Did you make any resolutions this year?  Have you already stopped pursuing some of them?  Don’t worry!  Statistics show that only 12% of people actually succeed in making their resolution reality.  Not very good odds, are they.  What if, instead of trying to think up ways we can “fix” ourselves, we had a guaranteed plan of action?

“Show me the path where I should walk, O LORD; point out the right road for me to follow. Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in you.”  Psalm 25:4-5

Instead of us trying to figure out where we can improve and what we can do to “make our lives better” – why not ask God what HIS plan is?  His plan is guaranteed to succeed…

“…being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 1:6

God, you are holy and righteous – and we are not.  Forgive us when we try to take control of our lives and play God.  You have perfect plans for us and we ask you to show us what you want us to do this year.  Help us to see the error of flowing our own plans and the blessings that come from following yours.  Help us to relax and let you be in charge of our lives. 

Blessings, Michele

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Edward Sandford Martin said, “Thanksgiving Day comes, by statute, once a year; to the honest man it comes as frequently as the heart of gratitude will allow.”

The question is – what type of heart do you have?  Let’s be honest.  Our heart, like our emotions, can be quite selective.  For some people, we present a hard heart – maybe they hurt us, disappointed us or made us angry.  For others, we show a careful heart – for some reason we are afraid to open ourselves up and share completely.  Sure, we show a loving heart to some – but not all; at times – but not always.   How does God want our hearts to be? 

“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace.  And be thankful.  Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.  And whatever you do, so it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Colossians 3: 15-17

 This month, we are in prayer that we would decrease and that God would increase in our lives – what a wonderful way to show gratitude to the Lord of the universe!  In November, why not plan and/or participate in a Thanksgiving project?  Reach out to those in your neighborhood who don’t already know the Lord and share God’s love as we begin the holiday season. 

Oh Holy Lord, we have so much to be grateful for – you have given us salvation, you have forgiven us and made us your own children!  We ask Father that you would help us to put aside selfishness, allowing ourselves to decrease and your Holy presence to fill every part of our lives.  Place on our hearts, Lord, things that we can do to share your blessings with people during Thanksgiving.

Blessings, Michele

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 Sometimes there is gossip; other times, differences in viewpoints.   There can be lack of support for the leadership or even a lack of hands to help.  Am I talking about a business or a charity?  No – I am talking about the church and there is a threat in these actions.

 “I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought” 1 Corinthians 1:10

Imagine in your mind the frigid cold of Antarctica.  Here, emperor penguins are fighting to stay alive and protect their incubating eggs in temperatures that will reach 80 degrees below zero!  A single penguin on their own will not survive, even a small group cannot.   It is only by banding together that the penguins and their young can live out the winter.  They huddle as a large group, the ones to the interior being kept the warmest.   Why?  Because they had their turn on the outside of the group and bearing the brunt of the wind and ice.  They take turns, each sharing the load so all survive.

The church too needs to share the load.  It is not merely the job of the Pastors to witness… or Prayer Leaders to pray.  It is not just the Worship Leader’s job to sing… nor is it only the job of the Children’s Leader to teach children.  It is ALL of our jobs!!  We must all lead, pray, teach, sing and be willing to lend a hand wherever needed.  If we don’t take our turns, we will not survive. 

Lord, forgive us when we are lazy, expect someone else to carry the load.  Help us Father to hear your voice calling us to action.  Teach us to put aside our own comfort and reach out to help wherever it is needed.  Bless our churches with growth in workers, each of us willing to follow your path to make our churches stronger.

Blessings, Michele

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What do you see when you look in the mirror – the scars of broken relationships, the scabs of failure, the wounds of disappointment or the injuries of a hard life?  Most of us see the inner part of ourselves and think that others see us as disfigured too.  But the truth is, most of the things that we hate about ourselves are on the inside, not visible to those we encounter.

But we see ourselves as damaged goods and we lose hope.  We feel our broken heart and our sure that we will never be whole again.  We see our internal hurts and are crushed under the weight of them.  Where can we turn?

“The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.”  Psalm 34:1

God not only promises to be near to us, but to save us!  With His healing grace, we can get up and try again.   With His divine truth, we can learn about whom He knows us to truly be.  With His boundless love, we can learn to love (not hate!) ourselves and share His love with the world.

Lord, help us to be honest with ourselves and you.  Help us to stop beating ourselves up and to start seeing ourselves in your perfect light.  Show us how to give you our broken hearts and spirits – please heal them God and make us new. Save us from our own minds as we put ourselves down and help us to see how you see us.  Heal our hurts, Father, and show us how to share your love with others.

Blessings, Michele

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Maybe you pace or sweat.  Or, you might chew your nails or twirl your hair.  Some people cry… and some rage.  Whether we like to admit it or not, we all face moments where we are weighed down with anxiety.  

Webster’s defines anxiety as “an abnormal and overwhelming sense of apprehension and fear often marked by physiological signs (as sweating, tension, and increased pulse), by doubt concerning the reality and nature of the threat, and by self-doubt about one’s capacity to cope with it.”

Quite a lot – isn’t there? In that definition, there is so much “I”.  It is our own perception, our own doubts and our own capacity to cope.  We all have our limitations and this world’s stresses often test them.  Don’t you wish there was something bigger and more powerful to count on?

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.  Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”  I Peter 5:6-7 

It starts with humbling ourselves and admitting we don’t have all the answers.  It includes taking what troubles us and giving it to God.  The word used for “cast” is translated from “epiriptō” which means “to throw upon, to place upon, to give up” – it implies the heaviness that burdens put upon you.  But that heaviness is what God wants to take from you.  He promises to carry even the heaviest burden and with his mighty hand, he promises to left you up too.

Lord God, forgive us and our stubbornness.  We so often feel as though we must carry our anxieties and that we can handle them better than you.  Help us, Lord, to truly humble ourselves and allow you to show us your mighty hand.  Help us to give you all our anxieties and to be strengthened by you.  Your Word promises us that you will lift us up – we ask for the patience to wait on your timing.

Blessings, Michele

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Recently, I read something by Oswald Chambers that stood out to me, “To Jesus prayer is everything; it’s a duty as well as a privilege, a right as well as a responsibility.  We use prayer as a last resort; Jesus wants it to be our first line of defense.  We pray when there’s nothing else we can do; Jesus wants us to pray before we do anything at all.”

 Are you willing to be the first line of defense for your church?  For your city?  For your block?  I want to challenge you to go on a Community Prayer Walk this month.  Choose a block and as you walk, ask for God’s blessings and presence to rain down upon it.  Take your walk further and ask God to bring salvation to those who live there.  Maybe you can get a group together and try to prayerfully cover as many streets in your town as you can.

 “This is the confidence that we have in approaching God; that if we ask anything in accordance to his will, he hears us.  And if we know that he hears us – whatever we ask – we know that we have what we asked of him.” I John 5:14-15

Almighty God, may June be a month of prayer for us.  Give us your wisdom and discernment as we walk our communities, giving them to you.  Help us to spread your Word and your love in each of our cities this month.  Soften our hearts to love each person we encounter and open up  opportunities to share the Gospel.

Blessings, Michele

 

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Do you feel special?  Most of us don’t at times in our lives – we feel alone, forgotten or sometimes just beat down by life.  This world is full of people who feel that way most of the time, where feeling peace is an exception.  There are even hurting people within your own church that are feeling that way – unloved.

I love what God says about how He feels for us….

“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.  I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.  Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.  My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth.  Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.”  Psalm 139: 13-16

Holy God, please  envelope the hurting people of our churches and communities with your peace and love.  Help believers to feel the call on their hearts to reach out to people in pain and extend the love of God to them.  Help us to grow as churches to minister to those who need to feel your love in a real way to help them to finally feel accepted, loved and special. Let us not sit back and wait until we are asked to help, but to enthusiastically spring into action when we see a need. 

Blessings, Michele

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Mom… Mommy… Mum…Madre.  Whatever way you say it, our Mothers hold an important part in our lives.  They feed us, teach us and fix all those “boo-boos” – the list is endless.  As we honor the mothers of this world on Sunday, let us also honor the women in our lives that may not be our moms (or anyone’s mom), but their love and care touches us all.

“…well known for her good deeds, such as bringing up children, showing hospitality, washing the feet of the saints, helping those in trouble and devoting herself to all kinds of good deeds.”  I Timothy 5:10

This verse refers to qualifications that widows must have in order to be taken care of by the church. However, it is really showing how woman can serve Christ and the church.  It is not saying that she needs to do these things once she becomes a widow, but that she has already been doing these things – she is “well known” for them.

Holy Father, thank you for giving us moms and the love they shower upon us.  For those whose mom is no longer here, we ask that you would provide the warm memories of comfort and your peace.  For those whose relationship with their mother is strained, we ask for healing.  Help us Lord to be thankful for every woman in our lives – whether she is a mom or not – for the compassion, wisdom and care she provides for us.

Blessings, Michele

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God – please help!!!  Do you sometimes feel like you are yelling this from the rooftops?  At the end of your rope, feeling crushed by the things going on in your life, you call out to God and beg him to help you.

 I have been reading a great devotional about prayer by Oswald Chambers.  It is designed to make you think and a recent “question to ponder” asked: “Do I pray more out of panic in response to my circumstances or out of faith in response to God’s promises?”

“Rejoice in the Lord always.  I will say it again: Rejoice!  Let your gentleness be evident to all.  The Lord is near.  Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 4: 4-7

 Lord God, you are Holy and you deserve all praise.  Forgive us for the times when we cry out to you only when in desperate need.  Help us to seek you out at all times, and to grow closer to you.  We give all our anxiety to you and ask you to bless us with your peace.  Help us to become gentle of spirit and to always rejoice in you.

Blessings, Michele

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I am such a failure!  I can’t do anything right!  Everything I touch falls apart!  Do you have days like that?  We all do… really, we do.  Those thoughts and feelings are designed to make us feel alone, unloved, and unappreciated.  Those thoughts will often stop us in our tracks and keep us from doing what God wants us to accomplish.  And, unfortunately, as God showed me this week, those thoughts show a deeper problem…

 “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart and reverence for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward.  It is the Lord Jesus Christ you are serving.”  Colossians 3: 23-24

The lesson here is quite subtle or we avoid seeing it there.  Whatever we do, we are to do for the Lord, not for men – and that includes ourselves.  When we are doing things for ourselves, quite simply, that is pride.  Maybe that is why we feel like such failures – our pride is wounded. Let us turn instead to God and work for Him.

Lord God, we are sinners when we do things for ourselves and our own glory. Help us Lord to examine our motives and show us when pride is creeping in, even when we are doing things for what we think is for your glory.  We acknowledge that you are Lord and we are not – forgive us for putting ourselves first.  Help us to work with all our hearts and reverence for only you.

Blessings, Michele

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