Do We Abandon Ship?

DO WE ABANDON SHIP?

Save others by snatching them out of the fire. Jude 1:23

Question~ What’s the difference between being longsuffering and suffering unnecessarily? Christian circles tend to swing the pendulum between the two. Where do we find balance? Some people believe that there is a point, when a ship is going down, when it’s too late to bail. They are pulled down into their watery grave because of the whirlpool effect. Quicksand may be an even better metaphor. There is a point of no return when fighting it just makes it worse.

Here’s the challenge. Many of us walk willingly into spiritual quicksand despite all the warning signs. Ownerless backpacks are lying around the hole of doom and serve as a warning. The stakes for making a solid decision are high, not just for us, but for the people who are following us; friends, family, and even other church people. So why do we continue in a bad direction?

I believe that we see other leaders walking into the trap and we say to ourselves, “They must know what they are doing. Certainly, they will change course before we all perish.” But will they really? Will they turn in time? These are necessary questions to voice.

One of the reasons we are tricked is because we can’t allow ourselves to experience another disappointment. It hurts to admit that we’ve been lied to whether by word or deed. It’s easier to just follow the leader, our spiritual Pied Piper, and deny the fact that the enemy is setting up our shepherd to skip and laugh us into captivity. Our leaders have feet of clay, as do us all, but some listen to the heartbeat of our Savior, Jesus Christ and know their weaknesses well. Many others follow the beckoning call of the enemy and ignore personal flaws that lead ministries downward.

When it’s time to make decisions for ourselves and our loved ones, it is imperative that we ask, “Will this choice lead my family closer to Jesus or to the ongoing damaging influences of the kingdom of darkness?”

Heavenly Father, I need Your wisdom. It is so easy to get sung to sleep by lyrics that I want to hear. Show me the truth, even if it hurts. And give me the courage to leap into the safety of Your arms. In Jesus Name Amen

Journal
Why did Lot’s wife turn around (Gen. 19:26)?
How can small choices destroy our future?
What is our spiritual responsibility to our loved ones?

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It Starts With The Heart

It Starts With The Heart

“I am the LORD; I have called you in righteousness; I will take you by the hand and keep you…” Isaiah 42:6

The Bible says that “Job made a covenant with his eyes” so he purposed in his heart that he would never look at something unclean. He knew that he had to choose ahead of time to be holy before he was presented with temptation. We can learn from him to avoid falling.

If we say to ourselves, “I’ll wait until I’m out on a date with this guy and then choose not to have sex,” we are setting ourselves up for disaster. I’m finding that I always have to keep the knowledge of my sinful nature close. Yes, I’m a citizen of Heaven, but I still struggle with the ways of Hell. Forgetting this is what usually precedes a downfall. This is true for any Christian, whether a stay-at-home mom or a full-time pastor. If your occupation is in ministry, there is a bulls-eye target the size of the state of Georgia on your head. If you don’t believe me, just google “fallen minister” and see how much information surfaces. These stories have made, not just Christian headlines, but secular as well.

We can’t afford to believe the best of ourselves. I’m not talking about self-loathing, just self-honesty. Our time of prayer and daily repentance reveals secrets about our own hearts. God’s Word shines light on those dust bunnies of the soul that we’ve accidentally kicked under the bed. We won’t just fall into righteousness. We were called to it. Believe who you are called to be. Believe that when God sees you, He sees Jesus, our righteousness. So pray for yourself. Pray for the people around you. Pray for your family. Pray for your pastor. Pray for me.

Heavenly Father,

I choose to see You in all Your beauty. Heal the ugly, sinful places in me. Let me not be deceived.

In Jesus Most Precious Name

Amen

Journal

Read about Jesus early life in the Gospels. What and who did Satan use to destroy Jesus?

What strategies of temptation have been used against you?

What can you do to stand strong against sin in your life?

Uncertain Times, Steady Faith

Uncertain Times, Steady Faith

There will come seven years of great plenty throughout all the land of Egypt, but after them there will arise seven years of famine, plenty will be forgotten in the land of Egypt. The famine will consume the land… Genesis 41:29-30

We are living in uncertain times. We can’t even plan for the next year with so many unknowns. So what do we do?

Everywhere I go, someone is talking about the recent stock market plunge or of the inevitable judgment that is coming to our country because of our disobedience. I know people who are planning for the bad winter predicted by weather experts in case they lose power for two weeks. I also know people who are planting gardens and collecting seeds in case our government crumbles. While I don’t really know what to say about planning in regards to the physical world, I can tell you what God has been telling my heart in regards to the spiritual world.

Joseph, son of Judah, was placed in a position of power after years of slavery and prison. God had a purpose for him that would save His people from starvation. Pharaoh’s dreams were from God (dreams that Joseph interpreted), and spoke of storing up grain during times of plenty for the famine ahead. Here’s the spiritual application that’s been on my heart. I have been storing up God’s word in the well of my spirit and meditating on it for the hard times to come. We need to be spiritually disciplined like Navy Seals during these times of plenty so that our faith is firmly rooted in truth during the future. Rest and brain Sabbath are important, but they have to be intentional. Not just peace for the sake of peace, but times of refueling on the right things.

Mountain climbers intentionally gain weight for a tough climb so that their bodies have fuel for the challenge. They come back much thinner but still healthy because they prepared. Together, we can encourage each other to be purposeful with our families. We need to be fattening our interior with the riches of God’s word so we can have a steady faith in these uncertain times.

Heavenly Father, I need to know what to do. Guide my steps and fill my heart with this daily bread. I need water from the well that will never run dry. In Jesus Precious Name, Amen

Journal

Look up instances of famine. What does God tell His people to do?

What does God tell His people not to do?

How can you be proactive so that you will no be touched by a spiritual famine?

More Time To Sin

More Time To Sin

For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt. Hebrews 6:4-6

Are you scared to die? Are you eaten up with worry over the safety of your loved ones even though you know that they are followers of Jesus? I have some words that are meant to comfort, even if they don’t seem so from the outset.

Currently, I am obsessed with comparing King David with King Hezekiah. They were both men who tried to follow God’s ways. Both of their reigns were marked by their zeal to bring their country into a state of holiness – a holiness that was unseen in the majority of kings. David led processions by dancing and worshiping God in the streets. Hezekiah tore down the high places of idol worship to the point of desecrating them so that they could not be rebuilt. These were awesome things!

But in spite of that, both men sinned to the detriment of their kingdoms in the winter of their rule. David was moved by Satan to take inventory of the men in Israel. God exacted justice by killing off thousands of people. This king after God’s own heart quickly repented. Hezekiah asked God to extend his life and was given fifteen more years on earth. The next record of his reign shows that he revealed all of the kingdom’s treasures to other kingdoms. God promised judgment after Hezekiah’s death. (David and Hezekiah had similar sins with very different reactions, but that will be for another day.)

Scripture tells us that we have a number of days allotted to us to live, given to us by God. None of us knows what will happen tomorrow. That is why we say, “I will see you tomorrow, God willing.” Instead of living in fear of dying or of losing a loved one, may we be moved to pray that we follow God while we live. Better a shorter life of obedience and blessing than a long one that ends with disobedience and harmful consequences for our loved ones.

Heavenly Father, Only You know how long I have to live. Help me to serve you zealously. I want to finish this race well. Prevent my loved ones and me from being caught in a snare. Give me a second chance in Your mercy.  In Jesus Name (the One Who keeps us), Amen

Journal

How do you feel about death?

How does God value life?

Look up instances in the Gospels when Jesus brought people back to life. What did he tell them to do? How did they live afterwards?

Distractions At The End

Distractions at the End

Then he said to the disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few…”

My desire to sin and my desire to serve God… Which one will win? And why does it matter so much?

Someone mentioned recently that my devotionals have taken on a more serious, urgent tone. Not just mine but others as well. Do you feel the tension in the atmosphere as well? Bilbo Baggins expressed it well in the Lord of the Rings when he said, “I feel thin, sort of stretched, like butter scraped over too much bread.” We are reaching the end of the page, having to make our words small and cramped so that they can fit on the paper. Our world is shifting, about to be turned upside down.   Many will fall, never to get up.   The harvest of people demanding to know the gospel is ready. People’s hearts are ripe with expectant longing to meet Jesus.

At the same time, the battles around us and within us are burning. The biggest struggle I have faced over the past few years is that of distraction. Don’t let the term fool you. It is so much more sinister than anyone could guess. Many people have died because they were texting while driving. More recently, many young people have perished while taking a selfie, unaware that they were about to fall over a cliff or stumble into traffic.

Let’s bring it home. What is Satan using to distract me from doing God’s work? The harvest is ripe but so few workers are available to do the work. God has convicted me of this time and time again. He keeps saying to my heart, “While you are busy pursuing your interests, what important things are you missing?” So I’m asking you today: Ask for the heart, eyes, and mind of Christ so that you don’t miss the very people that God has put in your path. They are ready.

Heavenly Father, Forgive me for being so distracted and blind to Your harvest. I don’t want anyone to be lost because I was focusing on the wrong things. Turn my eyes in the right direction. I am ready. In Jesus Name, Amen

Journal

King David and King Solomon were both distracted. What were they distracted by? What were the consequences?

When the disciples tried to turn children away from Jesus, what did Jesus say?

Cleaning House

Cleaning House

If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do? Psalm 11:3

There are few things in this world that I enjoy more than cleaning and organizing. And I’ve found that, like gardening, this work is full of rich metaphors.

I think that everyone likes their world in order to some extent. For some, that may mean knowing exactly where that one document is in a pile of papers. For others, it means color coded files in a cabinet. For months I’ve been going through every drawer, every box, and every corner of every closet. At the same time, God has been doing the same thing with my heart and mind.

After to talking to other women, I see that I’m not the only one. Maybe you feel this last push of church history as it comes to a close. The train is picking up speed. Jesus is coming back soon and I want to be ready. As part of the bride of Christ, we are being called out, sanctified, and separated from this earth. And I know that I’ve become all too comfortable with my life. The Psalmist asked, “If the foundations be shaken, what will the righteous do?” That is a question for us right now. The foundations of our culture are being shaken and turned on its head. The Psalmist gives us the answer. We will be tested while God watches. Our evil culture will be part of the test. So, we can be angry and scared, or we can let God turn this for our good. Because what is for our good is ultimately for His Glory. So let’s rend our hearts and not our clothes. And there is a reward at the end. The best reward of all. We will behold the face of Jesus. Be swallowed in His divine beauty and His glory.

Heavenly Father, I’m perplexed and confused by all of these changes in my world and in my life. But I know that You are constant. I give myself over to whatever Your plan is for me in this small part of history. In Jesus Precious Name, Amen

Journal

What are your feelings about what is happening in our culture?

Do they align with God’s feelings? Why or why not?

Are you willing to let God search your heart?

Good or Great?

Good or Great?

You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. Deuteronomy 6:5

I’ve been very guilty of settling spiritually in my life. This sort of complacency was a plague in the Old Testament kings of Judah.

A few years ago I remember when God began to talk to me during my study time about parts of my heart that I wasn’t giving over to Him. I continue to struggle with areas that I want to hold back. Thoughts that I want to keep to myself. But as I read about the kings of Judah I realized something important. They were classified as evil, good, or great. The evil kings followed false gods with heart and soul. They sacrificed their children to Molech and led their people away from the one true God. The good kings worshiped the one true God and followed His ways. But they did not tear down the high places, the altars where people made sacrifices to false gods. The great kings not only pursued God, but they also tore down every high place that they could find and led their people to the truth. They didn’t care if it made them popular. These kings burned with a righteous anger toward anything in the land that was unholy. One of the kings went so far as to desecrate the high places so that no one could worship idols there in the future.

I realize that I’ve settled for my own goodness, tolerating things in my heart that have no business being there. And if I want God to be great through me then I have to give up the fight. I can’t continue to ignore the high places. I need to destroy them. It takes so much energy and time to hold on to those idols: thoughts of revenge, entertainment, lust, gluttony, greed, gossip and other distractions. So, join me in letting go of what is holding us back from loving God with heart and soul and mind.

Heavenly Father, Forgive me for cherishing grudges and wrong desires. Anything that is a high place I give to You. No turning back. I want to love You with every bit of my being. In Jesus Name, Amen

Journal

What does the Bible say about high places?

What high places have a stronghold in your life?

What needs to happen for you to break free?