Lack of Wisdom = Room for God

James 1:5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.

It was almost 11 years ago when I attended the first ARD meeting for my son. At that time, these meetings were called IEP (Individual Education Plan) meetings. My son was 8 years old and in the second grade. We knew something wasn’t right in first grade so we held him back thinking it was just a lack of maturity. After repeating first grade and moving into second grade, something was still amiss. After the school performed a battery of tests, we had our the first official ARD meeting. As long as I live, I will never forget that first ARD meeting. In that conference room surrounded by seven other people who were educators, some special education teachers and the principal. I found myself listening to test results that were devastating to any mom who naturally has hopes and dreams for her child. As I listened to all the things Levi would never do, I felt myself dying inside and wanting to collapse. However, I did not. Something took over (I like to call it the Holy Spirit) that allowed me to finish that meeting with grace and dignity.

I went home to my husband and prayer closet. After sharing this news with my husband, I spent three days in my prayer closet praying and crying out to God. The bible tells us in James 4:8 to draw near to God and He will draw near to you. I felt God speak to me during those days with a message of hope. God didn’t speak in an audible way but in a spiritual way. I felt him say, “Levi will be just fine. He will be a leader for my kingdom”. Now to this day, I don’t understand the last part but I am believing God for all of it. You see I have been steadfastly praying for my son ever since those days in the prayer closet. One scripture that I have prayed many times is James 1:5. I insert Levi’s name in the text asking God to give Levi wisdom and I believe God has done that and will continue to do that over the coming years.

Last week I attended the last and final ARD meeting for my son. My son will graduate next May and today we are going on a college visit. It isn’t a big university but it’s so much more than I was told nearly 11 years ago and I am thankful for the opportunity.

I have learned a big lesson to always leave room for God in the midst of my circumstances. This is where He shows up most if we let him.

Where are you leaving room for God in your circumstances today?

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God Dependent by Tera Rabe

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Tera Rabe is my little sister. She recently wrote this devotion and it’s just too good not to share with you. I know you will enjoy.

This month marks 26 years since I accepted Christ. I can’t help but reflect on my journey with the Lord. We all look back and reminisce during lengths of friendship, marriage and employment. Why not stop and think about our journey with our Lord?

When I was fourteen, I had scoliosis surgery. I did not fear the surgery or the possibility of something going wrong. My trust was in the Lord.

In October 2001, my Mom got sick and needed constant care for a while. I left college during mid-semester of my junior year and moved back home. I knew God was calling me to do this. Looking back, I am so glad I obeyed.

Then, a year later, Mom passed away three days before Christmas and just three months after I was married. God carried me through that intense season of grief. It was during this time that I truly fell in Love with Christ. I felt such an emptiness in losing my Mom that He was the only one who could fill it. I was twenty five years old. I felt robbed. I still had so much of my life to live and she would not be there. My relationship with the Lord was never meant to be an after-thought and that’s exactly what it was until that moment I let him become my everything. That was fifteen years after I had decided to follow him.

There seems to be a common thread with those who allow Christ to be their everything. The reality of it is not IF they get to that point, but WHEN. The when is usually followed by a life changing, life altering event. I have often wondered why that was.

Then, this past January, I was at an all Women’s Night of Worship at church. A woman got up, told her story and an at the end, passed out index cards and told us to write down our “take-away” for the evening. I sat there silently, feeling like I didn’t have anything to write and then all of a sudden, I found myself writing “GOD DEPENDENT.” Be more God Dependent! It’s about being God Dependent! It all made sense. I now understood a little bit of why I had to go through the painful grief process and it also set the tone for what was coming later this year.

This past summer, I had another surgery for scoliosis and I knew that the only way to get through it was to be 100% God Dependent. He was there, every step of the way. I am so thankful that He is mine and I am His. My prayer is that you allow him to be your everything.

“I lie awake thinking of you, meditating on you through the night. Because you are my helper, I sing for joy in the shadow of your wings. I cling to you; your strong right hand holds me securely.” Psalm 63:6-8 NLT

Self Evaluation

The slacker craves, yet has nothing, but the diligent is fully satisfied. Proverbs 13:4

Pride comes before destruction, and an arrogant spirit before a fall. Proverbs 16:18

Does anyone despise workplace self evaluations like I do? I really do not enjoy completing a form listing all my accomplishments over the past year. I understand the necessity, especially when the people you report to are new to the workplace. However, it just feels bad! And I am taught by God word’s to carefully watch my pride. Pride can swell up as I start thinking about all that has been accomplished through my work and it just seems like dangerous territory.

I was recently sharing with a friend that a few years ago I was cleaning houses. This was a good way for me to work part time making some money while my son was in school. I love to work and have always worked over the years even while I was a “stay at home mom”. I believe God had me cleaning toilets for six years to teach me a few things, one of which was to be humble and serve others. To appreciate all the jobs I held in the past from an Assistant Vice President of a bank to a Employee Benefit Coordinator of an insurance company as well as becoming a licensed insurance agent. I have always sought the highest position available to me in the companies I have worked for in the past. What position could I possibly accomplish in cleaning toilets? I found myself praying over the families I worked for and prayed for the children while cleaning in their rooms. As my heart was positioned in a place of humility, ministry birthed out of housecleaning. I had no idea this would be such a sweet time in my life and my walk with God.

Colossians 3:23 Whatever you do, do it enthusiastically as something done for The Lord and not for men knowing that you will receive the reward of an inheritance from The Lord.

What a good reminder to work hard for The Lord and not for men. God has the very reward needed to do the work before us so let’s go do the work with enthusiasm. And now that I have positioned my heart toward God and all He has accomplished through me, I am ready to complete that employee self evaluation.

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Divine Appointment

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Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails. Proverbs 19:21

My 1:30 pm appointment was abruptly cancelled at 1:00 pm. I was perplexed because the person I was to meet with wasn’t the one who cancelled, it was a family member. The family member left a message that we had to cancel. It was strange. I tried to call back and didn’t get an answer.

At the exact time of 1:30 pm, a woman comes to the church to talk with me. So we spend some time talking about what is going on in her life. She has problems and is at the end of herself in trying to deal with them. After listening for some time, we have the following conversation.

Me, “Tell me about your relationship with God”.

Reply, “I don’t have one”.

Me, “Would you like to have one?”

Reply, “Yes, but I don’t know how”.

We spent the next hour talking about God and how she could have a relationship with Him. It was obvious God was calling her, or “wooing” her as I like to say, into a relationship with Him. God had been chasing her and she finally gave in to Him. He was not the only one chasing her and she knew it. I told her that I believed there was a spiritual battle for her soul and she could choose God to have the victory.

She did chose God that day and what a glorious day it was! I explained to her that her problems wouldn’t go away but they certainly would look different in the coming days. Why? Because she has a new perspective on life due to the Holy Spirit inside her. She now has “a hope and a future” and that hope and future is only found in God through His Son, Jesus Christ.

So what are your plans today? Do you suppose you could be available to God when those plans change? Who knows, God may have an eternal reason for the plan change and someone’s life may depend on it.

Patterns

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Whenever the Lord raised up a judge over Israel, he was with that judge and rescued the people from their enemies throughout the judge’s lifetime. For the Lord took pity on his people, who were burdened by oppression and suffering. But when the judge died, the people returned to their corrupt ways, behaving worse than those who had lived before them. They went after other gods, serving and worshiping them. And they refused to give up their evil practices and stubborn ways. Judges 2:18-19

There is something profound to me about this Old Testament scripture. Here’s a quick breakdown:

*God raises up people to serve as a representative for him.
*God’s mercy and love for the oppressed and suffering.
*People forget God’s goodness and turn back to old ways.
*People refuse to follow God and give up their own way.

This is heartbreaking! This set of scriptures in Judges is referring to the Israelites and how God reached down and saved them over and over. He loves them so much and is trying every way possible to reach them. In the first part of Judges 2, we read about a pattern of sin and judgment. The people would cry out and God would raise up someone to deliver. Yet time and time again, they would do evil in the Lord’s sight.

When we read this, we think how can people do this again and again? May I suggest that we are no different than the Israelites? We do this in our current culture. Here’s the breakdown:

*God sends his son, Jesus, to save us from our sin.
*God sends the Holy Spirit to reside in us upon confessing Jesus is Lord.
*People forget God’s goodness when everything is going good and turn back to old ways.
*People refuse to follow God’s prompting and try to do life their own way.

Do you see the pattern here? God, God, People, People. We start with seeing God work and move in our life and the lives of others, then we see God when He pours out mercy and love. Then before you know it, we leave God out as He gradually disappears from our focus and we become the focus again. What if the pattern was God, God, God, God and we continually put Him first every day? How would our lives be different if intentionally set a pattern of putting God first all the time?

If you are in Christ, God has empowered you with the truth, the way and the life through Jesus Christ (John 14:6). Now go live like it!!

True Discipleship

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“Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’ Matthew 7:21-23

This is scary scripture because Jesus reveals something that most Christians don’t talk about. We believe in God’s grace, His saving grace, yet this scripture clearly tells us that we are to go and do God’s will and if not, the results are devastating. This scripture makes me think and ponder the ways in which I am doing God’s will.

Recently, a coworker told me about a conversation with another person about how to know God’s will. She stated if we are in an intimate relationship with God, then we know God’s will. I agree with that assessment. If we are seeking God, spending time with God, praying to God, then we take one step at a time with God in God’s will. God doesn’t give us a huge laid out plan of the future, He gives us one step at a time. The Holy Spirit prompts when appropriate and then there is our opportunity to follow.

Jesus is clear that we are to live a transformed life and the disobedient lifestyle is inconsistent with genuine discipleship. I don’t know about you, but seems clear to me that intentional faith development toward being a true disciple of Jesus Christ is important to our Lord Jesus. So much so, He’s willing to turn away from some and say “I never knew you”. I have a feeling this breaks Jesus’ heart as much as it broke God’s to see his Son die for the sins of all.

What are you doing today to reflect True Discipleship in Jesus Christ?

John 3:17 Verse often Overlooked

For God did not send His Son into the world that He might condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. Anyone who believes in Him is not condemned, but anyone who does not believe is already condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the One and Only Son of God. John 3:17-18 HCSB

Like you, I have heard John 3:16 many times over the years. Who can argue, it’s an awesome scripture that gives us the purpose of Jesus in one sentence. And it’s the most memorized scripture of all. However, I believe the following verse, John 3:17, is often overlooked. God did not send his Son into the world that he might condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. Did I just hear grace? He came to offer grace? He didn’t come to condemn me or the world? Now that will preach.

I was once condemned but then grace came and walked beside me. It covered me and showed me God’s love. It followed me and protected me before I even knew it was there. Then I realized that I needed to accept this grace that was chasing after me so I said “yes”. I said yes to accept the love of God through Jesus who died for me (and you) on the cross. Did I realize what I sinner I was, probably not so much, I was a child. However, the Holy Spirit works in ways to help you know and realize sin and this is truly the work of God. Unbelievers don’t always know they are sinning until they know God. They may feel unhappy or unfulfilled, but often times they don’t know they are doing something wrong. When we point fingers and tell people they are sinners, it’s condemning them. Why don’t we point our finger and say God loves you so much that there this thing called grace that covers all the sin you have ever committed.

I wonder, could we reach more for Christ if we offered grace through Him since God did not send him to condemn the world but to save it?

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Boomerang

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“Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults— unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbor’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, ‘Let me wash your face for you,’ when your own face is distorted by contempt? It’s this whole traveling road-show mentality all over again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face, and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor. Matthew 7:1 CEB

Woah! This sounds like the golden-rule we learned growing up that I don’t hear much about today. If we are going to criticize others for their failures and faults, then we better want the same treatment. What? Who wants that? The answer is none of us, but we are quick to judge others, aren’t we?

The thing I like about this version of the scriptures is how it speaks to our critical spirit and how it has a way of boomeranging. The HCSB version says, “For with the same judgment you use, you will be judged and with the measure you use.” If we are going to use harsh judgement when evaluating others, then we better expect God to use the same standard on us.

When I see sin, do I ask myself the question. Is this sin present in my life? Do I have unrepented sin in my life? I usually do because each day I wake up in this human form and have a thought or something comes out of my mouth that is not godly. I could have even taken it to bed with me the night before and fell asleep before I could get it off my chest. So I have to take a look in the mirror (God’s word) and ask God to show me ways in which I have failed him. I will say something like, “God show me ways in which I have not lived according to your word or walked according to your way”. And guess what, he will!

I can’t help but think the CEB version of Matthew 7:1 was written for women. I use a washcloth every day as most women and the next time I wash my face, I am going to think differently. I am going to reflect on my walk with God and if I am clean enough to offer a washcloth to my neighbor.

How about you? Have you wiped that sneer off your own face so that you are fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor today?

The Password

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At that time Jesus prayed this prayer: “O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, thank you for hiding these things from those who think themselves wise and clever, and for revealing them to the childlike. Yes, Father, it pleased you to do it this way! “My Father has entrusted everything to me. No one truly knows the Son except the Father, and no one truly knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.” Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” Matthew 11:25-30

Recently I was out of town at a conference and while I was away, my husband forgot I was gone. Here’s the story. We set the house alarm before going to bed. I am usually the first one up to turn off the alarm and let our dog outside. My husband got up and went straight to the door to let our dog out and the alarm sounded. Of course the alarm company called wanting to know the password. He proceeded to tell them the alarm code that we punch in every time we use it. They told him this was not the password and he said he didn’t know it then. He hung up and moments later, the County Sheriff arrived at the front door. They wanted to see his identification to make sure he was the homeowner before leaving the property.

I started thinking about how this relates to Jesus and knowing the password. Jesus doesn’t ask us the passcode, he asks us the password. Think of it this way, being religious represents a passcode and having a relationship with Christ is the password. Have you been religious in attending church and doing for God yet not relational with God through Jesus? Jesus invites all to know the password to come to him and once you know Jesus Christ you have the password for life here and for eternity with God.

The moral to the story is this, don’t let the Sheriff find you without the password aka the proper Identification in Christ because the passcode won’t get you into heaven.