Sunday, January 31, 2016

Daily Dose 1-31-16

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 

Friday, January 29, 2016

Daily Dose 1-29-16

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 unforgivness 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 my way and give me the courage to let go! I love You! Amen

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Daily Dose 1-28-16

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

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Daily Dose 1-27-16

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

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Daily Dose 1-26-16

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

Monday, January 25, 2016

Daily Dose 1-25-16

Genesis 50:19-21 But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.” And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them.

TRUE forgiveness is a tough thing. We look at the forgiveness Jesus offered and are amazed and as Christian seek to emulate that behavior. However, when our level of pure, complete forgiveness doesn’t measure up, it’s easy to say, “I’m not Jesus.” God gives us pictures of other people in the Bible to serve as examples as well. Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery. They tortured their father with grief making him believe Joseph was dead. Once Jacob was dead, the brothers feared Joseph would do what common sense would tell him to do and have the brothers imprisoned or killed. But Joseph knew that was not God’s plan. He forgave. He provided for all their needs – and the last is a kicker – he spoke kindly to them. THAT is complete, true forgiveness. If we can deal with kindness those who have wronged us, we can experience more of God’s blessings.

Father, It’s easy to say I forgive. Let my actions speak louder than my words. May I deal with kindness to those who common sense tells me do not deserve my kindness. I certainly do not deserve the kindness You and Your son have afforded me. Thank You! Amen

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Daily Dose 1-24-16

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

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Daily Dose 1-23-16

"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

Friday, January 22, 2016

Daily Dose 1-22-16

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

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Daily Dose 1-21-16

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

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Daily Dose 1-20-16

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

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Daily Dose 1-19-16

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

Monday, January 18, 2016

Daily Dose 1-18-16

Matthew 12:34-37 (MSG) 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

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Daily Dose 1-17-16

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

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Daily Dose 1-16-16

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.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Daily Dose 1-15-16

Psalm 13:5-6 But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing the LORD’s praise, for He has been good to me.

Prior to this part of David’s psalm, he was crying out to the LORD in fear and sorrow. Life was tough and he felt like God had forgotten Him. Are you there? Are you weary and afraid in the midst of life’s challenges? Be encouraged to know that even David – a man after God’s own heart – felt the same way at times! The true test of our faith and whether or not we are in pursuit of God is if we can praise Him in the midst of His silence. If you feel alone, afraid, full of sorrow – or just plain tired – lift your face and praise! A heart loving God always reaches our loving God!

Father, Forgive me for thinking You have turned away at times. I know Your love is constant and abiding, no matter how little I deserve it! Prick my heart to praise instead of pout! Amen

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Daily Dose 1-14-16

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

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Daily Dose 1-13-16

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!

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

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Daily Dose 1-12-16

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

Monday, January 11, 2016

Daily Dose 1-11-16

Matthew 8:23-27 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. The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!”

It is easy for us to look at the apostles in that boat and be completely dismayed by their lack of faith. How could they be worried? They had Jesus – with skin on – in the boat with them! They witnesses first-hand His miracles. Why worry? We are no different. When the storms of life rock our boat, we feel as if Jesus is asleep at the helm. Even though we may not see Him with skin on in our boat, know that He said the One – the Holy Spirit - who would come to us after His death would be better for us (John 16:1-11). Just as the apostles in the boat, we have a choice. Will we cry out in fear when our storms hit, or will we confidently go to the source of our strength and comfort and ride out the waves in faith?

God, my Protector, You have sent Your Holy Spirit to live within me as a constant reminder of your love and protection. Calm the storms in my heart and strengthen my faith! Amen

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Daily Dose 1-10-16

Proverbs 3:3-6 Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man. Trust in the LORD with all your heart 
and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

What does it look like to have love and faithfulness bound around your neck and written on the tablet of your heart? The analogy probably goes back to the way slaves or cattle were bound to their masters in chains. If Christ is our master, we are bound to His ministry of love. Could it be that when His love is bound so tightly, there is no opportunity for bitterness and hate to penetrate? It’s interesting the source of binding - the neck - lies between the head and the heart. Our mind can quickly affect what comes into our hearts. What Christ desires, is for us to subject our hearts to Him. Then, the flow will be reversed. Our hearts, bound to Christ, will change our thoughts. When our thoughts become engrained with hearts chained to His, our actions become motivated by love.

Loving Father, I try so hard to figure things out with my head. Your desire is for me to purify my heart and allow your love to figure it out for me. Bind me today! Amen

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Daily Dose 1-9-16

Matthew 7:17-20 Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.

What if we could physically see fruit when we look at one another? What would people see when they see you? Would there be a reason people would be drawn to you? Would they see sweet fruit full of life-giving nourishment? When they come close and share what your life has to offer, would they taste the loving kindness of the Savior? Would they be drawn to fruit that looks beautiful on the outside, but is filled with bitterness, selfishness, unforgivness, dishonesty or pride? It is important to use the Word of God and quiet time in prayer to give the Holy Spirit permission to let us see our own fruit in private. When we taste what we are bearing, we may want to do some pruning.

Father, I stand before you open and willing to have You inspect my fruit. Prune from me the branches that produce bad fruit. Allow my life to be one that brings Your nourishment to others. Forgive me for watering bad seeds that yield bad fruit. Be my gardener. Love and tend to my heart so that others my see Your fruit in me. Amen

Friday, January 8, 2016

Daily Dose 1-8-16

Proverbs 2:6-8 For the LORD gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. 
He holds success in store for the upright, he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless, for he guards the course of the just and protects the way of his faithful ones.

We all want success, especially if it is “our” definition of success. We all want protection and guidance. But often we only seek protection and guidance from and through situations of which we are aware. Do we consider the protection and guidance God is giving us through our unknowns? If you read promises from God for success, yet have not attained specific goals by which you measure success, does that mean God has let you down? There are two ways to look at this scripture. First, review your life against what is expected to receive those promises – upright, blameless, just and faithful. God knows we will never maintain perfection. He does not expect it. He does however expect us to walk honestly with Him in a spirit of humility and seeking His will at all times. If you are doing your best in those areas and in that relationship with Him, maybe your definition of success is not God’s definition of your success. What you see as failure to achieve may be God’s protection and guidance over an unknown situation your “success” may bring. Seek God’s will and He will grant you His view of your success.

Dear Holy One, Please help me remember the only job that will determine my success is to walk humbly and obediently with You. I love You and stand on Your promises. Amen

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Daily Dose 1-7-16

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

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Daily Dose 1-6-16

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

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Daily Dose 1-5-16

Matthew 5:3-10 (MSG) "You're blessed when you're at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule. You're blessed when you feel you've lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you. You're blessed when you're content with just who you are—no more, no less. That's the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can't be bought. You're blessed when you've worked up a good appetite for God. He's food and drink in the best meal you'll ever eat. You're blessed when you care. At the moment of being 'care-full,' you find yourselves cared for. You're blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world. You're blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That's when you discover who you really are, and your place in God's family. You're blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God's kingdom.”

The Message translation of Jesus’ Beatitudes sermon makes His point very clear. Life and its struggles are all a matter of perspective.  God does not intend for His children to endure any pain or approach any struggle alone or with a single focus. When we choose to look at situations through our own eyes, all we see is suffering and hardship. When we look at situations with God and through His perspective, we see potential, opportunity…and we are blessed! The choice is Yours – a view of hardships that focuses on oppression, or a view of hardships that leads to blessings. What choice will you make today?

Father, I trust You to turn my pain and hardship into Your potential and blessings. I know Your hand of protection is over me and I am overwhelmed with gratitude. I love You! Amen

Monday, January 4, 2016

Daily Dose 1--4-16

Genesis 3:13 Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?”

The heart of God must have broken that day in the Garden of Eden. Those He created, loved, cherished, and enjoyed a sweet relationship with had lost their innocence. They chose rebellion over relationship. Their actions not only affected their relationship with God, generations through the course of time would never experience that same level of intimacy with Him. Through God’s grace and the willingness of Jesus to make the sacrifice, we can choose relationship over rebellion. That choice daily restores our innocence before the Father so we may once again walk in the garden with Him.

All Loving Father, I am so humbled that what You desire most is an honest relationship with me. May I allow Your Spirit to guide my heart to choose relationship with You over rebellion in all my actions. Amen

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Daily Dose 1-3-16

Matthew 5:23-25a Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift. Settle matters quickly…

God is serious about reconciliation. He created us for worship. As much as He loves our gestures to worship and praise Him, it means nothing if we have discord with another of His children. Division, especially among God’s people, is a valuable tool for satan. Don’t allow him to use it on you!

God, You are so passionate about reconciliation that You sent Your son to die a cruel death so I may be reconciled to You. Show me what sacrifice You would have me make to be reconciled to others so I may offer a pure sacrifice to You. Amen.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Daily Dose 1-2-16

Genesis 3:12-13 The man said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.” Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this you have done? The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

From the beginning of time we have played the blame game. Adam blamed Eve; Eve blamed the serpent. Who do you blame? When you are called out for sin or even simple mistakes, is you immediate response, “Yes, but...” to blame circumstances, someone else or justify your actions? God knows we will sin. He knows we will make mistakes. His desire for us is to accept responsibility, repent and learn from each wrong how to make it right. Our society likes to justify actions and give people the victim mentality to excuse their behavior. We talk about generational cycles of poverty, abuse, discord and poor decision-making. At some point, someone must take a stand and say, “Enough! No matter why I am ‘justified’ to behave this way, it does not honor God and it stops with me.” Become the patriarch or matriarch who generations to come can point to and say, “Because of (Your name) our family began a closer walk with God that changed the course of our lives.” Stop the blame game and begin accountability actions. Take responsibility for your own actions and line them up according to God’s desires for You. You never know how far your influence will go. It begins with you. It begins today…what steps will you take to lead you and yours to God’s intended path?

Father, I know I fall short of Your expectations in so many areas. I am quick to justify my actions. Help me begin today with Your perspective. Keep me close on Your path and teach me to push through to Your will no matter what excuses could be given. I want to be a difference-maker for You. I know that starts by changing my life game today. I love You! Amen

Friday, January 1, 2016

Daily Dose 1-1-16

Proverbs 1:1-6 (MSG) “These are the wise sayings of Solomon, David’s son, Israel’s king—
Written down so we’ll know how to live well and right,
to understand what life means and where it’s going;
A manual for living, for learning what’s right and just and fair;
To teach the inexperienced the ropes and give our young people a grasp on reality.
 There’s something here also for seasoned men and women, still a thing or two for the experienced to learn—
Fresh wisdom to probe and penetrate, the rhymes and reasons of wise men and women.”

It’s a new year – a fresh start full of possibilities! Disappointments and heartaches of 2015 can take a back seat for a moment as we pause. Pause for a moment to hope. Pause for a moment to dream. Pause for a moment to imagine your life lived to the potential God created it to be! What does that look like for you? Has the road been so rough you are afraid to dream again? Take heart…you are not alone. If you are still here – reading this and breathing – God isn’t finished with you yet. Stop the recorded loop in your head recounting past hurts, disappointments, losses and pain. Stop wondering why it is what is and start worshiping the One Who spoke the world into existence! Ask God for His wisdom to guide you into His work with His purpose for your being. Just as a new year begins with a page turning of the calendar, let your new life this year begin by turning to His Word. But don’t stop there. James 1:22 says, “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” Make this new year the opportunity to read the instruction manual for your life – and actually follow the directions!

Father, Thank You for clean slates! Write Your dreams in my heart and give me the courage to play my role in fulfilling Your will. I love You. Amen