Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Daily Dose 1-31-12

Matthew 21:22 If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.
Faith can be tricky at times. If we take these words of Jesus to heart, then why should we have any disappointment in life? Everything should always be just as we want, if we just believe, right? If you look at only this excerpt from the life of Jesus, then yes. However, if you read further, you see Jesus begged God for another solution than the cross. He did not want to endure the suffering. There was no question as to whether or not Jesus had enough faith, so why didn’t God say yes? Jesus shows us the power of a believing heart in this scripture, but lives the example of a submitted heart when facing the cross. God can move the mountains we face into the sea if we ask, but sometimes there is a bigger picture. In some cases, climbing the mountain may increase our faith, and the faith of others, through the process. A submitted, obedient heart believes the mountain can move but is willing to climb it just the same – either way God brings the overcoming victory!
Father, I see mountains in front of me. I know You can level them with a blink of Your eye. I DO believe. Yet, I have also learned that when You help me climb mountains, I am stronger because of it. Give me Your piece to know which path to choose. I trust You! Amen 

Monday, January 30, 2012

Daily Dose 1-30-12

Matthew 20:26-28 “…whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Jesus had just shared with the apostles He was about to be mocked, flogged and crucified and on the third day raised to life. What did they really hear? Immediately after, the mother of James and John knelt before Him asking that her sons be seated at His left and right when He established His kingdom- obviously thinking it would be an earthly, political kingdom. An argument broke out among them as they squabbled over who should have those positions. The lesson Jesus shared with them applies to us today. In politics, candidates are accused of flip-flopping on issues. Jesus came to flip the process, for sure! The powerful, rich and influential are exalted in our society. Jesus flips that equation to show us how we will receive the ultimate exaltation of eternal life. We are to use any influence, riches and power we must have in order to serve others with no expectations of exaltation on this earth. Are you serving hoping to get a pat on the back or an, “Atta boy” from someone on earth? Flip your perspective! Have no expectations or desires for acknowledgement now…wait for your, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.” What a sweet statement that will be!
Father, I confess I am too concerned about how others value me on earth. Flip my perspective. Remind me my only concern should be how my work brings value to your kingdom. I love You! Amen 

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Daily Dose 1-29-12

Matthew 19:21-22 (MSG) "If you want to give it all you've got," Jesus replied, "go sell your possessions; give everything to the poor. All your wealth will then be in heaven. Then come follow me." That was the last thing the young man expected to hear. And so, crest-fallen, he walked away. He was holding on tight to a lot of things, and he couldn't bear to let go.
We often look at the young man in this story with a judgmental eye, thinking that we would never let wealth stand in our way of following Jesus – especially if He was standing right in front of us! The deal is, Jesus knew that was the one thing that the man would put in front of Him. He knew that when push came to shove, wealth and power would come before a choice to stand for Him. Jesus just let the man choose upfront before he started following. If you consider yourself a follower now, what is it that you would cling to if Jesus said to let it go? What is it that divides your heart? Are you someone who would easily sell all your possessions and give to the poor, yet you still hold on to the hurt and unforgiveness toward someone who did you wrong? Do you easily forgive in situations where it’s called for, but put relationships with family and friends before following Jesus? Are you someone who has prioritized possessions, forgiveness and relationships appropriately in line with Jesus, but hold on to fear and insecurity instead of stepping boldly into the mission Jesus has for you? Put yourself back in that story. What is it Jesus would ask you to sacrifice to follow Him? Know this – He IS asking! Are you willing?
Father, I can’t imagine the sacrifice that You made in allowing Jesus to be the sacrifice for me. His willingness to follow Your will above His own for my benefit should motivate me to live more boldly for Him. Help me to see what’s in m way and give me the courage to let go! I love You! Amen

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Daily Dose 1-28-12

Exodus 6:12-13 Moses answered God, "Look—the Israelites won't even listen to me. How do you expect Pharaoh to? And besides, I stutter." But God again laid out the facts to Moses and Aaron regarding the Israelites and Pharaoh king of Egypt, and he again commanded them to lead the Israelites out of the land of Egypt.
Moses had every right to be confused and insecure. He stepped out in obedience to God even though he was terrified and doubtful of his abilities. He must have had a picture in his mind of what the rescue would look like. He wanted it to be swift, mighty and over quickly. Instead, upon his arrival and bold statements, circumstances became worse for the Israelites. Moses didn’t see the big picture. God knew the hearts of the people. Even though they moaned and complained about slavery, it was comfortable. Before God could get the Israelites out of Egypt, He had to get Egypt out of the hearts of the Israelites. What has you stuck in bondage because you are more comfortable with the shackles of slavery than the freedom of faith? Is it unforgiveness, broken relationships that are easier to ignore than heal? Are you bound by fear, thinking God will never bless you the way you desire? Are you more comfortable complaining about your chains than laying them before God to let Him cut them loose? The more you allow your bondage in your heart, the harder the process will be to set you free.
Father, I’m sure You become frustrated with me at times tangled in the same chains of bondage that You want to cut free. Show me how to lay my chains before You and be free to follow Your Son. I love You! Amen

Friday, January 27, 2012

Daily Dose 1-27-12

Exodus 4:10-13 (MSG) Moses raised another objection to God: "Master, please, I don't talk well. I've never been good with words, neither before nor after you spoke to me. I stutter and stammer." God said, "And who do you think made the human mouth? And who makes some mute, some deaf, some sighted, some blind? Isn't it I, God? So, get going. I'll be right there with you—with your mouth! I'll be right there to teach you what to say." He said, "Oh, Master, please! Send somebody else!"
It’s refreshing that scriptures let us see a glimpse of the fear and insecurity felt by the heroes of faith. Moses was audibly hearing God from a burning bush. He had just seen his staff turn into a snake and back into a staff. He saw the horror of leprosy inflicted on his hand, then cured immediately. All this, and he was still afraid. He was not necessarily fearful and insecure about what God could do, but he focused on his own limitations. How many of us can relate to that? We have faith that God can move mountains – we just aren’t sure He’ll choose to move our mountains! Whatever you think stands in your way of doing what God has called you to do, share with Him your fears and limitations. He may send you an Aaron to work beside you, or He may remove the limitation all together! Regardless, God will ensure that you are capable to do whatever He calls you to accomplish. Stop listing the excuses and pick up you staff!
Holy God, I am completely convinced You have the power and ability to do whatever You want to accomplish Your purpose. Faith in You is never an issue for me. However, I do struggle with faith in You through me. I know my faults, shortcomings and sins. Help me to see how You look beyond my limitations. Empower me with the confidence You have in me and show me Your next steps! I love You! Amen

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Daily Dose 1-26-12

Proverbs 5:11-14 (MSG) You don't want to end your life full of regrets, nothing but sin and bones,
 Saying, "Oh, why didn't I do what they told me? Why did I reject a disciplined life? 
Why didn't I listen to my mentors, or take my teachers seriously? 
My life is ruined! I haven't one blessed thing to show for my life!"

Regret is a painful pill to swallow and too often it comes too late for any cure. We claim to want wisdom and direction in our lives. Yet, too often, when God provides wisdom and direction, we disregard it to go our own way. Or, we become so wrapped up in our own thoughts and busyness that we miss what’s clearly put in front of us. Wisdom is a gift God wants to bestow upon us – if only we ask. If we ask, but seem to still be lacking wisdom, it’s time to do a heart check. Do you think you know best and have no intention of listening? Slow down and spend some quite, submitted time before the LORD. Search scripture to learn what the Word says about your choices. Be very aware of counsel you may receive through prayer, scripture or fellow-believers. It may be direct wisdom handed to you from God Himself. You have a choice when wisdom is presented to you; either unwrap the gift and adjust your life accordingly or, rebel and suffer the consequences of regret. What will you choose?

Father, I hate regret! Make me aware of what you are trying to tell me. Prick my heart to discern between what is my own “wisdom” and what is true counsel being provided through You. Help me to submit to Your will! I love You Amen

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Daily Dose 1-25-12

Matthew 17:3-5 (MSG) His clothes were filled with light. Then they realized that Moses and Elijah were also there in deep conversation with him. Peter broke in, "Master, this is a great moment! What would you think if I built three memorials here on the mountain—one for you, one for Moses, one for Elijah?" While he was going on like this, babbling, a light-radiant cloud enveloped them, and sounding from deep in the cloud a voice: "This is my Son, marked by my love, focus of my delight. Listen to him."

Moments spent on a spiritual mountaintop are great, but that’s not where Jesus did His best work. Peter’s enthusiasm was understandable. He had just listened to Jesus predict horrific suffering which Peter insisted should not happen. Jesus rebuked him as one allowing satan to control his desires instead of following God’s plan. Atop this mountain in a moment of splendor, everything in Peter wanted to stay. Who could blame him? However, Jesus knew His job was not one of splendor, but sacrifice. As a Christian, there will be times when life’s struggles seem too much to bear. There will be messy relationships -  even with fellow-believers - that are difficult to maintain. There will be times of suffering, mourning and sorrow. But, through it all, Jesus will remain steadfast. Allow your worship, alone time with Jesus and times on a spiritual mountaintop energize you for the real work at hand. The job of a Christ follower is not always one of splendor, but one that sees the splendor through the sacrifice.

Father, Help me to see where I need to be more of a follower of Christ and less of one manipulated by satan. I know following is not easy, but give me Your vision to learn to see splendor in sacrifice…and the courage to follow through. I love You! Amen

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Daily Dose 1-24-12

Proverbs 4:23-27 (MSG) Keep vigilant watch over your heart; that's where life starts. Don't talk out of both sides of your mouth; avoid careless banter, white lies, and gossip. Keep your eyes straight ahead; ignore all sideshow distractions. Watch your step, and the road will stretch out smooth before you. Look neither right nor left; leave evil in the dust.

The book of Proverbs is all about giving wisdom and practical instruction for Godly living. This scripture paints a picture of what a Godly life looks like and reveals its canvas is the heart. No matter how talented an artist may be, if he begins his great work on a torn canvas, the oils may cover it initially, but eventually the cracks of the canvas will show through. A canvas that has a spotty or bumpy surface will alter the texture of the painting, skewing the original intent of the artist. What have you allowed to alter the canvas of your heart? Is it ripped from wanting to follow Jesus completely, but being held back by life issues that take priority? Are there bumps, frays and holes of bitterness from past hurts that keep you from moving forward? Have you allowed negative thoughts and/or circumstances stain your faith, altering the vivid colors He wants to paint through your life? Your heart is the canvas of your soul. Keep it pure so the Master can paint the great work He had in mind when He created you!

Father, Forgive me for limiting Your ability to create a masterpiece in me. Reveal the areas where I allow my heart to keep You from Your work. Give me the courage, wisdom and strength to let the blood of Jesus renew my heart and clean the canvas daily so Your work can be seen through me. I love You! Amen

Monday, January 23, 2012

Daily Dose 1-23-12

 Psalm 19:14 May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart 
be pleasing in your sight, LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.

Maybe David was considered the Man After God’s Own Heart because he was so concerned about the condition of his own heart. We read studies and follow guidelines for heart healthy lifestyles for our physical hearts; but what do we do to keep our spiritual hearts in condition? Praying for protection is a first step. Ask God to soften, prick and strengthen your heart to remain molded to His will. Second, spend time feasting on God’s word…no calories there! Meditate on its laws and commands. Stand on the promises; and revel with joy at the unconditional love and salvation provided by our Holy God and His sacrificial son. Third, have a daily check-up to test the condition of your heart by listening to the words that come from it. Are they words of encouragement, blessing and peace to those around you? Do you deal with others with kindness and respect? As with any ailment, early detection is always best for a cure!

Father, Provide the therapy my heart needs to be in its best condition for You. Massage the hardened areas that prevent the growth of the Fruit of Your Spirit. Protect my heart from bitterness and fill it with Your joy! Amen
(From 2011 Daily Doses)

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Daily Dose 1-22-12

Matthew 14:28-31 (MSG)Peter, suddenly bold, said, "Master, if it's really you, call me to come to you on the water." He said, "Come ahead." Jumping out of the boat, Peter walked on the water to Jesus. But when he looked down at the waves churning beneath his feet, he lost his nerve and started to sink. He cried, "Master, save me!" Jesus didn't hesitate. He reached down and grabbed his hand. Then he said, "Faint-heart, what got into you?"
The Message translation of this story is more favorable to Peter and may encourage us a bit. The older translations quote Christ as saying, “Oh ye of little faith” and it seems as though Jesus offers a harsh rebuke. Those interpretations seem to paint Jesus as disregarding Peter’s bold faith to even think he could step out of the boat and come to Him. The interpretation from The Message doesn’t change the record of events, but it does show a more compassionate Savior. He calls Peter Faint-heart and asks, “What got into you?” The difference in the interpretations shows the encouragement Jesus brings with the rebuke. It’s as though He’s acknowledging Peter’s bold faith with pride, but also validating He knows Peter let fear get the best of Him. Have you mustered the courage to step boldly in faith, but now see the reality of the storms of life crashing in on you? Take your eyes off the wind and waves and focus back on the One who can calm the storm. Don’t beat yourself up as having no faith…remember you were bold enough to step out of the boat! Strengthen your faint heart and walk on!
Father, I know my faith is strong, but I also have physical eyes and ears. My Spirit wants to focus on Jesus and walk boldly in joy to be embraced by Him standing on the water. But my physical perspective distracts me and makes my heart faint. Strengthen my Spirit to look past the storms and focus on the One You sent to walk with me on the stormy seas…in peace. I love You! Amen

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Daily Dose 1-21-12

Matthew 13:58 (MSG)  But Jesus said, "A prophet is taken for granted in his hometown and his family." He didn't do many miracles there because of their hostile indifference.
The verses prior to this share the story of Jesus going back to his hometown at the height of His ministry. The people were amazed at His teachings and spoke highly of Him one minute, then quickly turned as they remembered He was nothing special, He grew up just like them. Most versions refer to His lack of miracles there because of their lack of faith. The Message translation calls it hostile indifference. Isn’t that an oxymoron? How can you be hostile by being indifferent? When it comes to Jesus, indifference is hostile. Reading this scripture should be a call to be a difference maker. These people knew Jesus personally, yet they would not allow their lives to be changed by Him. We easily criticize them and wonder how they could have let Him pass through town without being with Him more intimately and being changed by His presence. Yet, how different is that from Christians who claim to know Christ, yet their lives are not really changed because of Him? Do you feel like Jesus has passed through your life and moved on without blessing you? Maybe it’s because He met hostile indifference when He tried to make a difference!
Father, I know indifference should never be used to describe my walk with Your son. Give me the courage to allow Him to make any changes necessary to make a difference in my life so I can make a difference in the lives of others. I love You! Amen

Friday, January 20, 2012

Daily Dose 1-20-12

Genesis 41:38-40 Then Pharaoh said to his officials, "Isn't this the man we need? Are we going to find anyone else who has God's spirit in him like this?" So Pharaoh said to Joseph, "You're the man for us. God has given you the inside story—no one is as qualified as you in experience and wisdom. From now on, you're in charge of my affairs; all my people will report to you. Only as king will I be over you."
Sold into slavery by his brothers, Joseph emerged as the second most powerful man in Egypt. How? He remained faithful to God through his trials. He used the gifts he had been given by God to benefit those who had authority over him. He waited for God’s timing, but stepped boldly when the timing was right. We see the outward results of Joseph’s life, but scriptures don’t share his thoughts, fears and disappointment during those tough days. Why? Maybe God wants us to look at Joseph so we see how to keep our focus by doing the right things in the present, knowing God will secure our future. Every situation Joseph was in, those in authority over him trusted him, saw his work was good and entrusted him with more. Because of him, they were blessed. They realized Joseph was different and credited God. Do those in authority over you see God in you? Even if they don’t believe in God, do they respect the way your life is lived because of your faith lived out in your actions? Think of Joseph as you do your work – even if your work is looking for work right now. Conduct yourself in such a way that brings glory to God. Consider how your trials would be recorded. The less we complain, fret and fear creates more time and energy to press on with what’s before us while we wait for what God will bring to us!
Father, I thank You for knowing and loving me. I know You have my best interests in mind. I know You have my future secured, though what I see looks shaky at times. I trust You. Prick my heart against complaint and keep me focused to live my life for Your glory in the moments of each day. I love You! Amen 

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Daily Dose 1-19-12

Genesis 39:2,20,21 The LORD was with Joseph so that he prospered, and he lived in the house of his Egyptian master…(after false accusations) Joseph’s master took him and put him in prison, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined. But while Joseph was there in the prison, the LORD was with him; he showed him kindness and granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warden.

Joseph’s story is fraught with more hard knocks than most of us can imagine. The initial rejection and betrayal to be sold into slavery by his brothers would have left most of us emotionally comatose and living as a victim, but he persevered and God blessed him. Just as it seemed he was getting traction on the road to a good life, Potipher’s wife falsely accuses him and he ends up in prison, but he persevered and God blessed him. Notice a pattern? God never promises us life will be fair and comfortable. However, He does promise to be with us through tough times. Joseph had every right by our standards to be bitter and live a victim mentality. He remained close to God, honored Him with good work for his masters, and gave God the credit for his abilities. The timeline Joseph desired for rescue and vindication was probably what we want – NOW! However, he trusted God, did the work before him and lived grateful for the blessings and provisions from God. What hardships of life have you discouraged? What’s happening with you that makes you question whether or not God is aware of your timetable? Read the whole story of Joseph and take heart. Look for the blessings and provisions God gives you – even if they are not meeting your full desire. Live in gratitude and work hard to please God through pleasing the “masters” over you. God has not forgotten you…He just sees the full timetable of your life, not the glimpse you have before you!

Father, You are a God of blessing! I thank You for Your Hand of provision. I am grateful for your presence in my life. Help me to live for You in the present, knowing You are in control of my future. I love You! Amen

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Daily Dose 1-18-12

Matthew 12:34-37 It's your heart, not the dictionary, that gives meaning to your words. A good person produces good deeds and words season after season. An evil person is a blight on the orchard. Let me tell you something: Every one of these careless words is going to come back to haunt you. There will be a time of Reckoning. Words are powerful; take them seriously. Words can be your salvation. Words can also be your damnation.
Even Jesus could get pretty frustrated with people who could only speak badly of His ministry. He had the advantage of being able to see straight to the hearts of the Pharisees to discern their motives. His message to them should ring clearly to us. Our words are powerful. God demonstrated the power of His words by speaking creation in existence. We certainly don’t possess that kind of power, but our words can do so much to encourage, inspire and teach. At the same time, our words – or sometimes just our tone – can tear people down leaving them frustrated and disheartened. There is also pain brought from our lack of words to people who need our companionship and encouragement. Sometimes, ignoring someone is just as damaging as being hurtful toward them. What Jesus said is so true, the interpretation and impact of our words come straight from our hearts. When we submit our hearts to the Holy Spirit, love, encouragement and wisdom come from our mouths. When we allow our hearts to rule with our emotional, selfish desires, we speak destruction into the lives of others. Examine your heart before you open your mouth and ask the Spirit to bridle both with the love of Christ.
Father, Empower Your Spirit within me and purify my heart to speak life and encouragement into the lives of others. Pull out any root of bitterness in my heart so I will produce the good fruit You desire. I love You. Amen

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Daily Dose 1-17-12

Genesis 35:4-5 They turned over to Jacob all the alien gods they'd been holding on to, along with their lucky-charm earrings. Jacob buried them under the oak tree in Shechem. Then they set out. A paralyzing fear descended on all the surrounding villages so that they were unable to pursue the sons of Jacob.
Most of us can’t relate to clinging to statues of gods for security or adoration. We read the scriptures where God’s wrath came upon His people for worshipping gods with the glazed expression of a bored student in a history class because we think it doesn’t apply to us. Times have changed since Jacob’s day, but we have idols just the same. They may not be in the form of miniature god statues, but anything – or anyone – we give our trust, confidence, adoration and attention as a priority before God is an idol to us. Some place career and job on an altar as their source of provision, worth and security. Many worship a 60” flatscreen or a 17” monitor. Some kneel before calendars that are scheduled so full of busyness that there is no time for holiness. Some offer enthusiastic acts of worship over sports heroes or teams that they would never offer to God. And, others can worship the worship service instead of the God being worshipped. There are some who place relationships of family or friends as a priority over their relationship with God. Instead of searching scripture, fasting, or focusing in prayer to seek guidance, they go first to people…while God waits with answers. What idols do you need to bury before you move on with God? In some cases, it may be easier if it were miniature statues, they can be buried. Our challenge is to enjoy or use our “idols” the way God intended. The modern idols mentioned above are not evil in and of themselves. In some cases they are gifts from God for our benefit or pleasure. Our prioritizing them over God is the problem!
Father, Prick my heart to the idols I have in my life. Show me how You intend for my life to be prioritized and give me the strength to follow through. I love You! Amen

Monday, January 16, 2012

Daily Dose 1-16-12

Genesis 33:3-4 He himself went on ahead and bowed down to the ground seven times as he approached his brother. But Esau ran to meet Jacob and embraced him; he threw his arms around his neck and kissed him. And they wept.

Reconciliation is a two-way street. Esau was justified to hold a grudge against Jacob. He had manipulated Esau out of his birthright and stolen the blessing from Abraham that was intended for his first-born. God wanted their relationship restored…not just to treat one another with civility. Jacob was willing to leave the security of the home he had built with God’s blessing to return to the home of the brother whose blessing he stole. He approached Esau with generosity and humility. In turn, Esau forgave completely and restored his brother with love. Where are you in some of your relationships? Are you Esau, fully justified to remain skeptical and hurt by the past actions of another? Are you Jacob, moving on in your life without relationships you loved because your actions in the past hurt them? Or, are you a bit of both? Generally, when there is conflict, the truth lies somewhere in the middle. In that case, both parties have to agree to move toward truth to find reconciliation. Wherever you are in this scenario, know that broken relationships – especially among believers – are not pleasing to God. Do your best to move forward to reconcile relationships that will bless both parties by pleasing God.

Father, Give me wisdom and courage to move toward reconciliation like Jacob did and to run to forgiveness like Esau. Only You can heal some of these hurts. I trust You. Amen.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Daily Dose 1-15-12

Genesis 32:11-12 “…Save me, I pray, from the hand of my brother Esau, for I am afraid he will come and attack me, and also the mothers with their children. But you have said, ‘I will surely make you prosper and will make your descendants like the sand of the sea, which cannot be counted.’”

Jacob was terrified to go back home even though He knew God told him to do so. In his flesh, he remembered Esau’s wrath and threat to kill him. Yet, his spirit recalled God’s promise. Fears from the flesh must not be allowed to trump promises from God to our Spirit in the battle for our thoughts – the two cannot coexist. What physical fears do you face today? Search scriptures and recall the promises of God. Spend time with Him in meditative prayer. Listen! No good father wants His children to live in fear. How then could we as children of the Most High God live in fear? Stake your claim to His promises and step boldly in faith knowing that God goes before you to clear your path and stands behind you to protect your back. If He is for you, what can stand against you?

Father, Forgive me for allowing worries of life to overtake my trust in You at times. Help me discern what steps of obedience You want me to take to abide in Your promises. When I feel weak, afraid and insecure, make me strong, courageous and confident because I know I am Yours! I love You! Amen

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Daily Dose 1-14-12

 Proverbs 3:13-15 Blessed are those who find wisdom, those who gain understanding, for she is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold. She is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her.
Wisdom often seems elusive for some of us. Yet scripture tells us it is one thing we WILL receive if we ask. Do we truly seek wisdom, or do we seek to have our desires fulfilled? If you are in a situation where you feel you are nearing the end of your rope, don’t ask for a longer rope! Ask for wisdom to help you hold on to the rope you’ve got, find a way to climb higher, or see the perfect landing spot if you let go!
Father, I need Your wisdom and discernment. My mind can go in so many directions. I often struggle trying to figure out if the thoughts I have are my own or from You. Make Your wisdom very clear and give me the strength and courage to follow that path! I love You! Amen

Friday, January 13, 2012

Daily Dose 1-13-12

Genesis 29:35 She conceived again, and when she gave birth to a son she said, “This time I will praise the LORD.” So she named him Judah.
Poor Leah! The story of the less attractive, older sister whose father deceived Jacob to get him to marry her seems disturbing. All she wanted was to be loved by her husband. She had three sons, hoping each would be the key to unlock Jacob’s affections. At the birth of her fourth, she did something different, she praised God in the acceptance of her rejection and moved on. Through that action, she produced the lineage of Jesus, the savior of the world! Have you ever worked so hard to gain the affection of others that you miss the big picture of how much you are TRULY loved! Stop living in rejection! Realize that some people will care about you, others won’t. Your job is to love no matter what. Love others with the acceptance you have received by God through Christ. Who knows what God may have in store for you once you decide to move on. When Leah moved on, she became the matriarch that brought Jesus to earth!
Accepting, Loving Father, Too often I spin my wheels seeking love and acceptance from others when my goal should be to live out YOUR love and acceptance for me and others. Take my focus away from what I want and mold my heart to be what you need. Amen
(This Daily Dose was recycled from 2011. After reading the story again this year, I believe it's a message we all still need!)

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Daily Dose 1-12-12

Matthew 9:10-13 Later when Jesus was eating supper at Matthew's house with his close followers, a lot of disreputable characters came and joined them. When the Pharisees saw him keeping this kind of company, they had a fit, and lit into Jesus' followers. "What kind of example is this from your Teacher, acting cozy with crooks and riffraff?" Jesus, overhearing, shot back, "Who needs a doctor: the healthy or the sick? Go figure out what this Scripture means: 'I'm after mercy, not religion.' I'm here to invite outsiders, not coddle insiders."
There’s a difference in religion about Jesus and relationship with Jesus. When we focus on religion, our concerns over the minutia of “church business” become paramount. We focus on atmosphere, music styles, and emotional ploys to get people in and more importantly, keep the believers content. Jesus was pretty radical in His days on earth and His desire is for us to think more like Him. Jesus was all about showing mercy and love. He wants us as His followers to be role makers for showing love to the lost. When we have strife in our relationships within a church, our efforts to bring others in are futile. When we are so focused on our own comforts and having our desires met at church, we forget about those who do not know the comfort of Jesus as their Savior. Deepening our relationship with Jesus helps us to be more like Him. We go into the fray of the lost to love people into salvation from Jesus. We don’t waste our energy on internal strife – resolve and reconcile, don’t stew and simmer!
Father, Help me to change my heart to look more like Jesus. Please help me to show mercy to those who need You most. Help me and others to resolve and reconcile old issues that bring strife and discord so that we will be more effective for the Kingdom. I love You! Amen

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Daily Dose 1-11-12

Matthew 8:23-26 Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him. Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!” He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.

Do you feel like Jesus is asleep in your boat on a stormy sea? The apostles had Jesus in the flesh with them, yet they were still terrified in their storm. It’s understandable that we would have anxiety and fear when we are trying to navigate storms in our sea of life. This incident was probably for our benefit more than the apostles. The fact that He rebuked them for their panic when it seemed justified sends a powerful message. No matter how justified your anxiety may seem, faith and panic cannot be in the same boat. Ride out your storm knowing He’s got it all under control – even if it feels like He’s snoozing in the back of your boat!

Father, I see the waves, hear the wind and the dark clouds are consuming, but I know You are in my boat. Give me strength. Increase my faith. Help me ride out this storm in confidence and faith knowing You have it all under control. I love You! Amen 

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Daily Dose 1-10-12

Genesis 24:45-46 Before I finished praying in my heart, Rebekah came out, with her jar on her shoulder. She went down to the spring and drew water, and I said to her, ‘Please give me a drink.’ She quickly lowered her jar from her shoulder and said, ‘Drink, and I’ll water your camels too.’ So I drank, and she watered the camels also.
Rebekah was performing a mundane, ordinary task of her everyday existence when she met Abraham’s servant. She was not so consumed with her “to do” list that she missed a holy opportunity. We never know what God-moment could meet us each day. What is our job? Perform our duties as if we are doing them for the LORD and be open to change our schedule if we see God at work. Rebekah’s compassion and service for Abraham’s servant lead her to great blessings. Who will you meet at your well today, and what will you be willing to do for them? Be on guard! Blessings could be just around the corner!
Father, Keep me focused on Your work as I do my work. Help me to do all I do with excellence and a pure heart. Give me Your skill and discipline to succeed. However, never let me be so focused on work You have provided for me that I miss work that is needed for You. Bless the work of my hands, but more importantly, bless my work for You! I love You! Amen

Monday, January 9, 2012

Daily Dose 1-9-12

Genesis 22:8-12 Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” And the two of them went on together.When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood.Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. But the angel of the LORD called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!”   “Here I am,” he replied “Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.”
It would be so interesting to hear this story from Isaac’s perspective. Abraham was an old man and Isaac was young and strong. It seems he could have very easily manhandled his way off the altar and reported his father as insane. Yet, Isaac laid upon the altar and saw his father grab the knife. Isaac had faith in God himself as well as confidence in his father’s faith. Are you being asked to sacrifice or be the sacrifice for someone else’s mission? Lying upon the altar took as much faith as lifting the knife. Isaac’s example shows us we may not be the one who receives the commission from God for a great action. However, we may be called upon for a supporting role that takes the same amount of faith. What altar is God asking you to lie upon for Him?
Father, I cannot fathom the faith of Abraham or Isaac in this account. I’m not sure I would have been confident I was really hearing from You. Clarify Your will to me. Help me to know what my role is in Your plan. I love You! Amen

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Daily Dose 1-8-12

Matthew 6:34 (MSG) Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don't get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.
Living in the present is not always natural. We have a tendency to reflect on and sometimes glorify the past; or, live so much in the future thinking that when “this” happens THEN, everything will be OK. In the meantime, we are missing work and blessings God has for us in today! There are tough times we endure and ask God to quickly move us through them. While it is understandable to want relief from the pain, realize there are God moments in every struggle that He wants you to learn from and even appreciate. Learn to find God and His purposes in every day. Revel in the present and He will reveal the blessings of each moment!
Father, You know this is a struggle I face. It is hard or me to live in the moment. I have hopes, plans and dreams that make the present seem less desirable. Reveal to me Your beauty in my moments today. I love You! Amen!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Daily Dose 1-7-12

Genesis 16:10-14 Then one of them said, “I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife will have a son.” Now Sarah was listening at the entrance to the tent, which was behind him. Abraham and Sarah were already very old, and Sarah was past the age of childbearing. So Sarah laughed to herself as she thought, “After I am worn out and my lord is old, will I now have this pleasure?” Then the LORD said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Will I really have a child, now that I am old?’ Is anything too hard for the LORD? I will return to you at the appointed time next year, and Sarah will have a son.”
Sometimes God’s blessing are too great to imagine. Sarah laughed at the thought of God blessing her with a son at the age of 90. The servants of the LORD who shared the prophecy brought a good point to Sarah that is recorded for our benefit today. “Is anything too hard for the LORD?” Sarah had already tried to manipulate circumstances to make God’s promise to Abraham “work out” when she offered Hagar to bear a son for Abraham. Abraham was also willing to participate in that scheme which brought pain to Hagar and generations to come. Waiting for God’s timing is not easy, but pushing through to fulfill what we think His timing should be is dangerous. Wait on the LORD, laugh if you need it to get you through – trust and believe!
Father, You know waiting is not my strong suit! I have learned the hard way that when I take matters into my own hands instead of waiting to receive from You, the outcomes are not blessed by You. Help me to have joy and peace while I wait on Your perfect timing and great blessings! I love You! Amen

Friday, January 6, 2012

Daily Dose 1-6-12

Matthew 5:47-48 (MSG) “If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that. In a word, what I'm saying is, Grow up. You're kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you."
These words of Jesus in Matthew are powerful, and even more blunt in the Message translation. It is easy for us to view ourselves as loving people as we celebrate holidays surrounded by family and friends. But how are we at loving those we really don’t like at all? How are we at loving those who have hurt us or are just plain mean to us? How are we at loving those who reject our love? We think of love as a beautiful thing that comes with happiness and great joy and fulfillment. Most of the time, it is. However, to love like Jesus loves, for us, is hard work! Look in your heart and work on those you should be loving…and remember, you may be on the same list for someone else!
Father, Thank you for Your reminder. To love the unlovely and those who reject or disregard my love for them is the greatest test of whether or not Jesus can be seen through me. I love You! Amen