Sunshinelittleone's Blog

All about my love for the Lord

Tuesday KPC devotional

coins

coins (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Secure in His Provision

 

January 22, 2013

 

 

This Week’s Key Verse: Malachi 3:10 (NKJV) “Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, and try Me now in this,” says the Lord of hosts, “If I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it.”

Take a moment and pray that the Lord will speak to you in this time of study.

Job loss can rack your brain and turn your world upside down and inside out.  It can either set panic deep into your soul, or cause you to reach for the mighty hand of God to guide you through the trials of “budget re-navigation.”  Such was our case in the spring of 2009, when Rick lost his job at a major car rental company.  Downsizing . . . our nation always seems to be downsizing at the cost of families.  But, God doesn’t downsize His provision . . . ever.

I remember the conversation we had with such clarity, debating the notion of tithing and offering as we read our bedtime devotions.  I was certain of God’s provision; Rick, being pragmatic and our family’s earthly provider, saw it in a different vein.  We lay in bed nearly breathless over what the future held.  How, in this economy, with the state of our nation, would we possibly make it?  What would God’s provision be?  We even considered the possibility of losing our home.  Would God’s provision be a shelter?  How He takes care of us is not always the way we desire . . .

Our conversations were always strained, as we labored over our financial situation.  This particular night was no different.  With great conviction I announced that no matter what, we had to trust that God would provide for our needs.  We had to give out of the meager resources we had.  Rick replied, “We will give when we are able, but until then, we need to hold on to all of our resources. By simply tithing and trusting, God is not going to put $10,000 in our bank account.” I was incensed by his seeming disregard for the Lord’s provision, remembering that God has always provided for us . . . even when we were not walking hand in hand with Him.  I’m sure I huffed and turned away to show my discontent.  But, truly, Rick wasn’t being nonchalant or dismissing God’s provision; he was being realistic and honest.  Our current state was such that we needed to be prudent and good stewards of what little we had left of our finances.

“I will continue to put my trust in Him.” Hebrews 2:13

We continued to tithe, and as He always does, God started to work in mysterious and miraculous ways. We put our home on the market when we were invited to move into the home Rick had grown up in. After his dad’s passing, his mom was moved into an assisted living facility and the home stood vacant.  Our house sold in an unprecedented six weeks.   Even more miraculous, we made a little off of the sale and were able to pay off our mortgage and put money in savings, which served as provision for our next season.

Rick’s desire was always to be a teacher.  When he found a newspaper announcement for Regent’s career switcher program, he enrolled.  What a blessing!   He was able to dedicate the next 18 months to getting his teaching certificate.  During that time, our neighbor had a job opening in the school system working with behaviorally challenged teens.  Rick took the job, albeit part time, and it was enough to put food on the table.  We lived cautiously on our savings, being sure to spend only what we needed to.

We were also able to (abundantly) bless others. It seemed like each week we were able to participate in meal trains, host life groups, and care for those who were less fortunate than ourselves.  God seemed to be filling our bank account.  Several times we remarked that we had “no idea” where the money had come from, knowing full well that the Lord was blessing our sacrifice of tithing.

The best moment was when our accountant looked at our taxes and remarked about our earnings, “How on earth do you guys make it?”  I simply replied, “God is good, He provides everything we need.”  She just shook her head.

“For nothing is impossible with God.” Luke 1:37

In the summer of 2011, Rick interviewed for countless teaching positions. The day before his birthday, he got the call to accept a job as a fulltime teacher in a special education school . . . his heart’s desire.  We were thrilled, but what gave us even greater joy was knowing we could increase our tithes and offerings.  Just as Pastor Vic shared on Sunday, we too give before we figure out our budget.  We don’t get emotional about it, we just give.

I can promise the hand of God has carried us through our time of want . . . but, it was really a time of plenty.  He has blessed us abundantly and continually.

Be blessed, be a blessing, and trust God to be your ultimate provider. “Go, it will be done just as you believed it would.” Matthew 8: 13

 

 

 

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When the waters are murky, He is perfectly clear…

A powerful light shines in the dark.

A powerful light shines in the dark. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Surely God is with you…” Isaiah 45:14

I believe this to  be abundantly and wholly true.  I trust that no matter the situation, how clouded our thinking  or our hearts may be, the Lord is ever present. He is a breath away…always waiting to hear from our broken and contrite hearts.

We cry to Him “why?” and “how?” when things don’t go our way, or our cross is seemingly too heavy to bear.  We cry out in frustration and anguish when life is derailed and we face heartache and trial…all of which He has prepared us for.  He promises struggle in our lives.  But, He also promises goodness and mercy and to always be with us.  He never leaves or forsakes us…

I could, we all could, rattle off a list of woes and troubles.  Together we could fill volumes of angst.  We could sit eternally prattling on about our misgivings and our tribulations…or we could sing praise and gratitude to the One who holds us close during it all.

Heartache and brokenness are fibers of our human condition, they create the tapestry of our quilted lives…however, so do joy and delight.  In all things there is hope.  All things.

I am a child of two parents who have gone to be with the Lord, far sooner than I would have preferred, but God knew what He was doing when He called them home.  I look back on the path He set me on and I see His perfect threading of mercy and grace that has carried me and overwhelmed me with His presence.

I made decisions that, all though I am forgiven for, still meet me heart broken, but, I see the gold in the cracks of my aching that He has placed so tenderly.

In the darkness of our situations, it is never purely black.  The light is always present, if only streaming in through the tears and rips of our pain He is light abundant and can never, ever be put out.  His light shines in all situations.

While at times, when I am suffering through my own trials, I like to think I am alone and the only one who suffers, yet I am reminded of those who have gone before me or along side me whose trials are profoundly greater and more perplexing than my own.  I think of mothers who have buried babies.  I think of nations under the delusion of atheism.  I think of the one who sits awaiting trial in solitary confinement for belief in our Lord, our light.  I think of these people and my heart finds relief in the trials I have experienced, for none have broken me or left me lifeless.

My life is not my own.  I made a decision years ago to surrender it all to Christ. I  decided that He would be my compass…and some days the path is bright and smooth and beautiful; others, the path is ragged and tiresome…but there is always light…the LIGHT OF CHRIST.

Dear Heavenly Father,
My heart’s cry is for Your return…until that day, I ask that You carry us all through the trials of this life.  I pray that our struggles may be used for Your goodness and that through our pain and suffering we may be beacons of God-hope for those who are distant from Your grip.  I pray that we would not be overcome by affliction, but we would be overwhelmed by Your abundant love and protection.

I pray these things in Jesus’ name…Amen.

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KPC Tuesday Devotional

This Week’s Key Verse: “. . . it is required in stewards that one be found faithful.” 1 Corinthians 4:2

Take a moment and pray that the Lord will speak to you in this time of study.

Dove of the Holy Spirit (ca. 1660, alabaster, ...

Dove of the Holy Spirit (ca. 1660, alabaster, Throne of St. Peter, St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

‘For I was hungry and you gave Me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave Me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited Me in, I needed clothes and you clothed Me. I was sick and you looked after Me, I was in prison and you came to visit Me.’ Then the righteous will answer Him, “Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You something to drink? When did we see You a stranger and invite You in, or needing clothing and clothe You? When did we see You sick or in prison and go to visit You?’ “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did for Me.’ ” Matthew 25:35-40

 

 

Stewardship (paraphrased) is the handling of resources given to a person; the careful management of something entrusted to someone. We often, and rightfully, think of time and money. But, as I got to thinking (as a stay-at-home/homeschooling mom), I feel assured that I am a good steward of the time the Lord gifts me as well as of the financial resources. I am mindful to plan each day according to what needs to be completed, and I am mindful of the budget we have for our family (most of the time). I realize, though, that time and money are not the only gifts the Lord bestows upon me; He has gifted me with gifts and talents in His grace. Gifts that make me an ambassador of Christ. Each of us is endowed with specific gifts.“We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging , let him encourage, if it is contributing to the needs of others , let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.” Romans 12:6-8

 

The Lord has generously poured into me the gifts of serving and encouragement. These gifts are complementary and often go hand in hand. In serving, I have the gift of hospitality. I enjoy hosting and serving and making people feel comfortable and loved (encouragement). But am I always a good steward of these gifts? Am I always being an ambassador of Christ? Am I always making my Father in heaven proud? There are times when I’m not the least bit interested in sharing my gifts with others. I know, in those moments, my stewardship is less than stellar. I learn this most often when I am called to encourage or serve difficult people or circumstances. It’s in those moments the Lord uses my resistance to refine me, and I realize that I am the difficult variable, not who or what God has laid before me.

I am human and profoundly stubborn. (Ask my husband … ask God.) I am delighted to serve when it’s easy or convenient. I am happy to encourage people who want to be encouraged, who want to see the glass as half-full. But that is not always where God calls me. He doesn’t ask me to be a steward of His gifts when it is only pleasant and sweet. He calls me when it is hard and tiresome. “Sacrifice thank offerings to God, fulfill your vows to the Most High, and call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor Me.” Psalm 50:14-15It is in these times He (His amazing grace, goodness, faithfulness) is revealed to me in profound and mighty ways. He works through me. I am able to abandon self. I am filled to overflowing with His ability. He shares His Holy Spirit with me and sets me on paths of obedience. And though I meet Him first with moaning and resistance, He blesses me profoundly with grace and mercy. I am able to serve and encourage through Him.

I use my gifts of serving and encouragement as a thank you to the Lord for saving my life; His gift of the cross and the shedding of His blood to wash me clean. I long to be a love offering to the Lord, and if that means serving or encouraging when it is difficult or uncomfortable or seemingly impossible, then I will do it with obedience to Him and with His joy set deep in my heart. In my deep and abiding love for Him, I will choose to be a steward of His goodness.

 

I long for Him to say, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!” Matthew 25:23

 

Be blessed and be a blessing!

Samantha Ewing

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KPC’s Tuesday Devotional…Following Faithfully

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This Week’s Key Verse: “And because of His glory and excellence, He has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share His divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.” 2 Peter 1:4

Take a moment and pray that the Lord will speak to you in this time of study.

We all walk lonesome.  We go through times in our lives when the road ahead seems long and ragged and too difficult to walk.  We also have times of pure bliss and elation, and the road seems smooth and bright.  On both paths we need God.  We need Him, because He orders our steps and puts us on the paths that will bring us closest to Him. Close to Him is where my heart longs to be.

“Guard my life, for I am devoted to You.  You are my God; save Your servant who trusts in You.” Psalm 86:2

I found Pastor Neil’s sermon on Sunday, “Walking with God into 2013,” to be exactly what I needed to hear these first few days of the New Year. God is good.  He often gives others the words we need to hear so that we can make sense of our relationship with Him.  On our own, we don’t always listen to God; we don’t always pay attention to what our Creator is whispering into our spirits, so we need faithful servants to share His message.  I felt that way on Sunday.

Pastor Neil gave us a brief list to use as a guide in our walk with the Lord. I offer what I gleaned from his sermon and how this list impacts my heart.

  1. Learn and trust in the promises of God.
    As difficult and “human” as it is to trust, it is essential to our walk with the Lord that we know all His promises are true. We may not understand, or even like, some of His decisions, but we are hopeful that He has made promises that will sustain us for eternity.  He uses all our circumstances to draw us near to Him. Sometimes we need to stand in the face of heartache and pain to fully understand His sovereignty. Through our trials we learn to be steadfast in the Lord, offering Him praise and thanksgiving for everything . . . even when “everything” seems crushing and too difficult to bear. In the midst of our darkness, He is the perfect light, guiding and steering us toward His righteousness. “For I know the plans I have for you”, declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11
  2. Walk with the Lord one day at a time.
    I was raised by a well-meaning mother, yet she was tormented by an addiction to alcohol and “one day at a time” seemed to be the mantra of our family.  So I learned from a young age to take one day at a time; however, not until the past few years has this meant being in the Lord one day at a time. It gives me hope.  He knows my days, He has them numbered.  I have wasted so much precious time worrying about what tomorrow may bring. I have spent sleepless nights wondering and ”what if-ing” the circumstances of my life. Oftentimes the things I worried over would come to pass.  I repent of the times that my tendency to plan and organize my life has gotten in the way of the Lord’s plans. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving present your requests to God.” Philippians 4:6  He is perfect and all knowing.  When I rest in today and live out the hours of right now, I am peaceful and secure.  When I understand that tomorrow will take care of itself, I rest assured that the Lord has my heart knitted closely to His.  He has created me for today.  I must trust that tomorrow, whatever it brings, will be shrouded in His grace and mercy.
  3. Take hold of the Lord’s hand.
    O to hold the hand of God!  I love sitting quietly, just the two of us, holding His mighty hand.  I imagine myself sitting in the middle of the hand that holds heaven and earth.  I sit there and gaze at Him, seeking to hear His heart.  When I am still and quiet before the Lord, I feel His presence real.  He is upon me and in me and covering me with His breath.  I used to save this time for when I would find refuge in my prayer closet.  There were days I would wait to get my chores done, my busy-ness done, my children settled, and I would enter into my prayer closet to seek Him and feel His presence. “Remain in Me and I will remain in you.” John 15:4 I suppose I felt that everything around me had to be just right to hold Him near. Not anymore.  Now I know that I may reach an empty hand to Him at any moment, and He will fill it with His amazing grace and guidance.
  4. Take time to write down what God is doing in your life. 
    To this I say a resounding “AMEN.”  But I am a writer and that is where I seek God, so for someone who uses the written word to worship, it comes naturally.  Yet, even if you aren’t a writer, or seem to loathe writing, it is a practice worth trying.  I have intermittently kept prayer journals.  I have written my prayers and the prayers of others down.  As I have gone back to read what I have petitioned the Lord, I am always amazed and awed to see His hand guiding all circumstances.  Writing to the Lord or about the Lord gives me a tangible means to be reminded (when I am hollow and wanting spiritually) of how great He is and how He never leaves or forsakes me but rather is my Compass and my Shepherd through all of life.

Your walk with the Lord is a rich journey.  He created you for distinct and perfect purpose, just as He has created your circumstances for the same.  Trust in Him.  Allow Him to guide you.  He will set your feet on a path directly to His heart.

“Glory in His holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice.  Look to the Lord and His strength; seek His face always.” Psalm 105:3-4

Be blessed and be a blessing!

 

http://www.kpc.org

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He is true…

The Lord is my Good Shepherd

The Lord is my Good Shepherd (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Do not put your trust in princes, in mortal men, who cannot save. When their spirit departs, they return to the ground; on that very day their plans come to nothing.” Psalm 146:3-4

Until I came to know Christ, a really heart relationship, I put my trust in people.  I spent years grieving the disappointment I felt when let down by a loved one or friend.  At times my self-worth was put in the way others esteemed me or guided me.  And, since we are all human, those who I was putting my trust in, let me down, just as I have let others down.

My perspective changed with I began following Christ in my early thirties.  I stopped relying on others to change me, change my heart, change my perspective, and change my circumstance.  I gave it all to Jesus.  I began surrendering my life…all of it, over to the Lord.  The difference I felt was amazing.

Don’t get me wrong, I still look to others to offer guidance and to love me.  I am grateful for my husband, my family, my friends and mentors.  But, my trust is in the Lord.  And, I trust that He has put people in my life for very distinct purpose.  I rely on the Lord to steer me to or away from people.  I have asked the Lord to, in His will, remove people from my life; who with together; I am not producing any good fruit.  And He has.  He has also brought people into my life who I would have never expected to have a relationship with and share in the bounty of Christ.

He does what is best for us….Always.

The Lord is our Heavenly Father and He cares for us in ways more profound than any other being.  He created us in His image to love and be loved.  He created our circumstances to give us hope and a future-even when those circumstances seem anything but hopeful.  He is closer and more deep set in our hearts than anyone could ever hope to be and He sees us through each moment of this life.

I love those the Lord has gifted me with…and truly, I love those He was taken from me.  I am grateful for His abundant and tender love and care.  He is my confidant, my compass and my love.

Lord,
Thank you, God, for never leaving or forsaking me.  I am grateful beyond measure for your Goodness.  I praise You always, Lord, for the plans You have for me are pure and true.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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Besieged…for a bit

Apathy

Apathy (Photo credit: Toban B.)

“Praise be to the Lord, for he showed His wonderful love to me when I was in a besieged city.  In my alarm I said, “I am cut off from your sight!” Yet you heard my cry for mercy when I called to you for help.” Psalm 31:21-22

Besieged-overwhelmed, inundated, beleaguered, plagued, weighed-down…

When I write I seek God’s guidance and direction. I ask Him to lead me to the scripture I am to meditate on and then I ask for (myself) complete obedience in conveying what He has set in my heart.  Today He led me to Psalm 31.  When I opened my Bible I saw that I had underlined and made notes about this particular verse.  I couldn’t have told you that I had done that…and frankly I don’t know when I did that, but clearly the Lord has brought me to this scripture before-with great reason.

I had underlined the word BESIEGED and under it written ‘apathy’.  Apathy is a place I tend to go back to again and again.  Many go to depression, anxiety, anger, in my times of want I tend toward apathy. When I am resting in apathy my distance from the Lord is great.  I am sorely aware of my straying and wandering.  I see it most in the mirror.  In my eyes.  In my countenance.  I see it in the way my face loses the glow of the Lord.  And I wonder.  It takes me awhile (because I am stubborn and, well, ignorant) to realize why I look so different.  Then it hits me-apathy.  I am besieged, overwhelmed, inundated by my lack of desire and pressing into the Lord.

I am not alone. I have met countless friends who suffer similarly.  We walk these abundant paths of ‘God-time’.  We are in Him; immersed in Him; delighted in His presence…and then we stray…far.  But, it’s never so far that we cannot return in a moment…in a breath.

My desire is that I am firmly planted in the majesty of the Lord each moment of my life.  That I feel His breath on my check.  That my gaze would be completely transfixed on His goodness.  It should be, but I am human and fiercely independent and feel, often, that I can go it alone without His amazing grace and mercy.  The shame is on me, not Him.  He is abundant and ready for me all of the time.

So, as we all do, I reevaluate my life these first few days of the New Year.  Where am I lacking?  Where am I hollow and dry?  What can I do better?  How can I live a fuller life?  The answer to all my seeking questions lies in the Creator.  Without Him at the helm of my hapless life, I am in a chasm of discord.  It is through Him and in Him I must put my life.  I must die to self to live in Him.  I must give up my selfish ambition and trust that His path is the perfect path.  When I submit and surrender to His will I live a rich and abundant life.  Why do I then do I stray?  I am human and fallen and in need of a Savior.

Father,
O Lord.  You are Good.  You never turn from me, it is I who wanders.  I am prone to stray from Your mighty grip.  You are so Kind.  You call me back and hold me close to Your heart.  I am grateful.  Please forgive me and set my feet on Your path of righteousness that I may seek Your face each moment and live in You daily.  I pray this in the Mighty Name of Jesus, Amen.

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Happy New Year…KPC Tuesday Devotional

This Week’s Key Verses: John 3:16-17 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.”

Take a moment and pray that the Lord will speak to you in this time of study.

 

Baptism of Christ. Jesus is baptized in the Jo...

Baptism of Christ. Jesus is baptized in the Jordan River by John. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Show me Your ways, O Lord; teach me Your paths.” (Psalm 25:4)

As the year drew to an end, I reflected on how I’ve lived my life over the past twelve months.  I’ve had some stellar days and some days that I wish I could do over  And while the “do-over” days seem to be ablaze in neon letters, I‘m apt to learn from those more than the seemingly great days.  If I take inventory, I may see that many were spent running from the Lord instead of to Him.  That’s what happens when we live outside of God rather than in Him . . . our days are marred with human inequity.  He alone allows for our days to be laced in perfection…God-perfection, when we commit to rest in His grace.

He is perfect.

So, I reflect.  I had started the year with a bang.  Don’t we all?  I set out to live “A Year Without” . . .  a year without purchasing anything new and unnecessary. I committed to meditating daily on Galatians 5 (the fruit of the Spirit) and Romans 12.  I shot out of the gate with gusto.  I spent time fasting and humbling myself before the Lord.  I did this for about five months.  Diligent in my efforts, I could feel the Lord’s presence…He was palpable. “You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” (Psalm 16:11) When the Lord is so present that I can “feel His breath,” the world seems brighter. When I allow the Lord to be present, I can feel His strength pulsing through my body. There is a measure of confidence that allows me to traverse even the most harrowing trials. When I allow the Lord to fill me.  And I do.  I let Him in…for a time.  Then I stray. I often stray.

In my straying, I could justify new purchases.  I began scheduling God into my life instead of my life into His.  I became complacent and lost.  That’s what happens.  Like sheep that stray, we enter into dark and troubled territory, we become lost. Without God, we are so incapable of staying on course…on paths of righteousness.  He desires for us to be on the straight and narrow path.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)

The remedy? Seek the path that keeps us looking toward the glow of His beautiful face, the path that helps us navigate the murky waters of this world.

“But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.  Peace I leave you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives.  Do not let your hearts be trouble and do not be afraid.” (John 14:26-27)

And now, this first day of the New Year, I am full of hope.  I am full of the joy I feel on the first Sunday of the month when I take communion. The hope that I am free in Christ.  I am washed clean by His blood and born again to live in His delight and righteousness. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:1) I am full of a longing to do better…to be immersed in Him.  I am full of ambition…God-ambition.  I’m not setting lofting goals and resolutions.  I’m not promising to be a size 6 by February (while that would be nice). I am not committing to keeping a perfectly organized and dust free house. (Again, that sounds great!)  Nor am I committing to being anything other than what the Lord is calling me to be.  I will follow His lead.  I will take each day at a time.  I will wake to His presence.  I will commit to spending time with Him. I will wait on Him.

Father,
Thank you for new beginnings.  Thank you for giving us second and third and countless chances to follow Your lead.  Thank you for holding us close and drawing us near…even and mostly when we stray far from Your reach.  Thank you Lord for never forsaking us and always loving us.  I pray that we feel Your presence abundantly each moment of this new year.  Help us to turn to You and seek Your beautiful face. Thank you for loving us right where we are.

In Jesus’ name,  Amen.

 

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