Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Matthew 2: 1 - 12

Matthew 2
The Visit of the Magi
1After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem 2and asked, "Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him."

3When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. 4When he had called together all the people's chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Christ was to be born. 5"In Bethlehem in Judea," they replied, "for this is what the prophet has written:
6" 'But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for out of you will come a ruler
who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.'"

7Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. 8He sent them to Bethlehem and said, "Go and make a careful search for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him."

9After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh. 12And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.

The beginning of this is an entry from a journal written on 12/4/02. As I stumbled upon it I was reminded of what God spoke to my heart that day. I have continued it with my hope for each of us. It's a little long, but maybe it will speak to someone...

Matt 2:8 says that Herod told the Wise Men he wanted them to come tell him where Jesus was "so he could go and worship Him, too." Evil is so deceitful! In reading the notes in my Study Bible it says Herod supervised the renovation of the Temple, making it bigger and more beautiful than before. Because of this he won some favor with many Jews ~ even though he was full of hatred and killed many people.

Isn't it interesting to see things today in the light of Herod ~ a Politician? 2000 years and politicians haven't changed. They still cover up the bad stuff they do by pointing out the good ~ and they usually make sure the good stuff is REALLY big and REALLY visible.

Its' also an important lesson to note that the Wise Men, once they had come to the end of their journey and found the child-King were "overjoyed" and worshiped Him. They knew this was more than just a child who would grow up to be an earthly king...and through listening hearts and minds they heeded the dream God gave them.

There's so much to get sucked into or "suckered" in to, but when we stay connected, and fully surrendered, and deeply entrenched in God and His Word the truth will come out and we'll see it. The key is to keep our lives completely focused on Him.

As the Wise Men did so long ago...we will find peace when we seek Him with all our hearts.
Not only peace, but we find freedom.
Freedom from governmental decisions that cause turmoil in our homes and countries. Freedom from fear of not being what we think we should be...or what someone else thinks we should be.
Freedom from not measuring up.
Freedom from having to be the best at whatever we do to be accepted.
Freedom from past failures and regrets.
Freedom from shame over who we think we are or have been told we are.
Freedom from all that holds us back ~ not physically, but deep in our souls. Whether it be fear of success, fear of failure, pride, anger, rage, addiction, piousness, self-righteousness, thirst for power, or that one thing that keeps us from truth ~not knowing who we really are, not knowing Who created us for His joy, and not knowing how deeply we are loved ~ in seeking the Baby King born so long ago, crucified on a cross and risen again to save us we find TRUE FREEDOM.

Merry CHRISTmas, everyone. May God shine His face upon you and bring you peace.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

2 Timothy 2:19

19Nevertheless, God's solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: "The Lord knows those who are his," and, "Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness."
2 Timothy 2:19

There are few things that seem to stand firm anymore. Not only buildings are toppled, but even natural things ~ I'm thinking of "The Old Man in the Mountain" ~ what we think will stand is but dust.

There are so many people seeking out something that will stand firm. Marriage used to be a big deal ~ it was something that, although rarely perfect, would stand the tests of time. Jobs with companies that were strong and rewarded the long-term commitments of their employees are shut down. We seek things of this earth looking for a solid foundation, but we won't find it here. The only thing that will stand firm through the Ages is The Living Word of God. Such confidence arises in the knowledge of this!

Rest in that for a moment...but don't stop there.

Read that last part of the verse ~ if you call the God of the Bible YOUR God then you must take time to ask Him to reveal in you what you need to turn away from. What "wickedness" (anything that goes against or pulls you away from the Word of God) are you clinging to in hopes that it will bring you some satisfaction?

That's a hard question, isn't it? Even in writing it I tend to hesitate...but we must believe that if the Word of God is the one firm foundation, then God is who He says He is...and what He says we must do we must do. Our reward is peace that passes understanding on this earth, and a reward we cannot begin to fathom in the life to come.

Stand firm ~ stay strong ~ seek Him in all you do and He will give you the desires of your heart as He makes your paths straight. Difficult now, but oh, SO worth it in the end!

Have a wonderful as the Wise Men and Seek Him with all you are.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Psalm 37: 5-9

"Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust Him, and He will help you.
He will make your innocence as clear as the dawn, and the justice of your cause will shine like the noonday sun.
Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for Him to act. Don't worry about evil people who prosper or fret about their wicked schemes.
Stop your anger! Turn from your rage! Do not envy others ~ it only leads to harm.
For the wicked will be destroyed, but those who trust in the Lord will possess the land."
Psalm 37: 5-9

There are days when what I share is exactly what God wants me to hear. Today is one of those days. Please stop reading what I write...go again to the Word of God and read HIS words of hope, promise, and love to you today. Go with God...Go in God...let Him lead your way today so you may trust in Him and one day possess the land.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Psalm 27:14

"Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage." Psalm 27:14

That first word is probably the hardest word for many of us to hear....wait. We don't wait for anything. Red lights are too long, dial-up internet connections are dinosaurs, Postal Service mail is termed "snail mail," having to wait in line at a grocery store makes people angry, and if fast food takes longer than 1.5 minutes to get to our window through the drive through we're upset. Yet the Lord says, wait.

Are we looking to God the same way we look to our society? Do we expect our prayers to be answered instantaneously because we said them on the go between stops? Or do we truly STOP to sit in His presence, pour out our lives for Him to do what He will, and then take the time to listen to Him? strong...take courage. In His time we will see glory. In His time we will find and hear the answers we need. It is when we seek Him with all our hearts, souls, mind and strength that He reveals Himself to us. strong...take courage.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

An apology, a request and a quest...

I apologize to any of you who read this who are wanting a regular refreshing from the Word of God. I admit to a very busy life, but a convicted heart knowing I need to be spending more time in the Word. Martin Luther once said, "I have so much to do today, I must spend three hours in prayer." I often sense that urging, but admit failure in following through. I started this blog as a sort of "accountability partner" to keep me in the Word. Not that I need to do it for others ~ I need it most of all, trust me! Without my time with the Author of Life my life is WAAAAAY off track. However, knowing others are being refreshed, spoken to and encouraged in their walk through what I write is a motivator to keep this up. So, with trepidation I make this request, "If you read this, and are blessed and/or challenged by it, will you let me know? I believe our relationship with God is inward-changing so we can be more outward-focused in our service to others. Guilt can be a great motivator, and knowing there are those who read this and are blessed by it would be a nudge on my heart day to day. Thank you!

So, with that said, it is with this heart I write today's devotional. I pray you are blessed by what you read here.

Exodus 33:12-14

12 One day Moses said to the Lord, “You have been telling me, ‘Take these people up to the Promised Land.’ But you haven’t told me whom you will send with me. You have told me, ‘I know you by name, and I look favorably on you.’ 13 If it is true that you look favorably on me, let me know your ways so I may understand you more fully and continue to enjoy your favor. And remember that this nation is your very own people.”

14 The Lord replied, “I will personally go with you, Moses, and I will give you rest—everything will be fine for you.”

Isn't this an insight into leadership? Moses thinks he surely can't lead the people alone, "God? Aren't you going to send someone more, um, leader-like to help me here?" It's easy to think this way, "if you're really calling me, show me what I'm supposed to do so I can continue to be called." (then, under his breath almost, "I don't want to mess this up and lose your favor...these are YOUR people!")

God's beautiful reply is one we can grasp on to and walk forward confidently resting on our ears, "I will personally go with you....." What amazing grace!! To know the very Creator of the Universe, the One who calls us to serve, to share, to invest in those around us goes with us personally. What have we to fear, then? If God is for us...if God walks with us...if we are seeking HIM with all our heart, with all our strength, with all our might...what have we to fear? Really, what's the worse that could happen? As Paul said, if we are killed for our faith...if we lose it all and end up dead...we have truly gained because we are HOME.

Are you walking confidently today knowing you do not walk alone?

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Philippians 1:6

6 And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.
Philippians 1:6 NLT

6For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.
Philippians 1:6 NASB

What a promise! To know we are on a journey with God to a place of absolute freedom and fulfillment is the spur many of us need to "keep on keepin' on." If God has called you to fill a role you never expected; if God has shown you He wants you to make a change requiring more discipline and focus than you have ever been able to give; if you are seeing a need for more simplicity and less matter what road we are on we can live in confidence knowing it is leading us to completion. Each day He will work in us to bring us to that beautiful place where we will hear, "Well done, my good and faithful servant."

Take the time today to consult your journey's GPS ~ God Positioning System. It is when we seek Him with all we are that we are able to be all we can be.

God bless you today ~ LIVE OUT LOUD!!

PS: bonus! On a side "note" read this article on what Japan has done to some of it's stretches of roads: "" I can't help but think of the many times God has brought a song of praise or surrender or whatever to my mouth as I walk with Him! Japan ain't got nothin' on God!! LOL!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Jeremiah 17: 9-10

“The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? "I the LORD search the heart and examine the mind, to reward a man according to his conduct, according to what his deeds deserve.”- Jeremiah 17:9-10

The God of the Bible ~ the One who created all things and holds all things together ~ He sees us as no one else can. In fact, He sees us even as we ourselves cannot. He sees us for who we really are. This can be a scary reality for some. Those who profess Christ as their Lord and Savior but live lives in opposition to His Word don't like to hear it. Those who don't know God personally and are looking for reasons not to approach the possibility can use this as a reason to stay away for fear of condemnation. Even those who profess Christ as Lord and Savior and strive to live according to His Word but are struggling with a secret sin want to gloss over this passage and/or point out it is from the Old Testament and therefore no longer necessary to apply to their lives since they now live under grace.

No matter who it is who is reading it, the verse is truth. The beauty is knowing we can approach the throne of grace with confidence in repentance and desire for a clean heart. Realizing the Jesus we interact with is the very One who didn't belittle the woman at the well but spoke truth and grace to her allows us to come out of hiding and live freely before Him. It also allows, demands that in love. Our actions ~ the ways we treat others, the ways we talk, the ways we do business, etc ~ those are what reflect our true hearts.

Ask God to show you (in His amazingly tender way) who you are. Allow yourself to be cleansed from the inside out and live in obedience to Him. Then, live in a way that allows others to, as well. People don't care how much you know, until they know how much you care. God cares...deeply, passionately, for each of us. If you are saying your life is devoted to Him, are you showing others how much you care or how much you know? What will your reward be?

Tuesday, June 30, 2009


Acts 9:15-16, 29-31 "But the Lord said to Ananias, "Go! this man is my chosn instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name...(29)He talked and debated with the Grecian Jews, but they tried to kill him. When the brothers learned of this, they took him down to Caesarea and sent him off to Tarsus.

Then the church throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace. It was strengthened; and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it grew in numbers, living in the fear of the Lord.

I couldn't help but wonder when I read verse 16, "I will show him how much he must suffer for my name" if Saul/Paul had any idea what God was going to do in his life in order to use him to increase the Kingdom? To be met on the road by the very One you persecute and whose followers you kill, and to come "face-to-face" with the lies of what you believe and fight for? How powerful that transformation!! Anyone could live a life transformed in that situation, but to have your beliefs and not your personality changed, that is where the whole thing changes. Paul was a bold and confident man. When he believed something, he believed it was worth fighting to the death for. This is seen in how people reacted to him in the verses between the verses I have posted here (an amazing biography ~ you won't be disappointed in taking the time to read it!). They were fearful and cautious in accepting him. Even the very man God called to restore Saul/Paul's eyesight, Annanias, responded with, "I have heard many reports about this and all the harm he has done to your saints in Jerusalem..." Saul's reputation had gone before Paul the Transformed...the price he paid was great.

However, it is that last verse up there that shows the true power of transformation, "Then the church throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace. It was strengthened; and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it grew in numbers, living in the fear of the Lord. I'll venture to bet Paul's words had an impact, yes, but how much more powerful and impactful the power of his transformation in Christ!

How about you? Are you willing to accept the consequences of facing who you were in order to show who you are in Christ? How is the Word of God transforming you so you can share the Gospel with those around you...using words when necessary?

Monday, June 22, 2009

Stupid People

Proverbs 12:1
Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge,
but he who hates correction is stupid.

There is a phrase I've heard a lot lately. It may not be a very nice phrase, but it fits perfectly with today's verse. The phrase has many variations, but in general it sounds something like this, "AAAAARRRRRRGGGGGGHHHHHH!!!! Stupid people irritate me!!"

Sometimes I find that *I* am the stupid person. I don't like to be told I'm wrong. I don't like to be disciplined because I have to admit I didn't get it right. Now, before you go looking at me in that tone of voice, you have to admit there are very few people in the world who *do* like to be corrected and/or disciplined...even you, probably. However, even though we may not like it, we need to learn to accept it. Correction...Discipline...they help us to become more of the person God has created us to be. When the correction is in line with the Word of God we have no wiggle room. We either conform to the Word of God and live a long life or we choose to avoid the way of God and suffer the consequences. The options are clear and easy...the choice? Not so much at times. But always worth it.

Today, as you go through your motions of living life pay attention to how you react to what people have to say to you. It may not be your issue that is causing the problem, but before you assume it's not ask God if it is. Then be willing to listen and fertilize knowledge. Listen and grow wise. You'll be glad you did.

Go with God...

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Psalm 4:1

Psalm 4
Evening Prayer of Trust in God.
For the choir director; on stringed instruments. A Psalm of David.
1 Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness!
You have relieved me in my distress;
Be gracious to me and hear my prayer.

"Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness!..."
It seems so....well, expectant, doesn't it? Maybe it's the "Mom voice" in my head that makes it sound so stern, but reading it and hearing it that way stopped me and made think about that very idea. It *is* *is* desperate...and it is exactly how many of us have felt at times. We cry out and wonder if He even hears us. We pray because we know we can't get through it on our own and we feel like we need to say it so He knows just how desperately we need Him and His strength.

I re-read that first sentence with the entire verse and couldn't help but think that sometimes we use the "Mom voice" and we're so overwhelmed and think we're walking through it alone that we get stern and say it like, "*ANSWER ME* when I call...O God of my RIGHTEOUSNESS!!!" (are You there? YOU know I'm innocent! ANSWER!!)

Other times it's more defeated and hopeful. Much like an exhausted Mom or Dad who is at the end of one of "those" days with the kids and we wonder if what we're doing makes any difference whatsoever. It sounds like this (inserts mine, obviously), "*sigh* annnnsweerrrr me when I call. Ohhhhhhhhh, Lord of my righteousness *sigh* " (I really have to ask You to answer me? You declare me innocent and know the number of hairs on my head...You're going to answer, right?)

Maybe it's more desperate. In the midst of the news, the school involvements, the sports and the politics, the church duties and ministries, we cry out to the One Person we know truly knows us..."Answer me when I call, O GOD OF MY RIGHTEOUSNESS!" (There's so much...people defile my name when they don't know who I really am, but YOU...YOU know me and declare me righteous. Answer me....please answer me.)

Whichever one it is doesn't really matter.But the rest of the verse brings it all to the thing that does. "You have relieved me in my distress. Be gracious to me and hear my prayer." Isn't it beautiful? Saying, "You've been faithful to me and relieved this stress before. Do it again, God. Realize my love for You ~ my faithfulness in knowing You are who You say You are ~ and hear my heart cry out to You in the midst of all." We don't have to convince Him to hear us. He does already. But to be so transparent and personal with the very God who intimately holds us together is simply beautiful.

What are you wanting Him to hear today? What is it that you desperately, or exhaustingly, need Him to carry you through? He will...and He's listening...cry out.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Jonah 3:10, 4:11

When God saw what they had done and how they had put a stop to their evil ways, he changed his mind and did not carry out the destruction he had threatened....Then the Lord said, “You feel sorry about the plant, though you did nothing to put it there. It came quickly and died quickly. But Nineveh has more than 120,000 people living in spiritual darkness, not to mention all the animals. Shouldn’t I feel sorry for such a great city?”

Because God changed His mind and granted mercy to the people of Ninevah (whom He had sent Jonah to inform He was going to destroy because of their wickedness), Jonah got mad at God. Isn't this just like us? We want justice, and when repentance is real we still want "justice." We can accept an apology as long as the consequences are still appropriate, but when we're called to accept the apology and see blessing in place of discipline we get upset and, like Jonah, pout. Maybe it's that you know the life's history of someone who seems to be blessed now and you don't understand. Maybe the consequences of someone's sin didn't end up like you thought they would (or should?). Who knows why we pout when God doesn't do what we think He should...but shouldn't we suck in our lower lips and instead be thankful that God doesn't deal with us as we deserve, either?

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Cheating? Or Being Wise?

Okay, this isn't a verse about cheating, and it really has little to do with cheating other than the fact that today's verse comes from the end of The Book. When you're reading a novel it's seen as cheating when you read the end, but when you're reading the Bible it's just plain smart. Here ya go:

The Spirit and the bride say, "Come " And let the one who hears say, "Come " And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost. Revelation 22:17

For some reason I felt the need to read the end of the book today. Maybe it's because the words of Anne Murray sing in my mind, "I sure could use a little good news today." Not many would say they're going to Revelation for good news. For some it's downright terrifying reading about The End. However, as I was reading through the last half of chapter 22 this verse sang in answer to my song.

Isn't that a beautiful picture? God is the Spirit. We are the Bride. We are the voice saying to those around us, "come!" and may those who hear respond and say to others, "come!" And they, in return, tell others.....Oh! What a vibrant picture of invitation and the power of someone simply saying, "you're invited."

Look at the last two words. "...without cost." I know so many who say they don't want to accept Jesus as their Savior because they would have to give up so much. Yet this says when we respond and come to the well of living water we can drink and be filled...without cost. I believe we miss the mark when we say we have to sacrifice so much for our faith. The sacrifice has been made. Jesus paid it all. We are simply accepting the gift of an eternal life with our Savior ~ without cost. It doesn't mean there won't be pain on earth and we won't have to make sacrifices, but in the realm of eternity.......does it really cost us that much? Would you trade in your car for a brand new (insert your favorite ridiculously over-priced high-end car here) if you never had to pay a dime? Not even for gas or maintenance? You'd be a fool not to! We'd do it in a heartbeat if we knew there would never be a cost associated with it.

So who are you inviting? Who are you speaking to and letting them know about the eternal celebration that is going to happen? Have you, yourself, accepted the invitation? You've still got time...but there are thousands of people who will tell you over and over again we never know when our time is up.

Won't you come?