Salvation belongs to the Lord

7 When my life was fainting away,
I remembered the Lord,
and my prayer came to you,
into your holy temple.
8 Those who pay regard to vain idols
forsake their hope of steadfast love.
9 But I with the voice of thanksgiving
will sacrifice to you;
what I have vowed I will pay.
Salvation belongs to the Lord!” Jonah 1:7-9

My daily devotional had me in Jonah today, a book I could write about for days. Jonah is a book that speaks about running from God.. I’ve done it. I’ve known people who have… in fact, I know people who ARE running from God now.

God asked Jonah to go to Nineveh.. he went exactly in the opposite direction to Tarshish. Exact opposite direction. Further, he told people on the boat he was in that He was running from God, and when the storm arose, he KNEW it was because he had disobeyed God. He asked the men to throw him into the sea so they would be saved…. and God saved Jonah.

God gave Jonah a second chance to do what He had asked him… to go to Nineveh and preach so that the people of Nineveh would be saved… and this time, Jonah obeyed.

Had Jonah not obeyed God, the people would not have been saved. Jonah would not have been saved.

Have you ever run from God? Done exactly the opposite of what you know He wants you to do? Are you now?

There are a handful of times in my life where I felt the Holy Spirit direct me to do something very specific. One of those times I said, “No”. Unequivocally no. I had an argument with God, Lol. I felt He was asking me to make myself vulnerable and I just wasn’t going to do it. I basically said those exact words in my head.

“Nope, Lord. I’m not going to do it. I’ve done a lot of things for You, but I’m not doin THAT!” Days later, the same command. Again, I said “No.”. Days later, a third time, the same command. Each time the command was exactly the same… He didn’t say it louder each time, or preface it with “I told you…”. It was simply the command. The THIRD time I heard it, I literally said.. to the God of the Universe, “I hope You know what You’re doing”… and I did what He asked of me. I couldn’t have guessed in my wildest dreams how God was about to bless me because of my obedience. But more than me, God brought others to saving grace because I had obeyed Him.

God is still in the miracle business… still using people like Jonah and me… Imperfect, scared people with a tendency to run to reach people who need to know Jesus.

Stop running today. Stop and listen. God wants to save you more than you can imagine. Where is your Nineveh? go there today. Don’t wait. He is there for you.

Be blessed my friends

SB

Sandpaper

In my spare time (whatever that is…), I like to build things out of wood. I wouldn’t consider myself a woodworker, and even “enthusiast” gives me too much credit… but I enjoy building things… Without exception, since I was a little girl, every single time I pick up a piece of sandpaper and begin sanding wood, I think of how God uses the rough things in our life to refine us and shape us to what He needs us to be.

In the process of sanding wood, we start with coarse grit… the roughest… if you’ve ever sanded anything with course sandpaper, like 60 grit, you know that it takes a lot of material off at once… and hurts the most if you accidentally sand your hand, particularly if you’re using a palm sander or belt sander. As you work on your project, the grit of the sandpaper increases and it’s roughness decreases, and the wood gets smoother and smoother. After 60 grit, we may use 100 or 120, followed by 150, then perhaps a 220. The size of the grains of sand on the paper determine the grit number. I’ve seen sandpaper as fine as 600 though, in truth I’ve never used it. I usually top out at 220, depending on the project, where it’s smooth enough for my use.

This is how it works with God… He takes the rough things that happen in our lives and uses them to continue to refine us and smooth us…

Whether your sandpaper is a relationship with conflict, a health issue, a financial issue, God can use those things to shape and mold us. It may be unpleasant, even downright painful… but trust the process. He makes all things beautiful in His time.

Be blessed today, my friends, even if what you’re going through is the sandpaper of life. Trust that the Sculptor is making you beautiful for His purpose.

Be blessed,

SB

The battle for your soul

Evil runs deep. Far deeper than we ever imagined. Time is short to get your affairs in order with the Lord.

It so easy to get wrapped up in all that’s going on around us, and, indeed, there is great need to pray and even to be involved to impact change

But the single most important thing you can do is get your heart right with God. Time is short. I am praying for those who don’t yet know the saving power of Jesus… those who don’t realize they need Him. Those who have it well off.

I’ve said for years that it’s far easier to help someone who knows they’re a wreck than someone who thinks they’re doing fine.

In my year of PRAY, I have committed to praying for people who need to know Jesus… the free grace that only He offers to everyone.

As my year plays out, I’ve created six categories of people for whom to pray regarding finding Gods grace and salvation:

1 myself. (Yes, I know I’m saved, but I want to continually surrender my will to the will of the Father)

2 my circle.. there are many in my immediate circle who do not yet know Gods grace and salvation personally. As people in my circle enter my mind, I record them in my journal and pray that they will find Gods grace

3 my community… those I know less directly but who aren’t very far from me

4 state – those in our state who need to know Jesus, be it government officials, state colleges, state workers, etc.

5 nation – those in our nation who need to know Jesus, our leaders and politicians, national business leaders and influencers…

6 globe – those across the globe who need to know Jesus…

There are, undoubtedly, enough people in those six categories to keep you praying for a long time… i encourage you to pick a category today and start to pray for those in it who don’t yet know Jesus… even if you don’t know them personally.

Prayer changes the battle.

Be blessed today, my friends

SB

Evidence of Gods Power

Those of you who’ve followed me for a while know that I am one of the youth leaders for our church’s youth group. Last night was youth group night, and we are studying the book of John. We read several passages throughout the book that shared some of the miracles Jesus performed while on earth and we talked about the power of God.

In our small group time, we asked our junior high girls if they’ve ever personally witnessed or experienced the power of God… crickets…. deer in the headlights… crickets. They all said they hadn’t…

I asked them what they would have thought if they had seen Jesus turn water into wine… they said they would have thought someone was playing a trick on them…

I wanted to jump out of my skin! As someone who has clearly seen the power of God right here in MY life and the lives of those around me, I wanted to shout from the ROOFTOPS! I had to try to contain myself because in our small group I feel like I’m the one always talking (middle school girls are very quiet)…. but I also wanted to share with them some of the ways I’ve personally seen evidence of Gods power… to help their eyes be opened to see it for themselves.

One of the girls in our group and I have a mutual friend named Cheyne who just graduated from high school and started his freshman year of college. Cheyne was diagnosed with cancer when he was FIVE years old… multiple surgeries and chemo treatments throughout his life… and he graduated from high school!! They never expected him to live… and he graduated high school and is planning his future right now! THAT is evidence of Gods power! I reminded her of Cheyne and she said “oh yeah.” … kind of as if to say, yeah I guess that was Gods power.

Still saddened by the fact the kids couldn’t articulate examples they’ve seen of Gods power, On our way home, I asked my high school daughter why she thought none of them could answer the question. I rattled off several other HUGE examples of the evidence we’ve seen of God. She said, “well, you’re older than they and you’ve had more experiences”. “True… and I thought of that, but you’re not much older than they and YOU’VE seen Gods power…”

She thought for a moment and said, “not everyone has a mom like you who talks about the power of God all the time and points out answered prayer.”

On one hand, I am humbled… thankful to have actually done something right in my life… to have provided an example to show others what God is capable of… on the other hand, I have awakened a sense of urgency to TELL OTHERS more and more about the power of God! If we don’t tell them, who will? If we don’t tell them, how will they know?

My story is only just beginning. I have seen the power of God and I want everyone to know. He has made the foulest clean… He has softened the hardest hearts.. He has healed the leper’s, He has made the lame to walk! Not just in biblical times… but right here, right now, all around us! And He wants to do it for you, too!

Father in Heaven, open our eyes to the wondrous works of Your hand… show us Your Power… up close and personal in the lives of our students that they would know how much You care about them… as individuals… and want to work in their lives. Help us to live as examples of Your power that others would see You through us. In Your Holy name I pray… amen

Be blessed today, friends

SB

Coconuts AND Peaches

Good morning, friends. Today, I want to share a new perspective… one that someone hit me with after they read my post yesterday…Peaches and coconuts

What if you’re both a coconut AND a peach? What if you’re hard on the outside AND on the inside? Is that possible? Do you know people like that?

What do you think causes that? Are they born like that? Or simply worn down by life to the point where they just build an outer shell as well as an inner shell?

I hadn’t really even considered that possibility to be honest… but after reading my post yesterday, someone pointed out that it’s possible.

How would you reach someone like that with the love of Christ? Would they be open to having Gods love penetrate their facade?

I am fascinated by personality studies… and have learned that people often have a public persona and a personal persona… the face they WANT you to see and the face they REALLY are… different types of personality tests can determine many things about both.

Oddly enough, in personality tests that I’ve done, my public persona is nearly identical to my personal… in other words, I am what I am… and yet even I wear a mask. I believe we all do to some degree. (Hence the Masquerade).

My theory is this… the people with the hard outer shell WANT you to think they’re tough… and in fact, they may indeed be hardened by the trials of life… they’ve harden the themselves to protect themselves.. and sometimes ONLY Gods love can penetrate their scales..

Many people might view the coconut shell and/or peach seed as a bad thing… the but truth is there’s a time and a place for both… there IS a need for us to protect ourselves… to guard our most tender and vulnerable areas from harm. Equally, there is a need for us to be tender and loving and show others our true identity…. The trick in life is to determine when and with whom each is appropriate.

God is raising up warriors, my friends… He wants to use us to reach a hardened world. He needs us to sensitive to others and to be able to show them His love, but He needs is to be tough enough to withstand the devils schemes.

Be blessed today, my friends!

SB

Peaches and coconuts

This morning as I bit into my Chambersburg Peach, one of summer’s magical delights, I remembered the analogy I heard about people some time ago.

Peaches are fuzzy and soft on the outside and have a giant, hard seed on the inside… the pit.

Coconuts have a very hard, thick outer shell, but once cracked, are soft and tender on the inside.

The context of the analogy about peaches and coconuts was our pastors wife, sharing her experiences after a mission trip to Paris last fall. During their trip, someone equated the French people with coconuts…. seemingly hard on the outside, but soft and tender on the inside, seemingly closed minded about the things of God, but once penetrated, open to hearing the Truth.

Many of us have become hard on the outside, for various reasons, with different life experiences. Deep inside, however, we are tender and fragile. Only when we break through that hard, outer shell are we open to see the works of God.

Ezekiel 36:26 says:
I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.

Are you open to allowing God to break through your shell? It’s scary, for sure, to step out in faith, not really knowing what’s in store for your future. After all, you’ve been pretty successful being tough. Will you allow God to break through?

Or are you a peach? Seemingly soft and tender in the outside, but inside hard and closed minded? will you allow God to soften your insides?

Think about it… be blessed my friends!

SB