Faith and Our God Most High

As I read through scripture, I choose to focus on the amazing names of God. With the craziness happening in our world—how encouraging it is to read “God Most High”. The Hebrew word for most high is Elyon. Combing it with El Elyon, it becomes the divine title our God deserves. He is the ruler of not only the universe but of everything that touches us. There is no other God that reigns over Him. He is the MOST HIGH God! Yesterday, amid some stormy situations, I called on my Most High God. It brought such peace and trust. My mind calmed as I rehearsed many of the things that are under His feet.

Often in the Psalms we find the phrase the Lord of Heaven’s Armies (Jehovah Sabaoth). When Hannah prays for a son in 1 Samuel 1: 10, she uses this name to cry out to Him. It expresses the infinite power and resources which God acts for His people. Her situation had gone on too long and she needed to make her God bigger. He answered. When I read and meditate on this title, God becomes bigger and more firmly established as the Most High God. Psalm 80:19 Turn us again to yourself, O Lord God of Heaven’s Armies. Make your face shine down upon us. Only then will we be saved. He is in charge, my friends, no matter what things may look like. When you are feeling small, call out to the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. It will stir your soul. No demon in hell can stand against Him. He is Lord.

Need healing? Cry out to Jehovah Rapha, the Lord who heals. Jehovah Jireh is the God who provides. All these titles describe an aspect of our amazing Lord and Savior. The most precious name of all to me is Abba Father. Adopted into His family, by the shedding of His blood, opened the door to a relationship with this Most High God! Add these titles to your prayer communication and you will grow in faith and maturity. There is nothing better than curling up in the Father’s Presence during struggles and disappointments. His Comfort is there. However, I can’t stay there and see things change. I must join with Him, using His powerful Word to bring the needed change. During these darker and difficult times, we must grow in our understanding of God’s power and the authority we have as His children. Through prayer we can watch things change, but only if we release our faith and cry out to the Lord of Heaven’s Armies!

Let us join to pray for our world. Do not let discouragement take over your life. Stand strong as a member of His Army. No victims here, but victors. Pulling down strongholds. Watching doors open, and lives changed and healed, in His Name.

Faith and Pressure

Lately it seems like many people I know are struggling with many different pressures of life. Financial challenges, relationship issues, physical struggles seem to be attacking so many of God’s people. Life seems to be harder for so many people right now. The winds of adversity have been blowing hard. The temptation is to want to find a way of escape from their relentless blowing–at least that is my initial response!

What is your reaction when adverse things begin to take place? Why is this happening to ME or my family? Does fear raise its ugly head and try to take root in your heart? Life here on this earth, comes with adversity. It just does. If we keep being surprised by them, then maybe we need to grow in our understanding of life on this earth versus life that will be in heaven. Scripture tells us that in this world we will have tribulation, but be of good cheer because He has overcome them.

But how do we handle the pressures of adversity? First we must understand we do not face them alone. Our God is with us, working all things together for our good. When natural winds occur, they clean the air, help distribute seeds for new plantings, and they help birds complete their migration. Strong winds test the roots of trees, causing weak rooted trees to be blown over so younger trees can take their place.

Winds of adversity in our lives often reveal our stamina or lack thereof. When things get hard and we want to quit, we have to “dig deep” as they say, and choose to stay the course. Choosing to continue on God’s path when these winds are blowing contrary takes perseverance, trust and tenacity. There are some things in life that there is no choice but to push through. I remember in the middle of laboring my son, I just wanted to quit. Since my body reacts differently than most women, I did not have the “urge to push”, so I just quit. I was tired and I didn’t want to “do it anymore”. In the midst of the pain, I lost sight of the goal. The wonderful nurse whispered in my ear, “in just a few more pushes you will be able to hold your baby, and we will all go away!” I don’t remember which was more motivating, the idea of seeing my child or the fact I could get rid of the annoying people telling me what to do, but soon our dear son was born. In reality, I had no choice but to finish that race. Other times, we must choose to renew our commitment and walk on.

When the pressures of life begin to assail, we need people around us to remind us of our purpose and plans. I am so grateful for the Holy Spirit and God’s Word that brings us hope and encouraging stability, but sometimes I need people who have been there and done that, to come along side and remind me that I, too, will make it! Storms do not last forever. As I walked the difficult journey after Darryl’s stroke, trying to come to grips with my new normal, I would have to stop and remind myself not to worry about the tomorrows. Matthew 6:34 so don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today. For you young parents, remember the current season your infant, baby, toddler, pre-schooler, elementary child, high schooler–is in will pass. The night feedings, the toddler tantrums and the angst of growing up, though difficult, are best done in the present–with an eye on the future. His grace is sufficient for our today issues. If you are facing storms in your marriage remember your vows and the reason you married in the first place. Take a deep breath and remind yourself of God’s love and that He is with you in every day circumstances. Seek His wisdom and His ways. Do not let your thoughts run rampant. Capture them quickly.

If things seem overwhelming and you need help, ask for it. Somethings are too heavy to bear alone. Humble yourself, if need be. Many times just talking about how you feel will bring perspective and understanding. This is why God has placed pastors, teachers and leaders in His body–if they can’t help, they can lead you to someone who can. Too many suffer in silence in their own island because they are embarrassed to reach out. Do not be one of those people, listening to the lies of the enemy telling you no one cares. It is not true. I am available! Reach out to me, if you need a listening ear. Many times I have shouted out my prayers to the Lord, or taken time to write my thoughts and prayers in a journal.. Simply taking the time to name your feelings (cares) and then cast them back to Him brings the relief and hope needed.

In the midst of so many facing adverse circumstances I have also been amazed at how many prayers God is answering as well. He is not far off, but a very present help in time of trouble. Do not be jealous, or disappointed if you see others getting their prayers answered, but be encouraged He is not a respecter of persons! Your time is coming.

Faith and Darkness

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it. John 1:5 NLT

A few weeks ago, our area experienced a large windstorm and our power went out. It was a cold, dreary, now dark experience. I am fortunate and live in the center of our town–so we seem to a priority for the power company. Many people’s power went off in the evening, while mine didn’t go out until 7:00 in the morning, but it was still difficult to see.

I had actually prepared this summer for expected power outages by replacing the used batteries in my best flashlight. It is a fancy type with flashers, a radio, a broad light and a typical flashlight type headlamp. I admit I felt a little smug—I knew where my flashlight was and I was prepared! I had an emergency light that extinguished the darkness.

My Bible, New Spirit Filled Life Bible, has a feature called “word wealth”. It is a help that gives a bit more insight into different Hebrew or Greek words. It defines the word “extinguish” in John 1:5. “Extinguish, katalambano Strongs#2638. The word is capable of three interpretations: 1. to seize, lay hold of, overcome. As such, v.5 could read ‘the darkness does not gain control of it.’ 2. To perceive, attain, lay hold of with the mind, to apprehend with mental or moral effort. With this meaning the verse could be translated, “the darkness is unreceptive and does not understand it’. 3. To quench, extinguish, snuff out the light by stifling it. ‘The darkness will never be able to eliminate it.’ Light and darkness essentially are antagonistic. The Christian’s joy is in knowing that light is not only greater than darkness but will also outlast the darkness.

Darkness can be disorienting, fearful and a thief. It can rob of us of joy, hope and expectation, because it robs us of our seeing. It gives opportunity for our imaginations to run wild. However, when we understand that our God is light. He has given us that light and with that light we are able to walk in confidence–because His word is a lamp to guide my feet and is a light for my path. Psalm 119:105 NLT When we find ourselves in “darkness” in any situation or difficulty we must run to God’s Word. That requires submission and humility, and maybe some time to actually seek out what it has to say.

There are a couple of things implied in this scripture. One is movement. We are looking to navigate through a dark or at least low lit area as safely as possible. The promise of this verse is that God’s Word will give us exactly that–enough light to move ahead. We may not be able to see clearly all around us, but we will have enough wisdom, insight or direction to safely take the next step. This involves trust and submission. Both things which aren’t natural in dark places. As we follow him and his ways we know that his path leads to life, truth and freedom. He will not lead us to wickedness or evil. Romans 12;2 instructs us: Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. We must be honest and admit when we walk our own selves into darkness through disobedience, sin. Before we can walk farther, we must repent, turn from our wicked ways and back to the light. Of course, this implies that we are willing to let go of our own selfish, fearful ways, and follow him. This lamp, God’s Word, that guides our feet will only lead us to knowing him and his ways in a deeper, fuller measure.

Sometimes, our paths do lead us into suffering and trials. It can feel very dark. I want remind you that this darkness does not have the power to extinguish your faith, love or future. When we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, we do not need to fear any evil lurking there. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me, your rod and your staff they comfort me. Psalm 23:4 ESV When we take the time to remember we are never alone in the dark places because our Sovereign God is with us. peace comes. When our walk with him, becomes more about our relationship with him, than what we think we want, we will choose to follow no matter when he leads.

My friends, the darkness of this world (Satan and his minions) do not control this world. Please understand, that God has not abdicated. He is ruling and reigning, right now, whether we see it or not (dark places). He wants us to understand and live our lives in such a manner. That is why it is important for us to follow him, because he not only has the light, but is the light of the world. The smallest candle has power over the darkness. He has commissioned us to be part of that light. Let us let our light (which was lit by him) shine bright in this dark world, it needs us.

Father, we need you to really help us understand how strong and powerful your light is. Every fear, torment and lie that rises up against your truth we turn back now in Jesus’ Name. We choose to walk in the light, we choose to follow the lamp you have given us (your word) and I ask that you continue to instruct us how to shine brighter in this dark world, In Jesus’ Name. Amen

Faith and Advent

Advent: the arrival of a notable person, thing or event. It’s here. The beginning of the celebration of Christ’s birth–definitely the most notable person we know! For the past three years, my dear daughter Elizabeth Haslet has created an interactive Advent coloring book. Each year focus’s on a different aspect of Christmas. It is an amazing opportunity for families to interact together with scripture, Christmas carols, recipes and places to journal your thoughts and make new memories. There are two pages for each day leading up to Christmas morning. Adding it to my December devotional time has helped me really focus on the season, instead of simply reading through the book of Revelation!

Day 1 is entitled an Invitation. She describes the joy of receiving an invitation to a birthday party, complete with anticipation, joy and maybe a bit of stress. But she includes a warning, if you will. But be careful. Please don’t miss out on the greatest invitation of all! To spend time with Jesus Himself. How awful to go to a birthday party and never get to spend any time with the birthday kid! We come because we care and want to be with our friend or family member. Jesus wants that too. He wants to spend time with you this Christmas. He wants to be in the middle of every decoration, event, food making, joyouse memories, and yes even in the messes and sorrows that can come at this time of year. He wants to be in the middle of all of it.

So open His invitation! Come and sit as his feet. Kneel if you want to, but let’s dedicate this precious season to Jesus. Let’s include Him in everything we do. As the bible says in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 “Rejoice always, pray with out ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

My friends, let’s choose to celebrate this wonderful notable amazing Savior. Traditions are wonderful in building legacy and memories, but they can be even sweeter if we intertwine our faith in them. Ask Him for creative ideas, He loves to share. One year, on Christmas morning we spontaneously began giving “verbal” gifts and words of affirmation to each other. It has become a very meaningful part of our family sharing time since then. Christmas card writing is dwindling away–but when I send cards I like to take the time to write something personal to each recipient. If I am going to spend the time and stamps–let’s make it meaningful right? I know many take the time to find the right sentiment on the card they purchase and that is very special as well.

Sometimes, we might need to stop doing a tradition. I have made fudge for my neighbors for a few years. Last year one neighbor glared at me (he and his wife are now divorced) and another neighbor chose not to answer their door! It might have been a Covid thing. (A whole other story) I’m feeling a bit intimidated about this year…but we shall see. I think I was forcing a “good” thing, instead of a God thing.

We know He isn’t the newborn babe lying in a manger anymore. But that did happen and it is a good thing to celebrate his advent, but even more our relationship with him.

Faith and Faith Accomplished

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Hebrews 11: 1 NLT

There are times when our faith is no longer a “substance of things hoped for”, it becomes real. For several years, I wrote a newsletter entitled “Real Women” as part of Impart Ministry (the mobile ministry we led together). The purpose was to encourage all Christian women, but especially those called into leadership, to pursue God’s best for their lives. Then my world shattered. My husband suffered a massive stroke, and I put everything on hold for the two and half years as I cared for him.. God took him home in 2012. I was at a loss on how to regain some kind of normalcy without him. Should I even return to writing?

Not only had my world changed, but so had the world. People weren’t too interested in printed newsletters, anymore. My children encouraged me to switch to writing a “blog”. With the help of my son and his research we discovered Word Press. He filled in all the forms and named it “Faith Encounters”. I loved the name and it challenged the scope and focus of each blog. My friend, Jim Stephens, writes Grace Notes everyday! I knew that I couldn’t possibly be that diligent and productive, so I settled on a once a week schedule. Some weeks I couldn’t wait to write, others I admit, I dreaded. Most weeks, it was simple obedience to my Lord that kept me writing. But weeks turned into months, which turned into years. Once again my children and some persistent friends, said, “Martha, you need to turn this into a book”.

As I was praying, struggling and thinking through the idea of really turning it into a book, I face the wall of finances. How could I in reality fund this project? Then, as only our Heavenly Father could do, He provided funding through another ministry, when my leader friend died from Covid. So that mountain was removed.

But, then I faced another mountain. The mountain of insecurity.and it rose up strong and proud. Why should I think people would want to read what I write? The “who am I” question pounded my emotions. Finally I settled it, when I simply asked: Lord, is this what you want? I felt Him say yes. So I began re-reading past posts, culling the ones that received the most responses and slogging through the editing process. It was work. It took time and energy and focus. I hit the wall of resistance so many times, I just wanted to quit. My daughter and son helped with some of the editing when I hit that wall. We truly need others to help us accomplish God’s purpose and plan in our lives. Some days my resolve came from “it’s a kegacy I can leave for my grandchildren”, along with the simple obedience,

Faith started arising as I could see it coming together. I got more comfortable with the rhythm of the process. Then I felt the Holy Spirit nudge me to finish it. I had grown comfortable in the in-between place, but I couldn’t stay there. I had to keep moving. One day in church, our pastor, Michael Hurley, said something about faith and words—and I felt I was supposed to ask him if he would write the foreword. I am not even sure if he remembered I was working on this project! Anyway, I stepped out in faith and asked! He said yes! I had to overcome my insecurity to ask him…another step of faith.

There was still another mountain left to climb. Which publishing company should I use? So many to choose from, so many choices to make. It was overwhelming. My friend told me about a company called ” Book Baby” and it seemed to make sense to use them. I did not have enough courage and confidence to approach the major publishing companies that pay you, so I went with Book Baby! So another faith step with so many learning curves to climb began. I learned to ask for help and wait patiently for those who could help me. As I released my faith, our God showed up in so many ways. I encountered His mercy, His provision and His grace. I asked our worship director (who is also a photographer) to take my picture for the back cover, and he made me look good!

My friends, there were a lot of starts and stops along the way. As I went through the editing process, and re-read some posts I had written, I thought “this is good stuff”. This past Monday, two boxes were delivered and I got to hold in my hand what faith had accomplished. I don’t expect it to become a best seller, but I expect it to encourage, comfort and even challenge the reader to expect to have faith encounters with our Lord.

If nothing else, it was a step of obedience. Only our God knows how this accomplishment will be used. What fruit it will bear. It is the same with each of our lives. Friends, keep on walking in obedience. Do not let the walls of resistance stop you from accomplishing God’s purpose and plan in your life—no matter how big or small it may be.

Whenever your faith becomes substance—please take time to celebrate and share your story. The Bible refers to this as your testimony. My daughter bought balloons and their family took me out to dinner to rejoice in what faith has accomplished.

My book is now available through Book Baby (store.bookbaby.com/book/faith-encounters) or through Amazon. It is the fruit of not only my faith encounters—but those around me. I am humbled. I wonder, is it the book that faith accomplished? Or the lessons learned along the way? I think it is both.

Father, please help us trust you to obey your leading, no matter how big or how small. I thank you for your grace, mercy and faithfulness, that every step of faith we take leads us to the substance of our faith as we walk with you. Encourage us today to keep walking, and obeying you, in Jesus’ Name, amen.

Faith and Quitting Part 2

But he that endures to the end, shall be saved. Matthew 24:13

After I wrote “Faith and Quitting” last week, I pondered some more what that really meant. If you quit a job, then you quit the job. No more paychecks, no more following their rules and policies, you are done. You don’t show up for work, because you have quit. So I began to ask myself, is my “quitting” worrying, being anxious, walking in discontent and trying to control my world as simple as that? Is it really quitting? Reality hit–was my declaration to quit emotional statements, or was I really convinced these things needed to get out of my life. Or did I simply take a leave of absence? If I am sincere about “quitting” these things, I must understand there is a process to each “quit”.

The problem with making such declarations, is they come back to haunt you! I was quite serious in declaring I quit, but the question is can we sustain such “quits”? Not without our God’s mercy and grace. Our sin nature likes to rise up strong and tall, it doesn’t like to change. But, I am so grateful we have a Savior who helps us in our time of trouble. Psalm 46:1, God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in the time of trouble (NKJV). Starting and stopping unhealthy habits do seem to bring more trouble than it might seem to be worth! But, when the Holy Spirit nudges or convicts of a need to change, then we must release our faith and believe that it is for our best benefit. I need His help to change. It is helpful to meditate on Hebrews 4:16 So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.

As I pray, seek Him and His ways, I find worry and anxiety falling away. During an especially trying moment last week, I called my sister Marie and asked her if she had any good encouragement. She said, “why, yes, I do!” She proceeded to share with me the blessing and insight that she had received the day before at her Bible study. Then she prayed for me, and as she did, the concerns and troubles that were bothering me, slipped away. I could physically feel peace return. It was so amazing, and I am grateful for her. I actually began to write “Faith and Quitting” after I talked with her. It’s humbling to admit we need others, but as Hebrews 10:24-25 declares: And let us consider how we may spur one other on toward love and good needs, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing but encouraging one another–and all the more as you see the day approaching. NIV We must admit we may be the one who needs spurring!

Hebrews 12: 1 urges us to strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. and let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. Every area that I listed that I need to quit, are these weights. They slow us down. Worry, anxiety, trying to control our circumstances slow us down from running the race He has called us to. Can you picture a marathon runner adding weights during their main race? Wouldn’t that be silly? God’s Word clearly instructs us on what kind of weights we need to get rid of,. Let’s examine our lives and be courageous to lay aside every sin and weight that would hinder our running. Do not fall for the lie that your race doesn’t matter. Each one of us are important to God’s Kingdom and others are following us. If it is important enough to run, it’s important enough to run well.

The “quits” I’ve listed are some of the weights that have slowed me down. I am working on “quitting” them because they aren’t healthy nor are they God’s best for me and the others around me. How about you? Do you have things you need to quit?

Father, please reveal these sin an weights that hinder our running the race you have set before us. I thank you for your grace and mercy as we make every change that is important to you. Please help us to make your priorities our priorities, In Jesus’ Name, amen.

Faith and Quitting

It’s been a busy full week–same for you? In the busyness of this week–mostly good stuff, important, stuff that needed to get done, I felt like quitting. Just curling up in my bed and forgetting about all of it. Have you ever been there?

So I decided to quit. I decided to quit trying to live more that one day or activity at a time. So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring it’s own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today. Matthew 6:34 NLT

I decided to quit being anxious about things that are out of my control. Cast all your anxiety on Him, because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7 NLT

I decided to quit worrying about God’s will and purpose for my life. Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 NIV

I decided to quit walking in discontent. Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound in any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. Philippians 4:11-13 ESV

I decided to quit letting subtle prideful ways direct my path. Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding, seek his will in all you do and he will show you which path to take. Proverbs 3:5-6 NLT

I decided to quit feeling that I am falling short, and choosing to walk in His acceptance, strength and grace. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. Ephesians 2; 8-9. ESV

These are a few things I’ve decided to quit, but in the quitting of them, there is the taking up or putting on of God’s will and purpose. I choose to walk in greater thankfulness and gratitude. I choose to trust Him and His ways. I will not let fear enter my heart, but I will choose to walk in faith. I choose to surrender to Him and His ways, knowing they are higher, better and more perfect for me that any other choice.

Father, please help me and others to quit doing things that oppose your work in our life. Thank you for the gift of the Holy Spirit who leads and guides us in all truth. Please help us in each of these areas. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

Faith and Strength

But the Lord is faithful, he will strengthen you and guard you from the evil one. 2 Thessalonians 3:5

As I read Paul’s encouragement to the church at Thessalonica, two things crossed my mind. That Paul was writing to real people, just like us who were facing so many challenges. Then I wondered, “how do you strengthen us, Lord?” I know it happens, but exactly how does it happen? What can we do to receive this strength?

There are so many amazing scriptures that talk about God’s strength. Lately, I have met many weary people. Life’s circumstances overwhelm some, some are victims of the enemy’s lies, some are at a crossroads and need courage to pick a path. In Exodus 15:2, Moses declares: The Lord is my strength and my song and has become my salvation. In someway, Moses has learned that the Lord is his strength. When I think I am strong, I don’t look for God’s strengthening. I keep relying on my own until I can’t. Then I call out to the Lord—help! Then, like David, who encouraged the Levites and priests with a song of thanksgiving in 1 Chronicles 16:11 to seek the Lord and his strength, seek his presence continually. (ESV) It is a good thing to seek him and his strength. Don’t shy away from simply asking for it. It is our privilege as believers.

Really, we must accept and know that his strength is available to us. It is a matter of releasing our faith and trusting that these words are true. David wrote Psalm 23:3. He renews my strength. When does this happen? When we take the time to lie down in the green pastures, he provides! If we discover we are lacking strength, it’s important to spend time in his presence. Sometimes it is humbling to admit we are weak, but unless we admit it, we can’t do anything about it.

After we realize we are needy and weak, then we must ask for him to strengthen us. Then we need to listen. The wise God may suggest we go to bed earlier. He may suggest a particular passage in scripture to meditate on or to put on some worship music. He may show us an area where sin has encroached, and we need to repent. Sin sucks life from us. He may show us where our priorities need to be shifted. It is important that we implement any changes the Holy Spirit shows us.

Sometimes, he may want you to head into the battle and trust him for the strength to be victorious. Have you read Hebrews 11: 32-34 lately? How much more do I need to say? It would talk too long to recount the stories of the faith of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, and all the prophets. By faith, these people overthrew kingdoms, ruled with justice, and received what God had promised them. They shut the mouths of lions, quenched the flames of fire, and escaped death by the edge of the sword. Their weakness was turned to strength. They became strong in battle and put whole armies to flight. These heroes of the faith became strengthened in the battle! So, he might tell you to stand up and fight the good fight of faith. Often, we may feel the only way to get stronger is to rest, but apparently, it is not so. Exercise your faith muscle and trust him.

We also gain strength through fellowshiping with others. Sharing our concerns with another helps lighten our load and infuses us with strength. Ask people to pray for you. Or reach out and help others. It can actually increase our own strength.We were not created to do life alone.

I want to remind us of Paul’s situation in 2 Corinthians 12:9 Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness. So not I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. We need to remind ourselves, he may not remove our weaknesses, but he may choose to show forth his strength in them.

No matter what, he wants us to grow closer to him. He is delighted when we come to him, asking for help and strength. Lean on him, my friends. He is more than able to get us through any situations, if we simply trust him and follow his ways. Do not let discouragement overtake you. Run to him, don’t let condemnation, fear, or anxiety keep you away from your Heavenly Father.

Father, I know what it is like to feel weak and needy. I am so grateful that you are available in our weakness to show forth your strength. Help us to run to you, seek you and rest in your presence when we feel depleted. Show us any areas where we are allowing our strength to be wasted, In Jesus’ Name, amen.

Faith and Consistency

A person who promises a gift but doesn’t give it is like clouds and wind that bring no rain. Proverbs 25: 14 NLT

As I read this scripture this morning, I realized that one attribute that I appreciate in people is those that walk in and with consistency. This is the person who you can depend on to keep their word. These people bring a safe element into the relationship. After I started thinking about this verse, I studied for our School of Ministry class. I always preview the videos before we watch them—and Professor Malmin, just so happened to be discussing the attribute of God–holiness. After discussing many different definitions of holiness, he shared one word: consistency. Our God is consistent. He is always the same! No shadow of turning is to be found in him.

Because of this consistency, we can trust him to be who he says he is. To do what he says he will do, and that makes him reliable, stable and trustworthy. It is God’s purpose and desire that we become holy, as he is holy because it is consistent with his character. He wants us to become reliable, stable and trustworthy because it will bring glory to his kingdom.

But immediately when I read that verse two things happened. To be honest, I thought of those who had “broken” their promises to me for various reasons, and then I thought about my own broken promises to others. Neither brought joy. Some of my broken promises came about when I spoke rashly (maybe in pride?); others because of legitimate impedance. Frankly, it caused me to stop and ask forgiveness and also forgive those who I felt had broken their promise to me. Right or wrong, broken promises cause damage to our souls.

Each of us is bound to break our word. Life is like that here on earth. We aren’t always consistent in what we want to do, are we? If that happens to you, do not ignore it. Go to the person and explain the reason. Ask their forgiveness and move on. Our pride rarely wants us to confess to others when we mess up. Instead, we try to justify and rationalize our actions and pass it off as “it wasn’t a big deal”. Maybe not to you, but to the other person who was counting on you, it might have been. So, clear the deck, admit it—and hopefully learn from it and move on.

Communication is always a good idea in these situations. When trust gets broken, it’s hard to rebuild if we don’t admit our wrong. And if someone doesn’t keep their promise to you, forgive them. (Maybe they truly did not know what they were doing). The promise of a gift comes with a type of hope attached. It creates expectancy, and when it doesn’t happen, discouragement and distrust try to move in. Therefore, leaders need to be careful what they promise—whether you are leading your children, your wife, business, or ministry. It is very important to follow through if you can. And if you can’t, explain it and ask for forgiveness. Do not ignore it.

Do not be rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven and you are on earth. Therefore, let your words be few. Ecclesiastes 5:2 ESV I think if we listen to the adage “think before you speak”, we will keep our word more easily. Words can be such a gift, or they can be a snare. Let us remind ourselves of Proverbs 25:11 A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver. ESV

Father, help us guard our mouth and use it for good. Let us be careful what we promise, because promises bring hope and broken hope makes the heart sick. Help us grow in this area, In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Faith and Living a Life Worthy

I therefore, as a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling which you have been called. Ephesians 4:1 ESV

Does anyone else find Paul’s admonition to “walk worthy” a bit intimidating? At times, it seems impossible to fulfill this high standard. However, it seems to be an important word for him and the Holy Spirit, because he exhorts not only the Ephesians, the Colossians (Col. 1: 9-10), and the Philippians (Phil. 1: 27-30)! He’s writing each of these letters to the believers in these churches, not just to the leaders. Therefore, we can infer it is to us, too.

So what does it mean to walk worthy of the calling. Some translations use the word “lead” a life worthy–but as I was thinking about walking, it occurred to me that it is something we need to do as we live our life. In the morning, at noontime and suppertime, too we are to walk worthy of the calling we have in him. First, we may need to release our faith and accept the fact it is possible. How do we do it? By trusting in the completed work of Jesus on the cross. There is no way we can do this without him, but that is not an excuse because we do have him!

We have to trust his ability to empower us to walk worthy in our every day circumstances. I think maybe it is our unrealistic expectations that causes us to try and overlook these exhortations. Paul goes on in Ephesians 4 to clarify the characteristics of a person who walks worthy of his calling. Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves together with peace. (Ephesians 4: 2-3). These are all attributes that can be developed, if we want to.

Our flesh doesn’t like to walk in humility. It doesn’t always enjoy being gentle–because it wants its own way. Learning to be patient with each other and overlooking one another’s faults, isn’t easy, but it is doable. We do it because we love we love one another. God has a good purpose for us walking worthy of our calling, it helps spread the gospel, or minimally it at least does not hinder our testimony!

And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.(Col 1: 9-10 ESV) Oh my fellow followers of Christ, let us move these exhortations up on our to do list. It is one way we can bear good fruit for his kingdom’s sake.

Father, I ask that you help us understand just how important this is to you. It is not optional, but important. Teach us how to walk worthy of your calling, for what is important to you we choose to make important to us. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

Faith and “Acknowledge”

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will direct your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6 NKJV

Have you ever felt “acknowledged”? Did someone notice and honor you for an accomplishment? As I pondered this word this week, I thought about how not only are we admonished in scripture to “acknowledge” the Lord for His position and authority in our life, but also because it brings him pleasure!

A basic definition of the word acknowledge is simply to admit the truth or existence of something or someone. I think, deep down, even the most shy introvert needs/likes to be acknowledged! We all do. There is an innate aspect of giving a emotional gift when we acknowledge someone for who or for what they do.

But in order for this “acknowledgement” to be a true acknowledgement—it must be done with genuine sincerity. To truly acknowledge the Lord, we must honor his position as Lord of our life. When we do, we position ourselves to receive from him direction, wisdom, and insight. We admit we don’t have all the answers and we will trust his answers for the direction in our life. It is important that we stop what we are doing, thinking, or planning and seek him for his plan for the situation, being willing to change what we are doing, thinking or planning. Not always easy, as our pride can get in our way. True acknowledgement puts us in a humble position. The good news is the promise found in this scripture—he will direct our paths, is dependable and re-assuring. Sometimes those paths lead through difficult terrain, but if we keep following it, we find ourselves in green pastures.

One way we can acknowledge God and his ways is to honor those he honors. In the United States, it is Pastor Appreciation month. As we take time to acknowledge our spiritual leaders for their service, we are acknowledging God’s gift to us.

1 Timothy 5:17 Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching.

Hebrews 13:7 Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith.

Hebrews 13:17 Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.

We can acknowledge and honor those leaders over us by praying for them, thanking them and, as the Lord leads, do a little extra! I want to encourage you to keep a “short” list with your leaders, walk in love, forgiveness and communicate. I will say it again, pray for them and love them. Walk in humility as God’s family, seek to build his kingdom. God loves his church and so should we. It is part of acknowledging his plan and his purpose.

Father, please teach us to take the time to acknowledge you—in all we do. To stop and allow your wisdom to lead and direct our paths. We know you love us and when we acknowledge you, we love you back. Help us love our leaders after knowledge as well. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Faith and Dressing

Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Colossians 3:12 NLT.

Does dress matter? Does it matter to the world around you what you put on? So how do you dress yourself? What is your style? Edgy, comfy, latest fashion? Thrift store chic? How do you select your clothing each day? Picking out clothes to wear each day is not always easy. The weather, the activities, and simply what is clean may affect our natural clothing choices. But as we walk with the Lord, Paul lists the attitudes we must clothe ourselves with if we want to be the holy people he has chosen us to be. He doesn’t give any exceptions. These are things we must put on every day. It isn’t always easy to be tenderhearted, have mercy, and walk in kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Famous people may have their stylists and “dressers” but no one can clothe us in these attributes except ourselves. It is a daily choice.

But the Paul also gives us another list. The putting on the armor of God. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. Ephesians 6:11. Are you like me? Sometimes you forget not only to put them on, but that you’ve even been given them? I think they are like some other clothes that get lost in the back of the closet. My friend mentioned them yesterday, and as I was reading them today, I felt others needed to be reminded that not only do you have them, but they must be put on with intention. Paul exhorts us to put them on so we will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. We know he has many strategies—that are sneaky and deliberately set to trap us in his ways. Without utilizing this armor, we subject ourselves to needless wounds and battles.

Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then, after the battle, you will be standing firm. Maybe you have been feeling pushed around and defeated. Check yourself. Have you been putting on the armor? Put on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:14-17 NLT.

My friends, we need to be properly dressed to face the world. We can’t just randomly grab “comfy clothes of the flesh” and expect to walk victoriously in this world. We need both lists to be effective lights. Dress matters. Make a fresh decision to put on both lists every day. If you do, you will be prepared to face whatever comes your way.

Father, you’ve given us these lists for a reason. We can trust that they are for our good and the good of your kingdom. My dear Father, we need your help in remembering to take the time to put on your armor and to clothe ourselves with these helpful attributes. Help us trust your wisdom that we need these things, and not be like children who don’t want to put on coats in the middle of winter. In Jesus’ Name, amen.