Friday, August 15, 2014

COD: Choices. Options. Decisions

Choices.  Options.  Decisions.  

Do they make you feel free or do they stifle you?

Most situations in life come along so that progress can be made, but when we feel overwhelmed, the opposite can happen.  It can throw you into turmoil and give you a spirit of unrest. 

Life will give you opportunities where you need God to show up big!  Through these times, we build our faith because we seek the Lord for wisdom that only He can give.  When we ask, He promises to give it generously.

What do you do when faced with a choice that will effect your future?  

The first place you should go is to God.  The folks in the Old Testament had the privilege of hearing the actual voice of God.  We, on the other hand, have to figure out the best way for us to “hear” His will for us.  

Seeking wisdom outside of God is dangerous.  By doing so, we step out of the Lord's covering of protection. We saw this through the life of Saul when he sought wisdom from a medium and lost his kingdom. As God’s children, we must hold tight to the Lord alone.

In Judges, we see Gideon “lay out the fleece”.  He was unsure of what the Lord wanted for Him, so He laid a piece of fleece outside and asked the Lord to assure Him that he was hearing God correctly by making the fleece wet, but the ground dry in the morning.  That request was fulfilled.  Not only did he do it once, but he actually asked God to do it again by sending a sign that was the opposite to build His faith during this very frightening time for him.  The Lord provided the answer again.  Then, Gideon took action with full confidence.

Some people believe that asking for signs is wrong and exhibits a weak faith.  Some personally avoid asking for signs, because even though they  trust God and any sign He might send, they do not trust their own ability to read the sign properly. Luckily, we have a Father that is flexible in the ways He communicates with us.

I  (Kim) recently laid out the fleece when it was time to purchase our new home.  When the house hunting began, I prayed that God would show me where He wanted us to be through seeing sunflowers.  I had some prayer warrior friends join me in that prayer.  We narrowed our houses down to two.  One of them had sunflowers in the decor, and the other did not.  We kept going back and forth between the two houses, not able to make a clear decision.  When the morning came to make an offer on a house, I called the realtor and asked her to see the “non-sunflower” house one last time to make sure. 

We hung up.  I prayed.  

I told God that I needed to hear Him clearly, that I didn’t know why I couldn’t get that house out of my head, but I couldn’t, and I needed a clear sign to cut through the gray.  Less than five minutes later, the realtor called me back to tell me that the owners had taken the “non-sunflower” house off the market.  Gotcha!

If you choose to lay out the fleece, be specific.  Then, listen and look for answers.  Whether you do it or not, He will speak to you.  It will take some work and silence and effort to discover the way God communicates with you, but it’s worth it.

Passages to Ponder:

James 1:5-8 “If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and He will give it to you.  He will not rebuke you for asking.  But when you ask Him, be sure that your faith is in God alone.  Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind.  Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.

I Chronicles 10:13-14 “Saul died because he was unfaithful to the Lord.  He failed to obey the Lord’s command, and he even consulted a medium instead of asking the Lord for guidance.  So the Lord killed him and turned the kingdom over to David son of Jesse.

Judges 6:36-40 “Then Gideon said to God, “If you are truly going to use me to rescue Israel as you promised, prove it to me in this way.  I will put a wool fleece on the threshing floor tonight,  If the fleece is wet with dew in the morning but the ground is dry, then I will know that You are going to help me rescue Israel as You promised.  And that is just what happened.  When Gideon got up early the next morning, he squeezed the fleece and wrung out a whole bowlful of water.  Then Gideon said to God, “Please don’t be angry with me, but let me make one more request.  Let me use the fleece for one more test.  This time let the fleece remain dry while the ground around it is wet with dew.”  So that night God did as Gideon asked.  The fleece was dry in the morning, but the ground was covered with dew.

Contributors:  Karen Bromby, Jodi Dunbar, and Kim McClure

Friday, August 8, 2014

Lessons In Loyalty

Have you ever felt alone?

 We are all going to go through situations where we are challenged, and that’s usually when you find out who has your back.  Knowing that you have people that love and support you unconditionally is a beautiful thing…something that is earned, almost synonymous with trust.  

If you have someone who is loyal to you in your life, don’t take it for granted.  Loyal friends stick with you through the highs and through the lows.  They don’t desert you when things get tough, but instead help you navigate your way through the mess covering you in prayer and assuming the best in you instead of the worst. This demonstrates love and kindness.

God loves his children no matter what and he gave us Jesus to help us.  This should be the model we follow within our own earthly families, but that can be hard to do.  When we are wounded by friends and family members it can take a long time to get over it, but it’s important to stand firm with people even when they have ticked you off.  

Humility is essential in bringing about reconciliation.  It is easy, very easy, to assume the worst: that the person MEANT to hurt your feelings, was looking to start an argument or purposely set out to stir things up.  It is much harder to swallow your pride and see the best possibility, to see the loyalty that a friend or family member has shown over the years.

Much of society is looking to get ahead and further their own agenda, and they will step on whoever is in their way in order to climb further up the ladder to the heights they are seeking.  Stay alert for people who might use you in terms of spreading your secrets, turn on you or just flat out make stuff up about you to tarnish your reputation.  One of the hardest things about being a parent is watching as your kids develop friendships with people who aren’t good for them, and then watching them hurt in the aftermath when that realization sets in.

If you read this, and feel that you are alone, know that you aren’t.  

There are people who love you.  

One person who loves you unconditionally is Jesus Christ.  You can trust Him implicitly.  When you feel like friends and family have betrayed you, He will be there.  He has been betrayed, knows the depth of the pain it can bring and He wants to heal you because He understands.  Don’t allow the enemy to mess with your mind.  Believe the truth.  Our thinking determines decisions, our decisions determines our habits, our habits determine our character, character determines our destiny. 

Help me stay true to what I believe in, not to be judgmental of others but loving them through issues, and relying onYou for all direction. Thank You for placing people in my life that have my back no matter what.  Open my eyes and allow me to see them and trust them.  Thank You for the sacrifice that Jesus made for me.  His betrayal and punishment took away my sins, and I am totally unworthy of that.   Forgive me when I allow my mind to assume the worst in people and choose to turn my back on people instead of love them.


Passages to Ponder:
Romans 12:2- Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.  Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

James 3:17- But the wisdom from above is first of all pure.  It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others.  It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds.  It shows no favoritism and is always sincere.

Proverbs 19:22- Loyalty makes a person attractive.  It is better to be poor than dishonest.

Contributors:  Karen Bromby, Monica Brown, Kathy Derda, Maria Kucharczuk, Kim McClure and Kristy Tolley