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Devotionals

Dream

on Monday, 02 June 2014. Posted in Devotionals

dream1

 

Lord, I know what you want me to do. I don’t know how to accomplish it. Do I go this way or do I head over there? Maybe you just want me to stay put and be patient. What if I’m confusing procrastination for patience? 

So often I have prayed that prayer. Frustration is part of ministry. Six years ago, just starting out I saw myself in a completely different place than I am now. I have had false starts and wrong turns. Procrastination is easier than risking failure. I know moving forward requires me to dare to make a mistake. I have held onto Proverbs 13:12 (NLT) “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life.” This verse has carried me through some dark times reminding me hope brings life.

God tells us to go. He sets us on a direction but the destination is a mystery. We may think we know where we are going but there are no guarantees we are seeing clearly. We get an occasional peek but most of a time it is unclear.  1 Corinthians 13:12 (NLT) “Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.”

It is important to avoid an obsession with our destination. We can get so caught up in our future we ignore the beauty of now. God does little miracles around us every day. Sometimes they are so subtle we don’t notice it until someone points out their culmination. Recently, I was jolted by this realty. A friend congratulated me on what had been accomplished through Dragonfly Ministry. Startled by her statement, I believed I wasn’t nearly as far along as I anticipated. Sadly, I was using the wrong measuring stick. This ministry is not about the check marks on my goal sheet but the lives that Jesus is touching.  

Perseverance is the Dragonfly Ministry word of the year. Pushing through in the quiet, uneventful time produces fruit that will ripen in the months and years to come. Do not give up on your dreams. Deliver your expectations to the Lord and let Him mold the destination. You may be surprised where He leads and the lives He touches as He fulfills your dreams. Galatians 5:16 (NLT) “So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves.” 

 

Glimpse YOUR Destiny

on Thursday, 31 July 2014. Posted in Devotionals

Destiny

Our summer started with my daughter’s graduation from High School. She is on the brink of adulthood. At her baccalaureate ceremony the speaker, Tim Throne, stated “Instead of concentrating on what am I going to be; ask who am I going to be.” A though provoking question.

Often we confuse our purpose is with our destiny. For every Christian our destiny is the Kingdom of God. Jesus prayed in the Lord’s Prayer “May your Kingdom come soon. May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.” (Matthew  6:10) We need to live out the kingdom here on earth.

HOW DO WE LIVE THIS WAY?

1. Remember we are adopted by God.  Ephesians 1:5 (NLT) “God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.” 

Paul was refereeing to a legal adoption in Rome. Such adoptions are irrevocable, permanent, and for us eternal. This is the source of our CONFIDENCE. Jesus expressed this in John 1:12 (NLT) “But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God”.

I love the message version of this verse. “But whoever did want him, who believed he was who he claimed and would do what he said, He made to be their true selves, their child-of-God selves.” Live out the description their child-of-God selves. When God adopts us through our faith in Jesus Christ, we become our true selves.

2.  Choose to glorify God.  Matthew 5:16 (NIV) says “ In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” This act of love towards others points them to God. To glorify means to magnify or highlight. When we care for others in Jesus name we make the aware of God. Our actions point to Him. We all have different levels of acceptance of this truth, as acceptance develops our confidence grows.

3. Build community through connections with others. Certainly life cannot be perfect as it will be in heaven. However we can live by Kingdom guidance here on earth.  We do this because we want to and we have the freedom to choose this life. This is the promise of Galatians 5:13 (NLT) “For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love.”

4. Stand united by the Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22). Our interaction with the Holy Spirit nurtures and grows the fruit. At last year’s retreat, we learned that others can bruise our fruit. These bruises can only be healed by the Lord’s presence in our life. We need to remember some people NEVER take responsibility for their hurtful actions. WE forgive anyway. Only through Jesus can His Spirit wash over those wounds and heal.

5. Care for others in our community through the empowerment of the Holy Spirit. As we interact with Him, He distributes His gifts as He wills.  (1 Corinthians 12:4-11) The purpose of these gifts is to care for each other. 1 Corinthians 12:7 “A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other.”

The gift is the tool; the fruit is the oil that allows the gift to work without friction. The Holy Spirit indwells in us.  WE need to make room for Him daily. We grow in this relationship so we can live out our destiny to be confident, connected, and caring.   

 

Saying Yes!

on Wednesday, 02 July 2014. Posted in Devotionals

When Logic Says NO!

Yes

 

We have a graduate! My daughter, Elizabeth, belongs to the class of 2014. During the last month, we have attended baccalaureate, commencement, academic awards, a final violin recital, numerous graduation parties, and a week-long family reunion.  The month was to end with a grad party for Elizabeth. In the midst of all this, Hannah, 15, decided to join a mission team. She leaves July 11 for Guatemala. 
 
 “Mom, I know Elizabeth’s party is Saturday but is it ok to have a garage sale for my mission’s trip?”
 
We expected over 100 people for the party. Shopping, food prepping, and decorating were in full swing. Elizabeth and I had spent hours on Pinterest planning her perfect day. This is the kind of thing we both love to do. Hannah’s plans didn’t line up with my plans.
 
The logical person would say “NO.”
 
The smart person would say “NO”.
 
The woman who has a tendency to over commit SHOULD say “NO”.
 
But I said “YES!”
 
God calls us to walk by faith. Often this does not appear to be logical. 2 Corinthians 5:7 (NLT) “For we live by believing and not by seeing.”  Faith can make us appear foolish. Countless people questioned my sanity when the saw my schedule last week. I saw God in it. It was not easy. I had moments when I was overwhelmed but I also saw our Lord answer my daughter’s prayers. 
 
In our busy world there are too many activities. It is important learn the word “no” and use it with zero guilt. Simplifying our schedule leaves room for God ordained opportunities.  When do we say yes?
 
1.  Peace accompanies the decision. Among the chaos of last week, I had peace. Granted anxiety crept in occasionally but the Holy Spirit answered it with Philippians 4:6-7 “6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”

2.  Investment in another’s growth. Our yes, told Hannah we believed she was following Jesus direction in her life. That is POWERFUL.  1 Thessalonians 5:11 (NLT) “So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.”

3.  God’s says “Go”. Sometimes you know it is time to take a leap of faith. Following God is risky. He takes us places without a glimpse of the outcome. We have to trust and follow His lead. Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.”

We cannot always see God’s plan especially when it involves other people. With prayer and the study of Scripture we begin to understand God’s character. With this relationship comes discernment. We can recognize that our Lord does work within chaos and He keeps us calm in the craziness. With Him saying yes doesn’t have to appear wise.

 

Hope in a foreign home.

on Thursday, 03 April 2014. Posted in Devotionals

Hope in a foreign land

A romantic at heart, I have secretly desired a story book life.  One completed when I am crowned princess of the kingdom and then live happily ever after.   I can’t say that this was a complete conscious thought but it’s in there.  A desire to be considered significant and making a significant impact on the world around me.  In actuality, I believe this is innately in each one of us but life experience can cause it to go dormant.  Planted deep inside us when we were created was a knowledge that we are not of this world but of a greater one.  We are each a child of the king.
 
I AM A CHILD OF THE KING
CLOTHED IN A ROBE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS
CROWNED WITH THE CROWN OF SALVATION
I CARRY THE SCEPTER OF THE CROSS
I AM A CHILD OF THE KING
 
Can you read the above with confidence?  Do you recognize yourself in each line?  Truth flows through it not because I say so but because the Lord declared it in His word.
Jesus instructed His followers to pray identifying God as “our Father”.  He could have said “His Father” or even “the Father” but He chose the word “our”.  Such a little pronoun, but its use declares our spiritual parentage.  Throughout Scripture, Believers are referred to as children of God.  Accepting Jesus grants each of us this privilege.  Romans 8:15   says “ you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, ‘Abba, Father.’”  (New Living Translation)  He is our Daddy in heaven.
As His children, we are clothed by Him.  When the Father in heaven sees us, He sees only righteousness.    How can that be?  I know I’m not perfect.  Romans 3:22,23 addresses this very issue.  “This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” We are gifted with righteousness when we receive Him.  Not because of our own actions but because of what Jesus did for us on the cross.  We, as His children, must continually accept that gift and pursue right living on a daily basis.  
A royal scepter represents authority.  Like righteousness this is not something we attain on our own abilities.  It is granted to us through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  The cross is the source of any authority or power each of us possess.   “For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority...having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead… And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.”   Colossians 2: 10,12,15
 
In ourselves we have no authority.  The power and authority is completely Christ’s.  His sacrifice gives us complete access to Him, so nothing evil has authority over us.  We stand against it in the name of Jesus.  In His name is all power and authority.  1 Corinthians 15:20 “But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead. He is the first of a great harvest of all who have died.”
 
God has accepted us into His kingdom and family.  He has granted us access to Him on a daily basis.  Our response is important to the fulfillment of His kingdom here on earth.  With this in mind, pray the Lord’s Prayer.  
 
Our Father in heaven, 
   hallowed be your name, 
 your kingdom come, 
   your will be done 
      on earth as it is in heaven. 
 Give us today our daily bread. 
 Forgive us our trespasses, 
      as we also have forgiven who trespass against us. 
 And lead us not into temptation, 
   but deliver us from the evil one. For yours in the kingdom, and power, and glory forever. Amen.
 
When life gets difficult remember who you are. He has paid an exceptional price for you. Love him with your whole life. Take His hand and live this exhortation from the apostle Paul. 1 Corinthians 15:58 “So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.”
 

Little Foxes and Abundant Life?

on Sunday, 02 March 2014. Posted in Devotionals

trust God

It was a no good thoroughly rotten week. Yep, there is no other way to describe it. Who wants to deal with these little annoyances? Have you ever had one of THOSE weeks? Any one thing is easy to handle but when the irritations pile up, one on top of the other, it can overwhelm us. We trip over one, almost catch our balance and then trip again. Slogging through each day these trivial circumstances can pry us away from Jesus. Sorry if this seems a bit whiny but here is a recap of my week:

  1. I got a cold.
  2. I had cramps…nothing that 800 mg of ibuprofen every 4 hours can’t handle.
  3. I had a headache…that lasted 5 days.
  4. I threw up from the drainage combined with the headache.
  5. The weather was awful…I had to drive across the state in said awful weather.
  6. I accidently ate a little dairy…I’m intolerant…I had a severe reaction.
  7. I had commitments that I was compelled to keep.

What I wanted was a God–changed situation. I wanted it all to go away. I wanted it to be easy. However, He had a different plan. He walked through it with me.

We’ve all had weeks like this. Jesus told us we would. (Matthew 5:45) Yet, He also promised an abundant life. (John 10:10) How does one thrive when we are just trying to survive? These circumstances were not life threatening but part of me wanted to give up. Song of Solomon 2:15 says “Catch all the foxes, those little foxes, before they ruin the vineyard of love, for the grapevines are blossoming!” Those foxes, life’s inconveniences, are sent to destroy our love relationship with Jesus. At that moment, when life is crushing down we need to make a choice. We cannot let the little foxes rule our life. Our focus centered on Jesus will keep our vines intact and connected to the true vine. (John 15)

Oh, that is so easy to write but complicated to live. If your head is pounding, your kids are crying, the road is slippery, the bills are piling up…it is all too much to ignore. How do we transition to a heart that embraces the abundant life? Ask Him. Talk to Him, worship Him. Work to recognize He is with each of us. Of course, He doesn’t leave but we lose track of his presence. This abundance speaks of a Spiritual richness that each of us can attain. It takes practice but it is possible. Stress, fear, and anger are replaced with peace. Peace that truly does go beyond our understanding.  Philippians 4:7 (NLT) is one of my favorite prayers. We need this kind of peace. “Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” Oh God, let me live in this peace. This peace guards against circumstances stealing His love away. I love this!

Peace is one of the fruit of the Spirit. According to Strong’s, peace means by implication prosperity: - one, peace, quietness, rest, + set at one again. Look at that! Tied into the meaning we see abundance and we see our union or oneness with Christ. That peace is a result of His love with His beloved; you and me. Psalm 43:5 (NLT) declares “Why am I discouraged?    Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God!  I will praise him again—my Savior and my God!”

Today the trauma drama continued. Added to the list was an overflowing toilet that soaked through the dry wall below. Oh yes and there was the car that almost overheated because there was no antifreeze in it. My husband is out of town and it started to feel like too much. Then I stopped, texted my praying friends and All is WELL. My peace returned, no more nibbling at my vineyard. My heart and mind are protected.

How about you have you had one of those weeks. Share your story. I’d love to pray with you and hear how you are dealing with it!

©Leslie Schonfeld

Fruit Full

on Friday, 31 January 2014. Posted in Devotionals

kind

Fruit – Full

On a mission trip, I was asked to dress up as a clown.  Clowning? Don’t you have to be trained to be a clown? The organization wanted something fun for the children involved. They had no money. It was our group or nothing.  Do it for the kids and do it for the Jesus.

Balloon animal instructions were distributed as we applied our make- up. Not my forte, I earned the name “Poppy”. Our rag-tag group marched through the streets with the inner city little league team celebrating the end of their season.  After their picnic we headed back to the subway.

It was an interesting walk. I decided to see how many New Yorkers I could make smile. With every passing bus, train, and car I waved. Each person responded with a quizzical look that erupted into a smile. I delighted in the response of others as I skipped through the streets, hidden behind my make-up my inhibitions disappeared.

Kindness breeds kindness. Even in a hardened heart city, child-like joy can be found. The Holy Spirit is saying “Stop hiding child. Share my fruit with others”. Fear of rejection, we hesitate to follow His lead. Why would I risk it? We risk it because it is the right thing to do.

Often we get caught up in our own agenda. Self- focused and determined to check off our to-do lists, we miss opportunities to share Jesus by sharing His fruit. The world needs more kindness. Now when I’m out I try to make eye contact with others.  I smile, than often they smile. It is contagious.

This is a simple truth but so often we don’t live it. It is time to be difference makers. It is time to stand out as unique. Share your smile. Give a pleasant greeting. It may be the only kindness that individual receives. It is a harsh world we live in. I want others to look at me and ask “Why is she so nice?”  The answer is Jesus.

Ephesians 4:32 (NLT)  states“Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.” The word kind, in Greek is chrestos, also means useful for others. Isn’t that beautiful? Who knew such a small action could be used for serving others. When you are kind you become a safe place for others in a hostile world.

This month we will be examining the fruit of the Spirit on the Dragonfly Ministry Facebook page. We hope you join the discussion!

© Leslie Schonfeld

She Loves

on Saturday, 04 January 2014. Posted in Devotionals

She Loves

She Loves

Bumper stickers are funny. They often reflect our personality.  I am particularly sensitive to Christian themed decals.  The abrasive ones really annoy me. I saw one the other day that started “You are not a Christian if…”  You fill in the doctrine from there. Often the person feels so passionately about the subject they don’t recognize the antagonistic message they are sending.  I found myself grumbling lf the rest of the way home.

Then it dawned on me I was judging a woman I don’t know. How could I know the intent of her heart? Maybe she meant to be judgmental, maybe not.  I don’t always love others. People can be annoying. Do you know what I mean? They don’t drive right, they don’t talk right, they don’t believe right. …Have you caught yourself thinking that way?

 This event provoked a journey that is now the theme for 2014; pursue the Holy Spirit.  Left to myself, I cannot reflect Jesus to others. I need to know and follow Him. I can only do this through a daily interaction with the Holy Spirit. This is why Jesus said in John 14:26 (NLT) “But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you.”

 None of this is new revelatory information. Yet, we need to be reminded. Living life as a Christian, balanced between grace and truth, is difficult. We often fall too far to one side or the other. We daily negotiate mine fields of cultural rhetoric. Often I want to throw up my hands and walk away. Not from Jesus mind you but from people.

But Jesus said the second most important commandment is to love our neighbors as ourselves. (Matthew 22:39) This is our challenge, not only to learn the truth but to live the truth.   I can only accomplish this with a close association with the Holy Spirit. I need to daily allow myself to be filled with His power because ministry requires us to be other focused instead of self-focused.  

Mother Teresa understood this. In my mind she is a true hero of our faith. I love that she instructed us to be “kind anyway” when others were hurtful.  She loved. That is how I want to be thought of. She loves. How about you? Will you join me on this journey?

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