For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16
All my life, I have loved sports, I love playing it and watching it on T.V. I loved being active and enjoyed spending time with my teammates. I grew up playing softball and if I must say myself, I was pretty good. Why? Because I loved the game, I practiced it, I studied it, I was dedicated to being the best I could be. I learned to take criticism and direction from my coach, we learned what position we would play and what was expected of us. We studied our opponents and what we needed to do to overcome them.
I guess that is why I always thought of God’s Word (Bible) as my playbook for life. Have you ever thought about that?
I like to think of our lives as believers, being like a football player. When a football player is looking to be recruited his two priorities are; to be on a winning team and playing for a good coach. He is looking for one that will motivate and inspire. First off, he needs to learn the team’s playbook, because this will become the most important part of his life. This book contains a set of codes and directions for each play, so that they all know exactly what to do when the quarterback calls the play, where their positions will be, and if executed right, how to make a successful play. Therefore having a winning season.
God has given us a playbook, His scriptures. God’s playbook will teach us what to do, when to do it, and how to do it. He has given us everything we need! It gives us the confidence to not only know our opponent, but how to defeat him with an expectation of success and victory. Just as the football player looks to his “coach” for direction and inspiration, so should we look to our Heavenly Father. He gave us the instruction and lovingly inspires each play. He knows exactly what position suits us best and how to use the gifts he’s developing in us.
God has not given us His word to just reflect on, we are called to know His word. We are to live by His word. Just as with a football players playbook, God’s word should be our number one priority! But you will never know God’s playbook, much less what to do with it, until you know the One who wrote it. So, study Him, know Him and talk to Him daily, moment by moment.
Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 19 Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Deuteronomy 11 18,19
I want to encourage you to make it a habit to read your playbook (the Bible). Think of the Holy Spirit as our “quarterback” the ultimate play caller. He has the perfect vantage point and will whisper His thoughts (plays) into your head, giving us the perfect play for that specific moment.
Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying,
“This is the way, walk in it,”
Whenever you turn to the right hand
Or whenever you turn to the left Isaiah 30:21
Allow God to take the Scriptures we have studied and bring them forth out of our memory, and remind us of what we need to do in each situation. Make it a habit of calling upon the Lord for everything you do and know with confidence He will faithfully provide it. Time is short, don’t wait until 4th down before you ask Him!
The best part is; With God’s playbook we know we will end with a winning season….As Greg Laurie say’s “I know how it ends and it ends real good” Praise the Lord..We are Victorious in Christ! Doesn’t that make you want to join this winning team!
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 2 Timothy 4:7
Father, thank You for Your Word. Thank You for the perfect play when I call upon You. I seek Your will for my life this day Lord. Show me what You want me to know as I read Your Word, and as I meditate upon Your Word. Continue to lead me in all aspects of my life so I may glorify Your Son. In Jesus’ precious name, amen…
God Bless, Cheryl Downum
The one thing I know for sure is, God has a plan for you, and every time he allows you to go through trials and difficulties, he is building you up to launch His calling for your life. He is making you stronger, and adding a depth to your character that only God can give. He is giving you compassion and empathy for people in situations similar to yours, and someday He will use your tough experiences to help others. Be ready for that day, and remember that His power is the greatest in our times of weakness. Think about it what a privilege it is to partner with our Lord Jesus Christ to comfort His people in distress.
I do believe that while God can use any method He wants to comfort us, restore us, and make us strong, He uses the people that He puts in our lives – divine appointments as I like to call them – to be His healing hands and feet on earth. I remember the night my son passed away and the nurses surrounding us, holding us and one praying for us. During his entire last hospital stay we were never without some sort of comfort from the staff. I believe that the Lord sent those nurses and a Christian Doctor to comfort us at a time when we needed them most.
We all have our own unique stories in which God has comforted us in a trial, sent angels (without wings) to be His hands and feet, to comfort us and used them to draw us closer to Him.
What comes to our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us. –A. W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy.
This is the opening sentence in Tozer’s The Knowledge of the Holy. It’s also one of the most important, profound sentences that I have ever read. I find myself needing to read and re-read it in order to grasp it. Tozer is telling us a great truth that everything we believe, everything we do, every sin with which we struggle, every attempt to understand who we are and what it means to be a Christian is rooted in our thoughts about God.
Your view of God affects everything you think, feel and do. Think about it, it affects your prayer life and is the key influencer of all of your thoughts and actions. Once I was able to see what God was really like, my heart changed, I began to have a deeper walk with Him, able to trust more and in turn began to change my heart.
What about you? Are the things you think about God true to who He is? Don’t answer too quickly. We MUST remember this, whatever you know about God is so minute compared to what there is to know of Him; He is INFINITE.
What do you think about God? Food for thought.
I want to encourage you TODAY to seek Him out in a new way and allow Him to change the most important thing about you. Amen
For the second night in a row the news showed the images of a video showing a young disabled man from Chicago being tortured and beaten. I don’t know about you, but the state of our broken world has me lying awake at night. Heartbroken over the condition of our country where something like this can happen. Grieving over the loss of his innocence and the pain and fear he must have experienced. Horrified by the attackers lack of remorse and saddened by the idea that hate and evil has won out.
It’s 2017, and injustice, oppression and racism is rampant, causing innocent people to fear for their lives just because of the color of their skin. Sometimes, I feel powerless. I feel overwhelmed. I feel afraid. When I watch the news and social media I see such total disregard for human life, I am slapped in the face with the reality that the world we live in is a fallen, broken, hurting, and dangerous one. We can see it in the innocent blood that is spilled. We see it everyday in the angry political exchanges on television and in our own Facebook news feed. We see it in the well meaning Christians who do not know what our God asks of us because they do not open up their Bible. We see it in those who do not know God and instead seek answers from other people they deem wise.
We live in a world that needs Jesus, We need not look any farther than the scriptures to know how God responded to pain while on this earth. Jesus spent much of His life among suffering people, hurting people and His response to them shows us how God feels about pain. He always responded to hurting people with sadness and grief. When Jesus’ friend died, He wept. I am confident that Jesus wept over that young man being tortured and hurt.
We need to diligently pray for that young man. We need to Pray for hurting families and broken communities that have had their children ripped from them by senseless violence. Pray for those who protect us along with their families that have suffered loss. Pray for churches to minister to the hurting. Pray for people not to lose heart. And, yes, pray for Jesus to come back and set this broken world right.
In our day-to-day experiences of life, we have opportunities to learn to be like Jesus, to choose to be patient, to be considerate, to feed the poor, to help others, to pray. On the job and in our homes, Jesus has something to say about what we do.
We will experience problems in life whether or not we follow Jesus. Our choice is not whether to have problems, but whether we learn from those problems. Do we react to them the way Jesus would, or do we become bitter and seek revenge and hate? We learn more about love when we love people who are hard to love; we learn more about forgiveness when people sin against us. Our character is shaped more like Jesus not so much in good times, but in difficult times. We do not always understand why God allows people to suffer. We may not see any good in it, or any lesson to learn. But God assures us that “in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). We may not know how—we just have to trust him.
We can begin with teaching our children to love as Christ loves, we need to teach our children that every life is precious and valued. We don’t need to paint for them a picture of a country with a history of inequality, but talk to them about the progress that still needs to be made. We need to never stop teaching them not to be hateful or mean, but to stand up for those who fall victim to hate and bullying. Allow them to be colorblind. My kids use to love this little song O be careful little ears what you hear, be careful little ears what you hear, There’s a Father up above, And He’s looking down in love,So, be careful little ears what you hear. Unfortunately, they become racist from the words they here at home and school. We need to diligently protect them from the ways of the world.
Most important we need to pray with them for those that are hurting and be intentional about how we can actively make a difference in the lives of others.
Some days feel too hard. We’re hurting. Struggling. Fighting fear and worry at every turn. Thank you in the midst of it all, you haven’t left us to fend for ourselves. Forgive us for doubting you are there. Forgive us for thinking you’ve forgotten. Forgive us for believing we somehow know the better way.
You are fully trustworthy. You are All Powerful. You are Able. You are Lord over every situation no matter how difficult it may seem. You are Healer and will never waste the grief we carry today. You will use all things for good in some way. Anything is possible with you. Nothing is too difficult for you.
We pray for those who grieve today. We ask for your comfort to surround those who weep. We pray for the peace of your presence to cover our minds and thoughts, as you remind us, the enemy can never steal us out of your hands. He never has the final say over our lives. We are kept safe in your presence forever, whether in life or in death.
We thank you that your ways are higher than our ways and your thoughts are bigger than our thoughts.
We lay it all down at your feet, every burden, every care. Believing that is the safest place for it to be.
We love you Lord, we need your fresh grace.
In the Powerful Name of Jesus,
Today, I am struggling with discouragement, wondering what my role is and what the Lord desires of me. Something I have been fervently praying for has ended with a closed door and left me with a wounded heart. In seasons of struggle, heart ache, and discouragement, we can be tempted to look back and remember the feelings we used to have when we felt closer to God or when life seemed promising.
Can you relate to this part of Psalm 42: “My heart is breaking as I remember how it used to be: I walked among the crowds of worshipers, leading a great procession to the house of God, singing for joy and giving thanks amid the sound of a great celebration! Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad?”
If you work in any kind of ministry, you may have had like me, some dark nights when you were tempted to quit. I’ve been there, I am there!, but I have also, learned along the way that some of the greatest growth opportunities can come when you face discouragement, heartache and failure head-on. These things usually make me want to throw up my hands and walk away in defeat, but I am also learning that this is exactly what Satan wants. Instead of throwing in the towel, I’m learning to recognize these challenges for what they are: great opportunities to grow and for the lord to mold me into the person He desires me to be.
I have learned that every area of ministry is going to have its discouraging moments. Chances are you took the opportunity because you wanted to make a difference to encourage, and you felt called to do so. It is in these times that Satan will try at every turn to make you feel like what you are doing doesn’t matter, but just because it’s hard doesn’t mean you should quit.
It is important to remember that you are not alone! In the midst of every emotion, there is one thing you can count on. God cares and is with you! God cares deeply about every emotion swirling around in our hearts. If you are on the mountaintop and feeling like things couldn’t be better, God cares for you and is with you! If you are currently experiencing hurt, struggling with disappointment in ministry, remember this, God cares and is always with you! He’s close to you when you cry, when you feel all alone. He’s close to you when you wonder how you’ll move forward. Pour out your pain to God, and move towards Him. The best news is, especially for me! emotions are fleeting. We can choose how we direct our thoughts and energy. Instead of nursing our pain, we can find freedom in choosing to cling to our hope in God.
Choose worship, In these difficult times I love to listen to worship music and experience a fresh encounter with Christ. Music always ministers to me and in a way humbles me. Even when it feels like miles of wasteland stretch between us and God, we must remember Him. Remember His goodness. Remember His mercy. Remember His forgiveness. Remember you are His child. Remember His incredible love for us. Amen!
Father help us to recognize Your love in EVERYTHING that goes on. Father you know our situation? You know the prayers that go up? You know the way Satan has been attacking. Father might you come into our life in a powerful way, and show that all this going on is the refining of pure gold. I ask this in Jesus’ name, Amen.
12 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
21 His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’
The one thing that I am learning is that as Christians we need empathy. Why? The reason is simple, so we can share in the suffering and pain of our friends and fellow Christians.
I have found in my life that the Lord often uses our deepest pain as the launching pad to our deepest calling. It is because of the hardships the Lord has allowed in my life, I’m able to feel more than sympathy and give my friends the gift of empathy. It’s a hard-won, precious gift.
The definition of empathy according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary is the “feeling that you understand and share another person’s experiences and emotions.” It’s hard to put yourself in someone else’s place when you have no point of reference. But as God allows certain experiences in our lives, we don’t have to imagine empathy because we feel it automatically; it is a gift we can give a hurting person.
My second child Casey passed away from congenital heart disease. The pain of losing my son is something I carry with me always. I know what it is to live with pain — emotional and physical. It is from that hardship (among others), I am able to draw from a deep well of empathy.
I was talking with a new friend the other day, and she started sharing how she lost a daughter a few years ago. The hurt she felt was still so raw that she started crying. Tears came to my eyes as I shared that I knew exactly how she felt, because I had gone through the same thing. I explained my feelings of loss, how there will always be a hole in my life where Casey should be no matter how much time has passed. How I often think of how old he would be now and how the pain deepens on important days like his birthday, when he would have graduated from high school etc.. Yet I know my son is with the Lord, and it is only sad for those of us left behind. My friend nodded through her tears and said no one ever understands how she feels. Empathy is a bridge of understanding; through my own loss I could share in hers.
The apostle Paul says in Romans 12:15. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” We are taught as Christians to share our friends emotional experiences. I am drawn to the action words of this statement. It doesn’t say, “Feel bad for those who are mourning.” It says we need to literally cry with them. Have the same emotion they are having — with a passion — one that brings forth tears. This is a powerful teaching Paul is trying to get across to the church in Rome and ultimately to all Christians. We are all called to show grace and love to hurting people, even when we can only guess at how they feel, but the true depth of empathy is achieved through experience.
Christ was our ultimate example of empathy. He literally put himself in our place when He died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins. So when God allows us to go through a hardship, we should consider it a privilege to suffer as our Lord Jesus suffered and use our experience to bless others.
It takes a brave person to pray for empathy, braver than me, but God allows experiences in my life that “teach” me this gift. Trials in our lives have many purposes; it took a long time of walking with the Lord and studying His Word for me to discover the lessons hidden in my own hardships and sufferings. They are often for our growth: to teach us reliance on God, to draw us back or closer to our Savior, or to give us empathy for our neighbor.
As Christians, we have a higher calling. We have been bought at a price and are no longer our own, but humble servants to our Heavenly Father. The greatest commandments are to love our Lord with all our hearts, minds and souls, and to love others as ourselves. In a world rampant with selfishness, vanity, bullying and greed, God offers us a better way. We are after all His hands and feet, and what better way to represent our Lord and serve others than with the gift of empathy?