Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Inspired To Make A Difference!

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

Today I would like to share a life-changing story that I read years ago that inspires me even today. You may have already heard The Teddy Stallard Story, you may have even seen a movie about him. I pray that as you read this story today that your life is inspired by God to share Jesus and His Love in a fresh new way!

"Teddy Stallard certainly qualified as "one of the least." Disinterested in school. Musty, wrinkled clothes; hair never combed. One of those kids in school with a deadpan face, expressionless--sort of a glassy, unfocused stare. When Miss Thompson spoke to Teddy he always answered in monosyllables. Unattractive, unmotivated, and distant, he was just plain hard to like. Even though his teacher said she loved all in her class the same, down inside she wasn't being completely truthful.
Whenever she marked Teddy's papers, she got a certain perverse pleasure out of putting X's next to the wrong answers and when she put the F's at the top of the papers, she always did it with flair. She should have known better; she had Teddy's records and she knew more about him than she wanted to admit. The records read:
1st Grade Teddy shows promise with his work and attitude, but poor home situation.
2nd Grade Teddy could do better. Mother is seriously ill. He receives little help at home.
3rd Grade Teddy is a good boy but too serious. He is a slow learner. His mother died this year.
4th Grade Teddy is very slow, but well-behaved. His father shows no interest.

Christmas came and the boys and girls in Miss Thompson's class brought her Christmas presents. They piled their presents on her desk and crowded around to watch her open them. Among the presents there was one from Teddy Stallard. She was surprised that he had brought her a gift, but he had. Teddy's gift was wrapped in brown paper and was held together with Scotch tape. On the paper were written the simple words, "For Miss Thompson from Teddy." When she opened Teddy's present, out fell a gaudy rhinestone bracelet, with half the stones missing, and a bottle of cheap perfume.

The other boys and girls began to giggle and smirk over Teddy's gifts, but Miss Thompson at least had enough sense to silence them by immediately putting on the bracelet and putting some of the perfume on her wrist. Holding her wrist up for the other children to smell, she said, "Doesn't it smell lovely?" And the children, taking their cue from the teacher, readily agreed with "oo's" and "ah's."

At the end of the day, when school was over and the other children had left, Teddy lingered behind. He slowly came over to her desk and said softly, "Miss Thompson...Miss Thompson, you smell just like my mother...and her bracelet looks real pretty on you, too. I'm glad you liked my presents." When Teddy left, Miss Thompson got down on her knees and asked God to forgive her.

The next day when the children came to school, they were welcomed by a new teacher. Miss Thompson had become a different person. She was no longer just a teacher; she had become an agent of God. She was now a person committed to loving her children and doing things for them that would live on after. She helped all the children, but especially the slow ones, and especially Teddy Stallard. By the end of that school year, Teddy showed dramatic improvement. He had caught up with most of the students and was even ahead of some. She didn't hear from Teddy for a long time. Then one day, she received a not that read:

Dear Miss Thompson:
I wanted you to be the first to know. I will be graduating second in my class.
Love, Teddy Stallard

Four years later, another note came:

Dear Miss Thompson:
This just told me I will be graduating first in my class. I wanted you to be the first to know. The university has not been easy, but I liked it.
Love, Teddy Stallard

And four years later:

Dear Miss Thompson:
As of today, I am Theodore Stallard, M.D. How about that? I wanted you to be the first to know. I am getting married next month, the 27th to be exact. I want you to come and sit where my mother would sit if she were alive. You are the only family i have now; Dad died last year.
Love, Teddy Stallard

Miss Thompson went to that wedding and sat where Teddy's mother would have sat. She deserved to sit there; she had done something for Teddy that he could never forget."

Who are the "Teddy's" in your life? The ones that may be forgotten or rejected by others. The ones that need hope and a bright future. The ones that need purpose. The ones that need to know that they are loved. The ones that need Jesus!

We can learn much by The Teddy Stallard Story as we are inspired to not let the Teddy's pass us by, we never know the difference we can make in someones life until we share Jesus and His unconditional love! You are Gifted2Go share Jesus with a Teddy Stallard, "one of the least," whom God can use your gifts to help someone become one of God's greats!!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012


“That if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved…for, ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’”  Romans 10:9-10, 13

Call on God.  Basically, it is a simple process.  To call on God is to talk to Him just like you would talk to anyone.  He is your very best friend.  He knows your needs.  He knows your struggles.  He knows your hearts.  He stands ready to open up the resources of heaven.  It all begins by you talking to him.

Confess with your mouth

Confess "Jesus is Lord"

As you talk to God, begin by confessing with your mouth and your voice that Jesus is Lord.  Acknowledge that He is the ruler of the universe and that you welcome Him as the boss of your life.

Lordship sounds so easy but sometimes it can be a hard thing to do.  God wants to be in the driver's seat.


The verses that you see above in Romans 10 also say that you call on God through Christ to be saved.  You must call on Him as the Lord of your life but you must also confess and acknowledge that Jesus died on the cross and rose from the grave for you.  He is your personal Savior.

Believe in your heart

Now saying all this is not enough.  These verses also say that you must believe in your heart.  The heart is the very core of your being.  It is the depth of your emotion.  The good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ is certainly based on fact, but it all begins in the heart.  In your inner being, you must believe.

Believe that God raised Christ from the dead

First, you must believe that God raised Jesus from the dead.  If Jesus is not alive and in heaven with the Father, then where would the hope be?  There is no hope without the resurrection of Christ.  Some have tried to explain it away but the fact remains that Jesus did live on this earth and did die for your sins and did rise from the dead.  People saw Him and even touched Him after the resurrection.  The Scriptures are clear and do not contradict historical evidence.  Jesus is alive and your faith is based on it.


After you believe that Jesus is with the Father in heaven, you need to understand justification.  It means, "just as if I'd never sinned".  To justify is to declare just or to declare righteous.  You can never be good enough and cannot be just in yourself.  You are condemned but with Christ; you are reconciled to God.  You access this reconciliation by faith and can therefore have hope.  Because Jesus was raised from the dead, you can now stand before God as if you were Christ, because Christ stood before God as if He were you.  That is a profound thought, that He actually took your place on the cross. 

He was delivered over to death for your sins and was raised to life for your justification.  Romans 4:25

For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit. 1 Peter 3:18

Have you ever been in a relationship that has gone bad?  Maybe it was a family member or a spouse or even a boyfriend or a friend.  Something happened and your relationship was hurt by it.  Then, later, the relationship was restored.  Often, it is just not the same again.  Oh, it may seem okay on the outside but on the inside you know it will never really be the same again.  The trust and openness is just not there.  Without Jesus’ death on the cross, your relationship with God is severed and broken.  However, with His death and resurrection comes justification.  Not only is the relationship made whole, but it is just as if you had never sinned.  It is better than it ever could be.

There are many who think that they have a relationship with God.  They talk to Him and even confide in Him.  They pray when they have a need and are aware of His provision and protection in their lives.  Yet, if they don't come to God through the cross, then they never experience the life-changing relationship with Christ that they could have.   If you don't come to God through Jesus, then you are only fooling yourself.  You just know about God and don't know Him in an intimate and personal way.

Call on the Lord

Call on Jesus by name

Remember at the beginning of Session One when you looked at Jeremiah 29:11-13?  Let's look at it again:

For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.  Jeremiah 29:11-13

When you call upon Jesus as Lord, then you know that He will listen to you.  Many call upon God but not as Lord.  God hears you when you come to Him in total submission to Him as Lord and Savior.  That's when you can know and understand what He tells you and what He has planned for you.  When you call upon His personal name, Jesus, then you can know that you will find Him when you seek Him with all of your heart.

Confess and believe Jesus is Lord

Look at Romans 10:9-10, 13 again.

“That if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved…for, ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’”  Romans 10:9-10, 13

These verses are a promise that if you confess or say that Jesus is Lord, and if you believe it in your heart, you will be saved.  It is true for everyone.

Salvation by faith

When you accept Christ as Lord and Savior, you do it on faith.  Faith is an act of the heart, the mind, and the will.  You are saved by believing in your heart, knowing it in your mind, and acting on it with your will.  Salvation is not earned.  Salvation is by faith alone.

Holy Spirit makes a new heart!

Dear friends, since God so loved you, you also ought to love one another.  No one has ever seen God; but if you love one another, God lives in you and his love is made complete in you.  You know that you live in him and he in you, because he has given you of his Spirit.  And you have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world.  If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God.  And so you know and rely on the love God has for you. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.  1 John 4:11-16

God gives you the Holy Spirit

You would have a hard time trying to live up to God’s standard alone.  That’s why He gives you the Holy Spirit.  When you invite Christ to come into your life, He sends the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit lives inside you and helps you understand scripture and what God is trying to say to you.  The Holy Spirit wants all glory to be given to the Father God.  He becomes your Counselor and teaches you.
And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever--the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. John 14:16-17

To know that the Holy Spirit is there for you is wonderful news!

The Holy Spirit will teach you

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

Not only does the Holy Spirit become your Counselor, but the Holy Spirit teaches you and reminds you of what the Scriptures say.  He is your ever-present guide.  You do not need to be troubled or afraid because He is the constant companion who is always there for you.


You have looked at what it means to hope, believe, turn, and call on Christ.  Review the prayer below.  If you have not yet prayed the prayer and meant it, now would be a great time to commit your life to Christ. 

                        Dear God,
Hope:             I know You have great plans for me and I want to
place my hope in You.
            Believe:         I believe You love me and sent Jesus to die on the
                                    cross for me.
            Turn:              Please forgive me and help me turn from my
            Call:                I want You to lead my life.

If you have just prayed this prayer, congratulations!  You have a new heart!  If you are still thinking about it, ask God to make Himself known to you.  He will!

Monday, February 27, 2012


“…Turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord…" Acts 3:19

What does it mean to turn?  You know the answer to that.  It means to go in the other direction.  In Acts 3:19, the Bible says to turn to God.  That must mean that you are to go another direction.  In fact, if you are turning, it often means that you are headed in the wrong direction.  Life without Christ is the wrong direction.  Paul, who wrote Acts, was speaking here and telling the people that they needed to turn to God or to go toward Him.  Isn't it wonderful that God never makes you accept Him but stands ready to receive you when you turn to Him?  Look at the rest of the verse.  When you turn to God, it says that your sins are wiped away and that refreshment is waiting for you.  He forgives.  He makes it easy.  He just wants you to turn your face to His.

When you were a child, you may remember your parents or other adults wanting you to look at them when they spoke to you.  God wants you to look His way.  When you do, you see Him in all His glory.  You see His heart and how much compassion He has and how much He loves and cares for you.  He stands ready to make it all better.  God wants to give you a new start by removing all the ugliness of wrongdoing.  He wants you to be renewed, refreshed, and recreated if you will.  He wants to give you a fresh start!

Everyone does wrong things

If God wants to give you a new start, you need to let Him.  Remember the story of Adam and Eve in Genesis 3?  Eve and Adam both do exactly what they were told not to do; they eat of the fruit of the one tree that they were not supposed to eat from.  And then they hid.  They hid because they were ashamed of what they had done.  When you do wrong things (everyone does), you don't want to turn to God because you know you are guilty.  Look at Proverbs 14:12 below.

There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.  Proverbs 14:12
You might think you know what's good for you and your family.  You might wonder how God could possibly have the whole picture.  It is awesome that God knows you so well that He knew that He needed to add this verse to the Bible.  There is a way that you think is right, but without God, it is not. 

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.  Romans 3:23

Everyone has sinned and no one lives up to God's standard of perfection.  All of you have turned the wrong way and need to make an about-face.  God knows when you are running from Him and yet still stands patiently waiting, willing to forgive you and give you hope and meaning in this life and in the life to come.

Some may think they are leading good and moral lives.  The Bible says that you have still done wrong things.  No one is perfect.  If you are living your life without a growing relationship with Christ, then you are living in the sin of not allowing Him to be the Lord of your life.

If you claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.  1 John 1:8, 10

The payment for wrongdoing is death

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Romans 6:23

What happens when you don't turn to God?  The answer is clear.  The answer is death.  The payment for wrongdoing is death or eternal separation from God.  However, the free gift from God is everlasting life through Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior.  Someone had to pay for your sins.  It is only through the grace of God that He sent Jesus to pay the penalty.

Death separates you from God

Your sins separate you from God.  If each sin you commit is like a brick, then when you put these sins together, it is like building a brick wall between yourself and God.  The more bricks or sins there are, the more you may feel separated from God.  Even one brick or one sin separates you from God but the more sins you have in your life, the farther you feel from God.  So, sin leads you to eternal death and eternal separation from God but even on this earth, the separation is there.

But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.  Isaiah 59:2

In the verse above, the Bible says that your sins keep you from Him and that He will not even hear you.  However, read the following great news:

"For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.  Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son." John 3:17-18

This is why God sent Jesus - not to condemn you but to save you.  If you believe, you are not condemned.  If you don't believe, then you are condemned already.

The brick wall of sin is removed by accepting the fact that Jesus died on the cross for you.  You make it a personal decision.  Yes, He died for all but you must ask Him personally to come into your life.  You accept the forgiveness that has already been provided.  When the wall is removed, that openness with God is there.  You have been forgiven!

When you turn to God and away from sin,
God cleanses you and wipes out your sin

When God wipes out your sin, He wipes it out for good.

As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.  Psalm 103:12

He removes your wrongdoing and all that is separating you from Him.  Just think, the east and the west never meet.  You may remember your sin but it is still gone.  You may live with the consequences of your sin, but it has been forgiven and removed!

"For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more."  Hebrews 8:12

Not only are your sins removed and forgiven, but Hebrews 8:12 above says that God will not even remember them. God will never hold them against you. You have been forgiven and your sins have been wiped away.  When you turn to God in repentance, He is faithful and just to forgive you and to cleanse you.

God sends refreshment

When you are faithful to tell or confess to God what you have done wrong, He is faithful and will do what He says.  In the verse below, God clearly says that He is just or fair and will not only forgive you of your sins but will purify or cleanse you from anything that is unrighteous or unholy.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.  1 John 1:9

When He does this, you are refreshed.  Look at Acts 3:19-20 printed below:

Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, and that he may send the Christ, who has been appointed for you-- even Jesus.  Acts 3:19-20

Refreshment comes when you are in a right relationship with God!  So, repent, or be sorry to the point that you turn your life around, and give God your life so that you may experience the fullness of life with Christ on this earth and in the life to come.

"I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full."  John 10:10b

God stands ready to bring you a full and meaningful life with purpose.  The decision is up to you.


"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”  John 3:16

Believe.  It is a simple word; however, the subject is complex.  To believe means to place confidence in, to entrust, or to place your faith in.  And that's where it gets complex.  It is easy to say that you believe in something yet harder to actually do it.  To believe in God is to entrust Him with your very life.  When you read John 3:16 above and it says to believe in Him (meaning Jesus Christ), it means that you believe with every part of your being by placing your complete faith in Him alone.  When you know that Jesus died on the cross for you so that you could be forgiven and experience everlasting life in heaven, then it gets a little easier.  Many will tell you that it is too simple.  That one must work or earn her way to heaven.  God loves you more than to think you could ever get there on your own.  Only those who are perfect can get to heaven…except for the death of Christ on the cross.  God loved you so much that He sent His one and only Son to pay the penalty that you would owe.

God loves you
But because of his great love for you, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions-- it is by grace you have been saved.  Ephesians 2:4-5

It is only by God's grace that you can enter heaven.  It's because He loves you so very much.  Perfect love is hard to understand.  Most people don't come close to experiencing it on this earth, because all are sinners.  None is perfect.  So you cannot show perfect love to another.  God's love and mercy is so great that He forgave you and gave you a new life.  God is just and fair.  God is also full of mercy.  It is a balance that no one fully understands.  He knew that He would have to judge you and that you could not enter heaven because of your sin and wrongdoings.  Because of His mercy, He provided a way.  It is by grace that you are saved through Christ.  What is grace?  It is what is given when you don't deserve it.  That's how much He loved you.

God sent Jesus to die for you
And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.  You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.  Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die.  But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  Romans 5:5-8

Of all the religions in the world, Christianity is the only one that involved the death of a righteous man.  Who else died for you?  No one.  Oh, there may have been some good men with lots of great thoughts but there are none that gave up heaven and stepped onto earth to die just for you.  That's what hope is all about.  That's what love is all about.  That's what grace is all about.  Hope does not disappoint you because God poured out His love into your heart by allowing Christ to die for you.  Then, God sent the Holy Spirit to be your guide and to help each day.  Without God's help, you are powerless.  Christ died for the powerless.  God knew that you would never gain access to Him.  God showed His love to you by sending Christ to die for you.

God wants you to believe in Jesus

What is believing in Jesus?  It is putting your trust completely in Him.  Look at it another way.

Believing is not…

You believe that there is one God.  Good!  Even the demons believe that - and shudder.  James 2:19

Believing is not just knowing something.  James 2:19 says that even the demons know and believe that there is only one God.  Think about it.  Satan knows there is only one God and He knows the true God.  Does that mean that He is in heaven with Christ?  Certainly not.  Believing is not just knowing something; it is placing faith in something.  The demons have not placed their faith in God and God alone. 

Knowing about God is not enough.  Knowing that Jesus died on the cross for you is not enough.  What is enough is placing your faith in Jesus to the extent that you are willing to turn from your wrongdoing and trust Him with your life.

Believing is…

Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become the children of God.  John 1:12

To those who believe and place their trust in God, the Bible promises that God gave them the right to become children of God.  It is the highest honor one can have, to be called a child of the most high God.  You must receive Him by allowing Him to be a part of your life and trusting Him in every area.  You must believe in Jesus to the extent that you allow Him to change your life through the work of the Holy Spirit.

God promises eternal life through Christ
God wants you to believe and place your faith in Him through Christ, but He also wants to grant to you the promise of a better life to come.  Jesus was the only one who could do this because people are sinful and God is holy.   You could not enter heaven if it were not for Christ.

For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus...  1 Timothy 2:5

Only Jesus can be the go between.  No one else.  Not a mother.  Not a priest.  No one.  Yes, the fact remains that Jesus is the only mediator between God and man.  So no one can come to the Father except through Him.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith- and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God--not by works, so that no one can boast, For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for you to do.  Ephesians 2:8-10

When you really believe in Jesus, you understand more that you could never have done what He did.  It is God's gift to you.  You cannot take the credit for it.  You cannot do enough good works to ever earn your salvation.  It is just a gift from God.  And it is a gift that each person decides whether he or she will accept or reject. 

If someone were to offer you a gift of an ink pen, you could decide if you wanted to take it or not.  It you took it, you might appreciate it and therefore want to do something in return for the gift-giver.  With God, He offers Jesus as a free gift.  You either take it or you don't.  And with many more consequences than accepting an ink pen or not.  If you accept His free gift, you would hopefully appreciate it so much that you would want to serve God.  You don't do things for God to earn your place in heaven; you do things to say thank you for allowing your Son Jesus to die on the cross for you.

Simply put, it is God's grace.  It is not you.  You are God's precious workmanship and you are recreated to live your life by honoring Christ.  It is simple faith.  It is simple trust.  It is the blessed hope you have that not only will God be here to help you through this life, but that when you leave this earth, you can go to heaven and live eternally with Him.

Believe In Him.  He sent Jesus to die for you.

They replied, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved-- you and your household."  Acts 16:31

Acts says that when you believe in the Lord Jesus, you will be saved.  It goes on to say that your whole household will be saved.  What this is saying is that salvation will be brought to the house (see Luke 19:9) because the same light of Christ will be given to all in that home.  Anyone who believes will be saved in the same way.   When Christ is in your life, others in the household will certainly see it.   They too, will have the same opportunity to make a personal commitment to Jesus.


So, how do you believe?  You believe with all your being.  You say it with your mouth, you believe it on the inside (in your heart) and you show it on the outside by everything you say and do.  If you say you believe and do not live it out, then the question is, do you really believe?  You believe to the point that you put your whole trust in Christ and place your faith in Him and in Him alone.  He desires to give you hope and help in every area.  He desires that you believe.

Sunday, February 26, 2012



“For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”  Jeremiah 29:11-13

Life is hardly perfect, is it? Families are torn apart by all sorts of tragedies.  People lose their jobs. And the list goes on. In the seemingly wild and fast paced world you probably live in, sometimes you might wonder, is there any hope?

Maybe things in your life are going pretty well right now.  Your parents are seemingly great, your children are turning out even better than you planned; but you have this deep-seeded feeling that something is missing.  You can't put your finger on it, but it is just an emptiness that never goes away.  Do you ever wonder if there is any hope or meaning in this life?

Hope.  It's a little word but with big meaning.  It can make all the difference in the world about your life.  What is hope anyway?  Maybe it is an expectancy of something better that's going to happen.  Maybe it is a longing for a new day or a way out or even a way through.  No matter how you view hope, God knows and understands.  No matter what kind of hope you need, God already knows that too.

Hope.  It's what God wants you to know that you can have.  He tells you in Jeremiah 29:11-13 (written above) that not only does His plan give hope; but that God is hope.  Read these verses above.  Then, look at it piece by piece and see if you can figure out what God is trying to say to you.

God's plan gives hope
God made you and has a plan for your life
Can you even believe it?  God has a plan for your life.  It is not a plan that is the same for everyone.  It is a separate plan that He designed for you alone.  Oh, the plan that God has starts out with some basics, but each plan has a little different twist to it.  Think about it this way, most of your neighbors probably go to the same few grocery stores.  They will likely all come home with food in the basic food groups.  Yet, if you were to look in each pantry, you'd see lots of different stuff.  It's the same way with God's plan.  There are some basics but it looks a little different and God knows the recipe that each one needs to make it a perfect plan for that person.

In Jeremiah 29:11, God says that He knows the plans he has for you!  Wow!  To think that God has a plan for you might be a whole new thought!  And, to make it even better, God says that His plan is to prosper you and not to harm you, to give you hope and a future.  So, throw out all those thoughts you may have had about God that make you think that He is out to get you.  This verse clearly states that God wants the best for you.  He wants you to do well.  Now "prosper" can be a little confusing if you are thinking in physical terms because God is thinking in spiritual ones.  Of course, He wants you to do well but this is not saying that He wants you to be rich.  He knows there are much more important things in life than having things or lots of money.  No, God desires that you have the best that He offers and does not want anyone or anything to harm you…His precious creation!  He wants you to have hope!  And what's more, He wants you to know that you have a future here on earth as well as in heaven.  Not only does God love you, but He also adores you enough to help you with your life on a daily basis.  Look at these verses in Psalms 139:13-16.

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb.  I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.  My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.  Psalm 139:13-16

Read that last line again.  God has your days all planned out for you.  That means that you still have choices with your life but that He has a direction planned out.  He even knew you before you were born because He decided just how He would fashion you.  So, it is no wonder that there is hope for you …the Creator of the universe not only made you but also knows what will make you happy and desires that you have a wonderful hope-filled life.

Hope is found in God

Hope can come from a lot of different places.  Hope can come from just anticipating an event or even from something much more important like finding hope in what your job will be.

"Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him.  He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.  My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge.  Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is your refuge. Selah."  Psalm 62:5-8

When you acknowledge Him alone as your salvation, the Word of God says that He will be your hope and that you cannot be shaken.  Oh, you may feel shaken and bounced around a bit, but the good news is that it won't have a lasting effect.  You can depend on Him as your secure and mighty rock, your very foundation for all that this life on earth holds, as well as the life to come.  The Bible says to pour out your heart to Him and trust in Him.  When you do, He is your refuge and you can hide in Him.

Trust in Christ brings assurance

When you give Him your heart and your trust, then you do have that assurance to know that He will always be there for you.

Trust in God brings hope

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Romans 15:13

How do you trust in God, you say?  You do this by placing your life in His hands.  It means that you trust Him enough to be the boss of your life, as well as save you.  Think of it this way, it's just like a little girl who jumps in a pool and trusts Daddy to catch her.  She knows he will and won't let her drown.  God wants you to trust Him.  He knows what the best plan for your life is.  It would be harder for an adult to jump in the pool and believe that someone would catch her.  That's why the Bible says to come as little children.

"And he said: "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven."  Matthew 18:3

Most of you still want to hold on.  God tells you that He is the God of hope.  When you trust in Him, He fills you with joy and peace.  When He does, you then overflow with hope because of the Holy Spirit that is now living inside of you.  Yes, trust in God brings hope to life.

Hope leads you to Christ

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through your Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.  Romans 5:1-2

When you hope in God, He shows you what His Son, Jesus Christ, did for you on the cross.   God sent Jesus to die for everything you ever did or will do wrong.  He was the perfect sacrifice for your sins.  And because of Christ, you can now come to God because you have been made right or clean or holy.  Now that is hope!  You can then have the peace and hope that is offered.  And you can rejoice in the hope of the glory of God your Father in heaven and His Son, Jesus Christ.

Christ brings assurance

And this is the testimony: God has given you eternal life, and this life is in his Son.  He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.  I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.  1 John 5:11-13

What an incredible passage this is that is found in 1 John.  Because of Jesus, you have eternal life.  That means that when you die you will go to heaven and live forever.  You can have everlasting life because of Christ.  The writer, John, wants you to know that if you believe in the name of Jesus, you can have this assurance.  Basically, if you really trust Him, then you never have to doubt your salvation.  And certainly this gives you hope in life!

Call on Him

The real hope begins when you call on God through Christ.  You call to God by talking or praying to Him.  Look at what God says in the verse following:

If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.  2 Chronicles 7:14

Wow, what a promise.  God wants you to call on Him by praying and seeking Him.  And when you do this, God hears your prayers.

Call on His personal name

Your God is a personal God.  You call to Him by praying to the Father and through the Son.  In other words, you pray to God and in the name of Jesus Christ.  You see, God sent His personal Son to die on the cross for you and He has a personal plan for your life.  Your name is important to you and to God.  He wants you to call on His personal name.

"Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved."  Acts 4:12

Only in the name of Jesus is salvation found.  No other name is the right name.  Some have trouble understanding this but God's Word is clear.  God sent Jesus to die on the cross, not someone else.  And Jesus is still alive.  Christ is the only way you can get to God.

Pray and talk to Him

"Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know."  Jeremiah 33:3

Why do you have hope?  You have hope because the God and Father of all desires to commune with you.  He is waiting for you to call Him.  His line is never busy, He never puts you on hold, the voice mail never picks up, and He is never out of the office.  Not only is He always available, but when you take the time to call, He tells you great and mighty things that you would not know any other way.  He gives you secrets to survival in this life.  And my friend, that is hope!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Are We Ashamed?

"For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek." Acts 1:16

There was an episode of the old Andy Griffith Show (for those of you who have never heard of it, find an episode on your computer and get a context for this post :))  Andy Griffith was the sheriff of Mayberry and Opie was his son.  Opie did not want his new friend to know that his paw was the sheriff.  He asked Andy:  "Do you mind if just this once we shake hands instead of huggin' and I call you Sheriff Taylor instead of Paw, Paw?  I wouldn't want Timmy thinking the Sheriff was my paw or anything." 

Perhaps we have experienced times when our children did not want everyone to know who their parents were.  I have been a chaperone several times at a school dance where my kids did not want others to know I was there.   Or recently, when my daughter wanted to drop a friend off at his dorm downtown, she did not want her friend to know I was following in the car behind them.  That would have been embarrassing (or so she thought). 

However, how many times have I not wanted people to know who my Heavenly Father is for fear of making things wierd between us or in fear of offending them?  Am I trying to introduce everyone I know to Him or am I wanting to keep that part of my "private" life?  Jesus says in Matthew 10:32-33:  "Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven.  But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven."  How terrifying to think that my heavenly Father could deny me!!!

Let's proclaim Him boldly to others and show our joy at being considered one of God's children!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Seven Things to Remember When Defending My Faith

While trying to defend my faith, I have found a few things to be helpful when I'm in the middle of a heated discussion.

1.   1.  Be calm.  Keep focused. 2 Timothy 4:5
“But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.”

2.   2.  Always be ready.  Be gentle and respectful.1 Peter 3:15
“But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord.  Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.”

3.   3.  Be patient. 2 Peter 3:9
“The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness.  He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”
4.   4.  Be merciful. Jude 22
            “Be merciful to those who doubt.”

5.    5. Be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger. James 1:19
“My dear brothers, take note of this:  Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.”
6.   6.  Be controlled. Titus 3:9
“But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless.”

7.    7. Be holy. Hebrews 12:14
“Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.”

As we are calm and focused on Jesus, ready to share, gentle, respectful, patient, merciful, are quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, controlled and holy...others will see Jesus in us and many will be saved.

Matthew 28:17-20
“When they saw him, they worshipped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.  And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’”

Understand some will doubt. Realize that Jesus has all power and authority in heaven and on earth. Because He does...go, make converts of all, baptize them and teach them to be obedient and know that the Holy Spirit goes with you always.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Praying Psalm 143 for Women Leaders

You will love Kathy Ferguson Litton. Kathy is the new ministry consultant to Pastor's Wives for the North American Mission Board (NAMB). Last week, she led a group of SBC ministry leaders in praying Psalm 143 for women leaders. The prayers were heartfelt. Let me encourage you to pray these verses for yourself and for other women leaders. Emphasis: mine.
Psalm 143

1Hear my prayer, O LORD, Give ear to my supplications! Answer me in Your faithfulness, in Your righteousness!
2And do not enter into judgment with Your servant, For in Your sight no man living is righteous.
3For the enemy has persecuted my soul; He has crushed my life to the ground; He has made me dwell in dark places, like those who have long been dead.
4Therefore my spirit is overwhelmed within me; My heart is appalled within me.
5I remember the days of old; I meditate on all Your doings; I muse on the work of Your hands.
6I stretch out my hands to You; My soul longs for You, as a parched land. Selah.
7Answer me quickly, O LORD, my spirit fails; Do not hide Your face from me, Or I will become like those who go down to the pit.
8Let me hear Your lovingkindness in the morning; For I trust in You; Teach me the way in which I should walk; For to You I lift up my soul.
9Deliver me, O LORD, from my enemies; I take refuge in You.
10Teach me to do Your will, For You are my God; Let Your good Spirit lead me on level ground.
11For the sake of Your name, O LORD, revive me. In Your righteousness bring my soul out of trouble.
12And in Your lovingkindness, cut off my enemies And destroy all those who afflict my soul, For I am Your servant.

If you not in ministry, you can still pray this for yourself. Everyone who is a believer is in ministry. Pray this for the women leaders of God's Kingdom. We want to be his servants!.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Jaye's tips for landing a Ministry Position

"Every day I will bless You, And I will praise Your name forever and ever. Great is the LORD, and highly to be praised, And His greatness is unsearchable. One generation shall praise Your works to another, And shall declare Your mighty acts" (Psalm 145:2-4, NASB).

Last week, it was my joy to be with the ladies of the Seminary Women's Network in Kansas City. This group consists of those who lead the work of women in the Southern Baptist Convention. I have been blessed to be a part of this council since 1996. I was asked to lead a discussion on how we encourage our women in finding ministry positions. Here are the tips i gave to get our discussion started.

To find a ministry position:
  1. PRAY. Nothing is more important that personal prayer for God's direction. Also, enlist a team of prayer warriors to pray for you and with you.
  2. Be involved in your CHURCH. (a) Make sure your staff knows you personally. (b) Fill the needs of the church (preschool, sec'y help, volunteer for everything). (c) Be joyful and passionate about serving the Lord. A good attitude goes a long way.
  3. Meet every person you can within your field of ministry. Personal contacts, emails, and calls will connect you to those who do what you'd like to be doing.
  4. Follow up personally after every resume you send and after every interview. If you want a job at a church, find others in the church or know you or know someone you know in that church. Most ministry positions are done by referral, not by submitting resumes through the mail, email, or online.
  5. Volunteer for an internship at the church. That means you may not get paid but you will gain valuable experience and they will get to know you. You may end up with a job there or a great referral for a job elsewhere.
  6. Be willing to move. Did God call you to stay? Did you commit to go anywhere? Just something to think about.
  7. Get a ministry mentor. Find someone who you can connect with who can show you a closer side to ministry and who can mentor you. This will take you light years into the future as well as keep you from making common ministry mistakes.
  8. Be teachable. Almost every person who calls me for a reference for a job wants to know if the person is teachable. You want to be confident in the Lord but indicate that you are willing to learn the job and the culture into which you would be walking.
Stay on your face in prayer. Let everyone know you are looking and be willing to take any and every door the Lord opens for you. Decide that every day you will bless the Lord and praise Him. Keep your focus on Him and know that if He called you, He will provide a place of service!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Waiting on God

"But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint."  (Isaiah 40:31)

My husband and I bought our first computer in 1985.  We thought it was amazing because we could hook it up to a phone line and click the Internet icon and then over ONE MINUTE LATER the compter would be connected.  Each time we wanted new information, it only took about FORTY-FIVE seconds to come up.  Fast forward twenty-five years!  If our computer takes longer than three seconds to do anything, we get frustrated.  Computers today are so fast that we refer to their processing speed in nanoseconds (1 billionth of a second)  With the technology being refined daily, we get frustrated if anything on the computer takes longer than a couple seconds. 

Has our need for instant results affected our ability to wait on God?  Many times we will pray to God about something and then want an instant answer.  (Think of the times you have heard the saying "Lord, I want patience and I want it right NOW.")  We may be praying for the salvation of a friend or family member and we want it to happen NOW.  But for me, the answers seldom come instantly.  I need to confess my "need to know now" attitude and learn how to wait on HIM.  Waiting on God is not always easy.  But God knows best and HIS timing is PERFECT. 

Thursday, February 16, 2012

music that draws us closer

"Shout triumphantly to the Lord, all the earth. Serve the Lord with gladness; come before Him with joyful songs. Acknowledge that Yahweh is God. He made us, and we are His - His people, the sheep of His pasture. Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him and praise His name. For Yahweh is good, and His love is eternal; His faithfulness endures through all generations."
-Psalm 100:1-5, Holman Christian Standard Bible

This song was the first on my playlist today, and I thought it was a great prayer.  Music speaks and it can move people.  Music like this has drawn me near to the God who is actually already near to His people.  It's also an easy way to express our faith, a way we can worship our Savior and tell others about how God invites us to have a relationship with Him.  So, here are the lyrics to the song:

"All I Need" by Shawn McDonald

"As I sit here and think about all that you've done
About how you gave me your one and only Son
And I'm trying to fathom about all that you are,
But live so far, Lord, you're so beyond me

I fall down in reverence and I fall down in fear
And I'm asking You, Lord, won't You please draw near?
Would You open my eyes so that I can see
The way that You are working in me

All I need is Your love
To come and fill this heart of mine
My heart is a desert that has gone dry
I need Your love to carry me by by by by by
To carry me by by by by by
To carry me by

And I lay down my life and put it before You
All that I am is in Your hands
And I'm not going to question why You're so faithful
Why that You give me the blessings that You have

Let the glory be known, let the glory be shown
To lift you up unto the throne
You are my God, You are my King
To You I give, I give you everything

All I need is Your love
To come and fill this heart of mine
My heart is a desert that has gone dry
I need Your love to carry me by..."

A link to his song on his MySpace website - "All I Need" (Audio)

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Remember Whose You Are!

"A Simple Healthy Formula for Godly Self-Esteem & Self-Worth!"

Valentines Day was yesterday, but we are surrounding with "hearts" everyday! God wants our heart to be in good condition so that He can use us to share Him & His Love with others! Let's talk about the heart (the seat of our emotions) today according to the TRUTH in God's Word!!

In order to apply God’s Truth about self-esteem & self-worth, let's look at 3 lies that the enemy & the world portrays, especially to women, as self-esteem & self-worth keeping in mind that they are 3 HUGE LIES!!!

Then we will look at the ONE true message from GOD…He Is TRUTH!!!

3 LIES that women are told from the enemy & the world:

1. Self-Esteem & Self-Worth = What You LOOK LIKE: At one time or another we all have been caught in a trap of lies from the enemy and the world of being overly concerned and/or at times obsessed (narcissistic) over: Weight, Body Shape, or Appearance…always leads to negative thinking and negative self talk!
"The poor, deluded fool feeds on ashes. He trusts something that can't help him at all. Yet he cannot bring himself to ask, "Is this idol that I'm holding in my hand a lie?" Isaiah 44:20 NLT

2. Self-Esteem & Self-Worth = What You DO: At one time or another we all have been caught in a trap of lies from the enemy and the world of being labeled by what we do to be accepted or to measure up to standards that are unrealistic: Perfect Wife, Perfect Mother, Perfect Home, Everything Organized, Over-Achiever, Climbing the Career Ladder, Striving to be Successful, Making Good Grades, Talented, Club Member, Up-To-Date Scrapbooks, What I Do Is Who I Am = obsessed with (narcissistic) accomplishments/achievements always leads to negative thinking & negative self talk!
"Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour." 1 Peter 5:8 NLT

3. Self-Esteem & Self-Worth = What OTHERS THINK About You: At one time or another we all been caught in a trap from the enemy and the world of being overly concerned and/or at times obsessed with (narcissistic) being a people pleaser: Approval From Others, Trying To Fit In, Doing Whatever It Takes To Be Accepted, Trying to Look Like You Have It All Together, Trying to Be Accepted By The “In” Crowd, Being A Follower Of Others, Closed Relationship Clicks…always leads to negative thinking & negative self talk!
"...For the accuser of our brothers and sisters has been thrown down to earth—the one who accuses them before our God day and night..." Rev.12:10b NLT

All of the above traps will lead to: low self-esteem/low self-worth, fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of the future, fear of all kinds, the blame game, shame, anxiety, displaced anger, self-pity, being passive, eating disorders, isolation, depression, withdrawing from others, loss of creativity, negativity, perfectionism, critical spirit, controlling/manipulating others, co-dependant relationships, gambling, alcohol and/or drug use to escape emotional pain = negative strong-holds!

GOOD NEWS!!!!! God’s ONE True Formula for Self-Esteem & Self-Worth is....

Who You Are In JESUS CHRIST!! = True Self-Esteem & Self-Worth: "You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it. You watched me as I was being formed me in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. How precious are your thoughts about me,O God. They cannot be numbered! I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand! And when I wake up, you are still with me!" Psalm 139:13-18 NLT

Please take some time and look up these PROMISES about who you are in Jesus Christ and please share Him with others....all we need to do is look at the news, culture, people our lives touch everyday and see that people are needing to know JESUS & share Him with others!! God made us to Know Him & be His Witnesses, that is WHO WE ARE!!": Psalm 17:8; Romans 8:1-2, 15-17, 37-39; 2 Cor. 4:16-18, 5:17; Eph. 2:10; Colossians 2:10, 3:12; 1 Peter 2:9

"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart." Jer.29:11-13 ESV

A Few Resources that help with Self-Esteem & Self-Worth: “The Search for Significance” Robert S.McGee; “Healing of Damaged Emotions” David A.Seamands; “Breaking Free” Beth Moore; "The Blessing" Gary Smalley & John Trent

Some websites to help you in your walk with the Lord & your witness for Christ!

If You Need Prayer and/or Encouragement: Tracy Jones ~ (Mercy Me-Your Beautiful)