Jeremiah 17:10 “But I, the Lord, search all hearts and examine secret motives. I give all people their due rewards, according to what their actions deserve.” ~NLT
My first jobs as a teenager were in fast food restaurants. I had to slide a timecard into a machine that documented when I arrived to work and when I checked out. This determined how much I was paid. There would be a schedule set and the days I would work would be on the calendar. When I showed up, clocked in, then clocked out, this would determine the amount of money I would be paid for the time and amount of work I did. If I was home sick, or if I did not come in on that day, I would receive no pay.
Later in life, I was able to receive a salary at the places I worked. This meant that the companies I worked for gave me a set salary. No ‘clock punching’, and it was ok if I did not make it to work. I was covered by vacation or sick time. This time was allowed by the company because of the time I put in to build up that vacation and sick time. Now, hold onto these examples and let’s go down another road:
In the world, I used to live day by day. I would do just enough to pay my rent and bills. I would earn just enough to build up some ‘fun’ money to ‘enjoy life’. I used to want material things. For example if I wanted a new car, I would work enough hours, and hustle enough money to get that car. But one day, I would lose that car and the happiness that it brought would be gone.
This was the ‘punching a clock’ time in my life. I would punch in to get just want I wanted, but nothing more would come of it and eventually I was always lacking. I would lack happiness. I would lack meaning. I would lack peace. I would walk around living with a void in my life. And I would bring others down around me because my desires were not fulfilled.
But then, I got into the Word of God. I started living my life the way the Word directed me to. Sure there were directions from the Lord I had to work on, but work on them I did. I practiced and trained myself in receiving God’s will for my life and in return, began to feel fulfilled. I began to receive a joy in my heart that happiness could not bring me.
In other words, I was not living the ‘punch a clock’ life anymore. God was allowing me a salary! Because I grew in obedience to the Word of God, He covered me when I couldn’t make it to work. He blessed me even when I failed. He lifted me when I felt I could not get up. And He put into my empty back account what I needed to get through!
My heart began to hold the treasures of the kingdom, replacing my own desires. So when God, “…searched my heart...", He saw that my motives were all in His favor. When we do this, God will “…give all people their due rewards, according to what their actions deserve.” Let us examine our own actions and live a life deserving of a ‘salary’ from the Lord.
May God continue to bless and keep you covered in His healing, direction, and love in Jesus’ name,
Hebrews 12:11 “No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.” ~NLT
I remember when I went to ‘boot camp’ at Fort Jackson. I never knew what I was in for. There was about ten weeks of serious training. Three phases divided by the colors, Red, White, and Blue. The first phase seemed the hardest because I was so out of shape. Not only that but the world as I knew it stopped. No family, no entertainment, and no freedom. I had to answer to four soldiers in that famous ‘drill’ hat daily.
A lot of running, exercises, yelling, sweat and tears. This included training us to be ‘dress right dress’. In other words, we all had to move together with precision when we marched. This took a lot of training and practice. Laying down to go to sleep at the end of the day was the easiest part of the process. We carried the red flag with us, so everyone knew we were on our first phase. We were new. I would watch those platoons with the white flags and said, “I’ll be there one day.”
Phase two began and we carried that white flag. At this point we were in better shape, so the running and exercises weren’t as bad anymore. This was the time I was beginning to miss home. In my heart though, I knew my training wasn’t complete, so I had to push through.
Phase three, the blue flag! We were headed towards our completion. Working out, running, pushups, sit-ups, all this seemed routine now. I had gone from a size 48 waist to a 31. I was embracing my training because I had never done anything like this before in my life. I had never put myself in a position where authority figures like the drill sergeants would tell me what to do and when to do it, for ten weeks. I didn’t quit. I didn’t get angered, I hung in there and made it through.
I allowed myself to be disciplined. I realized that if I hadn’t been pushed by the ‘drills’, I would have never accomplished what I had. I never would have learned what I did, and I never would have become the man I am today. When I allowed myself to be disciplined, I learned how to discipline myself.
When it comes to the Word of God, we must listen to our Father’s direction. But unlike the Drill Sergeants, God is not going to yell at us. God will not force us. If we don’t learn to allow discipline within ourselves in the trials we go through, we will not know how to discipline ourselves and be obedient in God’s will for our lives.
I didn’t enjoy the Drill Sergeants yelling at me. I didn’t enjoy waking every morning to the sound of reveille, jumping out of bed, and running five to ten miles. But that discipline created the best ‘me’ I could be. Becoming a good Christian living in the ways of the Lord takes discipline, practice and spiritual training. And when that journey is complete, you will receive the “…peaceful harvest of right living…” that is given to those “…who are trained…” in God’s will and way.
May God bless and keep you as you continue your walk in Jesus’ name.
John 13:6-8 “He come to Simon Peter, who asked Him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus answered him, “What I’m doing you don’t realize now, but afterward you will understand.” “You will never wash my feet,” Peter said.” ~CSB
We must be careful not to tell God what we or He, ‘won’t’ do. For all things God directs us to do, there is a reason from Him and by Him, that we are directed to do what He tells us to do. He is in control and part of that control is us doing our part in obedience.
For example, no matter what the actions of others are we must love them. They are God’s children as well. Now I know that can be an issue in today’s time. But the issue is not bigger than God. His command in John 15:12 says, “This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you.” The sacrifice of the Son is the greatest example of God’s love for us. We must follow our Father’s example.
Another example comes from deep down in our soul when someone hurts us to the point of our lives stopping. We have that feeling that nothing is important. We don’t wake up ‘ready to go’ anymore after being hurt that bad. But I’m here to tell you that we serve a God that loves us no matter what we have been through. We are protected to the point where God can heal us of that pain and allow us to use that pain to save someone else as He has saved us. The beginning of that healing is when we forgive.
For some of us it is so hard to forgive. But how can we tell God ‘No’ when he tells us that we must forgive? The Word says in Luke 6:37, “Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn others, or it will all come back against you. Forgive others, and you will be forgiven.”
No matter what we ‘think’ we see, we must spiritually know and trust God in this knowledge that this situation in front of us is God’s plan, not ours. Discern the difference between knowing with all your heart and what feelings are triggered by the flesh. Peter meant well in his response to Jesus washing his feet, but that feeling was triggered by his flesh, not his spirit. Tony Evans said this about Jesus:
“He had spent three years with the Twelve--teaching them, leading them, praying for them, loving them. He had done everything for them that He had come to do.”
As His time had come, it was time for Him to teach them one more lesson and that was in ‘humility’. Jesus with all His power came to serve, and that is the lesson He wanted to teach His disciples in washing their feet, to serve one another. In the service of others we must trust in the lesson God teaches us daily.
When we tell God ‘no’, we are like Peter telling Jesus, he won’t allow Him to wash his feet. Jesus tells us as well as Peter in His response, “If I don’t wash you, you have no part with me.” Allow God to teach, so that we may always be a part of His plan for our lives.
Jesus says in verse 7, “What I’m doing you don’t realize now, but afterward you will understand.” Trust in the Lord and watch the work He does in you to affect all around you. May God continue to protect, heal and guide you in Jesus’ name,
Swimming pools are a great example of ‘believing with all your heart’. For example, when you are standing on the side of the pool at the ‘3’ feet, you know that you are in a ‘no diving area’. The pool is too shallow, and you could injure yourself with the wrong entrance in the water. At the shallow end you may tuck your feet under you and jump in bottom first, playing it safe.
But when you stand along the side of the ‘9’ feet or deeper, you know that there is enough room in the water to dive straight in, headfirst. Deep in your heart you have no fear because you know that there is nothing to stop you when you dive blindly into the depths of the pool.
In life, God may bring you to a place where He wants you to ‘dive’ right in, but you are afraid. You think what you are diving into is the three feet, but in actuality, if you allow your spiritual eyes to open, God has deepened the waters and you can dive physically blinded, but spiritually open minded and aware, into the deep waters on your journey.
Tony Evans says in His Commentary Bible, “When a person believes, he receives justification. But in order to receive deliverance from temporal wrath, a believer must confess, or publicly acknowledge, the lordship of Jesus Christ and call on Him for divine assistance.”
You see, just like you would believe the safety of diving in the ‘9’ feet at a swimming pool, you have to believe with all your heart that Jesus is Lord, and all healing, blessings and direction come from the Father through Him. This belief is the beginning. This belief, as scripture says, results in righteousness.
God created in us all we need to be righteous. This belief you now have, ‘kick starts’ that creation in you to be righteous. Then comes the confession.
Confessing with your mouth leads to your actions. The way you walk, talk, and the way you represent the kingdom. This as the text says, “…leads to salvation…” It’s not enough to know the Word, you must live the Word. No matter what you encounter. No matter what the world brings your way, believing and confessing gives you the tools you need to maintain being a godly person in the eyes of the Lord.
Become that spiritual diver. Even if the world shows you ‘3’ feet, God is forming deep waters for you to freely dive in without reservation and without doubt in his Will and His way. Are you ready to dive into the calling, the blessing, and the will of God for your life?
Know that you were created to be ready. Ask God today to give you the strength to blindly dive into the journey He has already laid out for you. The blessing God has for you is in what you are willing to do with what you believe, and in the confession of that belief.
May God continue to bless and guide you on your journey in Jesus’ name,
Matthew 26:38 “Remain here and stay awake with me.”
At the beginning of our blessings we are always grateful. We give God thanks in praises in the name of the Son! We walk in our ministries, in our callings and in our blessings doing what God has called us to do. But do we allow ourselves to learn and grow spiritually as we walk in our blessings?
For example, let's take a football player that excels as a good athlete. This happens as he plays and learns in his growth from grade school to middle school. But let’s say that same player develops that ‘I’m good no matter what’ attitude and decides not to practice or train before his tryouts for High School. This would be a mistake.
Others that he would eventually go up against, never stop training. Others that he would compete with for a position, would continue to practice in getting stronger and faster, leaving the player lacking in skills when it is time to start the new season. In other words we must always continue training to become, not only good at what we do, but to learn how to be better at what we do.
In life, the enemy never sleeps. He is constantly on the prowl seeking ways to destroy Christ’s work in us. If we sleep, and he doesn’t, he will always up his game on us and we will be one step behind.
In the text, Jesus is about to be arrested. The time for Him to be sacrificed is upon Him. He called for His disciples, (as tired as they may have been), to ‘…stay awake…’ and pray for their strength. But in the text, they did not stay awake. And because of this, they were unprepared when the enemy’s influence stepped in on them.
We must always be aware and ready to fight the good fight of faith. We must stay awake spiritually at all times. We cannot afford to let our guard down in trusting in the Lord in His control of this world. And in that trust, know that we are made by Him, and are a part of that control.
But we must stay awake, by reading His word on a daily basis, having the strongest relationship we can with God. We must stay awake by loving our neighbors as we love God and ourselves. We must do good, in spite of all the bad going on around us. We must never sleep spiritually, so that we may never be caught off guard.
May God continue to bless and keep you in his will and way in the name of the Kingdom and the Son,
John 11:14-15 “So He told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead. And for your sakes, I’m glad I wasn’t there, for now you will really believe. Come, let’s go see him.” ~NLT
I was a toddler when I had my first traumatizing experience at a swimming pool. I had been in a class for beginners and had already become familiar with the water and on this day, it was time for me to swim in the deep end on my own. This was not what I wanted to do.
As much as the instructor and my dad were telling me that I was safe, I wasn’t trying to hear them. I was looking at how much darker the water looked on that end of the pool. Not only was I worried about drowning, but as a toddler, I had seen ‘shark’ movies and I didn’t’ know what was underneath, settled in that darkness.
My father asked the instructor to leave us for a moment. He then began to assure me about getting into that pool and doing my best. My father persuaded me to accomplish the mission I had come to do. I got in and after a lot of yelling and crying, I became aware of my ability to swim. I had to trust my dad. He wanted me to be able to swim and not be afraid of the water, so he saw to it that I was prepared.
This is what happened with the disciples when they trusted Jesus. In the text above, Mary and Martha sent for Jesus because their brother was sick. They knew that Jesus had the power from on High to heal their brother. But even though Jesus was just down the way from where their brother Lazarus was very sick, Jesus did not come until after Lazarus died and had been dead for four days.
Everyone including the disciples knew Jesus could do something as long as Lazarus was alive, but in their minds, it was too late. Four days dead, hope was gone. Jesus knew that the miracle that was about to take place was a great one. So He told the disciples that He was, “…glad…” He wasn’t there.
When we form in our minds how God is going to help us in our situations, we have all the hope in the world. But when that ‘window for what we visualize’ closes, we lose hope. Because when we can’t see or imagine how God will help us, we give up hope that He will. This is a mindset given to us by the enemy.
Jesus was ‘glad’ because He wanted to teach the disciples not to try and figure out what God is doing, just trust and be ‘glad’ that God is about to perform a miracle in all our lives. Chapter 11 goes on to show that Jesus brought a man who had been dead for four days, back to life. In verse 39, the text speaks of how Martha describes a stench because he had been dead so long, but it did not matter. God brought Lazarus back to the living and all who witnessed saw God’s power through the Son that day.
It doesn’t matter how dark the water may seem underneath on the deep end; God will allow you to witness how strong He made you in your worst fears. Today, I love the water and am unafraid of the darkness below. Learn from those who witnessed the rising of Lazarus. They all lost hope because they limited God’s power in their minds. But we must never take for granted what God can do. Let go of the belief in sight, hold on to the belief in Spirit.
May the Lord continue to bless and keep you safe as you journey in Jesus’s name,
The Strength in Your Faith
Isaiah 43:2 “When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.” ~NLT
There was a young man named Sam in the 6th grade who had the assignment of writing a report and reading it in front of his class. He was nervous and did not want to read in front of his classmates. What really terrified him was reading in front of his teacher. She was very loud and did not hold back her criticism in front of the other students.
As the young man attempted to read his assignment, his awareness of all eyes looking at him, including his teacher, overwhelmed him so much that he began to stutter. He was a great reader but because he was nervous, he did not read well. After he completed his report, the teacher began to run down the list of everything she found error in. She told him he would have to read his assignment again in about a week. Embarrassed and ashamed, he really did not want to do it.
Later that night, Sam was in his room crying. His grandmother came in and asked what the matter was. He told his grandmother all about his assignment ordeal. This blessed Christian woman embraced her grandson and told him, “The good Lord gave you everything you need to do what you have to do in this world. And I believe God gave you great tools to be a great speaker. He did this because He has a lot to say to those around you, through you.”
She continued, “Now, you need to realize that God is the only one you should be concerned about listening to and watching you. Everyone else around you are not necessarily your audience, but those who God wants to bless as He exists in your presence. So don’t be afraid, He is with you. Now let’s get ready for your next presentation.”
Sometimes we are like Sam. We pay too much attention to our situations around us, the people around us and not any attention to what God may be doing in our lives. It doesn’t matter how “deep the waters”, God will be with you. You will not drown in the circumstances that seem to overwhelm you. The solution is in your faith in God. The same comfort Sam received from his grandmother’s instruction, should be the same comfort in peace we receive from our Father in heaven!
Sam gave the greatest presentation on his next turn and the mean teacher saluted him. He grew up to become a great educator and motivator. He took what once gave him fear and hesitation and allowed God to turn that into a driving spiritual force in helping others and making disciples.
Allow God to turn that negative, that dark pain, into a tool for the kingdom and you will see that, “…when you walk through the fires of oppression, you will not be burned!” Watch God bring you joy beyond measure!
May God continue to heal, guide and provide wisdom and strength to you as you walk in Jesus’ name.
Philippians 2:13 “For it is God who is working in you both to will and to work according to His good purpose.” ~CSB
Have you ever had that ‘I don’t feel like it’ feeling when it’s time to go to the gym and workout? But because you are determined to stay committed, you go anyway. You get up on that treadmill or pick up the weights and begin. Before you know it, you are into the best workout you’ve ever had. Why, because all you had to do was get there, and your inner strength and determination took over.
Or, how about when you decide to eat right. Pizza, hamburgers, fries, everything but what you have prepared to eat for the week is on your mind. The imaginary smell of all your favorites seems to be in your nose. But when you push on to eat that salad instead, and your appetite is satisfied, you feel better because you did not quit, and you did not fall off your commitment to healthy eating.
This same issue can happen to us on our spiritual journey. We have our days of stress and worry. We have our days when it seems like we are that rubber band being stretched as far as we can be stretched and about to pop. Yes, and the days where we just want to fall down and quit.
But because we have a Savior that did not quit, we don’t either! Think about it my fellow Christians, the times you ‘don’t feel like it’ and you push on anyway, there is a feeling you get that pushes you. There is something that comes over you that takes you even further than you thought you could go. That my friend is the power of God!
You see when you feed yourself the Word of God daily, your spirit becomes stronger than your flesh. Your flesh may want to quit, but the spirit overrides that command! The scripture says, “For it is God who is working in you…” That great godly strength from above is right inside you, rejecting the wants of the flesh and acts on the ‘will’ of the Father! The text continues, “…to will and to work according to His good purpose!”
What a wonderful God we serve! All we have to be, is obedient. All we have to do, is walk in the name of Jesus. God will take care of the rest! We pray for all of you today. We pray that strength from God, that power from God and that wisdom in direction from God as He lays His hand upon you in your meditation.
In Jesus’ name we pray,
Luke 5:4-5 “When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water and let down your nets for a catch.” “Master,” Simon replied, “we’ve worked hard all night long and caught nothing. But if you say so, I’ll let down the nets.” ~CSB
In our commission in becoming Christ followers, we automatically took the order to go and make disciples. (Matthew 28:19). When we are saved and in church, we praise the Lord and vow to live a life in obedience and declaration in our testimonies of the Father.
Testifying to those that 'want' to hear the Gospel is easy. It is the testimony we make to non-believers that is the hard work. We may not necessarily preach the Gospel, but our obedience in the circumstances surrounding us and those who God will bless through us, could be the ‘testimony in our actions’. The non-response, or negative attitude of those non-believers may be the ‘empty net’ you pulled up on the side of the boat.
When we and the non-believer part ways, we have that feeling that we may not be a ‘good servant’ because we have nothing to show for our efforts. We feel this way because we did not see any progress in the ministry sent in their direction. We go home and think, "I did not make a disciple today." But what we don’t know, (because we didn’t see it), is that God planted the seed through us in them.
In the text, Simon, (Peter), and his crew have been fishing long and hard all night with nothing to show for their efforts. They even cleaned the nets they were using as they were about to quit for the day. When we think we did not seed in our testimony, we begin to ‘clean our nets’ because we are about to ‘quit’. But make no mistake, God doesn’t use you for you to be satisfied. He uses you in your purpose for His will in the situation. We must do as we are told and take the action of discipleship.
Jesus told them, “...let down your nets for a catch...” Imagine what was going on in the minds of Simon and the others when told to do this. But against Simon’s judgment, (and all he knew about fishing), he says, “...if you say so, I’ll let down the nets.” He followed the commands because his Spirit drew him to follow the instructions of a Higher Power.
Sometimes we may receive instructions that may seem funny to us but follow them we must. How do we know they come from on High? We won’t unless our relationship with God is strong. He has already laid out the path for our lives. Allow His will to take over and when you cast your net into a sea you think is empty, you will come up with an abundance in blessing, so much that you can’t keep it all yourself.
Simon and his crew hauled in so many fish that their boats were about to sink. Verse 8 says, “When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees...” He knew Jesus was the Messiah and thought himself unworthy to be blessed by His presence. But God will choose you no matter what you think of yourself. Be ready because God will tell you to get up! Let’s go and spread the Gospel by telling others about how God blessed you in your life!
May God bless and keep you covered in His peace as you continue your journey in Jesus’ name.
Isaiah 49:15 “…Can a mother forget her nursing child? Can she feel no love for the child she has borne? But even if that were possible, I would not forget you!” ~NLT
On national TV the other day I saw a man apologize to his wife because he left the freezer open. He was apologizing because all the breast milk she had stored for their baby had melted and gone bad. Now as a man, I never understood, but one of the female reporters explained it well.
She said that as a mother, the process of their body producing milk is painful. Every ounce of milk produced from them is important as they save it for the baby. The reporter stated that being upset about losing a weeks’ worth of milk by leaving the freezer open is not only upsetting but unacceptable. But she was surprised and appreciated the action of husband apologizing on national TV.
The mother’s anger toward her husband for leaving the freezer open, was in consideration of the child. The mother’s pain in carrying the child for nine months, the pain in birthing the child and the painful healing process after birth is an unbreakable bond for a mother and that child. They both went through something together and the love present is the foundation for that unbreakable bond.
With that said, anything that requires blood, sweat and tears forms a bond for those who go through it together. When I went to boot camp at Fort Jackson, I met some great soldiers. I have many friends and I keep in touch with those I met in my military career, but I have not seen or been in contact with any of those I met at boot camp. But because of the blood sweat and tears we went through together; I won’t forget them.
Going back to the ‘mother and child’ bond. Understand that the mother’s side of the bond is stronger. The child was not understanding of the pain when it was born. The child sometimes grows up not being grateful for the mother’s love because it did not share in the pain and was unaware of the experience of the blood sweat and tears.
This is how we as God’s children are with the Father. We were unaware when He created us. We were unaware of the world and its history and because of that history God was creating us for the purpose of making this world better. The mother’s love for her children comes from God’s agape love for His children.
God says in the text above that even if it is possible for a mother not to love her child, He will still love us. Just as a child should trust its mother, we should trust the Father as He guides us in our lives. We should look to the Father for His direction in the purpose He created in us for our involvement in His plan and control for this world we live in.
I say this all the time; if we really knew just how much God loves us, we would not worry, doubt or live in fear in this world. Even though we go through the blood, sweat and the tears, know that God made us strong enough to endure, because that painful journey produces the good fruits of God’s plan for us all. Just like the precious fruit of a baby to a mother who endured the pains of labor.
May God bless and keep you as you journey in Jesus’ name,
Authors Billy & Yolanda
This is the place where we share our heart through God's Word in faith that will inspire and empower you to live in peace.