Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Thus Far...(Part Two)

Thus Far...(Part Two)

In yesterday's devotion we were journeying through a very serious time with the Israelites. After Samuel had spoken, they'd all gathered together at Mizpah. Mizpah was on the main north-south road through the hills north of Jerusalem and it means "Watch".
We are with them as they drew water and poured it out. This was symbolic of their distress and brokenness. In his preaching, Samuel had called them to repentance, confession and contrition before the Lord. Every one of them heard and responded.
(I can think of at least one pastor who would faint over even half, or one-fourth of his flock responding as the Israelites did.)

As our story continues, the Israelites are trembling with fear as the enemy approaches to destroy them. Samuel is giving a burnt offering to the Lord and the Lord answers him. Wow! "The Lord thundered with a loud thunder upon the Philistines." Imagine that! God heard the prayers of Samuel and so confuses the enemy with the thunder that they were overcome by the Israelites. God's people pursued their enemies and drove them far away.
"Then Samuel took a stone and set it up...and called it Ebenezer, saying, '"Thus far the Lord has helped us"'.
Samuel sacrificed; Samuel prayed and God graciously answered. Oh what a comfort we have as true believers. Let's pause and give thanks to Him who is steadfast in love and faithfulness. "Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for His steadfast love endures forever. You have granted me life and steadfast love, and your care has preserved my spirit. -- I Chronicles 16:34, Job 10:12

Dear one, what is the sin that so easily besets you? What has invaded your life so as to rob you of God? The call here is plain. Begin to repent and reform. Pour out, fast, confess. Return to your God, the Lord Most High! And lest you forget, remember we have an Intercessor, who is never silent, nor does He sleep. He is always in the Presence of God for us. As we repent and pray (pray a lot) we will have victory over all our enemies.
Then, like Samuel, let's set up our Ebenezers to the glory of God, and say, "Thus Far the Lord has helped me".


Monday, January 30, 2006

Thus Far......(Part One)

Thus Far......(Part One)

In 1 Samuel 7 there is an account of history that could be an encouragement to any of us. As believers in and recipients of the grace of God, is a great comfort to know, our great Intercessor never ceases to pray for us.

In this story, Samuel has spoken to the house of Israel and admonished them saying, "If you return to the Lord with all your hearts, then put away foreign gods and the Ashtoreths (the goddess of love and war) from among you, and prepare your hearts for the Lord, and serve Him only, and He will deliver you from the hand of the Philistines."
The children of Israel did exactly that. They put away their gods and served the Lord only.
Samuel gathers them all to pray to the Lord for them. Together they drew water, poured it out before the Lord, fasted and confessed their sin against God, and Samuel judged them.
Whew! There is so much going on in this story right now, I could probably write two weeks of victory calls! The Lord has so, so very much to say to us here. In a nut shell He is saying, loud and clear:
--pour out
What happens next is exactly what our enemy the devil does. When the Philistines heard about what was happening, they set out against them! Why then? Why not when they were knee deep in sin and living recklessly and carelessly before a Holy God? Hmm? Ponder that one on your own. Be very aware of any thinking that would entice you to believe you are in the clear because "you aren't as bad as them". Selah
Anyway, just like us, when the children of Israel found out they were soon to be under attack, they were very much afraid and said to Samuel, "Do not cease to cry out to the Lord for Israel."
Guess what happened? The Lord heard them! Tomorrow we'll look at the rest of the story.

Today's Question:
Does your heart belong wholly to God? Do you love Him with all your heart? What is the evidence of that truth in your life?


Friday, January 27, 2006

Delayed obedience is no obedience at all.

Hebrews 3:7-8, "Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says: 'Today, if You will hear His voice, do not harden Your hearts as in the rebellion..."
Oh, how many times I have read and heard that verse in the 22+ years I have been a Christian. Until last night it always conjured up thoughts of the stiff-necked Israelites who hardened their hearts in rebellion against God. Last night however, God pierced my heart as He reminded me that many too many times that is exactly what I have done when I heard His voice hardened my heart. Most of the time I didn't think that was what I was really doing, I just allowed myself to be distracted from obedience from other things that rushed in to take its place.
Today....Today....That word swirled around in my head. Today, if you hear His voice --- respond today. Don't put off obedience. When we do, we are hardening our hearts just as they did in their rebellion. You know the rebellion I mean; the one we turn our noses up at wondering how the Israelites could be so dense.
The longer I am a Christian, the more like the Israelites I realize I am, stubborn, prideful, disobedient and short-sighted. How can I thumb my nose at their disobedience? I harden my heart, just like they did, and I have two things they did not. I have the complete revelation of God in His Holy Scriptures and I have the abiding Holy Spirit.
Delayed obedience is no obedience at all. So if today we hear His voice, we need to respond to Him today. If we don't eventually we will stop hearing His voice.

Are you listening?


Thursday, January 26, 2006

Where God Speaks to Hearts

After our recent NYE Conference at America's KESWICK, I received an email from one of our friends/guests. I thought her thoughts were worth passing on.

Where God Speaks to Hearts
It was quite a revealing experience this past weekend loosing our car keys at the NYE conference. My Husband kept saying that he's being humbled by this whole experience. I noticed he responded differently and I had such peace on the inside. I was scratching my head, racking my brain to try to remember Friday evening, but yet there was a sense that we were not alone in this and that God was in control and that things would work out. My husband was impressed with the amount of people who showed true concern and offered genuine help to us. He was humbled yet blessed at the same time.
In the Sunday morning service I found my heart saying that I really didn't want to leave here. Our family always seems to get along well while we are at Keswick and I always get blown away with the true fellowship that I experience while there. So I thought it was pretty funny that we were waylaid a few hours and felt that God heard my cry. But I felt that He allowed me to see something during that whole fiasco. I had been saying that I didn't want to leave there, but what He allowed me to see was that as Keswick emptied out, it wasn't a bustling place anymore. As we watched one of the women drive the golf cart across the parking lot it struck me about what it must be like when everyone leaves to go home, the normalcy of life.
The thought that crossed my mind was it's not so much that Keswick is a special place-it is the PEOPLE and the way God's SPIRIT moves there that makes the place special!
On our way home I told my husband my thoughts and I said it would be nice if we could bring home how we treat each other at Keswick. So already I've said to the kids, "Hey, now you wouldn't have acted like that at Keswick, let's not do it here!" I've sensed a peace in my heart this week that is comforting. If God's Spirit can move in NJ it can move in PA!! We need to be willing to allow God to "speak to our hearts" here at home like we allow Him to when we are at Keswick.


Are you allowing God to speak to your heart in your home?


Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Have you ever felt discontent?

Have you ever felt discontent? I know I have, in many areas of my life. The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, fourth edition, defines discontent as this: "A restless longing for different or better circumstances" (emphasis added).
Does this ring a bell? Every moment of every day we are either content, or discontent. I challenge you to evaluate yourself on a daily basis as to whether contentment or discontentment rules your heart the majority of the day. Then, dig a little deeper and take note of the attitude of your heart.
Contentment is defined in Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary as: "A State of mind in which ones desires are confined to his lot whatever it may be."
Proverbs 15:15 says: "All the days of the oppressed are wretched, but the cheerful heart has a continual feast." Look back on the times you felt discontent. Do you see a parallel to the first part of this verse? When you are discontent do you feel frustration at everything? Do you feel like everything bugs you, and the littlest thing "ruins" your day?
Now let us evaluate the times we are content. Do you notice how you react differently to things? You may feel calm and joyful. We can take the same circumstance and react completely different depending on where our hearts are at the time. Our attitude will shape our day, and our reactions. Our hearts are visible every day. Many of us, if not all of us, wear them on our sleeves. People see our hearts by the very way we act, and the things we say, and how we say them. Do you want people to see Christ in your cheerfulness?
We should want to stand apart from the world, and want our attitude to reflect Christ. He has given us reason to live. He has saved us from sin and Satan's lies. Let us reflect the love and joy we have in Christ, that others may see the difference and glorify God.


Tuesday, January 24, 2006

My Soul Looks Back and Wonders

My Soul Looks Back and Wonders

The year 2005 has just come to an end and I can't help but wonder to myself, "Stephanie, have you lived this year well?" "Has the Lord's character been reflected in your thoughts, words, and deeds or has your flesh won out?" Who has maintained court in the kingdom of your heart and life?

Thus, without being morbidly introspective, I pause, look back and I wonder. Instantly, my mind comprises a list of personal failures; daily little compromises that lack the level of integrity that I ought to have as a child of a King. I can see all the days I neglected time resting at His feet, hanging on His every Word. All the moments of self-pity, faithlessness, and unbelief rise to the forefront of my mind and seek to whip me with condemnation.

Were it not for the Word, made alive in me, I could easily be crippled with discouragement. Praise the Lord that Romans 8:1-4 tells me; tells us, "There is therefore, now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." Why? "For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death." Why? "For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. How? "By sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit."

In my pondering, I am increasingly aware of the enemy -this enemy, this created being, who from the beginning has sought to rule His Creator. While all the things I listed above are very much true. It is also true that the enemy has no right to use them against me. His goal is to make a mockery of the Cross and in so doing seek to discourage and render me ineffective for Kingdom work.

Dear sisters, lets collectively shout "No! Let's together, bend our hearts low, to worship and adore the Risen One. Let's also remember 1 John 1:9, "If we confess our sin, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sin and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."

With humble hearts and minds, let's go to Him, our Savior and Lord, exalt His Holy name and Praise Him!!


Today's Exhortation and Encouragement
Confess any known sin in your life, specifically and then repent!

Monday, January 23, 2006

Is your hand wide open or clenched?

For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
1 Timothy 6:10

One night during dinner, I was having yet another interesting conversation with my 17-year-old son. His perspective usually brings a smile to my face and sometimes a chuckle. Then there are the times when the depth of his perceptions, for a young man his age, simply amazes me.
This particular evening, he was sharing his passion for music and his belief that God is calling Him into worship ministry. He must have been thinking about the pay scale of most people in ministry because he made the comment that the money doesn't matter. "After all," he said, "money is like cake. Too much of it is not good for you and you are always supposed to share."
Now, really, how may people really think like that? Isn't there a saying that "He who has the most toys in the end, wins." As "good" Christians we cluck our tongues and sigh at such a worldly attitude, but when it comes right down to it, isn't that how many of us live?
When I see people driving around in expensive cars, or not-so-expensive cars with "spinners" which can run into thousands of dollars I cluck my tongue and think about the underprivileged children that could eat, sleep or go to college with that money so wantonly spent. If you have an expensive car or "spinners"', keep reading because this isn't really about you. You see, if I'm going to cluck my tongue, I need to be clucking it at myself first. I may not own a fancy car or a fur coat or "spinners" but compared to the rest of the world, I live extravagantly. I have much more than I need, and I enjoy it.
I don't believe it is sinful to own and enjoy things that are beyond our needs but I hope we can remember it is only because of God that we can enjoy such blessings and that it doesn't really belong to us anyway, it all belongs to God. Once we get a death grip on our money, possessions, relationships, etc. they take the place of God in our life.
My question for you is: Is your hand wide open or clenched? Are you willing to share what you have with others that do not have?

That simple statement my son made really is rich with Biblical truth.


Friday, January 20, 2006

Eternal Security

Eternal Security

Perhaps you are a person that from the moment you were saved by faith in Jesus Christ you never doubted your salvation; or maybe you are more like a lot of people I speak to who either are not sure if they are saved or believe they can loose their salvation.
I was recently reading 1 Peter when I came across some verses that immediately struck me as verses that assure us of the security of our genuine salvation. The first is 1 Peter 1:3-4, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you." It is according to His abundant mercy, not our words or actions that has "begotten us again". The inheritance we gained through the salvation of Jesus Christ is incorruptible and undefiled. God is not going to write us out of His will. His integrity, His word, His promises prevent it. He will not go back on His promise. He has given us an incorruptible inheritance and it will not be removed. It is a sure thing. Our salvation is rooted in Him not in us.
The second verse is 1 peter 1:23, "...having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever." The word 'incorruptible' or in some versions 'imperishable' is the Greek word aphthartos which means "uncorrupted, not liable to corruption or decay, imperishable"1 Our security is in no way rooted in us. We are, after all, corruptible seed. But we have been born again of incorruptible seed, unable to see corruption or decay. The incorruptible seed is through the word of God which "lives and abides forever."
I am so encouraged that the life we were given at the moment of our conversion, and salvation is His life. At that moment Christ gave us His life. Since He had died and rose again He cannot die again. His life is abundant and eternal. It is His life that resides in us unto salvation and since His life cannot die or wane, neither can our salvation. Aren't you glad that our salvation is purchased by, abides in and sustained by Jesus Christ and not us? I am.
Allow you heart to be encouraged today. Perhaps it is just a simple reminder to you or maybe it is a new perspective. Either way, may God be glorified in your life today.


1Strong, J. 1996. The exhaustive concordance of the Bible : Showing every word of the test of the common English version of the canonical books, and every occurrence of each word in regular order. (electronic ed.) . Woodside Bible Fellowship.: Ontario

Thursday, January 19, 2006

"I tried to stop...but my brains and my bones won't let me!"

"I tried to stop...but my brains and my bones won't let me!"

"We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience when your obedience is complete." -2 Corinthians 10:5-6

I attended a Beth Moore conference this past fall. As an attendee we were given spiral notebooks to take notes in for the duration of the conference. Included inside was an assortment of shared thoughts from those who minister alongside Beth. Travis Cottrell is one of those people. During the conference we were richly and deeply blessed by his ministry of music.
Travis shared an incident that took place between his precocious 4 year old daughter Lily Kate and his wife Angela. Angela was attempting to get her bundles safely from the church building to their car after a Wednesday night church service. It was dark, the car was a block away, and there was a lot of traffic on the road. Therefore, it was very important that Lily Kate and her older brother Jack stay at Mom's side. Angela had her hands full with baby Levi, and all the stuff one brings to and from church.

In a split second, Lily Kate was off and running, full speed ahead...all by herself. Angela shouted, "Lily Kate, Stop! Wait for me please! Like your average 4 year old, she stopped just long enough to let you know she'd heard, and then she was off and running again. Angela finally caught up with her, at the car, and asked her why she had kept running. Lily Kate's tearful response was, "I tried to stop, mommy. I really did. But my brains and my bones wouldn't let me!"

Okay, now that you've stopped laughing, think about it. Aside from the obvious disobedience, what else can we glean from the words of this precocious 4 year old? Is it possible you can see yourself, off and running, full speed ahead, in spite of the fact that your own Father calls for you by name, asking you to "Stop and wait for Me, please."

I know I've shared on this topic before, but I know for sure that this is a message that will never get old. Dear sisters, in this New Year 2006, slow down! Ask the Lord for a mind renewing experience in His Presence. Really listen to that still small voice of the living Spirit inside of you.

"I appeal to you, therefore brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect."
Romans 12:1-2

My Challenge for You and for Me,
"Stop and wait for Him, please!


Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Live out, by faith, what you already know

"...as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance." 1 Peter 1:14

The women of Higher Ground were working through a Beth Moore study last year when I remember hearing Beth say on one of the DVD's that we have the greatest potential to overcome sin at the moment of conviction. As we ignore the conviction and fail to act upon it, its impact becomes less and less. Wow! I was really convicted by that thought but unfortunately I didn't do anything with it.
When the Lord brings conviction to my heart, it is like I store it for future reference as opposed to making immediate application. I wish I could say it was different but unfortunately, it is not. There is a part of me that thinks that it is a good piece of information to store away and pull out at a time when obedience won't be so hard. What I have found is that time never comes. Obedience doesn't become easier because of age; obedience becomes easier through a pattern of obedience. Obedience is hard. It takes dying to myself and when the time comes I don't find it any easier to die. The secret to dying is not to die unto death but to die unto life. "...reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 6:11. It helps to remind myself that I am dead to the sin of _______, but alive to God.
When God brings conviction to our hearts and we know better, we know the right thing to do; do we obey or keep up our old ways? Do we conform to our former lusts or do we choose to walk in obedience and holiness? Do we change because of our encounter with the Almighty? Do we take advantage of the Holy Spirit power availed to us at the moment of conviction or do we let the conviction and the power wane?

My challenge to you is to live out, by faith, what you already know. Avail yourself of Holy Spirit power to walk in victory.


Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Where are you resting your hope today?

"...rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ." 1 Peter 1:13

Rest your hope...just the thought of it brings a settledness to my spirit. The word rest brings to mind letting go, relaxation, and unmatched assurance. To rest our hope means it is an assured hope, no striving or doubt. We are to rest our hope fully not partially or half-heartedly but fully upon the grace of Jesus Christ. Sister, just close your eyes and imagine resting fully upon grace. This is not fools talk. It is offered with the assurance of the One True God. It is certain, unmistakable, steadfast, and true. What better foundation for the hope that lies within us.
Hope is a bear necessity of a God-glorifying, Christ-centered life. Most of us have had days or even months and years of feelings of hopelessness. But feelings, as intense as they may be, have no power unless we act upon them. Every time we act upon negative feelings either doing what we should not or not doing what we should, we strengthen those feelings and increase the likelihood we'll act upon them again.
We are not called to rest our hope upon our feelings but rather we are to rest our hope on the grace of God. Our hope will not be disappointed when it rests steadfast on Jesus Christ. "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." Romans 15:13 (NIV)
Where are you resting your hope today?


Monday, January 16, 2006

Proverbs 3:5-6

Proverbs 3:5-6

Verse 5: Trust in the Lord (complete trust) with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.

Verse 6: In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your path.

Our Christian life must begin with trust in the Lord: a trust that is with all our heart! Is that too hard for you? It is for me sometimes. That is why I am glad I have memorized scripture. God brings these verses to my mind when I need them most. I am reminded that I must trust, whatever the outcome. He knows best! As I am writing these thoughts, even now God is reminding me, "Trust, Dottie, for everything." Verse six is also part of this message from the Lord: "In everything, in all your ways, He will direct your path." I love the fact that His decisions, not mine, are the best.

I also love the words of Jesus in John 16. He tells of His return to God the Father but is sending the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, to live within us. He said He would send the Spirit of Truth, who will guide us into all truth. That's what you have in your heart and life when you accept Jesus as your Savior!

Thank Him for that! You don't have to make decisions alone.


Friday, January 13, 2006

A Squirrel In Shock!

Steph and I were in the office one morning when we heard what sounded like a huge explosion. Steph said she thought it was electrical because her computer screen flicked off then back on. She scurried to the door to see what was going on, when she noticed a squirrel near the transformer in front of the Women's Center. The squirrel just sat still for 20-30 minutes. It seemed to be in shock.
While this was happening my mind was clicking away with what spiritual application could be gotten from this for a Victory Call. It didn't take but a moment for me to see how unlike the squirrel we typically are. We are so busy, running hither and yon, that even when there are major explosions in our lives we don't sit still long enough for God to shock us with His word. How many times have we come under the conviction of the Holy Spirit but not sat long enough for His truth to permeate our being?
The squirrel sat there unmoving, whether from fear or electrical shock is unknown but it sat still. God's word and work in our lives can sometimes be like an electrical shock. "For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thought and intents of the heart." Hebrews 4:12. The Word of God is intended to change us. It is a vital part of the sanctification process in our lives as believers. Jesus prayed, "Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth." John 17:17. Do we sit still long enough for it to sink in? Do we allow the Holy Spirit to have His way in our life? Are we pondering Christ, His person and His word?
May our hearts sing with the psalmist, "I will meditate on Your precepts, and contemplate Your ways. I will delight myself in Your statutes; I will not forget your word." Psalm 119:15-16. Let us be still, and know that He is God. Psalm 46:10.


Thursday, January 12, 2006

It is finished! It is finished! It is finished!

It is finished! It is finished! It is finished!

It really, really, really is finished! There is nothing I can add or
take away from what has wholly been accomplished on the Cross by the
Crucified One. Obedient to His Father He accomplished the work He came
to do. He began and He finished.
History records no single event to suggest that He did anything other
that that which He came to do. His work; His reason for being, was to do
the will of the Father who sent Him. Nothing more. Nothing less.

He sought no glory for Himself. He simple came to do as the Father bid
Him, for the Father's glory. He never lost sight of the single purpose
of His birth. Nor was He distracted or enticed by the worlds trinkets,
trappings, or delicacies.
Even His food was to do the will of the Father. "Jesus said to them,
'"My food is to do the will of Him who sent me and to accomplish His work."'

As daughters, sisters, girlfriends, wives, mothers, grandmothers,
friends, caregivers, etc., our reason for being is to be His hands, His
arms, His embrace, His image bearers to any and every soul our life

By now, you may be wondering to yourself, "What is she trying to say?"
No work you or I do today or tomorrow will add one iota of meaning to
what our Savior and Lord has already done. If, like me, you have moments
where you find yourself sorely tempted to give up the thing that you do;
if you find yourself cast down because your laboring appears to be in
vain; if you catch yourself wondering, what oh what is the point to all
of this, I encourage you as strongly as possible to BE STILL!

Stop and remember your God! The work you do is His and His alone. He
owns the seeds and the fruit and by His Spirit, He alone will reap the
harvest. No matter how bleak the outcome appears to me, hope to the end!
Finish the thing! Pray for increased faith to believe what seems
impossible and finish!!

"Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted with me?
Hope in God; for I shall yet praise Him, the help of my countenance and
my God." Psalms 41:11

".....Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Do not be afraid or
discouraged, for the LORD God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you
or forsake you until all the work for the service of the temple of the
LORD is finished. --1 Chronicles 28:20

Stephanie P.


I had read a seminary student's testimony of the impact of repeatedly reading the same book of the Bible had had in her life. So I thought I'd try it. After finishing reading through the Bible this past year, I decided to read 1 Peter in its entirety, every day for a month. It was well into my effort that the richness of Peter's writings started to envelop my heart and mind, so I decided to extend my commitment for another 30 days.
As I shared with others what I was finding through this approach I got some interesting responses. It seems I have been considered quite dense that I didn't "get it" the first time through. Just in case anyone out there is wondering, I am dense.
As I pondered my apparent denseness, a visual picture began to emerge which I think is worth sharing. I see the Word of God as a diamond. At first glance (first read through) it was easy to see and identify it as a diamond. It took several more intense viewings before I began to see that if I tipped the diamond to the left it shone brilliant hues of blues. If I tipped the diamond to the right the hues were shades of purple and yellow. If I turned it upside-down, it looked very different altogether. All of these views of the diamond produced reflections of different facets, yet still all the same diamond. I believe the Word of God is much the same.
The Word of God is living and active. "For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart." Hebrews 4:12 NIV. That means that every time we come to the word, though it is the same, it is different. That is why we can read a book 30 times and on the 31st time, we see something we hadn't noticed before. The Holy Spirit speaks to us through the word. Sometimes one verse over another really speaks to our hearts, the next time something different strikes us.
I am so glad that I didn't "get it" the first time. The Word of God is so rich, so deep, and so alive I want to savor every facet, every morsel. I anticipate eternity to savor the Living Word.

My challenge to you is to pick a short book, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 John, James, 1 or 2 Peter, you pick and read the book in it's entirety for 30 days. See for yourself the richness awaiting you between the covers of your Bible.


Wednesday, January 11, 2006


Psalm 34:15, "The eyes of the LORD are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their cry." Proverbs 5:21, "For the ways of man are before the eyes of the LORD, and He ponders all his paths." 1 Peter 3:12, "For the eyes of the LORD are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their prayers..."

As we were recently finishing up the Jerry Bridges study, "The Joy of Fearing God", I was struck by the following statement, "But God's eyes are never distracted, never turned away from us. In His infiniteness He carefully watches over each of His own, every moment of their lives." At every moment of every day, God sees you. He is constantly caring for the things that concern you. When you wake at 2 am, He is already there, already caring for your concerns. "Behold, He who keeps Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep." Psalm 121:4. "The LORD will perfect that which concerns me; Your mercy, O LORD, endures forever; Do not forsake the works of Your hands." Psalm 138:8. "I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day." 2 Timothy 1:12. God never goes off duty. You can relax IN HIM, because He sees you. You are always in the center of His attention even when tragedy strikes in China, He does not take His eyes off of you, not even for a second.
That thought can bring a great sense of comfort and peace or can cause anxiety. I have met numerous people who grew up similar to me in the sense that God was OUT THERE watching everything and everyone just waiting for us to step out of line at which point He would administer the spiritual wooden spoon. If you grew up with that perspective of God it explains why the thought of God's ever-watchful care can produce anxiety, but more importantly, your view of God is inaccurate. That description does not match the God of the Bible. It does not describe the One True God. So relax.
If however, you are walking in a pattern of sin, God's constant presence can also produce anxiety, and it should! That unsettledness is the Holy Spirit convicting you of sin prompting your repentance.
It simply amazes me that God constantly gives me His undivided attention at the same time he is giving all of His creatures the same undivided attention. What an awesome God!


Monday, January 09, 2006

A Passion for His Name

A Passion for His Name
"O God, You are my God; Early will I seek You; My soul thirsts for You; My flesh longs for You In a dry and thirsty land Where there is no water." Psalm 63:1

I remember as a kid, I was at the playground with my sisters and brother and we had nothing to drink. I distinctly remember swinging back and forth wondering how thirsty a person had to get before dying of thirst. I was only about 6 or 7 at the time and I thought I might be getting close to that death threshold. All I could think of was what that first drop of water was going to feel like on my parched throat. No matter what we did, it was shrouded with my thoughts of getting a drink.
One of the definitions of "passion" in the Merriam-Webster On-line dictionary is: "intense, driving, or overmastering feeling or conviction" and another, "a strong liking or desire for or devotion to some activity, object, or concept." I think the former describes what I was feeling that day as I was intensely aware of my thirst to the point that I remember it some 40 years later. I can still picture the swing set in my minds-eye. My desire for water is probably better described by the second definition. As I imagined getting that first drink, I could almost taste that cool water on my tongue.
Now this may seem a silly illustration but it came back to my memory as I was reading Isaiah 26: 8-9, "Yes, LORD, walking in the way of your laws, we wait for you; your name and renown are the desire of our hearts. My soul yearns for you in the night; in the morning my spirit longs for you." I had to ask myself the question, "Is God's name and His renown the desire of my heart the way that water was so many years ago?" Do I have a passion for His name and His renown? Does my soul yearn for Him? Does my spirit long for Him? Does my flesh long for Him in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water? (Ps 63:1).
Do you have a passion for His Name and renown? Do you long for Him more than you long for any other thing in life? Are your thoughts of Christ woven throughout everything you do?

My challenge for you is to pursue a passion of Him as a "dying" thirsty 6 year-old would seek a cup of cool water.


Friday, January 06, 2006

Are you willing to break a sweat?

Are you willing to break a sweat?

There I was, walking uphill with my arms swinging, at a good clip, sweating bullets, which I do daily or nearly daily to fight the ever present battle for fitness and health. I was working out on our treadmill when the thought occurred to me, "Are you willing to break a sweat to obey God?" I am willing to break a sweat when I exercise but am I willing to break a sweat to obey my Lord? How silly that even sounds. If I am not willing to break a sweat to obey, am I recognizing Jesus as Lord of my life? Or am I being lord of my own life?
"You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin." Hebrews 12:4. "Bloodshed"? That makes my question about breaking a sweat seem so insignificant. Scripture is saying we need to take our sin seriously. Christ confronted sin to the point of bloodshed in the most excruciating way. He overcame. He had victory. "Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God." 1 Peter 4:1-2.
"Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified." 1 Corinthians 9:26-27.
Obedience takes effort on our part combined with the power of the Holy Spirit. Obedience without faith is outward compliance. Obedience by faith is pleasing to God. "But without faith it is impossible to please Him." Hebrews 11:6.
How serious are we about obedience? Are we willing to break a sweat to obey God? Are you willing to break a sweat to obey God?


Thursday, January 05, 2006

What's the difference?

What's the difference?

Lately, as the result of different things transpiring in my heart and life, I have been confronting this question. What difference does it all make? In other words, has being born again, made brand new in the image and likeness of Christ, made a difference in the way I do life? If so, what does that difference look like in my daily life?

One discernable difference should be in the way I love.

Scripture every believer is undoubtedly familiar with is 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a:

"Love is kind and patient, never jealous, boastful, proud or rude.
Love isn't selfish or quick tempered. It doesn't keep a record or wrongs that others do.
Love rejoices in the truth but not in evil.
Love is always supportive, loyal, hopeful, and trusting." (CEV)

"Love is patient and kind;
Love does not envy or boast;
It is not arrogant or rude.
It does not insist on its own way;
It is not irritable or resentful;
It does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never gives up." (ESV)

Love never gives up. Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn't want what it doesn't have. Love doesn't strut.
Love doesn't have a swelled head. Love doesn't force itself on others.
Love isn't always "me first". Love doesn't fly off the handle.
Love doesn't keep score of the sins of others. Love doesn't revel when others grovel.
Love takes pleasure in the flowering of truth. Love puts up with anything.
Love trust God always. Love always looks for the best. Love never looks back.
Love keeps going on to the end. Love never dies.

I know I was a bit redundant here and yet I do not apologize for belaboring the point. Love is one thing our lives as believers, is to be deeply marked by. Love looks like something and the Lord made it as plain as the nose on our faces.

Let us begin today to be love to the people we live with, work with and coexist with.

Loving, gracious Father, help us to love others as You have so loved us. Even when it's hard Father, may we chose to remember we have been bought with so great a price. Even when the one you bring before us to love isn't all that nice or pleasant to be around, may we resist what comes natural to us and love them, whether we feel like it or not. Your own humility and weakness provided for us a way to live love and to love be.

Stephanie P.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

I just want to be Blonde!

"I just want to be Blonde!"

I was sitting in a salon recently getting my hair done and this was part of a conversation I overheard between another patron and her stylist. I felt so sorry for her, she was maybe mid-forties, a pretty lady, but she was hurting. She spent the first few minutes talking to this stylist, she'd never met about how she had a recent break up, her boyfriend left her for someone younger and how she just didn't feel very pretty right now. Well, the stylist offered advice on how she might color her hair and style it, but this woman would not let go of the idea of being blonde. She just had to be blonde! Now let me say in no way was she even close to blonde, but more brownish, blonde was going to be a stretch, but in the world of hair color, anything is possible. So they agreed on a blondish tone base with some highlights. That seemed to satisfy both client and stylist.
As I was sitting there worrying about my own red tones, I couldn't help feeling sorry for her, poor girl; she must not have the Lord, other wise why would she be relying on a hairstyle for a pick-me-up? If she only knew how much God loved her, she would be able to move on and realize a new doo would not heal a broken heart. If I wasn't so busy obsessing over my own hair I would go talk to her. PLEASE!
Now let me confess why I was there, I needed, no I wanted to get my hair done, I mean dyed, cut, something different, something better. I wanted to look better. I wasn't feeling very pretty either and I guess I thought this would help. I tried to get an appointment where I normally go to no avail. The nerve! So instead of waiting a week, I decided I would go someplace new, pretty well known but new none the less. Most women will know what a trying experience it can be to have a new hairdresser. I mean this is important stuff. She better be good. Well, she was ok, but the color was bad, bad, bad. My natural color is not the easiest color to match. I knew when it took her ten minutes to mix the color I was in trouble! But nevertheless I let her do it. Well let's just say it was not quite what I envisioned, however well it covered the grays! (grays? Did she say grays?) After that we would add the blonde highlights and she assured me this would lighten it, and it did. I looked like Lucy Ricardo after too long in the sun! And of course every one in the salon told me how great it looked.
I couldn't wait to go home and wash my red hair! I can say I not only didn't feel any prettier, I felt guilty too. Guilty that I had just spent $140 on something I didn't like and couldn't afford.
I felt like such a hypocrite, pitying this girl when I felt the same way she did! I don't know if she knew the Lord or not, but I do and I still believed the lie of "Look Good, Feel Good".
Little did I know that was the beginning of a work the Lord was doing in me. I needed to get right on the inside with Him first and the countenance that would be reflected on my face and in my eyes from a right heart with God would truly be a beautiful thing.
Don't get me wrong, I'm all for maintenance, hair color, lip stick etc...(even as I type this I'm pondering when I can go blonder). But primping and grooming are always so much better as an enhancement to our beauty rather than a mask for our pain and insecurities.
Proverbs 31:30, Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, But a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.


Tuesday, January 03, 2006

A Child's Christmas

Today I was thinking back to Christmas when I was a child. One of my favorite gifts was a beautiful doll dressed in blue and was wearing a white fur coat and hat. I'm not sure how old I was, but today that doll would be considered an antique! I kept her on my bed, taking good care of her and at age 16, I gave her to a special little girl.
Our youth group chose a project of giving gifts to children through a mission church in Philadelphia. We asked our church congregation to join us in giving. What a blessed Christmas that was, not only for the children, but for us in the youth group. We were able to see a few children receive gifts, and I watched as a little blind girl was given my doll. She rubbed the fur coat to her face and hugged her tight. I don't remember one gift I got that year, but I'll never forget the joy I received in giving, and the happiness of that child. "It is more blessed to give than to receive." Acts 20:35
God gave us a special gift. He gave His only son, Jesus. God loved His son, but gave Him, knowing His Son would become the Savior for all who would accept Him. Romans 6:23 - "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."
I received the gift of salvation, also as a child. When I was nine I asked Jesus into my heart. It is the greatest gift I've ever received! I would guess my doll is long gone, but my gift of salvation from the Lord is eternal. John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.

Thank you God for that precious gift!


Monday, January 02, 2006

Preference or conviction

In 1996, shortly after completing Seminary, my husband and I began to
consider home schooling our two children (then 8 and 11years old). As part
of our preparation for the curriculum we selected, we listened to a cassette
tape about home schooling. I remember very little of that tape except the
distinction the speaker made between preference and conviction. He asked
whether it was our preference to home school or was it our conviction. I
thought it was our conviction until he proceeded with his description of
conviction. He basically said that conviction means we would be willing to
go to jail if our right to home school was ever challenged.
I'm still not sure how I feel about that but the principle he
suggested has far reaching implications in our Christian lives. Is it our
preference to be Christians or are we convicted Christians? Is it our
preference to obey God, or are we convicted in our obedience? How serious
are we really about the Name we bear?
This illustration came to light recently as I was discussing with
someone their desire to do the right thing (I can't even remember what the
issue was). When I raised the question - is it your preference to do the
right thing, which wanes when it gets difficult or is it your conviction to
do the right thing, no matter what?
I can identify with that personally. I would really like to glorify
God in my eating habits and my attitude about food. I mean it. I would
really like to do it; but I have to admit it is more a preference than a
conviction. Am I willing to go to jail in order to glorify God in this area?
To my shame I'm not even willing to skip a meal.
Perhaps your issue isn't food; perhaps it's being kind, or
respectful. Maybe God has been prompting you to forgive someone and be
released from your bitterness. Sure you would like to forgive them, but it
is more a preference than a conviction. How serious are you about doing
what is right?

My challenge for you is to give due consideration about what your
convictions really are and what are just preferences?