Sunday, June 19, 2016

Daily Dose 6-19-16

Acts 12:11-16 Then Peter came to himself and said, “Now I know without a doubt that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me from Herod’s clutches and from everything the Jewish people were hoping would happen.” When this had dawned on him, he went to the house of Mary the mother of John, also called Mark, where many people had gathered and were praying. Peter knocked at the outer entrance, and a servant named Rhoda came to answer the door. When she recognized Peter’s voice, she was so overjoyed she ran back without opening it and exclaimed, “Peter is at the door!” “You’re out of your mind,” they told her. When she kept insisting that it was so, they said, “It must be his angel.” But Peter kept on knocking, and when they opened the door and saw him, they were astonished. Peter motioned with his hand for them to be quiet and described how the Lord had brought him out of prison. “Tell James and the other brothers and sisters about this,” he said, and then he left for another place.

Peter’s friends had all gathered praying intensely for his rescue. God heard those prayers and sent an angel to release Peter from prison. However, when Peter knocked, they hesitated to open the door, not believing their prayers were answered. God always answers our prayers! It may not be how we think it will look, or even the answer we desired. What answers to prayers are knocking at your door that you refuse to believe?

Loving Father, Thank You for always listening attentively to my prayers. I confess that sometimes I do wonder if you hear or if you are answering. Open my eyes to see what You are doing. Open my heart to accept your answers – even if they are not what I want them to be. Help me to know that You always have my best interest in mind. I love You! Amen

Friday, June 17, 2016

Daily Dose 6-17-16

Psalm 135:3 Praise the LORD, for the LORD is good; sing praise to his name, for that is pleasant.

In a world full of suffering, dessintion and overall ungodly behavior, we could all use a little more pleasant in our days! Intimate time of praise where you are alone with the LORD and giving Him the unbridled offering of your adoration accomplishes many things. It unleashes power for the battle fought in the heavenlies on your behalf. It puts satan on guard that your heart is spoken for. It touches the heart of Almighty God! There are many gifts you receive in praise; but isn’t it nice to think that if nothing else came of it – all was pleasant for a time?

Holy One, All glory, honor and power are Yours! With Your hands You powerfully formed the mountains and seas as well as the intricate blooms of flowers. With Your heart You loved me enough to send Your son so that I may be home with You in eternity. Even though I will never be worthy, my heart longs to please You. You are my rock, my fortress, my deliverer. I love You more than words can express…Amen

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Daily Dose 6-16-16

Proverbs 17:9 Whoever would foster love covers over an offense, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.

The love God wants us to have for one another is contrary to most of our basic human tendencies. In our flesh, we want to tell others when someone has hurt or offended us, or those we care about. We want to rally the troops against the offender. In doing so, we cause division and break relationships. God mourns. If we live by the Spirit and the love God desires, we go to the offender and work the issue out together. They make the offense right, we love, forgive, and move on. If they do not want to make the offense right, we are still obligated love, forgive and move on. In our human thought process, moving on means avoiding that person. God mourns. If we live in the Spirit of love God desires, we allow Christ’s loving forgiveness for us to cover the offense and love the offender, remaining in relationship with them. God rejoices! Who are you? Are you the offender who refuses to make things right to easily restore relationships? Or, are you the offended one who harbors the hurt, and continues to keep the offense in your heart and stirred up among mutual friends? If you are the latter, know that God mourns over your actions. Repent – whether they do or not – and begin to look at your offender with Jesus glasses. Know the sacrificial blood that covers all your offenses covers them as well. Restore relationships, moving on in love. God will rejoice!

Forgiving Father, It’s easy to say I can forgive and move on; but You call me to forgive and move on in love. Show me how You want me to restore relationships with those who don’t seem to care if the relationship is restored or not. Show me how You intend for me to respond; and soften my heart to be obedient to Your call for love. I want my actions to cause You to rejoice! I love You. Amen

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Daily Dose 6-14-16

Acts 9:26-31 When he came to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he really was a disciple. But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. He told them how Saul on his journey had seen the Lord and that the Lord had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had preached fearlessly in the name of Jesus. So Saul stayed with them and moved about freely in Jerusalem, speaking boldly in the name of the Lord. He talked and debated with the Hellenistic Jews, but they tried to kill him. When the believers learned of this, they took him down to Caesarea and sent him off to Tarsus. Then the church throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace and was strengthened. Living in the fear of the Lord and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it increased in numbers.

The apostles had every right to be afraid of Saul. They witnessed his cruel persecution of Christians. Gripped by fear, they could not trust his conversion. But Barnabas was bold. He saw the change in Saul’s heart and knew it was of God…he knew Saul had seen Jesus. Who do you most relate to in this story? Are you Saul? Have you been completely changed by an encounter with Jesus? Are you struggling to get people to see you differently? Are you like the apostles, looking skeptically at a brother or sister who claims salvation you may think they don’t deserve? Or, are you like Barnabas, one who boldly defends and encourages those who have made life changes because of Christ? As a result of Barnabas’ support of Saul, the apostles believed him and helped him begin his ministry. As a result of Saul’s new ministry for Christ, the church knew peace and grew throughout new lands. If people were talking about your life since meeting Christ, what testimony about you would come after the words as a result…?

Dear Father, I must confess there is not enough that can be said about me as a result of what You have done for me. Help me to see the role You intended for me to play as a result of my salvation. Give me the awareness and courage to accept that role and bring Your goals to fruition. I love You! Amen

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Daily Dose 6-14-16

Psalm 133:1 How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!

God’s commandments all have consequences. We often discuss the consequences we may endure for disobedience; but, what about the consequences that result from obedience? This scripture shares a description of what life is like when Christians heed the command of unity – good and pleasant. This description sounds like peace…no drama! Is your church constantly battling “issues” that draw energy away from the mission of reaching the lost and serving the broken? Then maybe there is a unity problem. Good and pleasant may not sound exciting, but it is the peaceful foundation God expects His people to use to build upon for His Kingdom. If you church seems disjointed and un-unified, prayerfully consider your role. Be part of the solution to restoring unity among His people!

Father, Give me Your Spirit and insight to guide me to play whatever role You intend to repair broken relationships that will restore unity among Your people. May I never be a source of division, but an agent of Your healing love. I love You! Amen

Monday, June 13, 2016

Daily Dose 6-13-16

Acts 9:13-15 “Lord,” Ananias answered, “I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your holy people in Jerusalem. And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name.” But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel."

God does not always choose the most predictable ones to do specific work for His Kingdom. Saul had killed and persecuted those who believed in Jesus as the Messiah – especially Jews who believed in Jesus. But God knew that a heart that was so passionately wired to destroy in His name could also be changed to build up the name of His son. Can you imagine how scary God’s command to go to Saul was to Ananias? He was probably in hiding knowing Saul was coming to town. Sometimes God calls upon us to look at His potential in people rather than what we see with our own eyes. Are you afraid of the rejection or ridicule? Have you judged some unworthy of the saving message of the love of Christ? Have you automatically assumed they won’t listen? When you are afraid to share, think of Ananias. No one had more to lose in sharing the Gospel – but look at the souls won for Christ as a result! Ask God to open your eyes to a game-changer for the Kingdom who doesn’t look like a “Good Christian” should look. Take courage and share – they could be your Saul!

Heart Changer, Remove judgment and first impressions from my heart. Let me see Your potential in people and guide me to be obedient to You. I want to see a Saul become a Paul for Your Kingdom! I love You! Amen

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Daily Dose 6-11-16

Acts 7:51 You stiff-necked people! Your hearts and ears are still uncircumcised. You are just like your ancestors: You always resist the Holy Spirit!

Stephen’s sermon that day was bold – so bold it led to his death when the crowd stoned him. What would you do with Stephen’s message had you been there? It’s so easy to stand in judgment of those who persecuted Jesus and His followers. But, their message still rings clear to us today. When the Holy Spirit nudges us toward obedience, do we resist and rebel? When the Holy Spirit nudges us to be convicted of sin, do we dig our heels in with justification? When the Holy Spirit nudges us to forgive, do we insist on wallowing in our hurt and resentment? If so, STOP! Listen to the Holy Spirit and obey!

Father, Please use Your Holy Spirit to nudge me to Your will. Tune the ears of my spirit to hear and soften my heart to respond in obedience. I love You! Amen

Friday, June 10, 2016

Daily Dose 6-10-16

Proverbs 16:31 Gray hair is a crown of splendor; it is attained in the way of righteousness.

How is it we go from this scripture to the current society philosophy that stress and difficulties bring gray hair? Why is it we view gray hair as something to be colored over instead of proudly displayed as a crown? Does this scripture mean those who experience premature gray are more righteous than others? Is this Proverb of King Solomon to be interpreted so literally? While that answer may not be clear, it demonstrates how differently our society views life in contrast to scripture at times. In Solomon’s day, age and the wisdom that it brings, was respected and revered. In our generation, age is something that produces billion-dollar industries as we try to avoid the appearance of aging. One thing that is abundantly clear in scripture is God intends for us to make the most of each day and each moment we have on earth. We are to learn from each experience that brings a gray hair – whether it is a trial or a spiritual mountaintop. We are to use our experiences to uplift and encourage others to persevere in righteousness. Don’t waste time fretting over whether or not this scripture implies coloring your hair is wrong – look at the heart of the message! Know that as we age walking righteously with the LORD, we gain experience and wisdom along the way – THAT is something that should never be colored over – embrace it and use it to glorify Him!

Father, I’m not crazy about the physical changes that aging brings, but Oh how I cherish the spiritual perspective! It is so much easier to face difficulties as I look back –through many hair colors – and know You were by my side through it all. May I never waste an experience You intended to be used for Your glory! Amen

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Daily Dose 6-9-16

Psalm 127:1 Unless the LORD builds the house, the builders labor in vain. 
Unless the LORD watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain.

God has bestowed some pretty amazing gifts among His people. So much so, that sometimes we forget that those gifts were given with a Kingdom purpose in mind. Are you using your gifts and abilities to further God’s purposes or your own? If it’s just about you and for you, chances are you will never find contentment. Look at what you do today through the heart of God’s Kingdom filter. Find ways to impact the Kingdom in what you do. Look at co-workers as God may see them and meet their needs. Look at those who challenge your capacity for love and patience as if they were the only ones Christ died for. This life is too short to invest only in self. Think of the dividends that will be paid in eternity and be sure your portfolio is diverse and well funded!

Giving Father, Please help me remember my gifts are all about You – none for me. Show me how to approach each moment the way You intended. I’m tired of wasting Your talents and Your time. I love You! Amen

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Daily Dose 6-8-16

Psalm 126:5 Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy.

The soil of God’s heart is fertile ground for a harvest of joy. He is full of compassion and loves to have His children come to Him when life’s burdens are too much to bear. Take your weary, broken heart before the LORD. Sow the seeds of your tears with Him. He will gently cover them with His love and water them with the sweat and blood of His Son’s sacrifice for you. Waiting obediently on Him, you will begin to see sprouts of peace. The situation causing your heartbreak may never change, but the Great Gardener will produce a crop of peace, joy, and victory from the anguish.

Loving Father, I can’t fully comprehend Your love for me, but I know I am hopeless without the ability to come to You when my heart is broken. Thank You for growing my tears into joy. I love You. Amen

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Daily Dose 6-7-16

Acts 5:40-42 They called the apostles in and had them flogged. Then they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name. Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah.

We have become so accustomed to the freedoms we have to worship God that we are horrified to think about persecution for proclaiming Christ. After being flogged, the apostles left rejoicing. Rejoicing? Is that how we would respond? Most of us cannot comprehend it. Amidst all our freedoms, we excuse our timidity to proclaim Christ under the guise of being politically correct. Did the apostles conform to be politically correct? What do we risk for the Name? Do our actions make us worthy of suffering, or is that joy we choose to do without?

Father, I confess that I do not rejoice at the thought of suffering for the Name of Christ. Thank You for the freedoms I have to proclaim Christ without fear. Show me how to use that freedom for the Kingdom instead of hiding behind its comforts. I love You! Amen

Monday, June 6, 2016

Daily Dose 6-6-16

Acts 4:32-35 All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.

The last prayer of Jesus while on earth was for unity. The early Church got it…at least for a while. What would it look like if Churches across this great nation were of one heart and mind? Ok, that may be too big of a dream. Break it down to your community. What would it look like if all believers operated with one heart and mind? Still too big? What if your individual Church began operating as one heart and mind? The results could be astounding. Our congregations should be the personification of love, mutual support and unity that draws unbelievers to the cross. Far too often, that is not the case. Pride, exclusivity, busyness and a lack of genuine love infiltrate the Church, diminishing its kingdom effectiveness. What role do you play toward unity in your church? Are you part of the answer to Christ’s prayer, or are your actions bringing discord He prayed against?

Father, Show me how to love to become a part of the solution You long to see. I love You! Amen

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Daily Dose 6-5-16

2 Samuel 24:24 But the king replied to Araunah, “No, I insist on paying you for it. I will not sacrifice to the LORD my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing.”

What kind of offerings do we make to the LORD today? Do we throw a few dollars in the plate out of habit or to relieve some guilt, or do we truly sacrifice in order to please Him? There are times God asks us to sacrifice time; that is when we become financially generous. We would rather throw money at a problem than get our hands dirty in service. There are times when God asks us to sacrifice our pride and concede on an argument of preference; it’s then that we become vigilant for the cause. When God asks for our vigilance, to take a stand; we claim peace and humility, becoming politically correct. When will we rise above giving God what we want Him to have versus what He requires of us?

Father, I know my sacrifices often fall into convenient giving. Give me Your eyes to see what You require of me beyond what I currently give. Prick my heart to know what is Your desire versus what I am comfortable giving. I love You Amen

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Daily Dose 6-4-16

2 Samuel 21:37 You provide a broad path for my feet, so that my ankles do not give way.

Sometimes life can be like hiking along a narrow, rocky path. No matter where you step there are stones that can trip you up along the way. God longs for us to walk confidently with Him. This word picture from King David shows God making our path wide enough to be able to maneuver around the obstacles and not stumble. The Word of God, combined with faith in and obedience to Him, broadens our path. There will still be rocks along the way, but the Hand of God can lift us up to keep us from twisting our ankles and skinning our knees. It’s when we face the path alone that we will not clearly see His way. Don’t take this path of life without His Word as your map and the hand of His Holy Spirit as your guide!

Father, Thank You for never making me walk alone. Through the steep inclines and stony paths, You have always been there with me. Help me stay in Your Word and never let go of Your hand, so I may walk the path of this life with my head up and eyes focused on You! I love You. Amen

Friday, June 3, 2016

Daily Dose 6-3-16

Psalm 120:1-2 I lift up my eyes to the mountains — where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.

There are times when life can seem desperate. Daily struggles and major crises can strike fear and anxiety in the heart of the most “together” person. However, when you are a Christian, you have been granted access to the throne of the LORD God Almighty! He knows your struggles before you feel their sting. He has evaluated your crisis before a tear falls from your cheek. What you are going through may seem impossible. But know this;  the One who made the tiniest of creatures to the most majestic mountains is on your side! He will not always remove struggles and hardships, but He will always help you through them. When life beats you down, look up and know His Hand is outstretched to lift you up to fight the next round with you!

Creator God, How many times have You helped me through difficulties? They are too numerous to list here. In hindsight, I can see why some trials were allowed by You, and I can see some that were consequences of my own disobedience. Help me, God to learn from my mistakes and look to You in all things and live my life according to Your will. I love You! Amen

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Daily Dose 6-2-16

John 21:6-7 He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish. Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, “It is the Lord,” he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water.

Peter had every right to still be uncomfortable at the thought of seeing Jesus face-to-face. He had vehemently denied Christ three times during the horrific torture before the crucifixion. Jesus had appeared to them in the upper room since then. We don’t know a lot about what He may have said to Peter then. Whatever the case, Peter could not constrain himself at the sight of Jesus. Even though the boat was close to shore, Peter jumped out and swam to shore. What must that embrace have been like? Peter had experienced the lowest point of his life - looking into the eyes of Jesus after denying he knew Him. That betrayal was culminated as Peter watched his Lord die on the cross. Now, to be able to see Him once again! Peter was not sheepish about approaching the Lord. Whenever you feel unworthy and overcome with your sin, remember Peter. Run to your knees in prayer to embrace the One who is eager to forgive – the One who made forgiveness possible.

Jesus, I know none of Your bones were broken on the cross that day, but Your heart was crushed over my sin. Protect me from my own guilt and satan’s whispers of, “Unworthy!” May I jump out of the boat to You with joy knowing You are eager to forgive and teach me how to get back on God’s path for my life. I love You! Amen

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Daily Dose 6-1-16

2 Samuel 18:32-33 The king asked the Cushite, “Is the young man Absalom safe?” The Cushite replied, “May the enemies of my lord the king and all who rise up to harm you be like that young man.” The king was shaken. He went up to the room over the gateway and wept. As he went, he said: “O my son Absalom! My son, my son Absalom! If only I had died instead of you—O Absalom, my son, my son!”

We see a glimpse of the heart of God through the man who constantly pursued it. David loved his son Absalom just as God loves us. Absalom was prideful and rebellious just as we can be. Even though King David ordered thousands to bring Absalom in safely, his son was killed in an accident pursuing David’s men. Ironically, his hair – the source of his good looks that formed his great pride – caught in the low hanging branches of an oak tree. Does your pride put you in conflict against the One who loves you most? Is it a snare for you? Do you find yourself in conflict with the people (fellow Christians) He sends to bring you back? Just as King David was just, he knew his son must be held accountable and brought in, yet he still loved. Just as God is just, by the grace of Christ’s blood, He forgives, but knows there will still be consequences for our sin. Absalom wanted to be king of the kingdom and push his father from the throne. Are you trying to be the LORD of your life and push your Father from the throne of your soul? If so, God’s heart is breaking just like David’s did.

Father, Forgive my prideful heart and mold it to pursue Yours as David did. Protect me from consequences and restore fractured relationships. I love You.