Something New To Do

Got any ideas of some good things you could do? Let’s start a list. Give to a food bank. Take food to a sick person. Call your mother. Run errands for a new mom. Keep nursery at church.

These four words hit me right between the eyes: “Learn to do good” (Isaiah 1:17). God was teaching me that on my own, I don’t know how to “do good.” But I also sensed God saying very clearly that there is kingdom work that God wants me to do that will require me taking the risk of learning new things.

God doesn’t want us to only do what’s comfortable, but sometimes God asks us to do something new. Are you willing to learn a new way of serving Him?

 

I Know Where Home Is

Home is where you put your feet up. I know my children’s friends are feeling comfortable at my house when they start reaching in my cabinet for a glass then helping themselves to the juice in my fridge. And I like it that way! I want them to feel at home.

God invites us to be “at home” with Him. Home is where the Father is; He oversees our wellbeing and loves us more than any other. He made us and He is Lord. God said, “The ox knows its owner and the donkey its master’s crib; but Israel does not know, My people do not understand” (Isaiah 1:3). We are more than God’s animals allowed to rest in His barns. We are His people. If an animal can innately realize who its owner is, where the safety of home is, let us stay mindful to stay close to the Lord and be at home at His side, the place where we belong.

Here’s Wishing Children Would Be More Grateful

You read that title and either thought, “Yeah! My kids are so selfish!”, or you thought, “Oh no, here’s another ranting parent.” If you’re a parent, you’ve thought it, even if you felt guilty about it: why can’t children be more grateful?

When you set the leftovers on the table, why can’t they say, “Momma, it was so good the first time, I can’t wait to see how yummy it’s gonna taste at this meal, too!” Why not?

God said, “I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against Me” (Isaiah 1:2). Ouch. Rebelled, Lord? Now I’m no longer wondering what’s wrong with my children, because they get their ingratitude from me!

I can do nothing about my past failures, but I can start anew today with my heavenly Father. Lord, teach me to obey you with a heart of gratitude!

 

A Secret in My Boots: Secrets Day 2 of 2

Here’s my secret: I wear Christmas socks all the time with my boots. I’ve got candy canes, elf stripes, Santa faces, you name it, tucked away in my boots, and it just makes me happy all day long. I grin at myself.

As Christians, we’re to have great joy in the Lord always, and we’re to spread that joyfulness with the world around us. I’m very content to spread the word of who He is and what He has done in my life. But I also have a secret joy, a special closeness between me and God that He and I share together. It’s my private relationship with the Lord, so intimate because sometimes I tell the Lord things that I only want Him to know, and I hear things from the Lord that I realize are personal messages to me.

Jesus instructed, “When you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut the door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place” (Matt. 6:6). Be alone with God today, and every day. Build a personal relationship with Him.

Tissues in the Dryer: Secrets Day 1 of 2

Oh man, I just hate it when someone in my family leaves tissues in their pocket and we end up with tiny pieces of linty tissue all over the clothes in the dryer. I really hate it when it’s me.

I pulled my pink hoodie over my head and instantly stuck my hands in the front “hand rest pocket pouch thingy” on the front of my sweatshirt, anxious to warm my hands in the soft fuzziness. I was instantly disappointed to be met with straggly pieces of tissue clinging haphazardly in every direction. The hoodie looked great to anyone peering from the outside, but I knew the secret of the yucky mess inside my pouch thingy.

How are you loving lately – your Christian love life? First John 3:18 teaches not to love in word only but also in deed and truth. If you know you’re not doing so hot, 1 John 3:20 goes on to teach, “If our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things.” He can see inside the pouches of our heart. He knows even better than we do what lies beneath the surface. And you know what else? He loves us no matter what condition we’re in, standing ready to clean up the mess and set us free from the burden of sin.

 

Here’s Instant Hope for Our Nation

Election season should be a time of hope and expectation for a better tomorrow for our nation, but I’m hearing a lot of cynical talk from Americans who have clearly given up hope that things could ever get turned around in our nation. I’d like to add my own news flash to the election season: things can get better in an instant.

If you know anything of Israel’s history, you know God allowed them to be conquered, and utterly scattered, trampled upon, plundered, and taken captive. Their humiliation was well publicized throughout the known world because the mighty had fallen.

Then seemingly out of nowhere, King Cyrus of Persia, their reigning conqueror, announced that God would have him send the Jews back to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple. And in fact, he opened up the treasure houses and insisted that all that King Nebuchadnezzar had stolen from the temple be restored, and that the people freely give lavish gifts to the returning Jews to help finance the rebuilding of the temple. Ezra 7:27 proclaims, Blessed be the LORD God of our fathers, who has put such a thing as this in the king’s heart.

People of God, let’s join together today and ask God to put God-honoring ideas in our president’s heart. Let’s ask God to change the heart of our nation’s leaders. Let’s believe that there’s hope for our nation because we rest our hope fully upon the Lord!

The Purest of Joys

The Lord made them joyful. (Ezra 6:22)

I’m not a perky person. I’m not exactly like Pooh’s friend Eeyore either, but sometimes, I honestly struggle to feel truly satisfied, complete, content, or even farther away, joyful.

When the Hebrew people completed the rebuilding of the temple, they dedicated the structure and began a new way of living, offering sacrifices to God and keeping feasts. God made them joyful (Ezra 6:22). Nothing could squelch this joy, because it wasn’t an emotional response to circumstances. The joy came from God, and it rushed over them like overflowing waters that could not be contained.

If you’re struggling to be joyful, here’s a simplistic idea: ask God to make you joyful. Rather than asking for a change in circumstances, ask for a holy, supernatural act of God to cause the purest of all joys to well up inside of you.

The Unified One

There’s strength in numbers, but only if the number is one.

When the masses of the children of God gathered in Jerusalem to rebuild the temple, Ezra 3:1 says that “the people gathered together as one man to Jerusalem.”

How can thousands of people gather together with such unity of heart and mind that God sees them as one? As Christians, we’ll never get on the same page if we’re all writing our own agendas. But if we could just get on God’s agenda, together we can walk in unifying strength as we speak with one voice, live with one heartbeat, strive toward one goal: to bring glory to Jesus Christ.

The Meager Forty-two

Do you ever feel weak and small?

When King Cyrus gave his blessing for the Jews to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple, the captives traveled to Jerusalem in great droves. With great pride in the heritage of God’s people, Ezra 2 lists by city the number of people who returned to Jerusalem. One city was represented by 2,056, another by 2,172, another 945. The people of Azmaveth sent just 42 people. I wonder if they felt very small.

Forty-two is not impressive beside a number in the thousands, but God valued those 42 so much that He had their contribution recorded in His eternal record book, the Bible. I am sure that God paid careful attention to every little move these 42 made, and He was honored by their contribution.

You matter to God. Your church, big or small, is treasured by Him. Your prayers, your acts of kindness, your ministry to the Lord are significant to the Kingdom and are all precious to God. You matter.