Another Cloud is Watching Us
Is there something you despise? If so, our sweet Lord Jesus Christ can relate. Have you ever considered how much Jesus despised everything that happened surrounding His crucifixion? The injustice. The lies said about Him? The upside down statements said so that truth was made out to be a lie and lies were made out to be truth. The mob mentality that switched from singing His praises to shouting, “Crucify Him!” Oh, yes, friends, if you’re going through something and you despise it, you have a friend in Jesus. He can relate. Yet, our sweet Savior suffered through the despising ordeal in order to not only give us a start in our Christian walk but to also make sure that our faith is perfected, complete, and finished. Hebrews 12:1-2 tells us now to follow Christ’s example. “Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author, and PERFECTER of FAITH, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” We have a race to run in this life even as Jesus did. We may not like it. We may, in fact, despise it. Yet God has set before us the joy of heaven, of being reunited with loved ones, of living in eternity where there is no sin and no shame. We may feel like we’re all alone. But let’s not be fooled. There is a “great cloud of witnesses surrounding us.” What do they see as they observe us? Are we pouting or worshipping? Is our face fixed on Jesus and so our countenance reflecting Him? Or, are we succumbing to ideas of worst-case scenarios and walking around like we don’t have a Savior? This is our time to shine forth for Jesus, to live for the joy set before us, to pray like never before. What is the great cloud of witnesses observing about us today?
Lord Jesus, we praise You, the FINISHER of OUR FAITH!
Let’s Be Amazed
Throughout the Bible, the word “amazed” is used to describe people’s reactions to God. Mark 1:22 records that people “were amazed at His (Jesus) teaching; for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.” The New Testament word “amazed” means astonished, thrown into wonderment. Jesus’ teachings astonished people. Matthew 12:23 records that when Jesus healed a demon-possessed man who was blind and mute so that he could see and talk, “All the crowds were amazed and were saying, ‘This man cannot be the Son of David, can He?'” When Jesus rose from the dead, they were “thrown into wonderment.” Oh, that we be amazed, astonished, and thrown into wonderment at our Lord. Keep your eyes open, friend, for how Jesus is working in your life and in the lives of others. You may find that you’re amazed.
Lord Jesus, we praise You, our AMAZING Lord.
*Amazing” is 1 of 365 ways God is described. Learn the other ways He is described by signing up to get this daily devotional. HERE.
Two Tips When Fear Strikes
The unexpected. The bad unexpected. You name it. You didn’t expect it. But now it’s here. A common reaction is fear. A second is for our imagination to run wild. So how do we combat fear and a run away imagination?
Two Tips When Fear Strikes:
- Lean Up. Lean up to God immediately. As fast as the incidence happens, make it our practice to turn to our Heavenly Father and lean in on Him. Why? Psalm 46:1-3 tells us, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.” The psalmist has listed things that would naturally cause fear yet he maintains, “we will not fear.” How can he say that? The answer is in his words, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help.” I don’t think the psalmist means there might not be a first reaction of fear, but rather that he has made the choice to not continue in fear, but rather to look to God. We can make the same choice. We can begin praying. We can focus on His presence. We can look to Him for help.
- Wisen Up. In Luke 16:8 Jesus told a parable in which He said, “for the sons of this age are more shrewd in relation to their own kind than the sons of light.” In Matthew 10:16, Jesus told His disciples, “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves. The word “shrewd” in these verses means intelligent, wise, prudent, mindful of one’s interests. So, when the unexpected, the bad happens, yes, begin praying. But then, perhaps we need to step back and think. What is God teaching me? How should I prepare for the future in light of this?
Yes, the unexpected is around the corner, but what a blessing that so is our Heavenly Father and so is wisdom, all we need to do is ask for it. James 1:5
Heavenly Father and Lord Jesus Christ, thank You that You are an ever present help. Thank You, also, for the reminder and instruction that we need to be wise and prudent, mindful of what we are doing. Help us be increasing mindful and ever grateful for You and the wisdom You provide. We love You.
Find more in my chapter, “Illusive Imagination or Refreshing Reality” in The Plan A Woman in a Plan B World.”
It’s Not Too Late
Do you wish you could do something positive to help? Help what? Anything! Help mend a relationship. Help tone done the anger among people. Help people turn their eyes to the Lord. All of those are big Christian actions and all of them are needed. How might you do them? Follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit. How, where does He prompt? In our hearts. In our minds. But best as I can tell, we have to have alone time with Him to develop our relationship, to learn His voice, to know His ways. I think our heart has to be in the right place. We have to want Him. Or, as He says, “If you seek me..” (Deuteronomy 4:29; Proverbs 8:17; Jeremiah 29:13; Matthew 7:7; Luke 11:9; Acts 17:24-28) If we haven’t been too close to God in the past, is it too late to get close to Him, to learn His voice and be used by Him. Again, as far as I can tell from studying the Bible, no, it’s not too late. He called Paul even in the midst of his trip to round up Jews who had started following Christ. He spoke to Abraham when he was 99 years old. Genesis 17:1-2 says, “Now when Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, ‘I am God ALMIGHTY; Walk before Me, and be blameless. I will establish My covenant between Me and you, And I will multiply you exceedingly.’” Ninety-nine and God ALMIGHTY says, I’m the “most powerful God who holds sway over all things. Walk blameless.” It’s never too late to open our ears, minds, and hearts to God ALMIGHTY. It’s never too late to say, “Hold sway over my heart.” It’s never too late to be used by God for His purposes. Will we seek Him? Will we ask Him to hold sway over our hearts? Will we learn His voice and obey His prompts? How about we all say, “Yes,” and open our Bibles and study the above passages. Make the move today toward a closer relationship, more intimacy with God.
ALMIGHTY God, forgive us for busying ourselves with things of the world that are meaningless in view of eternity and people’s souls. Forgive us for closing our hearts rather than opening them to Your powerful sway. We ask now, “Hold sway over my heart so I walk blamelessly before You.”
*Excerpt from Pray with Purpose, Live with Passion- a timely read for 2021.
Are You Sort of Scared
Is the news freaking you out? I’m not a worrier and I’m not easily alarmed. But when I heard that the National Guard was sending 20,000 troops to Washington D.C. to defend the Capitol due to threats of violence, I felt a strange sense of fear rising in me. Fear for our nation. Fear that people might do something that would cause the loss of life. I immediately began praying. A sense of urgency swelled in me that each of us must do our part to encourage calmness in the midst or rising emotions. We must do our part to bathe relationships in prayer. We must take the high road that follows Christ’s example of praying for our enemies rather than drawing a sword. We must believe that God’s got this. So, no, I’m not going to live in fear. I’m going to take my cues from a great Biblical example – Daniel. We find his story in Daniel 2. King Nebuchadnezzar had a troubling dream and demanded that it be interpreted or he would kill all the wise men. Daniel’s name was on the list of those to be executed. However when Daniel learned of the situation, he didn’t go into hiding. Rather, he gathered his friends and prayed. Daniel 2:18 states they requested, “compassion from the God of heavens” concerning the interpretation of the King’s dream. That night, God revealed the interpretation to Daniel. In Daniel 2:20, he praises Him. “Let the name of God be blessed forever and ever, For wisdom and power belong to Him.” He continues in verse 23, “To You, O God of my fathers, I give thanks and praise, For You have given me wisdom and power; Even now You have made known to me what we requested of You.” Do you believe God is powerful and that He can give you wisdom and power to know what to do in these troubling days? He can.
Heavenly Father, thank You for making Yourself available to us. Thank You that Your eyes are on Washington D.C. Thank You that in the midst of evil days, You are holy and exalted and always there for us. We look to You for wisdom and power. Guide our thoughts and steps so we are instruments of peace.
Finger Pointing, Rock Slinging Reversal
Peace between people. Is it a dream? Is it a far fetched wish? Is it an impossibility? It seems to be. Why? Because although we aren’t perfect, we expect – and in some cases – demand that others be perfect. Cross the line of what I expect of you or you expect of me and we’re a lost cause. Now, think about something with me. What if…that’s how Jesus treated us? What if the Father, Son, and Spirit demanded our perfection 24/7? What if…when we didn’t live up to their expectations, we were out the door, banned forever, with no path for reconciliation? I hope and pray that each of us can in at the least the tiniest of ways have an appreciation that God treats us differently than many of us treat one another. In fact, not only does our Lord not hold our sins over our head, it’s important to Him that we live free of condemnation. Remember when the Jews were itching to stone a woman caught in adultery? They had the rocks in their hands. They had their self-righteous arms ready to throw. But when Jesus confronted them, when He invited the one who was sin free to pellet her, the self-righteous slunk away. What did the Lord of Lords then do? If you said, pellet her with rocks because she was guilty and deserving of punishment, you’re right and you’re wrong. You’re correct in saying she was deserving of death according to the Law. You are incorrect, however about Jesus’s response. He told her He didn’t condemn her and for her to go and sin no more. Jesus wants the same for us. He is our Advocate, as 1 John 2:1 explains, “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an ADVOCATE with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” There it is. The Bible is our guide on how not to sin and hopefully, we’re reading it and praying for God’s help to walk according to it. But if and when we do sin, we have the full assurance that Jesus is our Advocate just as He was for the adulterous woman. Only when we arrive in heaven will we fully appreciate the magnitude of Jesus winning our court case by taking our guilt on Himself.
Lord Jesus, thank You for being our Advocate. Help us be mindful of Your Word and walk according to it so we “may not sin.”
Why FOR Never Works
Do you get frustrated when you “blow it” in regard to your Christian walk? I certainly do. Almost every day, I’m mindful of something I should have done, could have done that would have brought honor to Christ. The reminder in 2 Corinthians 3:5 helps me in those times of frustration. It says, “Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God.’” The word “adequacy” in this verse means sufficiency, ability, or competency. Here we find a key to our desire to live “for” Christ. We can’t live “for” Him in our own strength. Rather, we need to let Christ live His life IN and through us. His adequacy is the key. Our ability to be and do that to which God calls us is from God. We can pray, ”Fill me with YOUR Spirit so I walk by Your ADEQUACY.” That is our hope-filled prayer.
Thank You, LORD, that Christ Jesus is in us and He is our adequacy.
*This is one of God’s 365 attributes for which we can look up, praise, and trust Him. To learn about His other attributes and ways you can know God and praise Him, join us HERE.
If You’re Worried About Dying
I thought I had killed a bee, but I only stunned it. Before I could blink, the bee was moving. There’s a difference between stunning something and abolishing it. When you think about death, does it worry you? Here’s the deal, and it’s great news! Second Timothy 1:10 assures us that we don’t have to worry about death. Why? The verse explains that when Christ died on the cross, He didn’t stun death, but that death continues to be a reality for us. Rather, it says, “ …our Savior Christ Jesus, abolished death and brought life and immortality to light…” In other words, when our body ceases to live, our spirit continues to live. Those who have placed their faith in Christ and whose human spirit is indwelt by Christ’s Holy Spirit will live eternally in His glorious light. That’s something to celebrate, not fear.
Lord Jesus Savior, we praise You for abolishing death! Thank You for eternal life in You.
This is Reassuring in Unsettling Times
NOTE: This post was written and scheduled prior to the events of January 6.
In your lifetime, how many people have you seen take positions of leadership and then be unseated? It happens. People and countries are left shaken … swinging between being hopeful of a new administration or fearful of the one that’s taken office. But our Lord wants us to know that He’s on the throne and He’s not going anywhere. First, there’s no person or spirit or power that can touch Him. Second, if they could, they couldn’t over-power our Lord. If we want someone in our lives on whom we can depend, then we need to look no further than the Lord who abides forever. Psalm 9:7 assures us, “…the Lord abides forever; He has established His throne for judgment.’”
Heavenly Father, we praise You that You have established Your throne and no power, person, or principality can unseat You. We love and praise You.
When Fear Overtakes You
Have you ever seen the look in a child’s eyes when they were startled or afraid because they couldn’t see where their parent was? On the other hand, have you seen a child who is afraid look for and find their father and run to him? Have you heard a child cry for their parent? If so, consider Romans 8:15 that says believers have “received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, ‘ABBA FATHER.” Abba Father can be translated Daddy. So what does Romans 8:15 imply? It tells us that our relationship with God is tender and close. God has chosen to come close to us. He has chosen to embrace us. He has chosen to get into human skin so we can see and smell Him. We can watch and learn from Him. We can run to Him as children ran to Jesus and He embraced and blessed them. He protected and defended them. Our Heavenly Father and Lord Jesus Christ deeply care for us. In a world that sometimes seems to have gone mad, it’s reassuring to know that we have a Heavenly Father. And although we may be startled or afraid at times due to the events in our life, nation, or world, we can look to our Father, assured that He’s watching out for and over us.
Heavenly Father, ABBA FATHER, thank You for adopting us into Your family. When we fear, turn our eyes to You. Help us walk confidently through our day assured that You’ve got us.