Dr. Beverly Smallwood

601-264-0890

New Morning Devotionals promotes deeper spiritual understanding, meaningful living, and practical Christianity at work and home

"This Wasn't Supposed to Happen to Me" Group Video Series

A YES ON FILE

yes_neon

Obey me, and I will be your God and you will be my people. Walk in obedience to all I command you, that it may go well with you.  (Jeremiah 7: 23)

I am sharing with you something that came bounding at me in my prayer time yesterday.  As I was praying about some specific decisions in my life, I was telling the Lord about how inconvenient it would be if He wanted me to go this way, but that I was willing to do whatever He thought was best.

I heard in my heart, “Do you really have a ‘yes on file’ with Me?”

The odd concept startled me, then challenged me.  Have I already determined in my heart and committed to “yes,” no matter what God asks me to do?

Now don’t mistake my challenge for the unfortunately popular and erroneous belief that if you submit to God, He’s going to send you to the worst place you can imagine to do the thing you’d most not like to do.  That fear has been propogated by none other than the father of lies in hopes of inspiring you to keep away from the Lord.  No, God uses our divinely-implanted talents and strengths and provides opportunities that allow us to be who we most are.  He’s not some big ogre in the sky who delights in making His kids miserable.

At the same time, He knows better than you or I know where and how our abilities and experiences, infused with HIS strength and power, can make the biggest differences to others. and bring out the best in us at the same time  When that opportunity opens up, and the Holy Spirit nudges you or me to step in, we may not be free from anxiety or delighted with our  removal from the comfort of the familiar.

But I ask myself (and I encourage you to do the same,),”Do I have a yes on file with God?”  Have I made the life-changing decision that He is God, not me?  Is the only real zuestion, “What is God saying to me?” not, “Will I do what God is saying to me?”

I’ve heard it said that a conviction is a decision already made.  I believe that God has been reminding me that obedience is also a decision I must go ahead and make.  Knowing that up front makes it far less complicated to do the right thing when I am tempted to rely on my fickle emotions for guidance.

I have re-affirmed to God that He has my yes on file. Does He have yours?

Dear Lord, You are my God, and I am Your daughter.  I know that You know what’s best for me, how I can be most helpful to others, and how I can best grow in You.  You know me better than I know myself.  I pre-say, ‘YES!” to where You lead me.  Open my spiritual eyes and ears so that I may hear You and act on what I hear!

 

 

 

 

 

HOW TO GET WHAT YOU WANT – THEN WANT WHAT YOU GET

delight yourself

Trust in the Lord, and do good.  Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.  Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.  (Psalm 37:4)

You ask, and receive not, because you ask amiss, that you may consume it upon your lusts.  (James 4: 3)
When I pray, I want, really want the “desires of my heart.”  Well, actually, some of the things I want are just things that I want because I want them.  Others certainly feel like real needs, but maybe they are not after all.  I don’t know about you, but in retrospect I have often seen why God’s answer to my prayer was, “No.”  (Oh, say, that heart throb about whom you prayed years ago to return your “love,” and you bump into him in Walmart, and he looks and smells like a who-da-thunk-it.  “Thank You, Lord, I didn’t get him, and God bless the poor soul who did.”)
But how do you know what will be good for you?  How do you even know how to pray? And (you know the answer to this), do you get everything you ask God for?
Well, the Psalmist revealed a some secrets for knowing what to pray for and how to pray.  In fact, he lets us in on some life-changing principles.
Some want to grab the last half of Psalm 37:4 – a promise that God will give you the desires of your heart.  However, the latter part does not come without growing in its prerequisites, according to the passage in Psalms 37..
1.  Trust in the Lord. The word “trust” means, “security, calm assurance, and confidence.”  You don’t get trust in God (or in a person, for that matter) without the experience of going through trying times and good times and finding that He is consistent and faithful
2.  Do good.  In the Hebrew, that word “do” means, “to accomplish , to complete an activity with a distinct purpose.”  Understand this.  You don’t “do good” to earn brownie points so that you can get what you want.  It’s that when your own heart aligns more and more with the heart of God, your behavior reflects Him.
3.  Dwell in the land. This implies much more than hit-and-run communications.  To dwell means “to abide, to live under God’s dominion.”  The New Testament calls this “walking in the Spirit,” being in constant communication with the Spirit of God and following His lead as you go about your life.
4.  Cultivate faithfulness. I may not be alone in admitting that one of my greatest challenges is consistency.  As Paul said, I want to do it right and always, but sometimes I just don’t.  Like the patient farmer cultivates her crop, I am working on cultivating faithfulness, defined as “consistency, steadiness, truth, and stability.”
5.  Delight yourself in the Lord.  Where your  persistent, insistent focus goes, so go your priorities, your passions, and your achievements.  As you make all of these 5 prerequisites your focus, your joy and delight begin to emanate from the Lord.  He provides and cares about the things that really matter.  He not only places those desires in your heart, he gives them to you, right on time.
To sum it up, when all of this has become who you are and what you do habitually, then something wonderful happens!  The more intimately you relate with God over time, the more like Him you become.  His desires become your desires, and He only wants what’s best for you.   You think more like He thinks as His Word takes root deeply within your mind and spirit. (Paul called that “renewing the mind” in his letter to the Romans.)  Your heart breaks for what breaks God’s heart.  Your heart sings over those things that give God joy.
As this beautiful process unfolds, your prayers expressing”the desires of your heart” become more centered in His will.  Your passing fantasies become labeled for what they are, even in your own mind.  Then at just the right time (His time!), you’ll see those desires coming to pass.  You’ll possess the kind of treasure that lasts.
The secret is to seek Him first and to find your greatest delight in that amazing relationship. When that happens, you’ll never want for what you really need, and you will know that what you have at the moment is what you need right now.
Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you.  (Matthew 6: 33)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
O God, I just want to KNOW You!  I want to want what You want.  I want to see my life and those in it as You see them.  Teach me more and more how to delight in You!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
P.S.  For those who prayed for our pastor and the mission team from our church, I thank God that they were able to fly out of Cuba yesterday and are now safely at home!  Thank you for praying! Please continue to pray fervently for all those who are in harm’s way.

 

 

PRAY, PEOPLE OF GOD!

praying hands

The effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.  (James 5: 16, KJV)

The heartfelt and persistent prayer of a righteous man (believer) can accomplish much [when put into action and made effective by God—it is dynamic and can have tremendous power]. (James 5:16, The Amplified Bible)

If ever there was a time for believers to pray, it’s now.  The monster Hurricane Irma has followed on the destructive heels of Hurricane Harvey.  People legitimately feel threatened as the forecasts for Irma’s U.S. landfall remain uncertain.  Those in our geographic region are having post-traumatic memories of Katrina, and they wonder, “Could it actually happen again?” Others in Texas are painfully and painstakingly picking up the pieces of their lives and properties.

To make the high anxiety “a little” worse in our world, impulsive, power-hungry, and sadistic rulers taunt other countries with threats of nuclear and hydrogen bombs on their mainlands.  People in the U.S. are beyond tired of the governmental turmoil and chaos, no matter which side of the aisle they support.  Let’s face it.  Circumstantially, this world is in a mess!

So what are we to do?  Staying obsessively glued to cable TV isn’t the answer.  That practice only increases anxiety! Use the OFF button on the remote.

It’s time for us to pray, really pray!

I’m talking about moving beyond the casual, “God bless and protect us all.”  When is the last time you persistently and intensely, over time,  communicated with God, laying all of yourself before Him in surrender?  God has called us as believers in Christ to “stand in the gap” for others, praying as fervently for the needs of others as we do for ourselves and our loved ones.

Spiritual maturity does not mean you become more confident to be able to stand on your own two feet.  Growing up in God means that you develop what I call “chronic desperation,” understanding how desperately you need Him even when times are more peaceful.

Further, if God asks it of us in a given situation, we must be ready to take action toward problem solutions or others’ recovery, showing His Love toward all our neighbors. (And Jesus taught us, “neighbors” has a very broad definition!).  In other words, He may call us to be His Hands and Feet, an active contributor to the answers to the prayers we offer!

The days in which lukewarm Christianity is “workable” are past.  (It never was; actually.  Jesus addressed that quite clearly in the Book of Revelation.)  Our God and these crazy times are calling for boldness – boldness in prayer and boldness in action.

And about Hurricane Irma?  Join me in praying and believing for an odd turn into the ocean and away from direct hits on additional land, then followed by an unusual dissipation of that storm.  Pray for all who have already been affected.  Please pray for my pastor and the mission team from our church to successfully and safely get their flight out of Cuba today.  Pray for those suffering from Harvey’s destruction.  Pray for our country and its leaders.  Pray for our world.

As I was thinking about this devotional last night, a Facebook friend’s post last caught my attention.  Thank you, Claire Nix.

“If you pray REGULARLY, IRREGULAR [Spectacular, Miraculous, God-Ordained] things happen on a REGULAR basis.”

Pray, people of God!

O God, You know the current condition of the beautiful world You created.  We know that Your plan for its complete redemption is fully in motion.  Thank You, Lord, that we who are in Christ are secure in You, no matter what happens in this temporal world.  I pray, God, from the bottom of my soul, turn the hurricanes.  Protect lives and property.  Heal and spiritually enlighten the leaders of this world.  Help us, O Lord.  Please help us all!

COMPLAINING IS DRAINING

stop-complaining

Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life.  (Philippians 2: 14-16)

A pet peeve of mine is when someone does not participate in the roll-up-your-sleeves-and-get-it-done part, but they are quick to take pot-shots from the sidelines at those who do.

You’ve encountered chronic complainers in your workplace.  You’ve met them in your church.  They may even be uncomfortably close to you on the family tree. They have the uncanny power to clear a room when they walk in the door.

Here are a few questions to ponder.

~How are you and I going to be lights in a dark world if our own attitudes are also            dark?

~How can we be positive influences for the Lord if no one wants to be around us and       certainly doesn’t want what we have?

~How can we possibly inspire hope when our words are those of doom and gloom?

Perpetual grumbling is a habit that can sneak up on you.  Pay attention to your reactions.

~ When there’s a bothersome issue, do you offer a complaint or a solution?

~  Do you tell others how they should have done it better, or do you get busy making it    better?

~Do you find yourself more and more miserable, or do you enjoy the spirit of working together with others to make a difference?

Think about ie…

God, I want to be a problem-solver and not a grumbler.  Holy Spirit, give me wise ideas for action, and motivate me to get to work instead of getting on other people’s nerves!  I do want to always be a part of the solution and not a  part of the problem.

 

 

 

 

GOD OF COMFORT

 Joseph
May Your unfailing Love be my comfort, according to Your promise to Your servant. (Psalm 119: 26)
Shout for joy, you heavens; rejoice, you earth; burst into song, you mountains! For the Lord comforts His people and will have compassion on His afflicted ones. (Isaiah 49: 13)
You who are my Comforter in sorrow, my heart is faint within me.  (Jeremiah 8: 18)
This message is for all who struggle with grief from losing someone you deeply love.
To say that some pain is gut-wrenching is a ridiculous understatement. Yesterday marked 3 years since my beloved grandson Joseph went to be with the Lord. They say that time heals all wounds, and that is simply not true.  Grief does not need much of an stimulus to come bursting in, uninvited. When the loss is deep, you learn to live and function again, but the loss gouges your soul, given or not given half a chance.
People do who do not know The Comforter – how do they make it?  I simply do not comprehend how they survive the deepest of losses and tragedies.
But survive and even thrive we must, for if we have been left here on earth, our purpose is not complete. Roles may change.  Life may make cataclysmic shifts.  However, as long as there’s breath in our bodies, God’s not done with His plans to show His Love through us. And so we press on.
The Spirit of God, our Comforter, is the purveyor of HOPE.  Christ is our Hope, for in Him, we live now and will live forever.  Though our loved ones are separated from us right now,  this is a very temporary condition. Our HOPE was paid for, signed, sealed, and delivered when Jesus died for us and rose again to conquer death.
Death deals painful emotional blows, but its ultimate fate has been decided.  Death does not win.  Life wins!  Life eternal!
So Joseph, on this anniversary day, we celebrate your big heart, your love and kindness, your huge smile and contagious laugh, and the difference you made to so many.  I thank God that we know right where you are, and the big divine clock is ticking.  We’ll join you and our other loved ones there when God says, “Come on!”  And what a reunion that will be!
Dear God, our Comforter, we ask you to continue to heal our hearts and those of all who have suffered great loss.  

IT’S OFF TO WORK I GO

KIDS-TO-WORK-DAY-2

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.  (Colossians 3: 23)
On the day that we celebrate work, we don’t.  Isn’t that weird?
Anyway, today is Labor Day, the first Monday in September.  Created by the labor movement, this day is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. Every year, we salute workers’ myriad contributions to our country’s prosperity, strength, and well-being.   Diligent work performance is a good thing! Hats off to those who work faithfully in all fields.  We all need each other.
However, around 70% of U.S. workers are dissatisfied and disengaged, according to Gallup research.  They’re spending the majority of their waking hours in distress, detachment, and discouragement.  This does not have to be.
I’d like to challenge you to ponder this morning why you work and how you work.  The answers to those two issues will determine your motivation and the outcome of your work.

Way back in grad school, we studied the classic book, Working, by Studs Terkel.  Mr. Terkel said, “Work is about a search for daily meaning as well as daily bread.”  How true that is! I am so passionate about helping people discover and fulfill their purpose in life and infusing all that they do with meaning.

(I just can’t say “no” to the temptation here to let you know that I’m starting a series of “purpose retreats,” the first to be held Sept. 29-30.  Let me know if you’d like info on the retreat and purpose coaching.)

 

But back to the devotional message for today. Paul was addressing workers who believed they had no choice!  They were slaves. As would recur in more recent years, slaves in Paul’s day were subject to torture, sexual abuse, or being sold away from their families. Tragic circumstances in which to work!  Maybe you have a “bad job,” but I’ll wager it does not top the daily experiences of Paul’s intended readers.
However, in this letter to the Colossian slaves, Paul gave them the hope of freedom within a terrible situation.  He showed them that they had a choice of attitude and behavior that superceded the demands and the eyes of the earthly master.  Obeying harsh human commands all day was drudgery at best.  Choosing to offer one’s very best unto the Lord in each task of everyday work was a game-changer. 
And so it will be for you and me.  Many reading this may “feel enslaved” by having to work to pay the piled-up bills.  Others may dread the sight of a difficult boss or co-worker. Still others may feel they are in a boring job that’s just marking time until they can find something better.  Why spend eight or more hours each day of your life in misery?
Change your focus, and adjust your attitude!  Wherever you are right now, you have a contribution to make and/or God’s working something out in you.
No job or profession or day in it is perfect.  However, I can testify at my age that every experience I’ve been through in my life is preparation for some “assignment” in the future.  Further, at each juncture, there are people who are placed in proximity who need a positive, Spirit-led, caring influence in their lives.  If you have a disgruntled attitude, you will miss the privilege of making a difference to another.  They could even be turned off to the Lord because of the attitude of His ambassador (you or me).
Throw your heart into doing your work faithfully and diligently, and keep so intimately related with the Lord that you exude His Love to those you touch.  Be the change in your workplace that you want to see.
So Paul’s encouragement rings relevant for each of us on this Labor Day:
 
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord.  
~~~~~~~~~~
Lord, I thank You for the privilege and the dignity of work.  I appreciate Your calling me to work that I love, but You know that I don’t love all of it! As I go through often difficult days, keep me focused on You and on the purpose You have placed in my heart. First and foremost, God, I want to please YOU.

ONE DAY GRIEF WILL END

beauty girl cry

The voice of weeping shall be no more heard.  (Isaiah 65: 19)

Last night I watched story after story of flood survivors in pain, thankful for breath but reeling from their losses.   They spoke of their investments from a lifetime, gone;  and even more importantly, loved ones, gone. The devastation is sickening.  My heart is so heavy, and I cannot even imagine the weights of theirs.

Deep grief:  it’s one of the most painful emotional experiences of life.  No one I’ve ever met has been permanently exempt from it.  It’s gut-wrenching, and it feels as if it will never end. Some losses forever burn themselves into your heart, but God heals so that the intensity of the grief is no longer overwhelming and debilitating.  You learn to function again in your unwelcome new normal.

But one day, for the believer in Christ, ALL the grief will be over.  The world will be set right.  We will be reunited with loved ones who went before us and introduced face-to-face with God!

Yesterday, a grieving mother shared with me some words of comfort she’d found in a message by Charles Spurgeon.  I want to share it with you.

The glorified weep no more, for all outward causes of grief are gone.  There are no broken friendships nor blighted prospects in heaven. Poverty, famine, peril, persecution, and slander are unknown there.  No pain distresses.  No thought of bereavement saddens.  They weep no more, for they are perfectly sanctified.  No ‘evil heart of unbelief’ prompts them to depart from the living God.  They are without fault before His throne and fully conformed to His image.  Well may they cease to mourn who have ceased to sin.  They weep no more, because all fear of change is past.  They know that they are eternally secure.  Sin is shut out, and they are shut in.  They dwell within a city that shall never be stormed. They bask in a sun which shall never set.  They drink of a river which shall never dry.  They pluck fruit from a tree that shall never wither.  Countless cycles may revolve, but eternity shall not be exhausted, and while eternity endures, their immortality and blessing shall co-exist with it. They are forever with the Lord.  They weep no more because every desire is fulfilled. They cannot wish for anything which they have not in possession.  Eye and ear, heart and hand, judgment, imagination, hope, desire, will, all the faculties are completely satisfied. The joy of Christ, which is an infinite fullness of delight, is in them.  They bathe themselves in the bottomless, shoreless sea of infinite beautitude.  That same joyful rest remains for us.  It may not be far distant.  Ere long the weeping willow shall be exchanged for the palm branch of victory, and sorrow’s dewdrops will be transformed into the pearls of everlasting bliss.  ‘Wherefore comfort one another with these words.'”

Yes, let’s comfort one another with these words and with the sure knowledge that the troubles we are facing will not last forever.  What will last forever is the Love of God and His beautiful promises about our eternity.

Holy Spirit, You are the Comforter while we are in the throes of the pains of this world.  I rest in the blessed Hope and in Your overcoming power now, and I am excited about the day when all of these crazy struggles will end.  

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

September 2017
M T W T F S S
« Aug    
 123
45678910
11121314151617
18192021222324
252627282930