We received a wonderful email last Saturday morning from one of our faithful prayer warriors. Enjoy!
Good morning Sherry
I usually read the prayer requests and always know what the end will be like... and it's usually “Please Say A prayer for _________________.”
Well, when I read the above statement today, I read it as... “Please send your words of encouragement to God.”
Now clearly it says "Send words of encouragement to my brother ___________."
But then you know me, I'm always reading between the lines.
I said to myself... "Self... why can't we send words of encouragement to God?" It's almost like a Thank You... but I had a vision in my head that even though I know God can do it all... and no problem is too big for Him... He's got to hurt when he knows his children are hurting... Yeah, I know, people have told me, "But God ain't human." And, so what? If he can feel enough love for all of us, that's an emotion humans feel and I don't have to think of my God as human (cause I sort of like thinking of Him as, well, you know... something greater than what we are... cause He IS... ;o) I still believe that He hurts... that He feels... if He didn't, how is it possible to do so much for so many?
So today... my prayers will be filled with words of Encouragement to God.
"You go God!"
"That was great God!"
"Only You, God!"
"Thanks for the rain today, God. How'd you know the trees were a bit thirsty?"
"High Five, God. My friend received good news today."
"Way to go God".
Yeah! Today, I'm going to be God's cheerleader.
And you can thank my bad eyes for that... or your email for that. Or, you can thank God for that mistake I made when I first read your email.
"Let's hear it for GOD!"
"2, 4, 6, 8 who did God create? ME! YEEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAAA God."
Oh, okay, fine... "You go GOD, and thanks for creating those two special people, Tom and Sherry."
≈ Devotional for Tuesday: September 26, 2006
"You are tempted in the same way that everyone else is tempted. But God can be trusted not to let you be tempted too much, and he will show you how to escape from your temptations." 1st Corinthians 10:13 (Contemporary English Version)
Close your eyes and just imagine… you’re on an island filled with cheesecakes... all sorts of cheesecakes. How about – Godiva chocolate cheesecake; White chocolate caramel cheesecake; Original; Chocolate mouse cheesecake ; Dulce de Leche caramel cheesecake; or Vanilla bean cheesecake? Yes, these flavors really do exist at the Cheesecake Factory.
So often, we find ourselves in the midst of so many tempting desserts…too many to contemplate, and as our eyes are bigger than our stomachs, we will still attempt to eat the whole thing. Sometimes, we’ll say “no thanks,” but find ourselves eating “just a bite” of someone else’s. We know that cheesecake is the ruination of our svelte figure or maybe we shouldn’t have it because we’re diabetic.
No matter what the case, it’s so appetizing and it can’t hurt us this “one” time. So, off we go into that maze of delectable delights. Cheesecake comes dressed up, dressed down, with strawberries on top and whipped cream to boot. All of it disguised as just the thing you need to finish a delicious meal or to pick you up. You just have to have that sugar rush… that exhilarating high over the mundane things in life. Somehow, the delicious dinner you finished isn’t quite enough.
This time its cheesecake, another time someone else’s spouse or a friend. It’s that proverbial deal, what will it hurt… this “one” time? The problem is… its hurts the first time and every subsequent time afterwards. Even when you think no one knows…God knows and reveals all.
Dessert isn’t really necessary when we savor what God provides. Don’t let the mean monster, the fantasy, engulf you to steal your joy. Cheesecake comes in so many forms… 1st John 2:16 (Amplified Bible) says:
"For all that is in the world - the lust of the flesh [craving for sensual gratification] and the lust of the eyes [greedy longings of the mind] and the pride of life [assurance in one's own resources or in the stability of earthly things] - these do not come from the Father but are from the world [itself]."
A fantasy is just that… it isn’t truth! To expound further, when you lust after it, the next thing you do is lay with it. And, of course, you will eventually have to lie about it, due to the fact that you fell in Satan’s trap.
A lot of men and women have fallen for some great looking desserts. God ALWAYS offers us a way out and can provide us with his healing, restorative power -- allowing one to keep the covenant made with Him and with your spouse. You need only to abide by 1st Thessalonians 5:22 (King James Version), "Abstain from ALL appearance of evil."
Don’t give Satan the victory – leave the cheesecake where you found it and praise God for blessing you with what you need. Eating cheesecake can be hazardous to your health… literally and figuratively!
GospeLines Prayer:I pray for those who choose to live on Fantasy Island. May they know the love that only You can give. May we learn to love and appreciate that which You have so generously provided and learn to walk in truth.
May I hunger for Your word and Your touch, knowing that no matter what promises are made in our fantasies, we find peace and prosperity with You. Who needs a fantasy when God is real!
In Palestine the shepherd was totally responsible for the sheep. If tragedy struck the flock he had to produce some kind of proof that it was not his fault.
Amos speaks of rescuing two legs or a piece of an ear from the lion's mouth as a witness (Amos 3:12). It was the most natural thing for a shepherd to risk his life for his sheep, just as Jesus not only risked His life but gave it for those He loves.
What wondrous love!
Seldom are we called upon to stand in harm’s way to guard the life of another. We rightly applaud firemen, policemen, soldiers and many others who daily stand between us and danger. In our eyes they are brave heroes who are never paid enough for their protective services. They are called upon to walk through the inferno of our hellish society because it is their job to do it. Whatever motivates one of these to willingly make such a sacrifice, I doubt that it is love for the individual they are protecting at that very moment. There is no time to think about the person they are saving. They react because of the vast amount of training and preparation they have done to meet the demands of that one dangerous moment, without any thought to their own personal safety. God bless them all!
When Jesus was stretched out on the cross, as the spikes were cruelly driven into his feet and hands, He had not trained for that moment. There were no mock drills which would have prepared Him for that. How was He able to give so much? How could His Father allow Him to suffer such painful indignities, and ultimately become our fallen Shepherd who died while protecting His sheep?
It was because He looked out across the span of eternity, saw each one of His chosen ones, and loved me…and you so much that He was unwilling to allow Himself to be rescued. It was the only way for Him to provide an escape for His sheep. Thieves had broken into the fold; murderers had planned an attack upon my soul and yours, so that there was no other way but that He willingly give up His own life to save ours. That’s what good shepherds do.
W. M. Thompson writes in The Land and the Book: "A poor faithful fellow last spring... instead of fleeing, actually fought three Bedouin robbers until he was hacked to pieces with their khanjars, and died among the sheep he was defending." The true shepherd not only risked his life, he never hesitated to lay down his life for his sheep.
"I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me...just as the Father knows me and I know the Father...and I lay down my life for the sheep." (John 10:14-15)
GospeLines Prayer:"Wonderful Shepherd! You loved me so much that you stood between me and certain death, allowing my penalty for sin to be slain by your self-sacrifice. May your courageous act not be wasted on me for a moment! I praise you day and night for your limitless love." Amen and amen!
Anyone who has ever attended a marriage ceremony is familiar with the look of love in the eyes of newlyweds. Anyone who has been married for several years also knows that the look of newlyweds can all too easily be replaced with the look of complacency. It's not that we stop loving or caring; we just get busy with the issues of day-to-day life and "assume" that our mates understand. When asked, we'll say something like, "She/He knows I love her/him. Soon we'll have plenty put away for many years to come; so, we can take life easy; eat, drink and be merry."
Will you be able to "make up" all the lost special moments or all the opportunities to do the little things that keep that newlywed look alive? What if God said, "This very night your life will be demanded from you."? Then who will get all that "stuff" you've worked so hard to put away? (Read Luke 12:13-34)
"Since everything here today might well be gone tomorrow, do you see how essential it is to live a holy life?" (2nd Peter 3:11 - The Message) And, what does living a holy life have to do with marriage? "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy." (Ephesians 5:25) "Each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband." (Ephesians 5:33)
How can we do that? How can husbands love their wives as they love themselves? How can wives show respect for their husbands? How can we keep the look of newlyweds alive?
Here are a few suggestions, in no particular order:
• Be more tolerant and forgiving (even when the other person is wrong).
• Try to work the words “I love you” into all your conversations.
• Become more aware (of the effect) of your tone, expression and demeanor.
• Tell each other when you're busy, stressed, up-tight or just generally in a poor mood.
• Take time to ask: “What can I do to help?” (And then do it).
• Take time to just sit and listen (Without speaking).
• Sit next to each other whenever possible.
• Spend time together without interruptions. Unless there’s fire or blood, put the world on hold for a few minutes and reconnect each day.
• Go to bed together and get up together whenever possible.
• Respect each other’s schedule and work-load.
• Do your chores around the house (and each other’s chores) without complaining.
• Help each other deal with the stress of each day even if you’re not “in the mood.”
• Learn to rub each other's neck, shoulders and back without complaining.
I’m sure this list could be longer and it will be different for each couple. I pray that each of you will make your own list that is perfectly tailored for your marriage. But remember, it’s not about the list; it’s about your attitude.
Philippians 2:5 says, “Let this mind be in you that was also in Christ Jesus.” In other words, “Think like Jesus.” If we think like Him, we’ll speak like Him (words and tone). If we speak like Him, we’ll act like Him. He loves us so much that He willingly endured the Cross in our place. Maybe we can’t love each other like He does; but, that should be our goal…
“Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.”
- Philippians 2:5
If you had been in Galveston, TX the summer of 2005, you might have seen a new twist to the WWJD question (What would Jesus do?). Scrawled on the plywood which covered the windows of a beach house were both the question as well as the answer.
A Bermuda Beach homeowner spray-painted his answer to this much-repeated question in the area prior to Hurricane Rita’s landfall. “What would Jesus do? EVACUATE!” the sign said.
Christians struggle with that issue, especially in the face of impending danger.
What are our options when we get the breath knocked out of us and we feel that we are going down for the count of ten? Here we lie, bloodied and bruised from the battle, left behind in the heap of our own misery. You and I have been there before and will probably find ourselves in that predicament again one day. Maybe it will come from a well-meaning, albeit judgmental Christian who knows all the answers and has decided that you cannot consult the Father without their input. You know who I mean; they wear the robe of self-righteousness proudly, and walk around with a two-by-four projecting from their eye while magnifying the speck you have in your eye.
Sooner or later, every Christian who is doing what Jesus has called him to do is going to feel the agony of defeat. Not everyone to whom we witness is going to receive us well. In fact, there will be times when we are subjected to cruel words and hateful stares. We will be ostracized at work and in our families because of our faith. Loneliness will become common place and the only one who will stand beside us is the Holy Spirit. When that time comes and we are flat on our spiritual backside’s looking up at the world, we will have a decision to make. Do we stay down, do we get up and run, or do we get up and fight?
What would Jesus do? What DID He say to His disciples?
In Matthew 10, Jesus instructed His disciples to evangelize, but His instructions also came with a warning to beware of evil men. “If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake the dust off your feet when you leave that home or town” (v. 14). Beloved, there is a time for running away from a problem that is too big to confront right now. We are directed to be smart and uncompromising in our approach to spreading the gospel.
Jesus said it like this, “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore, be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.” (v. 16) What does this mean? A Christian is to be like a snake? Like a dove? Huh?
The serpent is viewed to be shrewd, the embodiment of intellect. To the Christian, this translates that we are to use insight, common sense and wisdom to do what is right. A serious attempt should be made to always discover the best way to achieve the highest goal, without taking unnecessary risks. Is this the best way to handle this problem or is there a better way?
And we are to be as innocent as a dove. In everything, we are to be as pure and gracious and gentle as a dove. It symbolizes that we are uncompromising toward evil, led by the grace and power of the Holy Spirit in our dealings with people. We are not to naively entrust ourselves to men, but it is our duty to avoid angry confrontations while praying for the grace of God to give us the right words to say in difficult situations.
In the face of danger, it is sometimes appropriate to evacuate rather than fight. Pray that God will give us the wisdom to discern the better course of action the next time we are confronted with evil. Amen and amen.