Tag Archives: God’s direction

But I Made All These Plans

“In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.” Proverbs 16:9 (NIV)

Life was going along smoothly until one Saturday morning when my husband walked in the house holding the front page of The Wall Street Journal which announced the company he had faithfully worked at for 32 years was being “acquired” by another company. So began a roller coaster ride as we fervently worked to prepare for the worse. The Lord graciously showed us how to streamline our lifestyle and cut back on expenses, as the anticipated layoff did occur. Foremost in our minds, though, was the continual thought that we had intended to work five more years and then retire. Well, retirement came earlier than planned for us.

I found myself asking, “But Lord, I made all these plans. Now what?”

Through the years my mother-in-law often said, “Make your plans but hold them loosely.” How true I have found this, as we need to be flexible enough to change, when God steers us differently. As much as we desire being our own masters, it just doesn’t work that way. Unless, of course, we want to complicate matters.

Our Lord will change our plans so they line up with His plans for us.

When Jesus called his first disciples—Simon Peter, Andrew, James, and John—they were fishermen who left everything, including their livelihood and their families, to follow him. Talk about an unexpected change of plans. For the married disciples, I always wonder what their wives were thinking.

These disciples were probably men who thought they had it all figured out, just as my husband and I did. When the Lord had other plans, though, they had to yield. Our emotions were topsy-turvy as I’m sure theirs were also. Some days it felt as if someone was pulling our foundation out from under us, but I confess there were also days when I had a sense of relief. God provided a picture of release from the crazy, corporate world which dictated a lot of travel and where it was always about the bottom line.

From this we trusted God had something different for us. The remainder of our years was to be devoted more to ministry, service, and others. True to the key verse in this devotion, God was indeed determining our steps, even though we had planned a different course in our hearts. We didn’t see it then, but we’re gaining a glimpse of it now.

Our Lord desires His followers to submit and commit our intentions, so He may refine us in accordance with His will. As intimidating as our early venture into retirement was, God gave us direction in showing us where to relocate to, providing some interim part-time jobs, and allowing us both to have fruitful ministries. God is good; He knew all along we were to retire early and what it would look like.

Father God, I’m thankful you look at all the plans I’ve made and you smile. Sometimes you might even laugh. I humbly submit my agenda to you and ask you to direct it and mold it to reflect your will and desire for me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Bible Truths:

Proverbs 19:21 (NIV): “Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.”

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Filed under Archived Devotions, Spring 2017

Don’t Leave Home Without It

One of the most successful advertising campaigns occurred in the 1980’s for American Express. Each ad would feature a prominent person, such as Roger Daltry or Peter Ustinov, but fail to identify them until the end of the commercial when their name appears on an American Express credit card. Upon revelation of the person’s identity, the viewer would hear, “Don’t leave home without it.”

Just as the American Express ad conveys the importance of taking your card everywhere with you, scripture discloses that the Holy Spirit lives in and goes with us. “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16, NIV) Not only do we need our cell phone, keys, and billfold (yes, containing all those credit cards) when we leave our home, are we taking everything else we need? Did we properly prepare our hearts that day and ask our Heavenly Father to fill us up with His Holy Spirit? I have a real fear of leaving home without it.

The Holy Spirit—Don’t leave home without it.

Upon surrendering our life to Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit comes to reside in us. The apostle Paul assures us, “Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit.” (Ephesians 1:13b) This seal of salvation occurs at the time of belief in Jesus Christ. So, as believers we always have the Holy Spirit in us, but are we aware of His presence and are we taking the time to immerse ourselves in Him every day?

There are multiple functions of the Holy Spirit, and Paul continues explaining in verses 18 and 19 of Ephesians 1: “I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength.” (NIV) He prays for the Holy Spirit to open the minds of believers and to empower and strengthen them.

When the Holy Spirit opens the “eyes of our heart,” scripture becomes illuminated. God’s Word convicts us of sin. God’s Word reveals truth to us. When we pray for clarity prior to reading His Word, God unmasks the meaning. The Lord may provide a particular insight as He directs you to read it in context with surrounding scripture and as He points you to other relevant verses.

The Holy Spirit empowers us. When we’re weary from what confronts us, we can call upon the Lord to sustain and enable us. Whether we’re facing decisions concerning our aging parents or a conflict at work or a tension in a friendship, as we draw near to Him, the Holy Spirit will provide the stamina for those times we’re fatigued from the daily struggles.

God’s Holy Spirit will strengthen and lead us. Just as gasoline fuels a car so you can drive it, the Holy Spirit propels you as you live out your day. And, we can rely on the Spirit to caution us not to do anything that goes against scripture. Actions prompted by God will line up with His Word.

Do you desire to have scripture come alive as the Holy Spirit opens the eyes of your heart? Do you desire an inner empowerment only provided by the Holy Spirit? And finally, do you desire strength and guidance through God’s Holy Spirit? Please join me in committing to thanking our Lord each morning for His indwelling Spirit, asking Him to fill you to overflowing, and then, not leaving home without it.

Father God, I need you and I need your Holy Spirit active and present in my life. I ask your Spirit to open my eyes to your Word, to empower me, and to strengthen and guide me. Please fill me to overflowing—I don’t want to leave home without You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Bible Truths:

Psalm 119:18 (AMP): “Open my eyes [to spiritual truth] so that I may behold wonderful things from your law.”

Luke 24:45 (NIV): “Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.”

John 16:13a (NIV): “But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth.”

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Filed under Archived Devotions, Winter 2016/2017

The Best Resolution You Will Make

Viewing the New Year, I once again resolve to lose some weight or exercise more or eat better. Or, I’m going to organize my desk, and then my kitchen, and with my momentum in full swing, perhaps I’ll tackle the garage. Oftentimes many people are more altruistic vowing to help others or increase charitable giving. Many of us choose to spend more time praying and reading the Bible—ah, yes, finally tackling the book of Revelation. Still others desire to reduce debt and save more money. The list is endless and the majority of people choose one or two resolutions at the onset of a new year.

Desiring a fresh beginning with the New Year, we all want to make changes, but we’re overwhelmed with where to start. A common thought is it takes 21 days to form a new habit, but many researchers believe 66 days is a more realistic number. However, our success at keeping a resolution will have more to do with our individual personalities and desire to modify. Additionally, having a set plan often promotes success. We still need more, though.

Lamentations 3:40 (KJV) exhorts us with this wisdom, “Let us search and try our ways, and turn again to the Lord.” Other Bible versions say, “Let us return to the Lord.” After examining our hearts, seeing our lack and where we need to change, we’re encouraged to turn to God in order to facilitate our transition.

Thankfully we have a helper—the Holy Spirit—a power source we can tap into. Zechariah 4:6b (NIV) encourages us with the words, “Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord Almighty.” Ask the Holy Spirit to overflow in you every day, enabling you to place your reliance on Him. Allow His Spirit to encourage you in your resolutions.

Submitting our resolutions to our Lord and asking Him to show us what He wants for us in the New Year is a valuable foundation. However, the bigger goal is living for Jesus and seeking all He has for you.

A life that glorifies God—the best resolution you will make.

A submitted life glorifies God resulting in the exhibition of the fruit of His spirit which are, “Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-23a, NIV)

Focusing on what God wants for us rather than what we perceive we should do will allow His Spirit to work in us. And that’s when the fruit of His Spirit appear in our life.

The Holy Spirit may enable you to lay out a dependable plan to read the entire Bible in one year or to devote more time to prayer. Or, the Lord may give you His power and determination to shed those 10 pounds in order to have more energy to daily seek and serve Him, resulting in real change. A transformation honoring Him.

Centered on leading a life glorifying God, armed in the Word, and filled with the Spirit, I’m going to ask the Lord to also help me set aside time to tackle cleaning out the garage! Girlfriends, let’s go for it.

Father God, You alone are majestic and I desire for my life to glorify you. Search my heart. Show me how and where you desire for me to submit and change. Any resolutions I make I desire to be worthy of your unique calling for me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Bible Truths:

Psalm 121:1-2 (NIV): “I lift up my eyes to the hills—where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.”

John 14:26 (NIV): “But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”

Romans 8:26a (NIV): “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness.”

2 Timothy 1:7 (NIV): “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.”

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Filed under Archived Devotions, Winter 2016/2017

Steer Toward the Shore

“… But a [woman] of understanding keeps a straight course.” (Proverbs 15:21b, NIV)

During a recent vacation we decided to try our hand at some different water sports.Steer Toward the Shore Spying several Hobie Cats lined up on the beach, my husband exclaimed, “I’ve always wanted to sail one of those,” to which I replied, “Absolutely!” A Hobie Cat is a small sailing catamaran, and before the rental facility allowed us to take it out, a short sailing lesson is a requirement of theirs. Venturing out into the calm bay, we learned how to steer straight, and our instructor established the boundaries of where they permitted us to take the boat. Next, it was time to practice turning our Hobie Cat.

In order to have smooth sailing we quickly learned it was all about the turns—always turn toward the shore, take your time so you’ll go in the correct direction, and let the wind guide you.

As we became more proficient in our sailing skills our confidence increased, we relaxed, and we had a marvelous time out on the water.

While making headway around the bay, I discovered many parallels between sailing and serving the Lord in works He prepared in advance for us. Just as we allowed the wind to guide us, it’s essential to submit to the Holy Spirit and seek His guidance and direction in where we are to serve. He discloses His way to us if we listen to Him. Furthermore, our sailing instructor told us not to sail outside of certain boundaries, illustrating why it’s critical not to take on more than what the Spirit wants you to do. It gets troublesome and we run the risk of burnout if we venture too far out of His will/boundaries for us.

Faithfully staying the course in ministry is necessary as others are counting on you. We need to commit to a particular course and stay on it through focusing and intentionally doing what God has designed for us. Just as we can capsize the boat if we take too quick or fancy of a turn, it can get messy when we go in different directions. Proverbs 4:25 (NIV) exhorts us to, “Let your eyes look straight ahead, fix your gaze directly before you.” Sometimes it’s possible to lose focus of the goal, so it’s important to steer a steady course toward it. The Proverb continues with, “Do not swerve to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil” in verse 27.

Finally, we know the importance of a safe completion of the journey, landing the boat where we’re supposed to go. Navigating toward the shore, and not giving up, ensures we will present our best to the Lord.

I felt freedom and peace out there on the water, but I knew we were under control—God’s control—as He brought us in to shore.

Father God, I pray for the wind of your Holy Spirit to point me in the proper direction for where you want me to spend my time in service and ministry. Please grant me focus and intentionality serving in those areas, and help me to strongly finish those tasks. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Bible Truths:

Romans 8:5 (NIV): “Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.”

Galatians 5:25 (NIV): “Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.”

Ephesians 4:14 (NIV): “Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming.”

Hebrews 12:1b (NIV): “… Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”

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Filed under Archived Devotions, Fall 2016

How to Achieve Your Dreams

Imagine a quiet neighborhood on a lazy, summer day in south Texas in the 1960’s. Our particular ranch-style home had a vast backyard and I had two favorite go-to spots in my yard. One was in the nook next to the banana plants and the other was up in the fork of a large climbing tree. I could lie in either place for hours and dream of all the things I was going to be and do. Granted, the hopes of that 9-year-old girl were far different from the goals of this adult woman, or dare I say it, Grandma. My aspirations have changed with time, and the means to achieve these dreams has matured as my walk with the Lord has progressed.

We all have dreams—some of them realized and some of them not. Are we putting off working toward our desires because we don’t know where to begin? Or, because we think it’s too late in life to do something? Or, because someone might think it’s crazy or silly?

If we believe God’s Word confirms our dream as something He wants for us, then it’s time to ask for His help.

Some powerful ways to pray are verbs which all begin with the letter “E”: Encourage, Enable, Equip, and Empower.

“Dear Lord, please encourage me to visualize the task or dream.” When I pray for encouragement, the Holy Spirit invigorates me with purpose which I submit to Him. The Lord encourages us by making us “determined, hopeful, and confident” our aspiration can actually happen. (Merriam-Webster.com, 2016) In Psalm 20:4 (NIV) we draw inspiration from the words, “May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed.” Furthermore, we’re assured, “Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalm 37:4, NIV)

“Dear Lord, please enable me to begin the task.” Our Lord will provide you with the means or opportunity to make your goal possible. In computer lingo, enable means to make something operational or to activate. And, that’s exactly what the power of the Spirit will do when you ask according to His will. What a beautiful word picture David paints in Psalm 18:33 (NIV) when he describes how God prepared him for battle: “He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he enables me to stand on the heights.”

“Dear Lord, please equip me to perform the task.” You will find yourself supernaturally equipped with ability and everything you need for the situation if you ask the Lord to provide. Just as an expert chef lays out her cooking utensils, positions her pots and pans, and completes her prep work so she can proceed with cooking, the Lord readies us in advance. “I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:13, NIV)

“Dear Lord, please empower me to see through and finish the task.” We can absolutely depend on the Holy Spirit to help us persevere. After all, the Lord doesn’t want us to give up if our aspiration is part of His plan for our life! Your dream will see realization through His empowerment. An Old Testament prophet, Azariah, exhorted King Asa in 2 Chronicles 15:7 (NIV) with these timeless words, “But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded.”

My dreams have changed since those lazy summer days I enjoyed as a young girl, but our Lord knows the desires of our hearts. He hears our cries and tells us it’s not too late and we’re not too crazy to dream big and turn our hopes and goals over to Him.

Father God, I have big dreams, tasks, and challenges which I humbly submit to you. Please encourage, enable, equip, and empower me to boldly go forward on what you have birthed in me. I acknowledge you have set these goals before me, and trust you will see them through to completion. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Bible Truths:

Proverbs 19:21 (NIV): “Many are the plans in a [woman’s] heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.”

Proverbs 16:3 (ESV): “Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.”

Isaiah 32:8 (NIV): “But the noble [woman] makes noble plans, and by noble deeds [she] stands.”

Ephesians 3:20-21a (NIV): “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory ….”

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Filed under Archived Devotions, Summer 2016