Monday, August 21, 2017

the heavens declared

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Psalm 19:1 NIV

Today, we had the privilege of viewing a total solar eclipse.  It has been hyped and talked about for weeks around here. We all learned about eclipses and how they happen. Many people from all over the world showed up in our little town and neighboring areas just to experience  approximately 2 1/2 minutes of darkness in the middle of the day.  We sat out in a field with our students at school with viewers ready. It was truly an amazing sight to behold. The many effects and changes around us brought many 'oohs' and 'ahhs.'

This evening, I have enjoyed seeing videos shared by others and by news agencies. All the excitement and the reactions were the same. Pure amazement! It was a moment that will last a long time in memories.

The best part was sitting there realizing we were seeing God at work.  The precise ness and accuracy needed for such an event speaks of an awesome creator. This event requires a specific distance from the moon to the earth, as well as from the sun. It takes into account the sizes of all three: the sun, the moon, and the earth. It was orchestrated and finetuned so the amazing solar eclipse could occur. Not only was it orchestrated, but due to the predictability of the motion of both the earth and sun, the patterns were laid out and can be tracked. We can predict when the eclipses will occur and prepare ourselves to see them.  Without a creator who set this well timed and perfectly placed planet into motion, we would not have these experiences.  The very heavens and skies proclaimed their Creator today. Many people today, reacted with awe and wonder to the creation shouting out truth of His existence. People responded with praise and adoration. Many may not realize it, but God was praised today. Many voices uttered words of praise and called out 'Oh my God' as this phenomenon occurred. I couldn't help but think and wonder what God was hearing at that moment. The heavens declared the glory of God.

So often, people wait till these grand moments to declare the glory of God. Too often, we forget that everyday is meant to be a day for glorifying God.  Everyday around us, the creation of this world is crying out His glory, but His people fail to do so. We get so busy with living our busy lives that we may not take time to just thank Him, praise Him, or even notice His handiwork around us. When is the last time you have taken time to count your blessings from God? When I start to try to list them, I begin to realize, He has done so much for me that I cannot even tell it all. I have not noticed and I have forgotten to take time to notice.  So as I lay my head to rest tonight,  I am doing my best to take notice of all the many blessings. He has done so much for me and I am thanking Him. I am praising Him. I am going to make more effort every morning and every evening to take some time to be awed and amazed at His goodness to me. I will notice the handiwork of God and I will declare His glory a more each day.  I do not want to be the one who is silent and allows the rocks cry in my place.

And he answered and said unto them, I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out.
Luke 19:40 KJV

I will praise Him for His handiwork, for His blessings and, most of all, because he is God. He is worthy of all our praise just because of who He is.
 He is God.

My tongue will proclaim your righteousness, your praises all day long.
Psalm 35:28 NIV


Thursday, August 10, 2017

bloom where you are planted

When I was six years old, my family moved from rural northwest Arkansas to sunny Southern California.  We moved away from all my mom's family, everything we knew and understood to where my dad's  family lived. It was a huge change.  I remember my mom struggling with the big move and changes. But she realized something important. Bloom where you are planted.

I don't  know  if someone told her that or if God helped her, but it changed the perspective in her heart and mind.  She would give that advice to others when chamges came into their lives as well. As we have grown and changes come to our lives, I always think about that. Bloom where I am planted.

This is a Biblical principal as well. Paul explained that he  could be content no matter the circumstances because he was trusting in God knowing He was taking care of him.

I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.
Philippians 4:11 NIV

Paul went through many things, but worked for the Kingdom of God. He would still preach, share the gospel, and love others.  We can do the same thing.  Whether we make a big move to a new place or have big changes in our lives, we can still be effective workers in the Kingdom of God.  When we go through struggles or good times, difficulties or ease, we can still be used by God to accomplish His will.  Too many times we make excuses and find reasons why we aren't good enough or our circumstances aren't right. We can find many 'reasons' not to pray, share the Gospel, reach out to others, or just be loving  to those who need it.  This is not what God wants for us. We need to find contentment in the place He has us in, in that we can trust that He is taking care of the details and our purpose is just to do His work and will.  We must still bloom where we are planted.

I look out into the field behind my house and there are several flowers growing up among the weeds. They are blooming where the seeds fell and began the process of growing and bloomimg. Not one of them complained about the location or wished to move to the flowerbed by the house. Not one of them refuse to bloom because of the struggle to reach above the tall grass or circumstances that surround them. No, they just grow and bloom.  We can learn a lot and realize we can grow and bloom right where we are, in spite of the circumstances around us. God has placed us right where He needs us to be. He already knows what is going on around us and has a plan for why we are there.  Our best advice and choice is to bloom where we are planted.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord , “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Jeremiah 29:11 NIV

He has a plan for us and needs us to be right where we are so we can grow and learn to trust Him more and more. We can be used right where we are and find that God is already there working for our good.

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.
Romans 8:28 NIV


We can find contentment in knowing He is working for our good and will do more in our faith than what we can ever do when we wait for the 'perfect time' or 'perfect circumstances.' God has it in His hands and he is waiting for us to activate our faith and take action right where we are. Just go ahead and bloom right where you are.



Thursday, July 27, 2017

an act of love

I just read a story and saw a photograph of a sweet 98 year old husband, lovingly, feeding his wife ice cream at a Sonic. The story, of course, praised this act of love, as it was very hot outide. The person who took the picture, described how the man carefully place a towel over her and sat in the door of the car to feed her ice cream on a very hot day. It was a very sweet act of love that is often not seen today.
I love being married. My husband and I love each other very much.  He is a good husband and I do my best to be a good wife. As a married couple, one thing that is important to us is demonstrating God's love and purpose in our marriage. A few years ago, my husband and I spoke at a marriage retreat. There was a statement he made that I have never forgot. As we were discussing how marriage is a reflection of how God loves the church, my husband began to talk about how much God loves the church. That is how much a husband should love his wife. He said, that just as Jesus was willing to die on the cross by the hands of the very people he loved and was dying for, a husband should be willing to sacrifice and love his wife that much. He held out his arms and said, even if she turns and causes ultimate hurt, a husband should love his wife enough to forgive and continue to love her. He talked about a husband giving willingly and freely to his wife because he loves her and not out of expectation. It was about showing love, not what you get back. I then discussed how a wife is to accept that love and return that love back to her husband. One thing that a wife can do is to offer respect to the husband that God has given her. Biblically, a husband is to love his wife, but a wife is to respect her husband. That is one of the greatest gifts a woman can give her husband. When I spend my time and energy focusing on showing love to my husband and he focuses on showing love to me, both parties needs are met and the relationship is firm and secure. There is no place to demand anything of the other. This is where trust is formed in a relationship.

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her
Ephesians 5:25 NIV

However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.
Ephesians 5:33 NIV

Jesus loves us so much that he willingly laid down his life because of our faults and sin. He willingly died to set us free. He took our hurt and shame. He took our sins. He took all our weakness and failures and was nailed to that cross by the hands of those he loved.  All because of love.
What an amazing act of love and self-denial. What an amazing gift He gives us.  When I think about the gift of salvation that came from His sacrifice, I feel in awe and humbled. I did not deserve such a gift. Yet, because of His love, He gave it freely.  God gave His son freely and willingly, not to get something out of it, but to offer a gift of salvation and eternal life to those whom he loves.  

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
John 3:16 NIV

God is honored and respected by our love that is returned to Him. He does not demand our love. We offer it freely in return just because of the mighty gift of love he has given.  I would even say, even if God never did anything else for me, I would still love Him in return. The gift of sacrifice He gave to set me free and pardon my sins should be enough for me to forever dedicate my love and life to him. I should love him not for what I can get out of the relationship,  but for what He has already done. I should be fully focused on His ultimate gift and my purpose should be to bring Him glory for that gift. I did not deserve such a gift and my life  should  honor and respect that gift. Selfless love that is focused on Him, not selfish love wanting what ever I can get. As a forgiven soul, I can only love God for what he has done and trust that he loves me more than I can ever dream. He will meet my needs as He promised and will care for me deeper than anyone on this earth.  My actions, thoughts and deeds should all be done to show Him how much I love him for who He is and what He has done for me.

Love goes deeper and endures long. Love is selfless, caring and kind. Love brings hope and joy. A good relationship with Jesus is built on love. That is what I want most of all.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
1 Corinthians 13:4‭-‬7 NIV



Friday, July 21, 2017

mission minded message

I was so privileged to get to attend the general conference for the A.B. of C. In Hot Springs.  I always leave there feeling like my spirit has been fed and refreshed. All the messages were wonderful.  One of my favorite days is getting to hear the missionaries give the reports and share about the mission works around the world.  I usually take copious notes to review later. As I sat down and began flipping through my notes this morning, I realized each missionary had a statement I had written down. Whether they planned to or not, God organized them into a great flow and message.

"Be an encourager."  -Bro. Eric Kirkendall

We need to encourage others. Speak words of life and blessing. Notice others needs and listen when they need to share. We can offer the love of God as we encourage others. We can speak words of life and hope to those around us and those whom we contact every day.

Therefore encourage one another with these words.
1 Thessalonians  4:18

"Invest in people." - Sis. Karen Lanning

How do we share the gospel? We invest in people. Many people invest in things, but God cares about people. He sends us to preach the gospel, love others and help others.  We are to be His hands and feet. He invests in us, we need to do the same and reach out into others' lives.

Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.
Galatians 6:2

"Your heart must go somewhere. " -Pastor David Penrod

Our heart must feel compassion  and love. When we hear about a need, especially in missions or around us locally, we should have a heart that reacts and responds. Our heart should be filled with the love of God and pour out that love in the form of compassion and response to the need as much as we can. We can offer to help meet a need or connect with someone who can. We can pray as well.  What is your heart loving, things or people? Our heart holds treasure dearly. What is your treasure? We need to have the heart of God for people.

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Matthew 6:21

"Be refreshing to others." -Sis. Mary Mitchell

We must consider how we talk and act. How we treat others reveals what is in our heart. Do we refresh others or bring them down? Are we complainers, gossips,  hurtful, or are we lifting up others? What are we offering to others?  I was challenged by this. I want to refresh others. I want to walk in a room and when  I walk out, leave those there feeling like they have been given a cold glass of water. I want them to feel refreshed, not dragged down by my words, attitude, or presence.

I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint.
Jeremiah 31:25

"The Holy Spirit flows naturally." Bro. Steven Tolman

When we get in tune with God with daily relationship, His Spirit can flow  through us and operate naturally. We will respond to Him and follow His leading. We will be ready to do the work he as for us and His will is accomplished. We should allow the Holy Spirit to flow and operate as He sees fit. This is when miracles take place, when souls are reached, when needs are met, when God is glorified.  That is the true life-giving flow a Christian should have pouring from their lives.

Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.
John 7:38

These messages challenged me and renewed my mission. I hope and pray we all can purpose our daily walk to the flow of the Holy Spirit: to encourage, invest, love and refresh. May our hearts belong to God and His body. May we find that we are purposed to follow God's  heart for those around us and around the world. May all we do glorify our Father in heaven.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

thankful for the blood

This week, I have encountered many statements about blood. I have seen a life suddenly and shockingly end because of the loss of blood. I have seen life beginning because of the flow of blood. I smashed a mosquito full of blood it had just taken. I bandaged a bloody finger. We sang worship songs about the blood of Jesus.

It is firmly established that life is in the blood.

When a woman gets pregnant, one of the first things that happens is part of the cells bury into the uterus  for the establishment of the placenta and umbilical cord. The placenta is how the blood flow is established. Through the placenta and umbilical cord, nutrients and nourishment are transferred to the baby from the mother. Little hair like structures called villi reach into the mother's blood to transfer the oxygen and nutrients without actually allowing the mother's blood to mix with the baby's blood. It is an amazing process.

We, as human beings, must have a healthy blood flow throughout our bodies to keep us alive and healthy. When there is a problem and blood begins to leave a body, life is at risk. Blood flow must be maintained within a body to keep it living. That is why major injuries can often be deadly. If there is bleeding, the blood is flowing out, and with it, the life of a person. If blood flow is cut off from one part of the body, that part will die.

There can also be troubles within the blood. Blood is what delivers oxygen, and removes many toxins. It defends the body from infections and from foreign materials. It is the transport system for oxygen, toxins, hormones, water, proteins, sugars, etc.  It helps us fight infections and keeps us healthy.  My aunt died many years ago because of a disease called aplastic anemia. This is when your body stops producing enough blood cells.  This is difficult to treat as your body is not receiving what it needs, nor able to get rid of toxins efficiently, nor effectively. Without new, healthy blood cells, the body cannot maintain a life giving flow.

For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul.’
Leviticus 17:11 NKJV

Without blood, our natural bodies cannot live. Life is in the blood, from the early beginnings in the womb, until the last moment before death.
Spiritually, we cannot find life without the blood of Jesus. He sacrificed his life so that we might be able to live.  He gave it willingly to atone for our sins. Leviticus 17:14 says that the blood sustains life. In the Old Testament, a blood sacrifice was required on the altar. In the New Testament, Jesus became that ultimate sacrifice so that we might find eternal life.

But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.
Hebrews 9:11‭-‬15 NKJV

His blood covers our sins and redeems us from the darkness of sin and death and restores true life.

in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.
Colossians 1:14 NKJV

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 6:23 NKJV

His blood sustains us and delivers us. His blood brings us life: nutrients and oxygen to live, and removes  our sin: toxins that destroy us. His blood is what flows to provide new life for our spiritual man. Without Jesus' blood, our spirit is dead and lifeless. It is hopeless and cannot survive. Spiritually,  life only comes through the blood of Jesus being applied to each soul. That is why we sing about the blood of Jesus washing us white as snow. That is why we can praise when we know our sins are cleansed because of His sacrifice. Jesus laid down his life because we owed ours for our sinfulness. He instead took all that upon himself and allowed his life to flow out of his body, down that wooden beam and into the earth. Right into creation. Right into the very earth from which he had created human beings. He allowed this so that we might be able to be redeemed and forgiven. He wanted his beloved creation to be restored and given back the life He intended at the beginning. Sin had entered and destroyed any chance of the true purpose. Only his life-giving blood could restore life. Thank you, Jesus, for your blood.  Blood gives life.
His blood once applied, can defend us and protect us. It's continuous flow in us will work to make us healthy and sustain us. It will protect us from attacks of the enemy, continue to work on removing impurities and sinful nature, and bring forth new life and strength. His blood will provide the spirit with the nutrients it needs to live and be sustained. Oh how precious is the blood of Jesus.
Blood is life in the physical, natural body and life for our spiritual body. I am thankful for the blood of Jesus. I am thankful for life.


http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/196001.php
http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/aplastic-anemia/home/ovc-20266528
http://www.merckmanuals.com/home/women-s-health-issues/normal-pregnancy/stages-of-development-of-the-fetus

Thursday, June 22, 2017

early will I seek You

O God, You are my God; Early will I seek You; My soul thirsts for You; My flesh longs for You In a dry and thirsty land Where there is no water.
Psalms 63:1 NKJV

Early will I seek You.  Many read this and immediately  think of morning. In the morning, we need to rise and seek Godʼs will and His presence for the day. We need to start our day with our Creator. Yes, this is true, but another way to look at it is, to seek God early before situations arise.

Many times, we wait until we are in the middle of a mess or problem to call out to God. Many times we try to fix our problems ourselves before going to God. Rather, we need to seek Him early. We need to call on Him first, before there is even a problem. This will have us already prepared to face the problems, already tuned in to His voice, His peace, and His plans.  We will be ready to face the situations head on, because we have already talked to the Problem Solver.  Wouldn't that make going through some things a lot easier? When I have spent time with God and already sought Him, I am ready to speak to the problems, "God is in control," or "I know my God will make a way."  My faith is stronger going in rather than having to build it up or even find it in the middle of a situation.

So early will I seek you, God. Before I even face the day or face a trial, because with your strength, I can walk forward. I can face any challenge knowing my heavenly Father is on the scene. He has promised that He will never leave us nor forsake us. (Hebrews 13:5)  Why do we doubt?  Because we have gotten our eyes and our hearts off track, off the One who knows what we have need of. (Matthew 6:8)

So, early will I seek You and trust that Your will is being accomplished. I may not understand it  and it may not go the way I think it should, but I know without a doubt, that God is already there working for my good. (Roman's 8:28). My faith and hope will be stronger and withstand the circumstances better than waiting until I am struggling in the middle of the mess. Early will I seek You.

My voice You shall hear in the morning, O Lord ; In the morning I will direct it to You, And I will look up.
Psalms 5:3 NKJV


Monday, June 19, 2017

remembering the old paths

Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine;
Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine!
Heir of salvation, purchase of God,
Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood.

This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior all the day long.
This is my story, this is my song,
  Praising my Savior all the day long.

Perfect submission, perfect delight,
Visions of rapture now burst on my sight;
Angels descending, bring from above
Echoes of mercy, whispers of love.

Perfect submission, all is at rest,
I in my Savior am happy and blest;
Watching and waiting, looking above,
Filled with His goodness, lost in His love.
This old hymn Blessed Assurance was written by Fanny Crosby. A prolific poet and song writer, who lost her eyesight at age of 6 weeks old, experienced the loss of her child and hardships, still wrote the most beautiful of songs. They spoke of the greatness and depth of God's love and grace. Deep faith and sound Biblical knowledge are carried in the words of her songs. This is the story behind this one.

One day in 1873, Aunt Fanny was visiting with a friend, Mrs. Joseph Knapp, a musician of sorts and wife of the founder of Metropolitan Life Insurance Company. During their visit Mrs. Knapp played a tune on her piano, which she had recently written. She then asked Fanny, “What does this tune say?” After kneeling in prayer for a few moments, she rose and declared, “It says, ‘Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!’”

Aunt Fanny began to dictate verses to Mrs. Knapp, who wrote them down, fitting them to the melody just as we hear it sung today.

These words speak such hope, joy and faith. I love to sing this old hymn and get "lost in His love."  I want my story to truly be told that my life was entirely praising my Savior all the day long.  I want to find that place of perfect submission to the will of God and His plans for me. True peace and rest comes from him and in trusting His will. Oh how simple He really makes it for us, if only we trust.  I want to hear the "Echoes of mercy and whispers of love" as I walk through my day and speak with Him. 

Every day I will praise you and extol your name for ever and ever.
Psalm 145:2 NIV

Sometimes, we need to take time to remember and listen to the words and stories of those who have gone before us. There is great wisdom and truth to be found.  I love our worship songs of today. I love singing praise to God. I also love the depth that is in the old hymns. It speaks of the faith and knowledge  these writers had of the word of God.  It speaks of the hours spent in reading and studying the Bible.  It speaks of the time in prayer they must have spent.  I am inspired by the stories behind these hymns. Some born in tragedy, some in moments of joy. My grandfather, James Ellis, often spoke little phrases of advice to those around him. One such phrase was, " Learn from my mistakes, so you don't have to repeat them. You'll make enough of your own."  I think of His phrases often and as I grow older, I understand more now, that his wisdom is so valuable. We cannot forget the wisdom and stories of the past. We would do well to recall and remember the words and examples that have come before us.

This is what the Lord says: “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls. But you said, ‘We will not walk in it.’
Jeremiah 6:16 NIV

Jeremiah was instructed in chapter 35, to meet with the family of the Rekabites. The thing that he noted was this family adhered and followed the commands of their forefather, Jehonadab, without fail. God used this example to show that those in Jerusalem  had failed to follow His commands,  but He was pleased with this family for their obedience. This family remembered the instructions of their past leaders and passed this knowledge on. I think that is part of why God gave people some of these hymns for us to sing.  I think that is why some of our forefathers spoke words of wisdom to their children and grandchildren.  We can learn from them and recall them to lead us forward in the faith and in truth. Let's stay in the right paths and not turn from them because we aren't willing to learn from those who have gone before.  God has placed them there for a reason.  We can find a well worn path laid out before us,  if only we pay attention to the wisdom of the past.  We can find that path already laid that will help us avoid mistakes,  find great peace and joy,  and a sustaining faith that brings us to that place of being lost in His love while praising our Savior all the day long.