Have you noticed how many people seem to thrive on negativity?They are the ones who are consumed with everything that is bad in the world and seldom find good things to say about anything.When they walk into the room you know their agenda.The news they bring is usually from some offbeat journalistic wannabe who couldn't make it in the mainstream of journalism, and believes it's their mission to spew out a twisted interpretation of world events.These folk are predictable, boring, self-centered and dangerous.
Unfortunately, that kind of thinking has infiltrated the Church.It comes from people who mean well, yet they believe they are "called by God" to let everyone know how things really should be done.They step on toes, shatter dreams, stifle hope, steamroller feelings, and shut down the business of the family of God.Their message of superiority is ungodly; their haughtiness is unholy; and, their self-righteous finger-pointing is unappreciated."It isn't easy to be humble when you're always right!"
The apostle Paul said we need to replace our stinkin' thinkin' with lovely thoughts."Brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, what ever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy- THINK ABOUT SUCH THINGS!"Philippians 4:8
GospeLines Prayer:Father, now I know what my Mother meant when she said, "If you can't say something good about someone, say nothing at all."Give me forgiving eyes, compassionate ears, and a holy tongue so that I may be a blessing and not a curse, a voice of inspiration instead of doom, and an example of one who believes in a better future, instead of a pessimist; because I KNOW who holds tomorrow.Amen and amen.
For the director of music.A psalm of David.When the prophet Nathan came to him after David had committed adultery with Bathsheba.
1 Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions.
2 Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.
3 For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me.
4 Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are proved right when you speak and justified when you judge.
10 Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
13Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will turn back to you.
Have you ever experienced freedom; that transforming power that comes from God?
Let me introduce you to “Freedom,” the baby of Jeff Guidry and the story of a beautiful friendship; the kind of friendship we can have with our Lord and Savior.
Jeff’s baby is an eagle, one that was severely damaged when she arrived at the Sarvey Wildlife Center.Both wings were broken, the left one in four places.And, she was full of lice and emaciated.Jeff knew it was a long shot, but he decided to give her life and took her to a veterinarian for help.(http://www.sarveywildlife.org/Story.aspx?id=7)
After four to six weeks talking to her, urging her to fight for life and tube feeding her, she still couldn’t stand.The preeminent thought was that she needed to be euthanized if she couldn’t stand within a week’s time.He didn’t want to “cross the line between torture and rehab and death appeared to be winning.”
The agreed upon day was a Friday and Jeff made his (so-called) final visit on Thursday.As he entered the door of the vet’s office, he was greeted with smile after smile from the staff.A big, beautiful eagle was standing on her own and ready to live.It was quite the “ah-ha” moment and not a dry eye was to be found.
Freedom would never fly, but was glove-trained and fulfilled the true purpose God intended, educating school children.
God also had another purpose in mind; giving Jeff a reason to fight for his own life after being diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (a type of cancer that was in stage 3 at time of discovery).After eight rounds of chemo, the cancer was gone.Praise God!!!
After the good news, Jeff went to take his baby out for her walk, to the top of the hill on a misty and cold day and Freedom knew a miracle occurred.Jeff said “she looked at me and wrapped both her wings around me to where I could feel them pressing in on my back (I was engulfed in eagle wings), and she touched my nose with her beak and stared into my eyes, and we just stood there like that for I don’t know how long.That was a magic moment.We have been soul mates every since she came in.”
I have a soul mate too – my Jesus.And, I too, have experienced freedom, the type of freedom – the transforming power of God – as found in Psalm 51.
You see, I have had a broken spirit and a contrite heart due to my sins.And as Pastor Moore explained in our Bible study, to gain that kind of freedom that God provides, there are five steps as described in this Psalm of Holiness –
3. Surrender (yielding) to God’s will
5. Commitment to His glory
What does this mean to us?
1.Knowing that the price of sin is death, we must petition God for mercy.It is by His grace that we are forgiven after we earnestly confess.
2.In the process, we must totally surrender to His will for our lives so that we do not continue on the same, deliberate sinful path.
3.We are restored by His power and cleansed in a way that we cannot do without Him.
4.And, in ALL things, we need to acknowledge our dependence on and commitment to God.
Prayer of Confession (from the United Methodist Church)
Heavenly Father, we come before you admitting that we have not been all that you intended us to be.We are frightened despite your summons to courage; we are vengeful when you call for forgiveness; we are self-centered when you call for self-sacrifice; and we find ourselves confessing the same sins over and over.O Lord, do not stop calling us until we have answered; do not give up on us until we have accepted your demands; and never turn your love away from us – your love that summons us to be conformed to the image of your Son.Draw near to us with the strength of your Holy Spirit’s presence, so we that we might worship you with our lives as well as our words.This we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord.
My Prayer:Father, my dirty, stained life is being made new by the power of Your blood and Your sacrifice is more than I could hope for.Thank You for not giving up on this child.Create in me a clean heart and I will follow You.
I choose Freedom!!!!
In His Love,
≈ Devotional for Wednesday, April 30, 2008
(EDITOR'S NOTE:This is a response from one of our readers to last Monday’s devotional.Enjoy!)
I read your words this morning, "Stinkin' Thinkin'" and while I understood what you were saying, I took away another meaning from it.
You are right about folks always being the negative ones to bring unrest into a group of people who think positive.I have two sisters who are like this and I'm sure they get this from my mother.They believe they know it all and when proven wrong with facts, they will continue to hammer away until they find that one negative to make their point.I think they fear happiness.Their attitude for years has always been "What's the point in being happy?Something will happen that will take it away, so why believe in anything good and positive?"I can't live like that although I will admit I am guilty of having done that many times.But I realized if my sisters are right and things are really going to be unhappy, then I'm not going to sit and wait around for it, adding to the unhappiness that's coming.I'm going to get what I can from the joy I've received and this way my attitude won't be so bad when the unhappiness comes to pay me a visit.But the power of negativity is strong.I wonder why that is when thinking positive takes less energy.If I say I bought this particular appliance because it helps with the dust in the air, they will pooh-pooh it to death and by the time they leave my home, I'm either ready to buy a new machine or I feel so discouraged with my purchase, I no longer want to use it, regardless of all the research I did before I bought the item.They do the same thing with any choices I make in my own personal life as well as the lives of others including their children.For the most part, when I'm ahead of the game, I tend to listen, yes them to death and ignore them the rest of the time but let's face it, I'm not always on top of things, so that doesn't always work.I've noticed that while I don't do exactly what they do,I do think negatively in other ways.
For instance, my daughter, Carissa, will be leaving in 3 weeks to study in Europe.This will be the first time she'll be away from home for a long period of time.All these years while we planned for this trip I was so happy to help my daughter realize her dream.Now that the time is near I can't tell you how many negative thoughts have entered my mind to the point where I found myself wishing the school would cancel the trip in spite of my losing money.I realized soon enough it was just me being a mom… me dealing with separation anxiety and me realizing also that my baby is now a 20 year old who will soon be pursuing many more dreams.It dawned on me finally that I was dealing with empty nest syndrome even though my daughter still lives at home.It was getting so bad it physically hurt me.My chest would hurt, my throat would ache and I began to think of all the alone time I would have once she was gone because my life was all about hers all these years.
I began to get involved in a writers group and we began to meet once a week so I felt good that I had that one thing in my life to keep me busy.But as the time draws nearer to her departure I begin to think of all the things that can go wrong while she's away.I realized once again this is what life is all about.She's going to make mistakes where I won't be there to help her out and she'll have to think it through.Isn't that what I taught her lessons about?Isn't that what I talked to her about time and time again?I did all of this to prepare her for life and now that she's embarking on it, I feel so negative."Oh no!I'm turning into my sisters!"
Then it hit me.It's okay to feel sad about her leaving but only because we are so close and I will miss her.She'll be back.And she'll be a better person for her experience.And isn't this what I've always wanted for her?So how can I allow these negative thoughts to enter my mind?In doing this, I'm taking away all the special moments I can have with her until the day she leaves.I separated that emotion from my true happiness for her.I made plans to do things that I've wanted to do and now I'm actually looking forward to this experience.We both will grow from this.And it's awesome for me to know that even though I'm getting up there in age, I'm never too old to learn something new.
But something else happened when I read your devotional.I thought to myself that this is something I helped put together so that she could realize her dream.I want her to be happy.I dream of her fulfilling her dreams.So why if I'm thinking and doing all of these positive things do I let the negative come in?It's the enemy.They just can't stand to see any one so happy, so thrilled, and so positive. They can't stand to see anyone pursuing their goals because it's a reflection of what they didn't do, could have done but didn't.I realized I was allowing the fears and negativity of others to take away the joy of all that we worked so hard for to make this dream of my daughter's come true.My sisters would speak to me as well as my mother putting fear in me about letting my only child go so far away.I allowed that to happen.Once again, I allowed someone to take away my choices.
I'm missing her now and she's not even packed.I'm aching for her already.That familiar lump in my throat visits me each time I pass the giant duffle bag I purposely left in the foyer so that each time I would see it, I'd get in through my head, that she's leaving.And then another epiphany occurred.While I'm wasting all this time in the negative, I'm missing time with her, valuable time.Why am I worried about tomorrow when God has given me today?God will take care of tomorrow if I can handle today.While I'm wasting my time, my thoughts, my emotions on all of this negativity, I'm not living.Is that what God wants?Nope.It's not what I want either. T his is so hard for me to let go of but today's Stinkin' Thinkin' got me to thinking that it's time I cleaned up the loft upstairs and let the good air in.
All these negative thoughts are getting in the way of me enjoying the anticipation of her dreams, of her goals and of course of mine.I have been thinking of this for so long and it's just been bothering me to the point of making me walk around with a bad attitude.I'm usually a happy camper.I have found myself wishing for the day to come so that I can get over it and have her back home.Then I thought who the heck do I think I am?This isn't about me.Well it is... a small part.I realized that the devil (I hate using that word)... I realized that the enemy likes to come into my loft when I'm not doing my cleaning (praying) and leave little dust bunnies of negativity in there so that when they all add up, I'm fearful, I'm negative and unhappy and he likes that cause when I'm feeling this way, he believes that means I ain't doing my thing with God.When I'm happy I'm always praising God and thanking him, so why not mess with my head when I'm not so happy?Only one problem with this theory... it's when I'm feeling this down that I do reach out to God... So there Mr. Enemy.I'm cleaning house today... and letting God answer the doorbell if it rings.We know who's a knocking...
P.S.(Written the next day)
Today was much better.I did go out and took my list to shop for the last few things she needed on this wonderful journey of hers and I found myself touching each item as if was the last time I would see it (LOL).The folks in the store probably thought I was a nut.I caught myself before they called security. (LOL)
Then suddenly memories of all her "firsts" came flooding into my loft.I've cleaned it out a bit since I wrote to you this morning so that allowed some good positive thoughts to float on in.And I realized once again that God has blessed me so much.I'm going to experience another first with my daughter.Why on earth would I let negativity take that away?
≈ Devotional for Thursday, May 1, 2008
“Looking for Miracles (in all the wrong places)”
When Joseph arrived at Shechem, a man found him wandering around in the fields and asked him, "What are you looking for?"
Joseph replied, "I'm looking for my brothers. Can you tell me where they are?" (Genesis 37:14-16)
In 1980, Johnny Lee sang:
I've spent a lifetime lookin' for you. Single bars and good time lovers were never true. Playin' the fools game hoping to win. Telling those sweet lies and losing again!
looking for love in all the wrong places. Looking for love in too many faces. Searching their eyes, looking for traces of what I'm dreaming of.
Who are you looking for?What are you dreaming of?Are you looking for someone who will love you unconditionally and who will always keep their promises?Are you dreaming of someone who will always be by your side and never let you down?If so, please don’t give up; there is someone who loves you unconditionally and who will never let you down.
Johnny Lee’s song goes on to say,
Well, you came knockin' at my hearts door. You're everything I've been looking for.
There is someone knocking at your door Who is everything you’ve been looking for.He’s your miracle.If you hear His voice and open the door, He will come in. (Revelation 3:20)
If you’re looking for a miracle in your life, look to the Lord and His strength; seek His face always (Psalms 105:3-4).The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.Those who know and trust His name will seek Him and He will never forsake them (Psalms 9:9-10).
Johnny Lee ends his song with these words:
Now that I found a friend and a lover. I bless the day I discovered you…
The Lord says, “I love those who love Me and those who seek Me find Me.My fruit is better than fine gold; what I yield surpasses choice silver.” (Proverbs 8:17-19 - NIV)
Looking for a miracle?Don’t look in all the wrong places… Look to Jesus because He is your miracle; He will be with you always, even until the end of the world. (Matthew 28:20)
Bless the day you discovered… Jesus!
GospeLines Prayer:Thank You Father for forgiving us when we stumble, for never forsaking us as we seek You, and for continuing to knock when we fail to hear.Thank You that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, can separate us from Your love, our miracle, Your Son Jesus, our Lord.Amen and amen!
"…we can face Him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world."
There were many quotes and sayings I grew up with in Southeast Texas.One of them was about feeling out of place in a particular situation.That person would be described as a "duck out of water."
I remembered that quote on a Saturday morning while enjoying a one-night-get-away at a beautiful hotel resort south of Houston, TX.I stepped out on the balcony to see the hundreds of yachts in the harbor below.It was a foggy morning, the wind was blowing from the north, but the view to a land lubber was breathtaking.
My gaze fell upon the swimming pool below, following its 180 foot contour past the cabana and the waterfall, I spotted something unusual.I don't know if it was there because of the fog, but it looked perfectly content and appeared that the surroundings were not unfamiliar.It was a mallard duck, swimming listlessly in circles, unconcerned that he was probably in a restricted "For People Only" area.
Being out of place is more about how we feel regarding a situation than how we are perceived by others.
Sometimes it's about self-confidence, or the lack of it, that gives us discomfort with our surroundings.Some of us have been told for so long, "You don't belong!" that we have begun to doubt our worthiness.
God has made you in His image and has enabled you to live without fear or intimidation!
While the duck may have looked strange to me, it is likely that his ancestors inhabited that area long before the hotel was built.He was just reclaiming what was his in the first place.
You have a high calling in Christ Jesus!Let no one shoo you away from standing tall in the work of the Lord.
GospeLines Prayer:Lord, give me the bravado of the duck, so that I will not hide when someone tells me "Shoo!You don't belong!"Thank you for courage which allows me to float around in obscure places, and sometimes even swim against the currents of popular trend and meaningless ritual. Amen and amen.