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Thursday, November 21, 2013

RISE UP AND CARRY ON

November 19, 2013 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions
By Elaine James –
I find myself wondering how to respond to overload in my life. I imagine you have found yourself in situations where you are not sure what to do either.
Maybe you can identify with a day like this. My dogs are driving me crazy because they are starved for attention. They keep following me everywhere. I walk around the house and see the sink full of dirty dishes, garbage that needs to be emptied, laundry piled up, clutter everywhere I look. There is a stack of mail on the counter with bills that need to be paid. Depressing! My kids are griping “Mom there is no food.” I need to get to the grocery store. I look at my cell phone and there are voicemails, emails and texts that I did not respond to.
My son just left the house stressed about the long road trip he was venturing out on. I glanced at my calendar and saw writing deadlines and doctor appointments. I don’t want to even mention the flip-flop in my stomach when I saw Thanksgiving and Christmas coming around the corner. The thought of figuring out who we will spend the Holidays with gives me the willies. It conjures up the nerve-racking thoughts of who is talking to whom. I ask myself “Why can’t we just all get along? Why is so and so always crabby at Holidays?” Blah, blah, blah…Need I go on?
What does the bible teach us on how to respond to overload? Paul was stoned and dragged out of the city, supposing him to be dead.
“However, when the disciples gathered around him, he rose up and went into the city…strengthening the soul of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and saying, ‘We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God’” (Acts 14:20-22 NKJV).
Having faith through the power of the Holy Spirit gives us immunity to life’s struggles. Paul had super-human power to endure suffering that we may never experience. Acknowledging his true faith strengthened him. The faith Paul talked about does not preempt us from suffering. Jesus also addressed the issue of how to respond. The Father gave Jesus the faith to believe in Himself so much so that he rose up and went to the cross. The King within each of us gives us the faith to rise up and carry on.
Next time you aren’t sure what to do, ask yourself this question, “Can God give me enough faith to rise up and carry on?” Imagine what would happen in our world if we all had faith to believe God will give us strength to rise up and carry on.
PRAYER: Our Father in heaven I know that all I need is the faith of a mustard seed to be able to accomplish things daily. Help me to rise up and carry on daily. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Monday, November 18, 2013

THE WILL OF THE FATHER

The Will of the Father

November 6, 2013 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions
By Elaine James -
While sitting at a Senior Choral practice a frail elderly gentleman turned to me and asked, “What is the will of God for your life?”
I wondered how to respond to this kind man. To me it is a loaded question with many possible answers, but I chose to respond “to be a child of Jesus.”
He blinked and gently spoke, “First Thessalonians 5:16-22: rejoice always, pray constantly and give thanks under all circumstances. Know the love of God. Don’t despise prophesying. Test all things. Do well. Refrain from sin. Reach out to Jesus.”
I can only imagine that you have found yourself in similar situations where you weren’t sure what to do or say either. People may have been asking you “Do you believe God exists?” “Who is Jesus and what does he mean to you?” or, “How do you live out the will of the Father?”

In the book of Thessalonians Paul was exhorting the Church on various ways to seek to honor and reflect God in everything they think, say, or do. I think of it like this: when you go for a wellness check-up the doctor asks you questions about how you take care of yourself. Many times a doctor has a check-list of questions.You, like the doctor, can examine yourself and call it “The will of God checklist”.
Ask yourself these questions:
1. Do I rejoice always?
2. Do I pray continually?
3. Do I give thanks under all circumstances?
4. Do I know the love of God?
5. Do I test all things?
6. Do I refrain from sin?
Our answers just need to be honest. God is not grading us. He reminds us gently what His will is for our lives. He is not forcing His will onto us. He loves us and gently guides us. He wants us to do well this side of heaven.
What would happen in our churches if all of us began to model the will of our Father in heaven?
PRAYER: Father give me the courage to examine this checklist. Help me to be honest and desire to live out the will You have for my life. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

GLOOMAWAY

“And they were calling to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.” At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty” (Isaiah 6:3-5 NIV).
The realization. The admission. Recognition. What a time in Isaiah’s life. Reading this verse brought to me the memory of when I dealt with how unclean I was. It was a somewhat gloomy time when I came to grips with my sin, but learned to rejoice.
You’re probably wondering how. Think about it! Awareness is the beginning stage of healing. In Isaiah 6:10, the Lord expounds, “They might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed” (NIV). I found physical and mental healing.
At one point I just became determined to rid myself of my whole history of sin and confess it to God. I asked God to reveal to me my sins of the past and present. Be careful, if you choose to ask. Be sure you mean it because God is faithful to do it. Not because He is a mean God. Quite the contrary! He loves the intimacy!
God began to reveal even the smallest of sins. An example was when I was driving and merged into another lane. The driver in the car behind me made a nasty gesture. I stopped and thought “I am guilty of that same sin.” Remorse touched my soul, and instead of raging back at the person, I saw my own sin.
The revelation of my sin continued for weeks. My journal was getting full. I cried. I felt as if I was in the accelerated program called “Advanced Admission of Sins.” Well thank goodness there was absolution. It is called forgiveness, and I graciously accepted it. Ahhh- Grace! The thing I did not deserve. I was getting to know God, there was more room in my heart for Him. He does not spare grace. No! He pours it out. It overflows from my head to my toes.
What does all this mean? I rejoice now, knowing forgiveness! I try to extend that same forgiveness to others. I pray now for those who wrong me or even when I see someone do something wrong. I pray that they will discover the same truth about grace. I learned to hate the sin not the sinner.
There is a body lotion called “Gloomaway.” The product name is cute. I like to use it. It is refreshing. God’s my true “Gloomaway.” After I spend time with Him, I always feel as if He soothed my soul.
Prayer: Father thank You for Your forgiveness. Your love is amazing. In Jesus’ name. Amen.