Friday, February 28, 2014

Daily Dose 2-28-14

Psalm 44:6-8 I put no trust in my bow, my sword does not bring me victory; but you give us victory over our enemies, you put our adversaries to shame. In God we make our boast all day long, and we will praise your name forever.

Our battles are a bit different than the fields of war today. But, the source of our victories is the same. We are quick to call on God for help in crisis, but not always as quick to credit Him for the victory. Take some time to list your past battles. Whether they be financial struggles, health crisis, divorce, rejection, loneliness, or a host of other issues – look for God’s Hand of protection or provision in those battles. Record them and praise Him. Share your list with others and give God the glory for your victories. Then, the next time you are faced with a battle, take out the list again. Praise Him for His faithfulness and give Him your sword and bow!

Holy God, Even though I don’t deserve it, You continually fight my battles. Even when I don’t know I am at war, Your protective shield covers me. I give You glory, honor and praise for my past victories; and thank You in advance for future conquests! I love You, Amen

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Daily Dose 2-27-14

Mark 9:2-6 After six days Jesus took Peter, James and John with him and led them up a high mountain, where they were all alone. There he was transfigured before them. His clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them. And there appeared before them Elijah and Moses, who were talking with Jesus. Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” (He did not know what to say, they were so frightened.)

Spiritual mountaintops are the best! Those in pursuit of God are promised to find Him. In those times when we find a new level of intimacy, we want to stay put. It is tempting to retreat from the world and enjoy basking in the glow of a transfigured relationship. We may be enjoying time on the mountaintop with strong spiritual mentors – enjoying new blessings for our life or ministry. Use these times to soak in all that God has in store, but realize the real work of a Christ follower is in the valley. When Jesus and His three closest disciples descended from the transfiguration, they were faced with challenges. Those empowered to minister had been rendered ineffective – some believe the other disciples may have been dealing with envy since they weren’t invited to the mountain. There were followers in need of healing. Take advantage of your mountaintops. Let them energize and empower you for the real work you will face as you descend.

God, Thank You for the spiritual mountaintops. I respectfully ask for more soon! While I want the intimacy with You, I also want that time to make me more effective for Your kingdom. Transfigure me! Amen

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Daily Dose 2-26-14

Mark 8:34 Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”
The picture of Jesus carrying the cross through the streets is heartbreaking. The heavy instrument of torture that led to His horrific death would eventually be the symbol of His tremendous victory. We all have struggles. There are things we face that seem unfair. When we think about fairness…we should think about HIS cross. People He came to love and save, rejected and crucified Him. Whatever your cross may be, it cannot be tougher than His. Whenever you feel alone in your struggles, remember the cross. What is your cross? Is it struggling with a particular sin, financial or physical hardships, rejection and loneliness, or a rebellious spirit? Whatever it may be, Jesus expects us to be aware of it…know that it was intended by satan to harm or diminish our effectiveness; but, because of the victory Jesus had over His cross, we can also be conquerors. Pick up your cross, take it to Jesus, and allow Him to make you victorious! Then, your cross – and testimony of victory - can lead others to Him.
Precious Savior, I have no idea how You endured Your cross. The pain, humiliation, and grief You experienced was the epitome of unfair! May I always keep Your sacrifice forefront when I am tempted to whine or complain. Take my cross and turn it into Your victory! Amen

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Daily Dose 2-25-14

Psalm 41:1 Blessed are those who have regard for the weak; the LORD delivers them in times of trouble.
If you are looking for blessings from the LORD, try blessing someone else. God works in a cyclical manner with His people. He gives to us - we pass to others - they turn to Him - He gives to them…and the cycle goes on. What cycle of God are you impeding? Has He blessed you with shelter and provision, but you fail to meet the needs of the less fortunate? Has He blessed you by giving you close family and friends, yet you never take notice of the lonely and brokenhearted? Has He showered you with forgiveness, yet you hold on to grudges against others? Has He reconciled you to Himself, yet you allow pride of fear stand in the way of reconciling your broken relationships? Has He patiently tolerated your shortcomings, yet you throw up hands of frustration with others? Whatever you are asking of the LORD – stop! Try giving to others what you request of Him. It may surprise you how your needs are met!
Father, I seek Your Hand of blessing. However, instead of asking for Your blessing, I ask You to show me where I need to be a blessing to others. I love You!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Daily Dose 2-24-14

Mark 7:20-23 (MSG) He went on: "It's what comes out of a person that pollutes: obscenities, lusts, thefts, murders, adulteries, greed, depravity, deceptive dealings, carousing, mean looks, slander, arrogance, foolishness—all these are vomit from the heart. There is the source of your pollution."
These words of Jesus were pretty blunt. The Pharisees were very concerned about the letter of the Law. However, they had elevated the letter of the Law above the Spirit of the law. Just as Moses came to free the Israelites from the bondage of Egypt, Jesus came to free all people from the bondage – and eventual failure – of Law keeping. Reading through Leviticus you will find detailed instructions on all kinds of ceremonial purifications, sacrifices and feasts. Through generations of teaching and enforcement, the people became pretty good at ritualistic processes. The problem is, they forgot the purpose behind the process. Jesus turned everything they knew upside down by declaring all foods clean. Without this huge section of the Law to consider, they were forced to consider their hearts… a much tougher exercise. Are you more comfortable with law keeping than heart checking? Is it easier for you to check off church attendance and throwing a donation in the collection plate than checking your motives behind your actions? Are you willing to serve in outreach ministry, but tend to judge those you serve? To truly follow Jesus means to love with a pure heart. Your service is worthless if your heart is not engaged. Listen carefully to the thoughts that come to your mind and the words that come out of your mouth. Even though you may not commit “horrible” sins, would Jesus declare you unclean? He came to purify you … let Him - give your whole heart, not just your checked off list!
Purifying Jesus, Clean my heart to know and spew forth Your perfect love. Prick my heart to set aside the unseen sins that lead to judgement of others and bitterness. Thank You for considering me worthy of Your sacrifice. Today is a new day. I give You my whole heart. Amen

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Daily Dose 2-20-14

Mark 5:16-17 (MSG) Those who had seen it told the others what had happened to the demon-possessed man and the pigs. At first they were in awe—and then they were upset, upset over the drowned pigs. They demanded that Jesus leave and not come back.
The Message version of this passage gives us a bit more insight into the hearts of the Gerasenes people. They had endured the destructive and frightening behavior of the demon-possessed man for years. When Jesus healed him by sending the demons into a herd of pigs, the pigs were crazed and ran off a cliff to their death. In front of them now was a man healed and whole, talking calmly with Jesus. At first, the people were amazed and drawn to Jesus. Then, they saw the pig farmer’s loss. A destroyed herd of pigs obviously had a devastating financial impact. What would being near Jesus cost them? Can we relate to their fears? Have we seen the sacrifices others have endured because of their faith – or the faith of others close to them – and we aren’t sure we want to go that far? Do we want Jesus to take care of the bad stuff as long as there is no impact on our current status of life? What’s your herd of pigs? What are you afraid to lose if you truly follow Jesus? Are you so bold as to ask Him to leave; or do you just quietly resist until you no longer hear His call? As Christians, we must stop fearing the cost of following Jesus and look to what is gained when people accept His healing grace of salvation. It’s worth so much more than whatever our herd of pigs may be!
Father, I quickly judge these people in scripture and wonder how they could choose to ask Jesus to leave. Yet, you ask me to takes a step further and discover what my fears are that keep me from following Jesus completely. Open my eyes and show me; give me the courage to make whatever changes I need to make to be closer to Your son. I love You! Amen

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Daily Dose 2-19-14

Psalm 37:23-24 The LORD makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him; 
though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the LORD upholds him with his hand.
This scripture conjures up the image of a toddler learning to take his first steps. You can hear the giggles as the babe realizes a new independence. You can see the parents, overjoyed with progress, yet clearing obstacles out of his path. When a child is taking those first steps, his hands are usually in the air, balancing and pointed toward his goal. Along the journey, he may pause to prevent a fall. The parents quickly extend their hands to steady him for the next step. He is delighted to take his steps and celebrate in the arms of his parents. Our spiritual walk in this life should be similar to that toddler’s steps. God wants us to grow and become more independent. He wants us to accept the challenges each new step brings. He is overjoyed with our progress as He removes obstacles from our path. He steadies us with His hand as we stumble over temptations or hardships – or pause in fear. He longs for our delight as we walk toward Him with arms raised and joyful hearts. Celebrate new steps in your life today. Focus your walk toward the end goal of the LORD’s embrace. Know that whatever obstacle is in your path, your loving Father is eager to move it out of your way. Delight in Him with arms raised in praise, balancing your life for a walk with Him.
Father, Sometimes this life seems like a long journey with many obstacles along the way. In Your time of eternity, my path is comparable to a toddler’s walk from the sofa to his parents’ arms. Help me keep my balance. Remove the obstacles and keep my eyes focused on You. I long to celebrate in Your embrace. Amen

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Daily Dose 2-18-14

Psalm 37:4 Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.
This is a popular scripture. We love to think of God granting every desire, want, and wish. While God does want to grant our desires, like any good parent, He will only grant what is best for us. The first part of this scripture determines the fulfillment of the last. If we truly take our delights in the LORD, our desires will be easier for our loving Father to fulfill. Delighting in the LORD is characterized by someone who is eager to be with the LORD through His Word, prayer and worship. Someone who delights in the LORD seeks ways to make Him proud. Delighting in the LORD leads to a love relationship with Him. That love relationship leads to a natural desire to want what He wants for you.
Loving Father, You know what’s best for me and how You can best use me for Your glory. Change my heart to seek the desires of Your heart. I adore You! Amen

Monday, February 17, 2014

Daily Dose 2-17-14

Mark 3:5-6 He looked them in the eye, one after another, angry now, furious at their hard-nosed religion. He said to the man, "Hold out your hand." He held it out—it was as good as new! The Pharisees got out as fast as they could, sputtering about how they would join forces with Herod's followers and ruin him.
We don’t often see paintings that reflect the anger of Jesus. We all like to think of Him as only love, joy, peace and compassion. However, you can see in scriptures several instances where His anger was evident. There was always one common source of His anger – those who put religion before relationship. The Pharisees were powerful religious leaders of the day. They dispersed the teachings of the Law, along with a few additional laws to be sure the people didn’t get close to breaking the laws. They had put the enforcement and accountability of how religion should be done ahead of the relationship with God who gave the Law for their benefit, not their burden. Jesus was not popular with religious leaders; nor were they favorites on His list. Jesus came to turn religion on its ear so the people could hear the sound of loving grace and be drawn to that for salvation, and most importantly a personal relationship with Him and His heavenly Father. If Jesus were back on earth in the flesh today, where would you find Him? What would be the source of His anger?
Dear Jesus, My love for You makes me want to elicit the look of joy and compassion in Your eyes. Too often, I fear my actions may be a source of disappointment, or possibly anger. Give me Your eyes to see my world with Your heart. Change my perspective; deepen my relationship, not my religion. I love You Amen 

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Daily Dose 2-16-14

Mark 1:40-41 (MSG) A leper came to him, begging on his knees, "If you want to, you can cleanse me." Deeply moved, Jesus put out his hand, touched him, and said, "I want to. Be clean." Then and there the leprosy was gone, his skin smooth and healthy.
Many of us who have known the LORD a long time have little trouble believing His ability to great things for His people. We know in our hearts and minds the power and strength that raised Jesus from the dead is not dead – it is alive and active today. Often, our faith struggle comes from believing God would use His power on us. Can you relate to the man with leprosy? Do you approach Jesus with, “If You want to?” We know that Jesus knows us too well. We know He is aware of our shortcomings and sins. If you can relate to this man, take a lesson from his boldness. What we see in these verses is his humility and doubt – not in Jesus, but whether or not Jesus would consider him worthy. However, the fact that he was there at all speaks volumes. Leprosy was an alienating disease. Not only was there physical pain and discomfort, but also because of the fear of spread, lepers were banished from society. There were supposed to remain a safe distance from people a yell, “Unclean!” if anyone approached them. Imagine the loneliness this man had endured. He was as starved for an emotional touch as he was for physical healing. Can you relate even more? Have you been abandoned or discounted in relationships? Have you allowed the value – or lack of – others place on you determine your value before Him? If you can relate to this man, gather his courage and boldly go to Jesus with all your hurts, disappointments and rejection. Imagine His hand extending to you saying, “I want to.”  He is ready to do big things in your life whether it’s removing your burdens or helping you carry them. Instead of approaching Him with, “If You will,” try, “I am here because I know You can!”
Dear Jesus, I am lonely at times, but because of you, I am never alone. Thank you for the value You place on me – as unworthy as I may be. Strengthen my faith to be bold and believing in Your best for ME! I love You! Amen

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Daily Dose 2-15-14

Exodus 40: 36-38 In all the travels of the Israelites, whenever the cloud lifted from above the tabernacle, they would set out; but if the cloud did not lift, they did not set out—until the day it lifted. So the cloud of the LORD was over the tabernacle by day, and fire was in the cloud by night, in the sight of all the Israelites during all their travels.
Many of us seeking direction read this passage with a bit of jealousy. What would it be like to look out the window when you wake, to see the cloud moving to tell you it’s time to make a change? We long for physical, tangible signs that show us God’s will and His best direction for our lives. While the Israelites had this powerful sign for direction, they still wandered in the wilderness for forty years with the original generation never seeing the Promised Land. Even with this incredible presence, they were still stubborn and disobedient. Our cloud and pillar of fire is contained in God’s Word. We are blessed to have it within our reach, even at our fingertips on the computer or our phones. Yet, how often do we reference it? Just as the cloud and fire was mysterious, God’s indwelling of His Holy Spirit in us sometimes seems cryptic. Learning to truly hear from God takes practice. When you spend time in the Word and prayer, God is able to be your cloud by day and pillar by night. From experience, we can see when we felt convicted and acted on that conviction, we found peace. When we act in obedience, we see His blessing. When we rebel in defiance, we know His discipline. When we look back at God’s past provisions and directions, we see His direction for the present and promise for the future. Are you looking for direction? Pick up the Word and see the cloud; kneel before Him in submitted prayer and the pillar of fire will be your light. The God that guided the Israelites out of bondage isn’t hiding His direction from you – He’s waiting for you to seek Him!
Father, I look back on my life and see the times I so boldly knew Your direction. Give me Your insight fresh and new. Help me to be still before You so I know where to move with You! I love You! Amen

Friday, February 14, 2014

Daily Dose 2-14-14

Psalm 34:17-18 The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
As red paper hearts and boxes of heart-shaped candy are passed around today in joy, there are many who face the day alone. Some have lost the loves of their lives to the graves. Some have endured betrayal or rejection; others long for a love that is yet to come. Whether you celebrate today in ecstatic joy over love in your life, or face the day brokenhearted, remember there is an Ultimate Valentine who is desperately in love with you. He gave you love letters in scripture declaring His love and promises of His commitment to You. He gave the gift beyond value as He placed His son on a cross for you. As the red blood of His sacrifice rolled down that hill, His call to you is, “Be Mine.” Don’t let the day of great love go by without professing your love for the One who is absolutely crazy about you. If you have never known the love of Jesus, open your heart to Him today. He stands as a valentine that offers you more than chocolate candy. He offers the taste of abundant life on earth, and the promise of feasting at His table for eternity.
Loving Father, Thank You for the true love You bring to my life. Help me to model Your love to others so that they may open their hearts to receive the greatest Valentine ever…Your loving salvation. Amen

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Daily Dose 2-13-14

Matthew 27:50-52 And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life.
What if you had been one of those people raised from the dead as Jess took His last breath on the cross? What would you say to your family, friends…anyone you saw along the way? Don’t you think you would be so excited about an opportunity for new life that no one could contain your enthusiasm? Really, our new lives as Christians should be no different today than when those who had risen from the dead appeared to those whom they knew. The last breath of Jesus that raised them from their graves of dirt is the same sacrifice that raised us from our graves of sin. Remember as you go out today that you have new life. Life is a gift to be shared. This new life is one that comes with an extended warranty! Once our physical bodies are worn out, our lives can go on for eternity in the presence of God Almighty! Share that good news with those around you so they may also live in new life and have the promise of life eternal!
Father, Thank you so much for the sacrifice of Your Son. I can’t imagine in full depth what He went through for me. Keep that sacrifice always on my mind and in my heart. Give me courage to share the good news so that lost souls You love may be raised to new life. Amen

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Daily Dose 2-12-14

Exodus 34:14 Do not worship any other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.
It’s strange to think of God as jealous. He is the Almighty creator of the Universe; what could we have to offer that He would want us so badly? Have you ever pursued a relationship – either a romantic interest or a desired friendship? You find yourself thinking of the object of your affection in small ways throughout the day. You let them know either through gestures or words you are interested in them.  You find ways to be where you know they will be. If you see them with another where you are not invited, your heart breaks a bit.  If they approach you, you are wiling to drop whatever you are doing to make time for them. God created us in His own image. We learned the relationship pursuit from Him. He thinks of us all the time. He blesses us in amazing ways we often miss each day. He made the grandest gesture of all by giving His Son as a sacrifice so we could come to Him. Despite holding the world in His Hand, His ear is turned to hear our cries for help and shouts of joy. He hovers close to be near us, waiting for our call…how do you respond to His pursuit? Do you compartmentalize areas of your life where He is allowed here, you want Him there, but He is not invited to certain areas? Just like with the Israelites, God is jealous for you. Say yes to His relationship pursuit!
Father, I am overwhelmed to think of You pursuing me – especially since you really know me. I can’t imagine how it must sadden and frustrate you when I spend so much energy trying to validate my worth through the affections of others, when You lavish Your love on me. Forgive me. I invite You to have my whole heart. Amen

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Daily Dose 2-11-14

Exodus 32:2-4 Aaron answered them, “Take off the gold earrings that your wives, your sons and your daughters are wearing, and bring them to me.” So all the people took off their earrings and brought them to Aaron. He took what they handed him and made it into an idol cast in the shape of a calf, fashioning it with a tool. Then they said, “These are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.”

There are several lessons we can learn from this story of God’s people. First, we are not patient with God. Instead of waiting on His timing we like to take matters into our own hands…and sometimes worship the result. Is there anything you have taken control of in your life that you now worship the result? Second, we are created to worship. When we take our eyes off of worship to the only One worthy of praise, we worship others – work, possessions, relationships, sports teams…what do you worship? Third, we all have gifts given to us by God for His work – how do we use them? As God was giving Moses instructions on how to build the ark and the tabernacle, He repeatedly said to Moses there were people He had given skills to use for these purposes. In this scripture, we read some of those skills were used to “fashion” this calf to worship. How do you use the gifts and talents God has given you?

Holy One, You are the only One worthy of my worship. Forgive me for the golden calves I have fashioned and tend to bow down to. Help me keep my eyes focused on You and for You. May I use the gifts You have bestowed for Your glory. Amen

Monday, February 10, 2014

Daily Dose 2-10-14

Psalm 32:7 You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.

This scripture is a beautiful picture of God’s unfailing love. Prior to this verse, David had talked about confession and how God forgave his sins. He knew that God’s love was greater than any sin he could commit, but in order to receive that shelter, confession was necessary. Maybe we don’t feel comfortable and secure in God’s forgiveness because we aren’t completely honest with Him in confession. If it weren’t so sad, it would be humorous. The thought of us “hiding” our sin from God is inconceivable, yet we do it all the time. Maybe it’s pride that prevents us from complete confession. Maybe we don’t want to admit to ourselves the sins that we commit; much less take them to God. That is a great tool for satan to se to minimize our relationship with the Almighty. Guilt creates a barrier that limits the warmth of God’s embrace. Stop trying to hide sin from yourself and most importantly to God. Confess boldly to Him and allow His loving forgiveness to break the guilt barrier and hold You tightly in His redemptive, protective embrace.

Father, I am so naive to think I can hide or minimize sin in my life. You see my heart and my actions and know each shortcoming in detail – yet You love me anyway! I am so humbled to know that despite all You know about me, You are eager and waiting for me to uncover my full self to You so that You can fully redeem and protect me. I love You. Amen

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Daily Dose 2-9-14

Matthew 26:36-39 Then Jesus went with them to a garden called Gethsemane and told his disciples, "Stay here while I go over there and pray." Taking along Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he plunged into an agonizing sorrow. Then he said, "This sorrow is crushing my life out. Stay here and keep vigil with me." Going a little ahead, he fell on his face, praying, "My Father, if there is any way, get me out of this. But please, not what I want. You, what do you want?"
We read scriptures about praying with faith. We cling to the words Jesus shared about the mustard seed faith that can move mountains. Then, we see this – God’s own son begging and pleading in prayer for God to make another way. He did not want to endure the agony and humiliation of the cross – and certainly not the separation from God that would have to occur. He was facing a mountain and He wanted it moved! Many have called the Lord’s Prayer His model to teach us how to pray. However, no lesson is more significant than this.  Jesus made His will known to God; but His heart was willing to submit to God’s will. Are you praying in faith for something, only to remain disappointed? Instead of pushing Your will before the Father, make your will known, but submit to His plan. Then, ask for His wisdom and strength to help you accept it. You may not ever understand this side of heaven why God said no to your request. Disappointments are tough; but fortunately, we have a Savior who really understands what it’s like for God to say no to a request. Take your disappointments to the cross and ask Jesus to help you move on in the will of God. Count your disappointments as another way to bring you closer to Jesus – He completely gets it!
Father, I hate disappointment, especially when my prayers are for good things and ways I can see to bring You glory. Help me to see that it’s not my place to determine how You will be glorified. It’s my place to glorify You in the disappointments as much, if not more, than in the victories. Help me approach each prayer I lay before You as Jesus did – finding a way to want what You want to be what I want most of all. I love You! Amen

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Daily Dose 2-8-14

Matthew 26:8-13 When the disciples saw this, they were indignant. “Why this waste?” they asked. “This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor.” Aware of this, Jesus said to them, “Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me. When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial. Truly I tell you, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”
Does Jesus contradict Himself? Just before the woman anointed Him with expensive perfume, He had taught the disciples the importance of giving to the poor and those imprisoned and disadvantaged. How confusing for them to see this very costly action – and see Jesus happy about it! In teaching them to care for the poor, He said they had done it for Him. They were appalled thinking they missed some opportunity. They were looking for ways to check off their “get in good with Jesus” list. What the woman saw was Jesus in front of her and she was overcome by love and adoration for Him. How should this apply to us? We don’t have Jesus, whom we love and adore, sitting physically in our midst. Therefore, to show our love for Him, we care for those He loves. Jesus is the champion for the disadvantaged, poor and brokenhearted. Are you eager to bless them in His name, or do you see it as a waste of valuable resources? We must begin looking at others – even those we deem unworthy – as if they were Jesus Himself in the flesh. What are you willing to sacrifice to bless them/Him?
Father, Open my eyes to how I should serve You by serving others. Help me see suffering through Your eyes and adjust my life accordingly. I love You…help me show it! Amen

Friday, February 7, 2014

Daily Dose 2-7-14

Matthew 25:24-30 (MSG) 'Master, I know you have high standards and hate careless ways, that you demand the best and make no allowances for error. I was afraid I might disappoint you, so I found a good hiding place and secured your money. Here it is, safe and sound down to the last cent.' "The master was furious. 'That's a terrible way to live! It's criminal to live cautiously like that! If you knew I was after the best, why did you do less than the least? The least you could have done would have been to invest the sum with the bankers, where at least I would have gotten a little interest. Take the thousand and give it to the one who risked the most. And get rid of this "play-it-safe" who won't go out on a limb. Throw him out into utter darkness.'
The Message version of this parable of Jesus makes His point rather bluntly. What ways are you “Playing it safe” where He wants you to be bold? So often, we are bold in matters of the world with work and pursuing hobbies or interests – we go all out! The servant used a phrase that many of us may not verbalize, but often feel – “I was afraid I might disappoint you.” Satan uses our insecurities to imprison our talents for Kingdom work. What should you be using boldly for the LORD that you have hidden in fear?
Father, I know there are more ways You intend to use me than I am currently doing. Stop my excuses, point me in Your direction and give me the courage to be bold! I love You! Amen

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Daily Dose 2-6-14

Matthew 24:42-44 (MSG) You have no idea what day your Master will show up. But you do know this: You know that if the homeowner had known what time of night the burglar would arrive, he would have been there with his dogs to prevent the break-in. Be vigilant just like that. You have no idea when the Son of Man is going to show up.

It’s easy to be prepared when a date is set. We make our To Do lists and check tasks off in a timely manner that will coincide with the deadline date. If you are a procrastinator, it’s not quite that easy, but even many procrastinators will still make the final deadline. They may not enjoy the process as much, but the deadline is accomplished. The difference with the deadline for Christ’s return is nobody knows when it will be. Those who have made and are checking off items from an Eternity To Do list will have great advantages. First of all, they will enjoy the process of living life on earth much more. They will abide in peace, loving God’s people and working to reach the lost. They will be decorating their eternal home with great treasures. Instead of focusing on the Problem of the Day, they will focus on the Provider of the Day. More importantly, they will be ensuring the lives of many more will be joining them for eternity. So how is your Eternity To Do list? Don’t let the distractions of life steal your joy for Kingdom work. God’s assignments are so much more than items checked off a list…the impact of whether or not you play your part lasts an eternity. Get busy! Today could be HIS day!

Father, Forgive me for getting caught up in the problems of daily life when you want my focus to be living life daily with an eternal perspective. No matter how desperately I long for Your return, remind me Your timing is perfect and I have work You need me to do before that day comes. Help me to love more, serve more and live my life so others want to know You before it’s too late. I love You! Amen

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Daily Dose 2-5-14

Psalm 29:11 The LORD gives strength to his people; the LORD blesses his people with peace.

Peace seems to be an elusive commodity in our society. We are focused on getting more, doing more, and gaining more success. All this focus leads us to continually want more. There is certainly nothing wrong with setting goals and working hard to achieve them. The problem comes when we leave the LORD out of the process. We tend to either prioritize the work or obsession above the LORD; or we forget He is the One to be praised in the victories. Those who are not workaholics may think this does not apply, but anything or anyone placed in a higher priority than the LORD in our lives will leave us feeling empty and void of God’s peace – the peace that passes all understanding. What do you place above the LORD? Work? Family? Friends? Relationships – or the lack of them? Entertainment? Know that true peace comes from an intimate relationship with God and placing that above everything else. Be one of “God’s people” and receive the blessing of His peace.

LORD of Peace, Please help me stay focused on You in this distracting world. May I be so intent on gaining more of You that I have the peace to accomplish the work that You have for me to do. Amen

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Daily Dose 2--4-14

How's the Inside of Your Heart Cup?

Matthew 23:25-26 (MSG) "You're hopeless, you religion scholars and Pharisees! Frauds! You burnish the surface of your cups and bowls so they sparkle in the sun, while the insides are maggoty with your greed and gluttony. Stupid Pharisee! Scour the insides, and then the gleaming surface will mean something.”
When we see pictures of Jesus, this one is not often painted. What must the look on His face been as He spoke with disgust to the spiritual leaders of His day? He was ticked! Instead of giving sound instruction for the spiritual hearts of the people, they were focused on increasing their own power and wealth coming into the synagogue. People looked to them as spiritual leaders, but Jesus saw their hearts. If you are a coffee drinker, you know what the inside of a white cup looks like after years of the piping hot, dark liquid penetrating the pristine white coating. If it is simply rinsed out for the next use, the white cup becomes dingy and stained. The outside may rinse off fine, but the inside never looks quite the same. If coffee is allowed to sit inside a white mug overnight, stubborn rings form that are harder to remove. What are you keeping inside the cup of your heart? Are you a pew-sitting Christian with striking attendance and service features designing your outside, but inside you allow the pristine surface of your redeemed heart to become dingy and stained? Go to Jesus. Imagine Him making this speech to you. As He confronts you about your cup, hand it to Him and let Him clean the inside for you. He will help you do the dishes every day if you let Him!
Dear Jesus, You know the stains on the cup of my heart. I have rinsed when You said scrub. Help me to bring back the pure, pristine heart You died to redeem. I love You! Amen

Monday, February 3, 2014

Daily Dose 2-3-14

Exodus 17:10-13 So Joshua fought the Amalekites as Moses had ordered, and Moses, Aaron and Hur went to the top of the hill. As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up—one on one side, one on the other—so that his hands remained steady till sunset. Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword.
God can quite easily accomplish any task He chooses to do alone. He doesn’t NEED our help. The beauty of God’s love is shown when He chooses to accomplish His work WITH us and THROUGH us. At some point, we will all be in similar roles described in this scripture. Sometimes, we are called to be Moses and serve as the leader, encourager or prayer warrior. Other times, we will be like Aaron and Hur, supporting and serving leaders to carry out God’s will. Then, there will be days we are Joshua, fighting in the trenches. Our battles are tough and they seem impossible. We may not “see” God or the ones He has chosen to assist us, but we know when the power of God is shown. Where are you? Do you think your role of supporting leaders is insignificant? Think of Aaron and Hur! Are you a leader feeling weary and tired? Call on Godly people to help! Are you in the trenches feeling embattled and alone? Look to spiritual leaders to lift their arms for you! God doesn’t call us to fight our battles alone!
Father, Thank you for the leaders and prayer warriors You have placed in my life through the years. May I always be open and eager to serve in any role You ask of me to accomplish Your will. Amen

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Daily Dose 2-2-14

Exodus 16:19-20 Then Moses said to them, “No one is to keep any of it until morning.” However, some of them paid no attention to Moses; they kept part of it until morning, but it was full of maggots and began to smell. So Moses was angry with them.
We tend to be so appalled and frustrated with the Israelites when reading about the mighty Exodus from Egypt. The wonders they saw were things our eyes crave to behold. We scoff at their lack of faith and truly believe if we had seen what they saw, we would behave differently. But would we? Do we now? When they were hungry, God gave them manna for each day – a blessing from above! There only payment due was to have faith it would be there for the next day. Instead, some in their midst hoarded manna in their tents – either afraid it wouldn’t appear the next day, or they didn’t want to have to gather the next day. The results? A sickening stench from rotted manna infested with maggots. God provided blessings, but they held more tightly to the blessing than the Giver of the blessing. Are we so different? Even when we have difficult circumstances, God makes provisions and protects us. Our faith test comes with how we view those blessings. Do we fret and worry about holding on to what He has given because we are afraid He won’t provide again? Do we complain about the way He blesses because we want hot rolls with butter instead of honey-laced manna? Do we fail to praise in Thanksgiving because we are so consumed with what will come next? God expects us to trust Him and walk with Him one day at a time. Acknowledge the gifts of each day. Praise Him with thanksgiving in advance of future blessings because He has assured you with His blessings in the past.
Father, I confess I’m not crazy about the manna concept. I like to plan ahead and know what’s coming to adjust accordingly. You call me to just know that You are ahead of me and rest in that peace.  I thank You for the reminder and praise You for the manna of today! I love You! Amen

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Daily Dose 2-1-14

February 1, 2012  Exodus 13:19-20 Then the angel of God, who had been traveling in front of Israel’s army, withdrew and went behind them. The pillar of cloud also moved from in front and stood behind them, coming between the armies of Egypt and Israel.
Sometimes, we see the cloud of God’s protection clearly. Our faith is strong and we look forward knowing God will guide us through difficult challenges. Other times, we are confused. We feel as though we are following what God told us to do; yet we still seem to be wandering in the desert. We may wonder if God has left us; question why He is no longer guiding. It’s at that point that we need to stand firm and get ready to move! At times, God moves from leader – because He’s already told us what to do – to protector, guarding our backs as enemies or naysayers nip at our heels – or the temptations are great to go back to the bondage of sin. What mission does God have you on for Him? What Red Sea does He want you to cross? Move on…He’s got your back!
Protective Father, Thank You for the many times I have seen Your guidance and protection. Help me to use past experiences and examples in scripture to KNOW that You’re still guiding and protecting through challenges – especially when the mission is for You. Give me courage to walk through! Amen