Think Positive

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By: Tanya Stayton

Today is Memorial Day!  I was so hoping that I would get to spend some time with my children but they had different plans for today. At first I was disappointed and a little sad but then remembered something my son said to me yesterday, Mom we should always try to look for the good in things and stop looking at the negative.

We tend to look at the things around us from a negative point of view so many times, but if we would just stop for a moment look at the situation and find the good in it we would be so much happier.  I went to the grocery store today and the cashier asked me how my day was going.  At first I started to tell him how my children couldn’t come  for supper today, but then again I remembered “look for the good in things mom”.  So l said to the cashier that  I was having a wonderful day and that I was hoping to see my children but things didn’t work out.  However I am so thankful that my children and my grandchildren are alive and well and that we had so much to be thankful for.

Thinking about that made me realize that even though they could not come today it was very trivial compared to the fact that they were alive and well and I had so much to celebrate and be thankful for. So many times we look at our circumstances and we feel sorry for ourselves or we complain or find fault because we are in that situation but sometimes God takes the situation we are in to bring growth in our lives and to point us toward him .  Jesus has given us power and authority over our circumstances and yet we tend to allow our circumstances to rule us.

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

(1 Thessalonians 5:18)

Things that happen in life are not to get us down or to rule us but they are to help us grow. In order for that to growth to occur,  we first have to get the right mentality.  We cannot continue to live with an old man mentality. The old man is always looking for the negative; the old man-always looks at circumstances however the new man is the God man in us and we want to look at things like Christ would look at them. That’s not always easy because we have been so programmed to look at what’s around us . We forget that we are not of this kingdom that we are from a different kingdom.

For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves (Colossians 1:13)

So if we have been rescued out of the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of God then our whole way of thinking has to change. We can no longer look at the things that are around us to make decisions we must look at the Word of God for we now live under a new set of rules.  We are no longer under the law but we are under grace.  Grace which means that we are to be like God, so maybe we should continue to say what would Jesus do in this circumstance instead of complaining and finding fault with so many things we see.  For instance let’s just say you got up this morning and things just seem to be going wrong and the next thing you know out of your mouth you say well I can tell what kind of day this is going to be.  Instead of allowing the circumstance to rule the day you’ve been given power and authority over your own day so why don’t you speak into existence the day you would like to have and look for the good in it.  What does Jesus have to say about your situation?  If we look hard enough we can find the negative in anything but if we look again and look through clear eyes then we can see the  and the good,  we can see what Jesus has to say about situations.  As long as we look at things through an old man mentality we will never walk in the new man mentality.  The old man sees failure.  The old man sees impossibilities but the new man see success and sees that all things are possible for God (Mark 10:27).

As long as we see through the eyes of the old man and do as the old man does we will never walk in victory in our life and we will never see God’s best for us because we will always be looking back.  It is important that we renew the spirit of our mind daily with the Word of God. Iit is important that we take on the character and the ways of God.  We are his body and He is the head.  The head does not go around bodiless and the body does not go around headless so therefore we are one with Him. His ways are to be our ways, his thoughts our thoughts.  Nowhere in the Bible does it say that God spoke negatively or neither did we see Jesus speak negatively, or the Holy Spirit,  so that should tell us that we need to change our way of thinking.  We need to learn to look for the good and for the positive in every situation. I’m not saying it will happen overnight but I am saying we strive to be like Jesus and he will change our way of thinking. We need to renew our minds with the Word of God and we will begin to strengthen our new man.

So I would like to challenge each and every one of you today when things go wrong or someone says something to upset you or it just seems that your day is starting out all wrong look for the good.  Look for the positive fun fact and be thankful for that. Today many families remember their loved ones that died in the wars before but they can be thankful for the family they still have.  Let’s be thankful not for the things that are going right, let’s be thankful not for being sick but that Jesus is our healer and he is the same yesterday today and forever.  Let’s  be thankful not because we didn’t get to spend time with family or friends today but let’s be thankful that we have family and friends.  We are such a blessed people.  We have so much to be thankful for.  We are alive and we have been blessed with another day to bless someone else with the opportunity to share Gods love.  Each day is a choice; Life or Death?  Positive or Negative? Blessings or Curses?  Choose Life and Enjoy the day the Lord has made. REJOICE and BE GLAD in it. Psalm 32:11

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With Jesus I Know I Can

little engine that could

By:  Dawn Ashley

I can do all this through him who gives me strength.  (Philippians 4:13)

I sat here today at a loss of what the Lord wanted me to write the devotion on for this week.  First, because I had to fill in for another member of the team last minute and second because my life right now is super busy and I feel overwhelmed to say the least. So when I found out I needed to write the devotion this week on top of everything else, it felt as yet another “thing” to do, yet a commitment we as the Oaks team committed to each week to share with others just like us trying to navigate day to day life . We committed to offer up some encouragement from real life experiences right where we are at ourselves.  Using our tests as testimonies and our messes as messages.   Determined not to allow the busy, craziness of life to keep us from honoring our commitment to each of you and to the Lord.  So I did what I do …..I pressed in and as always the Lord answered because He is just good like that.  So the first thing I want to encourage you with today is if you are like me and feel a bit overwhelmed with life right now, stop right where you are at and press in.  Ask God for wisdom, discernment, or possibly direction in your life.

Here is what I heard God wanted me to share with you, and with me, “Dawn, remember The Little Engine Who Could”.  I smiled.  God is so good how He can use something so simple to speak something so profound.  I had to remind myself that it isn’t about how I feel, because right now  I don’t’ feel like I can do much of anything well because I am juggling  so much and feel like I am about to snap at times.  It is about aligning myself with truth of who I am and what I am capable of because of He that lives within me.  It is about what you are capable of my friends because of He that lives in you as well.

Remember The Little Engine Who Could did her best for years but all of a sudden she was unable to go on?  Oh how I can relate, can you?   Oh how I have felt like this rusty old engine, who is too tired and says “I cannot, I cannot, I cannot”.   Usually when this happens to me it is time for me to do an inventory of my life and see what am I doing to please others or feel accomplished myself  instead of what is it God is calling me to.  Being a yes-person to a lot of great things can leave me and you exhausted.  I don’t want to be this rusty old engine. I bet you don’t either. So let’s align ourselves with truth and not our feelings. Let’s do an inventory check of our to-do list and then let’s become like that little blue engine.

My friends, just like us that little blue engine didn’t feel like it did much compared to the new sleek shiny engines on the track but the little blue engine mattered. We matter to God too.  I wonder at times if what I am doing each day really matters to God.  Does He see the times I bite my tongue when I am angry or my heart is breaking?  Does he see my tears when I am frustrated or hurt?  Does he notice when I operate in self-control when I want to spontaneously combust?  Do these things matter to God?  Does He see the sacrifices I make for those I love?  Does it matter?  Does what I am doing for others out of my love for them and love for God go seen by God when it goes unseen by the very ones I am trying to love and bless?  Does any of this make a difference?  How about all those private prayers do they get heard, do they matter?

But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. (Matthew 6:6)

God sees it all and it matters and not only does it matter He says it will be rewarded.  So keep pressing.  That little blue engine that didn’t feel like it ever did anything important either, but the reality is all God is asking is that we answer when He calls and do what He says to the best of our ability. So let’s focus on that.

Helen Keller said “When we do the best we can, we never know what miracle is wrought in our life, or in the life of another.

The Little Blue Engine repeats, “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.  Jesus teaches us to go and do the same.  The little Samaritan that could might say “With Jesus, I know I can, I know I can, I know I can.”

No Worries!

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By: Shannon Chambers

And how much more valuable you are than birds! (Luke 12:24)

A couple of weeks ago, I opened the side burner of my grill and discovered a bird’s nest with four little pink speckled eggs. An innovative robin had hopped through the openings in the back of the grill lid and perfectly crafted a home for her impending family. I opted to use the stove rather disrupt the nest.

Since then, my children and I (and their friends) have carefully observed the nest each day. As Mother’s Day approached, we watched as eggs one, two and three hatched (the fourth egg remains unhatched) and three barely feathered baby birds cuddle together as their mom and dad visit often, incubating them to keep them warm at night and bringing them provision.

The nestlings are five days old now and starting to chirp just loud enough to be heard if you are listening carefully. Yesterday, while working in the yard, the little birds started to chirp like babies ready to be fed. The parents were likely avoiding the area as there were six people and a couple of dogs in close proximity to their nest. My son wanted to take some of the worms surfacing in the garden and feed the birds but I encouraged him to patiently wait. We moved the dogs inside and shifted our work away from the deck. Sure enough, within a few minutes, the momma bird made her way down from a nearby tree and with a worm already in her mouth, hopped into care for her babies.

I was reminded of a couple of passages from Luke Chapter 12 regarding God’s great care for even the birds.

What’s the price of two or three pet canaries? Some loose change, right? But God never overlooks a single one. And he pays even greater attention to you, down to the last detail—even numbering the hairs on your head! So don’t be intimidated by all this bully talk. You’re worth more than a million canaries. (Luke 12:6-7)

 He continued this subject with his disciples. “Don’t fuss about what’s on the table at mealtimes or if the clothes in your closet are in fashion. There is far more to your inner life than the food you put in your stomach, more to your outer appearance than the clothes you hang on your body. Look at the ravens, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, carefree in the care of God. And you count far more. (Luke 12:22-24)

God places value on our lives.  The birds are not concerned with where their food is going to come from.  Even the hatchling with only a few days of life understand that their cries will be met by provision. God even provided everything they needed for their parents to keep them safe and secure in their well-crafted, hidden nest. If God creatively supplied everything needed to take care of a few baby birds, how much more will God do to take care of you and me?  We are worth far more than a sparrow or a raven.

Most of us worry more than we should but Jesus says that we cannot add a single hour to our life by worrying.  The baby birds taking up residence in my grill are a great reminded that God has already made a way.  He is ever-present and caring and desires for us to live unfettered by worry because He is faithful to make provision for His children.

Being Present in the Now

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By:  Holly Haglan

Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. (James 4:14)

It seems like every time I log into my social media accounts I see another one of my friends got engaged or got their own apartment while I’m working my tail off to just make it through this last year of school with what seems like nothing to show for it. I find myself wishing to be where someone else is or wishing that I was a few steps further along in life than where I am now.  Yet, I know God calls us to live in the present.  We spend so much of our life wanting to be at a different place in life and not enjoying the season we are in.

This verse in James 4:14  is such a great reminder that life is so short and we do not need to dwell on what could be or what has been.  Today join me in taking a minute from your busy day to sit back and take a deep breath. Think about the exact moment you’re in right now. Make yourself completely aware of it. Now thank God for it. He made you. He loves you and He has a great plan for each of your days, let’s not waste another day wishing for the next. Wherever you are in life, right now, is exactly where God intended you to be.

Come to the Table

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By:  Dawn Ashley

Have you ever walked a season of your life where you felt unworthy,  made a mistake that you couldn’t seem to shake off the guilt and shame from, or maybe found your past come flooding back into the forefront of your mind that made you second guess the life you have in Christ?   If we are honest sometimes it seems we can take  10 steps forward  only to have a memory, a phone call,  a circumstance or an encounter makes us feel as if we are knocked 10 steps back again.    Life is hard at times and Satan does not want us to gain victory in our lives.  For me recently I will be honest with you, I had an experience where I found myself in this very place, wondering where my place was in this new season God had me in with Him and where I fit in with a certain group of believers,  or did I anymore. As I was pressing into this place the enemy said “Dawn, you’re not even worthy of the crumbs underneath the table”.   Talk about knocking you back 10 steps, it was like a sucker punch.  I couldn’t shake these words. I pressed into God and I pressed and it was as if I heard nothing.  Have you ever wondered why God was silent in your pain?  Wondered why when we were pressing you heard nothing?

My friends this is when something supernatural is happening in the spirit. If we could pull back the curtain into the spirit realm in heaven we would see silence is far from what is happening on our behalf.   The Bible tells us in Hebrews 7:25 that He always lives to intercede for us.  The context of this scripture comes from the Old Testament when a priest would intercede before God on behalf of another person.  Jesus my friends, in these silent times, is before God Almighty praying for us.  Just let that hit you for a moment.   Jesus is interceding for us before the throne of the Almighty.  Jesus is perfect God but also perfect man, without sin.  He understands what it feels like to be human, our struggles and our pain.

I want to share with you what God’s Word says, because my friends even if we feel God is silent, we can go to His Word which is never silent for the promises of God until we hear His voice, and we will hear his voice, in God’s timing.  Remember God’s timing is not always ours, but He is never early, and He is never late.  Know this:

  • Jesus is in heaven right now advocating on your behalf against the accusations of Satan.  While Satan was accusing me and you, pointing out our frailties to us and before God, it fell on deaf ears in heaven because Jesus’ work on the cross paid our sin debt in full. This means my friends, God always sees us through the blood, perfect and righteous. When Jesus died on that cross, his righteousness was imputed to us while our sin was imputed to Him at His death. This is the great exchange Paul talks about in 2 Corinthians 5:21.  He took away our sin before God so that God would be accepted as blameless before Him.
  • Whatever is making you feel unworthy, whatever mistake has flooded back to your mind that has you crippled, Jesus took it on so that you might take on his righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:12).  You are now accepted as blameless before God and can boldly approach his throne.
  • You do not have a Savior who is unable to sympathize with your weaknesses, but one who in every respect was tempted as we are, yet was without sin.
  • Lastly know this you not only belong at the table, but you can come with confidence before the throne of grace and receive his grace to help you in your time of need (Hebrews 4:14-16).

As you hold on to these promises in the silence, wait patiently for God to speak, let me encourage you with the sweet Words from a song God used to break the silence for me, To the Table by Zach Williams.  I hope they penetrate the depths of your heart as they did mine.

“There is a light of hope that’s shining, won’t you come and take your place.  Bring it all to the table.  It’s nothing he ain’t seen before, all your sin, sorrow, and your sadness. There’s a Savior and He calls. Bring it all to the table…..through the cross you’ve been forgiven, you’re accepted as you are…come on in and take your place, there’s no one whose turned away. All your sinners, all you saints, come right in and find your grace”

Remember my friends even the one who lied and the one who denied Christ were invited by Jesus personally to the table.  He broke bread and gave it to them and told them to take and eat; this was his body. He did not deny Peter or Judas.  When Jesus offered the disciples to drink from the cup, he said drink from it, all of you,.  This is my blood of the covenant poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. We all have a place my friends at the table.

While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.” 27 Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. 28 This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.  (Matthew 26:26-28)