God’s Favor Over Sullied Food

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.

But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way.

Daniel 1:8

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?

I am afraid of my lord the king.

Daniel 1:10b

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.

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Wednesday Encouragement

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The Encouragement Project

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.

Shalom!

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He Calls You His

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!

The chief of staff renamed them with these Babylonian names:

Daniel was called Belteshazzar.

Hananiah was called Shadrach.

Mishael was called Meshach.

Azariah was called Abednego.

Daniel 1:7 NIV

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.

Living Righteously

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.

#discipleship #belikejesus

Builder of the Family Name

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.

Shalom!

YHVH

She is the only one I never corrected even though my husband would gently remind her. My husbands grandmother would always call me Teresa rather than Terese.

Our names are important to us. Our names let others know how to address us. And while our names are not our identity, they are our identifier.

During ancient Israelite culture names were very important. Parents chose names, many times, to coincide with a season of life they may have been in.

In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah. Daniel 1:1a.

Jehoiakim’s name means the LORD raises up. How amazing it must have been for Jehoiakim to go through life with his name as a constant reminder of who he was and Who he belonged too. It get’s better. Jehoiakim’s name is derived from the name YHVH which is the proper name of God.

You and I, we may not have a name that means the LORD raises up and we don’t have to. As a believer in Jesus you are called, His child. He raises you up simply because He loves you. You don’t have to do anything in your own strength. It is the power of Holy Spirit that propels you in the direction He wants you to move. It is YHVH in you and through you.

We do have a responsibility when we are called a child of God. Our responsibility is nurturing a deep and intimate relationship with Him. Stay connected to Him and meet Him in His word daily.

Today I encourage you to read Daniel 1:1-2 and ask God to open your eyes to what He wants to reveal to you and how He wants you to apply this to your life. How will His revelations help you to grow in Christlike behavior?

Shalom!

#discipleship

Maximum Potential

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.

#belikeJesus #discipleship

Precious Jewels

My fellow prisoner Aristarchus sends you his greetings, as does Mark, the cousin of Barnabas. (You have received instructions about him; if he comes to you, welcome him.) Colossians 4:10.

Like a treasure trove of a long lost sunken ship, it’s shimmering precious jewels-rubies, emeralds, sapphires and diamonds yet to be discovered, is God’s word.

Paul wrote these words in a letter to the Colossians that he entrusted friends to deliver as he sat in prison.

One of his friends and co-laborers that stayed behind with Paul was Mark, the author of the Gospel by that name.

Early in Paul’s missionary journey Mark had deserted Paul. I imagine Paul was most likely hurt and also a bit bitter.

But, here this verse is lavished with forgiveness, grace and love. The same virtues Jesus lavishes us with.

This course correction, this heart realignment, this forgiveness can only come from spending intimate time nurturing your relationship with Jesus.

Try this: Ask Holy Spirit to lead you to a book of the Bible to read. Write out two or three verses and ask Holy Spirit to reveal His heart to you, asking Him what He wants you to know. Journal your thoughts and put into action what He has given you.

Rest in Him.

#belike Jesus.