Valley of Blessings

Psalm 23:4 “Even thought 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.”

I often though of this verse as negative and sad, until this morning.  While praying God gave me a new appreciation for this verse.  We often hear this verse at funerals, but we this valley also refers to the times in our life when we are facing challenges or difficult circumstances.  God allows us to walk through difficult circumstances because he wants to grow us up in Him.  Psalms 23 is a beautiful picture of our lives.  We have times when life is good “green pastures, still waters.”  We have times when life is difficult, that is the valley.  When we keep reading God is preparing a table in the presence of your enemies, but at that table God is anointing you with oil and filling you with blessings.  What a beautiful picture of the fact that no matter what happens God will use your struggles for good and bring blessings.  So, when you face challenges remember that on the other side of those challenges is a cup of blessings that overflows with love, joy, peace, and best of all, God’s house, where you will dwell forever.

Father thank you for the reminder that no matter what transpires in my life You are in control weather I am on a hill, in a valley, or somewhere in between.  Thank you for being my Father and growing me in You.  Thank you for being in control of my life.  With each passing day I want to know you more.  Fill my heart and mind with the desire to be in your presence every moment of every day.  In Jesus Name, AMEN

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Weary

Galatians 6:7-10 “Do not be deceived; God cannot be mocked  A man reaps what he sows.  The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.  Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up  Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.”

Do not tire of doing what is right.  What a statement.  Have you ever grown weary of trying to do the right thing and it never seems to end up going the way you expected?  We might ask ourselves, ‘What is it that I am trying to gain?” Are you trying to gain the approval of man or God?  The only thing we should try to gain is a continued relationship with our Heavenly Father.  Relationships are messy; friends , siblings, spouses, neighbors, coworkers, etc. are all human and have fleshly desires just like you.  When we grow weak and weary we need to sing.  Sing praises to our Lord.  When we fill our hearts and mind with praise it is difficult to be angry, jealous, fearful, and bitter.  So, as you walk through today you will face times when you want to quit or thoughts will come into your mind that are not helpful for building others up, check your heart and know that God is right there waiting to help you through every challenging thought or action that comes your way.  Remember that our enemy does not rest and does not want anything loving, helpful, gracious, and most of all praiseworthy.  Satan wants to seal all those things from you, stay in the Word and praise your Heavely Father throughout your day.  Don’t focus on the things of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.

Father in Heaven thank you for the reminder that you understand that we grow weary in our faith.  Help me to focus on you and not the challenges that I face throughout my day. Holy Spirit remind me to praise my Father in everything, good and bad, because He cares for me and will give me strength.  Lord, help me to stear clear of envy, selfish ambition, fear,  hatred, and jealousy.  Instead, let me focus on You word Galatians 5:22-23 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  Against such things there is no law.” In Jesus Name, AMEN

Jealousy and Fear

James 4:1-3 “What causes fights and quarrels among you?  Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you?  You want something but don’t get it.  You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want.  You quarrel and fight.  You do not have, because you do not ask God.  When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleaseure.”

Jealousy and fear invades all our lives.  We can play the comparison game all we want, it will not change our circumstances.  These are tools the devil uses to take our hearts and minds off of Jesus.  When we look at someone else’s life and desire what they have we are essentially saying that God is not enough.  He put you where you are for His purpose and glory.  Trust your Heavely Father for he cares for you.  No matter what life throws your way trust in the God of the universe He has equiped you to walk your path.  When you find your heart and mind drifting to comparison remember that God loves you and only you can walk the path laid before you.  We are each put on this earth to fulfill a purpose that only you can fill, trust your Father for he will give you strength.  When you seek him with all your heart he will hear you.

Father, as I walk this earth and all of its challenges I ask for your wisdom.  I want a “…wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.” James 3:17. Lord help me in areas of my life where I struggle, with jealousy and fear,  for only you truly know my heart.  I want a heart that aligns with your plan for my life not a selfish one that is build on jealousy, impure motives, and fear.  In Jesus Name, AMEN

Giants

1 Samuel 17: 37 “The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine. Saul said to David, “Go, and the Lord be with you.”

We all have giants we face everyday.  We go out into this world and face fear, anxiety, loss… the list goes on and on.  I am inspired by David, he faced this seven foot giant without fear but with confidence in his Heavenly Father.  What would life be Ike if we truly trusted God with our lives?  God knows that we struggle with fear that is why he gives us warnings as well as instruction on what to do with our fear.  He tells us in 1 Peter 5:7 “Cast all your anxiety (fear) on him because he cares for you.” He tells us in  John 10:10 “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have one that they may have life, and have it to the full.”  I don’t know about you but I want to face today with the same confidence that David had when he went up against the giant.  We have the same Lord that saved him from certain death.  God equipped David for his battle just as He has equipped you for yours.  Put your trust and your faith in the God who saves. “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

Heavely Father, thank you for saving me from certain death and for being my strength in times of trouble.  I am not worrying to receive your gifts but you graciously give them to me everyday.  Help me to trust you without fear.  I want to live confidently in your grace and mercy.  Thank your for your words of encouragement and grace.  In Jesus Name, AMEN

Overlooked

1 Samuel 16:7 “But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things man looks at.  Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

Have you ever felt unwanted? Overlooked? Insignificant?  No matter what happens in life we need to remember that when we feel these things they are not of God.  God came to save the weak and the sinners alike.  Sometimes in life we don’t feel that we are special, but to God you are special enough that he gave His life so that you can live.  You are never overlooked by God.  He cares for you so much that He knows the number of hairs on your head.  He also sees you when no one else seems to see you.  Carry God with you throughout your day and know that no matter what you are going through or thinking God is by your side and sees you when no one else seems to .  God saw David when his own father felt he was insignificant, yet God saw David’s heart and from his blood line came a Savior.

Father, thank you for seeing me when no one else does.  Thank you for your love and guidance as I navigate this life looking to you for guidance.  I ask Your forgiveness for the times I turn my back on you and believe the lies that I don’t matter.  Thank you for saving me and the rock on which I stand.  In Jesus Name, AMEN

Pride

Galatians 6: 4-5 “Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else, for each one should carry his own load.”

I always thought pride was a bad thing. I guess that is because the verse that comes to mind for me in relation to pride is Proverbs 16: 18 “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.”  I also think that sometimes I confuse prideful behavior with being proud of what I have accomplished.  I love that this verse reminds us to “test our actions” .  When we look at God’s word in relation to what we do and what we say, and ask the question, “Do my words and my action please God?”  We also need to take a look at our hearts.  When we do things in life are we doing them with a joyful heart and then proud of what we were able to accomplish or are we doing things and grumbling along the way because no one is helping or we “feel” like we are the only one who cares.

Father, thank you for the reminder that it is ok to be proud as long as that pride is in line with your word.  Thank you fro helping me see that all pride is not bad as long as it does not become an arrogant pride.  Father I am so grateful for your word and the lessons that we can learn from it.  As I continue to read and study your word speak to my soul and open my eyes to things unseen. In Jesus Name, AMEN

Matters of the Heart

Proverbs 4:23 “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”  Matthew 5:8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.”

Have you checked your heart lately? If you are like most people you look in the mirror everyday to see what we look like on the outside but, how often do you check the state of your heart, that which cannot be seen?  Throughout scripture we are warned about the state of our hearts, especially as it relates to unforgivness. Satan wants to destroy anything that is good and he does that by working his way into the very fabric of our lives.  He comes to kill, steal, and destroy.  This is a blanket statement it is not specific.  God however, is very specific and he tells us to guard our hearts.  To do this, we must take an honest look at ourselves. It is easy to look in the mirror and see what is out of place but it is much more to stop and look inward.  When you look in the mirror do you see Jesus or do you see selfishness and conceite?  Examine your heart today, do you bring happiness and grace or hurt and judgement?

Father in Heaven, I come before you asking for forgiveness for my vanity.  I ask you to guard my heart and make it clean.  Lord I know that I can be judgmental and hurtful to those around me, especially to those I love the most.  I know that my outward appearance is not what you see, it is my heart.  Help me Lord with areas where my heart is not what you want it to be.  Forgive me for holding others to a higher standard than I hold myself.  I want to be your “light”.  The light you have called me to be.  Examine my heart and reviel to me areas where I need healing.  In Jesus Name, AMEN

Believe

Mark 11:24 “Therefore I tell you, what ever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”

How many times when we ask God for something and we speak it as a weak request?  I know that I have had times of prayer where I prayed because it seemed like the thing to do but in reality I didn’t believe God could answer my prayer.  It is when I pray with a grateful heart, full of faith, that I can see God move in my life.  Now my requests come with a praise attached for all God can and will do in my life.  I have learned to state my request and then speak truth from God’s word giving him praise for all that He is  doing good in and through me.  Jesus uses an example that seems rediculus to us in relation to this type of prayer.  He says in Mark 11:23 “I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him.”  This seems so crazy yet there are other times throughout scripture that God tells us that even a faith the size of a mustard seed can move a mountain.  We face many mountains in our lives and if we believe with all our heart that God is in control and pray believing He is faithful and just we will be rewarded.

Father so any times my prayers are half-hearted and it’s a request not supported in faith.  Help me to remember your word and that all I need is to believe that I have received it and You will work things for my good.  Father I know that everything you have planned for my life is good.  I know that sometimes I get distracted and fall short, bring me under your authority and protection this day.  Strengthen my faith. Thank you for all you have done in my life.  In Jesus Name, AMEN

Prayer

1 Kings 19:11-13 “Go our and stand before me on the mountain, “the Lord told him.  And as Elijah stood there, the lord passed by, and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain.  It was such  a terrible blast that the rocks were ten lose, but the Lord was not in the wind.  After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake.  And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire.  And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper.  When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave.  The the voice said to him, What are you doing here. Elijah?”

Do you ever feel like God is not listening?  Do you feel distant from God in you faith journey?  I can honestly say that I think most of us have experienced this at one point or another.  May times we feel this way when we have suffered a loss or when we are overwhelmed.  We look for God in the big things Ike the rushing wind r during a storm.  Those are often times when we are actually seeking him because we are scared or hurting or wondering what he is doing in the world.  Just like Elijah we want to hear God pound and clear, no mistake.  I have noticed that it is actually in the quiet of my life when I hear God the loudest.  We all go through seasons, just like the earth, some of these seasons are wonderful and easy other times the season is rough and we wonder when it is going to come to an end.  It is in those times of struggle where God is growing our faith.  When you feel distant from God remember that there is nothing we can do that will make him love us more and the like is true, there is nothing we can do that will make him love us any less.  So, when you feel as if God is not listening or distant remember that feelings are not always truth.  Truth is God’s Word and God’s word says He will never leave us or forsake us.  When you feel distant from God take time to sit with him and you will hear him in the quiet of your soul calling your name.

Father there are times in my life when I wonder where you are and in these times I find myself questioning you.  Forgive me for these times and draw me ever closer to you as I try to live my life according to your will.  I ask for your strength, comfort, and guidance in everything I do.  Direct my path and shine a light to guide me.  Draw me closer to you with every breath and step that I take.  In Jesus Name, AMEN

Selfish Ambition

Philippians 2:3-6 (message) “Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage.  Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.  Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself.  He had equal status with God but didn’t thing so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what.”

Who died and made you god?  Has anyone said that to you or have you thought that about someone?  Stop for a moment and think about that statement, what a judgmental thing to say or think.  Everyday of our lives we pass judgment on others.  When truth be told we, everyone of us, is a sinner.  No human has the right to judge another human being, we have never walked in their shoes.  If you knew you were going to die tomorrow would you act the same?  Would the fact that your child left their socks on the floor really matter to you?  Would the fact that you were cut off in traffic ruin your day?  If we stop and think about the little things in our lives that take our attention off of Christ we would be amazed.  Jesus had equal status with God, endured things we cannot imagine yet was able to forgive.  I am not saying we are ever going to be able to live free of sin as Jesus did but I am challenging myself to live my life like Jesus.  Who do you put first in your life? Yourself? Your desires? Others? What you think is right? Or do you put God first?  Only you can answer that question but, as the day goes on think about who is first in your life, your selfish ambition or God?

Father, I come before you as your child.  I confess that I am broken and full of self.  I get angry or irritated with those around me, that is not what you have called me to do.  Lord I need your strength as I try to put others thoughts and feelings before my own.  You ask us to “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit…” I confess that I am selfish and don’t always put You or others first.  Help me Father to live a life pleasing to you.  Help me to live my life as the blessing it is, a true gift from YOu.  In Jesus Name, AMEN