Know Your Enemy

I’ve been hearing a lot of talk about the origin of the COVID-19 pandemic. You may have heard some of this same talk.

There are all sorts of theories, assumptions, and even so-called facts floating around. “This country started the virus for this reason” and “This underground secret organization started the virus for this reason.” Listening to all these theories makes my head spin.

Some of these theories may very well be true but my point is this, we are in the middle of a battle and a major part of winning any battle is knowing who your enemy is.

Ephesians 6:12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 

God’s word is clear. Our enemy is Satan and in this battle, his weapon is the Coronavirus. What is his strategy?

John 10:10a The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. 

1 Peter 5:8b Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 

It may look as though our enemy has the upper hand right now but things are happening behind the scenes that we don’t always see in the news or scrolling through Social Media.

Throughout the Bible, we see time and again how God takes what our enemy means for evil and uses it for good. We see it in the life of Joseph, David, Ruth, Esther, the Apostles, and most importantly in the life and death of Jesus.

Satan thought he had finally beat God at the cross of Christ but it turned out to be God’s biggest victory of all time for all mankind.

Hebrews 2:14-15 Since the children have flesh and blood, he [Jesus] too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death–that is, the devil–and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. 

How is God using what Satan intends for evil for good in the Corona battle?

  • We’re talking about God.
  • We’re talking to God.
  • We’re reading our Bibles.
  • We’re crying out to God for help.
  • We’re running to God for salvation.
  • We’re putting our differing political views aside to help one another.
  • We’re spending time with people we live with, getting to know them better.
  • We’re reaching out to those we have been out of touch with, checking on them.
  • We’re using Social Media as a tool to encourage instead of tear down.
  • We’re more unified and less divided.
  • We’re more appreciative of things and people we miss due to social distancing.

Just like our enemy Satan has a strategy in this battle, God gives us a battle strategy.

Ephesians 6:14-18 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for the Lord’s people. 

God tells us who our enemy is, He assures us He is working things out for good, He’s with us, He’s fighting for us [Romans 8:28, Joshua 1:9, Deuteronomy 3:22], and He provides us with the proper gear needed to fight and win every battle.

So, instead of pointing fingers at this government, this country, this scientist, or that organization which leads to more division, which is also a strategy of our enemy, let’s instead join together in unity to fight our true enemy, Satan.

Let’s heed the recommendations of scientists, doctors, and government officials on how to keep from catching and spreading the Coronavirus.

Let’s put on our battle gear and use it!

  • The helmet of salvation to protect our minds against negative thoughts that lead to fear, worry, anxiety, and panic.
  • The breastplate of righteousness to protect our hearts from discouragement.
  • Wrap ourselves tightly in the belt of truth, Jesus, who is the way, the truth, and the life.
  • Put on our shoes of the good news of God’s peace and share it with others.
  • Keep our shield of faith in God as our helper, provider, and healer held high and steady, quenching the fiery darts of fear and worry.
  • Keep the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, in our hearts, minds, and mouths.
  • Pray about everything all the time and for everyone.
  • Stay alert, stay vigilant!

1 Corinthians 15:57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

I hope and pray this blog has encouraged you to fight the good fight of faith. If you would like to offer more words of encouragement to others please comment below. God bless you and I’m praying for you.

~Patrice Maguire

Dear God, I know I am a sinner, and I ask for Your forgiveness. I believe Jesus Christ is Your Son. I believe that He died for my sin and that You raised Him to life. I want to trust Him as my Savior and follow Him as Lord, from this day forward. Guide my life and help me to do Your will through the power of Your Holy Spirit. I pray this in the name of Jesus. Amen.

 

 

 

 

Our Rescue in the Corona Storm

Wow! What a storm we are all going through right now! It’s not just our own little individual storms. The whole world is in the same boat going through the same storm. We’re all in this together.

I’m reminded of another storm in Matthew 14:22-34. Jesus told His disciples to get into a boat and go ahead of Him to the other side of the lake while He went alone to pray. Later that night a storm arose and the boat was being beaten by strong winds and waves.

Shortly before dawn, Jesus went out to the boat walking on the waves. When the disciples saw Him they were afraid. Jesus assured them that it was He; therefore, calming their fears.

Peter, full of faith, wanted to walk on the water with Jesus and so he did. But when he took his eyes off Jesus and put them on the stormy waves, he began to sink.

Peter cried out to Jesus, “Save me!” Jesus reached out His hand and caught Peter. Then He said, “You of little faith, why did you dought?”

Jesus and Peter got into the boat, the wind died down, and the disciples worshiped Jesus saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.” Then they continued their journey to the other side of the lake.

We are all in the same boat going through the same storm and everything seems dark right now. Jesus is telling us we are going to make it to the other side together. He’s assuring us of His presence and who He is, calming our fears.

He’s inviting us to walk on the storms of life with Him, to trust Him, to keep our focus on Him.

When we keep our eyes on Jesus, we walk in victory above our circumstances with confidence in the One who is in control of all things. When we take our eyes off Jesus and put them on the storm we sink in fear; because we are putting faith in the storm rather than the One who can calm the storm.

However, when we begin to sink in fear, and we all do at times, we can cry out to Jesus to rescue us and He is right there to catch us and calm the storm inside us and give us His peace.

Philippians 4:7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

During this Corona storm, Jesus wants us to know that truly He is the only one who can save us. Truly He is the only one that can calm the storms in our hearts and minds and give us peace that surpasses all understanding. Truly He is the only one who can get us to the other side of this storm victoriously. Truly He is the Son of God!

I’d like to encourage you today to keep your eyes on Jesus amid the storm. Amid the turbulent wind and waves of fear and dought beating your heart and mind.

You may ask, “How do I do that?”

Some things I do to keep my focus on Christ are to read and study His Word, the Bible, listen to worship music, read devotionals, pray, read Christian books, listen to sermons filled with the truth of God’s Word, talk to other believers for encouragement.

Yes, stay informed and take every precaution to avoid catching or spreading the Coronavirus. We need to do these things just out of love and respect for everyone around us.

But we can do all these things while keeping our eyes on Jesus, keeping our faith in Him as our source of help, strength, protection, peace, joy, provision, and victory.

Psalms 91:14-15 “Because he loves me,” says the Lord, ” I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With a long life, I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.”

God’s got this and He’s got you!

Isaiah 41:10 So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

If you would like to offer additional words of encouragement to others please comment below. Also, let’s remember to pray for one another, help one another, and be generous with our resources. God bless you!

~Patrice Maguire

Dear God, I know I am a sinner, and I ask for Your forgiveness. I believe Jesus Christ is Your Son. I believe that He died for my sin and that You raised Him to life. I want to trust Him as my Savior and follow Him as Lord, from this day forward. Guide my life and help me to do Your will through the power of Your Holy Spirit. I pray this in the name of Jesus. Amen.

 

 

 

Encouragement Amid Chaos

If you’ve been to the grocery store lately, which you probably have, you’ve probably noticed a lot of empty shelves. It seems as though the world is having trouble meeting the needs of the people during this Coronavirus crisis.

As I ponder the world’s short supply of things we need, I’m reminded of God’s never-ending supply of all our needs and especially the crisis-essentials; things more vital than masks, toilet paper, and hand sanitizer.

I’m talking about the things only God can supply amid a crisis; things we can’t buy in a store.

  • God is our never-ending supply of refuge, strength, and help.

Psalm 46:1-3 God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.

  • God is our never-ending supply of love and mercy.

Lamentations 3:22-23 “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”

  • God is our never-ending supply of peace.

John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”

  • God is our never-ending supply of hope.

Romans 15:13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

  • God is our never-ending supply of joy.

Psalms 16:11 You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

  • God is our never-ending supply of stability.

Psalm 55:22 “Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.”

  • God is our never-ending supply of companionship. 

Deuteronomy 31:6 “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

  • God is our never-ending supply of victory.

Romans 8:37-39 “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

This is just a short-list of God’s never-ending supply of most important essentials during not only times of crisis but also in our everyday lives.

What are you running low on today? Joy? Peace? Companionship due to recommended social distancing?

Let me personally invite you to God’s storehouse, where the supply of crisis-essentials never run out, are always abundant, always available, and always free to you and me; paid for by the blood of Jesus.

Wow! Now that’s the best news we may have heard in a long time.

I hope this blog has encouraged you today. I want to further encourage you to go to God’s word for the answers to every problem and to go to Him in prayer. He loves us and wants us to talk to Him about the things that concern us. He’s our good Father.

The Lord is the only answer to every crisis. He is the only one who can truly help us and meet every need. So let’s not run from the Lord during times of trouble but instead run to Him.

Hebrews 4:16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

If anyone has a specific prayer need, please comment below. Also, If anyone would like to add words of encouragement for others please do so. I am praying for us all. God bless you!

~Patrice Maguire

Dear God, I know I am a sinner, and I ask for Your forgiveness. I believe Jesus Christ is Your Son. I believe that He died for my sin and that You raised Him to life. I want to trust Him as my Savior and follow Him as Lord, from this day forward. Guide my life and help me to do Your will through the power of Your Holy Spirit. I pray this in the name of Jesus. Amen.

The Relationship Factor

I was talking to a friend who is having some difficulties in her marriage. She shared how she tells her husband every day that she loves him but he rejects her love and affection. As she began to cry, I could sense her pain. Her heart was breaking.

Their wedding anniversary is coming soon. She shared how she hoped they could go to a nice dinner and spend time together but the way he was treating her wasn’t very reassuring.

As she was speaking, I thought about how we sometimes treat God and wondered how it makes Him feel.

God is constantly showing us His love. He pursues us, provides for us, waits patiently for us to turn to Him, is merciful and gracious toward us, never leaves us or forsakes us, never gives up on us.

How do we respond to God’s love? Are we grateful? Do we thank Him? Do we acknowledge Him? Do we talk to Him?

Just as my friend longed for her husband to spend time with her, God longs to spend time with us.

As we jump out of bed with just enough time to get dressed and get to where we need to be or do what we need to do, God is saying, “I would really love to spend time with you. I have so much I want to share with you. I’d love for you to get to know Me better.”

In the middle of our day, as we take a little break for lunch or a nap, God is saying, “I would love to have your attention for just a few minutes before you get busy again. Maybe we could go for a walk. Or maybe we could just sit here and talk a minute.”

At the end of our day, while we are winding down sitting in front of a television, computer, or book, God is saying, “We still have time to visit before you go to sleep. I’d love to hear about your day, your hopes and dreams, your hurts.”

We are made in the image of God. We have emotions and feelings. God has emotions too. I wonder how God feels when we ignore, reject, forget, disrespect, or don’t appreciate Him.

I’m thinking He feels a lot like my friend does when her husband treats her that very same way; sad, unwanted, and heartbroken.

God loves us so much that He gave His one and only Son to die as a sacrifice for our sins. Why? Because sin separates us from Him; a holy God. If we are separated from God He can’t be in a relationship with us.

When two people are in a relationship they spend time getting to know one another, talk to each other, appreciate one another in word and deed, and respect one another and what each one brings to the relationship.

People in relationship value one another, do things to show their love for one another, acknowledge one another, and honor each other above themselves.

There is a lot that goes into building a strong and lasting relationship. It doesn’t just happen overnight and it takes work but the results are so rewarding.

Salvation doesn’t take any work on our part. Jesus did all the work on the cross. But cultivating a relationship with the Lord takes time and effort.

What are the results of a vibrant relationship with God? Knowing we are loved unconditionally, perfectly, and completely, joy, peace, power, purpose, trust, affirmation, guidance, comfort, assurance, wisdom, understanding. The list goes on and on.

Choosing to not spend time with God doesn’t just hurt God, it hurts us as well.

Hebrews 11:6 And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.

I don’t know about you but I’m thinking that getting up a little earlier in the mornings and turning off the television or computer to spend time with our loving generous heavenly Father would totally be worth it.

Let’s make more of an effort to show the Lord how much He means to us and how much we appreciate all He has done for us and is doing for us by taking time out of our busy day to acknowledge Him and thank Him.

Let’s talk to God and listen as He speaks to us through His word and His Holy Spirit. Let’s take advantage of all the benefits of the cross by cultivating the relationship God gave everything to have with us.

Revelation 3:20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.

~Patrice Maguire

Dear God, I know I am a sinner, and I ask for Your forgiveness. I believe Jesus Christ is Your Son. I believe that He died for my sin and that You raised Him to life. I want to trust Him as my Savior and follow Him as Lord, from this day forward. Guide my life and help me to do Your will through the power of Your Holy Spirit. I pray this in the name of Jesus. Amen.

 

The Sun is Always Shining

Recently in southern Louisiana, we’ve had a lot of cloudy days. On those gloomy days, I’m encouraged by reminding myself that no matter how things appear, the sun is still shining.

Think about it. The sun is always shining. Even when we can’t see it, it’s shining. Even when we can’t feel it, it’s warm somewhere. The sun is always working. It never takes a day off.

The clouds may hide the sun or, depending on where we are in the cycle of rotation around the sun, we may not feel its warmth as much, but it’s always there. That is so encouraging to me.

Just as the sun is always present and working, holding the solar systems together; providing life-giving light, heat, and energy [nationalgeographic.com], so is our heavenly Father.

Sometimes it may seem as though God is nowhere to be found because we can’t see Him working or feel His presence. The clouds of gloomy situations may be blocking our view of Him. But we can be assured that He is there and He is working. He is always working.

John 5:17 In his defense Jesus said to them, “My father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working.”

When I can’t see the sun, I know it’s there because I have faith that it’s there. I’ve seen it before and I’ve felt it’s warmth on my skin. I’ve studied and read about all the amazing things the sun does. I’ve seen the results of the sun when looking at a beautiful flower, a tall tree, or my reddened skin.

Likewise, when I can’t see God working in my present situation or feel His presence, I have faith that He is with me and working things out for my good and for His glory.

Why do I have faith? Because I’ve experienced Him working in my life and circumstances. I read and study His word. I see throughout His word that what He said He would do He has done and what He said would happen has happened.

I’ve seen the results of God working and felt His presence in my own life when I was healed or my prayers were answered. When my children were born. When He provided for me and my family.

I’ve seen God working in the life of a family member, setting them free from addiction and a life of crime. He’s changed my own heart, mind, and attitudes.

I see God working when He takes my brokenness and uses it to encourage and help others that are also broken. I felt Him working when I was diagnosed with breast cancer and should have been afraid, sad, and angry but instead I was joyful, hopeful, and at peace.

No one can tell me that God is not with me and working in my situations. His word says He’s working, I’ve experienced Him working, and felt Him working. I’m convinced! I believe!

God works in ways we don’t understand. We don’t always immediately see what He’s up to but when we finally do it’s always amazing.

Isaiah 55:8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.”

What cloudy situation is blocking your view of God today? The loss of a job, loss of a loved one, poor health, loneliness, financial needs?

Just as the sun is always shining and doing its job, God is always working no matter what we see or how we feel. We only need to see Him with our eyes of faith.

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.

Our faith in God grows as we get to know Him. We get to know God by reading and studying His word, spending time with Him in prayer, and worshiping and praising Him. It’s like any relationship, the better we get to know a person, the more we trust them and believe them.

Let’s ask the Lord to open our eyes of faith today. Let’s ask Him to show us who He is,  what He’s done in His word, and remind us of all He’s done in our own lives.

Let’s get to know God so we can trust Him. Let’s choose to believe He is always working for our good and His glory no matter what we see or feel.

Just as the sun is always shining, God is always working.

Romans 8:28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

~Patrice Maguire

Dear God, I know I am a sinner, and I ask for Your forgiveness. I believe Jesus Christ is Your Son. I believe that He died for my sin and that You raised Him to life. I want to trust Him as my Savior and follow Him as Lord, from this day forward. Guide my life and help me to do Your will through the power of Your Holy Spirit. I pray this in the name of Jesus. Amen.

 

 

 

 

Are you a Sheep or a Goat?

When I get the mail, I usually go through it right away. Sometimes I can tell by the envelope what’s inside. I immediately separate the mail into two groups; one group is to throw away and the other group is to keep.

The process of separating my mail reminds me of a couple of parables Jesus told. One is the parable of the wheat and the weeds [Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43]. The other is the parable of the sheep and the goats [Matthew 25:31-46].

In both parables, the wheat and the sheep represent those whom Jesus calls righteous. The weeds and the goats represent the unrighteous.

Two scriptures that explain what it means to be righteous or unrighteous are:

2 Corinthians 5:21 God made him (Jesus) who had no sin to be sin for us so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

According to the two parables, there are two kinds of people in this world; the righteous and the unrighteous. Right now both are mixed together. But there is coming a day, judgment day, when the two will be separated into groups.

One group will spend eternity with the Lord and the other group will be separated from Him forever.

Jesus says that on that day, the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father inheriting eternal life. But the unrighteous will be thrown into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth; eternal punishment.

But wait! There is good news! Today we get to choose which group we will be in on judgment day; group righteous or group unrighteous.

2 Corinthians 6:2 For he says, “In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.” I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.

Today is the day of salvation because we do not know what day the Lord Jesus will return as He said He would. Jesus said in Matthew 24:44 to always be ready for His return because He will come at an hour when we do not expect Him.

This blog is not an attempt to frighten anyone. It is, however, a wake-up call.

Jesus Himself said that He is returning and on that day there will be a judgment. The unrighteous will be judged for their sins and the righteous will be judged for their works and rewarded accordingly [2 Corinthians 5:10].

God has done all He is going to do to provide us with eternal life/righteousness. The wage of sin is death. He paid the price for all sin for all time with the sinless blood of His own Son Jesus Christ [Romans 6:23, 1 Peter 3:18]. Refusing to accept His gift of salvation is a choice to stand before Him in judgment for our own sins.

2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead, he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

Let’s seriously consider our two choices today; eternal life or eternal death; separation from God.

At creation, God gave us free will. What an amazing gift! We get to choose our final destination while there is still time.

Let’s not get to judgment day and find ourselves in group weeds and goats. Let’s not choose an eternity of regret.

Deuteronomy 30:19 This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live.

If you are unsure about whether you will inherit eternal life, I invite you to pray the prayer at the end of this post and mean it with all of your heart.

There is no access to God or eternal life except through Christ and His sacrifice for our sins. Jesus is the only way!

John 14:6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

~Patrice Maguire

Dear God, I know I am a sinner, and I ask for Your forgiveness. I believe Jesus Christ is Your Son. I believe that He died for my sin and that You raised Him to life. I want to trust Him as my Savior and follow Him as Lord, from this day forward. Guide my life and help me to do Your will through the power of Your Holy Spirit. I pray this in the name of Jesus. Amen.

 

You are More Valuable Than Grass

I recently had a conversation with someone about the rising cost of freshly delivered flowers. It seems as though the price has gone sky-high. I was shocked!

Don’t get me wrong. I love fresh cut flowers and think they are beautiful and a thoughtful gesture as a gift. But, I’m also very frugal and logical and can’t justify paying a small fortune for something that only lasts a few days then will be thrown into the trash. That’s just me.

I told my husband a long time ago, “If you want to send me flowers, I’d rather a plant. They last longer.” Well, let’s just say I try to make them last longer.

As I thought about the short life of a flower, not just cut flowers but also those still rooted in the ground. I was reminded of familiar scriptures.

Matthew 6:27-30 Jesus said, “Can anyone of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you–you of little faith?”

I believe Jesus is saying the grass is so valuable to God that He dresses it in beautiful flowers. We are more valuable, being made in God’s image, than the grass of the field. If God meets the needs of the grass, how much more will He meet our needs? Therefore, it is pointless to worry about anything.

I often refer back to these scriptures when I catch myself starting to worry. They really comfort me.

What are you worried about today?

Have you lost your job with no prospect of another one in view? Has a sickness left you unable to work or pay the medical bills?

Has your spouse left you with children, no money, and a pantry that’s going bare? Is your car on its last mile or your home in need of repair but you can’t afford it?

Is a loved one lost in a world of addiction and sin? Are you worried about the state of our nation and the world?

The list of things we worry about is endless. What should we do?

First and foremost we should always put our trust in the Lord who cares for us and loves us.

1Peter 5:7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

Then we should ask God for help. A lot of times the Lord will send someone to help us. Other times He will open a door of opportunity for us to afford the things we need. He always comforts us and assures us that He is in control and is working things out for our good and His glory.

Matthew 7:7 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”

While we are waiting for God to meet our needs, we should encourage ourselves daily in His word by searching for and reading the scriptures about trusting Him and His unfailing love for us.

Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

It always helps me to remember who God is and all that He’s done throughout scripture and in my own life over the years. If He’s done it before He can do it again. If He’s done it for others He can do it for me and for you.

Matthew 19:26 But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

We should also surround ourselves with positive, Bible-believing people who will speak the life of God’s word into us and our situation and not doom and despair.

Philippians 4:8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.

Remember, we are so valuable to God and so loved by Him that He gave His one and only Son as a sacrifice for our sins so we can be in relationship with Him forever [John 3:16].

We are much more valuable to God than grass. He cares! He’s got this!

~Patrice Maguire

Dear God, I know I am a sinner, and I ask for Your forgiveness. I believe Jesus Christ is Your Son. I believe that He died for my sin and that You raised Him to life. I want to trust Him as my Savior and follow Him as Lord, from this day forward. Guide my life and help me to do Your will through the power of Your Holy Spirit. I pray this in the name of Jesus. Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

There’s Good Then There’s Better

Some of you may be wondering what my hobbies are. One of them is playing Scrabble. I discovered the game in my teens and have loved it ever since. Back then the only way to play was with a game board and tiles. Which I still own by the way.

Now, thanks to technology, I can play using the Scrabble app on my phone, anywhere, anytime. I can play with people I don’t know or with people, I do know. I always choose to play with those I don’t know. That way there are no weird feelings about winning or losing between friends.

I first started playing Scrabble online back in 2010 after surgery. My husband surprised me with an IPad and downloaded the Scrabble app on it for me. It helped pass the time as I lay in bed recovering. So thoughtful!

I’m not that bad at the game but I’m not that great at it either. My winning average is 60%. I enjoy the challenge and it keeps my brain active.

One of my favorite features of the online game is the teacher. The way it works is after I play a word, I can press the teacher at the bottom of the screen and it will show me the highest scoring word I could have gotten.

A lot of times I think I have a really good word and then the teacher tells me there was a much better option. I may have gotten 50 points when I could have gotten 90. I hate it when that happens. I feel like I really missed out.

A lot of times in life, we choose the good rather than the better. God has plenty to say about choosing better over good.

Success in all areas of life is always good. But not if it’s at the expense of others or if it requires the compromise of our morals or God’s standards. Success is good but just gain is better [Psalms 37:16].

Financial wealth is good but wisdom and insight are better [Proverbs 16:16].

Sacrificing our best to God is good but obedience to Him is better [1 Samuel 15:22].

Serving God and others is good but sitting at the feet of Jesus; listening to His teaching is better [Luke 10:38-41].

Living a thousand days is good but living one day worshiping in God’s presence is better [Psalms 84:10].

Receiving is good but giving is better [Acts 20:35].

These are just a few of the many examples in God’s word of choosing better over good. I encourage you to search the scriptures on your own to see for yourself what God says about choosing that which is better.

Climbing the ladder of success, financial wealth, sacrificing our time and energy, serving God and others, living a long life, and receiving things, are all good.

But God is telling us that just gain, wisdom, obedience to His word, slowing down and spending time with Jesus and just being in His presence worshiping Him, and giving, are all far better choices.

Why are these choices better? Because they lead to peace, joy, spiritual growth, and abundant life.

Are you choosing good things or better things? Let’s not get to the end of our life and realize we really missed out by choosing good rather than better.

God’s word says in John 14:26 that the Holy Spirit is our teacher. He wants to teach us to recognize better choices and then empower us to choose them. All we have to do is ask.

Let’s ask together:

Lord, help us to consider every choice that we make. Reveal to us the better choices You desire us to make then help us to make those choices. We can’t do it on our own. We need the power of Your Holy Spirit to guide us in making better choices; choices that are pleasing to You and a greater benefit to us and others. Thank you, Father. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen!

~Patrice Maguire

Dear God, I know I am a sinner, and I ask for Your forgiveness. I believe Jesus Christ is Your Son. I believe that He died for my sin and that You raised Him to life. I want to trust Him as my Savior and follow Him as Lord, from this day forward. Guide my life and help me to do Your will through the power of Your Holy Spirit. I pray this in the name of Jesus. Amen.

 

 

 

Open Doors

Followers of Christ should all know that God has an assignment or purpose for our lives. Jesus told us to go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation [Mark 16:15]. That is God’s general-purpose for every believer.

But we also have a specific assignment or way God plans to use us to grow His kingdom. Some of us may know what that specific assignment is. While some of us are still trying to figure that out.

Ephesians 2:10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Those who do know what their God-given assignment is, the door to that assignment may be closed at the moment. What should we do while we wait for that door to open?

As I ponder this question, I’m reminded of King David. I had the amazing privilege of studying the life of King David last year with my bible study group. You can read all about his life in 1 Samuel 16 – 1 Kings 2.

In summary, David was the youngest of 8 sons. He was a shepherd. At a young age, David was chosen and anointed by God to be king of Israel. But he didn’t become king overnight.

David had to pass through many doors before he reached his ultimate God-given assignment.

He remained a shepherd for a while until God opened a door for David to service King Saul by playing music for him in his palace. The next open door was an opportunity to help King Saul and his country by killing Goliath.

The results of that open door led to his popularity and King Saul’s jealousy. Saul tried to kill David several times. David ended up running for his life and living in caves but he managed to attract a small army of men and became their commander. Another open door.

David and his army fought and won many battles along the way gaining him notoriety as a leader and a warrior. David also had a few opportunities to kill his enemy King Saul but he didn’t walk through that door. He wanted to do things God’s way and not take matters of becoming king into his own hands.

Between the time David was anointed to be king and actually becoming king was about 15 years.

David had to go through many God-ordained doors to prepare him for the ultimate door of becoming King David. God was preparing David for his assignment.

As we read about the life of King David, we also notice many open doors that were not God-ordained but that he walked through regardless. Such as the door that led to an adulterous affair with Bathsheba and doors that led to poor parenting decisions and division in his family.

But, the good news is that God used all of the doors that David went through, good and bad, to prepare him for his purpose and to change David’s heart and draw him closer to Himself.

And that’s the same good news for you and me today. God uses the good, the bad, and the ugly, for our good, the good of others, and His glory. Nothing is wasted in God’s economy.

Believe me, I know all about walking through wrong doors that have led to heartache, disappointment, and regret. But I’ve also seen how God can take all of my sins and mistakes and use them for a greater purpose.

Are you walking past open doors in search of the door to your God-given assignment? Are you waiting at the closed door to your assignment missing out on the open doors that God intends to use to prepare you for that assignment?

My prayer for you and for me is that our eyes will be open to all the opportunities God is providing to prepare us for His assignment for our lives. I pray we do not despise open doors and do not despair over the wrong doors we’ve gone through as we wait for our ultimate assignment door to open.

Isaiah 46:10-11 “I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say, ‘My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.’ From the east, I summon a bird of prey; from a far-off land, a man to fulfill my purpose. What I have said, that I will bring about; what I have planned, that I will do.”

~Patrice Maguire

Dear God, I know I am a sinner, and I ask for Your forgiveness. I believe Jesus Christ is Your Son. I believe that He died for my sin and that You raised Him to life. I want to trust Him as my Savior and follow Him as Lord, from this day forward. Guide my life and help me to do Your will through the power of Your Holy Spirit. I pray this in the name of Jesus. Amen.

 

Worship Amid Pain and Opposition

As I was doing my bible study in the book of Acts, I came to a familiar passage of scripture. I’ve read this particular account several times in the past but this time the Lord took me a little deeper. He made it personal.

That’s what I love about studying God’s word. Reading the bible is great but when we take the time to reflect upon it and respond to it, the Lord reveals things to us that we’ve never seen before and the results are life-changing.

Acts 16:16-34 tells us about Paul and Silas being stripped, beaten, and thrown into prison for casting an evil spirit out of a girl who made a lot of people a lot of money by predicting the future.

Paul and Silas were accused of being trouble makers and advocating unlawful customs. Their response to false accusations, beatings, and imprisonment was to worship God.

At midnight while in pain, shackles, and chains, Paul and Silas were worshipping the Lord. What??? That baffles me!

What was the result of their worship in the face of pain and opposition? There was a violent earthquake. The prison was shaken, the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose.

Notice, not only did Paul and Silas’ chains come loose and their prison door opened but all the prisoners were set free.

The jailer had been asleep but was awakened by all the commotion. When he saw that the prison doors were open he was going to kill himself. But Paul shouted, “Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!”

Did the jailer order that all the prisoners be locked back up? No! Instead, his response was to fall at the feet of Paul and Silas trembling and ask, “What must I do to be saved?”

The jailer had recognized that the whole incident was an act of God.

Paul and Silas’ answer to the jailer’s question was, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, then you and your household will be saved.” The Jailer took them to his house, Paul and Silas spoke God’s word to the jailer and his family, they were all saved and baptized that same day. The jailer treated Paul and Silas’ wounds and then they all shared a meal together.

Wow! God really turned that whole situation around. It was a miracle! Not only for Paul and Silas but for the other prisons, the jailer, and his whole family.

Worshipping God is a catalyst for miracles.

Today, in America, we may not face beatings and imprisonment because of our belief in Jesus (many Christians around the world do) but we do face other types of pain and opposition.

Some of us are ostracized in our homes or workplaces due to our beliefs. Or maybe even fired from our jobs or divorced by our spouse. We may even be abandoned by our closest friends.

Some of us are taken to court for our stand on God’s word or our spiritual and moral convictions. Maybe we are laughed at and mocked for our faith in Christ. Pain and opposition come in all shapes and sizes. We could even be experiencing physical pain.

But, this passage in Acts 16 gives us hope for what the results could be if we respond to pain and opposition with worship.

Think of the lives that could be affected around us and our own when we live a life of worship no matter what hardships we face.

When Paul and Silas worshipped while they were bloodied and in pain, shackled and chained in the middle of a prison, people were set free.

People were convicted of their sin and brought to their knees in repentance and set free from slavery to sin. Whole families were saved. Lives were completely transformed.

As the Lord was revealing these things to me, I asked myself, “Do I worship when I am in the midst of pain or opposition?” And, “Do I notice the open doors to share the good news about Jesus in the midst of my pain or opposition?” How would you answer those questions for yourself?

The Lord can do amazing things and turn things completely around for our good, the good of others, and for His glory. He’s just waiting on us to give the right response to our pain and opposition. He’s waiting for us to worship Him!

Have you ever experienced positive results of worshipping God in the midst of your pain or opposition? Could you share your experience with us so we can be encouraged and praise God with you? Share in the comments below.

Thank you and God bless you!

~Patrice Maguire

Dear God, I know I am a sinner, and I ask for Your forgiveness. I believe Jesus Christ is Your Son. I believe that He died for my sin and that You raised Him to life. I want to trust Him as my Savior and follow Him as Lord, from this day forward. Guide my life and help me to do Your will through the power of Your Holy Spirit. I pray this in the name of Jesus. Amen.