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1 Timothy 6:10 Click on this link to read the passage. You may select your preferred version of the Bible after the link opens.

Timothy warns us against the love of money which causes us to turn our eyes away from God. This principal comes to mind when I watch the flocks of Pine Siskins that have covered our bird feeders this winter. Most of these birds are content to gather together and enjoy the free food. But there are a few in each flock that are determined to claim the whole dish for themselves and agressively chase all others away. We onlookers laugh at the absurdity of it all, as the tiny bird could not eat the pile of seeds in the dish. Furthermore, while the bird so relentlessly defends his claim he doesn’t have time to eat.

God owns everything. He promises to care for us, his flock. If we trusted Him to keep his promises, we wouldn’t have to expend so much energy guarding our posessions. Is God watching out His window in heaven and laughing at our pettiness? Let us keep our eyes on Jesus and allow the Heavenly Father to bless us out of his unlimited supply.

Father God, help us to keep our eyes focused on You. Restore our trust when our anxious thoughts take our eyes off of You, and restoreYour peace. Enable us to be satisfied with Your provisions and to hold them with open generous hands.

Copyright © 2009 by Janice Green

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Luke 4:23-30 Click on this link to read the passage. You may select your preferred version of the Bible after the link opens.

Jesus had been healing people in Capernaum and the word was out. But in his home country no one was willing to believe and none were healed. The people didn’t want HIM to heal them.

Jesus reminded the people of other situations where God had led prophets away from their own people to perform miracles: Elijah was sent to a widow outside of Israel during the famine and Naaman the Syrian was the only man Elisha had healed of leprosy.

People have a way of putting stumbling blocks in front of those who are closest to them. The people who grew up with Jesus weren’t willing to believe that he could perform miracles. I can’t help but wonder how often brilliant people are held back from doing all they could because the people who surround them find reasons to discourage them.

Even more, how many times are we reluctant to ask God for a miracle because we are limited by our own faith? I must confess that I have at times refrained from publicly praying for a particular need because I didn’t want to “put God on the spot.” Perhaps I was being as callous as the people in Jesus’ home town.

I have known people who refuse to believe in miracles. Because their minds are made up and their hearts are hard, they have denied themselves the opportunity to be fully blessed by God. They remind me of the woman with the headache in the old commercial, “Mother, please! I’d rather do it myself!”

Father God, help us to have trusting hearts. Help us to be willing to believe You are who You say You are. Enable us to shed our own pride and to reach out in faith to You expecting to receive the blessings that can only be granted by a God of love, power, and might.

Copyright © 2009 by Janice Green

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manupmen left the following question under the contact section of my blog: If God loved the cardinal, why did He let it hit the car?

Reference my earlier post: God Cares About my Troubles

Your question is so valid.

We people want God to keep everything rosy and perfect for us. You are concerned about the cardinal as I was. But God is seeing the world through a different set of eyes. His eyes are able to see beyond the tragedies and into eternity. Eternity is our final home, the home that is for keeps, our truest security.

The cardinal is a bird, not like human life. Cardinals and people die every day. God loves the cardinals and the people, He made them. God notices when a bird dies and cares that it died for no aparent reason as happened when this one was struck by my car. But in the world He created, there is a food chain that makes use of everything, even if the bird didn’t die a natural death.

As the scripture says, we are worth so much more than the sparrows. (Matthew 10:28-31) God does intervene on our behalf, though not always in the same way we ask. God looks at a much bigger picture than we are able to see though our eyes in the here and now. Sometimes God is using our troubles to re-shape our lives, to teach us new things, or simply to help us to re-focus our attention on Him.

And God sees past our world into Eternity. Once we are on the other side, our troubles will seem much smaller in comparison to how we see them now. There is a song called Until Then that has a line in it that says our troubles “remembered there will only bring a smile.” Follow the link to listen to it on UTube. Our lives are but a breath compared to the time we have in eternity. Look to Jesus during the troubles in your life and trust God with the big picture.

Romans 1:17 Click on this link to read the passage. You may select your preferred version of the Bible after the link opens.

Where do you find your confidence? your security? your trust? your faith? Are these not one and the same? In this fast changing world we live in it is easy to become fretful when we find the cost of living rising so fast. We watch grocery and gasoline prices rise while our savings diminish and we feel a loss of security.

I am facing what I call a “premature retirement.” My position as librarian in a small school is coming to an end in December. My school has been consolidated with a larger school and we have a new building. I was offered another position at a small school an hour away from where I live, and at today’s escalating gas prices, I refused. But I was able to convince them they needed me through December to help consolidate the two libraries into one. I am now facing an early retirement with less than the number of years required for full retirement and with a sizeable deduction for the fact I’m not quite 65. I live in a very small town with a high unemployment rate. All this is to say I know what it is like to be anxious and nervous about tomorrow.

But all my anxious thoughts and worries are an affront to God who has promised never to leave me or forsake me. (Hebrews 13:5) So I must come back to my first question and apply it to myself: Where do I find my confidence? my security? my trust? my faith? My heart tells me I should put my confidence, my security, my trust, my faith in God. In my heart I know this is true, but I need God’s help to take my eyes off my bank account and to keep them on Him. Like Peter who could walk on water until he took his eyes off Jesus and looked at the waves, (Matthew 14:30) I must learn to keep my eyes on Jesus instead of dwelling on the things that worry me.

Our verse for today reminds us to look to the message of the Gospel to find our righteousness. This is where we are to put our faith. We can’t live by faith until we find it in Jesus and in his teachings.

It helps me to look at the ways God has intervened for me in the past. I can recall several critical times in my life when He pulled me out of a crisis at the last minute in a most unexpected way. If He did it then, He can do it again.

So here I am looking to Jesus to pull me out. Something is still amiss. Shouldn’t I be looking to Jesus for the sake of being close to Him? If I’m looking to Jesus only for a rescue of my finances, I’m not really looking to Jesus, I’m looking through Him at myself. It is time to lose myself in Him, time to spend quality time with Him, time to seek Him with all my heart for the pure joy of knowing Him better each day.

Heavenly Father, help me to truly focus my eyes on You and seek to do Your will in everything. Help me to look above the cares of this world to see Your hand at work in everything, and to rest in Your peace.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

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James 5:7-11 Click on this link to read the passage. You may select your preferred version of the Bible after the link opens.

James teaches us to be patient when we go through suffering. How easy it is to turn to fretting instead of faith. We are reminded to think like the farmer who has to trust God to send the rain at the right time and trust God with the timing in our lives.

It is also important for us to remember how God uses suffering to build character in his beloved children. We may feel we are being punished, but punishment and discipline are not necessarily the same. Punishment is often the direct response to outright sin and is intended to cause pain or bring justice. God is always working toward the future. He disciplines those he loves (Hebrews 2:6) to prepare them for service in his kingdom. Discipline may not be in response to a great sin, it may be more like sandpaper working on some rough edges. But the end purpose of discipline is to prepare us for service in the future.

James reminds us not to grumble against one another. It is so easy to give in to grumbling when we struggle with the events around us. Our grumbling stands in the face of developing patience and works against us. God is not pleased when we grumble.

Job was a patient man who held to his faith in God against all odds. By looking to Job and others in the Bible such as Joseph in Egypt, we may find the courage and strength to help us persevere in our times of suffering.

Father God, strengthen our hearts when we are hurting. Help us to trust in you for courage and strength.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

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Matthew 6 Click on this link to read the passage. You may select your preferred version of the Bible after the link opens.

As I read this chapter the same message seemed to come to me over and over…  It isn’t about me – it is all about Jesus Christ.  We must not fast and pray to be seen by men because it isn’t about us, and we will never steal Jesus’ glory.  Our possessions shouldn’t be hoarded for our own benefit here on earth – they are meant to be used to glorify Christ and to draw others to him.  If our hearts are in our earthly treasures we will waste away with nothing to show for our life on earth.  If we hold our treasures with open hands and allow God to work through us, then he will supply our every need, clothing us like the flowers in the fields and providing for us like the birds of the air.

Now if I can just remember this until tomorrow.  How easy it is to get our eyes off Christ and onto ourselves and our own circumstances.

Father, help us to embed these verses firmly into our hearts and our thoughts. Help us hold your blessings with open hands and a spirit of sharing.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

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Mark 1:29-34 Click on this link to read the passage. You may select your preferred version of the Bible after the link opens.

The first instance of Jesus’ healing as recorded in the Gospel of Mark was when Jesus healed Simon’s (later called Peter) mother-in-law. It didn’t take long for word to spread about this miracle, and soon people were bringing the sick and demon-possessed to Jesus to be healed.

It bothers me to hear people re-interpret the term demon-possessed as just another form of sickness, as if the people in Bible times lumped all the people with diseases they didn’t understand into one group and labeled them demon-possessed. A closer examination of this passage does not reveal that the demon-possessed were treated the same as the sick. I believe it is worth mentioning as well, that when Jesus drove the demons out he would not let them speak because they knew who he was. That statement wouldn’t have made any sense at all if a demon weren’t some form of being that had a will of its own. That is totally different from a disease.

It is unfortunate that the highly educated people of our time are so bent on minimizing the existence of the supernatural realm. It is even more unfortunate that now many of these same intellectual elete are opening their minds to the possibility of a spirit world through New Age thinking (which is nothing new at all – it is the ancient gods of the Middle East wearing new faces). Yet they have firmly closed their minds to the possibility that the spirit worlds that are taught in the Bible have any legitimacy at all. How foolhardy, to put it mildly.

The Bible has much to say about demonic activity, but the best passage for us to remember about it is this: “…greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.” Read the whole passage in 1 John 4:1-6. Even though demons are powerful and can cause a lot of havoc, God is greater than all of them put together. Put your trust in God alone.

Father God, we thank you for your Son Jesus who showed us that you are a God who has the power to heal and the power to keep Satan and his demons in check. And we thank you that you have given us your Spirit to strengthen us so that we too may stand against the powers of this world. Keep us close to you so that we will always be mindful of where our strength comes from.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

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Luke 6:21b, Matthew 5:4  Click on these links to read the passage. You may select your own version of the Bible after the link opens.

How can we be blessed when we cry? In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus says that those who cry now will laugh in the future. Matthew’s account in 5:4 says that mourners will be comforted.

Jesus promises over and over that there will come a day when everything will be turned upside down. We will all pass through a form of judgement when God separates the sheep from the goats. People who have lost a faithful loved one who walked with Jesus in this life can more nearly know morning and joy at the same time. The contrast between sorrow and joy is perhaps never so real as when they realize that their departed loved one has left his or her broken down crippled body behind and has entered into the presence of Jesus with a glorious new body. 

But God doesn’t expect us to have to wait until we die to enjoy his blessings. Read Psalm 30 and find your spirits lifted. The Psalmist shared that weeping may last for a night but joy comes in the morning. He also declared that God had turned his wailing into dancing.

I have often heard the difference between happiness and joy explained. Happiness is based on our circumstances. We are happy when people praise us and do nice things for us. But joy is based on our contentment with our lot in life and our relationship with God. As long as our trusting eyes are focused on God, we can be content knowing we are in loving and competent hands. But when our eyes stray as we compare our circumstances to those around us who have more wealth, status, or _______ (fill in the blank), we risk losing our joy as we covet what others have.

Whoa! I’m preaching to myself today!

Father God, help me to keep my eyes focused on you alone. Help me to accept my lot in life with true joy and thanksgiving in my heart, and help me to accept disappointments without grumbling and complaining.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

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Psalm 118:5-9 Click on link to read passage. You may select your own version of the Bible after the link opens.

 Is the Lord your refuge? When your financial security gets pulled out from under you do you feel secure? If you have experienced the rejection of divorce or alienation from a close friend, did you feel secure? There are many trials that may come across our path that test whether we are putting our confidence in people and relationships or whether we are putting our confidence in God.

I think this is one of the hardest lessons for me to learn. It isn’t that I don’t trust in God, I do. But when it gets down to facing the future with abandon knowing that my job will be terminated just before Christmas, I am filled with panic. It seems that this is a pattern that has followed me throughout my lifetime, and I have often given in to feelings of panic and fear. I cannot glorify God when I give in to these feelings.

It is time to step back and remember just who this awesome God is.

  • He is the creator of the Universe and everything in it. 
  • He died on a cross to give us eternal life.
  • He has walked this earth and knows our troubles from the inside out.
  • Death could not keep him in the tomb.
  • He uses sand to keep the ocean in its boundaries.
  • He knows the stars by name.

Read Psalm 139 and be reminded that God is with you in every circumstance.

Recount times in the past when God rescued you in times of trouble and know that he will do it again.

Re-read today’s passage, Psalm 118:5-9, and remember that David went through many desperate times himself, yet he was able to put his trust in God. Read it again with praise and celebration in your heart. If you don’t feel like praising on the second or third time, read it again and again until it finally sinks in. God is faithful and his Word will not return void. Use his Word to lift your spirits.

Father God, who knows me better than I know myself. Protect me from moments of despair by lifting me up and drawing me close to your heart. Help us to truly trust you in every circumstance.

One more note: as I was writing this prayer I had to pause and listen to a song that was playing on the radio that meant so much to me in a critical time in my past. Isn’t that just like God?

The song is He’s Been Faithful by Carol Cymbala.  I did a quick search online for a sound bite of the song. I found this on YouTube He’s Been Faithful by Vicki Yohe. I also found The words of the song on this website.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

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Proverbs 3:5-12 Click on link to read passage. You may select your own version of the Bible after the link opens. 

Proverbs 3:5-6
     This proverb is one of the best. It challenges us to put God’s directions above our own judgement. Yet how many times have we responded to a scripture with a “yes, but…” and failed to do what was clearly set forth in the passage. Sometimes we can legitimately affirm that a particular passage was intended for a specific time and place in history, but we must be careful not to dismiss eternal principles such as love your enemies and do good to those who persecute you. If we want God to make our paths straight, we must be pliable in our spirits, and apply the teachings from his Word to our lives.

Proverbs 3:7-8
     This passage is similar to the previous two verses in that we are to consider God’s wisdom above our own and shun evil. God offers us health and nourishment through following him.

Proverbs 3:9-10
     Is this the passage that causes us to begin to fade away or drop out? Do we give to God from our firstfruits, or do we wait to see what is left over before we decide how much to give to him through our tithes and offerings? Is this one of your “yes, but…” verses? What priorities are you placing ahead of God in your giving.

Proverbs 3:11-12
     When the going gets tough do you find yourself warming up to God, or do you begin to nurture feelings of resentment toward him as if he weren’t giving you a fair shake for all you have done for him? I try to remember to pray that God will not allow a particular time of troubles and hardships go to waste, but that he will help me to learn the lessons he is trying to teach me through them. 
     With a poor father the kid is actually in charge; the father simply reacts. His discipline comes only when the kid irritates him. A good father is intentional; he has a plan for what he wants his child to become. God is a good father. God is in charge.
     We need to develop an appreciation for our troubles as even these are a form of God’s blessing. God has a plan for growing us up to make us the best we can be. Embrace his plan knowing that he is putting his trust in us with the amount of troubles we are called upon to endure. 

Father God, how blessed we are to have your Word to guide us. Open our eyes and our hearts to see your guidance and enable us to follow your directives. Satisfy our hearts as we seek and follow your will.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

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