Change of Plans

Today’s Scripture is from Proverbs 16:2-3,

 “All a person’s ways seem pure to them, but motives are weighed by the Lord.

Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.”

 Today’s Blog Post is by Olivia Reynolds, Summer Ministry Intern… 

What’s the most embarrassing fashion trend you participated in? Bell-bottom jeans? Velour tracksuits? The mullet? You don’t have to confess, but the truth is, we can all remember something we wore (or said, or did) in the past that would be pretty mortifying to us now. At the time, it must have seemed like a good idea. But we’re easily led astray by what’s flashy and popular, and following trends can produce regret (not to mention embarrassing photos) for our future selves to deal with.

So what’s the solution for bad fashion trends, spiritually speaking? We need to entrust our lives to the one whose standards are eternal and true. Today’s passage says, “commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.” Proverbs 3:6 says something similar—“in all your ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct your paths.”

That doesn’t mean that everything in life instantly becomes easy. We still live with sin, pain, and limitations. But drawing near to God transforms our perspective and our desires, so that we can find him in all things. When I trust God with my hopes and plans, I find that discerning my next step becomes simpler. Instead of obsessively weighing each small choice to find the pros and cons, I can ask a different set of questions. What choices can I make to serve others? What option will help my self-discipline grow? How can I glorify God with each decision?

Our world will always need helpers, advocates, and peacemakers—those good works are never going out of style! So today, I’ll pray that we commit our plans to the Lord, and see how beautiful and life-changing they become.

Straight Roads Ahead

Today’s Scripture is Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV),

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.

Today’s blog post is by Lisa Gonzales, Director of Children’s Ministry…

From as far back as I can remember, I went to church.  I was born and raised in a Methodist home and, not only did we go to church on Sundays, but we often went on Wednesday nights and Saturday nights too.  All my best friends went to church.  Youth Group was my social life.  I was a part of the Wesley foundation at UCF.  I attended and worked at the Warren Willis United Methodist Church Camp for many, many years.  I got married in the Methodist Church I grew up in (by a Catholic priest, but that’s for a whole other blog.)  Plus, all 3 of my kids were baptized in a Methodist Church (here!), by the time they were all 6 months old. Not to mention –  the cherry on the top – I now WORK at a Methodist Church.

Now, you would think I could quote more than one Bible verse (John 3:16). You would think I get up promptly at 5:30am every morning to do my daily devotion, journaling, and prayer time.  You would think I say nothing but kind and loving words to my children.  You would think I would be searching for ways to help others, serve others, share God’s love with others on a daily basis.  You’d think a person like me must have it all together because for years and years and years she has heard about this wonderful person named Jesus and has surrounded herself with the church.

But I don’t.

I have a long way to go.  My road is a bumpy one. I still have a lot to learn about trusting the Lord and submitting my whole self to Him.  It’s hard.  I imagine it might be even harder for someone who, maybe, has not been wrapped in the comfort of church and a loving family.  But we all try.  We all commit ourselves to coming back to church every Sunday.  We buy new devotional books and pretty journals in the hopes of starting fresh.  We try new Bible studies and take notes during Pastor Vance’s sermons.  We listen to Way FM in our cars and pray for our friends and family who are struggling.

All I can say, is keep doing all those things, friends.  I’m proud of you.   You made a decision today to read this blog.  You opened the link in hopes of once again hearing how wonderful our God is and how He can help us. By doing these things, you are trusting in the Lord – He is making your path straight – even if you think you’re just plugging along a very bumpy road.  So, blow the dust off your Bible (again), pick up that pretty journal, open one of your many daily devotionals to today’s date and read it, and keep trying.

Straight roads ahead!

 

God’s Purposes

Today’s Scripture is Proverbs 19:21 (NIV),

Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’S purpose that prevails.

Today’s blog post is by Steve Rivera…

How many times have we seen our plans “go up in smoke” during our lives?  It is nothing new.  It happens throughout the Bible.  How many of God’s prophets did not want to do what they were commanded to do –  i.e. Moses, Jonah?  Even our Lord had second thoughts in the Garden.  Yet, did not the outcome revert to what the Lord wanted in order to fulfill the Scriptures and His will?  How many times have you wanted to do something, were set on it, and yet God in His Wisdom changed your path, made you go in the opposite direction, and made you a better person for it.

Yet we always try to get our way.  I used to work in the World Trade Center in New York.  I was given a job offer that brought me to South Florida in 1984 – a few years before 9/11.  It was not on my radar.  I did not want to leave family and friends and start life all over again not knowing anyone.  Yet, the Lord said go, and so I did.  Would I have still been there if I had not listened?  Would I be here telling you about it today?  The Lord works in mysterious ways.

I have always had a desire to go to Alaska.  In 2001 I was scheduled to go with my Boy Scout Troop.  I had just met my future wife.  Something told me do not to go, for she would need me during that time.   I did not go and she had a crisis in her family that I was able to be there for.  The time was not right to go.

Again, in 2010 I was scheduled to go.  God’s plan was a no.  I lost my job and could not afford to do it.  It was a hard way to learn that when it is God’s will, it will be done.  Now in 2017 that desire was realized.  God put me in a position to go to Alaska but also to assist someone who had the desire longer than I and would need my help to realize their dream.

We must always just take the time to be still and listen.  In that way we can learn God’s purpose.  During this stretch time it is my desire that you all let God’s purpose prevail in your hearts.

Blessings

 

 

Give It Up

Today’s Scripture reading is 1 Chronicles 29:10-20,

“David praised the Lord in the presence of the whole assembly, saying,

‘Praise be to you, Lord,

    the God of our father Israel,

    from everlasting to everlasting.

Yours, Lord, is the greatness and the power

    and the glory and the majesty and the splendor,

    for everything in heaven and earth is yours.

Yours, Lord, is the kingdom;

    you are exalted as head over all.

Wealth and honor come from you;

    you are the ruler of all things.

In your hands are strength and power

    to exalt and give strength to all.

Now, our God, we give you thanks,

    and praise your glorious name.

‘But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this?

Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand. We are foreigners and strangers in your sight, as were all our ancestors. Our days on earth are like a shadow, without hope. Lord our God, all this abundance that we have provided for building you a temple for your Holy Name comes from your hand, and all of it belongs to you. I know, my God, that you test the heart and are pleased with integrity. All these things I have given willingly and with honest intent. And now I have seen with joy how willingly your people who are here have given to you. Lord, the God of our fathers Abraham, Isaac and Israel, keep these desires and thoughts in the hearts of your people forever, and keep their hearts loyal to you. And give my son Solomon the wholehearted devotion to keep your commands, statutes and decrees and to do everything to build the palatial structure for which I have provided.’

Then David said to the whole assembly, ‘Praise the Lord your God.’ So they all praised the Lord, the God of their fathers; they bowed down, prostrating themselves before the Lord and the king.”

Today’s blog post is by Olivia Reynolds, Summer Ministry Intern…

Today’s passage is a bit of a long read, but a good one. It comes from the end of King David’s reign, as he prepares Jerusalem for the construction of a magnificent temple. But this isn’t quite like a typical ground-breaking ceremony or launch party—it has a much deeper spiritual significance.

“But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this?” asks King David, and I’m struck by the humility he shows. King David had an excellent track record of military success, all the wealth and stuff he’d ever need, and a royal legacy to pass on to his son. But anyone who’s read up on David’s life knows that he wasn’t always an ideal king, soldier, husband, or dad. David’s private regrets and disappointments were a reminder that even a ruler like him needed forgiveness and guidance from God. His words of praise are useful those of us who like to feel in control, whose self-worth is usually tied in with what we have and what we do.

It doesn’t have to be that way—in fact, putting our trust in God can release us from worry, frustration, and the desperate need to perform.

The other thing I noticed in this passage is David’s joy in generosity. He’s rejoicing not in what the Israelites have, but what they are able to give. I don’t often have that grateful, giving attitude! I know that my blessings and gifts were given to me through God’s grace, but sometimes I don’t act like I believe that. Often, I worry about looking good, impressing others, and achieving success by the world’s standards.

So, when I think about King David’s praise, I’ll ask God to remind me that His purposes are greater and more glorious than my own, and that the best thing I can do is offer my gifts, with love and willingness, for Him.