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!"


Saturday, February 25, 2017

listen

"Listen."
I keep hearing a reminder to listen. I have written about listening before, but I know God is reminding me to listen more.

If anyone has ears to hear, let them hear.”
Mark 4:23 NIV

This verse is a reminder that we have been given ears for a purpose: to hear. This verse is repeated several times throughout Matthew, Mark and Revelations. Hearing God is found as a command or theme many times throughout the Bible.   We can look back into the Old Testament at many stories when ordinary men and women were given direction and guidance because they listened to the voice of God. Moses is one example. Moses amazes me.  He started out rough. He was raised as an Egyptian prince, murdered someone, and ran away from responsibility. God appeared to him in a burning bush and explained his plans for Moses, for the redeeming of Israel, condemning of Egypt, and the exodus.  Moses followed God's direction and became so close to God that he was described as one whom God spoke to plainly and face to face. He spent so much time with God that his skin glowed. He was so close to God, that God listened to him complain, or to Moses plead for the lives of those who had deserved death.  Moses was a friend of God.
Daniel is another man who listened to God. God sent angels to meet with Daniel. God showed Daniel many great and wondrous things that led to the return of Israel to Jerusalem. Daniel was also given many revelations about the end of time to come.

I think of my own desires to have my children listen to my directions. I urge them to listen. I try to guide them and advise hem to do the right thing, get work done, and just be obedient to what I ask.  It is frustrating when they do not listen.  Last week, when I asked one to study for a test, he chose not to study.  The next morning, when I quizzed him, he was not able to give the answers. I asked if he had followed my directions to study and he had to admit he had not.  I reminded him that it was important to study to pass the test and when I tell him to study, it is because I am trying to help him do well. I told him he still needed to study before school and now he would be in trouble. His morning now had the added pressure of rushed studying and if he did not do well, it was because he had made a choice not to put in the effort I had asked of him.

Is this the same frustration God has with His children who chose not to listen?
Jeremiah 5:12 describes those who do not hear as foolish and senseless.

The Bible has several examples of those who did not heed or listen. God had given Israel some commands and even warned them what would happen if they turned from the law. They did not listen and most of the Old Testament is describing the hardships that turning from God and not listening brought  upon them. They had attacks from enemies, lost their cities, their homes, and we're taken into slavery. Consequences of not listening were harsh. All of it was warned and all of it could have been avoided by listening to God.

We have consequences when we do not listen to God. He has warned us that we take great risk of falling into the traps set by the enemy of our soul. We may not hear God warning us. We may miss out on blessings or a chance to be a blessing to someone else. We may miss out on God's call to purpose and His true plans for us. We may make wrong decisions and face those consequences.

Jesus talked about those who hear are blessed and those who do not hear are missing out on blessings.

But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear.
For truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.
Matthew 13:16-17 NIV

He gave the parable of the sower who planted seeds and the types of ground where the seeds fell. Some seeds fell along the path, on rocky places, in shallow ground, among thorns, and on good ground. Only those seeds that fell on the good ground survived and grew strong and produced.  Jesus explained this as those who actually heard the Word and allowed it to produce in their hearts and lives.  He was teaching and admonishing his followers to be good hearers of the Word.  Another place Jesus describes His children as sheep who know the voice of the Shepherd.

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.
John 10:27 NIV

God desires to have children who listen to him and know His voice.  Not too long ago, I was involved in a short discussion about hearing the voice of God. We were discussing the ways God speaks to us.  Some talked about finding His voice in the Word of God. Some described hearing the still, small voice or hearing through others who spoke words of wisdom or truth. Others described how God revealed himself in the midst of circumstances when they least expected it.  These are all true. God will speak to us in different ways.  He uses what He needs to get our attention or uses what we understand.  He can use our circumstances to reveal Himself, He can speak directly to us through a still, small voice or through His written Word.  I find the more time I spend reading the Word of God, the more I hear Him speaking to me. He reveals himself through the words written in the Bible, through the narratives that tell of other ordinary people that God used through the ages.  As I listen to His voice in the words of the Bble, it becomes easier to hear that still, small voice speaking to me throughout my day. When I spend more time listening during prayer, I hear Him speaking more often; speaking directly to my heart reminding me that He knows my prayers and He is working to provide the answers. I can hear him call me and tell me that He loves me. I can recognize more often that he is speaking and directing my steps and actions when I really stop and just listen for His voice.

I knew an evangelist many years ago whose life testified of his relationship with God.  One pastor described hearing him pray and how it was truly intimate. He called out to God intimately, "Speak to me, my love." God was his first love. He was intimate with God and his ministry and life revealed the intimacy he enjoyed with his Savior.  When he ministered, he could speak directly to a person and reveal deep things only God could have given him.  God would speak, he would listen.  Oh, to be that deeply intimate with God.

I have been hearing God speak one word to me lately.  I hear him say "Listen."  He is calling His people to pray more, to spend more time with Him, and to listen. Listen to Him. Hear His voice. Listen to the words He is speaking through the ministry, through His Word, and directly to your heart. He is trying to prepare His Bride. He is calling His Church to fulfill its purpose and destiny. Listen. Listen. Listen. Do you hear His voice? Listen. He is speaking.  

Listen and hear my voice; pay attention and hear what I say.
Isaiah 28:23 NIV                              



Sunday, February 19, 2017

how do I see myself

What does God see when he looks at you? When he looks at a person who has repented and has accepted salvation, he sees the blood of Jesus. He sees His child.

So many times, we focus on what we see in the natural. We are the ones who see all our own faults and shortcomings. We are the ones who remember  our past sins and mistakes. We are reminded by the scars and wounds we carry with us. We sometimes think  that is all God sees in us. We think He is busy looking for reasons why we aren't  good enough or unworthy. Yet, in truth, He has already taken all that for himself, forgave it and removed it as far as the east is from the west. He will remember  no more.

As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.
Psalms 103:12 KJV

He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.
Micah 7:19 KJV

And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.
Hebrews 10:17 KJV

We are often defeating ourselves by looking at ourselves, not as children of God Almighty, but as sinful and broken. Jesus died for us and when we called out His name in repentance, He applied His blood over us, washed us clean and removed the sins. He covers us so that we are seen by God as pure and righteous and holy.

For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.
2 Corinthians 5:21 KJV

In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:
Colossians 1:14 KJV

In Exodus, we can read how God instructed the Israelites to take the blood of the lamb and strike it upon the posts of the door. He would see the blood and pass over them. He would not bring judgement upon that house with the blood visible and covering them.  This foreshadows the grace we would receive through the blood of Jesus.

And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are: and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt.
Exodus 12:13 KJV

Jesus shed His blood for the same purpose,  to cover us and redeem us from  sin. We are then covered. God sees the blood of His Son when He looks  on us. That tells me that he doesn't  see us as broken, sinful, and lost. He sees us as precious, blood-bought, pure and holy. We need to understand that by the blood of Jesus, we can stand in righteousness, walk in holiness, and declare that we are freedom from sin and shame. We are no longer who we thought we were, we are now children of the Most High. We are forgiven and redeemed. We have a new identity in Christ and are no longer subject to the old nature in which we were trapped. We are now born into the Kingdom of God. When we get that revelation of who we really are, how God sees us, we can begin to look different, act differently, speak differently,  live differently.  We should see ourselves as God sees us. Change how we look at ourselves. Stop dwelling on the faults, and perceived weaknesses and begin to walk as children of God.

Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:  Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.  But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,  Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)  And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:
Ephesians 2:2‭-‬6 KJV

We can put away the  old things and we are made new. We can walk as we now are: new creatures in Christ.

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
2 Corinthians 5:17 KJV

God sees His child. See yourself  through His eyes.


Sunday, February 12, 2017

most precious gift

This weekend I got to go visit my hometown in Arkansas and while making that long drive I thought about a lot of things. I thought about the bookmark my dad had given me when I was young with a special verse on it. It said, "A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches." (Proverbs 22:1 ) I also thought it about when I was very small and I would like to say the "Lord is my shepherd I shall not want," when I was in church.(Psalms 23:1) I thought about how my parents taught us to read the word of God, not just by telling us to, but by reading it themselves. They showed us that the word of God was precious. They made sure we each had our own Bible to read. They made sure that we had a good church that taught us the word of God. They also tried to live the word of God in our home and in their daily lives. I understand that they wanted us to know the word of God and plant it in our hearts. They gave me a precious gift that would help me my whole life.

As I have grown older I have desired more of the word of God. I read it more everyday than I did before. The word of God is very precious and we need it in our lives. The word of God is how he speaks to his people and to this world. We learn who God is and what his character is like when we read his word. The word of God gives us access to God and helps us understand more of him and more of what he intends us to be. Without his word we do not know him. Without his word we cannot understand that he loves us and that he has our best interests at heart. Without his word we cannot know God for ourselves. Without his word we are lost and dying and don't know it. Without his word we have no salvation and no hope.

When we begin to pour ourselves into reading the word of God, into understanding the word of God, and into finding out who God is based on what he spoke to this world, we begin to change. We change more into what he created us to be. When we understand God and his plan for us, we begin to become more like him. We are changed into his likeness and into His Image as we are filled with his word and with his spirit that comes from the reading of his word. His word permeates our lives and changes everything about us when we allow his word to become truth and life to us. We grow in faith when we read His word.
So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
Romans 10:17 KJV

The word of God is truth and we need to accept it, learn it and cherish it.

And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as a human word, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is indeed at work in you who believe.
1 Thessalonians 2:13 NIV

Jesus said we are blessed to hear the Word and to obey it.

He replied, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.”
Luke 11:28 NIV

We should not just read it, but strive to obey it and live it completely everyday.
We should find God in His word so we will recognize His voice, know His will for our lives, and have intimate knowledge of God for ourselves.

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
Hebrews 4:12 NIV

He will work in us and change our hearts and attitudes to reflect Him more and be less of our sinful selves. He does the work as His word fills us with knowledge of His perfect will.


Apply your heart to instruction and your ears to words of knowledge.
Proverbs 23:12 NIV

So as I look back, one of the most precious gifts I have received is the word of God. I want to carry it in my heart and live it thoroughly.  I hope that verse on my bookmark holds true. I want to have a good name, or reputation, that when others think of me, they think of someone who loves God, who is reflecting God, and who lives by His word. I hope my children learn from me, that the word of God is precious and they fall in love with it. I want them to seek God by reading His word and be eager to find more of Him. So as Valentine's Day is this week, my husband  and I bought our children new Bibles. What better gift to receive on a day celebrating love, than the ultimate love story.

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.
Jeremiah 29:13 NIV


Sunday, January 29, 2017

in service or at a service

I was sick one Sunday and had to miss church. When my husband got home I asked, “How was the service?”  He, of course, replied and told me it was good and what had occurred.  As I was thinking about it, I thought about the question I had asked and what service really means as a Christian.  It struck me that the church has become very concerned with the service but not with being in service to God.   We often fuss and worry over how a service will go.  Should that be our main goal? 

A service, or meeting together, to worship God, encourage one another, lift up the body of Christ, etc. while very important, should not be our sole concern.  I do believe we should come together and we should bring our best to present to the Lord. We should be prepared for worship and for the edifying of the body, but our service is not just to gather once or  twice a week.  Our main service for God should be our daily witness and how we live.

We are to be in service (verb), in action for God, not just showing up for a service, (noun).  We are to be doers of the word and not hearers only. We are to be busy for the kingdom of God, not just a bystander or partaker in the blessings. We are to be living our daily lives in a manner that glorifies God. We are to be studying to show ourselves approved, rightly dividing the word (2 Timothy 2:15); praying without ceasing (I Thessalonians 5:17); and fasting (Matthew 17:21) to bring our flesh under subjection. We have a command to go forth and preach the gospel.  We are to love one another.(I John 4:7-8) We are to be obedient to the Word of God. We are to let it permeate our daily lives, inside out and upside down. We are to be completely and fully given to God.

Service means we are being used and useful. Service means we are providing and supplying aids or services, not just attending a religious occasion.   My husband was in the military, or as many describe it, in the service. While in the service, he was required to live, eat and breath being a Marine. He entered the service and was stripped of all personal identity, then retrained to provide service without delay, without hesitation, when told. He followed orders daily, from the time he woke up, to the time he laid down, his sole purpose was to obey the orders given. He was completely given to the service of the country. He did not show up once a week to a duty, but he was daily involved in providing for the protection of the country. He was in service, not just attending a service.

Spiritually, we are to be in service, not just at a service. Daily, we are to serve the Lord with gladness, come before His presence with singing (Psalm 100:2) , from the time we wake, until the time we lay to rest. We are to be about the business of serving God by our actions, our thoughts, our words, our deeds. (Colossians 3:17) We are to be speaking life into those around us. We are to be calling on the name of the Lord for healing and deliverance for those who have need. We are to see the hurting and the wounded and act on their behalf. We are to be the body of Christ reaching the dying and lost. We are to speak the word of God and bring hope to this world. We are to serve and love others. (Mark 16:15)

Yes, that even means when we come together for a service. Yes, we are not forsake the assembling of ourselves together. (Hebrews 10:25) We are to come together with our brothers and sisters in Christ so we can edify one another, lift up the name of Christ and find strength to continue in service. We are to come together to pray and bear one another’s burdens. (Galatians 6:2) We are to come together and worship the Lord.
This should just be a part of our service, not our only service.

So, I guess from now on, I will need to ask, not "How was the service?" but, "How did I serve today?" Did I serve God or anyone else today?  Did I obey God and do His commands?  Did I provide and serve for the needs of others? Was I the hands and feet of God reaching for the lost?  Did my words, deeds and thoughts bring glory to my God?

Lord help me to be in service for you and not just at a service.  Help me be completely devoted and given to your service, daily. Permeate my being and use me for your Kingdom.

even when it seems worse

I was reading through Exodus and I realized a great important lesson. As Moses went to Egypt to obey the Lord and lead the Israelites out, some interesting things happened. He was sent by God after an experience of talking to God in a burning bush. God gave him direction and specific guidance in what he was to say and do. He explained that the deliverance of Israel was going to be a process that not only brought deliverance, but also brought punishment to Egypt for wickedness.

Moses went to Egypt and presented himself to Pharaoh with the request of letting the Israelite people go to sacrifice and worship their God. Pharaoh's response in Exodus 5:2 was "Who is this Lord, that I should obey him and let Israel go? I do not know the Lord and I will not let Israel go."  Pharaoh refused the request, then turned around and increased the labor of the Israelites. He gave instructions that the straw was no longer supplied to the Israelite slaves, but they must gather the straw as well as meet the same quota of bricks they already must meet. When they asked why this happened, he called them lazy. The Israelites realized they were in trouble and immediately found Moses and Aaron. They basically were angry with Moses and blamed him for making things much worse than they already were. When Moses talked to God about this. God said, "Now you will see what I will do to Pharaoh: Because of my mighty hand he will let them go; because of my mighty hand he will drive them out of his country."(Exodus 6:1)  God declared, "I am the Lord." (verse 2) This was followed by many conversations with Pharaoh, the 10 plagues and ultimately, the word of God becoming true as Pharaoh drove them out of Egypt. God kept His word in a mighty, miraculous victory that would never have been without His intervening.

I realized this is a spiritual principle taking place.  We often ask God for deliverances and make our requests known. but we cry out and often complain when things appear to get worse.  How many times have we made a request to God, and instead of seeing an answer right away, the situation seems to worsen?  We can make an important choice in this situation: we can continue on in faith and trust in God, or we can cry, complain and give up.  So many times, I think I have forgotten the faithfulness of God and have given up too soon.  God is making things happen that I cannot see. He may be preparing me for one of the great victories that only could happen with his deliverance, and I can't see past my circumstances. While the people thought it was getting worse, Moses obeyed God and trusted that God would do what he said. He did not give up, he kept pressing onward. He kept speaking the word that God gave him. He kept declaring the promises of God for deliverance. He pushed forward in the face of everyone else doubting and complaining. He lead the people to victory.

Sometimes, we face difficulties that seem to increase. Sometimes, circumstances grow and become ever more burdensome, just so God can say, "Now you will see what I will do."  Sometimes, victory comes through waiting on God to do what He said he will do.  He is faithful and He is good. He does not fail.  We do. When we let our faith waver in the face of growing distraction, fear, and get our eyes off of God, we fail.  We may even lose out on a great victory that God was setting up for us. He knows more than we know. He is working on  our behalf and his ways are higher than our ways and His thoughts are higher than ours. (Isaiah 55:9) We may not see the big picture when we are bogged down in the middle of a situation. He does and he knows what we have need of.

So I see how sometimes, we may only think things are getting worse, but it is really God bringing about a greater miracle than we could ever dream. He is working to bring about good things for us. He is working to bring about blessings in our lives. He is working to give us an even greater testimony of His goodness and power. We need to trust in Him and believe that He is good and we have no reason to doubt or fear, for what he is doing is for our good. We may not understand it in the moment, and it may bring about those who may ridicule, laugh, and call us crazy, but when we trust in God, He will do what he says he will do.  He will be faithful.  Do not give up, even when it seems hope is running the other way.  Do not give up, for God is working on your side. He will bring victory and deliverance like only He can do. He will bring forth mighty miracles that will bring us to know that He is the Lord. He will perform His word. We will be able to declare that He is the Lord!

Hebrews 10:36  You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.

Psalms 111:7 The works of his hands are faithful and just; all his precepts are trustworthy.

If you are facing a situation that seems to only get worse, don't give up, for God's mighty hand is moving to bring forth deliverance. He is able and He will do what He said He will do. He is Lord!

Sunday, January 15, 2017

immersed

As I was making grits for breakfast for the family, I began to think about how the grits are made. In the box, they are dry, but I guess you could say they are good and you could try to eat them, but they become really good to eat once they have been immersed into boiling hot water.  Cold water doesn't suffice.  It must be hot.  I know we generally think about baptism when we say the word immersed, but it can mean immersing yourself in your work or into your area of interest. Its to be completely absorbed in something.  We are often absorbed by sports, crafts, activities, work, family,  or whatever keeps us busy and interested. Now, these things may not be bad in and of themselves, but are we taking time to become immersed in reading the Word of God, in obeying His call or His guidance?  The word immersed is a verb and according to the dictionary means:

1. to plunge into or place under a liquid; dip; sink.
2.to involve deeply; absorb:
3.to baptize by immersion.
4. to embed; bury.
Wow, that is cool.  I found my thoughts going to how we can be good, we can be doing things that seem right and know how to act right, but until we are immersed in the Spirit of God and His Word, we really cannot be really effective in what we need to be for God. 
Revelations 3:15-16 says:
15 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.
16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.

God wants us to be heated up and passionate about Him. He wants us to be immersed in His Will. In 2 Kings chapter 5 we can read about Naaman, who had leprosy. He was told by Elisha to go dip seven times in the river Jordan.  Once Naaman was convinced to go ahead and go dip in the muddy, dirty river, he did and was healed. If he hadn't immersed himself completely and fully in obeying Elisha, he would not have received his healing.  We can read about the Apostle Paul and the other disciples who risked life and limb, were beaten, boiled in oil, and eventually killed for the preaching the gospel. They were sold out and fully immersed in the obedience to the Word of God.  

When we become fully immersed, we become who God has intended us to be.  The grits in the boiling water become softer and delicious.  When we become immersed in the Word and Spirit of God, we also become softer. We become more sensitive to the hearing the voice of God, to seeking His will and to obedience of his guidance. We become more like Him. We become flavorful. Matthew 5:13 says: Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.
We are the salt of the earth. We season, we preserve, we cannot lose our savour. 

We need to be fully immersed in the Word and Spirit of God.  Paul stated in Philippians 3:7-9:
But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.
Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,
And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:

There is much to gain when we fully immerse ourselves in the power of God and allow His Spirit to operate in us.  We can be effective in the area of our calling, in being an example of the believers, in our prayer life, in our living for Christ. I want to be effective. I want to be immersed in God. I want to be hot and fervent for the cause of Christ.  I want to be in His will.  I want to run toward Him, full force and reach the prize. 

I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 3:14