Rend Your Heart – Daily Inspiration, June 30, 2012

“Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity.” Joel 2:13

In Joel’s time, deep remorse was demonstrated by tearing or rending one’s clothes. It was an outward display of atonement that no doubt impressed men. God, however, it not as concerned with our outward displays of penitence as He is with our inward repentance. God is a Searcher of hearts. Meditate on your attitude towards God. Are your actions prompted by your sincere love for Him? Or, are you prompted by the praise of men? This is one instance where there is no fine line or middle ground. One either strives to please God in his or her attitude and actions or plans his or her steps based upon the righteousness of men.

Where do you stand?

May the Lord be with you today.

God’s Forgiveness Is For All – Daily Inspiration, June 29, 2012

“Then the Lord God provided a vine and made it grow up over Jonah to give shade for his head and to ease his discomfort, and Jonah was very happy about the vine. But at dawn the next day God provided a worm, which chewed the vine so that it withered.” Jonah 4:6-7

It is in our human nature to become angry when people don’t get their just rewards, especially when those who do wrong are not punished. Jonah experienced this anger when God showed compassion to the city of Nineveh after it repented from its evil ways (Jonah 3). To show his anger and disappointment, Jonah built a shelter east of the city and waited to see what would happen to it. As he waited, God grew a vine to cover Jonah and provide him comfort from the sun. At dawn the next day, however, God caused that vine to wither. He then provided a scorching east wind and blazing sun on Jonah’s head.

What lessons can be learned from this? One, it shows God’s abounding love for us. Although Nineveh sinned, he showed the city compassion and did not destroy it because the citizens sincerely repented. He will extend that same love and compassion to all who humbly and sincerely come to him in repentance.

Two, we should rejoice when someone turns away from sinful behavior and earnestly turns to God. Sometimes, it’s hard to believe that guy or that woman is sincere. Don’t be so narrow-minded to feel someone doesn’t deserve God’s forgiveness because of his or her past. The truth is, none of us deserve to be forgiven.

Which leads to the third lesson. God could have severely punished Jonah for his defiant anger, instead he taught him a gentle lesson. Jonah did not plant or tend the vine that brought him comfort, yet he enjoyed it. When the vine was taken away, he suffered under conditions so harsh he wanted to die (v. 8). He enjoyed the comfort of the covering, but bristled when that covering was taken away. Jonah didn’t deserve God’s compassion with the vine, just as he was so certain Nineveh did not deserve God’s compassion after repenting. God’s grace is for all who seek Him, not just a select a few.

Don’t harbor resentment toward those who receive the Lord’s blessings, whether you think they deserve it or not. That decision is not ours to make because our views tend to be quite narrow. We certainly do not have the ability to fully examine one’s heart. But God can and does and He forgives those who repent. For that, we should be so grateful.

May the Lord be with you in your travels today.

The Test of the Canaanite Woman – Daily Inspiration, June 28, 2012

“A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to Him, crying out, ‘Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is suffering terribly from demon-possession.’” Matthew 15: 22

Faith is defined as confidence or trust in a person or entity. To have confidence is to have full trust, belief in the powers, trustworthiness, or reliability of a person or thing. To trust is the reliance on the integrity, strength, ability surety etc of a person or thing.

Full trust. Reliance. Faith is an all-important aspect of the Christian walk. It is not enough to know about Christ and Scripture; we need to have full trust and belief in the Lord’s powers. We need to have reliance on His integrity, strength and ability.

We have one example of true faith in Matthew 15:21-28. A Canaanite woman presented herself to Jesus and begged him to have mercy on her and heal her demon-possessed daughter. The Lord did not speak. Puzzled by his silence, His disciples came to Him and asked Him to send her away because she was also crying out to them. The disciples were showing no compassion or sensitivity to the woman’s needs. She was becoming a nuisance, a bother. Taking all of this in, Jesus finally spoke and what he said is at first confusing: He told the woman that he was sent only to the sheep of Israel, meaning the Jews.

The Canaanite woman did not let this statement dissuade her from her mission. She continued to plead to Jesus for help, to which He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to their dogs.” (v. 26)

It would seem the Lord was rejecting this woman because she was not a Jew. The woman could have turned away angry, discouraged and bitter from the Lord’s silence and seeming disregard. Instead, she replied, “Yes, Lord, but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table” (v. 27). She was willing to be considered a dog as long as she could receive God’s blessings for her daughter.

‘Then Jesus answered, ‘Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.’ And her daughter was healed from that very hour.” (v. 28)

The Canaanite woman exhibited the traits we should all have, unshakeable faith and persistence. Even when it seems the Lord is ignoring our supplications or rejecting them, we cannot allow our faith to be shattered. In the face of apparent rejection, the Canaanite woman persisted. She not only knew who Christ was but had full trust and belief in His powers and integrity. There was no doubt in her heart and she was rewarded for her faith, just as we will be rewarded for our full trust and reliance. Conversely, the disciples were shown that God’s message is for everyone and that one shouldn’t become so occupied with spiritual matters that the needs of others are missed.

Don’t become discouraged and bitter when it seems the Lord has turned away. Keep the faith and be persistent. By the same token, don’t ignore the very real needs of those around you because you will be inconvenienced. Pass the test of the Canaanite woman!

May the Lord be with you today.

Daily Inspiration, June 27, 2012

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9

I write daily inspirations because the Lord put it on my heart to do so. A few people read them, but for the most part they are largely ignored. I have asked myself if it is worth my while to continue. People who surf the Internet have far more exciting headlines vying for their attentions than “Daily Inspiration”. They have gossip, local and national news, fashion, music, movies, pornography. These worldly pursuits can provide a temporary escape from one’s own troubles and conflicts. The Word doesn’t provide an escape, rather it is a guide to help one face and endure his or her troubles. In a world that celebrates instant gratification and comfort, facing troubles head on and enduring trying circumstances appears to be a weak or “sucker” response. The world screams, “Get rid of that problem, NOW!” and “The good life is money and fame. If you don’t have it, you don’t have anything!”

So, why do I continue to write something few people read and even fewer people want to read? I do it because I am led by the Spirit rather than by man. No one can deny that it feels good to be appreciated by the world. Man’s accolades can be as addictive as any drug. But being led by man’s praises can also lead one to be destroyed by them. The world is fickle and fame can be fleeting; people’s tastes and opinions change as does the direction of the wind. God’s Word is forever, stable and unchanging. Galatians 6:8 tells us, “The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction, the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.” The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). These are the attributes I attempt to convey in each post. And if just one person who reads this post also picks up his or her Bible for additional study then it is worth it.

May the Lord be with you always.

Avoid Being Critical of Others – Daily Inspiration, June 26, 2012

“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you” Luke 6:37-38, NIV

You can’t judge a book by its cover, as the saying goes, yet we do it everyday. It’s human to take another’s outward appearance and instantly believe we know their circumstances. That unkempt man over there must be a homeless beggar; the woman in the nice business attire must be on her way to work. In reality, that unkempt man may the president of a bank returning from volunteering to repair homes for the elderly. The woman may be wearing a donated suit and going on her first job interview after years of being homeless.

And that’s the danger of judging and condemning others. We don’t know what someone has been through or is currently going through. By judging them or condemning them, we actually bring judgment and condemnation on ourselves. Our output dictates our input. If you spend your time judging and criticizing others, you probably receive a fair amount of judgment and criticizing in your life. The box or category in which you place others will often turn out to be the box or category in which you are placed. If someone’s constant critical judgment of you hurts your feelings, then know your constant critical judgment hurts others as well.

Don’t stay caught in a vicious cycle. If you are tired of being criticized and judged, stop criticizing and judging others. Forgive those who have hurt you and start this day anew, free from the yoke weighing you down. Start dispensing love, encouragement and acceptance to all and the same shall be extended to you.

May God bless you today and always.

Be Open To Constructive Criticism – Daily Inspiration, June 25, 2012

“Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates correction is stupid.” Proverbs 12:1, NIV

Do you have a problem with being corrected? Those who cannot accept constructive criticism and discipline run the risk of learning very little during their lives. No one likes being corrected, especially in this day of rights – rights to an opinion, rights of free speech, etc. However, there is much to learn from the wisdom of others. Don’t be offended if someone cares enough to share his or her wisdom with you. Chances are, he or she has already been down the road you are traveling and may have insight that could lead to your success whereas he or she may have faltered. Don’t let your pride stand in the way of your growth.

May the Lord be with you today.

New Juice Beauty Review – Hydrating Mist and Stem Cellular Repair Moisturizer

I have been a Juice Beauty devotee since the beginning of the year after viewing author Karrine Steffans’s blog posts in which she sang its praises. Initially, I surfed the company’s website, thought the products were too pricey and put off ordering. This past January, I took the plunge and ordered the Blemish Clearing Cleanser, Blemish Clearing Serum and Oil-Free Moisturizer and fell in love. I became dedicated to Juice Beauty products, however, after going back to my previous skin care line (like I said, I found Juice Beauty rather pricey) and cringing as my skin reacted negatively to the change. I broke out in little patches all over my cheeks and chin. Mind you, my previous skin care product was for sensitive skin. When I switched from my previous skin care routine to Juice Beauty, I did not have the same reaction; only when I switched from Juice Beauty back to my “sensitive” skin product line. That’s when I knew the Juice Beauty product line is truly organic.

I recently added the Hydrating Mist and Stem Cellular Repair Moisturizer to my Juice Beauty collection and, like the Blemish Clearing Cleanser and Blemish Clearing Serum, these products are winners.

The Hydrating Mist is a light and refreshing toner that I spritz on after cleansing my skin with the Blemish Clearing Cleanser. Only a light mist is needed. I have read some reviews where there were complaints that the Hydrating Mist made one’s skin too sticky. I have not experienced that problem. After letting the Hydrating Mist air dry, I apply the Blemish Clearing Serum. I finish with the Stem Cellular Repair Moisturizer.

This moisturizer is light and has a clean, lemony scent. It has softened and brightened my complexion. I have also noticed an improvement in my skin’s texture. The jar comes with a pump that releases just the right amount to apply. It is one the more expensive products on the company’s website, but it is well worth the money.

I highly recommend Juice Beauty’s Hydrating Mist and Stem Cellular Repair Moisturizer if you are looking for an organic skin care line that produces noticeable results.

Jesus Is the Only Way – Daily Inspiration June 24, 2012
“Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12

Jesus is the Savior of the world. There is no other name and there is no other way! No one else is His equal.

God bless you today and always.

Which Language Do You Understand? Daily Inspiration, June 23, 2012

“When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” John 8:44

The suggested reading for today’s Our Daily Bread devotional is John 8:42-47. In these verses, Jesus Christ explained to the religious leaders the reason why they refused to believe Him – they did not understand His language. Rather than believe the Truth our Lord was speaking, they chose to cling to the lies of Satan, whom Jesus labeled “the father of lies”. Therefore, as He explained, because the religious leaders were so desperate to disprove Him, they were carrying out Satan’s desire. They could understand his deceptive language, but their ears were closed to the Truth.

The verses remind me of a situation I found myself in years ago. The department in which I worked was small. In the mornings, those friendly with one another would gather in small groups to discuss their weekends or nights before while sipping coffee and gathering the work for the day. Because our area was so small, we could hear each other’s conversations. The group in front of me stood enthralled as one woman relayed a date she had from the beginning to its sexual end, all in raunchy detail. I didn’t know the topic of conversation of the group to my right, but I could clearly hear expletives fly between them. Behind me, our team lead and her friend were sharing complaints about their husbands. Soon, my friend joined me. She was an older woman whose counsel I enjoyed. After exchanging pleasantries, I began to tell her about a bible verse I was reading, which turned into a discussion. During our discussion, I noticed the team lead leave her desk. I didn’t think much of it until the supervisor stepped into the area and asked my friend and me to join her in her office.

The supervisor advised she had received a complaint. It seems the team lead found our conversation upsetting. The supervisor explained our topic was inappropriate for the workplace. We should be mindful of what we say not just in the work area but the break room as well. Being fairly new in my walk with Christ, I became angry and was about to protest, but my friend stopped me. She turned to the supervisor, nodded her head and told her we understood. My friend then stood and beckoned for me to join her as she existed the office.

“Can you believe that?” I asked her as we walked back to our desks. “People all around us were cursing like sailors, putting down their families and talking about their sex lives, but a discussion about the Lord is inappropriate?”

My friend just smiled and responded with her own question, “Do you see how the devil tries to keep the Word from coming out?”

I can admit that it took me the better part of the day to cool down. I can also admit that I held on to some resentment for that team lead for a quite a while. Now that I am more knowledgeable in the Lord, I understand it better. I had always believed in Christ but was just then seriously and earnestly seeking Him. My friend was strong in Christ and was a wise and supportive guide. While I could only comprehend the natural of the situation, my friend saw the spiritual. Satan will use many people to keep one person far from the Lord. That team lead no doubt thought she was doing what was right. We are so used to hearing the talk of the world – curses, discord, sexual immorality, etc – that when Truth is discussed it appears foreign and goes against everything we have internalized as right and proper. The team lead, simply, did not understand our language.

Which language do you understand? Do you accept lies but are offended by the truth? In a sea of cursing, lying and immoral talk, does only a ripple of Christian conversation upset you?

May the Lord be with you today.

A Chosen People – Daily Inspiration, June 22, 2012

“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light.” 1 Peter 2:9

Our Lord and Savior’s victory on the cross forever tore the curtain that separated us from God (Matthew 27:51). Now all people are free to present themselves to Him, not just the priests and high priests. Let’s sing His praises today!

May the Lord bless you today and always.