Lessons from The Word of God – Pull Up!

When thinking of this devotional, I had the “strong” people in mind. Those that are always there for someone else. Those that everyone looks to for strength. Those who are the rock in their relationship(s). I’ve found that every now and then, as much as I love the Word of God, and as much as I love helping others, sometimes things get overwhelming and I do not even recognize it until I find myself heading into the “terrain” so to speak. I doubt that I’m alone. It seems to be something that happens with us “strong” folk.

But, I thank God that he knows everything about me, even when I’m fulfilling my role in relationships and lose track of what’s going on with me. Psalm 139:1-5 says it best:

You have searched me, LORD, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, LORD, know it completely. You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me. 

God never let’s me get too far down the road before nudging me by His Spirit that I need to tend to me. I need someone to minister to me. I need someone to be there for me. Sometimes, I am almost ashamed to say, I only hear Him when I look up and notice I’m heading towards a spiritual or emotional crash. It is at those times that I hear the Lord saying, “terrain, terrain, pull up – PULL UP!” And then I say to him, Lord my heart is overwhelmed. Lead me to the rock that’s higher than I! And He does.

Forgiveness

Once we, too, were foolish and disobedient. We were misled by others and became slaves to many wicked desires and evil pleasures. Our lives were full of evil and envy. We hated others, and they hated us. But then God our Savior showed us his kindness and love. He saved us, not because of the good things we did, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins and gave us a new life through the Holy Spirit. He generously poured out the Spirit upon us because of what Jesus Christ our Savior did.  He declared us not guilty because of his great kindness. And now we know that we will inherit eternal life.  (Titus 3:3-7 NLT)

Forgiveness . . . the releasing of another from the bondage of our wrath, disapproval, future torment . . .  the wiping clean of the slate for a wrong done to us . . . .

Lessons From the Word of God Love Others as I Have Loved You

So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. John 13:34

God’s word is so rich and full of guidance.  We often turn to those we trust for advice. I submit that the best advice we can get is from the Word of God, and even I need to remember that!

Jesus spoke the words in John 13:34  On the brink of what I call a new world order, Jesus was teaching his disciples how to reach people and minister to them.

His methodology and words seem so simple, don’t they?  It seems like this command to love each other just as He has loved us should be relatively easy.  My opinion: sometimes it’s not as easy as I would like.  I often ask myself:  “Jessica, how have you been doing at loving people? You know that one person that irritates you beyond belief?  Jessica, how can you love that person as Jesus has loved you?” 

Asking these questions causes me to reflect on my relationship with the Lord.  I know I irritate people.  I know I don’t always do what I should or treat people as I should.  But I am God’s child and I KNOW what He has told me to do and I KNOW the unconditional love He has for me.  I KNOW that goodness and mercy follow me all the days of my life.  I KNOW that as far as the east is from the west, that’s just how far He has separated my sin from me.

So, regardless of how I feel about a person, I must remember that God loved me while I was yet a sinner.  God loves me when I sin now as a believer (or as we like to say nowadays – when I make a misstep or a mistake).  God treats me like He treated the woman who was caught in the act of adultery in a couple of ways.  He challenges my accusers to throw the first stone if they are without sin; and He challenges me to throw the first stone if I am without sin.

I find that as I mediate in His word and hide it in my heart, I can do as He says, through the power He gives me through the Holy Spirit.  But it’s not magic. I am only able to carry out any of His word, less know the command to love others as He has loved me, when I have a heart that yearns to obey Him and a great desire to be like Him.

Bottom line is, God loves me unconditionally. I’m going to keep striving to pass it on.  How about you?

©2020, The Heart of the Matter Ministries, Lessons from Life

Lessons From My Car’s Warning Signals

Sometimes there are malfunctions in life. Most often for me it’s when the difficult things of life all pile up at same time.

When I’m overwhelmed by life, grief, being falsely accused and not able to please people all the time … when there are problems and complications in my children’s lives …and things I can’t even think of as I write this (praise God),I feel a malfunction in my spiritual life. The Holy Spirit sounds off the warning signals and, if I’m attentive, tells me where the malfunction is.

It’s then up to me to consult my “owner’s manual.” My owner is God. His manual is His Word.

Just like the owner’s manual of my car, the Word of God advises me of the exact problem. My submission to what He tells me is akin to taking my car to the service center. The service center is full of professionals who can hone in on the problem. They know where to look, what to test and how to make an accurate diagnosis.

God knows me. And He knows you. He knows where to look, what to test and He definitely knows how to pinpoint our problems. The Holy Spirit and the Word of God are the “mechanics” in my spiritual malfunctions.

BUT, I have a choice. With my car, I can take the advice of those who know way more than me; submit to their advice, do what I gotta do and drive off with a “fixed” car that previously was experiencing difficulties. Or I can say “Nah, I want a second opinion.”

For me,in the spiritual sense, I have the same choice. When the Holy Spirit sees my spiritual malfunctions, and leads me into all truth, because that is His expert job, I can walk in that truth and following His guidance. OR if I’m malfunctioning spiritually and haven’t noticed the glaring warning signs, I can seek a second, third or fourth opinion from sources who are not experts, have never even seen the problem before or if they did, they could consider it to be the exact same problem as what they have diagnosed before.

I personally choose to take heed to the malfunction warnings and to consult my owner’s manual — the Word if God.

“Fix” it Lord!

Prayer:  Lord take full control of our minds, bodies and souls and help us, Father, to believe you are omniscient , omnipresent and omnipotent. I trust and believe in you; who you are; what you’ve promised, and that you know beforehand the path I am traveling. In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

(c)2020 Lessons From Life – Lessons From My Car’s Warning Signals; Jessica Lynn Sifuentes

Comfort My People

2 Corinthians 1:2 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.

Reassure – Console – Encourage – Relieve – Ease – Comfort. Praise be to our Father of compassion.  Praise be to our God – the God of all comfort.  He comforts us . . . through his Comforter sent to come along side us, be with us, never leave us and in fact – indwell us.  He comforts as no one else can.  But sometimes that’s just what we say when no one else will.  His word says he comforts us so that we can comfort others.

You may ask what it is you have to offer, and honestly I have no idea. But what I’m certain of is that we’ve all been comforted in one way or another.  However, he’s comforted you and me – that’s the comfort we have to offer others.

Have you grieved and been comforted? That’s what you have to offer.

Have you had an addiction and been delivered? That’s the comfort you have to offer.

Have you prayed for something, believed you would receive it and then in fact received it? That’s the comfort you have to offer.

Have you been down and someone simply said, “I love you” or gave you a hug and it uplifted your day? That’s the comfort you have to offer.

Praise be to God that he’s comforted us in so many ways. Today, let’s try to comfort someone else with the same comfort we have received.

©2009, Jessica Lynn Sifuentes Devotionals or Something Like it, “Comfort My People”

photo courtesy of turnbacktogod.com

A Real Kind of Father – My Protector and Provider

Provider

Philippians 4:19 And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

Protector/Shield

Jeremiah 20:11 But the LORD is with me like a dread champion; Therefore my persecutors will stumble and not prevail. They will be utterly ashamed, because they have failed, With an everlasting disgrace that will not be forgotten.

Just a note:  Josh McDowell has a teaching series for youth in which he challenges them (and adults as you’re teaching it) to Count on God’s Protection and Provision after you have stood for what is right or made a right choice even though it doesn’t make you very popular, etc.  The idea is that we should not be deceived into believing that because we trust in God we’re all of a sudden going to be transported to never-never land and spend all day figuring out what our “happy” thoughts are.  Rather we will go through trials, heartache, pain, etc.  But through it all, God has promised us never to leave us or forsake us.  We can be confident of his protection and provision – we just have to know enough about Him to not expect it to be NECESSARILY what we expect it to be.  Look for His movement in all situations. He is there.

(c)2005, Jessica Sifuentes, The Heart of the Matter Ministries, “A Real Kind of Father.”

My Father – My Provider

Psalm 78:23 Yet He had commanded the clouds above, And opened the doors of heaven, 24 Had rained down manna on them to eat, And given them of the bread of heaven. 25 Men ate angels’ food; He sent them food to the full. 26 He caused an east wind to blow in the heavens; And by His power He brought in the south wind. 27 He also rained meat on them like the dust, Feathered fowl like the sand of the seas; 28 And He let them fall in the midst of their camp, All around their dwellings. 29 So they ate and were well filled, For He gave them their own desire.

Who provided for you when you were a child?  Who did you trust for your clothing, food, shelter?  Was it your father? For me it was my mom.  I remember having some hard times, but what I don’t remember is ever doubting that my mom would provide my clothing, food, shelter, etc.  She fed and clothed me and paid the rent regardless of how I acted.  Had her provision for me been dependent on my being obedient all the time, I would probably have been homeless, naked and hungry! 

My Father is the same way.  I remember struggling to raise three children by myself – there were hard times.  But my Father never, ever let me down.  My Father always managed to guide me towards the job that would pay me enough to take care of my family.   And also there were times when the paychecks didn’t stretch far enough – but My Dad would send someone by to help at just the right time.  He provided everything I needed for me and my children.  He even comforted me in times when I thought I’d quit.  He was and is my provider.  And like my mom, he didn’t do it based on my obedience (though my obedience to my Mom and my Father were important).  He did it because He is faithful and providing is what He does for His children.  Don’t believe me?  Try Him for yourself.  Also, read the entirety of Psalm 78.  Another good one is Psalm 107.

Have a great day!  Love Jessica

(c)2005, Jessica Lynn Sifuentes, The Heart of the Matter Ministries, “A Real Kind of Father”

photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

 

My Father – My Strength and Shield!

Praise be to the Lord, for he has heard my cry for mercy.  The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped.  My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song.  Psalm 28:1-9  

(NOTES:  Per the One Year Chronological Bible (p. 545), this psalm is also thought by some to be during the time period of David’s son, Absalom’s, rebellion. Per the Complete Word Study of the Old Testament – Shield is sometimes used figuratively in Hebrew for Protector:  from The Complete Word Study of the Old Testament )

Do you know why I call these devotionals “A Real Kind of Father?”  It’s because for me it is so comforting to recall and meditate on God, as Father.  I’ve heard many girls who had good fathers talk about their fathers’ attributes.  Their fathers protected them, provided for them, listened to them, and avenged them – among other things.  Their fathers could always be counted on – a hero in their daughters’ eyes.  Can you remember a father (or mother or other authority figure who may have raised you) ever acting as a shield for you – protecting you from some harm even if it was by keeping certain things away from you? 

Well, that’s one of the ways our Father wants us to know Him.  He’s so much more, but He is also our protector.  Those girls trusted their fathers, and our Father can be trusted.  He certainly shields us from certain things.  Can you think of anything He has shielded you from?  While I admit I have the human tendency to focus on the things that he didn’t shield me from when I thought He should have, I can think of many, many things He did shield me from.  And as I grow daily in the Word and in knowledge of who He truly is, I find that the things that I thought I shouldn’t have had to go through had purpose and shaped me for ministries in ways that I truly cannot see (and could not see) at the time they were happening.

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.

Selah!

(c)2018,REV – Devotionals or Something Like it, “A Real Father”

Photo by David Castillo Dominici, courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

My Father – The Lifter of My Head!

Psalm 3:3 But You, O Lord, are a shield for me, My glory and the One who lifts up my head.

Imagine that you’re really down because of a bad circumstance or a difficult person.  You feel bent over, cast down, bowed down.  You run to your father and you pour out your heart to him.  You trust him.  You know he has the wisdom.  You know that he will hold you, let you cry, comfort you and speak words that will strengthen you and do all that’s in his power to help turn your situation around.  That’s a father.

Now consider these things:  who or what has your head bowed down today?  Who or what has the capacity to drive you to bowed-down-headed-ness?  Who or what brings you down? 

God is here.  He wants you to come to Him as you would your earthly comforter.  He is our Father and He loves us so very much.  No matter what you’re going through – no matter who or what has the ability to bring your spirit down (or more accurately who are what  you allow to bring your spirit down) – God is a shield for you, and me.  No matter how dark it may look – how impossible the situation or person may seem – God will lift your head.  He is a real kind of Father.  He will not only hold you, let you cry, comfort you and speak words that will strengthen you; He will do something about your circumstances in ways you can never imagine.  He is God.  Will you trust Him as your Father today?

Prayer:  Lord, thank you that you are my Father.  Thank you that you’re a Father to all of us.  Lord I pray that as circumstances of life come our way that press us downward, that your Spirit would compel us to run to you to find comfort and shelter.   You are glorious, and you are our glory and the lifter of our heads.  In Jesus Name, Amen.

©2018, Rev – Devotionals Or Something Like It, “A Real Kind of Father”

image courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net – Photo by Gualberto107.

It’s the Lord’s Battle, Not Mine!

And there came out against them Zerah the Ethiopian with an host of a thousand thousand, and three hundred chariots; and came unto Mareshah. Then Asa went out against him, and they set the battle in array in the valley of Zephathah at Mareshah. And Asa cried unto the LORD his God, and said, LORD, it is nothing with thee to help, whether with many, or with them that have no power: help us, O LORD our God; for we rest on thee, and in thy name we go against this multitude. O LORD, thou art our God; let not man prevail against thee.  So the LORD smote the Ethiopians before Asa, and before Judah; and the Ethiopians fled. 2 Chronicles 14:9-12 KJV

Once an Ethiopian named Zerah attacked Judah with an army of a million men and three hundred chariots. They advanced to the city of Mareshah, so Asa deployed his armies for battle in the valley north of Mareshah. Then Asa cried out to the LORD his God, “O LORD, no one but you can help the powerless against the mighty! Help us, O LORD our God, for we trust in you alone. It is in your name that we have come against this vast horde. O LORD, you are our God; do not let mere men prevail against you!” So the LORD defeated the Ethiopians in the presence of Asa and the army of Judah, and the enemy fled. 2 Chronicles 14:9-12 NLT

 

On this Monday morning, let us remember that we’re not fighting against the Amalekites, Hitites or even Zerah the Ethiopian. However, we do face Ignorantites, Arroganites, Idontlikeyoufornoreasonites, Illites, Brokeites, Stressedites and all kinds of problems that will make us feel like we’re being pursued by an Ethiopian with a million-man army.  In other words, we do have troubles, circumstances, problems and such in life that can do either one of two things:  defeat us or push us into increased reliance and trust in the Lord.  Personally, when trouble and circumstances have me feeling like I’m in an Iraqi war, I look to the Word of God and let His Holy Spirit speak to my heart and my situation.  As such, there are things in Asa’s prayer that I find comforting when I’m facing an overwhelming circumstance.

First, I like that Asa acknowledged his own powerlessness over the situation.  That doesn’t mean that he didn’t do anything, because for sure Asa’s army went out to face the enemies.  What’s important for me in this is that he was in a situation that was overwhelming and with the natural eye it looked like he was going to be defeated. Second, Asa acknowledged that he was putting his trust in God alone and not in the strength of his army or the speed of his horses.  Third, Asa reminds himself that God is . . . well, He’s God.  He IS.  In His is-ness, He’s all powerful, all- knowing and He loves the socks off His people and defends them to the utmost.  Fourth, Asa saw himself as completely a part of God, so much so that he saw any possible defeat as God being defeated.  Finally, I see and understand that God responds to faith.  He definitely responded to Asa’s faith.  [I have to make a note here because with all the different teaching that’s around, I need you to know that I am not suggesting that an answer of “no” means you don’t have enough faith]

I try to take heart in every circumstance and remember that God is with me and He is on my side.  It’s all throughout His Word, and He doesn’t lie!  Be blessed!

©2018 – The Heart of the Matter, Devotionals or Something Like It, “God is On Your Side”

image courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net – “Battles Word Shows Armed Conflict And Affray” by Stuart Miles