Thursday, March 31, 2011

Forty Days of Lent - Day #23

Today our scripture will be short and sweet yet profound....

Phillipians 4:13 - "I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength"

I love the simplicity of this verse, but more importantly I love the meaning... in order to know what it means, let's look at what it doesn't mean.... I doesn't mean that we will have super powers, it doesn't mean that we will get everything we want, it doesn't mean we won't have problems.  What it means is that Christ walks through life with us and promises never to leave us - our strength comes from him.

I used to write this verse on the hand of one of my basketball players before every game.  It is just such a good reminder - not only is God my strength but I need to remember that I am representing Him when I step out on that court.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Forty Days of Lent - Day #22

Happy Wednesday everyone!  I hope you are feeling encouraged as you look to the Lord today for your strength and your guidance.

Our scripture this morning comes from Phillipians

Philippians 2:12-18 

Do Everything Without Grumbling
 12 Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. 14 Do everything without grumbling or arguing, 15 so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.”[a] Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky 16 as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain.17 But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. 18 So you too should be glad and rejoice with me.

This is another in your face passage of which I need to be reminded of on a daily basis.  "Do everything without grumbling or complaining"  - sounds simple but yet it is so hard.  Our sinful nature wants to complain - wants to be selfish - and sometimes the place that we complain about the most is the church!  When you are married to a pastor you see and hear how much complaining really happens.  What if for this week - we only said positives - that we focused on building up instead of tearing down.  Don't get me wrong I am not saying that constructive critisism doesn't have it's place, but I am saying that if we don't have a solution for the problem that we are complaining about - then we should keep it to ourselves!  

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Forty Days of Lent - Day #21

So today I learned something new about different traditions during lent.  I was told that today is the 18th day of lent and not the 21st.... I learned that Sundays are not included in the 40 days the lead up to Easter.  Each Sunday then in Lent is a celebration of Easter.... so interesting - I never knew that.  So my apologies for those that may be reading and have noticed that my lent count does not match yours.  My focus is to do 40 days in a row of scripture, because of Jesus forty days of sacrifice in the desert.  So you will find that when Easter week (Holy Week) comes around I will still be counting and if I counted correctly we will be up to 47 days when we reach Easter Sunday.  I hope my count doesn't mess you up and you will all show me grace as you now understand the method of my scripture madness (kinda like March Madness, but no one loses in this one).

Our scripture for today comes from ....

Luke 10:38-42 

At the Home of Martha and Mary
 38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”   41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

This passage is so convicting to me - I am a Martha!  I am reminded of that daily as I so often value tasks over people.  My husband - is so much more a Mary - he always values people over tasks and though it often frustrates me - I know he is choosing what is better.  I am afraid that if Jesus were to come to my house I would be so busy making sure he was fed, and was comfortable that I would miss sitting at his feet.  I need to focus on that this week.  Who are you more like?  I would love to hear you thoughts on this one.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Forty Days of Lent - Day #20

It is hard to believe we are already half way through Lent - So happy hump day everyone.  This weekend we were blessed to have Sue Thomas - former secret weapon of the FBI come to our church and share, Joel and I even had the priviledge of taking her and her assistant to Cruisers for lunch - she loved our fries and bison burgers!  Anyway - she shared how God spoke to her through Hosea 14 - so I thought today I would share that with you.

Hosea 14

Repentance to Bring Blessing
 1 [a]Return, Israel, to the LORD your God. 
   Your sins have been your downfall! 
2 Take words with you 
   and return to the LORD. 
Say to him: 
   “Forgive all our sins 
and receive us graciously, 
   that we may offer the fruit of our lips.[b] 
3 Assyria cannot save us; 
   we will not mount warhorses. 
We will never again say ‘Our gods’ 
   to what our own hands have made, 
   for in you the fatherless find compassion.”
 4 “I will heal their waywardness
   and love them freely,
   for my anger has turned away from them.
5 I will be like the dew to Israel;
   he will blossom like a lily.
Like a cedar of Lebanon
   he will send down his roots;
 6 his young shoots will grow.
His splendor will be like an olive tree,
   his fragrance like a cedar of Lebanon.
7 People will dwell again in his shade;
   they will flourish like the grain,
they will blossom like the vine—
   Israel’s fame will be like the wine of Lebanon.
8 Ephraim, what more have I[c] to do with idols?
   I will answer him and care for him.
I am like a flourishing juniper;
   your fruitfulness comes from me.”
 9 Who is wise? Let them realize these things.
   Who is discerning? Let them understand.
The ways of the LORD are right;
   the righteous walk in them,
   but the rebellious stumble in them.

The subtitle is Repentance to Bring blessing - how true is that - I love this passage because you see God's goodness and blessing for his people because they have turned away from their sin and turned to God.  How would our lives look different today if we took the time to take to God our unconfessed sin?  I want to live a blessed life, but in order to do that I know I must wade through my mess of mistakes and sin and take them to the cross!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Forty Days of Lent - Day #19

This is the Day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it!  Is that how we started the day today?  I must say when the alarm was going off I was just thinking how my head hurt - how long my day would be, and what I needed to get done before heading to church, which didn't go as planned since the keys to my car were already at the church in Joel's pocket....thankfully for my friend Bonnie - she came and took me to church.

The scripture for today is

Psalm 28:7
The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him.

This is my prayer for all of us this week as we soon close up our weekend and head into the craziness of the week ahead.  I pray that we will find our strength in God and that at the mention or thought of His name - our heart would leap for joy! And our face will shine the joy of Jesus!  

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Forty Days of Lent - Day #18

It is a Psalm Saturday!!!  To me one of the best places to turn for encouragement is the book of Psalms - there seems to be at least one for every feeling or emotion.

Today is one of my favorites.....

Psalm 46

 1 God is our refuge and strength,
   an ever-present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
   and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
3 though its waters roar and foam
   and the mountains quake with their surging.
 4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
   the holy place where the Most High dwells.
5 God is within her, she will not fall;
   God will help her at break of day.
6 Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
   he lifts his voice, the earth melts.
 7 The LORD Almighty is with us;
   the God of Jacob is our fortress.
 8 Come and see what the LORD has done,
   the desolations he has brought on the earth.
9 He makes wars cease
   to the ends of the earth.
He breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
   he burns the shields with fire.
10 He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
   I will be exalted among the nations,
   I will be exalted in the earth.”
 11 The LORD Almighty is with us;
   the God of Jacob is our fortress.

The words speak for itself - take some time to be still today!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Forty Days of Lent - Day #17

Happy Friday everyone!  I hope and pray that this scripture this morning will encourage you in your journey with the Lord.

Jeremiah 29:11

"For I know the plans you have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

This verse brings back a great memory of my time in Africa.  While in Kenya for a month we worked with a group of street boys that were taken off the streets and given a home in the bush called the Taraja Home.  These boys had seen and experienced more in their short live than I could ever have imagined.  They had very little material possessions, many only had one shoe - but for them it was great because they could kick better in "football" aka soccer.  Upon meeting these boys they would introduce themselves and say my name is Steven Embogo and I love Jesus!  These boys lived out faith in a way that I had never experienced.

This verse that I am using today is a verse that many of the boys had memorized and during their chapel times they would stand together and recite it - believing and trusting that God trully did have an amazing plan for their lives.  They had nothing but in Christ they had everything - we have everything but in the midst of that I think we forget Christ.... where are your priorities today?

Forty Days of Lent - Day #16

Good morning friends!  This is the scripture verse for yesterday, it is just appearing today.  As I was opening up my Bible this morning this verse popped out to me.  Hope you find a challenge and encouragement from it today.

Psalm 86:17

"Give me a sign of your goodness, that my enemies may see it and be put to shame, for you, O Lord, have helped me and comforted me"

Do you believe that God is good?  Do you believe that God still shows Himself to us and to others?  How often to we pray for God to show himself not just to us but to others, maybe others that critise us and God.  We need to pray that God would show his goodness to the world around us.  I struggle doing this at times because I feel there can be a fine line between asking God to show himself and testing God.  Ask God to show himself to someone today - but then don't be amazed when He does it - I end with this quote by Louie Giglio - "We, so often, expect the usual, while claiming our God is supernatural!"

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Forty Days of Lent - Day #15

Rain and Snow - it is March in Central PA - I did hear someone say today that in like a lion out like a lamb and lambs are white and fluffy just like snow.... anyway on to our scripture of the day.

1 Peter 4:11
If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.

This was our theme verse one year for our tennis team at Messiah College.  We liked the idea of serving having ties to our sport :)  Anyway - this verse is a great verse to memorize.  If we are going to speak - we need to speak truth!  If we are going to serve - we must serve as Jesus did - without selfish motives.  Our lives are to point to Christ, so he gets the glory and not us.  That was our goal when we stepped onto the court in college - we wanted people to know that we were going to be honest, do our best, and reflect God in all that we did so when others played us they would see that we were different.  Do people see that you are different when you step onto the court, into the playing field, when you walk through the door.  Today is a day to get that in check!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Forty Days of Lent - Day #14

It is Tuesday and the sun is shining through the windows, but I am stuck in bed with Strep Throat - yuck - despite being sick it has been a good productive day of writing!  Now for our scripture for today....

Colossians 1:15-20

 15 The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. 19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

God became flesh!  He wrapped himself in flesh and came to dwell among us.  Have you taken time to think about how big of a deal that is....Jesus is God!  Jesus walked on this earth, he was tempted, he experienced emotions...he was God!  As I read this scripture I am blown away by the "Rare" Jesus (as Doug Fields calls him)  This man was fully God but fully human!  Only God could do that.  This same Jesus mentioned in this scripture is the Jesus that loves you, that died so that you could have life, and have it abundantly!  Do you know that Jesus?  Are you living your life for that Jesus?  If not, why not start today!!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Forty Days of Lent - Day #13

Happy Monday - This is the day that the Lord has made - we will rejoice in be glad in it - is that your prayer to God this morning - despite the rain and despite feeling sick?  Our scripture this morning comes from Phillipians.

Philippians 4:4-9 

4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
 8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

This passage is so full of direction for us as followers of Christ - simple yet profound instructions.  Rejoice in God despite your circumstances.... be gentle to all (that is a tough one for me).  Don't be anxious (is it possible to be a woman and not struggle with that), but instead PRAY!  Simple - yet so hard to do at times.  Paul then goes on and gives us a list of what is good and what we should be thinking about - let's think about those things today and put them into practice!

Forty Days of Lent - Day #12

Once again playing catch-up - Sundays are busy days at the church and by the time I got home I just crashed.  Needless to say I didn't get to post yesterday like I had hoped.

Our scripture for the day is from Ecc. 4:8-12

8 There was a man all alone;
   he had neither son nor brother.
There was no end to his toil,
   yet his eyes were not content with his wealth.
“For whom am I toiling,” he asked,
   “and why am I depriving myself of enjoyment?”
This too is meaningless—
   a miserable business!
 9 Two are better than one,
   because they have a good return for their labor: 
10 If either of them falls down,
   one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
   and has no one to help them up. 
11 Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
   But how can one keep warm alone? 
12 Though one may be overpowered,
   two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

This was the passage of scripture that we used at our wedding.  I love this scripture because it shows the importance of relationships.  The cord of three strands mentioned at the end of the image of Christ woven into your relationship.  Relationships are hard - but when Christ is your focus as a couple you have a foundation that can not be shaken!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Forty Days of Lent - Day #11

I was up early this morning - and I will be honest - I wasn't too happy about it - I had a bad attitude and I felt crappy, and I had to go to the church to lead worship - let's just say I didn't have the right mindset and my heart was not in the right place.  As I was sitting there I asked God to give me a soft heart and prepare me to lead.  Then a pastor got up and shared this classic verse.

Psalm 118:24 - "This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it"

I was immediately convicted!  I didn't start my day off giving it to God, and you could tell!  How often do we wake up and grumble about the days activities that lie ahead of us - instead we need to start the day reciting this verse and giving the day to God, because after all - it is his day!

My challenge to you today is for the next week - say this verse first thing when you get up in the morning - see how it changes your attitude towards that day ahead!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Forty Days of Lent - Day #10

Happy Friday everyone!  Today our scripture comes from I Thessalonians 2:8

"We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well"

This was our theme verse when I was a Young Life leader.  One of the things that I have found to be true in life is that people are more willing to listen to you and the Gospel when you have shared life with them.  The idea of earning the right to be heard.  We can't just go around preaching at people without investing in them.  Taking care of their physical and emotional needs as well as the spiritual needs.  Jesus did that in every encounter that he has with people.  He loved people and cared about their needs and asks us to do the same.

Forty Days of Lent - Day #9

Totally forgot to do my post yesterday!  My goal for the rest of lent is to be daily with my posts!  Hope you are encouraged by God's word.

Today's scripture is a from II Corinthians and is one of my life verses.  II Cor. 12:9,10

"My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.  Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses so that Christ's power may rest on me.  That is why for Christ's sake I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties.  For when I am weak, then I am strong.  

There is something so attractive about God's grace!  It is undeserved loved!  We can't earn it, it is given to us as a gift.  Some of us chose to accept that gift and live our lives forgiven, however so many deny the gift and live a life that is seeking something other than God.... have you accepted the gift of God's grace

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Forty Days of Lent - Day #8

Today the scripture chosen focuses on prayer... it is a section of scripture that Paul is encouraging the people of Colosse on how to pray and also to pray for him.

Colossians 4:2-6 "Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.  And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains.  Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should.  Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity.  Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone."

There are so many great biblical truths and encouragement in this passage of scripture, however I want to focus just on one in particular.  Paul is preaching the word and he has asked the people of this church to be praying for him because it is hard.  I think this scripture is a good reminder that we need to be praying for our pastors.  That they would "proclaim it clearly".  It is a hard job being a pastor - I have worked for a church and I am now married to one.  Criticism runs rampant in the church, but the sad truth is that pray doesn't.  We would much rather criticize that pray, or step up to help.  Today I want to encourage you to do some searching of your heart...are you praying for your pastor?  or are you criticizing and complaining?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Forty Days of Lent - Day #7

Happy Tuesday friends!  Our verses for today are from a very familiar passage.

Matt. 5: 13 - 16  "You are the salt of the earth.  But if the salt loses its saltiness how can it be made salty again?  It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.  You are the light of the world.  A city on a hill cannot be hidden.  Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl.  Instead they put in on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven."

Though this is a familiar passage - too often we read and we never change anything about out lives.  This whole idea of salt was very different in bible times than it is today.  We salt our food to give it flavor, so it does have a purpose, but it is not a necessity.  In bible times - without salt they would starve.  Salt was used to preserve the food.  And it is our job as Christians to help preserve those around us!  Jesus you ARE the salt of the earth - it is not optionally - you don't get to chose if you want to be it or not - you are to do it!  Are you being obedient to God's call to be salt?

Monday, March 14, 2011

Forty Days of Lent - Day #6

It is Monday - a new day and a new week!  For me I can't think of a better way to start the week than with a Psalm to get our hearts focused on the Joy of the Lord.  I hope this scripture encourages you this morning.....

Psalm 96

 1 Sing to the LORD a new song; 
   sing to the LORD, all the earth. 
2 Sing to the LORD, praise his name; 
   proclaim his salvation day after day. 
3 Declare his glory among the nations, 
   his marvelous deeds among all peoples.
 4 For great is the LORD and most worthy of praise;
   he is to be feared above all gods.
5 For all the gods of the nations are idols,
   but the LORD made the heavens.
6 Splendor and majesty are before him;
   strength and glory are in his sanctuary.
 7 Ascribe to the LORD, all you families of nations,
   ascribe to the LORD glory and strength.
8 Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name;
   bring an offering and come into his courts.
9 Worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness;
   tremble before him, all the earth.
10 Say among the nations, “The LORD reigns.”
   The world is firmly established, it cannot be moved;
   he will judge the peoples with equity.
 11 Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad;
   let the sea resound, and all that is in it.
12 Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them;
   let all the trees of the forest sing for joy.
13 Let all creation rejoice before the LORD, for he comes,
   he comes to judge the earth.
He will judge the world in righteousness
   and the peoples in his faithfulness.

Forty Days of Lent - Day #5

Oops I forgot to post this yesterday... with all the craziness in my life - sorry!  Anyway here is yesterday's verse - just think of today as a two for one scripture deal.

Isaiah 6:1-3

"The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.  He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners,  to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor, and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn and provide for those who grieve in Zion -  to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.  They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor."

This my friends is our call as Christians!!!  This is how we are to serve others and share Christ - with our actions - we can't just talk about Jesus - we need to be Jesus!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Forty Days of Lent - Day #4

Today's scripture is one of the first verses that I memorized... it is a classic (if you can call a scripture that) Proverbs 3:5,6 "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge him and He will make your paths straight"

Such a great verse.... with a simple straight forward message - yet in all honesty - it can be one of the hardest verses to follow and live out.  As selfish controlling people it is really hard for us to trust - we say we trust, but when push comes to shove we rarely fully trust God - we trust ourselves.  Today - transfer your trust to the rightful owner.  Relinquish control - and let him give your life direction.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Forty Days of Lent - Day #3

Our verse for today is Ephesians 2:10 - For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do."

This is the verse that I will be using this weekend as we head to Wesley Forest for the first ever Taraja Ministries Crafting retreat.  I am so excited about what God has in store for this weekend get away.  Since we will be crafting I thought that this verse was a great reminder that we are also crafted!  By the creator of the Universe.  How awesome is it to think that the One who created the heavens also created you.

Today I want to encourage you to stand in awe of the One who created you!  And he created you to do good works!!!

I will be showing this video while we are there - it is a bit long - but worth every minute!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Forty Days of Lent - Day #2

Our verse for today comes from Psalm 25:4-5 "Show me your ways, LORD, teach me your paths. Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long."

I love the Psalms because they are just honest, heartfelt cries out to God, mostly from David but some others as well.

This verse is a longing to know God's path for your life.  Have you thought about that - do you long to know where he wants you?  It can be a scary thing to long for and pray for - because I think as Christians we have a fear that he might send us somewhere uncomfortable.  I know that from experience - it is hard to trust God and leave a place that is safe and familiar for a new place - but God is so faithful we need to trust him in that.

It also talks about being guided in truth - the truth is in God's word - if we aren't in his word how can we know truth and how can we know his will.  When was the last time you studied God's word?  I am guilty of not doing that enough!  

So today I challenge you to get into the Word of God - long for truth and knowledge!

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Forty Days of Lent - Day #1

After a month hiatus I have returned to the blogging world, just in time for my Lenten Series. The last month has been a bit crazy here, but it is nice to return.

Lent is the time of year when you hear about a lot of people giving up things for 40 days. This is a tradition for many churches - however there are many churches that do not formally celebrate lent. Lent is the 40 days leading up to Easter, it represents the 40 days that Jesus spent fasting in the desert. People are then encouraged to fast from something to draw them closer to God.

Though our church does not formally celebrate Lent - I have over the years given up something or tried to add something to my daily schedule that would draw me closer to Jesus. I have given up some crazy things - one year I gave up going to Walmart, another year I gave up dating. On the other side of adding a spiritual discipline - one year I did a prayer journal each day of lent, read a chapter of the bible each day.

This year I am going to do a scripture meditation. Each day during Lent I will have a different scripture posted and a few thoughts about that scripture and maybe a question or two to think about. I hope and pray that you will join me as we venture through scripture this lenten season.....not just going through the motions but allowing God to draw us closer to Jesus each day.

Our scripture for today is....Galations 5:13 - "You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedoms to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love."

That has been our theme verse at church over the past two months - this idea of service is to be a part of who we are and how we live our lives. People will not always listen to what you have to say as a Christian - however, there is a guarantee that they will be watching what you do! Joel and I have experience the receiving part of service so much over the past two months much of which has been spent on bedrest. We are so thankful for people reaching out to us and loving on us - it is humbling!

As you reflect on this scripture today, ask yourself - when was the last time I served someone? Would you consider doing something for someone today?