Jeremiah 29:11

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Friday, February 25, 2011

What Kind of Book Are You Writing?

My devotional today was pretty powerful and very convicting! It was about the words we say and use to others. I never realized how powerful the tongue can's almost scary what it can do. In my devotional, Mary Southerland says this,

"God gives us "spiritual radar" so we can assess a situation and speak the right word for that circumstance, but how often do we speak before we check the radar?
    A judge utters a few words and a guilty man is taken to death row.
      A friend speaks a word of encouragement and a desperate heart finds hope.
        A mother lashes out with angry words and the light in her child's eyes is gone.
          A wife offers a word of forgiveness and a marriage is saved.
            A gossip makes a phone call and a reputation is destroyed.
              A teenager says "no" and changes the course of her life."

              Those were just some of the positive or negative effects of how we choose to use our tongue. I know I struggle with what I say to others, especially in the form of gossip! Each of us have something inside of us that makes us feel we "need" to gossip but the Bible says specifically that it is a sin
              Proverbs 1:29-32
              "They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them"

              These statistics were given, "It has been estimated that most people speak enough words in one week to fill a large book of 500 pages which, in the average lifetime, would amount to somewhere around 3000 volumes or 1,500,000 pages" That is insane!!! That each and every person could write a book that big with just the words they speak! Shouldn't that motivate us to be speak with kind and uplifting words? Who would want to look in their book after their life and see all these mean and derogatory remarks to others? That would shame us and we would certainly be embarrassed if God read that book to everyone--so why do we talk like that to and about others?

              The Bible says, "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me" (Matthew 25:40, KJV). Now if nothing else said convicted you then this one should! God says that when we speak or do wrong to others we're really also doing it Him! That alone should make you "think before you speak" and even before you do! Words are like seeds. What we plant will grow. The words we speak are powerful and will either build up or destroy. Words can diffuse anger and turn tragedy into triumph. The right word, spoken at the right time and in the right way can bring peace in the midst of confusion. What kind of book are you writing today with your words?

              Thursday, February 17, 2011

              We Walk By Faith

              "Without faith no one can please God. Anyone who comes to God must believe that he is real and that he rewards those who truly want to find him" (Hebrews 11:6 NCV).

              Today's devotional was on faith. Some might say that the topic of faith is overused and of course they have faith in God...but do you really? The devotional was by Mary Southerland and it was called "Step Away From the Shore". She based it off of the story in Matthew 14 when the disciples are "lost at sea" in a huge storm. They probably were so scared and wondering where in the world Christ was! Why wasn't he there with them and helping them? Then Christ comes onto the scene and in verse 25 it says, "And in the fourth watch of the night (between 3-6am) He came to them, walking on the sea" (parenthesis mine). Christ did come to them but I think He wanted to test their faith in Him by waiting until they cried out to Him for help...they put their faith in Him alone to save them! Did they cry out in fear? Yes! Did He come? A huge resounding YES!

              God is waiting for us to cry out to Him. He is willing and waiting to bless us. Southerland pointed out though that blessings from God aren't necessarily always easy, effortless, painless or expected. Sometimes blessings from God are wrapped in darkness. She says, "But I am learning this truth - anything that makes us cry out to God can be counted as a blessing. Why? Because when we are desperate and in pain, when we have no answers and the darkness is closing in, we cry out to God, just as the disciples did - and He comes! Not because we have earned His presence or His mercy, but because we cried out with a tiny seed of faith, as His children, knowing He is not only able, but willing to come." Now that can be hard to grasp...a "bad" blessing? But is it really bad if it gets us to cry out to our God and Savior? It may be hard but it's not bad!

              Faith is definitely not an easy thing to practice in our lives! Especially when the hard times do come...we have the head knowledge that God is all-powerful and that God can get us through and work it out for good (Romans 8:28) but we don't have the "heart knowledge"...we don't believe it with all our heart, soul and mind! That is the point where we all need to get to. At the end of her devotional she had a little exercise to record in a journal. Read and copy down Psalm 86:15, "But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness." Then go through the verse and write down all the words that describe God. What do these words tell you about God's willingness to bless you? What is the first step of faith you need to make today? Are you willing to take it right now?

              By Faith
              By Keith & Kristyn Getty/Stuart Townend

              By faith we see the hand of God
              In the light of creation's grand design
              In the lives of those who prove His faithfulness
              Who walk by faith and not by sight

              By faith our fathers roamed the earth
              With the power of His promise in their hearts
              Of a holy city built by God's own hand
              A place where peace and justice reign

              We will stand as children of the promise
              We will fix our eyes on Him our soul's reward
              Till the race is finished and the work is done
              We'll walk by faith and not by sight

              By faith the prophets saw a day
              When the longed-for Messiah would appear
              With the power to break the chains of sin and death
              And rise triumphant from the grave

              By faith the church was called to go
              In the power of the Spirit to the lost
              To deliver captives and to preach good news
              In every corner of the earth

              We will stand...

              By faith this mountain shall be moved
              And the power of the gospel shall prevail
              For we know in Christ all things are possible
              For all who call upon His name

              Tuesday, February 8, 2011

              All Things Work Together For Good

              Romans 8:28
              "We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose."

              I have read this very many times before...I've had it memorized but today is just really sunk in and hit home! I have this devotional book that I do each day among other things that has a little something for each day of the year. It is called "My All in All" by Robert J. Morgan. I usually do my Bible reading, then I move to this book and then do the rest of my devotions. I looked ahead today at the devotional that was sent to me and was kind of bummed that this month the one lady is doing a series on your marriage in honor of Valentine's Day. I normally have been reading them but this one was about bringing a bad marriage back around and I'm not even married--let alone I do not want to think ahead to how bad marriages could get. So I decided to just not do that one and just focus in on this little devotional. How encouraging and uplifting to know that God has every single detail of my life worked out...not just worked out but worked out for good!! I love what Robert Morgan says about this verse....

              "Romans 8:28 is all-powerful, and always available. It is as omnipotent as the God who signed and sealed it. It's as loving as the Savior who died to unleash it. It can do anything God can do. It can touch any hurt and redeem any problem. It isn't a mere platitude, but a divine promise. It isn't a goal, but a guarantee. It isn't wishful thinking, but a shaft of almighty providence that lands squarely on our pathway each day and every moment...The Lord moves heaven and earth to keep this promise. He puts His eye to the microscope of Providential Oversight and scans the smallest details of our lives, working them into a tapestry of blessing, making sure that goodness and mercy follow us all our days."

              Wow, now that is such a life-shaking, life-altering truth that we can rest our hearts and lives on! We always say, "yeah...God knows best for my life" but the majority of the time we do not live that out or believe it ourselves. Deep down we do not have the faith to believe that some of the things we are going through are good for us. We will often times think that God messed up in our lives and now we've officially lost control of our lives. But, rest assure that God knows exactly what is going on and what He's doing and it is for good, even if it's hard at the time. Years down the road we may be able to think back and see the big picture and praise the Lord for what He did in our lives! That's my prayer for myself each and every day. There's some hard and scary things that are going on in my life that I just need to trust and obey God and someday I'll know it was for good. Because He says that if we just love Him and follow His will--He will work it all for good!