Archive | January 2016

He’s got it!

Numbers 4:49 – “According to the commandment of the LORD they were numbered by the hand of Moses, every one according to his service, and according to his burden: thus were they numbered of him, as the LORD commanded Moses.”

Do you ever think to yourself that you have way too much to do? How in the world are you going to get everything accomplished that you need to for that day? Do you ever feel that God must have forgotten about you that day because things just are not going as you had planned?

Well, just ponder this for a moment – organizing 603,550 men. Now, remember this number does not include women and children, nor does it take into account the Levites. 603,550 men. That, my friend, is overwhelming.

But not for God. As I was reading through Numbers 1-4 this morning, I started thinking about what was really going on here in these chapters. God was numbering the people for several reasons – for dividing the land once the children of Israel got there, to know the number of soldiers available AND to see whose job it was to transport what. You see, God already knew these numbers but the leaders did not.

The ones leading this group needed some guidance in organization. They needed to know what they were dealing with and how to get things done. Can you imagine the bedlam that would have ensued if God hadn’t taken the lead to tell those 603,55o men who was to carry what and how they were to move the tabernacle? They would have probably stood there staring at one another waiting for the other one to move first.

And then when it came to setting up again, God had that covered too! He told them exactly where each tribe was to set up its tents.

Organization. I love it. It drives me crazy when things are scattered everywhere. But there are days and times in my life that are hectic. I am overwhelmed and crazy. I feel like God may have forgotten that I’m floundering like a fish out of water. When I begin to feel like that, I hear this little voice in my head reminding me that He has got this, if only I would let Him have it. I have trouble with that one. I get possessive of my troubles. It’s not really a good place to be. If God could organize and take care of all those people in the middle of the wilderness, surely He can take care of my piddly little problems.

So, let me challenge you today to remember this awe-inspiring truth – God saw probably over a million people through 40 years in the wilderness with no help from man. If He can take on this crazy-big task, trust me, He can handle your problems. No matter how overwhelming, no matter how big, no matter how complicated, God can handle it.

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Tact

Psalm 19:14 – “Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.”

This is probably one of my all time favorite verses. One of my other favorites is Philippians 4:13.

I had Ladies’ Auxiliary meeting last night. This was one of the verses that I did our lesson on. I challenged the ladies to memorize this verse and meditate upon it so as to apply it directly to their every day life.

You see, our lesson last night was on tact – being tactful. I don’t know about you, but sometimes my mouth runs away from me. On and on I go like a babbling brook. Just the other day I was watching a soccer game with no awareness whatsoever about who was around me and I opened my mouth to identify that my son was off-sides and who was standing right there? The oblivious referee – he wouldn’t have made the call if I hadn’t assisted him in identifying my son’s mistake. Open mouth, insert foot.

Being tactful includes being able to control your thoughts and your actions. It is being able to handle a situation with grace and dignity when what you really want to do speak your mind. It is knowing what to say, when to say it and how to say it.

But praise God, we don’t have to attempt this feat by ourself! Nope, we have the Holy Spirit to lead us and guide us through these delicate situations, if we let Him. That’s the thing – we have to LET Him. It is so easy to think that we can guard our tongue and control our thoughts. But more often than not, I find myself in a mess because I foolishly think that I can handle it.

Psalm 141:3 – “Set a watch, O LORD, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips.”

My, oh my, how true this verse is! It reminds me of the prayer -keep Your arm around my shoulders and Your hand over my mouth. Control. Tact.

I need Jesus to be in charge of my thoughts. I have to consider the root of my words and that starts with my mind and my heart. If I let Him have control over these two areas, the opportunity is there to create an environment where He is praised and glorified in all areas of my life – including my words.

So, let me encourage you today to memorize these two verses and let them soak into who you are. Let them be the prayer on your lips each and every moment today. Let’s just see what God will do when we get out of the way and let Him lead.

Lessons in failure

Psalm 119:71 – “It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes.”

Losing is tough at my house. My son had a soccer tournament this weekend. On Saturday, his team had to win their second game in order to advance to the final game. They lost. And it was a tough loss too. They were a better team. However, his team did not get to play all of its players for one reason or another. My son didn’t play. He had a case of shin splints. It was tough. It was tough for him. It was tough for us as his parents. And it was tough for the coach.

But the coach had a reason for not playing his better players and winning the game. The boys needed a lesson, a really hard lesson. They needed to learn to trust one another and respect one another, no matter what. They needed to play their position and do what they knew was right, even when things were rough.

As a parent, it is difficult for me to watch my child fail. I dislike seeing him lose. But as a parent, I have to let him fail in order to watch him succeed. You see, they played much better at the next game. They were more of a team – not perfect, granted, but better. They helped each other out instead of tearing each other down. It may not have been perfect and pretty, truly, not much that a teenage boy does is perfect and pretty, but it was a win, nonetheless.

Our Heavenly Father has to watch us fail sometimes in order to teach us a lesson. I’m sure that it is harder on Him to watch me fail than it is on me to watch my child fail. As hard as it is for me to comprehend, He loves me more than I love my child, my spouse or any other person on this earth. But He knows that in order for me to grow and become more and more like Him, sometimes I have to fail.

Failure can teach us some great lessons if we look for them. Sometimes when we fail, all we can see is the failure. That’s when God steps in and shines the light on the lesson. We need that lesson. We need to remember that He is not letting us fail because He doesn’t care. On the contrary, He allows us to fail because He loves us so much. He wants to see us learn. He wants to see us grow. He wants to see us be successful in His plan.

So this week, when failure looks you straight in the eye, say, “Oh dear friend, failure, what have you to teach me today?”

Keys

Matthew 16:19a – “And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven…”

Keys. We all have them. We have keys to our vehicle, keys to our home, keys to our lock box, keys to work – essentially we have keys to just about everything. In fact, some would even say that there are some that hold the key to your heart.

But what good is a key if it is not used? Really? No good at all.

Keys are used to safeguard something. We obviously want to protect something or someone if we have a key.

Every once in a while, however, we want to use that key to unlock and free something. We want to take a look at that social security card we keep locked away. We want to try on that beautiful piece of jewelry hidden away in a lock box somewhere. We want to go home, so we use our key to get in the door. We need to go somewhere, so we turn the key in the ignition.

I have a super cute key ring that I got in Hawaii. Great memories are associated with that key ring. But the most important thing about this item is the fact that it holds all the keys that I need in my life. I panic when I can’t find my keys. My biggest fear is being away from my husband and locking myself out of my car. That happened before – when the car was running. Bad day. Really cold. Don’t want to remember that day – moving on….

Jesus left us His keys. He has given us power and authority to do His will on this earth. We have a great responsibility associated with these keys. Perhaps that’s the reason we don’t use them very often. People might get offended if we use the keys. The power these keys have might be more than we want to face. See a trend here? Fear. Fear keeps us from using those keys. Fear keeps us from receiving the blessings from those keys. Oh, we like to jingle them around from time to time but do we really want to use them?

Maybe it’s high time we did. Maybe we need to go out on a limb and shake up the tree a bit. Whatever you’d feel the Lord leading you to do about the keys, do it. I promise His blessings will be worth it.

Psalm 107:25-31 – “For he commandeth, and raiseth the stormy wind, which lifteth up the waves thereof. They mount up to the heaven, they go down again to the depths: their soul is melted because of trouble. They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wits’ end. Then they cry unto the LORD in their trouble, and he bringeth them out of their distresses. He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still. Then are they glad because they be quiet; so he bringeth them unto their desired haven. Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!”

Last Friday was the weirdest weather day I have seen in a long time. The morning began with a light drizzle and super cloudy. By mid morning, it was beginning to rain somewhat. It has slacked up enough for me to get out of my car and go into work without an umbrella. But by 11 am, it was as dark as night outside and the wind was blowing like crazy and the heavens opened up. It was a deluge! So as we all sat checking our weather app for tornado warnings (which, by the way, are no fun at a nursing home), the storm raged on.

But the wierdest thing about the whole day was that by 1 pm there wasn’t a cloud in the sky! No joke. Totally clear with a cool, light breeze. It was simply beautiful. In fact, I came home and sat on my porch and read a book. It was lovely.

What started out as a tumultuous and scary day turned out to be a beautiful and peaceful evening.

It made me think, isn’t that just like God? The storms of my life go raging on and seem as though they will never stop until something is destroyed. I turn to God seeking His widsom and His leadership to keep me safe and help me through it. And before I know it, the clouds are gone; the winds have calmed; and I am left with the beauty of the aftermath.

I hope and pray that you have such a sanctuary and solice in the midst of your storms. If not, please seek Him out. Choose to let Him have the dominion and leadership in your life get you through whatever storm may be blowing into your life today.

Hide and seek

James 4:7-10 – “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.”

Do you remember playing hide and seek? I never really liked that game. I was terrible at waiting for the person seeking to come and find me. I would giggle or move or do something else to aid them in finding me.

We were talking yesterday in Sunday school about how God is omnipresent. He sees all and knows all because He is everywhere. And that’s a good thing. However, we were talking about the fact that there are some people who run and attempt to hide from Him their entire lives and then at the end decide to accept Him.

As I was trying to explain this to one of the younger students, one of the older ones said, “It sounds just like hide and seek.” I was taken aback. I love it when God uses someone younger to see things in a totally clear light and then uses them to shed its light for the rest of us.

And she was right. Jesus pursues us just like someone playing hide and seek. An unsaved person is the one hiding. They think they can hide from God in all sorts of places. Unfortunately, most of those places are dark and scary and dangerous. If they would only step out and allow themself to be found, life would be so much better. The fellowship is so sweet with the One who is seeking us. The thing is, He knows where we are at the entire time. There really is no hiding from Him.

But there is one that we do need to hide from – the deceiver. You see, he wants us to think that we want to be found by him. He wants to make us think that we need to find him. He is where the fun is at, right? But seeking him is attempting to hide from God.

So instead, we need to hide IN God rather than attempt to hide FROM God. And that is a humbling experience. That means that you admit that there is no way of escaping sin on your own. It means admitting that you need help. When we say “no” to the drawing of the devil and “yes” to the arms of the Savior, we chose to become cleansed of unrighteousness. We get another opportunity to be a good sheep.

So this week, don’t play hide and seek with the devil – where you are hiding from God and seeking all that the devil has to offer. Instead, play hide and seek with God – where you are hiding from the devil while seeking out His truth and righteousness. It sounds juvenile to think of this Biblical truth in these term, but sometimes God uses the “simple” to compound the “wise”.

Excuses, excuses

Exodus 3:10-11 – “Come now therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth my people the children of Israel out of Egypt. And Moses said unto God, Who am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt?”

Excuses, and excuses.

I heard a song once by The Kingsmen called “Excuses”. It gives every excuse under the sun as to why one didn’t want to go to church. It ranges from the weather to just about any other dislike or discomfort, including the preacher not shaking your hand.

There are a hundred and one excuses for not attending worship services. I’ve even employed some of them myself from time to time, something I’m not proud of.

The thing is, we hear excuses every day. There are excuses as to why the clothes are on the floor. There are excuses as to why someone is late. There are excuses for why I don’t want to cook dinner tonight.

Moses was the king of excuses. God had called him to do a specific task.  Moses had every excuse in the book as to why he couldn’t do the job – “no one will believe me”, “my speech is bad”, and so on. He was scared. He was being asked to get way out of his comfort zone and he was whining about it.

Sound familar? It does to me. I hear God whisper to my heart to do something for Him and boom! Excuses. “Well, God, I already had plans.” “I don’t want to offend someone.” “You want me to do what???”

I think we are all guilty of jumping on the excuse wagon from time to time. The question is – are you going to stay on the wagon or are you going to take a leap of faith?

Take a moment and consider what you are making excuses for. Are you planning in your heart right now why you won’t be at church on Sunday? Do you have a laundry list of excuses why you can’t read you Bible on a daily basis? What’s your reason for not completing that task God has been laying heavy on your heart? What’s your excuse for not talking to Him and listening to Him?

Excuses are one more thing keeping you from the blessings that God wants to pour down upon you. Excuses prevent you from experiencing God on a personal level. Excuses keep you from others.

So this weekend, identify what excuses are holding you back and then lay them down before the Lord. He wants to rid you of any excuse not to serve Him and live in His presence. Surrender them to Him. Choose to not be constrained by excuses. Live free of them.