Monday, December 10, 2012

Money on the Move – Part 3 of 4

We spent the two final weeks, before flying back home to South Africa, at a Bible printing organization. The workers were mostly singles who lived on the property in dorm rooms. We were offered a single’s room with a small kitchenette; the bathrooms were down the hall. Lunches were provided and we were blessed with a small allowance to cover the other meals.

During the day, the place was alive with the hustle and bustle of many people hard at work. At night, they all disappeared into their rooms. The halls were deserted and the place fell silent. It went from one extreme to the other. The atmosphere lent itself to work productivity, but after working hours there was just nothing happening. Sadly, there didn’t seem to be any life outside of work.

Most of the people there were Japanese. Since we had arrived in Tokyo, I had learned that the Japanese were generally not accustomed to practicing hospitality. The Lord showed me that as often as possible I was to invite one person from the building to our room for dinner. I wasn’t sure if we would have enough food to feed ourselves, let alone provide a meal for someone else. I also knew how particular the Japanese were about their rice. What if I couldn’t cook it right?

Whatever my reservations, we managed to open our door to several of the missionaries there. We could see that they were surprised when we invited them for dinner. It might have been a small thing, but it was an opportunity for us to be a blessing. They needed to know that they were loved for who they were and not only for what they did. We were also blessed by some who did the same for us.
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Monday, November 26, 2012

Money on the Move – Part 2 of 4

Please read Part 1, if you haven't already.

On our first morning there, they invited us to their apartment for breakfast. We could tell by the questions they asked us that they thought we were crazy to make the trip to Japan without concrete arrangements. When we had finished eating, they read their morning Bible devotional with us. The topic happened to be about faith and trusting God for the impossible.

We were about to pray together when the wife mentioned that Japan was experiencing a serious drought (the year was 1996). It had become a national crisis. As we bowed our heads in prayer, I asked the Lord to please bring rain. The wife looked out the window, and the next thing she saw was a pedestrian pulling out an umbrella. She couldn’t believe her eyes. Perhaps God had sent us there for that short time just to refresh them in the area of their faith.

Having heard our heart for Tokyo, they felt moved to connect us with another missionary family, who invited us for dinner. We discovered that the husband was the overseer of all the regional mission organizations. They were just the right people to learn from and they eagerly shared from some of their years of experience with us. We mentioned that we were on a short-term visit and they invited us to come and stay at their house for a week.

The following morning we said our goodbyes to the first missionary couple that had welcomed us to Tokyo. They gave us a little Japanese outfit for the baby on its way and surprisingly told us that we didn’t need to pay for our stay. We went onto our new host family and continued to learn much from them. While we were there, they arranged for us to stay with a Japanese family for a week so that we could have first-hand experience of Japanese culture. This turned out to be our toughest week emotionally and spiritually, but we learned a lot.
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Sunday, November 18, 2012

Money on the Move – Part 1 of 4

Before I got married, the Lord gave me the promise in scripture where Jesus tells His disciples not to worry about what they would eat and drink or what they would wear. As long as they sought God’s Kingdom first, the Lord would take care of the rest (Luke 12:22-31). I knew that God was speaking directly to me in regard to my upcoming marriage and the life we would lead. We were to keep our hearts passionate about God’s things, and He would look after us.

My husband and I chose to take God at His word. If getting married without financial security was His idea, then we were going to have to trust Him. We were willing to take the leap of faith.

This decision was tested many times. One particular occasion was when we heard God tell us to go to Tokyo, Japan, for a short-term outreach. We were not joining a team. It was just going to be the two of us, and I was going to be six months pregnant with our first child. When we arrived in Japan, there was no one to meet us and nowhere to go. We thought we might make contact with a Japanese friend, but that idea fell through. We had only about $200 and this was to last us for one month.

We had to rely totally on God. At this point we needed a place to stay for the night at least. We looked in a telephone directory and found a mission organization that we felt inspired to phone. An American missionary couple in charge said they had place for us and the husband would meet us at the train station. They told us that they rarely took in people who weren’t affiliated with their organization. We spent our first two nights in one of their spacious apartments, knowing that all their missionaries were expected to pay for accommodation. We decided not to tell anyone about our financial status as we believed the Lord was going to provide somehow.
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Sunday, November 11, 2012

Poem - Crumbs or Steak

Tell me, who knows the mind of the Lord that we should offer Him counsel?
If He has told us a thing, is it not true?
Either we believe God or we place His wisdom on a mantel,
Which is like living our lives in an old, smelly shoe.

What has He promised for His beloved daughters and sons?
Did He not say that He would take care of each and every one?
So why are we so busy eating the crumbs
When God wants us to live a life of joy and even have fun?

We easily get focused on what our needs are
That we forget to seek God’s Kingdom first.
When we get our priorities right and up to par,
Then God will give us a marvelous thirst.

We’ll begin to see the needs of others around
And God will fill us with living water that will always abound.
To seek His Kingdom first is to be eating that steak,
And to discover a life of faith, believe God, it’s no mistake.

Photo and poem by Christina Morley
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Sunday, November 4, 2012

God’s Money – Part 3 of 3

The Word of God speaks over and over again about money matters. He knows that we have practical needs. There have been many times in my married life when my husband and I needed to see God come through financially and materially. Our first few years of marriage were especially challenging. I remember a couple of times that I fasted when the money ran out, asking God literally for milk money.

Our giving to the Lord was more haphazard in those days. Sometimes we gave generously, but often we gave below the tithe. When it came to money, we didn’t always seek His Kingdom first. We figured God didn’t want us to go without and we needed the money more than He did. However, we learnt that the tithe helps us consistently to seek His Kingdom first with our money and to trust Him to provide our needs. The tithe is only the foundation for giving. There are also other ways to give.

One day, God convicted me about this through the story of the widow in the Bible who gave her last penny (Mark 12:41-44). Why did she give her last penny? She knew God would take care of her. As I was pondering this, I sat convicted, but at that point I had no money to give. I just didn’t have eyes to see past my own predicament. That’s when I felt God prompting me to look at what I did have instead of what I didn’t have. The only things I could think of that God might be able to use were the baby clothes. By now I had already had two children, a boy and a girl, so there was plenty. In obedience, I packed baby clothes, baby accessories, plus maternity wear. Then, my husband and I drove to the nearest crisis pregnancy center, which was in another town, and blessed them with the things.

Sometimes giving to God or others is not going to be easy. Sometimes it’s going to require faith and sacrifice. When we were struggling because we didn’t have enough money, we realized that we weren’t giving to God what was His. The best decision we’ve ever made was to make tithing a lifestyle, not an option.
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Tuesday, October 16, 2012

God’s Money – Part 2 of 3

Luxembourg Christmas Market
Photo by Debbie Shiel
Perhaps you’ve heard people say that to be godly you have to be poor and miserable. Some Christians depict Jesus as a weak, blond-haired, blue-eyed man who lived a deprived life. First of all, Jesus was a Jew from the Middle East, so He would have had dark hair and dark eyes with an olive complexion. And yes, He was born in a stable, but only because there was no room in the inn. Joseph could have paid for something better, but Father God allowed the Son of God to be placed in a manger instead. This was His birth place, but it wasn’t His home.

Sometime later, wise men brought Him some very expensive gifts. Was this the same Jesus who was born in a stable and had a manger for a bed? Did He need such costly gifts? Didn’t someone in church once say that God provides only our needs? Is poverty really true godliness?

Certainly, Jesus didn’t live a life of luxury. He knew what it felt like to work hard to earn a living. He also knew what it was like to be in full-time ministry without a fixed income, but His regular provisions were not meager. There were some women of good standing who were noted for their financial support. Even the disciples had money in the general purse. We know this because Judas was said to have stolen from it.

Many of the dialogues with Jesus took place at meal times where He was the guest of honor. When the crowds were hungry, on two occasions, Jesus demonstrated compassion by performing the miracle of the multiplication of food. Not only did they eat their fill, but there was some left over as well.

When we read about Jesus’ crucifixion, we find out that He wore a special garment. As the story goes, the guards divided up His clothes among themselves. When they saw His cloak, they realized it was valuable as it was seamless, so they chose to gamble for it. Does this sound like a Messiah who walked around in poor men’s clothes?

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Saturday, October 6, 2012

God’s Money – Part 1 of 3

People say money makes the world go round. Money does make things happen. It can even gain a person power and influence. But, many wrongly place their faith in it.

Others say that money is the root of all evil. They are referring to a verse from the Bible which really states that the love of money is the root of all evil (1Tim. 6:10). Money in itself does not bring evil, but loving it does. When we love our money, we allow it to consume our thoughts. Then, it begins to control us. Soon we find our energies are spent on the pursuit of it, or we fear not having enough, so we hoard it. This is abusing what God has entrusted to us.

There’s no freedom in loving money. In this frame of mind, you can never have enough to satisfy. Circumstances can change dramatically overnight. Today you may be a millionaire, and find out tomorrow you’re a pauper. Imagine yourself back in history to America’s Great Depression. One day you have loads of money saved in the bank, but when fear grips the masses and everyone wants to be paid out at once, there’s nothing left for you. Look, if God can hold creation together, then wouldn’t the world’s economy also be under His control?

If you find it difficult to put your trust in God’s Word, then perhaps you’re thinking that His Word is not relevant to the 21st Century. God is the Great I Am. He was and He is and He is to come. He is not archaic. He’s not out of touch with the latest trends or technology. He certainly understands the economy better than we do. He’s not far removed from our humanity. Jesus, God himself, walked this earth and experienced day-to-day life, just like us. He knows how we feel.
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Saturday, September 29, 2012

Poem - Take Timeout

My daughter, Amanda

Lord, help me take timeout in my busy day,
Remembering my kids also want me to play.
They want a mommy, who can laugh and run,
Because all they know is how to have fun.

To them their world is not about cooking and cleaning.
For them it’s all about climbing and swinging.
Help me remember what it is to be a child once more
And set aside tasks to take them out the front door.

By Christina Morley
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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Working Moms – Part 4 of 4

Interestingly, the Proverbs 31 woman was not suppressed by the male-dominated culture. In those days, it was expected of most women to care solely for their homes. They seldom had equal opportunities and most of them were uneducated. Sadly, it’s still like this today in many countries and cultures around the world.

This woman described in Proverbs 31, however, was someone with authority. She had the freedom to make her own business decisions and to earn her own money. Nowhere in the passage does it mention that her husband controlled her affairs. He doesn’t even seem to be threatened by her business savvy. Instead, he seems to have had full confidence in her decisions and even praised her for her accomplishments.

She seems to have been her own boss, which would have allowed her to choose her own hours. Perhaps, when her children were small, she didn’t have so much time on her hands to pursue being an entrepreneur. During this time, she might have acquired or developed skills that later became useful in business ventures.

Sometimes even hobbies become careers. Endeavor to put your energy into those things that give you fulfillment, and God will bless you. Never underestimate the potential that God has placed in you. Give yourself permission to be the unique you that He made you to be, and watch Him put it all together.

No matter the job, business, or career, we must never make money our priority. We cannot serve both money and God because our hearts will follow after one master or the other. That doesn’t mean that we can’t pray and ask God to give us success in our work, but if money becomes the issue, then it will have control over us. If we live for the pursuit of money, we will rob ourselves of living joy-filled lives.
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Sunday, September 16, 2012

Working Moms – Part 3 of 4

Sometimes you may be doing what God has called you to do, but you continue to feel unfulfilled. When my first two were still in diapers and I was their primary caregiver, I knew that I was in the center of God’s will, but it was a constant struggle. Regularly I felt as if I was dying a hundred deaths. Those are the times when we must learn how to draw strength from God.

Perhaps you feel that your efforts are going unnoticed. Maybe you’re wondering why you even bother. Give yourself a break once in a while. Reward yourself for those “thankless” jobs. Go and have some fun… make a memory… be creative.

One thing that I want to make clear is that God never intended women to be suppressed in the home. There’s much more to moms than cooking, cleaning, changing diapers, and so forth. Those jobs in themselves can take up all of one’s day. For me, it felt as if I was one of those pet hamsters running endlessly in a suspended wheel.

The good news is that God created moms to use their different gifts and talents as much as everyone else. In the Bible, there were a number of women who had jobs and who were leaders. Some even supported Jesus and His disciples financially. Most of these women were probably mothers, but they were also involved in the world around them.

One of the best examples of an all-round woman is the famous woman of Proverbs 31. It’s possible that she wasn’t a real person, but rather a representation of an ideal woman. Whoever she might have been, I didn’t always like her. She was too perfect and seemingly able to accomplish everything with superhuman strength. I thought, “How could the rest of us women ever hope to live up to her standard?”

I figured that, of course, her husband must have adored her. Who wouldn’t want a wife that could do everything? Yet, if you look closely you will notice that she didn’t achieve everything single-handedly. At times, she actually had others working with her. Actually, we all could accomplish much more if we had people helping us like she did. Not only can we accomplish more, but we can feel energized knowing that not everything rests on our shoulders alone.
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Sunday, September 9, 2012

Working Moms – Part 2 of 4

I chose to be a stay-at-home mom while my kids were small. I knew it was the best I could do for them, but I didn’t enjoy being bound to the house. Some mothers may feel fulfilled in their role as stay-at-home moms. But, what if, like me, you have also chosen to be a stay-at-home mom but feel unfulfilled? What if you desire to be doing more than just housework? In order to keep some variety in my life, I tried different things, such as working from home to bring in a little extra money.

Choosing to stay at home to raise your children is not an easy task, especially when they are small and you still have to do everything for them. From babyhood to toddlerhood they are completely dependent upon you. There’s nothing they can do that doesn’t require some help or monitoring.

If you’re feeling stuck, then maybe it’s time you redefined yourself. With God there is infinite creativity. He can give you an idea that requires you to think outside of the box. Try to discover what you like to do and where God wants to use you.

If you work away from home and hate every minute of it, perhaps it’s for the wrong reason. Is it because you have placed more faith in that pay check than in God? He knows that you need clothes and food, but He asks you to seek His kingdom first, and then all these things will be given to you (Luke 12:22-31). God’s kingdom principles will never fail you or your family.

Linking up with Brooke @ Covered in Grace

Covered in Grace
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Sunday, September 2, 2012

Working Moms – Part 1 of 4

Being a mom often requires a delicate balancing act. Sometimes, you may even feel more like the clown in the circus rather than the acrobat. Jumping from the role of wife, to mother, to employee, and all the rest, can get you into quite a knot if your rhythm is wrong. Timing and balance are of the essence.

What if you feel deep down inside that you are meant to be spending more time with your kids, but don’t think you can because you need to work to make ends meet? Deciding how much time you’re willing to spend away from your kids is one of the most crucial decisions you’ll ever make in life. At the end of the day, your family is your number one priority. A job is something that passes away, but a family is something that remains forever. Therefore, our families should come first.

So how do you get it right? Everything that I’ve written up till now has pointed to hearing from God, staying connected to Him, and knowing your own limitations. By being obedient to Him, you will have your priorities in the right order, and He will look after you.

The thing is, people too often feel pressured to make decisions that in the end were not God’s best for them. For example, money pressures can rob you by becoming work pressures. Before you know it, earning money becomes your main focus, rather than your family. The question is, will you let the pressures rob you or will you resist the pressures and submit yourself to God’s solutions? God has a solution for every problem.

The Lord knows what’s best for you and your family. You can trust Him to help you make the right decisions. You should not allow anyone or any situation to dictate to you something that goes against your own gut feelings. When the pressure is on, stop and hear from God before making a decision that you may regret later in life.
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Saturday, August 25, 2012

Poem - Alpha and Omega

He is the Alpha and Omega
The beginning and the end
He is Creator and Caretaker
Our Comforter and Friend

He laughs at the impossible
He knows it can be done
All power and authority
Belong to the Son

Now if you didn’t get it yet
And if you haven’t heard
He always keeps His promises
It’s written in His Word

So whatever He has done before
He can do again
Remember He’s Creator, Caretaker
Your Comforter and Friend

By Christina Morley
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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Oil – Part 3 of 3

Practically, the oil was a form of provision. During one particular famine, the Lord told the prophet Elijah to visit a certain widow (1Kings 17:8-16). This widow believed that she and her son would not survive the famine. All they had left was a little bit of oil and flour. In spite of her hopeless situation, Elijah told her to give him something to eat. She calculated that this would be the last of their provision, but still she fulfilled his request. Amazingly, that little bit of oil and flour did not run out until the famine ended. Through her obedience, God miraculously sustained all three of them on those two ingredients alone. We are able to know for certain that the Holy Spirit has been given by God as our provision for life.

The oil represents not only provision, but also abundance. We read about this in the story concerning a prophet’s widow (2Kings 4:1-7). She had debt collectors wanting to sell her sons into slavery to pay off her family debt. This time Elisha was on the scene. Elisha was the prophet that succeeded Elijah. Elisha asked the widow what she had in her house. Her answer was that she had nothing except a jar of oil. That was all she needed for her miracle.

Elisha told her to go and borrow many empty containers. Her sons brought her empty containers until there were none left in the town. Then she was to go into her house, shut the door, and pour her jar of oil into all the empty containers. Every container available was filled, and only then did the oil stop flowing. Elisha told her to sell the oil, pay off the family debt, and they were to live off of the rest. God wants to shower us with His abundance, too, in one way or another.

Both widows in these stories were at their lowest points when God performed His greatest miracles. They had come to the end of all possibility when God arrived on the scene and accomplished the impossible. Faith means confidently hoping in something we do not see (Rom. 8:24 &25 and 1Peter 1:3 & 4). When our circumstances are telling us otherwise, we can know beyond the shadow of a doubt that we are still blessed. It’s all a matter of perspective. With confidence we can put our trust in God’s love and faithfulness because He is greater than the circumstances around us. By faith, we can live as blessed people because we have His Holy Spirit, His oil, operating in and through our lives.
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Sunday, August 12, 2012

The Oil – Part 2 of 3

As mentioned in the previous series “The Blood,” oil was also used symbolically to represent the Holy Spirit. In the time of the New Testament Church, believers anointed the sick with oil and prayed for them. Many were healed as a result. Many Christians today continue the practice of praying for the sick and anointing them with oil.

With prayer, we can also anoint people with oil for joy and gladness. The oil represents the joy and gladness that the Spirit gives to replace the spirit of heaviness and mourning (Is. 61:1-3). Despite a hurting and messed-up world, we can live free of fear, depression, anxiety, and undue sadness. Part of Jesus’ ministry was to heal the brokenhearted and to bind up their wounds (Ps. 147:3), and He continues this ministry by His Spirit.

In the time of the Old Testament, when prophets, priests, and kings were commissioned, they were anointed with oil. This was to consecrate them and to set them apart. Typically, with the anointing, the Holy Spirit would come upon them. The Bible speaks of the Holy Spirit being poured out on anyone who believes (Joel 2:28 & 29; Acts 2:16-18). He is there to lead us, teach us, and empower us for service.

Olive oil was also commonly used as fuel to light lamps. The Word of God is described as a lamp for our feet and a light for our path (Ps. 119:105). Just as the oil brings life to the lamp, so the Spirit brings life to the Word by making the Scriptures plain to us. Just like the oil, the Spirit illuminates what we cannot see or understand, and guides us on our way.
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Thursday, August 9, 2012

The Oil – Part 1 of 3

The oil is a significant symbol and application in our faith. When Jesus came to the Mount of Olives on the night of His betrayal, He was in an olive grove. It was no accident that Jesus was in this particular garden at the time of His arrest. Everything He did on this earth had a purpose and was ordered by His Father. Interestingly, olive trees represent righteousness, and Jesus was surrounded by olive trees. Perhaps Father God wanted the world to know that His Son was the perfect sacrifice, without spot or blemish, fully human, yet without sin.

Also, the garden that Jesus was in was called Gethsemane, which got its name for its olive presses. The process of pressing out the oil from the olives reminds us of the agonizing pressure Jesus went through on that terrible night. He knew what lay ahead of Him. He agonized over it to the point where drops of blood like sweat ran down His brow.

His time in the garden was a prelude to an even more immense agony to come. Once arrested, He was falsely accused and brutally beaten. He was so badly beaten that by the time He began the torturous walk to His own crucifixion, He was described as no longer having the appearance of a man. Isaiah prophesied about this event, and wrote that He was “crushed” and “bruised” for all our wrongdoings.

From olive trees and olive presses, we get olive oil. An interesting fact about olive oil is its healing properties. This is seen in one of the parables that Jesus told. The story was about a man who went on a journey. Along the way he was attacked by ruthless robbers who beat him up and left him for dead. Well, as you probably already know, this is the story of the Good Samaritan. Perhaps you might not recall that after taking pity on the man, the Samaritan dressed his wounds with wine and oil.
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Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Poem - The Substitute Lamb

A shepherd carefully scans his flock
The sheep look content under his gaze
But then he spots a lamb hidden by a rock
Abandoned, hungry, and too young to graze

Mothers recognize their young by smell
So they won’t adopt orphaned sheep
The shepherd knows this all too well
So this keeps him from his sleep

Only one way this lamb will survive
That’s if another lamb should die
The dead lamb’s fleece then will give
The orphaned sheep a way to live

Isn’t this what Jesus had to do for you and me
When He hung upon that awful tree?
His blood covers all our sin
Making us acceptable to God in Him

By Christina Morley
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Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Blood – Part 3 of 3

The blood makes us acceptable to Father God. Every time we take communion, we remember the blood of Jesus and the price He paid. The wine, or juice if you prefer, represents His blood and the forgiveness of our sins. Jesus taught that whenever the believers shared a meal together, they were to partake of this communion. For the early church, it was a regular occurrence presented in a natural way.

I’m concerned that church traditions of today have stifled this privilege by over-spiritualizing and over-restricting when and how we should partake of communion. We must be careful that our sole purpose for keeping church regulations is not to offend those who implement them. God is not so easily offended. What offends God is when we step away from worshiping Him in Spirit and in truth.

I believe that children are also meant to take part. Children born to a believing parent are under that parent’s spiritual covering. A child’s participation can be even more whole-hearted than our own. Jesus said that we should let the little children come to Him. He also said that the only way to receive the kingdom of God was like a child (Mark 10:13-15). We can learn about untainted faith from a child. In light of this, we need to be careful that our church rules don’t limit the children in expressing their faith.

Through Jesus’ blood, we become part of God’s family. Jesus is the firstborn, which makes Him our big brother. We might not look the same and we might not talk the same, but our redemption through Christ’s blood is the same. We are, therefore, all of the same stock. God has sealed us and set us apart by His Spirit.
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Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Blood – Part 2 of 3

My daughter, Jessica, as a small child
Several years ago, my girls were having bad dreams. I thought it was strange since we were still praying the same way we did every night, but now those prayers no longer seemed effective. Soon after, my husband and I discovered some satanic paraphernalia just outside our property.

It was strung-out cassette tape which looked harmless, but we had learned previously that Satanists record curses on them. After they record their curses, they pull the tape out, twine it around brush or fencing, or secure it under rocks. This “weapon” is very unassuming and, therefore, easily overlooked. In our case, these strips of tape were placed on opposite sides of our neighborhood road. They were probably not specifically intended for us, but they were a problem.

I took my authority in Jesus Christ and dealt with it. I took oil in my hands and then prayed in Jesus’ name for the curses to be broken. I picked the stuff up and threw it away with the rest of our trash. I also replaced the curses with blessings while sprinkling the area with olive oil. Then I applied oil to our outside walls, windows, and doors for God’s protection. From then on the girls slept peacefully, and the oppression stopped.

We lived on a corner property, and the area where the tape had been placed was an accident-prone zone. Visibility for motorists turning left or right was poor because of low-growing tree branches obstructing the view. The same morning I removed the tape, my husband prayed that the municipality would come and cut the excess foliage away. Amazingly, they arrived that afternoon. There were no more road accidents at that spot while we lived there.

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Monday, July 23, 2012

The Blood – Part 1 of 3

The previous posts introduced the topic of spiritual warfare. This series introduces the spiritual protection and promises that are wrapped up in the blood of Jesus Christ that was shed for us. His blood is crucial to a Christian’s life.

God teaches us that blood is the life-source of every living creature and human being. For example, God gave women the potential to carry life. A necessary component to making that possible is our monthly menstrual cycle. Once an egg has been fertilized and travels to the uterus, this monthly flow ceases. The stored-up blood is now busy supporting life in the womb. In a similar way, Jesus gave His blood in order to support life. We had no life before we believed in Jesus. In fact, the Bible says that we were all dead in our sins. Now through His blood and by His Spirit we who believe in Him have received new life.

Also, when a baby is born it comes out of the womb covered in blood. The blood is not the baby’s, but its mother’s, “shed” on its behalf. This is a picture of how Jesus shed His blood voluntarily on our behalf so we wouldn’t have to pay the penalty for our sins. Who would have thought that something as natural as pregnancy and birth could remind us of Jesus Christ and His sacrifice?

Those who put their trust in Jesus not only have forgiveness and life because of Jesus’ blood, but also protection. There is an illustration in the Old Testament of how blood was used as a covering. When Moses and the Israelites were still in Egypt, they had to cover their doorposts with lamb’s blood. God instructed them to do this in order to protect their firstborn sons from the destroying angel. The blood from the lamb would protect them against God’s judgment on the Egyptians. Any family that chose to obey this command would be spared, including Egyptian families. This required their faith and obedience.

Today we don’t need to paint blood on our doorposts, because Jesus’ blood was shed once and that was enough. However, if we are led to, we can apply oil to anoint people, homes, doorposts, etc. for protection, healing, commissioning, and blessing. We do this as an outward sign of God’s presence and of our faith in Jesus’ finished work at the cross.
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Thursday, July 19, 2012

Poem – In His Care

I cannot be everywhere all the time,
But for God there are no limitations.
So, I trust my children in His care
That He may be in all their situations.

I ask the Lord to send His angels
To minister, guard, and protect.
Daily praying for my children,
I know that He will not forget.

By Christina Morley
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Sunday, July 15, 2012

Spiritual Warfare – Part 4 of 4

Another tactic the enemy uses is silence. Anything that is not brought into the light has a certain hold on us, so the devil tries to keep us locked up with secrets. I think we all go through times in our lives that we don’t want to tell the truth about things in our past or present. Usually, we’re too ashamed to talk about them. However, not talking about these things can hold us back in our spiritual growth. We need to step out of secrecy, which holds us captive, and walk into His light and into His freedom.

Sometimes it’s up to us to defend the cause of others and to speak out against injustices. Keeping silent doesn’t help our cause, but it does help the devil’s. Speaking out the truth disarms the devil, and for this we need wisdom and boldness. For example, what do we do if we hear our friends gossiping? Do we join in by agreeing with them? Do we hold our tongues because we don’t want to come across as being too Christian? Or, do we take the opportunity to speak words of life and love?

Another weapon at our disposal is praise. In the time of King Jehoshaphat, a great multitude had come out against the nation of Judah (2Chron. 20:1-30). The king was afraid, so he set his face to seek the Lord, also calling all of Judah to fast and pray. God responded by telling them to go and meet the enemy, but said that they wouldn’t need to fight. They were to stand their ground, and see the salvation of the Lord.

King Jehoshaphat trusted the word of the Lord and put his faith to work. He appointed singers to go out in front of the army to praise the Lord. As they began to praise, the Lord sent an ambush against the enemy. Where there is praise, there is God. Where there is God, the demons tremble. Prayer, praise, and faith in God’s word tie the enemy’s hands and render him powerless. This is supernatural protection.
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Thursday, July 12, 2012

Spiritual Warfare – Part 3 of 4

Another strategy Satan uses is fear. Satan relies on fear tactics to paralyze and overpower his victims. Sometimes he does this through criminals who prey on unsuspecting citizens. At other times, he uses fear to keep us from doing great things for God. Jesus has given us His authority to defeat the attacks of the enemy. First of all, God says He has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind (2Tim. 1:7). He also says that perfect love casts out fear (1John 4:18). Once we no longer allow fear to paralyze us, we no longer need to fall prey to fear tactics.

In order to do this we must allow God’s love to rule our lives by filling our hearts and minds with His Word. His Word builds our faith and is an effective weapon against spiritual and physical attacks. We can also pray scriptures that God has given to us for our families. Two excellent passages concerning divine protection are found in Psalm 91 and Isaiah 43:1-21.

We also find safety and refuge when we call on the name of the Lord in our time of need. He has myriads of angels at His disposal and He’ll dispatch them when we cry for help. God and His angels really are just a simple prayer away.

Besides praying to God for help, we can also rebuke whoever or whatever is threatening us. Occasionally, I ask my children to practice saying something like “Stop in Jesus’ name!” and encourage them to use a commanding voice. Demons operating through people tremble at the name of Jesus and are unable to withstand Him.
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Sunday, July 8, 2012

Spiritual Warfare – Part 2 of 4

When Adam and Eve sinned, they unknowingly relinquished to Satan their authority on earth. But now, through the work on the cross, Jesus has been given all authority in heaven and on earth. He now sends us out into the world with that authority. We just have to learn how to walk in it.

Satan has two major goals. His first goal is to keep as many people as he possibly can from following the Lord. His second goal is to keep those who do follow the Lord from ever reaching their full potential. As with combatants in any battle, Satan not only has goals, but he also has strategies.

This is not the time for us moms to be spiritually asleep. God’s people are perishing for lack of knowledge (Hosea 4:6). Ignorance is no excuse. The Bible warns us to be always alert, prayerful, and wise.

One of Satan’s best strategies is to try to distract our focus from the real battle. The real battle is not against people, but against evil spirits. When we get tangled up in resentment, jealousy, anger, and hatred toward others, we lose the battle. We also end up wasting a lot of energy and a lot of negative emotions. To win this kind of war, we need to keep our eyes on Jesus, remain in His word, keep on praying, and keep on flowing in His love and forgiveness.
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Thursday, July 5, 2012

Spiritual Warfare – Part 1 of 4

As we are drawing closer and closer to Christ’s return, the evil around us is also increasing. In God’s eyes Satan is already a defeated foe for those who are walking under the lordship of Jesus Christ, but for the rest of mankind, he is still their ruler. He is fighting for his kingdom, a kingdom that leads to destruction. He is always looking for an opportunity to derail Christians, too.

Many people think that he is weak and stupid. Others believe there is a God, but laugh if you mention that Satan and demons exist. The reality is that he is extremely clever, completely bent on evil, and very much on the prowl.

The more we understand God’s Word, the better we can safeguard against Satan’s strategies. The more we understand about our God and the authority He has given us, the better equipped we are to resist Satan and send him packing. We need to be prepared to utilize the divine protection that is ours. It’s always better not to wait until the horse is stolen before locking the barn!

Satan has a large army helping him because he can’t be everywhere at once. He is not like God who is all-pervading, all-powerful, and all-knowing. He can’t even bother us unless God allows him to test us or we give him permission by disobeying God. The devil has had more impact on our lives than necessary, because we haven’t always wielded our authority in Christ.
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Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Poem: Who’s Praying for the Children?

Lord, who’s praying for the children
When they’re lost and alone
And their houses are too sorry to be called a home
When they’re growing up and their parents aren’t there
And the children soon wonder if they even care

Lord, who’s praying for the teens
When they’re not at home
And they’re running around, lost on their own
When they’re pushing drugs and doing crime
And you wonder why parents never had time

Lord, who’s praying for the adults
When they start their own home
And now their children are left alone
When the parents are struggling and wondering why
Things haven’t changed, they pass on the lie

By Christina Morley
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Saturday, June 30, 2012

Prayer is Powerful – Part 5 of 5

In my previous post, I asked how often do we pray for those who are following Christ? We might think that since they are already saved by God’s grace, we should place the focus of our prayers on non-believers. Let’s take a look at the Apostle Paul’s prayer life.

In Paul’s letters to the churches, we see that he prayed night and day for his fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. Likewise, he asked them to pray for him. He knew that they were together in a spiritual battle and that prayer would help them stand firm in the faith.

There are lots of believers that we can pray for. Usually, it helps to pray for those we know personally. We should especially remember to pray for married couples and their children. Satan targets the family unit, making married life and parenting even harder than it already is. He knows that if he can get at the families, he can reach the societies and destroy the nations. The nations, however, are our inheritance in Christ. So, when we pray for our nation or other nations, we should remember that any healthy nation is built on healthy families.

We should also be praying for pastors, missionaries, evangelists, and teachers even if we don’t know them personally. We can also pray for Christians in government, courts of law, politics, the arts, and sportsmen and women.

We are also instructed in the Word of God to pray for our leaders, the godly and the ungodly alike (1Tim. 2:1&2). God is the one who puts people in authority. Even if we don’t like our leaders, we should still pray for them and show them honor. Even when freedom of speech is regarded as one of our basic rights, that doesn’t mean that God gives us the freedom to say whatever we like. We need to check our attitudes and keep our hearts and minds pure from wanting to see the demise of those with whom we disagree.
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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Prayer is Powerful – Part 4 of 5

Prayer walking is another great way to pray. Just take a walk around the neighborhood, and pray for your neighbors. They don’t have to know you’re praying, but God knows. He will honor your prayers.

God wants us to commit everything to Him in prayer, but do we? Often we assume that God is right there tagging alongside us, so we don’t see the need to pray. Sure, God is there, and He’s promised never to leave us or forsake us. However, God gave us the earth to have authority over it, and through Adam we gave it to the devil. Now, we must take our authority back in Jesus’ name. As we pray, we bind the work of the enemy and release God to do His work.

Does that mean that God can’t work if we don’t pray? No, God often works despite us, but He has chosen to partner with His children. If He wanted to do everything on His own, then there would be no reason for us to pray. Instead, He commands us to pray.

As we pray, we also need to consider where we focus our prayers. When I was frustrated with fruitless prayers, the Lord showed me that I was focusing on non-believers more than on believers. At the time, I thought that this was what was expected of me.

Actually, the truth is that we should pray for both. We need to cultivate a heart for the lost and pray for them, but not to the detriment of fellow Christians. How much of our prayers are actually spent on praying for those who, because they chose to follow Christ, would doubtless be under attack? The devil tries hard to stand in the way of believers who are trying to make a difference in their world.
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Sunday, June 24, 2012

Prayer is Powerful – Part 3 of 5

My husband and I have made it a habit of praying every morning with the kids, either before leaving the house or once we’re all in the car together. We also pray every night for each child, sometimes while they’re still awake or when they’re already sleeping. Part of our prayers includes asking God to give them good dreams.

When I was a small child, I remember many times waking up from nightmares. As I grew older, those nightmares became less frequent. As an adult, I almost forgot they ever existed, but one day they suddenly came back.

I began to notice that there was a pattern for when I had a good night or a bad night. It seemed that the night before I had to lead a youth group or Sunday school class, a nightmare would strike. The dreams would be so graphic and gruesome that I realized they couldn’t be from my own imagination.

I tried praying scripture promises from David’s psalms concerning peaceful sleep. I also anointed every room with oil, but nothing I did seemed to work. Finally, I tried another tactic. It was so simple that I was surprised to find that it worked. All I did was pray that God would put His angels around our home to protect our sleep. I continued to pray that prayer every night, and from then on the nightmares stopped.

Now, every morning and evening we ask God to place His angels around our family. It might sound tiresome to follow such a routine. I know that after a while I had to make peace with it. We never question the need to brush our teeth every day to keep cavities away. The experts say that twice a day is better than once. It’s the same with prayer. My husband and I have seen such an improvement as a result of praying preventative prayers that we’ve chosen to make it a lifestyle.
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Thursday, June 21, 2012

Prayer is Powerful – Part 2 of 5

The best thing about prayer is that you can do it any time of the day. It’s like having a conversation with God. The moment you feel prompted to pray for someone or something, share it with God. Sometimes, when I’m driving and I see someone who looks like someone else I know, I think, “Hey, I wonder how so-and-so is doing?” Then I pray for that person. Even a quick prayer can be powerful.

At other times, I might be having a conversation with a friend and the conversation leads to the friend having a need. Perhaps she hasn’t asked for prayer specifically, but I recognize that if I offer to pray, she’d probably appreciate it. Depending on the situation, I might even offer to pray for her right there.

Your prayers don’t have to be done in “the closet.” The less you worry about having the right place and the right atmosphere, the more spontaneous and natural your prayer life will be. As long as you are praying to be heard by God and not by man, then pray without holding back. Don’t allow inhibitions to keep you from being utilized by God.

Of course, you don’t want to draw unnecessary attention to yourself, so decide when it’s more beneficial to pray silently rather than vocally. Things to take into consideration are: the purpose of your prayer, the situation, and the suitability of your environment. Even though it’s good to be aware of your environment, this should not primarily govern how you pray. As you flow with His Spirit and with His love, you’ll know how to respond appropriately in every situation.

One place where people pray out loud is when they are together in a group or with a prayer partner. It could be at a large prayer meeting or with just a few moms. God promises that where two or three gather together in His name, He hears and will answer (Matt. 18:19&20). This means that if people are genuinely gathered for Christ’s purposes then His Spirit will lead them to unity of thought and they can confidently pray, knowing what they have agreed on will be answered.

A safe place to practice praying out loud is when you’re alone at home. You could try walking through the house praying from room to room. As you reach your kids’ rooms, you could pray for their safety. You could pray that their spiritual, mental, and physical development will be healthy and balanced so they can reach their full potential. You could also pray for their unknown future spouses.
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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Prayer is Powerful – Part 1 of 5

Prayer is an integral part of a vibrant Christian life. Fortunately, God does not grant us everything that we pray for, especially when those prayers are misguided. Usually, we start out praying the best we know how without properly tapping into the Holy Spirit’s leading. These self-led prayers are not all bad. God will listen to anyone who reaches out to Him; He’d rather we try than not pray at all. He also desires that we grow in our ability to pray as His Spirit leads. The more we pray God’s way, the greater the results will be.

God had to deal with me regarding my prayer life. There was a time when my prayers mostly revolved around me and what seemed missing in my life. My prayers were the kind that flowed from a discontented heart. The discontentment stemmed from the many sacrifices I was making to try to create a happy family, and it culminated in self-pity.

This self-pity became the driving force behind my prayers, which seemed to be going nowhere. Finally, I realized that I had to make a shift from selfish prayers to outward-focused prayers. The more I took the focus off myself and tapped into what was on God’s heart, the more my prayers took a positive outlook. No longer were they weak, directionless, and powerless. They were now taking a turn toward being dynamic, effective, and power-filled.

It’s difficult to look outside of yourself when you don’t know who or what to pray for. You might even need to ask God to give you a compassionate heart. Next, become aware of those around you. Once you notice the need around you, recognize that God has blessed you so that you can be a blessing. Then, ask God to lead you so that you can pray pinpointed prayers. Specific prayers bring about definite results. Pray that God will lead you according to His desires and have faith that God will answer. It’s all about “God’s will be done” and not “my will be done.”
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Friday, June 15, 2012

Poem - Our Lives are Like Stories

Our lives are like stories acted out in a play.
Yet at times those stories get jumbled in some way.
Maybe we read the wrong script or misread how it goes,
And then find ourselves caught in the middle of life’s throws.

To him that overcomes is victory living.
Our strength comes from God and He keeps on giving.
No man can go down where God cannot go,
And God is a jealous God, His love He will show.

If we miss out on the best, that’s not the end to our story.
All things work together for the good to God’s glory.
He came to give us life and life abundantly.
It’s a joy-filled life He’s given both you and me.

He knows we’ll get hurt and experience life’s stings,
So He reminds us not to focus on these things.
But to focus on Him is life evermore,
And He’ll bring us to that glorious shore.

The story is not over, it’s just begun.
The race is not finished till the crown is won!

By Christina Morley

I took the above photo during my teen years while at a Fest in Heidelberg, Germany. On my page My First Cameras at my photography blog 1camera1mom are two more interesting photos from my childhood.
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Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Thankful in Light of Our New Covenant – Part 3 of 3

We need to remind ourselves regularly that the moment we received His Spirit we also received a new nature. We should not live out of our old nature any longer. This requires the renewing of our minds: the process of changing our thought-life by developing a new perspective. He wants us to realize that He is there to enable us to accomplish His will in all areas of our lives.

The Holy Spirit has been given to us who believe not only as a seal guaranteeing our salvation, but also as our teacher and our comforter. He is there every step of the way. It’s up to us to acknowledge His presence and His divine guidance. He offers us to come and be active members on His team. The only way we are able to be followers of Jesus is by learning to listen and obey His Spirit.

We can be thankful that we have Christ’s Spirit living inside of us. Even if we embarrass ourselves in a moment of weakness, He has promised to stay. He is more interested with the condition of our hearts than He is with our outward achievements. We can confidently surrender our lives with all our weaknesses to Him because He will empower us for successful living. Jesus paid such a heavy price for you and me because He thought we were worth it.
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Saturday, June 9, 2012

Thankful in Light of Our New Covenant – Part 2 of 3

The moment we believed in Him He took our unrighteousness and gave us His righteousness. The more we understand this, the more victorious we’ll be in receiving true freedom. It’s crucial that we get this truth. It’s what makes true Christianity different from all other religions. Every other religion has rules and regulations to follow in order to reach Paradise, Karma, Reincarnation, or whatever their goal may be. However, no one can achieve God’s standards on his or her own merits, and with Christianity that’s just the point: we all fall short of God’s standards and need a Savior.

Christ’s blood makes us right with God and transports us from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light. This New Covenant is better than the Old because God guarantees it no matter how we feel about ourselves or to what degree we’re able to keep His commandments. Even though we’re imperfect, we receive Jesus' one-time sacrifice to pay for all our past, present, and future sins. Righteousness no longer has anything to do with us, because it has everything to do with Him.

One simple prayer of faith makes us right with God and forever allows us access into His presence. With that prayer, He gives us new life by His Spirit. However, we still make mistakes. That’s because our old nature is at war with the new. The old nature wants to do everything its own way, contrary to God’s way.
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Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Thankful in Light of Our New Covenant – Part 1 of 3

The Israelites didn't have the Holy Spirit available to them in the same way that He is available to us today. In the Old Testament days, the Holy Spirit visited specially appointed individuals. Usually those individuals had to fulfill a special role or convey a prophetic message. To have this kind of personal relationship with God was highly unusual.

Since Jesus, it is possible for everyone to have an ongoing and intimate relationship with the Father. By accepting His gift of salvation, we automatically receive His Spirit. The Holy Spirit is our seal guaranteeing that we are God’s people (Eph. 1:13), like the seal made by a king’s signet ring. Once the seal is made, it can’t be broken.

Moses brought the Old Covenant (the Ten Commandments), which was written on stone, to the people of Israel. This Old Covenant was imperfect because it couldn’t make them righteous. It only pointed out the problem of sin in their lives. Jesus brought us the New Covenant, where the law is written on our hearts instead of on stone. This New Covenant also makes us right with God in that He paid the penalty for our sin with His blood.

The New Covenant, which is made through faith in Christ, is not a two-way covenant. It’s not a little bit of us and a lot of God. It’s all God. The Old Covenant, on the other hand, was a two-way covenant. It was all about keeping the law. It was up to the people to keep the covenant, and if they didn’t, curses would follow. In Old Testament days, the priests had to make daily and yearly sacrifices to keep covering not only the sins of the people, but also their own sins. No one was perfect, and no one was without guilt.

In contrast, God Himself takes on completely the requirements and fulfillment of the New Covenant through His Son. Jesus Christ became our one-time perfect sacrifice. He took all that guilt upon Himself and paid the penalty for our sins. When we do something wrong, we don’t have to beat ourselves up about it. He took that punishment for us. The focus is not on our ability to try to do things right all the time, but on Him having made us right.
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Saturday, June 2, 2012

Poem - Rise Up

Rise up, people, and take a stand
Now is the time to heal our land
There are enough bad things around us to see
That change has to start with you and me
Transformation happens one by one
Beginning with ourselves and on it will run
To transform our families and others around
As we stand by morality and what is sound

By Christina Morley
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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Thankful in Times of Opposition – Part 4 of 4

God wants to use us to influence society if we’re willing to stand up and join the ranks. Our great purpose in life is not only to care for our families. We were not placed here on earth only to preserve our own little kingdoms. He wants to use us to see His kingdom come on earth in every area of life, as it is in heaven.

It’s easy for us to recognize that there is a lot of work to be done. The vast global needs can feel overwhelming. The opportunities and possibilities are endless. Do what God has called you to do, and He will work through others to do the rest. Much can be achieved by one faithful servant of Christ, but even more can be accomplished through unity. We need each other’s gifts, talents, and personalities working together and complementing one another. Where there is unity in the body of believers, God has said He will command a blessing.

The best place to begin is by making a difference in our own families. Imagine what our nations would be like if we raised spiritually mature children who loved obeying God. Raising a spiritually healthy next generation is the first step and probably the most crucial step in bringing valuable change. We need more Christians with high morals in areas like government, politics, television, education, the arts, and missions.

We were chosen for such a time as this. We can be thankful that God has a master plan for our lives and that it’s not meant to be boring. We can be thankful for the life experiences we’ve had that prepare us for our specific callings. This is not the time to hide who we are. Instead, this is the time to let our potential shine. Remember, if God is for us, who can be against us?
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Friday, May 25, 2012

Thankful in Times of Opposition – Part 3 of 4

Both Joshua and Caleb had the kind of faith where they were willing to be used by God to make a difference in their society. That’s because they never forgot their origins. They remembered that they were the chosen people of God and that their God was all-powerful. They also chose to remain faithful to God no matter what the cost. That included standing up to popular opinion. Everyone else, except for Moses, wanted to listen to the ten spies that had come back with a fearful report. Joshua and Caleb tried to persuade them differently, but to no avail. The discussion got so heated that the people threatened them with stoning.

How do you feel when others put you down or scorn your Christian faith? Do you wilt away, hoping that they won’t take notice of you in the future? Or do you stand up taller and smile brighter knowing that you’re an heir and a ruler in the family of God?

People will take notice of you, and they’ll want to know what your secret is if you’re willing to have the attitude of Joshua and Caleb. God created you with enormous potential. As you meditate on what God says about you in the scriptures, then you won’t have to worry about what others might think, say, or do.

Part of living out your faith includes having to go against the regular flow of society. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Most people are thermometers that record or register the temperature of majority opinion, not thermostats that transform and regulate the temperature of society.” We know that Dr. King stood for what he believed in despite all the threats and criticisms that he had to face.

You have to decide if you will be the thermostat and transform society or just another thermometer. Will you make yourself available to be used by God to make a difference in the lives of others around you? Do you believe that with God you have the potential to make your life and future a success?

Perhaps you’ve lost yourself in the daily grind of caring for your children, your husband, and your home, and you no longer know who you are. Or, maybe sin and fear are standing in the way of a joyous and faith-filled life.

The Israelites were offered their freedom and a blessed future if they would turn away from their idols and worship and obey God. Instead, they preferred their spiritual and even their physical slavery to God’s gift of freedom.

Don’t be a slave to your family, to sin, or to fear. If you’re going to be a slave, then be a slave to the Lord. The apostle Paul was a Roman citizen and therefore a free man, but he wrote that He was a slave of Christ Jesus. To be a slave of Jesus actually means to be free – free from the bondage of sin and death. The devil came to steal, kill and destroy, but Jesus has come to give us life and to give it abundantly (John 10:10).
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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Thankful in Times of Opposition – Part 2 of 4

If you have lost your God-given dream or never dared to have one, I’ve got good news for you. God hasn’t lost it or forgotten it. Your past failures and disappointments don’t have to hold you back from living out your destiny. God uses the positive as well as the negative experiences to shape your future.

God is not looking for flawless people but for real people willing to offer their strengths and weaknesses for His service. Perhaps Moses seemed an unlikely candidate, but God wanted him because he had become a humble man and was therefore ready for God to use. He was used mightily in signs and wonders and on such a dramatic scale. Perhaps an even greater achievement was that God used him to write the first five books of the Old Testament.

God believed in him before all of these great achievements had taken place. God could see what no one else could even imagine. And because Moses obeyed, the unimaginable happened. Yet the Israelites didn’t believe in Moses the same way God did. They didn’t fully trust him as their leader. They also didn’t trust God Almighty. How come? Wasn’t it obvious that God was someone they could trust? Wasn’t He the God of their forefathers, of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob?

Well, a long period of slavery took its toll on them. They were stripped of their identity as God’s chosen people and, for most of them, their Jewish faith had become a thing of the past. Many of them by now were following the idolatry of the Egyptians. They did so because idolatry was more tangible to them than an obscure God.

God was dealing with people who had forgotten who He was, and they needed proof in order to believe in Him again. That’s why God performed such awesome miracles in their sight. He was also demonstrating to the rest of the known world that He was the only God; there was no other god beside Him.

No matter how many times God proved Himself to them, they continued in their fear and unbelief. As you already know, because of this, almost an entire generation never inherited the land that was promised to them.

Ongoing sin in their lives, for which they never willingly repented, as well as their past slavery, caused them to see themselves as weak and powerless. They didn’t believe that they were able to make a difference in their world. Ultimately, they didn’t believe that with God they had what it took to make their lives and their futures a success.

Of the first generation that originally left Egypt, only Joshua and Caleb ever entered the Promised Land. They helped the second generation take hold of their inheritance because they had refused to succumb to fear and unbelief.
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Friday, May 18, 2012

Thankful in Times of Opposition – Part 1 of 4

What was going on in the hearts and minds of the Israelites the first time they wanted to enter the Promised Land? With the exception of Joshua and Caleb, the people’s hearts were gripped with fear when they saw what stood in their way. The people of the land were mighty and God’s people felt small, so they lost confidence in themselves. They doubted Moses, and most of all, they doubted God. They had a hard time believing in others, probably because they didn’t believe in themselves.

Fear crippled them and prevented them from possessing the land by faith. Fear also kept them from experiencing God’s abundant love. Fear is the opposite of love. The two cannot coexist. Fear operates through unbelief, and love operates through faith.

It’s understandable that the people didn’t respect Moses much. They hardly knew him as a leader, and what they knew of his past hurt his reputation.

Imagine yourself living a slave’s life and one day finding out that one of your own people had been adopted by the Pharaoh’s daughter and raised as a prince. For the first forty years of his life Moses was sheltered while his fellow Hebrews suffered under the bonds of slavery. If Moses’ luxurious life didn’t make you jealous, then what happened next might make you think he was unworthy of respect.

His whole life took a dramatic turn when, in a moment of self-appointed heroism, he killed an Egyptian for beating a Hebrew. Then, when his cover was blown, he went on the run. For the next forty years, he lived as a fugitive and worked as a shepherd. From the pleasures of palace living to the harsh realities of desert dwelling, Moses not only looked, but also felt, like a failure.

Just before Moses killed the Egyptian, he knew that he was meant to do something great for God. But after another Hebrew blew his cover, he realized his zeal had been misguided and fled the scene. This incident so crushed his pride that his dream and passion died with it.

When God got hold of him forty years later, he thought God had the wrong man. He not only didn’t jump at the offer to lead the Israelites to freedom, he even declined it. Maybe you have felt like Moses. Maybe you have stopped believing in yourself. However, no matter how bad your past might seem to you, God is in the business of giving second chances.
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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Poem - Desert Flower

I’m walking on hard ground
I’m not wearing a frown
No matter the circumstances around

Like a desert flower
I’m blooming where planted
No matter if the ground’s hard and dry
Like a desert flower
Whose petals touch the sky
I’m reaching high
Won’t let this life pass me by

When I feel tired and worn
Can’t see the flower past the thorn
And my dreams feel tattered and torn

Then I remember…
It’s just a little while
And then I will smile
As things take a turn
For this I yearn

Like a desert flower
I’m blooming where planted
No matter if the ground’s hard and dry
Like a desert flower
Whose petals touch the sky
I’m reaching high
Won’t let this life pass me by

by Christina Morley
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Saturday, May 12, 2012

Thankful in Times of Drudgery – Part 5 of 5

After everything the Israelites had gone through with God, they still missed out. They were stuck with old mindsets and refused to be reprogrammed. That entire first generation never made it into the Promised Land, except for the two scouts that had come back with a good report. God rewarded the two faithful scouts for having the right attitude. Those that were complaining, however, only got more misery.

Sadly, that generation had toiled their whole lives long, but had nothing to show for all their hard work. The end of their lives was as sad as the beginning. Sure, God had given them a few victories along the way, but they died without enjoying their inheritance. The Israelites never completely entered into His rest because they misunderstood what it was about. They thought it was just another one of God’s rules so they missed connecting with His heart.

Fortunately, it’s never too late to have a change of mind. The fact that they didn’t believe they could make the total transition into Kingdom thinking doesn’t mean that you can’t. So, even though we are no longer living under the Law, the Sabbath day is still a valuable part of our faith. We need a day off in the week to refuel and to stay connected with Him. However, if you have little children, they don’t miraculously become self-sufficient one day of the week so that you can just rest. They remain a full-time job. But we can choose to slow down and let go of all the other tasks clamoring for our attention.

His desire is to see us living out of His rest every day. We can achieve this by living from a place of peace rather than from a frantic frenzy. We do this when we give our cares over to Him and trust Him in every situation of our lives. We don’t have to strive in our own strength any longer.

God’s plan was that entering His rest would be a lifestyle. As you nurture a vibrant relationship in Christ, and live out of His rest, you’ll have all you need to thrive.
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Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Thankful in Times of Drudgery – Part 4 of 5

Passing through a desert in life is hard, going around it in circles is even harder, and hating every step of the way is just unbearable. So, what should a mom do when she feels stuck in time, or forgotten? I can’t say that I have any simple answers. All I can say is that this, too, will pass. It’s only for a time.

A friend of mine once told me that if you can’t change your problem, then change your perspective. So when you find yourself in a dry place, ask God to teach you what you have to learn. Determine to wake up every morning saying, “Good morning, God!” rather than “Good God, it's morning!”

As people of God, we’re not just supposed to survive; we’re meant to thrive! God never intended the Israelites just to survive either. He had a plan for their lives that was meant for good and not for evil. That plan included an inheritance, but they weren’t ready to enter into that inheritance.

Part of that inheritance was entering into God’s rest; a rest from work. This was called the Sabbath day. It was not just another rule. God did not make it up to lord it over them. Since they weren’t allowed to do any work on that day, it taught them to rely on God instead of their own strength. It was also God’s way of protecting them from exhaustion and burn-out.

Yes, God wanted them to be obedient and to depend on Him. But, He also wanted them to have a day to rest, to contemplate, and to recharge. Also, God intended the Sabbath rest to teach them to rest in God’s abilities in the whole of their lives.
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Saturday, May 5, 2012

Thankful in Times of Drudgery – Part 3 of 5

Besides being on the same diet for forty years, the Israelites also had to follow the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night. God required that at any time, day or night, if the pillar moved they had to move. Imagine how much work it took to pack up and move a nation of people with their tents and animals at a moment’s notice. What fun that must have been!

God had a reason for this. He was teaching them obedience and dependence. He wanted His children to keep their eyes on Him. Otherwise, they would have forgotten about Him long before and gone their own way.

Aren’t we the same? When things are going well, we forget to pray, but when troubles strike, we pray. Then when we do pray, we try to force His hand to fix things our way. That’s because human nature doesn’t really like submitting to God’s way. His way often seems to be the harder way. At least He cares more about us becoming like Christ than we do, so He doesn’t give in to our little tantrums.

The Israelites had a forty-year sentence. God mercifully numbered the lifespan of the first generation so that the next generation could enter the Promised Land. Sadly, the second generation didn’t learn from their parents’ mistakes. The time spent in the desert was meant to prepare them for a supernaturally blessed future, but they were slow learners.
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Thursday, May 3, 2012

Thankful in Times of Drudgery – Part 2 of 5

At one point along the way, the children of Israel complained that their food lacked variety. They were fed up with manna, manna, and more manna (Num. 11:4-10). Their complaining got so bad that it turned into weeping. All the men stood in the doorways of their tents and wept bitterly. Their families who were inside their tents wept with them. That must have been quite a noise!

Of course, God was highly offended, and Moses was extremely displeased with them. If they had only asked nicely, they might have received a proper portion of meat to eat every day, but because of their bad attitude they suffered God’s wrath instead. Indeed, their complaining infuriated God so much that He sent them a plague of quail (the meat that they had requested), which lasted for an entire month. They had so much meat that it made them sick.

Thankfully, His wrath didn’t last forever. There was a point where God put things back in balance because, according to the account in Exodus (Ex. 16:12-15, 35), their daily diet consisted of a day’s worth of manna in the mornings and quail in the evenings. Interestingly, they ate manna for the entire forty years that they were kept wandering in the desert, until they entered the Promised Land.

When I consider our modern-day grocery stores, I’m amazed at the wide variety of foods available. I wonder if we really appreciate what we have. Do we realize how blessed we are? Are we thankful that we can buy almost anything we want so conveniently?
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