Category : Devotion of the Week
Category : Devotion of the Week
Formerly a teacher, Karol is the best-selling author of over 30 books includingThe Power of a Positive Mom and A Woman’s Secret to Confident Living. Her new book is Positive Life Principles for Women.
As a gifted communicator and dynamic leader, Karol is a popular speaker to women’s organizations, church groups and corporate events across the nation. Karol is a frequent guest on radio and television programs and teaches a monthly Bible study called Positive Woman Connection. She devotes her time to several different ministries which encourage, strengthen and help women around the world. Her most valued role is that of that of wife and mother.
If you have ever watched any of the Olympic track and field events, you know that a split second makes all the difference, especially in sprint races. If a competitor in the 100 meter sprint takes even a second to glance at the runners on either side of her – she’s lost the race. In running as well as in life, we must learn to keep our eyes on our own race and not become distracted by comparing ourselves with others. Easier said than done, right? As women, we so quickly begin to compare with the other women around us. Often it happens the moment we walk into a room with other women. Am I as thin as she is? Do I fit in here? Why can’t my hair look as good as hers does? I wish I had her complexion.
It’s a trap each one of us can easily stumble into, and in the process we become dissatisfied with who we are and what God has planned for us. We tend to lose sight of what our purpose is in life. Perhaps that’s why the apostle Paul, with his powerfully purpose-filled life, was able to say, “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God is calling me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Just as a sprinter keeps her eye on the goal or the finish line, so we need to keep our eyes fixed on the purpose God has given us and not be distracted by envy, jealousy or comparisons. True maturity is when we can look with joy at how God is blessing others and sincerely be thankful for the way God uses each one of us in a variety ways and in different styles.
There is only one you. God made you with a unique set of gifts and talents and with a distinctive purpose in this world. When we keep our eyes on the fact that God is at work in and through us to accomplish what He put us on this earth to do, we begin to feel a joyful confidence. We can rejoice in our assignment in the big scheme of life. On the other hand, when we start looking at everyone else and begin to compare ourselves with others, we either become prideful or we become jealous. Comparisons tend to zap us of our strength, distract us from our purpose and throw us off course from our goals.
Charles Spurgeon said, “The cure for envy lies in living under a constant sense of the divine presence, worshipping God and communing with him all the day long, however long the day may seem.” Let us worship God in the midst of our longings and watch Him work in mysterious and glorious ways. When we keep our eyes on Him, our petty comparisons turn into gratitude for the way God is using others, as well as the wonderful plans He has for our lives. When comparisons distract you, turn your eyes upward my friend! You will gain a fresh and eternal perspective.
This is an excerpt from Karol Ladd’s powerful new pocket-sized book, Positive Life Principles for Women.
“Jesus called the children to him and said, ‘let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.’” (Luke 18: 16-17)
I am looking at this verse with new eyes today. When Jesus says, “let the little children come to me,” I used to think he was speaking about the pre-schoolers and elementary kids, but you have to look at the passage in context. The next verse sheds new light when it says “anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” When Jesus is saying “let the little children come to me,” he is talking to all of us, not just the babies. He wants all of us to come to him like a child.
The Greek word for “let” in the passage can also mean “abandon.” Jesus wants us to “abandon” whatever brings us down, draws us away from him, and he is telling us that this is an individual decision. We must come to him ourselves; we have to release our spouses to him and our children. We can’t push our sisters, brothers, aunts and uncles to come to him. In a sense, we also have to “abandon” those dear to us so they can hear Jesus’ voice themselves.
But one of the most difficult things for us as moms to do is to abandon our children to God.
We birth them.
We love them.
We feed them.
We teach them.
We hold them.
We scold them.
We encourage them.
We direct them.
But there are times when it seems like they quit listening, and nothing we say or do matters anymore. We need God to take over. There’s no choice left, but to abandon them to Jesus.
I find it to be a difficult and helpless place to be.
So we abandon them to the Lord and pray they will make wise decisions. We pray God will navigate them off the wide path over to the narrow path.
We pray they too will have a close encounter with Christ like we had.
We pray for their safety and protection because once they drive, we don’t have control over their well being anymore.
We pray they will go to Jesus when he says, “come.”
Who do you need to abandon to Jesus today? Do you have a child you need to release to Christ? Have you lost the little child within you?
Jesus said, “let the little children come to me.” It’s time to crawl up into your Abba daddy’s lap. (LBW)
Even though something might be true, do you sometimes hate to hear it about yourself?
I don’t know whether it’s because I’m post menopausal or not, but lately, every time I tell someone I used to be a sportscaster, their reaction is always the same.
“You must have been one of the first.”
“What was it like back then?”
“You are a true pioneer.”
I am going to confess that I am sensitive about my age so when I’m described as a “pioneer,” my insecurity level rises. Thoughts run through my head like Why don’t they think I could still be on the air? Do I look that old? Lisa, face it. You are old.
I then ask myself, Should I even share that part of my life anymore? Maybe it just belongs in a history book.
While being labeled a “pioneer” is a relatively new phenomenon for me, I am in good company.
In Hebrews 12, Jesus is described as a pioneer: “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, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.” (Hebrews 12:1-2)
However, in the Greek, the word “pioneer” is more flattering. It also means “author,” “originator,” “founder,” “leader,” or “ruler.” When you use those descriptions, being a pioneer is not so bad.
I am thankful for Jesus, because as a pioneer he blazed a trail for us to walk in. He explained how we should live a godly life. That’s the perfecting part. He had to die and be resurrected so we could experience eternal life one day.
Jesus had to go first and he was the pioneer. Revelation 22:13 says he was the first, the very beginning, and he’s OK with it.
I guess if I want to be like Jesus, I need to embrace pioneer status. Instead of being down about looking the part, I need to realize someone had to start things off so that others could have the same opportunities. I have to understand it was my calling at one time, and is a major part of my own personal faith story, designed by someone called “the ancient of days.”
I wonder how God feels about being called “ancient?”
If the road behind you is stretching out longer than the road ahead, your experience, both good and bad is valuable. Instead of worrying about how old you’re getting, think about the wealth of information you can share to help someone else. You’ve carved a trail for someone to walk in, or in some cases to avoid. Tell them. Warn them. Be Jesus to them.
When you look at it that way, maybe being a pioneer won’t be so bad. (LBW)
Jungle safaris and trips to the Amazon. I will confess vacations like this are not in my top ten trip destinations. But sometimes, we don’t have to travel to the jungle to find ourselves in it. Life can be a jungle, and occasionally the vines and foliage are too thick for us to see our way out.
Are you in a jungle right now?
I recently put together a retreat message about learning from Jane Porter, the one and only Jane from the Tarzan movies, who, early on, struggled in the midst of the jungle. While Jane is a fictitious character, we can still gain valuable insight from her story.
1. Jane learned the jungle wasn’t as bad as she thought.
Initially, Jane was frightened by Cheetah the Chimpanzee, and Tarzan, but later hung out with both of them. She transformed from a damsel in distress to a woman fully capable of defending herself and surviving on her own in the jungles of Africa. The jungle eventually became her home and she found her heart in the jungle as Tarzan transformed from “ape man” to her husband.
I don’t know about you but I’ve always been a little afraid of the jungle. I never really wanted to venture into a physical jungle because I figured I’d step one foot in and be gobbled up by a wild animal or a man eating plant.
But I found out the jungle is not what many of us think it is. I looked up some jungle trivia and here are some facts you may not know:
The chances of being bitten by a poisonous snake in the jungle are as remote as being struck by lightening.
There are very few poisonous plants in the jungle.
There are no cannibals in the jungle.
What is a person’s worst enemy in the jungle? Not a snake. Not a wild animal….but a mosquito. Why? Because mosquitos carry Malaria.
Sometimes it’s those mosquito thoughts that buzz around our brain and can turn a perfectly happy mood to sour. It’s the small things we allow to take us down. Instead of thriving in the jungle, we barely survive.
When I read this, I realized if I had had such a misconception about what a jungle was really like, maybe the life jungles I experience aren’t nearly as bad as I perceive them to be.
What situation in your life is giving you jungle fever? Perhaps it’s something from your past you can’t shake. Sometimes the jungle gets bigger and more ominous because our perspective can be skewed.
We have to remember there is no jungle that God can’t maneuver us through. Isaiah 30:21 says, “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”
2. Jane found her calling in the jungle.
Sometimes our most difficult times are where we hear God’s voice the clearest. Often he has to take us into the jungle or a wilderness to get our undivided attention, so we will be forced to rely entirely on him and so only he can be the one to guide us out, perhaps to a place we’ve never been before. When we can’t see past the foliage, he makes a way.
How about another piece of jungle trivia? Did you know a compass does you absolutely no good in the jungle? In our personal jungles, only God can lead you out. And maybe he’ll make you sit a spell because he just wants you to stop and spend time alone with him and in the Word. He’s a jealous God. Be still and know that he is God. When we’re still, God’s compass begins to work.
3. Jane eventually realized the jungle was where she was supposed to be.
And we’re where we are supposed to be unless God tells us different. Are you unhappy with your lot in life right now? Trust that God has you where he wants you, even if you are experiencing hardships.
If you’re unhappy, have you ever let God plan your day? You may have surrendered your life to God but have you surrendered all your activities? There are no complaints at the end of the day when you do that.
Do you pray before you start your day? It’s a great way to have peace in the jungle. Do you ask him to connect you with the people he wants you to meet? He answers your prayers and everything flows from him.
Trusting the jungle designer and his plan for your life through the jungle experience is enhanced when you let him guide you through the process.
3. God can help you overcome whatever obstacle you’ve faced in the jungle.
God wants us to be victorious over our past. He doesn’t want us stuck in the quicksand.
Here’s another jungle fact for you. What is the best way to escape quicksand is if there’s no one to pull you out? People sink because, in their panic, they are rapidly moving their legs and arms and that’s what causes them to go under. The best way to get out of the quicksand is to lie on your back and float to the surface.
We may feel like we’re sinking, and doing everything in our own power to get ourselves out of the quicksand, but God wants us to quit our striving, and let him pull us out when it’s time to be rescued. Psalm 40:1-2 says, “I waited patiently for the LORD, he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, and out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God.”
Are you ready for a new song? The Lord is ready to give us one.
What jungle trials do you need healing from? God is our healer. Claim Psalm 103: 2-5: “Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits—who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion’ who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.”
Truthfully, Jane Porter found something beautiful in the jungle. She fell in love with Tarzan, had a son, and even developed a love for Cheetah the Chimpanzee. God looks at you and calls you beautiful. You are the apple of his eye. You are a unique creation. There’s only one you and you have value to the kingdom.
If you know Christ as your personal Lord and Savior, you already have what you need to be survive in the jungle; you just have to tap into it.
Give your life to the king of the jungle. Let him be your compass out of the thick vines that can blind us sometimes, and be confident that when you trust in him, even in the thick of the jungle, like Jane Porter, he will give you the desires of your heart. (LBW)
Today’s guest blogger is Anna Quesada. Anna is the founder of the Christian Women’s Small Business Association, created to Ignite a movement of women trailblazers from around the globe to fearlessly live out their God-calling. Founded in 2006, the organization now encourages over 90,000 entrepreneurs daily online.
Before starting cwSBA, Anna spent a decade in the marketing industry working closely with inspirational speakers, life coaches, ministry leaders, and small business owners. She also blogs for the San Antonio Express News web site and runs a full service digital agency, helping multi-million dollar clients dominate the online business world via search engine optimization, social media, and web site branding.
What would happen to your life if Facebook and Twitter ceased to exist? Seriously. Think about it for a moment. Because of my work in marketing for small businesses, the last eight years of my life have been immersed in every aspect of social media. My livelihood depended on it and by God’s grace, I experienced tremendous results. Even in the early days of MySpace, I was able to leverage these powerful communication tools to draw over half a million unique visitors to various websites I managed every single month. I still remember the first time someone “retweeted” one of my tweets on Twitter six years ago. In seconds, with one click, a simple 140 character message could reach thousands of people.
It was exhilarating and I was hooked, but sometimes entirely removing yourself from a situation is the only way to get a proper perspective. I say all of this just to show you what a mind-shift this post is for me. Over the last few weeks, I’ve felt God calling me to unplug, be still and wait on Him. From one day to the next, I fell of the face of the (cyber) Earth. I’m pretty sure I experienced withdrawals during the first few days of my social media fast, but almost instantly, God’s voice became the loudest sound in my head… and for the first time in a very long time… His voice became the only one that mattered. Besides some completely life-changing news God revealed to me within the first 4 days of my surrender (seriously, LIFE-changing), I’ve also learned that as followers of Christ, we must continually unplug and press into His presence to become all that He created us to be.
In all my work with social media, I’ve learned that it can make us somewhat delusional. It causes us to think we “know” people just because we saw what they ate for breakfast via Instagram or because we observed every single one of their Facebook timeline vacation photos from 2003-2007. The truth is that life happens in-between our picture-perfect posts. Real relationships are built over coffee breaks – lots of them – or late night phone calls when we finally let our guard down and share pieces of ourselves and our struggles.
It happens over dinner – when you talk about nothing at all and everything important to us, all at the same time – when you laugh at nonsense and create memories and inside jokes.
It happens when we encourage one another through the difficult times and rejoice together in our victories. We may see glimpses of it in our social media world, but the bulk of it almost never happens there. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, even blogs – they are all just tools to enhance relationships, not replace them. AND In the end, I’m learning that our relationship with God is the same.
You’ve been invited into God’s holy presence. Consider it the ultimate “friend request” and not just the kind where you share photos and status updates. It’s a real life, hand-in-hand, stick by your side no matter what, kind of friendship. Before Jesus paid the ultimate price for our sin, this was not the case.
In Solomon’s temple there was a veil that separated the Ark of The Covenant (God’s presence) from the people. Many scholars say it was 60 feet tall, 30 feet wide, and almost three feet thick. It was for the good of the people. God’s presence is so powerful, perfect, and majestic, that the weight of His glory would kill them if they entered in unprepared. During this time in history there was a High Priest who represented the people and even he could only enter the Holy of Holies once a year on the Day of Atonement to offer a blood sacrifice and incense.
Author and pastor, Greg Laurie, shares more insight at Jesus.org. “When Jesus died on the cross as a sacrifice for our sins, that heavy curtain was torn from top to bottom. It was not ripped from bottom to top, as though a man were ripping it. Instead, it was ripped from top to bottom, because God was ripping it. God was saying, You are no longer are on the outside. You can come in. My Son has made a way for you.”
What a gift! When we were outsiders to God, HE paid the ultimate price to give us direct access (not only to His throne), but to sit directly on His lap and rest our head and troubles on HIS shoulders. I guarantee you that there is no sweeter relationship than that. You’ve been invited to trade your worry in for wonder and your wounds for worship. Why do we often settle for so much less?
We gaze at HIM from afar – skimming through His comments & posts with a smile or a chuckle. We watch on like spectators – giving THE creator of all the universe our occasional “like” or “retweet”. BUT God wants to make Himself known to you. Sometimes, because of my own complacency, it feels like I’m an outside fan more than a dear daughter to the King of kings. I don’t want to live a life without reverence for who GOD is. I don’t want to settle for knowing about God when He’s invited me to KNOW Him personally and intimately. Let’s not take the present of HIS presence and unending love lightly. The same GOD who named the stars, commands the rain, and conquered death is worthy of our awe, affections, and time. Get comfortable with unplugging often to surrender all you are to Him… not because He demands it, but because we have the amazing privilege of calling HIM a real friend and Father.
I’m sure I’ll be back in the social media world soon, but until then, I’m enjoying life away from my computer screen – no internet connection required. Find out more about my work or get my daily doses of encouragement at http://www.Twitter.com/empowered and http://www.Facebook.com/cwsba