sight of the purpose that their past represents. Yes! Even the past that is filled with not so good things serves a purpose...for good!

The Apostle Paul said, "Whatever was to my profit, I now consider loss for the sake of Christ." (Philippians 3:7)

When we become "new" in our relationship with Christ (salvation), we are to put away the old (past) and put on the new (present) and live for Him the best that we can. But what happens to our past?

It is true that God throws our sin into the sea of forgetfulness as far as the east is from the west. (That's pretty far!) Our past no longer defines who we are but yet our past still serves a purpose, it wasn't for nothing!

Our past, now forgiven, serves as a stepping stone to exactly the place that God has brought us to. It isn't about what happened back then that is important any longer, but instead, what is happening now? How is God using our past to perfect His plan in our lives?

Paul was always striving to do his best for the Lord. As I look at my own past, I can see how God brought me through so many bad things in order to mold me into the person that I am today. As I strive to do my best for the Lord, I can see the purpose that my past has for my present and my future.

Life can be a struggle at times. Believe me, I could write for days the fire that I've survived. But instead of looking at the pain in my past, I recognize the purpose it all had.

I know too many people, yes Christians too, that still keep one foot in the past. They can't forgive someone, maybe themselves and their constant "blast from the past" keeps them from receiving all the good things He has in store for them.

If your past is confining you or you tend to blame your past for where you stand today...STOP! God said that this life is a race and we need to finish well. I can't think of any athlete to ever win a race by running backwards.

So, let's never forget what lies behind us but consider it joy to press on, towards the prize that awaits us in our present and future. Your past absolutely has a purpose!

Monday, January 25, 2016

Daily Devo...Delete it, zip it, clean it up!

Lately, I've been sorting thru things and organizing and simply getting rid of clutter.
Just look at my email: seriously, WHY do I have 969 unread messages? I'll tell you why...because it's all junk. I don't need to read about all the sales, or what all the Insurance companies can offer or for $29.99 I can find out that I'm a millionaire.
So, I took some time and hit delete, delete, delete. 969 times.
Our email is not the only thing that becomes cluttered with junk. How about our closets? Our storage sheds? Do you seriously think you will wear that 70's jacket again or just when do you think you will go tent camping again? I mean it's been how long since you've used that camping equipment?
It may be time to clear out some junk to make room for some new stuff.
This is also true in our emotional and spiritual life's. Sometimes, God can't shower us with "new" things because we haven't left any room for it.
I don't know about you, but I want to have ALL that God has for me and it may mean that I'll need to do some housecleaning. Those things (even people) that bring clutter and disorder to my life may need to be packed up. When we find that unhealthy and unnecessary things take up more room in our life than God does, something has to go!
God longs to fill whatever space that we make available for Him. He wants to be near to us, not just tucked away like an old, dusty, never used camping tent. In fact the heart cry of God is simply this...
"Abide in me, and I in you" (John 15:4). 
Take time to do some de-cluttering today. Perhaps it's some past hurts, or people who are not good for you or simply you have gotten away from God. Whatever is keeping you from receiving all that God has for you...clean it up, hit delete, box it up, zip it up, do whatever it takes to make room for MORE of God!

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Laced with Grace...how a Believer can live in a Non-Believer world

Today, I shared this devotional with the readers over at Laced with Grace. Check this great devotional site out for daily devo's that will encourage you! www.lacedwithgrace.com


It is the same old question that is being asked today that has always been asked…”How can a Believer live in a Non-Believer World?” This week, before teaching the youth small group study on Wednesday, a teen came to me and asked this very question, except the question was more tailored like this…

How can I be a Christian in my home when nobody else is?”
Tough question, especially for a junior high young person to understand. But, sinners are nothing new to God. Non-believers have been around since the beginning of time. So, how are we suppose to live with these so called “sinners”?
First of all, before we can win those we live with, or anyone for that fact, we must love them. We must first become their friend. Looking at the actions of Jesus, we can only conclude that how we witness to non-believers is through friendship. When we build a foundation of trust in our relationship with others, it becomes easier and more believable when we share our faith.
The tendency that most people have once they become believers is to isolate themselves and disconnect completely from those that do not have the same faith. While there is a safe boundary to keep here with whom we keep close to us and consider our “closest” friends, there is also a charge for us to consider from God of how we are to win the lost to Him.
On hearing this, Jesus said, ‘It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick…For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.’ ” (Matthew 9:12-13)
The Apostle Paul encourages us to find common ground with non-believers, even those whom we live with. Common ground could be a genuine friendship or perhaps other ways that could cultivate positive impact on those who have yet to see the Truth and accept the forgiveness and love of our Father.
Consider how Jesus handled the woman at the well: He did not condemn, yet, He did point out what He and the woman had in common. As a result, she not only became friends with Jesus, but later introduced her friends and family to Him.
If you are a Christian living in a Non-Christian world, (and we ALL are), consider with me this: What if we could simply stick to what Jesus commanded us to do…
  • Love our neighbors as ourselves
  • Care for the poor and the sick and the brokenhearted
  • Stand up for those oppressed
  • Be generous with our time, treasure and talents
  • Live a life full of grace and gentleness
Christianity has always been a minority in our culture. God is not surprised by this, but He also commanded us to “Go Ye into ALL the world”, sometimes our world begins at home.