Chasing the Wind

Last week, I was blessed with the opportunity to be part of a wedding one weekend and a funeral the next. You may ask, How is that a blessing? The blessing came in the moments I celebrated and remembered with others. The wedding between my sister Dakota LaFrance and Jose Valdez was full of fun and laughter as we celebrated their marriage and their excitement at the announcement of a welcomed addition to their family.  What a day to celebrate and the chance to walk her down the aisle.

Fast forward to this past weekend, I was part of celebrating the life of Faye Skaggs, who lived 95 beautiful years.  During this day of celebration, I listened to and remembered her influence on so many others.  We listened to beautiful scripture by grandchildren and enjoyed a potluck of country-loving food and desserts. One of the closing verses I remember the pastor saying was, “well done, good and faithful servant.”

Whatever stage you may be in today, from early marriage to the age of 95, everyone yearns for a fulfilled life unfettered by regrets.  When our fin”l bell tolls for us, we all hope for a life well lived.

How do we get there?  Some think it is in our finances; others would say in our wisdom.  Others believe in who you surround yourself with.  Today’s reading of Ecclesiastes, written by Solomon, discusses what he discovered in his time. Solomon pursued every pleasure, fulfilled every passion, and took advantage of every opportunity.

Solomon said it was all in vanity.

People all around us are desperately searching for meaning. Think of a family member, friend, or neighbor searching for meaning apart from God.  Pray for time this week to speak to them about the futility of finding meaning in themselves or in this world. Let them know about the meaning we find in any hills or valleys in our Lord Jesus.  A life well-lived doesn’t come without pain, confusion, or sorrow. Our personal relationship with our Lord will free us from the daily scramble for power, approval, and money and draw us closer to God.

I have seen all the works which have been done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and striving after wind.  ~ Ecclesiates 1:14

Today’s Reading is Ecclesiastes 1:1-18

Have a well-lived life today!

 

 

 

Together or Separate

Today’s Reading: Luke 16:14-31 

“The Pharisees, who were lovers of money, heard all these things, and they ridiculed him. And he said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.”

As I started reading for today, I stopped after the first few verses.  There is so much great wisdom to be shared as you read through this section, but I thought about the first couple of verses. I thought of all the ways we try to justify ourselves as humans.  How can we wake up daily striving for the subsequent feeling of success? 99.999(repeat) of people have put their hope and trust into the world at some point in their earthly lives. We have and always will live in an earthly world that has so much to offer. Whatever your desire long for can probably be found on this earth or delivered by Amazon. 

We often believe that we will be filled if we have the next best thing or accomplish that impossible task. A worldly mindset will make you think that we will be happier if you only make this much more. The Pharisees thought that gaining earthly riches would bring you closer to Heaven. They were in love with money.  Did you know that the Latin word for Pharisee is separated?  Striving for the world and its riches can separate us from Him. 

Is there anything separating you from a closer relationship with Jesus?  The world offers it all.  But all we need is Jesus. The earth exerts a downward pull on your thoughts and your bank accounts. Media bombards you with greed, lust, and cynicism that we need to keep up and strive for more. When you face these things, pray for protection and discernment of what you need. Stay in continual communication with the Lord whenever you walk through the wastelands of this world. Refuse to worry about feeling like you need the next best thing because this form of worldliness will weigh you down and block awareness of My Presence. Remember His presence as you lay down at night.  His presence when you juggle schedules to get your children or yourself to the next place on the calendar.  The world will find ways to separate you.  Don’t let it.  If you need help, call on Him, and talk with a brother or sister in Christ. 

Matthew 6:24  “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.

Stay blessed

On that day…I will

14 The great day of the Lord is near—very near and coming fast! That day will be bitter, for even[c] the bravest soldiers will cry out in despair!

On that day…

I will…

Today’s reading is Zephaniah 1:1-18 

The prophet Zephaniah was blessed to hear the word of the Lord. In the first chapter, the two above statements are presented multiple times. V. 2, 3, 4, 8, 9, 10, 12, 17.

What if it was today? Tomorrow? Or next week? What would look different? 2 Peter 3:10 and 1 Thessalonians 5:2 reminds us the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.  Can you hear His voice?  Too many days and moments have I can miss His voice through the crazy busy journey I lead myself on some days.  When my decisions are made for the world’s approval, not God’s approval.  There are moments when I can be complacent in my ways, thinking that I’m doing just enough.

At that time I will search Jerusalem with lamps and punish those who are complacent, who are like wine left on its dregs, who think, ‘The LORD will do nothing, either good or bad.’ v. 12

The dictionary definition of complacent is “a feeling of quiet pleasure or security, often while unaware of some potential danger or defect; a smug satisfaction with an existing condition.” If I place my security in anything other than my relationship with God, I live for the world.

Romans 12:2 is a daily prayer.  Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

After a weekend full of running our kids to sporting events, I need to call time out.  How was I living?  I know the answer.  There weren’t nearly enough times where I just listened for Him.  The honest part is that He never leaves us.  I just get caught on the hamster wheel of life.  Step off the wheel.  Zephaniah was speaking to the people of many nations then and now.

Lord, open my heart, mind, and soul.  Help us to see and know Your closeness. Please help us to understand that the day of your coming will come.  Help us not to be complacent in what the world offers but in complete submission to you.

Psalm 139:23 Search me, God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.

Lord bless you and keep you. On this day… He will

 

 

What’s Your Jericho?

Today’s Reading: Joshua 6:1-27 

The story of Joshua leading his army into Jericho is terrific. The most fortified city with an army that was stronger, more equipped, and well protected.  But when you pause on verse two and have the trust as Joshua had, you learn to trust no matter the odds.  What odds have you been facing lately? 

And the Lord said to Joshua, “See, I have given Jericho into your hand, with its king and mighty men of valor.

Joshua had that relationship that Lynden had yesterday.  Joshua basically heard the Lord say, I got this, but here is what you must do if you want a victory.  The Jericho strategy for winning over a city wasn’t a traditional battle. He was singing, dancing, and blowing trumpets.  That’s what it physically took to deliver Jericho.  To me, I hear and see a few points.

  • The Lord can clear the path at any time and in any fashion.
  • We need to trust in the Lord and His ways.
  • Being obedient is necessary.
  • Stay committed.  His timing is not always ours.

God uses the most unlikely ways to show His victory.  Our Lord will keep His promises.

Romand 8:37  reminds us that we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

Obedience

Jackson (11), Marshall (7), Gianna (4), and their mother and father (me) have had plenty of opportunities this summer to talk about obedience.  This seems to be a daily topic that usually ends up in a consequence or situation that allows us all to learn.  When I think about my children and how they think they know what they want until things don’t go their way, they throw a fit when things don’t go as planned.  (I know we all have been there. ) As a principal and a coach, I also get additional time to speak to players and students about their decisions and their lack of obedience at times.  These are all moments that help shape our lives. Moments of molding that help decide future decisions. The thought would be that a household of educators would make this obedience command easier.  The phrase first-time listening is used often.

See, I have taught you statutes and rules, as the Lord my God commanded me, that you should do them in the land that you are entering to take possession of it. Keep them and do them, for that will be your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples, who, when they hear all these statutes, will say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.

Today’s Reading of Deuteronomy 4;1-14 shows Moses talking with the Israelites.  Moses points them back to the 10 Commandments and the reminder of obedience to the ways laid out for them.  Not more, not less.  I wish I could say I had steller obedience in all things.  The truth is I fall victim to worldly and selfish desires as well.

As you walk along this spiritual journey, follow the path that leads to Him.  (10 Commandments) – Will we get it right all the time? No.  But we will try.  Pray. Repent. We can keep the faith and take steps to draw closer to Him.  Jennifer has posted on our mirror Romans 12:2.  This verse reminds me of our audience of one we should live our life-like.

Do not be conformed to this world,[c] but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Today I pray that our Heavenly Father helps each one of us. That we feel Your presence as we navigate this side of Heaven.  That we pray and focus diligently on avoiding worldly pleasures. Thankfully we have a God that is bigger than any of our worldly desires.

In his final years, the writer  Amazing Grace, John Newton, wrote, ” I am an amazing sinner, But Jesus is a better saver, “

We all can lean into this message as we work on our obedience today.

Stay Blessed

 

Love Today

Today’s Reading: 1 Thessalonians 2:17 – 3:13

17 But since we were torn away from you, brothers, for a short time, in person not in heart, we endeavored the more eagerly and with great desire to see you face to face, 18 because we wanted to come to you—I, Paul, again and again—but Satan hindered us.

I’m so thankful for my brothers and sisters in Christ. I’m grateful for all our writers, readers, and those who share His Word at the perfect time. Keep it up. You are like Paul to the Thessalonians.

Daily,  I need these connections to help me stand firm in Him as the world pulls us in the opposite direction.   We need to recognize and remember the enemy is constantly trying to thwart our relationships and that these connections are vital.  Through our connections, we can have encouragement and support that can make the trials and persecution we may be going through not so heavy.  Paul advises the Thessalonians and us that we shouldn’t withdraw and sit back while we wait for the end of times.  But, we should be in communion showing love and compassion.  Who do you know today that you could share some love with? Who will guide put in your life today to show compassion and the reason for our hope?  

11 Now may our God and Father Himself, and our Lord Jesus, direct our way to you, 12 and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you, 13 so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.

You’re In

Today’s Reading: Ephesians 3:1-21

It’s incredible to think back to how much of my life I have always just tried to fit in.  I wouldn’t be inaccurate in saying that most likely, in all aspects, I have just tried to appear like I have it all together.  As humans, we try our best to fit in; many of us will face this-worldly battle until there is no battle to fight on this side of the earth anymore. Thankfully we know that Jesus says, You’re already in.  We can stop the daily hustle, grind, and race that wakes you up by the alarm and keeps you going until you fall asleep.  I wish and pray that I have this down, but it would not be honest.  There are still times I try to fit in at my job, with my parenting, with friends, in our marriage, and in any other daily interaction that requires my presence.

Give yourself some grace.  Turn every moment of insecurity to Him.  We attempt and try to be the All-Star in all we do. We spend a lot of time trying to live by the rules people set for us. I have now seen days where I’m parenting and forcing the world’s expectations into them at a young age instead of just my love and His promise that takes care of every aspect of life.

None of the rules of life or the attempted All-Star parenting measures up to the power the love of Jesus has for us. If I can teach others and my family, I want to show them how to live in grace like Jesus and to walk in love like Jesus.  I need prayer to be their number one model. Will you pray for me?

I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge– that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:17-19

Promise of Peace

The word of the Lord came to Jeremiah a second time, while he was still shut up in the court of the guard: “Thus says the Lord who made the  earth, the Lord who formed it to establish it—the Lord is his name: Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.

Along my spiritual walk, there have been many moments where I felt uncertain, scared, lost, and worried about my future.  I wasn’t in a literal jail but felt imprisoned in my mind, heart, and actions. Our earthly life is full of trials, temptations, and worldly desires that blur answers to questions that can make you lose sleep and concentration and leave you wondering what the future holds.

I recently had a conversation with a friend who seemed lost in many ways with questions about everything.  The only answer I could provide was Him.  Based on past experiences, it wasn’t the answer they wanted to hear.  But, it was the truth.  The only person that can provide anyone peace is our Lord.  The one who formed this earth and us.  Our Lord.  It wasn’t until knowing, understanding, and most importantly, believing in our Lord’s promise of restoration and eternal life with Him that will you have the answers to all the questions.

Our Lord says, Call to me and I will answer and tell of great and hidden things.  

We need to pray. Pray with the knowledge of His specific promises of answered prayers. God wants to be involved in our lives always.  He wants to answer every question we have.  Just ask.

Psalm 91:15 When he calls to me, I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble;
I will rescue him and honor him.

Isaiah 55:6-7 “Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near; 7 let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.

Sing Praise

Today’s Reading: Isaiah 26:1-19

I love worshiping through song, in the car, going for a run, working around the house, and especially Sunday mornings.  These are when and where you will witness me singing loud or attempting to stay in tune as I hit every note.  Think about your favorite songs right now? What is a recent worship song you heard that you connected with? Do you have it? Maybe it was in the car or last week at church.  Play it when you are done reading.

Today’s verses read about a song sung by the redeemed and meant to demonstrate their victory procession.  Singing can often lift us up and help us draw close to Him.  Read/Sing verses Isaiah 26:3-4.

Redeemed – Big Daddy Weave

3) You, Lord, give perfect peace to those who keep their purpose firm and put their trust in You.  4) Trust in the Lord forever; He will always protect us. (amen)

Chapter 26 is a song of trust, praise, and redemption.  We can all sing to that.  Even though our earthly lives will come with trials, we can sing praise by knowing, trusting, and thanking Jesus for paying the ultimate sacrifice.

 

Sing praise today.  Our mindset can be to live by the flesh or the Spirit.  Choose the Spirit, and you will have perfect peace.  Let’s share our joy.  Let’s tell others of our Lord’s victory that can give peace beyond any understanding.

Philippians 4:7

And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Good God Almighty – Crowder

Praise Him Today!

Restored

Today’s Reading: Joel 2:18-32

As we have read through Joel the last few days, we have heard about the Two Things – listening to God, and telling others about this great news.  We have also looked at Don’t Fear the Past, Embrace the Promise.  I pray you have had the opportunity to reflect and live out these essential pieces given to us through the word of the prophet Joel.

Today as we continue in Joel, I paused on the restoration promised to us all who are faithful and truly put their trust in the Lord. The Bible is filled with rich images of healing and restoration. It is a consistent theme of both the Old and New Testaments.  Sometimes we fail the Lord badly.  I can recall events from the past when I didn’t have a relationship with the Lord; even in my current work in progress stages, I can catch myself needing to be restored based on my sinful failures.  Joel 2:25 says 

“I will repay you for the years the locust have eaten...”

Only our God has any authority to say something of this nature. On my own, when I think of past failures can be one-time events, days, weeks, or years of selfishness or stubbornness that led to sin, I know of only one who takes any of our shortcomings and says, I have them all.  You are forgiven.  Go and live your life for Jesus know. God will take the time we have on this Earth and multiply his love through us more than we could ever imagine.

This promise of restoration is for everyone. God set out a plan for Joel and the people of Judah.  He has a plan for each of us.  When we forget His plan and lean toward our own, He provides the path necessary for restoration.  God is looking for that today.

Think of the man on the cross next to Jesus. He had various failures that included stealing, and yet, through his concession and his life turned to Jesus right then, he joined Jesus in paradise for eternal life. Some might think he didn’t deserve it; at times in my life, I know I don’t deserve it when I listen to the world.  Thankfully it’s not about what I deserve.  It’s about His love for me and you.

Taking everything from our lives, turning them into His perfect masterpiece.  Repentance & Restoration

But I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming and will remove your lampstand out of its place- unless you repent. Revelation 2:4-5 

Another Restoration song spoke to me.

Lecrae – Restored