Tag Archives: overcoming

December 28 – Intentional

Revelation 1-5

Whenever I read John’s Revelation, I always pray that my focus would not be on the horizontal, but on the vertical. Not on the material pictures painted here, but on God Himself. And when I do, I can almost join that worship service I read about and sing with the angels, “Holy, Holy, Holy! Worthy is the Lamb!”

God speaks to us Christians through John about the role of the church; the pitfalls, and the promise. I hear Him tell us not to just go through the motions, but to serve Him with the same love we had when we first believed.

I hear Him tell us to stay true to Scripture and reject Satans’ lies. I hear Him say it won’t be easy, that persecution will effect Christians all over the world.

Don’t accept false teaching, He tells us. Wake up and live this Christian life intentionally. Hold on. Be passionate and effective for the kingdom.

God tells us He will discipline the disobedient Christian in order to save them.

And, for those of us who overcome, we will receive the best prize ever – God Himself: the crown of life, the power and authority, the Word, the morning star, JESUS!!

Reading Revelation and not thinking it’s a history book, or a futuristic prediction, makes it alive and personal today. God wants us to be active Christians, obedient, loving, and alert so that others can know Him, too. I don’t think the book of Revelation is so much a book of the future. I think it’s a book for today, right now, with important lessons for us to follow.

My intention is not to offend those of you who study this book and look for material interpretations. I certainly don’t intend to criticize you if God is directing you in that way. I am telling you how He is directing me. And I don’t want us to miss the messages He has for us for today, to make us stronger and more effective workers in His Kingdom. I think we can all agree that  all Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for instruction, correction,  so that we are equipped to do what God wants us to do as we live out our salvation at the end of 2016 and into the new year.

Today, as I read His Word, I believe God is asking me to be intentional in my walk with Him. And He promises it will be worth it, when I realize He Himself is my prize!

July 17

Isaiah 40-42

Years ago my niece Kelly, who was about six or seven at the time, was spending a weekend with me. We got a phone call from her mom telling us our childhood pastor had had a heart attack and asked us to pray for him. I remember praying with Kelly that God would protect Rev. Allen and heal him, that God would give him strength.

When we were done praying, my niece asked me about Isaiah 40:31. Didn’t Rev. Allen hope in The Lord and didn’t God promise that those who do wouldn’t get weary or faint? She didn’t understand how our pastor could be sick.

I remember telling her that God doesn’t lie so that verse must not be talking about physical health, because believers get sick and die just like non-believers. We talked about spiritual strength, the strength to get us through the physical hard times. We talked about never giving up on what – on Who – we know is true.

I told her Paul talked about running a race. Not a physical race but a race doing God’s will. I said Isaiah promises that God will give us the ability to do it, to run that race and not grow weary.

Once again I want to encourage us to not waste time trying to figure out which verses are to be interpreted materially and which are spiritual. God is painting a picture of his plan for your heart, for your life here in 2013. And the picture is pretty incredible with him right in the middle.

Father, I thank you for your Word. I thank you for your promises. I thank you for your promise to give us what we need for the tasks you ask us to do. May we put our hope in you and not grow weary while we share you with those who need to hear the good news of Jesus.

June 18

I Kings 22:36-40; 2 Kings 1:1; 2 Chronicles 19:1-11, 20:1-30; Psalms 46, 47, 48

Judah was in trouble. Word reached King Jehoshaphat that a vast army was coming to destroy them. The king knew he and his army were no match for the enemy.

Have you ever felt like that? Like the circumstances of life are such that you feel you can’t face them and win? Have you ever looked ahead and thought, it’s too much?

We can all learn from Jehoshaphat’s example. The first thing he did was to proclaim a fast. Not a quick-start to a diet fast, but a down on your knees, heartfelt, honest time of prayer instead of eating. A time of seeking God, earnestly pouring themselves out before God.

Then the people gathered together. Listen to some of what Jehoshaphat prayed that day:

For we have no power to face this vast army (insert whatever it is you are facing) that is attacking us. We don’t know what to do, BUT OUR EYES ARE ON YOU. (2 Chronicles 20:12)

The third thing they did was to set out for battle. Have faith in The Lord, Jehoshaphat says. Then he told them to praise God. Before the battle, during the battle. Praise God.

Verse 22 says, “As they began to sing and praise, The Lord set ambushes against the (enemy)”.

So here’s what I think is an example of how to face life’s troubles. 1) Seek God, fast if you can, 2) Pray. Admit your helplessness and lay it all at God’s feet, 3) Get up and get going. 4) Praise God before, during, and after. Praise God.

Be sure to read Psalm 46 today. Especially if you feel you are in a situation with no hope. I’m telling you there is hope. God is our refuge and strength in all circumstances. Seek him. Trust him. Praise him.

Father in heaven, thank you once again for your Word that speaks to hearts today. Some of us are going through things in this life that are overwhelming and we just don’t know what to do. May we keep our eyes on you. May we seek you, trust you, and praise you in all things. Remind us that you are our strength, our refuge. Be exalted, Lord.

April 19

Psalms 13, 17, 22, 54, I Samuel 24:1-22

Isn’t Psalm 22 thrilling? It starts off with the words Jesus spoke from the cross and includes great detail about the crucification. It’s all there from the mocking and insults, a weak and thirsty Jesus, the nails in his hands and feet, the fact his bones were not broken, to the casting of lots for Jesus’ clothing. “For he has done it.”

There is no way David could have described that scene except God told him. This is quite an example of “God-breathed” Scripture. 

So when I read how David treated Saul, who wanted David dead, I have to believe it as God-breathed Scripture. Instead of treating Saul the way Saul was treating him, David showed kindness and respect. Saul wanted an enemy in David. David wanted a friend in Saul.

It’s human nature, I think, to repay evil with evil. It’s supernatural to treat evil with kindness. I’m certainly not saying we turn a blind eye to abuse or illegal activity. There are laws we must follow.

I used to tell kids it’s hard to be mean to someone who’s nice to you. It’s not impossible, but it’s not as fun, either. Most bullies pick on people for the reaction they get from their victim. Walking away without reacting doesn’t give the bully what he wants. And doing something kind or thoughtful for the bully confuses him or her.

Kindness is not a quick-fix as we will see in David’s story. But Paul reminds us in Romans 12:21, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good”. It’s a process. And it’s hard. But it works or God wouldn’t have breathed those words into the ears of the writers of Scripture.

Is there someone who is being mean to you or treating you unfairly? Give him a sincere compliment. Smile and say hello instead of avoiding her. They may not deserve your kindness. But you deserve the satisfaction of knowing you have done the right thing.

All I know is, the Bible recommends kindness. Pray about it. See if God would have you repay some evil with good. You might as well begin today.

God, I am blown away by Scripture. Thank you so much for inspiring the writers to put down your truth. I pray for people who are experiencing some form of mistreatment. May they look to you for direction and, if they feel led, do something kind for the person who is mistreating them. Not just once. But as long as it takes to win them over. I trust you, because it is in your Word, that you will bring about good.

April 18

Psalms 52 & 109, I Samuel 23:1-29

I admire David. God took a young shepherd and promised him a kingdom. It wasn’t going to be an easy transition between Saul’s reign and Davids, though. 

Saul was obsessed with David and followed him everywhere with the intent to kill him. David couldn’t even go home out of fear for his life. It just wasn’t fair. If anyone had reason to doubt God or be angry at the Lord it was David during his years on the run.

But listen to what David wrote while holding up in a cave:

“But I am like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God; I trust in God’s unfailing love for ever and ever. I will praise you forever for what you have done; in your name I will hope, for your name is good.”

and

“With my mouth I will greatly extol the Lord; in the great throng I will praise him. For he stands at the right hand of the needy one, to save his life from those who condemn him.”

Is life treating you unfairly? Join the club. But instead of arguing with God, blaming or questioning him, instead of dwelling on the unfairness of things, try praising God. If we are honest with ourselves there is reason to praise him. And if we take our focus off ourselves and our situation and place it toward God I believe God will be faithful to be exactly what we need in the midst of our difficulties. 

Dear God, I just want to praise you today. Thank you for the sunshine, the spring flowers that are blooming, your creation that never ceases to amaze me. Thank you for my sisters and their families, dear people who love me and who I have the privilege of loving in return. Thank you for friendships, for the freedom I have to worship you here in America. Thank you for lovingly inspiring men to put your thoughts into words so I can read them this morning. Thank you for standing with me in times of trouble. And mostly, thank you for Jesus who loved me so much he went to the cross to pay for my sins. Thank you for your Holy Spirit who promises to be present with me every minute of every day. And thank you, Holy Father, that you love me and want me to spend eternity with you. I am blessed. You are the giver of all good things and I am truly blessed. You are compassionate, slow to anger, mighty in power and you love me. I praise you today.

March 13

Deuteronomy 1:1-3:11

Moses knows he is going to die soon. So what is it he wants to leave with the Israelites? These words in Deuteronomy record his last message to the nation he had led for forty years.

Moses begins by going over their history together. Remember, his audience had been pretty young when the Israelites left Egypt and arrived at the Jordan some forty years before. It was their parents’ disbelief which caused them to wander in the desert without ever taking the land God had promised them.

Now that generation is gone and the oldest Jew is only around 60 years old. Yet Moses is speaking to them as though it was their sin and not their parents’ who kept them out of Canaan.

We are all products of our upbringing. Raised by imperfect parents we are all imperfect people. Some of us have a great deal to overcome and some of us are living on solid foundations. But here is what God is saying to me today. We have choices. We can live in the past, blame our parents for our struggles, and allow the past to prevent us from ever seeing Canaan. Or we can give it to God and allow Him to heal us. We can, if necessary, refuse to walk the path our parents walked and enjoy a close relationship with the Father who will never fail us.

Moses is right to go over their history with these young Israelites. It’s important for us to take a realistic look at where we’ve been, too. But we don’t have to live there. If you are carrying the burden of your past, I pray you will find a counselor, pastor, or a friend who loves the Lord. Talk to someone who can help you find the answers you need and the courage to go on. God wants us to enjoy this journey.

I am praying for each of you who find this blog today. You may be one who is hurting. Or you may be one who can encourage someone who is. As God speaks to you, may He find you willing to obey.

March 10

Numbers 30,31

The Midianites had to be destroyed. They were the means of turning Israel away from the Lord. God’s command was to kill them all. But when the soldiers came back from the battle they came with the Midianite women and children as well as their livestock and possessions.

Moses was not happy. He told the soldiers they had to finish the job. Midianite women and children had to die.

God is asking me today to identify those things that are means of turning me away from Him. And once those things are evident, I must rid myself of them completely. Nothing is to stand between me and my relationship with God. Even if it appears to be just a little thing.

The lesson for me here in Numbers today is that not everything that can turn me away looks like an angry soldier with swords drawn. It may look like something totally innocent.

I challenge all of us to examine our lives and defeat the enemy that would keep us from a right relationship with God.

I am very glad that we are not called to kill people like they were in Old Testament times. We don’t have a flesh and blood enemy in God’s spiritual kingdom. However, the principles are the same for us. We cannot allow sin to have any place in our lives.

The internet is a great thing when used properly. But if I waste hours every day playing games or visiting ungodly sites, I need to walk away from it. And if I can’t walk away from it, maybe I need to cancel my service.

If gambling or alcohol or a career or an unhealthy relationship is coming between me and the Savior, I need to end it. If anger or jealousy or self-pity is robbing me of an affective testimony, I need to confess it and allow God to change it.

There just isn’t a way to almost serve God or to almost get right with Him. God wants us to defeat our enemies completely and rid ourselves of anything that would turn us away from Him.

Father, reveal those things in our lives that put us in danger of allowing the enemy to take up residence in our lives. Help us identify things that are the means of turning us away from You. Then defeat those enemies in our lives. Help us to live lives pleasing to you, lives able to be used by you to reveal you to a lost world, and lives that can be blessed and be a blessing today.

February 26

Numbers 1-2

The first part of the book of Numbers is about family. Counting families. Positioning families. Recounting families.

I love my family. My sisters and I were so blessed to have the parents we had. They weren’t perfect, of course, but they loved us and raised us to love each other. We often comment that our parents gave us forever friends.

My sisters’ children were raised to be friends with each other, too. The relationship of ‘cousin’ is as strong and loving as ‘brother’ or ‘sister’ to them.

And now a new generation is among us. I am excited to see what God has in store for these little ones as well.

I know “family” means different things to different people. I hope you have precious memories of yours and that you enjoy precious relationships with them today.

If you don’t have your own flesh and blood family you are close to I hope you reach out to a church family or a group of Christian friends with whom you can let your hair down and just be yourself, knowing they are going to love you anyway!  God created us with a need for one another.

It has been said that one of the greatest gifts a father can give his children is to love their mother. Or mothers love their fathers. Parents, I know you know how blessed you are to have those children in your home. I pray that you will raise them to be friends with one another, to experience unconditional love, and to take pride in your family unit.

So as we read the book of Numbers together, let’s celebrate family. The verses can get tedious but in each verse is someone’s life. Someone’s mother or father, brother or sister. Real people with real hopes and dreams, struggles and grief.

Just like ours.

January 12

Job 27-29

Who was Job anyway? To hear him describe himself you would think he was the most popular, the most respected, the most loved man in town. Job lists his altruistic deeds and they are many. So are the praises from his neighbors.

Job naturally longs for the good old days. Back then he had it all… wealth, power, respect, his children, his health. The present is just too painful. My heart broke for him when I read, “Oh for the days when… my children were with me.” It makes me sad because I long for the days when Geoff was still with us, too.

I think God wants me to realize that if I allow myself to dwell on the past I miss out on the blessings of the present. Most of us at one time or another have probably been guilty of remembering the past a little rosier or a little worse than it actually was.

When I was a little girl there was a hill at the end of our dead end street that was perfect for sledding. We spent many happy hours on that giant hill and I remember not only the joy of flying down, but trudging back up the mountain over and over.

After high school I went off to college and hadn’t even seen the hill for years. One day I decided to take a walk up the street and was shocked to see that the hill had shrunk. It was nowhere close to being mountainous. Over the years I had created a long, steep grade in my mind. The reality was a more gentle slope. (It’s still a good place for kids to sled)

But isn’t that the way with memories? My dad used to long for the good old days when men were men and people were honest, when women didn’t dress like men and children obeyed their parents. Let’s be honest, though. Even the good old days had their share of problems.

Memories themselves can be precious treasures. And it’s good to take them out and polish them off sometimes. But if we choose to live in the past, whether the past was ideal or filled with pain, we can miss out on some pretty amazing things in the present.

God, when  you created us with the ability to remember you gave us a precious gift… and a curse. Thank you for a lifetime full of memories. May I put them in perspective and not allow them to take my eyes off what you have for me today. May my past not hold me back or steal the joy you want to share with me. Lord, I give you today. I thank you for yesterday. And I trust you with tomorrow.