Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Read Psalm 27:1-5, 13-14
We all need courage at different times in our life. I remember try to summon the courage to jump off the high dive at the Harrison Bay State Park swimming pool when I was a kid. I walked toward the end of the board only to turn around and walk back. I did this over and over until peer pressure got the best of me. It takes courage to jump off the high dive at the community swimming pool. Or to do something that might be a little risky such as sky diving or riding a bike for the first time. Or to make a public presentation about something you believe in. Or to stand up for a person who is being picked on. Or to ask for a promotion or a raise at work. Or to battle an illness. Or to share your faith story to someone. When we act with courage, we find the mental or moral strength to face a difficulty, danger, or pain. We act with bravery, confidence, or perseverance. Our passage today reminds us the Lord is our light and our stronghold when we are afraid. As our light, he guides our path. As our stronghold, he protects us. We see that David was obviously going through a trial, but he was confident that while he was living, God would see him through. David encourages us to wait for the Lord’s guidance, be strong in the wait, and then be courageous.
Meditate on Deuteronomy 31:6 today. So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.”

Open My Eyes

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

The Bible uses countless natural things to teach us spiritual truths. Egypt worshipped the false god of the sun called Ra. God was able to deny Egypt their false god in a way that would have been rather frightening. He caused the land of Egypt to go dark for three days. It was so dark no one could see each other and no one moved. Have you ever experienced total, complete, utter darkness? I had a frightening experience some years ago. I woke up blind. I couldn’t see anything. It was scary and confusing. As it turned out, I had an occular migraine that caused temporary blindness. Fortunately, my sight was restored a few hours later, but I can imagine the darkness the Egyptians experienced that caused them to grope about for three full days. This plague carried the same meaning to Pharaoh and to the Egyptians that the other eight had. It was an attack upon their gods and a punishment for the spiritual darkness of Pharaoh and his kingdom. The sun gods could not stop the eerie darkness from covering the land. God proved that he alone is the living and all-powerful God. What circumstances might God be using in your life to move you closer to him? Ask God to soften the hardened areas of your heart so that you can respond to his Spirit.
 Meditate on the words to this beautiful hymn as you ask God to open your eyes to his Spirit.

Open my eyes that I may see
Glimpses of truth Thou has for me;
Place in my hands the wonderful key
That shall unclasp and set me free.

Silently now I wait for Thee,
Ready, my God, Thy will to see;
Open my eyes, illumine me,
Spirit Divine!

God's Unrelenting Mercy

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Read Jonah 4: 1-11
Jonah had a problem with God that many of us have today. Jonah could not grasp God’s unrelenting grace, mercy, and compassion for ALL people. The pagan people of Nineveh lived in wickedness giving in to idolatry, prostitution, and witchcraft. Jonah grew up fearing the Ninevites and wanted to see God destroy them. So when God called Jonah to preach to these pagans, he ran away. Jonah did not want non-Jews (Gentiles) to receive God’s favor and blessings. The Ninevites were “those people.” Eventually, Jonah went to Ninevah and the people were open to God’s message and they repented. God responded in mercy by canceling his threatened destruction. God’s compassion sent Jonah into what I call a “hissy fit!” He became angry, complained to God, and decided he’d rather die than see the wicked Ninvetites forgiven. He then ran away again to sit under a shelter to sulk and wait to see what would happen to “those people.” I guess Jonah was certain God would listen to reason. God had other plans for Jonah. We read in our passage today of God’s object lesson for his reluctant prophet. Jonah was more sorry that the plant God sent to provide him shade had died than he was for the spiritual darkness the 120,000 Ninevites were living in. God desires for all people to come to him, to trust him, and to be saved. He wants us to take the message of God’s love and mercy to all people, even “those people.” Who are “those people” today that you need to extend mercy, compassion, and forgiveness to?

Meditate on Jonah 4:2 today: ...You are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. Thank God for the times in your life when God has been gracious, compassionate, slow to anger, abounding in love, and did not send calamity for your wrongdoing.

Here Am I

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Read Isaiah 6:1-8

In our passage today Isaiah shares how God called him to take on a new and most challenging task, calling the nation of Judah back to God. The first five chapters of Isaiah record the sinfulness of the people of Judah, including greed, arrogance, drunkenness, injustice, oppression and murder. Because of their complete failure to follow the commands of God, judgment would be brought on them through foreign aggression. God would use surrounding nations to punish Judah. In our reading today God allows Isaiah to see a vision of Himself. In it, God is sitting high upon a throne in the temple that Solomon had built. Seeing the Lord, listening to the angels, and watching the smoke fill the building, Isaiah realizes that he is sinful before God.  A seraph simply comes to him with a symbolic live coal, touches his lips, and announces his forgiveness. Then God asks for volunteers!  “Who will go? Who will be a messenger to the nation of Judah?” We hear Isaiah respond to the call. “Here I am. Send me.” While most of us have not had this kind of dramatic experience with God, we all experience “God sightings” when we see the goodness of God acted out in both small and great ways. How willing are you to share how you’ve seen God at work in your life? Can you do as Isaiah did and share God’s good news?
 Each day this week look for ways to share how God is working. Be ready to share one thing about God’s goodness in your life.

God Is...

Monday, April 23, 2018

 Read Psalm 139:1-10
The pagans of the Psalmist David’s day worshiped impersonal gods, and these pagans believed their gods were even hostile or indifferent to man. However, David knew he served a deeply personal God who examines our heart and knows everything about us. The opening verses say, “He searches and knows me.” We serve an omniscient God who is all-knowing, limitless in his knowledge.  Verse 5 tells us our eternal God goes before us and follows us placing a blessing on us. We read of our incomprehensible God in verse 6 who is beyond our understanding. This doesn’t not mean that he is unknowable, but that he is unable to be fully known. And in verses 7 and 8 we learn we can never get away from the presence of our omnipresent God. He is near and far, and high and low. Give thanks for our good creator God who is omniscient, eternal, incomprehensible, omnipresent, and is always with us wherever we go.

 Psalm 139 is filled with examples of the attributes of God. Take time today to read the entire chapter and identify the characteristics of God and then acknowledge his power and presence in your life.


Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Think for a moment about your women’s networks. I look back over my life and can trace my history by looking at my girlfriends.
There were my neighborhood and school girl friends: Becky and Theresa. 
There were my church friends: Janet and Pam and Liz and Debbie.
Then there were my college friends: five of us - Susan, Brenda, Sandy, Sharon and me.  We sang together throughout college and after.
Then there were my teacher friends: Dee, Sherrie, Phyllis, and Francis
There were my single friends like Paulina.
Now there are my Christ Church friends and girl, do I have friends - a whole sisterhood of friends, women who will pray for me and laugh with me and generally do life with me.
I just can’t imagine life without friends.

In a study published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, researchers asked participants to stand at the base of a steep hill and estimate how tough it would be to climb. Those standing with a friend judged the climb to be less steep compared with those who were alone.

Another study on the importance of showed the survival rate of women with breast cancer. It found that those women who had a strong, supportive circle of friends outlived by many years their counterparts who lived in social isolation.

A study from Harvard Medical School showed that the more friends women have, the less likely they are to develop physical impairments as they age, and the more likely they are to lead a contented life. The study also showed that not having friends is as hurtful to your health as being overweight or smoking cigarettes. The researchers examined how well the women functioned after the death of a spouse and found that even in the face of this major life loss, women with close friends with whom they can share their burdens fare better than women who lack close friendships.

Do you ever get so involved in your busy life that you don’t take time to nurture your friendships? Look at these reasons to do so:
1 1.   Friendships can reduce stress.
A UCLA study suggests that women respond to stress with a flow of brain chemicals that cause us to make and maintain friendships with other women. The hormone oxytocin is released as part of stress response, and in women, oxytocin triggers an immediate desire to seek and maintain relationships in response to stress. Imagine that! Stress encourages us to bond with other women!
22.   Friendships provide accountability.
Having a community of women that you share your goals and dreams with keeps you accountable to yourself. We all need affirmation to keep us going!  
33.   Friends lengthen your life.
Research supports the finding that having a network of social contacts helps people have longer, healthier, happier lives. When you live your full of a sense of purpose, you wake up every day with something to look forward to.
Friends support your goals.
Good friends encourage you to keep keeping on. They help you meet your goals instead of hindering your efforts.

Having a sisterhood is good for our mind, body, soul, and spirit. So many reality shows are devoted to unhealthy female relationships. They depict women arguing, belittling each other, gossiping, and tearing each other down. A true sisterhood is nothing like this. I encourage you to nurture your friendships, lift up other women, and focus on the good in others.
Let’s hear it for the sisterhood!

Strength in High Places

Monday, December 14, 2015

Image result for deer on high placesThe prophet Habakkuk was troubled and confused about the corruption he saw all around. Habakkuk urgently cried out to God for help.  He asked God why evil people prosper while the righteous suffer. God answers, telling the prophet that although it seems as though the wicked triumph, eventually they will be judged, and righteousness will prevail. God promised Habakkuk that in his time all things would be taken care of.  The prophet moves from doubt to faith as he begins to trust that God works in all things. The book of Habakkuk concludes with a prayer of triumph as Habakkuk has a new understanding of God’s power and love.

Habakkuk declares that although the fig trees may not have blossom, there may be no grapes on the vines, the crop fails, the flocks die, and the cattle barns are empty, he will rejoice in the Lord.

If you are suffering through a difficult time, can you still trust that God is in control and working on your behalf? Habakkuk realized that even though life around him was crumbling, he knew that God would give him strength to persevere. You can know the same truth. When nothing makes sense in your life and troubles seem more than you can bear, God will still give you strength to make in through. Habakkuk likens this kind of strength to a deer treading on the heights.
The Sovereign Lord is my strength!
    He makes me as surefooted as a deer,
    able to tread upon the heights.
Habakkuk 3:19 (NLT)

Let’s look at other versions of this verse:

 The Lord God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds' feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places. (KJV)

The strength God gives is so surefooted it is compared to that found in a deer’s feet. A hind is a doe. A doe is equipped to get up on those high ledges. Habakkuk says God will make my feet like deer’s feet: Habakkuk thought of the deer running about on the high hills, never losing a step and never falling. More than that, the deer dance and leap along the hillside; they are full of life and joy. God provides stamina to endure hardships and energy to walk on high ledges like a deer. God gives His followers surefooted strength through difficult times so that we can come confidently through the most challenging of circumstances.  We like the deer can run across rough and dangerous terrain.

God wants our faith to lift us to new heights with him. God wants to equip us for high places. What are your high places? What are the most difficult circumstances? What areas of life challenge you most? What areas of responsibility are the most daunting to you? Know that God will give you the strength of a surefooted deer and will allow you to walk forward with faith and courage and confidence.

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