Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day - Don't Forget

Today we reflect with gratitude upon the brave men and women who gave their lives in service for this country. Memorial Day gives us the opportunity to stop, remember and be thankful. It is good for us to stop and remember. In the Old Testament we see that God told the Israelites to stop and remember His blessings. In Joshua 4 we read the story of Joshua as he led the Israelites across the Jordan. God miraculously parted the waters of the Jordan River so the Israelites could walk across as they made their way to Jericho and the Promised Land.

The Lord instructed the Israelites to get twelve stones from the river bed and set them up at camp as a memorial for them to remember what God had done. Joshua said, “In the future, your children will ask, ‘What do these stones mean to you?’ Then you will tell them, ‘They remind us that the Jordan River stopped flowing when the Ark of the Lord’s covenant went across.’ These stones will stand as a permanent memorial among the people of Israel.”

God not only wanted His people to remember what He had done, but He also wanted them to remind their children over and over again. Just as we should never forget the sacrifice our veterans gave for this country, so we should never forget the blessings God has given us each day. In Deuteronomy 8 God warned the Israelites, “When you have eaten your fill, praise the Lord your God for the good land he has given you. But that is the time to be careful! Beware that in your plenty you do not forget the Lord your God and disobey his commands, regulations and laws.”

Let us be faithful to remember God’s goodness, mercy and care. Most importantly may we remember the sacrifice He made in sending His only Son to pay the penalty for our sin. Take some time today to stop and remember as you teach your kids about the significance of Memorial Day. And take time every day to stop and remember God’s goodness and mercy toward us.

Monday, May 18, 2009

True Comfort in an Uncomfortable World

When you think about comfort, what comes to mind? A comfy couch, a bowl of ice cream, a warm bath or maybe a healing word of encouragement from a friend? God talks quite a bit about comfort in the Bible. God provides comfort to His people through His presence. In fact the Holy Spirit is referred to as the comforter. In John 14:26 – 27 we read Jesus’ words, ”The Counselor [Comforter, Helper, Intercessor, Advocate, Strengthener, Standby – Amplified Bible], the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. 27Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

Commentator Matthew Henry said, “The peace God gives is of such a nature that the smiles of the world cannot give it, nor the frowns of the world take it away.”We are not promised a comfortable life, but we are promised God’s comfort. When we are going through difficulties, God brings comfort in the knowledge of His presence, and He also brings us comfort from the strength of His Word and the help and encouragement of other people. Most importantly comfort comes in the hope of Heaven.

Receive God’s comfort in your struggles. Don’t push it away. God invites us to come to Him. He offers His Spirit to be our strengthener, our helper, our counselor. Those who believe in Him have the comfort of knowing He loves us and works all things together for the good. God may send people into your life to lift your spirits, or He may send you to others to lift theirs. We find comfort in both.

Read the following verses about comfort to your kids and remind them that God gives His Comforter in the form of His Spirit to His people.

Matthew 11:28
28"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
Psalm 94:19
19 When doubts filled my mind, your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer.

Isaiah 40:1
1 “Comfort, comfort my people,” says your God.

Matthew 5:4
4Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

Psalm 23:4
4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

John 16:33
33"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."

Monday, May 11, 2009

Mothers and Cares

It’s the day after Mother’s Day, and I hope you had a wonderful weekend. Not only is Mother’s day a nice day to honor our service as a mom, but it is also an opportunity for us moms to reflect on the blessing and privilege of our role. We have a high calling and an important job in this world. I want to encourage you to take time today to thank the Lord for the joy of serving Him as a mom, and also thank the Lord for your children. Thank the Lord for several qualities in each of your children, and go ahead and thank the Lord for qualities in your husband as well.

Now I want to encourage you to write your kids a note, telling them specifically what you thanked the Lord for in each of them. Mother’s day doesn’t just need to be about us; it can also be a celebration of our kids as well!

This weekend I had the blessing of speaking at a retreat for the women of Ridgeview Church in Rockwall, Texas. I was blessed by their open hearts and love for the Lord. They sincerely received a message of joy which the Lord led me to bring to their retreat. Thank you ladies of Ridgeview!

After sharing with the ladies at the Ridgeview retreat, I journeyed on to Cottonwood Creek church in Allen, Texas for a joy-filled dinner. The Lord placed on my heart to speak about anxiety and fear. Not quite a delightful after dinner topic! I honestly prayed and asked God if I was hearing Him right. As I spoke that night, His words of comfort flowed from my lips as I shared with the women the peace that God can bring through any circumstances.

In Philippians we are encouraged to stop being anxious and pray about everything with thanksgiving. Yes, thank the Lord in the middle of your concerns. Thank you Lord for your love and care. Thank you Lord that you can use whatever happens to me to help me grow in grace and patience. Thank you Lord for never leaving me. I ended the talk with my own story of my mother’s death and how God cared and comforted all of us through the tragedy. You can read the story in several of my books.

My friend if you are struggling with fear, I want you to hear God’s message of love, “Do not be afraid for I am with you.” As you walk in His ways, though difficulties may come, He will not leave you. Keep your eyes on Him. Pray with thanksgiving about every care. Have a peaceful week my friends!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Conversations of the Mind

What does your self-talk sound like? Isn’t it amazing how easily self defeating talk can dominate our thought-life? Just as it is important to steer clear of hurtful or corrupt communication in our conversations with others, we must also guard against it in our conversations with ourselves. In His second letter to the Corinthians Paul wrote, “We take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”

We need to recognize negative and unkind self-talk and replace it with truth – God’s truth. We would never dream of speaking to other people the way we speak to ourselves sometimes. I want you to begin identifying some of the unkind (and usually untrue) things you are saying to yourself. Our first step toward fighting the enemy is to recognize it. Often we grow accustomed to saying cruel things to ourselves, and we don’t even recognize the destructive thoughts.

The Bible tells us that Satan is an accuser and destroyer. God’s Spirit offers living water to refresh our souls with a message of His gracious love. This week, let’s begin to recognize some of the self talk we are doing. Let’s ask God to fill our minds with truth and get rid of mud-slinging. Next week we will look at a practical approach to changing some of our defeating self-talk into truth talk and a reassurance of God’s mercy and love.

Talk with your kids this week about some of the self-talk they may do. Talk about healthy words we can tell ourselves and compare them to some of the damaging words we can tend to say at times. You may want to give them a visual picture by setting some healthy food on one side of the kitchen table and a bowl of mud on the other. Ask them which one would be good for them to eat and benefit their body. Then tell them our self talk can nourish our soul or damage it. Just as we do not want to sling mud and hurt others, we also don’t want to sling mud on ourselves in the form of discouraging thoughts.