Yet I Will Rejoice

IM000067.JPGThough the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.    Habakkuk 3:17-18

Though I received another rejection for my article, though I can’t find an agent, though the editor says I have a lot of rewriting to do, though I’m having a tough time getting my thoughts down on paper, though the publisher is not interested in my book proposal, YET I will rejoice in the Lord.

Being a writer definitely has its negative side. Fear of rejection, actual rejections, writer’s block are experienced by all writers. We cannot avoid these things happening. Yet, the passion to write is still strong. God puts these negative aspects in our lives to build character, stamina, and courage to keep going. He wants us to write, but He also wants us to grow while on the journey. Don’t dwell on the negative. Learn from it.

Rejoice that God has given you the ability to write, Rejoice that there is a potential publisher who will love your writing. Rejoice in the act of writing, itself. Rejoice in the new insights you gain or the memories you retrieve as you write. Rejoice that God has given you another day to experience His glory.

Focus on the positives of being a writer. Let the joy of writing engulf you. Then no matter what happens you will be able to say, “Yet, I will rejoice.”

Dear Almighty God, It can be so discouraging to receive one rejection after another. Please help me to keep my focus on the positives of being a writer. Let me continue to experience joy in this passion You have given me. Most importantly, don’t let me forget to rejoice in You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen

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The Beginning and The End

clock-8“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.”    Revelation 1:8

Sometimes I wish I knew what the future will bring. Will I be able to move to the area where I want to live? Will I be able to afford to retire in three years or will I have to keep working? Will the US recover and turn back to God?

There are some things I don’t want to know, such as, when I’m going to die. I want to enjoy each day for what it is and not be on a specific countdown. I want to focus on life, my family, and my dreams. Death will come, that’s certain, but I don’t want to dwell on that.

The Alpha and the Omega, the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet, the beginning and the end. The Lord existed before Creation and He will exist long after this earth is gone. It’s difficult to comprehend that concept. Humans are restricted by time constraints. We began when we were born and we’ll end (in bodily form) when we die. Yet God knew before anything existed when each of us would be born and when we’ll die.

I find comfort in knowing that the Lord I worship is never going away. I also love the fact that through Jesus Christ I have eternal life with Him when my physical body no longer roams this earth.

All things are under God’s control. He determines the beginning and end of our lives. He IS the beginning and the end. If the whole universe disappeared today God would still exist. How awesome is that!

And how mind-blowing is it that this almighty, everlasting God cares about you and me. Knowing that God has always and will always exist, why would anybody put their faith and trust in anyone or anything else?

The Lord is the beginning and the end. Nothing happens on the earth or in this universe without His knowledge and control. Whether you are a believer or not, God has a hand in your life. You exist because it was His will that you would exist.

“I am the Alpha and the Omega”, says the Lord God. Because He is the one who gave you life, don’t you want to get to know Him better? He’s not going away.

Dear Lord, You are the beginning and the end of all things. You are everlasting. It was through Your will that I am alive. Open my mind and heart to know You. Lead me to people and resources so I can begin (or continue) the journey of knowing You.    In Jesus’ Name,  Amen

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Passion to Write

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“There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men.”   I Corinthians 12:4-6

Thank goodness God made each of us to be different. Imagine how boring things would be if we were all identical. Instead God gave each individual a unique combination of gifts, talents, and passions. Some of these are obvious. For example, my sister and my daughter have the gift of hospitality. They enjoy having people come to their homes for dinners and parties. I loath planning things like that and become very nervous if people are coming to my house.

Sometimes we don’t realize we have certain gifts or passions until later in life. That’s the way it was for me and writing. My father was a journalist and author. My son had two poems published. A few years ago I began wondering if the “writing gene” had skipped me. I decided to do some exploring and discovered I have a passion for writing. This passion has continued to grow over the years.

God didn’t just give me the passion and, like magic, I’m an author. I needed to take this new-found enthusiasm and develop it into a craft. It took me quite a while to figure out my writing niche. I tried writing in various genres. I read books on writing, I attended one or two writers’ conferences annually. I sought out a critique group to join. (I continue to read, attend conferences, and twice a month I meet with the group.) Finally God led me to what He wanted me to write – devotionals.

Are you filled with a passion to write? What are you doing about it? God gave you that passion for a reason. You might think you don’t have the talent to write. In the beginning I questioned my ability. If the passion to write is strong in you, you’ll be able to develop the talent. It’s not necessarily an easy road. It will take work and commitment to cultivate, but it’s worth it.

No matter if you are just discovering your passion or you’re a seasoned author you will need to continue studying the craft and receiving support from other writers. You will never stop growing your ability nor discontinue gathering knowledge on the art of writing.

And we are not alone. God gave us this passion. He is not going to say, “OK, I gave you the longing to write. Now you’re on your own.” Instead He is going to be with us every step of the way providing the motivation, courage, and stamina to pursue this passion. God wouldn’t have put the excitement to write in us if He didn’t want us to use it with His help and blessing.

We are not going to write in the same genre. As God gives people different gifts He’s given us desire to write about different things. Yet there is only one God and Spirit walking us through the process.

Now is the time to grab hold of your unique passion. Develop it. Use it. If you are faithful in using what God has given you He will be faithful and open doors for your writing to grow and reach others.

Dear Lord, Lift the anxiety I’m feeling about acknowledging my excitement for writing. Give me the courage to step out in faith and pursue this new path. Lead me to other writers for support and encouragement. Help me use this passion for Your glory.   Amen

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Pray

armor-of-godAnd pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep praying for all the saints. Ephesians 6:18

I’ve spent several weeks sharing with you the power and protection God provides through His armor. Each piece has a purpose in our battle with evil. After Paul described each component of the armor in Ephesians he ended with instructions to pray.

Prayer is powerful. In Live A Praying Life author Jennifer Kennedy Dean talks about the power which is released when we pray in Jesus’ name, “When we use the Name in prayer it has two effects. First, it gives us access to the Father. Because Jesus has given us permission to use His name, we are received in the Father’s presence as Jesus is. Second, when you use the name of Jesus you immediately have authority in the spiritual realm. . . . Your prayers in Jesus’ name – which means that you are speaking His desires – direct the will of God into the circumstances of earth.”

Our prayers open up pathways for God’s will to take shape. That is forceful stuff. Author O. Hallesby wrote, “This power is so rich and so mobile that all we have to do when we pray is to point to the persons or things to which we desire to have this power applied and He, the Lord of this power, will direct the necessary power to the desired place at once.”

We need to remember the power released is God’s will. The answers we receive may not be what we expect. Our prayers need to be directed toward what God’s will is.

How can we know the will of God and therefore unleash this power? He will reveal bits and pieces of it to us through Bible study and during those times we spend in quiet, hearing God’s voice. Through the Holy Spirit God’s will is revealed.

Jennifer Kennedy Dean goes on to say in her book, “All prayer is spiritual warfare. Every prayer that gains ground for God’s kingdom loses ground for the enemy. To pray is to be locked in combat with spiritual forces. Spiritual warfare is not a single type of praying; prayer is warfare. There is no reason for this to be an intimidating thought. The two opposing sides in this warfare are not equal. Satan’s army is pitifully weak and small compared to God’s.”

The name of Jesus holds unimaginable power and authority. By praying in His name that power and authority flows through us.

Unleash this power. Pray, pray, pray. We are strong and mighty. With the armor, the sword, and prayer every battle with evil we face will be won through Jesus Christ.

The battle is upon us. Continue to fight with courage and confidence knowing the Lord Jesus Christ is fighting by your side every step of the way.

APPLICATION:  Commit to spending a dedicated time each day to sit in God’s presence listening and talking to Him. Become knowledgeable of His will and then pray for His will to be done.

(This is my final post on the topic of the armor of God. I am going to explore the possibility of putting these together in an ebook. I’ll keep you informed. Next week I will begin a new series of devotionals on what I haven’t decided yet. If you have some suggestions please let me know. I am also going to start a mid-week devotional geared toward writers.)

 

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Thoroughly Equipped (The Sword of the Spirit)

armor-of-godAll Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2Timothy 3:16-17

No matter where you are employed there is most likely a book of policies and procedures for the company. This book is full of instructions so you know how to do your job and what the company expects.

The Bible is the book of policies and procedures for Christians. In our battle with evil the Bible is our SWORD OF THE SPIRIT. Through studying this Book we learn, by detailed instructions, how God wants us to live. Knowing this information becomes a powerful weapon equipping us with all we need to combat the devil.

The more we know the stronger THE SWORD becomes. We can rely on the promises given to us by God. Jesus Christ has already won the war and defeated Satan through His death and resurrection. The time will come when the devil will get what he deserves and will be thrown into the pit. In the meantime, we still have to deal with battles every day in this world. With the armor of God protecting us and THE SWORD OF THE SPIRIT in hand we are thoroughly equipped to fight these battles.

Study the Scriptures. Learn all you can about God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit. The more you know the more difficult it is for Satan to win any of the battles. To be able to bring Scripture verses to mind when going through sorrow, temptations, and struggles provides inner peace and the courage to face whatever is being thrown at you.

The Word of God, our SWORD OF THE SPIRIT, is the only weapon we need in our battles with darkness. The Holy Spirit will help us remember the verses we’ve read and studied when we need them. Use THE SWORD, trust in its power and you will not be defeated.

APPLICATION: Begin the habit of reading your Bible daily. Set aside a particular time of day, each day, when you can be still to hear and read what God has to tell you. Make your SWORD OF THE SPIRIT stronger each day.

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Changed Way of Thinking (The Helmet of Salvation)

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my dear brothers (and sisters) stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.  I Corinthians 15:56-58

A new neighbor moves in next door. All you see are guys on motorcycles wearing black leather coming and going from the home. You start to develop an opinion about your new neighbor and it’s not a good one. A few days later you are both outside and he strikes up a conversation. You reluctantly go over and talk to him. Within a matter of minutes your opinion of him takes a 180. He really is a great guy. And all his motorcycle friends are part of the group who go to military funerals to protect the families from harassment Your way of thinking about him completely changes.

Living in today’s world we are bombarded with all sorts of temptations. It is easy to get caught up in things that aren’t good for us, but at the time look harmless. For example, there are several TV commercials about the fun to be had at a casino. Now I’m not saying to stay away from there. I am saying we need to keep our wits about us and not blow the family budget. However, for some people going to a casino starts out as fun but before they know it they are on a slippery slope to destruction. Their way of thinking turns to the worst.

Having Jesus Christ in our lives changes everything. Having the Holy Spirit as our guide helps us discern between good and bad. THE HELMET OF SALVATION given by God protects our mind from the temptations which can destroy it. Once we put on THE HELMET our way of thinking changes. We begin to see the lures of the devil for what they are – a means to destruction.

With THE HELMET OF SALVATION securely on our head we don’t lose sight of what Jesus did for us the moment we accepted Him as Lord and Savior. When we wear THE HELMET our mind can tell when something is good and when it’s a trick of Satan to draw us into something bad.

Accepting THE HELMET OF SALVATION and wearing it is a mind changing experience that will never go away. Your way of thinking about this world will be changed forever and you’ll be able to focus on the good things God has planned for you.

APPLICATION: do you need a mind adjustment? Are you struggling with a situation and you don’t know which way to turn? Seek our a trusted Christian friend or find a pastor to talk to. Let them help you put on THE HELMET OF SALVATION so your thinking will be clear.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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You Will Be Rescued (The Shield of Faith)

armor-of-godHe will cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you will find refuge; His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. Psalm 91:4

All of us experience sorrow, tragedy, difficult times throughout our lives. No one is immune to these occurrences. We all have dealt or will deal with the death of loved ones. Perhaps there’s a loss of employment through no fault of our own. During the recession many of us loss money in the stock market plans which were to be our financial support when we retire.

This is not a perfect world. Bad things are going to happen. There is no way to avoid all of them. Most of the events will seem very unfair and out of our control. How do we respond?

We can wallow in self-pity. Thoughts of revenge can consume us. We can withdraw from society and loved ones. Or we can rely on THE SHIELD OF FAITH. We experience negative events because the prince of darkness is throwing around his power and influence. God is letting him have his time. However, as Christians we know that time will end and Jesus will come back to overthrow Satan and his power.

In the meantime, let God provide comfort, inner peace, and protection through THE SHIELD. He has promised to be our refuge, a place to escape when events of this world close in on us. He is faithful to His promises. The SHIELD OF FAITH is not only a reminder to have faith in God, but it is also a symbol of His faithfulness to us.

THE SHIELD is strong and solid. Nothing Satan can do will ever destroy God’s promises and faithfulness to us. He will try. We can count on that. However, we can count more on God placing THE SHIELD in front of us to divert the devil’s plans just as a mighty shield in battle diverts arrows aimed at it.

APPLICATION: As you experience rough times in life go to your Bible. Read about God’s promises to you and rely on His faithfulness to keep those promises.

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Live The Gospel (The Shoes of the Gospel of Peace)

armor-of-godEach one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. I Peter 4:10

Mother Theresa lived the Gospel every day. She used the gifts God gave her in places from which most of us would stay away. She embraced the peace and humility of Christ and was a model of His love everywhere she served. She wore the SHOES OF THE GOSPEL OF PEACE.

Peter tells us in his first letter that we are to love one another, offer hospitality, and serve others. In other words we,too, are to wear the SHOES OF THE GOSPEL OF PEACE.

Each of us has been given certain gifts from God which we are expected to use to His glory. We are not to feel pressured and anxious when using these gifts. Through our actions others should be able to witness the peace which can come only from God.

It rattles Satan when we keep our minds clear and maintain self-control as we are living our lives. He would much rather have us filled with anxiety and fear. His desire is for us to lose our cool when things don’t go the way we think they should. What better time for the devil to invade us.

I’m sure Mother Theresa had moments of anxiety while doing her work for God, but she did not let it take over her life. She continued bringing God’s love and peace to people who would otherwise never know Him.

Jesus demonstrated the GOSPEL OF PEACE throughout His life. He spent His time ministering to others, healing them, releasing them from demons, feeding them, even washing their feet. He maintained control and peace while using His gifts. Even when the Pharisees were trying to trick Him into saying something He could be arrested for, Jesus didn’t become anxious. He answered the questions calmly and truthfully.

The SHOES OF THE GOSPEL OF PEACE are the part of the spiritual armor which keeps us free from the control of anxiety. The SHOES help us follow the example set by Jesus and exhibited by people like Mother Theresa. We can use our God-given gifts and do the work He plans for us without anxiety and worry. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the GOSPEL OF PEACE. God will provide the strength we need to use our gifts in serving others.

Keep your feet tight in the SHOES, live the GOSPEL OF PEACE and Satan won’t stand a chance of winning the battle.

APPLICATION: Pray daily asking God to give you the peace of mind and the freedom from anxiety to live out the Gospel message.

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Stealing – Is It Worth It? (The Breastplate of Righteousness)

armor-of-godill-gotten treasures are of no value, but righteousness delivers from death Proverbs 10:2

We read in the newspapers and hear on the news stories about embezzlers. These people believed they could sneak money out of their employers’ accounts without getting caught. In the end they not only have to pay all the money back, they spend time in prison as well.

Satan enjoys making people believe it’s OK to take things that don’t belong to us. He wants us to think we won’t get caught and there will be no consequences for our actions.

The BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS guards our hearts from giving in to the temptations placed before us. It reminds us that no good can come from stealing. Nothing of earthly material value is free. Eventually we have to pay for it, either up front in order to obtain it or later by paying the penalty for taking it.

People wearing the BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS during these battles are able to resist the urge to take what doesn’t belong to them. They don’t have to fear getting caught and punished because they’re not giving in to the allurement provided the devil.

These temptations can be very strong at times. Satan knows when we are the most vulnerable. He is aware of where to stick it to us that can do the most damage to our lives. The BREASTPLATE is God’s barrier placed in front of us to stop the evil seductions from penetrating.

The devil’s enticements have no control over people who employ God’s protection and rely on Him to help them resist. Wear the BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS with confidence and trust that God will help you stand up against whatever Satan puts in front of you.

APPLICATION: There are many forms of stealing – from taking material things that aren’t ours to cheating, plagiarism, or blackmail. Are you facing any of these temptations today? STOP! Think about what you’re doing and go to God for strong resistance before you go any further.

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Fake or Real (The Belt of Truth)

armor-of-godLike a scarecrow in a melon patch, their idols cannot speak; they must be carried because they cannot walk. Do not fear them; they can do no harm nor can they do any good. …But the Lord is the true God; He is the living God, the eternal King. When He is angry the earth trembles; the nations cannot endure His wrath. Jeremiah 10:5 & 10

Have you noticed how many expensive items in stores have cheap copies? There are purses which look almost like Coach bags. You can find factory made copies of designer fashions. It didn’t take long after Prince William and Kate Middleton announced their engagement that copies of the ring were found for sale online. If you are looking for the real thing you often have to examine the item closely to make sure it’s not an excellent copy.

In the Bible we are told of the idols worshipped by the pagans as if they were gods. Some of these idols were magnificent, made of gold, silver, and fine wood. But they were made by human hands and had no power.

Idol worship was so prevalent in the world that when God gave the Ten Commandments to Moses He included, “You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself an idol in any form.”

The Almighty God of heaven and earth is the only one true God. He is the original. All others are fake. However, Satan wants us to think otherwise. He places doubts in our minds, making us question if there isn’t something else out there pulling all the strings.

The evil one tries to twist God’s words around in an attempt to get us to think we are in control of our destiny; that we are god of our own lives.

Therefore, it is extremely important that we put on THE BELT OF TRUTH. With it we can defend against Satan’s endeavors to place doubts. THE BELT allows us to distinguish between the true God and all the fakes which occupy the world. We can discern the truth from the devil’s lies. Satan is masterful at disguising cheap copies to look like the real thing. Don’t get pulled into the deception. Cling to THE BELT OF TRUTH. Through it God will always show you what is real.

APPLICATION: Examine your life. Are there idols you are “worshipping” in place of God? Some examples of these idols are money, prestige, material possessions, even yourself or other people. It’s time to clean house and place your focus on the only true God.

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