Devotion of the Week | Pearls of Promise | Page 2

What Have You Done By Faith?

When has God asked you to take a walk of faith?

Has it been during an illness?

A Move?

A marital situation?

Hebrews 11:1 defines faith as “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

This week I was studying the “Faith Walk of Fame” in Hebrews 11 where patriarchs like Noah, Abraham, and Moses are all commended for their tremendous faith and I thought, When in my life have I acted on faith? When have I ventured into the unknown and unseen because of a leading from God? As I reflected back, I began to record the following scenarios. As you read mine, I want you to write yours down, and I would love to hear about your walks of faith, either in response to this blog or on a Facebook post. Your acts of faith will inspire others.

By faith I gave up a national television platform to return to my home town because I knew that was what God wanted me to do.

By faith I answered a call from God to attend seminary for five years, even though the process and commitment was very difficult.

By faith I trusted God for provision when I quit my job while attending seminary, so I could stress less and take better care of my husband and children.

By faith I moved from San Antonio to the Dallas/Ft. Worth metroplex, leaving a community where I was very connected.

By faith, I answered a call to found Pearls of Promise Ministries to help women overcome dysfunction, knowing God would lead this ministry.

By faith, I left my longtime denomination two years ago because I felt God leading us to a new place of worship.

By faith I continue to speak and write books, that seem to help others one person at a time.

By faith I continue to blog twice a week, knowing the Holy Spirit will always provide the words.

By faith I wake up every day, no matter what is going on, trusting that God has a plan for my life and that He is good.

So what about you?

When have you moved forward in a situation, even though you do not know the result?

In what scenario has the Lord asked you to take a walk of faith?

If you cannot think of anything, ask God to stretch you in 2019 in the area of faith. What I’ve found is that because there is so much unknown in faith walks, I must cling tighter to God through prayer and the reading of His Word. It’s like driving in a city where you don’t know the roads. You really have to pay closer attention to the navigation. Here’s a promise. God never asks us to take a faith walk alone. He is always with us, turn-by-turn, on the journey.

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Did you have a father wound growing up? Then you will want to purchase Lisa’s new book, “The Only Father I Ever Knew: How a Fatherless Child Finally Found True Love,” now available on Amazon.com. https://www.amazon.com/Only-Father-Ever-Knew-Fatherless/dp/1724779273/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1546088244&sr=8-1&keywords=the+Only+Father+I+Ever+knew

 

 

 

How Has Your Christmas Changed?

Christmas was different this year.

Family members arrived on December 19th. We held our Christmas family dinner on the 20th, opened gifts on the 21st, and today, everyone but our youngest son will be in other locales. It feels a little strange, but I’m adjusting. I remember other Christmases where I wasn’t with the entire family. In college, I spent one Christmas with a friend and her family in Peoria, Illinois. Another time I made the decision to be with a boyfriend and his family on my week off (Bad decision). My television work out-of-state prevented me from coming home during another Christmas holiday. That’s why I’m sentimental about the song, I’ll Be Home for Christmas. I can remember times when being with family at Christmastime was only in my dreams.

What about you? Has your Christmas changed and evolved over the years?

Loved ones, like my grandmother, may have passed.

Children marry, and you have to share them with in-laws.

Grandchildren arrive, creating a livelier celebration.

Here’s what I know. While our Christmas circumstances may vary, the reason for Christmas never changes.

We celebrate the birth of Jesus because this baby, born humbly in a feeding trough, represents hope. The Son of God came into this world to be a sacrifice for our sins so we might live eternally with God. When Simeon, who had waited years for the birth of Jesus, laid eyes on the Christ child he said, “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.”(Luke 2:29-32). Jesus is still a light to the Gentiles and the glory of Israel. Over 2000 years later, Jesus is still the:

Son of God,

Prince of Peace,

Lamb of God,

King of Kings,

Savior,

Bread of Life,

The Way,

The Truth,

The Life,

Our Rock,

Redeemer,

Light of the World,

Great High Priest,

Messiah,

and Risen Lord.

Christmases may change but Jesus is the Rock that never changes.

When the number of place settings fluctuate at your table, remember to cling to the one thing that is a constant, Jesus Christ. Won’t you thank Him today for his sovereignty? Praise Him that no matter what happens in our lives, we can always count on Him? Worship Him for his never-failing love?

I hope and pray you have a blessed Christmas honoring the birth of the most stable person you will ever have in your life. When the ground shifts beneath your feet, plant yourself on the firm and steady foundation that cannot be moved, Jesus Christ. To wrap up today’s message, here’s a little poem I wrote about the never-changing Jesus’ birth:

Beautiful Birth

Beautiful Birth.

He came for me

He lived to die.

To set me free.

 

When things go awry,

and life’s rearranged.

Unlike the others,

Jesus never changes.

 

When the ground shifts

And troubles don’t cease,

Just place your life

With the Prince of Peace.

 

Born in a stable,

He’s our stability.

When our world seems puzzling,

He holds the answer key.

 

Hallelujah, Praise His Holy Name!

He’s my King, who is the same.

He’s the one who never fails.

The only constant in my life.

He’s Christmas future. Christmas past.

Jesus—the beautiful birth and hope that lasts.

 

 

 

 

 

Your Lineage Doesn’t Have to Define You

Are you fascinated by your heritage?

I have always loved finding out about some of those in my family tree who have gone before me, but not all of my ancestors were known for their upstanding character, like my great-great-great (not sure if that is enough greats) uncle, James Briton Bailey (Brit), born in 1779. Years ago, Brit’s story was featured on the old television show, “Death Valley Days.” Bailey was a former U.S. Representative for Kentucky, but left in disgrace because of a forgery charge. He moved to Texas and bought land from the Spanish government, but that purchase wasn’t recognized when Mexico won its independence from Spain. After Stephen F. Austin’s Texas colony moved to Texas, he was asked by Austin to vacate the property where he and his family settled in Brazoria County, Texas. He refused, and although he was eventually awarded “Squatter’s rights,” he was a constant thorn in Austin’s side because he was repeatedly causing trouble and involved in barroom brawls. Before Brit Bailey died from cholera, he demanded that he be buried standing up because he didn’t want to look up to any man, and also instructed relatives to place a jug of whiskey at his feet. Family members honored half of his wishes. They buried Bailey standing up, but didn’t throw the cocktail in, so later, when people witnessed a glow coming off his grave, “Bailey’s light,” they thought his resting place was haunted, and deduced it was Brit’s payback for not honoring his wishes. As it turned out, there was a good explanation for the eerie glow. It was caused by the moon’s reflection hitting an oil slick on Bailey’s grave.

Like it or not, Brit Bailey is part of my heritage, but I tell you this story to encourage you that your heritage doesn’t have to define you.

This week, I’ve been looking at the circumstances leading up to Jesus’ birth in both Matthew and Luke and have asked the Lord to show me something new. As I studied the lineage of Jesus, I realized his ancestry includes several things that are not necessarily fitting of a King. One was the Babylonian captivity of the Jews: “Josiah begot Jeconiah and his brothers about the time they were carried away to Babylon” (Matthew 1:11). His lineage also includes a harlot, Rahab, and a Moabite turned Jew, Ruth. So His ancestry is not purely “Jewish,’ and not perfect, but God brought forth His perfect Son and our King of Kings out of this bloodline.

Maybe your heritage is not something you’re proud of. Perhaps you feel the odds are against you because of an alcoholic parent or an incarcerated relative. Were you abandoned by a parent or even worse, abused? God can redeem any life or family history if you just release it to His Son.

He can break generational curses.

Through His strength and direction, you can leave a different legacy.

Because of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, we can be cleansed by His blood and become a new creation. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Your past does not have to define you.

As we prepare to celebrate Jesus’ birth, let’s thank God for the Savior of the World. He not only paved the way for salvation and eternal life with God, but he adopted us into a new family and our heritage no longer has control over us. It’s a beautiful gift that is available for all to open this Christmas.

 

What if We Returned?

This may be my busiest Christmas season ever.

Because my husband has clients out of town, we’ve been traveling to places like Toronto and Austin for company Christmas parties. Meanwhile, our family is coming in the week before Christmas this year, rather than the week after, so I have been up late wrapping gifts, putting the house in order, and planning the week’s activities. My son in college also brought home a semester’s worth of laundry that I’ve been wading through, but that’s another story.

Every year when I border on exhaustion I think, Is this how we are supposed to celebrate the birth of the Savior of the world?

But this week I found something I’ve never seen in one of the biblical accounts of Jesus’s birth in Luke. It holds a message that I believe we can put into practice this Christmas.

Remember the shepherds who learned about Christ’s birth through an angelic visit? After hearing the news they, “with haste,” located Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus lying in the manger. After they saw the Christ child with their own eyes, scripture says they made it widely known about their visit and about what the angel told them concerning Jesus: “I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you in this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:10–11).

Here’s the part I’d never seen.

After the shepherds left in a frenzy and enthusiastically filled people in about their experience, they slowed down and returned to the manger. Luke 2:20 says, Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they’ve heard and seen, as it was told to them.”

Why didn’t they praise God on their first visit?

Were they too caught up in the excitement of the moment?

Did they need time for it all to register?

This child lying before them was the Savior of the world. Maybe it was too much to take in in one sitting. But when it hit them about the magnitude of what they witnessed, they returned to do what they probably should have done in the beginning.

After reading this, I wondered, What if we returned?

What if we returned after all our frenzy of preparing for Christmas?

What if we returned after the presents are wrapped, after the meal is cooked—after everyone is in route to their respective homes?

What if, like the shepherds, we returned, with no agenda but to praise God for the birth of His Son, and spend some time worshipping Him?

When Christmas is “over” we often hastily put the décor away, clean the house, and move on to plans for the New Year. Consider changing it up this year. Let’s take a moment, an hour, maybe even a day, to return, and thank God for allowing his Son to be born into this world.

It’s never too late to do what we should have done in the first place.

Knowing the Father (Part 6)

Lover

As I sit here in a Toronto hotel room, with a wafer-thin layer of snow on the ground, I am praying to be able to adequately describe the warm love of the Father for us.

God, the creator of love, did so because He wants to enter into an agape love (the highest express of love—pure, selfless and unconditional) relationship with all of us. Out of love, he formed our bodies. Because of His love, we have a mind and free will to choose Him as Father, and thanks to His love we are given an opportunity to spend eternity in His presence. Today, in the final part of our six-part series on “Knowing the Father,” we dive head first into the endless sea of God’s love and learn about some of the attributes of the love He has for us.

Our Father’s love is eternal. If you didn’t marry your high school or college sweetheart and dated for a while, you’ve probably discovered that love doesn’t always last or is erratic at times. Perhaps you had a parent that fell short in the love category. The good news is that there is a love that never fails us and never fades, God’s love. 1 Chronicles 16:34 says, “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; his love endures forever.” Sometimes the enemy of your soul will attempt to make you believe that you are not loved, but rebuke that thought and trust what God says about His love. Claim the promise of Psalm 89:2 that says, “I will declare that your love stands firm forever, that you established your faithfulness in heaven itself.”

Our Father’s love is overflowing. This year, God gave me new insight into Ephesians 3:17–19 that says, “And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” I realized that we humans simply don’t have the mental capacity to understand how much God loves us. That’s why we occasionally struggle with feeling loved by our heavenly Father. We base the love of God on circumstances and on how humans react to us. The answer is we need to pray to understand, and we must tap into God’s power to grasp the dimensions of His love for us, a love that, according to Psalm 119, fills the earth and, according to Psalm 36, “reaches to the heavens.”

Our Father wants us to be vessels of His love. We are God’s ambassadors on this earth and if we are to represent Him well, we need to be filled to the brim with His love. 1 John 4:7–8 says,

“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love, does not know God because God is love.”

God wants us to love our enemies and love those who need a little extra patience. He calls us to love our spouse and to love the Christian brothers and sisters He places in our lives. I used to be bothered by the passages in the Gospel of John where the disciple, John, is referred to as the disciple whom Jesus loved. I thought Jesus didn’t have favorites? Then I realized the word for love in these passages is “agape.” Now it made more sense. John was not a favorite. It took drawing from God’s pure, selfless and unconditional love to love John, just like it takes God’s Agape love for many of those in our lives as well.

Our Father desires our love in return. God created love so we’d choose to love Him back. I know I don’t love God the way He’d like for me to love Him. I often pray, Help me to love you more, Lord. The greatest commandment in the Bible in both the black and red letters is “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength” (Deuteronomy 6:5). This passage goes on to challenge us to tell our children about how important it is to love God, wear jewelry reminders, and also asks us to post it on our doorframes so we never forget it.

My “fisher of men” bracelet is a permanent fixture on my wrist because it’s a reminder of what I’m on this earth to accomplish,

and I have the words of Deuteronomy 6:5 posted over the door to the garage, so every time I leave I’m reminded that loving God and His children is the most important thing I could possible do that day.

Our Father’s love is sacrificial. I may never be able to fully comprehend what God did for us when he sacrificed His own Son, Jesus, so that we might live with Him forever. It is the greatest act of love ever recorded. We see this verse all the time at sporting events but just meditate on it for a minute: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life.” Could you imagine sacrificing your own child so that another might live? It is a love beyond comprehension. And because of this love, we can call God, Father. “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!”  (1 John 3:1).

For a fatherless girl like me, there is no greater gift than the sacrificial love of my Abba Daddy. I am not sure where I’d be without it. Won’t you pray today for your heavenly Dad to increase your understanding of His love for you, and for His people? Spend some time in His presence, and tell Him how much you love Him in return. God, in His abundant love, is waiting for you to respond.

 

 

 

 

 

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