February 17 – You’ve Got a Friend

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Have you found yourself, lately, wondering who is really telling the truth? There seems to be more talking going on than ever before. More news, more talk shows, more magazines and all of them claim their information is true. But the sad reality is time has taught us to beware of what we hear in the media. So what do you do? How do you know which way to go? And how do you keep from feeling frustrated and confused? Is there a way to know the truth in the midst of deceptive messages?

Let me start by asking some key questions: Are you convinced in your heart that there is a God? Have you settled the matter in your heart that He indeed created the heavens and the earth (i.e. Genesis 1 in the Bible is true)? And do you believe that God sent His one and only Son into the world in order to save mankind (i.e. John 3:16-17)?

 If there are questions concerning any of these, you have a good place to start. Ask God if He really exists. Why not? If He’s God and He truly loves you, He won’t be offended in the least. If you are not settled on the accounts of creation, ask Him to help you clarify those issues. And if the whole “Jesus, the Son of God” thing messes with you and you’re not completely sure about it, ask God to shine some light on the answer for you. Until your heart is settled on those three questions, truth will forever be elusive.

And for those who say “yes, I am confident about all of those questions,” take a moment to re-read the focused verse at the beginning. Do you see the word Friend? That Friend is described as the Spirit of the Truth. When we received God’s Son, Jesus, as our Lord and Savior (believed in Him), He gave us a Friend. And that Friend is with you right now. But in order for Him to help you much, you have to give Him something with which to work.

Assumptions, theories, and intellectual ideas do nothing for Him. He deals with the Truth, the whole Truth and nothing but the Truth. And you ask, what is that? That is simply God’s Word, the Bible. As you feed on God’s Word, your Friend comes beside you and enables you to see the Truth in tangible ways. And the more you do that, the more the Truth begins to shape your thoughts, ideas, and actions. Then, when you hear someone talking about the economy or the state of the world, you don’t panic. You can rest knowing you have a reliable source, a Friend that will guide you into all Truth.

“I still have many things to tell you, but you can’t handle them now. But when the Friend comes, the Spirit of the Truth, he will take you by the hand and guide you into all the truth there is. He won’t draw attention to himself, but will make sense out of what is about to happen and, indeed, out of all that I have done and said. He will honor me; he will take from me and deliver it to you. Everything the Father has is also mine. That is why I’ve said, ‘He takes from me and delivers to you.’ ” John 16:12-15 The Message

Biblical Meditation: John 3:16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

February 16 – Commissioned to Go

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The other day I blew it. Jen and I were in the grocery store and we met a delightful fellow. We got to talking about football.   At one point in our lengthy conversation, I made a move toward a close so I could wrap up my shopping. And right then, Jen saw some folks she knew from college.

It was at that point, my new buddy followed me down a quiet aisle. He shared with me a personal issue he was dealing with and asked my opinion. As we talked I had an “unction” down on the inside to go a little deeper. The atmosphere was ripe for me to share with him God’s love for his situation.

There was a God-connection just waiting to be made. But because I never want to “witness” to people about my Lord and Savior without first establishing a relationship, I sometimes look up and find I have failed to take the initiative when the stage is set. I missed a golden moment to go further in blessing this new friend. These are the times when I thank God for His mercy and I dust myself off and prepare for the next opportunity.

Initiative is a beautiful trait. Every one of us is familiar with it in some capacity or another. But when it comes to spiritual growth and development, we need to be constantly encouraged to take the lead. I heard someone say, “Jesus has done His part on the cross. Now it’s time for us to do our part on the ground.”

There is a whole lot of truth to that. And since God knew we’d need all the help we could get, He gave his Rod (The Bible) and His Staff (The Holy Spirit) to guide and comfort us along the way (Psalms 23). When it comes to taking initiative, a college degree isn’t required, just time with the Father. And if you are like me and you recognize when you miss a cue or two, refrain from guilt and shame. Let the Rod and Staff work for you and you will be ready for the next go ‘round!

The Character First I WILL’s for Initiative:

I WILL do what is right before being told

I WILL not put off until tomorrow the things I can do today

I WILL contribute to the success of the whole team

I WILL be a part of the solution rather than the problem

I WILL look for ways to help others

Jesus, undeterred, went right ahead and gave his charge: “God authorized and commanded me to commission you: Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you. I’ll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20 The Message Bible

 Biblical Meditation: John 21:17 The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.”

                                                                                February 15 – Time Keeps On Ticking                             

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Each day I live I am so reminded of the preciousness of time. My kids are working on scrapbooks, and on a regular basis they show me pictures of days gone by when they were younger. Wow, I think to myself. Where did the time go? In my mind those days aren’t so far removed, but the photos tell a different story.

Whether I like it or not, time keeps on “ticking” and if I don’t manage my share of it, I’ll be the one taking the “licking.” I can’t count the times a wise soul over 70 has confessed to not making the most of every moment when they had the time and were physically able. What’s interesting is meeting older folks who began to view time as a “score card” early on in their life. They are as active now as they were 40 years ago. Why? How? I think they built a habit of time-management so they wouldn’t burn out.

Procrastination comes naturally for most of us. Many times early on in my life I would finish a project at the last minute and not think twice about it. But an intense desire to fulfill my God-given purpose has caused me to get His perspective on how to maximize each moment. And over the years I have found that this can only be accomplished when a person has an intense desire to get the most out of every minute.

Otherwise, human nature kicks in and we waste time and settle for mediocrity. Make no mistake about it, treating time as a resource and managing it takes effort just like anything else. But it is a commodity that grows in value year after year.

There is hardly anything that compares to being able to look back over a year and see that you were able to capture precious moments with your kids, go on dates with your spouse, consistently spend face-time with God, and give the ol’ body a daily workout. I am convinced, we all want to be resourceful, but life has a way of getting in the way…if we let it. Stop letting life steal your moments. It’s time to make your time your own!

Jenny 🙂

Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Ephesians 5:16 New Living Translation

 Biblical Meditation: Ecclesiastes 3:11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.

 

 

February 14 – A Lady Named Abigail

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I challenge you to read up on Abigail Adams. The wife of our second president, John Adams, Mrs. Adams has much to say to this present generation concerning our ability to control “self.” She was known for her ability to look a bad situation in the eye and say something good. One story I recently read told about her month-long voyage across the Atlantic Ocean to meet her husband and son following a seven-year separation.

The trip was long and grueling in tight quarters with few amenities. After weeks of sailing through storms and fighting seasickness, Mrs. Adams became the encourager of the passengers and crew alike. Instead of giving into her anger at losing even their bare necessities in the storm and the almost disgusting state of the inside of the ship, she decided to pick one project a day that would better their surroundings until the entire ship had been scrubbed from end to end.

After the arduous trip was over, Mrs. Adams still faced another test. Upon arriving in London, she soon found that her husband wasn’t even there, he was in Paris. Many encouraged her to hop on a ship to France. And she was torn with misery at the prospect of waiting several more weeks for her husband after such a long time.

But she finally decided to stay right where she was, according to the original plan her husband had made. What she did not know then was that Mr. Adams was already on his way to meet her. Acting impulsively would have only prolonged their lengthy separation!

I think of Abigail Adams sometimes, in the day-to-day moments of needing self-control. I heard one woman speaking about this subject and I loved her take on it. She said, “Our response is usually that we CAN’T stop yelling, or cussing, or speeding, or whatever. But the truth is that we CAN!

Just watch a woman who’s been yelling at everyone open her front door to the Kirby salesman. Guess what? Her face totally changes, and she greets him with a smile as she says, “Come on in!”

Isn’t that a funny picture? You bet we can exhibit self-control when we WANT TO. I challenge you to read Galatians 5 when you have some time. Paul says that one of the fruits of the Spirit is self-control.

This means that you have the ability to control “self” inside of you, right now, if you have given your life over to the Lord. Self-control is internal. It’s all about putting the right things inside of your “toothpaste tube” so when pressure comes, the right things will come out!

Spend some time today in God’s Word, ask the Lord to “set a watch over your mouth,” and practice moment by moment putting “self” in its place. You’ll be glad you did!

The Character First I WILL’s for Self-Control:

I WILL not act impulsively

I WILL not equate desires with rights

I WILL set my own limits

I WILL see anger as a sign that something is wrong

I WILL walk away from things that aren’t right

Jenny 🙂

The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear-minded and self-controlled so that you can pray. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 1 Peter 4:7-8 NIV

Biblical Meditation: Psalms 141:3 Set a guard over my mouth, O LORD; keep watch over the door of my lips.

February 5 – Divine Connections

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My life is made up of a series of divine connections. As far back as I can remember, I can see a glorious thread of people, places, and things that were strategically placed in my path, ordering my steps.   Going to college in Weatherford, Oklahoma, represents one of those major connections for me.

For all practical purposes, I was not academically qualified to advance into higher education after high school.   My test scores were low and I had not taken some of the necessary basics to enter college as a freshman. But God had placed Donna Hillis in my life to assist Him with getting me to the next phase of the journey.   Donna was my closest friends’ mother and she had witnessed my life take shape over the course of about four years. She knew the “good, the bad and the ugly” of my story. Most importantly, she knew God had a plan for my life that involved me leaving Oklahoma City and getting a college education, regardless of my test scores.

To this day, I don’t know what allowed Southwestern Oklahoma State University (SWOSU) to give me a shot, but I am very grateful. Five years after arriving on that campus, I graduated with honors, but more importantly, I was on track for a head-on collision with destiny.   It was at Southwestern that I answered the call to ministry. It was at Southwestern that I discovered my gift of communication. And it was at Southwestern that I met my best friend, Jennifer Travis.

Only God knew this little girl from Custer City and I would one day marry and begin to build a family of many precious children who are even now bridging gaps and mending hearts all over this planet. I didn’t have a clue.   And all of that was connected to Miss Donna’s willingness to play her part in my story.

God has connected you and me to somebody’s story because this life is just an over-sized jigsaw puzzle. So never underestimate those simple little nudges spurring you to lend a hand.   Play your part and God will play His…the results could change somebody’s world!  

Led by the Spirit, he entered the Temple. As the parents of the child Jesus brought him in to carry out the rituals of the Law, Simeon took him into his arms and blessed God: God, you can now release your servant; release me in peace as you promised. With my own eyes I’ve seen your salvation; it’s now out in the open for everyone to see: A God-revealing light to the non-Jewish nations, and of glory for your people Israel. Luke 2:27-32

Biblical Meditation: John 17:20-23, Romans 12:1-5

February 4 – Who Are You?

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Who are you? Not “what do you do for a living” or “how do others view you.” For me, this question is tough to answer, because of the many proverbial hats I tend to wear in life.

I am a husband, I am a father, I am a son, I am a brother, I am a witness, I am a friend, I am a citizen, and so on. So to just declare who I am in a single-minded fashion requires some assistance from God. Because he alone truly understands our “who,” His Biblical insight revealed through the likes of John becomes tantamount.

In chapter one of John’s gospel account, John the Baptizer’s response to those who grilled him on his identity (John 1:19-22) is quite interesting. His first statement was a confession of who he was NOT! In essence, knowing who you are is as much about knowing who you are not as it is about anything else.

He was aware, with what he was doing, some would wonder if he was the Christ or some other great figure promised in the ancient writings of Moses and the Prophets. To all their claims, he said “no,” because he knew that God’s purpose for him was to be “the voice of one crying in the wilderness;” and he was to “make straight the way of the LORD (John 1:23).” And everything he did centered on that one thing.

 My desire is to know clearly my purpose, my God-given purpose, so well that I don’t deviate toward endeavors that prove counter-productive and confusing. Just because I can do something doesn’t mean God has called me to do that something.

It has to fit His divine designation for my life. And if no one else on the planet knows what that is, I must know it like the back of my hand. Then, when they come calling and clawing to put a label on me and a description on what I do, I can set the record straight!

 Now this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, “I am not the Christ.” Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” And he answered, “No.” Then they said to him, “Who are you, that we may give an answer to those who sent us? What do you say about yourself?”   John 1:19-22

Biblical Meditation: 1 Corinthians 2:16 For who has known or understood the mind (the counsels and purposes) of the Lord so as to guide and instruct Him and give Him knowledge? But we have the mind of Christ (the Messiah) and do hold the thoughts (feelings and purposes) of His heart.

 

February 3 – The “Be” Blessing

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 There is an unprecedented blessing attached to just being. Often it is missed, looked over, or simply ignored in the daily hustle to get things done.

But every living creature has received it. Before any plant, animal or person could do a thing, the “be” blessing was activated.

Take humanity for instance. We are known as human beings, not human doings. Sure, throughout the course of our days on earth we “do” a lot of stuff, but that is not our primary purpose in the presence of our Creator.

He is pleased when we start and end each day with a conscious awareness that it is not what we do for Him that makes the greatest impact. It is, first and foremost, our acknowledgement of what He has done and is doing for us continuously.

We are His workmanship, His masterpiece, His clay! Our job is one of daily rejoicing in being and from that position joyfully molding to the wants and ways of the Master.

In my estimation, it is the “be” blessing which puts the “do” list in its proper perspective!

 And God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” So the evening and the morning were the fifth day. Genesis 1:22-23

 Biblical Meditation: Isaiah 64:8 Yet, O Lord, You are our Father; we are the clay, and You our Potter, and we all are the work of Your hand.