THINK ABOUT WHAT GOD HAS ALREADY DONE FOR YOU IN YOUR LIFE

“I remember the days of long ago;  I meditate on all your works and consider what your hands have done.” (Psalm 143:5 NIV)

We focus on what we want God to do for us, without spending time thinking about what He has already done.  I have a box full of prayer journals in my guest bedroom closet. My practice of finding a scripture that speaks to me, then writing about  it is not new.  I’ve been writing in journals for years.  But rarely do I go back and read what I wrote.  Rarely do I spend time thinking about what God has already done for me. 

Instead, I’m busy telling God what I want Him to do for me today. The image of a choral director comes to mind.  As I’m praying, I’m directing God’s attention to whatever the current problem is.  Lord, this friend needs this, that friend needs that.  Everyone needs something.  Help them all God.  I’m not remembering, He already has a plan. He’s already written the book:

“Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” (Psalm 139:16 NIV)

God has already written your book.

God has already provided everything you will need in this life. He knows what was, what is and what will be in your life. Time and time again, as you face challenges, He’s gotten you through. Situations you thought were impossible, He’s made possible.  He’s answered prayers in ways you couldn’t imagine.  He’s given you hope when you had none.  He’s helped you face your fears. 

One of my biggest fears is the loss of someone I love.  When I hear of tragic deaths, I immediately think of losing a loved one that way.  But then I remember when I did lose a loved one, how God carried me through those moments.  I remember how God gave me my husband at the perfect time.  He gave me a partner to help me through the loss of my mother, my nephew, my sister-in-law and my friend.  On all of those difficult days in my life, God had provided help.  When my husband lost his mom, I was there for him.  God provided for us when we needed help, before we ever needed it.

Now, when the anxiety of losing someone tries to steal my joy, I think of those difficult days.  I think of how God provided for us.  I remember the days of long ago, I consider what God has already done.  When I do, my anxiety lessens, my faith grows.

Remember what God has already done for you.  Let your faith grow, knowing God already has a plan.

Question of the Day:

What has God already done for you in your life?

Further Reading: 2 Kings 8:1-9:13 NIV, Acts 16:16-40 NIV, Psalm 143 NIV, Proverbs 17:26 NIV

GOD IS WAITING FOR YOU TO CRY OUT

“I cry aloud to the Lord;  I lift up my voice to the Lord for mercy.” (Psalm 142:1 NIV)

God is waiting for you.  He’s waiting for you to turn to Him.  He’s waiting for you to cry out to Him.  He’s waiting.

What keeps us from crying out?  For me, personally, pride.  I want to handle things on my own.  I don’t need anyone’s help.  Plus, I’m helping God if I don’t bother Him with my petty problems.  People are dying of cancer, I don’t need to bother God about a parking space.  But I’ve learned, those thoughts are not true.

We’re the ones who prioritize prayer requests, not God.

The hardest concept I’ve had understanding as a Christ follower is this one:  Everything is small stuff to God.  We’re the ones who prioritize prayer requests, not God.  Jesus says this:

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28 NIV)

No where in the above verse is there a priority list.  We are all weary and burdened.  No one has a perfect life, no matter what it looks like from your perspective.  None of us live this life without pain and struggles.  

I Still Believe” is a movie based on the life of Melissa Camp.  She died at the age of 21 from ovarian cancer.  Her faith and wisdom is still inspiring others.  Her story didn’t have the perfect ending from the vantage point of earth.  But from God’s view, her story is perfect.

Melissa had a child like faith.  Even in the midst of battling cancer, she didn’t lose her faith.  She believed God’s purpose was special.  She understood she was where God wanted her.  She understood this was her chosen path.  She accepted what God was doing in her life.  She lived in the moment, enjoying the people God gave her to love.  She never stopped seeking God, no matter what.

Jesus tells us to have childlike faith:

And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 2:3 NIV)

Children’s faith believes God hears their prayers, no matter what they are.  When I was a child I prayed Mom would say yes to letting me spend the night at my friend’s house.  I asked God for a baton or whatever toy had my interest.  I believed He could answer all of those prayers.  And He did.  Mom either said yes or no, I either got the toy or I didn’t.  But I never doubted God had heard me.  I believe God has heard every prayer I’ve said over my lifetime.  Prayers I’ve forgotten I prayed.

God doesn’t prioritize our prayers.  Everything is small stuff to Him.  He’s waiting for you to turn to Him.  He’s waiting.

Question of the Day:

What are you afraid to ask God for in your life?

Further Reading: 2 Kings 6:1-7:20 NIV, Acts 15:36-16:15 NIV, Psalm 142 NIV, Proverbs 17:24-25 NIV

YOU CAN MAKE TURNING TO GOD EASY FOR PEOPLE

“It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God.” (Acts 15:19 NIV)

Turning to God isn’t easy.  You can’t touch or see God like you can a person.  Believing in His existence is a huge step of faith for a lot of people.  We want what is tangible.  God is intangible.  I can understand why people have a hard time believing in Him.  For those of us who do believe, we can make believing easier for others.  The best way, accept them just as they are.

The best way, accept them just as they are.

Today’s verse comes from the Jerusalem Council.  The purpose of the council was to debate circumcision of the Gentiles.  The Jewish leaders wanted them circumcised.  After much discussion, the decision was made.  Circumcision is unnecessary for the Gentiles.  Peter argued God hadn’t discriminated when He sent the Holy Spirit.  Peter also pointed out why make them abide by a law that the Jews hadn’t kept.  Peter concluded his summation with this statement:

No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are.” (Acts 15:11 NIV)

Grace of Jesus is our salvation. God’s grace is available to everyone.  When others turn to God we should make it as easy for them as God made it for us.  Turning to God is as simple as saying, “I give up God.  My way isn’t working.  I want to try your way.”  God makes turning to Him so easy.  We should do the same.

First, when someone tells you they’ve turned to God, believe them.  We are not the judges of someone else’s heart.  Only God knows if they have truly turned their life over to Him.   Their actions will show you their heart change.  I love talking with new believers because they love talking about God.  They have a zest for life that is invigorating.  New Christ followers want to get to know Him better.  They want to understand His counter cultural ways.  Their passion is infectious.

Second, encourage them in their new found faith.  Don’t force the conversation.  Let them talk about whatever they want to talk about.  Engage with them in what is going on in their life at that moment.  Help them see how God is working in their lives.  Help them connect the dots of His presence in their life even before they placed their trust in Him.  Help them see how God has drawn them to Him all along.

Help them find God’s purpose for their life.  Their purpose isn’t the same as your purpose.  Walk with them as God reveals His plans to them.  Remind them, we never stop growing in Christ until God calls us back to Him.

Question of the Day:

How can you make turning to God easy for someone today?

Further Reading: 2 Kings 4:18-5:27 NIV, Acts 15:1-35 NIV, Psalm 141:1-10 NIV, Proverbs 17:23 NIV

GOD PROTECTS YOU FROM THE WICKED

“Keep me safe, Lord, from the hands of the wicked; protect me from the violent, who devise ways to trip my feet.” (Psalm 140:4 NIV)

Another term for “wicked” is “toxic.”  Wicked people from Biblical times are toxic people in today’s world.  Toxic people drain you of life.  They are unsupportive, self-centered, and difficult.  “7 Types of Toxic People and How to Spot Them,” is an excellent article explaining toxic people.

We all have toxic people in our lives. Some we’ve known a lifetime, others we’ve met through a friend or in the workplace.  However they came into our life, God’s answer to toxic people is always the same: love.

“It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” (1 Corinthians 13:7 NIV)

God protects us from the wicked with love.

The thing is, we don’t have to love toxic people up close.  When you identify someone in your life as toxic, you are the one who has to set healthy boundaries for the relationship.  Jesus was a master at this because He knew people’s hearts:

But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man.” (John 2:24-25 NIV)

The above verses come right after Jesus has kicked out the craft fair going on in the Temple.  He knows the toxicity in man’s hearts. And He set boundaries: He “did not entrust Himself to them” (v. 24).  Jesus understood He had to set healthy boundaries with man because man is incapable of doing it.

Setting healthy boundaries isn’t easy.  “Boundaries” by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend helped me immensely.  I learned how to identify toxic people in my life and set boundaries.  I learned to identify areas in which I was toxic.  I’m still learning.  

The lesson hardest to learn for me: to set healthy boundaries, I have to work on my health.  I have to debunk lies I believe which allows toxic people to treat me as they do.  I have to realize I have self worth.  I have to recognize what my part is in the relationship and take responsibility for my actions.  I learned this from Jesus:

You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” (Matthew 7:5 NIV)

Once I deal with the speck in my eye, I can see clearly.  I can see what boundaries I need to create.  I can love that person from afar by continually praying for them.  I realize, my job isn’t to fix them.  My job is to pray for them.  God is their Savior, not me.

God protects us from the wicked with love.

Question of the Day:

What healthy boundary do you need to make?

Further Reading:2 Kings 3:1-4:17 NIV, Acts 14:8-28 NIV, Psalm 140 NIV, Proverbs 17:22 NIV

YOUR WORDS ARE NOT HIDDEN FROM GOD

“Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely.” (Psalm 139:4 NIV)

God knows every word on your tongue before you do.  He knows what you say in secret to a friend.  He knows what you say in public for all to hear.  He knows what you posted on social media yesterday.  God knows everything about you:

“Lord, you have examined me and know all about me. You know when I sit down and when I get up.  You know my thoughts before I think them.  You know where I go and where I lie down.  You know everything I do.”  (Psalm 139:1-3 NCV)

God knows everything about you.

When we understand we can’t hide from God, we find freedom.  God loves you just the way you are.  He already knows everything about you.  The one thing you’re terrified someone will find out, God already knows.  He knows and He loves you:

We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19 NIV)

Have you ever thought no one noticed you, only to realize someone is watching you?  I remember when I was in elementary school.  I was sitting in a corner at the back of the school bus.  I was amusing myself by frosting the window with my breath.  I didn’t realize all the kids around me were watching and laughing.  That happened over 40 years ago, the feeling of humiliation I felt has not left me. I remember feeling exposed, vulnerable and stupid.  Realizing God knows everything we do can evoke similar feelings.

I have times in my life I wish God didn’t know about.  I have made stupid decisions.  I have done stupid things.  I’ve harmed myself more than anyone has ever harmed me.  Even now, as hard as I chase after God daily, I still make stupid decisions and do stupid things.  But I no longer feel the way I felt that day on the bus.  I understand God’s deep love for me.  I realize, even in the moments where I think I’m stupid, God uses them to the good:

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[a] have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28 NIV)

The freedom we find in accepting God knows everything about us is love.  We realize God loves us because He created us.  He created each of us to live the lives we’re living, for a special purpose.  I don’t know what your specific purpose is on earth, but I know you have one.  We all do.  God’s not ashamed of you.  He knows everything about you, and He loves you.

God knows the words you’re going to say before you say them.  And that’s OK.

Question of the Day:

Is accepting God knows everything about you easy or hard for you?

Further Reading:  2 Kings 1:1-2:25 NIV,Acts 13:42-14:7 NIV, Psalm 139:1-24 NIV, Proverbs 17:19-21 NIV

ONE RELIABLE SOURCE FOR ALL YOUR NEEDS

“When I called, you answered me;  you greatly emboldened me.” (Psalm 138:3 NIV)

God always answers when you call.  He always has a solution.  No matter what your need, God can fill it.  The problem is, He hardly ever answers our prayers the way we think He will. 

When we start a conversation with God, more times than not, the conversation is about us.  I know, I always have my own agenda.  I have things going on in my life I want God to address.  I know the actions I would like to see Him take.  I have a timeline in which I would like Him to work.  However, God isn’t the manager, He’s my Creator.

God always answers when you call.

God isn’t the manager.  If you’ve ever had bad customer service, you’ve called the manager.  My husband and I eat out a lot.  Not often, but on occasion, we’ve had a problem with our meal.  Perhaps the waiter delivered the wrong meal, or the meat undercooked.  The first thing the waiter usually does is tell the manager.  Soon, we receive a visit to our table with sincere apologies and an offer to correct the mistake.  Managers fix our problems.  God isn’t our manager.

God isn’t who we take our complaints too.  He’s not in our lives to fix a bad meal.  He’s in our lives because He created us.  We are His.  He gave us life, He gave us purpose.  He isn’t meant to serve us, we’re meant to serve Him.

The bad meals in our lives are what God uses to work out His purpose for us.  When we have difficult situations occur in life, we’re to work through them.  When my nephew passed away unexpectedly from complications with diabetes, I had to work through his death.  I will spend the rest of my life working through losing someone so precious to me.  

If God was the manager, when my nephew was diagnosed with diabetes, He would have healed him.  God didn’t heal him.  For years I prayed for his healing here on earth.  God didn’t do what I asked.  Instead, my nephew lived out his purpose on earth, then God called him home.

God isn’t our manager, He’s our Creator.  He gives us life.  He takes life away.  But our life doesn’t end when we die.  When we place our faith in Jesus, our life is eternal.  We have no beginning, nor end.  Billy Graham describes death best:

“Some day you will read or hear that Billy Graham is dead. Don’t you believe a word of it. I shall be more alive than I am now. I will just have changed my address. I will have gone into the presence of God.”

God always answers when we call; just not the way we think He will. 

Question of the Day:

Have you called God lately?

Further Reading: 1 Kings 22:1-53 NIVActs 13:16-41 NIVPsalm 138:1-8 NIVProverbs 17:17-18 NIV

HAVE YOU BEEN LED BY THE SPIRIT?

“The two of them, sent on their way by the Holy Spirit, went down to Seleucia and sailed from there to Cyprus.” (Acts 13:4 NIV)

Paul and Barnabas are the “two” in this verse.  They are following the Holy Spirit wherever He takes them.  In this case, they are going to Cyprus.  But what does the verse mean, “sent on their way by the Holy Spirit?” 

In order let God’s Spirit lead you, tune into His radio station.  Listen to His podcast.  Watch His YouTube video. Follow His Twitter feed. The more you get to know God, the more His spirit will lead you.  Tuning into God makes us sensitive to Him.  We begin to understand His heart as we follow Him more.  Our hearts will come into alignment with His.  When He wants us to move, we’ll know.  Subtly, we will know what we are to do.  

Align our hearts with God and His Spirit will lead us.

When our heart breaks over the things that break God’s heart, we’re in tune with Him.  We’re sensitive to His presence in our lives.  We recognize the deep love God has for every single person on this planet.  Whether or not they love Him, God loves them.  

God’s love for others will start to pour out of us.  As His Spirit fills us, it will lead us.  We’ll have nudges to do things we wouldn’t otherwise do.  We’ll call someone because for whatever reason, we can’t stop thinking about them.  We’ll send a text at odd times for us, but just the right moment for someone else.  We’ll buy the person lunch who is in line behind us.  

I met a friend for lunch a few years ago.  As I was paying for my meal, I had a nudge to buy the couple’s lunch behind me in line. He was military, I had the opportunity to thank him for his service.  I did not immediately obey.  We were in a cafeteria style line with trays.  I felt the nudge as soon as the young couple lined up behind me.  I felt awkward, especially because they would know I was the person who bought them lunch.  The feeling wouldn’t leave me.  When I got to the register, I paid for mine, still without obeying.  As the cashier handed me the slip, I knew I was about to miss a blessing if I didn’t buy their lunch.  

I turned to the young couple and said, “I would like to buy your lunch.  Thank you for your service to our country.”  The young lady beamed with radiance as she announced, “We just got married!”  I have no idea how much lunch cost that day.  But I do know I had a very special moment that none of us will forget.

Tune into God, You’ll get the nudge.

Question of the Day:

Have you had the nudge lately?

Further Reading: 1 Kings 20:1-21:29 NIV, Acts 12:24-13:15 NIV, Psalm 137:1-9 NIV, Proverbs 17:16 NIV

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU FOLLOW AN ANGEL?

“Peter followed him out of the prison, but he had no idea that what the angel was doing was really happening; he thought he was seeing a vision.” (Acts 12:9 NIV)

Following an angel is a surreal experience.  Peter was in prison, chained between two guards.  The church earnestly prayed for him.  The night before his trial, an angel appeared to him.  The chains fell off his body.  The angel told Peter to follow him.  Peter, in a trance like state, followed the angel out of the prison to freedom.  The experience was surreal to Peter.  He didn’t think he was actually walking out of the prison.  Peter thought he was seeing a vision.

Following an angel is a surreal experience.

I have never had an encounter with a heavenly angel, not that I’m aware of at least.  I do believe God places angels here on earth.  People who are at the right place at the right moment.  People who say the right thing at the right time.  We don’t know when an angel is among us:

“Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.” (Hebrews 13:2 NIV)

We’ve talked about loving your neighbor, this gives a new aspect to people we encounter in our lives.  Angels are amongst us.  The stranger on the street, he might be a heavenly host.  We never know.  I have had experiences that have left me wondering.  One happened thirty years ago that I’ve not forgotten.

I was working my way through college.  I worked at a hotel as a night desk clerk from 3:00 p.m. -11:00 p.m.  I had fallen in love with someone who didn’t love me.  I was in the midst of realizing this ugly truth when God sent an angel.  I was at rock bottom.  My heart broken, I had given up trying.  I can remember so vividly, standing at the front desk.  I was wearing a black and white skirt, with a black straight jacket and white blouse, my uniform.  I was filing away guests room cards, feeling sorry for myself.  A gentleman walked up and placed two ceramic angels in front of me.  They were kneeling in prayer.  He simply said, “God wants you to know, you have 2 angels watching over you.”  Then he walked away.  I never saw that man again.  I still have those angels, they are still watching over me.  Somehow, I broke the wing of one of them, it’s symbolic for me of my imperfections.

You don’t know who you are entertaining.  Any one of them might be an angel.  If they are, you won’t forget the experience.  When you encounter an angel, no matter how, it is a surreal experience.

Question of the Day:

Have you encountered an angel?

Further Reading: 1 Kings 19:1-21NIV,Acts 12:1-23 NIV, Psalm 136:1-26 NIV, Proverbs 17:14-15 NIV

ARE YOU A FOOL BENT ON FOLLY?

“Better to meet a bear robbed of her cubs than a fool bent on folly.” (Proverbs 17:12 NIV)

A fool bent on folly is not good company.  You’re better off hanging out with a bear who has lost her cubs.  If you want to know what the term Mama Bear means, watch this video.  A Mama bear takes on a tiger to protect her cub, she wins.  You would rather meet a mamma bear than a fool bent on folly. But what is a fool bent on folly?

A fool bent on folly is not good company.

Fools only think of themselves:

“Fools find no pleasure in understanding but delight in airing their own opinions.” (Proverbs 18:2 NIV)

All of us can fall into this trap.  We get so caught up in our own opinions, we don’t try to understand anyone else’s.  When we’re busy telling others what we think, we can’t listen to what they say.  Hard truth: no one knows everything.  Not even you.  If we want to grow, we have to make an effort to understand others’ opinions.

Fools make bad choices:

“The hearts of wise people lead them on the right path. But the hearts of foolish people take them down the wrong path.” (Ecclesiastes 10:2 NLT)

We all make bad choices.  We all face consequences to those choices.  A wise person learns from their mistake.  A fool makes the same bad decision again.  I’m a fool when the conversation is about food.  I know my worst time for indulging is at night.  I try every day to come up with a new plan to conquer my night time snacking.  The only plan that works is not having snacks in the house.  If I continue to buy tortilla chips, I will continue to eat tortilla chips.  If I don’t change my ways, you would call me a fool.

Fools don’t believe in God:

“The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, and their ways are vile; there is no one who does good.” (Psalm 53:1 NIV)

Not everyone believes in God.  The reasons are plenty why people don’t believe.  But according to David, someone who truly does not believe in God is a fool. Personally, when someone tells me they don’t believe in God, I don’t try to change their mind.  I pray for them.  I pray God will make His presence real in their lives and one day they will believe.  I was a fool once too who didn’t believe in God.  Thankfully, people prayed for me and now I do.

You’re not a fool if you believe in God.  You are wise.  You can tap into His word, His people and His power to guide your life.  Pray for the fools you know that they too will know God.

Question of the Day:

Are you a fool bent on folly?

Further Reading: 1 Kings 18:1-46 NIV, Acts 11:1-30 NIV, Psalm 135:1-21 NIV, Proverbs 17:12-13 NIV

WHO IS THE MAKER OF HEAVEN AND EARTH

“May the Lord bless you from Zion, he who is the Maker of heaven and earth.” (Psalm 134:3 NIV)

God is our creator.  He made the heavens and the earth.  He knew you before you were born.  He planned a purpose for you no one else has.  Today’s happenings do not surprise God.  He understands our need to express ourselves, He created us.  He knows who our families are, He planted us in them. He knows everything about our lives. Who is the maker of heaven and earth? God.

God is our creator.

I was born in Kittanning, PA.   I spent the first 12 years of my life in what is still one of my favorite places on earth, Tidal, PA.   When I think of this beloved place, I think of heaven on earth.  My first best friend is still one of my best friends.  The people I met there are still a part of my life.  I met God there. I learned of His unfathomable love there.  

In Tidal, the sky is clear.  When you gaze at the stars, they shine brightly.  Thanks to COVID, our skies are much clearer where I live now, but nothing like Tidal.  I would gaze up at the stars in wonder.  God placed them all in the sky.  He named them.  And He named me.  I remember feeling insignificant yet significant at the same time.  How could God do all of this?  How could He create such beauty?

The mystery of creation is one that is never solved:

“This is what God the Lord says—the Creator of the heavens, who stretches them out, who spreads out the earth with all that springs from it, who gives breath to its people, and life to those who walk on it:” (Isaiah 42:5 NIV)

God created us.  God wants to bless us:

“And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” (2 Corinthians 9:8 NIV)

Our world has shattered.  People are hurting and broken.  Loss of life is a reality.  Riots occurred.  People are searching for answers.  The fear which has encapsulated our world for the past few months is getting the best of people.  Daily, I have to focus my eyes on Jesus to maintain my sanity.  Nothing seems to make sense.  I have more questions than I have answers.  Yet, Isaiah gives me the hope I need:

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.”  (Isaiah 55:8 NIV)

God never designed us to know all the answers.  He designed us to have faith that He does. God is our creator.  He will sustain us in these troubled times.  Our job is to trust Him.

Question of the Day:

How has God’s creation amazed you?

Further Reading:1 Kings 15:25-17:24 NIV, Acts 10:24-48 NIV, Psalm 134:1-3 NIV, Proverbs 17:9-11 NIV