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


Saturday, August 26, 2017

hearing and responding

Many of us ask, "Is it just me or is it really the voice of God?" We may be fearful about moving and acting when we feel like God is asking something of us. We struggle to recognize His voice and struggle to respond. To obey God we need to learn to know His voice and then take action.

Hearing the voice of God can be different for each person and can be different at different times. We all hear from God when we begin to feel the need to turn to Him. We hear him calling us and urging us to repentance,  to give our lives to him. We have heard his voice. We may hear him other ways too.
Through His Word
Through teaching and preaching
Through ministries: music, gift of knowledge, etc
Through Prayer
Through dreams
Through that still  small voice : unction, idea planted in your mind, nudge

But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things.
1 John 2:20 KJV
We learn the voice of God just as Samuel did. Samuel didn’t know the voice of God the first time God called, he learned it through experience. Once he understood God was speaking, Samuel learned the voice of God and obeyed. We have all heard Godʼs voice and responded, that conviction and calling that lead us to repentance. How did you know you needed to repent, to get baptized, or felt calling for more in your heart? We all heard him speaking to our hearts.

Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.
Revelation 3:20 NIV

When we heed his call, we become familiar with the voice of God and know His voice just like a child knows their parent’s voice. When I call my children, they answer because they know my voice. It should be the same with God.

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:
John 10:27 KJV

Know God’s word: God always speaks through his Word. Reading the Bible often and regularly is key. Reading the Bible will help us learn about God, learn His character, and help us recognize what and how he speaks. It is the foundation for knowing Him and His voice. We can trust Godʼs Word. When we know the Word of God, we will be able to recognize what He is asking of us verses lies and temptations.

“Very truly I tell you Pharisees, anyone who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber.  The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep.  The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.  When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice.  But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a strangerʼs voice.”
John 10:1‭-‬5 NIV‬‬‬‬‬‬

But you belong. The Holy One anointed you, and you all know it. I haven’t been writing this to tell you something you don’t know, but to confirm the truth you do know, and to remind you that the truth doesn’t breed lies.
1 John 2:20‭-‬21 MSG‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

We know that God does not always proclaim big and loud to talk to us. He uses that still, small voice. Elijah learned that the still, small voice is the one to obey. It may come as a thought or a feeling you cannot ignore. It may nag at you and urge you to act. You may feel that you desperately need to pray or talk to someone, or maybe even share the gospel with them. That is that still, small voice of God speaking to your heart.

And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord . And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord ; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake:  And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.  And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave. And, behold, there came a voice unto him, and said, What doest thou here, Elijah?
1 Kings 19:11‭-‬13 KJV‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

For who hath stood in the counsel of the Lord , and hath perceived and heard his word? who hath marked his word, and heard it?
Jeremiah 23:18 KJV

What we hear must agree with the Word of God. God will never go against His own word. God will not go against His own Word. We can trust His word. If something is contrary to His Word, the Bible, it is not of God. We can ask if it aligns with the Word of God? Does it align with his character? If so, we can trust that it is the right thing.  It is even okay to confirm or fleece God just as Gideon did in the book of Judges. He confirmed with God before acting.  It may even be the wise path to get confirmation for big acts before moving. God may send two or three confirmations for you. Before I moved forward with  a relationship with my husband back when He asked me to date him, I asked God to confirm that it was His will first. God answered clearly. I simply asked that if this man is the one for me, he would arrive at the church Sunday morning before me and if he wasn’t the one for me, I would be there first. He was at the church three hours before me.  Really clear answer there!

How do we respond?

Listen first. We should always include time to listen to God in our prayer time and throughout our day. We can hear from Him when we take time to listen.
Then, we act on what we know and trust him to lead us rightly. We obey what he is asking of us. We just go do it.

But this thing commanded I them, saying, Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and ye shall be my people: and walk ye in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well unto you.
Jeremiah 7:23 KJV

When we know Him and His voice, we will act on it. The more we take action, the easier it gets. We begin to recognize His leading more and more. We will develop more trust, more familiarity, action will become our first response rather than fear, or uncertainty.

“Lord, if itʼs you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”   “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”  Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”
Matthew 14:28‭-‬31 NIV‬‬‬

Peter responded to the voice of God, but fear entered.  He knew who to turn to and cried out to Jesus. Jesus reached down and rescued him. Fear may enter and try to keep us from acting on God’s voice. We can trust that even in the midst of action, God will rescue us and help us through. We may mess up, but God will be there to lift us up and turn the situation around. We can respond to God’s call without fear knowing He is right there to help us. Don’t let fear cripple your ability to take action for God. Follow that urging, the unction. Reach out and be the hands and feet of Jesus. It may feel uncomfortable and we it may stretch you into growing faith. God will bless you when you obey. You may find yourself sitting and praying with a stranger and end up leaving more blessed than you imagine. You may end up giving you last few dollars away, yet feel richer than ever. You may help lead a hurting soul to the Life-giving, Jesus Christ. May we become ready and willing to here the voice of God, recognize that voice and obey it. Let us act on His leading and be a blessing and be a light to those for which God is reaching. Let Him use us as He desires.


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.











Wednesday, June 7, 2017

the heart of the matter

Therefore the Lord said: “Inasmuch as these people draw near with their mouths And honor Me with their lips, But have removed their hearts far from Me, And their fear toward Me is taught by the commandment of men,
Isaiah 29:13 NKJV

We talk a lot about worship and honoring the Lord. We are often quick to say we love Him, to say the words of worship, "Praise the Lord," "Hallelujah." We may have many things we say about God and to God at the proper times. But this verse above gives a picture that I cannot ignore.  People will say a lot of things, but it may not be in their heart. In fact, they have actually removed their hearts from God. The things they are doing is only following human rules they have been taught to follow.  The NIV says it like this:

The Lord says: “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is based on merely human rules they have been taught.
Isaiah 29:13 NIV

They are performing actions, lifting hands,  attending a service,  doing something 'right' to look righteous, but the whole matter comes down to where the heart has been placed.

I read this verse and felt such conviction and concern. I felt a sincere need to search out where I have placed my heart. Have I removed it from God and placed it elsewhere? What am I seeking after? What am I truly loving and spending my heart on over God?  Have I become a lover of self or pleasure rather than God?

It makes me realize that my heart must be given to God first and foremost. What is in our hearts is revealed by what we truly say and do in our daily lives, what we stand for, and what we attend to.

A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.
Luke 6:45 NIV

Jesus warned us to not put on a show and that the heart is what he sees. He told of Pharisees who were washed sepulchres. Pretty on the outside, but dead on the inside. They did not have their hearts given to God.

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness.
Matthew 23:27 NKJV

How many churches are filled on Sunday with whitewashed tombs that know and perform the actions taught, but don't have that deep heart relationship with God? How many return to what they truly love on Monday because their heart is elsewhere?  Is this why the world mocks and laughs? Is this why the church is no longer taken seriously? Is this why Christians have become weak and powerless, lacking in authority and love?  Lord have mercy on us if this is the case.

David bemoaned this as well:
Help, Lord , for no one is faithful anymore; those who are loyal have vanished from the human race.
Psalm 12:1 NIV

And John wrote in Revelations about it:
Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first.
Revelation 2:4 NIV

God knows our hearts, he calls us to seek Him and wants to be in our hearts.  He wants to be our first love and our greatest love.

then hear from heaven, your dwelling place. Forgive and act; deal with everyone according to all they do, since you know their hearts (for you alone know every human heart),
1 Kings 8:39 NIV

And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for Godʼs people in accordance with the will of God.
Romans 8:27 NIV

Our actions need to truly coming from our heart. Our hearts must be filled with God, with the things of God, and with the love of God and for God.
I just recently heard about a girl in Egypt that had been attending a Christian church. It was explained that, often, Muslims don't say much about attending a Christian  Church, but once you get baptized, they will act. This young lady was very bright, had been accepted to Oxford and was getting ready to leave Egypt. BUT one day, she came to the pastor and said she must be baptized.  He was hesitant and said why now, you are soon going to England where you can get baptized without fear. She revealed that she had had a dream and in that dream, Jesus had shown her how real he was. She said, "If you had seen what I saw, you would get baptized immediately too." The pastor baptized her. Her body was found thrown from a building a few days later, presumably killed by her Muslim mother.  This young lady had been attending church, but when her heart changed, when truth entered and became her heart's motivation, her faith became real. She knew her faith would risk death and loss of other things she may have loved.

Is my heart in that place with God? Oh, God examine my heart, show me what I truly hold in my heart, change my heart and make it wholly yours.
Then, may my walk with God truly be effective and my light truly shine so others may see the truth of God working completely in me. From deep inside my heart, His work and love can accomplish what only He can do and make over my heart. For what is in the heart is what matters and is revealed in all we do.

Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.  Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me.  Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.
Psalms 51:10‭-‬12 KJV


Tuesday, May 30, 2017

no snakes in my presence

God sometimes sends us warnings through dreams. I believe God gave me one of those dreams last night. Anyone who knows me knows I am deathly afraid of snakes.  This dream was about a poisonous snake curled up among roots in the side of a river bank. In the dream I was looking at the snake and even held it to look at its face. I commented in the dream that it was dangerous, then it was back in the river bank. I personally would never ever touch a snake,  much less spend time around one! When I awoke, I was a bit disturbed and recognized God was sending a warning. As I prayed, I felt God reminding me that we cannot slowly allow anything into our lives that will draw us away from him into a place that we are comfortable with the presence of our enemy, even participatimg in the very sinful nature from which we were redeemed. We must be careful what we allow in our presence, into our lives, as the effects can be dangerous to our soul.

We are called to be children of God and when His spirit dwells in us, we must ever be on watch for the deception that comes to destroy our spiritual relationship  with God.

“Take heed to yourselves, lest your heart be deceived, and you turn aside and serve other gods and worship them,
Deuteronomy 11:16 NKJV

From early on, God has warned of deception in the Old Testament and in the New Testament. Paul wrote about deceptive preaching. He warned Christians not to follow another gospel that doesn't preach Jesus Christ.

But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted—you may well put up with it!
II Corinthians 11:3‭-‬4 NKJV

Jesus spoke about being aware and that many would be deceived in the last days.

And He said: “Take heed that you not be deceived. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am He, ’ and, ‘The time has drawn near.’ Therefore do not go after them.
Luke 21:8 NKJV

Deception can come in many ways that are slight and small. You may not even realize or recognize the deceptive nature that has come into your presence. It may come in through being busy even in good deeds. Paul warned about this because, when we are weary, it opens the door for hurt, bitterness, and strife to enter.

But as  for you, brethren, do not grow weary in doing good.
II Thessalonians 3:13 NKJV

We need to be doers of the word, not just hearing it and reading it. We must live it. It must be permeated throughout every fiber of our being, our actions, our deeds, and our thoughts. It must be our passion, driving force and our guide. Do not allow yourself to go without the Word of God leading you, otherwise, you will be deceived.

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.
James 1:22 NKJV

We must also recognize, the enemy of our soul is seeking to destroy us and what better way than through sly deception. If he can rock us to sleep, lull us into a fog of deception, he wins. We are not working for the Lord, or living for the Lord. He knows if he can slip in a little deception, he can destroy homes, churches, and Christian lives. We must be in touch with the spirit of the Lord so we can recognize those small deceptive things that try to slip in.

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.
I Peter 5:8 NKJV

Deception may lead us to believe our ten minutes of quick prayer is enough or that one verse of the day is enough of His word. Deception may sneak in and convince us we don't need to attend that Bible study or every Sunday service. Deception may tell us that the pastor doesn't really care or that we aren't really loved. Deception can convince us we do not need to help that person next to us or reach out to a hurting soul. Deception may even try to convince you that you are worthless and cannot be used. Deception may be through what we read, watch and listen to. Deception may introduce doubt about who God really is. Deception comes in many forms, but God will keep us from deception when we are made aware by His Word and His spirit. It reminds me of the children's song, "Oh, be careful little eyes what you see, Oh, be careful little ears what you hear." We must ever be watchful of what we allow into our minds and hearts.

We must ever be aware of deception and keep our eyes fixed on Jesus. God has warned me of something that may be attempting deception. God has reminded me to look to Him. I must allow His spirit that dwells in me to speak and guide my heart so deception will not have his way with me or my family.
Remember to seek God first, as He is the Author and Finisher of our faith. The enemy may attempt to deceive, but when we are in a deep place with God, every day,  deception will not have a chance to enter. May we finish this course with victory and not be found ashamed in failing to recognize deception. May we stand awake and aware so sin and deception cannot find a way into our presence. May God's presence rather be so strong, that the deceiver cannot come near or slip in. Heed the warnings God sends our way. May we never become comfortable in the presence of deception and sin.




Thursday, May 4, 2017

A kiss on the forehead

I kissed that sweet forehead and I sat comforting my child at bedtime. Frustration overwhelmed as tears welled up in those beautiful eyes. I wrapped my arms around that precious child and did my best to convince them that hard times make us stronger. I spoke about how we can choose to trust God and let those rough times bring us growth and strength but, we can't  give in and quit. I told them that this is not the time to quit, but the time to really push forward and shine anyway. As a mother, I really just want to take away the pain, make everything wonderful and easy for my child. I really want to be able to fix it all with a kiss on the forehead. I realize that, as a mom, I cannot really fix everything for my children. They have to go through tough things, they have to learn and develop skills that will help them endure, seek God for themselves, and find strength when they need it most.  This part of being a parent is hard. Sometimes, all we can do is kiss their forehead, just watch them fall asleep in tears, and pray a little harder that night.

As, I went on to bed, I did pray a little longer for this child. I poured out my brokenheart for my child. I felt helpless for them, but I know God can help, so I prayed.  I begin to think about how  God also has the perspective of a parent. I wondered about how God feels watching His children go through hardships and struggles.

I have heard many people question His love in the midst of struggles. Where is our loving God? I have seen others go through the fire and seem to endure with what seemed the deepest strength I have ever seen. How does God feel when we, His children, struggle?

casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.
I Peter 5:7 NKJV

Turning to scripture, I find that God wants to help us with our struggles. He said to cast all our care, anxiety,  fear and worry on Him, because He cares for us.
I find in Matthew chapter 6  a whole passage about not worrying.

“Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?  Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?  Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? “So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin;  and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.  Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.  But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.  Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
Matthew 6:25‭-‬34 NKJV

I think we can find many instances of Jesus going out of His way to meet needs, minister to hurting souls, and demonstrate deep love and compassion  throughout the four Gospels.  I think God demonstrates that He cares about us when we  hurt. He wants to comfort and soothe, just like I do for my kids. The big difference is, as God, He can do a whole lot more than I can. He can fix the problems, when I can't.  He can heal a brokenheart, when I can't.

He heals the brokenhearted And binds up their wounds.
Psalms 147:3 NKJV

He can get us through the struggles. I believe He is reaching and speaking, trying to tell us that He can help us. But we often, try to fix it ourselves, hold on to problems, and basically, don't really put our trust in His ability  and love to help us. We may, figuratively, cry ourselves to sleep thinking God isn't really going to help. All along He is telling us how much He loves us and how much He can do for us.

He is waiting, hoping, and wanting to carry us through the struggle, wipe away the tears, and replace the hurt with His love, peace, and joy. He wants to be the good Father we need. I find such comfort in knowing how much He really does care about us. He really does care about our concerns and struggles. He is good and wants nothing but good for His children. We need to trust that aspect of God. He is a good Father. He will do good for us. He will be there to comfort and get us through.

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:6‭-‬7 NKJV

We can lay everything at His feet and leave it for Him. Peace is ours in return. The very next verse gives us something else to do instead of worry and being anxious.

Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are  noble, whatever things are  just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are  lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there  is any virtue and if there  is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.
Philippians 4:8 NKJV

Instead of worry, think on the good things. He can replace the struggles with good reports. Our testimony is born in these moments of adversity and struggle. We come through with a good report of how God was there in the tough times. He does really care. He wants to show us how much He really cares through our struggles. Trust Him to get you through. He will kiss our foreheads, whisper how much He loves us, and work on the problem for us. How wonderful to know the Good Father is right there in the middle of my storm.

Monday, April 24, 2017

teach me and give me understanding

33Teach me, O Lord, the way of Your statutes,
And I shall keep it to the end.
34 Give me understanding, and I shall keep Your law;
Indeed, I shall observe it with my whole heart.
35 Make me walk in the path of Your commandments,
For I delight in it.
Psalm 119:33-35

As I was reading this morning, I had to go back and re-read these verses again. I realized that we sometimes rely on our own thoughts and understanding way too much. We try to reason out what we know to be true and try to figure out what God wants from us. We try to talk it out with others, read about it in books and try to figure our what we are supposed to be doing with our lives. I have heard many people talk about their true purpose and whether they know what it is or not, often, it comes from their understanding of who they are at that moment in time. SO, as I read these verses, I realize I have forgotten to ask God to teach me His way.

His way is the one true purpose we should all have in this life. I need to understand and seek out His way more than my own. I need to walk in the path He has prepared for me. They best way I know to find that path is to get to know God even more. He will give me understanding and teach me His ways when I seek him and desire Him above all else.  I will know more about Him and know more of what He intends when I understand more of Him through prayer, fasting and spending time in His Word.


But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Matthew 6:33

When we seek Him and His kingdom, He will direct our paths and provide for us all the daily needs we have. He will give to us and bless us bountifully. He will be our Shield and our Protector, our Guide and our Strength.  May these verse be my prayer and my heart's cry. May I learn His ways and walk in His path. May I delight in God's commandments.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

casting shadows

Psalm 23:4
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

As I realize that I have walked through a bit of a shadowy valley  recently, I was reminded what my husband had spoke to me about shadows. It echoed and reminded me that if I had just applied what he explained to me, maybe my valley wouldn't have felt so dark and lonely. Maybe, I might have moved in and out of the shadows a little quicker. But, just maybe the shadow was cast by my own uncertainty?

My husband,  not too long ago, was talking about this verse and how the shadow of death may appear in life and cause uncertainty, but it is just that, a shadow. Shadows are a part of life. We see shadows cast all the time but have you considered the source of the shadow?  My husband pointed out that a shadow is nothing more than something blocking the light. We often perceive shadows in a different manner. I have seen little kids try to hide from shadows or be scared by them. Even Peter Pan struggled with his shadow. Shadows can stir fear in our beings. Shadows can represent coming darkness or reflect feelings of sadness and loneliness. I have seen and read many instances of literary use of shadows to show sadness, depression, loneliness and even deep fears. But when we recognize that a shadow is only something blocking the light, it really doesn't maintain the same control or fear.

So, spiritually speaking, Jesus is the light as He stated in John 8:12. Life casts shadows. We have shadows of hurt, pain, disappointment, and grief. Sometimes the enemy, Satan may attempt to block the light from us. Sometimes, we even block the light with our own self getting in the way. If we stand with our back to a light source we see our own shadow and not the Light. We may have taken our eyes off of Jesus and got turned around spiritually so we see our own shadow. When we see that shadow, we may feel lonely, scared, defeated, etc. The whole time, we just need to turn to the Light and all that the shadow tries to remind us of is gone. Darkness cannot remain in the presence of light.

John 1:5
And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

Just like Peter walking on the water, when he took his eyes off Jesus and looked at the waves, that was when fear entered and he began to sink. he called on Jesus  to save him. (Matthew 14). We may become distracted by the shadows life casts over us and around us, but we can keep our eyes on Jesus, our Savior.
We can call on Him when we feel like we are being overwhelmed by the shadow. He will deliver us.

Isaiah 41:10
Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’

Jesus will strengthen and help us in our time of need. I can say there are times when I feel alone and have no one but Jesus to go to. There are times I get my eyes onto the struggles, trials, and uncertainty. I may feel like a shadow has overwhelmed and darkened my world, but I know the only source of light is Jesus.  When I call out His Name, the darkness begins to fade as His Light shines into my soul. I can find that Jesus is still right there, working for my good and I am not really alone after all.  

Joshua  1:9 
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Romans 8:28
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

We do not need to be afraid of the shadows, the Source of Light is right there ready to dispell  the darkness  that tries to creep in and distract us from His goodness. We can trust that God is always good and has nothing but good for us.

Psalms 34:8
Oh, taste and see that the Lord  is good; Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!

The next time, you feel you are walking through the valley of the shadow of death, remember that Jesus is the light and something may be blocking the light to cast that shadow. Look on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2). He will finish what He started in us when we keep our eyes on Him, the Light. His light can shine and remove the fears, sadness, and loneliness that we may have found in our hearts. We can find peace, joy, love, and contentment in Him. We can find that He is our friend and the one who cares about everything we face. We can cast all our cares on Him because He cares for us. (1 Peter  5:7)  We can stand facing the Light and all the cares of life are now in His hands. We can find rest. (Matthew  11:28). We do not need to allow shadows to overwhelm us, we can know that we do not need to fear, for He is with us.


Friday, March 24, 2017

peace in His path

There is an old southern gospel song sung by the Hinson's "I Won't Walk Without Jesus."  I remember my parents singing this song when I was younger. The words have stuck in my memory, and every so often, I recall them.

And I won't walk without Jesus,
I won't talk without Jesus;
I refuse to live one day as before.
I won't go without Jesus,
Just ain't so without Jesus;
Everything that I would do,
I just won't do without the Lord.

There are so many reasons I don't want to walk without Jesus. I am able to see the times that I have drifted a little further away and realized that those times are the rough places in my life. Those were the times that difficulties overwhelmed me, depression would speak to my soul, and trials grew larger than I could bare. The times that I stick close to Jesus' side are the times that hope reigned, Jesus was only a whisper away, and I could feel Him holding on to me as I faced the trials of life.

He is always present, but when I rely completely on Him, life gets a whole lot easier. You see, when I am reliant on Jesus, He carries the load for me. He said in Matthew 11:30, "For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”   I don't have to be burdened down, because I can find hope, peace and strength in knowing that Jesus is right there with me. There are times when I may not know what to do, but I can rest assured that He does. He is already working on the situation for me and I don't need to worry about it.

Matthew 6:25-34
25 “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?
28 “So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; 29 and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?
31 “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

We do not need to worry over things when we know God is already meeting our needs.
We can trust Him and know that he cares for our needs and is meeting us right where we are.
I know He holds tomorrow in His hands and I can rest in peace over any situation.

I may hear news I don't like. My son or daughter may get a health report that may strike fear in my heart, but I know I can run into the arms of my heavenly Father. He is already waiting for me to place the need at His feet. He is ready with the answer. He has performed a healing and I am so thankful.  What should have caused me to fear, is no longer a worry, when I give it to God. He holds it for me, so I can go on and trust that He is already healing and working.

We may not know the future and we may not know what is going on sometimes, but God does.
I am so glad I don't have to carry around the burdens of life. He does that for me. I can walk with Jesus and He holds me up with peace and strength. I am safe and secure in His arms.

Psalm 23:4
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.


I will walk the path He has placed before me. I will walk in His ways and with Him next to me. It is  an easier path to walk than without Him. He leads me in the paths of righteousness, (Psalm23:3). I do not need to fear or worry when I am on His path. I can walk on with God and know I am safe. I find peace in His path.



Sunday, March 12, 2017

serve for a lifetime and beyond

Israel served the Lord throughout the lifetime of Joshua and of the elders who outlived him and who had experienced everything the Lord had done for Israel.
Joshua 24:31 NIV

I always find something that stands out or challenges me when I read through the Old Testament and the recount of the Israelites. This time, as I reached the end of Joshua and read chapter 24, verse 31 struck my interest. Is real served the Lord during Joshua's life time and during the lifetime of  the elders who outlived him and had experienced everything the Lord had done. They served because they had seen God perform miracles, like parting the waters, delivering enemies into their hand, the walls of Jericho fall after they marched around them, and God's  promised land delivered to them.  They had experienced  God.  But, when you keep reading into the next book, the book of Judges, immediately you find that the Israelites  had strayed. They were odd serving Ball and Ashterah. They had left God.  I started to wonder and ask why, when I realized  a key word in the verse above. "Experience. "

Those that stayed with God after Joshua died had experienced God. Those who followed later did not stay with God.

Why hadn't they experienced God? It makes me wonder, had the elders forgotten to pass on their own experiences? Had the elders forgotten to teach the next generation about God Almighty or shared their experiences with their children?  I don't really know the answer to this, but I do know I can find that God did gave commands to the Israelites to teach their children the statutes of God.

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord  is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
Deuteronomy 6:4‭-‬9 NKJV

When God  spoke the law for Israel, it was meant to be taught to the next generation, it was meant to be passed down and carried on. His law was to cherished, loved, and placed deep in the heart for each generation to love the Lord God.  In Deuteronomy, we can read that Moses recounted all the events that had transpired while he lead the people so they would all recall it, remember God's mighty deeds, and that they were chosen people.  Joshua also recounted the history of God's deliverance before his death to the whole collection of Israel. He ended with a challenge to the people:

“Now therefore, fear the Lord , serve Him in sincerity and in truth, and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the River and in Egypt. Serve the Lord ! And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord , choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord .”
Joshua 24:14‭-‬15 NKJV

The people that heard him, responded that they would serve the Lord.  While those that spoke those words, kept this commitment, their children and their grandchildren did not. They strayed to the idols.  Perhaps the elders after Joshua forgot to declare to their children the great deliverance of God, to share their experiences.

This gives a greater challenge to make sure I take the time to declare the mighty deeds of God to my children.  I need to teach them the statutes  of  God.  I need to write them on the walls of my home and keep them before my eyes.  I need to hide the word in my heart and let my children see it in action in my life.  I need to share with them how God delivered me and spared my life. I need to share with them the stories of what God has done for me and what I have experienced.  I need to teach them the miracles I have seen  and the stories of how God has provided for us.  I need to be sure they have an experience with the word of God and with God, that will be life long. An experience and understanding that will carry them through the difficult times, through the moments of trials and temptation and give them the strength to stand for God for a lifetime.  I want to see them carry on this word of God to teach their own children. I want them to be able to say to their children, that God delivered them and recount the mighty blessings of God.  I don't want to fail my children
by not sharing my experiences of God. How will they know if I don't  tell them?

How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, Who bring glad tidings of good things!” But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “ Lord , who has believed our report?” So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
Romans 10:14‭-‬17 NKJV

I will choose to be the preacher of the Word to my children. I will make sure they have heard, so that faith can come to their hearts.  I will show them and tell them  that God is the Almighty One, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, that He is my Savior and the one who changed my life.  They will learn my experiences and be able to say that God did great things for my parents. I hope they will be able to say, "Yes, we will serve the Lord!"