Wednesday, May 31, 2006

The Law of Love III

The Law of Love III

"You, my bothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to
indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love."

This week we have been having a frank discussion (more like a
monologue) about modesty. Today I want to briefly discuss the difference
between men and women and the lack of understanding of each other and for
each other. If you are single, hang in there because this is just as
important for you to understand as for us "old married women".

Men are visual. Women are tactile and relational. Men can be aroused
by someone they don't even know simply by the way she looks, dresses, and
moves. Women are not so much aroused by the way a man looks but more by the
way he looks at her. Sexual purity for men involves discipline with their
eyes first and foremost. Sexual purity for women involves discipline with
their hearts and emotions.

Ladies, we may not understand how quickly a man can become aroused,
how quickly he can be drawn away and tempted to lust, but I believe Jesus
calls us to have compassion not contempt. Our lack of understanding does
not invalidate the reality of the struggle for men. I know if your husband
is involved in pornography, this hurts. Perhaps we can "talk" about that
another week.

How does this relate to our theme-the law of love? If we as women
seek to understand and to be compassionate, I believe we would be much more
mindful of our dress so as to not increase the struggle.

I don't believe that contempt for people is ever the godly response.
Let's get angry at the culprit-Satan and pray for his failure in this area.

Your challenge today is to pray for understanding and compassion.


Monday, May 29, 2006

The Law of Love I

Sisters, late last summer I wrote a week series of Victory Call's on modest dress and sexual purity. Of all the VC's I have written I recieved more positive comments on that series than any other. I have tweaked them a bit and am running them again this week as we move into the summer with Memorial Day today.

The Law of Love I
"You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love." Galatians 5:13

Warning!!! This week's devotionals are on modesty and sexual purity and are written with frankness and forthrightness. I apologize in advance if my frankness offends anyone. I would not do this if it wasn't a burden on my heart that I think God's wants His daughters to hear. I hope my mother is not reading these!
It's that time of year again, when the weather is hot and humid. For some of you this writing will draw a nod of the head, for others, I'm afraid I'm going to step on your toes. I am going to be bold today, bolder than usual that is.
It is time for Christian women to take a stand with regard to our dress. Hear me clearly; I'm not talking about being dowdy, unstylish or puritanical in our dress. I'm talking about just plain modesty. There are parts of a woman's body that need to be covered, plain and simple. A woman's breasts need to be modestly covered, front, middle and sides. Modestly covered does not mean with see through fabric, tight fitting or exposing the bra underneath. A woman's pubic area, upper thighs, mid-drift and buttocks need to be covered. I'm nervous about being so pointed but I've long since learned forthrightness and frankness minimizes misunderstanding.
I have worked at America's Keswick for almost 7 years. I have had my eyes opened to the sinful struggle of men and women, both which could be qualified as lust. I would venture a guess that the majority of calls I get from women relate to this issue of lust. It may manifest itself in ogling which means: to eye amorously or provocatively or to look at especially with greedy or interested attention (Merriam-Webster On-line Dictionary) or it may involve pornography, infidelity or inappropriate emotional ties. Statistics show that men are the primary offenders regarding the use of internet pornography sites, but there are a growing number of women falling into the same sinful trap. I did some research on-line to get some statistics regarding this problem - I was amazed. This is what I found: 28% of visitors to pornography sites are female, 1 or 3 visitors to all adult web sites are women, women, far more than men, are likely to act out their behaviors in real life, such as having multiple partners, casual sex or affairs, 9.4 million women access adult web sites each month.1 Thirty-four percent of female readers of Today's Christian Women's online newsletter admitted to intentionally accessing Internet porn in a recent poll.2
I think you have had enough frankness for today, but we are not done yet. There is much more to be said this week. I will explain through the week, how our verse relates to this topic.

Your challenge for today is to ask God if there is any outfits in your closet that HE would like you to get rid of. If you're courageous enough, ask your spouse or a close friend for an honest evaluation of how you dress.


1 accessed 4/28/06
2 accessed 4/28/06

Friday, May 26, 2006

What am I supposed to do without my cell phone?

What am I supposed to do without my cell phone?

That was a line from a movie I saw recently. The dad was trying to talk to his teenage daughter, however she was in her room with the door locked, dancing to music that was blasting through her head phones and she couldn't hear him knocking. So what did he do? You guessed it... he called her on her cell phone from right out side her room. Of course she heard that and answered right away. The story proceeded with her dad reading her the riot act that she was locked up in her room away from the family, dancing provocatively to loud music and he could not reach her in his own house unless he called her cell phone! To top it off while in her room he finds a report card that reflected some failing grades. When he asked her about it she told him it was private and he shouldn't be looking at it. Are you done laughing...? I was hysterical! I mean is she kidding me! I was so...happy they did not portray this dad as a helpless bystander. He told her in no uncertain terms that he was in charge and she would comply with respect. As her punishment he took away her cell phone, to which she replied with a very sarcastic tone; "What am I supposed to do without my cell phone?" Here was the best part, he said; "Do I look like I care, look at me (very serious face) do I look like I care. Your right I don't. No cell phone!" I think I applauded so hard my hands hurt. I am so tired of seeing parents portrayed as wimps afraid to discipline their children for fear it will damage them, or maybe the child won't like them. Believe me; I do not think it is easy to discipline a child, but we shouldn't be shocked and unprepared when the time comes to apply it. Like the dad in this movie, we need to correct and discipline our children or they will continue in their way and we will have not done right by them or by the Lord. He wasn't upset she had a cell phone, he must have paid for it, but he was upset that she abused the privilege and dishonored him. This wasn't a dad who ran his house like a drill sergeant with no mercy or grace!
. This w
as a dad who saw his daughter drifting away from the fold of the family into dangerous areas and in love said NO!

Ephesians 6:4; And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the LORD.

Proverbs 3:12
For whom the Lord loves He corrects, just as a father the son in whom he delights.


Thursday, May 25, 2006

What is a Quiet Day?

What is a Quiet Day?

A quiet day is a deliberate intention to be quiet, to rest from all your doing. I'm sure that the ways in which this can be accomplished are as varied as our individual personalities. For example, you may want to incorporate words of praise and adoration; choose to read from the Psalms; listen to the sound of the waves; pick up a long neglected sketch pad and draw whatever comes to mind; lay a blanket out on the lawn and watch the cloud...and so on and so forth. The possibilities are endless. But the quiet would be the special emphasis of the day.

A few years ago a small group of women from my church planned a quiet day. It's hard to imagine, all of us women together without talking, huh? Nonetheless, the idea of a quiet day appealed to enough of us that we had two van loads. The plan was to drive "in silence" to Longwood Gardens in Pa., and once we arrived, we were to disperse and just spend the day in quiet. My personal goal for the day was to listen to God and journal whatever He said to me. Unfortunately the day never happened. Three weeks in a row we planned the trip and three weeks in a row it poured rain on the day that we were to go. After that, our schedules got busy know the drill. It just never happened. Recently a few of us have begun to talk about again and hopefully this time we can pull it off.

Your quiet day doesn't have to take you anywhere away from home, unless the distractions of home would make it virtually impossible for you to experience the quiet.

Maybe by now you're asking yourself, "Why a quiet day?" The answer for me is simple. Our souls need times of quiet for the purpose of restoration. In Psalms 23 David writes, "The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul..." We must take the time to be quiet and still, to allow the Lord to give quietness and contentment to our minds.

I can't remember any conversation I've ever had, with a woman regarding quiet and/or stillness, where she didn't get a longing look in her eyes. Whether we take the time or not, our souls are longing for moments of stillness and quiet. Or...we could call them "Mary moments". It's possible that you are the rare one who has already learned the discipline of quiet. Praise God for that gift! I wish I could say it was me, but it aint! Life is full of constant, yet mostly joyful doing.

In the Gospel of Mark you can read the following account. The disciples had just returned from doing the work that Jesus himself had sent them to do. You know the everyday work of anointing the sick with oil and healing them; casting out demons and calling people to repentance. They had also taken the body of John the Baptist and laid it in a tomb. After returning to Jesus and telling Him all they had done, He says to them, "Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest awhile....and they went away in the boat to a desolate place by themselves." Mark 6:31
Ponder that. Pray and ask God to show you how "quiet" can become a part of your life.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

I didn't say it I only thought it...

I didn't say it I only thought it...

Proverbs 23:7
For as he thinks in his heart, so is he. "Eat and drink!" he says to you, but his heart is not with you.

Some thoughts to ponder:
What a big mouth!
She looks so fat in that outfit!
I wish they would shut up!
I really hope he doesn't sit next to me...he smells bad!
What a pain that person is!
Oh no, here comes so and so I'm going the other way!

Ever had thoughts go through your mind similar to these? Ever say them out loud? No. Oh, well then I guess it's ok if we only think them, right? Well, God's word says; as we think (and our thoughts come from out hearts), so we are. Not only that, but did you know God was a mind reader? That's right, He knows our every thought! Stop reading and ponder that thought for a moment...
I don't know about you, but speaking for myself I have had thoughts like some of the above mentioned. And let's call it what it is, sin. I really had a good dose of medicine in this area when my son was telling me a comment about a teacher that wasn't very kind. I replied to him; "You didn't say that did you?" and he said; "No Mom I didn't say it I only thought it."
Now where would he get the idea that this would be an acceptable practice? From me, where else! Here I was asking him if he verbalized it, being relieved he hadn't then glossing right over the fact that thinking it was wrong in and of itself. We both can learn a valuable lesson from each other, we were both wrong. Sometimes the best thing we can do for our kids is come down from our high horses as MOM and humble ourselves before our God and in view of our children. I thank God I can go to the cross with all my sins and there is room there for my child to kneel beside me.

Here's some ammunition for you ladies, when the thoughts that don't honor God come, and they will come,we can have a power-filled store house of verses hidden in our hearts. A dear neighbor of mine is in the habit of writing down a verse on an index card and taping it above her kitchen sink. I have since picked up that good habit. Maybe you will too...And don't forget to tell the kids why you do it!

Psalm 26:2
Examine me, O LORD, and prove me, try my mind and my heart.
2 Corinthians 10:4-5
For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into obedience of Christ.


Tuesday, May 23, 2006

If you love me, you will obey what I command

"If you love me, you will obey what I command (John 14:15).

When there are only two choices.

God can use any number of circumstances to teach us about Himself and about ourselves. Recently when my son was traveling to Budapest alone, I was confronted with the reality that I literally had two choices. I could panic, or I could trust. Being somewhat familiar with panic, I didn't like that option, in fact I hated that option. I would do just about anything to avoid panic. Each time it came to my mind that he was alone navigating strange airports and customs in a foreign country I purposely and intentionally chose to trust God. I was able to go home from JFK airport and sleep. I was comforted by the truth that God is God of the air and God is God in the Budapest airport.
This caused me to think about spiritual applications-as I am prone to do. It occurred to me that as God calls us to obey Him, we have two choices - to obey or to disobey. Why is it, that disobedience is not as distasteful to me as panic? I refused to consider panic, yet I toy with disobedience. It seems to me, if I had a genuine sorrow over sin I would see disobedience as undesirable as panic. If you have ever had an anxiety or panic attack, you know that the first overpowering feeling is the desire to flee. Scripture tells us to flee sin...Flee sexual immorality (1 Corinthians 6:18), flee from idolatry (1 Corinthians 10:14), flee these things (1 Timothy 6:11), Flee also youthful lusts (2 Timothy 2:22). When we have a "temptation attack" why isn't our first overpowering feeling to flee? When we toy with temptation, we are making provision for the flesh. Romans 13:14, "But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts."
Since we have only two choices, to obey or disobey, let us choose to cling to obedience because the option of disobedience is as abhorrent to us as it is to Jesus Christ.


Monday, May 22, 2006

Hope for Change

Recently, we began a new facet of our Heart-to-Heart Newsletter for the women and grads of the WOC Program. Every other month we plan to share a woman's testimony who has experiences not just God's saving power but also His transforming power. The first, "Thus Far..." testimony went out in April. The woman that wrote that testimony recently sent the following email to Stephanie:

"I just want to thank you for getting my testimony out there. I have experienced such wonderful healing from the Lord and it's awesome that I had a chance to share it with others.
I never realized how ashamed I was of my self and my past until I started writing my testimony. I started to figure out that the reproach that I was wearing was not of God. He has a life of victory just waiting for me to embrace! It means so much to me to get all of the things I was so ashamed of off of my chest. I feel like the power I had given the enemy is GONE! When I started to get honest with myself and then others, his grip on me was defeated. PRAISE THE LORD!
I have tears in my eyes just writing this and thinking about how far God has brought me. HE IS SO AMAZING."

I share that with you to encourage and edify your heart. Sometimes when we are going through a season of suffering or trial we begin to believe this is all there is. Every day will be like today. In Jesus Christ there is hope for genuine change, lasting change, heart change. This woman has experienced it. You can to!
Romans 15:13, "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."

Friday, May 19, 2006

He will be your God and you shall be His daughter

"For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome. For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world-our faith. Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?" 1 John 5:3-5

Last week we looked at people from the Bible that started well but did not finish well. This week we considered Biblical examples of those that did not start well, but finished well. I want to close out this two week series by refreshing your spirit with promises to those who finish well.

Revelation 2:7; "...To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God."

Revelation 2:11; "...He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death."'

Revelation 2:17; "...To him who overcomes I will give some of the hidden manna to eat. And I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it."'

Revelation 2:25-26; "But hold fast what you have till I come. And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations..."

Revelation 3:5; "He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels."

Revelation 3:12; "He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more. I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God. And I will write on him My new name."

Revelation 3:21; "To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne."

Revelation 21:7; "He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son."

Whether you started well or not, if you have surrendered your life to Jesus Christ and set your affections upon Him, if you have been regenerated, saved, born-again... you can finish well. You can prevail and overcome and inherit all things. He will be your God and you shall be His daughter.


Thursday, May 18, 2006

road to Damascus

As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison. Acts 8:3

This week we are thinking through Biblical examples of people that did not start well but finished well. We have considered Jacob, Rahab, and today we will consider Saul/Paul. Saul was a devout Pharisee, "If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so: circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless." Philippians 3:4-6 He was persecuting the very church that Christ came to establish. "Then Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciple of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any who were of the Way, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem."
Acts 9:1-2
One day he came face-to-face with the Living Lord. "As he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven. Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, 'Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?'
And he said, 'Who are You, Lord?' Then the Lord said, 'I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads.' So he, trembling and astonished, said, 'Lord, what do You want me to do?' Then the Lord said to him, 'Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.'" Acts 9:3-6 "Immediately he preached the Christ in the synagogues, that He is the Son of God." Vs. 20.

Who are the people in your life that appear as if they will never hear, never submit, never bend their knee to the Lordship of Jesus Christ? Could there be a harder heart than Saul's? Humanly speaking, salvation seems impossible. But we're not humanly speaking. "Then Jesus said to His disciples, "Assuredly, I say to you that it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." When His disciples heard it, they were greatly astonished, saying, "Who then can be saved?" But Jesus looked at them and said to them, "With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible." Matthew 19:23-26

When was your time on the "road to Damascus"? Even after salvation, do we not have multiple "road's to Damascus" on which we make decisions to follow Jesus or to go our own way? To finish well, we must be sensitive and obedient to the promptings of Christ, to follow Him.


Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Rahab the Prostitute

Rahab the Prostitute

We don't know a whole lot about the beginning of Rahab's life. However, two things that most of us know are -she was a prostitute and she is named in the lineage of our Savior, Lord and Brother, Jesus Christ.
We know nothing of her birth or how she came to be a prostitute. And you know what, it really doesn't matter. What matters is that she was chosen, just as she was, for such a time as is recorded in Joshua 2-6.

Ponder that for a moment. Do you ever fall prey to thinking you have to clean yourself up, get yourself right, correct all your wrongs, etc., etc. before you can be saved? Rahab was used by God before she was saved by Him. Imagine that. She was born into a life that somehow led her to live as a prostitute. Not a very noble beginning and yet, in spite of that, in the midst of that, the Sovereign God of the universe was aware of her individually and He gave to her the opportunity of a lifetime.

Rahab, having no relationship with God, knew of God by His deeds. Before she believed Him, she knew who He was and she knew how much the people feared Him.

Without any apparent hesitation she gives aid to the spies whom Joshua had sent. She hides them and provides a way for them to escape. Even at great risk to herself she refuses to give them up to the king of Jericho and his men.
In spite of whom she was and how she made her living, this woman who had no relationship with the God, feared Him enough to obey Him.

This, Rahab and all the family that was with her in her home were saved -her father, mother, brothers and all the relatives with her, were moved to a safe place.

"Then the Israelites burned the city and everything in it. Only the things made from silver, gold, bronze, or iron were kept for the treasury of the LORD's house. So Joshua spared Rahab the prostitute and her relatives who were with her in the house, because she had hidden the spies Joshua sent to Jericho. And she lives among the Israelites to this day." Joshua 6:24

So, what do we know from those final words. Rahab finished well. How do we know? We can surmise from the fact that she lived among God's people, the Israelites, that she no longer worked as a prostitute. It was by faith alone that Rahab did not die with all the other inhabitants of the land. She was made right by God with her actions.
And thus, Rahab finished well.
May it be said of us, that in spite of how we began or where we are now, we obeyed God and in faith, we believed God. May we, like Rahab, endure to the end and finish well.


Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Jacob (Part Two)

Jacob (Part Two)

Praise God for His transforming grace. Apart from His grace and His power, there would be no hope for change in our lives.
Let's continue on now with Jacob and see what we can glean from His conversion story.

His Transformation...
In a dream Jacob has an encounter with God; the God of Abraham and Isaac. God speaks to this fleeing son of Isaac, and says....

"I am the Lord, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac, the land on which you lie, I will give it to you and to your descendants...Behold I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you." Genesis 28

In spite of how poorly he has behaved, God still chooses to come to Jacob in a dream and speak His transforming Word into Jacob's heart.
When Jacob wakes up, he is so shaken by the dream that right then and there he makes a decision to make God his God. "Surely the Lord is in this place." says Jacob.

He takes his stone pillow, anoints it with oil and sets it up as a memorial altar; a place of worship to God. Then Jacob makes a vow to give God one-tenth of everything that God will ever give him.

Thus begins Jacob's conversion story and the beginning of ongoing relationship, relationship, relationship with God.
Did you notice I said relationship three times? If you read the rest of Jacob's story, you'll find that he finished well. He is committed to honoring God with his whole life.

This was only possible because Jacob never forgot God in his day to day life. He never forgot his promise to God, nor did he waver from his decision to make the God of his father Isaac and His grandfather Abraham, the God he loved and served.

Does he do it perfectly? No. Just like you and I, Jacob makes many mistakes -mistakes which have consequences- but his heart is bent toward honoring the Lord in his life until the day he died.

I encourage you to take the time to read the biblical account of Jacob's life and find in it hope and encouragement for your own life. Whatever your mistakes have been; whatever the ways are that you believe you have messed up or blown it, take courage and know that the same God, who sustained our brother Jacob, can, will and does sustain you through each and every moment.
Jacob was a regular person; a simple person, like you and I, who trusted God in and through it all.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Jacob (Part One)

Jacob (Part One)

"When the time came for her birth, there were twin boys in her womb...After
this, his brother came out, with his hand grasping Esau's heel; so he was
named Jacob." (Gen 25:24, 26a) Now get this. His name means grasps the
heel; figuratively meaning, he deceives. How about that for not beginning
Jacob and his twin brother grew, and from the beginning were divided
by their differences. We know that Esau was a skillful hunter, while Jacob
was a quiet man. Esau was loved by his father and Jacob, by his mother.
Time passes and Jacob becomes a pretty good cook, as well as good at getting
what he wanted. We know this from verves 29-34 of Genesis 25. Jacob
convinced his brother to sell his birthright for a bowl of stew. Boy, that
must have been some good stew, and Esau must have been pretty hungry to give
up his birthright, simply to fill his belly. Hmmm? Have we ever done
anything like this?
Anyway, time passes and we find Jacob, once again, scheming to take
something of value from his brother. This time its Esau's blessing! Sadly,
Jacob accomplished this with his mother's encouragement and help. Jacob has
not yet learned to wholly trust God in the details of his daily life.
Up until now, Jacob's sin is pretty obvious. We see his struggle for
position and identity. We see the steps he's willing to take, to get what he
wants. We also see how easily he was led astray to participate in the sin
of others, namely his mother. We see how Jacob allowed his circumstances to
predict his plans, rather than trust, or even seek God.
At this point in Jacob's life, it appears that he has no relationship
with the God his father serves.
Isn't that just like us? So quick; so eager to get what we want, when
we want it that waiting on God and trusting Him to be God, is not given any
As a result of Jacob's deeds, Esau's anger is murderous and he vows to
kill his younger brother. Once again, Jacob's mother intervenes and
convinces the son she loves to flee to her brother Laban's hometown in the
land of Haran, and tells him to stay until his brothers anger subsides.
Thus, with his father's blessing Jacob leaves the home of his birth.
Amazing love! In spite of his willful deception, his father still sent him
off with a blessing! How cool is that!! Grace! Grace! And more grace!
That's all I have space to write today. So come back tomorrow and see
how Jacob is transformed and renewed for this new journey he is on.

Question: When you think back over your conversion story, can you see
the clear hand of God in your life? Can you see a life covered by many
moments of glorious sustaining grace? Pause, ponder, and then praise the
Lord, your God for all that comes to your mind.


Friday, May 12, 2006

Colossal worthiness of God

I have been reading Ed Welch's book, Depression: A Stubborn Darkness for professional development. I was reading chapter 9 when I read this C.S. Lewis quote,
"[Screwtape warns Wormwood] Our cause is never more in danger than when a human, no longer desiring, but still intending, to do our Enemy's [God's] will, looks around upon a universe from which every trace of Him seems to have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys." (From the Screwtape Letters)
Now if you are familiar with The Screwtape Letters you know that Screwtape and Wormwood are demon characters in Lewis' book.
When I read this quote the first time, I breezed through it but didn't quite catch it; so I went back and reread it more purposefully. The second time it stopped me in my tracks. Please reread it, carefully.

Our obedience has much more to do with the "Colossal worthiness of God" (as one Pastor put it) than it does with us.
"But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts." Romans 13:14 Every time we begin to debate with ourselves (or God) whether we will obey or not, we have made a provision for the flesh. Chances are high we will fall to the temptation. If only we would obey regardless of how we feel today, regardless of our attitude, situation or emotions. Our call and ability to obey is rooted in the person and power of Jesus Christ not in us.
You may wonder what this has to do with the other 4 Victory Calls from this week. Our illustrations this week were of people that started well but did not finish well. They started their walk of obedience but got off track and finished in dishonor. They allowed their feelings, emotions, personal wants, desires and purposes to supersede their desire to obey Almighty God.
To finish well, we need to finish each day well. And over time we will string together days, then weeks, then months and then years of finishing well so when we see our Father face-to-face we will hear from His precious lips, "Well done, my good and faithful servant."

Next week Stephanie is doing a series of individuals in the Bible that did not start well, but finished well.


Thursday, May 11, 2006

Put on the whole armor of God

This week we have been looking at Bible characters that started well but did not finish well as a reminder to each of us that finishing well is not a forgone conclusion. Each day we make choices to obey God or to disobey God. Not choosing is also a choice. Each time we choose obedience we take a step towards finishing well. Each time we choose disobedience we take a step towards finishing poorly. I think sometimes we buy into the lie that we'll get more spiritual when we get older! Ha! I used to think that. Scripture tells us in Galatians 6:7-9, "Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart."
Each of our illustrations thus far have been individuals who reaped what they had sown. They didn't wake up one day and loose their way. They lost their way one baby step at a time. Today, as we consider Judas, He was no different. We may think we are very different from Judas, but don't we betray Christ every time we choose sin?

Judas, the disciple started well: "And when He had called His twelve disciples to Him, He gave them power over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease." Matthew 10:1.
There are multiple references that indicate he did not finish well:"Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, 'What are you willing to give me if I deliver Him to you? 'And they counted out to him thirty pieces of silver. So from that time he sought opportunity to betray Him." Matthew 26:14-16 "Then Judas, His betrayer, seeing that He had been condemned, was remorseful and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, saying , "'I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.'...Then he threw down the pieces of silver in the temple and departed, and went and hanged himself." Matthew 27:3-5 (excerpts)
What was it that drew Judas away? Was it the money? Was it jealousy? Was it fear? I don't believe the Scriptures clearly tell us. Satan is subtle, he'll use anything to draw us away from heart devotion to Jesus Christ.
BUT we have the Holy Spirit by whom we can discern right and wrong, truth and error. Praise God we can be aware of Satan's scheme's and be watchful. Let me close with with this truth to infuse you with strength and courage to stand against the enemy. "Finally, my brethern, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities,against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand." Ephesians 6:10-13
Amen. Amen. and Amen.


Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Is there anything in your life that consumes you more than Jesus Christ?

"You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength." Deuteronomy 6:5

As we wander through the Old Testament, considering the people in the Bible that started well but did not finish well, how could we not consider Solomon? Just like Saul which we considered yesterday, Solomon had numerous issues in his life from a father who murdered one of his servants to a brother that raped his sister, probably the epitome of a dysfunctional family. In reading the story of Solomon's life, he had many great successes yet he did not finish well. His downfall appears, at least in part, to stem from his lust for women. Although warned against doing so, Solomon had many foreign wives who turned his heart away from God. He failed to love the LORD God with all his heart.
There is no doubt that Solomon started well: "And Solomon loved the LORD, walking in the statutes of his father David,...then god said to him: "Because you have asked this thing, and have not asked long life for yourself, not have asked riches for yourself, nor have asked the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern justice, behold, I have done according to your words; see, I have given you a wise and understanding heart, so that there has not been anyone like you before you, h0nor shall any like you arise after you. And I have also given you what you have not asked: both riches and honor, so that there shall not be anyone like you among the kings all your days. So if you walk in My ways, to keep My statutes and My commandments, as your father David walked, then I will lengthen your days." 1 Kings 3: 3,11-14.
However, Solomon did not finish well: "But King Solomon loved many foreign women, as well as the daughter of Pharaoh: women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians, and Hittites- from the nations of whom the LORD had said to the children of Israel, "You shall not intermarry with them, nor they with you. Surely they will turn away your hearts after their gods." Solomon clung to these in love. And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines; and his wives turned away his heart. For it was so, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned his heart after other gods; and his heart was not loyal to the LORD his God, as was the heart of his father David."
Just about anything or anyone can draw our hearts away from God. Is there anything in your life that consumes you more than Jesus Christ? Is there anything or anyone that you lust for that distracts you from your devotion to Christ? It can be very subtle and left unchecked will overwhelm you and draw you deeper and deeper into idolatry.
How will you demonstrate your obedience to the first great commandment today? "'Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?' Jesus said to him, 'You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment.'" Matthew 22:36-38.


Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Pride can get us off course.

"For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not
to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think
soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith." Romans 12:3

This week we are giving consideration to people in the Bible that
started well but did not finish well. I am hoping it will be an
encouragement to you not to make the same mistakes they did, to stand firm
and finish well. I selected this verse because I think it is an area in
which our next illustration derailed. As I read through the Old Testament
account of Saul, it seemed to me that among many other problems, one of his
downfalls was pride, thinking more highly of himself than he ought.

He started well: "There was a man of Benjamin whose name was Kish the
son of Abiel, the son of Zeror, the son of Bechorath, the son of Aphiah, a
Benjamite, a mighty man of power. And he had a choice and handsome son
whose name was Saul. There was not a more handsome person than he among the
children of Israel. From his shoulders upward he was taller than any of the
people...As they were going down to the outskirts of the city, Samuel said
to Saul, "Tell the servant to go on ahead of us." And he went on. "But you
stand here awhile, that I may announce to you the word of God." 1 Samuel
9:1, 2, 27.

But Saul did not finish well: "Now the word of the LORD came to
Samuel, saying, 'I greatly regret that I have set up Saul as king, for he
has turned back from following Me, and has not performed My commandments.'
And it grieved Samuel, and he cried out to the LORD all night...But Samuel
said to Saul, "I will not return with you, for you have rejected the word of
the LORD, and the LORD has rejected you from being king over Israel." 1
Samuel 15:10-11, 26.

Pride can get us off course. Thinking more highly of ourselves then
we ought will derail us every time. If we want to persevere, stay the
course, finish well, it requires a pervasive attitude of humility. "Humble
yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up." James 4:10.


Monday, May 08, 2006

We need a fresh supply of God's grace each day.

Let me give you a picture of where we are going for the next two weeks. I
am going to write a series on people in the Bible that started well but did
not finish well. Next week, Stephanie will share a series on people in the
Bible that started poorly but finished well. Then we will cap off the week
with encouragement to live daily so we can finish well; a call to be
overcomers and delight in the promises of what is yet to be.

"His lord said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful servant; you were
faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter
into the joy of your lord.'"

Matthew 25:21

Recently, I was speaking at a women's retreat on the topic of
perseverance and was thinking through Biblical illustrations. In doing so,
I realized there are numerous individuals that started well but did not
finish well. It is unlikely that they heard these words from Matthew 25
when they met the Lord.

The first person that comes to mind is Samson. He started well.
Judges 13:24-25, "So the woman bore a son and called his name Samson; and
the child grew, and the LORD blessed him. And the Spirit of the LORD began
to move upon him at Mahaneh Dan between Zorah and Eshtaol."

But He did not finish well. Judges 16:18-20, "When Delilah saw that
he (Samson) had told her all his heart, she sent and called for the lords of
the Philistines, saying, "Come up once more, for he has told me all his
heart." So the lords of the Philistines came up to her and brought the money
in their hand. Then she lulled him to sleep on her knees, and called for a
man and had him shave off the seven locks of his head. Then she began to
torment him, and his strength left him. And she said, "The Philistines are
upon you, Samson!" So he awoke from his sleep, and said, "I will go out as
before, at other times, and shake myself free!" But he did not know that the
LORD had departed from him."

Lest we loose our way, remember we need a fresh supply of God's grace each
day. We need to avail ourselves of His grace, daily, and not try to live
off yesterday's victory.

"And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always
having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good
work." 2 Corinthians 9:8


Friday, May 05, 2006


2 Corinthians 10:3-5, "For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.

We have looked briefly this week at some thoughts about spiritual warfare and I thought it would be appropriate to close the week with this verse from 2 Corinthians. So much of our battle is won or lost in our minds. Our thoughts have powerful influence over our emotions. Thoughts precede emotion. If I think depressing thoughts, I will feel depressed. If I think anxious thoughts, I will feel anxious. Our bodies do not know the difference between reality and fantasy. We know the difference in our minds but our bodies do not know the difference. Our body is like a thermometer. It simply registers the emotions connected to our thinking. As an example, have you ever watched a scary movie and felt your heart racing or watched a love story and cried? Why is that? It is not real, it's make believe, but you body doesn't know that it reacts as if it is reality.
Much of our battle whether it is self-inflicted or spiritual warfare is going to be won through the renewing of our minds through right thinking, by thinking truth. Romans 12:2, "And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God."
Some days it is battle to cling to truth when error is screaming in our ear, when error is what we feel. But ladies, we can choose to believe truth even when we feel the lie. Let me repeat that because I need to be reminded of that today. We can choose to believe truth even when we feel the lie. Our weapons for warfare are not carnal but MIGHTY in God for pulling down the strongholds of error.
I have been asking God to destroy a stronghold in my life and in any others in my family that struggle likewise in this bondage. I am learning that the process God goes through to destroy a stronghold requires opportunities to face the stronghold and to apply faith and walk in obedience. So I have to remind myself that when I am tempted once again, God is giving me another opportunity to break another link in the chain that shackles me. Step by step victory is won!! Step by step freedom is found and delighted in.


Thursday, May 04, 2006


In the realm of discussion about spiritual warfare, it is easy to tend towards one extreme or another. "We tend to give the devil either far too much credit or not nearly enough."1 I have experienced churches and individuals that have either lived as if Satan was not real or that he lurked behind every bush and rock. A number of years ago, I came across a statement in Beth Moore's book, Praying God's Word that I believe gives balance to this question. "The Bible has much to say about fighting the good fight of faith and becoming well-trained soldiers...but it also has far more to say about the pure pursuit of God, His righteousness, and His plan for us. I believe a wise conclusion to draw from the emphases in the Word of God is: give much time and thought to becoming well-equipped victors in the battle that rages, but give more time to the pursuit of the heart of God and all things concerning Him. Much about warfare. More about God Himself." (pg 311)Much about warfare. More about God Himself.


1 Beth Moore, Praying God's Word, Broadman and Holman Publishers, Nashville, TN, 2000.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006


Ever have one of those days or weeks where you feel like you are the target of Satan's attacks? Perhaps your season was more along the lines of months or years. Often, we hear, "I'm really under attack". I know I have felt that way.
Recently, in working through the Beth Moore study, "A Woman's Heart: God's Dwelling Place", I ready the following Henry Blackaby quote; "In every generation there seem to exist certain clich�'s used by members of the body of Christ. No doubt, on the top of the list for this generation are the words 'I'm under attack!' Every difficulty seems to be labeled 'spiritual warfare.' Without question we fight wars in the heavenlies' but before we can be sure it's spiritual warfare, we must be able to answer three questions negatively: 1) Am I living outside the will of God? 2) Do I have any unconfessed sin? 3) Is God simply working His completion in me? Far more often, our difficulties originate from one of these three realms."
I think this is a good reminder for all of us to not be too quick to jump to the conclusion that we are under attack by Satan and his demons. Considering the questions Blackaby offers can give hope. There is something we can do about at least the first two situations. We need to get back on track and live within God's will and we can confess our known sin. If God is working His completion in us, we can be grateful that He is in the process of conforming us to the image of His Son. 2 Corinthians 3:18, "But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.


Tuesday, May 02, 2006

I blew it

I blew it

Yesterday, Dina's devotional challenge was about her 5 year-old neighbor that asked her if she had asked Jesus into her heart. Her neighbor would not give up until she knew for sure that Dina had experienced a saving transaction with Jesus Christ. After hearing that story, I was compelled to share how I failed to do what that little 5 year-old was bold enough to do.
A few weeks ago I was shopping with Dina and my daughter at Boscov's in the shoe department when I overheard the following conversation between 3 young clerks

Clerk #1: I wouldn't want to know, would you?
Clerk #2: Well, I sure would not want to get a phone call finding out it was going to be tomorrow.
Clerk #3: Do you even believe in an afterlife?
Clerk #2: (shuttering) I don't even like to think about it....I'm just afraid that there isn't anything. We just die and that's it. There is nothing.
Clerk #3: Well, according to the Bible, none of us can go to heaven anyway.
Clerk #1: My mother said they changed that...
Clerk #2: Oh, right! They changed the Bible?

What an opportunity, but I was not a part of this conversation and I could not think of a way to naturally get involved in it. After walking away, I thought of a few ideas but by then it was too late. It grieved my heart that these three young ladies are lost, confused and scared and I was too slow or chicken to offer them the genuine hope of Jesus Christ. It was an opportunity lost. Yet God is sovereign, and the salvation of those three young women was prevented because of my failure. Their eternal destiny does not rest on my shoulders, but on Christ's. However, that being said, I missed the opportunity and the blessing God was ready to pour out on me.

Be alert. Be ready. Let the love of your Savior flow from your lips to the ears of a searching heart. 1 Peter 3:15, "But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear"

Monday, May 01, 2006

My neighbor "The Evangelist"

My neighbor "The Evangelist"

Recently I was going for a walk around the lake here at Keswick with my son and two of my neighbors. It was about 7:30 in the evening and the grounds were quiet. My one neighbor remarked how peaceful and quiet it was and she asked me if I enjoyed peace and quiet. To which I replied; "yes, it's great, I love the peace and quiet". She agreed and said she liked to spend time with her bible when it was quiet. She then shared with me that she had asked Jesus into her heart and she very directly inquired if I had asked Jesus into my heart. I told her yes I did and that I loved Jesus. She said she loved him too. Then I shared with her that my son also loved Jesus. She was very intent on making sure it was a true transaction of faith and asked me point blank, "But did he ask Jesus into his heart?" I assured her he had done so. She also shared her joy in her eternal security and said; "I am really glad I did that because I will forever be with God and I will never have to go to Hell, which is a burning lake of fire."
Rev. 20:15 If anyone's name was not found written in the Book of Life he was thrown into the lake of fire.
Let me let you in on the most remarkable part of this story; the neighbor I am speaking of is five years old! She is a fiery little thing with a sincere concern for the souls of people around her. Who knows what the Lord will do with such a passion.
I can relate to her passion, I had that same passion at one time and sadly I must admit I have not stoked the fire in me enough. It was also a humbling and convicting moment for me. How many times have I let an opportunity to witness to someone go by, or not even look for an opportunity! I was ashamed of myself and glad for the conviction. Later that evening I was sharing the story with my son (who is 11) and he asked me how hot I thought Hell was. I answered; "I'm not really sure but it's probably hotter than we could imagine." I added that even worse than the eternal fire would be the eternal separation from God with no hope of ever being saved. He then said; "Mom, don't you think God can be a little harsh?" I said no, He sent His only Son to suffer so we don't have to. We can choose.

Allow me to stoke the fire and make this personal;
Do you love Jesus? Have you set your affections upon Him? Have you asked Him into your heart? Have you surrendered your life to Him?

If the answer is no or you are not even sure how to be sure, let me extend the offer to email us back at Victory Call today. We are here for this very purpose

Mark 19:14

Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these