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No

Matthew 7:11 – “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?”

It’s the most dreaded word I know – “No.” And what makes it even more unbearable is when there is no explanation. When my kids get told “no”, what is the next word that follows – “why?”  My, oh, my. How many times has that scenario played out in my life!

Sometimes we ask God for things. We ask with the right heart, with the right motive and even with the right attitude. And God still says “no”. The problem is, we don’t always audibly hear Him say “no”. We may not even hear it in our heart. It just feels like God is ignoring us, that He doesn’t care. 

Well, let me reassure you this – if you are a child of God, He NEVER ignores you. You may walk away and do your own thing and chose to ignore Him, but He will never ignore you when you make the choice to repent and turn back to Him. 

You see, some people treat Christ like a genie in a bottle. We rub that “magic lamp” with the bright hopes that we have played the game right to win His favor. People, it doesn’t work that way. You can’t just run to God when you have drama in your life. Relationships are not built on drama alone. 

I think that when I treat Christ like that (and face it, we all do sometimes) He is hurt. It hurts Him for us to mistreat Him. But God is not out to get us when we mistreat Him. He only desires repentance. 

But until we do repent, He may say “no” to some things in our life. And He does this for our good. He wants us back on track and sometimes that means saying “no”. 

I have teenagers. I love them to pieces. But sometimes I have to say “no” and sometimes the only explanation I have is “no”. My kids laugh at and respect what I call my mommy alarms. When those mommy alarms go off, the answer is definitely “no”. Mommy alarms mean that no explanation is needed or will be given because mommy has no idea why I’m saying “no” but the answer is definitely “no”.  

God knows far better than us what we need and when we need it. Sometimes the answer to our request is “no” with no further explanation given. And that’s that. 

We dislike very strongly (hate is such an ugly word) the word “no”. It means we don’t get our way. And we dislike very strongly the fact that we may not get an explanation for the “no”. But here is where trusting comes in – God loves you enough to not give you everything you want and give you only what you need. He did that with Jesus. He does that every moment of every day. 

So the next time “no” comes on your radar, don’t get all bent out of shape. Look at why God might say “no”. See it from different angles and then go with it. Remember this – Father always knows best. 

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Coming home

Luke 15:20 – “And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.”

Once there was this kid who thought he knew it all. His dad had lots of money and the kid knew it. He told his dad he was going to leave. He needed his space. He wanted to go make a name for himself. So, he asked his dad for his portion of the inheritance. It was time for him to go and take his place in the world. He knew best. So, his father did as he requested. With money in his pocket and brains in his head, he set out on his own. And boy did he ever. He ended up in a real mess. He had blown his money on the treasures of this world and found himself at the bottom of the barrel. “How did this happen?”, he asked himself time and again. He had to work, something he had never done in his life. When he left, he left completely- never having contact with his family. All the while, his dad kept an eye on the horizon, hoping that one day his son would return. He had his room prepared. His clothes were laundered and his favorite food was stocked in the pantry. His dad was ready to see his son again. Then one day it happened – his son’s silhouette appeared on the horizon; he would know it anywhere. The father took off in a dead run. Nothing would come between him and his son. When the dad reached him, he threw his arms around him weeping and rejoicing all at the same time. His son had returned. Nothing would spoil this moment. “I’m sorry dad. I messed up. I don’t deserve this welcoming. Let me stay here and earn my keep, please daddy.” But the father would not hear of it. He had a festive dinner and celebration that night. His son had come home. 

Have you ever been away for a while and then come home? Hugs are shared. Greetings and questions abound. And more hugs. Your loved ones just can’t get enough. It’s great, isn’t it? The love you feel at that moment makes all the darkness of being away… go away. 

We, as children of God, sometimes ask God for our blessings and the set out on our own. We step away. We chase a rabbit, so to speak. However you want to say it, we aren’t where we should be – right beside Him. But when we make the choice to walk back to our Father, He comes running. He takes us back with arms wide open and accepts our apology for leaving in the first place. Now, more than likely, there will be consequences but that comes with the territory. Actions and reactions. But nonetheless, when we say we are sorry from the depth of our heart and truly desire to turn 180 degrees from the wrong we have done, it’s gone – totally and completely gone, never to be brought up or held against us again. 

Our Heavenly Father is watching from the windows of Heaven just waiting for your silhouette on the horizon. He is waiting for you to decide that you have had enough of the mess you have made. He is ready to run out to you with arms wide open. 

Go. Go my brother or sister. Go to Him and let Him love on you a while. Heaven knows we all need to run back to Him. 

Resting

Psalm 91:1 – “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.”

It’s not too often that I take time to rest. It seems like I am running from the time my eyes open in the morning until they close at night. My day is filled with running here and there, preparing this and that and the general chaos that sustains the life of a mom with one teenager and one almost teenager. 

I’m not complaining. I love my life. I love my kids. But I also like to rest. Yesterday, I purposefully made time to rest. Oh, I still got the laundry done and put away, the dishes cleaned and put away and prepared lunch for today, but I also slept outside for an hour. I stuck my feet in the pool and chilled. I read an ENTIRE magazine! Oh happy day. It was blissful. 

God wants us to rest. He wants us to rest from our work. He wants us to rest from our insanity called life. We need that time to recuperate. Our bodies need it. Our spirit needs it, and our mind needs it. 

The best place to rest in in the “shadow of the Almighty”. Don’t you just love the picture that word phrase brings to mind? I picture a grand and gigantic tree that has boughs going out as far as the eye can see. The air within the branches is cool and sweet. The grass is soft and cozy. The trunk is stable and the roots are deep. That is exactly where I want to be. Protected from the outside world. Safe and secure. How amazing would that be?!

And while this place may not exist here on earth (who knows, maybe it does), I know that I can find that place spiritually. I can crawl into His shadow and rest. I can choose to let Him cover me with His love in such a way that the outside world becomes a distant memory. That’s were we need to be. 

So let me encourage you to make that time this week. Choose to spend some time in the “shadow of the Almighty”. Let Him refresh and restore you. Let Him bring peace to your heart. 

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.

 

Enter the butternut squash

Matthew 6:31-33 – “Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”

Yesterday morning was a rough time for me. I was super stressed out right before church. I woke up ready and excited to be going to church for worship. I did the finances and praised God that things were going in a positive direction. And then it was time to prepare lunch. Thus entered the butternut squash into my morning. I was having the worst time trying to peel that thing. Peelings were flying all over the kitchen; breakfast dishes were sitting in the sink; I needed a shower before church; and the clothes weren’t sorting themselves. And here I had put God first when I woke up, but somewhere along the line, I had put Him in the backseat.

So, like any good girl, I cried, in the shower of course. My husband was doing his best to talk me off the emotional ledge, but I jumped anyway. But in those tears, I decided to ask forgiveness for my pettiness and disregard of the day. And Jesus forgave me. I was able to go to church with a renewed spirit and a readiness to worship Him. It was all good. Lunch was prepared. Laundry got done. And the kitchen…well, it is relatively clean.

To tie it all together, sometimes we let the devil use silly little things to get in the way of the bigger picture. When I was telling my husband what set me off (the butternut squash), it sounded silly and stupid. Why would I let a dumb thing like peeling that squash ruin my day? It is because I was focusing on the wrong things. God knew that I needed to get lunch ready. He knew that I needed a shower before church. He knew that my family needed clean clothes for the week. And He has ALWAYS helped me get these things done in the past. Why was I worried that they wouldn’t get done on this day? Sin. I chose sin instead of trusting Him to provide. I wasn’t seeking His kingdom first.

Let me encourage you this week to be aware of what is going on in your day. Be aware of the opportunities for sin to creep into your day and steal your focus. Don’t let the devil lead you astray. You see, I chose to let those things bother me. But I also chose to seek forgiveness and accept a second opportunity to worship Him.

The Day After – Revisit

This is a post from one year ago today. Enjoy!

Titus 2:11-14 – “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.”

Have you ever disappointed yourself? You get caught up in doing something that has no eternal value and you find that you have wasted three hours. Wasted. Totally gone. No way to get back that time – ever. Then you come out of your stupor and think about all the things that you could have done in that time – all the things you should have done. And then you come across this verse and the guilt continues.

We were encouraged this weekend at church to live each day with the thought in mind that today could be the day of the Lord’s return, to look for that “blessed hope”. When I came out of my stupor of wasting time, I realized that I was not living this verse at all. I was not being a peculiar person. I was not zealous of good works. I was frustrated and mad at myself.

It’s tough to have a good rest of the day after that. I kept thinking of all the things that I could have done in that time. I asked God to forgive me. I know that He did. I John 1:9 reminds me of that assurance. But the question is, how am I going to make today different? God has given me life this morning. He has given me another opportunity to live out these verses. He has provided me with breath and choices today. Today I have to choose to live more like Him.

Princess, I want you to know and understand this – when you mess up, Jesus stands waiting to forgive you. And when He does, you have to forgive yourself. You have to choose to turn and walk away from that bad decision and move on. You can’t wallow in the could have and should have beens. That is exactly where the devil wants you. He wants you to feel sorry for yourself for the choices that you have made. When you do that, you aren’t being peculiar. You are acting like everyone else.

These verses in Titus encourage us to be different, to see things differently. We have a reason to do so – Jesus. All that Jesus went through for us, all that He suffered, and all He asks is that we choose to be different and follow after Him. Life is going to happen. You will make bad choices. Jesus will forgive you. It’s what you do after that forgiveness that makes you peculiar and zealous of good works. So get out there, princess, and look for that blessed hope while you are living a life worthy of Him.

One step away

Romans 2:1,2 – “Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things. But we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth against them which commit such things.”

Judging. It is a common practice for us today. It is easy. You look at someone or see some action and boom! Judgement is passed. 

It is hard not to judge someone. We think that we are above reproach and therefore have the right to pass judgement upon someone, especially someone “in the world”. We see their action and see their clothes and we automatically assume that we know exactly how they are. What we don’t know is that on the inside a major war is raging for their eternity. We have no clue of the internal struggles that these people may be going through. Instead of bombarding them with judgements, we should be embracing them and encouraging their desire to walk a different path. 

We also read about and hear about people who have made the choice to seek out another affects instead of their spouse. In this case, we know by their actions and their choices that they have made this decision. However, we need to be cautious of our wrath and disappointment. We need to understand this truth – we are all but one step away from the same decision. 

One step away from choosing someone else over our spouse. One step away from seeking out the temporary comfort of drugs and alcohol. One step away from maxing out our credit cards and stepping into the world of bankruptcy. One step away from losing our jobs and our homes. 

There are times that require us to make judgements in regards to someone’s choice and actions. However, when those times do present themselves, we need to do so with love and the opportunity for forgiveness and restoration. Vengeance is something that we are to reject. It is not our responsibilty to seek it out. God will take care of that. But above all, we need to be careful. 

We need to be cautious in our judgements and we need to remember that only by the grace of God do we stand where we are today. He has given us the ability to recognize problems and potential situations that may cause us harm. We need to use it. We need to listen when He is whispering to our heart that this is just not right. 

I want to encourage you today, princess, to be cautious in your judgements. Be aware and appreciative of your delicate situation. Remember, you are only one step away.