Ask the Right Questions

Message: The rich young ruler came and asked Jesus “What good must I do to have eternal life?” Jesus answered this in two pieces by first answering his question with another question. “Why do you ask me about what is good?”  To me, this response seemed like a kind way of letting him know that the question he asked was misguided. There was actually no good he could do to earn eternal life, and the second part of his response pointed him to the ten commandments. He told him that if he wanted to enter into life he needed to keep them. The young man’s response to this directive was odd. He asked Jesus “which ones?” Jesus played along though and began listing them all one by one until about the 6th one the young man responds again by saying “I have kept all of those.” I can’t help but wonder if this was an interruption or whether Jesus actually paused after the first 6 but the young man said “What do I still lack?” At this point he is looking pretty arrogant but Jesus makes one last interesting shift and it almost appears he might be making fun of him when he says “If you want to be perfect, go sell your belongings and give them to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven. But I can’t help but notice that he wasn’t telling him that this is what would earn his place in Heaven. Just that he would store treasure in Heaven. But then he says one last thing “THEN COME FOLLOW ME.” The most important part of it all. What I really got out of this interaction is that the young ruler was missing the point because he was asking the wrong questions to begin with. He asked out of an arrogant assumption that Heaven could be earned by good works. Jesus was very clearly letting him know that not only is “good” unattainable by literally everyone except himself, but that was never what he was commanding. Even when he told him to live by the ten commandments and was pointing to obedience rather than good works, there was still one last important piece. He needed to give up all of his plans and all of his wealth and just follow him. Apparently Jesus accurately identified the problem and the young man walked away sad instead.

Command: I need to consider that in my pursuit of Jesus, I may be asking the wrong questions. I need to pull back a little bit and allow Jesus to identify the real questions that I’m not asking, rather than the ones I may be trying to use in an effort to justify my lack of obedience.

Promise: If I follow Jesus and walk in obedience, I will know my place in Heaven. Not from good works, but from following him closely and walking in obedience.

Warning: If my motives are off, I might sound equally as shallow in my pursuit to justify myself. How sad to miss the point!

Application: I saw elements of myself in the young man. I want to believe I am doing well, and the desire to be approved of makes it tempting to push forward the things I believe I am doing right. Maybe it’s an attempt to somehow convince myself (and God and others) that I am what I want them to believe I am. Maybe it’s a subconscious trick of the mind where I am hoping to avoid the deeper, harder things that lurk in my heart. The main point of all of this is that I need to walk this stuff out in the day to day walk of following him. Going where he leads me and obediently working out the gritty things. As long as I am busy trying to convince myself and others that I am better than I actually am, I will be blinded to the things that God wants to show me and walk me through. Lord Jesus, help me to lay aside the desire to please anyone but you. Help me to look deeply and honestly at what you are revealing in my heart so I can walk it out with you.


Message: “Live in my presence and be blameless.” This was the short and simple command that God gave Abram right before telling him that he would bless him and make him the father of nations through his wife Sarai. I love the word “blameless” because it isn’t perfection. None of us are capable of that, but it screams of integrity. It provokes me to give God my very best and align my heart with following his will, but it carries the understanding that this is not perfection. It means that I need to live in such a way that there is no room for people to find fault in my character and integrity and make accusations.

Command: Live in God’s presence and be blameless.

Promise: God will keep his covenant and multiply what he has blessed.

Warning: If I don’t live in his presence and I don’t live blamelessly, I can’t expect to see God fulfill his promise because he can not and does not go against his word. It also tarnishes the view that the unbeliever has of God’s people which can cause a stumbling block to their salvation.

Application: For me this message is simple and livable but not necessarily easy. It requires me to set aside my fleshly impulses and the freedom to act up when I want to. It means that I need to walk in close proximity with Jesus and listen to what he is speaking to my heart. I need to challenge and address my motives for doing (or not doing) things and deal with attitude problems and obedience issues. It also reminds me of just how deceptive I can be in my own mind when I want my way and I don’t want to see the ugly within my heart. What sticks out to me the most in this is that I know I can’t fake this. I mean, I know it may be able to fool people and I might even fool myself somewhat with a certain amount of denial, but I can’t fool God. He sees it all. This is both horrifying but also a huge relief. It frees me to be my true honest self with God to talk out the negative things I see in myself knowing that I don’t have to (and in fact I can’t) explain anything away and without the worry that he will see me differently. He sees is all already, so it motivates me that much more to want him to see my heart get right with him.  Help me Jesus to live in your presence and walk blameless.

The Spin Doctor

Message: In Genesis 16 Sarai got impatient with the promise that God made about she and Abram having a child so she convinced Abram to take her slave and sleep with her. But after she did and the slave got pregnant the slave turned on her, and Sarai turned on her husband. She blamed him for her unhappiness.

Command: Own my own decisions and emotions.

Promise: If I own my decisions and emotions I will learn from them and grow. I will be free of the victim mentality and I will be much less likely to get stuck or become bitter.

Warning: If I blame others for my decisions and emotions, it will not only cause strife and division, but my victim mentality will keep me hostage and I won’t grow.

Application: I saw a few things in this. Initially I had to laugh at how blatantly Sarai came up with this ‘brilliant’ plan and then flipped it all on Abram when the plan came back to bite her. As much as Abram shouldn’t have listened to her in the first place, I had a hard time seeing her as the victim she portrayed herself to be in this. Since she didn’t own responsibility for her contribution in this mess, she caused it to escalate even worse. So not only has she derailed the plan that God gave them, but her foolish plan has caused bot only her own pain, but now also the pain of her slave who never asked for any of this. To top it all off she now has a rift between herself and her husband and the promise God gave them is now being drawn out. This reminds first to never manipulate the promises of God with my own solution, but also the importance of owning my own emotions and failures. I can’t eliminate the pain by blaming others!


Message: The Canaanite woman pushed Jesus for a miracle for her daughter who was tormented by a demon. Jesus even resisted her at first by telling her that this was only for the Jews. He even insulted her by referencing an analogy that it wasn’t right to throw the children’s bread to the dogs. She looked right past the insult, and pressed back by telling him that even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from the table. What I gathered from this is that the woman was desperate and persistent. She didn’t just lay down and accept no for an answer, and even when there was an opportunity for offense, she pushed past the insult and her persistence paid off.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  

Command: Don’t just lay down and  take no for an answer when it comes to deliverance!                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

Promise: God rewards my persistence!

Warning: I could think of lots of disqualifiers that could potentially discourage me from praying for the miracles of deliverance! If I had done that I wouldn’t be living the life I am now.

Application: This reminds me of the importance of my persistence. It reminds me that God wants their deliverance and their salvation even more than I do. He isn’t disqualifying the need, he is pushing me into the fight!


Message: It isn’t enough for me to just read the word. I have to ponder it and let it teach me something or else it just becomes a checklist item. When Jesus spoke in the parables he was very clear that he was doing it intentionally because the crowds were not pursuing the truth. He told his disciples that the hidden mysteries of the word were only for those who were listening and looking for it.

Command: I need to be listening and looking for the hidden truths in the word.

Promise: If I am listening and looking with purpose when I read the word, God will show me the hidden truths.

Warning: If I am just reading for the sake of reading I will get out of it just that. The danger in this is that I can eventually become hardened to it and not even realize I am drifting until it’s too late.

Application: This is a reminder to me to be intentional and to dig in deep when I read. As I read the different parables I saw that I have been each one of those things from one time to another. The danger in this is that in each of these scenarios the seeds were in the right place for planting. Because of the state they were in they didn’t retain the word and it didn’t take root in their lives. This could be true of me even while I actively read the word if I’m not allowing it to come in and change me.

Careless Words

Message: A tree is known by the fruit it produces. A good tree doesn’t produce bad fruit and a bad tree doesn’t produce good fruit.

Command: I am going to have to give an account for every word, and on judgment day I will have to give account for every careless word.

Promise: By my words I will be acquitted.

Warning: By my words I will also be condemned.

Application: This one stings a little. Ok it stings a lot. I have a deep conviction about words because I do understand their severity. I feel a very strong conviction about saying anything negative about the value of any person. While I deeply feel that and hold to a standard, I am very guilty of letting loose on other words that are also harmful. As much as I want to pretend that I don’t have control over my words, I absolutely know that is not true because I am fully aware of situations where I have controlled my words for certain situations. I can’t expect to be known as a tree with good fruit if I indulge myself in harmful and careless words. This has to be a non-negotiable in my life.


Message: The people of Babylon came together in unity for a rebellious cause. Their united desire was to make a name for themselves and build a tower up to the sky. Their reason was “otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.” The main point I got out of this was the fact that when God initially created the earth and mankind, he made them in his image and they were made to live in unity. That unity was intended to be a God-centered unity. But when sin entered the world it destroyed everything. Including their purpose and their unity in that purpose. With their purpose distorted, their unity became distorted. God recognized that the power of the unity that had been designed for good now had the power for destruction. His creation was self-destructing.

Command: Be careful in what I align myself with. There is power within unity by God’s design, but unity used with a distorted purpose is destructive.

Promise: Although the purpose of unity has been hijacked for destruction, this does not negate the intended power for godliness. When I am united with God and for the plan and purpose of God that power becomes exponent.

Warning: If I am not evaluating myself regularly I can easily find myself deceived in my alignment. Even (and especially) with the impression that what I am doing is right.

Application: This is a huge reminder to me that my own perceptions of situations can be really dangerous so I really need to pay attention and pray-even when I am sure I am right. What I align with matters.  I could very easily align myself in unity with things contrary to the plans of God. An example I can think of is when Peter tried to disagree with the plans of God by aligning with what he thought was right. It didn’t seem right to him that Jesus should be crucified, so his opposition to his plan and purpose felt more than right. But it couldn’t have been more wrong and Jesus rebuked Satan for working behind it.

The Miracle Nobody Was Asking For

Message: When the paralytic man was brought to Jesus the first thing Jesus said was “take courage son, your sins are forgiven.” I can’t help but wonder what the men who carried him to Jesus were thinking. ‘Ummm, that’s really nice Jesus,  but this guy is pretty heavy and we were kind of hoping to not have to carry him back home. We wanted a miracle and you forgave his sins?’ We don’t actually know what they were thinking. In fact there is no dialogue reported from the paralytic man or the friends who carried him. We only know what the scribes were thinking because Jesus called them out after “perceiving their thoughts.” So there are three big things at play here. Jesus forgave the man, then he perceived the thoughts of the scribes accusing him of blasphemy and while calling them out on their thoughts he spoke to the paralyzed man and told him to pick up his mat and walk. I feel like a lot of attention has always been placed on the man being told to pick up his mat and walk. But today when I read this I thought a lot about the miracle that nobody was asking for. The man wasn’t asking for his sins to be forgiven, but obviously Jesus knew exactly what he needed to receive the physical healing. This took me right back to some major things in my life that I spent time praying for. Situations where I was literally begging and pleading God for a miracle, but God was healing things from the inside out. It was the miracle I wasn’t asking for that led to the healing I so badly wanted.

Command:  Bring the need to Jesus, but understand that he sees things as they are and will work out the problem from the root.

Promise: Jesus not only knows what the need is, but he knows the root of it too.

Warning: I can only see problems at the surface level. If I am so focused on the surface level, I can not only be a hinderance to the healing, but I might become just like the scribes in my thoughts. They operating out of religious mentality calling Jesus a blasphemer for forgiving sin. I might not be accusing Jesus of blasphemy, but I have definitely accused Jesus in my thoughts when I didn’t see the answer come to my distress calls for help. I am certainly capable of doing that again!

Application: I saw myself so clearly in this story as a combination of the scribes in their religious mindsets, and also as the friends (using my own made up speculation of what they may have been thinking.) This reminds me that my own perceptions and expectations of what Jesus should be doing to fix problems is probably wrong! I need to present problems and stop trying to also present my own solutions or “coach” God through the solutions that I think are so obvious. I am so thankful that God has been patient with me and he works at the deeper level to heal and restore. Lord Jesus, help me to not only trust you for the healing, but to step back and allow you to work in my heart at the deeper level so you can heal the things that I am not even aware are broken!

Wisdom Speaks

Message: Wisdom calls out to me and provokes me to do not only what is right, but what is beneficial. Wisdom is not only an attribute of who God is, but it is the part of him that guides me beyond just basic obedience. It takes me past the shallow thinking of “is it right or wrong” or “what can I get away with” immaturity into a deeper level of maturity. It holds me responsible for higher levels of character and demands that I crucify my flesh to be more like Jesus.

Command:  Listen to the voice of wisdom, and pursue after it when it seems elusive.

Promise: If I listen to the voice of wisdom, my life will prosper.

Warning: If I ignore wisdom my life will not only be a wreck, but it will be difficult and I will not mature.

Application: This feels like a no-brainer but it reminds me that sometimes wisdom is elusive and what I think is wisdom may not be. I need to pray through things to make sure what I am doing or thinking is the right thing so that I’m not just deceived and following my own worldly wisdom.

Foundation Check

Message: Matthew 7 takes me back to that childhood Sunday school song about the wise man building his house upon the rock, and the foolish man building his house upon the sand. As I read this I thought about the obvious that we are all striving to build our lives on the word of God. For the most part I feel like I do that, but reading about the foolish man building on the sand forced me to think about and evaluate what that sand might represent in my own life. My own flawed thinking or beliefs that kind of sneak in there posing as “wisdom”. Some of my flawed thinking is probably interwoven with actual truth. Behavior patterns and relational dysfunctions that I haven’t yet surrendered or even identified. Pride, unforgiveness, immaturity. These are all things I can think of that are probably compromising the integrity of my foundation. I have definitely seen some storms and winds, and there are times the storms have demolished me, and other times I have stood firm and made it through the storm. This reminds me that my foundation is not just a one and done deal. I need to be constantly examining my foundation for cracks and things that undermine it’s integrity.

Command: Examine my foundation constantly and  pay attention to things that could undermine the integrity of it. Pride, unforgiveness, immaturity, unchecked relational and behavioral patterns.

Promise: If I build my life on the firm foundation of God’s word, I will be able to endure the storm of life.

Warning: Storms will come! That is certain! If I don’t deal with the cracks in my foundation and the things that undermine it’s integrity, it may not stand firm during a storm.

Application: For me this is a reminder that I am never beyond the stage of checking my foundation. There are all kinds of things that can creep in and undermine the strength and integrity of it. Unchecked pride, rebellion, unforgiveness and even temptation can sneak in if I am not taking inventory of what is going on in my heart. Feelings are unreliable, but they can sometimes point to the deeper issues going on inside me. When I find myself in an emotional for no particular reason state I really need to sit with God and do some investigating. Holy Spirit, please show me the things I have allowed into my heart that are compromising my foundation.

Adjust the Motive

Message: Matthew 6 is a reminder to me that although my character is on display, it is not for show!  On one hand this sounds obvious, but it can almost sound contradictory in contrast with this passage from yesterday’s reading in chapter 5 where it says “Let your light shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in Heaven.” The difference is in the motive and that motive is what defines my actions as genuine or religious. To be genuine is to live for an audience of one- that one being Jesus. When I live only to please Jesus it simplifies everything else, because I am not motivated to perform for anyone. I am walking out my obedience with the understanding that he can see any impurity in my motives. Who I am in secret, and in my thoughts is who I am period. There is no PR strategy to frame my actions, and even if I tried to frame them to fool myself, there is no way I could hide an impure motive from Jesus- even if I did manage to fool myself! The other difference here is that our “good works” as described in Matthew 5 are meant to glorify our Father in Heaven. It’s not about me looking good at all!

Like anything else, there is always an opposite extreme. Something we might categorize as a method of reverse psychology. Verse 16 addresses this opposite extreme by calling out the people who were putting their fasting on display by intentionally making themselves look unattractive and distressed so people would see them in a mess and know that they were fasting without them being guilty of tooting their own horn of spirituality! That’s not obvious at all right??  Jesus called this out too and told them to wash their faces and put oil on their heads and allow their fasting be a private sacrifice between them and God.

As silly as that sounds, we see a similar phenomenon in our own culture because the internet and social media has given us a hyper-awareness of our ability to deceive with a polished image. There is this counter-culture of trying to be more authentic or real by posting selfies with no makeup, or intentional pics of our piles of laundry, or the shocking details of our failed personal relationships or declining mental health, and other self-defaming things we could make public to prove we aren’t being fake. I like to joke by saying “why stop there? Why not show up in public with bed head and without brushing our teeth?!” Besides the same obvious theme as we read in verse 16, the truth is, not everyone is a safe audience for our vulnerable parts, and displaying them publicly doesn’t make us more real or authentic. To the wrong audience it is emotional exploitation at it’s worst! (Not only for themselves, but for their family members who are exploited with them!) Since our emotional vulnerability is what brings intimacy in our closest relationships, sharing those things with a public stage is as inappropriate as it would be to expose our physical nakedness on a public stage. That is not to say that there are not times when sharing our vulnerabilities and shortcomings with a person or small audience of people who share the same struggle can be beneficial. But in a situation like that, the purpose is mutual vulnerability with the intent to encourage and heal- not an effort to fabricate an image of authenticity.

Command: Live genuinely and authentically only to please God, not for the applause or the approval of men.

Promise: When I please God with my obedience and my sacrifice in secret, he rewards me openly. (Better than anything I could orchestrate on my own!)

Warning: If I manipulate or frame things to shine a light on my “good behavior” or sacrifice, the only reward or approval I will receive is the audience I performed for. Additionally, I don’t become more authentic, real or approved by exploiting myself with self-defaming behavior.

Application: Who I am in secret is who I really am. Not just what I do, but what I think- both good and bad. I can’t always control the thoughts from coming in, but my decision to acknowledge them and ask God to make them right is my obedience to him. That is what he is after and reading through the ways that we are so ridiculously and shamelessly guilty of trying to manipulate in either direction to try to portray a fixed image reminds me of how important it is for me to constantly do a heart check and shut out everyone except Jesus. I have even asked myself (while picking up a piece of litter on the ground) if I am doing it because it’s right or because I hope someone sees it. That doesn’t excuse me from the responsibility of doing it if I am found with a motive, but being self-aware of my desire to look good curbs my vanity. There are so many other applications for this. As a singer I have even asked myself (while alone) if I am singing to worship God, or to hear myself sing! I should not stop singing, (or even enjoying the gift God gave me) but use those opportunities to adjust my motive and the object of my worship. Am I doing this favor for someone to look good, or because it is good? (Don’t stop doing the favors if a people-pleasing motive is found! But do it secretly AND adjust the motive!)


Message: The “beattitudes” are a reminder to me that in whatever situation I find myself in, if I am walking with the attributes of God I am blessed. Sometimes it doesn’t feel like blessing though. It feels a lot like punishment because I’m looking at my situations like a transaction and expecting a result that feels good for every situation or trial. According to this passage, even the trials themselves are to be seen as a blessing because of the opportunity it brings for growth. It’s hard to break out of the mindset that blessings always feel good, and things that don’t feel good are not blessings. We don’t even have the capacity to understand what is good or what is truly a blessing. At the end of Matthew 5 in verse 45 I am reminded that God makes the sun to rise on both the evil and the good and he also sends the rain to both the righteous and the unrighteous. Knowing this should free me from trying to interpret whether the rains come as a punishment or a provision.

Command: Walk in obedience and stop trying to interpret my circumstances to determine whether I am being blessed or punished. I am blessed because God is with me.

Promise: God promises that regardless of circumstance I am blessed.

Warning: I don’t have the capacity to understand what is actually good for me. I can only interpret how it makes me feel- which is rarely even accurate. If it had been up to the disciples,  Jesus would have never been crucified because it didn’t feel good to Jesus or to them, but without the crucifixion we would be dead in our sin!

Application:  If  I try to interpret life by blessing or punishment I miss it completely because my emotions are a terrible judge of things! Instead I can rest in the understand that the actual blessing is in knowing that God walks with me through all of it- regardless of how it feels-and that God is good and is for my good! This means I can focus on walking in obedience to God and stop trying to interpret life through the lens of my feelings, emotions and desires.

Sin is Crouching At My Door

Message: What really stood out to me in Genesis 4 this morning is that we don’t just happen upon trouble. It is usually  rooted from something deeper going on within us. In the case of this story, Abel was offended at God because God accepted his brother’s sacrifice, but not his. There is no description for what Cain gave or what God found wrong with it. The passage just highlights the fact that what Abel gave was the first fruits of the flock. God spoke to Cain in his offense and advised him that he had an opportunity to sort things out and do right. He warned him that “Sin is crouching at your door. It’s desire is for you but you must rule over it.” Rather than changing his own ways and working on his own obedience he fed his offense into a rage instead and he killed his brother. This is pretty extreme but for me it posed the question. What unchecked offense and rebellion is going on in my heart?

Command: Pay attention to unchecked emotions. For Cain there was an offense that probably came from a mix of jealousy, insecurity and pride. Things that I have definitely identified in my own life.

Promise: If I listen to God’s correction when I am in my emotions, I crush the threat of sin crouching at my door.

Warning: If I don’t listen to the voice of God when he warns me, I am vulnerable to my emotions and at risk to be overtaken by sin.

Application: I see opportunities to get my emotions in check not only daily but even hourly at times. Emotions are inevitable but they are not intended to rule me. This is what God was warning Cain of. The sin that was crouching at his door and wanting to rule him was in regards to his emotions. He wasn’t in sin for feeling them, but the sin came when he refused to put them in check. While I could easily brush this aside by saying that I don’t see myself having the capacity to kill over it, this example reminds me of the seriousness of my emotions. I need to get my emotions in check like there is violence waiting on my doorstep.

The Cost of Wisdom

Message: As I read between Genesis 3 and Proverbs 3 I couldn’t help but notice a theme with the word “wisdom”. Maybe I always assumed that Eve ate from the tree because the serpent tricked her into believing she wouldn’t actually die, but today I saw something different that became more bold and clear as I read more in Proverbs. Genesis 3:6 says that the woman saw that the tree was good for food (check), and it was delightful to look at (check) and that it was desirable for obtaining wisdom. Ok, now I have read this over and over again but the implications of this verse shifted for me today as I really thought about what that meant. Her eyes were not yet opened, but the desire for wisdom was there. How ironic that her desire for wisdom caused her to make such an unwise choice of disobedience to obtain it! My mind is flooded with additional questions and I know that I probably will not be privy to the answers in this life, but I can’t help but wonder if God had other plans for introducing mankind to the knowledge of good and evil in his own timing. As humans, we have a nasty tendency for jumping the gun on things we aren’t quite ready for, and when we read about wisdom in Proverbs it is described as the thing that we should seek out and desire to obtain. Like other wonderful things, I have a hard time believing that God intended to hold back wisdom from us entirely, because it is one of his attributes. Wisdom is literally WHO he is, and Genesis makes it very clear that God every intention of spending time with Adam & Eve to allow them to get to know him. I do believe that like everything else, he had an orderly plan for introducing wisdom and knowledge to mankind. Because of the way Eve chose to go about it, it came with a cost. A very high cost. Not only did her decision bring sin and death upon us all, but wisdom continues to be something that comes with a cost. Most of the wisdom I have obtained in life cost me something. It was either a painful lesson or it was painful obedience. Sometimes both. Rather than trying to understand the why behind how it all began, wisdom reminds me that the point for me is to see the value in it and respect that the cost of obtaining it is worth it. While I hope to obtain wisdom in a more proactive way, I’m thankful that the pain of obtaining wisdom is worth it’s value if I actually choose to learn from it.

Command: Obtain wisdom. (Preferably through obedience rather than painful lessons.)

Promise: When I value wisdom and choose to learn from it, it will benefit my life.

Warning: I can still learn lessons of wisdom the hard way, but it comes at a much higher and more painful cost.

Application: My desire for wisdom does not actually make me wise. It is my pursuit that determines that. When my pursuit is accompanied with disobedience and a disregard for God’s warnings, I can be sure to learn a painful lesson to obtain that wisdom. If my pursuit for wisdom is tempered with obedience and humility, it will cost my flesh the painful price of endurance and long suffering, and it will deny my flesh that instant gratification, but it will also reap the rewards that come with my obedience. I’m thankful that by God’s grace we are still given the opportunity to gain wisdom-even when we pursuit it the wrong way. This reminds me that I need to respect the process that God has for me. My hunger and desire for wisdom is only wise, when it is tempered with humility and obedience. But I’m thankful for the harder option for the times when I fail the preferred method! All is not lost, it just comes with a co

The Garden

Message: The message I got today was in more of a symbolic form, but it has a very practical message. As I read in Genesis 2 about the one river in the garden of Eden that watered the garden, I became hyper-focused on verse 10. Verse 10 tells us the that the purpose of that river was to water the garden, but it split 4 ways from there and became the source of 4 major rivers that supplied water to 4 major cities. With the understanding that water is life, it hit me hard as I really thought about the implications of that in our lives spiritually. The garden represents out time with God. It is the place where God walked on the earth with Adam and Eve and spent time with them. When we spend time with God and soak ourselves with the word like the one river did in the garden, that one river will supply water (life) to other areas. Not only I our own lives, but everywhere we go.

Command: Go to the “garden” every day and soak in the word. The purpose is for myself, and that purpose has to be primary in this, but the results will benefit others beyond my imagination.

Promise: When I care for the garden and spend time in it, I will flourish and grow. When I flourish and grow, I will be able to lead others to the same water source by bringing it with me wherever I go.

Warning: If I am not spending time in the garden, the waters will dry up and I will have nothing to offer but my own thoughts and experiences. Those do not provide life and can cause much more harm than good.

Application: This is a reminder to me of how important my time in the garden is. The part that I really sat on this morning was the realization that the primary purpose of the river in the garden was to water the garden. Four other rivers came from that one water source, but that didn’t change the primary purpose of that river. My time in the garden is not for anyone else, but myself. This time waters my own heart so I can be fruitful and healthy, BUT the fruit of that time I spend will also be fruitful to other people. The things I pull out of these devotionals are for me to live out. I can’t write these devotionals with anyone else in mind. It is for me to ponder and allow God to work in my heart, but I pray that what I share from my time in the garden brings nourishment that leads others to the source.

Order is the Foundation For Productivity & Creativity

Message: In both Genesis 1 and Matthew 1 I see the order of God at work and the result is not only fruitfulness, but so much variety and creativity also. What struck me about this first was when I was reading about the different things that God separated out. This began with the light being separated from day to night and then the expanse into the sky and the waters but he did the same with many other things as well. Once these major categories were separated out it gave room for the creation of varieties and species. The things God created depended on those important separations that God made so before he began creating the things he had to start with a foundation of order. The order God established in the beginning are described in just a few short sentences but as I started thinking about what our world would look like if he hadn’t separated the night from the day and the waters from the sky I realized that we ourselves, and nothing we have would even be possible without it.

Command: If I want to be fruitful and creative, I have to have a foundation of order and structure in my life.

Promise: If I lay a foundation of order and structure, this provides an environment for fruitfulness and creativity.

Warning: If I try to skip the foundation of order and structure, and try to get right into productivity, I won’t be able to maintain or grow. I will constantly find myself needing elements that I am not prepared for. This not only kills the momentum but it also kills the drive and passion to keep going. I have learned from my own experience that those stops and starts are exhausting and when I develop a pattern of this kind of inconsistency it becomes harder and harder to get motivated to begin again.

Application: I am feeling all of this to my core right now. I have been off-track and undisciplined in many areas of my life right now. I see lots of fruitfulness in the areas I have maintained, but I feel the dread and the reality of what discipline is required of me for the areas I have let go. If I want to be productive and creative I need to establish a separation between some things in my life and maintain proper boundaries for them. This means I need to create set times for the different things I manage and stop allowing an overlap. I need to create designated time to work on my home and secondary job responsibilities so that during my primary job work hours I am not allowing other things to creep in and make me less productive. I need to make sure that I maximize the time that I have to get tasks done without laziness creeping in so that I can shut it all off in the evenings that I have off with my husband so I can be 100% in the moment in my marriage. Everything needs to have a time and a place so that I am not robbing one area to make up something I need an another area.

Not What He Asked For

Message: The paralyzed man at the temple gate was in his usual place doing his usual thing, begging for money from those who were entering the temple. When Peter and John came along and saw him in his usual place they did something very unusual. What he received was very different from what he was asking for. What he was asking for was not wrong. It was a temporary solution for a bigger problem. He was paralyzed and unable to work so he needed money to sustain himself. There was no government disability system to support this man and his physical disability put him at the mercy of people. The miracle he received changed his life forever, but it also deeply impacted all of the people that had known him and his condition all of his life. This got me realizing that the things I ask for are usually temporary solutions for bigger problems. This is not to say that God doesn’t meet practical needs. It’s just a reminder that sometimes God doesn’t answer those prayers because he is after something much bigger. Miracles are for HIS glory and what he did in this man’s life not only brought glory to God, but it deeply impacted a whole community.

Command: Ask for the practical things, but be prepared for a life change.

Promise: God cares about our practical needs, but he gets the most glory in transforming lives.

Warning: If I get caught up in the regular routines, asking for the routine things I become pigeon holed in my thinking and I miss the bigger things God wants to accomplish in my life. Sure, God wants to meet my needs, but he wants so much more than that. He wants to transform my life in a way that impacts everyone around me!

Application: This reminds me that God has bigger plans in mind than just providing the next meal or the next need. He wants to transform my life and the lives around me because that is what impacts more people. A hole community was impacted after seeing what God did in one man. What does he want to transform in my life?

The Promise of Power

Message: In Acts 1 there were 120 Jesus followers gathered and praying together in unity. The only instructions they had were to stay in Jerusalem and wait for the power of the Holy Spirit. They didn’t know what this meant or what it would look like. They just obeyed and united themselves together.

Command: Unite together in obedience to God’s direction and pray!!!

Promise: The promise to them was power through the baptism of the Holy Spirit. It came through their unity in both obedience and prayer. The same promise to us is power through the Holy Spirit and that comes to us when we are united in our obedience to God and we are united in prayer.

Warning: You can’t have power without unity, or obedience and certainly not with prayer. If any of these things are missing the power has no means to flow through. We understand this concept with electronics. Something has to be plugged in, but it also has to be turned on and most likely it needs a command to be selected in order for that to function. The device will not work if only one or two of the three functions is activated. It absolutely needs all three! We are the same. We have to be obedient, united and in prayer together for the power to flow through us and function as it was intended.

Application: This is such a huge reminder to me that I can’t function by myself, I can’t function with disobedience and I certainly can’t function without prayer. God never intended to work through us as individuals. We are accountable as individuals but we weren’t intended to do this stuff alone. WE were called to be united in purpose, obedience and prayer. That is where the power comes from and not one of these elements can be missing from the equation.

Cooperate With the Plan

Message: In John 18 there was a lot of scripture fulfillment happening that looked otherwise to those living it. Judas betrayed Jesus according to plan and led the soldiers to where they were meeting. Even though the soldiers were thrown back by the power when Jesus simply said the words “I AM he” they were not deterred from their plans to destroy him because this was also God’s plan. There were so many other things fulfilled in this but when Peter cut off the slave’s ear it was both relatable and ridiculous. I related to the feeling he had that he needed to defend Jesus. He was all in but he cut off an ear??? I couldn’t help but laugh at the insignificance of the damage and yet Jesus healed it right then and there because this was not the plan. It felt like complete opposition to the disciples and Jesus was just going along with it all fulfilling both the past scriptures and the plan he was there to fulfill. I think we all view opposition as an attack from the enemy. It most certainly is, but we don’t consider that sometimes these attacks are part of the plan of God to USE the enemy to fulfill something else. If I am not careful I might be fighting against the plan of God in my small efforts to try to defend him.

Command: Listen to the voice of God. Not every opposition is unrighteous. It very well may be the plan of God and I need to cooperate with God.

Promise: If God allows opposition and I cooperate, there is a bigger victory ahead.

Warning: If I am caught up in the opposition I may miss what God is doing and find myself fighting against something better that God has.

Application: I have been thinking about this a lot lately because I see a pattern of thinking where we assume anything unpleasant that interrupts our plans, and even the plans we believe were ordained by God, we get upset and blame the devil. We fight against it and our impact is futile. We chop off an ear and God has to clean up behind us to keep the plan on track. Opposition is hard but it works character in us, but more importantly, it makes way for bigger plans that God has in mind. Things we don’t see or understand. I think we see with 20/20 after the fact when we start piecing the clues together. Lord Jesus, help me to view things with your lens. Open my eyes to the things I might be fighting against that you planned for my good. Help me Lord to cooperate with your will.

Open My Eyes

Message: John 17 is a powerful prayer  That Jesus prayed when he had completed everything he was supposed to do on the earth and was headed for the final act of obedience on the cross. Whether the disciples knew it or not, he had equipped them with EVERYTHING they needed after his death. They were lost and confused in the moment but it would all come together once Jesus died and resurrected, and more importantly after they would receive the Holy Spirit. I am getting ahead of things right now, but that is because I’m looking at the disciples in their state of confusion while seeing Jesus speak these powerful words. They didn’t feel ready and they sure didn’t look ready, but Jesus prepared them and equipped them. It was time for their eyes to be opened to understand all of the ground work that had been laid. I relate to this because there are so many things in life that I feel like I’m waiting on God to do, but he has already done it. He has already spoken it, and he has already prepared me for it. I just need my spiritual eyes to be opened so I can see what he has already done around me. Jesus prayed for him and he prayed for us for that very reason.

Command: I need to stop looking for God to take action and instead ask God to open my spiritual eyes to see what he has done and what he has prepared me for. Even when I don’t look or feel ready!

Promise: When God does things, he does them with precision and extreme detail.

Warning: If I am looking at things with my natural eyes I will miss the groundwork that has already been laid out. I will feel lost and unsure.

Application: As I read this I was thankful that Jesus prayed for them and for us. He did all of the work and he just needs our spiritual eyes to be opened to see it so we can get on board. This reminds me that I need to step back from the circumstances I am dwelling on and ask God to open my eyes and reveal his plan.