Sunday, April 23, 2017

DAILY DEVO...when everything is chaotic around you.

I don't usually do a DEVO on the weekend but since our power was out this morning and we were not able to have church, I wanted to share what God woke me up with:

TODAY'S DAILY...

What do you think of if I say the word "chaos"? My mind goes to a vision I have when I walked into my young child's bedroom and horror gripped my face to see every toy, every piece of clothing strewn about the room!

Maybe your chaos isn't in a bedroom, but chaos is strewn all about in your life! The kind of chaos that makes no sense, life is out of control, nothing is working and all you feel is despair and fear.

In the midst of such chaos in our life, we feel powerless. Much like this morning when we had no electrical power, many of us were stuck. It was dark. And we were limited as to what we could accomplish.

The disciples who were in the boat with Jesus experienced this kind of fear. Once the storm hit, everything got chaotic for them...

(Mark 4:37, 38) "A furious storm came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”

Let's look at this for a minute: a horrific storm has hit, the disciples are all panicky about it and Jesus is in the back sleeping!!!

How could He sleep at a time like this? Because He is at peace even when the world around Him is in chaos.

What happens next is amazing...

(Mark 4:39) "He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, 'Quiet! Be still!' Then the wind died down and it was completely calm."

Three words I want to bring to your attention ... HE. GOT. UP. Jesus simply got up. What is your reaction when someone wakes you out of a deep sleep? Probably not a calm one. But here we see that Jesus just gets up and takes care of it. There is no ceremony, no need to gather His energies: He doesn’t even need to pray; He simply calms the storm.

What chaotic storm are you facing? Does it seem like your power has been cut off? Trust me, even though the storm is raging around you, God is not shocked by it and He has complete control. If you place your trust in Him, He will GET UP and be your calm in the storm!

BLESSINGS. Laurie

Friday, April 21, 2017

DAILY DEVO...peace brings division

Sometimes, while reading the Bible, we come to passages that we sit up and say "what?!?" Today's Scripture reading is one of those times...

(Luke 12:51) "Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division."

Many of you are thinking, "what happened to goodwill towards all men?" Didn't Jesus come to bring peace to the world?

Yes, He did do that BUT the peace that He brings, He is telling His disciples, will cause division. Christianity will be faced with resistance.

All we have to do is look back over time and we will clearly see that the message of Christ divides: the Jews and Christians were divided. Families are divided. And because of your own testimony; believers and unbelievers are divided.

There is a cost to follow Christ. Our sin cost Jesus His life and our commitment to follow Him will cost us something too.

There is a song that we sing sometimes that says this:

“Nothing can bring me peace with God, nothing, nothing, nothing but the blood of Jesus.”

Jesus promised, “Everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.” (Matthew 19:29).

Following Christ may cost you everything! However, if you want the peace of God, expect some opposition. Expect to pay a price.

BLESSINGS.  Laurie

TODAY'S SCRIPTURE READING:Joshua 8-9, Luke 12:49-59, Psalm 70

SATURDAY'S SCRIPTURE READING: Joshua 10:1-11:15, Luke 13:1-21, Psalm 71:1-6

SUNDAY'S SCRIPTURE READING: Joshua 11:16-13:33, Luke 13:22-35, Psalm 71:7-16

Have you ever felt lost?

Have you ever been lost? I have and it is a very scary feeling. I remember a time that my husband and I took a trip to Orlando and while at a very packed theme park, we became separated. I remember feeling a little panicked but then I remembered what my husband has always told me, “just be still and you will be found.”
What a comfort it is to me to know that no matter where I go, I am never alone and when I feel lost, all I have to do is be still and God will find me!
There have been times in my life, even though I am surrounded by family and friends, that I have felt so alone and lost.  Sometimes even the closest of closest friends can’t find me where I’m at. They mean well but they just don’t understand what I’m going through or as hard as they try, they don’t hear what I am saying. But God does. God even hears those unspoken fears that we keep inside.
I’ve been reading about Joshua in my daily Scripture reading and I love the strength and courage that Joshua had. In my moments of feeling lost from everyone around me, I can stand upon the words that God spoke to Joshua…
“Have not I commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)
There is NOTHING that God does not know or that He wouldn’t do for us. I have found that when circumstances surround me that leave me feeling “separated” from the world, meditating upon His Word gives me a sense of hope. It strengthens me and It causes me to stand courageously against the vileness of the enemy.
My prayer for you today is the same prayer that David had…
“Show me the path where I should walk, O Lord; point out the right road for me to follow. Lead me by Your Truth and teach me, for You are the God Who saves me. All day long I put my hope in You.” (Psalm 25:4-5)
If you feel lost today, just be still and God WILL find you!
BLESSINGS. Laurie

Thursday, April 20, 2017

DAILY DEVO... today is the day, tomorrow may not come!

Sometimes when I think about what needs to be done in a day, I get overwhelmed. It's easy to put off today what we can possibly get away with doing tomorrow.

I'm alittle bit OCD, so putting things off usually stresses me out. My husband is a "wait 'til the last minute" kind of guy while I make "lists for my to-do lists." (I know ...alittle over the top) The fact that my husband can wait until the last minute stresses me out even more!

Here is a truth to ponder: God gave each of us the same 24 hour span to accomplish things. What I do with my 24 hour allotment may differ from what you do with your 24 hours. However, when we continually put off today what God needs us to do, we are not being good stewards of the time that He has given us.

I am becoming more and more aware of how little time I have left on this earth. When I think about all the goals and ministries that I want to accomplish, I think I better hurry up before my time runs out.

It is so easy to intend to do great things but actually pushing up our sleeves and getting the job done sometimes doesn't ever come.

(Luke 12:43) "It will be good for that servant whom the master finds doing so when he returns."

Have you ever considered that today may be the last opportunity to do that ONE thing? Share Christ with that one person, serve the needy, help the poor, sing a solo in church, on and on.

Don't wait for tomorrow to do what God needs you to do today, some tomorrows never come back around. And how good it will be for God to find us caught up on our to-do lists.

BLESSINGS. Laurie

TODAY'S SCRIPTURE READING...Joshua 5:13-7:26, Luke 12:41-48, Psalm 69:29-36

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

TODAY'S DAILY...purpose not perfection

Have you ever thought that God couldn't use you? To be honest, there have been times that I have thought that someone else could be better for the job than me.

There are those people that no matter what, they have it all together. They are patient with their children, calm when it comes to job related deadlines and can juggle the world at their fingertips. They can come right to Bible Study from work; with kids in hand, Bible Study homework done, and a smile on their face!

Often times I think when God has work assignments to hand out, the "good, tidy, have-it-all together" one  will be picked over me. But that's not exactly how God works.

We see this very thing in today's Scripture reading about Rahab. Rahab was a woman of the city, a prostitute, who was living within the city of Jericho. The people of Jericho were not following God, so God sent the Israelites to conquer the city. Joshua, the Israelite leader, sent two of his men into the city to spy and they found themselves at the door of Rahab...

(Joshua 1:6) "But she had taken them up to the roof and hidden them under the stalks of flax she had laid out on the roof."

Sometimes the best woman (or man) for the job that God has doesn’t mean the holiest or the one who seems better.

I'm not sure why God chose someone like Rahab to help Him. Perhaps it is because He saw something that no other could see. Instead of looking at the outside; He saw her tender heart and her ability. He knew He could trust her.

Isn't that just like God? When He saw Rahab, He didn't see her past but He saw her potential!

God does the same for you and me!
Sometimes He doesn't choose the perfect person for the job...but He chooses the right one!

BLESSINGS. Laurie

TODAY'S SCRIPTURE READING: Deuteronomy 34-Joshua 2, Luke 12:1-15, Psalm 69:10-17

Friday, April 14, 2017

Daily DEVO...blessings are new every day!

So many times I have heard it quoted and even quoted it myself: "This is the day the Lord has made and I will  rejoice and be glad in it." (Psalm 128:24)

Thinking about that scripture and what we read in our daily scripture reading today brings me to the question that many people have asked: "Where is God?"

I don't want to be like some who miss out on the answer; I don't want to miss out on all the blessings that God has right in front of me. If you are waiting for a shiny explosion in the sky to alert you of God and His blessings, you might miss out.

(Psalm 68:19) "Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation."

Today's Scripture reading in Psalms tells us that God's goodness (His blessings) are daily! He never leaves us, He is always near to us even when we can't see Him.

Our blessings aren't always filled with bling and pizzaz, some of the best blessings are held in a soft spoken word or a hug or just smelling the fresh air that God has given us.

God's Word today indicates that the blessings of God, that only He can give to us daily, are so great that it probably is impossible to take it all in.

Take a minute to look around, see all that God has blessed you with today and simply rejoice and be glad IN it!

BLESSINGS. Laurie

TODAY'S SCRIPTURE READING: Deuteronomy 28:15-68, Luke 10:21-37, Psalm 68:15-19

SATURDAY'S  SCRIPTURE READING: Deuteronomy 29-30, Luke 10:38-11:23, Psalm 68:20-27

SUNDAY'S SCRIPTURE READING: Deuteronomy 31:1-32:22, Luke 11:24-36, Psalm 68:28-35

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Laced with Grace...growing in Grace

This week we had to cut our tree down in the backyard. I’m not sure when or how, but at some time our tree became diseased and stopped growing. As the men were cutting it down, I came to realize something: the tree may have stopped growing but the roots were still intact!
Realizing this about the tree made me think about my own spiritual growth. I know I have deep rooted faith but how well am I growing in grace?
Before you or I can answer that question, we must understand what it means to grow in grace. In order to grow in grace, we must increase our Christ-likeness. Many people have roots of Christ; they know OF Him but their growth is somehow stunted because they don’t nurture what they know of.
Growing in Christ-likeness is an ongoing process. 
One way to check your growth in grace is to take an honest look back over your past years trials and hurts. How have you reacted to them – with mercy towards others or with anger and bitterness? Have you learned to be more kind and more patient? Have you learned to be more soft spoken as you encountered those difficult people in your life?
The saying goes, “if you aren’t growing, you are dying”. There is nothing more disheartening to God than to see one of His children have His roots but make choices that hinder steady, strong growth.
Paul tells us in the book of Ephesians exactly what needs to be removed In our lives in order to grow in the grace of Christ:
Let all bitterness and wrath, and anger, and clamor and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice.” (Ephesians 4:31)
Jesus makes it very clear that holding onto such things will cause us undue deadly weight that can hinder our spiritual growth. Without continual growth in our spirit, we will just end up like the tree in my backyard; nothing but dead weight with our roots still intact.
Consider with me today the following question…”are you growing or dying?”
BLESSINGS. Laurie

DAILY DEVO...Who's your Daddy?

There once was a time when hearing that God was a "Father to the fatherless" didn't mean much to me. After all, what did I know about fathers?

I was just an infant when my father chose to leave. The next 40 years was filled with disappointments and misgivings of what fatherhood really looked like.

I don't share that part of my life to conger up any sympathy, rather, I share that today to emphasize that what we read in today's Scripture reading is true and I'm a testimony to back it up...

(Psalm 68:5-6) "A Father to the fatherless, a Defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families, He leads out the prisoners with singing; but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land."

God is very relational. He is the Father to those who have none. He is the protector of the widow. He places those without a home into families. He cares about what we are in need of.

As a young girl, I learned that I was fatherless but it didn't take me long to understand that I had the best Daddy in the world! While other girls dads were strong, my Daddy caused the Red Sea to part. While other dads were good providers, my Daddy caused one boys sack lunch to feed 5,000! While your dad may have caught a bullet for you, my Daddy took 3 nails for every single person in the universe.

Next time you think that you are all alone in the world, whether you are without a father or a home or a spouse, you are never alone. My Daddy is watching over you and He always keeps His promises!

BLESSINGS. Laurie

TODAY'S SCRIPTURE READING: Deuteronomy 23:9-25:19, Luke 9:43-62, Psalm 68:1-6

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

DAILY DEVO...be grateful for the One Who is there

Have you ever helped someone out of a jam and later on it appeared they didn't even remember all you did for them?

I have. And if I could be transparent for a moment; when someone is ungrateful for something that I sacrifice for them, I tend to not want to do it again.

I'm so grateful that God is not like that! Even when we don't recognize His Hand, He keeps doing amazing things for us.

In today's Scripture reading, we see the warning that God gives the Israelites before they entered the Promise land...

(Deuteronomy 8:18) "And you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth, that He may establish His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day."

You must remember what God brought the Israelites through; 40 years of wandering in the wilderness, dependent upon God for every meal in which He provided manna every day for them.

God is warning them, before they go into the land of milk and honey, to remember what it was like to be hungry and Who provided for them.

Often times when things are going well; (the bank account is full, food is plenty, health is good, job is prospering), we tend to become self sufficient and put God on the back shelf.

Just as God led the Israelites, He is leading us. If you are in a time of prosperity right now, good for you! If you are struggling and down on your luck right now, good is coming to you!

Either way, remember how faithful God has been to you and never take His blessings for granted.

BLESSINGS. Laurie

TODAY'S SCRIPTURE READING: Deuteronomy 8-9, Luke 7:18-35, Psalm 64:6-10

Monday, April 3, 2017

DAILY DEVO... hide and seek

God is not a God Who makes Himself hard to find. He doesn't try to hide Himself from us or keep Himself at a distance so that we can't know Him.

In fact, in today's Scripture reading we see that if we seek Him, He will be found...

(Deuteronomy 4:29) "But if from there you seek the LORD your God, you will find Him if you look for Him with all your heart and with all your soul."

I'm reminded today of the times when my husband and I would play hide and seek with our young children. We lived in a house that had great hiding places, I remember our son, Jeremy would always hide with his father while I counted in another room...

"One, two, three....TEN, here I come ready or not!"

After looking here and there, I would find myself going to the same closet that Jeremy always hid in with his father. As part of the game of "finding" Jeremy, I would stand outside the closet door...

"I wish I knew where Jeremy was. If I could find Jeremy, he could have a piece of this candy."

(From the closet in a muffled voice) "Here I am!"

It worked every time!

The game of hide or seek is fun to play but the fun isn't in hiding, the fun is to be found!

When I would open the closet door, Jeremy would laugh and jump up and down...

"You found us!"

When we seek God, we have a 100% chance of finding Him. He is never far away or hid so well that He cannot be found. Like my son, when we call out for God He will say...

"Here I am".

Seek God with all your heart and soul, He is waiting to be found.

BLESSINGS. Laurie

TODAY'S SCRIPTURE READING: Deuteronomy 4:15-5:22, Luke 6:36-49, Psalm 63:6-11