Are we Confused yet?

Have you ever been confused? Silly question, I know. Merriam-Webster defines confused as; disturbing in mind or purpose.  As I reflected on the world today, many people and things can pull you in a direction that can lead you down a path of confusion outside of His Word and purpose for life.

Today’s Reading: Genesis 38-39, Psalm 108, and Galatians 1

I recently talked to a friend about the tug of various influences in my life that had me feeling overwhelmed and confused about what direction to approach.  We then got into the conversation of spiritual warfare and its impact on all of us.  We talked about the devil and his schemes to make us a question and feel confused when things are not going as planned.  We reminded each other that the devil is searching for ways to impact our walk with the Lord daily.  I left the time we shared with an additional resource to keep from this temporary state of confusion. One that I plan to get started on today.  The Weapons of Our Warfare by Kenneth Scott.

I share this recent conversation and resource because of the reminders shared by David and Paul today in our reading.

Psalm 108:12-13 O give us help against those who hate us. For the help of man is worth nothing. 13 With God’s help we will do great things. And He will break under His feet those who fight against us.

Galatians 1:6-7 I am surprised you are leaving Christ so soon. You were chosen through His loving-favor. But now you are turning and listening to another kind of good news. 7 No! There is not another kind of good news. There are some who would like to lead you in the wrong way. They want to change the Good News about Christ.

The Truth and importance of not straying from His Word.  Trying to figure it out myself, relying on my resources, or not seeking His direction through prayer can confuse me.  Our Peace, Hope, and Truth can only come from Him.  Nothing in the world can provide what we think we are looking for.  An enemy is prowling daily, trying to get us confused about what we should believe, trust, and understand about our lives.

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. Matthew 6:9-13 

 

Stay Planted

Today’s Reading: Genesis 19-20, Psalm 1, Mark 7

Genesis 19-20 

What a storyline we have in our reading of Genesis today.  The city had corruption throughout, and sitting in the gateway to the city was Lot.  As I read through the chapters, I read about some disturbing things happening in the city.  Still, Lot had stayed.  He could have left.  As a son of a father who suffered from alcoholism, I remember the many times others tried to help him with sobriety.  This task would not have been possible if he had hung out at the bar or at places that served alcohol.  Lot settled in corrupt Sodom.  Settling down in this city subjected him to compromise and danger and will often lead to destruction.  Usually, no good can come from a believer’s failure to run from sin and temptation.

This makes me think of this last week’s message at church about Daniel being in Babylon.  If you haven’t had a chance to listen to this sermon by Pastor Mike, check it out here.

Are there places you are hanging out that can cause temptation? Things we are watching, hearing, or saying that can lead to sin? If so, flee.  Get out.  Thankfully Lot had a Father that prayed for him, and the Lord saved him as the city of Sodom was destroyed. (Genesis 19:29) It’s a great reminder that just like Abraham’s prayers for his son, our genuine prayers are mightier than we will ever know!

James 5:16 …The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.

Matthew 17:20 Jesus taught, ” …Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

Psalm 1

Our eternal peace will come from being planted in God’s Word.  Our obedience will help as we walk through our life on earth, even in the face of trials.

  1. Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. 2.  But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. 3.  And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.

Mark 7 

In connecting Mark 7 to Psalm 1, I reflect on the verses in Mark that focus on our true obedience.  Mark 7:6 shares how Jesus spoke of those who honored with their mouths but not with their hearts.  (deep pause and reflection/repentance)

Dear Heavenly Father,

Thank you for your Living Word. Thank you for these stories and Your Word that helps us to look at our lives and draw closer to You.  Help us be more obedient to You, look at our lives, and find the areas we need to give to You.  Help us to grow closer to you each day.  Amen

 

Leading into 2023

Today’s Reading: Titus 1

We all lead in some way.  Think about who you influence. I’m sure that you didn’t have to go far.  Your home, work, friends, and many spaces in between which allow you to influence others.

Paul provides Titus with the pocket version of leadership for those in the church.  These leadership essentials would be the short and sweet points we can remember today. (v. 6-7)

Blameless Innocent of wrongdoing and without guilt
Faithful  Steadfast loyalty that isn’t easily swayed 
Not Over-bearing  Trying to force others to do what I want
Not Quick-tempered  one who is predisposed to anger and easily provoked

Paul is telling Titus to be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled.  (v.8)

Gracious God, you have called us to be blameless, faithful, not quick-tempered or overbearing.  You have chosen us to be holy; I am ashamed because I am not blameless or spotless and struggle in my leading.  Yet, then I remember that I stand before you, not in my righteousness, but in the character of Christ. I know you are working Your way into my life. Help me, God, to live as one chosen to be faithful, blameless, and loving of You. Thank you for your sound doctrine we can turn to daily to help us live. 

Compromise Free Day

Where have I let compromise change my walk with Him?

10 Have we not all one father? hath not one God created us? why do we deal treacherously every man against his brother, by profaning the covenant of our fathers?

Yesterday Lynden gave us a great reminder about the history of the book of Malachi.  This made me reflect more on this book’s value as I thought about today’s reading of chapter 2.  Malachi was a prophet that wrote about what they were doing to break the covenant they once had with the Lord.  Malachi has a pretty straightforward approach.  The approach I need but don’t always like to hear.  

In the book of Malachi, he addresses the areas of faith and practices of the people of Isreal that are just as important to us today.  These areas include

  • offerings to the Lord
  • marriage and divorce
  • financial giving
  • leadership
  • and living in the presence of the coming day of the Lord

The people of Isreal were making various small compromises in their lives.  These small compromises were changing their attitudes and hearts.  Eventually, this led to a disconnect from the Lord.  Malachi was calling them out.  Telling them to return to the Lord.

In my life, I reflect on the fast pace that can lead to compromise.  Mornings I jump into the day instead of focusing on Him, allowing myself to be short with my kids without showing the same grace He shows me, loving my wife like He loved the church, praising and thanking Him always for everything He provides instead of taking each day for granted, praying with and for the blessings and trials He puts us through with others knowing His plans are higher than ours…

My list could go on and on.  Today I pray for us/me not to compromise.  To return to Him with my whole life instead of the places that feel safe. To deny yourself daily is not easy.  The world has a highlight real of ME focus.  I pray for fewer compromises and more emphasis on His living Word like Malachi provides today.

So be on your guard, and do not be unfaithful.

 

Make His Face Shine upon You

I love the outdoors.  The fresh air, the sounds of nature, the colors of trees and leaves, and the endless sight of the setting of the sky filled with clouds or stars.  When finding those moments of closeness to God and His presence, these times outdoors come to the forefront of a place that can help step away from the world’s hustle.  One of my favorite parts of the day is the sunrise that starts the day, revealing all God has created.  This morning as I watched the sunrise, the clouds turned an amazing red/ pink, illuminating the clouds closest to the sun.  A rainbow that stood out among the clouds still dark from the night appeared on the opposite side of the sun.  Amazing God’s daily presence.

When I pause in these moments, I can feel the sun on my face no matter the distance. God’s light is always there.  The grace and light He provides in the dark provide the necessary light to find your way out. The blessings provide the warmth and comfort to provide hope and life to overcome any circumstance we may be going through.

So today, no matter where you are in your circumstances, I pray that God may be gracious to you, bless you, and may His face shine upon you.

Psalm 67

May God be gracious to us and bless us
    and make his face shine on us—[b]
so that your ways may be known on earth,
    your salvation among all nations.

May the peoples praise you, God;
    may all the peoples praise you.
May the nations be glad and sing for joy,
    for you rule the peoples with equity
    and guide the nations of the earth.
May the peoples praise you, God;
    may all the peoples praise you.

The land yields its harvest;
    God, our God, blesses us.
May God bless us still,
    so that all the ends of the earth will fear him.

sons of the Most High

We all have a story, and doesn’t it make a difference when we know them? How quick sometimes, I can read into a situation or a person and think I have it figured out.  I judge a problem not knowing all the details.   Today’s reading of Psalm 82 is a plea for justice.  How quickly we want justice to be served when it deals with others, but when it deals with us…not so much.

As I read through today’s verses, I came to the following verse that caused me to pause and dig deeper. The Hebrew word translated as “gods” in Psalm 82:6 is Elohim. The Hebrew word Elohim is translated as “judges.” 

“I said, ‘You are “gods”;
    you are all sons of the Most High”

These words are another heart check I can reflect on daily.  The word “gods” refers to the judges of the earth.  The fleshly impulse to judge a situation that includes others can present itself daily.

Do I model grace in a situation like the Lord has given me? 

Is my conversation or thoughts representing the fruits of the Spirit? 

Our spiritual growth is being tested and sliding or growing each day.  Judging others is not what we should do.   Christians are also called to speak the truth in love and respect.  Do I say of His truth or pass judgment?  Am I there yet? Not always.

The truth is that we are all sons and daughters of the Most High.  I will one day face Him, and He will have all those of the flesh sins of judgment.  My prayer is for an increase in obedience and submission to His ways.

Matthew 7:1-5

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

Luke 6:37

“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.

We are not God. God is God, and we who know Christ are His children.

Father, help us be mindful that judging others is not our place. We are no better than they are, and you will bring down and lift up as you see fit. Help us trust your almighty plan and the power of your love to capture hearts and transform people. Thank you for capturing our hearts.

Why Do You Hide?

Today’s Reading: Psalm 10

  1. Why, O Lord, do you stand far away? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble? 

There can be times when I may ask this question of our Lord.  Times when life doesn’t seem fair for myself or fellow believers.  These doubts, frustrations, worries, and wonders leave me with the checking of my heart.  I desire to develop a deeper faith and ensure I have not lost sight of His plan.

Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

As I read further into this Psalm, some believe it to be written by David I’m reflecting on verses that reference words like arrogance, boasting, pride, and greed.  I pray that I relentlessly trust that His way will prevail in my troubles.  That there is nothing, I can do alone or can be offered by this world to answer my deepest desires.  He already has ordained my days.

2 Peter 3:9
The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead, he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish but everyone to come to repentance.

During these times when we feel most alone or oppressed, we need to keep praying, telling God about our troubles, and trusting in His perfect plan.

Proverbs 3:5-6
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

The psalmist concludes this chapter with a triumphant assertion of faith despite all challenges.

16 The Lord is King for ever and ever;
the nations will perish from his land.
17 You, Lord, hear the desire of the afflicted;
you encourage them, and you listen to their cry,
18 defending the fatherless and the oppressed,
so that mere earthly mortals
will never again strike terror.

Amos 3

Today’s scripture brings me to my knees even as I type.  What started as a prayer-filled morning can turn to disappointment and letdown as my human self attempts to handle my sinful actions.  (I’m writing a book on Parenting Shortcomings…) Have you heard the phrase, “You may be the only Bible some people may read?”  How others see me could be how they see Christianity if I have been intentional in sharing my faith.

Amos 3 is full of metaphors that remind, cause me to reflect, and lead me to repentance of sin that ultimately separates me from our Lord.  This was his warning to the Israelites and a reminder for us today and all days.  With a family and being surrounded by people daily in my earthly job, my example of how to live out my Christian life is on watch daily.

“You only have I chosen
of all the families of the earth;
therefore I will punish you
for all your sins.”

Do two walk together
unless they have agreed to do so?
Does a lion roar in the thicket
when it has no prey?
Does it growl in its den
when it has caught nothing?
Does a bird swoop down to a trap on the ground
when no bait is there?
Does a trap spring up from the ground
if it has not caught anything?
When a trumpet sounds in a city,
do not the people tremble?
When disaster comes to a city,
has not the Lord caused it?

Surely the Sovereign Lord does nothing
without revealing his plan
to his servants the prophets.

What we say and do matters.  I can sometimes find myself allowing myself to fit into a situation and lose sight of what God has called me to do.  Where does my faith fall when achieving earthly desires?

2 Timothy 3:12 Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,

Today take a moment to remember God’s closeness. His desire to walk every step with us. Reflect on what is causing distractions from our Heavenly Father. I can think of a few of my own.  Thankfully, our God shows mercy even in his anger at our human desires.

Luke 9:23 And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.

Lord, I just came today with an open heart asking for forgiveness.  Every word that is written is for us from You. Help me to draw closer to you and deny myself and my earthly desires to not seek you first.  Amen

Stay Blessed

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