No… Think Bigger

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But God replied, “No-Sarah, your wife, will give birth to a son for you. Gen. 17:19

Genesis 16 relays a problem that is dealt with in various ways. To back it up a bit, Abraham was given a super charged promise from God yet no one was seeing evidence of it becoming reality. So Sarah, Abraham’s wife decides she better just handle this for God.

Ever been there? … Don’t worry God I know you got a lot on Your plate right now so I’ll just take this one thing and handle it for You. (If you have never been there great! However I can vouch that 100+/100+ times it’s never worked out well for me when I’ve taken this approach to problems! Note to self: STOP trying this method!!!)

Secondly I see in Genesis 16 that Abraham rather than stand in faithful trust on God’s timing and way he participates in Sarah’s wayward plan but than takes the hands off approach in trying to fix it! Maybe he figures if he ignores it long enough it will fix itself?! (Personally ignoring the problem is like ignoring a stone in your shoe it doesn’t go away it creates massive blisters that can get infected and cause gang green which leads to amputation and… well you get the gruesome picture right!? Bottom line: don’t ignore problems…or participate in creating them!)

Thirdly I see a third party get roped into the problem. Ecc. 4:12 says a cord of three strands is not easily broken, so if the third party to your problem is not God than you are just going to end up with a bigger problem!

Hagar our third party handles the problem by running away. In Gen. 16:8 God meets her in flight and asks her where she is going. Now God only asks us questions to get US to figure out something (He already knows the answer folks). In Hagar’s attempt to run she finds she can’t run from God (and neither can we). What does God tell her to name the baby inside her that seems to be causing such an issue… Ishmael which means God hears!!! Dear one, God hears what’s on your heart too! You may want to run but He’s there to embrace you if you’ll run to Him and like Hagar we will find that He is El Roi. God not only hears but sees you!

You are more deeply loved than you could ever even fathom – yes YOU.

Now jumping forward to Genesis 17 we see that in spite of all the tangled messes we weave God is still able! Amen! Abraham in verse 17 bows down to the ground before God but laughs because he just can’t fathom how God is ever going to be able to handle this… Abraham basically rationalizes with God and says, God great idea but really that is impossible, it will never work! Do you see me, do you see my wife, we could never do or be who You are wanting… let me give You a suggestion God, why don’t You just…

Ever been there? …God there is just no way. Either You need another plan or You need another person, cuz there is just no way! And if You need a few suggestions I have some God so ah.. just let me know. (Note to self: God is into blowing our minds with the unexpectedly impossible and He doesn’t loose battles so to start one with Him never ends well for me.) So in verse 19 God simply tells Abraham, no. We are doing it My way Ab… for your own good.

And that is just it, it IS for our own good (Rom. 8:28)! God is good all the time. All the time God is good and yes that takes walking by faith and not sight (2 Cor. 5:7) and keeping a heavenly mindset because this life on earth is just a vapor our reality is in heaven and that is to be our focus (James 4:14, Col. 3:1-2, 2 Tim. 4:18).

So today Lord, help me to think bigger because You are bigger, bigger than any waves in life that would pose a threatening problem. The waves may look big but they are still under Your feet so help me to walk out there on them with You because You are bigger. Praise the mighty victorious name of Jesus!

Independent Read: Eph. 3:20-21, Matt. 19:26

Toe Up To The Red Sea

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After I looked things over, I stood up and said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, “Don’t be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your families, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes. Nehemiah 4:14

Today the United States divorce statistics record 45% not making it “for better or worse”. I understand that sometimes you may be able to say…”Well, I didn’t know that about you when I said I do”, but… you did, and now you do, so…

Relationships in general are messy because they involve imperfect humans right! I know cuz I am one, I’m married to one and we are trying to raise six more all at the same time!! Praise Jesus His extravagant mercies are new every morning (Lam. 3:23)! Amen!

In relationships in general, marriage or not, you may find yourself at a cross in the road… kinda like your toe is up to the Red Sea shoreline like the Israelite’s did trying to escape the Egyptians! You have to make a choice… do you choose to part ways because the situation seems impossible? …Or do you choose to see how God Himself parts the waters of impossibility for you like only He could (Matt. 19:26)!

In Exodus 14 we see the enemy begin to pursue and chase after the Israelite’s again… why? Because they saw value in them! The enemy knows how valuable you/we are to Jesus and how valuable relationships are to Him, so yes, the enemy will fight for your family, fight for your marriage, fight for your friendships because they are VALUABLE!!

How are you and I fighting FOR our relationships? Even when our mood doesn’t match our mission? (Eph. 4:27 and do not give the enemy a foothold.)

God never asks us to fight alone. He always thoroughly equips for what He commands (Phil. 4:19). Then the angel of God, who had been leading the people of Israel, moved to the rear of the camp …Gen. 14:19. God positioned Himself behind the Israelites, in between them and the enemy (vs. 19) with the Red Sea in front …get moving (vs 15)! What?! But there’s a sea God?!

Lord, please help us not get stuck wallowing in excuses!! If You are leading, if You got my back… help me to GET MOVING!

God’s got our back whom shall we fear (Psalm 27:1)!?! Verse 21 …and the LORD opened up a path through the water… Good golly what?!! The LORD opened up a path… through an OCEAN!!

Psalm 77:19 Your road led through the sea, your pathway through the mighty waters – a pathway no one knew was there! You better believe no one knew it was there!!!

Jesus’ toe was brought to the shore line of the Red Sea, so to speak, in the Garden of Gethsemane and He chose to submit to the Fathers will (Luke 22:42). He chose to bear that “cross in the road” for us. He chose to fight for you and I on the cross when we certainly did not deserve it (Romans 5:8).

Is your toe up to the shoreline of the Red Sea too today? Does what’s before you seem impossible? Maybe it’s a relationship or even a situation.

Jesus, You are great and awesome, thank You for being bigger than our battles, for being a God who makes a way through the impossible “Red Seas”. Help us to surrender to Your better way and allow You to fight for us.  Strengthen our arms for the battle of fighting for whats of GREAT value and worth… our faith, our family, and friendships. To You be the glory, in Jesus name.

Independent Read: 1 John 3:16, John 15:12,17, Exodus 14:14, Gen. 49:24, Is. 41:13, Luke 6:35


What Makes A Warrior?

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The one who rules righteously, who rules in the fear of God, is like the light of morning at sunrise, like a morning without clouds, like the gleaming of the sun on new grass after rain. 2 Samuel 23:3-4

I have a favorite book I used to read to my kids when they were younger called, “What Makes A Rainbow?” The question is written on every page with a different color ribbon magically stretching across each page. The text reads something like, “Red makes a rainbow! A red hen, a red flower…” and it continues to list things that are red or what ever color the page is depicting, then it finishes each different color page with, “God makes a rainbow!” I was reminded of this book when I titled this devotional – What Makes A Warrior?

Like the rainbow book, I think the answer to, “What makes a warrior?” can be answered in a similar way. Looking into the Bible I think God lists for us the qualities that make a warrior but it is God Himself that makes the warrior victorious.

Read 2 Samuel 23:8-17 (Talk about intrigue!)

This passage depicts three of David’s mightiest warriors and mighty they are but why?

Listed first is Jashobeam, the leader of the three. His name means, dweller among the people; or to whom the people turn. People will turn to a sincerely humble leader, one willing to walk a mile in their shoes among them.

A godly leader is someone with unparalleled courage or rather unparalleled trust in God who leads them.

It’s unparalleled wisdom; wisdom that comes from heaven and is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. (James 3:17)

The Scripture we read states that Jashobeam once used a spear to kill 800 enemy warriors in a single battle! I don’t know about you, but one enemy is enough at one time for me!

2 Samuel 23:6-7 But the godless are like thorns to be thrown away, for they tear the hand that touches them. One must use iron tools to chop them down; they will be totally consumed by fire. 

I would guess that what made Jashobeam a mighty warrior was…

-his willingness to lay down his own battle plans (I’m not sure he thought up taking on 800 in one battle, on his own – I would have done everything I could to make sure that blueprint got shoved under the cot!)

-his taking time to walk with and among the people

-choosing to take up faith not fear in the face of insurmountable odds

-and surrendering fully to the God of Heavens Armies as his commander and chief and just be an iron tool in His mighty hand. 

The text states in verse 9, “Next in rank…” so this was not number one but number two mightiest of warriors. How often do we forfeit because we will never be good enough to be number one? How’s that saying go?… “The woods would be pretty silent if only the very best birds sang out.” Don’t, not, become the warrior God intended for you to be just because YOU didn’t think you would measure up. Remember 1 Samuel 16:7 ...For the LORD does not see as man sees;

Warrior number two was named Eleazar. His name means God helps. And that is just what he did! Eleazar stood by king Davids side in battle when the entire Israelite army had fled AND he fought till his hand was too tire to lift his sword! I’m sure David found that quite helpful!!

What made this guy a mighty warrior?

-He was loyal and trustworthy.

“When the going get’s tough the tough get going!” I think the rest of the Israelite army misinterpreted that statement! They got going alright! Hightailed it right out of their until of course it was time to participate in the plunder! Know anyone like that? I’m betting they are not on your list of emergency contacts.

-he was tenacious and passionate and probably didn’t know the meaning of “give up”.  Surrender yes, but not give up. It is only in full surrender to God and His agenda do you find that it is He who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. (Phil. 2:13) Eleazar I think could say, to this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me. Col. 1:29 and when that end came God was I AM enough, and there they were face to face with victory!

I don’t want to say I saved the best for last but maybe I did. 🙂 Verse 11 states, “Next in rank was…” Now consider with me this is not top dog number one OR warrior number two, no, this is somewhere down there on rung three. Understudying the understudy. I may be exaggerating in the case of Shammah but anyone else felt like they were just marinating on rung three… or 33?!

For all of us that may never feel like we will ever get to see the view from the top of the ladder we are so far down on the rungs, you might want to know that the name Shammah means, God is there.

God is there! Does that knock anyone else’s socks off?! What a rich message that it’s not about climbing a ladder to be good enough for God. He’s right there with you on the rung you’re on! You ALREADY have the best view if we will allow Him to open our eyes so that we truly perceive His presence, and open our ears so that we truly hear the voice of the One who whispers, Jeremiah 29:11 My child.

Jashobeam “who walked with the people”, accomplishing astonishing feats in battle.

Eleazar “who helped” and was crazy loyal and trustworthy in battle.

Both incredibly worthy to be included in David’s three elite but Shammah, Shammah the text stayed in the battle ALONE. He held his ground in the middle of the field! The middle no less!! Ever been in the middle of a battle too far from the start to turn back and too far from the end to see and glimmer of hope and you are exhausted, weary, just barely holding on… take courage because Shammah was in the middle and he beat back the enemy! And what does verse 12 say? Oh you will want to read it out loud! So the LORD brought about a great victory.

You might feel like you are the understudy for the understudy, that you are in the middle of the exhausting battle, not only that but you are lonely too!! Remember Shammah, God is there!

You are God’s chosen, yes God’s chosen warrior whom He placed just where He wanted you to be even if from human perspective it looks like next, next, next in line; in the middle of the battle; with no one else around. It may be too much for one human but GOD IS THERE and nothing is impossible WITH God! (Luke 1:37)

What made the mightiest of warriors that day in Shammah was God Himself, because it’s only God who makes a warrior mighty.

Through these warriors God was magnified so that now when we ask, What makes a warrior? We have Jesus our God magnified for us in our battles through His Word – are we willing to take time for others, choose faith not fear, surrender our battle plans for His better ones, to be used as an iron tool in His mighty hand, to be helpful, trustworthy, loyal and when we are standing in the middle all alone will we trust God is there and never left?

Because that’s what makes a warrior… and God Himself makes them mighty victorious.

Praise the mighty victorious name of Jesus! LORD of Heavens Armies!

Snow in MAY!?! – “So Will I” (A powerful worship video.)

Snow in May reminds me that my God is able! Nothing is too hard or impossible for Him – He is creative. He thinks outside the box of impossible to I’Mpossible and as I see that my tulips are bowing to their Maker this morning (as my mom pointed out to me) just resting and trusting in His ways, it reminds me… so should I. “If creation sings your praises so will I.”

Psalm 96

1 Sing a new song to the Lord!

Let the whole earth sing to the Lord!

2 Sing to the Lord; praise his name.

Each day proclaim the good news that he saves.

3 Publish his glorious deeds among the nations.

Tell everyone about the amazing things he does.

4 Great is the Lord! He is most worthy of praise!

He is to be feared above all gods.

5 The gods of other nations are mere idols,

but the Lord made the heavens!

6 Honor and majesty surround him;

strength and beauty fill his sanctuary.

7 O nations of the world, recognize the Lord;

recognize that the Lord is glorious and strong.

8 Give to the Lord the glory he deserves!

Bring your offering and come into his courts.

9 Worship the Lord in all his holy splendor.

Let all the earth tremble before him.

10 Tell all the nations, “The Lord reigns!”

The world stands firm and cannot be shaken.

He will judge all peoples fairly.

11 Let the heavens be glad, and the earth rejoice!

Let the sea and everything in it shout his praise!

12 Let the fields and their crops burst out with joy!

Let the trees of the forest sing for joy

13 before the Lord, for he is coming!

He is coming to judge the earth.

He will judge the world with justice,

and the nations with his truth.

Live Enamored

The morning dew is such a miracle to me! Everything soaking wet yet it has not rained!!!! He does miracles everyday…the breath in my lungs and beat of my heart, the smile of a friend… So when I don’t see the miracle I’m wanting I have to trust… Jesus help me to trust… That right now I see the underside of the masterpiece but that You see the top and that You are creating something beautiful.
(Jeremiah 29:11, Isaiah 55:9)
Deuteronomy 32:1-4
 1“Listen, O heavens, and I will speak!
Hear, O earth, the words that I say!
2Let my teaching fall on you like rain;
let my speech settle like dew.
Let my words fall like rain on tender grass,
like gentle showers on young plants.
3I will proclaim the name of the LORD;
how glorious is our God!
4He is the Rock; his deeds are perfect.
Everything he does is just and fair.
He is a faithful God who does no wrong;
how just and upright he is!

Hands Or Fins, He Is Able!

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But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in Him. Jeremiah 17:7

Have you ever quoted Moses in Exodus 4:13? But Moses said, “O Lord, please send someone else to do it.” Maybe for any number of reasons… lazy, selfish, feeling unqualified, ill-equipped, lacking resources, knowledge, experience, no time… Whether we think we have a valid reason or an excuse not to take that leap of faith, faith is the opposite of self confidence. You can see self, know self, make your own self plan with outcomes you can reason out. But faith requires you to step with out seeing, to place your confidence in what is out of your control. And with out faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. Hebrews 11:6

As a young girl in my first swim lessons I was the one that every other parent was glad I wasn’t THEIR child, the one that every instructor (but the one I had) was SO grateful my name was NOT on their roster! You see I was terrified to let go of the wall. That presents a small problem when you are in SWIM lessons at a POOL! LONG story short I grew up to become a swim coach so somewhere along the way I made that leap of faith. However it’s probably no small miracle that I did not become a ward of the pool after all that, bless my moms heart!

Although reluctant Moses answers God’s question in Ex. 4:2 “What is that in your hand?” with, “A staff.” Ever felt like what you have in your hand is silly, insignificant? Like I’m a person not a fish, I breath air, not water there is NO way I can swim to the other side!! WHY are you asking ME? I only have hands not fins!!

Maybe we need to ask God to change our perspective… after all His ways are not our ways, His thoughts not our thoughts, in fact as the heavens are higher than the earth so are His ways higher than ours it says in Isaiah 55:8-9! You see something happened between Ex. 4:2 and Exodus 4:20 because as Moses is packing up his belongings to take the leap of faith the Lord had asked him to take, verse 20 states, And he took the staff of God in his hand. You see now it wasn’t just a staff, it was the staff of God!! A confidence shift. A transfer of confidence from self to God!

The LORD said to Moses, “When you return to Egypt, see that you perform before Pharaoh all the wonders I have given you the power to do. Ex. 4:21 Any leap of faith He has called you too will be done in His power, strength and with His energy, and like any good parent on the side of the pool, He will catch you 100 percent of the time. Things may not always turn out the way we think but again we ask Him to conform our perspective to His, which is so much higher than ours. He can understand things we don’t and knows things we can’t, so we choose to pray for ever increasing trust in the One who does. Because in fact we are people not fish, yet, we can do all things through Him who gives us strength. Phil. 4:13 And what He does is always immeasurably more than all we could ask or imagine because HE IS ABLE. (Eph. 3:20)

He is able to get us to the other side if we are willing to trust and let go of the edge, to leap into His ever faithful arms. He will catch you every single time.

Independent Read: Romans 8:28, Psalm 18:27-32

Out of proportion maybe!?!

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Now the men were frightened when they were taken to his house. They thought, “We were brought here because of the silver that was put back into our sacks the first time. He wants to attack us and overpower us and seize us as slaves and take our donkeys.” Genesis 43:18

Now to personalize it a bit…. I was frightened and thought… they want to attack me and over power me and seize me and take my ———-! (Unless you own a donkey you can fill in that last blank with some other position or possession.) Now lets fast forward to verse 24… reality. The steward took the men into Joseph’s house, gave them water to wash their feet and provided fodder for their donkeys. Hmmm… can anyone else relate to worrying or fearing out of proportion?! In fact, I would do well to memorize verse 23, “It’s all right, ” he said. “Don’t be afraid. Your God, the God of your father, has given you treasure…. The treasure of His presence, the great I AM for all you would ever, could ever need has promised to be with you ALWAYS!

This Sunday I attended church after a war with the curling iron. Now it’s not the first time I have attempted to wrestle with that beast (always hopeful for a win) and yes, it takes time and effort to complete the whole head of curls, so by the time I’m finished, and I realize my new look now resembles a severely aged and definitely not as cute Shirley Temple rather than the soft tussled beach curls the picture on the front of the curling iron box promised, I’m out of time and once again forced into public with this look!! However God brought about the sweetest message.

I was in the church kitchen and the pastors wife breezed by and in about 30 seconds sincerely complimented the curly helmet I was wearing and alluded to the time and effort it takes to produce curls in the morning. That’s when I thought I needed to get things into proportion. Taking eyes off self and sharing even a little of His love and kindness in just 30 seconds can really bring some perspective right! I was reminded to have eyes and a heart that look out and recognize and appreciate the time and effort someone puts in rather than just judge the product or outcome. Sometimes the bigger importance is the process… do I notice and appreciate others process, others time and efforts behind the end results that are so obvious to the world?

I believe the more we move into being “doers” of the Word rather than just hearers or even just being absently present, God creates in us a sensitivity to truly appreciate the efforts and process of others. To be salt and light to be encouragers of the process rather than just judgers of the final product.

This brings me to my second point or lesson I learned on Sunday (see how important it is not to miss a week!). Luke 5:1-11 starts with Jesus observation of not one but two boats at the waters edge. He got into the one belonging to Peter and ASKED him if he would be willing to push Him out into the water a bit. Now at that moment Peter had a choice to make as do we. It is possible to be present yet so absent that we do not hear Him ask us to join Him; anyone with children knows this is a real possibility… you KNOW they heard you but nothings happening right!! God is always on the move, if we are present and we do hear His call, how do we typically choose to respond? Do we blow excuses out of proportion, thinking of every reason why He can’t possibly be asking us? Thus cheating only ourselves out of the greatest adventure of life abundantly fulfilled in Him. OR do we respond, do we DO as He has asked? Peter did.

Maybe you knew this but it was news to me, that fishermen typically went out in groups of two. Makes sense, two are better than one. So when God asked Peter to come along side Him it was because He had TWO boat fulls of fisherman to whom He wanted to display His glory! Once Peter agreed to help they ALL had to help. I’m sure there was a fair amount of grumbling and a few “accidental” elbow drops thrown Peter’s way on the way out to sea… AGAIN. God’s plan will never be thwarted and so if He had in mind to show two boat fulls of fishermen His glory that night it was going to happen. So if Peter bowed out I believe he would have asked the guy in charge of boat number two to lead the way. Now I’ve lived long enough to know that yes, immediate regret comes after trying and failing however long term, there is more regret experienced over risks not taken. So way to go Peter for not blowing things too out of proportion… he was exhausted, grumpy over the nights ill success yet he didn’t bow out he bowed in… because God said so (verse 5).

Jesus, I want to bow in every time, use my boat, send me! I want to know and hear and listen AND obey. Please give me a heart with eyes that don’t just wait for my big moment but treat every moment like its the big moment… who knows offering 30 seconds of encouragement just passing in the church kitchen just might mean the world to someone.

Independent Read: Isaiah 6:8