Monday, November 14, 2022

Are You Kicking at the Goads?

We all fell to the ground, and I heard a voice saying to me in Aramaic, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’ Acts 26:14

What's a Goad? 

It's a spiked stick used to prod an animal in the right direction. Shepherds used it to lead their flock to safe and plentiful pastures or to prod them away from danger. Farmers used it to prod their horses or mules forward to plow the fields.

If an animal took the hint of a gentle prod from the goad, they would be trained to do what is best for them. If, instead, an animal kicked against the goad, they would injure themselves on the sharp end of the stick.

Saul was a devout Jew. He zealously followed Jewish law. He was so zealous, in fact, that he persecuted those who dared teach or follow any other beliefs. When Jesus came on the scene, preaching forgiveness and salvation, Saul took it upon himself to wipe out early Christianity. 

I'm sure that God had been nudging, then prodding Saul toward faith in Jesus, but Saul had his own ideas about how to best serve God. Finally, God had to put a stop to Saul's killing spree and hatred, so as Saul was on his way to destroy more believers, God revealed himself to Saul in a blinding light.

Saul explained what happened to him like this when he stood before King Agrippa...

I saw a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, blazing around me and my companions. We all fell to the ground, and I heard a voice saying to me in Aramaic, "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads."

Than I asked, "Who are you, Lord?"

"I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting," the Lord replied. Now, get up and stand on your feet. I have appeared to you to appoint you as a servant and as a witness of what you have seen and will see of me. " Acts 26:13-16*

 Saul's kicking against the goads resulted in a three day blindness, but brought about a complete life change. Transforming a viscous Saul the Apostle Paul, who spent the rest of his life as a devoted follower of Jesus and taught other the truth about salvation through Jesus. It's too bad he had to go through so much tragedy before he would listen to God. 

I think God uses prods to keep us moving in the right direction, to lead us to the blessings he has for us and to steer us away from danger. Not for punishment, or abuse, but in love so that we live the best life possible. However, just like a stubborn or rebellious animal, we often resent that nudges from God to go a certain way. If he gets more forceful in his prodding, we might get angry and kick against his will, preferring our own way instead. But just like the animal who is injured by kicking at the goad, we injure ourselves if we kick against God's leading. We invite trouble into our lives, we make poor choices which lead to dire consequences, Then when we find ourselves smack dab in the middle of a mess, we might blame God for causing or allowing the trouble we find ourselves in, when all the time, if we had just moved with his nudging, we would have been far better off.

How about you? Have you felt God nudging you in a certain direction or urging you not to go in another? Have you listened and cooperated or have you been kicking at the goads.

 *You can read the whole account of Saul's conversion HERE.


If you enjoyed this post, please feel free to share it with your friends using the Facebook, Twitter and other share buttons below. Thanks!

Monday, September 20, 2021

What happened to my passion for life?

Have you ever met someone who exudes a joy and passion for life that you wished you felt? Do you remember a time when you were excited about living and your future? What happened to that?

Life has a way of beating us down, making us weary, stealing our joy and passion. With everything that life throws at us - with all the bad news we hear every day - with all the struggle to deal with in our quickly changing culture - joy and passion for life drain out of us without our even realizing it until one day we wake up and wonder if it's even worth the trouble to get out of bed.

We can look at all the chaos and trouble around us and feel overwhelmed and defeated. Maybe that's the problem...we've been focused on the chaos and trouble instead of staying focused one the One who gave His life for us. Jesus had a passion for life. He had a passion for those around Him. He had a passion for the Father.

We need that passion. Fortunately, it's His to give and He already gave it when we surrendered our lives to Him. He forgave, saved and filled us with His Holy Spirit - wherein lies all we will ever need to live a joyful, passionate life.

Let's pray that God will restore our passion, fill us with His joy so that we not only find excitement and purpose in life, but so that we can pass that along to others. Our world needs to see that the Christian life is different. They need to see us rejoice and worship God in the middle of trials, in the face of a life-altering diagnoses, in loss, and in the unsettling times we are living in.

Father, we ask you to bring us back to a place of joy and passion for living. Fill us anew with your Spirit and let your passion bubble up inside of us until we are so full that it spills over onto those around us. Amen 


If you enjoyed this post, please feel free to share it with your friends using the Facebook, Twitter and other share buttons below. Thanks!

Friday, September 17, 2021

Code Blue X 2

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength 
of my heart and my portion forever.
Psalm 73:26

Tuesday, two years ago today, started like any other day, but before the day was over, I found myself rushed to the hospital for an emergency heart catheterization and pacemaker implant. Before they could get me prepped, I coded. My heart just stopped beating. They performed CPR and shocked my heart and I came back.  A couple of days later, I coded again and again they brought me back. It was a long recovery, but I'm alive! 

Today is my 

God has walked me through recovery and has really clarified what's important in life. We have grown so much closer and though I am happy to be alive, I look forward to being with Him someday...and honestly, that day seems closer than ever.

He has kept me here for a purpose - maybe many purposes. I've given it a lot of thought and prayer and I've have a new bucket list. There's only 3 items on the list, but they encompass so much.

My Bucket List

  • Love God with all my heart, my soul, my mind and my strength.
  • Love, encourage and help others as God has done for me.
  • Always, always point the way to Him.

In these three lie every purpose for which I am still alive. I don't know how much time I have before I am called home (none of us do). So, I will spend that time focused on those three items, trusting the Holy Spirit to lead me where I am needed. Nothing could be more important than these.

It's wonderful to be alive!


If you enjoyed this post, please feel free to share it with your friends using the Facebook, Twitter and other share buttons below. Thanks!

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Answering the Call

What has the Lord called you to do? Some are called to be teachers, some musicians, some artists, some preachers, some homemakers. What is He calling you to do?

For a long time I wondered about this. I didn't feel particularly called to something "special." Then I realize that as a child of God, everything I do is special if I do it as unto the Lord and do it in love.

  • Praying for others is a calling.
  • Sharing God's word is a calling
  • Helping those in need is a calling
  • Loving others is a calling
  • Feeding the hungry is a calling
  • etc....
Nothing is too small to be a calling if God is prompting you to do it. You may read a scripture that you want to share with others and post it on Facebook. You may cook a meal or bake some cookies for a neighbor. You may pick up the trash you find at a park so that others can enjoy a clean space.

Whatever you do, know that God will bless you for it and bless others through you. You are his hand extended, his voice of encouragement, his shoulder to cry on. No matter how small the effort may be, it's huge if you are following God's prompting.

So - are you answering the call?

Make a difference in someone's life today by allowing God to use you for His purposes.


If you enjoyed this post, please feel free to share it with your friends using the Facebook, Twitter and other share buttons below. Thanks!

Monday, February 10, 2020

Why does God Bless Us?

God is able and willing to bless us...but why

Because He loves us? Yes.
Because He promised to provide? Yes.
Because He is good and kind and loving? Yes.

But there's another reason for His abundant blessings and it's found toward the end of 2 Corinthians 9:8. He blesses us so we will have all we need at all times, but for a greater purpose than our comfort. He blesses us abundantly so that we in turn can bless others. He call this "good works."

God doesn't just bless us for our benefit, but so that He can meet the needs of others through us - through our generosity.

So, if today you have more than you need, ask God if there is someone you need to bless.

We are His hand extended to the poor, the needy, the broken-hearted and the downtrodden. 

Father, thank you for your many blessings. Thank you for providing all my needs. When you pour out an abundance of blessings, Lord, open my eyes to see the needs around me and give me a heart as generous as yours is. Amen

If you enjoyed this post, please feel free to share it with your friends using the Facebook, Twitter and other share buttons below. Thanks!

Monday, January 20, 2020

How Bad Do You Want It?

How bad do you want it? 

I’m talking about an intimate relationship With God. We all want to experience his presence, but are we willing to put in the time it takes to develop that relationship? Are we willing to alter our habits so that our behavior is in line with His word?

God says, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13

We long to hear His voice, receive His counsel and feel His Holy Spirit in us, but we are running too fast, overwhelmed by the busyness and noise of this world to take time to slow down and quiet ourselves long enough to hear Him speak.

In Psalm 46:10, God encourages us to “Be still and know that I am God.”

When was the last time you stepped away from your hectic schedule, your electronic entertainment and your stressful workplace just to get alone with God? No distractions, just you seeking God with your whole heart.

He promises that if we will do that, we will find Him. We will experience His presence. He will speak to our hearts and we will recognize His voice.

As believers, we are only as close to God as we truly want to be. We must make our relationship a top priority. We must take time to read His word consistently. We must speak to Him in prayer, praise and worship Him, acknowledge Him as the LORD of our lives. That means allowing Him full access to every area of our lives, allowing Him to change those things in us that need changing and seeking with the predetermined intention of obedience.

So, my friend, if you long for a closer relationship with God, He’s only a quiet moment away. He is waiting, eager to commune with you, but it’s up to you to initiate the conversation. Find your quiet place and give yourself time to really open up to your Lord and you will experience an intimacy you never knew before.

Here's God’s promise…

Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.” Jeremiah 33:3

If you enjoyed this post, please feel free to share it with your friends using the Facebook, Twitter and other share buttons below. Thanks!

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

How to Triumph over the Enemy

Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say:
“Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Messiah. For the accuser of our brothers and sisters, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down. They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death. Therefore rejoice, you heavens and you who dwell in them!" 
Revelation 12:10-12

How do we triumph over the enemy? By the blood of the Lamb (accepting the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross for our forgiveness and inviting Him to be Lord over our lives) and by the word of our testimony. (Telling all who will listen what Jesus has done for us). Let's not love our lives so much that we shrink from our calling and our purpose - to point others to the saving power of Jesus Christ!

If you enjoyed this post, please feel free to share it with your friends using the Facebook, Twitter and other share buttons below. Thanks!

Thursday, December 19, 2019

In Pursuit

What are you pursuing in life?

For Believers, it's easy to lose sight of the fact that we are here for just a short time before we transfer to our eternal home and blissful life in Heaven. We forget that we are here to fulfill God's purposes, not our own. Instead, we live in constant pursuit of our own agenda, not God's agenda. In pursuit of temporal things that bring temporal pleasure, but nothing of lasting value.

How does God say we should live our lives? What are we to pursue?

He says: 

But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:15-16)

Wow! That's a tall order. Who can achieve holiness? Who can be holy in all they do?

First, it's important to know that once we come to Christ, receiving His sacrifice on the cross as payment for our sins and surrendering our lives to Him, God sees us through the holiness of Jesus Christ.

So then, if God already sees us as holy and righteous in Christ, do we really have to do anything?

Yes, for though God sees us as holy, He also tells us to be holy. 

Just what does that mean? Here are some definitions of the words holy and holiness...

  • Sacred
  • Physically Pure
  • Morally Blameless
  • Consecrated to God (set apart for His purposes)
  • Respectful in our Conduct

2 Corinthians 7:1 says, ."..dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God."

It's an ongoing process. God is perfecting us, but we have a part to play, too. We are to separate ourselves from sin and devote ourselves to God. We are to pursue righteousness, holiness, godliness, reverence, obedience to God's word and His will.

Why? Because we are sacred - set apart for God's use - serving a sacred purpose.

God has plans for our lives (each individual life), more importantly, God has plans for those around us and He wants to use us, His children to accomplish those plans. To bring salvation, healing, provision and blessing to the hurting and the lost.  He wants to do that through us, but how can He use us for His purposes if we are busy pursuing our own?

Does what we do with our lives really matter to God?

Yes! Paul says to Timothy...and to us:

"So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad." 2 Corinthians 5:9-10

This is not a judgement for our sins. Those were already paid for through Christ. No, this is a judgement for Believers only, to give an account for their lives and receive rewards according to what we have done after receiving Christ as Savior.

That should give us pause to consider how we are spending our short lives here. Are we pursuing holiness and God's purposes? Will we be blessed or embarrassed when we stand before the judgement seat of Christ?

My friends, I encourage you to be in pursuit - of God, of His will and of His purposes. Each day He wakes you up on this earth holds the opportunity to serve Him, to behave in a way that honors him and and the opportunity to serve others. Be alert to His promptings to help those around you. This is why you are alive today.

If you enjoyed this post, please feel free to share it with your friends using the Facebook, Twitter and other share buttons below. Thanks!

Friday, November 22, 2019

Rooted, Strengthened and Overflowing

"So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in Him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness." Colossians 2:6-7

There's more to being a Christian than just receiving Christ Jesus as Lord of our lives. For if He truly is LORD of our lives, we will go on to do what the rest of these two scriptures say.

We will root ourselves in him. A tree, planted in the soil sends down deep roots to receive nutrients and water - life sustaining necessities. As it's roots grow deeper, it grows strong enough to withstand the storms of life.  So, shall we be if we root ourselves firmly in Christ - fed, nourished and strengthened so that we might grow and lift our branches to the Son in praise and worship.

As we continue to live our lives in Him, that is live according to His word and His will, we become more deeply rooted and built up in Him. We are strengthened in our faith, which makes us overflow with thankfulness as we consider all that Christ has done for us.

Today, my friends, let's send our roots deeper in Christ Jesus by reading His word and praying. Let's develop relationships that nourish our spirits so that we experience spiritual growth. Let's avail ourselves of solid biblical teaching. And let's cultivate a heart of gratitude that overflows with thanksgiving to Christ.

If you enjoyed this post, please feel free to share it with your friends using the Facebook, Twitter and other share buttons below. Thanks!

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Just Walk With Me Every day

I'm the kind of person who feels like they always have to be doing something to please God. I must be productive or I feel like I'm not measuring up. I know that's not right. I know that God is pleased with me because I chose Jesus as my Savior long ago and have done my best to live the kind of life He would want me to live at all times. My heart knows that, but my mind doesn't get it.

I'm an over-thinker. Always have been. Too much in my head all the time, trying to figure things out. I don't know if you can relate, but you're probably going to get a laugh out of the conversation between God and I this morning...

My Question: Lord, how can I please you?
His Answer: Just walk with me every day.
My Response: But, that's so simple, Lord.
His Response: Yes, it is. You make it hard with all your striving. Just walk with me every day.

Immediately an image of Jesus walking the dusty roads of Jerusalem with his disciples. Not just the 12, but those who chose to follow Jesus wherever he went. I saw myself walking beside Jesus. Following in his footsteps wherever he led, listening to his teachings, observing how he responded to people both with love and with correction. I saw his compassion. I saw him praying. I saw his love for humanity.

"Just walk with me."

I felt a heavy burden lift from my shoulders. All he wants me to do is to walk with him every day. As long as I am close by his side, my life will automatically please him. My over-active mind said, "There must be more to it than that." Jesus turned and said, "No, that's all I ask, that you walk with me every day."

"Yes, Lord, yes."

Micah 6:8 answer the question my mind struggled with for so long...

"He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you. But to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God." Micah 6:8

If you enjoyed this post, please feel free to share it with your friends using the Facebook, Twitter and other share buttons below. Thanks!

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

How Was Your Day?

"Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there be any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way." Psalm 139:23-24

"How was your day?"

That was the usual conversation between me and my daughter at the end of each school day.  If I wanted any further information, I'd have to ask several more question to drill down to what I really wanted to know; 

What excited you?
What troubled you?
How did you feel about it all?

I asked because I cared. I wanted her to share her day with me. I wanted to know she was okay.

Our Heavenly Father wants the same thing. What if we imagined Him asking us that same question each evening; "How was your day?"

What might He really be asking? As I thought about that, many things came to mind. Things I would have liked to ask my own daughter. Things I'd like to ask myself and share with my Heavenly Father at the end of the day. I put together some end-of-the-day questions to help me review my day. I jot the answers down in my journal and them use them to start a conversation with God. My evening talks with the Lord have been richer and more fun as we go over the events of the day together.

I'd like to share my How Was Your Day Journaling Questions with you...

Click image above to access the PDF.

I hope you will enjoy this way of connecting with the Lord and pray that God will bless your time with Him each evening.

If you enjoyed this post, please feel free to share it with your friends using the Facebook, Twitter and other share buttons below. Thanks!

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Crucified with Christ

“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me,” Galatians 2:20 (ESV)

Tomorrow is Good Friday, the day when we remember the cross and the sacrifice of Christ, who gave himself to rescue us from a life of sin and an eternity in hell. That's an act of love that's almost too much to fathom!

Because of His crucifixion, we no longer have the sentence of death hanging over our heads. The instant we choose to believe, to follow Christ, to make Him Lord of our lives, we receive new life - abundant and ever-lasting life. Our eternity begins in that moment. When we eventually leave this earth and this body, we will step into life in Heaven with a new body, free from the cares of this world.

Until that time, we undergo a crucifixion of our own. Not the agony of the cross, but a voluntary process of putting to death our old sinful nature and desires of the past. We let go of those behaviors and attitudes that do not line up with the life of Christ and we begin to live by faith in Him. We seek Him and His will for our lives. We release our former dreams and plans to receive the grander dreams and greater plans He has for us - dreams and plans that are infinitely more fulfilling than anything we could have come up with on our own.

We step into His plan - the purposes for which we were created. Our life takes on meaning and the world around us is changed because we allow Jesus Christ to live and act through us. For that to happen, we need his perspective, his wisdom and the boldness to step out in faith.

Are you ready to believe? Are you ready to step into the life you were meant to live? If so, pray...

God, I believe. I receive You, Jesus, as my Lord and Savior. I am ready to crucify my fleshly desires and step into the future you have for me. May I see what You see and hear what You hear and speak the words You want me to speak from this point forward. Give me a holy boldness to accomplish your will. Use me to reach others and point the way to You. Amen

If you enjoyed this post, please feel free to share it with your friends using the Facebook, Twitter and other share buttons below. Thanks!

Sunday, April 14, 2019

The Thoughts We Consume

The thoughts you consume will eventually consume you. 
~Sharon Jaynes

When I came across this quote by Sharon Jaynes this evening, I had to stop and consider the truth of it. Our thoughts do influence us. In fact, our thoughts form our character, determine our behavior and shape the decisions that create our very lives. If that is true, and I think it is, then were do our thoughts come from? 

Don't they originate with the thoughts we consume? The thoughts that are fed to us by our parents as children begin to shape who we are, not our own thoughts. When we go to school, we take in the thoughts of our teachers and those who created our school curriculum. Later, when we begin to search our things for ourselves, we consume thoughts of others from television, books and discussions - all of which we process and absorb or reject to form our own version of truth.

But what if we are taking in misinformation? What if we've been consuming negative, critical, untrue thoughts from others. Doesn't it stand to reason that if we are taking in a steady diet of that kind of thought, we will ourselves become negative, critical people?

Conversely, if we take in positive, encouraging truths, we will take on those kinds of thought processes. 

I believe that's exactly why the apostle Paul instructed us to think on things that will keep our thoughts headed in the right direction.

"Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things." Philippians 4:8

There are thoughts, when consumed over time will lead to depression, bitterness, anger and hatred. These have the power to consume us and destroy our lives. But the kind of thoughts the scriptures encourage build us up, keep us positive and balanced. They keep us looking forward with hope and expectancy for a great life. They keep us at peace with others and make us pleasant to be around. They build our faith and help us to encourage and support others.

So, it's time to take an inventory of the kinds of thoughts you take in and ruminate on during the day. Is there something or someone you need to stop listening to? Something or someone you need to start listening to? Are there some thought processes you need to take to the Lord and ask Him to help you change?

You've heard the old saying, "garbage in, garbage out." It's true, but it's also true that if we are consuming affirming, life-giving information it will eventually consume us and make us better people. There's no better place to start than to read the words of Jesus found in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John in the Bible. Start there and you're on your way to a great thought life.


If you enjoyed this post, please feel free to share it with your friends using the Facebook, Twitter and other share buttons below. Thanks!

Saturday, April 13, 2019

The Dark Night of the Soul

 "He asked them, ‘What are you discussing so intently as you walk along?’ They stopped short, sadness written across their faces.” Luke 24:17 (NLT)

In today's scripture, two friends are walking together. Jesus, the one they loved, has died. Worse, yet, the women said they had found the tomb empty. Jesus wasn't there. You can just imagine their sadness and confusion. Jesus was no where to be found. 

That's the way I've felt this week. I've fasted and prayed, failed and got back up, reminded myself that no matter how it looks or how it feels, Jesus is with me always. His Holy Spirit lives within me. He promised He would never leave me or forsake me...and yet, I've felt sad and confused because the one I walk with daily, the one who regularly speaks to my heart has been silent.

They call this the dark night of the soul - a depression that is linked to a crisis of faith, a crisis that comes when one senses the absence of God or gives rise to a feeling of abandonment by Him.

Before you jump in to tell me why it's so wrong to feel abandoned by God, let me say, I've been preaching all those things to myself all week. I know that the way I feel is not reality. I also know that we are not to live by our feelings and I know that this feeling will not last, but while in it, I'm miserable.

I miss that closeness with my Lord, those intimate moments when He whispers in my ear or let's me catch a glimpse of Him in things/people around me.

And in case you think it might be sin that's standing between us or that I have not been seeking Him, I've been spending more time in soul-searching repentance and in His word than usual.

So, why do I tell you all this? Because I have a sneaking suspicion that I am not the only believer that goes through this. In fact, I'm not at all sure that God doesn't orchestrate these dry spells in our relationship so that I learn to walk by faith, not by sight.

While I'm okay with that, because I want to be strong in my faith, I sure don't enjoy the process!

So, what do we do when we're experiencing a dark night of the soul? First of all, don't go buy a box of chocolate eclairs and eat them all at one sitting. (I may or may not have done this yesterday.) In fact, don't do anything to try to fill up that emptiness, for nothing but Jesus will satisfy. Just keep doing what you know is right. Pray, seek Him, read His word, pray some more. Praise Him, recall all the ways in which He blesses your life and thank Him for it. 

In other words, keep walking with Jesus, even though you can see, hear or feel Him at the moment, He is there!

Note: as it turns out, our two friends from the scripture above were not alone. Jesus was with them all the time, for in verses 15 & 16, we read...

"As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing him." Luke 24:15-16 (NLT)

How about you? Do you go through times like this? What helps you get through it?

If you enjoyed this post, please feel free to share it with your friends using the Facebook, Twitter and other share buttons below. Thanks!

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Let God Turn Your Torment into a Mentor

Have you ever had a period of time when God felt so close you could almost reach out and touch Him? When reading His word came alive and spoke right to your needs? When blessing after blessing seemed to be dropping into your lap and then all of a sudden...nothing.

You can't feel him, reading the word is boring, your worship is flat and God seems a million miles away. It feels like you've been abandoned, deserted, lonely and deflated. As a believer, you understand and fully believe that those things are not true. God promised never to leave you. His Holy Spirit lives right inside you. His word is still true and just as powerful as it was yesterday. But today it seems He's no where to be found.

For the past 10 days I have been spending lots of extra time with God in the word, in worship and in prayer. It's been great and I've felt very close to the Lord, but this morning I woke up and He was gone. Not really, of course, but that's how it felt.

Suddenly, I felt like a failure. I kept trying to connect with Him, but He didn't answer my call. Was his ringer turned off? Was he hitting the "reject the call" button? Had I been blocked? I don't know if anyone else ever goes through days like this, but it's one of the hardest things ever for me.

This evening I was reading in 2 Corinthians, chapter 12. Paul starts out describing an amazing time he experienced with God, but immediately afterward he says...

" order to keep me from becoming conceited, 
I was given a thorn in my flesh,

a messenger of Satan, to torment me." 

(verse 7)

I don't like this verse. It's seriously messed up! Just when a believer is on a spiritual high, God allows a messenger of Satan to torment him. That don't seem right.

I've always heard that this thorn in Paul's flesh was a physical ailment of some kind. The bible doesn't specify exactly what it was, but this evening something occurred to me. It was a "messenger" of Satan. Messengers bring messages, don't they? And of course, a messenger of Satan would bring the kind of message that would torment a believer. Something like, "God has left you. God isn't speaking to you today. God is disappointed in you. Your prayers aren't getting through. You failed Him."

Those whispered lies and the feelings that accompany them are devastating to someone whose greatest desire is a close connection with God.

But, what if that messenger isn't such a bad thing? What if he's sent so that we might learn something. What if the torment was turned around, like switching the syllables in the word and...

the TORMENT - became a MENTOR

What if God is using it to strengthen our faith?

So, tomorrow morning when I get up, I'll pick up my Bible as usual. I'll pray. I'll worship and I'll expect God to show up. I'm sure He will, but if I can't sense His presence, I'll consider it a learning experience. I'll reject the lies of the messenger. I'll state truth, that God is right there with me, that He loves me beyond measure and I'll praise God for continuing to work me to make me stronger and more like Jesus, even if that means I go through a spiritual dry spell.

If you read the Psalms, you'll soon discover that David went through many days like this. Paul went through them, too. And Peter as well. It's a normal part of being a Christian. Our part is to stand strong in the truth and trust that before long, our feelings will follow.

If you would like more information about what to do when you're going through a dry spell or what they call "the dark night of the soul," I recommend this short (9 minutes, 30 seconds) message by Pastor John Piper called "What to Do When God Feels Distant."

Or this really short video from Francis Chan - "Do You Feel Distant from God?"

If you enjoyed this post, please feel free to share it with your friends using the Facebook, Twitter and other share buttons below. Thanks!

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Does God Miss You?

Most of us are familiar with Revelation 3:20, where Jesus said...
"Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person and they with me." 

It's most often quoted in reference to an unbeliever opening the door to let Christ into their life, but what if that's not what Jesus was talking about?

If we read the verse in context, it's being written to a group of believers who have allowed their relationship with the Lord to become lukewarm. I imagine that involves seldom taking time to spend with Him in prayer and worship or seldom consulting Him for help or direction for their day.

Perhaps what Jesus is really saying is, "Hey, it's been a while and I miss you. Open the door and I'll come in and we can spend a little time together, maybe share a meal. You can tell me what's on your mind and heart and I can tell you what's on mine. I'd like to help you with anything that's bothering you if you will just open the door. Whadda ya say? Can we talk?"

How long has it been since you sat with the Lord and just had a good, long chat?

If you enjoyed this post, please feel free to share it with your friends using the Facebook, Twitter and other share buttons below. Thanks!

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Don't Take the Bait

"Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly." 2 Timothy 1:16

Several times in the past week or so, I've had people post comments to me online that seem to be aimed at starting a conflict. 

My first impulse was to fire off a response that would have only added fuel to the flame. Fortunately, the Lord (and a couple of friends) gave me the good advice to not respond. I didn't, but I have to admit, to a lot of soul searching and  mental sparing with the people who made the comments.

I thought of brilliantly scathing remarks I could have made, convincing arguments to refute their claims, ways that they had acted inappropriately, but each time, the Lord reminded me that those responses would just make things worse.

The soul-searching was the worst and the best thing that came out of all this, because it gave me time to reflect, time to examine my own behavior in the past, time to repent and ask God to change those things in me that need to change. To make me a better person and a better reflection of Him.

This morning in my devotional time, I read 2 Timothy 2:16 that tells us to avoid godless chatter and those who indulge in it. I thought about those comments that tempted me to engage in what would have been a futile argument - godless chatter.

Then I read a little further...

"Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful." 2 Timothy 2:23-24 

At that point, I felt justified in ignoring the comments...until I read that last little bit of verse 24..."be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful."  Is ignoring kind? Did I miss an opportunity to teach because I was resentful?

I read on...

"Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will." 2 Timothy 25-26

"...trap of the devil?"

And then it hit me. The devil was up to his old tricks. New scheme. Same goal - to get me riled up, tempt me to respond in self-defense and anger, stir up dissension with someone I care for, get me to act in a way that's unbecoming for a child of God.

How grateful I am for good friends who give good advice and for the Holy Spirit pulling me back from an immediate and improper response, because I now recognize those comments as bait - not from the person who made them - but from the devil, who loves to play one believer against the other so that it will destroy unity in the family of God.

Friends, let's remember this...

"My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires." James 1:19-20

...and don't take the bait of Satan!

If you enjoyed this post, please feel free to share it with your friends using the Facebook, Twitter and other share buttons below. Thanks!

Monday, March 18, 2019

Perfectly Broken to Shine

"For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us." 2 Corinthians 4:6-7

Jars of clay...that doesn't seem like a very safe place to store treasure, now, does it?

Jars of clay are common and fragile, often cracked or leaky, but then, if the treasure stored within is the light that comes with knowing Christ, perhaps jars of clay are the perfect vessel. We are imperfect, marred by scars from past mistakes on our part and broken by hurts inflicted by the careless handling of others, who are, themselves, imperfect vessels. Still, the light of Christ is able to shine through those broken places in us to a world that is hurting to say, "Look, Christ loves imperfect, broken people just as they are. He will fill them with His light so that it can shine as a beacon to those who need Him."

So we have this power in us. What power? The power to encourage, bless and heal the broken and hurting by allowing His light - the light of the knowledge of God's glory through salvation in Jesus Christ to not only shine in our own lives, but to spill out of us into their lives.

How will you allow God to shine through you today?

If you enjoyed this post, please feel free to share it with your friends using the Facebook, Twitter and other share buttons below. Thanks!

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Broken-Hearted Joy

"The Lord is close to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit." Psalm 34:18

Yesterday was hard. 
Yesterday was sadness, tears and loneliness.
Change and loss are hard.
Change is thrust upon us suddenly.
We usually don't see it coming and we are seldom prepared.

Today is different.
Today is the realization that yesterday is a closing door, but today is a new beginning.

I am not alone.
God is with me, leading me into a different phase of my journey.

This is a hard thing, but it is a good thing, for God makes all things work together for my good.
People may make decisions that change the course of my days, but God determines the course of life.

He removes a spirit of heaviness and replaces it with lightness, peace and joy.

Today is different.
I'm looking forward, joyfully expectant for where He is taking me.
For how He will fill that empty space in my heart with Himself.

Closing the door on yesterday.
Looking forward to tomorrow.
Enjoying today!

If you enjoyed this post, please feel free to share it with your friends using the Facebook, Twitter and other share buttons below. Thanks!

Friday, March 8, 2019

I have a Hangover!

No, I didn't go out drinking. 

Yesterday I decided to take a day and just be lazy. No, that's not quite right. I didn't decide to be lazy, it just happened because I didn't decide to do anything else.

It all began quite normally. I got up, made my bed and a cup of coffee, let the dogs out and then settled into my comfy chair to spend some time with Jesus, only He didn't show up. I felt slighted. Now, before you correct me, I already know that He is always with me, but this morning it didn't feel that way...and yes, I know that we are not supposed to live by our feelings. Knowing that didn't help, though. I missed that morning connection, which usually gets my day off to a wonderful start. I kept trying to make it happen, but it wasn't working.

I thought I might sit down and write for a bit, but that wasn't happening either. The words just wouldn't come. I wasn't inspired. Probably Jesus' fault for not showing up. (Just kidding.)

It only got worse from there. Went to get a bite to eat. Picked a lousy place and the food was yuck. 

Stopped by the grocery store, intending to just pick up something for dinner. Ended up spending way more than I intended. I have no idea how that box of mini cream puffs ended up in my cart and a an hour later, after unpacking my groceries at home, how they ended up in my stomach. (Yes, the whole box.)

My eating has been out of control for the past couple of weeks. I've been working out at the gym 3-4 times a week for almost 2 years. Spent the first 6 months on the Daniel Plan diet, the next year on a Vegetarian Diet and the last 6 months on the Keto Diet. I only lose about 10 pounds in all that time. Now, I know that any weight loss is good, but I say only 10 pounds because in that last 6 month period, my husband joined me on the Keto Diet and lost about 30 pounds in that time. I'm very happy for him, but frustrated as all get out with my lack of result. Maybe that's what's driving me to eat all the things I denied myself before.  I don't know, but it has to STOP!

After stuffing my face, I watched TV.  Make that, binged watched TV - four hours before hubby got home and with him until bedtime. I did take time to make dinner - and eat again (dumb). Dropped into bed feeling miserable, bloated and guilty for wasting an entire day and for giving into food.

Woke up this morning feeling hungover. I remember that feeling from my drinking days (long, long ago). Fuzzy brain, sluggish body and a ton of guilt on my back.

I spent time with Jesus again this morning. He showed up this time, but it wasn't the same. Not His fault this time. My fault because I felt like I had "cheated" on Him.  (Is any of this making sense to any one?) We had a good talk. I confessed, He forgave and all is good again.

Determined to have a better, more productive day today, but still feeling like I'm in a stall. Not like a horse stall. More like a stalled car. It won't go, I don't know why and I don't know how to fix it. Sigh.

Okay, enough venting for today. Not sure that any part of this will be helpful to anyone else, but just had to get it out.

Praying you have a productive day,
If you enjoyed this post, please feel free to share it with your friends using the Facebook, Twitter and other share buttons below. Thanks!