Tuesday, December 27, 2005

#26 The Final Chapter

#26 The Final Chapter
December 27, 2005

"I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. "He will rule them with an iron scepter." He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS."
(Revelation 19: 11-16)

I follow one of those reading plans. You know the one. Read through the Bible in one year. As Christmas Day dawned, it was time to begin the Book of Revelation. At first there doesn't seem to be a connection, but I actually find it not so ironic or coincidental.

I figured that I'd better get out my Bible commentary and end times books so that I could understand what we believe to be the most difficult book of the Bible. I went through a time about a year ago, when I read and studied everything I could get my hands on about this book and the time of the end. But as I was about to gather my things, I stopped and decided to just read GOD'S word, and ask Him to show me what He wanted to. I want to share with you what He showed me.

We have just spent weeks preparing for Christmas Day. Buying the perfect gift, trimming the tree, baking and entertaining. Love and goodwill abounding - family gatherings, Christmas carols and our problems set aside for just a little while. Hopefully we fit thoughts of Jesus in there somewhere. Assuming that we did, we focused on the birth of our Savior. Emmanuel...God with us. The baby born to a virgin, in a stable - receiving shepherds as visitors. But it's over now. We need to remember that what we celebrated was just the beginning of the story.

We will ring in the new year this coming weekend, and the trees and decorations will come down. Life will be back to normal again and we will experience the dreary days of January and February as we look forward to spring. I pray that we can hold on to some of that Christmas love and cheer as we move forward into 2006. But sadly, most of our 365 days are spent in the everyday stuff of life. The Christmas joy wears off, life happens. So what can we hang onto to keep that hope and joy of Christmas alive? Back to Revelation....I fight the urge to figure it all out. When will it happen....how will it happen? Is it happening now? Figurative or literal? And what does it mean for me?

First, I think it means that I am to read the book of Revelation. Chapter One tells me that I will be blessed if I do. (Revelation 1:3) Who doesn't want to be blessed!! This same verse tells me to take it to heart and believe it, because the time is near.

Second, living in the light of this knowledge, I am to be ready. Jesus will come like a thief and I will again be blessed (boy, I like this blessing stuff) if I stay awake and keep my clothes with me so that I may not go naked and be shamefully exposed." (Revelation 16:15) I must be prepared and be living right!

Third, I am to live by faith that my Bible is true. Like a novel, the final chapter is the culmination of it all. And my Bible tells me that the Babe in the manger lived, died and rose again. He is alive right now and preparing for the final chapter. One day soon, God will say, "That's enough!" and Jesus will mount that white horse and ride for the final victory over death, the devil, hell and the grave. It will be like nothing that has ever been known before. The Babe will be the The King of Kings. The Child lost in the temple will be the Lord of Lords. The meek and gentle Lamb on the cross will ride out victorious as the Lion of the tribe of Judah. And the devil will be thrown into the lake of burning sulfur and he and his minions will be tormented day and night, forever and ever. (Revelation 20:10)

God Himself will live with us and we with Him. The tears I am crying now will be wiped away by Jesus' hand. The loss I experience in the coming year will not even be a memory because there will be no death or mourning. My aching joints and the pain that I see others suffer will be gone -- no pain!! The way things are today will not be -- the old order of things will pass away . (See Revelation 21: 3-4) There will be no evil, no sin, nothing impure, shameful or deceitful. (Revelation 21:27 and 22:15)

Don't be afraid to read Revelation. Don't worry about understanding it all. Drink in the truth of it. Believe it. Be blessed by it. Look forward to it. See the connection? The infant born to be King and reign victorious. The babe-the Alpha. The King - the Omega. The First...the Last. The Beginning...the End. The Hope to hang onto no matter what we will face in 2006 and beyond. The world today appears to be out of control. Satan appears to be in charge. Our lives appear to be going wild at times. But the promise is at the end of the book. The King of Kings is in control. The Lord of Lords is in charge. Right now....not only later...right now!! Our lives may be a wild ride but Jesus says, "I am coming soon." (Revelation 22:7, 12, 20) We don't need to know every detail. We just need to know that truth...we need to know The Truth. Amen, Come Lord Jesus. (Revelation 22:20)

May you have a blessed and prosperous New Year,

Donna Schultz

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

#25 My Christmas Letter

My Christmas Letter
#25 December 20, 2005

"All who see them will acknowledge that they are a people the Lord has blessed." (Isaiah 61: 9b)

Have you ever received one of those Christmas letters? You know the ones I mean. The long, two page documents recounting the events of the past year in a family's life, usually accompanied by a family photo next to a beautiful Christmas tree or outside in the new fallen snow. I know you remember. Dad is the anchor of the family...strong, handsome and so into his children that he won the father of the year award. Successful businessman, soccer coach, all around great guy! Mom, "the glue that holds them together", busy, lovely, nurturing, loving in the face of all adversity. Little Billy, on his way to soccer (or baseball, or basketball, fill in the blank) stardom, an all A student.... And Jenny...budding ballerina....so cute and cuddly. LET'S GET REAL!!!

We would all love to spend a Walton Christmas...or have all of our problems wrapped up in 60 minutes of love like on Seventh Heaven. (Secretly, I want to be Annie Camden). But as someone once said, "It just ain't so!" Why do we feel the need to sugar coat our lives and make it appear that our year held no problems or that we have faced no difficulties? I don't know these answers but I do know that Jesus was true to His promise..."In this world you will have trouble." (John 16: 33) So welcome to MY Christmas letter.

The year 2005 held the loss of wages due and ultimately the loss of work. Bills behind. Struggling to make ends meet. The loss of the family vehicle due to engine failure and no one willing to extend us the credit for another one. Driving a borrowed car. Knowing inside that the Lord had something else for me to do in service to Him, but fighting Him every step of the way for months. One day fighting with God, the next rebuking the enemy...couldn't tell who was speaking to me and telling me it was time to move on. Ending most days feeling like I had been beat up and left for dead. The defining moment came when one of my clients attacked me while I was alone at the ministry office. Decisions to be made. The end of my director role at My Father's Business...the loss of the borrowed vehicle. Chuck taking on even more responsibility than he needed or wanted.

An 18 year old bent on sabotaging his senior year in high school. My oldest daughter moving out of our home to follow a decision that I was totally against. My father being diagnosed with cancer...again...this time of the bladder and prostate. The same father who along with my mother are full of anger and bitterness and will not speak to me...unwilling to restore relationship with me or my family. Struggling with the huge decision to leave the church and friends that we had known for nine years to follow the Lord's leading to a new place and new opportunities. The end of our days at My Father's Business and Grace Community Church. And just recently, the news that Chuck's daughter Elizabeth has leukemia and will be facing a couple of years of treatment, chemotherapy and dramatic life changes. I'm sure there's more...but...that's enough to make my point. I'm starting to feel like the apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians Chapter 11...boasting about his sufferings. (See 2 Corinthians 11: 16-33)

So here we are at December 20, 2005. Chuck has a wonderful job that he loves and looks forward to each day. I laughed at the devil the other day because in spite of all of the trials we've faced, they only drove us closer to each other. Our marriage is stronger than it has ever been and I love that man more today than I could ever put into words. No matter what has been thrown at us we have been blessed to have it draw us closer together instead of apart. Our monthly bills are not behind anymore and we are in the process of working on others. God has richly provided for us out of His boundless mercy and graciousness. My son graduated from high school and is growing into a fine, mature, responsible young man who makes me laugh every day. Out of his problems came a closer relationship between mother and son that I wouldn't trade for anything. We have become part of a new fellowship of believers who truly evidence the love of Christ to others. We are home. It is not a perfect group of people...but Jesus IS perfect and His love is manifesting itself and the presence of the Holy Spirit is there. We are being pointed to Christ and Christ alone. God is still permitting me to be an empty vessel for His use in writing "Tuesday's" each week and has given me a big vision for ministry in the future. My daughter is still living away from home, but God has taught me how to love her and let her make her own decisions and He is breaking generational curses of rejecting your children when you don't agree with them.

My dad still has cancer....I still don't have a car....my parents continue to reject me...Lyz still has leukemia. But did you notice something? With each problem has come God's hand making "all things work together for good." (Romans 8:28) My Jesus has been there in each trial, in each heartache and looking back...good has come...I wouldn't change it now. So I trust Him...with my dad, my children, my transportation, my step-daughter. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. If He worked in the other situations in my life...I know He will work in these. If I never had any problems, I'd never know that He could solve them. I'd never know how faithful and loving and kind and gracious and compassionate and patient He is!

So that's my Christmas letter. May I make a suggestion? This week as we concentrate on the birth of our Savior, take some time to think about the past year. Look at the trials and hardships that you have endured. Share them with others instead of trying to make your life look perfect. Magnify God and His presence in your life. Share with others the answers to prayer that you have received. Encourage them with the fact that God was present in your life and that He will do the same for them. Don't be a Walton or a Camden...be you and use your life and experiences to bring Him glory! See what God has done....In the song by Natalie Grant called "Held", she sings..."This is what it means to be held, how it feels when the sacred is torn from your life and you survive. This is how it feels to be loved and to know that the promise was when everything fell..we'd be held." I've been held for the past year....held tightly in my loving Heavenly Father's arms...I will not hide the hardships in my life because the fact that I've survived and prayers have been answered and God has been ever-present in my life and He has used what the enemy meant for evil to bring about good ...gives Him glory and honor and my life can be for the display of His splendor. Those who read my Christmas letter can say, "They are a people the Lord has blessed." (Isaiah 61:9)

Merry Christmas from our family to yours,

Donna Schultz


Tuesday, December 13, 2005

#24 I Wouldn't Change a Thing!

I Wouldn't Change a Thing!
#24 December 13, 2005
"For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." (2 Corinthians 4:17-18)

Twelve ordinary men. Fishermen, like Peter and his brother Andrew. Matthew, a tax collector at Capernaum. James and John. Philip and Bartholomew. Thomas and James the Younger. Thaddaeus, Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot. Twelve ordinary men. Lives interrupted when they met one man. From all indications this was the man they had been waiting for. This was the man they grew up hearing about. This was the man who would save a nation. Take it by force. This was the man who would set them free.
Question: Can God interrupt your life?

Three years. They heard about love. They heard about forgiveness. People healed. Multitudes fed. He told them that He came to serve...to give His life as a ransom. What sense did that make? They were waiting for Him to take over...they wanted to crown Him King. Instead they watched as He rode into Jerusalem on a colt. A colt??? Should have been on a steed, with a sword....and an army!
Question: What are you expecting?

Waiting ... watching ... hoping each day would be THE DAY. He tells them that He will have to suffer. He must be killed. Impulsive, outspoken Peter says, "Never, Lord! this shall never happen to you!" (Matthew 16: 22) The King replies, "Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men." (Matthew 16: 23)
Question: Whose "things" are on your mind?

Plots. Tension in the air. A Passover supper. Talk about betrayal and the appointed time being near. Falling asleep in a garden while their King was overwhelmed with sorrow and sweat drops of blood. Jesus arrested. Peter again taking matters into his own hands cutting off a man's ear. Rebuked again..."Put your sword away!" (John 18:11)
Question: What are you fighting against? What are you taking into your own hands?

Crucifixion of their King. Death. Hopes and dreams shattered and buried in a borrowed tomb. Running. Hiding. Fear. It's over.
Question: Where is there no hope and the appearance of death in your life?

Alive. Jesus is alive. "Peace be with you," he says. (Luke 24:36) They can touch Him. They can see His hands and His feet. They watch Him eat a piece of broiled fish. He tells them about forgiveness of sins. He gives them the precious Holy Spirit. He commissions them for greatness in His name. Peter becomes a great orator and addresses crowds with a boldness he had never known before. They perform many miraculous signs and wonders among the people. (Acts 5: 12) They become great writers. Because of their words and the witness of what they saw and heard, we are believers in Jesus Christ today. All of our sins are forgiven, thrown as far away as the east is from the west. We are saved, sanctified, justified (just as if I never sinned) and glorified. We are Heaven bound. We have been set free.
Question: Would you change anything about that?

Right at this very moment you are going through something. And if you aren't, it won't be long before you do. Jesus promised us that "in this world we would have trouble." (John 16:33) He never promised us it would be easy...He just promised that we would never be alone. He has a purpose and a plan for everything that you are going through in your life, whether you can see it or not.

Things aren't always what they seem. Ask Lazarus, Mary and Martha. "Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?" (John 11:40) Ask Joseph. "You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives." (Genesis 50:20) Ask each one of those twelve ordinary men.

Things aren't always what they seem. "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord." (Isaiah 55:8) The Bible tells us multiple times not to fear. I've heard it said that fear is False Evidence Appearing Real. Things are not always what they seem.

In Philippians, Chapter 2, verse 21 the apostle Paul tells us that everyone looks out for his own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. "Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face." (1 Corinthians 13: 12) We may be blessed in this life to look back and see why God allowed certain things to happen to us. We may never know or see the reasons until we get to Glory. Only One thing is sure...Jesus Christ, the Lord of Glory knows exactly what He is doing.

Have courage my friend. There is a higher purpose for your problem today. Trust. Things are not always what they seem. "Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." (Hebrews 11:1)

Things are not always what they seem. I stand with those twelve ordinary men and say,
"I wouldn't change a thing!"

Until next week,

Donna Schultz

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

#23 Where is God?

Where is God?
#23 December 6, 2005

"Unless the Lord had given me help, I would soon have dwelt in the silence of death. When I said, "My foot is slipping," your love, O Lord, supported me. When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul." (Psalm 94: 17-19)

(Today's Tuesday's with Jesus is inspired by the news that my step-daughter, Chuck's daughter, Elizabeth (Lyz), who is 17 years old was diagnosed yesterday with leukemia.).

I didn't understand early yesterday afternoon why I could not write Tuesday's with Jesus. I was experiencing a total mental block...something I haven't experienced before. I have always refused to write out of my own mind and thinking and have depended on God's anointing and His words to me alone. I just couldn't write..couldn't think of an idea...no place to start. Total blank. I determined to keep listening, watching and waiting for a word from God. He graciously heard my cry and let me see and hear the things I am about to share with you.

When the rug is pulled out from under our lives, when we are blind sided by bad news, when life changes in a way that we would never choose...an all too often question that is asked is "Where is God?" This is not only a question asked by those who don't believe in God. For a fleeting moment even believers in our Lord, Jesus Christ can falter and say, "Where is God?" I am here today to tell you just where God is, because I heard Him and I saw Him!!

I saw Him in a poster made by Lyz's friends that had Bible verses written all over it.
I saw Him in the face of a father whose heart was breaking but who was trusting the Lord and leaning on His strength and was pointing those with weaker or no faith to Jesus Christ.
I felt Him in the peace that was there in the hospital room designed and arranged by Him alone.
I saw Him when hands were laid on Lyz in prayer and teenagers who are not even sure about God held hands with us and prayed because they are grasping for Something to hold on to.
I saw Him in the face of Lyz as she laughed, encouraged and comforted those who were there to comfort her.
I saw Him late last night when my 14 year old son and some of Lyz's friends were searching the Bible and IMing each other with verses of encouragement. They didn't turn to anything destructive to ease the pain they were feeling...Hallelujah! They turned to God's word!!

He is there! He is all around us. If you just listen and watch, you will see Him. He is the great I AM! He is not the I WAS or the I WILL BE. He is here now. He is an ever-present help in trouble. He is our refuge and our strength. Our rock, our fortress, our deliverer. He is our peace, because He is the Prince of Peace. He understands our suffering...He suffered so much Himself. He knows what it is like to feel pain, to be afraid, to be abandoned by His friends and rejected by His family. Hanging bloody on Calvary's Cross, He asked His Heavenly Father why He had forsaken Him. He really does understand our questions and sympathize with our weaknesses. Psalm 103:3 says that He heals all your diseases.

There is another voice that will whisper in your ear. The voice of the father of lies. Jesus said that the truth is not in him. He will tell you that all of this is hogwash. He will tell you to rant and rave and to doubt the goodness of God. He will tell you that a good God would never allow this to happen. He will tell you that God has let Lyz slip out of His hand. THE DEVIL IS A LIAR!! We do not deny the reality that this is a horrible experience. We do not deny the reality that it hurts. We can cry, we can be sad. But we cannot allow our tears and sadness to give way to depression, discouragement and hopelessness. We know the Blessed Hope! The one that says, "Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go." (Joshua 1:9) The one that says, "I will never leave you or forsake you." (Joshua 1:5) Do you know that the use of the word forsake comes from the Hebrew meaning "to loosen"? God will never loosen His hold on you.

Please forgive our family if we don't act exactly as some may think we should. But we are standing on the Word of God. The goodness of God. The truth, not the lie. The solid Rock..."On Christ the solid Rock I stand. All other ground is sinking sand." We believe the truth of Jeremiah 29:11 that tells us that God has a plan for Lyz's life. We don't know the plan and we certainly don't understand the way He has chosen to get her there, but we are "Trusting in the Lord with all our hearts, leaning not on our own understanding", believing that if we "acknowledge Him in all of our ways, He will direct our paths." (Proverbs 3:5-6)

To believers, I ask that you pray for Lyz. My sentiments are in 2 Corinthians 1:10-11. "On Him we have set our hope that He will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many."

To unbelievers, I urge you to accept Jesus Christ as the Lord of your life. Ask Him into your heart today. I don't know how anyone does life without Him. Believe that He died on the Cross for you and that He rose again from the grave. You can have forgiveness of your sins and abundant, eternal life with Him in Heaven. Repent of your sins, ask Him to forgive you and commit your life to loving and serving Him. Don't live another day without Jesus. One day it will be too late to accept His precious gift to you and you will be tormented forever in Hell. Your problems will not disappear, you will still not understand everything, but you will know the One who will walk through your problems with you and the One who does understand.

Lyz was asked last night by one of her friends why this is happening to her; someone who believes in God. Lyz remembered last week's "Tuesday's" and told her about the sheep whose leg the shepherd broke and how the shepherd will now carry that sheep until it is healed.

To you Lyz, Jesus says, "My precious little sheep. I love you so very much. You are so special to Me. I take great delight in you. I quiet you with my love. I rejoice over you with singing. I love you like no one else ever could. Your leg is broken right now. But that means that I am carrying you close to my heart. My arms are around you every step of the way. I will not drop you or let you go until you are healed. And because we will spend this time together, being so close, you will walk with me, and I with you, all of the days of your life."

Until next week,

Donna Schultz

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

#22 Sheep and Shepherds

November 29, 2005

"The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and staff, they comfort me." (Psalm 23: 1-4)

I have been obsessed with sheep lately. Yes - sheep. I have researched sheep, studied about sheep, read about sheep. Sheep keep coming up in my daily devotion time. Tonight, I will probably count sheep! I figure that they must be important to God, because they are mentioned 186 times in the Bible. (The New Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, pg. 1210-1211)

I'm really not flattered by Jesus' reference to me as a sheep. Sheep are stupid. They sometimes fall on their backs and are unable to get up again by themselves. Picture that...flailing legs up in the air - it's almost comical. They will eat anywhere and drink anything. They overeat until they become sick. They wander off looking for food or romance and sometimes fall into creeks. Their wool grows heavy and they drown (Grace for the Moment, Max Lucado). Not very smart, are they?

Naturally, if you think about sheep, you must think about the shepherd. Shepherds watch their flocks in the fields to guard them. They give tender care and continuing watchfulness. A shepherd will lead his sheep into rest and reviving, provide for their needs and protect them from fear of danger.

So if I am a sheep, I must be since Jesus said I am, and if He is the Shepherd (John 10: 11,14), what does that imply?

Look at Psalm 23, verse 1: "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want." Another translation says, "I have everything I need." The shepherd leads his sheep to all that they need: food, rest, water and safety. My Good Shepherd, Jesus, provides for all of my needs. This is His job and responsibility. He leads me to all that I need. Not necessarily all that I want, but all that I need.

Verse 2 says, "He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters." Philip Keller is a modern day shepherd. Keller tells us that sheep will never lie down until four conditions are met: 1) they must be free from all fear. 2) they must be free of torment by flies or parasites. 3) they must have a full belly. 4) they must be in harmony with their fellow sheep. Green pastures means tender grass. A good shepherd leads the sheep to the best places to graze to keep them healthy. Keller says that a good shepherd will put tremendous labor into clearing rough, rocky ground into lush pasture land. Jesus, our Good Shepherd, removes our fear, fills us with His Spirit until we are full in Him and gives us peace so that we may lie down and rest.

The sheep are led to "quiet waters". Remember the running creeks - the sheep drown. Sheep also scare easily so calm waters put them at ease. If we follow Jesus, He will lead us to those calm, quiet waters where we have inner peace, calmness and stillness from the living water that only He can give - the water that when I drink, I will never thirst again (John 4:13-14).

"He restores my soul" (verse 3a). When I am heavy laden and burdened, when life bruises and batters, when I am downcast, He restores my soul. We restore things that are old, battered and in bad shape. We restore houses, cars and furniture. We make them look brand new. Jesus restores us - He makes us brand new. Remember the sheep on his back, unable to get up? That is what is meant by being downcast. In that position, they can get sunstroke, or be attacked by wild animals. The Good Shepherd will restore the sheep who has become downcast. He will set us right side up.

"He guides me" (verse 3b). He leads me. Where? Into paths of righteousness. Right paths. Sheep have no sense of direction. They need someone to lead them in paths that are right. They have to be led or they will wander. Sounding familiar? He leads us into the best places. The word "lead" literally means to "drive" us. At times He guides me gently - at times I need to be driven - pushed and prodded. But that's what a Good Shepherd does. He wants to lead me into those paths that have been marked out by Him. They have been checked for safety and only for my good. But my eyes must stay on Him as He leads.

"Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and staff, they comfort me" (verse 4). Sheep have no way to defend themselves. They have no incisors (cutting teeth) in their upper jaws. They have no claws or pointed horns. They are defenseless. The only way they can defend themselves is by running away. They need a shepherd with a rod (a stick that is used to fight enemies) and a staff (a special stick that helps people walk) to protect them. When we are afraid, when we're lost and not sure where we are or where we are going, the Lord is there. Sometimes with a gentle word and a soft touch. Sometimes poking and prodding with His rod and staff. He may also have to use his rod to get us out of deep waters or get us down from a high ledge that we are afraid to come down from. Either way - He is leading us and guiding us and protecting us. And protect us He must! Apart from Him we have no defense against the lion who is seeking after whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8).

It is important for a sheep to see it's shepherd and hear his voice to know that it is safe. In John 10:27, Jesus said, "My sheep listen to my voice. I know them and they follow me." Sheep know their shepherd's voice so well that when they get intermingled with another flock, each shepherd can call out and the sheep will quickly start following their own shepherd. Only then are they able to lie down and rest, restored, because they know their shepherd will protect them and care for them. He will lay down His life if He has to (John 10:11). He doesn't run away when the wolf comes (John 10: 12-13). And if one strays, He will leave the rest of the flock to find it. He will put it on His shoulders and carry it home. You know that wandering can be harmful and tiring - sometimes we can't even walk when we're found. But He will rejoice as He carries us and say, "I have found my lost sheep." (Luke 15: 4-6)

Just before Jacob died he said, "God has been my shepherd all my life" (Genesis 48:15). He is my Good Shepherd. Is He yours?

Until next time,

Donna Schultz

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

#21 No, Really...Give Thanks

No, Really...Give Thanks
#21 November 22, 2005
Read Psalm 98

How typical is it to write about Thanksgiving this week? Doesn't surprise you does it? Well, I think that you may find this to be a little different. Are you up for a challenge? The Lord has asked me to do something this week that is quite out of the ordinary and I invite you to accept the challenge with me. From today until next Saturday evening, give thanks. "Easy enough", you say. No, I mean ONLY give thanks. Don't ask God for anything - ONLY give thanks.

"Sing to the Lord a new song" (v. 1). The "songs" we typically sing are full of our requests and petitions to God. I would guess that your asking time outweighs your praising and thanking time when you go to God in prayer. Let's sing a new song - one of ONLY giving thanks. No whining, no complaining, no begging, no asking - ONLY thanks!

Do you believe that your Heavenly Father knows everything you need before you ask Him (Matthew 6:8)? Just because you aren't asking for a few days doesn't mean that God will not be aware of your needs. He's not going to say, "Gee, I haven't heard any requests from Sally and Joe today - wonder what's going on, wonder what they need?" How absurd! No, your Father knows! Yes, we are told to pray but I believe that it will be refreshing and pleasing to God's ears to hear nothing but our heartfelt thanks for a few days.

We can thank Him because He has done marvelous things (v.1). His right hand and holy arm have worked salvation for Him (v. 1b). He is righteous (v. 2). He is love and faithfulness to all the ends of the earth (v. 3). He is our King (v. 6). He is the judge who will judge in righteousness and equity (v. 9). He forgives all your sins, heals all your diseases, redeems your life from the pit, crowns you with love and compassion, satisfies your desires with good things (Psalm 103: 1-5) and on and on we could go. Thank Him - Praise Him!!

When I'm talking thanks, I'm talking real thanks. Look at the commands of Psalm 98. Verse 4a says, "Shout". To shout is to utter a sudden loud cry (Funk and Wagnalls Home and Student Dictionary, 1989 by Merriam-Webster, Inc.). "Burst into jubilant song with music" (v. 4b) Bursting is like an explosion - jubilant is rejoicing in triumph, so explode into triumphant rejoicing over your God! Sing - shout for joy (v. 6)! When David brought the Ark of the Lord back to Jerusalem, he was leaping and dancing before the Lord to the point that the Bible says his wife despised him. He told her, "I will celebrate before the Lord. I will become even more undignified than this" (2 Samuel Ch. 6:16,21-22). The sea, the mountains, the rivers, the whole world is commanded to sing before the Lord (Psalm 98: vs. 7-9). Jesus said that if the people didn't cry out, "the stones will cry out" (Luke 19:40). Don't be put to shame by the rocks! The praise and thanksgiving set forth in God's word is not quiet, reserved or afraid of what other people think about it. It is shouting, dancing, joyful music, exuberant praise to the One who is worthy!

Not only will days of nothing but thanksgiving be pleasing to the Lord, but I believe that it will be beneficial to us as well. Try something for me - say your name five times in your head. Now try and think about your address while still thinking your name. Can't do it, can you? We can't think about two things at the same time! While thanking God, we cannot worry. While expressing thanks, we cannot complain. We can't fret. We can't murmur or grumble. We can't work our own plans to take care of our problems. Praise God! There's freedom in the midst of the thanksgiving!

I believe that our joy will increase and overflow as we thank. If we really concentrate on what we have been given, we will become joyful. Our focus will shift from what we don't have to "every good and perfect gift" that God has given us (James 1:17).

You may be thinking that you don't have much to be thankful for today. Oh, my friend, you do! Start with your spiritual blessings; the Cross, salvation, God's love for you. His faithfulness, His mercy and compassion. The forgiveness of all of your sins. The Blessed Holy Spirit living on the inside of you. You have been blessed with a roof over your head, clothes on your back and food to nourish your body. I praise God each morning for eyes that see, ears that hear, lips that speak and a body that moves. Each breath, each heartbeat - a gift from God.

Hate laundry? Thank Him for a husband and children who wear those clothes and the means to buy them. Hate house cleaning? Thank Him for providing shelter. Hate your job? Please don't!! Thank Him that you have one -- so many do not! You get the point...

You say, "But Donna, you just don't know what I'm going through right now. It's so hard to be thankful." The Bible tells us to "give thanks in all circumstances" (1 Thessalonians 5:18). All -- not some. Even in bad situations thank Him that "in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). Thank Him because "the testing of your faith is developing perseverance (patience). When perseverance has finished it's work you will be mature, complete, not lacking anything" (James 1: 3-4). Don't see the end from the beginning? Thank God for teaching you how to trust Him!!

Today is Tuesday. Won't you join me for the next five days on this journey of total thankfulness? It won't be easy, I assure you. We're not used to it. That old, ugly father of lies may even put on a stronger attack. Let me make a few suggestions:

When you have a thought or situation that would cause you to worry or fret or complain, just say "Jesus". There is power in that name. "There is power in the very Name, something all pagan religions know. To know someone's name means to have power over them, however external: they will, after all, turn round for you if you name them aloud, stop in their tracks, look up. Jesus has freely given us his name, which means "Savior". It has extraordinary power: do we use it?" (Sister Wendy Beckett, The Mystery of Love, Harper Collings (1996) p. 56). Say, "Jesus" and then begin to thank Him, once again.

If you are in a prayer group this week, dare to be different - tell the others that you're doing nothing this week but thanking Him. Who knows? It may catch on....Hallelujah! won't God be pleased!

Even thank Him for what He WILL do ahead of time, "calling things that are not as though they were (Romans 4:17). Thank Him for that healed marriage. Thank Him for that saved son or daughter. Thank Him for the provision He is sending...right now!

Put your laundry list of requests in your pocket, immerse yourself in the Word to see all His benefits (Psalm 103:2). Shout for joy even if you don't feel like it. Be undignified! Let "Thank you Jesus!" continually be in your mouth! Then go to worship Him on Sunday morning. Praise, sing, dance if you're not embarrassed. You will have "joy unspeakable and full of glory" (1 Peter 1:8).

I believe that God is going to do some mighty things in our lives this week. I really do. Won't you try it with me? And I would love to hear from you. E-mail me and share the awesome way that God has worked in your life and situations as you spent a week in thanksgiving. Then we will rejoice and thank Him together.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving Day,


Tuesday, November 15, 2005

#20 Just Like Our Christ

Just Like Our Christ
#20 November 15, 2005

"God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things - and the things that are not - to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him." (1 Corinthians 1: 27-29)

Mahatma Gandhi,a man viewed as the father of the nation of India once said, "You Christians are so unlike your Christ." I would take offense to that statement if it weren't so true.

What is our Christ like? The only way to find out is to search the Scriptures and hear the voices of those who have gone before you testifying to their experience with Jesus.

Listen to Peter the foul-mouthed fisherman tell you how Jesus called him from his boat. He wasn't rich. He wasn't even clean after a long day of casting nets and handling fish. When Jesus called him He already knew that twice Peter would falter in his faith and look away from Him - once walking on a night sea and again denying Him on the night He was arrested. He would even have the gall to rebuke Jesus and try to dissuade Him from fulfilling His mission here on earth. He had a temper, cutting off an enemy's ear. Jesus knew all of this - He chose him anyway. Foolishness? Or just like our Christ?

Listen to the sinful woman of Luke, Chapter 7, tell you how much courage she had to muster to go into that dinner Jesus was having with a group of Pharisees. They knew who she was. They knew what she did for a living. Some of them had even been with her. But she knew that this man was different. She had saved for a long time to buy this expensive perfume. Her broken alabaster box and poured out perfume symbolized her broken life and poured out sorrow - and she found real love and forgiveness. She ignored the degrading remarks of the men in the room. Her focus was on Jesus. And guess what? His focus was on her! When she heard Him defend her to the others, her sense of worth and value came back. This man loved her, sins and all - He forgave her. She could go on. Sin met the Savior that night. Foolishness? Or just like our Christ?

Jesus was leaving the city with a large crowd when He heard the cries of blind Bartimaeus. He was a beggar sitting by the roadside, no doubt passed by, jeered at and shunned by those who saw him. He screamed, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me." (Mark 10:47). People told him to be quiet. It just wasn't proper to cry out like that. But he shouted all the more, "Son of David, have mercy on me." Jesus stopped. He was busy. He was surrounded by a large crowd. This was one man. A beggar at that! But Jesus stopped. This man, blind, begging, insignificant and dispensable in the world's eyes stopped the Son of God in His tracks. Foolishness? Or just like our Christ?

The Samaritan woman wants to tell you about a man who told her everything she ever did. (John 4:29) In spite of the fact that He was tired and hungry, He took the time to explain things to a somewhat unseemly lady by a well. She had been married five times and was now living with a man who was not her husband. He told her the truth about Himself. He offered her a spring of water welling up to eternal life. Another sinner, another woman who needed a Savior. Instead of giving her condemnation, He gave her a gift. Foolishness? Or just like our Christ?

And how embarrassing was it to be dragged out of the bed, sheets and all? Caught in the act of adultery and made to stand before a whole group of men and Jesus. Why were all of these men at the scene of the crime anyway? Perhaps they were waiting in line! To make matters worse they were using her to trap this Man so that they could accuse Him of not following the Law of Moses. Here is where Jesus makes the most important statement of all-it is still a statement He makes to us today. "If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her." (John 8:7) She tells you that the silence was deafening. And Jesus was doodling on the ground. After a while only two were left - the Sinner and the Savior. Jesus was the only one fit to cast the stone - He was sinless. But He would rather see her saved and delivered from her life of sin than adhere to a religious rule or program. Foolishness? Or just like our Christ?

Many call out to you from the pages of your Bible. Matthew, the dishonest tax collector. Lepers. Demon-possessed men. Paralytics. The blind. The deaf. Rich. Poor. Little Zaccheus, the extortioner. A thief on a cross. All who had an encounter with the One who was never too busy. The one who never looked down on them. The One who made Himself nothing (Philippians 2:7) and paid attention to the "nothings" of this world. He was not impressed with the rich, the learned, the self-righteous. Those who were the most sinful, the most broken, the most in need - those were the people who captured our Christ's attention. Those who were on the side of the road acting undignified. These made Him stop.

Who along life's road are you passing by? Who do you stop for? Who do you seek out? Never be fooled by the "nothings" of the world. They are closer to the heart of Christ than those who are self-assured, complacent and viewed as "something".

Foolishness? I don't care! I want to be just like my Christ!

Until next week,

Donna Schultz

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

#19 The Prison of Her Soul

The Prison of Her Soul
#19 November 8, 2005
"The Scripture declares that the whole world is a prisoner of sin, so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe. Before this faith came, we were held prisoners by the law, locked up until faith should be revealed." (Galatians 3: 22-23)
"But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8)

The room that she sat in was small. Room for a bed, a desk and facilities was all. Kind of cold in there too as she remembers it. She had been there for 35 years. In the prison of her soul. Heaviness and hopelessness marked the days. She tried to pass the time with pursuits she hoped would numb the pain that she felt inside. Chasing after success and riches, looking for love in all the wrong places. Nothing worked there. In the prison of her soul.

The list of the charges against her was long and seemed to grow with each passing day. No matter how hard she tried to tow the line, the accuser brought another charge. GUILTY! was the sentence that left her, in the prison of her soul.

She never had an affair but she wondered what it would be like to be with that handsome man at work - GUILTY, one charge of adultery. She remembers making one of the hardest decisions of her life and signing the consent papers for the abortion. GUILTY, one count of murder. Add to that the counts of judgement, envy, hatred, inappropriate anger, gossip and selfishness. There were more, so many....screaming in her head....guilt, shame....

Banging on the bars....a voice...."You are free to go." She thinks that this must be a dream or a cruel joke. "Free? Free? I'll never be free!" They tell her that a man has agreed to take her place so that she can go free. Could it be? Who would EVER do that? And a man?? Men had only let her down. She says, "I want to meet this man." She is told that she cannot see Him because He is already taking her place. She need only believe and be set free.

Leaving her cell, she hides in the shadows and watches. She recalls an old story she heard. Peter, wasn't it? - watching from the shadows? She can scarcely watch as He is beaten - for her. Her hands go to her ears trying to quiet the voices taunting and mocking Him - for her. As if this weren't enough, they spit on him - instead of her. She hears them laugh at him because He was the one she sinned against - yet he was doing all of this - for her! They just didn't understand.

Following in the shadows she hears, "Dead Man Walking" and watches His back going to the death chamber. She wants so badly to see His face. What is He carrying? Looks like a cross - a cross with every sin, evil thought and sickness she ever had, written across its wooden beams. And as if that weren't enough, she watches the heavy nails pierce His hands and His feet as they nail Him to that same cross. He screams from pain she will never have to know. Blood flows - "I must get closer....I must see Him!"

Just then, He turns and looks at her with the most beautiful eyes she has ever seen - eyes full of love. "Is He speaking? To me?" She hears this man of quiet strength say, "My beautiful daughter, I love you so much. You are free - believe it - you are truly free. You are not only forgiven, but your sins are totally off of your record. No one will be able to accuse you ever again. And do you know what else? Every sin you will ever commit in your life is covered by the blood I am shedding for you right now!"

For a moment His words are interrupted by someone trying to give Him something to drink. But He turns back and says, "Wait. I have more to give you." She thinks, "More! What more could He give?" Getting weaker with each passing moment, He tells her that He will send what His Father promised, His Holy Spirit, who will be with her all the days of her life - to guide her and comfort her. And life eternal with Him in Heaven. She will never be alone again. She will never be abused or rejected.

He cries out one more time to His Heavenly Father. She hears Him say, "It is finished!" He is dead. She is free. There is a soldier standing nearby. A tear is falling down his cheek. She approaches him and says, "Who was that man?" The soldier replies, "Surely this man was the Son of God. His name was Jesus." Then he hands her release papers. The ones that say:

Because of this One Man, she walks out of the darkness of prison and into the light of freedom. And she can't wait for you to hear her story. She can't wait to share what has just happened. She is searching for others who need to be set free. Can you hear her telling you? Don't try to quiet her - she will not be silent. Excuse her if she seems a little radical - Radical Love touched her life, right there, in the prison of her soul.

Not guilty,

Donna Schultz

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

#18 There Is Beauty in the Dying

#18 November 1, 2005
There Is Beauty in the Dying

?There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: a time to be born and a time to die.? (Ecclesiastes 3:1-2a)

A few weeks ago I was sitting in my backyard watching the leaves just beginning to turn colors. Again marveling at the awesomeness of God manifested in creation, a word was spoken to my spirit that said, ?There is beauty in the dying.? In my mind I understood this as the beauty of the changing, falling leaves as they die and signal the approaching winter. However these words have haunted me ever since. Again yesterday, sitting at the cider mill, sipping cider and eating donuts on a date with Chuck, I noticed those leaves and signs of fall once more. It was even more beautiful this time. Out in the country where the air was just crisp enough, smelling the apples and hearing the rustling of the leaves on the ground brought these words back to me. There is beauty in the dying.

Beauty and dying?seems like an oxymoron. If you think about it, not really?Look at a seed. Jesus said that ?unless a seed falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.? (John 12:24). We all know what happens when we plant seeds in our backyard. With time and care we reap a harvest of beautiful plants and flowers. Dying seed...beauty to behold!

When we receive the gift of Jesus Christ as Lord, dying is quite evident. We become new creations..the old has gone (died)?the new has come. (2 Corinthians 5:17). The new is so much more beautiful than the old. Hence, the beauty in the death of our old self, making us alive to Christ, ?I no longer liv(ing) but Christ liv(ing) in me? (Galatians 2:20).

Death in the Bible, especially in the New Testament, was beautiful because it brought God great glory. The deaths of Lazarus, the widow?s son, and Jairus? daughter all provided Jesus the opportunity to raise them from the dead and bring His Father glory.
We can find immense beauty in the dying of Christians even today. In the process of dying, they are moving closer to Heaven. When they are gone from this world, they wake up to the face of Jesus, the most beautiful sight we will ever behold!

And let?s not forget the most beautiful death of all?that of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ! The Wycliffe Bible Commentary says that ?Nature provides a parable of Jesus? career. Apart from death his life stands in isolation, with no power of increase. Death is the key to spiritual fruitfulness? (p. 1100). Without the beauty of the death of Jesus, we would still be lost in our sin, hopeless and helpless and destined for eternal damnation. ?Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!? (2 Corinthians 9:15)

We all think about the obvious things that need to die in our lives when we commit to Christ?pride, selfishness, anger, hatred, lust, greed. But there are also many not so obvious things that will be beautiful as they die. About a year ago I prayed for the death of all of the empty things that I hold on to. I meant that prayer with all of my being and I can tell you?be careful what you pray for! Think about all of the things in your life that hold no eternal, kingdom value. Look at what occupies your time, your thoughts, your money. Remember, ?where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.? (Luke 12:34). Let those useless, empty things die. Are you busy for God and not growing closer to God? Oswald Chambers said, ?the one thing that is in greatest competition with living for God, is service to Him.? I?m not totally there yet but the beauty I?ve seen so far encourages me to keep going.

Let the status quo die. Don?t be content with your spiritual life the way it is. Tommy Tenney?s daily devotional asked, ?Are you prepared to be ?undignified? in the eyes of the spiritual elite? Are you willing to survive on starvation rations of one scant meal per week, or will you pay the cost to passionately pursue Him and enjoy the bounty of His presence more and more? That kind of desperation and brokenness can pull God from His hiding place. No wonder He said, ?Seek My face.? God is just waiting to reveal His face to somebody who is desperate enough and bold enough to pull Him out of hiding.?

I don?t know about you but I?m tired of the status quo?tired of church as usual?tired of lukewarm Christianity. I want to be like the apostles in the book of Acts who were willing to suffer anything to spread the Gospel. And I am so hungry for the presence of God in my life and I carry a burden for my Christian friends to feel His presence, to even desire to feel His presence. He has become my magnificent obsession! Is He yours? Let every other pursuit die! Go ahead, let it all go?let all of that old junk die!

And stop beating on doors that God has already closed. Revelation, Chapter 3 says that ?what he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open.? If you are no longer hearing from God in a certain area of your life, if you no longer have that peace that passes understanding about what you?ve given your life to, if you are filled with confusion?maybe Jesus has closed that door and is moving you through the death of that thing to something far more meaningful and beautiful. Only you know what that thing is that you?re trying to make happen and you?re just not getting there. Ask Him to show you. Pray and listen. Be sure that you have asked forHis guidance, then think about it?perhaps the door is closed?perhaps it has died for you?perhaps you?re ready to move on to something beautiful. If God is done with it?you be done with it too.

Thomas F. Fisher said, ?When the seed falls and dies, God is simply transforming you to the degree necessary to make you be an instrument of soul transformation.? (Ministry Health, ?Unless Your Seed Falls?, Thomas F. Fischer, M.Div.,M.S.A. #351)

The leaves are changing color and falling from the trees. Soon it will be winter. The leaves of your life are changing, falling and dying as well. At least some of them should be. Would you have it any other way? Sameness is boring, change is exhilarating! Winter is just around the corner and it may be feeling like it is winter in your soul. But remember that God is faithful and spring with all of its freshness and newness always comes. There IS beauty in the dying!

Following He who bids me come and die, and find that I may truly live!

Donna Schultz

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

#17 The Day and Hour Unknown

#17 October 25, 2005
The Day and Hour Unknown

?Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.? ?So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.? (Matthew 24:42,44)

I have watched a small amount of Hurricane Wilma coverage in the last couple of days, particularly interested because my father in law and sister in law live in the Venice and Fort Myers areas of Florida. Reports of people who decided to ?hunker down? and not heed the warnings were frequent. Wilma has not been a surprise. They have known about her for days and folks had plenty of time to prepare and seek shelter elsewhere. Many chose not to take the warnings seriously.

The Bible has not left us ignorant of the fact that Jesus is coming back. It is full of watches and warnings about His coming. This will be a literal coming back, with Jesus ruling and reigning here on earth and a coming judgment. Although ?No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father? (Matthew 24:36), we are given ample warning and ways to prepare for that Glorious Day. Prophecy scholars believe that we have more reason than any generation before us to believe Christ may return in our generation. (LaHaye, Tim F. Are we living in the end times/Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins).

Many today are not heeding the watches and warnings about the end of the age. I am talking to more and more people lately who just don?t see the need for Jesus in their life. I?ve heard, ?I?m just not ready to take that step right now?. ?I just can?t accept that right now.? ?Maybe someday, but not right now.? Whether from ignorance of what is predicted, or just outright rejection of Christ, people are not taking the warnings seriously. 2Peter 3:5 tells us that in the end there will be scoffers. ?The unregenerate minds of unbelievers resist the idea of the intervention of God in human affairs. Their problem is spiritual ? a matter of the will ? and the unbeliever remains deliberately ignorant of the truth?. . (LaHaye, Tim F. Are we living in the end times/Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins). They are being offered the free gift of eternal life and are choosing to reject it.

Lest we become puffed up and complacent in the fact that we are ?saved?, believers also are given a responsibility in light of the fact that Christ is coming soon. We say ?Yes? to Jesus, we belong to Him and our future is in His hands. However we are given clear direction on how we handle these truths. 2Peter, Chapter 3, verse 11-14 tells us ?Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness. So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him.? This verse tells me that I can speed the Lord?s coming! Wow! It also says that we are looking forward to it. My question is ?are we really looking for His coming?? Or are we ?hunkered down? in our safe lives, concerned only with the here and now?

Jesus tells us in Matthew, Chapter 24 to be ready ?because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.? He says, ?keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.? Again in Chapter 25, verse 13, He says, ?keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.? In keeping with these commands, we as believers need to heed the watches and warnings of our day and be more conscious of holy living in this unholy age. Evangelism and winning souls to Christ should be a real priority in our lives. Telling the story of Christ and His love for us and His unlimited forgiveness and willingness to reconcile us to the Father is of utmost, dire importance before it is too late. If we woke up each morning and looked into the eastern sky and truly, truly believed that today could be The Day, what sort of difference would that make in the way we live our lives, treat our families, reach out to those around us? Jesus said, ?It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns.? (Matthew 24:46). I believe that we would leave our Laodicean lifestyles (Revelation 3) and become hot in pursuit of He who suffered and died for us. We would stop feeding only ourselves but reach out and snatch souls from an eternity of being without God. Jesus is standing at the door and knocking! But His day will come like a thief (2 Peter 3:10 and 1 Thessalonians 5:4), at an hour that we least expect.

Are we living in the last days? No one knows for sure, but the signs are certainly there. We as believers need to be watchful and ready for His coming. And even if He doesn?t come in our lifetime, isn?t this the way we should be living anyway??

Looking up,

Donna Schultz

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

#15 Encourage Yourself in the Lord

#15 October 11, 2005
Encourage Yourself in the Lord

"David was greatly distressed because the men were talking of stoning him; each one was bitter in spirit because of his sons and daughters. But David encouraged himself in the Lord" (1 Samuel 30:6)

David, in exile in the land of the Philistines, was running from Saul. The Bible tells us that he lived in Ziklag for a year and four months. During that time he fought many battles and was always successful. One day the commanders no longer wanted David to fight with them, so he was sent back to Ziklag. Upon arriving he found that the Amalekites had carried out a raid and burned the city. Everyone including the women and children were taken captive. The captives were intended for sale as slaves in the markets of Egypt. Even David's two wives had been carried off. His men turned against him, they wanted to stone him even though he was in great distress of his own. But the Bible says.."David encouraged himself in the Lord" (1 Samuel 30:6). What does that mean? In that time of intense trial, what did David do? I believe that the answer is three-fold.

First I think that encouraging yourself in the Lord means remembering your former joy. A beautiful example of this is written for us in Psalm 42, verses 1-5. While it is not penned by David, but connected with the Levitical family called the Sons of Korah, it is an example of remembering happier times during a time of great hardship. The psalmist is longing for God. He is being taunted by his enemies (vs. 1-3). But he deliberately turns his mind to thinking of a happier time. He remembers the former joy of going up to the house of God, actually leading the procession, "with shouts of joy and thanksgiving" (v.4). Then the tables of his feelings turn and he says, "Hey, why are you downcast, o my soul (why are you worried or upset)? Why so disturbed within me?" He's talking to himself and says, "Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him my Savior and my God" (v.5). He becomes confident that God will do something good. What a change in attitude just by setting his mind to the joys he has experienced in the past and away from his fears of the future!

Along with remembering happier times in the past, recalling God's faithfulness to you is the second step in encouraging yourself in the Lord. Deliberately think back to the times in your life when you had no answers, but God gave them to you. Recall impossible situations that you thought you would never find your way out of, but God.....Remember that money you needed? You were provided for. Remember that illness? You were healed. Remember that broken relationship? It was restored. Remember your wayward son or daughter in trouble? They're on the right track now. We all have so many testimonies to the faithfulness of our Savior. And if He did it then, He'll do it again. He is "the same, yesterday, today and forever" (Hebrews 13:8).

Last, meditate on scripture instead of your problems. When fear knocks on the door, answer it with faith. Fear will not be there anymore. And that faith will be a result of hearing the word of God (see Romans 10:17). Your faith in God will increase as your fear decreases. Just like muscle replaces fat through exercise, exercise your muscles of faith to replace fear. Read the Word..speak it out loud concerning your situation. Every problem, question or circumstance is addressed in God's word. Search for your own personal scriptures -- search like you're looking for treasure. Claim those promises and believe them -- not the devil or your feelings. Satan is just a big old copy cat! He cannot do what God does, so he just tries to imitate Him. God's tool is faith - Satan's tool is fear. Soon you will notice that the two cannot co-exist. Fear is the opposite of faith. You can't feel them both at the same time. With fear comes panic and confusion; with faith comes peace. And you know that "God has not given us a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power, of love and of a sound mind" (2 Timothy 1:7). Live your life and make your decisions out of a sound mind, not one of fear, panic and confusion.

We all face our share of "ites". Husband-ites. Wife-ites. Wayward children-ites. Lack, sickness, work and annoying people-ites. Like David we can encourage ourselves in the Lord. He was a man just like us.

The dictionary defines to encourage as "to inspire with courage or hope; to spur on".

Spur yourself on with remembrance of happier times and God's constant faithfulness. Be courageous, knowing that the Almighty God of the Universe is your loving Heavenly Father and that while He died as the Lamb of God, He rose as the Lion of the tribe of Judah -- totally able to conquer in your every battle. Hope in the fact that at any moment He will appear in the eastern sky with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God (see 1 Thessalonians 4:16). He will take you with Him to a place that is "ite"-free, tear free and where your heart will never break again. "Stand up, lift up your head, because your redemption is drawing near" (Luke 21:28).

With all that to look forward to, we can say with the Psalmist, "Why are you so upset? Put your hope in God!! I WILL praise Him!! He will come through for me one way or another. He is my Savior and my God!"

Until next week,

Donna Schultz

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

#14 "The Only Way Out is Through"

#14 October 4, 2005
"The Only Way Out is Through"

"Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior" (Isaiah 43:1-3).

I remember taking my children to the local and state fairs and watching them go into the fun house. They went through the entrance with eager anticipation, not knowing what was ahead. Once inside they faced an endless maze of sliding floors, crooked mirror images and walls that blocked their paths. One fun house in particular had an upper level about half way through, where they would be able to see me standing below watching them. There were no hidden doors and no routes of escape - the only way out was through.

The days of our lives are kind of like these fun houses, although at times we'd be tempted to say that they are not much fun at all. But just like the fun house at the fair, the only way out is through.

Through the sliding floors of sudden bad news or horrible loss, that threaten to make us lose our footing and fall, while the floor keeps twirling around underneath us. Through the crooked mirror images of lies, deceit, unkind words, low self-esteem and rejection that blur our view of what we really believe and who we are in Christ. Through the walls built up by anger, bitterness, stubbornness and hard heartedness that block our path to the abundant life that Christ died to give us. The walls of sin, the crooked mirrors built by the enemy and his deceptions, the sliding floors of the trials and tribulations we encounter everyday.

Notice that God doesn't say "when you go AROUND the waters and the rivers and the fire." He says "when you go THROUGH." He has a perfect plan for our lives and it must conform to His pattern. The highest quality is only achieved through the pressure, the fire and the floods.

Oswald Chambers says, "If we are ever going to be made into poured out wine for Him, we will have to be crushed-you cannot drink grapes. Grapes become wine only when they have been squeezed."

"The spice frankincense only releases its fragrance in the heat of a fire. It was used to make the sacred anointing oil for kings and priests and for the incense burned as a sacrifice to God in the Jewish temple. Some forms of worship only release their sweetest fragrance to God when offered from fires of trials and adversity. The sacrifice of praise offered in times of trouble is especially sweet and pleasant to the King of Kings." ("Finding Favor with the King, Copyright 2003, Tommy Tenney).

The three Jewish boys who found themselves exiled in Babylon under the pagan king Nebuchadnezzar knew what it meant to go through. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego refused to worship the image of gold that the king set up and found themselves thrown into a furnace so hot that the flames of the fire killed the soldiers who threw them in. But there was a fourth man in the fiery furnace and they were not harmed - they came out and didn't even smell like smoke!! (See Daniel 3). They had a five fold victory. They were loosed from their bonds. They were protected from harm. They were comforted in trial. Their God was glorified. And as God's servants they were rewarded. (The Wycliffe Bible Commentary, Moody, c. 1962).

There is also a fourth man in the fiery furnaces, waters and rivers of our lives. He is God Almighty, El Shaddai, Jesus Christ Himself. Notice how personal He is..."I have summoned you by name; you are mine" (v.1). Notice how you are not ever, ever alone - "I will be with you" (v.2). Notice who He is, "the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior" (v.3).

Notice His promises..."the rivers will not sweep over you and you will not be burned" (v.2). In Psalm 66:12 the psalmist says, "we went through fire and water, but you brought us to a place of abundance."

Just as I stood below, outside the fun house looking out for my children, your Heavenly Father is waiting for you to go through. He hasn't left to go get a cotton candy or an elephant ear. He is waiting patiently and lovingly for you to come out on the other side. And when you do, "your faith, of greater worth than gold, will be proved genuine and will result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed" (1 Peter 1:7).

You will be as fine wine and choice spice. You will be ready for that place of reward and abundance that He has promised. You will be a sweet taste and a beautiful fragrance to your wondrous King!

Going through,

Donna Schultz

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Walking With My Savior #13

#13 September 27, 2005
Walking with My Savior
"Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit." Galatians 5:25

I was reflecting this morning on a devotional by one of my favorite writers and preachers, fellow God Chaser, Tommy Tenney. (http://www.godchasers.net/) The reading dealt with distractions that take our eyes off of Jesus. In my mind's eye I saw myself walking a road with my Savior by my side. Walk the road with me for a few minutes and let's see what happens...

We are on the path of the righteous with Jesus which the Bible tells us is "like the first gleam of dawn, shining ever brighter till the full light of day" (Proverbs 4:18). The path is bright and light because "in Him there is no darkness at all" (1 John 1:5). Our Lord, our Redeemer, our Friend, our All in All is talking to us and we are abiding in Him. Our minds are set on Him and we have life and peace (Romans 8:6). His words are a "lamp to our feet and a light for our path" (Psalm 119: 105).

There are many signs along the way. STOP and go down the path of offense for a while. YIELD to the voice of gossip, backbiting and slander. GO the way of anger, bitterness and resentment. Liar's Lane on the left and Revenge Road on the right. Selfish City this way...Lust Lane that way. Take a swim in Superficial Swamp - dive into Complacent Canal. Watch out! It's pretty shallow! Worry World, with all of it's rides and attractions bids you to come and take a vacation. Judgement Jungle beckons with the promise that you will see "a roaring lion waiting to see who he can devour (1 Peter 5:8). You get the picture...

All of a sudden it's cold. It's dark. Your insides are churning. Your mind is racing a mile a minute. Focus has left and fear has taken it's place. And wait a minute....Where is Jesus? He was with us a minute ago...He was right here...Jesus? JESUS?

Softly He waves and says, "Here I am...right here where you left me." We got distracted, we were enticed, we wandered away. But Jesus didn't follow. He stayed where we should have stayed. You see, the Lamb of God knows who His Shepherd is - His Heavenly Father - and He only follows Him. But "we all like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way. (Isaiah 53:6).

I imagine Jesus sitting down at the side of the path and saying, "there they go again - why won't they ever learn?" As He cried over Jerusalem, He cries over us, "how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings" (Matthew 23:37). But He doesn't leave - He doesn't go on without us. He loves us too much to leave us but He also loves us enough to let us learn the lessons of the wayward path.

So we make our way back. Bruised, cut, broken, guilty, ashamed and so, so sorry! We part the trees of the dark forest we have been in and there He is! Patiently waiting, arms open wide, a smile on His face. The Balm of Gilead Himself with His hands poised to heal our wounds (Jeremiah 8:22 and Jeremiah 46:11). His arm extends. His finger points to the Path once more. Faith replaces fear. Peace replaces confusion. Hope replaces despair. Life replaces death. Blessings replace curses. Forgiveness replaces condemnation. We receive beauty for ashes, strength for fear, gladness for mourning and peace for despair (Isaiah 61:3).

And we wonder...why did we ever leave His side in the first place? Why do we always think we know better? But our Lord never says, "I told you so". He lovingly says, "Follow me". "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." (John 8:12). His arm goes around us and tenderly He says, "Let's walk -- I've got some secrets to tell you".

Walking with Him,

Donna Schultz

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

#12 Getting to Know Him

Getting to Know Him
#12 September 20, 2005
Let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me." Jeremiah 9:24

I can remember the days when I first met my husband. I can't say that it was love at first sight but there was certainly something about him that was drawing me, intriguing me, and beckoning me to get to know him. I wanted to spend more time with him. I wanted to find out who he was and what he was really like. As we grew closer it became important to me to find out his thoughts, his dreams, what he liked and what he didn't like. Whether we are meeting a future spouse or a future friend, we go through the process of getting to know them in the same way.

I have heard it said that we can never really know God. I don't believe that is true because God says in His word that He wants us to know Him. And His word is the truth! I believe we should go about knowing God in the same way that we get to know people in the natural world.

When we are getting to know someone we spend time with them and so it should be with God. The knowledge of God doesn't just come to us by osmosis the day we are saved. We have to make time with the Lord our number one priority. He should receive the "first fruits" of our day. We shouldn't squeeze Him in between our schedule or come to Him at the end of the day when we are spent and tired. Awake and alert we enter His presence with praise and thanksgiving and He meets us then, for "God inhabits the praises of His people." (Psalm 22:3) He will meet you in the midst of your praise. And through the reading of His word He will reveal Himself to you. Everything that you want to know about Him is there for you...in His word.

He will tell you who He is....the great I Am, El Shaddai (God Almighty), Jehovah Jireh (God is our provider), Jehovah Rophe (God is our healer), Jehovah Raah (our shepherd), Jehovah Nissi (our banner in battle). He will tell you that He is your creator, your father, your friend that sticketh closer than a brother. God will show you that He is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. He will reveal Himself as the Prince of Peace, Mighty Counselor, Holy One, Lamb of God, the Lion of the tribe of Judah. He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. He is Love. He is Savior and Messiah. He will show you that He is your soon coming King. And that is just a glimpse of who He is! Do you really want to know God? Then spend time in His word.

We ask people questions when we are getting to know them. What do they like - what do they dislike? What makes them happy or sad? We need to ask those same questions of God. Lord, what do you love - what do you hate? What breaks your heart so that it will break mine too? He wants to tell us, among other things, that He loves the righteous (Psalm 146:8), He loves justice (Psalm 99:4), He loves a broken spirit and a broken and contrite heart (Psalm 51:17). God even gives us a list of six things that he hates in Proverbs 6: 16-19. It's all there - again - in His word! You don't have to look far to find out who God is. He did not leave us to wonder or grope around in the dark. He left us His written word to search for who He is and He says, "Seek and you will find" (Matthew 7:7). He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:6). Ask Him the questions - He will answer.

Besides finding out who He is, you will also find out what He is like. He will tell you that He is faithful, He is kind and compassionate. He longs to be gracious to you. He is merciful and forgiving. He is patient and full of loving kindness toward you. He protects, He shields you from harm, he answers your prayers, He has a great and glorious plan for your life. Through seeking Him and letting Him show you Himself, you can draw upon truth in the storms of life because you know God! The voice of the enemy of your soul will grow fainter and God's truth will guard your heart, your mind and your emotions. You will not fear - you know God!

A very important part of getting to know someone is listening to them. Besides reading your Bible, there should also be some time to just be quiet and listen. Be truly quiet because the Lord doesn't often come in the whirlwind and the earthquake. He most often comes in a gentle whisper (Read 1 Kings 19: 11-12). This is a time when we don't speak - He does. Through an inner voice, through leading you to a passage of Scripture, through a tender touch of peace that only He can give. Through a clear directive or a strong conviction of your sin.

Last we get to know someone by observing them. Be alert and in tune to God's hand in your life. Don't mistake anything for coincidence or happenstance. See His faithfulness to you when you have needed a miracle. See His healing in sickness. See His peace in the middle of a raging storm. Feel His strength when you were about to give up and He held you up. Don't ever give credit to yourself or other people - know that it was God, walking into your life saying, "I will show you who I am and what I am like and because of what I've shown you, you will be stronger next time because you know me!"

The way that I have it figured, the only way to know God is to spend time with Him and in His word. He loves spending time with you. I believe He gets excited when He sees you coming. He drops everything for you. He is honored when you let Him know that nothing is more important. Paul said in Philippians 3:8, "I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of KNOWING (emphasis mine) Christ Jesus my Lord." He considered everything else "rubbish".

The Bible says that God knows you. He knows everything about you. He knew your name and your days while you were still in your mother's womb (Read Psalm 139). He knows the number of hairs that are on your head (Matthew 10:30). Now He calls you to know Him. He longs to reveal Himself to you. He is waiting for you whether you have just accepted Christ or whether you have been a Christian for many years. There is always something new to learn, more to know about Him, more secrets to be revealed. No relationship is more important. No task is more pressing. Like Paul, consider everything else rubbish and a loss compared to knowing Christ Jesus, your Lord.

Until next week,

Donna Schultz

Monday, September 12, 2005

#10 Lessons from My Own Backyard

#10 September 6, 2005
Lessons From My Own Back Yard

"For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities-his eternal power and divine nature-have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse". (Romans 1:20)

I love our backyard. Over the last 15 years we have let nature take it's course and it is now surrounded by trees and green ground cover with a smattering of color here and there around the yard.

Early this morning before most folks were up and moving, creation was alive and revealed the glory and power of God. The birds were singing, a rabbit and a squirrel were scampering around. I heard the sound of the breeze blowing through the trees. Off in the distance a ships' horn could be heard on the lake.

When the world and our own personal lives seem to be reeling out of control, God makes sure that He leaves us evidence that He still is. In fact, all through time God has always made Himself visible through His creation.

Psalm 19:1-4 says, "The heavens declare the glory of God, the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech, night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world."

Since the creation of the world God can be seen through what He has made. The Message says, "the basic reality of God is plain enough. Open your eyes and there it is! By taking a long and thoughtful look at what God has created, people have always been able to see what their eyes as such can't see: eternal power, for instance, and the mystery of his divine being. So nobody has a good excuse". (Romans 1:20) In creation the everlasting power of God is seen. By observing His work, men are confronted with the living God.

In a broad sense, this past week has been hard on all of us. We are bombarded with images of catastrophic loss of life and property in the South. On a more personal level, you may be enduring a loss or catastrophe of your own, bombarding your thoughts with images that are just as frightening for you. But my Bible tells me that if I just take my eyes off of myself for a little while, maybe, just maybe He will show Himself to me. He's not hard to find, we don't have to look far.

He is in the sunrise of the morning and the moon at night. He is in the constancy of their rising and setting each and every day. When you doubt that He remembers you, look up at a starry sky and hear Him tell you that He knows each and every one by name. (Psalm 147:4). If He knows each star - He remembers you. He has engraved you on the palms of His hands (Isaiah 49:16). Learn a lesson from the birds - Jesus says that you don't need to weary yourself - He provides for the birds and you are much more valuable (Matthew 6:26). Two sparrows are sold for a penny, yet Jesus watches over them. You are worth more than many sparrows. Even the hairs of your head are numbered (Matthew 10: 29-31). Observe the expanse of the waters - their gentle beauty and their awesome power.

Take note of His faithfulness in the seasons. Year after year, the seasons change. And we know by natures' example that God is faithful and that spring will come to erase the winters of our souls.

When the warm summer breeze brushes across my face I like to think that it's the hand of God reminding me that He is there and that He loves me.

God's attention to detail is evident in His work. The minute fibers inside of a flower, each leaf, each blossom. He is just as concerned with even the smallest concerns of your life.

When we truly look at God as He reveals Himself in His creation, we are given peace. We are inspired to worship Him because He is splendid and beautiful...just like His creation.

See Him when He releases the rain from it's storehouse and praise Him because you know that it makes things grow, in nature and in your life. He is in the rainbow after the storm.

And the clouds remind us that one day He will come on those very clouds and we will see Him as He really is.

But for now, until that great and glorious Day - He has left us this amazing world - His majestic creation. His love letter to you. Sometimes it's not very dramatic but it is always there, constant, faithful - just like it's marvelous Creator.

The next time that you are overwhelmed, burdened with care, unsure of exactly where God is - touch a part of His creation. See what He has made and read the message that He has left to you. Focus on the One who created the whole universe and feel His peace. Remember, you don't have to look far. I know. He was there this morning - while I was learning lessons, right in my own backyard.

Until next week,

Donna Schultz

If you would prefer to not receive these e-mails, please let me know at savemom@aol.com. Feel free to forward them as the Lord leads you and if others would like to receive it, e-mail savemom@aol.com to be added to the list.

SPECIAL: After the Hurricane

September 2, 2005
2 Chronicles 7:22 and 2 Chronicles 7:14

At times like this, times when tragedy strikes in a way that leaves us weak in the knees and barely able to breathe, we long to hear an encouraging and uplifting word. We long to hear how much God loves us and that all things will work for the good. We need to hear that God is still in control and that the world has not spun off of it's axis while we were asleep. All of that is absolute truth, but.....

God is love. He is also a just and jealous God. He is long-suffering but the Bible affirms over and over again that He is not forever-suffering, just long-suffering. I believe that God reaches His limit and says, "That's enough!"

So many are asking right now, "Why has God done such a thing to this land? How could a loving God allow this to happen?" In 2 Chronicles, Chapter 7, Verse 21, it says that people would ask that question in times of disaster. Could it be that God has given us His answer, right there in His Word? "Because they have forsaken the Lord, the God of their fathers, who brought them out of Egypt, and have embraced other gods, worshipping and serving them - that is why He brought all this disaster on them."

This great United States of America was founded on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It's laws and foundation were grounded on Judeo-Christian principles. Our founding fathers believed that government without God was unheard of. But look at where we are today. God has been thrown out of our schools. The display of His Ten Commandments are being outlawed. Homosexuality is changing the face of marriage and the family as we know it and of how our Master created it to be. Millions of babies are being slaughtered everyday in the abortion houses. Our respect for life has been reduced to determining it's usefulness to society. Judicial tyranny runs rampant. Judges who are appointed for life are rewriting our Constitution to make laws that fit their own personal agendas or cow-tow to the homosexual agenda (only 3% of our population) and Planned Parenthood. We have allowed the Jews, God's chosen people to be evicted from their homeland. God says that He will "vigorously defend their cause." (Jeremiah 50:34) God has a proven history of avenging Himself on nations that are against His people, Israel. This country has turned it's back and shaken it's fist at Christ.

I have asked many times - How long, Lord until you say "That's enough?" Well maybe...just maybe...

We can't blame it all on the devil. The responsibility rests on the shoulders of the church and it's individual members as well. Notice the 14th verse in 2 Chronicles, Chapter 7. A verse we are all very familiar with. God says, "If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land."

Notice that God said, "my people." That's you, that's me, that's the Church. It's not the unbeliever, the unsaved, the activist for evil or the devil -- it's you and me! God has expectations of us. We should know better. Unless we live in a cave, we know what kinds of evil are permeating our society. And many choose to do nothing. We get so wrapped up in our lives, our problems, our needs that as long as things don't seem to directly affect us, we do nothing. We say, I've never committed murder. I've never had an abortion. I'm not gay. I'm okay. No, really you're not. Proverbs 24:11-12 says "Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter. If you say, "But we knew nothing about this," does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who guards your life know it? Will he not repay each person according to what he has done?" Proverbs 31:8 says, "Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy." We are commanded to act...to do something. Our inaction and complacency are sin. Proverbs 1:32b says.."the complacency of fools will destroy them." Jeremiah 49:31 says, "arise and attack a nation at ease, which lives in confidence, declares the Lord."

There are some wonderful pastors throughout this country who are not afraid to address these issues. However, the church in general thinks that God doesn't want them to be outspoken about them. It is time for the churches of this nation to stand up and as Pastor Rod Parsley says, "Be Silent No More."

Our allegiance is to Jesus Christ. Not to our fear of the government taking away our 501c3 status. Not to our fear of offending someone. My goodness..the preaching of the Cross is offensive - should we stop that as well? Our allegiance is not to our desire to be seeker-friendly and non-threatening. I believe that those words make Jesus sick.

As individual believers, God spells out what we are to do, right here-right now. "If my people" - that's you. "Humble themselves" -- See the might and power of the living God and come under His direction and mighty hand. Acknowledge your nothingness. "And pray". Oh, pray like you've never prayed before. Go boldly to the throne of grace and intercede for this nation and it's people. Pray for our President. Don't blame him for not doing enough. If you can do a better job right now...go for it! Pray for our Congress, Representatives, local officials. Pray that God will bring constructionist judges who are Christ followers to the bench to enforce the Constitution, not rewrite it. Pray for Roe v. Wade to be overturned. Pray for people to see that Allah is not the same God that we serve and that we will not become a Muslim nation. Pray for the church, that they would be bold and stand up for truth, unafraid, in the example of the church of the Book of Acts - filled with the Holy Spirit and putting Jesus Christ and truth first.

"Seek my face". Stop seeking His hand. Seek His face! Cry out for Him to manifest Himself in our lives and in our assembling together. Hunger and thirst for more of His presence. Surrender it all to Him, make everything all about Him. Chase Him, run after Him, He will show Himself to you.

"Turn from your wicked ways." Examine yourself and confess your individual sin. Confess the corporate sin of the Church. Repent and do His will. Be ashamed if the tragedy in the Gulf Coast doesn't break your heart; it should.

He promises that He will "hear from heaven and will forgive our sin and will heal our land."

I am like Jeremiah in Jeremiah 20:9. "But if I say, "I will not mention him or speak anymore in his name," his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed I cannot."

So, I implore you to do something. Pray. Be concerned. Give your money to a good organization who will use it to help those who are so devastated along the Gulf Coast. Go and help if you can. Start paying attention to the issues of our day and our country's responses to them. Write or call your Senators. Stop supporting companies and causes that do not adhere to Christian values. Be bold, speak out, do not be afraid. It is time for the church of Jesus Christ to stand up and be counted. Jesus took a beating for us and died a horrible death. We are not being asked to suffer to the point of shedding our blood (Hebrews 12:4). It's the least we can do for Him.

Speaking the truth in love,

Donna Schultz

If you would prefer to not receive these e-mails, please let me know at savemom@aol.com. Feel free to forward them as the Lord leads you and if others would like to receive it, e-mail savemom@aol.com to be added to the list.

#9 Inquire of the Lord

#9 August 30, 2005

"We did not inquire of him (the Lord our God) about how to do it in the prescribed way." 1 Chronicles 15:13b

Have you ever noticed when you are reading your Bible that God spoke so specifically to people when they prayed? He answered them audibly, clearly and told them exactly what He wanted them to do. The other day I was reading 1 Chronicles about King David who asked God if he should attack the Philistines. He did this twice and God answered specifically each time, letting him know what action to take. I stopped and said, "Lord - do you still speak like that to people today?" And as clear as a bell, I heard him say to my heart, "Donna, I've given you my Word."

Then I read today's verse. God broke out in anger against the Levites because they did not inquire of Him in the past regarding bringing up the ark of the Lord. He wanted them to ask Him how to do it in the prescribed way - His way!

What importance do you place on God's Word - on your Bible? Is it a coffee table or book shelf decoration? Have you believed Satan's lie that it is outdated and not relevant in today's modern world? Do you only pull it out on Sunday mornings to carry to church? We don't even have to do that anymore do we? After all - it's up on the big screen, isn't it?

When you hold your Bible in your hands, you are holding everything you need for life and godliness. Everything! 2 Peter 1:3 says that "His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by His own glory and goodness." Do we have knowledge of Him? The only source of that knowledge is His word! And it seems to me that we don't get what we need for life and godliness unless it's through our knowledge of Him. His word --- Knowledge of Him --- Everything we need for life and godliness!

If we truly want to live for Christ we must have a knowledge of His word. We need to read it, study it, meditate on it. You can't put it into practice if you don't know it. Good works won't do it. Church attendance won't do it. We have to be in the Word on our own. God told Joshua in Joshua 1:8, "Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful."

God wants us to inquire of Him about how to live our lives. He longs to guide us and direct us because He knows that if we follow His way there is life and blessing and safety in our path. He is the Good Shepherd. God is the only one who can control our lives without destroying them.

We have our own thoughts, our own ways of doing things. But we need to check those things out according to what the Word says. We may be deceiving ourselves unless we line up everything with the Word. God says that His thoughts are not our thoughts or His ways our ways (Isaiah 55:8). So what are His thoughts, His ways? Read the word and you'll find out. We must begin to line up our thoughts with God's thoughts. Where are those? In His Word!

Our thoughts lead us to our actions which then influence our lives. We think something, then we do it and it sets something in motion in our lives. Good thoughts lead to good fruit. Wrong thoughts produce wrong actions and produce no fruit or bad fruit. Romans Chapter 12, Verse 2 tells us that we must be transformed by the renewing of our mind. Then we will know what God's will is. When we renew our mind, we will replace the world's thoughts with God's thoughts and again -- God's thoughts are all in His Word.

Change your thoughts
Change your actions
Change your life.

Paul told his young friend Timothy that "all Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man (or woman) of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17) For every issue of life, the Bible speaks a word.

How do you have a good marriage? Search the Word!
How should you raise your children? Turn the pages of the Bible - your answers are there.
What kind of an employee should you be - God's word again!
What about your finances? BINGO! In the Word!!

There are over 2000 promises that God makes you in His Word. How can you claim them? A lot of them are given to you after you've obeyed God in a prescribed way - how do you know the way to your promise if you're not in the Word?

How do you fend off Satan, his attacks and his lies? The Bible says the Word of God is the sword of the Spirit. Jesus used it against the enemy in the desert. How can you defend yourself with it if you don't know it?

I heard someone talk about the Genesis 3 Question. After Adam and Eve ate the fruit in the garden, they hid themselves from God. When He asked them where they were Adam said that he was afraid because he was naked. God said, "Who told you that you were naked?" WHO TOLD YOU? Who is telling you what to believe? God, Satan, your friends, the world system, political parties?

God didn't just leave us with His Word. He also put the Holy Spirit on the inside of us. The Holy Spirit only speaks what the Father and Jesus would say. His indwelling presence and voice will confirm His Word. Again, you must know the word to know whether the voice you hear is the Spirit's, the enemy's or your own.

This may have been basic for some, new to others or a needed reminder. I believe that there is absolutely nothing more important than God's word. Carry it, search through it for truth. For every question or decision you have, ask "what does the Bible say about that?" Memorize it. Feast on it. Most importantly - OBEY IT!

A worn, broken and tattered Bible usually indicates a life that is not!

If you don't have a Bible, call me, I'll buy you one--

Donna Schultz

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