Mistaken Identity

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  1. Message:  When Jesus went to the region of the Gerasenes he met the man possessed by demons. The man initially ran toward Jesus and bowed before him, but then he screeched at Jesus saying “why are you interfering with us?!”We have no idea what the man’s name is because when Jesus asked the man his name, the demons once again spoke on his behalf and said his name was “Legion because we are many”. It really struck me that this man’s bondage had so consumed his life that it literally became his identity and the demons were so large and in charge that they were the ones speaking and acting on his behalf. The other thing that really struck me about this story is how much the townspeople normalized this man’s issues. He was so out of control that he couldn’t live civilly. Since he could no longer be restrained by chains and shackles he lived in the cemetery, but for some reason when Jesus cast out his demons and they saw him clothed and sitting in his right mind it scared them so badly that they pleaded with Jesus to go away and leave them alone. This seems like such a strange response! Why wouldn’t they be happy for this man who was now able to go home to his family?
  2. Command: Stop letting the bondage speak or act on our behalf!
  3. Promise: There is no water (or barrier) that Jesus has not already crossed to set us free, and he will not be moved by the “townspeople” of our lives who fear our freedom.
  4. Warning: Don’t let the areas of our lives that have held us captive become our identity. We are not our sin issues, and we are not the product of things that happened to us.
  5. Application: I see the application in so many ways here. We all have things in our lives that control us. It could be a bad memory, a pattern of abuse, an addiction, a victim mentality, an illness, a behavioral trait…the list is endless and some of them can seem more innocent or “normal” to us. Like the townspeople in this story, there are people in our lives who are resistant to our deliverance and change. When we change it throws off the balance that people in our lives are used to. The change brings insecurity to other people and exposes what is broken inside them. I carried many of these labels for years and I wasn’t really aware that they were speaking on my behalf and running my life. I still have a lot of things to work out but one of the most important questions I started asking myself was “how would a healthy person respond?” I don’t want to be known for my issues or my traumas so I’m continually asking God to help me process through all of it layer by layer.

Emotional Baggage of Guilt

Emotional Baggage of Guilt

  1. Message: Well I’m still sucked into the story of Jacob so here I go again in Genesis! Jacob is about to see his brother face to face for the first time since he stole his blessing and fled. He is now so paranoid that his brother might try to kill him that he split up his wives and servant wives and children and he sent a generous amount of flocks ahead hoping this will appease his brother. When he finally sees Esau he hugs him and kisses him. Esau is happy to see him but wants to know what’s up with all of the animals. When Jacob tells him it’s a gift for him because he is overflowing with blessing, Esau says “no thanks, I have plenty.” Jacob insists so Esau accepts the gift and then immediately wants Jacob and his entourage to hit the road and follow him home to Seir. Jacob tells him to go ahead and that he would follow at a slower pace, but then he takes another road and settles somewhere else. Anyone else confused by this move?
  2. Application: Once again I skipped the command, promise and warning. We’re just observing behaviors here. I think it’s interesting that Jacob spent SO much time obsessing over his brother’s response that he was absolutely paranoid. When he finally saw his brother he was well received and his brother clearly wanted him to go home with him. It seems that Esau did in fact let loose of that yoke and was doing very well. Interestingly enough, Jacob is holding all of the blessings and favor of God but his soul is still not ok. He appears to be the one still in bondage to the yoke that was originally  put over Esau. Even though the blessings that were spoken said that Esau would serve his brother, Jacob continues to refer to himself as “servant” and his brother as “master”. I’m completely speculating here but it seems he might still be stuck in his guilt. He tried to buy his brother’s favor and even though his brother showed genuine signs of restoration, Jacob took another road. I have seen this in relationships. One person is unable to get past their guilt even when the other has healed. The guilt looms over them and makes them paranoid so they duck out of the relationship entirely. I see myself on both sides of this story and I just want to take note here that you can be victimized and heal from it like Esau did, or you can get stuck in your guilt and self-destruct. I’m not saying that Jacob self-destructed but his behavior is peculiar. We all do this when we’re guilty. We act weird, get paranoid, try to earn or buy relationships or avoid them altogether.

Fraudulent Blessings

  1. Message: It seems I’m stuckin Genesis lately but I can’t help but follow this interesting storyline. If you remember back to where Jacob received the stolen blessing, his father said that he would be his brother’s master. When he blessed Esau he also told Esau that he would serve his brother… UNTIL the day he would decide to break the yoke. After he went on his own rebellion to marry the women his father didn’t want him to marry we don’t hear anything further about him. We don’t know what went down with Esau or whether he ever decided he wanted to be free from the bondage. It seems like there is an injustice going on because God honors all of the blessings promised over Jacob and he prospers even under a crooked master. Now suddenly Jacob is anticipating seeing his brother and several times refers to Esau as “my master” and to himself as “his servant”. He is wealthy from all of the blessings he stole but can’t enjoy any peace from it. He separates his household into separate camps in fear of a possible attack and sends gifts ahead hoping to win over his brother. This is when he ends up in a camp alone and he wrestles with “a man” in an unusual encounter which is later described as him being face to face with God. Jacob demands a blessing and refuses to let go until he gets it. I find this interesting because he has already been blessed right? He received so much blessing that I don’t know what else he could possibly ask for, but he was a fraud and he knew it. The “man” responds by asking Jacob his name. Not because his fraud wasn’t already known, but to me this looks like a critical moment of honesty and acknowledgment. Kind of like an addict who finally lets go of denial and acknowledges the truth about what he is doing. This seems important because although he was receiving the blessings he stole, he couldn’t really thrive because he was carrying guilt and fear from the dishonesty. He must have felt like an imposter in spite of the blessings. After this the “man” changes his name from Jacob (which means “the deceiver”) to “Israel”.  Then he blesses him in his own name.
  2. Application: Since I went on with so much detail on message portion I’m going to skip to the application. My personal application of this is to ask myself the hard questions. The ones that question my motives and force me to be honest with myself so that I can be healed!

Honoring Covenants Brings Blessing

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  1. Message: Jacob had marked a large stone as a monument to mark his covenant with God. He renamed the town Bethel before showing up at his Uncle Laban’s place.He endured a lot of dishonesty, trickery and unfair treatment in all of those years but God did miraculous things to bless Jacob because of his honor at Bethel. When the turmoil worsened with Laban, Jacob took off with his family. When Laban chased after him God showed up in a dream to Laban warning him not to harm Jacob. After this the two of them built another rock pile monument and agreed that as they parted ways they would never pass those monuments with ill intent towards each other.
  2. Command: Honor God and stay faithful no matter what turmoil and unfair treatment you have to endure.
  3. Promise: God will protect us in ways that we could never protect ourselves!
  4. Warning: Don’t allow corrupt or unfair treatment to change our response. We represent God and we work for him.
  5. Application: As I read this I thought about seasons in my life that have been unfair and full of turmoil. There was so much temptation to respond accordingly, but God was not going to let me get away with using any of it as an excuse. I felt the weight of my covenant with every decision and although things were really tough God didn’t allow me to use any excuses to act out even though I really wanted to. He was training me and teaching me to rise to another standard. Not to elevate myself as a “good person” but because in order for him to bless me in spite of it all, I needed to honor the covenant I made with him. God is faithful and he will allow us to go through the struggles for our own good, but he will honor the stand we make to honor our covenant with him.

Patterns & Cycles

  1. Message: As I was reading about Jacob’s interaction with his Uncle Laban I started to see a continued pattern of trickery going on. Previously Jacob manipulated and tricked his way into stealing Esau’s blessing and then he runs away to escape the problem and finds another one. Laban tricks and manipulates Jacob into marrying the wrong daughter and then doubles the work time for him to marry the other one. After Jacob marries both sisters the favor went to only one of them and she started having babies while the other sat in envy. Once again, to solve a fertility problem Rachel tells Jacob to sleep with her servant to try to fulfill her desire for a baby. Sound familiar? This is exactly what Jacob’s grandparents did when Sarah was unable to conceive. The madness continued until finally the cycle was broken when Rachel finally conceived.
  2. Command: Have we learned nothing yet? God’s promises are not to be manipulated! It will only bring on more jealousy and heartache!
  3. Promise: God will bless in his timing when we surrender our plans and choose his.
  4. Warning: Our manipulations causes heartache and prolonged waiting!
  5. Application: As I read this I really saw theissue of personal and family patterns that cause destruction. We tend to repeat what we grew up in even when we don’t realize it. Running away from the problem only makes it worse. The only answer is to surrender our plans and trust that what God has for us is far more wonderful than we could ever concoct out of our own doing. We talked about this last week when we saw Jacob do it, but since we are talking about patterns and cycles, I thought it was worth repeating!

Embrace the Process

Embrace the Process

  1. Message: In just this one chapter we see a large summary of Jesus’ ministry beginning with John the Baptist preparing the way, the baptism of Jesus, a confirmation from God about his purpose, Jesus in the wilderness, Jesus preaching repentance and gathering disciples, Jesus speaking with an undeniable authority and then the miracles.
  2. Command: Follow God’s process and don’t try to cut it short.              
  3. Promise: God is faithful
  4. Warning: Temptation, distraction and talking Will try to push us off-course
  5. Application: As I pulled all of these things apart I saw how Jesus, who was perfect still walked out a process before ministry began. Some of this prepared him but I can’t help but wonder how much of it was for the sake of those watching him. We’re all in a stage of the process and people around us and those closest to us are watching to see how we handle each stage. I’m often impatient with the process. I want to do things to help it along.

Offenses Lead to Rebellion

  1. Message: What stood out to me in Genesis 28 was the fact that Esau was paying attention to the fact that his parents steered Jacob away from the Canaanite women and instead sent him off to his uncle to find a wife. Since this is what his parents wanted, he did the exact  opposite and married one of Ishmael’s daughters. I have seen this behavior with kids and if I’m really honest, I can recognize that same rebellion within myself. I didn’t marry out of rebellion, but I have definitely felt a rebellious streak come over me when I am bitter toward someone in authority. I have definitely felt this way at work before!
  2. Command: We don’t hear anything more about Esau after this, but the command I would go back to is the one we read yesterday when his father told him that he was to serve his brother.
  3. Promise: The promise also draws back from yesterday’s reading because his father also told him that when he is ready, he will shake off the yoke. To me this is far more powerful than it sounds!
  4. Warning: The warning here was not to marry the Canaanite women.
  5. Application: I felt busted on this one today! As I mentioned in the message portion, I have definitely felt a streak of rebellion come over me when an authority figure has offended me. It makes me want to do the exact opposite of what they are saying-even if what they are advising makes perfect sense! What IS that??? Obviously as an adult I don’t have a lot of authority figures over my life. I have a boss, we all have police officers and government officials, and we have spiritual authorities like pastors and mentors. Just in case you might be struggling to relate, the authority figure doesn’t necessarily have to be one that rules over you.It could be an authority like a manager of owner over a place that you are visiting. Maybe you accidentally broke a rule and were corrected (or even just politely advised!). Maybe you were denied something because of a rule. Maybe you received a late fee or were denied access to something. Whatever it was it may have caused an offense. Now you’re irritated that you were called out or felt rejected and you want to rebel. I have definitely felt this on more occasions than I’d like to admit. I’m not an “act out” kind of person though so I tend to feel it inwardly but still comply. I have a mousepad on my desk at work with Colossians 3:23 written on it reminding me to do my work as unto the Lord and not men. I need this reminder because often times I am frustrated with the system, and the people that manage it even though I deeply care about them on a personal level. When I am offended by the way things are managed I feel a tension inside because I know the right thing to do, but because of my offense I really want to rebel against it. I had to apologize to my office manager one day because she came and asked me (very politely) to do something a certain way because it would benefit someone else in the office who has a pattern of disrespect to our coworkers and often manipulates and demands her own way. The behavior is usually justified or ignored so I had an offense built already. When the request was politely made by my office manager I was immediately offended so I gave several very logical reasons why I couldn’t or shouldn’t have to do it that way. My office manager heard me out, but deep inside I knew that there was no reason I couldn’t do what she asked me to do. I felt deeply convicted and had to go apologize. I let her know that it was disrespectful of me to refute her request just because I was offended by it. I immediately felt better and I have found that since then I have an easier time with requests like that. I still have feelings about the other coworker’s behavior, but I am not working for her. I am working for God and my attitude matters. Even if nobody else can see it.

Shake Off That Yoke of Bondage


  1. Message: Rebekah manipulated her favorite son, Jacob to trick his father into giving him the first-born blessing. He blessed him by making him the master over his brother and guaranteed him an abundance of grain and wine. When Esau begged for just one blessing his father said “you will live away from the riches of the earth, and away from the dew of the heaven above. You will live by your sword and you will serve your brother. But when you decide to be free you will shake his yoke from your neck”.
  2. Command:  Live by the terms you have been given.
  3. Promise: When you are ready to be free you will break out of the bondage.
  4. Warning: You will live by your sword until you are ready for freedom.
  5. Application: I have read this story plenty of times but today something really jumped out at me! In this story we see the anguish in Esau as he realizes he lost his blessing. The blessing was built to favor Jacob and nothing was left for Esau, and even though he deceived his father to gain it, it was made very clear that the blessing was irrevocable. When Esau begged his father for just one blessing his father told him that he would serve his brother, live by his sword and wouldn’t have the grain and wine blessings, BUT when HE decided to be free he would shake his yoke from his neck. That last line says so much! As I look at my own life I see SO many things that were decided for me. Things that were done to me that I didn’t get to choose. There are also some things I naively walked into. This is true of all of us in completely different ways. We have all been victimized in some way and that has the potential to make us a slave to the emotions and limitations that come with being victimized. Like Jacob, when I decide to be free (in so many ways I already have) I shake off that yoke of bondage. Bondage can mean SO many different things for all of us but it all stems from how we respond to the people who have violated us. This isn’t to suggest that we treat the violation like it wasn’t painful or unfair. In the story the father didn’t blow it off like it wasn’t terrible. Instead he empowered his son to accept it and then rise above it. What could have held him as a slave his entire life had a new potential but the choice was all on Esau to shake off the yoke of bondage. We all have that choice too. Some terrible things have happened to most of us. Things out of our control. We can choose to focus on being a victim, or we can rise up and shake off the yoke of bitterness and unforgiveness that holds us captive. My own application for this is to pay attention to my own responses to unfair situations. I need to accept them for what they are, but not allow my response to hold me back.

It Was Necessary


  1. Message: The betrayal of Jesus was necessary for the plan, but it still had natural consequences on everyone involved.
  2. Promise: Everyone who drinks of the blood will confirm the covenant between God and his people.
  3. Warning: “How terrible it will be for the one who betrays him. It would be far better for that man if he were never born”.
  4. Application: As I read about Judas’s plot and betrayal I couldn’t help but think about how necessary it was for this to happen. Even though God knew it would happen, and even though it was necessary there were still consequences. Jesus warned ahead that it would be devastating to the betrayer. This definitely proved to be true. In my head I heard the commonly used quote “everything happens for a reason”. I personally hate that quote, but what I believe to be true is that negative things happen in our lives. They contribute to our growth and are necessary but they still very much carry the weight of consequences. This was real for Judas and it’s real in our lives too.

The Kingdom of God Means Prepare, Invest & Help

  1. Message: Reading the two parables about the kingdom of heaven, and then the judgment day scenario in Matthew 25 I realized that I have always heard them discussed separately with individual meanings. While this is true, I also realized the importance of looking at all three meanings together as one and relating them to our character. The kingdom of God is us and all of these character traits are what we should be doing so that we will result on his right hand at judgment day. The first one with the ten virgins was about being prepared for the future in advance and not waiting until it’s too late to prepare. The next one is about the three servants who were given different amounts of money to invest while the master was away. Two of them invested at different capacities but one refused to invest at all. He buried it and then blamed the master for it. Then there is the judgment day scenario where he is separating the lambs from the sheep as he asks whether they fed, clothed and visited those in need. All of these character traits go together. Believers are supposed to be lenders and not borrowers. We’re supposed to be the ones helping and supporting but we can’t do that if we aren’t organized and prepared in advance. If we are the ones always in need because we weren’t investing and we weren’t preparing in advance for things that will come ahead. Obviously this is a spiritual preparation but it’s also a physical preparation. If we aren’t good stewards of our time, our finances and our abilities we can’t fulfill the things he is requiring of us. God has equipped us with what we need if we will physically, spiritually and emotionally. There is no excuse for laziness according to these passages.
  2. Command: Be prepared, invest and then help others
  3. Promise: God will recognize his sheep for these characteristics.
  4. Warning: Laziness, procrastination and self-preservation will not be rewarded or recognized as sheep in his kingdom
  5. Application: As I read all of this together I see that God has given us the tools to succeed. Not just for our enjoyment in life, but because he expects us to use our skill and success to help others and teach them his ways. If I am not doing these things I won’t be able to succeed and I sure won’t be able to help anyone else succeed. I can apply this to so many areas of my life where I keep asking God for help but I have yet to apply these principles that he has already equipped me with. I have business ideas and creative plans that can be used to inspire and make money if I would just discipline myself to plan it all out. My health is another investment that I need to take seriously. Today I feel convicted to sit and map out some short-term and long term goals so that I can start doing something and ask God to direct and bless it.

I Pity the Fool

  1. Message: Proverbs 26 gives several scenarios for how and how not to interact with a fool.
  2. Command: Don’t be a fool, trust a fool, argue with a fool, honor a fool or expect wisdom to come from a fool.
  3. Application: Today I eliminated the “promise” and the “warning” steps simply because this entire Proverb is all about how to and how not to interact with a fool. Of course, as we read this we all assume the fool is someone else other than ourselves. Hopefully this is so, but I think it’s fair to say we have all played the fool at one point or another. When we’re not the fool, chances are we’re interacting with someone who is having a foolish moment, or unfortunately, a foolish season of life. One of the mistakes I saw very clearly while reading this was the issue of arguing with someone who is acting a fool. In my mind I always think that if I just try to explain myself I can convince someone where I’m coming from but it doesn’t work that way. You simply can’t reason with someone who is being unreasonable so arguing is pointless. In the process of arguing I have definitely looked like the fool and probably became one also. My application today is to first of all, try no to be the fool! Second of all it’s to recognize those moments where I need to hold my peace.

The Number One Deadly Heart Disease: Religiousness

  1. Message:  The religious were being publicly rebuked and exposed as Jesus spoke to the people and told them that the religious only appeared to be clean on the surface as they made a show of themselves acting righteous while demanding the people to follow after a level of righteousness that they themselves were not inwardly keeping.
  2. Command: Follow the message that the religious teach, but don’t follow what they do. Care about our inward condition more than our outward appearance and don’t elevate our status or allow anyone else to because we were all intended to be equals.
  3. Promise: Those who humble themselves will be exalted
  4. Warning: Those who exalt themselves will be humbled
  5. Application:  We have the potential to turn literally any good thing into a show if we aren’t doing it for the right reasons. Sure, our good works can still produce some good things but if our motives are wrong we will become bitter, ugly people as we do good things. We might help someone but we probably won’t reach them at a heart level. We can even continue on this awesome reading plan and learn a ton of things but still act like a self-righteous jerk to people around us if it doesn’t change us on the inside. I have thought about that often and my personal application to all of this is to do the things that are called “righteous”, but in every one of those things I need to submit my heart before God and ask him to help me do them for his honor and not for the opportunity to look good or gain favor with anyone else. Any time those kinds of feelings rise up in anything I do I ask God to help me. A while back I really comprehended the scriptures in 1 Peter and in James that tells us that God resists the proud and gives grace to the humble. I really need God and his favor on my life so I don’t ever want to position myself in a way that would make God resist me. Even if I gained the favor and honor of people, it just wouldn’t be worth that kind of trade.

God’s Promise is Personal and Worthy of Testing


  1. Message:  God’s promise to Abraham was to make nations from him. He had already waited a long period of time, tried manipulating things his own way and then 14 long years later he finally received the son he was promised. Now his boy is older and a relationship is established. He is old enough to talk and comprehend well enough that he questions his father when they are going up the mountain to make a sacrifice…without an animal for that sacrifice. God is requiring him to sacrifice his son which would be hard enough for him to wrestle with himself, but he actually got as far as to tie up his son and place him on the altar. No doubt Isaac picked up what was going on and was probably vocally and physically fearful. I feel like the guilt of experiencing his son’s feelings of betrayal would be harder to handle than even his own feelings of loss. When he finally picks up the knife the angel called out to stop him. In this story what I really got out of this is that God will promise us things, but we will also be tested in the very thing he promised. The test won’t be easy because God needs us to know we will be trustworthy for the promise he gives us so that we don’t abuse it. I have heard many people preach this story with the idea that Abraham knew all along that God would provide a sacrifice other than Isaac. I believe he probably hoped that but the test wouldn’t have been a real test if he wasn’t 100% willing to move forward. The promise God made Abraham was extraordinary so the sacrificial test was equally extraordinary.
  2. Command: Be willing to sacrifice back to God any gift or any promise that God gives us.
  3. Promise: God is faithful so if we trust him with the promise we can trust him in the testing too.
  4. Warning: If Abraham had held back during his time of testing we would not be reading about his entire lineage right now. Who knows if we would even exist?! Our own promises from God hang in the balance if we aren’t willing to be put to the test.
  5. Application: It occurred to me as I read this that God will test us the hardest in the very things he has promised us. None of us are ready for the promises God has for us until we are tested and proven. The harder we hold tight to them by trying to control the outcome ourselves, the more we resist the very promise God wants to give us. I have seen myself stubbornly fight against God’s hand because circumstances seemingly threaten the very promise he has given me and I feel like it’s my responsibility to preserve it. There are areas of my life I have literally had to tell God that I needed his help in cooperating with his plan so that I don’t stifle it with my own control. If it feels like it’s being pulled from under me, this is the time I need to tell God I surrender it. Even if that means I am to let go of dreams and desires that I believe to my core that God has given me so that he has the opportunity to resurrect them. I read the Joanna Gaines story about her dream to start a cute little antique shop. It was thriving but her children were young and her husband needed her help with his business. She knew God was telling her to shut it down. After she shut it down and was locking the door for the last time God spoke to her again and told her to watch what he would do with that sacrifice. A few years later Magnolia was born and now people travel to Waco, Texas to visit the town that was dreamed up by Joanna Gaines. I cried as I read about her trust and obedience to God with her dream. This sacrifice story is very different from Abraham’s but it was her promise. We weren’t called to father nations like Abraham was, but we were called to all kinds of other things and each of us has a different promise.

When My Past Decisions Mock Me

When My Past Decisions Mock Me

  1. Message: God made Abraham & Sarah a promise. It took time so they took matters into their own hands and tried to produce the miracle on their own. Ishmael was the result and years later the promised Isaac was born at exactly the time God said it would happen. In the middle of celebrating their miracle Sarah’s focus became distracted by Ishmael and his slave mother mocking her promised son.
  2. Command:  Stay the course! God is faithful!
  3. Promise: God will still bless us in spite of our mistakes.
  4. Warning: Don’t let your past mistakes distract you from the celebration of God’s faitfulnes!
  5. Application: As I read this story about God’s faithful in giving him a son, I see where Sarah’s insecurity and her poor decision came back to haunt her. She was in the middle of celebrating her own promise of Isaac when she caught sight of her previous poor decision mocking her promise. She became distracted by this and enraged. I see this like symbolically in my own life where my past decisions came back to mock me even in my blessing. In this case, it happened to be a child and God still blessed Ishmael because of his promise to Abraham. God is faithful and even when we screw up his plan he will bless us!

Leaders Are Servants

  1. Message: In normal human nature people desire authority and power, and rulers assert their authority over people, but God intended us to lead by serving and this is what Jesus modeled. This goes against the grain of our selfish desire to control.
  2. Command: Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave.
  3. Promise: God prepares places of leadership for those he chooses.
  4. Warning: Nobody can choose honor for themselves. We can choose to behave honorably, but we can’t make anyone honor us.Those who desire places of honor will endure suffering.
  5. Application: As I read this I thought about the manipulation that went into the request of John & James’ mother, and I saw the ignorance in the response from John & James. They were focused on the place of honor and they seemingly had no clue what Jesus was talking about when he warned them that to have that kind of honor they would have to suffer the kind of suffering that Jesus suffered. Most of us aren’t looking to rule the world, but there are areas in our lives that we all desire to be trusted in a place of leadership. Some of us want to lead people and some of us just want to control decisions that we feel equipped to handle. The litmus test for our desire is to challenge our motives. Are we really interested in serving people for their good, or do we want to be recognized for our abilities and/or do we want to be the one in charge of making decisions? Some of us are just as manipulative as the mother in this story and our denial just might prove that very point! Our desire for honor comes from our insecurity, but there is no room for insecurity in leadership. Leadership comes naturally when we are genuinely looking to serve and not to take control. People will naturally trust and follow us when we are that kind of person. That’s why there were giant crowds following Jesus. He didn’t have a promoter. He was promoting the welfare of people wherever he went. My personal challenge is to examine the areas of my life where I desire to lead and challenge my motives.

What Am I Still Hanging Onto?


  1. Message: Two angels came to stay with Lot on the night before they were to destroy Sodom & Gomorrah. They urged him to get all of his relatives and loved ones to come with him and escape the land before they were to destroy it. Lot seemingly drug his feet, his relatives did not take him seriously and they were all left behind. Lot, his wife and daughters were saved at the last second.
  2. Command: Warn the people that we love that destruction is ahead.           
  3. Promise: If we take seriously the warnings of God we will find safety in the middle of destruction, and our influence will help others too.
  4. Warning: When God warns us that destruction is ahead, we can’t drag our feet and continue to linger in it.
  5. Application: I saw so many things in this story. Normally the focus is on Lot’s wife, who was turned to salt for looking back, but what I really noticed is that this warning came to Lot only because Abraham asked God to save him. Lot didn’t really seem to want to leave and when he gave the warning to his loved ones they didn’t take him seriously. And why should they if he was lingering around and showing no urgency of his own to get out? Not only was he not motivated to get out, this passage talks about how gracious God was with his lingering. He waited to destroy the city after Lot finally got out, but the passage says that the angels had to grab the hands of Lot, his wife and their daughters and seemingly drag them out of there just in time. At the last minute Lot even disputed their directions of going into the mountains and instead negotiated that they spare a nearby small town on his behalf just to get him out of the city. I wonder how different this story might have been for the rest of his loved ones if Lot hadn’t been so conflicted about leaving this place. My personal application for this story is to identify the areas of my life that God is trying to call me out of, but I keep lingering. Most of us are saved because somebody prayed for us. We may know who, or we may not but somebody was Abraham in our lives. Because of this God has been gracious, but he’s calling us out of some areas of destruction that are headed right for us. Sodom and Gomorrah represents a perverse, sexually immoral place, but maybe the things in our lives aren’t literally of a sensual nature. Maybe it’s something else that we’re holding onto or lingering with just a little longer. The people around us may not know about the danger headed for them either and even though we tell them destruction is coming, they can’t take us seriously because we’re still lingering in some things, unmotivated to get out. Today I’m asking God to show me those areas in my life that I’m hanging onto. Not just for my own sake, but also for the sake of people that are in my circle of influence.

Forgiveness

  1. Message: Servant was forgiven of his large debt but demanded someone else to be punished until he could pay back his small amount.
  2. Command:
  3. Promise: God forgave us for everything. We could say this was a pretty large debt.
  4. Warning: If we don’t forgive other people God will not forgive our sin debt.
  5. Application: This passage trips me up every time because I know that to forgive someone I have to let go of my “right” to be offended and angry. In the moment I don’t want to because I see my hurt and anger as justified. There is no question that the offense happened, and God is not asking me to deny that there was an offense. He is reminding me that when he released my debt that I needed to follow his example. This is not to be confused with healthy boundaries. Forgiveness does not mean we have to allow ourselves to be abused mistreated, or vulnerable. It means we don’t hope for or plan for their destruction.

Covenant of Obedience


  1. Message: God made a covenant with Abraham and that covenant included both sides keeping their word in that covenant.
  2. Command: Obey the covenant
  3. Promise: God promised Abraham he would make many nations out of him through his wife, Sarah.
  4. Warning: Any male who fails to be circumcised will be cut off from the covenant family for breaking it.
  5. Application: Reading about this covenant made me think of all the promises in the bible that we as Christians like to hold claim to. Every one of those promises includes an act of obedience. In this case, this was the second time God promised Abraham he was going to make nations out of him. The first time Abraham and Sarah couldn’t see it happening in the proper time and they doubted it could happen through them so they took it into their own hands when Sarah told Abraham to sleep with her servant and Abraham did. At this point in scripture, Ishmael was now 13 years old and Sarah had still not become pregnant when God came to him a second time to make this promise. I’m sure it had to have seemed hopeless at this point. I relate to this as I sit here thinking about certain promises I have been waiting for for years and I think about all of the times I have tried to take things into my own hands to make it work. All God has ever asked of me during this time is for my obedience. He has not held me responsible for making these promises happen. Just my obedience. Even if it takes years. Even if it seems like it will never happen. I think as Christians we often get mixed up with the fact that salvation is free and cost us nothing to obtain it, but once we accept his gift of salvation we enter a covenant with God which requires our obedience. Today I am asking God to show me the areas of my life where I am not walking in obedience. I’m not talking about mistakes or areas where we fall short. I’m talking specifically about things I am completely ignoring whether intentional or unintentional. I want my covenant with Jesus to be marked with faithful obedience. Not perfection. Just obedience and the willingness to continue striving through areas that aren’t in full obedience.

Cooperating With the Plan

Cooperating With the Plan

  1. Message:  God gave Abram a promise that he would make him the father of nations. This promise looked like it wouldn’t ever end so Sarai stepped in to try to get it done.
  2. Command: Don’t try to manipulate the things God promised.
  3. Promise: You will be the father of many nations.
  4. Application: I see this problem over and over in my life! I may not send another woman to bed with my husband but my impatience, or my lack of vision definitely causes me to pray for solutions and execute them in my desperation to see something happen. Instead I need to remind myself to ask God what he needs me to do (or not do) to cooperate with HIS plan.

Missing the Point

We’ve all heard the term “rules were meant to be broken”. It sounds rebellious but when we get to the heart of things we find that rules were meant to protect and help people. When they get distorted and placed above people, they lose their value and they become an object of abuse to people rather than a source of protection.

1. Message: For every rule created there is a back story behind it. Behind the back story lies a misinterpretation and often an exaggeration.

2. Command: Honor God with our hearts by looking to the heart of his commands and how they affect the people they were written for.

3. Promise: Obedience from the heart leads to understanding the purpose of the law.

4. Warning: Every plant not planted by Heavenly father will be uprooted.

5. Application: As I read this I became aware of some rules that were made to care for people, but we have gotten the intent backwards and placed more value in the rules than the people they were created to serve. This leads to mistreating people for the sake of obeying the rule. My challenge today is that I would find the rules I have obsessed about and pay attention to the intent of the rules. Mainly, what the rules were intended to accomplish for people and not just a desire to check off an empty box.