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Feb 21, 2010

5 Little Words...

"I WILL BE WITH YOU..."

More to come on this devotional, but just a reminder that GOD IS ALWAYS WITH US! No matter if we believe in Him or not, He's there. I am sooooo glad that I do believe in Him, and better yet have a relationship with Him.

These 5 Little Words are a promise made through the BIBLE...

Have a blessed Day!

Feb 16, 2010

What Do you CRAVE??

"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled."
Matthew 5:6 NIV
CRAVE: –verb (used with object)
1. to long for; want greatly; desire eagerly: to crave sweets; to crave affection.

2. to require; need: a problem craving prompt attention.
3. to ask earnestly for (something); beg for.
4. to ask (a person) earnestly for something or to do something.
–verb (used without object)
5. to beg or plead (usually fol. by for).

Origin:

bef. 1000; ME craven, OE crafian; akin to ON krefja to demand, lay claim to

Synonyms:
1. yearn for, hunger for.

Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2010

According to the Dictionary definitions above, crave is a verb, which like love, is an action word. To crave something is to strongly desire it. Usually you are filling an empty spot in your life. For example, most people throughout the day crave FOOD, therefore they are desiring to satisfy a hunger. Sometimes, through the day I find myself rather dry, and I crave a DRINK. Desperately enough, I join with the Preschoolers and lick icicles and 'clean' snow, much to the dismay of others. LOL! I wish to satisfy a thirst. However, one of the most important cravings of all is LOVE. People have an empty spot in their lives and hearts, and it can only be filled by love. This LOVE can only come from God! Others may try to fill this void with love, but it is all superficial, unless it is the love of our Lord.

To know God personally, and be in a relationship with Him is awesome, it is the BEST thing that can happen to a person! He can fill all our HUNGER and THIRST cravings... but we have to be just that, HUNGRY and THIRSTY for more. No one should be, or could be satisfied with just a little bit, we need it ALL, and more. We need to overflow with the love of God, that's how we can show His love to others.

Jesus talks of His 'living water' which we can drink, and never be thirsty again, in John 4:13&14. "Jesus answered and said to her, “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.”



We need to pray, seek His face, read His word, truly worship Him, and just soak in His presence daily. This isn't just a one-time filling. Most people think they can run on a 'one-time filling'. How many times do you eat or drink in a day? How many times do you do any of the above things I mentioned about thirsting after God? To increase our faith, we need to do just that! We even need to do it more than once a day. Most people just think that's what Sunday's are for. We come together, get re-filled and then we're set for another week. However, we need to get in God's face daily, so we can stay connected Monday through Saturday.

Do you want to run on EMPTY or do you want to be FILLED? Our Scripture today says that we can be FILLED! All we need to do is hunger and thirst after righteousness. Who is the perfecter of our faith, and the only righteous one? GOD! We need to hunger and thirst after Him, and then we will see our FAITH arise.

We need to increase our FAITH... when we pray, we don't just pray to pray, we should be praying to see God answer. Not many of us can actually say they have seen an answer to their prayers, at least not right away. But, we should keep on praying in faith anyways. In the Bible, Jesus tells us to have 'faith like a child'. (Matt 18:1-6, "At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, 'Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?' He called a little child and had him stand among them. And he said: 'I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me. But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.'")

A child's faith is a sweet and special thing... they are filled with such wonder and awe, and they hardly have any doubts. If you say you are going to do something, then they believe that you will do it. If God says He will do something, they can easily trust Him. Whereas we as adults, have a hard time trusting anymore, because of past hurts, failures, and seemingly unanswered prayers. A child is quick to act on their faith too, which is something we need to do to show that we have faith. We cannot just say we have faith without deeds. It says in the Word, in James 2:14-18 (NIV) "What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, 'Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,' but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. But someone will say, 'You have faith; I have deeds.' 'Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.'" We as adults can pray until we are blue in the face (or so the saying goes), and then not act upon our faith. But we need to start acting on it. I need to remind myself too, that faith without works/actions/deeds is dead.

If we are praying for rain, we need to start bringing our umbrellas to the prayer meeting!

I close with a cute little story that I love, being a woman of FAITH. This story can be found in "Stories for the Heart" - Compiled by Alice Gray. (pg 106)


 
The Red Umbrella
Retold by Tania Gray

As the drought continued for what seemed an eternity, a small community of midwest farmers were in a quandary as to what to do. The rain was important not only in order to keep the crops healthy, but to sustain the townspeople's very way of living. As the problem became more urgent, the local church felt it was time to get involved and planned a prayer meeting in order to ask for rain.

In what seemed a vague remembrance of an old Native American ritual, the people began to show. The pastor soon arrived and watched as his congregation continued to file in. He slowly circulated from group to group as he made his way to the front in order to officially begin the meeting. Everyone he encountered was visiting across the aisles, enjoying the chance to socialize with their close friends. As the pastor finally secured his place in front of his flock, his thoughts were on the importance of quieting the crowd and starting the meeting.

Just as he began asking for quiet, he noticed an eleven-year old girl sitting in the front row. She was angelically beaming with excitement and laying next to her was her bright red umbrella, poised for use. The beauty and innocence of this sight made the pastor smile to himself as he realized the faith this young girl possessed that the rest of the people in the room seemed to have forgotten.
For the rest had come just to pray for rain... she had come to see God answer.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, I just thank you once again for you being you. Your love surpasses all, and you are the Creator of all of us each individually. You made us all unique individuals, yet all with an empty hole in our hearts that can only be filled by You. Help us to hunger and thirst after you, never being satisfied with a once-a-week dose of Your love. Lord I pray that you will help us increase our faith, let us not be happy with faith the size of a mustard seed, but fill us once again with the wonder and awe that we once had. Let us never lose sight of the prize at the end of the 'race of life'. Eternal life with You and Your Son. Give us that child-like faith, and the innocence to believe in You and the things that You said You will do, and the things that You have yet to do, in and through us. Help us act in faith as well. Remind us when we pray, that we should be acting upon our faith in such a way that others will see and take note, and it will help them increase their faith as well, and live out their faith as well. Guide us, direct us and lead us into ways of Your knowledge, wisdom and understanding. Help us remember that Your ways are higher than our ways, and we need not know all that You know. Help us remember that we are not Your advisors, yet You are ours! We ask all these things in the name of Jesus, AMEN!

Feb 11, 2010

All you need is LOVE... AMAZING love that is!

(I was asked to do the devotional at a local place we go to volunteer once a month. So of course being VALENTINE'S was in 4 days, I chose to do my lesson on LOVE! I also decided to share it here as well, since I got so many interesting comments and encouraging words from others who heard it! Praise and glory be to God - I am just an obedient vessel! Words in [square brackets] are words spoken that night. I tried to re-write in some cases, so it would make sense for the reader. Here it is...)

So it is the MONTH of FEBRUARY… the month of LOVE!



Did you know that most people believe VALENTINE’S DAY started with St. Valentine at the time of the Roman Empire? However, I know that the first VALENTINE sent was sent long before that first celebration on February 14th? God is LOVE, and LOVE is for all. God sent us His Son as an action of His love. He sent Him for ALL of us.


[I have given you all little] VALENTINE cards, with the infamous JOHN 3:16 Scripture on it. As you can see, using the words of the Scripture, God sent us His own VALENTINE. Jesus was sent as a gift to show God’s love. I would like us all to read it together. (Here is a copy of God's VALENTINE.)


Most people think love is a NOUN today; something that you can fall in and out of; something that involves playing with someone’s heart until you most likely get it broken. But GOD created love to be a VERB, not a NOUN. He intended that it be an active part of our lives. Loving someone requires some action on our parts. Real love is not something you can fall in or out of. Real love is shown in daily actions.

Love is not just something between a couple (dating or married). Love should be seen and heard throughout the world everyday with everyone. [We would not be here, and the ARK would not be here if we didn’t LOVE you.] (For devotional readers, this devotional blog would not be here if I did not love you and want you to come to know the Father).


Now some of you are thinking, (because we all think it) “but I am not worthy enough, no one will love me. I am not handsome enough, or beautiful enough, or rich enough, or smart enough. Some of you are even thinking, but what about my past, if they only knew all the things that you have done, etc… then you wouldn’t be able to be loved, let alone be able to love others. (and you think that I wouldn't love you or God wouldn't love you.)


Well I am here to tell you different… WE love, because HE first loved us. HIS love is unconditional, which means that He loves you ANYWAY. There is a saying, BEAUTY is all in the EYE of the BEHOLDER, and Jesus is telling you, and we are telling you, “if you could see what I see”. If WE want to be truly called His followers, then we must learn to love as He loves. We must be REAL! That takes a lot, I know it. I pray daily that God will help me love others as He loves me.

Usually these verses I am going to [read] (give) to you are heard at weddings, however, God wants you to know His love, and that it is REAL. He loves you no matter who you are, what your background, race, sex or lot in life is. He loves you for you. That is why He made you, so He could love you, and you could love Him in return. He tells us all about His kind of love in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8.

“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. endures through every circumstance. Prophecy and speaking in unknown languages and special knowledge will become useless. But love will last forever!” Another translation says, LOVE NEVER FAILS.

This is REAL love. Taken from the words of a song I know, When all else around you comes crashing in, and you feel like you are surrounded. What’s actually surrounding you is God’s love.


"When the walls are closing in, the enemy is back again. Heat comin' from all sides like you are surrounded. You can't believe everything you feel. Treasure what you know is real, cause, if you could see from up above, what's got you surrounded is love!" ~ Geoff Moore



Now can you think of all kinds of songs with the word LOVE in it from the world’s point of view… there are lots?
• Love, it makes the world go round


• Love will keep us together


• Love Me tender


• Love Love Me Do, You Know I Love You


• All you need is Love


• Love Hurts


• Do You Love Me?


• … and many many more.


What kind of LOVE is this? Pretty superficial to me…


But ONE SONG that I know, and that I love to SING is called AMAZING LOVE. Just let the words of the song sink into your heart and your spirit, and allow your heart to be opened once again to know what it means to be loved!

Since I cannot sing it here, I chose to have one of my FAVOURITE groups the NEWSBOYS sing it for you...


AMAZING LOVE HOW CAN IT BE, THAT YOU MY KING WOULD DIE FOR ME? To experience this REAL love, you have to first come to know the One that gives this LOVE. This VALENTINE’S DAY, ensure you are in the BEST RELATIONSHIP that this life has to offer. The one between a FATHER and His Child. The one between a BRIDEGROOM and His BRIDE. Some of you may have really bad earthly relationships with your dads, or with spouses, and other family members, but God is so much more.


Here is a cool VALENTINE POEM I found on the internet tonight, wish I had it last night when I spoke!
 
God’s Valentine Gift



God’s Valentine gift of love to us

Was not a bunch of flowers;

It wasn’t candy, or a book

To while away the hours.



His gift was to become a man,

So He could freely give

is sacrificial love for us,

o you and I could live.



He gave us sweet salvation, and

Instruction, good and true--

To love our friends and enemies

And love our Savior, too.



So as we give our Valentines,

Let’s thank our Lord and King;

The reason we have love to give

Is that He gave everything.

By Joanna Fuchs

Prayer:  God I thank You so much for all that You have done for us. You know us inside and out, You know our hearts, and deeds and love us anyway. I thank You for Your unconditional love. I thank You for Your example that You brought us to the world, in Your Son Jesus. His life was a life of human, without sin. Help us accept Your love even though we certainly don't deserve it. Your amazing love, that comes along with Your amazing mercy and grace too. Granting us that which we don't deserve (Your love), and not giving us what we do deserve which is death. God I pray this NEW and fresh prayer tonight for all those who are reading this blog, or even those who may have popped on and just skimmed, or even just read the first part and clicked away to another site in anger or frustration. Help them come to know you in a NEW and FRESH way. I pray that this VALENTINE'S DAY, we will truly seek after the RELATIONSHIP with You. Some of us for the FIRST time, and others who need to RENEW our hearts back to our FIRST LOVE which is You! It's not about RELIGION, it's all about the RELATIONSHIP! Thank You God that we may have a relationship with You and Your Son. Thank You also for Holy Spirit which we can have with us everyday to lead, guide and direct us in all that we think, do and say. Lord, just bless us and fill us with Your love that we may learn to love others like You love us. Help us look passed all the faults that we see on the exterior and help us to love and encourage that which is on the inside, which You are making beautiful in Your image! In Jesus' precious name I pray all this, AMEN!

Feb 6, 2010

FAITH amidst the STORMS...

F.A.I.T.H. -- Forsaking All I Trust In Him~



Matthew 8:23-27 -- Jesus Calms the Storm
"Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him. Without warning, 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!'"

I just finished teaching this lesson to my Preschoolers, who thought the storm was pretty cool. There was wind (coming from the mouths of a teacher and a couple kids), there was waves (4 children who waved a blanket up and down), there was lightning (one child flicked the lights on and off), and there was even rain (one child had a water squirter). It is an interesting Bible story, and it gets you thinking about Faith. I was going to write a devotional this week on Faith and the fact that more of us spend more time HAVING FAITH in the HEALING, then HAVING FAITH in the ONE who HEALS... but Faith amidst the storms is good too.


I think I will be doing a more thorough devotional time on FAITH and increasing our FAITH.  It is a topic of interest and a topic that is being spoken of a lot, and that a lot of people are focusing on in their own lives. I am a woman of FAITH, and I try to trust God in most circumstances. I have learned, and of course am still learning that I should not be dwelling on what I see, or what I feel physically or the circumstances around me. I should be putting my full trust in the Father in Heaven who see and knows everything. We were reminded at church last week that faith/belief sits in our heart more than it sits in our head. Head Knowledge vs. Heart Knowledge is a battle we all face daily. Taking a twist on it, from revelation from the Spirit of course, we are relying too much on head knowledge and what we see and think, than on our heart knowledge which should know what God can and will do. When troubles arise, we should know in our heart, which should tell our head that GOD CAN!


Looking at this story, I feel that as people (Christian and non-Christian) we sometimes put Jesus in a box. We set Him aside, and call on Him when we need Him. When we are in trouble, we pray and ask God (sometimes we hear the prayers of people who pray God, if you are real...) to help us. We should know that God can and will help us. But most of us try to find the answers or solve the problems with our human hands. That of course we know makes our problems worse.


The disciples were with Jesus, watching and listening to all the messages that He was giving. They had seen healings, and knew what He could do. In Matt 4:23-25, they saw and we can read that He healed many. In Matt 6:5-15 He taught them (and us) how to pray to the Father. Still in Matt 6, in v. 25-34 He taught them (and us) that they need not worry about things. In Matt 7:7-12 He taught them (and us) that we just need to ASK, SEEK & KNOCK  For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. In Matt 7:24-29 He shared the parable of the 'Wise and Foolish Builders' telling them to keep the faith through the rains and storms. In the beginning of Matt 8 (v.1-16), they saw a man healed from leprosy, and learned of the faith of the Centurion where Jesus healed the man's servant just using His words, and also many more healings. Then just a few verses later, is where this STORM hits. Did the disciples just forget all the miraculous things they just saw and heard? (Obviously its been a few days from Matthew 4 to Matthew 8) But really, could they forget that they were with the God who can heal and save? Jesus told them the power comes from His Father in Heaven. (using Matt 6 above) Did they pray first, or did they just freak out? (Using Matt 7 above) Did they Ask the Father, Seek His help or Knock on His door first? (Using Matt 7 above) Did they actually build their lives on the ROCK, which could stand through any storm of life? (Using Matt 8 above) Did they SPEAK the words of LIFE over there situation in FAITH? Did they even show any signs of FAITH? NOOOOOOO..... they did not (or at least they did not record that they did). (Well I guess except for turning to Jesus in a time of trouble).


The disciples did what we all do, they cried out in FEAR. They let FEAR overtake them. They let their HEAD knowledge come before their HEART knowledge. They let themselves dwell on the circumstances and what they could see, and the FEAR that they felt. But where was Jesus in all this? Did Jesus let them down, and now they were stuck to face the storm alone? Jesus was sleeping. He was resting in the peace of His Father's arms. Peace amidst the storm. A place where most of us don't allow ourselves to go too often. The disciples were afraid, and I think they felt anger or even subtle bitterness that Jesus was sleeping while they were going through this storm.


Again, we can allow ourselves to feel that Jesus or God is asleep. He doesn't hear our problems, or see our needs and desires. He doesn't really hear our prayers, and that is why He is not answering in the way we want. God does not SLEEP or SLUMBER. Jesus was sleeping in this passage, because He was still a human. He needed time alone with His Father to rest and restore His strength. Because He was focused on God His Father, and on the rest and the peace that He was receiving from Him, He had no need to worry about the circumstances around Him. That is one of our main problems. Like race horses, we need to have blinders on. We need to FOCUS on God, and the things that He has for us, but too often we find ourselves looking to the left or the right and getting distracted by the things around us. These things hinder our run with God to the finish line. These distractions take our focus off of what is important and sometimes we find ourselves running the wrong way. When a problem comes from the right, we run to the left, instead of running straight to the Father.


The disciples ran in fear to the back of the boat where Jesus was to ask for help. Okay, now we all think YAY, Jesus is going to help them. For those of you who know the rest of the story, or who read it in the Scripture above you know Jesus does indeed save the day. But first, let's picture this situation in our heads for a minute. (I am a visual person) -- 13 men are in a boat, Jesus one of the men, retreats to the back of the boat to have a rest. For good reason, as the guy has been busy preaching, teaching, healing, etc. Now picture, a storm comes, the wind and the waves begin to rock the boat, and water is now coming into the boat. They do not want to sink, so they are doing what they can to stay afloat. But... all of a sudden the 12 men race to the back of the boat to get Jesus. Hmmm.... wouldn't that now be putting all the weight in the back of the boat, therefore making the boat more unstable - making their problem much worse than it was...? Just a thought...


Anyway, Jesus awoke to the voices of screaming men, (wouldn't that be a great wake-up call?) and looked at the disciples, and said some interesting words. "YOU OF LITTLE FAITH, why are you so afraid?" Obviously this is happening in a quick span of time, but seriously, what do you think the disciples thought? How did Jesus feel? We can only imagine and try to interpret the answers to those questions, (but after doing Bible Study/Sunday School in Matthew for over a year and a half, we realize the disciples didn't act upon the faith that they had in their heads. They needed to move that faith into their hearts, and truly believe that Jesus was who He said He was, and that God the Father would do what He said He would do. So many times, as was said above, they saw their Master perform miracle after miracle, and they heard him preach and teach time and again.) How can they have these feelings of doubt in a time like this? They were probably in awe/unbelief at what Jesus was saying to them. Why was He lecturing them at a time like this? Didn't He realize they were going to die? Jesus on the other hand, who was just awakened from a peaceful rest, was probably so tired, and frustrated that his followers weren't acting on their faith. Jesus was basically telling them to use their 'common sense'. The common knowledge that they now had revealed to them through the Holy Spirit through things they heard, saw and believed from their Teacher in the supernatural. But for the disciples, these supernatural things were now being overcome by fear, because of things they see and hear in the natural around them. WOW! Just like the 21st century church of believers and followers of Jesus.

Believers today focus a lot on FEAR and circumstances in the natural, and not on FAITH and things that Jesus did and will do in the supernatural. His will is for all to be made whole, and restored. He is our refuge and shelter in a time of storm. This is a promise that we can use to battle against the FEAR that comes against us. The Scripture is found in Psalm 46:1-3 says that "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. Selah"

It says here (in the Scripture found in Matthew - today's lesson) that Lord Jesus spoke, and the wind and the waves obeyed. He has the power over the natural and all things that He created. However, it also says that the disciples were amazed. We as believers need to still be amazed by the works of the Lord. When we fall into complacency, and think that the miracles, and signs and wonders are no longer amazing, we fall into the trap the devil wants us in, no longer believing for the miraculous. Later in the Word, it says that they (and we) have also been given the authority. (Luke 9:1-3 - "When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick.")  Today we need to walk in that authority, and use the Word against the wiles of the devil. It says in the Word that we shall see these things, and even greater things. Jesus told the disciples and us, "Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves. I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father." (John 14:11-13 NIV)

But most importantly we need to walk in FAITH! By FAITH we understand...

"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good testimony. By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible."

Prayer: Heavenly Father, I thank You for revelation through Your Spirit, and understanding. Help us to live a life of faith, and not fear, doubt and unbelief. When the storms of life come around us, help us to trust in You and Your Word. Encourage us in times of trial to keep on persevering and pressing on to the greater things that you have for us. Help us to seek You, and to still believe in miracles. Help us to have faith to do the things you did, and to do greater things as You have spoken to us. Encourage us along the way to be examples of faith for those around us. Through our faith in you, their lives will be changed as well. We need not have a mountain full of faith, yet we should have enough faith to move those mountains. Be with us and guide us in the ways we should go, and help us understand more about Your authority and power that You have given to us. Thank You Lord Jesus for the example that You gave. Help us to look to You, and not to our circumstances. Help us trust in You the keeper of the stars. Why is it that we can have faith that the stars will not fall from the sky, yet not faith in the little things in our lives? Help us have FAITH in You, the One who is the Healer, and not in the healing itself. Open our eyes to see your supernatural wonders around us daily. Help us seek You and trust You daily for MORE and MORE! May it all be done for Your glory and Your glory alone. It is nothing in the natural that we as mortal men can do, yet it is all that our loving Father in Heaven can supernaturally do. We ask all these things and more, in the Name of Your precious Son Jesus, AMEN!

*Here's a fun sheet to do with the kids, brought to you by http://www.sermons4kids.com/*
Jesus Calms the Storm

Keep the faith!
~Blessings,






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