Wednesday, November 22, 2017

remember the blessings

Sometimes we forget how truly blessed we are. As I woke up this morning thinking about all the things I need to do and all the things that bring me to worry, I came across an old song online. I listened as the words poured into my soul, I realized I am truly blessed.

There's a roof up above me, I've a fine place to sleep.
There's food on my table and shoes on my feet.
You gave me your love, Lord, and a fine family.
Thank you,  Lord, for your blessings on me.

I remember hearing that song over the years. I remember those who sang it with deep conviction about how blessed they were. I remember how blessed I am right now.  Tears fell as I listened and realized that I am sometimes forgetful to take notice of how truly blessed I am.  I get caught up in cares of this life. I worry about finances, health, jobs, and things that I cannot fix. God has been and always will be good. I could hear him speaking and reminding me of how much he loves me and how much I have been blessed. I heard him say, "I am still blessing you and I love you. I will not stop blessing you."

So I will try to make this season of Thanksgiving one of remembering how truly blessed I am, a season of thankfulness  and joy in recalling where He has brought me. He has carried us through so much and has never left us.  I can look around and see so much He has done. I can see my husband and children sitting here healthy. I can recall all the answered prayers and all the times God has met needs. I can testify of His healing power and His provision. I can tell of the love He gives and the amazing people He has placed in our lives. He has done more than I can even understand. I am grateful for His love and blessings.  Thank you, Lord, for reminding me of You.

I will give thanks to you, Lord , with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.
Psalm 9:1 NIV

Friday, November 3, 2017

from ashes to beauty

I love fall. Where I live, all the leaves are turning colors, red, orange, yellow. It is so pretty to drive around and see all the trees in glorious color. Kids ( and adults) love to crunch through the leaves. I realized though, that these leaves are dying. They are turning colors and releasing from the tree where they originally grew, the tree that has nourishment. It is a sign that winter is coming and that tree is going to lie dormant for a season.  I think even in the midst of this loss and death of these individual leaves, we see amazing beauty.  It can be the same for us as well. We all go through seasons in our lives. Some seasons are full of growth and gain, while some seasons are seasons of loss or even restful dormancy.  Each season, even loss can still reveal great beauty in our lives.

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:  a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot,  a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build,  a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance,  a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,  a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away,  a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak,  a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.
Ecclesiastes 3:1‭-‬8 NIV

The Bible reminds us that we have a time for everything in our lives. I am quite sure, that when we go through periods of loss, we may not realize there is also great beauty.  We focus on the loss and the sorrow, or on the pain.  We struggle, at times, because we cannot see the beauty in the midst of the loss or trial we are in.  This is hard to do as a human being going through the season.  Yet, with God's help, we can take His perspective and see the beauty in our ashes.  Rather than keeping our eyes on the pain, sifting through the ashes of what we have lost, we need to draw closer to our Redeemer and find the joy, the peace, and the beauty even in the loss.

I can tell you losing a loved one is a deep pain that is so hard to get through.  It is a pain that seems to never go away and may rile up suddenly at the slightest reminder in a smell, an action, or an upcoming holiday.  But even in this loss, we can still find beauty.  I can tell you, with all honesty,  I still miss my mother and may still cry when I think of her at times, but I also find great comfort and even beauty as I can share memories of her with my children, as I catch myself doing something she did, or even talk about how she died.  Yes, even in her tragic death, there was still peace, blessing and hope.  It was hard and difficult, and sometimes it still is,  but I have beauty there.

I don't know why this is my topic today, but I feel deeply that God wants us to know that even in loss, there is still beauty.  He is always there and brings us through the struggles this life holds for us. Yesterday, I watched as my husband held our little boy and spoke comfort to his troubled heart as he struggled with fear after a being in a car accident. I watched a loving father bring peace to a scared child. I felt God speaking peace to my own heart and sensed His loving arms holding them both.  I saw a glimpse of what our heavenly Father does for us. He is there with loving arms to hold us, carry us and wrap us up as He whispers His word to our troubled souls.  How comforting it is to know my Heavenly Father is always present in my struggles.

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners,  to proclaim the year of the Lord ʼs favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn,  and provide for those who grieve in Zion— to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.
Isaiah 61:1‭-‬3 NIV

I am thankful today as I know seasons come and seasons go. I am thankful to know that God gives us joy instead of mourning, beauty instead of ashes, and praise for our despair. He is our Comforter and our Freedom.  Most of all, He is our loving Father who brings us through each season.

This song, Joy, has been running through my head and my heart all week. It is a reminder of the beauty in the midst of loss and a reminder that God's Word is true and faithful.

There's beauty in my brokenness, I've got true love instead of pain, There's freedom though You've captured me. I've got joy instead of mourning.

You give me joy, down deep in my soul. down deep in my soul, down deep in my soul.

Rest in His arms, find the beauty, and feel His joy and peace. He will bring you through the season and into a time of rest that is waiting. Growth comes as we rest in Him.

Monday, October 16, 2017

He heals the brokenhearted

We have all been there. We have all gone through those moments when it feels like your heart is shattered into a million pieces, never to be whole again.  We have all experienced heartbreak.  This comes in many forms. It could be a loved one who mistreats you or a significant other who leaves you. It could be loss through death, or loss of a job. It could be plans that never happen. Whatever the cause, heartbreak results in leaving us broken, hurt, and afraid at times to ever trust again. However, there is a Healer for a broken heart. There is One who can apply healing ointment and restore a brokenheart.  His name is Jesus.

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.
Psalm 147:3 NIV

There are many examples of Jesus healing broken hearts but the one I am quick to always think of is Mary in Luke chapter 7. She came and found Jesus. She then washed his feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. What sorrow must have been in her heart to be so broken. She was desperate for relief and healing. Her tears were from being brokenhearted. Can you imagine the hurt she must have been carrying? Jesus had great compassion and when he spoke to her he said, "Your sins are forgiven." He then said, "Your faith has saved you, go in peace." Not only did she receive salvation, she received peace. Peace that washed over and poured through her like healing oil. A peace that healed a broken heart and healed the hurt.  We know Mary changed that day and became a follower of Christ. She was forever changed and could trust in the Savior of the world. She had found the healer of broken hearts.

Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.
1 Peter 5:7 KJV

We can bring all our cares and brokenness to Jesus and he will heal our brokenness. He cares for us and he knows our hurts. He came to earth as a man so He could not only bring us Salvation, but to also understand our earthly existence. While on earth, he experienced pain, betrayal, loss, and broken hearts.  He truly understands and has great compassion for us.  We can bring our brokenness to Him just as Mary did, and he will pour His peace into our wounds. He will heal our broken hearts. His peace can pour through our hearts and souls bringing restoration.

To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord , that he might be glorified.
Isaiah 61:3 KJV

He will heal and give us new peace and joy when none could be found.  Where once we had sorrow and brokenness, he gives joy and praise. He can change our hearts and give us a testimony of restoration and healing. What was once broken is now whole again. Jesus is the healer of broken hearts.  He makes them whole and new again. He gives peace and joy. We can trust Him for new life. Bring it to Jesus and lay it at His feet. He will take it all and heal you.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Light in the darkness

This morning is another beautiful day that God has made. As I awoke this morning, I was reminded that God is so good.  The sunrise is beautiful as the light breaks through the darkness and the flowers of fall are in bloom. Yet, the news that met me is tragedy has taken place somewhere in the world, tragedy that my human mind cannot understand. There are people suffering loss due to a tragedy and evil has been the cause.  Evil works very hard to destroy. In the midst of evil circumstances,  there may be questions of why this happened and where was God.  I can tell you without a doubt, that God was still there and He is still good.  The acts of a person overcome by evil intentions is not an act of God.

God is still good. He is there with those who have been hurt and he is there with those in the aftermath.  He was even there with the person doing evil.  God is saddened by these events just as we are. He knows the hearts and the pain of each and every individual involved. God is there and He is working to bring out the good in those who are touched by tragedy. What evil meant to destroy, God can turn into a testimony of His goodness.

Why didn't God just stop the tragedy ?  Some ask that question and it is a good question. What I do know is that each of us have free will and God does not go against our free will. He must allow each person to make their choices even when the consequences cause great sorrow and destruction. God does not cause these events, people do. People who have turned from Him, allowed evil to prevail in their hearts, and act on that evil are the cause of these things. God does not stop free will. He gave each of us a choice and each of live with the consequences of those choices.  Unfortunately, others do too.

And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord , choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord .
Joshua 24:15 KJV

A man's heart deviseth his way: but the Lord directeth his steps.
Proverbs 16:9 KJV

In the midst of these events, God and His body are present.  God is there to protect, love and carry people through. He wants His church, His body, to reach out in the middle of these times and be a loving hand and help to those in need. These are the times that the body of Christ needs to stand strong and demonstrate the great love God has for people. This is the time to be a shoulder to cry on, a listening ear, a warm hug, and a person who prays. It is in these times, that the Body of Christ  can send and bring aid, can provide shelter, and meet needs.  This is where Jesus can be revealed. In times when evil is working overtime,  is when God's people can shine brightly with the love of God to those in need.  We are to be a city set upon a hill and a light to the world.  This is when our light needs to shine bright and clear.
I believe God is revealed in the good  that comes forth in these hard times.

Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.
Matthew 5:14 KJV

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
Matthew 5:16 KJV

We are to be the hands and feet reaching out to those who need to know that God is good even when tragedy comes. God's people need to reach out in love and demonstrate the goodness of God in the middle of tragedy. We need to be a light of our good God who loves even the person who has done evil. We may not understand the tragedy or the reasons why, but we can find the good and be the good that God wants to bring forth.

God is not willing that any perish. (2 Peter 3:9) He does not want these things to be, just as we don't want them.  Since evil is in this world, tragedies will take place at the hand of evil people and we all live with the consequences. That does not take away the goodness of God.  He is there too. May the people of God shine brighter than the evil and pierce through the darkness that is trying to destroy. God can be a light that is brighter than the darkness when we take the time to be the good in the midst of evil.

And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.
John 1:5 KJV

Even when there is tragedy, this is still a beautiful day because God is still good.  I can still say that He has been so good to me. I can still praise God for who He is and I can worship Him.  I can feel His glory and see His glory all around. His goodness can shine bright in the places of darkness. Be the light of God in the middle of the evil. Be the light that darkness cannot comprehend. Be the Light.

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
Psalm 34:18 NIV

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

power and authority

This past Sunday,  I had the privilege of teaching our little bitty class and the lesson was about the power and authority we have in Jesus.

I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.
Luke 10:19 NIV

We were talking about Luke 4:31-37 when Jesus spoke and healed a man completely. He had all authority and power. I had brought a badge and a little dumbbell as props and as the kids were demonstrating their power, I realized that God was showing me something too.   He truly does have all power and authority.
He has power over the disease and over sickness. He Can heal. He makes it rain and can stop the rain. He brings comfort to those who need it and delivers those who need deliverance. His power and authority is not held in a badge or in anything but the fact that He is God. He speaks and the very wind obeys him.  He spoke the world into existence. He is the almighty,  all-powerful Creator.  He is the Savior that chose to use that power to provide us with salvation. There is nothing impossible for him.
The really amazing part is He gives that power and authority to His children. We have access to that same power and authority.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.
Ephesians 6:10 NIV

We have the ability in Jesus to speak in power using His word. We can declare those things that are needed such as healing and deliverance.
What we speak has power and authority. We speak into our circumstances and release spiritual things.

Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.
Proverbs 18:21 KJV

Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
Matthew 18:18 KJV

This made me really think about my words and how I choose to use them.  I want to be sure I am speaking things that are life to those around me and into my circumstances.  I do not want to be a speaker of discord,  destruction or death. Choose your words wisely, children of God.

The tongue of the wise useth knowledge aright: but the mouth of fools poureth out foolishness.
Proverbs 15:2 KJV

Let's no longer see ourselves as weak and powerless. We have the power and authority of our heavenly Father. We can speak and change the course of every storm that comes our way. We can see the glory of God when we access His purpose and understand that as His children, we too can speak life.

Consider what I say; and the Lord give thee understanding in all things.
2 Timothy 2:7 KJV

May we pray for spiritual wisdom and understanding in who we are in Christ Jesus and become the powerful children of God he has called us to be.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

for their hearts were hardened

Mark chapter 6 starts off with Jesus sending out the disciples and giving them the power and authority to perform miracles of healing and deliverance. They went out taking nothing with them and performed many great miracles. They came back so excited about what they had seen and done.

Mark 6:30-44  Tells about the miracle of feeding the 5,000. Can you imagine this taking place?

They participate in this miracle, passing out the food, eating the food, and gathered up twelve baskets of left overs. How many of us are amazed as we read this?  The disciples didn’t get it. Even though they were right there serving, they didn’t get the amazing miracle. We see that their hearts were hardened and they did not even understand what had happened. We see a few verses later, they didn’t recognize Jesus and lacked understanding.

Mark 6:45-52 Jesus then sent them on in a boat and he went to pray. We can see that the disciples were rowing along at midnight against a wind, and completely lose it when they see Jesus walking on the water. Jesus intended to walk on by. He was just strolling across the lake to meet them on the other side, but because of their fear he went over and got in the boat. Let read what happens.

And he went up unto them into the ship; and the wind ceased: and they were sore amazed in themselves beyond measure, and wondered.  For they considered not the miracle of the loaves: for their heart was hardened.
Mark 6:51‭-‬52 KJV‬‬‬‬‬‬

In the Message Bible it says:
Jesus was quick to comfort them: “Courage! It’s me. Don’t be afraid.” As soon as he climbed into the boat, the wind died down. They were stunned, shaking their heads, wondering what was going on. They didn’t understand what he had done at the supper. None of this had yet penetrated their hearts.
Mark 6:50‭-‬52 MSG‬‬‬‬‬‬

This miracle and all that occurred had not penetrated into their hearts.
Here we have men who have been walking with Jesus, watching him perform miracles,  had gone out at his command and had performed miracles,  were participants in feeding 5,000 people from five loaves and two fish. Their heart was unpenetrated and hardened. They did not understand the miracle. This tells me that even those who are busy working in the church, may allow hardness to take over their  hearts.  If the disciples' hearts hardened even in the very physical presence of Jesus, we are not immune to this either.

Think about a rock and sponge when you pour water on them. The rock may get wet and may even get cleaner, but the water never penetrates into the rock. A sponge not only gets wet, it is penetrated. It soaks in the water all the way through, internal effects are made. We need a heart that can be penitrates by the things of God.  Like the parable of the sower who sowed his seed. Some seed fell on hard ground, some by the wayside, some in the weeds, and some on good ground.  Only the seed on the good ground was able to form roots that penetrated down into the ground So nutrients could be found.  Only then was the plant able to develop and grow.  Only then could there be good fruit grown on the plant.  Our hearts need to be good ground that takeshe in the good things of God and allows it to grow bringing for the fruit that is good.

The Bible warns about allowing our hearts to be hardened. Hardening happens when doubt, fear and complacency enter. There is temptation that takes place and may actually tempt you into an action that is sinful.

O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the Lord our maker.  For he is our God; and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. To day if ye will hear his voice,  Harden not your heart, as in the provocation, and as in the day of temptation in the wilderness:
Psalms 95:6‭-‬8 KJV‬‬‬‬‬‬

Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith, To day if ye will hear his voice,  Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness:
Hebrews 3:7‭-‬8 KJV‬‬‬‬‬‬

We can be aware of that hardening of our hearts may lead us back into a sinful behavior. We can choose to draw closer to God in His word, in fellowship with our Christian  brothers and sisters and in prayer to keep our hearts always ready to soak in the things of God.

But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.  For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end;  While it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation.
Hebrews 3:13‭-‬15 KJV‬‬‬‬‬‬

Hardening of hearts can take us away from the very path of God. It can take us away from the presence of God to the point of being separated and unaware, unable to even understand the things of God. This will bring forth fruit that is not of God and definitely not good. This will be a fruit that is painful, deceitful, hurtful and destructive.

They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts.
Ephesians 4:18 NIV

Rather than hardening, we need keep our hearts full of the things of God. We need to fill our hearts with His word, love for others, and with praise of God alone.

Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.
Colossians 3:2 KJV

We can read that Mary treasured the things in her heart about what had occurred and what she saw when Jesus was born. She pondered them or thought on them. She studied it and kept it as a treasure. This led to her eventually prompting him to perform his first miracle once he reached adulthood.  She believed  and understood who he was because she treasured and understood the things that had occurred.

But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.
Luke 2:19 NIV

When we recall the goodness of God, recall His miracles, ponder them, soak them up into our hearts, we begin to understand and become filled with praise for God.. we let this treasure change our hearts. David does this in Psalms 107. He describes past events that God had done, and calls for the people to praise God. We need to begin to ponder and recall the mighty things God has done for us. Store it in our hearts, so that all we have coming out of us, is the praise of God. David would describe something God had brought Israel through, then follow it up with praise or a call for Israel to praise God.

Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress.  He sent out his word and healed them; he rescued them from the grave.  Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind.  Let them sacrifice thank offerings and tell of his works with songs of joy.
Psalm 107:19‭-‬22 NIV‬‬‬‬‬‬

Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. This means whatever has been stored up in our hearts is what we talk about and share. It is what we are passionate about.  It becomes our conversation and our testimony. What has soaked in that then comes out?

A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.
Luke 6:45 KJV

What is penetrating our hearts?

Rather than allowing a hardening, let the things of God penetrate our hearts, let them go deep and become embedded  and planted into our souls. Let it be that seed that becomes fertile and brings forth fruit. Let it be what we ponder and think about, let it become our praise and our thoughts, let it become what  we speaks about and what we know. Let it take over and overflow because we can speak only of the goodness of God. Let the fruit we share be the good fruit of God that those around us can taste of good fruit. May they know our fruit is good by what we say and do. Our hearts are revealed by our conversation.  May the fruit it bears speak of the goodness of God and draw others to fall in love with Jesus.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Unite the Body

This may not be my normal type of post, but I feel this very deeply and I must obey what I know God is saying to me.
As these past couple of weeks have unfolded and the next couple of weeks come we have seen great floods brought by great storms, devastating fires burning in multiple areas, severe earthquakes, and great division and violence being played out in the streets. There are three more huge hurricanes sitting in the Atlantic with Irma being one of the biggest, scariest storms I have ever heard of.
I am hearing many people asking why all this is happening. There is great uncertainty  and fear.  Turmoil and destruction are everywhere,  affecting most of this country and even the world. There are some calling it deserved and a punishment.  I cannot say that but I do know as I was praying for all those being affected I heard God say something to me.  He is calling His body to come together.

"Unite the Body."

Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.
1 Corinthians 12:12‭-‬14 NIV

But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:  From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.
Ephesians 4:15‭-‬16 KJV

I, personally, do not know how to unite the body of Christ, but I do know if we all listen to the voice of God, we can jear him calling is to love one another and come together.

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
John 13:34‭-‬35 NIV

God is calling His Body to unite together. He is the Head and the Head is telling the body to come together for its purpose. Its purpose is to serve and do the will of the Father.  He is calling the body together in this nation to put that purpose first. Come together and pray. Prayer like never before. Pray for one another. Pray for every part of the body, not just the ones you know, but reach across the denominal and cultural lines. Come together for His work of prayer.  Pray for your families. Pray for the country.  Pray for our world. Pray for hearts to change and Love to intervene. Pray for healing and restoration. Pray for divine protection. Pray for a change in the Body of Christ. Pray for revival to take over this nation.  Pray for unity in the body of Christ.

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
James 5:16 NIV

God is still here. He hears the prayers of the saints. He has a purpose in everything. He is God and He will manifest His great power through the Body when it operates and obeys him. We are that body and the head of the body has spoken. Unite the Body. Come together and pray. There is nothing God cannot do. He is waiting for the body to act in prayer, to act in its purpose.  It is time for the church to arise and stand together with purpose, with prayer, with praise and make known the wondrous glory of God. Come together in faith and in the unity of Jesus Christ for His purpose. That is where hope is found. In Him we have hope, we have peace, and we find joy.

All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.  Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
2 Corinthians 4:15‭-‬18 NIV