sometimes, hope gets long

day 5

 

sometimes, hope gets long

 

 

Romans 5:3-5

And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

EXTRA READING: ROMANS 5

Consider  Recently my heart was bleeding. Not literally, just emotionally. I felt the very fibers pulling apart and I sat in my car and sobbed. Sometimes circumstances hinder our hearts desires. Sometimes the muscles tear down. GOD revealed  this to me:

“Covet the heartache while you wait. When muscle tears down, it builds up even stronger.”

Through HIS Spirit, GOD spoke these very words to me and I felt His comfort.

Focus Romans 5:5 tells us that “hope never disappoints”. What is that hope?__________________

CHRIST is that hope and HE wants to give us the desires of our heart. But sometimes, we have to wait. In the meantime, those muscles grow stronger.

May HE grant you according to your heart’s desire, And fulfill all your purpose. Psalm 20:4

Love grows while you wait and while you wait GOD is saying: 

  • Pour into ME
  • Love ME
  • Think of ME
  • Follow after ME
  • Have undying passion for ME
  • Cry to ME
  • Cling to ME
  • Let ME piece together the puzzle
  • Accept MY gift of salvation

Ask Ask GOD everyday for HIS hope to be revealed to you.

Apply  Memorize Romans 5:5 and live your life knowing GOD will never disappoint you even if HOPE gets LONG.

 

Advertisements

pursuing your love

 

day 4

 

pursuing your love

 

 

 

Jude 1:21

21 keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.

EXTRA READING: RE-READ JUDE(it’s worth it!)

Consider  What are you searching for?____________________.  Maybe it’s love, money, happiness, joy or maybe you are looking for that perfect job or that special someone.  Whatever it is, most of us are searching for something.  Take time right now to reflect on what your heart is burning for right now.

Focus  Read Jude 1:21 again. What does this verse say that we should be searching for? Consider how the New American Standard Bible translates Jude 1:21:

21 keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life.

How “anxious” are you for the LORD? Is HE on your every thought and breathe that comes from your mouth? Are you saturated in the very breathe of CHRIST? Does your heart flip when you think of HIM pursuing you? Much like that one love of your life that causes your heart to sink into your stomach at even a slight glance of his or her face, does your heart sink for the Lord? Mine does. My desire now is to pursue my LOVE more than I could ever pursue anyone or anything on this earth. HE flutters my heart, and searches it, as well.  HIS desire is for us to search His heart. How? We search and pursue HIS great love through HIS very love letters to us—-HIS word. This keeps us in HIS love every moment of our life.

Ask Ask yourself this: Am I pursuing God or man? _____________________________________________.

 Apply  If the love of your life is not CHRIST, purpose in your heart right now to make CHRIST the love of your life and chase after HIM!

 

our supreme safety net

day 3

our supreme safety net

Jude 1:24

24 Now to Him who is able to keep you[a] from stumbling, And to present you faultless Before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy,

EXTRA READING: JUDE

Consider  Go ahead now and read all of the book of Jude.  Only one chapter in Jude, so this should be easily accomplished.  But don’t miss any of this book’s beauty and uncompromising truth.

Now write down your safety net in life._________________________________________________________________________________________________________Was it a person, thing or maybe a particular place that brings you comfort?

Focus  My husband and I are co-facilitators in a Homebuilder’s Ministry in our hometown.  I am so thankful for a few Godly men who encouraged us to be a part of this ministry. Every Thursday night broken, misunderstood, misdirected and hopeless feeling men and women walk through the door stepping into the possibility of a new life in CHRIST and out of darkness.  After often years of parachuting into broken nets, some have carried those broken bones into prison, rehabs, courts and months spent under house arrest.  They have believed the lies of satan and suffered under many addictions that control every moment of their lives.  Children have been taken away, spouses have given up on them, and parents have suffered as a result of their life-controlling issues.  It is heart breaking to see how these addictions have become their safety net.

What did you right above as your safety net?________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Do you think it will ever let you down? Or always keep you form stumbling?________________________________________________________________________________________________

Ask  Jude says that HE is able to keep you from stumbling.  Only GOD can be your Supreme Safety Net.  No person, place or thing can ever replace HIM.  Ask the LORD right now to replace your current safety net and allow HIM to keep you.

Apply  Every day rely on GOD not people to keep you and love you.  No human could ever live up to our desires—only GOD.  HE will never let us down.

 

 

unwavering focus

 

day 2

 

 

unwavering  focus

 

 

2 Corinthians 10:5

casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,

 

 

EXTRA READING:

2  CORINTHIANS 10

 

Consider Where does your mind wander throughout the day?

Focus  As I wind down the rural and rough roads of the Deep South, I see a lot of things. And I do a lot of driving with my career.   During these driving moments, I may physically be alone; but never lonely.   My companions are my thoughts and the Lord.

HIS creation is an amazing backdrop to view with this often senseless mind I have at times; but He shows me so much and provides thoughts that would have never entered my mind otherwise.

Over the years, I’ve developed a keen sense of awareness of His creation, namely with all the critters I encounter.   It’s a perfect setting down here for all those critters, what with the beautiful shady lawns with moss filled trees.  They provide the perfect shade to all that inhabit the space.

I have dubbed the springtime  “Turtle Crossing Season”.  Not a technical term by any means, but I’m sure some scholar of the land would consider it so.

What I’ve noticed about these turtles is that when they cross the road, they have a fierce, focused and determined movement about them.  I’m not sure where all these turtles are going; but they’re going somewhere and not very fast.  With their slinky tiny neck poked out, you can bet they see me coming.  But they stay steady and on course.  Oh, they may stick that head back in the shell for a split second while I straddle my car over them; but soon after I’ve passed, they poke it back out and are still headed the same direction as without any fear at all.

Now I’ve also had many an encounter with this fuzzy tailed, claw pawed creature called a squirrel.  Much contrary to the turtle those squirrels are.  They are going somewhere fast; but they don’t seem to know where that somewhere might be.  They run out like jet airplanes and will change directions at least five times before I am near.  And sometimes they are quick and nimble enough to squirt out of the way in just the nick of time, but sometimes they aren’t.  And I think, “Well, if you had just made your mind up sooner…”

Ask I wander.  Are you a turtle or a squirrel? Consider again where all you thoughts wander in a days time.  What percentage of the time would you say you are truly focused on GOD?_____________________________________

So many irrelevant things consume our thoughts daily other than focusing our minds on CHRIST.

Apply Make this verse your “go to” verse every moment of the day.

 casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of GOD, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of CHRIST,

2 Corinthians 10:5

 

 

my heart, God’s hands

day 1

 

my heart, God’s hands

 

 

 

1 Samuel 1:27-28

27 For this child I prayed, and the Lord has granted me my petition which I asked of Him. 28 Therefore I also have lent him to the Lord; as long as he lives he shall be lent to the Lord.” So they worshiped the Lord there.

EXTRA READING: 1 SAMUEL 1

 

 

 

Consider   Have you ever spent months, even years, praying for something? Are you still praying for that particular something? Or maybe God has granted you those petitions. Maybe you’ve just given up.

Focus   Much like Hannah, many of us have petitioned the LORD for our heart’s desires. I wander what your desire is… Even as I’m typing these words, my thoughts drift to you; and, I wander, what are you desiring right now? Just what does your heart chronically ache for at this moment? Maybe you are longing for a child…a spouse… maybe for a true friend…or maybe your heart aches to be stitched back together. I don’t know what your heart desires, but I do know what mine desires. Many of those desires feel stagnant; but what I am sure of is that the LORD hears my petitions and HE will answer in HIS timing. When GOD answered Hannah’s prayers, what did she do?________________________________.

GOD puts desires in our hearts. If we are faithful to HIM, HE will grant us these desires. Hannah knew God gave her a desire for a son; and, she placed her heart into HIS hands. Today as I write, just as I had been pleading with GOD, HE revealed a quote from a writer named Glynnis Whitwer from Proverbs 31 Ministries:

“GOD has the power to accomplish any dream HE gives us.”

Are you willing to give your heart’s desires to the LORD?____________________________________.

Ask    Ask the LORD to show you the desires HE has for you. Be faithful in continually petitioning HIM for those. And be willing to give them completely over to HIM.

Apply   Take time today to pray. GOD desires our communication with HIM; and, HE hears those prayers.

The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.  James 5:16

Am I a Turtle or a Squirrel?

casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ

2 Corinthians 10:5(NKJV)

 

Am I a Turtle or a Squirrel?

 

As I wind down the rural and rough roads of the Deep South, I see a lot of things. And I do a lot of driving with my career.   During these driving moments, I may physically be alone; but never lonely.   My companions are my thoughts and the Lord.

His creation is an amazing backdrop to view with this often senseless mind I have at times; but He shows me so much and provides thoughts that would have never entered my mind otherwise.

 Over the years, I’ve developed a keen sense of awareness of His creation, namely with all the critters I encounter.   It’s a perfect setting down here for all those critters, what with the beautiful shady lawns with moss filled trees.  They provide the perfect shade to all that inhabit the space.

Right now as I write this, it is what I have titled the “Turtle Crossing Season”.  Not a technical term by any means, but I’m sure some scholar of the land would consider it so. 

What I’ve noticed about these turtles is that when they cross the road, they have a fierce, focused and determined movement about them.  I’m not sure where all these turtles are going; but they’re going somewhere and not very fast.  With their slinky tiny neck poked out, you can bet they see me coming.  But they stay steady and on course.  Oh, they may stick that head back in the shell for a split second while I straddle my car over them; but soon after I’ve passed, they poke it back out and are still headed the same direction as without any fear at all.

Now I’ve also had many an encounter with this fuzzy tailed, claw pawed creature called a squirrel.  Much contrary to the turtle those squirrels are.  They are going somewhere fast; but they don’t seem to know where that somewhere might be.  They run out like jet airplanes and will change directions at least five times before I am near.  And sometimes they are quick and nimble enough to squirt out of the way in just the nick of time, but sometimes they aren’t.  And I think, “Well, if you had just made your mind up sooner…”

That got me to thinking.  “Tracy, are you a turtle or a squirrel?” 

Do I take my focus off of the Lord so often that I am shifted around like the waves of an ocean not knowing where I’m going?  Or am I steadfast on the course of where God has for me to go? 

Well, the older I get, the more I am the turtle.   Second Corinthians 10:5 has become my daily prayer to my Savior and Lord.  There is rarely a day that has passed that I haven’t asked the Lord to hold my thoughts captive so that I can stay focused on His plan for my life.

So I ask you.  Are you a turtle or a squirrel?

Everyday Ezra

28 Whoever has no rule over his own spirit
Is like a city broken down, without walls. Proverbs 25:28

God’s people were ready to come home.  Homesick and in need of a leader, the Israelites had been in captivity once again for their disobedience to God.  But now, now it was time to return to their homeland. 

Enter Ezra.

Through a detailed and highly exalting letter from the king, we are introduced to a man that God had ordained for the very job of leading His people back into their homeland.  Oh, but not just in a geographical sense, but to return His people back into a right relationship with their God of hope.  A God that could have very well kept them under Babylonian control the rest of their lives, but God is a God of hope(Romans 15:13).  And His people needed a leader who could restore their belief, their trust and their obedience to Him.

Ezra was solid and steadfast in his walk, study and work of the Lord.  How do I know that?  Because this is what God’s word says about Ezra:

 

10 For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the Law of the Lord, and to do it, and to teach statutes and ordinances in Israel. Ezra 7:10

Ezra’s life was lived out according to God’s law and people noticed, even the king himself.  In fact, the king gave Ezra all control of decisions with money and volunteers as he led the people back to their homeland.  Now that is trust!

Our lives outside of our homes reveal a story about our true self.  We are either obedient to studying and obeying God’s word or we are not.  One of the two will be evident to others.  The Lord showed favor to Ezra because of his commitment.  And Ezra was careful to learn the word before he taught it.

  • He sought the law
  • He obeyed the law
  • He taught the law 

What story is being revealed when I step out of my home?  Am I an Everyday Ezra?  Are you an Everyday Ezra?

DIGGING DEEPER:

2 Corinthians 10:5

casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ

Our daily walk begins with what enters our mind.  I have to make a commitment each day to allow the Lord to hold all of my thoughts captive.  This is where my obedience begins.  This is how I stay committed and focused on studying and growing in God’s word.  It begins with me.

Let’s commit to being an Everyday Ezra!

 

 

 

 

Goat Got Your Bag?

There it was, cutting through the heavy fog of the morning, just a couple of houses down.  Standing in my front yard, I caught a glimpse of its lights; but even more I heard the squeak of the door as it swung open.

And there it went, my brand new purple hand bag, hanging on for dear life like a bug on a windshield.

And there she went, sprinting through the yard like a jack rabbit running from a dog.  Never knew my sister could run so fast!

I remember it all like it was yesterday; but instead, it was 30 years ago.  My sister and I were waiting for the school bus when, out of nowhere, Billy, our pet goat, got loose.  Yes, Billy, the billy goat, usually stayed at the shed, typically tied to it or inside of it when company came over, of course.  He was just the normal pet goat like everyone had growing up. 

That was my thought anyway, until that morning, when the big, yellow, kid filled to the gill bus pulled up at our gravel driveway.  Our house just happened to be the last stop of the morning before the drop off at school.  And that never really bothered me; until then, when as the door swung open, my sister yanked the bag off Billy’s pointy horns, chunked it to me and we ran breathlessly to the bus. 

I’m sure my cheeks were stained with the harsh color of reality that maybe my life was different than the rest of the kids as the whispers and giggles echoed through the bus.  At that moment, I felt ashamed of who I was and where I came from.  All I wanted was to melt into the slick leather seat like taffy in the summer heat of the South. 

That goat didn’t just get my bag.  He got my joy.  Oh, I got my bag back, but my joy was gone. 

Looking over the past thirty years, I remember plenty of times that goat got my bag again and again.  And isn’t that just what satan does to us?  He steals our joy right out from under us; and we just let him.   I admit, I’m ashamed of all the times I’ve allowed him to steal my joy.  And, even though I would get it back, I would give it up again and again.

But God says He is able to keep us joyful…

Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, And to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, Jude 1:24(NKJV)

Satan trips us, blames us and steals from us what God is able to give us and keep in us.  But we have to hang on to the joy in us and not allow satan to steal it.  The more we grow in our faith and in our knowledge of the Lord through studying His word, the stronger we are against the tricks of our adversary.

Oh, I still have moments of being burdened and sad; but my joy can never be taken from me completely.  He is my joy and the true love of my life.  He alone fills me, lifts me and strengthens me.

That goat may have gotten my bag but I got it back ; and I’m not letting go of it this time!

DIGGING DEEPER:

Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free,[a] and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage. Galatians 5:1(NKJV)

 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light. Matthew 11:30(NKJV)

MEASURING STICK:

How are you allowing satan to steal your joy today?   

Consider giving the Lord your yoke of bondage today and take on His yoke instead! 

To Be Bridled and Unbroken

“If the ministry is going to be like this, I don’t want to be a part of it!”  I will never forget telling my husband those very words after about eight months of him pastoring his first church.  Good gracious, it had been a long eight months.  I was fed up with just how awful “church” people could act. 

I will never forget going to the dentist not too long after those harsh words flew out of my mouth.  My diagnosis that visit was four fractured teeth!  No, I did not get popped in the mouth by one of those wayward hearted church folks.  The result of that exam came from me clinching my teeth together for eight solid months.  Eight months of keeping my mouth shut and my tongue bridled!

So what I got from that ministry assignment, it seemed at the time, was a hefty dentist bill and a lot of pain.

But God didn’t see it that way.  What the Lord showed me during that time of service was the patience to hold my tongue in situations where often I would want to lash out.  Oh I wanted to so badly; but God wouldn’t let me.  I wanted more to please Him than to have a fleeting moment of tearing down my testimony; and God honored that.

James was very wise to listen to the Lord and pen down these mighty words:

And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell. James 3:6 (NKJV)
My husband and I have since recovered from that refining time; and God has blessed our ministry beyond measure.  My heart desires to serve Him in whatever way He desires and to keep my garments clean in the process.
Let your garments always be white,
And let your head lack no oil. Ecclesiastes 9:8(NKJV)
Bridling our tongue not only keeps us from hurting others; it protects our character.  If we defile our garments(character), we tear down our Christian witness.  Our adversary wants that very thing!  When we tear down our witness, we may very well limit our ability to spread God’s word.  
And don’t worry.  I’ve since learned the art of silence without fracturing teeth!
DIGGING DEEPER:
Romans 5:3-5 “And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope.
2 Corinthians 10:5 “casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,

Peacocks in the Woods

We must be there by now.  Couldn’t be that much longer.  Could it?

These were a few of the thoughts that swirled through my mind as the bus swerved  along the winding, bumpy country roads familiar to the South.  I had somehow, without much thought, offered to chaperone a church bus full of very spirited, bubbly elementary kids after church the other Wednesday night.

A familiar area called “kiddy hill” was upon the horizon.  Like a beacon of light urging us to come on up, the last drop off destination was almost upon us.

As the bus sputtered and puffed up the hill, a bright eyed, cheerful second grader plopped in my lap and began to tell me of all the animals they had on her part of the hill.  Horses, goats, cows, dogs, pigs and lots and lots of peacocks lived there.  White peacocks and multicolored peacocks strutted around freely like roosters in a hen house.  Oh I could see the army from the distance.  And I couldn’t keep myself from asking this sweet girl where the graveyard was for all the fallen peacock soldiers throughout the years.  They surely had a graveyard.

Like a flash of lightning, she said, “Oh, we don’t have a graveyard.  We just throw ’em in the woods.”

After composing myself from uncontrollable laughter,  I got to thinking.  Is that what we do with people?  Oh, not literally, but do we purposely stray away from those who have a “messy” life?

Lives far messier than ours and way too messy to deal with, knowing they would require a lot of time and investment to carry God’s word to and give encouragement to everyday.

Some of those kids on that church bus have such lives as this.  Parents who are alcoholics or drug users.  Some parents not even there in the home because they are serving time in jail.

These kids will grow up carrying yokes thicker than ours with bondage almost impossible to penetrate, if we don’t get in the middle of their messes.

How often have we prayed Colossians 4:3:

meanwhile praying also for us, that God would open to us a door for the word, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in chains,

As Christians, that’s what we should desire.  But do we really mean it?  God will definitely open doors for us to share, encourage, and build up people for His glory.

Some doors are broken.

Some doors have holes in them.

Some doors are off their hinges.

God desires for us to enter through all the doors He opens, even if it leads to a messy house; and, yes, we may trip over a few peacocks on the way.

My prayer:

God, I pray that I will be willing to get in the middle of the messy lives that need cleaning up.  Forgive me for those times that I don’t want to get dirty. Amen