A Future and a Hope

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”
– ‭‭Jeremiah‬ ‭29:11‬‬ NLT

No matter where we are or what we are going through, it is important to realize that God has a beautiful plan for our future. He promises that His plans will enrich our lives. That we will flourish. Through our faith in Him, we have hope.

But how do I know what  this big plan for my life is? How do I know if I’m doing what God has planned for me?

– Start by praying. Ask God to reveal his plan for your life.
– Open your eyes to what is going on around you. God has placed you there for a reason.
– Continue praying. You may not be immediately enlightened after one prayer. Keep praying, and ask God to help you follow His plan.
– Spend time with God every day. Go to church. Join a Bible study group. Read the Bible. Follow a reading plan. Pray. Make it a habit to bring him into your day.
– Try to live your life like Christ every minute of every day. Look for opportunities to share His love with every step you take. Even if you can’t see the “Big Picture” of His plan for you, you know that you are on the right path if you think this way.
– Hope. It’s a part of His plan. Wherever you find yourself, let this hope anchor you and keep you holding onto Him.

Lord, I know that you created me for a purpose. Please help me discover your plan for me.
Amen

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Rivers of Living Water

I “Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.’”
– ‭‭John‬ ‭7:38‬‬ NLT

Jesus says that if we believe in Him, trust in Him, and rely on Him, we should come to Him. We should seek Him out and drink of His living water – the Holy Spirit. And that rivers of living water will flow from our hearts. We will be so filled with His spirit and His love that it will pour out of us!

Don’t allow anything to block that flow. Your pride, your pain from the past, your fears and anxieties, your mistakes, your shame… These are some of the things that can slow the stream down to a trickle.
Tear down these dams.
Clear away these obstructions.
Open up the floodgates and let His Holy Spirit flow from you freely, for others to see so that they, too, may come to Him and drink.

Dear God, I come to You to receive Your living water. I want to let it flow from my heart each and every day so that everyone who knows me will know Your love through me. Amen

Apart from Him I can do nothing

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”
– ‭‭John‬ ‭15:5‬‬ NIV

God wants us to remain in relationship with Him, not just call out to him when we have a problem and then go back to living life, as usual. At times, we think it’s enough to say a quick prayer in the morning, and then run off to get busy with a full day of the “stuff” that life throws at us. But we have to keep His word in our mind continually, His love in our heart consistently, and His spirit in our soul constantly. Our relationship with God must be ongoing – just as our relationships with people require thoughts, conversation, and action. Without Him, our days will feel empty, our time will feel wasted, and we will feel like we are accomplishing nothing.

Lord, draw me closer to you. I want every day to be a significant step in my journey, as I walk the path you have set for me. Amen

Charging Forward

Lot was thriving in Sodom. No longer living in a tent on the outskirts of town, he was now living in the city and prospering. But all of the wealth and possessions he had accumulated couldn’t assure him a life free from worries. Lot found himself in a bad situation and was soon captured when four kings from the East banded together to conquer Sodom and its allies.

Abram didn’t hesitate to rise to the occasion. Going back to Genesis chapter 4 when Cain sarcastically asked God – “Am I my brother’s keeper?”
YES!
When your brother is in distress, then yes, you do have a responsibility to defend him. When your brother, your neighbor, or your friend is facing an unfair situation, you should come to his rescue – even if his own decisions and actions have led him into these circumstances.
Advice, service, emotional support.
A hug, a helping hand, a bible verse that will bring him comfort or hope.
God wants us to care for one another.
Unconditionally.
He wants us to care enough to get involved. No matter how many times they ignored our advice. No matter how bad their choices may have been in the past. We must set aside our fear and our judgment, and have faith that God will arm us for the battle that lies ahead.

“Carry each otherʼs burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”
‭‭Galatians‬ ‭6:2‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Abram instinctively steps into this duty that we have to come to the aid of another. Abram, who once feared for his life as he entered a foreign country where he only wanted to live peacefully in a land that could sustain him, was now boldly charging forward to conquer. He took 318 men from his own household to attack the armies of four kingdoms. These mighty kingdoms had just conquered the armies of 5 other kingdoms. How could Abram and his servants hope to defeat such a strong force?

Abram went into battle using what he had available to him at the time – his men, strategy, and an undaunted and triumphant faith that God would bring victory to his small army.

When we exercise our faith in God by stepping up to do His will, He will equip us for that task. And sometimes we won’t feel equipped until we take that first step. We may feel unprepared, inexperienced, or unqualified, or think that maybe there is someone better for the job. Don’t let those fears render you helpless. Trust in HIS abilities when you can’t depend on yours.

“Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.”
‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭3:20‬ ‭NLT‬

His mighty power is at work within us!

With God’s help, Abram and his servants were able to conquer the warriors of those four armies after the armies of five kingdoms combined had failed! But more significantly, he was able to free Lot from his captors.

Some battles are worth fighting. If you MUST go to battle, let it be with the right purpose and a strong faith. Pray to God that He will equip you. And have the integrity to give the glory to God.
And not only do we need to go to battle for others, but it is important to develop relationships with people who will come to our defense when we are under attack.
How can you step into this responsibility that we have towards each other today?

Dear God, I pray that I will always have the courage to charge forward when I see someone in need. Please help me to remember that whatever I feel I am lacking at the crucial moment, You will equip me with what I need when I am doing Your will. I know that when I feel I can’t – You can.
Amen


Today’s Scripture:

Genesis 14:1-16
1 At the time when Amraphel was king of Shinar, Arioch king of Ellasar, Kedorlaomer king of Elam and Tidal king of Goyim, 2 these kings went to war against Bera king of Sodom, Birsha king of Gomorrah, Shinab king of Admah, Shemeber king of Zeboyim, and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar). 3 All these latter kings joined forces in the Valley of Siddim (that is, the Dead Sea Valley). 4 For twelve years they had been subject to Kedorlaomer, but in the thirteenth year they rebelled.
5 In the fourteenth year, Kedorlaomer and the kings allied with him went out and defeated the Rephaites in Ashteroth Karnaim, the Zuzites in Ham, the Emites in Shaveh Kiriathaim 6 and the Horites in the hill country of Seir, as far as El Paran near the desert. 7 Then they turned back and went to En Mishpat (that is, Kadesh), and they conquered the whole territory of the Amalekites, as well as the Amorites who were living in Hazezon Tamar.
8 Then the king of Sodom, the king of Gomorrah, the king of Admah, the king of Zeboyim and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar) marched out and drew up their battle lines in the Valley of Siddim 9 against Kedorlaomer king of Elam, Tidal king of Goyim, Amraphel king of Shinar and Arioch king of Ellasar—four kings against five. 10 Now the Valley of Siddim was full of tar pits, and when the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled, some of the men fell into them and the rest fled to the hills. 11 The four kings seized all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah and all their food; then they went away. 12 They also carried off Abram’s nephew Lot and his possessions, since he was living in Sodom.
13 A man who had escaped came and reported this to Abram the Hebrew. Now Abram was living near the great trees of Mamre the Amorite, a brother of Eshkol and Aner, all of whom were allied with Abram. 14 When Abram heard that his relative had been taken captive, he called out the 318 trained men born in his household and went in pursuit as far as Dan. 15 During the night Abram divided his men to attack them and he routed them, pursuing them as far as Hobah, north of Damascus. 16 He recovered all the goods and brought back his relative Lot and his possessions, together with the women and the other people.

Faith Over Fear

Because of a famine in Canaan, Abram took things into his own hands instead of asking God for direction. He decided to go to Egypt and live for a little while.
His decision put him and his wife in danger. Because Sarai was such a beautiful woman, Abram feared that the Egyptians would kill him. Abram made another decision without consulting God – he lied.
At this point, Abram’s fear was stronger than his faith. His fear of starvation was greater than his faith that God would provide, and his fear of being killed by the Egyptians was greater than his faith that God would protect him. Abram convinced Sarai to say that she was his sister, so that he would be treated well and his life would be spared.
Apparently Sarai’s safety wasn’t a part of Abram’s plan. Although Abram was treated well with gifts of livestock and servants, Sarai was taken by the Pharoah as his wife. Sometimes when we stray from the path that God has set for us or when our faith is weak, we are not directly affected. We may even benefit from our poor choices. But those same choices could be hurting those close to us.
Fortunately, God did not allow Abram’s poor choices to keep Him from the plans He had for Abram. God handled the Pharoah, and Abram was able to leave with Sarai and everything he had gained while in Egypt.
If Abram had stayed in Canaan, where God had led him, his faith would have grown stronger as God provided for him. Instead he allowed fear to take control, leading him away from God, and even leading to sin.
How often do you allow fear to steer you off course?
You start out on the right path, with the best intentions in your heart, and then things get hard and you are afraid of what may happen, so you start looking for an easier path to take – without asking God what direction you should be heading…
But God doesn’t give up on us when we make mistakes. God shows grace in our weakness and He still has plans in store for us, even after we’ve made choices that lead us away from Him.
If you are trying to follow God’s plan for your life, you have to stop allowing fear to trigger a change of plans. Use your fears to trigger your faith instead.

Dear Lord,
Please help me to remember to seek your direction when I’m faced with a problem or when I have a big decision to make. I want to always stay on the path that You have set for me, but sometimes I lose sight of what is important, and I worry too much. Sometimes I feel like I’m alone in the struggle and I try to find my own way out. Please help me to remember that even when I’ve made mistakes and end up feeling so far from You, that You will still open Your arms and pull me back to where You want me to be. Thank You for showing Your grace and not giving up on me in my weakness.
Amen


Today’s scripture

Genesis 12:10-20 NIV
10 Now there was a famine in the land, and Abram went down to Egypt to live there for a while because the famine was severe. 11 As he was about to enter Egypt, he said to his wife Sarai, “I know what a beautiful woman you are. 12 When the Egyptians see you, they will say, ‘This is his wife.’ Then they will kill me but will let you live. 13 Say you are my sister, so that I will be treated well for your sake and my life will be spared because of you.”
14 When Abram came to Egypt, the Egyptians saw that Sarai was a very beautiful woman. 15 And when Pharaoh’s officials saw her, they praised her to Pharaoh, and she was taken into his palace. 16 He treated Abram well for her sake, and Abram acquired sheep and cattle, male and female donkeys, male and female servants, and camels.
17 But the Lord inflicted serious diseases on Pharaoh and his household because of Abram’s wife Sarai. 18 So Pharaoh summoned Abram. “What have you done to me?” he said. “Why didn’t you tell me she was your wife? 19 Why did you say, ‘She is my sister,’ so that I took her to be my wife? Now then, here is your wife. Take her and go!” 20 Then Pharaoh gave orders about Abram to his men, and they sent him on his way, with his wife and everything he had.

Be a Blessing

“I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.”
‭‭Genesis‬ ‭12:2‬ ‭NIV‬‬

God wants to bless us so we can be a blessing for others. He doesn’t want us to hoard His blessings and keep them for ourselves, He wants us to share.

Have you ever been in a drive-through and paid for the vehicle behind you? You don’t expect anything in return, just sprinkling a little bit of joy on someone’s day…
Have you ever pulled forward to the second window to pick up your food and noticed in your rear view mirror that the person you just blessed was blessing someone else? That’s what this verse is talking about! Only God’s blessings are even bigger and better than burgers and fries!
God wants to put joy in our hearts so we are inspired to make a difference in someone else’s life!

“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds,”
‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭10:24‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Here are just a few ways you can be a blessing:
– Acts of kindness – even when it’s not needed, sometimes the smallest gestures can brighten someone’s day!
– Kind words – words of encouragement, compliments
– Listening – sometimes people just need to be heard and understood. Give someone the attention they need!
– Donations – whether it’s a charity that is near and dear to your heart or a coworker who is going through hard times, sometimes monetary donations are a blessing. When you are doing your spring cleaning ask yourself if someone at a homeless shelter could find your items useful, before you just toss them.
– Acts of service – volunteer at your local food bank or check with your pastor to see if there are any volunteer initiatives that you could participate in.
– Prayers – sometimes the best thing you can offer someone is a heartfelt prayer.

Dear God, I thank You for all the blessings that You have given me. I am so overjoyed that you want to make ME a blessing! Please open my eyes so that I might see every opportunity to bless others. I hope that by blessing others, I will bring glory to Your name!
Amen

Settling For Less

“Terah took his son Abram, his grandson Lot son of Haran, and his daughter-in-law Sarai, the wife of his son Abram, and together they set out from Ur of the Chaldeans to go to Canaan. But when they came to Harran, they settled there.”

‭‭Genesis‬ ‭11:31‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Terah set out to go to Canaan, but settled in Harran.

What made him leave his homeland?

Did the call to go to Canaan originally begin with Abraham’s father, Terah? We know that after Terah dies, God tells Abraham to continue the journey into Canaan…
When He calls us, He allows us to make the choice to follow His plan or not. But God’s plans will be achieved, with or without you. Don’t you want to be a part of His success? If you do, then you have to surrender and let Him work through you.
The journey may be a long one, and it may be difficult at times, but we know that His plans for us are good. We have to move when He calls us into action and we have to keep going, even when it would be easier to stop. We don’t get to decide when we’ve done enough – not if we want to see what He is leading us into.
How many things have I missed because I settled for something less?

How many things have I started and not finished?
Dear God, Thank You for making me a part of Your plan. I don’t want to settle for anything less than where You want to take me. I don’t want to give up, so please give me the strength to follow where You are leading me. 

Amen