What Would Be Your Answer if Jesus Came Today?

“And now, dear children, continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming” (1 John 2:28).

If Jesus came today, what worry that you are holding onto would be erased in an instant? Would it even matter anymore?

If Jesus came today, would you be able to tell Him about the people you pointed His way?

If Jesus came today, would you be confident or ashamed in how you are living your life for Him?

I read this verse today, and it really convicted me. I love my Savior, but how often is our time, talents, and treasures used for this world instead of pointing others to Him?

Not everyone is called to mission work or preaching. God gave each of us our own unique personality and strengths because they serve a very big purpose in His kingdom. We just need to pray to Him if we are unsure of what that is and ask for opportunities to present themselves where we can help. The best thing we can do is just be willing. He will open our eyes to those who are lost and provide ways we can love them and show them the love of Christ.

It may be as simple as providing a meal, raking someone’s leaves, offering an ear when someone seems like they are hurting, or inviting someone to church.

I was lost and searching until a friend invited me to church. That was all it took. My heart was ready to hear the truth, and God used my friend to get me to a place to hear it. She was open and willing to do what God asked, and my soul was saved.

Let’s not be ashamed when Christ comes but be confident we are loving people and pointing them towards His kingdom. We are His hands and feet. We just have to be willing to use them.

IS Your Life In Or Out Of Focus?

Well, life just got really busy with the beginning of this school year. There is so much involved in preparing for students, putting a classroom (speech room) together, and making sure my own children are prepared to start their school year.  The sands of time are falling faster than my list of things to do is being checked off.

What are you spending your time focusing on right now? What commitments are forcing you to move around at lightening speed?  Is your focus on Earthly things like mine has been lately or on Heavenly things which I have been ignoring?

When I was putting the contents of my desk back together, I came across an index card that I had written a reminder. I am not sure when I wrote it, but it was a message to keep the focus on what is in His plan for me, and not necessarily what I had planned for myself.

The top part of the index card had a phrase that I had heard (I think from church):

God’s first concern is not our happiness—it’s our holiness.

This truth struck me and stirred something inside of me while I was organizning my room. It is so easy to slip back into the pattern of keeping God at bay so we can take care of the more “important” things.  I thought I would share with you the message that I wrote on this index card in case it would help someone else to keep their focus.  I was lucky enough to find it at a time my hamster wheel was starting to turn.  This is the reminder that I wrote:

I want to fast-track my way into what I want, but then I short-circuit His plan for me.  God doesn’t want me to just focus on jobs, relationships…, so He isn’t going to give me the steps in my life until I stop and grow in my fellowship with Him.

When I’m in His Word, in prayer, and looking upwards, then He reveals His next step.  It may not be the answer that I want, but it’s His answer, so it’s perfect for His will and plan in my life. He will let me suffer and in my suffering, I am drawn closer to Him; my character is building and my testimony is created.  It’s all for His glory—not mine.

If you have one foot inside your hamster wheel and ready to jump on, I pray that this reminder will help you as well.  As a Christian community, we need to be reminding each other of what our priorities should be because when God is the focus, everything else that is out of focus will soon be crystal clear.

Peace-Who Wants It, and How Do We Get It?

I search for peace day and night.  I can tell when it eludes me because I begin to feel anxious and my thoughts are jumping over multiple tracks never landing on the one that will bring me peace.

Trying to catch a lightning bug across a yard after his light goes out is easier to do than catching peace.

My peace escaped through my fingers recently because I’ve taken the worries of the world upon myself again and left God out.

Why is this so easy to do? I am able to slip back into this pattern so effortlessly that it materializes undetected.  The increments are so tiny by which they occur, a turtle could pass faster than my sliding.

The last few days I have let life take over, it has a funny way of doing that, so my soul thirsts for what I’ve lost—my peace.

I sat down with God’s Word this morning with this heavy on my heart.  Truthfully, when I open His Word I sometimes think, “Wow, that is just what I needed,” or “God, I’m not really sure I get what you are saying here,” or simply, “Huh?”

When we read the same scripture multiple times, what was once a, “Huh?” can turn into a “Wow!” Those days are the best days.

Proverbs 3:17, “Her ways (wisdom’s ways) are pleasant ways, and all her paths are peace.” NIV

The first time I read this, I had a neutral response. I thought, “Okay,” and went on to read the subsequent verses.

Since really soaking up Proverbs this last month and gaining understanding that wisdom develops by fearing (revering) the Lord, I read this verse again with my peace hanging out to dry and thought, “Wow! I get it!”

Our peace is interwoven with reading His Word every day. When we do, we take up the sword of God’s armor which is the only offensive piece we are given. Might I add, it is the only piece that is needed.  His piece brings peace.

Without God’s sword, we are merely accepting the hits of life and standing there taking them one by one.

Pick up your sword found in the pages of the Word of God, revere Him, learn His truths, and the author of peace and wisdom will erase every other track that does not belong in your life and reveal the only one that does.

In order to gain peace, we need to gain God.  The choice is ours.  We can either allow life to continue serving uppercuts, or we can utilize the gift of God’s sword.

He is the author of peace, so why do we try to read self-help books or any other book to find it?  Why try to catch a lightning bug a yard away when there is one right by your side?  His light never goes out.  We just need to be willing to catch it.

Meaningless!

Solomon lived a whole life full of great power, wealth, and wisdom. He wrote Ecclesiastes towards the end of it all to offer his keen reflections and insights.

This is what he had to say:

“These are the words of the Teacher, King David’s son, who ruled in Jerusalem. ‘Everything is meaningless,’ says the Teacher, ‘completely meaningless!’ ” (Ecc. 1:1-2) NLT

What?? This is his great surmise of life?

Well, that is kind of a letdown.

It is until we know the backstory of why he landed on this conclusion.

For being so wise, Solomon decided he would offer his wisdom but didn’t feel the need to totally live by it. He decided his ways were better than God’s. He chased after things that didn’t matter.

What is “meaningless” are all of our pursuits outside of God’s plan for us: money, accolades, immoral behaviors, and pride to name a few.

Running ahead of God to grab ahold of what we think will make us happy, we soon realize how fast it transforms into sand through our fingers.

At the end of his life, Solomon is still imparting his wisdom. He is just viewing it more from the angle of what not to do.

Solomon wants us to understand to obtain true peace, happiness, and joy, we need to walk alongside our Father all the days of our lives.

Solomon goes on to say, “I, the Teacher, was king of Israel, and I lived in Jerusalem.  I devoted myself to search for understanding and to explore by wisdom everything being done under heaven. I soon discovered that God has dealt a tragic existence to the human race. I observed everything going on under the sun, and really, it is all meaningless—like chasing the wind.” (Ecc. 1:12-14) NLT

Do we really need Solomon’s sage advice to know this to be true?  I know I don’t.

I have pursued relationships—begging to find myself within the eyes of the person I was with only to realize they were the wrong eyes staring back.

I have pursued my career in different settings to find my “happy place” only to be let down time and time again.

I sought after praise and approval from those around me desperately wanting to feel “good” and “worthy.”  I skidded into hopelessness when the praise didn’t come.  When it did come, the feeling that I measured up was a fire that burned out every evening.  I needed it to be rekindled each and every day.  It didn’t matter if someone else was having a bad day or preoccupied with their own lives .  Their second job was fill my interal gas tank.  They just didn’t know it.

Food, lust, big houses, bigger bank accounts, popularity, cars, vacations, upgrades, promotions—they all fall within the same ranks.  Meaningless!

Solomon had all of this and more—more than we could ever visualize or wish for ourselves, yet he found the totality of it meaningless.

The truth he gained from the fruits of his labor and dogged focus is that if they are not acquired with God at the center, they are not gains at all.

These are not bad pursuits in and of themselves, but without the presence, paramaters, and approval of God, they will actually illuminate in the end just how empty we really are.

 

The moment we run ahead of him, everything becomes, “Completely meaningless!”

Why Just Being Wise is Not Enough

I have been praying to God every day for His wisdom. As I was reading Proverbs 25 in my study Bible, I finally understood it is not just wisdom we should be praying for. We need to pray for moral discernment of what is right or wrong. This is what Solomon asked God for in order to rule God’s chosen people.

I assumed Wisdom covered it all. I was wrong in thinking this way. We need eyes to see what is right and wrong to correctly choose the wise path to take.

I also read in the side notes something that gave me peace. I constantly feel so unworthy to be asking for God’s wisdom because the sin battles I face daily are due to a corrupted heart that lives outside of Eden.

God is very understanding about this. He knows our desire for wisdom is a battle and this is the very reason we need to renew our prayers daily to seek and accept His moral discernment—not ours.

If we don’t seek His views of right and wrong, we are left with our own which can be clouded with jealousy, revenge, or unforgiveness. We can feel with our whole hearts that we are morally correct when there is a slight against us, but whose moral judgment is the right one? God’s or ours?

Let’s listen to the prayer of Solomon and learn by his example.

“5 At Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night; and God said, “Ask! What shall I give you?”

6 And Solomon said: “You have shown great mercy to Your servant David my father, because he walked before You in truth, in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart with You; You have continued this great kindness for him, and You have given him a son to sit on his throne, as it is this day. 7 Now, O Lord my God, You have made Your servant king instead of my father David, but I am a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in. 8 And Your servant is in the midst of Your people whom You have chosen, a great people, too numerous to be numbered or counted. 9 Therefore give to Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people, that I may discern between good and evil. For who is able to judge this great people of Yours?”

10 The speech pleased the Lord, that Solomon had asked this thing. 11 Then God said to him: “Because you have asked this thing, and have not asked long life for yourself, nor have asked riches for yourself, nor have asked the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern justice, 12 behold, I have done according to your words; see, I have given you a wise and understanding heart, so that there has not been anyone like you before you, nor shall any like you arise after you. 13 And I have also given you what you have not asked: both riches and honor, so that there shall not be anyone like you among the kings all your days. 14 So if you walk in My ways, to keep My statutes and My commandments, as your father David walked, then I will lengthen your days.” (NKJV)

Do I Hang a Left or Right?

prov 22 12

It can sometimes be difficult to trust that God’s plans are the right plans. This is especially true when those who are not following God’s plans appear to have an easier path than what is chartered for us.

The smooth and unobstructed pathway for those who don’t seek wisdom presents a blind curve that gives no hint as to what lies ahead.

God promises to be bless those who continue on the path He has laid out for them. When we are struggling, we too don’t know what is behind the curve up ahead. We just know we are asked to be faithful and intentional and God will bless our efforts.

Would you choose to face the unknown bend in the road by following your own path or God’s path? Knowing that God’s promises are true, it is better to travel down a difficult trail with God than sliding on thin ice without Him.

 

The Sluggard Within

I am sharing an incredible sermon by Rick Hodshire given at my church this past weekend. We are making our way through Proverbs and Proverbs challenges us to live a life of discipline and avoid the consequences of being a sluggard. We should be using our time intentionally and leaving the excuses behind.

I really needed this sermon. I’m trying to be disciplined and consistent in my writing and constantly battling the sluggard within. I have now involved my best friend in prayer and commissioned my early rising husband to literally make sure I’m standing upright and out of bed at 5:00 AM! He’s a brave man who is using his area of strength to help in my desires to be intentional. I prefer the sun to be positioned overhead when I wake up, but the morning is when I am most productive. I’m sleeping through and stealing time away from all that God is asking me to do.

Are you also battling your inner sluggard? This sermon has a lot of tips and truths that will guide you into God’s will for a purposeful life.

#wisewords

http://onecornerstone.org/messages/discipline/

Blessed are Those Who are Wise

Proverbs 21 is like a throw down between good and evil, true wealth and true poverty, wicked and wise, righteous and proud, desire and motive, and the lazy and the diligent. It sweeps across the page like a machete cutting tall grass. It doesn’t allow any chance of evil intentions to be misconstrued as good deeds. What we think is right may be wrong in the eyes of our Lord. Proverbs 21 is a good resource to turn to if you are unsure.

Here are just a few versus:

21:4 “Haughty eyes, a proud heart, and evil actions are all sin.”

21:6 “Wealth created by a lying tongue is a vanishing mist and a deadly trap.”

21:16 “The person who strays from common sense will end up in the company of the dead.”

21:17 “Those who love pleasure become poor; those who love wine and luxury will never be rich.”

21:25 “Despite their desires, the lazy will come to ruin, for their hands refuse to work.”

21:31 “The horse is prepared for the day of the battle, but the victory belongs to the Lord.”

Sometimes I love to see our God as a sweet, loving Father who gives great big hugs. The truth is as our Father, He also has to give us direction, wisdom and discipline in order for Him to do a great work in us. Our skeletons need to be exposed and our hearts need to be searched. What is done in the dark has to be brought into the light. The pain this will bring is shadowed by the peace we will gain if we open our hearts to the Lord.

Let God search your heart and your desires today. Give it to Him and ask for His wisdom. We can trick ourselves into thinking our desires and intentions are for good, but your Father is the only one who can read your heart.

Give it to Him today, and let Him do a great work in you.