GOD> I

If I do good works I will go to heaven.  I DO NOT believe that is true.  Our God wrote in His word that He wants us to believe in Him and we will go to heaven.  Romans 10:9 – Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

Be careful of the service you are doing if it is stealing your devotion to Jesus.

We get caught up in doing, INSTEAD of pleasing God by loving Him first.  Hebrews 11:6 (NIV)- “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”

We get caught up by doing what we think is His will, instead of letting Him use us for His will.  Philippians 2:13 (NIV)- “for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.

We get caught up doing battle for Him, instead of letting Him use us as He sees fit.  Psalm 144:1 (NIV)- “Praise be to the Lord my Rock,who trains my hands for war, my fingers for battle.

He will utilize our gifts to bring His will to completion. Philippians 2:13(NIV)- “for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.”

Are we more committed to “do good works” than we are to God?  Sometimes it is easier to serve than it is to be faithful and love God first.  Keep doing good works, but make sure your motives and your loyalty are of God, not for approval of the flesh.  Loving and pleasing God need to be first.

The battles and good deeds He is going to use us for, will come at the time when He is placed ahead of our desires.  John 3:30 (ESV)- “He must increase, but I must decrease.”

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Christmas Family Devotion

Something I didn’t think about when I was writing The Good News Box, was the story behind the boxes that people would choose to use. I put my box together a long time ago, but I don’t remember where our box came from. At the time I didn’t know I would still be using it. We heard from our friend, Kristen who is using a box she saved from the last gift her grandfather gave her before he passed away. I’m sure he is looking on and is enjoying being a part of their Christmas, all these years later.

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Here is a picture of the box that Kristen is using!
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http://www.thegoodnewsbox.com/about.html

What If?

I heard the words to this song and thought, what if?

What if we put down our signs crossed over the lines and loved like You did?”

-Jesus Friend of Sinners, Casting Crowns.

What if...  loving as He loves us, we’re the answer to ending Satans plan for our world to hate?

Remember Jesus showing love in the form of mercy to those spitting and hitting him?   Jesus said to forgive them.  Hate was missing in his heart and I thank God that it was.  Maybe that’s our answer.

What if we responded like Jesus?

What if.. we did forgive them and see them the way God sees them?  Is it possible to put down our anger, distrust, and desire to be right long enough to let the love and power of Jesus Christ shine through and work light into others?

What if what broke God’s heart really did break ours and we did something about it?

What if we tried?

Hate is repulsive!

Take out the word “hate” and put in the word “satan”.

Satan is repulsive.

What Satan has done is evil and we aren’t blaming it on him.  We are blaming it on each other.  Satan is laughing at what he has stirred up.

What if we stopped Satan’s plan to destroy with the example Jesus gave us?

What if we let God guide our hearts?  Would we stand blaming one another and destroying things?  Or would we see them as God does?  Would we see them as lost souls fooled by satan?  How sad.  How sad to think of someone being the puppet of satan and carrying out his plans to make us hate.  And then make us hate some more.  That is what breaks my heart.  A good hearted person, fooled by satan.

Much more would have to happen to end this cycle of hate, but what if  it started with the love and power of Jesus Christ activated inside of us to tip the scales in our direction?  Could we knock satan right off his high horse? I wonder if enough of us took a stance and cast satan’s hate plan aside, if we just might see God’s light shining in the mirror again?

Wouldn’t we like the person looking back at us a little more if we let go of the strings and instead let God guide our response?  Maybe our conscience would be clear if we knew we were reacting the way God showed us to react.  The hurtful talk in our minds would become silent and be replaced with words of affirmation.  The strongholds keeping us from hearing God would start to fade.  He would have a clear path to our hearts.

SO… WHAT IF YOU,    Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” -Luke 6:27-28 (NIV)

What if?

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Fiercely Pray

I prefer to give my kids appropriate news information for their young minds.  I shelter them from the things of this world that their minds would not be able to process or appropriately move on from.  There are topics that the kids will hear about without my prompting and then discussions need to happen in order for their minds to process and move on.

We had a horribly terrifying subject come up.  I would like to not ever have to talk about this with my children, but life is happening all around them.  Life isn’t always pretty, so naturally, they will find out things that I don’t think they are ready to know about.

My kids and I talked about the missing Nigerian school girls who were kidnapped.  The magnitude of the situation left their minds full of questions.  They wondered about their ages, where they lived, who did this, why did they do this, where are they now, what is happening to them, who is helping, why aren’t they saved, when will they be saved.  This was terribly sad for them to comprehend.

I was as gentle and compassionate as I could be.  I didn’t give an enormous amount of detail, but I did have to satisfy their questions.  I saw the sadness fill my boys eyes.  They were deeply hurt for the girls and their families.  We prayed and concluded that Satan is the only evil that could do something so unbelievably terrorizing.

In the months before, I had heard much about what was happening, and I had become numb to their story.  It’s hard to even call it a story, because really it is someones grief and terror.  The sadness I witnessed in my boys eyes, reminded me of the largeness of what the young girls were going through and never getting a break from.  I found myself thankful for the little things and especially thankful for their safety.

1 Thessalonians 5:17 (NIV) …pray continually

Praying without ceasing never meant as much to me as it did in this moment.  While we cannot physically be there or be a part of the plan to rescue them, we can be part of God’s plan to comfort them through prayer.

God is using the frightening situation with the girls to instill in all of us, the necessity of fiercely praying.  The sorrow I saw in my kids eyes, reminded me it’s not just a story. Evil is playing out in the world and people are endlessly suffering.

I live in a Country where we are taking one whole day to think about what we are thankful for.  I’m thankful for the lives of these girls.  They are precious in God’s kingdom and He will rescue them, heal them and use them.  Of course I have no idea how He is planning on doing this, but I have faith that the sweet young souls are in His hands.  I feel God is with them and protecting them, even in their horror.  He has not abandoned them.  I’m thankful to have a God so big and so mighty!

Evil exists and is everywhere we turn.  There is a battle raging war around our land, we must put on the full armor of God everyday.  Evil things are happening and they are more than stories.  They are part of someones testimony.  They are excruciating and they are happing right this minute.  There’s nothing my God cannot do to help us.

God we ask you to bless the sweet girls and we thank You for hearing our cries for them.

Fiercely pray for this kidnapping and all evils to be vanquished.  God is bigger and we proclaim Jesus as our Savior.  Lord hear our prayers.

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More than a Miracle

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Until that divine day when I see Jesus face to face, I will never know why He chose to let me see a miracle.  I have been forever changed and I often feel unworthy to have been a witness.   I did see it, and I do need to share what God did.  So with His spirit guiding me, I will share about who God is and what He can do.

I won’t go into huge detail of my moms sickness, but what I can tell you, is that she  had leg ulcers from a medication side effect that became infected.  Her legs were raw and she had a team come to her home daily to scrub her legs and change her bandages.  Her pain was excruciating.

Two weeks before she died, I had a pull to go home and be with her.  I loved taking care of her and loving her.  Since I was staying with her, I did see the wound care team come in and I saw the terror and fear in her eyes when she knew what was about to happen.  One of the hardest things I have ever seen or helped someone through.  We prayed and prayed some more and cried while she was being taken care of.

Fast forward a few days…  She was admitted to ICU, her heart was failing, but there was still hope, so they continued with the wound care. The first time they came in, it was the same routine.  We would pray, I would be nose to nose with her and we would talk and pray and pray and pray.  I tried to help get her mind to a different place.

That night we talked.  She couldn’t bare one more cleaning.  She was to the point where she could not take it anymore.  God was giving her more than she could handle.  She was to the breaking point, if that is humanly possible.

We had a heart to heart with God.  She let God know, she was willing to be out of pain, any way that He chose.  We both understood that she was willing to go to heaven for healing.  She could not do this anymore and she asked our heavenly Father for help.  For years, I believe my mom was afraid to die, but things changed this day.

I have never seen or felt faith, like I did with my mom in these last moments of her life.  We confessed any doubts we had in God.  We proclaimed our love and dependence on Him.  I think I talked to God all night that night.  I came to terms and accepted His ways and not my ways to help her.  I knew what I was saying and I knew that mom was willing to go to Heaven for this relief.  It was hard to even think.

The morning came for her wound treatment.  Five nurses came in to assist.  Mom and I looked at each other and we KNEW without a doubt that God would intervene.  We were trusting and accepting anything God wanted to do, even death.  We said our prayers and the cleaning began.  Our same routine, I was nose to nose with her and we had escaped to the beach and started talking about her grandkids.

Some time later, the same nurse who was with mom throughout the 6 months of wound care, tapped me on the shoulder.  I broke my nose to nose moment and looked up.

The nurse pointed to my moms legs.  This was two hours later and they were applying the medicine and wrapping her legs. The debridement was over.  She didn’t feel one ounce of pain.  The air in the room felt different and one of the nurses raised her hands to God while the others had tears in their eyes.   They had been with her since January, going through the scraping and cleanings.  They knew how painful it was.  I believe God let us see His glorious power that day.  We did see a miracle.

My mom suffered a torture kind of pain for months.  God’s people have suffered for many many years.  I have often heard the question, “If God is so good, why would He let someone suffer like that?”  The answer to this question is now clear to me.  Her suffering showed others who God really was.

We felt a powerful God that day.  His love carries peace like no other.  Why does God let bad things happen to good people?   I watched my mom suffer and it was horrifying.  Had I not stepped onto this path with her, my faith would have holes in it.  I would still not trust God completely with my life.  I wouldn’t have experienced what it felt like to not have even the smallest of doubts. I can be bold about who God is, because I have no doubt about who God is.

God used my mom’s last few days on this earth to show Himself.  He didn’t just save my mom.  He saved me that day.  My mom gave me the gift of how to fully and completely trust God.  Her life and last days opened my heart and strengthened my soul.  God poured in me a new life and He can do that for you too.

About a week after this, I looked into my moms eyes as she looked to heaven.  He used her death to awaken others as to who He is and to how big He is.  My mom’s life and death, to her very last breath, had purpose for His glory.

No matter how small or how big your situation is, God will transform it.  God can change your trial into something good and pure.  Seems impossible, but NOTHING is impossible with God!

“God did unusual and extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul.” Acts 19: 11

God has been revealing Himself to you.   Please share that with the people in your life.  God chose you to witness His divine interventions for a reason.  If you don’t tell about it, you might miss the very person it was meant for. “Then Jesus said to him, Unless you see signs and miracles happen, you [people] never will believe (trust, have faith) at all.” John 4: 48

God gave us more than a miracle on that hot muggy day in July.

mir·a·cle

  1. a surprising and welcome event that is not explicable by natural or scientific laws and is therefore considered to be the work of a divine agency.

Speak

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One of our writers Janna Lynas, will bless you with her words.  This is a must read and will touch your heart.

By Janna Lynas 

I will always love the sound of turning pages, touching paper, following the type of letters and sounds that lead to words and make me think. Things that make me go back and read it over and over. Wondering over it all.

A week ago I picked up a an old, familiar book of my grandma’s. She died when I was eight. I still remember the look on my dad’s face when he came and I didn’t yet know what. Just that something was wrong with grandma. Granddad gave me the pearl necklace she was given upon her graduation from eighth grade, the watch she received when she finished high school and her wedding ring. I’m sentimental and am in love with the past, so these items of hers, things she cherished and wore, remind me.

Yet what I prize the most of her earthly belongings is a book.

After my granddad passed, my father inherited a large book case my granddad had made, filled with his collection of classic literature, theological volumes and whatever else fell into his hands. I use to run my fingers across each one, looking for something to sink into, something that had gone through my grandfather’s head.

It was the smallest thing. I’m sure I had skipped over it’s unnoticeable blue cover many times before. The title – God Speaks, written by Frederick W. Brink. I’m not even sure of the copyright – it’s in roman numerals and evidently I was absent every day of school that we learned how to read them.

It was old. It even felt fragile and had that old book smell. But it looked new. My grandma wrote her name in it, the evidence it had belonged to her. But the pages looked unturned.

So I began to turn them.

I have read this book twice through over the last few years. But something stopped me last week.

The unnumbered page entitled, I Am a God Who Speaks, had this to say to me early in the morning, ” I am the God who made you for himself, so that when I speak it is to hold you close beside me.” Wait – read it again. I can barely type the words without a chill running through.

This word, speak. It is a verb. It demands a voice to be put to something. It can be a challenge or depending on the topic come with such ease and commanding presence that you don’t even realize what is coming out. It’s a part of who you are.

That’s what I think of when I read this line, “I am the God who made you for himself, so that when I speak it is to hold you close beside me.” This God, who made me for himself, who even speaks to me, does it to hold me close beside him. That’s the way it is sometimes. When I’m closest to my God, I don’t even realize what is coming out. It pours out. It is a part of who I am and who I am becoming.

I tell my children that He speaks to me. Sometimes I get a screwed up face that thinks I’m making it up. Or a, “That’s nice mom,” look. But there is one face that says, “Really? How?” And I say, “When I am close beside Him.”

And that’s the key, the secret formula. “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” That’s the beautiful wisdom of James, brother of Jesus, who grew up so close to God. We say he didn’t know it, but I think he must have known something, denied it, and then thought better.

Speak to God. Come up close. He will speak to you and hold you close beside. Is there any better place to be?

Be sure to read more from Janna over on her blog, Chasing the Sun — An Intentional, imperfect, and thankful life

What is your Christmas tradition?

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It’s that time of year again!  My heart is filled with joy!  I love filling my home and my family with the love of Jesus, as we prepare for one of the most important days in our faith.  We are going to set up our Christmas tree and get out our Good News Box!  I cherish this tradition and I adore this time with my family, throughout every night in December.

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What is your favorite Christmas tradition?

How do you celebrate the birth of Christ?