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Jesus is Lord

Romans 10:8b-13

This is the message of faith that we proclaim: if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. With the heart one believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth one confesses, resulting in salvation. Now the Scripture says, No one who believes on Him will be put to shame, for there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, since the same Lord of all is rich to all who call on Him. For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.

We often turn to these verses when witnessing to someone about becoming a Christian, but they also apply to any area in our lives where we need to assert our faith. If we are struggling in any area – health, finances, relationships, addictions, etc. – we need to acknowledge our sin and make Jesus Lord in that area. Too many of us trust Him with our salvation, but we have trouble surrendering other areas to Him.

If Jesus can save our souls from hell, which we could never do by our own merit, then certainly He can save us in the lesser issues of life. We simply have to turn from our own self-effort to satisfy a longing that we cannot meet and allow Him to be Lord in that area. When we do, we experience grace to overcome the strongholds that have held us back from really living. 

I find comfort in the words of this verse. No one who believes on Him will be put to shame, and everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. This promise is not reserved for a few but is extended to anyone who would believe and call upon the name of Jesus. We can all overcome our sins and struggles by proclaiming faith in Christ.

Are you tired of living a self-sabotaged existence? Do you long for more victory in your Christian walk? Address any undisciplined areas of your life today, and make Jesus Lord over them. By His grace, He will save you, and you will not be put to shame. This promise is for everyone who calls on the name of the Lord. Where Jesus is Lord, grace abounds!

Have a blessed day!

My Springs are in You

Psalm 87:7

Singers and dancers alike will say, “All my springs are in you.”

Singers and dancers come together in an act of praise and worship in this Psalm that celebrates the rebuilding of Zion – the city of God. Springs are a sign of flowing water or a fountain that refreshes. In this act of worship, they acknowledge that all refreshing or renewing of life is found in God.

After going through difficult times or from enduring a hard, cold, winter, we need times of refreshing and renewal to give us strength and encouragement for what lies ahead. Victory may be just around the corner, and we need something to revive us to keep going. These springs of refreshing are found in God, who can surprise us at any moment with an act of grace or favor that changes everything and gives us hope to continue our journey. In His very presence, we find assurance that we belong to Him, and He will not fail us.

Sadly, many look for springs in the wrong places. After watching awards ceremonies such as the Emmys or the Oscars, one might think springs are found in achievement. Many great performances and works of art are never recognized, however. Only a select few get to choose what is really great in their own eyes at these awards ceremonies. While achievement may give you a temporary boost, it cannot ultimately satisfy the deep longing inside because you will surely thirst to achieve once again. Only the springs of living water that Jesus promised the woman at the well will satisfy that thirst. His salvation is a source that can continually refresh, and all of our springs are found in Him.

If you are in need of refreshing today, remember that all of your springs are found in Christ. Turn to Him for strength, comfort, hope, encouragement, or whatever you need to continue. God is a builder of cities and a builder of people. He is building something in you. Trust His workmanship, and refresh yourself in His word.

Have a blessed day!

Faith in the Details

Luke 1:14-15

There will be joy and delight for you, and many will rejoice at his birth. For he will be great in the sight of the Lord and will never drink wine or beer. He will be filled with the Holy Spirit while still in his mother’s womb.

God gave Zechariah more details than He gave Manoah when He proclaimed Samson’s birth. Manoah’s wife must carry out the Nazarite vow, and their son would deliver Israel from the Philistines was the only information they received. They knew nothing about the boy’s character or what his arrival would mean for them. Zechariah and Elizabeth would have a son that would bring joy and delight, and everyone would rejoice at his birth. From the time he arrived, he would bring blessing. Their son must also follow a part of the Nazarite vow by not drinking wine or beer. God would fill this baby with the Holy Spirit in the womb, so He would be born with God’s presence living in him. Manoah sought more details but was given none. God even gave the original announcement to his wife. God, however, spoke directly to Zechariah and gave him much more detail from the beginning.

Only God knows how much information we need in order to believe. Perhaps, our circumstances determine the amount of information He gives us at times. By and large, however, the degree of our faith determines God’s communication to us. He desires to increase our faith, and if we can handle more information, He gives it to us. Manoah seemed to want to know the details before he would believe. Had he known the details, he may have even tried to advise God on just how to equip the boy. God decided to grow his faith by remaining silent. Zechariah seemed to know God could do something great because he prayed for a son. The information he received caused him to question whether or not the message was trustworthy. God chose to keep Zechariah silent to increase his faith.

God’s purpose may also determine the amount of information He gives us up front. If we knew all the details, would we still follow His commands? Would we try to assist or advise Him in His plan? Would knowing more details give further direction? He knows just what to tell us in order for us to believe Him and move according to His plan. Whenever He gives us a promise, we must exercise our faith to receive it. Unasnwered questions present opportunities for our faith to grow.

What is God requiring of your faith today? Has He told you to do something? Don’t wait for Him to tell you more before you act upon what He has already revealed. As you put one foot forward and begin to step into His promise, He will reveal more as you need it. Has God given you a promise? Believe Him for it. Act where He has instructed you, and believe while you wait. God is building your faith muscles, but you must be willing to exercise in order to see results. You will rejoice at what He is birthing in you, and you have His Holy Spirit living in you. Follow His voice, and silence the voice that causes you to doubt and waver. Greater is He that is in you, and greater the joy when you follow where He leads.

Have a blessed day!

One Day in His Courts

Psalm 84:10

Better a day in Your courts than a thousand anywhere else. I would rather be at the door of the house of my God than to live in the tents of the wicked.

One day of peace is better than a thousand lived in fear, doubt, depression, anxiety, and hopelessness. In fact, the plague of sin can lead to suicide or self-destruction because we were not created to live with the symptoms of an evil life. The wages of sin are death.  While sin may have its attraction at first, the long term effects and consequences can be life shattering.

As Christians, we must remember that we have no righteousness of our own. We stand in a right relationship to God through the righteousness of Christ. When we accept and admit our shortcomings and failures as sin and confess them to God in repentance, He graciously forgives us and grants us peace. Because Christ died for us, we can truly live for Him. Better is one day of knowing that peace than a thousand frolicking in sin!

While we do reap what we sow, we can stop sowing bad seeds and begin to sow good seeds by turning completely to Christ. If you have planted some bad seed in the ground, just turn it over to God and begin to sow good seed. He can take even the bad and use it for our good if we will simply trust the work of Christ on the cross for our lives. To do such a thing is to walk in grace. Spending one day with Him in peace is better than spending a thousand worrying about it. Quality truly is better than quantity when it comes to walking out this Christian life.

Have a blessed day!

He Took Her Breath Away

2 Chronicles 9:3-4

When the queen of Sheba observed Solomon’s wisdom, the palace he had built, the food at his table, his servants’ residence, his attendants’ service and their attire, his cupbearers and their attire, and the burnt offerings he offered at the LORD’s temple, it took her breath away.

The queen of Sheba visited Solomon to validate rumors she had heard about him. Her visit, however, should be viewed as much more than just an effort to satisfy her curiosity. Solomon had begun maritime trade activities in the Red Sea, and the queen of Sheba controlled the ports of southwest Arabia and the trade routes between India and East Africa and the Mediterranean Sea. Solomon’s trade activity could very well have jeopardized her own trade, but cooperation between the two could have greatly benefited them both. Her visit had great political and economical significance, as well.

While the queen was deeply impressed with Solomon’s wisdom and wealth, her underlying observations have much to teach us. She could not help but notice how well Solomon treated his servants and how blessed they were. Even his servants were richly dressed, lived in a fine residence, and served with excellence. If his servants lived so well, just imagine how blessed the people of the land must be! She left there with more than she brought, and it took her breath away. How great was the God of Israel, who had lavished Solomon and His people with wisdom and favor!

How we treat those who serve us matters. They are a reflection of our leadership. Solomon treated his servants extremely well, and they served him with excellence. Indeed, God has truly blessed us, and we should serve Him with the same amount of excellence. As His servants, we are a reflection of Him. The world cannot help but notice and respect our blessing when we serve Him well.

Take time today to consider how well God has blessed you. Stop your complaining, and determine to serve Him with excellence. Don’t think about the minimal amount of time or effort required of you to just get by; minimal effort produces minimal results. The more you give to God, the more He gives you in return. You can never out give God, as the queen of Sheba learned. When you give God your very best, He gives you His very best for your circumstances in return. Give your all to Him today, and watch Him take your breath away!

Have a blessed day!

How Can I Repay?

How can I repay the LORD all the good He has done for me? I will take the cup of salvation and worship the LORD.

While we may be able to repay debts we owe to people or institutions here in the physical sense, there is absolutely no way we could ever repay God for what He has done for us through Christ. The very fact that He sent His one and only Son to die for us is overwhelming. Then, to think of the cruel and gruesome death Jesus died so we could be saved is beyond anyone’s imagination of repayment. We simply don’t have anything to offer that would compensate for such a huge sacrifice of love.

The Psalmist wrote these words before Christ was even born. He had faith of a coming salvation through a promised Messiah, and he knew God would hold true to His word. The Psalmist decided to simply believe in this salvation and worship God. It was all he could do.

We are privileged to live on the other side of the promise. Jesus has already died for our sins, and we have the written Word to tell us the entire story. We can never repay God for what He has done, and the best thing we can do in response is to accept this sacrifice and worship the LORD. The whole reason God sent His only Son for us is so we would see His incredible love for us and worship Him, instead of all the other false gods that promise us things that cannot satisfy. What Jesus did for us goes beyond time and is eternal. Our worship is required as an appropriate response.

Worship God where you are today. Your heart is His greatest desire, and He has given all to win it. Can anyone else or anything else compare?

Have a blessed day!

Life is Good

1 Corinthians 7:8

I say to the unmarried and to widows: It is good for them if they remain as I am.

I was single for a long time before I ever married. In fact, I was 34 when I married, and we made it seven years, ten months, and one day before my husband died. I honestly believe we would still be married if he had lived, but that was just not God’s plan. Although I read this verse many times as a single person, I gained a brand new perspective as a widow. I believe God has something here for all of us.

Paul was speaking to the Corinthians about their dedication to God here. He explained that a single person can dedicate themselves fully to the work of God without the hindrance of the responsibility of caring for a mate. In the previous verses, he gave instructions on marital conduct and how spouses are to treat each other. Basically, if you can maintain self-control, you are better off being single.

A single person or a widow lives in a world that is made for couples. When most of your friends are married, you are the odd-man out or the third or fifth wheel in a gathering. Couples will gravitate toward couples because it is awkward to try to fellowship with a single person. Although it doesn’t seem fair, that is just how it is. God even called the animals into the ark two by two, male and female, with the intention of procreation after the flood. A single person or widow is without a partner in a world that seems to require another person to properly fit into society. In that event, the single woman or widow feels as if she is abnormal, deficient, or lacking in some area because she doesn’t have a husband. If this is or has ever been you, take note of Paul’s words here: it is good for you to be unmarried! There is nothing wrong with you, and you are not being punished. You are not lacking, and your situation is good.

What is wrong with you that you are not married? Absolutely nothing! This is good for you at this particular time in life. Your focus should be upon serving God and developing your relationship with Him unhindered. For some reason, God wants you all to Himself, and He is focusing upon you. Enjoy this time with Him. Should He decide to bring someone into your life to serve as a partner, you can trust that would be good, too. But, if He doesn’t, life is still good. You need not look at your marital status as a bad situation just because you are not married. It is good, so start living life as if it were good. Being single is no reason to put happiness on hold or not to enjoy this life God has given us. Life is good, including yours!

Have a blessed day!

Let it Pour

Psalm 68:9

You, God, showered abundant rain; You revived Your inheritance when it languished.

We have all gone through difficult times that seemed to have no end or have drained us of all energy. God has an answer for us when we face such times. He showers us with abundant rain – times of refreshing – in order to revive us. If He didn’t, we would have no desire to continue to serve Him.

Burn-out is common among pastors, teachers, and faithful lay people within a church and is often a sign we are working to accomplish things from our own strength.  Anyone with a servant’s heart can suffer burn-out after a season of heavy labor or turbulent times. Those who suffer burn-out lose their effectiveness after a while and can even lose their desire to serve altogether. Burn-out can also be a sign God is redirecting us to a new assignment. Thankfully, God is faithful to bring times of refreshing, revival, and renewal. All we need to do is ask for it and submit to it.

Take time daily for a refreshing from God’s word. Let Him renew your spirit and revive your strength. If you have been working hard and are experiencing burn-out, take a rest. Allow God to speak to you again and encourage you with new promise. Change scenery if you need, but make sure you get away from the demands of life at least for a little while to just commune with God and let Him love on you. He does not want to see you languishing; He desires to send abundant rain to revive you, refresh you, and renew you. Let it pour!

Have a blessed day!

Question of Identity

John 8:48

The Jews responded to Him (Jesus), “Aren’t we right in saying that You’re a Samaritan and have a demon?”

The Jewish leaders questioned Jesus’s identity. If they could disqualify Him as Jewish, His teaching would not be valid. If they could pin Him with a demon, He would most certainly be outcast, and His followers would turn away. When the Devil is truly threatened by us, He will question our identity. He will try to convince us we could never be Christians and have such a terrible background. He will tell us we can’t be hearing from God and have failure in our lives. He will twist the truth to appear as a lie and try to convince others to believe him. We must remember always that the Devil is a liar!

Jesus was most certainly Jewish on both His mother’s side and his earthly father’s side. We find His paternal heritage recorded in Matthew and His maternal heritage recorded in Luke. A Jew must be able to prove his lineage as a Jew in order to have Jewish rights, and this is exactly why Jesus’s lineage is recorded in the New Testament. There is absolutely no doubting His Jewish birth.

A Samaritan was a Jew who had intermarried with other races, as was prohibited by the law. The true Jews looked down upon them and saw them all as sinners. Samaritans still claimed their Jewish heritage and felt the racial tension and attitudes of inferiority from the Jewish religious leaders. They knew they were not accepted and rebelled against Jewish religious teachers and tradition. The Jewish leaders had absolutely no basis for calling Jesus a Samaritan other than their own evil motives of trying to disqualify Him. The accusation was strictly slanderous.

The fact that these leaders accused Jesus of having a demon proves they knew He had power. They could not deny His power of healing and the transformation He brought to people’s lives through His teaching. They had no such power and sought to discredit Him. If His power was from the Devil, true Jews would not follow Him. How ironic that the Devil accused Jesus of having a demon! He had to hide His true identity within religious circles in order to gain followers. When Jesus came on the scene and started revealing the Father, the Devil had to try to project his own identity on Christ in order to disqualify Him. The only way the Devil can gain true power among believers is to steal it through deception.

John 8:32 teaches us that we shall know the truth (Jesus), and the truth shall set us free. Jesus sets us free from the lies of the Devil and the bondage that accompanies him. In Christ, we have a new identity with a purpose for increasing God’s kingdom on earth. When we know who we are in Christ, we will truly live free from Satan’s grip with the ability to set others free, as well.

To know who we are in Christ, we must first know Him. The closer we get to Him, the more He reveals Himself to us. He has a gift for each of us to use to build His kingdom, and He has called us to use that gift.  Determine to know Christ and to use the gifts He has given you to further His kingdom on earth. To sit back and think you just can’t do something or to fear failure is to give the Devil a part of the destiny God has planned for you. You are not a Samaritan, and you do not have a demon! You belong to Jesus Christ, and His power works in you. Start using it and being who God has called you to be.

Have a blessed day!

Strength from Rejoicing

Nehemiah 8:10b

Do not grieve, because your strength comes from rejoicing in the LORD.

When the exiles returned to Jerusalem to rebuild the walls, they finished the job in only 52 days under Nehemiah’s leadership. Afterward, they gathered together as Ezra read from the law. Upon hearing God’s word, the Holy Spirit began to convict them as the priests and Levites explained the word to them, and they wept and mourned as they realized their sinful condition. God’s word to them upon turning to Him was not to grieve but to rejoice in Him because their strength came in rejoicing, rather than grieving.

Many turn from God upon the recognition of their sin because they feel disapproval. They are afraid to turn to God because they think they will be punished, or they are ashamed. Just as the Prodigal son received grace and a huge celebration when he returned, so God celebrates when we realize our sin and turn to Him. We need never fear when we are convicted of sin but to turn to God with a thankful and rejoicing heart. By doing so, we gain strength to overcome that sin and to move forward in God’s plan for us.

If you have failed in some way, the Devil would like nothing more than to keep you isolated in shame. Turn to God and rejoice! Your strength is found in the joy of the Lord. He still loves you, and He still favors you. Nothing can separate you from His love. Rejoice in His great love for you today, and find strength to overcome whatever has detained or derailed you.

Have a blessed day!

PHOEBE Connections, Inc. is a 501(c)3 dedicated to enhancing the lives of widows by building relationships and helping them find new identity in Jesus Christ through serving others. We promote an atmosphere of fellowship, where the widow can connect with other widows to develop friendships and supportive relationships.