“Where Do You Park Your Carriage?” April 9

 

Where do you park your carriage? -

The Israelites had just had a great victory at Jericho. Next on the battle plan was Ai, a small town that should have been easily defeated. Instead, they were routed and 36 men died because of one man’s sin. Could you or I be experiencing defeat because of sinful attitudes or actions? What did one pastor mean when he warned about where we park our carriages?

 

Today’s Readings:
Joshua 7 & 8
Psalm 43.1-5
Proverbs 13.22-23
Luke 9.37-62

 

Where Do You Park Your Carriage?

 

Joshua 7 & 8:

Little Town, Big Message

 

In chapter 7 the Nation of Israel had just had a great victory at Jericho. But something happened between there and the town of Ai. Ai was a small town that should have been easily defeated. Instead, they were routed and 36 men died, all because of one man’s greed.

¹ But the children of Israel committed a trespass regarding the accursed things, for Achan the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took of the accursed things; so the anger of the Lord burned against the children of Israel.

So about three thousand men went up there from the people, but they fled before the men of Ai. And the men of Ai struck down about thirty-six men, for they chased them from before the gate as far as Shebarim, and struck them down on the descent; therefore the hearts of the people melted and became like water.

Then Joshua tore his clothes, and fell to the earth on his face before the ark of the Lord until evening, he and the elders of Israel; and they put dust on their heads. And Joshua said, “Alas, Lord God, why have You brought this people over the Jordan at all—to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us?

10 So the Lord said to Joshua: “Get up! Why do you lie thus on your face? 11 Israel has sinned, and they have also transgressed My covenant which I commanded them. For they have even taken some of the accursed things, and have both stolen and deceived; and they have also put it among their own stuff. 

So often, we think our sins are no big deal. We minimize, justify, or explain them away. Perhaps Achan was no different. I wonder how he justified taking what God had forbidden. Because it was going to be destroyed anyway? Because he thought he deserved it? Because no one would know?

And, like Achan, we think our sins only affect us. But, just as then, they affect others, often those closest to us. His whole family died and the society as a whole suffered. Remember 36 men died in the battle.

Is there something you need to see, not just as a minor problem, but as sin in your own life? If so, take it to God, confess it as sin, humbly ask for His help and make a plan to change your thinking and behavior in the future. Make yourself accountable to someone.

 

Plan to Obey God

 

Start with a plan to change your thinking by renewing your mind. Make time to study and meditate on what God’s Word has to say about that area of your life. Take Him at His Word, believe He’s right and you’re wrong if your thinking is not in line with His Word (Is. 55.8-9; Rom. 12.1-2; Eph. 4.23).

Then make an action plan. How are you going to respond to that temptation in the future? When the thoughts come, what verse of Scripture will be your “sword of the Spirit” (Eph. 6.17)? What do you need to do to “make no provision for the flesh” (Rom. 13.14)? “Burn your bridges” where sin is concerned. Don’t hang on to things you shouldn’t. Don’t keep mementos and reminders.

If you are tempted by an inappropriate relationship, don’t deceive yourself by thinking you can “just be friends.” Stop having any contact with that person! Don’t keep that phone number—just in case! Again, make yourself accountable to someone.  Continue reading

“Your Priorities or His?” December 25

 

Merry Christmas,

I pray that you are enjoying a wonderful day rejoicing in the birth of our Savior (or looking forward to it if you’re reading this early like I do)!

I look forward to another year of growing in the grace and knowledge of our great God along with each of you in 2017!

This is the time of year for evaluating priorities and setting goals for the coming year. Don’t forget to consider God’s priorities as you do. God had something to say to the people in Haggai’s day on that very subject.

In Him,
Donna

 

Your Priorities or His? - As we approach the New Year, how are your ways—your priorities? Are you interested in what God is interested? Are you giving into the work of God? Do you tithe or just give God what is left over, if anything? What if you decided to take God at His Word this coming year and give Him the firstfruits?

Today’s Readings:
Haggai 1 & 2
Psalm 147.7-11
Proverbs 30.20
Revelation 15

 

Your Priorities or His?

 

Haggai 1 & 2:

Consider Your Ways

 

Verse 1.5b sums up the theme of this book when it says, “… ‘Consider your ways!’” God repeated the admonition in 1.7.

The blessings of the Lord were missing from the people’s lives because their priorities were all wrong.

6 “ You have sown much, and bring in little;
You eat, but do not have enough;
You drink, but you are not filled with drink;
You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm;
And he who earns wages,
Earns wages to put into a bag with holes.”

They were more concerned about their own homes and personal comfort than they were with the work of God. And it wasn’t working out so well for them!

As we approach the New Year, how are “your ways”—your priorities? Are you interested in what God is interested? Are you giving into the work of God? Do you tithe or just give God what is left over, if anything? What if you decided to take God at His Word this coming year and give Him the firstfruits?

Those of us who have decided to trust God with our finances, can tell you that when you give Him the first 10% God will cause the 90% to go so much further than you could possibly stretch it. Pray and ask Him to help you take that step of faith, if you have not already.

And what about your time priorities? Do you make time for church each week? Do you take time to pray and read God’s Word? Do you have a plan to grow in your relationship with Him?

We can have all the good intentions in the world, but those things don’t just happen. We need to plan for them. We don’t have to get legalistic about it. There are times when we are providentially hindered from keeping our commitments: sick kids, travel, and other things.

But, why not make an appointment to meet with God on a regular basis? Even a few minutes of prayer, Bible reading, journaling, etc. can make a big impact on our lives and relationships with God.

 

Today’s Other Readings:

 

Psalm 147.7-11:

Those Who Fear Him

 

“The LORD takes pleasure in those who fear Him, in those who hope in His mercy.”

Do you “fear the Lord”—that is do you take Him at His Word and have more concern about what He thinks rather than anything or anyone else? In what are you placing your hope? Is it your abilities? Your job? Your spouse? Or anything else, rather than the Lord?

 

Proverbs 30.20:

An Adulterous Woman

 

adulterous immoral woman

“This is the way of an adulterous woman. She eats and wipes her mouth, and says, ‘I have done no wickedness.’”

Just as a woman can be seduced by an unscrupulous man, many a man has fallen into the trap of an adulterous, carnal woman.

Proverbs 7 says:

21 With her enticing speech she caused him to yield,
With her flattering lips she seduced him.
22 Immediately he went after her, as an ox goes to the slaughter,
Or as a fool to the correction of the stocks,
23 Till an arrow struck his liver.
As a bird hastens to the snare,
He did not know it would cost his life.

Ladies, we must be on our guard all the time and purpose to stay pure, in our thoughts and attitudes, and to stay focused on God and His will for our lives.

Galatians 5.16-17 says, “… Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.”

There is a battle going on. It’s waged first and foremost in the spiritual realm. Continue reading

“Ever feel like you have a purse with holes?” July 22

 

Do you feel like your have a purse with holes? Have you put God on a back-burner? Are your priorities God's priorities? Could He be using circumstances to get your attention?Ever feel like you have a purse with holes? Have you put God on a back-burner? Are your priorities God’s priorities? Could He be using circumstances to get your attention?

 

Today’s Readings:
Ezra 5 & 6
Psalm 87.1-7
Proverbs 21.19-20
Acts 23.1-15

 

Ever feel like you have a purse with holes?

 

Ezra 5 & 6:

Are your priorities God’s priorities?

 

The people who had come back enthusiastic and ready to rebuild the temple, had met some resistance and gradually quit doing God’s work and, instead, got busy with their own lives.

God used the prophets Haggai and Zechariah to stir and rebuke the people about their priorities. In Haggai 1, God said:

“‘Consider your ways! You have sown much, but harvest little; you eat, but there is not enough to be satisfied; you drink, but there is not enough to become drunk; you put on clothing, but no one is warm enough; and he who earns, earns wages to put into a purse with holes.’ Thus says the Lord God of Hosts, ‘Consider your ways! Go up to the mountain, bring wood and rebuild the temple, that I may be pleased with it and be glorified,’ says the Lord” (Hag. 1.5-8).

What about you? Do you need to consider your ways? Are your priorities God’s priorities? Have you gotten “too busy” to be concerned about the things of God? Do you feel like you work hard, but everything goes into a purse that is full of holes? Could God be using circumstances to get your attention?

 

Today’s Other Readings:

 

Psalm 87.1-7:

Everything Comes from Him

 

Verse 7b says, “All my springs are in you.” In Acts 17.28 Paul said, “… in Him we live and move and have our being.” James 1.17 says, “Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above … ” (NASB).

God is the source of every talent, every ability, every blessing. Scripture tells us that He even blesses the unrighteous in many ways. The Puritans called it “common grace.” And yet, we are so easily puffed up and become proud of our achievements, our possessions, even, our children. We need to be careful to give God the glory that He and He alone is due!

 

Proverbs 21.19-20:

Contentious and Angry

 

In verse 19, God again sees fit to warn us, ladies, that we can easily go from being a blessing to being a curse to our husbands and/or children.

“Better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and angry woman.”

Of course, we women are not the only ones who struggle with anger and it’s just as destructive when it’s you men.

angry kids childrenIf you struggle with anger get a copy of Wayne Mack’s book Anger & Stress Management God’s Way. In it he explains that anger that is selfishly focused or controls us is sinful—no matter how we try to justify it. If you’re dealing with angry children, check out The Heart of Anger by Lou Priolo or Getting a Grip: The Heart of Anger Handbook for Teens. Both are extremely practical and helpful for parents and children alike.  Continue reading

“Taming the To-Do list” + LINKUP

 

Taming the To Do List Glynnis WhitwerWelcome to Mondays @ Soul Survival for 2016. We just finished going through The Jesus Code by O.S. Hawkins chapter by chapter. I’m going to do something a little different this year. I plan to feature a different book each week.

The first is Taming the To-Do List: How to Choose Your Best Work Every Day by Glynnis Whitwer.

I read Glynnis’ book a couple of months ago after reading Michele’s review on “Living our Days” and was extremely blessed by her biblical perspective on priorities, procrastination and organizing our time. I have already incorporated many of her suggestions into my own life and plan to go back through it and fine tune as we start off on a new year.

The first few chapters of the book deal with procrastination, but it’s not a “stop it” approach. Glynnis helps us understand the “whys” of procrastination. Some of them are personal to each one of us (for example: Is it fear or overload rather than laziness?) and others may be the result of living in our fast-paced media driven world with its instant messaging and demands for our quick response.

Glynnis, also, takes on the challenges we face when determining our priorities and how our changing culture, perfectionism, and people pleasing, among other things, play a role in our struggles. She helps us sort out God’s view of our priorities with a series of questions. She says:

I’m always having to rein myself in and reevaluate my priorities. In fact, I do this weekly, and I’ll explain that more in a later chapter. But for now, perhaps a series of questions I ask myself will help you if you struggle with knowing your priorities. These would be good questions to write in a journal or notebook and answer during the next week. To answer them effectively, take time to pray before you start. Open your heart to hear the Lord and His voice. Quiet your heart and just listen. Then ask yourself:

1) What Can Only I Do? There are some jobs in my life no one else can do. For example, no one else can nurture my personal faith in God. I am the only wife my husband has. God has given me five children to mother. Plus, no one else can eat the right foods or exercise for me. Those four areas of life (plus a few others) are no-brainers and will always be at the top of my priority list.

2) What Has God Entrusted to Me? We’ve all been entrusted with something— a certain amount of money, a home, talents, and intelligence. Some of us have paid jobs and volunteer responsibilities.

3) Am I a Good Steward of What I Already Have? This is where I do a painful assessment of reality. How am I doing with what God has already given me? Are my finances a wreck? Have I neglected my husband? Have I honored my parents? God is always watching to see how I’m doing with what He’s already given me. When He sees I manage things well, He entrusts me with more. When I’m neglectful, the opposite happens.

4) What Passion (or Dream) Has God Put in My Heart? Perhaps this dream is buried in your heart— but it’s there. When we submit to God’s plans for our lives, and those dreams don’t contradict His Word or character, we can be confident God placed those dreams in our heart for a reason.

5) What Has God Asked Me to Do That I Haven’t Done Yet? This is where things get touchy for a procrastinator. It’s likely there are items we’ve put off that God has called us to do. This moves our procrastination into the realm of disobedience. I once heard this statement: “Old orders are standing orders.” Meaning if God asked you to do something years ago, and didn’t revise the directions, He still expects you to do it. It’s never too late to be obedient.

Other chapters deal with taming our perfectionist tendencies, changing bad habits, and organizing our work, along with a host of other helpful subjects.

One of my favorites was the chapter entitled “Small Changes Matter.” In it she says about a difficult period in her own life: Continue reading

December 25 “The real story of Christmas: murder, intrigue & wonder”

nativity sceneMerry Christmas,

I pray that you are enjoying a wonderful day rejoicing in the birth of our Savior! It’s His birth, life, and sacrificial death that makes reading His Word so important.

I mentioned yesterday that the Bible is the #1 best seller of all time. That is true for many reasons, not the least of which is the fact that God is always going to watch over and protect His Word. It’s, also, true because it offers the only true and lasting answers to man’s problems.

Communist and other governments have tried to destroy it. False religious leaders have burned it, outlawed it and punished those who held on to it. And today many in the scientific world and in our institutions of higher education have tried to declare it irrelevant, at best, and foolish or dangerous, at worst. Yet people continue to suffer persecution and even death to keep it and hold to its principles.

The Bible is, also, a literary masterpiece. (Go figure it was written by the most creative being ever! Just sayin’!)

It has intrigue, deception, sex, love, war, devotion, bitterness, redemption, and so much more. It’s a book of songs and poetry, story-telling, history and wisdom. It portrays human experience, even its underside, but also provides the wisdom to understand and overcome it.

The Bible tells the fascinating story of creation, the fall of man, and redemption through the lives and lessons of real people. It’s stories are without parallel.

The Christmas story alone is one of perceived betrayal and rejection (Mary and Joseph). It’s one of embarrassment (just think about what their friends and neighbors must have thought), harsh and unfair treatment (imagine riding a donkey 70 or so miles while 9 months pregnant), and murder (when Herod failed to find the baby Jesus, he ordered the mass murder of all the boys age 2 and under).

But it’s also one of wonder (the virgin birth, the journey of the wise men, angels appearing to lowly shepherds, and God’s protection of His Son).

As we finish out this year and begin rereading the incredible book we call the Bible, get ready for more shocking human behavior, more intrigue, more twists and turns, and more of God’s amazing patience, mercy, grace and love. And no matter how many times (or how few) you’ve read through the Bible, get ready to be blessed as you grow to know our amazing God better.

On to …

Today’s Readings:
Haggai 1 & 2
Psalm 147.7-11
Proverbs 30.20
Revelation 15

 

Priorities ConceptHaggai 1 & 2:

Consider your priorities

Verse 1.5b sums up the theme of this book when it says, “… ‘Consider your ways!’” He repeated the admonition in 1.7. The blessings of the Lord were missing from their lives. Verse 6:

6 “ You have sown much, and bring in little;
You eat, but do not have enough;
You drink, but you are not filled with drink;
You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm;
And he who earns wages,
Earns wages to put into a bag with holes.”

The people’s priorities were all wrong. They were more concerned about their own homes and personal comfort than they were the work of God. And it wasn’t working out so well for them!

As we approach the New Year, Continue reading

April 9 “Ai, a little town with a big message!”

Ai was a little town with a big message! The Nation of Israel had just had a great victory at Jericho. Now there’s Ai, a small town that should have been easily defeated. Instead, they were routed and 36 men died, all because of one man’s greed.

a big message

Today’s Readings:
Joshua 7 & 8
Psalm 43.1-5
Proverbs 13.22-23
Luke 9.37-62

Joshua 7 & 8:

Watch where you park your carriage

In chapter 7 the Nation of Israel had just had a great victory at Jericho. But something happened between there and the town of Ai. Ai was a small town that should have been easily defeated. Instead, they were routed and 36 men died, all because of one man’s greed.

So often we think the sins we commit are no big deal. We sooth our guilty consciences by going through the motions of asking forgiveness from God, but with no real repentance. Repentance is a change of thinking that leads to a change of behavior. Confession doesn’t just mean that we “admit” we did something, it means that we agree with God about our sin, we understand that it is an offense against a Holy God. It grieves the Holy Spirit (Eph. 4.30). We need to learn to hate our own sin.

We also think our sins only affect us, but God pictures for us in this story of Achan, the fact that our sin also affects those closest to us. His whole family died. And the society as a whole suffered. Remember 36 men died in the battle. Continue reading

January 7 “An outline for prayer”

Praying the Lord's Prayer

Do you ever feel inadequate or frustrated with your prayer life? If so, you’re not alone. It appears even the disciples wanted more when they said, “Lord, teach us to pray.”

Today’s Readings:
Genesis 13 & 14
Psalm 4.4-8
Proverbs 2.1-5
Matthew 6.1-18

Genesis 13 & 14:

How do you evaluate opportunities?

Chapter 13 contains an interesting story about Abram and Lot. We find them both prospering with growing herds and a growing need for water and pastureland. This caused strife between their herdsmen, so rather than allow that to happen, Abram suggested they split up.

Abram was the elder and certainly had the right to the best land, but he unselfishly gave Lot first choice of the land. Lot’s response was quite different, verses 10-13: Continue reading