A Gift With A Purpose

“And the Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden
to tend and guard and keep it.” Genesis 2:15

The Creation story from Genesis chapter one, is one we’ve probably all heard. God created our world: complete with sun, moon, stars; day and night; oceans and land; land and sea animals; vegetation and man.  But THEN God shifted His focus in Genesis chapter two. His focus was one born of great love.

I recall the time I shifted my focus to providing my daughter with a surprise birthday party. Because her birthday is near Halloween, she had never had a huge party due to holiday conflict. My husband and I wanted to go all out for her: make it a memorable day she would never forget. We secretly planned for months. I gathered ideas…logged many hours on detailed planning… re-purposed items to create a nice shabby chic decorated yard. We worked on prepping our yard every weekend for two months. We invited guests, shopped, cooked and decorated. My husband and I were determined to make this a special day for her.  We worked hard to cross every ‘t’ and dot every ‘i.’ We put our heart and soul into this endeavor. We were so excited!!! We couldn’t wait to surprise her! All this extra planning exclusively for our daughter was fueled by our love for her. I imagine God had the same excitement as He planned His gift for Adam.

He already created the world, but God wanted to give something exceptional and extraordinary. God specifically chose a location; then planned, prepped and planted a beautiful garden with all the amenities. After all the work was done, He presented the gift to Adam.  Then God invited some special guests: every animal that He had created. He let Adam choose their names. What an incredible honor.  For the after party, God created another special gift: Eve. Adam had received God’s exclusive attention; God’s very best!

Adam and Eve were all about that Garden life. EVERY day, God Himself would visit them, and walk in the garden with them! It was euphoric! Perfect! No worries, just right! YET God had given them a job; a mission; and a purpose.

To Tend: have care of or look after; manage or run
To Guard: watch over or shield from danger or harm; protect against a challenge or attack
To Keep: retain rights to

Wow, this raises a few questions for me like: How could they lose rights to the garden….to the gift that God had given them? Protect it from WHAT danger…..wasn’t everything euphoric and perfect?

Like Adam and Eve, God has given US many precious gifts like:
Salvation (Ephesians 2:8-9)
Spiritual Gifts (1 Corinthians 12:4-11) (Romans 12:6-8) (1Peter 4:10-11)
Ministries (I Timothy 1:12)
Children (Psalm 127:3)

And we have that same mandate because the enemy is waiting for any opportunity to steal what God has given us, just like he did Adam and Eve. Each gift from God has a purpose! WE have been given the responsibility to tend to these gifts; to guard them; and more importantly, to retain the rights to them! These gifts were intended for us, and belong to us! Let’s keep them, and use them for His glory!

 

Your Mother is a Heavenly Gift

The love of a mother
Forgives, restores, loves and heals
Guides us, protects us and fights off our fears

She defends us from danger that we don’t even see
That’s what mothers do for you and me

A mother’s love fierce and true
Comes to our defense and our rescue
She takes a stand when no others will
Not because we are right
But because her love is real

But WE. . .
We children both infant and old
Live out a different story rarely told

We love and hug our moms one minute and
Run from her instruction thinking she just doesn’t get it
We roll our eyes and try to be grown
Can’t wait to get out and live life on our own

That’s when it happens I suppose
The understanding, we’ve stepped on mama’s toes
But this woman so loyal and strong
Remains by our side no matter our wrong

This depth of compassion is hard to explain
Except when we look at our Savior slain
His love is one that never forsakes
His blood disregards and covers mistakes

Grace and mercy abundantly given
A gift to us from our Savior risen
His love manifest isn’t only eternal
His love is extended through the maternal

That’s right, your mother is a Heavenly gift
Bring her love and honor, and continue to uplift
Your encourager, your warrior and your best friend
Thank You God for a love that never ends.

by Tracey Ray

What You Do Affects Your Family

May the Lord bless Onesiphorus and ALL his family because he visited me and encouraged me often. His visits revived me like a breath of fresh air, and he was never ashamed of my being in jail.” 2 Timothy 1:16  (TLB)

Simply put: what you do affects your family. This scripture can be both encouraging and cautionary. It tells me that when I live a God pleasing life, His favor rests on my family as well as myself. Living a God pleasing life doesn’t mean being perfect, so don’t be so quick to discount the blessings of God because you’ve made mistakes. God is not a tyrant waiting to yank the ‘blessings’ rug from under your feet when you mess up.

I want to encourage you today….if you are the only one in your family that is living for God, keep it up! Everything action you take that brings honor to God captures His attention: His favorable attention. That is the place I want to be, in favor with God, but not just for myself. What I do affects my family.

 

 

If You Want A Bonfire, Why Are You Collecting Twigs?

I love it when my husband Mike builds a fire for our indoor fire place or outdoor fire pit. The first thing he does is prepare. He walks around our yard gathering dry twigs and small sticks, also known as starter wood. He places the small twigs atop balled up newspaper and poof! Fire! But my husband doesn’t leave the fire, he watches and tends to it, because starter fires don’t last long as those dry twigs are too quickly consumed. Next step is adding larger pieces of dry wood to maintain a healthy strong fire.

I also love it when my husband shares with me spiritual nuggets he received during his private time with God. This devotion is one of his spiritual nuggets.  In sum, we all want a nice roaring spiritual fire at our churches. But we aren’t willing to put in the spiritual preparation time outside of church. That’s right, the fire at church doesn’t originate at church: it begins within the hearts of each one of us. But many people blame the Praise & Worship Team or the Pastor for not stoking their twiggy fire! If you want to experience the fire on Sunday, stop bringing twigs!!

“Fire shall be kept burning continually on the altar; it is not to go out.” Leviticus 6:13

It is our responsibility to fan the flames; to keep it burning by adding fuel; and then to lay down our sacrifice of praise (Hebrews 13:15)! Spending time daily in the Presence of God is like cutting substantial pieces of fire wood that we can bring with us on Sunday: it keeps the fire continually burning!

Do we eat only once a week? Gas up the car only once a year? Tend the lawn only once each summer? Sleep only one night a week? Surely you see where this is going? We need to tend to our spiritual needs DAILY, just like we tend to our physical needs! No one else can do this for us. When we neglect the Presence of God, our flame dies out. If you want the fire, you’ve got the gather wood!

Tell Your Faith To Believe Again

If you believe in the PAST moves and miracles of God,
why not believe in the FUTURE moves and miracles of God?

He has NEVER changed!
He is still God!

Stop reliving the old glory days, retelling the stories of God’s goodness AS IF it’s over……AS IF those days are gone…..AS IF God is dead!

GOD IS NOT DEAD!

He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow Hebrews 13:8. What He did back then, He will do again today!

Rekindle the flame in you! Hold onto your faith Hebrews 10:23! I dare you to trust in God again.

God NEVER NEVER fails Hebrews 13:5!
God NEVER lies Hebrews 6:18! Every word He has spoken, and every promise WILL come to pass Luke 1:37.

Tell your faith to believe again!! A man in the New Testament did just that. He brought his demon possessed son to the disciples of Jesus, but they could not deliver his son. Perhaps you have tried to bring your issues to the church, but nothing happened; you feel let down and disappointed; and maybe someone hurt you.

But then, he brings his son to Jesus. And although his faith was a bit shaky, he asked Jesus to help his unbelief, and He did. That man’s son was set free and healed Mark 9:14-29!

Don’t put your faith in church or man: anything or anyone other than Jesus Christ! He will not disappoint or hut you. Tell your faith to believe again!

Victory is in Returning to the Battlefield

Keep going back to your prayer room! It is where the battle is won! The Holy Spirit taught me this years ago.

Don’t give up!
Don’t give in!
Never Retreat!

The victory is in returning to the battlefield (Your prayer room).

Satan knows there is power in our prayers. Prayer is our defense AND our offense. No wonder his mission is to stop those prayers.

Like a raging battle, he is bombarding us with attacks to intimidate us and scare us into retreat. Satan shows us casualties of war, and tells us victory is impossible; but God says nothing is impossible (Mathew 19:26); and we are more than conquerors (Romans 8:37)!

Satan will make you grow weary in waiting on answered prayer, in an effort to get you to give up; but God says they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint (Isaiah 40:31).

Satan makes us think we are outnumbered, and that we are fighting this battle alone; but GOD IS FIGHTING FOR US (Exodus 14:14)!  and He will never, never fail us or forsake us (Psalm 23:4, Hebrews 13:5).

Satan wants us to abandon all hope…he may tell you that there is no help for you or your situation; but God gives help just in the nick of time, and He gives us grace for every situation (Hebrews 4:16).

Satan wants us to feel like our prayers are useless and ineffective; but God says the prayers of the righteous avail much (James 5:16). AND we have been made the righteousness of God through Christ Jesus, so our prayers are mighty through God (Romans 5:1, 2 Corinthians 5:21)!

Remember: our enemy knows there is POWER IN OUR PRAYERS…..but do YOU  know there is power in YOUR prayers?. Stand on the truth of God, and rely on HIS promises. Every Word God has ever spoken WILL come to pass (Luke 1:37). No matter how bad your situation looks, no matter the odds stacked against you, no matter what…..always go back to your prayer room, it is where the battle is won!! You can’t take ground if you don’t return to the battlefield. Be strong! Be courageous! Do not be discouraged, for the Lord you God is with you wherever you go (Joshua 1:9)!!!

Do you doubt yourself; think you don’t know HOW to pray?
Do you have negative associations or ideas about prayer?
CLICK HERE if you feel like: My Prayer Isn’t Good Enough!

My Dad Is Stronger Than Yours

“My dad is stronger than yours!!”

Working in a three year old classroom, this statement really surprised me. I honestly would expect this kind of thing from school aged children. Thankfully, they were too young to become offended by such a pretentious claim.

Why do kids do that: brag that my dad is stronger than your dad? Glad you asked. I’m no psychologist, but I imagine it has a lot to do with feeling confident that your dad is able to keep you safe and secure. My dad and I raised rabbits, chickens, and a couple of turkeys when I was a kid. My sisters didn’t care so much about that, but I enjoyed it. At one point we had approximately twenty chickens, and ten plus rabbits. One year, something awful happened.

We woke one spring morning to find the violent carnage of torn, bloodied and scattered rabbit parts. The wire flooring of their cages had been ripped downward with surprising force. I remember my dad’s shock at the dog’s strength, as well as the fact that it didn’t want to eat what it had killed. He said when animals engage in this kind of frenzy, they are out for the thrill of the hunt: and he was concerned about a second attack on remaining survivors. He was right.

It happened during the day while my mother was home. She was a quiet woman, but don’t let that fool you: she wasn’t easily intimidated. She went outside to put a stop to this mayhem. One poor turkey helplessly flailed what remained of his body. Interestingly the dogs were no longer attracted to him: mission accomplished…damage done. The pack moved their malevolent focus to the rabbits again, when they suddenly stopped in their tracks. Something caught their attention: my mama!! Low menacing growls emerged as they bare their dreadful teeth; they slowly stepped closer to her. My mom grabbed the closest thing to her, and ushered her promise by the help of God to inflict maximum damage with the red brick in her hand. At that moment, this vicious pack reconsidered, and ran off into the woods.

My dad was afraid for her, and told her to never put herself in harm’s way again…told her an angel of the Lord had stood between her and those wild dogs that day. They would be back, he said. And he was going to be waiting. This pack attack had awakened my dad’s protective nature, and he was now going on the offense. He was about to ensure that the threat to my mother would never happen again: to her or to us. So he watched and waited: wee morning and late evening. He let me sit out there with him one night after supper. Needless to say, I was more than afraid, and rightfully so.

I expressed my fear to my dad, and his response to me is what God says to us: “You don’t have to be afraid: *I’m* here!” While *I* was helpless and powerless to stop an attack or defend myself,  my dad was more than capable to do that for me.  My dad was stronger than the looming danger! So it is with God….He is stronger than anything we could ever face!

God’s power to defend us is limitless! Not only that, but He wants to defend us, because we belong to Him! He fights for His sons and daughters! We get to brag, “My God is Stronger!!”

I could pepper this devotion with various supporting scriptures, but Psalm 91 sums it all up nicely. I am confident in God’s ability to be my Protector and Defender!

Psalm 91 (GNT)
God Our Protector
Whoever goes to the Lord for safety,
whoever remains under the protection of the Almighty,
can say to him,
“You are my defender and protector.
You are my God; in you I trust.”
He will keep you safe from all hidden dangers
and from all deadly diseases.
He will cover you with his wings;
you will be safe in his care; Continue reading