Exodus – Chapter One

As we begin the Book of Exodus, we remember the Israelites came to Egypt to be saved from the famine, to reconcile with their brother Joseph.  It was a good move.  The Egyptians treated them well and life was good.

But as time went on, the sons of Jacob passed away, including Joseph, the Israelites multiplied and the new king wasn’t so happy with these foreigners overrunning his country, he was fearful that would join forces and destroy Egypt.  So he turned them into slaves and worked them like dogs.

And … decided that all the boy children born to them should be killed.  Totally evil.

Remember another king who was fearful for his throne and had all the little boy children killed?  (Matthew Chapter Two)

The enemy uses many to kill, steal and destroy!

My thought for this chapter:

Sometimes we are moved into a place for a season.  But it is not where we are to stay.  The promises to Abraham, Issac and Jacob were to be fulfilled in the land of Canaan, not Egypt.  Egypt was not the promised land.  Life for the Israelites became very difficult because this was not God’s plan of fulfillment for them.

Maybe, for a season, you were in a place, spiritually or physically, but it’s not where God’s promises are to be fulfilled in your life and it’s becoming quite difficult.

Maybe it’s time to seek Him for directions to your promised land?

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Love In Action

In my devotional time today, the Lord brought me to this portion of scripture. Living out our faith in real time. These four paragraphs are truly a road map for believers. Now of course, we always have the choice… God’s way or the world’s way. God’s way leads us to life, the world’s way to death.

Life or death … you choose.

Love in Action

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary:

“If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:9-21)

Too Close To The Edge

The other night I was sitting at the table working on my computer and I heard a huge thud. I looked over and our little Jack Jack had fallen off the top of the couch. Ouch. He wasn’t hurt, but it knocked the wind out of him and I think it hurt his pride a bit. Jack Jack is a very distinguished little dog.

Now, no one pushed Jack off the couch. No one was even near Jack when he fell. Jack didn’t intend to fall off the couch. Usually Jack is very agile. But Jack likes to sleep on the top of the couch, he got a little too close to the edge, his guard was down, and boom, down he fell.

I think this happens to people all the time. We get a little too close to the edge … we let our guard down. And we slip and fall. And the fall hurts.

Now, most of us don’t fall off the couch. The ledge is entirely too small for us to fit on. But if you are falling off the couch, I think you have deeper problems.

But the edge we do get too close to could look like this; flirting with our co-worker. Hey a little flirting never hurt anyone, did it? And then you go have a drink with them after work. And the next thing you know, you have fallen off the edge, because you got too comfortable, and you are in the middle of a full blown affair.

Or, maybe you happened upon that porn website once and it was by accident, but you spent some time there, looking. It’s just looking. There is nothing wrong with a little look, is there? And then the next day you went back. And then you started spending all your free time on that website. And now, you are hooked. For whatever reason, you just can’t stop.

Or … you were in the middle of an innocent conversation with a friend and you said something about someone else that you know you shouldn’t have, but hey, you’re both friends, right? It’s okay to talk about someone else. And then the next conversation you have it’s easier to start pointing fingers and judging and before you know it, everything out of your mouth seems to be negative and judgmental.

The scenarios are endless …

The answer, stay away from the edge. Don’t even go there. I love this message to us from Paul on how to actually accomplish this:

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4:8,9)

If we are thinking pure, noble, true, right, lovely, admirable, excellent, praiseworthy thoughts, we aren’t going to be slipping too close to the edge. If we practice what we know to be true and right and God’s peace is on us, we aren’t going to be heading towards that slippery slope of destruction.

And John tells us, Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them. (John 13:17)

I want my life to be blessed. Not lying in a heap at the bottom of the pit. Today, I will choose to follow God’s direction. Today, I will stay clear of the edge.

Thank you Jesus for showing me this lesson. Convict me Father when I get too close to the edge of destruction, in fact, I don’t want to even come near the edge Lord. I want to stay firmly by your side, not veering to the right or the left, but by your side, always.

I love you Jesus!
In your name I pray,
Amen

God’s Blessings To You!

Love,
Joyce

The Choices You Make Today
Will Affect Your Tomorrow
http://www.alifedecision.org

T

Under God’s Umbrella

In Ladies Group the other night, we were talking about God’s blessings.  I read a statement from our devotional that said, “You can’t abandon the principles of God and walk in the blessings of God.”  I love this!  And God showed me an illustration that really helped the girls see it, in their own minds.

Picture this, God is standing beside you with an umbrella.  Now, it’s not one of those little compact umbrellas that flip up with the wind comes and you still get soaked.  No, it’s a giant golf umbrella, big and sturdy and as you walk along the way with him, his umbrella protects you from the storm.  Oh, your feet might still get a little wet, but the rain and hail bounce safely off of you.

But many times, we walk away from God.  We go our own way, and as a result, walk away from his protection, his blessings.  God didn’t leave us, we left him.

And when the storms come, we get wet.  And then we blame God.  But he didn’t go anywhere.  He is still standing at that intersection, where we left him, with his umbrella, waiting for us to come back.

So my friends, if you are feeling a bit soaked today … stop look around.

Did you walk away from God?

But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy.  Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you.    – Psalm 5:11

Father, thank you for your umbrella of protection and blessings that is freely given to all who seek you.

I love you Jesus.
In your name I pray.
Amen

 

Judas or Peter?

Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.  For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:37-39

It’s interesting, the night before Jesus was crucified, both Judas and Peter betrayed him.  Judas sold him out to the chief priests for 30 pieces of silver.  Peter denied knowing him three different times, and left him alone in his time of need.  When they realized what they had done, they were both remorseful.  Judas couldn’t handle his guilt, he took his own life.  But Peter, after some quiet time and a special conversation with his risen Savior, became a key leader of the church in Jerusalem.  In one of his messages, 3000 people were added to the church.  Peter spent many years preaching the Gospel.  Many came to know Jesus because of his faith, and in the end, he was crucified, just as Jesus had been, except Peter asked to be hung upside down, he didn’t feel worthy of being crucified the same as his Savior.

Both of these men walked with Jesus, spent time with him, but in the end … one let his offense destroy him, the other used it for God’s glory.

For many years, I let my past destroy my future.  I didn’t think I could ever forgive myself for the things that I had done.  I was believing a lie.  I was like Judas, I was spiritually dead.  And I wanted to take my own life.  But then I spent some quiet time with Jesus, I let him heal my heart and my hurts and I received his forgiveness.  And my life’s not been the same since.  It’s turned into this amazing adventure, with God allowing me to use my past to help others move forward to their future.

There are so many opportunities for us to allow our past to destroy our future.  We all have made mistakes.  But we don’t have to live in the guilt and shame of what once was, this is not God’s plan for us.  He gave us his son, so that we could receive forgiveness of all our sins, and live our lives, full and fulfilled.

So, how do you handle your mistakes?    Are you like Judas, do you feel like a failure and thus become one?  Or are you like Peter; do you use your mistakes as a stepping stone to your future?

Father, thank you for showing me this lesson in how to fail forward.  I don’t want to be like Judas. I don’t want to let guilt and shame destroy me. I want to receive the forgiveness that you give to me freely and move forward in my life, to glorify you!  Thank you Jesus for loving me first.  For dying for me.  For giving me life eternal with you.  And for allowing me to have so much fun, in the here and now, sharing your love with others.

I love you Jesus.
In your name I pray,
Amen

God’s Blessing Upon You!
Love,
Joyce

The Choices You Make Today …
Will Affect Your Tomorrow!
http://www.alifedecision.org

When I Grow Up

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Jeremiah 29:11

Last week I was at Chase’s fifth grade graduation.  It was such a sweet ceremony.  The principal used illustrations from her favorite book, the Bible.  It was so encouraging to hear her share her faith in front of an audience of a couple hundred parents.  Two beautiful young ladies who just graduated high school and  attended Chase’s  elementary school, shared their memories of life at Big Cypress Elementary. Many awards were given out, Chase receive honors for good grades, and Bobby and I both cheered him on as he crossed the stage.  Chase works hard for his grades and it was encouraging to see that effort pay off.  It was fun to see the kids that Chase was with in Kindergarten and how much they’d matured in the last six  years. 

But the most thought provoking part of the ceremony for me, was when they played a slideshow, with a picture of each child, and what they wanted to be when they grew up.  There were anywhere from three to five careers listed beside each picture and they covered a broad spectrum;  astronaut, veterinarian, marine biologist, hockey player, and teacher were among the list.  These little kids, at age ten and eleven, have big dreams.  It was so inspiring to see they have goals and aspirations for their lives. 

Not once did I see on the list, I want to be homeless or I want to be a porn addict.  I didn’t see, I want to smoke crack or I want to be an alcoholic.  These kids want more for their life. 

Today I went over to a friend’s house to see if I could help her.  As I pulled up, the ambulance pulled away, taking her to the hospital.  She has a drinking problem; she was doing really well for the past several months, but then something happened and she started drinking again.  And it messed her up, big time.  And she’s back in the hospital once more.  I’m pretty sure at age ten, she didn’t have a dream for this to be her life.

When I was a little kid, I wanted to be a mom and have a family, maybe be a teacher or write books.  When I was in my late teens and twenties, I started drinking and doing drugs, and for many years, my dreams were nowhere in sight.  I was miserable and messed up and didn’t know how to get back to me.  And then one day, I found Jesus, and everything changed.  He healed my hurts and my heart and my mind started getting stronger again as I filled it up with His Word and today, I am living the dream that I had as a little kid.

I sent my newest book off to the publisher on Monday afternoon, the process has begun.  I get to teach God’s Word twice a week to my Bible girls and anytime in between!  I have a wonderful husband, two of the very best little boys, two really silly dogs and a happy home.

I am so thankful for Jesus … who gave me hope and brought my dreams to life!

Father, thank you for dreams; for little kids who dream them and for big kids who live them.  Father, you have so much more for us than we could ever image.  Help us to never settle for less than your best!  And Jesus, for those who have lost their dreams, their hope, I ask you to stir up their spirits, renew their strength, and give them hope to move forward, with you!

I love you Jesus.
In Your Name I Pray,
Amen

God’s Blessings Upon You!

Love,
Joyce

It’s All Because of Jesus!