Tuesday, September 16, 2014

DAILY DEVO...Who ya gonna obey?

I'm going to be very frank today - sometimes the things and yes, even the people who mean the most to us can be the very thing that holds us back.


How can something that is such an important part of my life be the thing that holds me back?


Consider Terah's influence in Abraham's life:
Abraham had heard clearly from God, "leave your country and your relatives and come to the land I will show you." But if you read Genesis 11:32-34, you will see a closer look at Abraham's caravan...his father, his nephew and Abraham's wife all traveled with him. Doesn't sound like Abraham left his family like God said.


Partial obedience is disobedience. Abraham learned this the hard way.

? for today ..what or who stands between you and God?


Stop settling for less than what God has for you. Remove the Terah's from your path and follow God. Obey Him fully ...no matter what the sacrifice.

Monday, September 8, 2014

DAILY DEVO..need gas?

It is never a good idea to run a car down to empty. My daughter, in fact, panics once her gas gauge gets below half. She thinks she needs to stop at the next gas station for fear she will run out of gas. There is a spiritual lesson here.

Isn't it funny, no matter the price of gas, we all get in line to get refueled but when it comes to our spiritual tank...we run on empty for da
ys.

The gas pump refuels our car, the restaurant refuels our stomach, but how do we refuel our spirits? Jesus shows us in Mark how to...

 
"Very early in the morning, while it is dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where He prayed." -Mark 1:35-36




? for today... need some gas?

Find time to pull up to the arms of God and get refueled and get your spiritual tank recharged! Pray before your engine light comes on!




Friday, September 5, 2014

LACED WITH GRACE...the 5 "M's" of Ministry


I have shared the following Devotional with the readers of LACED WITH GRACE today. I hope that you will be blessed and encouraged as you continue to labor for God in all of your ministries! Please support all of our daily devotional writers over at www.lacedwithgrace.com


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One of my favorite things to do is encourage and minister to small groups. There is so much wisdom and growth that can come out of small groups. I have had the privilege of leading youth and women in small group settings. So many churches are now gearing towards bringing in new people thru small group ministry. I applaud this effort but at the same time want to express my concern over so many churches that are replacing “church” with small groups.


Small groups for me is entirely different than church service. According to the Bible, worshipping together serves several functions:


1. It leads to deeper fellowship among believers (Acts 2:42)
2. It enables believers to break bread together (Acts 2:2)
3. Worshipping together brings God into our presence (Matthew 18:19-20)
4. It encourages “glad and sincere hearts” (Acts 2:46)
5. It brings collective praise of God (Acts 2:47)
6. It encourages growth in the body of Christ (Acts 2:47)
7. It helps Christians to encourage one another (Hebrews 10:25)
8. And it invites the Holy Spirit unto the group (Acts 10:44)


Even though we can experience all of the above in a small setting, there is just something about gathering together in one accord to worship in a church setting. Whether it is “Church” that you love or “Small Groups”, here are 5 “M’s” to enhance the ministry of worshipping together…

MINISTER TO NEEDS
“A healthy church is a growing church”, many times we overlook that the members of our church or small groups are hurting. It should be an intended goal to become healthy, not just as leaders but our members should be healthy as well. We need to open our eyes and see the needs before us and minister to them.

MENTOR SPIRITUAL MATURITY
In order to be a spiritual mentor, we must first know the condition of those we are trying to mentor. An effective ministry leader should seek to cultivate spiritual habits in those in their realm of influence. How we can do that really depends upon the spiritual habits that exist in our own hearts. We cannot mentor, or train, what we don’t already know.


MOTIVATE FOR MINISTRY
If you want people to step up to ministry, we must first model what servant hood is. When people see in us the ideal of serving others, it will only have a ripple effect. What they see, they will do.


MULTIPLICATION EFFECT
Every church and small group desires to grow numerically, but multiplying in number is not the same as multiplying their life through others. Every church and small group will grow effectively when the leaders pour their life into others, so that those will in turn pour their lives into others as well. The multiplication effect.

MODEL A SURRENDERED HEART
There is not enough room at the pulpit or in the leaders manual for pride and arrogance. Never lose sight of the fact that everything that we are doing is by the grace of God and for His glory, not ours. Christian leaders must model a surrendered, humble attitude. God will always work best in our weakness, for when we are weak – He is strong. Give all of your fears, and inabilities to God and just see what He does with your ministry.

I love going to church. And I love being a part of a small group. I wouldn’t want to trade one for the other. Whichever place that you find yourself, may you experience the 5 “M’s” to the fullest!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

DAILY DEVO

Our neighbor always have kids out in their front yard playing ball. I notice them every time I drive by, hurrying to get somewhere.

But today, instead of hurrying, I sat and watched and listened to them. Their laughter had made glued to my seat. I leaned back, with the window down, just listening. Their voices took me back to a time when my children ran and played in our yard.

It made me realize how fast life is played before our eyes. Time stops for no one, it just ticks on by.
 
? for today...when is the last time you stopped and listened to the laughter? Or the birds chirping?


Take a moment and just stop...and hear the sounds and enjoy life!


"Then my soul will rejoice in the Lord." -Psalm 35:9


Listen closely for the sounds of His beauty.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

LACED WITH GRACE...top 10 things you need to know about your Pastor's wife


Today, I have shared this with the readers of LACED WITH GRACE and wanted to share with you as well. I pray it will give insight to how you can love and pray for your pastor's wife in a more powerful way. Please visit the LWG website where you can find awesome daily writings from some awesome godly ladies. www.lacedwithgrace.com


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As a wife of a pastor, I must echo the words of James, “I count it all joy”! For more than a decade now I have had the joy of serving alongside my husband on this ministry journey that God has set in motion. For the most part, I say it has been a joyful adventure, but like James points out, I also have seen the trials and bumps in the road that serving in ministry often brings. But even so … I count it ALL  joy:
“My Brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials.” -James 1:2
James takes time out in this passage to strongly encourage his fellow believers to strengthen their Christian Character. He says that Christians are not immune to difficulties and hardships. And I am here to tell you that James is correct and not only that, Pastors and those serving in ministry are not immune either. In fact, the enemy has his insides all turned inside out over the labor of ministry that those called by God are doing. But count it all joy, my friend.

I have seen too many families in the ministry throw in the towel. It becomes too much; the burden, the struggle, the various trials and then somehow, joy is stolen. It breaks my heart to hear stories of ministries shattered because of the works of the enemy. So today, I write this very different kind of post, because I want to tell you that your pastor and his wife struggle just like you do. It is imperative that we pray for our leaders in the church, that they could count it ALL joy: the good, the bad and the ugly.

In order to help you gain some insight, I would like to give you my top ten list of what you need to know about your Pastor’s wife:


1. I AM NOT PERFECT!
and neither are you! Romans 3:23 “For we have ALL sinned and come short of the glory of God.” I am not much different than you, I get frustrated, I lose my temper sometimes, and I don’t always like everyone I come in contact with. I make mistakes. My husband and children also make mistakes. Don’t judge us when we do, embrace us like we do you when you or your family messes up.

2. DON’T TALK ABOUT PEOPLE TO ME
Please do not bad mouth other people to me. Your negative comments and gossip about others only puts me in a very awkward position and makes it hard for me to remain neutral. Especially if the person you are bad mouthing is my husband or my children. If you don’t like his preaching or his kind of leadership, remember he is my Pastor too, but he is my husband and my best friend first!

3. DON’T ASK ME THINGS YOU SHOULDN’T ASK
I know that I go home with the Pastor every night, but that does not mean that he discusses every problem or situation at the church with me. In fact, you might be surprised how much I DO NOT know because he is protecting me from any potential disunity in the church. If you need to know something from the Pastor, ask him directly, do not use me as a “go between”, because I probably have no clue what you are talking about.

4. BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU MESSAGE MY HUSBAND
Speaking to your Pastor about confidential issues needs to be left in the conference room behind closed doors. Please do not text or email your private issues to my husband because from time to time I or the Pastor’s children use his phone and computer.

5. RESPECT MY FAMILY TIME
As much as I would love to attend every ministry outreach, every child’s birthday party and every Scentsy or Mary Kay party, I simply cannot. My time is valuable just like yours. I too would love to have an occasional night to soak in the tub or catch a movie with my family. Please do not expect me to be at everything and do not get angry or talk about me behind my back  if I kindly have to send my regrets.


6. GET TO KNOW “ME”
Take time to get to know ME! Please do not compare me to the former Pastor’s wife. I am not her. She no longer lives here. I am unique. I am gifted. And I have been chosen for such a time as this. Let me be ME.


7. BE MY FAMLY
My blood family lives far away and because ministry keeps us working 24/7, we cannot always lean on them. Step in and be our family. Be a grandparent to my children. Cry with us when we are troubled. Rejoice with us when we are blessed. Adopt us as your family, because we miss ours so badly.

8. REALIZE THAT I CANNOT TALK TO EVERY PERSON EVERY SUNDAY
Please do not take offense if I do not get the chance to shake your hand or compliment your new dress every Sunday. There is only one of me and LOTS of you. If I have missed you a few Sundays in a row, hang around to hug my neck before you leave. On a side note: Sunday’s are a time that I enjoy greeting people and meeting visitors, please do not take away from that by telling me about a problem you have with the worship team 5 minutes before service or during altar time. If it is an urgent matter, put lunch on hold and wait around after service to speak to me in private.

9. ENCOURAGE ME
As much as I love to encourage and affirm others, especially women, I also need encouragement. I wear many hats throughout the week, and often times the hours that I put in at the church outweighs any compensation I may receive. One of the loneliest people that you will find is actually the Pastor and his wife because the burden they carry is heavy and they feel like they have no one to talk to. A card in the mail, a text message or an email goes a long way on a tiring, stressful day. Let me know that you are praying for me and that despite my shortcomings, that you love me.

10. BECOME MY PRAYER PARTNER
This is the most important thing you can do for your Pastor’s wife, especially if you don’t like me. I promise you, if we pray for one another, we will love one another, faults and all. James 5:16 says that “the effectual fervent prayer of the righteous avails much”. May we hold each other up and “avail much”.





I hope that this list will help you pray and love your Pastor’s wife to even a higher level. I am sure that many Pastor’s wives have walked the trenches like I have but when we answer the call, like many of you have, we can count it ALL joy!





Blessings to you and to your Pastor’s wife.

Monday, August 25, 2014

DAILY DEVO....closed doors

Sometimes the things we pray for aren't always the things God has in store for us. In fact, we often don't see that God has bigger things waiting for us.

When God closes one door, He will open another. Closed doors are not God's way of punishing us, He may simply be saying He has a different route for us to take to get to where He is leading.


? for today...what roadblock has you feeling like giving up?


Revelation 3:20 "Behold, I stand at the door and knock: if any man hears My voice and opens the door, I will come to him."

Be encouraged and know that God has a reason for everything and He, and He alone, holds the key to ALL doors.

Guest post from Heather Strickland

Today, I welcome my friend and newly published author, Heather Strickland, to my blog. I have worked with Heather on several different websites writing devotions and recently she published her very own devotional book, for the first time! I am so proud of her for chasing a dream and following God's leading. Please welcome her and take time to check out her new book!

ABOUT THE BOOK

This devotional book provides encouragement in various ways. It examines numerous scriptures in the Old and New Testaments to gain wisdom from above. Some devotions have personal stories to help you relate to the author while showing you that we all have struggles. While we are in the midst of trials and joys, triumphs and defeats, good and bad - we can turn to God's Word for encouragement. Heather invites you to sit at the Master's feet, as Mary did, and learn from Him.

A LOOK AT THE BOOK

-ENCOURAGEMENT FROM GOD'S WORD-
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Trials can often leave us breathless and wondering why did this have to happen? We look around at others who are untouched and we grieve. No matter how big or small the trial truly is, to us, its always big. We all go through hard times at different stages of life. Trials will always exist here on earth. So how do we deal with them? What do we do when they come our way?
 
One thing the Holy Spirit has been dealing with me about is trying to see the good in the trial. Is that possible you may ask. I have pondered that at times too. I have wondered how can good come from losing a loved one or coming down with a serious illness. It all involves so much pain that it seems not much good can come of it. I am learning otherwise though. We should ask God to help us see things through His eyes and not our own, for He sees the whole picture.
 
It's still so hard to go through trials even though I am trying to find some positive in them. I've been looking back on the trials I've been through the last couple of months and I have actually found some positives in them. God has a reason for them. More than anything I think He wants us to draw closer to Him through the trial. He longs to have a close relationship with us and to refine us to His image. Trials just tend to do that to us. We can either pull away or draw near to God when tragedy strikes.
 
I love to encourage others and I encourage you to seek God in your hardships. Do not stray from Him. For He is the only One who can comfort you and give you the peace that you desire.
 
This is something that's really been on my heart and mind lately. Many of my devotions came from trials I have endured or my family has endured. They may seem minor to some, but to us they were very big. They were roadblocks that God used to draw us closer to Him.
 
You can purchase the kindle version of my eBook here on Amazon. I pray you are encouraged to dig into God's Word.
 
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
 
Mississippi born and raised, Heather Strickland is a stay-at-home wife and mother with a passion to encourage others through writing. God planted this dream in her heart when she was a teenager, began to grow it during her early adulthood, and now - with the help of many dear friends - God has made that dream a reality. She enjoys sipping coffee on her front porch, flipping through the pages of a good book, and holding hands with her love. When she isn't serving her family, Heather blogs regularly at Becoming Titus 2Women, Laced with Grace, and The Imperfect Wives. But her primary ministry is to her husband and three boys. Not only is Heather crazy about them, they give her an abundance of writing material. Through them, God has molded her and taught her many life lessons. Heather is forever grateful for God's grace and guidance in her life.
 
You may contact Heather on Facebook at Becoming Titus 2 Women or email her at the.stricklands06@gmail .