Deep red and thick with the fragrance of fresh herbs and spices with an aroma so enticing my family and I would sneak dips of french bread into its richness while it was still cooking on the stove. But she knew, my momma always knew right when we were dipping and would call out, “Put the lid down.” Every Sunday my momma made her delicious homemade spaghetti sauce with enough pasta to feed an army and we welcomed whomever stopped by to enjoy a feast with us. Most Sunday’s she made meatballs to add to her sauce but every once in a while she added freshly made Italian sausage from my cousin’s store. Her oil and vinegar salad dressing was always perfect. She didn’t measure out the oil or vinegar she just knew by taste. My momma loved to cook, she was an excellent cook and baker and loved when her table was full with others enjoying the feast she prepared.
While Daniel and his friends were in captivity the king had ordered they be fed from his own house; the royal food and wine. Daniel was not about to allow himself and his friends to be sullied by the king’s food that most likely included meat, fish, lamb, fowl and nuts, fruit and vegetables along with the wine to drink.
Many times other things look much tastier than what is already on our table. When what is on our table is from God nothing else compares in taste, smell, texture and satisfaction. God offers us food and drink that will never spoil regardless of how tasty something looks elsewhere.
We do have a choice to make. Will we choose what appears royally pleasing to the eye with aromas that seem delectable or will we choose the feast God has placed before us continually satiating our hunger?
The chief official charged with overseeing Daniel and his friends was afraid that if he allowed them to forego the royal food and wine the king would punish him. Nonetheless, God had caused the official to show favor and sympathy to them.
God does the same for us. He causes others to show us favor and sympathy which is a beautifully tangible reminder to us that His favor rests upon us simply because we have chosen Him and we are His kids!
As we stay connected to God [remembering there is no perfect way to spend time with Him except to ask Holy Spirit what that looks like for you on any given day] we don’t need to be concerned about fear. Jesus defeated fear and as we stand in His love for us fear has no chance at all.
Royal food and drink—we have no need because the Lord directs our steps directly to where His provision waits for us.
Fear. It can be so crippling.
As a little girl we spent many summer weekends at Santa Cruz Beach in Northern California. I loved splashing and playing in the water right at the shoreline and in view of the watchful eyes of my parents. “Don’t go too far out,” they would call to me every so often. One weekend, not heeding their instructions, I ventured out a little further than normal. Suddenly, I was caught in a small undertow that began to pull me in. I remember being so afraid. To this day I have a very strong respect for the power of the ocean.
Thankfully, my daddy was watching. He was a strong swimmer and he quickly rescued me.
Many times when we hear Holy Spirit warning us we are like a little child, venturing a little further than normal. Suddenly we can find ourselves in a situation where we feel we are about to drown.
But you have a Heavenly Father who wants to rescue you. Call out to Him for help. I promise He is closer than you think. He reaches His hand out to you. Will you grab it?
“A friend of mine told me a story from her trip to Israel. As their leader was teaching them on a hillside, he spoke about shepherds and how they lead out front with the sheep following behind. However, as they traveled down a road later, she noticed a man prodding a group of sheep from behind. When she inquired about this, the leader said that that man wasn’t a shepherd but a butcher.”
Melissa Spoelstra “Numbers Learning Contentment in a Culture of More”
Many years ago my husband worked for a major airline. He started out in the engineering department but really wanted to be where the aircrafts were and he applied for a job in line maintenance. His dream came true and he was chosen for the position that also came with a manager that ruled with an ‘iron fist’ and through intimidation. My husband recollects the first words out of the managers mouth on his first day to the effect of, “I’m the boss and I can fire you whenever I want.” While the work was done in the department there wasn’t any joy in doing the work it was done with the fear of losing ones job.
We are all leaders; in our home, at work, in our community, at church, in ministry, and how we choose to lead is directly connected to our view of God and our relationship with Jesus.
A skewed perspective of God as mean, unfair, unjust, angry or distant is one reason for a lackluster relationship with Jesus. This spills over into every area of our life including leadership.
A healthy perspective of God as loving, fair, just and always available leads to a deep and intimate relationship with Jesus [there is no right or perfect way to spend time with Jesus]. My strong encouragement is to ask Holy Spirit how He wants to spend time with you on any given day and follow His lead.
As we learn to cultivate this deep and intimate relationship with Jesus He overflows into all areas of our life and we begin to lead like Jesus.
You are an amazing leader. Choose gentleness.
How do you greet people when you see them? Maybe it’s with a smile or handshake, perhaps with a timid or hearty hug. Do you also verbally express your delight in seeing them with, “It’s good to see you or you look great!”?
To Timothy, my dear son:
Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.
2 Timothy 1:2
Throughout Paul’s writings and teachings his salutation expressed how much he cared for and loved the recipients of his words even when he had to include some hard truths. That is the core of discipleship, guiding each other back to the truth of God’s word and allowing Holy Spirit to convict us toward Christlike living. Because he loved Jesus and others so deeply Paul stepped out in courage and boldness. He was more concerned for the spiritual health of others than what others thought of him. Talk about knowing one’s identity in Jesus!
Paul was a wonderful encourager which led me to think how I could encourage others outside my sphere of influence. Without hesitation Holy Spirit dropped a thought into my mind—to send out cards of encouragement to churches around the world.
And, the Encouragement Project was started. It’s quite simple. I ask Holy Spirit who He wants to encourage and He highlights an area. I look up the churches in that area and He highlights a specific church. I write a short note of encouragement and place that in the mail.
Imagine with me the smiles and goodwill feelings those who read these notes must feel. Knowing God hears and sees them! With that, I challenge and encourage you to become a part of the Encouragement Project. I also encourage you to share this post not because I want traffic to my site but because I would love for others to have the opportunity to join in encouraging others. Imagine with me again how this one small sacrifice of our time could change the space, community and world around us making our living areas just a little bit sweeter. And, I guarantee you will feel joy for having spread some joy.
Their names were changed. Have you ever done a name change? When I was thirteen I added the name Marie to my middle name. When I applied for my driver’s license I added my second middle name to my license, without question or legal proof of the addition. Times were much different when I was 16!
Nebuchadnezzar took these four noble men of Israel, not coincidentally, from the lineage of Jesus, the tribe of Judah, and fed them daily delicacies from his own kitchen. He placed them in training for three years at which time they would serve the king. But, he changed their names.
But God had named them first.
- Daniel’s name means God is my judge.
- Hananiah’s name means God has been gracious.
- Mishael’s name means who is what God is?
- Azariah’s name means God has helped me.
As mentioned earlier, they were in training for three years before they would begin to serve the king. It can be like that in our life at times. We feel, sense, hear God’s call and anointing on our life but there is preparation to do.
When God calls us to His will for our life He begins by training us. Sometimes training is short and sometimes it can be a long process. He is always gracious and kind to show us each next step when He feels we are ready to move on.
Many times training involves an assessment of our heart by us. Perhaps there are things we are to confess and repent of so we can receive God’s healing and deliverance.
Training reminds us to be patient and wait for God to move. Many times easier said than done. However, we can trust that He has His will for our life under control. Our responsibility is to do only what he shows us regardless of all our wonderful ideas! As God trains us He opens doors of opportunity for us according to His timing and not any sooner.
Like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, who identified with the tribe of Judah, our identity is in Jesus the Lion of the tribe of Judah.
Nebuchadnezzar had their names changed to those of Babylonian god’s. As if that would cause them to disobey God. Their Hebrew names say it all, especially later in their story when they would find themselves in a fiery furnace.
- God judged them worthy and righteous not to die.
- God was gracious to them.
- God helped them.
- God reminded Nebuchadnezzar that no one is like God!
Our faithfulness is to God alone. These four men are excellent examples of a life lived believing in and trusting God. And we can be confident that whatever name the enemy calls us. God calls us His.
Do we step off the path at times? Absolutely! Sometimes a minor course correction is needed and sometimes it can be a major correction.
Living a righteous life takes courage, it takes boldness, it takes wisdom.
You can do anything through the strength of Jesus. He promises. He wants you to do more than keep your head above water. He wants you to walk on the water of any situation in your life in the victory He won at the Cross for you!
Let’s stay tethered to Jesus together. Cheering, encouraging and holding each other accountable along the path of life and restoration.
I often marvel at the grace and humbleness of royal families that are in the news frequently. They always seem to have a smile on their face and always seem to be kind to the press and paparazzi even as our culture has an odd sense of curiosity about them. They always seem mindful of their behavior upholding the family name.
Johoiakim was king of Judah during a period of time when Nebuchadezzar, king of Babylon took Judah captive. Nebuchadezzar ordered his chief of court to gather Israelite men from the royal family and place them in Nebuchadezzar’s service.
These royal men were builders of their family name. Through them the continuance of the Nation of Israel would be born.
Likewise, every believer in Jesus, the moment they believe, becomes a part of this ancient royal family. We may not wear crowns, and robes, and jewels of old and we may not be followed incessantly by the press and photographers. But we are royalty. We are sons and daughters of the Most High King. We are princes and princesses in the kingdom of God.
We have a royal duty and responsibility to not only build our heavenly family name but to bear our family name with integrity. To be honest, kind, gracious and humble. To practice forgiveness and learn how to hold one another accountable for Christlike behavior. Please don’t misinterpret. Accountability does not mean we are better than each other. Accountability is loving one another in Jesus and learning His characteristics together.
Accountability requires discipleship which is critical to a believer’s life. When we are open to be discipled and to disciple we grow together in our faith. We enter into community with one another and allow ourselves to ask our core circle of friends to hold us accountable.
I am blessed by a group of women who hold me accountable. They have no problem speaking truth, sometimes hard truth into my life. I welcome their voice in my life. They help keep me from tumbling down the rabbit hole of spiritual darkness.
Accountability partners. Don’t leave home without them.
Today’s reading is Daniel 1:3-4. Ask God for His revelation and journal any words, impressions or thoughts. Meditate and pray on these.
I grew up with a very skewed view of God in a religion that taught me to fear God not revere Him, or at least that was my take away. Nonetheless, I started a relationship of prayer with God at the early age of 8 and I have literally prayed almost everyday since then.
One night, right before I trusted in Jesus and asked Him to be my Lord and Savior, I was at a low point in my life and exhausted. I asked God, what would it look like if I simply stopped praying? Immediately in my mind I saw a camera and the shutter on the camera began to slowly close. Once closed there was complete darkness. That was enough of an answer as if God had verbally spoken to me!
Plérophoreó is God’s power bringing the believer to maximum potential “matching” their true knowledge of Him. Properly it means bearing (wearing) the work of God to the fullest extent, to the full capacity of the individual believer who is fully persuaded by Him. (biblehub.com)
Over the years my true knowledge of God has changed drastically. I no longer fear God in an unhealthy way and I am continually learning what it means to revere God; to properly honor him with all of me. My actions, my words and my thoughts.
I want to be fully persuaded by Him. I don’t want the fears or greed or temptations of this world to encroach on my life. That takes work on my part. I have to be willing to choose to make time for Him.
In what ways do you make time for God? This isn’t a rhetorical question. I would love to hear in the comments how you journey through life with Jesus by your side.