Tuesday, April 26, 2016

first


Jesus brought GLORY to His Father in heaven as He perfectly lived out God's plan for salvation for the world. Jesus was born as a baby in human form, lived a totally obedient life. "My food," said Jesus, "is to do the will of Him who sent me and to finish His work" (John 4:34). 

So He took on the sins of the world and willingly was nailed to a cross. In excruciating pain He looked upon those who mocked Him and said, ""Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing" (Luke 23:34). 

When He died on the cross He knew He completed the work of taking on the sins of the world. His last words were, "It is finished." (John 19:30). 

In three days Jesus rose from the tomb where He was buried and returned to heaven to be "seated on the right hand of the Father" (Luke 22:69).

Everything He did was in perfect obedience to Father God. Everything. 

And just think, He is our example. We're supposed to follow His example of having a oneness with our Father in heaven. I know, I know, we are still living in our flesh and we're going to mess up -- but that's why we need a Savior! But we're still supposed to follow His lead! 

Jesus put obedience to His Father, first. Yep. Just like we're supposed to do. 
  • Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness..."(Matthew 6:33). 
  • "So whatever you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God" (1 Corinthians 10:31).
  • "You shall have no other Gods before me" (Exodus 20:3).


God hates idolatry. He gave us Jesus to take the punishment for our sinfulness, thank You, LORD! But then....oh, then we turn around and choose to live with one foot in the Word and the other foot in the world????? Whew. Throughout the Old Testament we can shudder and read what He did to thousands of Israelites for their worship of idols. Yikes. 

Are we afraid to put God first in our lives? Are we afraid we're going to miss all those "Selfies" on that latest Instagram post, email, Facebook message, or tweet if we don't check our devices immediately upon awakening?  Are we afraid we won't get enough likes if we don't keep a foot in the world? Do we think if we put God before every other choice that we won't have our needs met? Do we think if we surrender our everything to Jesus that we'll be missing the latest celebrity trend that we need to imitate?

Well, God knows our hearts. He knows our anxieties and our self-centered tendencies. He has provided promises that should overshadow all that worldly lust.

Here it is:
"No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot love God and Money.  Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than clothes?...Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?...O you of little faith...do not worry...for the pagans run after these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well" (Matthew 6:24-33). 

He knows. He cares. His love is unconditional. His promises are faithful. He is very great. He is very good. He is very powerful. He is full of glory. He wants us take care of us as we shine for Him in this dark world!

By His grace, may our passion--our "food"-- be to do the will of our loving Father  and finish it. We've been created to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. May we joyfully put Him first in all we do and bring Him a whole lotta glory! 

Love,
Polly
"Glorify the LORD with me; let us exalt His name together!"
Psalm 34:3



Friday, April 22, 2016

no matter how dark the clouds...



Precious Sisters, when our personal storm hits we might think we're all alone in it because it's so dark. But the truth is we are never alone when we're women who follow Jesus. The Bible is filled with His promises of faithfulness to His people!


The only way we will persevere through stormy seasons is if we believe the truth of the powerful word of God:

  • "Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you" (Deuteronomy 31:6).
  • "A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in His holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families, He leads forth the prisoners with singing..." (Psalm 68:5-6).
  • "Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers...He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers" ( Psalm 1:1-3).

God will never stop being faithful. Jesus knew it as He lived on the earth. One evening, Jesus was in a boat with His disciples. When "a furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped," Jesus was "in the stern sleeping on a cushion" (Mark 4:35-41)! Jesus slept through the storm because He knew the One who creates and controls the storms!

I confess I'm not there yet -- totally trusting God with such abandon -- but I pray I'm growing spiritually, paying attention, and listening to the Holy Spirit!

Since we are the body of Christ and the light of the world, "Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another--and all the more as you see the Day approaching" (Hebrews 10:35).

Sisters, we can be confident, no matter how dark the clouds, the Son is always shining behind them. He is with us. Now and forever.

Love,
Polly
Psalm 34:3

Monday, April 18, 2016

pleasant places


This post is a revised version of a devotion from my second book, Totally Devoted 2, published in 2011 as a paperback.  TD2 is under revision to become a Kindle edition. just sayin' :)


"The boundary lines have fallen for me in 
pleasant places..."
Psalm 16:6


Even in the midst of trouble, a child of God should freely confess: "Lord, you have assigned me my portion and my cup; you have made my lot secure. The boundary lines for me have fallen in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance" (Psalm 16:5-6). 

Why?

According to the NIV Study Bible commentary, "Cup is a metaphor referring to what the host offers his guests to drink. To the godly the Lord offers a cup of blessing (Psalm 23:5) or salvation (Psalm 116:13); and he makes the wicked to drink a cup of wrath" (Isaiah 51:7). 

According to the ESV Bible commentary: "Portion, cup, and lot are three metaphors that describe life as a gift of God." Yes! And further states: "Not only is the life that God has given him secure (v.5), it is also "pleasant."' Yes! Yes!

So even in the face of our enemies, the Lord of Hosts will treat us as His special guest -- so to speak -- and will see to it that our "cup overflows" (Psalm 23:5).

When we know God and we know His word, we can say with confidence that our life is secure in God's hands. It's because God promises provision and protection for His people, and so our inheritance is rock solid.

I have said to our darling daughters, Grace and Mary, -- yep, I said darling cuz they are --  as they reached the driving age and are now out on their own, "No matter what you feel like doing, just be sure you are where you are supposed to be when you are supposed to be there." I would tell them that because I have learned our fleshly desires tempt us to get moody and lazy and we can make impulsive and unwise decisions. 

Uh-huh. We ignore red flags of warning from the Holy Spirit. 
Because I know this is true, every time I said it to our daughters I said it to myself, too. I know we have the Holy Spirit inside us to help keep us on the path God has for each one of His children. That place is always the wisest and safest place for a child of God to be -- in His will, obeying His instruction. "...her [wisdom} ways are pleasant ways and all her paths are peace" (Proverbs  3:17).

Yep, God has created all things and established order in creation as King David confessed, "It was you who set all the boundaries of the earth; you made both summer and winter" (Psalm 74:14).  However, as His children we have a free will to choose good and evil. If we are not setting boundaries such as self-control -- a fruit of the Spirit listed in Galatians 5:22 -- for our own well-being, our place may not be so pleasant. In fact it may become a very bumpy ride until we get back on track with God. 

Throughout history God served a cup of torment to wicked nations. He served them a "cup filled with the wine of His wrath" (Jeremiah 25:15). Those who continue to fiercely reject God will eventually be served a cup of His wrath, "full of foaming wine mixed with spices; he pours it out, and all the wicked of the earth drink it down to its very dregs" (Psalm 75:8).The wine of His wrath is poured out when He chooses to display His divine judgement.

When we are walking the paths of peace, we have a clear conscience. We have confessed our sins daily; we seek to love our neighbor, and faithfully seek God's face for our next step. "Great peace have they who love your law" ( Psalm 119:165). And when we have peace we also have joy!

While a group of us were studying this devotion, I had a woman tell me, "I get excited to come here to Bible study because I know this is a pleasant place! It's a pleasant place because I can sense the presence of the Lord when we gather!"  Yep! The focus is on Him!

Anytime a study is in session it becomes a pleasant place for me, too. I always look forward with excitement to get together with all the sisters, to study God's word, and to share what's on our hearts: the good and the bad. Our purpose for gathering is to get closer to God.  The Lord of Hosts serves us a cup of overflowing blessings. It's always a  very sweet, fruitful mixture made up of treasured relationships--with God and with each other!

When we are devoted to putting God first, seeking Him, obeying Him, loving Him with all our hearts, He makes our ways pleasant! Jesus came that we might have "life and have it in abundance" (John 10:10). The abundance is that we become bursting forth with all the fullness of the spiritual fruit of His love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and self-control" (Galatians 5:22).

Sisters, we are here on planet earth to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. And that is a very pleasant place! So let's enjoy the ride! Whooo Hoooo!

Love and blessings,
Polly
Psalm 34:3



Thursday, April 14, 2016

Sing, Sisters, Sing!

This is a revised version of a devotion from my second book, Totally Devoted 2, 
published in 2011. TD 2 is under revision to become a Kindle edition. Just sayin; :)

Never underestimate the power of praise!
Psalm 113:3


Clearly this verse is a call for God's people to give Him thanks and praise in celebration of who He is! it's non-stop thankfulness for His majesty, splendor, love, and greatness. A heart of praise will "give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you" (1 Thessalonians 5:18). 

When we know God -- meaning when we have a relationship with Him -- we know He is in control of all things. We know He is greater than every circumstance. He is GREATER. Can you think of a better reason to thank Him than to know that?  And think about this: as a child of God, look who is your Father! He is the ultimate Protector and Provider!

We've got to stop now and praise Him: "How good and fitting it is to sing praises to our God, how pleasant and fitting to praise Him...He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds...determines the number of stars and calls them by name...His understanding has no limit...He sustains the humble and casts the wicked to the ground...covers the sky with clouds, supplies the earth with rain and makes the grass grow on the hills.  He provides food for the cattle and for the young ravens...He grants peace to your borders and satisfies you with the finest of wheat" (Psalm 147:1,3-4, 5,8,and 9). 

Yep. Almighty God is in control. He speaks and changes the weather: "He sends His command to the earth...spreads the snow like wool and scatters the frost like ashes, hurls down hail like pebbles, stirs up breezes, and the waters flow" (Psalm 147:15-18).

In addition, Sister, He "will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing" (Zephaniah 3:17)! If that doesn't make you wanna get up and dance....!


We should never underestimate the power of praise! Think of it as a weapon of spiritual warfare. Praise can change our thoughts from darkness into light because praise scatters darkness. It happened several times in the Bible. One example occurred after King Jehoshaphat's enemies majorly threatened to attack him and his men (2 Chronicles 20:21-22). King Jehoshaphat sent out a massive praise team [my embellishment] ahead of his army, and as they marched and sang, the Lord raised up ambushes and destroyed all of their enemies.

God does that for His children today, too. Maybe your dark thoughts are your enemies: He can scatter them! Maybe you have a meeting with someone who rubs you the wrong way -- before you meet you can pray and thank God for that person and change your attitude as well as the outcome of the meeting. Yep. It's true.

Do you know Him? Do you know this Magnificent Creator of all life? He is God the Father. He is Jesus Christ the Son. He is the Holy Spirit. He is all three wrapped in one explosive package of love and light.

There are so many benefits to praising our great God: obedience, healthy well-being, joy, peace, contentment, love, laughter, protection, and clear-mindedness. So what is holding us back? 

Let's sing back to God, my Sister. Let's rejoice over God. Let's sing to God in our hearts. Let's sing to God out loud. Let's sing until our darkness scatters. Let's sing when our praises and rejoicing over Him blow the darkness away!

I write this in love and with dancing and singing off-key cuz I always make a joyful noise!
xo
Polly
"Glorify the LORD with me; let us exalt His name together!"
psalm 34:3







Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Waiters wait. So do those who have hope.

Waiters Wait.
"I waited patiently for the LORD"
Psalm 40:1


Someone who is willing to wait for God’s answer to a prayer is a person who trusts God. This person doesn’t get anxious but instead faithfully perseveres in prayer and hope. “I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry” (Psalm 40:1).  

God always answers the prayers of His people. That’s why He tells us to wait because He plans to answer us in accordance with His will. We must believe He is the Creator and Controller of the entire universe and that He knows exactly what He is doing all the time. It’s called His sovereign plan. He’s working it out in all of our lives. That’s why He tells us to wait. Wait because “we know 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).

But most people hate to wait! And God speaks to us: “Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him” (Psalm 37:7a). We are living in an instant gratification society. We don’t want to wait in line in a drive-through restaurant, a bank, the dry cleaners, or any other kind of waiting! Singles do not like to wait long for Mr. or Mrs. Right; they want to get married now to Mr. or Mrs. Has Potential. They’re not remembering God is sovereign and He may be setting up their perfect mate and He has planned for them to meet at the perfect time!

We don’t like to wait for long stop lights, not realizing that God may be detaining us at that long stop light because He is protecting us from imminent danger further down the road. Almighty God really is in control of all things. Jesus told the disciples, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me” (Matthew 28:18). There is no higher authority than this, and this is where we should be putting our hope. It’s His world and His timing for all things.


Even in stressful situations like persecution for our faith...we want God to "deal with them right now!" We can be sure He will deal with them...in His perfect time. We must obediently "wait and keep His way...and when the wicked are cut off, we will see it!" (Psalm 37:34). But we should wisely wait for God's timing.

We don’t like to have to wait for tables at restaurants, either. Recently my hubs Donnie and I were on a wonderful date in a cozy, local restaurant that had a charming atmosphere.  As we started to eat our appetizers there were only a few empty tables. 

By the time we were eating our tasty entrees there were people crowding the front door and even leaning against the wall next to the hostess station. Others were sitting outside on benches waiting for their names to be called to come in and dine.  These guests at the hostess station were frowning. Frowning! I thought to myself, “What’s wrong with them? Don’t we go out for a nice dinner to have a good time and relax and enjoy good food that we didn’t have to cook? What's the rush?”

These disgruntled couples were staring at the rest of us as we were enjoying delicious food and drink! They were frowning because they did not want to wait for a table. They wanted a table now. There was no danger of the restaurant running out of food. The weather was beautiful outside so they weren’t soaking wet from intense humidity or a downpour of rain. They looked to be healthy and they were out with their friends. But they were complaining because they had to wait for a table!  It made me laugh to see their scrunched up faces when I realized why they were upset.

I think we can easily wear ourselves out physically and mentally from our own angry impatience! We fret and worry about our lives. We fret and worry about the lives of our family members and our friends. It can be exhausting to try to control situations that surround us!  But God tells us, “…those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint” (Isaiah 40:31). To wait is to hope, Sister. 

“I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope. My soul waits for the LORD more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning” (Psalm 130:5-6). I've been in a long season of waiting. Yep. And I've learned it's the best and wisest thing I can do...to keep praying and keep waiting. My hope is in God that's why I'm willing to wait. 

Every time we choose to wait on the LORD for guidance and His Sovereign Hand to move a mountain, we find He is worth the wait. Why do I say that?

Because it is written: "God is able to do exceedingly abundantly beyond all that we ask or imagine, according to the power that is at work within us" (Ephesians 3:20).

Oh how I love me some sisters! WE are the body of Christ. WE are the light of the world. Time to rise & shine TOGETHER!  

Love & blessings,
Polly
psalm 34:3


This devotion is included in my third book, Totally Devoted 3. Available online:  https://amazon.com/author/pollybalint