Monday, December 16, 2013

Give the Bells, Give the Word

"Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure—pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return.” Luke 6:38, NASB

On Sunday, a lady came by the preschool desk (my volunteer job) and gave a knitted bell to my co-worker and to me. To my knowledge, I have never seen her before but she was passing on the spirit of Christ during this Christmas season. She reminded us to give the joy of Christ to others.

In the last few days, I have given out several of our new HeartCall Bibles. These use our logo of a heart, cross and an arrow to share the gospel message. I am amazed and how many who say they will read it! Today I gave one to two ladies who spoke little English. I also gave them a copy of the HeartCall Spanish-English tract. They seemed grateful and interested. I pray that God uses His Word to reach the hearts of His kids, as well as those who want to know Him.

Regardless of how you give during this Christmas season, whether it be by knitting bells or giving Bibles, I pray that when you give, you will share the joy of the Lord and the promise of salvation. It IS the Christmas season and it was...and still is...an announcement of great joy! Ring the bells! Share the Good News! Pass on the love of Christ every way you can!

Merry Christmas to all,
Jaye

You can order HeartCall Bibles and other resources at www.jayemartin.com/shop. If you would rather give so we can train people to go, visit our give page at www.jayemartin.com/give. Blessings to all!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

a spark on an ordinary, dark night

"The shepherds began saying to one another, 'Let us go straight back to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us.' 

So they came in a hurry and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as he lay in the manger. When they had seen this, they made known the statement which had been told them about this Child…

The shepherds went back, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen, just as had been told to them" (Luke 2:15b-17, 20, NASB). 

Aisles and aisles of red, green and white was all I could see for a while. My shopping cart was popping out with the same colors as I emerged from this sea and approached the check-out line. Then - in the middle of this busy day - a man at the check-out begun talking with me about Christmastime and church. And there it was - a glimmer in the middle of the day of Christ, our Savior, who was part of God's plan to sacrificd Himself as a ransom for all. This message is for all people. Even on the seemingly most normal of days, God is at work to spread this message, to save us and  to draw us all closer to Him.

That night, I was reminded of the shepherds' reactions in Luke 2, the night of Christ's birth:
  • First, they were terrified by the angel that visited them in the fields (v. 9). Who wouldn't be? A heavenly creature appeared during their work shift and in the dark.
  • They went to see what the angel had told them (vv. 15-16). After hearing the angel's message that the Savior was born in Bethlehem, they decided to check it out. They were filled with joy to see that what the angels had told them about Jesus was so accurate.
  • They praised God and told others what the angels had told them about the Child (vv. 17-18, 20). And they brought glory to God.
I pray that God helps us see each day - no matter how ordinary or how unusual it seems - as a time that He can move and bring light along with His love. I pray He gives us His heart, along with the words to share what He has shown us about Him, this good news for all people, that our Savior is here.

"But the angel said to them, 'Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord'" (Luke 2:10-11). 

Monday, December 2, 2013

the hope of Christmas

My soul, wait in silence for God only, for my hope is from Him. He only is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold; I shall not be shaken. On God my salvation and my glory rest; the rock of my strength, my refuge is in God. Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us. Selah. Psalm 62:5-8

On this cyber Monday, you may catch yourself glancing at all the sale messages in your inbox or on Facebook and for just a moment think that your hope is in finding the perfect gift at an unbelievable price and that securing it will give you and others the ultimate gift of hope for a cheery season. Be not mislead. While the ads promise all these things, in our hearts we know that the only real hope we have is in Christ.
 
Christ is the perfect gift. He is all knowing, all understanding, all sufficient, all powerful, and
full of hope!
 
The psalmist says to wait in silence for God only; and reminds us that our hope is in Him. No matter what the Christmas season brings, we are not shaken if we hope in Him. He is our rest, strength, salvation, refuge and more. As we pour out our hearts to Him, He meets us at our point of need.
 
Amy Grant's song, I need a little silent night, really speaks to me. http://www.metrolyrics.com/i-need-a-silent-night-lyrics-amy-grant.html#startvideo
Take a moment and listen. Let's live the hope we know we have. Let's share it with others so they too may have the hope of Christ this Christmas.
 
Hope in Christ is the first chapter in our new work, HeartCall New Heart: What it Means to Believe. Find it in the shop. Bless someone this Christmas with our Fresh Start Kit: this book, the Bible, the journal and our new devotional book. www.jayemartin.com/shop.
 
 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Beauty of Need

"For he trusted in the LORD, the God of Israel; so that after him there was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor among those who were before him. For he clung to the LORD, he did not depart from following Him, but kept His commandments, which the LORD had commanded Moses" (2 Kings 18:5-6). 

With Thanksgiving coming up, I bet you've heard lately, "What are you thankful for?" At the same time, I have been seeing a flood of ads that suggest what we may need for Christmastime.

My prayer is that as we realize our blessings and our needs, we are drawn to an even deeper relationship with God. This may seem odd in a society that often praises independence and self-reliance. Yet, I know God is stronger than anything I can do myself. So, when I read the passage above, I long to have a solid trust in God like King Hezekiah's.

Hezekiah's trust was not only remarkable in itself but also stood out among his generation. How did he trust? Hezekiah clung to the Lord. He persevered in following God and keeping His commandments.

Kelli Martin
Wherever God leads you today, cling to Him. Remember His faithfulness and saving grace. Keep learning from His Word and following the Holy Spirit's guidance. Turn to the Lord in prayer and reliance. Express to Him your thanks and your needs in full trust of His listening ear, faithfulness and plans.

There's a world full of people who may be noticing their blessings or needs this season. In prayer, let's ask for moments to share about God, the One we trust with our lives. Let's share stories of what He has done in our hearts and lives, and what He can and wants to do in anothers' heart and life.

"Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us. Selah" (Psalm 62:8). 

Monday, November 11, 2013

God's stream or Twitter stream?

How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked,
Nor stand in the path of sinners,
Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!
But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
And in His law he meditates day and night.
He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water,
Which yields its fruit in its season
And its leaf does not wither;
And in whatever he does, he prospers. (Psalm 1:1-3, NASB)


Today I was blessed by the simple truths found in Psalm 1:1-3. I was reminded that God wants us to bask in Him, His wise counsel and in His Word. I am not to be under the counsel of the ungodly. I am to meditate on Him and His law. When I do, I will see the fruit of His love and wisdom in every area of my life.

Last night, I looked at my Twitter feed. I do love social media. I love seeing the clips and thoughts and things happening. I love the photos on Facebook and I love to keep up with people. The difficult side is that I just don't have the time to see all the posts and to respond to each one. The further challenge is that I can be distracted by those who are not responding to me. Not good! I found myself frustrated by the need to promote and connect with thousands of people. I also found myself discouraged that I was "not where I needed to be" in getting the word out about my ministry.

Yet this morning, there it was...God's Word. Ready to instruct and encourage me. My worth is not found in Twitter or Facebook! Not a new thought but a timely reminder. My concentration needs to be on God and His Son; when it is, I delight in Him and He delights in me. His streams of water are better than any Twitter feed.

Spend time with Him today.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Light Up the Night - Fearlessly

"Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?...the heavenly Father knows you need these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will take care of itself" (Matthew 6:25b, 32-34; NASB). 

Do you have plans for Halloween night? Our church is encouraging people either to go to or help with the fall festival or to "light up the night" in their own neighborhoods. I love the phrase "light up the night." That's just what God does. 

No matter what you do on this night, let's just not forget that there's just something that stands out about God in contrast to fear, death and darkness:
  • In contrast to fear, we find trust in Him: His kind of love does not feed on fear; rather, it encourages trust, hope and faith in Him and in who He is. He is full of goodness and faithfulness (Psalm 100). We can see His sacrificial, selfless love as He sent Jesus to die for us (Romans 5:8).
  • In contrast to death, we find life in Him: He didn't stop there, though, as Jesus rose from the dead. He breathes new life to those who turn to Him in trust asking for forgiveness (Romans 10:9-10). He gives believers the Holy Spirit, and we are made new, as we are seen by Him as the forgiven, as white as snow (Isaiah 1:18). And He continues to be there to forgive us.
  • In contrast to darkness, we find light in Him: His light shines like a beacon in the darkness. He is full of truth, goodness and mercy. He brought light into the world, and He wishes to light our paths and guide us (Psalm 119:105). 
God is greater than any fear or worry we may have. He has kept His promises, and He won't stop now. He made us and loves us (Psalm 139:14). He desires a relationship with us that's full of life, truth and trust. 

Kelli Martin
Let's pray we see moments to share Him with others without fear. May we let Him shine into dark places. Let's burn for Him.

"O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Corinthians 15:55-57, NASB). 

All Sons & Daughters' "Wake Up"
Matt Maher's "Lord I Need You"

Monday, October 21, 2013

Sarah Pierson - A Shining Light at a Public School

Last week, Cypress Ridge High School in Houston, TX, did a spotlight on Sarah Pierson! Sarah is an incredible young adult who has a passion for the Lord. She teaches at Cy-Ridge and has been a shining example for Christ. I included the first page of the newsletter but read the second page and thank God for Sarah!




Way to go Sarah! We are so proud of you!!!

What are you doing to shine for Christ? Let's pray that our lights are shining bright!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Joy of the Lord Is Your Strength

"The joy of the Lord is your strength" (Nehemiah 8:10b, NASB). 

There is a popular slogan by Under Armour that says, "Protect This House." I think what it means is that as we exercise, we are helping our body by keeping it healthy. There are many other ways to seek physical health and protection. Where do you run for strength and protection?

Lately, this verse above has been on my mind. God sent Ezra and Nehemiah in these days to restore Jerusalem in very realistic, visual ways, as they rebuilt the temple and the city walls, respectively. The focus in this chapter is that as Ezra read God's law out loud, the people began weeping.

Why were they weeping? These people were weeping at the reading of God's Word and as they realized their sins. I think God's Word can be challenging and lovely at the same time. We can see He is holy and deserves the utmost respect and worship, and I think the people may have felt regret or sadness over their sin.

Kelli Martin
What did Ezra say about it? He asked them to not grieve or mourn. I think the purpose here is that God, in that moment, was there to restore His people not just physically but also spiritually. It was also time to start the festival of booths. God was proving His faithfulness to restore His people.

He can restore us today as well, as we turn to Him in belief and with a heart of repentance. He gave His Word out of love, so that we could know Him more. It is good to be sorrowful over our sins so that we see the need to turn from them and toward God, but we must trust that God also lets us turn to Him and come to Him. He is a forgiver. Let's embrace that and walk in faith in that.

Let's take a moment to praise Him because He has shown how He wants to restore us. Let's share with others, by word and by action, our source of joy and strength.

Check out all of the first part of chapter 8 in Nehemiah here: Nehemiah 8:1-12 (NLT)

Thursday, October 10, 2013

God's Voice

- C.S. Lewis
"When you go through deep waters, I will be with you" (Isaiah 43:2a, NLT).

"And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age" (Matthew 28:20b, NLT).

The quote above from C.S. Lewis is one that I repinned on Pinterest earlier this week. I felt that God was in a moment of silence about something I've been praying about for a while, but I knew I still trusted Him. Even when we don't hear Him responding about a certain prayer, He is there.

Not long after that, God reminded me how He speaks. Several things began happening, and He brought verses like this to my attention: "The voice of the LORD is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, the LORD, over many waters" (Psalm 29:3, ESV). You see, God has a voice that can even thunder. The verses and things that have been happening this week came in such great timing. My Savior has spoken. 
Kelli Martin

God may seem silent, or His voice may seem like thunder. Either way, He can't go against His nature. He is Immanuel, God with us. 

As you go today, remember the second half of Matthew 28:20,"And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age" (NLT). It comes in great timing in the passage, at the end of the Great Commission. Let's praise God that He's at work not only in our lives but also around the world. Let's pray He reveals to us what He wants us to do next to be a part of His good, grand plan.

Recommended music: "Savior's Here" by Kari Jobe
Recommended reading: Psalm 29Matthew 28:18-20, Isaiah 43

Monday, October 7, 2013

Leaders, Grace and Peace?


"Paul and Timothy, bond-servants of Christ Jesus, to all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, including the overseers and deacons: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I thank my god in all my remembrance of you" Philippians 1:1-3, NASB.
 
This past weekend, it was my honor to again be with Ashley Allen and the wonderful women of North Carolina. As we looked at the lessons of evangelistic leadership from Philippians, I began with these verses. Paul wrote to overseers, so as you can imagine, the book is packed with truths to take to heart. I love that he begins with the simple words of grace and peace. "Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ." I asked these leaders if they were giving grace and peace to those under their leadership. So simple, so profound.
 
What is grace? It is the free and unmerited favor of God. As a leader, I have to ask myself the same
question. Am I extending grace to others? Grace is the gospel message. It is the reality that in God's grace, He has blessed us with the gift of salvation, the gift of Himself. I must always extend His grace to everyone by my words and my actions. As a Christian, it is the best place to start.
 
What about peace? Do I carry the peace of God in every situation all day long? When I continue to find editing errors in the resources, how am I responding? Regardless of what happens, I need to always look to God for His peace so that I can extend it to others.
 
Grace and peace to you, my friend. May He fill you with His salvation and His Spirit so that you can pour it out on everyone.
 
 

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Perfect Peace (Isaiah 26:3)

“The steadfast of mind You will keep in perfect peace, because he trusts in You." Isaiah 26:3

The past few weeks, I feel as though my mind has been cluttered and chaotic. Between working, trying to do school work and wedding planning, it seems hard to focus my mind on accomplishing any one task because there are so many others to do.

While reflecting on this last night, the Lord called to my mind Isaiah 26:3, which says, "the steadfast of mind You will keep in perfect peace, because he trusts in You." In the ESV, it reads, "You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you" (emphasis mine). There are three aspects of this verse that struck me:

perfect peace
for those whose mind is stayed on the Lord
because of their trust in the Lord 

Perfect peace is only available when our minds are focused and stayed on the Lord. Furthermore, when our minds are cluttered and chaotic (not in perfect peace), it is a lack of trust in the Lord. A proper trust in the Lord will provide proper perspective which will lead to perfect peace. When worry, anxiety and chaos are marking our lives, it is a result of not thinking rightly about the Lord and not finding full dependence on Him. In the midst of any stressful circumstance, chaos or hardship, perfect peace is available when we "set our minds on things above, not on things that are on earth" (Colossians 3:2).

Today, may we strive to fix our eyes (and minds) on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:2). May we resolve to keep our minds "stayed" on the Lord, placing our trust in Him. May we thank Him for His offer of perfect peace and look solely to Him to provide it.

 

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Drowning!

But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. James 1:5-7, NASB.

I find myself drowning in a sea of clutter. Thousands are of emails clog my inbox, my to-do list seems to fill my journal, numerous notes go unwritten and it feels like everything and everyone I see is in need of something. Whether the clutter comes from things to do or from accumulating dust or from laundry, I never seem to catch up. Burying myself under the load of responsibility only makes matters worse because tomorrow, there will be more emails that need a response, more things to do, notes to write and more people who think they need my help. Is anyone with me? Lol, don't send me an email!

It is times like this when I need to keep my perspective. In James, God clearly speaks
through His Word. If we need wisdom, we are to ask Him. We don't need to be blown by the wind and become wishy-washy, second-guessing each decision nor do we need to drown in the sea of doubting. We don't need to become paralyzed because we don't know what to do first, we need to ask God!

I find that sitting down and praying over my list brings new perspective. God helps me see what really needs to happen and what I need to act on. Sometimes things have to be left because they are good things but not the best things. I am so grateful to God that He never intended for me to be overwhelmed but He did intend me to ask Him for direction...and to act on what He wants me to do.

Today, let's ask Him for wisdom to that we do the best things and leave the rest!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Artist

"For thus says the Lord, who created the heavens (He is the God who formed the earth and made it, He established it and did not create it a waste place, but formed it to be inhabited), 'I am the Lord, and there is none else'" (Isaiah 45:18, NASB).  

This past week, God has reminded me of how He is Creator and the supreme artist. God stands out to me in that He was the first artist. He has proved how He can take nothing and blank and turn it into something beautiful and life-giving.

The way a tree loses its leaves in the fall is eye-catching and beautiful. The richness of its colors, the grace of its falling leaves and the crisp air that surrounds it can make us stand in awe (and want to reach for a sweater). We snap photos, play in its leaves or simply stop and stare to take it all in.

Just like God created the beauty of trees and how they change colors in the fall, He also created us in His image and can renew us to reflect His beauty more.  

Is someone on your mind who doesn't know this great Artist whose works have been seen around the world? Let's remember that He is a miracle-worker, this Artist. He turns darkness into light and makes beautiful things. He can give us fresh starts, as He offers forgiveness without strings attached. He wants a genuine, loving relationship with His people. He can renew our hearts so that we love more like Him.
Kelli Martin

How does God being Creator impact you today? Let's pray and ask God for renewal in ourselves, in our communities and in our world. Let's thank Him for His creation and the work He is doing in the world and in people today. Let's ask Him for fresh eyes to see times we can share with others what it's like to know the
greatest artist of all time.

The band Gungor has a couple of songs that stand out to me about God as Creator. I recommend, "Beautiful Things" and "My Father's World."

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Mark 6:45-51

"Immediately Jesus made His disciples get into the boat and go ahead of Him to the other side to Bethsaida, while He Himself was sending the crowd away. After bidding them farewell, He left for the mountain to pray. When it was evening, the boat was in the middle of the sea, and He was alone on the land. Seeing them straining at the oars, for the wind was against them, at about the fourth watch of the night He came to them, walking on the sea; and He intended to pass by them. But when they saw Him walking on the sea, they supposed that it was a ghost, and cried out; for they all saw Him and were terrified. But immediately He spoke with them and said to them, “Take courage; it is I, do not be afraid.” Then He got into the boat with them, and the wind stopped; and they were utterly astonished." Mark 6:45-51

Kari Beougher
My Dad preached on this passage this past Sunday morning and I have been thinking about what he said ever since. This passage shows the disciples in the midst of a storm that seemed unrelenting, and how when the Lord came, they "supposed that it was a ghost" and "were utterly astonished." My Dad made the point that the disciples were not really expecting to see Jesus; they were not expecting His deliverance.
  
This realization was extremely convicting for me. How often do we, when experiencing what we feel is an unrelenting storm, confidently expect the Lord's presence and deliverance?  The disciples had just seen the Lord perform miracle after miracle; surely they would have believed in and recognized His power to do all things. They had already experienced the fact that "even the winds and the seas obey him."  And yet, how easy it is to be so caught in the midst of our circumstances that our perspective and focus are on the storm and not on the One in control of the storm.

Throughout life, when we feel we are "straining at the oars," may this passage remind us that the Lord always knows and always arrives at just the right time. May we be convinced of His power to deliver us and His faithfulness to provide what we need.

Friday, September 20, 2013

It's Never Too Late




"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" (Romans 10:9)

When Jesus was dying on the cross, the thief on one side of him hurled insults at him.  The thief on the other side of him said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom" (Luke 23:42).

At the very last minute, Jesus promises that thief that "Today you will be with me in paradise" (Luke 23:43).  Praise God that it is never too late to accept the forgiveness for our sins and know that we have eternal life in heaven.

My brother-in-law succumbed to the addiction of alcohol.  Numerous attempts at rehabilitation failed because the strong pull of alcohol.  He placed alcohol above everything--his wife, his two sons, his job (he had not worked for the past ten years) and everything.  My sister kept telling him that he "needed to get right with God."  I had shared the gospel in person, by phone and by letter in the past year--and he just was not ready to acknowledge that Jesus was the Son of God and that he could forgive him for his sins.

On August 20th, 2013, Glenn died in his bed at home at age 51.  A sad life?  Yes!  The last few days? Assuring!  Glenn accepted Christ during the week before he died.  He never had a chance to get out of bed, get baptized or serve the Lord.  BUT--he does have the assurance of eternal life. 

It is never too late for your loved ones or friends to accept Christ. Don't give up praying for them.  It is NEVER too late!   Nor, is it ever too early!  Encourage others not to put off until tomorrow what they can be sure of today.




Sharon Beougher


Monday, September 16, 2013

Together


"15But speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.17 So this I say, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility  of their mind." Ephesians 4:15-17, NASB

It was just a week ago that I found myself standing on the school grounds on the island of Taiwan watching children play. Regardless of where I looked, these darling kids were interacting together with little adult interaction. No one needed to step in to break up a fight, no teacher screaming at misbehaving kids and seemingly everyone playing well together.  I could not help but think the heat and humidity may have felt like Houston but it sure did not look like home!
 
Our friends who took us explained that the children in the yellow smocks were in kindergarten. These smocks tied in the back. From an early age, children are taught to tie each other's smocks and the need they have for each other, the need to work together. In American, we tie our own smocks and are proud of it. I could not help thinking where we would be if only we had learned to work together. 

As a church, where would we be if we worked together? Lord, teach me through these children!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

He will wipe away every tear

Photo from dreamphemera.wordpress.com.
"Then I heard a loud voice from the throne: 'Look! God's dwelling is with humanity, and He will live with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death will no longer exist; grief, crying, and pain will exist no longer, because the previous things have passed away'" (Revelation 21:3-4, HCSB).

Across the media in America yesterday were floods of memories of what happened on 9/11 in New York City. My friend reminded me of God's promises in the verses above. On that day, I remember the shock I felt. It seemed like it wasn't real for some time afterward.

As we honor those who work hard to protect our country and as we pray for them today, let us fully trust that in the end God will conquer all evil. He has power over it. What's more, because of Christ's sacrifice, God can bring redemption, peace and a renewed heart to a world in need of a Savior. How much we all need Him.

Do you know someone who is suffering or grieving? Let's pray for them or with them. Pray for the Holy Spirit to give us the words to say if we're given an opportunity to help them see more of who God is, this God who keeps His promises and saves.

This reminded me of how Queen Esther may have felt before asking the king, her new husband, to save her/God's people. Below are lyrics from a song about this (produced by VeggieTales actually):

"Mordecai: You wanted to know why you became queen
I told you God must have a reason
Perhaps he put you here, for such a time as this
Perhaps this is the reason.

"Esther: Tell me why, I don't understand 
Tell me why, or show me your hand
Tell me why because I can't see my way through
What now... should I.. do?


Kelli Martin
"The battle is not ours 
We look to God above
For He will guide us safely through
and guard us with His love

"I will not be afraid
I will not run and hide
For there is nothing I can't face when God is at my side"

You can listen to a clip from this song on YouTube here.
You can read this part of the story with Esther and Mordecai on Bible Gateway here.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Isaiah 46:9-11

"For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose, calling a bird of prey from the east, the man of my counsel from a far country. I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass; I have purposed, and I will do it." Isaiah 46:9-11
Kari Beougher

We can rest in the sovereignty and supremacy of our God. There is truly none like Him. In the midst of confusion and when we feel like we don't know the next step, we can be certain that God knows everything from the beginning to the end, even the things that have yet to happen. Not only that, but we can trust that there is nothing and no one that can keep the Lord from accomplishing what He has purposed or planned. Therefore, when circumstances or situations seem contrary to His character; when hardships or trials seem hopeless, when we feel uncertain of the future- we can have confidence in the plan of a God who can do all things. 

Proverbs 21:1 says, "The king's heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will." Government decisions, work situations and relational circumstances are all within the Lord's sovereignty. None can upset or frustrate His plans. He works "all things according to the counsel of His will" (Ephesians 1:11). We can trust that the promises of the Lord will be accomplished.

Today, may we say with Job, "I know that you can do all things and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted" (Job 42:2). May we rest in the sovereignty, purposes and plan of our good and gracious God. May we be comforted that the Lord is the one who directs our steps (Proverbs 16:9) and His purposes always prevail (Proverbs 19:21).

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Love Deeply

"Now that you have taken care to purify your souls through your submission to the truth, you can experience real love for each other. So love each other deeply from a [pure] heart. You have been reborn - not from seed that eventually dies but from seed that is eternal - through the word of God that lives and endures forever. For Isaiah said, 
'All life is like the grass, 
and its glory like a flower;
The grass will wither and die, 
and the flower falls,
But the word of the Lord will endure forever'
This is the word that has been preached to you" 
(1 Peter 1:22-25, The Voice).

I like this version from The Voice. As new creations, we are made alive by God's grace as we have turned to put our trust in Him as Lord and Savior. The body of Christ can come together and have a pure love like He does, since He fills us with the Holy Spirit and teaches us more of who He is. He can renew our hearts and help us forgive, reach out to and care for those around us. He can give us new eyes to see others as His precious creations that He can give new life to as well. We have known and have been filled with His love, and so we have the opportunity to multiply the world with a kind of love like God has shown.

Kelli Martin
How can you love someone today or this weekend? Recently, I stopped to talk with a neighbor who has dogs and was shocked to find out she has had recent back troubles. I wished I was there closer to when the troubles first occurred. We exchanged cell phone numbers, and I hope that I can be there for her in the future. Is there someone around you who may even just need a smile or a hopeful outlook of God's purposes? Maybe there is someone near You who doesn't know the hope and peace our God Father and Savior brings.

Let's pray that God fills us with His love so we can extend it to others and point them to God who has shown us the deepest love we've ever seen.

A couple of worship songs: "Bones" and "Like an Avalanche" by Hillsong United (Live in Miami video with lyrics)
Photo from Pinterest and psweadoreyou.blogspot.com.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

According to the Spirit

Kari Beougher
"For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God." Romans 8:5-8

I am currently studying the book of Romans in my personal time with the Lord. One of the recurring themes I have continued to find is the connection between our thoughts and sinful actions. Over and over again, I am seeing that the battle for sin begins in the mind. When our minds are centered on the Gospel, there is life and peace and the ability to obey God's law. However, when our minds are focused on ourselves and on worldly things, we are living in the flesh and unable to please God. Setting our minds "on the things of the Spirit" begins with thinking rightly about who God is and agreeing with what God says about us. 

Today, may we take our thoughts captive in obedience to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5) and focus our minds on Gospel truths. May we  "put to death the deeds of the body" (Romans 8:13) by walking according to the Spirit.

Monday, September 2, 2013

As you read this, I will be on the other side of the world from most of you. It is amazing how you can get on a plane and in no time, be in such a different culture. I have already been reminded how much we are blessed and how thankful we can be for the little things.

Your prayers are essential as we try to speak through interpreters! Pray that our words will be Spirit-filled and that many will be Gifted2Go when we leave! I would especially like your prayers as I speak to our faithful servants, to a conference for women, and to a young church. May we be an encouragement to those we meet!

After we return, I will tell you all the details. Until then, thank you for being our partners in prayer!

By the way, the spiral bound version of HeartCall New Heart is being printed right now! you can order either version at www.jayemartin.com/shop.

You are loved!
Jaye

Friday, August 30, 2013

Evangelism in a Post Modern Culture: Responses

"Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some began to sneer, but others said, 'We shall hear you gain concerning this.'  So Paul went out of their midst.  But some men joined him and believed, among whom also were Dionysius the Areopagite and a woman named Damaris and others with them" (Acts 17:32-33).

When Paul finished his sermon in Athens in Acts 17, there were several different types of responses.  Some people sneered and mocked Paul.  Others said, "We will think about it." But some believed!

Let's remind ourselves that Paul was in a pioneer area where no one had ever heard the gospel and this message was brand new to the Athenians.  It was in fact "strange things to their ears" (Acts 17:20).  However, God is  not limited to a certain method nor is he bound by time.  Relationship evangelism is great and is certainly a wonderful way to find ways to share the gospel with people, but we have to trust that God is working in places that may not have even ever heard the word "God" or "Jesus" before!  There are no rules that state you have to know someone for a month or a year, get to know them and then share.  There are no rules that you have to use a certain gospel tract or method.  God is God and we are not!  All He wants is for us to be faithful to do whatever He has called us to do!
Sharon Beougher

Spurgeon once stated to preachers to "Take your text and make a beeline for the cross."  In our conversations we need to make a beeline for the cross.  The cross is what provides hope for the heart as people Hope, Believe, Turn and Call.

Lord, let us learn from Paul and let us be faithful to do WHATEVER you want us to do and to never lose the wonder of who You are and the wonder of our salvation!


Thursday, August 29, 2013

Looking Forward

"For the grace of God has appeared with salvation for all people, instructing us to deny godlessness and worldly lusts and to live in a sensible, righteous and godly way in the present age, while we wait for the blessed hope and appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ" (Titus 2:11-13, HCSB). 

What motivates you? Lately, pictures of Corpus Christi have been motivating me keep up my runs, since I will be running in a long distance race there soon. There is this feeling within me that can emerge, though - a feeling that routine runs will wear away at me and drain my energy. When I remember why I am excited about that run in the future, my mind shifts. My heart lifts. I remember why I love to run, and even what may seem like a purely mechanic routine is a good time as I remember the end goal with its purpose and meaning.

As believers, we have this future hope that Jesus will return one day. This hope comes from God's promises. He is an unchanging promise keeper. God is Lord over all and Jesus, our Redeemer. With help from the Holy Spirit, we can seek to live our lives as His people, representatives for Him until He comes again to restore His kingdom on earth. My hope is that as we seek to follow God, we shift our eyes from obedience that can look like routine and see the underlying love for our Savior that can drive all of that.

Kelli Martin
Let's be a people who love Him from the inside out. Let's share with others and pray that they see that our obedience is a work of the Holy Spirit. Let's pray that God renews our hearts daily so we can reflect Him more.

"So we must not grow tired of doing good" (Galatians 6:9a, HCSB). 

"God, create a clean heart for me and renew a steadfast spirit in me" (Psalm 51:10, HCSB). 

Recommended song: "Absent from Flesh" performed by Sojourn Music. You can see a YouTube video here or listen to the audio version here. This song was inspired by the hymn written by Isaac Watts, and you can find the words to that here.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Sin of Selfishness

Kari Beougher
"Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others." Philippians 2:3-4

This past weekend I kept my sisters 4 kids, ages 6 and under. I absolutely adore my nieces and nephews and above all other career choices desire to one day be a mother. However, this weekend was a strong indication for me of my selfishness. I am convinced that being a mother is one of the most selfless endeavors tin existence. Every moment of parenting is spent serving, cleaning. feeding and caring for another. This past weekend, I realized how pervasive selfishness is. It is so easy to be selfish with time, money, plans, relationships- and yet that is not the mindset or attitude Christ calls believers to.

The passage in Philippians goes on to say, "Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross." Phillippians 2:5-8. Jesus, the Son of God and Savior of the world, exemplified the most selfless attitude and actions of all time. And because He dwells inside believers, we are able to choose to love others above ourselves.

Today may we pray with the psalmist, "Incline my heart to your testimonies and not toward selfish gain!" (Psalm 119:36). May we actively look for opportunities to serve others and put their interests above our own.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Evangelism in a Post Modern World: Man is a Sinner

"Being then the children of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and thought of man.  Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent" (Acts 17:29-30).

In Acts 17, Paul continues to tell us how to approach people in our culture.  After explaining to the men in Athens who God is, he continues to reveal the true nature of man.  Idolatry is not innocent.  It is rebellion against God Himself.  God is "declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent" (Acts 30).

In our culture there are too many people who believe that there is no absolute truth and that every person is right in their own inner being.  The theological term for that is:  BALONEY.  Romans 1:18-32 clearly tells us that ever man has a conscience and that every man has violated his own moral conscience.  Sin is a reality in every person's life. 
Sharon Beougher
Judgment day is coming whether people believe it or not.  We have the only cure to escape the wrath that will come to unbelievers.  If we worked in a medical laboratory and found a cure for a disease that would 100% for sure kill 100% of people, what would our responsibility be with that cure?  It would be to share it!  If we put a steeple on that medical laboratory, knowing that there is a disease out there that will kill 100% of the people (SIN) and we know the cure (JESUS CHRIST), what is our responsibility to do with it?  Share it! 

Let's go!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Trust in the Moment

"And those who know Your name will put their trust in You, for You, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek You" (Psalm 9:10, NASB). 

Have you heard of a quarter-life crisis? It may sound like a stretch compared to the more widely known mid-life crisis, but I used it when I graduated from college. It made me laugh. After spending most of my life in school, I was trying to make sense of just what I was to do with myself. So, since I have already claimed the term for another time in my life, I am left with having to identify the current place I am in as I face another fork in the road.

There is something to be said of a quarter-life crisis. Moments will come and go. Yet - there is something about those moments. There is a purpose for each one.

As God's, He has a purpose for our lives and for life in general. As I think back on the times that I thought were meaningless, confusing or simply a mess, I remember Him being there. He has always been there, even if I didn't seem to want Him there. If I wasn't close to Him in those moments, then He was there to bring me closer to Himself. I just had to respond, lean in and trust Him. He was there to forgive me, or to point me where to go or to give me strength for the next step.
Kelli Martin

So, I don't know what to call this fork in the road, but that's okay. I've found peace remembering God is in control. He's got this.

Child of God, no matter what moment you are in, remember He is Immanuel, God with us. Not only that, but He's given His children the Holy Spirit to help us here on earth.

Let's lean in and look through heaven's eyes today and trust in Him. Let's see a world that also needs His forgiveness, presence and peace and be there to point them to Him, our life-giver.

Monday, August 19, 2013

strengthening souls

"After they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying, 'Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.'" Acts 14:21-22, NASB.

Jaye Martin
The souls of many I know need strengthening today. It seems at every turn, I hear of faithful servants who have incredible challenges because of death or serious illness. I have no problems, I just sometimes think that I do.

On Friday, I learned of the passing of an incredibly gifted man, Stacy Taylor. Known for his generous spirit and vibrant personality, I knew him as one who jumped into every task with great enthusiasm. I laugh as I recall the times he volunteered to visit for the church, teach children's Bible study and do other things only to learn that these were not his first calling. More than once, he said he just knew how to make and raise money. Wow, what a gift!!! Stacy was always smiling and strengthening the souls of those he knew. Pray for his wife, Janet, and for his family and friends. Today they need to be encouraged through the tribulations. We all do.

It was Friday evening that I ran into Arthur Craig, pastor of Woodhaven Deaf Church in Houston. I was shocked when he said that just two weeks ago, his wife Barbara had died. Arthur and Barbara started the first deaf church and have been faithfully serving for decades. What a blessing to have served alongside of them in ministry at Houston's FBC. Barbara was a kindhearted and gentle soul who cherished her husband and children and loving consoled everyone she met. She was a true servant and we will all miss her. The world is a better place because of her ministry.

Regardless of your call in life, whether it be in the business world or quietly and faithfully serving behind the scenes, your life counts. Gifted in leading or gifted in following, all are necessary. This scripture in Acts reminds us that, in the early church, each person and all gifts were needed to work together for the cause of Christ. Today, let's decide to lay aside all the things that we think are problems. Instead, strengthen the souls of disciples and encourage them to continue in the faith.

May we be found faithful.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

A lasting promise

"We have this hope as an anchor for our lives, safe and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain." -Hebrews 6:19

Have you been in a boat before? Quite a few years ago, I remember sailing with some friends and my friend's grandfather near Kemah, Texas. We left the shore mid-afternoon, planning to come back to land in time to eat dinner. It was a beautiful day, but as the sun started to set, we realized something may be wrong. We had drifted into waters that seemed too deep for an anchor, and the wind seemed to have stopped. After a while of searching, we found a way back and my friend's grandfather was able to find a spot to anchor the boat. We were hungry and tired, so we were relieved to have a spot to eat and rest before nightfall.

There is this rock solid, anchor-like hope we find in God's promise, when we come to Him by faith in Christ. When we believe in His sacrifice, ask for forgiveness and turn to Him for guidance, we are forgiven and considered a part of His family. We are able to be a part of God's family because of His great love for us.

Christ is our intermediary high priest. He is the way we can have a mended relationship with the holy God the Father, because Jesus has paid the price for our sins. Let us praise God that He has forgiven us like that, as if
Kelli Martin
we are white as snow.

Let us praise God in light of this promise, and let us walk by faith because of it. Let's look for ways to share this hope that we find in Him, our rock, and pray that others come to embrace Him as Savior and Lord.

A great song: "Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)" by Hillsong United (a YouTube lyric video link)

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Hope and Hide

For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from You. When I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth; Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; and in Your book were all written the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them. Psalm 139: 13-16

Read that last line again. God has all of your days planned out for you. That means that you still have choices with your life but that He has your direction planned. He even knew you before you were born, because He decided how He would fashion you. It is no wonder that there is hope for you. The Creator of the universe not only made you, but also He 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.

My soul, wait in silence for God only, for my hope is from Him. He only is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold; I shall not be shaken. On God my salvation and my glory rest; the rock of my strength, my refuge is in God. Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us. 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. 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.

Some days I have so many choices that I would like to crawl back in my mother's womb and hide. Anyone with me? God hears and understands. Let's pour our hearts out to God. We can hope and hide in Him.
 


Part of today's post comes from HeartCall New Heart. It will be available for shipping at the end of the week! www.jayemartin.com/shop. Order one for yourself, one to give and a case for your church.



Friday, August 9, 2013

Evangelism in a Post Modern Culture: Focus on Who God Is

"The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things; and He made from one man every  nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, that they would seek God if perhaps they might grope for Him and fine Him, though He is not far from each one of us, for in Him we live and move and exist" (Acts 17:24-28).

Paul focuses on who God is as soon as He starts preaching to the peole in Athens.  In this passage we see that God is:
  • The Creator of the universe (v. 24).
    Sharon Beougher
  • The Sustainer of all life (v. 25).
  • The Sovereign Lord of all the nations (v. 26).
  • The Self-revealing God (v. 27-28).
Sometimes I get so busy in life that I forget to stop and just meditate on how GREAT God truly is!  He absolutely is the Creator, Sustainer, Sovereign Lord, and Self-revealing God in my life and in the world.  Nothing is imposible with God.  He can do ALL things.  He has even determined the exact location of where I live.  God is awesome and magnificent, but He is also a very personal God who cares about you and me.  And He cares about those around us.  We must not forget how powerful He is and be obedient to the Great Commission to "Go and tell!"

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Now Publishing: Peace + Salvation

"How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, 'Your God reigns'" (Isaiah 52:7, ESV). 

This version stood out to me, because of the word "publishing" and because it is mentioned twice. In this verse, the Hebrew form of the word used means "to hear of man" (NAS Exhaustive Concordance). So, this news is from someone's voice. God can speak through us to bring news of salvation and peace to others.

The neat thing is is that we are meant to bring this news with full trust and remembrance of its truth. Remember how you have found peace and salvation:
  • How have you found peace with God?
  • When were you saved? What did He deliver you from? 
  • How has the peace and salvation that you've found in God changed your mind, perspective, heart and soul?
Let's pray we get the chance to share this peace and salvation, and the root of it, with someone else this week.
Kelli Martin

Let's pray God gives us boldness and wisdom to "publish" the salvation and peace that last - the kind we find in Him.

"And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, 'How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!'" (Romans 10:15, ESV). 

Recommended song: "Rooftops" by Jesus Culture - you can listen to it on YouTube here