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.