Devotional – Your Chariot Awaits

Psalm 20:7 Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.

Obviously, these days our trust in chariots has somewhat diminished. Those things would never pass the NHTSA’s side impact protection tests. Chariots and horses were much more than the Israelite equivalent of a commuter car though, they were symbols of wealth and power. They were powerful weapons for armies. David captured so many chariots during the wars of his reign as king, that his son had to make entire cities for storing them. Chariots also served as protection, with their waist-high, curved, shield like front, they were models of multi-tasking.

Our chariots have become more sophisticated these days. Rather than trust in two wheels and a couple horses, we cling to the our modern-day versions. We trust that if we just made $$ (insert-slightly-higher-than-what-you’re-currently-making-salary), we’d feel confident, comfortable and carefree. We believe that our intelligence and wit will make us a force to be reckoned with in our social circles. We protect ourselves from pain, not with gilded gold-plated shields, but with sarcasm, silence or secrets. As we’re rumbling through life trying to keep our high-powered chariots under control, we’re missing the peace and contentment of trusting God to take the reins, pull over and walk the road with us.

What chariot are you driving? Where is your trust being placed? If it’s not in God, it’s going to let you down. And chariot crashes aren’t pretty.  Watch Ben Hur if you don’t believe me.

Devotional – I’m ok being a sheep.

Psalm 95:6-7 O come, let us worship and bow down; Let us kneel before the Lord our Maker. For He is our God, And we are the people of His pasture, And the sheep of His hand.

My sister’s and I have a name for people who, not paying attention, just follow the person in front of them. Seemingly unable to think for themselves, these folks just blindly line up wherever. They could be mere feet from a better option, but they don’t notice. It’s like they just trust that the person in front of them knew what they were doing – and so they’ve followed. We call them sheep. It is not meant to be a compliment. I’ve been thinking about sheep in a different light today. During my sermon yesterday, our guest speaker mentioned being the people of God’s pasture – His sheep. So, if God is my shepherd, I’m a sheep right? But what does that really mean?

Sheep are often thought of as dumb animals, but in fact they are equally as intelligent as cattle. Sheep have the ability to remember faces for years and can be taught their own names. However, their instinctual panic and flee characteristics make them seem downright stupid. As humans, we don’t really respect creatures that just scatter screaming like crazy when faced with danger. Sheep are very influenced by their leader and have a natural inclination to follow as a pack wherever they are led. They know their master’s voice and willingly go where the voice commands.

I want to be like that. I want to know God’s voice. To hear His instruction in my life and follow it. I want to delight in the pastures He brings me to, knowing that He has selected the best for me. I don’t want to flip out in the face of trials and bleating scatter like crazy. I want to know the security of the flock the Lord has me in. To rest that God is prowling the edges, keeping me safe.  I’m ok being a sheep, so long as Jesus is my shepherd.

Devotional – Deep breath in, deep breath out

Matthew 6:34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

One day at a time. Just today. That’s all I need to concern myself with.

But it is just so hard!

The past few days I feel a bit like the proverbial chicken missing his head. I suddenly have  many many many things to juggle, and I feel like my hands can’t move fast enough to keep all the balls in the air. For example, yesterday I went down to my church to work on a few things I needed to do. I got a lot accomplished and felt great, until I got home and realized I’d forgotten to drop of my husband’s bass guitar so the worship team could use it. “Oh well, I’ll just take it down tomorrow morning after my workout” I thought. Continue reading

Devotional – The Red Balloon

2 Corinthians 3:17-18 Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. 18 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.

What an awesome day. I am continually impressed with God’s ability to mold me and shape me into a better version of myself. Closer to His own image. Transforming me little by little, or sometimes (like today) suddenly in a big chunk.

I am a perfectionist by nature. My own worst critic, I have a tendency to never allow myself a passing grade. I realize God has gifted me in many ways, but my first instinct is usually to find fault with just about everything. No matter what my success, I’m always following it up with a list of ways I could have done better. This is an area the Lord has been working on with me for several years. Slowly changing my heart to allow for the things in life I cannot change, nor can I control. Do you know how God “fixes” a control-freak-perfectionist? He gives you things utterly completely and entirely beyond your ability to handle or even manage. And you know what, it works really well. Continue reading

Devotional – Willing Blindness

2 Corinthians 5:7 For we walk by faith, not by sight.

Thanks again Mom for my “Jesus Calling” devotional. It’s awesome. From today’s reading “If you live your life too safely, you will never know the thrill of seeing Me work through you. — It is so wrong to measure your energy level against the challenges ahead of you. The issue is not your strength, but Mine, which is limitless.”

So often in life, I see obstacles and suddenly, my focus shifts from allowing God to work through me, to figuring out how to conquer the problem myself. I easily forget that regardless of what I see or feel, the Lord has it under control. At no time in the history of the universe has God said “Wow. Didn’t see that coming.”. Continue reading

Devotional – Flawless

Psalm 18:30

As for God, his way is perfect;
the word of the LORD is flawless.
He is a shield for all who take refuge in him.

Flawless. Perfect. These words describe the unattainable in life. For us at least, but not for God. The word “flawless” in the King James is “tried”, which is from the Hebrew word tsaraph, which refers to the process a smelter uses to refine metal, making it pure. Flawless. Ready to be used. How amazing is it that back in the day one of the primary uses for metals having gone thru this process was fashioning weaponry…like, a shield. The Bible is so cool. Continue reading

Devotional – Just Like Jillian

I haven’t blogged my devotional in a while. Partly because I had a rough week and wasn’t in the word much (maybe that’s why my week was so rough?). But also because I’ve started a reading plan that includes more than just a couple verses picked out to support a devotional book. The plan I’m doing now includes several (gasp!) chapters of the Bible per day. Also, right now it’s got me in Exodus and Acts. Let me tell you, Exodus can be pretty tedious. I know God has things to show me, even in a book that’s pretty full of very specific instructions on building things that seem to have no application in my life. It’s been kind of a struggle to pull anything out that I feel like writing about.

Until today.

I’m still in Exodus, but after an experience at the gym this morning, I viewed God’s detailed instructions a little differently. I pulled a circuit routine off SELF magazine’s website yesterday from renowned trainer Jillian Michaels. She has been a HUGE motivational presence in my weight loss journey of the last two years. Today was the first time I actually attempted one of her workouts though. I have experienced great success working out on my own, but as I’m trying to get into a bikini for my cruise in three weeks, I figured a little Jillian might be just the extra boost I needed.  Goodness, it was intense. Each of the moves in her workout was completely foreign to me. I was drenched in sweat within about 5 minutes. Halfway through, I actually felt like throwing up. I am a pretty fit person, I spend about 10 hours a week at the gym and I work myself out pretty hard. But this routine was different. I was out of my comfort zone entirely. Having never done these moves before, I had no idea if I actually would be able to perform them. Every time I felt like quitting however, I imagined if Jillian were there with me. Encouraging me in her sweet nice way to keep going. For those of you unfamiliar with Jillian’s training style, this might help you understand. Oh yeah. She doesn’t mess around. I don’t agree with her choice of language (obviously) but she has the ability to push people to where they need to be. Her workout was beyond hard, but it was specific and when I felt like I couldn’t do it, I leaned back on my knowledge that Jillian doesn’t ask people to do more than her experience tells her they can achieve. Somehow, I made it through the workout.

After showering, still physically reeling from my sweat-session, I sat down to do my devotional today. Suddenly, God’s instructions to His people in Exodus were fascinating. Back in the day, God didn’t pull any punches. He was very particular about what His people were supposed to be doing. And He didn’t take it too well when they didn’t do 100% of what He asked of them. Kind of like Jillian’s workout today. And, even more so than a great trainer would, God asks us to stretch ourselves beyond what we think we can accomplish, but always has our best interest in mind. The Lord’s life workouts are not easy. They are not comfortable and many times they leave us exhausted and hungry for a rest. Today when my muscles were shaking, burning and aching for relief from the pounding I was putting them through, I trusted the instructions of a woman I have never met. But I struggle to follow God’s direction in my life. Why is that? He loves me. He wants what’s best for me. My trust in Him should be completely unconditional. No matter what happens in my life, how difficult the situation is I need to remember that God is there for me, and never asks more of me than He knows I can handle. Just like Jillian.

Devotional – Not Cookies?

Proverbs 3:5-6
Trust in the Lord with all your heart.
And lean not on your own understanding:
In all your ways acknowledge Him.
And He shall direct your paths.

First – sorry for the break from my devotional blog yesterday. I woke up late, so had to squeeze my Bible time in to the kids nap time…you mom’s need no further explanation.  Suffice it to say, I wasn’t so much waiting on the Lord yesterday as just trying to get thru it before the munchkins were back awake.

Today is a different story. I saw the impact my lack of quiet time had on my day yesterday. Let’s not do that again, ok Tonya?
This morning, I’m back to an exhortation to trust God. Again. Fitting, since my trust is so easily placed in other things. Like cookies. Let me elaborate.
Continue reading

Devotional – Thanks For Nothing

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 Be cheerful no matter what; pray all the time; thank God no matter what happens. This is the way God wants you who belong to Christ Jesus to live. (The Message)

I say “thank-you” all the time. When I drop my daughter off at child care, if someone lets me in front of them in line, picks up a toy Donovan has thrown from the cart, or hands me a sugar packet I couldn’t reach across the tea-table. The niceties in life are always met with a swift “thanks”. But how often do I thank God for the blessings in my life? Not often enough. Even less do I thank Him in the midst of trouble. My devotional book is written as if it’s Jesus talking, a line from today read – “When you thank Me for the many pleasures I provide, you affirm that I am God, from whom all blessings flow. When adversity strikes and you thank Me anyway, your trust in My sovereignty is a showpiece in invisible realms.”

I recognize God’s overt blessings in my life. I’m grateful for my (mostly) well-behaved children, caring husband, comfortable home, for the career Zack has been successful in and that God allows me the freedom to be home raising my family. I cherish my childhood, the advantage I have as a mother because I had godly, loving examples for parents. My grandmother is taking my husband and I (and siblings, parents, cousins etc.) on a week-long Mexican cruise – I’m REALLY grateful for that! I’m supremely thankful for my good health and ability to use all my limbs. Which brings me to the concept of thanking God in adversity. I don’t know that I’ve ever done that. I certainly have never overflowed with thanksgiving for the struggles in my marriage. When Madison is being an ornery three-year old I’m not praising God for her presence in my life. When my dad started having heart problems, I don’t remember emoting gratitude. When I was told just after Christmas that my legs still needed another month to heal, I didn’t walk out of the clinic worshiping the Lord for His goodness in my life.

Griping and complaining rather than being thankful is a demonstration of distrust. As hard as it is for me to grasp, no matter what happens, God know what He’s doing. The application of knowing that is gratitude. For the good and bad in life, cheerfulness. I need to take a deep breath and be disciplined in displaying joy.

Devotional – Success Through Failure

2 Corinthians 5:7 (NKJ) For we walk by faith, not by sight.

People associate success with victories in life. We strive for a bigger house, nice job title or well-behaved children, but what we should really be looking for is problems, failures and weakness. When by my own strength, intelligence or resourcefulness I’m achieving great things, I feel like I don’t need God’s help. In the times when I stumble and fall – my dependence on His grace and mercy in my life becomes an intimate need, not just a casual fall back plan. The closest I have ever felt to my Lord was in the lowest of lows in my life. The times when I had peace resonating through my being were in choosing to turn my problems over to God, knowing that there was no earthly way to fix them. The growth that results from just letting go, from really depending on the Father to manage the details cannot be developed any other way. Unless I rely on Him, how can I tell others He is reliable? If I’m always “making it” without any real submission to God’s will, how am I a follower of Him?

2 Corinthians also says “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” (verse 9) While it’s all good to be driven to the Lord’s feet in times of struggle, if we can come to a place of dependence on Him always, our lives would be so much more fulfilling. Sometimes I think we limit God’s ability to work in our lives in amazing ways, because we think we’re not good enough, strong enough or smart enough to go after big dreams. But that’s the whole point right? WE aren’t. But God is! There is no aspiration that’s too big for Him. No unattainable goal. When I’m in God’s perfect will and am striving for the seemingly impossible, I have the ultimate partner to turn my failure into His success.