Joel Osteen, pastor of Lakewood Church, told the story about a farmer's favorite mule, which fell into a forty foot deep well.The farmer loved that mule and studied hard about how to rescue it from the dry hole.Unable to decide upon a way to get the mule out, he thought that he would just fill in the useless well and bury the poor old mule inside.
He called his neighbors to bring their shovels.Together they began to fill that hole with the mule inside it.The mule figured out what was going on and began to show his disagreement loudly.But there was nothing the mule could do to keep from being buried alive.One shovel full at a time, the farmers dumped the dirt on the back of the old mule.
But the mule began to have a plan of his own.As the dirt hit him on the back, he would just shake it off and step up!More dirt would come down; again, he would shake it off and step up.Finally, he was able to step right out of that deep hole he was in, just because he refused to be overcome by the dirt that was being heaped upon him from others.
What a wonderful story to begin a New Year! If you are like I am, you will strive to make 2009 a banner year in every way possible.I don't expect defeat to come my way, but as a veteran of "Life," I know that holes are an inevitable part of the journey.It's wonderful to know that God is with me every day!Whether I travel the narrow path or find myself stranded on the broad highway of despair, I will seek Jesus in the daylight as well as the nighttime.
What about those "holes?"There may be times this year when you will fall into one of those pits, or be pushed into one by circumstances beyond your control.Like the old mule, when you find yourself being dumped on by the dirt of the world, you have a choice.You can just lay there and whine, or you can become a winner.Whiners or Winners…We can decide which we will be.
If you quit and whine about your problems, they have a way of becoming bigger than they were in the beginning.But if you shake off the dirt and step up, you will become a winner in 2009!
GospeLines Prayer:God of yesterday, today and tomorrow, allow me to approach this New Year with a new attitude.Give me a victorious spirit in everything I do!Let me see the sunshine through the clouds, and the dawn of a new day when there is darkness.Give me your power, O Lord, not to celebrate my strength, but to praise Your Name in every triumph that comes in 2009.
“If someone claims, ‘I know him well!’ but doesn't keep his commandments, he's obviously a liar. His life doesn't match his words. But the one who keeps God's word is the person in whom we see God's mature love. This is the only way to be sure we're in God. Anyone who claims to be intimate with God ought to live the same kind of life Jesus lived.
My dear friends, I'm not writing anything new here. This is the oldest commandment in the book, and you've known it from day one. It's always been implicit in the Message you've heard. On the other hand, perhaps it is new, freshly minted as it is in both Christ and you - the darkness on its way out and the True Light already blazing!” 1st John 2:4-8 (The Message)
Do you remember the ghost of Christmas past?In case you’ve forgotten, it’s the one where you’ve filled your every waking moment with holiday parties and/or shopping for the perfect gifts or cramming your schedule so full your Blackberry calendar can’t keep up!Does that scenario sound familiar?
Alas, the scene often repeats itself from one year to the next.We are often preoccupied with appearances – keeping up with someone else’s expectations – to our own detriment.
Some believe the hype that with the right decorations, the right tree, the right gifts, the dinner and all of the trappings, we will have the happiest of holidays.Yet, for some, it’s quite a letdown.Christmas can be a very stressful period for more than a few.
A play I recently attended brought these behaviors into clear focus and I was reminded that Christmas is a new beginning in the natural order of things.As I welcome the birth of Jesus Christ, there is no more perfect gift.
With my limited vision, I had a much different expectation of the holidays, but God had other plans and He is the architect of all things made new.
GospeLines Prayer:Father, thank you for making time for us and offering the most perfect gift – Your son.
Whether we have a budding friendship on the horizon, a new job opportunity or a new/renewed relationship with You, we thank You for a new beginning.
There may have been a dormant period this year, but You have brought a new sense of expectancy and a new season.
To my brothers and sisters in Christ, here’s to a new beginning according to God’s purpose.
In His Love,
≈ Devotional for Wednesday, January 7, 2009
“It Took Me By Surprise”
It took me by surprise, but it was a question that only an extremely close friend earns the right to ask after several years of sharing intimate heart talks."Why do you become angry with God so often?"My flippant response hid the anguish I felt at that moment.After hours of pondering this query in my private prayer time, I think I have an answer.
No one knows me as well as my Father.With Him, I am free to stand toe to toe, and share every feeling without fear of reprisal.There is no hiding jealousy, fear, doubt, selfishness, and even anger from Him.It is in those moments that the Master is best able to discipline me and put me back on the straight path, and I trust Him with the rod of correction.
GospeLines Prayer:Thank you, Father, for being approachable, and for allowing me to be me.I do not pretend to be mature.Even in my weakest hour, show me how to humble myself and submit to wearing the yoke of Godliness with joy and thanksgiving.Amen and amen.
Have you ever tried really hard to change, but failed?Have you tried to see change in others; or, maybe to help that change occur; but, saw no results?Expecting change but seeing nothing can be extremely frustrating.
Did you know that a Begonia will germinate in as little as two days?However, if you’ve planted Evening Primrose, you’ll have to watch for up to 30 days to see the first sprout.A mouse can have a mischief of pups in 19 days but you’ll have to wait 645 days to see an Asian Elephant calf.Sometimes change can be seen quickly; but, other changes may take much longer to become visible.
Have you ever tried really hard to help someone find the way to Jesus but they just wouldn’t budge? I’ve been talking to a friend and praying for him for years; but, he seems to be further from the Lord now than before.Or, so it seems to me.
The Lord said, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways." (Isaiah 55:8)Rain and snow fall from heaven and do not return without watering the earth so that it flourishes and yields fruit.The Word of the Lord also does not return to Him empty, but will accomplish what He desires and achieve the purposes for which He sent it. (Isaiah 55:8-11)
Sometimes it’s better to be patient and wait on God than to be a warrior. (Proverbs 16:32)Be zealous and keep your spiritual fervor; however, stay joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer. (Romans 12:11-12)Continue to warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, and help the weak; but, be patient with everyone and kind to each other. (1st Thessalonians 5:14-15)
When you become impatient, remember,“Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and He shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.”(Psalm 27:14)
GospeLines Prayer:Father, when we are filled with impatience and hurry, help us to be strong, take heart and wait on You.Help us to remember that just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are Your ways higher than our ways, and Your thoughts than our thoughts.Father, in the name of Jesus, help us to trust in You and do good; to delight ourselves in You so that Your Spirit will dwell in us and give us peace.
“…I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father,but byMe.”
- John 14:6 (KJV)
≈ Devotional for Friday, January 9, 2009
“It's Just My Nature”
Duke is ninety pounds of muscle, short black hair, and the smartest dog I have ever seen.He moonwalks, says his prayers, shakes hands, falls over dead upon command, walks around me three times when I say "circle the genius," catches a Frisbee, plays pitch with a basketball, turns in circles when I tell him to act like a woman, etc., etc.He has a repertoire of 10 tricks and would do more but I am not smart enough to teach him.Generally, he is a very good pet; but, he is a dog with a potentially aggressive nature.Duke is half Doberman and half Pit-bull.For that reason, I am very careful to remind him that I am the leader of the pack and he is to remain submissive to me upon verbal command at all times.
Christians are prone to act in a certain way because of our teaching, training, and our faith.It is not impossible for a person to talk like a Christian, live a somewhat Christian lifestyle, even go to church occasionally and not be a born-again believer.Inside every person is a human nature which has the potential of giving each of us a surprisingly aggressive attraction to sin.For that reason, we need to be reminded who we are and who God is.Submission to the Father is essential in all that we do.
GospeLines Prayer:Father, I submit my will to You.Correct my tendencies toward sin and channel my desires toward right living.I praise You as my Master and my Lord.