January 14 – The Sky’s the Limit

The Four Seasons

Often, the difference between a good idea and a great one is time and space. Take for instance, growing potatoes.

This vegetable is one of my favorites, especially the red ones. But my success in growing a good crop has not been all that great, to say the least. Truthfully, up until recently, I haven’t been willing to give much attention to the process.

I’ve just been content with buying them from the grocery store when I need them, even though the flavor is not what I want. But the other day I was visiting a good friend and caught a glimpse of what might be causing my potato dilemma. He has some cut “potato seeds” waiting to be planted and at the time of this writing, it’s early spring where I live.

Being a novice in the whole garden game, I had somehow missed the right time element for planting red potatoes. They require a certain amount of seasonal space to mature. Therefore, I can’t just throw them in the ground in May or June and expect a good harvest, no matter how much I hope and wish.

It seems to me that God has strategically placed time and space as governors on all that he has created. Everything from plants to people are guided and directed by seasons of time and space.

The natural “skies” God has set over us are there for our protection and provision. In Genesis, God used the expanse, i.e., the sky, to separate water from water in order to create a continuous canopy of moisture on the earth. This allowed all living things to receive just the right amount of water at just the right time.

Word to the wise today: Consult the Creator before you fly. Stay within the guidelines He gives you, let His words comfort, not control you. Don’t force the altitude; He already knows how high you can handle. Never forget, He wants to see you soar more than you do.

 Then God said, “Let there be firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.” Thus God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament; and it was so. And God called the firmament Heaven. So the evening and the morning were the second day. Genesis 1:6-8 NKJV

 Biblical Meditation: Ecclesiastes 3:1 To everything there is a season, and a time for every matter or purpose under heaven…

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January 9 – Obedience is Life and Death (Jenny)

pais

One of the sorest subjects around our house in our entire marriage involved an animal. Let me be more specific: a 120 pound black lab puppy. (He was not the first pet to be a part of this story, but I won’t go back that far!)

I completely dropped the ball when it came to helping this active and enthusiastic dog. Of all the obedience training I attempted to put in place while Lorenzo was at work, nothing seemed to stick! Several places on our home’s light beige carpet stuck around to prove my ineptness. In spite of all the success of my sisters and other friends and family with their pets, I just couldn’t get it to sink in.

Truthfully, I was too inconsistent to see any real progress! We do live in a society that values obedience training in our pets. And I know lots of animal lovers that do an amazing job. But the stakes really get high when we start talking about the pursuit of obedient children.

My husband has always said that whatever we see in our 2 year-old that goes uncorrected, “multiply that particular behavior” by a 16 year-old. It usually doesn’t give a pretty picture. Research has shown that the foundation to our children’s character is formed by the time they turn five.

What may look like cute antics right now in our toddlers won’t be so cute when they are ten, or older. In much the same way as our dog, (and even more so), our children are begging us for boundaries! They not only need to know “yes, no, who’s in charge, and I love you,” but they need to be trained how to respond in certain situations.

All of us have moments we need our children to stay close to us and not run off. So when our first three children were four and under, I would take them to the mall (a big, safe space) on a morning that wasn’t busy, and I would tell our older two that “our job today is to stay by mommy.”

Then we would walk around the mall, as I reminded them of the goal as I pushed the baby in the stroller. If one of them ran off, I would bring them back and give them a gentle reminder. After fifteen minutes of this kind of training, we’d all be ready for a reward.

Moments like that can really pay off in the long run. We can practice situations at home that will come up later, such as eating in a restaurant, sitting quietly through a wedding, etc.

Obedience doesn’t come just because we demand it, or even from using discipline, it comes from building a relationship. And it is life and death, because we can all face a time when a child tries to run towards a busy street. Then, obedience can save their life.

God loves an obedient heart. He’s certainly not into condemnation, nor does He hold our wrongs against us.

Mistakes will be made. But just as Jesus willingly went through the last moments of his life as God revealed His will to him, so should we cultivate the riches of obedience in our children. And their response to us will always reflect the level of our obedience to the Father as well. Spend time training your heritage towards obedience.

And these words which I am commanding you this day shall be [first] in your [own] minds and hearts; [then] you shall whet and sharpen them so as to make them penetrate, and teach and impress them diligently upon the [minds and] hearts of your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down and when you rise up. Deuteronomy 6:6,7 AMP

 Biblical Meditation: James 1:25

Favorite Source: Hints on Child Training by H. Clay Trumbull

January 2 – Waymaker God

Cross On The Wooden Background

Sometime ago an old wise man told a story that touched me deeply. It literally changed my life. He said growing up as a country boy in the South, his family was poor. He was the oldest of several brothers and sisters and his daddy had passed away before he reached young adulthood.

He was a good-sized lad and could handle most of the “manual” tasks for his mama. So he planned on staying home with her after he graduated high school and working. But his wise mama had told him as far back as he could remember that God promised her he had a special plan for her son and He would make a way for her boy to go to college.

And although there were many great men in his day that made tremendous impact on him and his community who never had formal education, his mama was adamant God’s plan for him involved college.

So the day came. She loaded him on the greyhound bus and sent him on his way with his lunch sack in hand. He had no money. He knew the power of his mother’s faith. He had watched her go into the kitchen with just one chicken from the backyard and feed him and all his brothers and sisters, with leftovers to spare. But somehow, this was different.

He said when he got off the bus, all he knew to do was just go get in the enrollment line. Now he had been a good student in high school. He was at the top of his class and he had been accepted to this college. But now it was time to enroll and pay tuition. As the line got shorter and he found himself close to the registrar, he felt a tap on his shoulder.

The gentleman looked stern as he asked him his name. Startled and convinced the man had come to remove him from the line because he had figured out he had no money, he reluctantly stated his name.

The man told him to get out of line. As he prepared to protest and plead his case, the gentleman stopped him dead in his tracks. “Your tuition has been paid in full. And there is a work study job awaiting your arrival. So, get out of line and come with me.”

Just like that, God made a way out of no way. And fortunately, I’ve now lived long enough and had an ample amount of my own “by faith bus rides.” I can confirm the old man’s mama was ‘right on the money.’ God is a WAYMAKER!

Today, if you are dry, desperate, confused, frustrated, afraid, discouraged, or alone, the prophet Isaiah beautifully solidifies this promise about God as he so long ago assured his people that God would make a way. He doesn’t forget His precious ones. Ever!

Isaiah 43:18-20

18 “But forget all that—it is nothing compared to what I am going to do. 19 For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland. 20 The wild animals in the fields will thank me, the jackals and owls, too, for giving them water in the desert. Yes, I will make rivers in the dry wasteland so my chosen people can be refreshed. (NLT)

18 Do not [earnestly] remember the former things; neither consider the things of old. 19 Behold, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs forth; do you not perceive and know it and will you not give heed to it? I will even make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. 20 The beasts of the field honor Me, the jackals and the ostriches, because I give waters in the wilderness and rivers in the desert, to give drink to My people, My chosen, (AMP)

18 Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old. 19 Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert. 20 The beast of the field shall honour me, the dragons and the owls: because I give waters in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert, to give drink to my people, my chosen.

Context of Meditation: Isaiah 43:1-21

January 1 – In His Name

june+11+shadow+1

The other day, my wife had one of our kids pick up some supplies from town. Our town is small, so periodically we have to go into a nearby town to shop.

She didn’t have any cash on her, so she sent her credit card. Now that credit card functions like a check, in many ways, because it tells the business you are trading goods and services with that you have a source of supply that will cover the purchase price. And if you should by chance fail to do so, they have a means to collect your name and personal information.

My son or daughter was just the “representative.” They went in our name and on our behalf. They were in no way obligated to “afford” the items on our list. And consequently, they have never had a problem with helping run to town in our stead.

Today’s focal verses are a beautiful reminder of our role as representative of Heaven’s Kingdom on Planet Earth. God has already established His Will and His Way. And He made sure it is well documented as His Word in the Book of Testaments, The Bible.

Every single day of our new lives in His son Jesus are to be spent mastering this one thing…Kingdom Deliveries! We don’t write the rules or laws, we just represent the Lawmaker. In His Name is our purpose and thus, our place of provision.

Matt. 18:18-20

18 Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye bind on earth, shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye loose on earth, shall be loosed in heaven. 19 Again, verily I say unto you, that if two of you shall [a]agree in earth upon anything, whatsoever they shall desire, it shall be given them of my Father which is in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered together in my Name, there am I in the midst of them. (GNV)

18 “Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.19 “Again I say[a] to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.” (NKJV)

18Truly I tell you, whatever you forbid and declare to be improper and unlawful on earth must be [a]what is already forbidden in heaven, and whatever you permit and declare proper and lawful on earth must be [b]what is already permitted in heaven. 19Again I tell you, if two of you on earth agree (harmonize together, make a symphony together) about whatever [anything and [c]everything] they may ask, it will come to pass and be done for them by My Father in heaven. 20For wherever two or three are gathered (drawn together as My followers) in (into) My name, there I AM in the midst of them. (AMP)

Context of Meditation: Matthew 18:21-35

November 24th- Every

Psalms 139:13-16 Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out; you formed me in my mother’s womb. I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking! Body and soul, I am marvelously made! I worship in adoration—what a creation! You know me inside and out, you know every bone in my body; You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something. Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth; all the stages of my life were spread out before you, the days of my life all prepared before I’d even lived one day.

When I was 19 years old, I worked for an inner-city sports camp called Kids Across America. Located on Table Rock Lake near Branson, Missouri, it was a paradise of forests, beautiful water, gorgeous sunsets, and a few mosquitoes. It was the perfect set-up for hours of really hard work that can help bring “light-bulb” moments.

While I spent the summer there at KAA, I was privileged to listen to a wise mind of our century, Mr. Joe White. He founded KAA along with the huge organization of camps called Kanakuk. While speaking to my group, he persuaded us to be a student of the Word of God. He shared how powerfully he had seen growth in his own life because of time spent reading God’s letter to us.

There was one big problem he seemed to face in his pursuit of time with God. Consistency. Don’t we all know what he’s talking about? As a college student, my lack of consistency had yet to rear its ugly head. After all, I didn’t have anyone else to think of but myself! But Joe knew we’d come to those moments when many others, namely the ones we love the most, might have to be the victims of the times we “drop the ball.” I was thinking of this when I looked at a pile of 4 loads of laundry on my rocking chair, unfolded. Or the list of thank you notes, not finished. Projects started, many still underway…..the requirements we are under could go on and on.

But I then MADE my mind go to the rest of that precious “gem” God gave me through Joe White: “EVERY.” He explained that every morning as he goes into the bathroom mirror, he sees a yellow post-it note with the word “every.” This reminds him to go to the main thing he knows he must do every day. He must spend time with the Author of the day. When he does this, everything else can fall in place, or he can “go with the flow” when it doesn’t! God said to Moses, “Tell Pharaoh that I AM sent you.” God is the God of today! He is not the God of yesterday and its mistakes, nor the God of tomorrow and its worries. For the rest of our “days,” may every day count as a treasure as we walk out our “life-book!”

Jennifer

Biblical Meditation: Matthew 6:27 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?

 

October 23- A Wise Father Knows Best

Genesis 18:24 So Moses heeded the voice of his father-in-law and did all that he had said.

Nothing delights the heart of a parent more than the advancement and success of their children. And the same holds true, in most cases, when it comes to the spouses of the children as well. Every caring parent longs to share any wisdom and insight they may have to increase the peace and prosperity of their children, by blood or by marriage.

Jethro is a wonderful example, in my estimation, of a father-in-law who was cognizant of the delicate balance of respect for the gifts and goals of a child and the responsibility of a parent to give guidance even when it might be hard to take. Moses spent the better part of forty years serving Jethro after he ran away from Egypt. During that time, he married Zipporah, one of Jethro’s daughters, and helped Jethro tend his land and flocks. Needless to say, the two had a lot of history together. So when the day came that God called Moses to leave his father-in-law, Jethro knew. And Jethro was as eager as anyone to see what God would do through the hands of his Moses. In the process of time, God did indeed deliver all of the Israelite people through Moses from the wicked Pharaoh. Later on, Jethro was invaluable in steering Moses to be wiser in his delegation of responsibility after he saw some of the cracks in the foundation of Moses’ great mission. He counseled Moses to appoint able men to share the management of the million-plus people. Jethro’s counsel was well-received by Moses, evidence of their close relationship over time and mutual respect for each other.

I feel that this sort of parent and sibling relationship is a great need today. How we need fathers who can speak wisdom and encouragement into the lives of their sons, by birth or by law. And how we need young men who choose to honor, respect, and covet the counsel of their elders. God’s divine fingerprints are all over the father and son, parent and child relationship. Wise is the one who heeds and receives.

Lorenzo

Biblical Meditation: Deuteronomy 5:16 Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God has commanded you, so that you may live long and that it may go well with you in the land the LORD your God is giving you.

October 22- I’m a Child of the King

How blessed is God! And what a blessing he is! He’s the Father of our Master, Jesus Christ, and takes us to the high places of blessing in him. Long before he laid down earth’s foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure he took in planning this!) He wanted us to enter into the celebration of his lavish gift-giving by the hand of his beloved Son. Ephesians 1:3-6

Have you ever heard about the young lady who served a king for many years and upon his death, he awarded her a certificate of service? She was so proud of it that she framed it and hung it on her bedroom wall as a constant reminder of the great years in the king’s royal court. As an elderly woman, she became quite ill and had no money for medical care and so her condition grew worse. One day, a well-known minister was asked to visit her as a source of comfort to the family. While in her home he noticed the certificate on the wall. As he read it, He realized it was a letter of entitlement from the king! The king had specified that this woman be cared for royally all the days of her life because of her unwavering devotion and service to him. However, this woman couldn’t read. She never knew what the document said and thus lived contrary to the king’s desire most of her life. She didn’t know, so she couldn’t act. Think about this! God has entitled you to everything He owns! He sees you as His child. The whole reason Christ came and died was to afford this heritage for you and for me. It was all a part of God’s masterful plan long before one stone of earth’s foundation was laid. Don’t ask me why He did it this way, I’m still learning myself! But I can tell you this, the moment you start embracing the Bible as your letter of entitlement and you start acting on that entitlement, peace and purpose will surround your heart. Get familiar with the truth of God’s Word and all that belongs to you In Christ. Then start acting and talking like you believe it. Here’s an example:

God, what a blessing you are! You are the Father of my Master, Jesus Christ, and You have taken me to the high places of blessing in Him. Long before You laid down earth’s foundations, You had me in mind, and You settled on me as the focus of Your Love. Long, long ago You made the decision to adopt me into Your family through Jesus Christ, all because you chose to love me. Thank You!

Lorenzo