Monthly Archives: June 2014

Where to Begin?

“…let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith…” – Hebrews 12:1-2

So much is said about going the extra mile…and that’s a good thing. In fact, Jesus Christ taught us to go the extra mile in service to others. But we often overlook the importance of going the first mile. Joggers know, when in training, it is not always the third or fourth mile that is the toughest but rather it is the first mile! Just getting started can sometimes be our biggest challenge.

How do you start your day? You probably have a whole list of things that need to be accomplished. Sometimes there is so much to do that we are so overwhelmed and don’t know where to start. Other times we jump over some very important things knowing there are so many other things to do. Start that first mile of the day by quietly spending a few moments in scripture and in prayer and you will find the rest of the day is much easier to navigate.

Remember, whether you are training for a big road race or simply for the daily race of life, the extra mile does not mean anything unless you faithfully go the first one.

Express Your Love with Your Time

“We must show love through actions that are sincere, not through empty words.” 1 John 3:18

We all have different amounts of energy, wealth and talent, but we all have the exact same amount of time per day/week. You can always get more money, but you can’t get more time.

You only have a certain amount of allotted days, so you have to decide: What is your time worth? The most valuable thing you can give someone is your attention, because when you give attention to somebody you’re saying, “You matter to me. You are valuable. You are worth listening to. You are worth my time.”

The essence of relationships is not what we do for each other or the things we give to each other. The essence of true, loving relationships is how much we give of ourselves to another person.
The second law of love is this: The best expression of love is time.

The Bible says in 1 John 3:18, “We must show love through actions that are sincere, not through empty words” 
I can’t tell you how many people I have spoken to who have said, “I don’t get it, Fay-Ann. I give my family everything they need. I’m a good provider. We live a very comfortable life. What more do they want?”

I’ll tell you what they want: They want you! Only you can give them your time. Nothing can compensate for time — no amount of gifts, money or clothes. Kids don’t need things; they need parents. Another video game is not the answer. They need you!

How do you find more time for the people who love you and that you need to love?

Let me give you one suggestion: Put away the phone and turn off the computer. Ephesians 5:2 says, “Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God” Love means giving up. It means I give up my agenda for your agenda. It means I give up my time for your time. It means I give up my preference for your preference. It means I give up what I’d rather do right now to do what you’d rather do right now. That is a sacrifice. That is love.

What are some of the ways you can show love to your family and friends this week through giving your time?
What changes do you need to make in your schedule so that you have more time to demonstrate your love through action?

What have you learned about love from following the example of Christ?

Sometimes God Doesn’t Choose the Perfect Woman”

“Then Joshua son of Nun secretly sent two spies from Shittim. ‘Go, look over the land,’ he said, ‘especially Jericho.’ So they went and entered the house of a prostitute named Rahab and stayed there.” Joshua 2:1

I used to believe if God needed something important done, He would ask someone who had it all together. You know those people.

If God is going to assign an important job to someone, it’s going to be a “good church girl.” Right?

That’s what I thought until I read the story of Rahab in the book of Joshua. It gave me hope that sometimes the best woman for God’s job doesn’t have a perfect life or a perfect faith.

In fact, Rahab’s story tells me sometimes God chooses women with rough resumes, gritty pasts and dauntless attitudes to get a hard job done. Which is why God chose Rahab when He needed a brave and bold person to protect His warriors.

Rahab was a prostitute who lived within the walls of the city of Jericho. Jericho was a great city, except for the fact that God told the Israelites to conquer it.

The people who lived in Jericho weren’t following God, but they had heard of Him and how He helped the Israelites win many battles. When the residents of Jericho learned the Israelites were camped outside their city, they were rightly concerned.

As part of the reconnaissance, Joshua, the leader of the Israelites, sent two spies into the city. The Bible seems to indicate they made a beeline into an unusual place of refuge: Rahab’s home.

Now why would God direct them to the house of a woman? And one who didn’t have the best reputation?

There are many reasons why God might have chosen this particular woman to help the spies. But the one that strikes the deepest chord in my heart is that other people might have underestimated Rahab’s potential based on her past and present circumstances. But not God.

Rahab had guts and grit. When the spies arrived, instead of quivering in fear, Rahab thought fast and hid them on her roof. Then she redirected the king’s men, making a way of escape for the spies.

God could have chosen someone with a perfect pedigree to help. But on that day, inside the walls of the city, facing warrior spies in danger, none were available.

Rahab, however, was in the perfect position, with the perfect disposition, to do the most good. And God must have seen something tender in the heart of this life-hardened woman and knew He could trust her.

I love this about God. When God looked at Rahab, He didn’t see her profession or her past. He saw her potential.

And in spite of the challenges and choices of her life, He knew there was a part of Rahab’s heart that was open to Him. And Rahab did not disappoint.

The story ends with the spies escaping and God destroying the city of Jericho and everyone in it — except for Rahab and her family.

I’m so glad Rahab didn’t send the spies away, explaining that she didn’t have the best track record with men. Instead, she used her smart, quick mind to devise a plan. She used her boldness to defy the king’s men. She drew from her bravery to protect her family. She risked greatly, and it paid off.

Rahab’s story tells me that although I might list all the reasons why God wouldn’t use me, God prefers I take my personality, my experiences, even the parts of me that seem less-than-pleasant and give them to Him … every part of me.

It doesn’t mean He’s going to leave me as I am; God is always refining me. But in His hands, my mess has meaning.

Have you ever stamped “disqualified” on yourself due to your personality or something in your past or present? If so, I pray Rahab’s story encourages you. God has a plan, and He wants you, in all your uniqueness, to make it happen.

Sometimes God doesn’t choose the “perfect” girl for the job … and I’m so glad He doesn’t.

Heavenly Father, thank You for looking deeper than what others see, and for seeing my potential. Please help me trust that You want me just as I am and have a plan to use me in Your kingdom. Help me to trust You and Your plan for my life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

I Samuel 16:7, “But the LORD said to Samuel, ‘Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.’

Knowledge Requires Action

“Everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.” (Matthew 7:24 NIV)

Did you know studying the scriptures can be dangerous? In fact, the results of Bible study could be disastrous. Sounds strange, I know. But God intended for us to apply the scriptures to our lives, not just read it. The Bible is about transformation, not just information. At the end of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says, “Everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock” (Matthew 7:24 NIV).

God’s Word is like a mirror. Many of us, however, tend to ignore the Scriptures because we know this is true. If you look into the Word of God, into the mirror of the Word, soon you see exactly what you look like, and it is not always pleasant.

The most helpful thing we can do in our prayer life, therefore, is to take a moment at the beginning of our prayer to face what the Word of God tells us is wrong in our lives — our lovelessness, our sharpness, our caustic attitudes, our tendency to defend ourselves and put down others. This is where Daniel begins. All this is summed up in one great word found many times in Scripture, the word, repent. When we repent we begin to set things right in our life; we begin to deal honestly with ourselves and with others.
 
Applying God’s Word is vitally important. So why is it important that we apply God’s Word to our lives?

1. Knowledge produces pride if we don’t apply truth to our lives. 1 Corinthians 8:1 says, “Knowledge puffs up while love builds up.” We’ve all seen people who know the Bible backward and forward, but they’ve never let it seep into their lives. They use the Bible as a hammer to pound on other people. We can be the most evil, mean-spirited, critical, judgmental people we’ll ever meet — if we never take the extra step and apply the Bible to our lives.
Knowledge without application produces pride. It’ll “puff” you up without a love-based application. It’ll cause harm, not help.

2. Knowledge requires action. James 1:22 says, “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” What a person knows should find expression in what he or she does. We’re deceiving ourselves if we think we’re growing simply by taking notes on a Bible study. God’s commands are not optional.

3. Knowledge increases responsibility. James 4:17 says, “Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it”. With a deeper knowledge of Scripture comes a stronger judgment if we fail to apply what God shows us. When we start studying the Bible, God begins to show us areas of our lives that need to be changed, and he calls us to greater and greater responsibility as he does that.

Launch Out in Faith

“Then Joshua gave orders to the officers of the people … three days from now you will cross the Jordan River and take the land the Lord your God is giving you.” (Joshua 1:10-11 NIV)

There comes a point in life where you have to stop talking about and praying about a barrier in your life. You must step out in spite of your feelings, your fears, and your doubts. Joshua and the Israelites had to take the plunge — literally. Once they crossed the Jordan River, they were going to begin a battle to take over the nations.

The Jordan River is not a very big river, except in flood season when it swells into a giant, rushing, torrential, and very dangerous river. The Israelites just happened to be right there during flood season.

They said, “How are we going to get across?” God said, “I’m going to do a miracle! But I want you to step in first. This is a test.” So the spiritual leaders began to walk into the water, and God did a miracle. The waters receded, and the people crossed over.

What do you do when you know something is God’s will, but you’re scared to death to do it? You do it anyway! And once you start doing it, the faith will come. God doesn’t do the miracle first. No. He wants you to step out in faith.

Face your fears. If you wait for perfect conditions, you’ll never get anything done: “Those who wait for perfect weather will never plant seeds” (Ecclesiastes 11:4 NIV).

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All He Wants Is Your Faith

God doesn’t want your home, your car, your furniture, your savings, your possessions. All He wants is your faith—your strong belief in His Word. And that may be the one thing that other, more spiritual-appearing people lack. You may look at another person as being more spiritual than you but that person may actually be struggling hard to keep up an appearance of righteousness. Yet, as God looks at you, He declares, “There is a righteous man or woman.” Why? Because you have admitted your helplessness to become righteous and trusted in the Lord to give you His righteousness.

Paul tells us we are counted as righteous in God’s eyes for the same reason Abraham was. “Therefore it was imputed to [Abraham] for righteousness. Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; but for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead” (Romans 4:22-24).

You may claim, “I believe this! I have faith in the God who resurrected Jesus.” Yet, here are some questions for you: Do you believe the Lord can resurrect your troubled marriage? Do you believe He can bring to life a spiritually dead relative? Do you believe He can raise you up out of the pit of a debilitating habit? Do you believe He can erase your cursed past and restore to you all the years that have been wasted?

When everything looks hopeless—when you are in an impossible situation, with no resources and no hope before you—do you believe God will be your Jehovah Jireh, seeing to your need? Do you believe He is committed to keeping His promises to you and that if even one of His words should fail, the heavens would melt and the universe collapse?

“For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: so shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it” (Isaiah 55:10-11).

FAITH MUST BE FOUNDED ON THE WORD

God is concerned that His people are being shaken in their faith—that they won’t trust Him in their crisis. Beloved, our worst sin is our unwillingness to believe He will do what He promised.

His Word says, “The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations” (2 Peter 2:9). “God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).

These verses are either the truth or they are lies. But if they are the truth, then we must stand on them. God wants us to be able to say, “Lord, if I die standing here, then let me die in faith. I trust You to see me through, so live or die, I’m Yours.”

Let all the winds and waves of hell come at you. Let everything come at you. Our God said He is able—and He knows how to deliver you.

He intended that you and I have joy, peace, victory and rest in our walk with Him. He is looking for men and women who will stand against what is coming in this dark age—servants who will stand with a calm and a peace because Christ abides in them.

God desires that you come into a place of such trust that you will never again fear, but truly rest in His power and ability. He knows how to deliver you from all snares, trials and temptations—if you will trust Him.

“He only is my rock and my salvation: he is my defense; I shall not be moved. In God is my salvation and my glory: the rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God. Trust in him at all times; ye people, pour out your heart before Him: God is a refuge for us” (Psalm 62:6-8).