Challenged to Compassionate Action, Ps 68:5, #30daysafterbreakaway

The MorningI was having my cup of coffee and reading my Bible this morning and I kept reading about God’s view on the orphans & widows. I was wondering what I can and should be doing. How am I doing? I had a moment where I was thinking I handle this okay, I mean we sponsor kids around the world. We try and help out when we see or hear of a need. But is it changing my heart?

Here are the verses:

“A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.” Psalms 68:5 (#30daysafterbreakaway)

“You are the helper of the fatherless…” Ps 10:14b

“You, LORD, hear the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry, defending the fatherless and the oppressed, so that mere earthly mortals will never again strike in terror.” Ps. 10:17-18

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” James 1:27

A couple of thoughts.

#1 God is their father, their defender, their helper, their encourager. He sees, hears, and loves them.
Do I see them? Do I see the people around me who need to know that God sees, hears, and loves them? Do I see them? Do I see as Jesus sees?

#2 God expects me, us, to look after, to see, and to care about the widows and orphans, the fatherless & the oppressed.
What will I do about it? What is going to change about how I interact with the people around me and around the world? I am one person, I need to not let that be an excuse for not loving like Jesus loves.

#3 A follower of Jesus will care. James 1:27 has some strong words regarding what ‘pure and faultless religion looks like’. The bar is high and simple. Love like Jesus loves. Jesus reached out, loved on, connected with those the culture said were the least and did not matter.
What’s next? What will I do? What action am I going to do to love my community and the world?

I have room to grow. Often I miss opportunities because I am complacent and busy. A couple of ideas came to mind, not an inclusive or exclusive list, just what came to mind as I was thinking about what my family and I could do next.

#1 Sponsor a child in another country. Feedthe5000.org is a great place to connect with a child sponsorship program and to also be encouraged that you are not in this alone. It’s amazing to me what happens with the little bit of money I give each month. An amazing way to pour into a child who needs help in a different part of our world.

#2 Are you currently a child sponsor? Don’t forget to write to your child. Take a few minutes and help them feel the love of the Father thru your hands. I need to get better at this one!

#3 Food Bank – helping supply the need of food to area families. Helping serve at a homeless shelter, maybe its by serving a meal or having a conversation.

#4 Perhaps there is a family with special needs kids, single parent, military family, supplies foster care or a family simply going thru a difficult time – how can you come along side and support the families in your community.

#5 It’s the holiday season! Operation Christmas Child thru Samaritans Purse…..I want our family do a least one box this year; I know it makes a difference both in our lives and in theirs. Maybe it is caroling around a nursing home. Visiting near the holidays for those who are in a long term care facility or the hospital. Perhaps it is seeing and meeting a need that you hear about.

There are many, many more ideas out there. What are some of yours? How can you see, care, encourage, and love those around you?

 

Today…..learning to follow, listen and obey; trusting in the ONE who loves me and HE loves you too.

#30daysafterbreakaway, #biblestudy, #compassion

Scripture quotations taken from the The Holy Bible, New International Version
Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. All rights reserved worldwide.

Copyright 2014 Gail Campbell

Life gets rough…..Romans 5:3-4, #30daysafterbreakaway

The Morning

“And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope.” Romans 5:3-4 (NKJV)

Have you ever jumped up and down, shouting with gladness when life has gotten tough? Maybe you have called up a friend and said “I have exciting news to share….it’s been a bad day today.” Maybe you have, and I think we should look at the rough patches with joy & an attitude of what to learn thru them versus complaining. Our tendency though when life gets tough is not to be excited or find something to be thankful for in the moment. I want to skirt around the “not easy,” the “difficult” of life.

I would like to think that I learn best when life is easy, but I know that is not the case. When my eldest son was around 3 years of age, full of energy, not talking very well and required a lot of specialized attention I remember praying for patience. I remember not knowing how I was going to get thru each day, let alone each moment. It was a time when life was rough, lonely, and very painful. There were moments thru the day where it was a simple prayer asking for help to make it to the next moment. God was there, walking along side me and giving me the energy and stamina needed to press in and press on. I can see how God used that tough time to show me that He was with me; He had never left. I was still very stubborn and did not want to completely surrender that His way was better than mine. Yet I can see now how the lessons learned during that time helped me overcome fears I had that were keeping me from following with abandonment. During that season hope was kindled deep in my heart that God loves me, has a plan, and never gave up on me. Almost 14 years later I am amazed at how often the lessons learned during the midst of that season are used each and every day. Sometimes the situation seems petty, the line at the store is taking way too long; but other times it is a significant situation, such as a loss of a job. The moments thru life prepare us for moments ahead. We must choose to work to have joy & believe it is for our good or choose to believe it is not for our good and let it embitter us.

When life has trouble, whether it’s a series of tiny small hiccups or something big we need to remember to….

  1. Respond with joy. There is always something in our day to be thankful for; even if it is that you woke up & the sun is shining (or the rain is pouring….such as a day like today)
  2. Remember it has a purpose. The trouble of the moment is working to produce patience – persistence – character – and hope!
  3. Rest in the fact Jesus understands and is walking with you. He gets it. He loves us. His love is being poured out onto us. The Spirit will and is giving us the strength to walk.

Choosing to respond with joy is believing that God has a plan, a purpose, and is using this trouble, this heartache in a powerful way. Our choices draw us near to Jesus or away from Jesus. As we learn to follow Him even when the situation is not easy who we are is changing, becoming a purer reflection of Him. The tiny responses today are what will help us when we have a bigger response required of us tomorrow.

Today…..learning to follow, listen and obey; trusting in the ONE who loves me and HE loves you too.

#30daysafterbreakaway, #biblestudy

Scripture quotations taken from the The Holy Bible, New International Version
Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. All rights reserved worldwide.

Copyright 2014 Gail Campbell

Look Up – Psalm 121:3, #30daysafterbreakaway

stormclearingoverwater

“I lift up my eyes to the mountains – where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot slip – he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.”
Psalms 121:1-3 NIV

Through the years this verse has been a lifeline. A reminder that God is right there with me in the thick of things. A number of years ago I remember my hands were shaking as I finished looking at the phone and subsequently the phone records. Thinking could this really be happening? Maybe I was interpreting this all wrong? Yet time would reveal that no I wasn’t wrong. Yes, there was an affair happening. Yes, this relationship was going to end in a divorce. I remember wondering what was the future going to look like. How would I and the boys survive? Looking around me at the mess that I was living in and wondering now what. How do I move forward? Jesus, I said yes – I will follow you no matter what. I am not going back. This is the start of a new chapter, of life being much different and now this. Really! This is not what I was expecting.

I love music and it is how I connect at some of my deepest points with my Creator. I get emotional. I feel His presence keenly. I remember during this time a song came out from a well known Christian rock group & being challenged to not look away from the storm but to look at it. To walk thru it. To not give up. To look to Jesus for my help was something new for me. My typical response to trouble and heartache was usually do one of three things…..eat something sweet, go shopping, or retreat within myself and look for a solution. Looking to Jesus and releasing control over the solution was new for me to do.

Today’s verse gives us hope & something much more. Confidence that the God we love and serve does not sleep. God does not need sleep nor is He asleep. He is aware of what is happening in your life. He sees the storm. Do you every feel like your foot is slipping? That life has sent you a curve ball, or perhaps the path you are walking on just experienced a storm of epic proportions? Are you wondering where is God in the middle of this storm? What good will come of this? Can I encourage you that if you will shift your focus and look for Jesus, He is right there. Claim this verse, believe it. The help you are wanting, the help that your soul longs for, Jesus is ready to meet that need.

When you find yourself ready to give up…..remember that He is watching over you, He does not sleep nor is He asleep.
When you find yourself afraid…..remember
When you find yourself unsure of the future……remember
When you wonder how you are going to get through the day……remember
Remember to lift your eyes up and believe He will not let your foot slip and He is not asleep.

Jesus, we pause. We stand before you in awe of who you are & what you have done for us. For the love that you have for us. Today help us to look up and remember that you are our help. Whether its kids at home, the dishes, daily life, or an epic storm. You are right here. Right here walking with us. You don’t need to sleep. You are not asleep. You see us, the difficulties, the areas we need help. May we lay our pride down and look to you and believe. Believe that you are our help. That you are watching us. That you are awake. That you love us. May we see you, sense your presence, trust you and follow you.

Today…..learning to follow, listen and obey; trusting in the ONE who loves me and HE loves you too.

#30daysafterbreakaway

Scripture quotations taken from the The Holy Bible, New International Version
Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.  All rights reserved worldwide.

Copyright 2014 Gail Campbell

The Love of the Father, 1 John 3:1, #30daysafterbreakaway

FlowersLateSummer2014pic2

“What marvelous love the Father has extended to us! Just look at it – we’re called children of God! That’s who we really are. But that’s also why the world does not recognize us or take us seriously, because it has no idea who he is or what he is up to”
1 John 3:1 The Message

“Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know him.” 1 John 3:1 NKJV

“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.” 1 John 3:1 NIV

The love of the Father…..it is marvelous, it is lavished, it is great, it is bestowed, it is extended to me, a follower of Jesus. One way that is seen is that He, Father God, calls us His Children. He has taken us and brought us into His family. We are now His children. That is our position. That is who we are and what should define us.

It is not easy to wrap my mind around the love that God has for me. I know it to be true. I have experienced it and I choose to believe it. Accepting the love of Jesus requires faith and humility. There is nothing I have done to earn it, He has chosen to give it to me. He loves me. He loved me before I said yes.

Is it easy to be a child of God? The second half of this verse describes that people who are not followers don’t understand. They don’t understand because they don’t know Jesus. When it is not easy to be a child of God, we must choose to lean in. Believe that He loves us. Believe that we are His.

I am a daughter of the king. My thoughts, my actions, my life should more and more resemble the King of Kings. There is balance there…..a balance to not be proud but remember that I am broken, I am a sinner and I have been saved by the redemptive blood of Jesus. I have been showered by His grace.

The love of the Father…..
Is marvelous.
Is great.
Is bestowed upon me.
Is lavished on me.
Is extended to me……..a follower of Jesus, adopted into the Kings family.
{author rephrase, 1 John 3:1}

Today learning to lead, follow and love like Jesus.

#30daysafterbreakaway

Isaiah 64:8, #30dayafterbreakaway

“Yet you, Lord, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.” Is. 64:8 (NIV)

This verse shows a couple of different perspectives about my relationship with God.

One is that  He is my Father. He disciplines me when I get out of line. Keeps me safe. Allows me to choose. Loves me unconditionally. He gives me wisdom and direction. Loves it when I ask Him for help, for provisions, when I come to Him with everything going on in my life.

“We are the clay, you are the potter”

The second is that I am not the artist. God is. God is molding and changing me into the masterpiece He desires. Years ago, I remember learning a little about pottery. You take the clay and water and you mold it into what you want to make.  As it dries it hardens and becomes useful, and sometimes you have to start over. Something is not right with what was created and it needs to be fixed. That takes breaking, water, and time. Often the last piece of creating pottery is when it is put thru fire and glazed; solidified into a piece of pottery.  There are different kinds of pottery; there are water jugs, baking dishes, vases for flowers, cups for drinking. There is different art work indicative of the artist, the area of the world and the purpose of the pottery.  The clay does not have a say in what it becomes, the potter will decide.  We are all unique, I am one of the ones that has had to be broken and reformed. We each have a unique purpose.

Do you trust God to mold and shape you into what He wants you to be? I struggle with it at times, I think I know what it should look like, yet I am quickly reminded that I am not the potter. God sees and knows more than I ever can. He loves me. He wants what is best for me. He wants me to be a useful, faithful servant who trusts and listens to Him.

“We are all the work of your hand.”

Lastly, two things stand out to me today as I read this, the first is the words we and all. Its not some of us, but all of us, every single one of us. The work of your hand we are the work of His hand; the creator of the universe, God almighty says that I am the work of His hand. We, each one of us, are the work of God’s hand. Amazing. Each one of us is important to the Father.

This verse challenges me to remember that I am the clay, I am being shaped into who God wants me to be. He has a master plan and each step on this path has a purpose. I am left with the question, will I trust Him to continue to make me into the woman He wants me to be or will I try and take matters into my own hand?

Romans 12:5-6, #30daysafterbreakaway

The Morning“For just as each of us has one body with many members, and those members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.” Romans 12:4-8, NIV

“Each member belongs to all the others.” (v5)

Would you consider yourself independent in nature? I have been told a couple of times that I am very independent. While I know there are times that this is a good thing, it is not always the best thing either. The concept that we are better together than we are alone is so true. Life is tough and if we are doing it by ourselves it is even tougher. So I wrestle with this verse, not as much as I once did with being so independent but lately it is about how I fit in this picture. What difference, do I, really make in the body of Christ.

The human body is intricate and it as a whole works together to allow us to do amazing things. When it doesn’t work properly we notice. Sometimes it is very visible and other times not so much. We then have to do something about it, maybe it is get more sleep or exercise or see a doctor. But each part does make a difference. It’s the same with the body of Christ followers. Together we are able to accomplish much. Good and bad. So I do matter, and I do have a role to play and it is important.

We belong to each other ……together we are better, each one playing an important part, together and not separate. Whether it is within the local church, the region, to the world each community we find ourselves in, we have a role to play. We have a very specific part that God has assigned for us to do. Do you ever wonder what that is? Maybe you know and you are struggling to simply walk out in faith and do that. We need each other. Community.

What happens when you don’t do what God has assigned and gifted to you?

We all miss out on what God wants to do thru you, both for you and for all of us.

Our gifts are our gifts, given to us to be a blessing and point others to Jesus. Sometimes on this journey how those gifts are exercised, how we use them change. If you are encourager, how you may encourage may look different. If you teach or lead it may be different as our lives go thru seasons. How you serve may and often does change, but you are still called to serve. Maybe it is serving at home and serving your family; or you have an opportunity to serve and encourage at work and have a great attitude in a really bad situation. What about the neighbor next door that needs help with their yard, loving & serving them? It is important to not lose sight that God has gifted us for a purpose. We need to step out in faith and use them.

I am in a transition where the way I have been using my gifts has changed. The season I was just in was a time where I grew and use them in the capacity I did for more reasons than I can begin to imagine. Yet the season has come to close. What is coming next, great question and one I am just beginning to discover the answer to. As I read these verses I am presented with a choice and a reminder. A reminder that who I am is important to the body and God has uniquely gifted me for a specific role. Not always is that role what I would have imagined or what I expect. Now the choice is before me – will I choose to let Him direct where and how those gifts are exercised or shut down and not be used.

Whether you know what your gifts are and are in your sweet spot, perhaps you are unsure or you find yourself in transition, lets lean in and see, expecting God to show up and use us as we exercise our gifts.

Today…..learning to follow, listen and obey; trusting in the ONE who loves me and HE loves you too.

#30daysafterbreakaway

Scripture quotations taken from the The Holy Bible, New International Version
Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.Used by permission, all rights reserved worldwide.

 

John 8:10-11; #30daysafterbreakaway

The Morning

“When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.” John 8:10-11 NKJV

The context of the story here is that the religious leaders were trying to trip Jesus up; they wanted to get him to do or say something He shouldn’t and they brought this woman before Him. A woman caught doing something she shouldn’t (John 8 talks about it in detail.) We don’t have her name, only that she is described as ‘the woman’.

When I read this story in the gospel, often I picture myself as the religious leader. Quick to cast blame and condemn but slow to want to take a look at myself. The woman in the story is broken, needing Jesus to show up. I am broken, with parts of my life that desperately need Jesus to show up and redeem. So often I am the religious leader and the person I am condemning is myself. Do you find yourself doing that? Condemning yourself for something you have done, are doing, an area that needs Jesus to show up & shine His light of grace on it.

What is beautiful to me, is that is exactly what Jesus did here. He showed up & shined His light of grace. He told the woman she was not condemned but then he added something, “Go and sin no more.” “Go and sin no more” how is that possible? I am not perfect, I fall on my face daily. I am grumpy with my kids, or quick to judge a situation without knowing the circumstances, worrying about something that is completely out of my control. Yet Jesus says “go and sin no more”, what was He getting at? I think He was getting at the fact that her trajectory needed to change. That He was not condemning her, but giving her an opportunity to change her trajectory, to have the direction of her life point towards Him. There are habits that I have that I need to leave and change my direction on….one that I am learning and leaning into is how busy I am and should be. Finding the balance of life that Jesus wants me to have. I have habits that are a continuing work in progress, anxiety and worry, pride, self-worth, I am a daily work in progress. It’s about trajectory. With Jesus I can and am changing my trajectory….without Him, it’s impossible to have the trajectory both He and I want. It’s thru a relationship with Him. He loved the woman. He loves me. He loves you. His love and grace is powerful.

What about you? What is Jesus wanting to redeem? Wanting you to understand that He is not condemning you and that He wants your trajectory to be different? Maybe it’s by starting to have a relationship with Him. He wants what is best for you. Maybe it is you leaning in and loving someone whose trajectory is changing and they need some encouragement.

Today…..learning to follow, listen and obey; trusting in the ONE who loves me and HE loves you too.

 

Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New King James Version
Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.

Jeremiah 29:11, #30daysafterbreakaway

This past weekend was Breakaway 2014, an amazing women’s event here in our area. I am so blessed to have been a part. One of the challenges leaving Breakaway was to read and SOAP a verse a day for 30 days. Today’s verse is Jeremiah 29:11.

I am familiar with this verse, its a verse I often go to when life is tough and I need to remember that God has me in the palm of his hand. Today I was reading it in the New Kings James (NKJV) and the New International (NIV) two translations.

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. ” [Jer 29:11 NKJV]

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. [Jer 29:11 NIV]

The translations are very similar except for one word; the NKJV uses the word “thoughts” and the NIV uses the word “plans”.

Both words bring me a sense of peace. Not only does God have plans for me, He has thought about it and He is thinking of me. Do you believe that? Do you believe that God thinks about you and that He has plans for you?  And that they are good not bad. We are so important to GOD that He is thinking about us. In a world full of people HE thinks about each one of us. AND He has a plan….actions behind those thoughts. Encouraging. Uplifting. Strength when we are weary.

My job, our job, is to follow, to want to listen and obey. God wants what is good for me, for us, I need to be willing to listen & obey.

Today…..learning to follow, listen and obey; trusting in the ONE who loves me and HE loves you too.

 

Scripture quotations taken from the The Holy Bible, New International Version
Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.
Used by permission, all rights reserved worldwide.

Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New King James Version
Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.

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