May today be a day that you will receive God’s joy in an unexpected way. He is always setting things in place for us, but sometimes we get too busy to even notice. May this be a day that you take a moment to slow down and see what joy He is placing in your path. Then take a moment to reflect and thank Him. I always love those sweet moments.
Every now and then there is a media frenzy when a lottery gets up over one billion dollars. Whenever that happens, my husband and I start discussing what to do if we would win. I am sure there are a lot of conversations in other households doing the same thing. What would you do if you won the lottery?!
So, we have the fun of strategizing what we would do with our winnings. We could pay off all of our nieces, nephews, brothers and sisters’ home mortgages or even build them new dream homes. We could build ourselves a new home on a peaceful lot with the view of Pikes Peak. Of course, there are dear friends in our lives that we would love to bless also. We could buy a warehouse building and remodel to our pastor’s specifications so he could expand and fulfill his Godly planted visions. We could give all the church staff a special bonus plus all the church volunteers. We could give a huge sum to my niece’s ministry. Then we could give unbelievable donation amounts to other ministries that are close to our hearts. On and on our list goes, but then our bubble is burst as someone else wins the lottery. Wait - our bubble wasn’t burst after all.
This all got me to thinking that all of us (yes, including you) already are winners. It’s far more than winning any lottery! Well, it wasn’t me thinking on my own, God nudged me and planted this in my heart. He has blessed us in so many ways and it all points to the awesomeness of who God is. Jesus suffered, bled and died for us. His love pours over each of us every day in so many ways. No lottery can buy that!
What are some of your daily lottery blessings? Here’s just a few for me. My husband and I have one another. Each and every day is a blessing to be together - to be happy, laugh together, work together and just to be together. No lottery can buy that! We had such wonderful parents that loved us and modeled Jesus’ love. They daily spoke His truth over us. No lottery can buy that! We have such special friends and family. Some even mentor and challenge us as we grow in our relationship with God. No lottery can buy that! We have a great church where we are fed. Our pastor teaches and speaks Jesus’ truth to us; he challenges us as to how to apply it in our daily lives. No lottery can buy that! We are blessed that we can give to others whether it be a meal, time or a simple gift card when life seems overwhelming for them. Then what comes back to us in thanks – no lottery can buy that! I have a weekly women’s Bible study where I have gained special life-long friends, received Godly wisdom from our dear teacher, plus an opportunity to freely worship and most importantly to sit and soak in His presence! No lottery can buy any of this!!
Yet, there is one more huge and far greater thing than any lottery blessing! No price can ever be put on it! Jesus died for us so that we may have life and more importantly - eternal life. He died, and all our shortcomings and sins were washed away. His love is over and above what one can fathom. He stands in the gap for what we deserved and died on the cross. What greater blessing and love is there than that! He died so that we may have life and have it to the full. There is no billion-dollar lottery that you could exponentially multiply that could bless us as Jesus has blessed us. Take a moment and soak in that blessing!
So, in closing I speak His blessings over you:
May the Lord bless you and keep you, may the Lord make His face to shine upon you and be gracious to you, and may the Lord lift His countenance (favor) upon you, and give you peace. Numbers 6:24-26
Or as the Message version reads:
God bless you and keep you, God smile on you and gift you, God look you full in the face and make you prosper. Numbers 6:24-26
Take time now to sit and soak in His holy presence and recognize blessings that are overflowing in your life. Blessings that are far greater than any lottery blessings. He is with you, He loves you and His favor is upon you. You are abundantly and richly blessed!!
It’s so hard to have perfect peace in this fast-moving world. One turns on the news and it’s difficult to have peace as you listen to or watch all that is happening. Then you get to work and what was to be the start of a good week, things happen over the weekend and the whole week begins turned upside down. Your child starts in a new school and comes home crying after the first day. It may be that you or a loved one has been given a diagnosis that spins your world in a whole different direction. Or is that you felt you were finally turning the corner with your finances, then a pipe in the basement springs a leak, the washer breaks down or some major part on the car goes bad? The list of peace robbing circumstances can be endless.
Then as one negative thing pops into your life, your mind runs out of control with it. Pretty soon, one is way past what the present circumstances are, and you let it snowball into the “what if” world. Well, the washer broke down and we have to replace that, then what if the refrigerator goes bad. Well, then if that happens, we won’t have enough to go on our trip that we have planned in three months. What if we lose our deposit that we put on the condo. If that happens, we will not only lose our vacation, but our deposit and we lose that much more financially. Pretty soon before you know it, you have taken yourself five years down the road of negativity and you are totally broke and filing for bankruptcy! This all sounds rather silly, but it sure is a trap that I can fall into.
It can spiral me out of control into a tailspin of negativity. Worry and fear comes in and it’s all for things that I have no control over! But as I’ve grown older and my relationship with Jesus has deepened, I have gained more wisdom and know to place my trust in Jesus even when my situation is spinning me another direction. I do what He has told us to do so many times in the Bible – to cast our worries and fears upon Him. Matthew 6:25-34 teaches us how He feeds the birds and “clothes” the flowers. They do not “labor or spin” (Matt 6:28). This whole section Jesus tells us not to worry, but instead to first seek Him and His kingdom!
Right now, if you find yourself spinning out of control, I want to pray and speak Jesus’ perfect peace over you. Stop and take a moment to circle your negative circumstances in prayer. Give your circumstantial worries and fears to Jesus. Worship Him knowing full well that He has you taken care of today, tomorrow and forever. Know that you and your family are far more valuable to Him than the birds and the flowers that He so meticulously cares for, but as Matt 26:26 states: “…. Are you not much more valuable than they?” Plant in your heart how much Jesus loves you and cares for you. He is already working on what you are worrying on! As you diligently seek Jesus, you will find Jesus’ perfect peace, no matter what your situation is. Know full well that God has you. He covers and cares for all of us and for that I turn and sing praises to Him.
“Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow…” Matt 28:33-34a
It’s that time of year when we settle back into our routines – school start up, new Bible studies beginning, after school scheduled activities happening, etc. Summer vacation is only a distant memory now. For me it seems that the more I get back into my routine, the more caught up I get in busyness. One thing seems to multiply and produces another thing to do! I rush here to get this done, then more commitments creep into my schedule with more follow-up and work attached. Plus, another small group begins that I feel compelled to be a part of it. On top of all those things, I need to get my regular morning work outs in which were so seamless to do doing the summer. Along with that, I need to keep up with the healthy meal planning, and on my lists go. Even as we review our day and our lists, there are a lot of good things. Yet even when it is “good stuff”, it begins to spin out of control. Does any of this sound familiar to you?
When all the busyness whirls around me, then somehow, my time with God seems to quietly slip away. I hardly notice it to begin with because I’m doing “good and necessary things” or so I tell myself. But as my quiet time in His presence gradually disappears, then I notice that my peace and joy start to dissipate also. It’s very subtle to begin with – a few more “short” and irritable responses creep in to those around me. The enemy sees me as “prime bait” and piles on more distractions to keep my time occupied and away from God. The spirit of dissatisfaction slithers in and leads to less peace and joy. In fact, at times, there may be NO days of peace and joy. It all happens because I am unable to prioritize and lay down some things in order to spend time with Him.
Yet, God is so patient, and He gives us full control and choices with our lives and schedules. He knows what His plan is for us, but He allows us to make the day-to-day decisions. As we head off in our own “busyness” direction, He waits, then He waits some more. He so longs for us to lay down these things and to share our burdens and concerns, but most importantly – to just come and sit awhile in His presence, soak and be with Him. Receive what He is offering – His unfathomable love, His peace, His joy, His listening ear, His Word that is only specific for us. He is there to give us rest and restoration, and to build us back up again.
My whole perspective changes when I spend time in His presence. He may ask me to “lay down” some things. Yet there are times when my commitments may not change nor does my schedule change, but my point of view changes. My priorities change. This only happens when I take time with Him and hear what He is speaking for me.
It reminds me of when I was a child. I would get off the bus and run to the house because I knew my mother’s arms were wide open to welcome me. She would sit me next to her or in her lap and ask about my day. I knew I had her undivided attention. She leaned in as I shared every detail whether it was good or bad. I still can see her loving eyes, feel her gentle arms around me and hear her words, “I love you” or “It’s going to be OK.” We also delighted together in my celebrations of joy – a new special friend, a test grade that I studied so hard for, positive words from my teachers, or just something funny that happened that day. Yet, there were times when I would just sit next to her – feel her presence and love – no words even needed to be spoken. She loved on me because I was there with her. Her peace and joy flowed into me - I knew all was well by just being in my mother’s presence.
Isn’t that what Jesus wants? For us to take a moment to be in His presence – share our burdens, share our joys, and at times to “just be” and sit quietly with Him. Receive His love, receive His words of encouragement and truth – receive Him. As a Cody Carnes song, “Nothing Else” declares, if we are “caught up in His presence…. nothing else (matters), nothing else will do.” Just as my mother waited for me after school, Jesus waits for us. He waits and so loves when we spend time with Him, just as mother listened and loved on me when I sat with her. Her presence was all that mattered to me. She gave me strength and encouragement to look with anticipation to the next day. If my mother gave me this, can you only imagine what Jesus’ love and His empowering presence can do for us?!
His unfathomable love and gentle words will strengthen us for whatever lies ahead. He will comfort and build us up for whatever we face. He will help us prioritize, if we relinquish to Him. He will give us His undivided attention every time we fall at His feet. His joy and peace will be poured into us. All He is waiting for is for us to come and sit in His presence when “nothing else will do.”
“Now may our Lord Jesus…. comfort you and strengthen you in every good thing you do and say.” 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17
Back-to-school is everywhere around us this time of year. Either school has already started, or it is just around the corner wherever you live. With a fresh new school year comes the excitement of new beginnings. Then usually tied to that are the questions of the unknown and what it will be like really.
As a parent, you pray for the teacher to love and care for your child, but you also pray that the teacher sees the potential in your child just as you do. That he/she will nurture and help your child to blossom and grow. Whether you are in the midst of a new school year or even if it is distant memories for yourself or your own children – whatever the case, it is as if it were yesterday. Such clear memories of the excitement, yet the apprehension of stepping into a new realm.
I clearly remember my first day of kindergarten. Looking down at my crisp new dress as I rode the bus for the first time. I knew Mom wouldn’t have put me on the bus if this wasn’t going to be a good thing. I also knew that my older brother was just a few rows back and ready to intervene for me if things weren’t as they should be. After all, he planted me right in my seat and said he was nearby. Then arriving at school, our teacher welcomed us into the classroom and showed us each our little cubbies and where we were to sit. It seemed that all was well, but I still can feel those little butterflies in my stomach. I couldn’t see or know where all this was leading. Can I do this? Do I have the skills to do what is expected of me? Then the morbid thought of what if I fail?!
Have you ever felt this way? Some place that you know is where you are to be going. In fact, it may even be a place where God is leading you. Yet, there is letting go of the safe feeling and control of the well-known. Asking God questions if He really is sure that this is the direction you are to be going! A little apprehension, just like the first day of school. Even when I knew that I was to be there, it was still hard to settle in and want to just forge ahead, knowing that it was all going to be good! When I know that it is God leading, I still wonder the same things that I thought when I was in my first day of kindergarten. Can I do this? Do I have the skills to do what is expected of me? Then the morbid thought of what if I fail?!
The good news is when God calls us to embark in a new direction, we know it is safe and it is good. Just like my mom, He would never send us where we should not be going! In fact, whenever He calls us into something higher and more challenging, that it will be far beyond what our own expectations could ever perceive. All He is asking is that we will be obedient. He is leading us into a new adventure and our own “promised land.” There may be giants we are facing, but if we step into the challenge, then He has so much for us, and He so wants to bless us. He only asks that we take His hand, trust Him, listen to His words of guidance and encouragement. It really will be beyond our wildest dreams that we could ever plan for ourselves!!
“But recognize today that the Lord your God is the one who will cross over ahead of you…” Deuteronomy 9:3a
In their hearts, humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps. Proverbs 16:9
We can make our plans, but God determines our steps. Usually when we get up in the morning and before our feet hit the floor, we are planning our day and prioritizing the “to do lists”. But in the midst of this busyness, why not first give it to God and ask Him what He has planned for us, have Him help set our priorities, and ask Him to open our eyes as the day goes along to what He has set before us. Allow His plans to trump our plans. So, go out and have a blessed and enjoyable day knowing that God is determining your steps.