WHAT HAPPENS WHEN THE BLIND FOLLOW THE BLIND?

“He also told them this parable: “Can the blind lead the blind? Will they not both fall into a pit?” (Luke 6:39 NIV)

When the blind follow the blind, they fall into a pit.  Jesus is teaching us a very important lesson here; know who you are following.  I recently listened to an Armchair Expert podcast with Ashton Kutcher.  I had no idea his heart for humanitarian efforts until I listened in on their conversation.  Ashton has a lot of followers because of his successful acting career. His positive influence, influences his followers.  But I wonder, do they know who they are following? Are they following him because he’s a hot guy with a lot of money, or because he’s a humanitarian that is trying to better the world? 

Following people is a “thing” in today’s world.  Conversations about who you follow, or who follows you are commonplace.  I saw this hysterical video the other day about what email would look like in real life.  The video depicts what life would look like if we talked to each other the way we do in email.  Our world has changed drastically in the last 20 years. Conversations we have today, we didn’t have 20 years ago.  Now we have so many choices of who we can follow, we need to be sure of who we truly are following. Blind leads the blind into the pit.

Blind leads the blind into the pit.

I was on the way to a doctor’s appointment the other day.  Unsure of the location, I was using Google maps to direct my voyage.  I have experienced that sometimes Google maps take me to the wrong location.  I’m not sure why this happens, but it does. Like on this occasion when it took me 20 minutes to complete a 10 minute drive because Google was having issues.  I was the blind following the blind, and it led me into a pit.

The same thing happens when we follow the wrong person.  Following HItler was the blind following the blind.  When I googled his name to add the link to this post, just looking at the picture I could feel the evil that was him.  Following Bernie Madoff, financial scoundrel, was unfortunately the blind following the blind.  Many people suffered great losses because of his evil ways. The people we choose to follow impact our lives.  They can easily deceive us, leading us into pits. But there is a way to avoid the pit, Jesus.

When we follow Jesus, He will never lead us into a pit.   Following Jesus gives us life in abundance:

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”  (John 10:10 NIV)

The blind lead the blind into a pit, but Jesus leads us into life

Question of the Day:

Who are you following today?

Further Reading:  Deuteronomy 4:1-49 NIV, Luke 6:39-7:10 NIV, Psalm 68:1-18 NIV, Proverbs 11:28 NIV

WHAT DO YOU LACK IN YOUR LIFE?

“The Lord your God has blessed you in all the work of your hands. He has watched over your journey through this vast wilderness. These forty years the Lord your God has been with you, and you have not lacked anything.” (Deuteronomy 2:7 NIV)

The truth is, if you are following God, you don’t lack anything.  In today’s scripture, the Israelite’s have been wandering around the desert for 40 years.  Their wandering is coming to an end, God is reminding them, in all of that time, they lacked nothing.  These people didn’t have homes, they slept in tents. Their food was bread, literally dropped from heaven on a daily basis.  The Israelite’s complained there was no meat, so God provided quails for them to eat (Exodus 16 NIV).  They lacked nothing, they had clothes on their back, food in their stomachs, and a place to sleep at night.  When you follow God, you lack nothing.

When you follow God, you lack nothing.

The problem isn’t that we lack something, the problem is what we think we need.  We think we need electricity, running water, and a solid roof over our head to live.  But according to God, we don’t. All of those things are luxuries that God has provided for us, but they aren’t necessities.  They are things to thank God for every day. After going on a mission trip to El Salvador and visiting the home of a single mother, I’ve not taken those things for granted.

Her name was Marisol, she had two children.  They lived in a small, adobe home with her parents and grandparents.  All of them living in very cramped quarters. A large cistern sat next to the house, filled with water that was used for everything.  The water was not clean, dysentery is one of the deadliest diseases in third world countries, especially for children.  They had the luxury of an outhouse, which I had the privilege to use.  That experience is one I will never forget. I was there for a few hours, this was their everyday life. 

Beside their small abode, there was a large open room.  This is where they meet for church every week. This is where they sang to us songs of joy to the Lord for the life He had given them.  This is where they praised Him for our support of them. This is where I saw His light shine brightly in their lives. They lacked nothing, they were grateful for what they had.

We can learn from these Christ following El Salvadorians.  Like them, we can focus on what we do have, not on what we don’t have.  We can follow Jesus, no matter where He takes us, being thankful for His provision.  They show us that when we follow God, we truly lack nothing.

Question of the Day:

What can you thank God for today?

Further Reading:Deuteronomy 2:1-3:29 NIV, Luke 6:12-38 NIV, Psalm 67:1-7 NIV, Proverbs 11:27 NIV

WHO MAKES THE ENEMIES IN YOUR LIFE CRINGE

“Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds!  So great is your power that your enemies cringe before you.”  (Psalm 66:3 NIV)

God makes His enemies cringe before Him.  God’s enemies should be our enemies. God has seven things He despises:

“There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes,  a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a person who stirs up conflict in the community.” (Proverbs 6:16-19 NIV).

God’s enemies are our enemies.

Haughty is defined as arrogantly superior and disdainful.  Think mean girls, this is the leader of the pack.  She’s the one devising new ways to torture those less fortunate.  God’s not a fan. Then there are the liars, Jesus came to tell the truth, not to lie.  Hands that shed innocent blood, God finds them detestable. Someone who devises wicked schemes, this is the person who is constantly manipulating others for their own benefit, God knows their heart.  Feet that are quick to rush into evil, this is the person who goes looking for trouble, for whatever reason. Someone who tells lies against another, that isn’t going to end well for them. And a person who stirs up conflict in the community, they’ll regret it.  There are so many ways to stir up trouble; gossiping, slandering, lieing. People who do it deliberately. These are the enemies of God, they will cringe before Him when the truth is revealed.

We have all been enemies of God.  That is a harsh truth, but it doesn’t make it any less true.  I’ve lied, I’ve manipulated, I’ve instigated, I’ve stirred up conflict and God has made me cringe at those actions.  He has held up the mirror of truth to me and reflected back to me what I have done. We are all guilty of detestable things, none of us are without sin.  We want our enemies to cringe, we just don’t want to admit, sometimes that enemy is ourselves. We want God to make others pay for their crimes, but we don’t want to pay for ours.  Vengeance is a slippery slope that is best left alone. 

Grace is God’s answer.  He wants us to draw near to Him:

“Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.” (James 4:8-10 NIV).

We all have been enemies of God at some point.  But when we humble ourselves and draw close to Him, He covers us with His grace.  In His awesomeness, He lifts us up and gives us new life.

Question of the Day:

How can you draw near to God today and let His grace lift you up?

Further Reading: Numbers 36:1-Deuteronomy 1:46 NIV, Luke 5:29-6:11 NIV, Psalm 66:1-20 NIV,Proverbs 11:24-26 NIV

WHO HAS THE POWER TO MAKE YOU A SINGER?

“The whole earth is filled with awe at your wonders; where morning dawns, where evening fades, you call forth songs of joy.”  (Psalm 65:8 NIV)

Jesus has the power to make you a singer.  Not only will you be singing, they will be songs of joy all day long.  Our lives are our song, we determine what we sing and who our conductor will be.  When we give Jesus the baton, we can sing like never before. Casting Crowns has a song called Lifesong.  I have always loved the lyrics:

Let my lifesong sing to you

I want to sign your name

To the end of this day

Lord led my heart was true

Let my lifesong sing to you

When Jesus becomes our conductor, our lifesong will be full of joy.

Our lifesong begins the minute we wake up in the morning.  The chorus of our song is defined by who we give the baton to each day.  If we hand it to Jesus, no matter what our circumstances are, we will sing songs of joy.  Unfortunately, most of the time we don’t pass the baton. We hold onto it, afraid to let it go.  We write words on it: worry, fear, anxiety, sadness. We ruminate on them over and over again. Our lifesong doesn’t sing a note, our thoughts are too heavy to carry a tune.  Let go of the baton, give it to Jesus. Let Him be the conductor of your life.

Lauren Daigle has handed the baton to Jesus.  She is a platinum crossover musician because she is following Him, completely.  And her songs weren’t always at number one. In fact, she was cut twice from American Idol, not making it into the final round of 24 contestants.  Yet she continued to sing a lifesong of joy. Lauren’s heart for the Lord can be seen by all as she sings her lifesong back to Him. 

If you tell Alexa to play the Lauren Daigle playlist, you’ll hear Lauren describe what each song means to her.  When she talks about “You Say,” she explains how it became her song she sings over herself every night.  She uses the words to remind her of who she is, daily. They help her sing her lifesong of joy.  Let her lyrics remind you of who you are:

You say I am loved when I can’t feel a thing

You say I am strong when I think I am weak

You say I am held when I am falling short

When I don’t belong, oh You say that I am Yours

And I believe, oh I believe 

What You say of me 

I believe

The only thing that matters now is everything You think of me

In You I find my worth, in You I find my identity, 

Question of the Day:

Who is holding the baton in your life?

Further Reading: Numbers 33:40-35:34 NIV, Luke 5:12-28 NIV, Psalm 65:1-13 NIV, Proverbs 11:23 NIV

HOW TO REBUKE THE FEVER IN YOUR LIFE

“So he bent over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her. She got up at once and began to wait on them.” (Luke 4:39 NIV)

If you want to rebuke the fever in your life, you have to ask Jesus for help.  Today’s verse comes from Luke, who was a doctor.  I guess it’s not surprising he records medical miracles, to him this would have been even more unbelievable.  Jesus is visiting Simon, when He arrives, Simon tells Him about his mother-in-law:

“Now Simon’s mother-in-law was suffering from a high fever, and they asked Jesus to help her. “ (Luke 4:38b NIV).

Therefore, in order for Jesus to rebuke a fever, you have to ask Him for help.  But what if you ask Jesus for help and He doesn’t rebuke the fever? What then? The fever isn’t the point, Jesus is.

The fever isn’t the point, Jesus is.

I have friends that lost their daughter to cancer at 10 years of age.  I met another lady recently who lost her 7 year old to the same disease.  They asked Jesus for help, but He didn’t rebuke the fever. Why didn’t He heal them?  The truth is, I don’t know why. I’m not God:

“The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law.” Deuteronomy 29:29 NIV

I have come to accept, some questions won’t be answered on this side of heaven.  I don’t like it. I struggle with it. But I can’t change it. What I do know, even when God doesn’t heal the fever, He’ll carry you through.

My friends lost their daughter over five years ago.  I met them after she had passed. I never had the privilege to meet her on earth.  But God has carried my friends through, miraculously. If I want encouragement in God, their Facebook page is a place I can find it.  They have allowed God to comfort them in the midst of this storm. They have let Him carry them. And He has. I met them in a small group through church.  I didn’t find out about their loss immediately, when I did, I could hardly believe it. Their faith was so strong after such a terrible loss. How?

We cannot understand the strength of God’s grace and mercy unless we have had to rely upon it completely.   A couple of days ago, I talked about how I found rest in my soul when I was at a low point.  God didn’t heal the fever that day, but He carried me. The battle still continues, but it’s not mine to fight, it’s the Lord’s.  The fever isn’t the point, Jesus is.

Question of the Day:

What fever do you need Jesus help with today?

Further Reading: Numbers 32:1-33:39 NIV, Luke 4:31-5:11 NIV, Psalm 64:1-10 NIV, Proverbs 11:22 NIV

WHAT HAPPENS TO WICKED PEOPLE

“Be sure of this: The wicked will not go unpunished, but those who are righteous will go free.” (Prov. 11:21 NIV).

Wicked people will be punished.  God says so in His word. And we are all wicked.  There is not one of us who hasn’t done something evil, the only question is whether we admit it or not.  I did everything possible to get my brother’s in trouble when we were kids. I skipped school when I was in highschool.  I flunked out of college three times before getting my degree. We all are wicked, it’s why we need Jesus. When we understand that Jesus knows that and loves us anyway, we find the freedom of the righteous.  Wicked people will be punished, but the righteous will go free. 

Wicked people will be punished, but the righteous will go free.

Righteous is a word that can be easily misunderstood. Webster’s 1828 dictionary defines righteousness as Just; accordant to the divine law.  Jesus is the divine law:

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.”  (Matthew 5:17 ESV)

When we believe in Jesus, that He died on the cross and rose again, we become just.  We are in accordance with the law. Our heart is in the right place. That is what it means to be righteous, our heart belongs to Jesus.  Our first step out of our wickedness is admitting we’re wicked, then giving our heart to Jesus. Our righteousness comes from nothing we have done.  Our righteousness comes from what Jesus did for us.

Confessing we need Jesus in our lives is our first confession, not our last.  As much as we try not to be wicked, we can’t help ourselves:

For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature.  For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.  For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.” (Romans 7:18-19 NIV)

Jesus knows this about us.  I’ve learned, as I’ve grown closer to Him, I become more and more sensitive to my sin nature.   Each morning when I open the scriptures, I’m convicted of something I need to confess. An ill spoken word, a nasty thought, whatever the case may be, something always comes to mind.  Sometimes, tearfully, I once again confess my sins to the One who always loves me.

G.K. Chesteron was an English writer.  He described Jesus like this:

We must certainly be in a novel; What I like about this novelist is that he takes such trouble about his minor characters.

The novelist of your life is Jesus.  No matter how minor of a character you may feel, the truth is, to Jesus, you’re the star.

Question of the Day:

What do you need to confess to Jesus today?

Further Reading: Numbers 30:1-31:54 NIV, Luke 4:1-30 NIV,Psalm 63:1-11NIV, Proverbs 11:20-21 NIV

HOW TO GET REST FOR YOUR SOUL

“Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from him.” Psalm 62:1 NIV

If you want rest for your soul, fall into God’s arms.  This morning, I was at one of my lowest points. I spent my quiet time crying out to Jesus, “Help!”  It was the only word I could mutter. In my world there is so much pain and heartache, it feels overwhelming to me.  One friend battling cancer, another the loss of a child, marriages unraveling, friendships falling apart, life taxes the soul.  But in God, we find rest for our soul. If you want rest for your soul, fall into God’s arms.

If you want rest for your soul, fall into God’s arms.

I fell into God’s arms this morning.  Years ago, I watched the movie War RoomThe movie centers around an elderly woman and her war room, a closet.  She had turned an upstairs closet into her meeting place with God. She had nothing in there but a hard wooden chair and her Bible.  We watched her battle the war around her, on her knees in a closet. One of my all time favorite movies. I came home from that date night with my husband, and made myself a prayer closet.  I turned our upstairs guest bedroom closet into my war room. From within its walls I’ve been battling ever since. My war room looks a little different than in the movie, I have a small desk and exercise ball I use as a chair.  But it’s walls are covered in years worth of scriptures and prayers. In its space, I find Jesus.

This morning, as the storm was rolling around me I felt myself going under.  I didn’t have the strength to battle any more. We had another attack from the enemy yesterday that knocked me to my knees.  I came into my prayer closet this morning crawling. I pulled out my journal and pleaded with God for mercy. Then I slowly laid down on the floor, curled up under my desk, hiding in God’s arms.  I laid there and wept, I prayed and then I just let go. And God did what God always does. He revived me, He breathed life back into me. He got me up, He inspired me. He gave me strength when I had none.  And I want you to know how intimately God is in our lives. I follow Rick Warren from Saddleback church, I receive his daily devotional. Today’s devotional was “Rely on God’s Power, Not Your Own”  As I read it, I knew it was written for me, for this day, because I would need it.

If you want rest for your soul, fall into God’s arms.  Bare your soul to Him and tell Him everything. He’s just waiting for you, arms wide open.  

Question of the Day:

How can you fall into God’s arms today?

Further Reading: Numbers 28;16-29:40 NIV, Luke 3:23-38 NIV, Psalm 62:1-12 NIV, Proverbs 11:18-19 NIV

WHY BEING KIND BENEFITS YOU

“Those who are kind benefit themselves, but the cruel bring ruin on themselves.” (Proverbs 11:17 NIV)

The reason being kind is beneficial is because no one wants to be around someone who is mean.  Take it from someone who can be really mean, it doesn’t get you anywhere. Being nasty to other human beings only brings ruin onto yourself.  You don’t prove anything to anyone by how mean you can be, but you show true character when you show them how kind you can be. Jesus was kind.  If you want to master the art of kindness, follow Jesus.

If you want to master the art of kindness, follow Jesus.

I recently turned fifty which has given me a new perspective on my life.  I now have the luxury of looking back and seeing my mistakes. I remember distinctly how mean I was to Al Hoover in 8th grade.  We had just moved to the area, I was in a new school, and he wanted to be my friend. I was so distrusting, I snapped back at his friendliness with “Why?”  I didn’t understand why this strange boy wanted to be my friend. According to my mother, all boys wanted was sex and they weren’t to be trusted. I don’t think he ever talked to me again, I scared him that badly with my meanness.  What if I had been kind? What if I had responded like Jesus? I would have had a new friend.

Jesus was always kind.  Zaccheus, a short man who was a tax collector, Jesus was kind to him.(Luke 19 NIV).  Jesus was kind to the woman caught in adultery, He saved her from a crowd who wanted her killed.  He also was kind to the man caught with her, he is never named in the story (John 8:1-11 NIV).  Jesus was kind to the rich young ruler when he explained to him what he needed to give up his wealth.  Check out this video for the full story.  The rich young ruler was missing the point because of his wealth, Jesus was trying to help him understand that.  Jesus was being kind. 

If you want to master the  art of kindness, follow Jesus.  Jesus loved everyone, no matter how tall they were or what their job was.  Jesus was kind to those caught in sin publicly. He loved them when no one else would.  And Jesus was kind to those who just don’t get it, He tried to help them understand. Jesus was the master of kindness, He showed us how we can be too.

Question of the Day

What is something kind you can do today for someone else?

Further Reading: Numbers 26:52-28:15 NIV, Luke 3:1-22 NIV, Psalm 61:1-8 NIV, Proverbs 11:16-17 NIV

WHO CAN DEFEAT YOUR ENEMIES FOR YOU

“Give us aid against the enemy, for human help is worthless.” (Psalm 60:11 NIV)

Jesus can defeat your enemies.  “I Love Lucy” was a sitcom on T.V. in the 1950’s.  The show was based on Lucille Ball, a vibrant red head who was always in trouble.  A groundbreaking show, it dominated the rankings during its tenure in the 50’s. The show ended when it was still ranked number 1.  Lucy can still be seen in syndication today. One of the most famous scenes occurs when Lucy is working in a chocolate factory. Click here for a quick chuckle.  As the scene unfolds, Lucy is wrapping chocolates that are going by on a conveyor belt.  The candies start coming faster and faster, complete mayhem erupts. Lucy tries desperately to keep up, but fails miserably.  She can’t do it on her own, and neither can we. When we are like Lucy, under attack, the conveyor belt going faster and faster, the attacks piling up on us, we need to call for help.  Jesus is the only one who can stop the conveyor belt. Just like Lucy couldn’t do it on her own, we can’t either. We need Jesus to do it for us. Jesus can defeat our enemies.

Jesus can defeat our enemies.

When Lucille Ball died, she was almost a complete recluse.  This article talks about the show, which she starred in with her husband, Desi Arnaz.  Their marriage ended in divorce because of his drinking and carousing. She went on to have success in her career, but the last two decades of her life weren’t great.  After a skiing accident, she could no longer do slapstick comedy, which was what she had based her life identity on. The chocolates continued to come too fast for Lucy, she couldn’t keep up with the curve balls life threw at her.  When we can’t keep up, Jesus is there to carry us. He never meant for us to base our life identity on anyone or thing but Him. When we make Him the center of our lives, He’ll take care of the curveballs life throws at us. He’ll help us keep going when we no longer want to go on.  He’ll defeat our enemies.

When the conveyor belt of life is moving too fast for you, when the chocolates are piling up along the side, don’t panic.  Take a deep breath, as you exhale, cry for help. Your prayer can be just one word, “Help!” Jesus will hear it, He’ll know you’re talking to Him.  He’ll help. He’ll come. He’ll defeat your enemies for you.

Question of the Day:

What enemy do you need Jesus to defeat for you today?

Further Reading: Numbers 26:1-51NIV, Luke 2:36-52 NIV, Psalm 60:1-12 NIV, Proverbs 11:15 NIV

WHO IS THE ONE PERSON YOU NEED TO KNOW

“Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.” (Luke 2:11 NIV)

The one person you need to know is Jesus.  The real Jesus, as told by those who knew Him personally.  I’ve had the privilege of knowing Jesus all my life. I have never lived one moment of life without Him.  He has been with me in my darkest moments. He’s helped me celebrate my biggest highs. I can feel His presence in my life in a tangible way.  The one person you need to know is Jesus.

The one person you need to know is Jesus.

Why Jesus?  Because He is the most faithful friend you will ever have.  He expressed His friendship for us when He died on the cross, that was the beginning of our friendship with Him.  Long before we were born, He knew us (Jer. 1:5 NIV).  

He prays for us:
“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message,  that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” (John 17:20-21 NIV)

He is patient with us:
“But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life” (1 Timothy 1:16 NIV).

He is compassionate with us:
“When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd” (Matthew 9:36 NIV).

He came to serve us:
“For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45 NIV). 

He forgives us:
“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”(Luke 23:34 NIV)

He loves us:
“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love” (1 John 4: 7-8 NIV).

The one person we all need to know is Jesus.  No earthly relationship can ever compare to our relationship with Him.  The deeper our relationship with Jesus becomes, the deeper our relationship with others will become.  If we truly want our best life here on earth, we will find it with Jesus. The one person you need to know is Jesus.

Question of the Day:

How well do you know Jesus?

Further Reading:Numbers 24:1-25:18 NIV, Luke 2:1-35 NIV, Psalm 59:1-17 NIV, Proverbs 11:14 NIV