Can You Picture It?

As my fellow Texans know, this summer heat has been a beating. Trees are drying out and these days of 100+ temperatures are taking their toll. In the midst of this, Chelsey and I have been praying for God to send rain! We need rain to water the ground and to cool things off.
Well, this morning I go outside to watch God’s amazing response, which was a rain storm… but when I walked onto the balcony I was met with more than rain drops. I found my ceramic pot blown off the table and busted on the ground. There were pieces everywhere.
The crazy thing is, I know to bring that plant inside when it’s going to rain because I know it will blow off the table. What I realize is that I asked for this rain and I knew it would bring some wind, but I hadn’t really envisioned it happening or I would have prepared.
I’m challenged to get the vision inside of my heart for everything I’m praying about so that I can prepare for God’s response!
If you’re praying for your child to come home, get the room ready and stock up the pantry.
If you’re asking God to heal your body, make some plans in faith to get out and do something fun!
Whatever you’re praying about… picture it answered in your mind and in your heart knowing that God is listening and he is faithful to his word!
Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.
Mark 11:24

When You’ve Been Done Wrong

Do you not say, “I will repay evil”; wait for the Lord, and he will save you.

Proverbs 20:22

How easy it is to desire retaliation when we’ve been done wrong. Often, our instinct is to make the person suffer as we have. If someone speaks badly of us, we are tempted to speak badly of them. If someone hurts us in some way, we selfishly desire vengeance.

Proverbs 20:22 gives us a pride-breaking look into the heart of God. We know that vengeance is the Lord’s but we have new insight when we see the focus of this verse. He doesn’t put the focus on the one who has committed the evil, but rather he puts it back on us.

He says, “When evil is done to you don’t repay it with evil, but wait on the Lord WHO WILL SAVE YOU!

We naturally want this to say, “Wait for the Lord who will make them pay for what they have done!” But God is showing concern for our response to others. Of course he will take care of his children and will respond to those who have mistreated us… yet with grace. God gives us a warning to guard our hearts by waiting on him to rescue us from not only evil, but from ourselves.

If you’ve been wounded, lied to, manipulated, attacked, or mistreated in any way, put your efforts into waiting on the Lord to save YOU. Don’t respond quickly. Don’t speak hurtful words out of anger. When pain breaks you and the enemy tries to push his way into your heart, resist him by trusting in the Lord. Don’t allow your heart to go into a dark place filled with punitive plans for someone else. He will take care of the problem… but His heart today is to take care of you! Wait for the Lord, and He will save you!

26 “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry,27 and do not give the devil a foothold.

Ephesians 4:26-27

Instructions… What a relief!

Instructions- What a relief!

 

Joshua 6

Now the gates of Jericho were securely barred because of the Israelites. No one went out and no one came in.

Then the Lord said to Joshua, “See, I have delivered Jericho into your hands, along with its king and its fighting men. March around the city once with all the armed men. Do this for six days. Have seven priests carry trumpets of rams’ horns in front of the ark. On the seventh day, march around the city seven times, with the priests blowing the trumpets. When you hear them sound a long blast on the trumpets, have the whole army give a loud shout; then the wall of the city will collapse and the army will go up, everyone straight in.”

 

Let’s face it; we all have those obstacles in life that are much bigger than we bargained for. It was exciting at first because we could envision the outcome, but as we begin to realize the magnitude of it, we quickly become overwhelmed. It’s very evident that the process is quite draining if we try to make it work on our own.

I remember eyeing this giant shelf at Ikea one day and I really wanted it in my apartment. My dad wanted me to have it too, so he bought it for me. It was a good day! I could just picture it in my place. I knew just where I wanted to put it. It was going to be amazing and it would make life a more beautiful and full place… well my living room anyways.

The shelf came in a long box, which made the ride pretty interesting in my Kia Sorrento. It stuck out the back window and rested between the front driver and passenger seats. (It also changed the radio station every time I hit the brakes) As soon as I got home, I opened it up to find about 1,000,000 pieces that I was supposed to put together. As I spread them out on my living room floor, my vision of the beauty it would bring was completely overshadowed by the avalanche of screws, wood, and foreign parts that I have no words to describe. How in the world was this mess going to turn into the shelf pictured on the box? How was I supposed to manage this mess?

Finally I decided to take a deep breath, open the instructions, and to follow one step at a time. To my surprise, each step was pretty simple. Then slowly I began to see the shelf take shape. It’s now all put together and it’s even more beautiful because I understand the process.

Sometimes situations in our life can be like this. It’s exciting at first and we know it’s going to be amazing, yet when we see all the pieces it quickly becomes overwhelming. The good news is this, God has instructions and His purpose is not to overwhelm us, but to guide us through with His words and direction.

When God brings us to a place of promise like the Israelites at Jericho, He never intends for us to be overwhelmed. He instead desires for us to simply follow His instructions. As we look at His plan of action, it’s not exhausting. In fact, it was quite simple. March around 1 time for 6 days and then 7 times the 7thday. Blow the horns and shout!

When we need a huge miracle, we tend to think we’ve got to do SO MUCH to receive it. Then the faith shifts to us rather than God.

If you seem locked out of your promise today, know this… Where there’s a place God’s called you to fight, it’s also a place God’s given you victory!Through His word and the guidance of the Holy Spirit, listen and simply follow! What He asks you to do may seem strange and countercultural. It may go against everything world tells us will work. But the word says in Isaiah 55:8-9

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.

His ways are different, but His ways are always better. When we find His instructions, it’s such a relief knowing that we don’t have to figure it out on our own!

Take hold of instruction; do not let go. Guard her, for she is your life. – Proverbs 4:13

Take my instruction and not silver, and knowledge rather than choicest gold. – Proverbs 8:10

He is on the path of life who heeds instruction, But he who ignores reproof goes astray. – Proverbs 10:17

 

 

“He didn’t bring us this far to leave us. He didn’t teach us to swim to let us drown. He didn’t build His home in us to move away. He didn’t lift us up to let us down.”

Instruction is Life

Proverbs 4:13
Take hold of instruction; do not let go. Guard her, for she is your life.

The life God has for you involves receiving, knowing, and following His instructions.
Instruction is Direction or Order. It tells us how something is to be done.

God gives instruction all throughout His word. And Holy Spirit also gives us instruction as He guides us and empowers us in day to day living. Guard your instruction and keep to her, for instruction is your life!

What is God instructing you to do today? What does His word say about your situation or struggle? What has he commanded you to do?

Are you praying for and loving your enemy? Are you giving thanks in all circumstances? Are you crying out for wisdom and understanding? Are you being a doer of His word or are you just a hearer? Are you working at your job as if you’re working for the Lord?

His instructions are life! So to LIVE to the fullest is to follow them! He came to give life and to give it more abundantly. If that’s His desire for you, then you can trust his instructions.

Humbly you came..

Humbly you came to the earth you created…

I glorified You on earth, having accomplished the work which You have given Me to do. Now, Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.
John 17:4-5

We often talk about the sacrifice on the cross. How He humbled Himself in that moment… but how humbling it must have been to have left the “Glory which He had with the Father before the world was”.

When Chelsey and I were preparing for Marriage and began searching for a place of our own, we looked at many properties. The problem was, we grew up in nice homes and have expensive taste. The home I was moving out of was a big beautiful home on a historic street in our city. When we began searching, we quickly shut down any place that seemed less than what we each had before. We didn’t want to step down. Some of the places were once beautiful, but hadn’t been taken care of. Some had been trashed and cleaned up just enough to be presentable on the outside. Some were overrun by insects of a specific kind… gross. And what we really wanted was something that was new or had been made new.

As I read this prayer of Jesus this morning, I realized that His transition was much more dramatic than any place we could have chosen to live. He left the Glory of Heaven to come to a world and to lives that had not been taken care of. Created to be beautiful, in the image of God, now full of sin.
How great a sacrifice, even before the cross. How great a love that would stoop low to where we are to make us brand new.

I want my life, this temple for His spirit, to be a beautiful place for Him to dwell! He’s made me new and has made beauty from my ashes. So today, I choose to glorify Him, and to hold tight to purity and holiness. I chose to walk humbly with my God, remembering the sacrifices He made for me.

He’s with you!

He’s with you!

By. Chris Taylor

 

Joshua 1:5
No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life; as I was with Moses, I will be with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you.

It was God who did the mighty things with a stuttering man named Moses. It was ALWAYS GOD! The Lord took a man who was uncertain and insecure about the task and used him greatly. We can’t look down at Moses for his fear in the beginning, because the truth is, the task was bigger than him. But God was with him and it was accomplished!

Joshua knew the accomplishments and the power that was displayed under the leadership of Moses, and he knew he also had a great task that was bigger than he was. But the Lord quickly assures him that HE will be with him.

The truth is, all of our purposes are bigger than we are!

The challenges we’re meant to overcome are through the power and presence of God. So be assured today that this same God who did the impossible with regular people all throughout the Bible is here today to do the impossible with you. Your calling and assignment may look big… GOOD! Because this will remind you that God is BIGGER!
He’s with you today so be confident as you walk with Him into victory.

Don’t get Disqualified

Don’t get Disqualified

“Disobedience may eliminate opportunities for service by disqualifying one from a position of leadership.” (Ryrie study Bible)

1 Samuel 13:13-14
Samuel said to Saul, “ You have acted foolishly; you have not kept the commandment of the Lord your God, which He commanded you, for now the Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. But now your kingdom shall not endure. The Lord has sought out for Himself a man after His own heart, and the Lord has appointed him as ruler over His people, because you have not kept what the Lord commanded you.”

Saul undoubtedly felt the pressure of the battle. The enemy’s army was HUGE. Can you imagine the stress…trying to hold it all together as the leader of an army that is outnumbered. He became impatient and he took matters into his own hands, which wasn’t what God had instructed.
This act of disobedience would change his life. “Would have” is a key phrase here… if you Would Have been obedient, the Lord Would Have established your Kingdom over Israel forever.
Disobedience is no joke. It’s not something we can pick and choose depending on the situation. It’s sometimes very difficult in the face of pressing circumstances to trust God and His timing. But we can never do in our own strength what we can do in God’s strength. We can never accomplish in our own timing what God can accomplish in His.
Your situation may be pressing today, but remember that it doesn’t change what God has already spoken to you. His instructions and commands are to be followed. Don’t freak out and think you’ve been abandoned. Don’t think you’re gonna have to take the reins. Sometimes the hardest thing to do is to trust God in the waiting. Immediately after Saul just “did it himself”, Samuel showed up…
I encourage you (and myself) to place obedience to God as the first priority!

You can’t prove that you trust the Lord without an opportunity to trust Him.

This is your opportunity! What are you going to do?

Get the “Would Haves” out of the way today. I Would Have, but ______________.
Whatever filled that blank… surrender it to God today and Trust Him with it completely.

I want THAT!

I want that!

by Chris Taylor

 

Eating… America’s favorite pastime. Well at least it’s one of mine. I mean who doesn’t like going out to a nice restaurant and ordering something amazing to fill our hunger? Let me ask you this. Have you ever inspected the menu, picked what sounded best, and it looked delicious… until your friend’s food came out? Theirs looked so much better. It smelled better. Then they gave you a bite and it even tasted better!

 

After tasting what they ordered, you totally regret your choice. You would much rather have what they have. It’s hard to even enjoy yours anymore because you know you’re missing out. You know there’s something better.

 

There’s something about the life of a believer that has this effect on those around us. The Bible tells us in Psalm 34:8 to “taste and see that the Lord is GOOD!”

 

The truth is, most people’s first taste of the Lord will be through us. They will taste our fruit. The fruit of the Spirit! Our lives should taste so good that others will look at it and say, “Man, I want that.” Our lives should make others see their choices in a different light. They should see that there’s something better than what they’ve chosen. The best part is, the Master Chef is willing to give them what they now desire for free!

 

It’s God’s Spirit in us that brings this goodness! Live your life in such a way that your fruit will turn people toward God! Allow the Holy Spirit to work in your life so that your fruit will be pure and tasty.

 

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

Galatians 5:22-23

 

Wild or Free

Psalm 32:8,9

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you. Do not be like the horse or the mule, which have no understanding but must be controlled by bit and bridle or they will not come to you.

 

 

Have you ever seen a wild horse being broken by a trainer? It’s quite a show. This horse that is used to doing what it wants is now under the control of someone else. Of course this doesn’t come naturally for the animal and it sure isn’t use to hearing commands, nor does it understand them. So the process begins as the handler places a bridle on the horse along with a bit in its mouth, all connected to a rope which is held by the man. The trainer will stand in the center of the ring and allows the horse to go in circles as he holds the rope. The horse can pull away or try to run off, but it’s painful when it does. He eventually learns that the sooner he obeys, the sooner he is free of the bit! He’s only causing himself pain.

 

Many years ago a good friend had a vision of my life. She pictured the Lord in the center of a ring and I was the horse, trying to painfully pull away. She told me I wasn’t getting out of the Lord’s plan for my life, and I was only going to hurt myself if I tried to run.

 

Isn’t this a picture of many lives today? We desire freedom. We all want liberty but we often misunderstand what truly brings it into our lives. It comes through obedience to Christ. He doesn’t give up on us. He has a will for our lives and desires for us to be free and fulfilling our destinies. He also knows this doesn’t happen overnight for the person who is so accustomed to having his own way. Many times we experience the discomfort of disobedience and God definitely allows it. But what he intends for us to learn is that he’s not trying to hurt us, but he’s trying to break us so that we can be used!

 

God wants to get us to the place where we stop when he says “whoa”, and we go when he says, “giddy up”. The place of true obedience. Although we are constantly learning and increasing in knowledge and understanding, we aren’t meant to be in basic training forever. The truth is, we can decide when we’re going to finally submit. It’s only then that God can use us to the fullest in true freedom! So if you’re still a wild one and you’re experiencing the pain of disobedience, know that the Lord uses broken people. Wild and Free have been used together for too long. We have to choose… Choose freedom and experience the wild ride the trainer has for your life.

So you had a bad day…

So you had a bad day…

 

Are you having a bad day? As I read the Christmas story, I realize that Mary and Joseph were definitely having what we would call a bad day. There’s a census and they’ve got to travel while she’s ready to pop.

 

“Really God? Right now? We’ve just worked out all of this stuff in our relationship and now You’re gonna send us all the way to Bethlehem? I mean you’ve spoken to us and we know you’re in the big middle of our situation, but now, though we know we’re blessed, we’ve got to travel like this.”

 

Not in a nice comfortable CAR, but on a donkey…an uncomfortable ride, especially for a pregnant woman who’s about to bust. Away from their primary physician and away from work, to travel. This costs money and time. They get there and you know they’re ready to lay down because this trip has no doubt worn them out…. and just when they think they’re gonna lay down their heads, they’re told there’s not a room available!

 

We’re sold out!
It’s a bad day!

Then they find the only thing offered to them is a stable. I doubt they walked in and were like, “HEY, this is nice”. No, they were like… “HAY, this place is filled with hay.”

 

Sometimes when things aren’t what we expected, it seems like a bad day.
But we can’t forget that God placed them in this stable. Look at the things God used here:

He used circumstance, He used the government (which issued this census), He used people who not only came and took all the good rooms, but He also used someone to offer what he had even though it wasn’t much (a stable). All things were working together. Even though it wasn’t pretty, it was the most beautiful thing taking place on Earth and in Heaven at the same time.
It wasn’t easy to travel to Bethlehem in their condition, yet God’s working out a detail that’s of the utmost importance. You see, in Micah, God told the people that a ruler would be born in this little town of Bethlehem.

 

But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, are only a small village among all the people of Judah. Yet a ruler of Israel will come from you, one whose origins are from the distant past.

Micah 5:2

 

Many times God is working through struggles to get you to a place where He’s destined a miracle. God used this couple to do something huge for His kingdom, and it wasn’t how or where they expected. God knew exactly what He was doing with Mary and Joseph just as He knows exactly what He’s doing with you.
Just like Mary was carrying Jesus, so are we. And many times God leads us to a place where we deliver Him into the darkness. A place where despite any struggle and discomfort, there’s a greater detail in His plan that is being made compete. So today, know that He knows. Know that He sees when things don’t go as we planned. Know that He sees when we face rejection. Know that He sees when we end up in a place that makes us wonder or question even though we’re doing what we’ve been asked to do. God knows the details. Trust in Him, even if it seems like nothing is working out. There’s no telling what He’s planning to birth out of your bad day.