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.

https://youtu.be/LIN85G3J4fY

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


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.