On Wings Of Eagles

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Thursday, January 31, 2019

Your harvest depends on how much you sow.

2 Corinthians 9:9 (ESV)
As it is written, “He has distributed freely, he has given to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.”

Verse 6 of 2 Corinthians 9 says: “He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.” Do you know anyone who wants to do a little bit of work, but take home a big paycheck? People like this want to be highly favored by God. They want a big blessing; they just don’t want to do anything for it.

A farmer knows that if he wants 15 acres of produce, he’d better sow 15 acres of seed. He can’t just throw out a few leftover handfuls of seed after he has eaten all the grain God has provided, and then expect to reap a bountiful harvest.

This is where it gets convicting. Too many people in God’s family want a big payday from heaven when they sow nothing, or very little, in terms of honoring God with the first and best of their resources.  A farmer who sows sparingly isn’t fooling anyone but himself if he thinks he’s in for a bountiful harvest, and the same is true for any believer. That’s why the Bible says we can’t fool God. Are you holding back from giving because you’re afraid of what might happen? If so, remember that when we obey God and sow in faith for His glory and not for personal gain, we not only reap what we sow, but more than we sow.

What area of your life are you holding back from giving, out of fear of the worldly consequences? 

Dear Lord, help us to sow to the fullest. Help us to not hold back as we spread Your love. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Your harvest depends on what you sow

Luke 6:38 (ESV)
Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.

This is the simple principle of farming that if you plant apple seeds, you won’t get a pear tree. What you plant has to be predicated on what you want to harvest. That’s why Jesus said in Luke 6:38, “Give, and it will be given to you.” Your need will tell you the kind of seed to plant so that your seed will reproduce after its own kind. The Bible cautions us: “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap” (Galatians 6:7).

The problem is a lot of people want to sow evil and reap good. So if your sowing is bad, expect to reap bad unless you resow. To access God’s grace in the law of the harvest, you sow what you want to reap.

The apostle Paul made a great promise in Philippians 4:19, which says: “And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in Christ Jesus.” The phrase “according to” means “in keeping with;” in other words, a supply that is in character with the God who owns it all. That’s exciting, but the preceding 18 verses of Philippians 4 show that this promise of a bountiful harvest on God’s part is set in the context of faithful giving to His work as the Philippians supported Paul.

If the Lord were to give you the necessities of life - food, clothing, shelter - “according to” your giving to His work, would you have plenty?

Dear Lord, we pray that we would work on giving to You. Help us to dedicate our self to working for Your Kingdom. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Today is my birthday

Today is my birthday. Today, I was born.
Well, not literally today. What I mean is, today is my birthday; way back a while ago – many moons ago – I was born.

As I write this, my body is now finishing its 56th trip around the sun. Breathing, walking, running, caring, beating, thinking, moving, eating, drinking, trusting, fearing, loving, parenting, laughing, singing, wondering, seeing, hearing, touching, talking life.

As I am reflecting on my birthday, all those years ago, when I first took a breath of earth’s air. I’m reminded of one of a favorite passage in the book of Psalms.

Psalm 139:13-18
13 For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

I Was Made by God. I am not ordinary. I am extraordinary. I was fashioned and designed by more than random evolution. I was made with intention and thought.

14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

Stand in awe in light of who I am. Relax; that’s not my ego talking. That’s the verse above talking. I am “fearfully” made. Wonderfully, in fact. Actually, I know my place in the story. I’m not the big point, but I am a little one. One of the points, in the Story that surrounds us all. As we meet, your story (and mine) will change. I choose for your story to be better because you’ve met me.

15 My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.

I Am Known. I will never be lonely. I am known. If I was on a desert island or thrust into the farthest vacuum of space, I would still be known.

16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.

My Life Has Meaning and Purpose. Days were ordained for me. Purposed for me. Intended for me to live within them. This agenda, this schedule, was known. Known in a way that means my presence within these moments, minutes, hours, days, years, lifetime is not random. My life has meaning and purpose. I was meant to be here. I was meant to smile at you. I was meant to breathe and my heart to beat.

17 How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them! 18 Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand.  When I awake - I am still with you.

I Remain in the Thoughts of God. Here’s the beautiful part. I was not born, then left to live on my own. I am in the thoughts of God.

Dear Lord, we thank You for the gift of life that You have given to each of us. Help us to take the time to share with others what You have done for us. In the Name of Jesus, Amen. 

Monday, January 28, 2019

Your harvest depends on whether you sow.

2 Corinthians 9:5-6 (ESV)
5 So I thought it necessary to urge the brothers to go on ahead to you and arrange in advance for the gift you have promised, so that it may be ready as a willing gift, not as an exaction. 6 The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.

In farming you cannot access a harvest without sowing the seed. Farmer Brown can stand in his field all day and ask Got to bless him with a harvest. But unless Farmer Brown has planted his seed, his prayers will do no good.

So if you have a need, the question is, did you plant a seed? Without the seed, it can rain and the sun can shine, but nothing is going to happen because when it comes to experiencing God’s grace, it must be accessed.

Have you sown your seed? If not, where would be a good place to start?

Dear Lord, help us to focus on planting the seeds in our life that we need to. We thank You that You will honor the work that we do. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

We can know for sure

1 John 5:13-15 (ESV)
13 I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life. 14 And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.

What do we know is certain? We all have a deep desire for certainty. People search in different areas of life just to find out something for sure. As you look at God’s design for our lives, true certainty comes from only one thing. Hebrews 11:1, the Bible defines faith as being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. Isn’t it amazing that the one thing God told us we can be certain of, an eternal life through Christ, is something we can’t physically hear, see, or touch?

What we do have is a promise in His Word. Authentic believers live this life certain of one thing: we can overcome this world through Christ believing that our eternity comes from knowing Him.

Why not today devote your life to the truth. Though we cannot truly predict what the next hour will bring, we know the One who holds the future. His name is Jesus Christ. The more we trust that, the more it will be evident in everything we do. When it's true in our hearts, our actions can't help but begin to follow. Jesus tells us the greatest commandments are to love God and to love others (Mark 12:29-31). From this day forward, declare to live your life with these commandments at the top of the list as you become the authentic follower of Christ.

Dear Lord, we thank You that You are the truth. Help us to devote our life to You completely starting today.  In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Real Love

1 John 4:7-12 (ESV)
7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.

When I watch TV, check the Internet, or listen to those  conversations around me, it’s clear that our society sometimes has a very poor understanding of love. The amazing thing is there is so much information out there about this subject. There are thousands of books currently in print with the word "love" in the title. Not to mention the huge amount of websites that use the word "love" as one of their key search words.

It is very clear how important love is to our culture – to people in general. But with all this information available, love has become a very confusing subject. With our society so confused about love, who is to say what love is? The answer is God! One of the simplest and yet most profound definitions of love is found in 1 John 4:8 "…God is love."

Did you ever prepare for an exam at school and realized when you started the test you had been studying the wrong chapter? If you have done this or can picture this happening it sounds pretty crazy, right? Let's ask ourselves this question though, Where are we learning about God's love from? Our answer to this question is best displayed when our love for God is tested. We have to be careful what we are "studying" and where our information is coming from.

Take a minute and think about two key components of influence: the things you watch and hear (TV, computer, music, etc.) and the friends you surround yourself with. Do these things and people help me on my journey of understanding God’s love?

Dear Lord, thank You for being the author of love. Help us to go to the things that will bring us closer to You and to understand love better. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Friday, January 25, 2019

A child of God

1 John 3:1-3 (ESV)
1 See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 2 Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. 3 And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.

Many of us bear some of the physical attributes of our parents. We may have the same nose as our dad or a smile that resembles our mother. Genetics have determined certain aspects of who we are. There are also characteristics we receive from our parents that aren’t genetic. Those traits are very clear when we say a phrase that sounds just like one of our parents, or we make a decision that was determined from something they taught us as a child.

We take on these characteristics because our parents have a huge part of our development as a person. We spend an enormous amount of time with them, and their influence shapes who we are and what we become.

In 1 John 3:1-6, we are referred to as “children of God”. That is an incredible concept! If God is our father, shouldn’t we begin to take on the characteristics He displays?

Today’s Challenge: Ask yourself this question: Who do you want to be like? So many of us want our lives to reflect the life of Jesus, but the time and effort we put into knowing Him doesn’t match up. Just like any relationship we have on earth, getting to know someone takes effort and communication.

Spend extra time today getting to know your heavenly Father. This can include reading His Word, praying, and even having open dialogue with others about who they think He is. You will have the opportunity to learn about the attributes of God. Every relationship needs energy to grow. Today is the day you take the relationship to the next level.

Even when we are tired, weary and emotionally distraught, if we spend time alone with God, we find that He injects into our bodies energy, power and strength.

Dear Lord, help us to take the time to spend with You in Your word and though prayer. Help us to become more and more like You. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Letting Go

1 John 2:15-17 (ESV)
15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. 17 And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.

When we talk about the “world” as Christians, what exactly are we talking about? This isn’t a reference to the physical or material world, but the invisible nature of sin that controls mankind and is in direct opposition to God. It is possible for a person to avoid such things as drinking, smoking, cursing, etc. and still love the world.

Worldliness is a matter of the heart, and when we love the world’s system and the things in it, we are sacrificing our love for God.

We give up things we love for things we love even more. What is something worldly you are holding to that you need to let go of?

Christ is the perfect role model of sacrifice. He gave up everything for us. He stayed focused on the task at hand. Nobody believed in Him, the crowd turned on Him, and the government mocked Him. Still, He didn’t let this world deter Him. Neither will you. So what are you going to give up?

Dear Lord, help us take a good look at what worldly things we are hanging onto Help us to give them up so that we may be more like You. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Choosing Right

1 John 2:3-6 (ESV)
3 And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. 4 Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, 5 but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: 6 whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.

As human beings, disobedience is something that comes natural to us. When we were children, no one had to teach us how to break the rules. Something inside of us tells us to go when someone tells us to stop.

Today we look at disobedience. There is a desire in all of us to rebel when people in authority tell us what to do. God’s Word tells us that those that truly know Christ do what He says to do. It also says that those who continually disobey Him are not truly followers.

So we must discover how to overcome the side of us that wants to go against the guidelines that have been given to us. Our lives are filled with opportunities to make right and wrong decisions. When we choose to be disobedient, we are making a decision that goes much deeper than we could ever realize.

Make sure you focus less on what you cannot do and more on who God is. We all have sinned. We all have a sinful nature. The truth is sin and disobedience can seem natural, so the more you focus on what you can’t do, the harder it can become to do the right thing.

Today, chase after God. Read your Bible more, discuss new lessons learned with others, and fill your thoughts with Him. The more you do, the more natural obedience will become.

Dear Lord, we pray that we would be more obedient. Help us to stay in Your word so we will know what You have for us to do. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

How to Walk

1 John 1:5-10 (ESV)
5 This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

Many times in the New Testament the Christian life is referred to as a “walk”. John goes even further and says that our walk can be in light or it can be in darkness.

Just as an infant learns to walk and overcomes different challenges, the Christian must learn to walk in the light. In this passage John uses the contrast of light and darkness to challenge readers about authentic Christianity.

In “light”, John is referring to holiness and purity, while “darkness” refers to sin and worldliness. The emphasis is that these two symbols are complete opposites and can’t exist together. John also talks about those that “walk” in darkness, which shows a continued pattern of the lifestyle.

As believers in Christ we may occasionally “step” in darkness, but our convictions will not allow us to stay there.

Think about your life as being the “only Bible that someone will ever read.” If someone watched you for a full day and recorded everything they saw and heard, how would they describe a Christian? Would there be a clear picture of who God designed us to be? What about the people you spend your time with, your friends and family? Are they living in the light?.

Nobody is perfect. It’s not about perfection; it’s about progress. What changes can be made in your life that can keep you walking in the light and away from the darkness?

Dear Lord, help us to walk in the light. Help us to have the strength to share the light You have put in us so that those around us will see You. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Monday, January 21, 2019

What Is Real?

2 Corinthians 13:5 (ESV)
Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!

The Christian life that is real will display several “essential features” giving evidence of a changed person. These features are very clear in I John, where we see several “tests” that compare our lives to that of Jesus Christ.

So what does it mean to live the authentic Christian life? Many try to make it a very complicated issue, but God’s Word makes it very clear. It does this by giving us a model for our lives. Jesus Christ was clearly an original.

Think about the immense influence He had during the short time He walked on this earth. He is the model for all believers to follow. We can know who Christians are by how closely they resemble the “original”. John had a deeper understanding of the original because he had seen, heard, and touched Christ. Through this life-changing encounter, he was compelled to live in a way that reflected the mission of Jesus!

Think about just one feature of Christ you wish you had (His patience, His joy, etc.). Focus in on that one attribute over the next few days. Pray that God will reveal to you specific adjustments that can help you display more of this characteristic.

Doing this successfully will ultimately display more of who Christ is. You will impact and inspire more people than you could ever imagine. The best part is people will sense the difference without you saying or telling them since it is becoming a natural part of your life.

People don’t always remember what you say or even what you do, but they do remember how you made them feel.

What can you do this week that will help others see Christ in your life?

Dear Lord, we pray that You would open our eyes to the things that we can change that will show others You in our life. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Why Trust Is So Important

Proverbs 3:5-10 (ESV)
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
    and do not lean on your own understanding.
6 In all your ways acknowledge him,
    and he will make straight your paths.
7 Be not wise in your own eyes;
    fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.
8 It will be healing to your flesh
    and refreshment to your bones.
9 Honor the Lord with your wealth
    and with the first fruits of all your produce;
10 then your barns will be filled with plenty,
    and your vats will be bursting with wine.

Trust can be delicate and challenging to find. Most people have pieces of history where someone let them down or took advantage of them. There was existing trust extended to another and that trust was shattered in the aftermath of betrayal. It doesn’t matter who you are; I’ve witnessed a scale where pastors limit their circle in extreme lengths, to people shutting out those that love them most to avoid loss again.

Trust is one of the most important attributes of the Christian walk. Trusting God and His process is key to our faith journey, and yet for most of us, our experiences in our past can leave us scared to death or unsure of how to trust. As we walk through the trust journey; however, you must first understand why it’s important.

Proverbs 3:5-10 is an exploration of that why. The first step in our why is to acknowledge our God and His plans. An understanding of the power, depth, and perfection of His plan must be acknowledged by you and me. When we can embrace that His plan and process, the best possible journey to be on, something happens. God MAKES our path straight.

There is a direct correlation between acknowledging Him and the direction of our lives. It can be hard to trust the invisible and unforeseen, but you must extend your trust to God. When you don’t do that you are taking your future out of the hands of the Almighty and placing it into a dangerous place...the world.

Take a minute to pray about today’s verses and come to terms where your trust must be. Do that and watch God go above and beyond your expectations. We must continually remind our self in the unknown that God has a plan, He is in control, and He has our best interests at heart. So, all we have is trust.

Dear Lord, we pray that we would learn to trust in You completely. Thank You that You are in control of everything even when we don’t understand. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Woof, Woof, Woof!

Luke 11:5-8 (ESV)
5 And he said to them, “Which of you who has a friend will go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves, 6 for a friend of mine has arrived on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; 7 and he will answer from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed. I cannot get up and give you anything’? 8 I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his impudence he will rise and give him whatever he needs.

Continuing with stories about dogs that have a lesson for each of us I found this one about being persistent.

Having assembled my usual cup of tea, Bible, paper, and pen, I finally sat down to write. I had just gotten comfortable to pray, read the Scriptures, and begin another chapter, when I heard a sound outside the front door. A small woof drifted to my ears from our front porch. Having just begun a new story, I ignored Joy’s soft bark and kept writing. It wasn’t long before I heard it again. “Woof,” she barked, this time a little louder. I was in the middle of a stream of writing, and it was a beautiful day outside, so I continued to write. I tend to get in the flow of my writing and tune out the world around me. I was on a roll, writing a new devotion, and I wanted to stay in the stream of thought.

In a couple of minutes, I heard a louder, more insistent woof from outside the front door. Joy was persisting in her request to come back inside our house. I knew she wasn’t going to give up and take a nap on the front porch, as I’d hoped, so I got up and let her in. She happily trotted into the house, stationing herself on the back of the couch for her afternoon nap. I went back to writing and all was well. I completed the project despite the interruption. It wasn’t long, though, before my mind turned back to Joy’s increasingly insistent woofs outside the front door. As I read my Bible and prayed, I thought about her woof, woof, woof as a model for prayer. Let me explain.

I was reading Luke 11, where Jesus taught His disciples about prayer. First, He gave them a pattern to use in the Lord’s Prayer, and then He taught them about the importance of persistence through the parable of the persistent friend, found in Luke 11:5–8. There Jesus likened His heavenly Father to a man who’s just gotten himself and his family tucked into bed for the night after a long, tiring day. Any parent with young children knows that this can be quite an accomplishment, particularly in close quarters.

Suddenly at midnight the homeowner’s sleep is disturbed by a knock on the door by a friend in need. Reluctant to disturb his family and get out of bed, thereby waking his whole household, he refuses the request. However, the friend persists in his request, ultimately succeeding in his pursuit of assistance from the homeowner. Jesus uses the story to teach us that prayer is not a passive or singular exercise. He encourages believers, through this and other parables, to persist on the stubborn points in prayer.

Don’t get me wrong. God is not unwilling to answer His children’s pleas. However, the nature of this present age and the reality of spiritual warfare in the fallen world we live in necessitate faith-filled, persistent prayer. Jesus knew that, of course, which is why He gave us this parable. Like the persistent friend in Jesus’ parable and my insistent dog outside my front door that day, believers who persist in their faith-filled prayers are sure to get an answer in line with God’s will.

Dear Lord, we confess that we can be distracted and easily discouraged over circumstances in my our and easily give up. Help us to be persistent and keep faith that You are working and will answer our prayers. In the Name of Jesus, Amen. 

Friday, January 18, 2019

Just Say No

Ephesians 6:10-13 (ESV)
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.

Here is a story I found that goes along with our verse today.

My little Cavachon, Joy, and I were out for a walk on a beautiful summer’s evening. She trotted along next to me, her usual happy self. As we rounded a bend in the sidewalk and headed up a hill, I suddenly noticed a large black dog with its tail erect staring at us. I didn’t like the looks of his stance. He began to run toward us, with his owner casually walking behind, stating how friendly he was. I had an inner sense he was anything but friendly, in spite of his owner’s words.

The dog charged out of his yard, came onto the sidewalk, and towered over my little pet. He gave a few casual sniffs then turned to walk away. Suddenly, however, he turned back toward Joy with teeth bared, ready to snap! There was no time to run, and in a split second I knew that would make matters worse. I looked that dog in the eye, stepped boldly toward him, and shouted, “No!” right in his face. He was startled and stopped his attack. By that time his owner had reached us and began pulling her so-called friendly pet back into her yard, apologizing profusely.

As we began to walk on, both Joy and I were a bit shaken. I reassured her with loving pats and kind words. I continued to pray and recognized that the incident was a lot like spiritual warfare (the unseen battle between God’s holy angels and Satan’s demons played out through earthly circumstances or people). The devil comes to tempt or attack Christians or their loved ones, often when they least expect it, and disguised in seemingly innocuous ways. However, the Holy Spirit can help believers to have an inner sense that something is amiss, as I did out on my dog walk that night.

Because I was listening to the Holy Spirit’s prompting in my heart instead of the dog owner’s voice, I was able to quickly step into the path of that aggressive dog, shouting “No!” and preventing a sure bite. Jesus did the same thing to Satan in the face of his wilderness temptations as detailed in Luke 4. When the devil tempted Jesus, the Lord spoke directly back to him using the Word of God as a spiritual weapon. He overcame the devil with His Word!

Jesus wasn’t passive; He actively resisted the devil, and we need to do the same. Through daily prayer, Bible reading, memorizing Scripture, and practicing the Lord’s presence, the Christian can begin to see unseen or disguised dangers intended to harm their friends or family and just say no in prayer!

Dear Lord, we believe Your Word is truth and that we can use it as a spiritual weapon as You did. Help us to use Your Word as a weapon so we may stand against the devil.  In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Wait for the Master’s Voice

1 Kings 19:12 (ESV)
And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper.

In the town of Talkeetna, Alaska, there are two darling chocolate Labrador Retrievers, aptly named Tally and Keetna. They lived at the outdoor adventure shop that their owners ran. Tally and Keetna greeted all the tourist visitors that came to their shop. Their wagging tails greet everyone that enters the shop.

When people come into the shop the owner is always happy to share her dogs’ tricks. Besides the usual “sit,” “stay,” and “down,” Tally and Keetna were experts at another great dog trick. Their owner joyfully broke a dog treat in half and had them sit side by side. As they obediently sat, their owner balanced half a Milk-Bone on each of their snouts. “Wait,” she commanded. Neither one of them moved an inch. They sat motionless, waiting for the command of their master before indulging in a delicious doggy treat.

In the midst of the busy adventure shop, the Labs were the picture of patience and obedience. Then their opportunity for reward came. “Okay!” their master declared. Gulp! Each dog flipped her treat off of her snout and into her wide-open mouth. It was as if those dogs were grinning ear to ear as they happily chomped down their treats.

Tally and Keetna had been trained to wait for and listen to the command of their master’s voice before they ate their treats. I’m sure that they had plenty of training and prematurely eaten Milk-Bones in the process. Like the two well-trained chocolate Labs, Christians can be trained to wait patiently for their Master Jesus’ commands.

Jesus promised in John 10 that believers would be able to hear and follow His voice. In those verses, Jesus likened Himself to a good shepherd and the believer to sheep. Like sheep who are familiar with and follow their shepherd, so it is with the well-trained Christian. He used this word picture to explain what the Holy Spirit’s leadership for the believer would be like. He further explained that the believer would be able to become sensitive to His voice and learn to follow Him instead of the voice of the evil one. Knowing and following the Master’s commands is a promise to all believers.

With the help of the Holy Spirit, we can train ourselves to sit quietly, in prayer, and listen for His leading. When His specific commands or promises come, it will be a blessing to obey, and we will surely see the reward of our obedience.

Dear Lord, help us to be and listen for Your voice and Your leading each day. Forgive us for those times that we have been disobedient and rushed ahead of You. Help us to train our self, to hear and obey Your voice. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Candy’s Heart: A Lesson in Faith

Hebrews 11:1 (ESV)
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

Candy is a spunky little West Highland White Terrier who belongs to a sweet little girl. They have been constant companions for many years as they go about doing chores on the horse farm where they live. Compared to the large, athletic horses that live on the farm, Candy is pretty small. In fact, she’s not quite halfway up to the knee of one of those huge horses, if you put them side by side. But what Candy lacks in stature, she makes up for in her disposition. She’s all heart. When visitors come to the farm, she bounces down the front steps, tail wagging in a friendly greeting. She’s always cheerful, and it just brightens anyone’s day to visit Candy.

It was a big shock one day when they found out she developed a serious heart condition called chordae tendinae rupture and congestive heart failure, and her survival hung in the balance. The family sent out an urgent prayer request for their sweet little Candy.

In her prayer request, you could discerned a real gift of faith. Her faith demonstrated Hebrews 11:1 perfectly. “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Contrary to the evidence, and well aware of the dire straits that Candy was in, they reached out for God’s hand to guide the veterinary care being given to their darling dog. That’s what faith is. Faith reaches out to other believers for prayer in spite of the evidence.

Many people prayed, asking the Lord to bless the faith of the family and put His healing hand upon Candy’s heart. Over the next few days, many prayers for Candy were made. It was nip and tuck for a while, but Candy made it. At nearly fourteen years old, she has survived for more than two additional years with the intervention of God and excellent veterinary care, because of the faith of a girl who reached out for prayer and asked God to do the impossible.

Dear Lord, we need Your help to see through eyes of faith. We ask you to open our eyes to the possibilities with You rather than seeing the impossible. Thank you, Lord, for giving us eyes to see. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

The Power of Prayer

Philippians 4:6-7 (ESV)
6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

I found this story the other day that shows the power of prayer even when we are sleeping. Here is the story.

While I was sleeping, God was at work. It was unusual for me to sleep until 8:00 on a Thursday morning. Usually I’d be up at 6:00 getting ready to take my kids to school. But that day our girls didn’t have school. I didn’t find out what happened until later. I should preface my story with this. I pray about everything. I try to put Philippians 4:6-7 into practice in my life. One of the things I pray for, in addition to my own family, is our dog, Joy. I regularly pray for her and pet her and ask God to bless and protect her. I pray specifically that she’ll live a long, healthy life.

That morning as our girls and I slept late, my husband was reading the newspaper on the front porch. He told me later that he hadn’t noticed Joy wasn’t wearing her electric collar. As it turned out, our invisible fence had been broken, but we were unaware of it. Our kids go to a Christian school, but the local public schools were in session that day. As a school bus drove down our street, Joy ran to the edge of our yard to bark at it as usual. This time, however, she ran through her invisible fence, out of the yard, and into the path of the oncoming school bus. On her own at only fourteen pounds, she didn’t stand a chance.

As my husband watched in horror, the school bus ran over Joy. He was expecting the worst. But, God! The bus ran straight over Joy without one wheel touching her! She shot straight back into the yard, up onto the front porch, and to the front door. She was shaking but otherwise totally unharmed. Not one hair on her furry little head was touched. That was nothing short of a miracle!

When my husband told me the story later that morning, he was astonished. Immediately Psalm 34:7 sprang into my mind, “The angel of the LORD encamps all around those who fear Him, and delivers them.” I knew in my heart that God had answered my prayers and sent an angel to protect our little dog.

This has served as such a great reminder that God hears and answers prayers of all kinds. We can pray about everything in our lives, the small and the big. God has chosen to work through prayer, and when we truly pray about everything, we can rest and trust that God has heard and will answer.

Dear Lord, help us to remember that You care about every detail of our life and that we can truly pray about everything. There is nothing that is too small for Your attention. We pray that we would know Your loving kindness even more deeply today and remember to bring all our concerns to You. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Escape temptation

1 Corinthians 10:13 (ESV)
No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

We are all vulnerable to temptations and the devil knows exactly what they are. Imagine this scenario:

You are at your desk at work and are tempted to buy cookies from the vending machine. You have an apple in your desk that could ease your hunger better, but a voice whispers “You know you don’t want that.” So the movie begins.

You see yourself eating the cookies. You think about how the cookies will taste and how the sugar buzz will feel after you eat them. You dig in your pocket for change so that you can get those cookies. What happened? You’ve just been seduced by Temptation T.V.

Channel 666 on your mental dial, this channel broadcasts 24 hours a day and its programming caters to your food weaknesses. Its images appear even better than the real thing. But it never lives up to its advertising.

Whenever you find yourself being tempted, check to see if your mind is tuned into Channel 666. If so, think or say in faith, “Lord, I am being tempted. Your word says that I am able to bear this temptation and I believe your word. Show me the way out of this temptation right now and give me the strength to choose that path. I receive the escape and the strength right now in Jesus’ name.”

Whatever the Holy Spirit tells you to do, then do it immediately. The more you tune in to the truth from God's word, the weaker the signals get from Channel 666.

Here is another tip: Do not keep foods in your house that tempt you. Think about a person that has a weakness for cookie binges. They keep some in their kitchen cabinet and are tempted to eat them. They think to themselves why doesn’t the Lord  just remove the temptation.

Well, I am sure the Lord told them that they needed to get rid of the cookies and that was the way He provided for her escape. Remember: The best way to win a fight is to avoid getting into one in the first place.

But if you must face temptations, then combat them with God's word and look for the escape route. God has prepared the path for you - all you have to do is take it!

Dear Lord, thank You for the escape You give us when we are tempted. Help us to turn for the evil one and put our trust in You. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.  

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Stay disciplined

1 Corinthians 9:27 (ESV)
But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.

A couple years ago I made up my mind that I want to be a super-fit 55 year-old. I have a few years before I reach that age (God willing), but there is no time like the present to get started.

Since I have certain physical limitations instead of joining a fitness club I chose to start walking each day and watching how much I ate. It was my goal to walk between 3 and 5 miles a day. Some days were very hard.

But I did it because being fit and healthy is important to me. I want a disciplined body because I want to stay qualified for my life’s purpose.

In today’s scripture, Paul talks about disciplining his body and bringing it under subjection. When something is under subjection, that means that something else controls it.

In the case of your body, your mind is supposed to control what it does. But too often, we fail to exercise that authority!

A vivid example of that was played out in the media not too long ago.

A well-known athlete cheated on his wife with multiple women. Even though he disciplined his mind to excel in his sport, he failed to discipline his mind to resist temptation.

And because of this, his body led him into a situation that hurt his wife, damaged his family, and caused him to lose respect from those who admired him.

When it comes to your weight loss goals, you too must be careful to be a person of integrity, which means wholeness. You keep your word to yourself and others. And your actions match your words.

I’ve seen many examples of people who say that being healthy and getting fit is important to them, yet they act in ways that will bring them the exact opposite result. It seriously damages your confidence and esteem when you say one thing and do another.

So today, resolve to go to the other side of hard by disciplining your body. It starts with disciplining your mind. You can control your thinking and direct your thoughts where you want your body to go.

If you keep your eyes on the prize, you will win and stay qualified for the purpose to which God has called you!

Dear Lord, we pray today that we would discipline our minds to stay focused with the goals before us. In the Name of Jesus, Amen. 

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Embrace the Grace

Romans 6:14 (ESV)
For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.

I have read on Facebook something that saddens and that is people who condemn themselves because of their obese state.

And because they condemn themselves and others have condemned them, they think that God must condemn them too.

Nothing could be further from the truth! God is about restoration, not condemnation. He sees differently than human beings see. Think of it like x-ray vision. God can look right past your body, straight into your heart and mind.

He sees all the invisible thoughts and behaviors that contributed to your physical results. And He has the ability to help you change them.

If you have been condemning yourself for your weight gain and generally being unforgiving to yourself then I believe it saddens God. Why? Because through His grace, He has set you free from garbage thinking. Continuing to put yourself down plays straight into the hands of the enemy.

The enemy wants you to be so condemned and discouraged that you get deeper into bondage. But sin no longer has dominion over you. The only power it has is that which you choose to give it.

Remember who your Father is. In your weight loss journey, think restoration not condemnation. Forgive yourself for your past; after all there is nothing you can do about it.

The body you have now is just a snapshot of the choices you made in the past. The choices you make now will determine the body in which you will live in the future.

A necessary part of embracing health is embracing grace. In that way, you can walk in freedom and newness of life, which is the gift that Christ died to give you.

Dear Lord, help us to not condemn our self or others for their weight. Help us to walk in the newness of life found in You. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.