Friday, December 31, 2010

Slow Down

Today, I have shared the following devo with the readers over at LACED WITH GRACE. You can find wonderful Christian writers sharing from their hearts over at LWG Monday thru Friday. Go check it out...

Todays Devo...SLOW DOWN!

As a child I can remember being spun on the merry-go-round. At first, spinning really fast was so much fun. But after awhile, I got dizzy and just wanted to get off. It seems like my life is much like a spin on a merry-go-round … it just goes around faster and faster.

Its hard to not take on too much, but if truth be told, most Christians take on more than they can handle. Many of us are juggling careers, family, hobbies, and doing ministry. The problem with taking on too much at one time is that we cannot enjoy what we are doing and even worse, we do not do the best job that we can because we feel dizzy from the whirlwind. It doesn’t take long before we feel just like riding on the merry-go-round, we get to the point of wanting to throw in the towel and jump off of the ride.

God did not intend for us to take on the world all alone. It is His desire that we slow down, sit at His feet and do what He wants us to do. The problem is we try to do the latter part but we forget to slow down to sit at His feet.

Recently, I came across a poem written by a young girl who was fighting against cancer. The poem did not list her name, so I cannot give her credit but I think the message in her writing is exactly what I need to apply to my New Years Resolution…to slow down and allow God to pace my steps.

It is my prayer for the New year that each of us will slow down enough to hear the music before the song is over!

Have you ever watched kids
On a merry-go-round?
Or listened to the rain
Slapping on the ground?

Ever followed a butterfly’s
erratic flight?
Or gazed at the sun
into the fading night?

You better slow down.
Don’t dance so fast.
Time is short.
The music won’t last.

Do you run through
each day on the fly?
When you ask, “How are you?”
Do you hear the reply?

When the day is done
Do you lie in your bed
With the next hundred chores
Running through your head?

You better slow down.
Don’t dance so fast.
Time is short.
The music won’t last.

Ever told your child,
We’ll do it tomorrow?
And in your haste,
Not see his sorrow?

Ever lost touch,
Let a good friendship die,
Cause you never had time
To call and say,’Hi’

When you run so fast
to get somewhere
You miss half the fun
of getting there.

When you worry and hurry
through your day,
It is like an unopened gift….
Thrown away.

Life is not a race.
Do take it slower
Hear the music
Before the song is over.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

THANKFUL THURSDAY...what's in a day?

I was looking ahead in my new 2011 calendar.
Filling in important upcoming events. It already looks like the new year is going to be a full one.

Sometimes I find myself all wrapped up in what my tomorrows hold and forgot all about the importance of "today". This is exactly how some people look at becoming followers of Christ...they imagine that one day they will give their hearts totally to God. Maybe they will serve Him nobly one day, possibly in another country doing great things for His Kingdom.

Its noble to want to do great things for God, but the problem is we don't have to wait until a certain time in our life, or when we are able to travel to foreign soil, we can all serve God right where we are, right now. We must not miss out on seizing the opportunities that swirl around us today!

2 CHRONICLES 16:9 "The eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him."

  • Before David defeated Goliath, he was taking food to his brothers on the front line. But as he was faithful in a small way - God gave him more.
  • When God called Gideon to lead Israel, Gideon was threshing wheat.
  • When Elijah called Elisha into the Lord's service, Elisha was plowing a field.
  • When Jesus called Peter and John to become fishers of men, they were mending their nets.
You see, not one of these great men of God sat around wondering, "I wonder if God will ever do anything in my life?" Instead they were busy with the work that was at hand.

Its one thing to plan ahead, but sometimes I think while we are looking for distant opportunities, we miss out on the ones that are right before our eyes. I am thankful that God gives each of us new opportunities daily. Each day is new with Him. May we realize all that God has for us in a day!

Today is THANKFUL THURSDAY. Iris is hosting this week and we invite you to share your grateful heart by linking up with us. CLICK HERE to join us!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

WEDNESDAY WEEKLY WORD...change of plans

I look forward to the joy and the blessings that 2011 is going to bring, but in addition to that, I also anticipate some sadness and trials and tears. The hard stuff is never easy to go thru but yet it is what strengthens us and molds us.

Some of us will go into the new year with a plan of making changes in our lives.
We will change some habits. We will change some of our attitudes. and we may even change our appearance. In the last YOUR OPINION MATTERS POLL, I polled the readers the following question, "What are you hoping to change in the new year?" The top 3 answers were:

1. 83% voted and said they hope to lose some weight.
2. Another 83% responded and said that they hope to read God's Word more.
3. 66% voted and said they hope to have more joy.

The poll results made me realize that whether we try to change things about our physical being or change something spiritually, that joy will come from a peace within. We can make all the plans we want for the new year, but the truth is that surprises will always pop up and mess up the plans that we make. We may be surprised by some of it, but God is NEVER surprised. We can do alot of things to make changes but the most important change of all is putting God back in charge of things.

Whenever we look to our plans in life and they seem to disappoint us, may we remember that "God knows the plans He has for us." (Jeremiah 29:11) In the new year, it is my prayer that I will stick to the plan...not mine, but His!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010


Have you ever wondered how a messy person and an ocd person can live under the same roof? Well, from experience, I can tell you its not always easy! lol

I am by nature a clean freak, my children say I am ocd, I don't think it is quite THAT bad but, I do like things to be picked up and orderly. However, not everyone who lives with me in my house has the same thinking. For instance, right now, you could go into either one of my children's bedrooms and see what I mean. Total disarray. Complete messiness.

It is difficult for me to understand how or WHY people live like that. When I tackle a cleaning job around the house, I do it all the way, I clean from top to bottom. I move things out of the way to dust or clean and put it back. "Cleaning" means something else to other family members ... my daughter often tells me that she cleaned her room, but yet when you go to inspect, it is difficult to see where exactly she has cleaned.

Unfortunately, some of us have this same cleaning technique when it comes to our spiritual well being. The Bible says that we are ALL sinners, saved by Grace. And I am thankful for that reassurance, but the truth is that many of us take on an attitude of "well, I am not sinning all that much!."

"If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness" (1 John 1:8–9 NLT).

Many times we go about "cleaning up" the sin in our life like we do cleaning around the house. Some of us are procrastinators. We put off what we should do. We half heartily clean up the mess. If we would all just get alittle ocd with our spiritual well being, we might realize that cleaning up the small messes will keep us from having a bigger mess. May we repent on a daily basis and keep our heart clean before God.

Now...if I could only get the kids to clean their room daily!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

THANKFUL THURSDAY...The greatest gift of all!

Have you ever noticed the difference in our gift giving for Christmas and that of the three wise men? Instead of toys, their gifts consisted of gold, frankincense and myrrh and most likely their gifts were not wrapped in snowman wrapping paper, in fact, they probably were not wrapped at all.

Another big difference in our gift giving traditions and that of the Magi is that we give gifts to one another while the three wise men gave the first Christmas gifts to Jesus! As I look under my tree, I noticed that all of the gifts are addressed to us, instead of Jesus.

One of the greatest gifts we can receive is the gift of the love, joy and peace that Jesus Christ brings. This is also the best gift we can offer others. This year, it is my desire to give someone the gift of Jesus. It will be a gift that will keep giving for a lifetime! No batteries required. Only acceptance.

"When the saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy. (11) And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mry His mother, and fell down and worshipped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankicense and myrrh." (Matthew 2:10,11)

Iris is hosting THANKFUL THURSDAY this week. Please join us this week as we give thanks for the greatest gift of all...Jesus! May we all join our hearts together as we give Him praise and thanks! CLICK HERE to link up your TT post!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A PIECE OF MY HEART... Christmas shoes

We have come down to the deadline of finding that last most precious gift. As the shopping days come to an end, I can't help but think of this song "Christmas Shoes". For some people, this may be the last opportunity to find that perfect gift for a loved one. Just thinking about that makes my heart hurt for others.

Let's all keep our eyes open for someone buying some may be their last. God can use us to invest in others this Christmas season!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

THANKFUL everything - give thanks!

I know that we have already passed the Thanksgiving season and we are sitting right on top of celebrating Christmas, but for some reason my heart is reflecting on giving thanks during this festive season.

Sometimes, we forget as we get busy in the hustle and bustle of the holiday. The shopping. The parties. The concerts at school. The baking. The Christmas Cards. The decorating. Some more shopping and then there is all of that wrapping to do...we forget to sit back and give God thanks for all that He has blessed us with.

This year has been tight for us financially and we are not able to give like we have given in past years to friends and family. I know alot of people who are in the same boat as us, and in fact, presents under their tree are going to be very, very slim. But that's ok. God said to give thanks in EVERYTHING and even when we can't give monetarily, we can always give from our heart - and that is definitely something I am thankful for!

1 THESSALONIANS 5:18 "In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."

This Christmas season, whether you have extra money or not, remember to give from your heart! This week, Iris is hosting THANKFUL THURSDAY, click HERE to link up your post!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

WEDNESDAY WEEKLY WORD...there's no place like home!

There’s no place like home for the holidays.
That is, unless Christmas finds you home alone. Every year more and more seniors and young adults find themselves spending the holidays alone. At a time when families come together to catch up on the latest news, create lasting memories, and just enjoy each other’s company, untold numbers of singles (whether by divorce, death of a spouse or unmarried) will spend the holidays alone.

In last weeks YOUR OPINION MATTERS POLL, I polled the readers the following question, "Who will you be spending the holidays with this year?" The top 3 responses were:

1. 50% said that they will spend it with their children.
2. Another 50% responded and said they will spend it with their in-laws.
3. 33% voted and said their spouse.

The percentage that concerned me most was the 16% that voted and said that they will spend it alone. Does that not just grip your heart? It does mine. I can understand the longing that one feels to be with their family on the holidays. We live hundreds of miles from any of our extended family and it has been years since we have gathered with our parents and siblings for the holidays. There is always a sadness in my heart on Christmas Day to not be able to spend time with them.

But for others, this kind of sadness is much more than just one day a year, it is a daily struggle because circumstances have found them to be alone. The holidays only intensify this lonely, isolated feeling for them. This year God has placed a couple of ladies in my church on my heart that have recently lost their husbands, I know that this first Christmas without them will be so difficult. I asked God what can I do to reach out to them?

In my soul searching effort to create love and joy for someone alone, I came up with this top ten list of ways we can reach out to someone spending the holiday alone...

TOP TEN LIST: "Putting MERRY back into someones Christmas!"

10. Be willing to listen and to give hugs.
9. Sit with someone who is alone during Christmas church services.
8. Invite them to go shopping with you.
7. Bake a plate of cookies and go visit them.
6. Offer to help them decorate their house or tree.
5. Invite them to help you with Christmas baking.
4. Invite them along with your family to look at Christmas lights.
3. Invite them to Christmas Day dinner at your house.
2. Don't wait until the last minute to invite them.
1. Pray for them!

There's no place like home for the holidays...
open your home and your heart to someone who doesn't have a place to go. After all, isn't that what God did for us? He has prepared a place for us to live forever. A place that will have no sickness, no sadness, only joy and love. Let's share some of His joy and love this Christmas Season!

John 14:1-3 (1) “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God ; trust also in me. (2) My Father’s house has plenty of room; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? (3) And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am."

Monday, December 13, 2010

Simplicity of the stable!

The birth of Jesus and the surroundings reminds me of the mere simplicity of Christ.
We often times make living for Him harder than it really is. Jesus said it is simple to follow Him, all we have to do is Admit, Believe and Confess...the abc's of Christianity. But we try to throw in some d's, f's and g's along the way, making it difficult to follow His lead.

As I read the Christmas Story in the book of Luke, I am reminded of just how simple that very first Christmas was:

LUKE 2:4 "Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David."

The Jews were expecting the King of Kings to come and no doubt some of them believed that His arrival would be in such a grand way in which a King should be ushered into the world. With great excitement, with all party favors brought out.

Certainly, His birth would be at one of the most elegant, grand temples or religious buildings that could be found. Certainly, the finest linens and silks would be brought out in honor and celebration of the new King! ...Most certainly...

LUKE 2:7 "And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn."

...But instead of a grand entrance and fine linens and silk, God chose a humble village instead of Jerusalem for baby Jesus to be born, and instead of fine silks to be wrapped in, God had Jesus wrapped in swaddling cloths and he was laid in a manger. A manger was simply a animal feeding trough. Nothing shiny, nothing made of gold, no trumpets blaring, just a simple entrance.

But this is our King, why would God choose for His birth to be done in such a simplified way? Look at the people that God chose to use...a carpenter and his pregnant wife, some anonymous shepherds and an unsuspecting inn keeper. All of them just simple people, living simple lives.

As we read the Christmas Story again this year, may we all be reminded that God uses simple people. People like Mary and Joseph and people like you and me. He is looking for ordinary people to do extraordinary things for Him!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Finding worth in our treasure!

Recently I read about a man who found an old blue and white vase while he was cleaning out his attic. Not thinking it was worth too much, he took it to an auction to sell it. He was hoping to get $30 for it, to his amazement, the vase sold for $324,000! It turned out that the old vase that lay in his attic was actually an original fifteenth-century Chinese vase from the Ming dynasty.

Reading this story reminded me about how often people don't see, I just don't see, the value we have in our world. Often times I wonder, "Am I making any kind of a difference teaching this Sunday School class?", or say to myself, "Mary is so much more gifted in that area, I don't need to get involved with that, what could I offer that compares to her great talent?" Truth be told, while we are still laying around in the attic, God already sees the fine and rare qualities in us and He knows exactly the vast worth we have!

In 1 Samuel 30, we can read about the story of David and his soldiers who were returning home from a successful battle. The soldiers were met at the gate by those who had remained to guard the camp and the supplies. Some of the soldiers, carrying some of the goods that they had acquired in the battle, announced that they were not going to give any of the wealth to those who stayed behind.

I love David's response:

"As his part is who goes down to the battle, so shall his part be who stays by the supplies, they shall share alike." (1 Samuel 30:24)

It doesn't matter if you are the preacher or worship leader out front on stage every Sunday or if you are the one who arrives early and turns on the lights and stocks the toilet paper in the bathroom .... each part is important and everyone has a job to do.

Maybe you feel like what you have to offer is not valuable to the Kingdom of God, but I assure you that when you get to heaven, some of us will surprised to see exactly the impact we have had on others here on earth.

1 CORINTHIANS 3:8 "He who plants and he who waters are one, and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor."

What may not seem valuable now will later.
 Until then, we must all remain faithful with what God has given us to do!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

THANKFUL THURSDAY...when praise becomes sacrifice

This past week my heart was broken when I sat and talked with an elderly man in my church.
Last year he lost his lovely wife to cancer, and as we spoke about the Christmas season, his eyes welled up with tears and he said to me, "I am so home sick!, I just want to see Jesus and my Ruby!"

I always stand in awe when I talk with this wonderful man of God, even though his heart is hurting, he ALWAYS has a praise on his lips for His God. I need to become more like him, because sometimes it is a real sacrifice for me to praise God. Sometimes, I am tired and feeling down and when things are going haywire in my life, it is difficult to give praise and glory for my gloom, doom and despair.

But the Bible is filled with scriptures that encourage us to give glory and thanks and praise to God! One of my favorite ones is this one:

PSALM 106:1 "Praise the Lord! Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His  mercy endures forever."

This verse does not say to give thanks to God when we feel good, rather, it says to give thanks because He is good! My attitude and circumstances do not dictate my praise...He is worthy of praise no matter what state I am in!

I read in the gospel of Luke this week about the ten men who were miraculously touched by Jesus. These men were inflicted with leprosy, so they were outcasts from society, but, Jesus went out of His way to touch them and heal them. All ten were healed, however only one returned to give thanks and praise to God. Jesus asked this, "Were there not any found who returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?" (Luke 17:18)

In many ways, I think He is still asking that same question today.

Today, on Thankful Thursday, I choose to give Him praise! I do not want to be like the other 9 lepers who walked away with an ungrateful heart. What are you thankful for today? Go ahead, stop what you are doing right now and give Him praise for it!

Iris is hosting TT this up HERE!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

WEDNESDAY WEEKLY WORD...the best Christmas gift!

It is Christmastime!
Everyone is rushing around, trying to get the decorations up, go to concerts and parties and wrap all of those gifts!

In last week's YOUR OPINION MATTERS POLL, I polled the readers the following question, "What is your favorite thing about the Christmas season?" The top 3 responses were:

1. 50% voted and said it was remembering the greatest gift of all - Jesus!
2. Another 50% responded and said it was gathering with family.
3. 33% voted that buying gifts was their favorite.

I also love buying gifts at Christmas, but one of the most dreaded things in the world to me this time of year is having to buy someone a gift and I have NO idea what to get. I will wander from store to store until I find that "perfect" gift!

What is the best Christmas gift you have ever received?

As a child, was it a doll or an action figure? As an adult, was it something homemade or something that cost alot of money?

Getting presents is good, but I LOVE to give gifts.
What is the best Christmas present that you have ever given?

Most likely it was something that was given from your heart. Did you know that the best Christmas gift ever given was one given from the heart? It wasn't a toy, it wasn't a board game or even clothing. It was the greatest gift ever given and its the kind of gift that just keeps giving and giving!

John 3:16 "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life."

On the very first Christmas morning, many centuries ago, God gave from His heart, He gave you and He gave me a gift that cost more than anything in the whole wide world. He could have wrapped up the stars and the planets and dropped them on our doorstep, He could have swept up all of the diamonds and gold and dropped them in our front yard, but He wanted to give His very, very best .... so He gave us His Son!

Now that is the best Christmas gift anyone could receive...and what can we give Him back? Our heart, our love, our thanks, our worship, our faithfulness...our life!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A Piece of My Heart...a bus driver, a pastor and a dose of integrity!

This week I read a story about a young pastor who boarded a bus early one Monday morning. As he took his seat, after paying his bus fare, he realized that the driver had given him too much change back. Some people would ignore the oversight or just slip the extra change in their pocket and considered it a blessing. But this young pastor knew that would be wrong.

At the next stop, the pastor walked to the front of the bus  and said to the driver, "Excuse me sir, but I believe you gave me too much change and I wanted to return it to you."

The driver looked up and said, "Pastor, I did not make a mistake. I was at your church last night and I heard your sermon on honesty. I wanted to see if you practice what you preach!"

People are watching us as Christians.

"Live in such a way that you won't mind selling your pet parrot to the town gossip." - Will Rogers
Will Rogers captures what having integrity means, we need to have nothing in our lives that we are ashamed of or have to cover up. Personal integrity is something that we develop on a daily basis, it starts with each thought and action we take. Is what we say and what we do building character or tearing it down?

It is my prayer that the "private" me matches up with the "public" me! I want to be able to pass with flying colors when an unbeliever puts me to the test.... about you, what would you have done on that bus?

1 Kings 9:4 "Walk before Me integrity of heart and in uprightness."

Monday, December 6, 2010

Seeing is believing!

Has anyone ever told you something so incredible and unbelievable that your only response was, "I have to see it to believe it!" Many of us choose to not believe in things that we just cannot see.

Seeing something makes it alot easier to believe.

Recently, I was at Walmart and as I turned down the cereal aisle, I couldn't believe what I saw! or I should say, who I saw! Right there in the middle of the aisle stood an old friend that had moved away a couple of years ago. I was completely amazed to see my old friend in a place that I least expected it!

The amazement that overwhelmed me must have been what it was like for the Shepherds on the day an angel appeared before them. Afterall, who would have thought that right in the middle of the field, an angel would appear? Their amazement and curiosity must have been what caused them to hurry up to Bethlehem.

LUKE 2:15-17 "So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, 'Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.' (16) And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. (17) Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child."

It was easy for the Shepherds to believe, because they saw with their own eyes. They saw the angel. They saw the star. The saw the stable. The saw Mary and Joseph. The saw Baby Jesus. But what about those that the shepherds went to tell about what they saw ... they did not see with their own eyes.

How much more difficult was it for them to believe?

Most likely the people gathered around and began to chatter among themselves. Whispering things to one another about the shepherds and what they were saying. The crowd probably separated into two different groups... the ones who believed and those that did not believe.

Isn't that just like our world?

We have believers and unbelievers. For those of us that believe, it is because we have seen the hand of God; His love, His grace and His forgiveness. Those that doubt and don't believe just haven't opened their eyes and their hearts to see what is clearly right before their eyes... The Hope of Salvation!

The angels asked the shepherds to follow them to see something amazing...I wonder, would you follow someone who you physically could not see, but yet promised to lead you to something amazing?

That is exactly what having faith in Jesus Christ is like.

Seeing is indeed believing!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

THANKFUL THURSDAY...Are you hungry?

Have you ever noticed what we say when we are really hungry?
"I'm starving to death!"  I doubt that we are THAT hungry, but the truth is most of us get to looking for something to eat as soon as we feel a tinge of hunger pains. In fact, I have noticed that the more I eat, the hungrier I get! It doesn't matter how much food I pile on my plate at a local buffet, I can walk out stuffed but it won't be long until I am starving once again.

If you have ever been this kind of hungry or thirsty, you know exactly what Jesus is speaking of in Matthew:

"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled." (Matthew 5:6)

This is a clear picture of someone who is hungry and thirsty for God Himself. Someone who hungers and thirsts for righteousness. Someone with such a hunger that it cannot be satisfied with just one trip, the more you seek; the more you will thirst for more!

The Psalmist said, "As the deer pants for the water brooks, so pants my soul for You, O God." (Psalm 42:1) This is exactly the kind of spiritual hunger that I desire. Today on THANKFUL THURSDAY, I am thankful that when my soul thirsts, His Word and His Spirit satisfies!

What are you hungry for today?
IRIS is hosting THANKFUL THURSDAY for the month of December...please visit her and link up your post! HAPPY TT!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

WEDNESDAY WEEKLY WORD...His goodness is pursuing us!

If there was ever a man who needed safety and security, it was David!
During his youth he was hated, persecuted, and at times even hunted by Saul, the king of Israel. Then later in his life, Davd was targeted again by his own son, Absalom and the entire nation of Israel. Yet even in the midst of turmoil and betrayal, David always found refuge in God.

PSALM 23:6 "Surely goodness and loving kindness will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever."

The very first word in this scripture is "Surely", which in hebrew means "Indeed, certain, without a doubt." David is so sure of his security, that he is trying to convey to us his confidence of knowing that God will indeed take care of him.

In last weeks Your Opinion Matters Poll, I polled the readers the following question, "What is one that makes you feel secure?" The top 3 responses were:

1. 81% of those voting said they feel secure having God's peace.
2. 63% voted and said that having someone love them makes them feel secure.
3. 9% responded and said they find security in having money.

No doubt, we all chase after security in some form. But what chases after us?

Did you know that the cheetah is the fastest animal on land and can run up to 70 miles per hour? It is twice as fast as a greyhound or a horse. But what really interests me is the fact that the cheetah will fix its attention on its preys neck when it chases it. He doesn't move his eyes off of the target, nothing will distract a cheetah's focus once it commits to the pursuit.

This is exactly what David is saying in Psalms...just like a cheetah commits and chases after its prey, without a doubt, God's goodness pursues us! This doesn't mean that every thing that happens to us is "good". God is not the source of calamity, hardship and suffering. The truth is that bad things happen to good people, and bad things will happen to God's people. Nowhere in scripture does it say that believers will be exempt from struggles of life.

But the good news is that when we do struggle or fall onto bad times, God's goodness will pursue us! No matter how bad our situation is, God will always bring something good out of it.

God did it for David and He will do it for you too!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A PIECE OF MY HEART...choose sacrifice!

As followers of Christ, we are taught to put others first.
We are to love, honor and serve others more than we love, honor and serve ourselves! But this is not always easy. In fact, such a sacrifice may almost seem too difficult for us. After all, putting someone first may mean we don't get what we want, when we want it!

If it didn't hurt alittle bit, then it wouldn't be much of a sacrifice, now would it?

No matter how difficult it may seem, nothing is as difficult as the ultimate sacrifice that Jesus gave for each of us. His sacrifice extended to the vilest of sinners, the unwanted, the unlovable, and the needy as well as those who were already His followers.

PHILIPPIANS 2:3 "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves."

Putting others first may mean that we have to give up that close parking spot at Wal-Mart, or it may mean doing something that you don't really want to do. No matter how difficult the sacrifice may seem, remember, Jesus didn't HAVE to give His life...He CHOSE to!

What can you give up for someone today?

and this has been a piece of my heart today!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Living on leftovers?

Today is the day that we live on leftovers.
Leftover turkey, leftover ham, leftover dressing and all of that leftover pie! We go to the refrigerator and dine on whatever is leftover from the big Thanksgiving Day feast!

Sometimes, in our walk with God, we do the same thing. Feast on the leftovers. We try to get by on where we were with the Lord yesterday. We forget that His mercy and goodness is new every  morning. We don't have to be satisfied with what was, when God has so much more in store for us!

LAMENTATIONS 3:23 "Thy mercies are new every morning."

May today be just as satisfying with God as it was yesterday.
In fact...may it even be MORE satisfying! Let's not live on leftovers!

Have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

THANKFUL THURSDAY...Happy Thanksgiving!

Have you ever had a child beg you for something and when you finally gave it to them, they forgot to thank you?
 In the book of Luke, this very thing happened with some lepers:

"Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance and called out in a loud voice, "Jesus, Master, have pity on us!" When he saw them, he said, "Go, show yourselves to the priests." And as they went, they were cleansed. One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus' feet and thanked him--and he was a Samaritan. Jesus asked, "Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?" Then he said to him, "Rise and go; your faith has made you well." (Luke 17:11-19)

In Jesus' time, leprosy was an incurable skin disease. People with Leprosy were hated, feared and looked down on by other people. They couldn't live with their families or community. They were outcasts, and had to live with other lepers. It was a lonely life, a terrible way to live!

All ten of these people who had leprosy knew that Jesus had the power to heal them. In fact, they cried out for Him to have pity on them so they would be healed. And Jesus did heal them, but once they were healed, they forgot to show their gratefulness. Well, all of them except one. Only one took the time to come back to Jesus to say thank you.

On this THANKSGIVING DAY, may we understand the power that God has in our lives and may we live our lives like the one leper who returned to God to give thanks.

"For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless." Psalm 84:11

Please share your grateful heart with ours here at THANKFUL THURSDAY by linking up your post below. Next week you will find TT over at (Grace Alone), Iris will be hosting for December. It has been a joy to be your hostess this month and from my house to yours, I wish you a very blessed and bountiful Thanksgiving!


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

WEDNESDAY WEEKLY WORD...responding like a dye pack!

God created all of us with a need to interact with others and to rely upon each other.
It was His plan that we would all be born into a family, His desire is also that we contribute to our community and connect with other like believers. There is no avoiding it - we are connected to mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, children, friends, spouses, co-workers, pastors and so many more. All of these relationships have the potential to strengthen and bless us, they also have the potential to cause us pain.

This has always been something that people struggle with. Face it, people hurt us and we hurt people. Either intentionally or unintentionally. Hurt often times cause damage, not just to our relationships but to ourselves. It is not the hurt itself that causes the most damage though, it is how we respond to the hurt and how we react to those who have hurt us.

In last weeks YOUR OPINION MATTERS POLL, I polled the readers the following question, "What do you do when someone hurts you?" The top 3 responses were:

1. 50% of those voting said that they PRAY when they get hurt.
2. 25% voted and said that they HIDE how they feel when they are hurt.
3. Another 25% responded and said that they HURT THEM BACK.

I love how 25% of the voters were honest with themselves. To be honest, I think that percentage would be higher if I asked "how many of us have just "thought" about getting revenge!" Bitterness starts with a thought and it doesn't take long before it begins to grow.

HEBREWS 12:15 "See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled."

How can my bitterness cause someone to be defiled?
Well another word for defiled is "stained" and often times my action or reaction to someone can certainly stain our relationship or relationship with God!

This reminds me of the dye packs that banks use on their money. When a robber steals the money, after a certain amount of time, the dye explodes and everything near by is covered with permanent ink, including the money. There is no removing this ink stain, you can't wash it off, rub it off or get rid of it.

This is exactly what this passage in Hebrews is saying. At some point when bitterness takes root, it will eventually explode and color everything. It will affect all of the relationships that God has ordained us to be in. It is God's desire not only for us to have relationships, but that we show His love and grace to those around us ... yes, even the ones that hurt us!

Don't let your dye pack explode!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A PIECE OF MY HEART...accepting what we don't deserve!

As we fast approach Thanksgiving, I can't help but to think about all the wonderful blessings that I have been given. This time of year is always so great as we take time to reflect on the things that we are so thankful for. But why do we need a special day to do that? Isn't being thankful an attitude of the heart and not just a special day?

Sometimes, I think that we forget to give thanks, especially when everything is going great in our life! And when we don't get what we think we deserve, having a grateful heart is probably not happening, in fact, many times I find myself grumbling, complaining and whining.

Instead of having an attitude of gratitude, we have an attitude of "I deserve!' I DESERVE that promotion! I DESERVE to get an "A" in this class! I DESERVE to go on this expensive vacation!

DEUTERONOMY 8:18 "Remember the Lord your God, for it is He Who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms His covenant, which He swore to your forefathers, as it is today."

May we never forget where our blessings come from!
They come from His Hand and not because we deserve any of it. We are not any more deserving than anyone else. He blesses us because He loves us and because His Grace is sufficient. We may not deserve this awesome gift from God - but He gives it, freely, to all who will accept it!

Have a grateful heart today!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Gather up those crumbs!

In my kitchen, there seems to be no use for crumbs.
When the last piece of bread has been taken from the bread box, the crumbs are tossed away. The cookie jar gets lots of attention, until the last cookie is taken and nothing is left but some crumbs. Face it, crumbs just don't seem to matter!

I am so glad that God does not think this way about the crumbs in our life. You know, those things in our life that others find no value in but yet He sees the important potential each of them has. God never tosses those imperfections out, in fact, He gathers up those fragments of our lives and uses it!

JOHN 6:12 "When they were filled, He said unto His disciples, gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing will be lost."

When Jesus fed the 5000, He made sure that every crumb was collected carefully. Each crumb mattered to Him and He used each particle of bread that day. If just one crumb of bread was so important to Jesus, how much more value and worth are we to Him?

When we look within ourselves, we may see nothing but crumbs but God sees so much more! Our crumbs are really worth something these days!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Attitude adjustment!

When it comes to disappointments and frustrations with life, Paul certainly had his share! But inspite of all of that, he also knew how to keep the right attitude!

I am not sure that I share the same attitude that Paul had. Face it, sometimes when life is hard and people let me down, I get the wrong attitude! I get angry, I get bitter and sometimes I even feel sorry for myself. Face it, from the very first days of daycare, we are all prone to want to get our own way. And when we don't get our way, we sulk, we pout and we cry about it.

But this is not the right attitude to have for a Christian!

James tells us to "Count it all joy when we fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of our faith produces patience." (James 1:2,3)

James is not saying that we will not have frustrations or trials, because until the end of time, people will let us down and we will let people down. It is just the way the world turns. But when we take on the attitude that Paul had, things change. What changes is not just our attitude, but our perspective.

Do you need an attitude adjustment today?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

THANKFUL THURSDAY...Are you having a Cain or Abel Thanksgiving?

It is hard to believe that next week is Thanksgiving!
As we all begin to prepare our kitchens for the big day, I wonder if we have taken time to prepare our hearts as well?

I was reading the other day about one of the first Thanksgiving's. No, not the traditional Pilgrim Thanksgiving that we all know so well. But the first Thanksgiving with Cain and Abel...

"At harvest time Cain brought to the LORD a gift of his farm produce, while Abel brought several choice lambs from the best of his flock. The LORD accepted Abel and his offering, but he did not accept Cain and his offering. This made Cain very angry and dejected. "Why are you so angry?" the LORD asked him. "Why do you look so dejected? You will be accepted if you respond in the right way. But if you refuse to respond correctly, then watch out! Sin is waiting to attack and destroy you, and you must subdue it." (Genesis 4:3-6)

Here we have one thanksgiving, two men, two offerings, and two totally different reactions.
The Lord was looking for both Cain and Abel to realize Who God was and Who He was not! Thus, creating in my mind, the first Thanksgiving, a challenge of who would give gratefully from their heart.

I don't really know why God rejected Cain's offering, but clearly, Cain had a mind-set that just did not set right with God. Abel, on the other hand, gave his offering with a grateful heart and this caused God to smile back at him.

It is that smile on God's face that I want to see. Yes, the turkey turning out just right is important, and having plenty of seats for all of the dinner guests is also very important. But if giving thanks this year is just to please others and not to please God, something will be missing...His smile will be missing from our thanksgiving celebration!

As we all take time to reflect on life and respond with gratefulness, may we not forget that God cares so much more about the attitude behind the gratitude!

So what is on your menu this Thanksgiving? Are you going to have a Cain or a Abel kind of Thanksgiving? Join us this week for THANKFUL THURSDAY and share with us your TT post by linking up below!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

WEDNESDAY WEEKLY WORD...walk, don't run!

The Psalmist David writes in Psalms, "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death." (Psalm 23:4) Notice how David writes, "Even though I walk..." He does not say IF I walk, but rather he writes as if he already knows that he will go through a valley.

One thing about knowing what lies ahead is that it gives us time to prepare.
For instance, when I know that friends are coming over for dinner, I have time to make the preparations. I go to the store, I bake a pie the night before, I make sure the house is straightened and that there is plenty of cokes on hand to drink. David, as a shepherd of a flock had to make some preparations:

Depending on the time of year, a shepherd would have to move his sheep from one geographical place to another. In the springtime, the sheep would graze down near the Jordan River, but when summer came the shepherds would steer their flocks towards the hills, where the temperatures were cooler and there was more grass to graze on. In Jerasulem, there was a valley known as the "valley of the shadow of death". I read that it was about 4.5 miles long and 1500 feet deep. The passageway was narrow and I would imagine that David had quite the challenge to manuever his flock of sheep thru this area.

But David knew what the valley was like, and he was prepared to get thru it safely!

The valleys or difficulties that we face are no different. Sometimes it almost seems unbearable or unpassable, but with preparation and faith I believe that we can safely cross thru. In last week's YOUR OPINION MATTERS POLL, I polled the readers the following question, "When you experience difficulty, what is the first thing that you do?" The top 3 responses were:

1. 61% of those voting said that they get stressed out!
2. 38% voted and said that the first thing they do is pray!
3. 15% responded and said that they cry!

No doubt we all experience all three of those things when hard times hit us. But David shows me in the 23rd Psalm exactly how we can prepare our hearts for these trying times...

"Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me." (Psalm 23:4)

David says, " I fear no evil". God never intended for the believer to be ruled and troubled by fear! We must REFUSE to become discouraged in our time of difficulty. David is not denying that evil exists, however, he simply refuses to fear it. 

Going thru the narrow passageway, the flock of sheep learned to trust their shepherd. When we have confidence in the Shepherd (our God), we can walk through our valley, not run, not stumble, not get worked up in a panic frenzy ... but trust His leading!

The Shepherd is watching over His flock, and it is not His desire for one to fall away. He has you in His palm. Are you in a diffiucult situation right now? Be prepared to walk thru this valley and trust His leading, He will not let you fall! 

Monday, November 15, 2010

A PIECE OF MY HEART... Do you have any IOU's?

Using a credit card is nothing more than a big IOU! You see something that you want or can't live without but you don't have the cash? NO PROBLEM ... just swipe your credit card and sign your IOU and walk out with the new CD that was just released!

Once you walk out of the store with your new purchase, you probably don't give any more thought to the IOU you signed until later in the month when you get your credit card statement and you see your $20 CD is now costing you $25, $29 or $32! All of a sudden, you wish you wouldn't have made such a promise to pay that much for something you probably didn't need.

Paying our debts is very important. Each of us is faced with a decision ... do we pay our debts on time or do we blow it off? Keeping our promises does not just apply to financial debt that we accumulate, when we make commitments to friends, families and co-workers, do we honor our promise or do we just blow them off?

Jesus ALWAYS keeps His commitments to us!

He promised, "My purpose is to give life in all its fullness" (John 10:10), hasn't He filled your life with good things?

He said, "I... have come to seek and save those ... who are lost" (Luke 19:10),  and that's exactly what He did when He died on the cross.

He promised, "I am with you always, even to the end of the age" (Matthew 28:20),  and haven't you sensed that He is really there for you?

So when God asks us to pay what we owe and make good on the promises that we make, He is asking us to do something that He has already done...and continues to do!

Do you have any IOU's? Make sure you fulfill the promises that you have made!

and this has been a piece of my heart today;

zoned out!

I am a busybody!
Not like as in gossiping but as in always having something to do. The truth be told, I would say that I am a modern day Martha. Busy with this, busy with that. I hardly ever take time to just sit and relax.

Sometimes I get so busy with things that I just tune everything out. The phone, the TV, the radio, the dogs, and yes, even sometimes the kids. The kids seem to know exactly what to do to get my attention when I am in one of my "zoned out" states. They will call my name...
"Mom?"... "MOM?"... "LAURIE!!"

The first two times usually does not get my attention, but when I hear the kids call me by my given name ... believe me, I listen then!

I hate to admit this, but sometimes in my time with the Lord, I also find myself "zoned out!" Instead of listening for His voice, I find myself just talking and talking about what is on my mind and in my heart. I go from one thing to another, never focusing on what He is trying to say to me. It is no wonder God has to call out my name sometimes...

"Daughter?" ..."DAUGHTER?" ..."LAURIE!!"

PSALM 46:10 "Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth."

I need to sit at His feet more and just be still, it is in these quiet moments that I will be able to hear His very still voice. I do not want to miss out on what He is saying to me just because I cannot hear Him over my own voice.

"Dear Lord, please teach me to be still before you. I want to listen to You and Your ways, I don't want you to have to shout my name to get my attention. I give You my heart, my thoughts, and my ears! Speak to me Lord, I am listening!" -AMEN