Thursday, May 31, 2012

~ "Serenity..."

For I have satiated the weary soul, and I have replenished every sorrowful soul. (Jer 31:25)
As God's chosen people were encouraged by the promise of "something new" - we, too,  are encouraged by the reality of that promise.  We can take refuge in the strength and power of God Almighty and know that He keeps His promises to us and that our lives, though short in comparison to our afterlife, can be made serene in the knowledge of those promises!
When our lives fall into turmoil, when we can't seem to see the light at the end of the tunnel, we must rely on our faith that God did not bring us this far only to leave us here to fend for ourselves.  He will provide for us.  He will bring us through the storm and the sunshine we experience will be warm and soothing.  The softening of our hearts sometimes involves laying everything at His feet and walking away.  Sometimes there is nothing we can do but wait.
We "are as weary travelers passing through a waste howling wilderness" (Gill's Exposition).  Our Heaven Father refreshes us with His love and mercy.  We need only take the time to remember where it is we once were in comparison to where we are.  Satan would have us believe that we were better off where we were.  All of our needs were met through our sinfulness, but we lacked the most important of all needs - the need to know God.  Total reliance on Him is not an easy feat.  It can seem frustrating and long suffering.  His promise to replenish our sorrowful soul can seem to take forever.  The cry "how much more, Lord" will pierce the silence of our prayers and praises.  The words "I can't keep doing this" are echoed from a depth of pain we did not know even existed.  We wonder where He is and when He is going to reach down and "fix" what we have so irresponsibly broken or thrown away.  We call to Him to ease our suffering and dry our tears.  We come close to walking away, yet something always draws us back.  His promise.
Regardless of what you want to happen, something inevitably does - and it's by far more than we need and better than we imagined.  So, hit your knees, sing His praises and offer your prayers.  He has promised to refresh our weary souls and replenish our troubled spirits.  He will not fail you - He never has.  While you're waiting - continue to pray - continue to lift up to the heavens all that you have within you.  Show your Creator the stuff you are made of - the good, the patient and the persistence of your love for Him.  He'll show you the serenity that comes from knowing Him.  Take a deep breath and relax - you're in great hands!!!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

~ "Depression and despair..."

Therefore I went about to cause my heart to despair of all the labour which I took under the sun. For there is a man whose labour is in wisdom, and in knowledge, and in equity; yet to a man that hath not laboured therein shall he leave it for his portion. This also is vanity and a great evil. For what hath man of all his labour, and of the vexation of his heart, wherein he hath laboured under the sun? For all his days are sorrows, and his travail grief; yea, his heart taketh not rest in the night. This is also vanity. (Ecc 2:20-23)

Matthew Henry writes: "To those that are accepted of the Lord, he gives joy and satisfaction in the knowledge and love of him. But to the sinner he allots labour, sorrow, vanity, and vexation, in seeking a worldly portion, which yet afterwards comes into better hands. Let the sinner seriously consider his latter end. To seek a lasting portion in the love of Christ and the blessings it bestows, is the only way to true and satisfying enjoyment even of this present world."

When we focus on the negative of any given situation, we fall into a depression.  Our feelings of hopelessness and inadequacy can overtake our world if we are not careful.  There are times when we cry out for help and feel left alone.  Sometimes the depression we experience parallelizes us to the point that we can no longer even get out of bed.  We can become despondent and desperate.  We want only for the nightmare to end and our lives to become what they once were or what we've always dreamed they should be.

It's not an easy place to be.  It's not an easy place to come back from.  There are constant reminders of your failure and many times you are labeled by those around you as a "nut job".  You take two steps forward and three steps back.  You never quite reach the simple goals you set for yourself.  What one person considers "routine" can present the biggest stress and panic in your life.  Your family and friends begin to slowly back away, not knowing what to do or say for fear of making your situation worse or simply because you have become too much of a burden for them to deal with (that's their problem, not yours - yet it affects you).  

Focus on what is true, what is constant and what will never fail - God!  Climb! (I know, easier said than done) Don't give up.  It may take days, weeks or even years to reach the top of the hole you are in, but seeing the sunlight as you place your hand on the firm ground that is above your head is worth the fight.  I know.  I've been there.  There was a time when I could only get out of bed to  use the bathroom or grab something to eat.  I could not shower, I could not leave my house...there were days when I couldn't leave my room!  Walking the 25 steps to the mailbox was unheard of!  Getting in the car...not a chance!  

Surround yourself with people who understand, do not judge and do not criticize you.  Pray.  Ask Jesus to guard you and the Holy Spirit to strengthen you.  Find a way even if you feel none exist.  God will not leave you in that pit any longer than you can bear.  He will not abandon you!  Lift your eyes to the heavens and thank Him for the hole you are in before you ask Him to get you out of it!  

How ever long it takes, is also part of God's plan.  There may be things you need to learn, there may be ties you need to cut.  He'll tell you, if you listen.  He wants only the best for you.  Don't give up - the top of that hole may be there the next time you reach up your hand!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

~ "Ever faithful..."

Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised. (Heb 11:11)

Faith is believing that God can and will do the impossible.  There is nothing He cannot do.  When you feel that desperate tugging at your heart, that it's all "ruined" and that you have once again doubted everything promised...look up!  He know your strengths and weaknesses.  His promises are ever-present and always fulfilled.  He has not abandoned you.  His timing is perfect.  You just need to sit quietly and wait.  

So many devotions I've read tell me that the storms I'm passing through are necessary.  They tell me that after the storm comes the calm.  They tell me that my Heavenly Father will reward my faithfulness and my days of darkness will shine bright again.  

But what happens when we wait and wait and see our world crumbling - what happens to our faith???  When we feel left alone for so long, our faith in His promises can sometimes wane.  We become frustrated, sometimes angry, sometimes terrified.  We know the logistics of what we "need".  We understand the human necessities.  "Does God really want me to not live where I live?"  "Does God want me to live in a box?"  "God is not gonna dump a bag of money on my lawn."  "God is not gonna tell that employer to hire me."  I could go on and on, but I think you get the idea.

It's not about what God isn't going to do.  It's about what He can and will do in His time.  It's about what He wants for us, not what we want Him to want for us.  It would be very nice if God's plan and my wants were one in the same and if He could see His way clear to allow that to happen right now, I would be forever grateful!  That statement puts conditions and limitations on God (something we do not have a right to do, nor is it a very good idea).  Let's go back to the fact that He knows our needs.  Why do we ask for things we already know He knows we need (confused???).  When the table is set, and the food is on the stove - how many times do your children (or did you as a child) come to the kitchen and ask if they are going to eat?  Mine did it every day!  The answer is "of course I'm going to feed you!"  

Of course God is going to provide for you!  He will feed you, clothe you and comfort you!  We don't have to ask for those things!  What we do need to do is go to Him in humility, asking for His protection and preservation of our soul - of our faith!  If we have faith that the sun will rise in the morning (because we've seen the evidence of that promise), why is it so hard to have faith in His other promises to us?  How many times has God provided us with the "proof" of His benevolent nature and blessings in our lives?  How many "miracles" has He performed?  How much more proof do we need to know that He is not going to leave us to alone to fend for ourselves?

Relax and rejoice in His word!  When your faith starts to fall away because you feel your cry for help has yet to be answered, know that He's heard you - He knows!!!  And if your world should come crashing in on you yet again, know that that, too, is part of His plan!  He's got something much better for you and you aren't paying attention!  Put your faith in perspective with your heart's desires.  Have the faith that can and will move mountains (as Sara did).  Know that where there should be nothing - God can make something!  His promises are sound!  Look to the sunrise if you have doubts and know that before the sun sets, all things that are of God will be accomplished!

Monday, May 28, 2012

~ "God's final victory..."

The last enemy [that] shall be destroyed [is] death. (1 Cor 15:26)

Today we remember the men who have fought and died serving this country.  It is our "Memorial Day" - originally know as "Dedication Day".  We also take the time to honor those who currently serve and who have served.  We take pride in our servicemen and women.  We are grateful for the price that has been paid for our freedom.  

The freedom we speak of comes in the form of "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness".  It's written in our Declaration of Independence.  Many hundreds of thousands of unsung heroes have gone to their graves defending that right.  Their innocent blood was shed for the continued freedom we all enjoy.

Another young man, about 33 years of age, also paid a price for our freedom.  His innocent blood was shed on a tree at Galgotha.  He was put to death for what we would consider "war crimes" - he claimed to be a King!  

Jesus died for our sins.  He conquered the grave.  He rose and lives today!  He has won for us freedom - freedom from death and eternal damnation.  We have a choice.  As I've said before, we know how it ends - God wins!!!  Choose life over death, choose right over wrong, choose humility over pride, choose the truth, the life and the way!

Only two defining forces have ever died for you...Jesus Christ and the American Soldier -- Jesus's death freed your soul - the soldier died to defend that right!  Honor what they have done, but give glory to the King of heaven and earth!!! He reigns forever!!!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

~ "East to West..."

As far as the east is from the west, [so] far hath he removed our transgressions from us. (Ps 103:12)

He has torn the veil in the temple from top to bottom.  He has forever removed that which separated us from God.  He as released us from the law.  He has us right we did not earn.  He has made a promise He will keep.

"As far as the east is from the west - As far as possible; as far as we can imagine. These are the points in our apprehension most distant from each other, and as we can conceive nothing beyond them, so the meaning is, that we cannot imagine our sins could be more effectually removed than they are. The literal meaning of the Hebrew is, 'like the distance of the east from the west' or, 'like its being far' (Barnes' Notes on the Bible).

Jesus' selfless act freed us.  There is no hoping any longer, only a guarantee.  He came to make us righteous in the eyes of God.  His sacrifice was the atonement for our sins - He is our sacrificial lamb.  No longer do we go through the rituals of old, Jesus changed all that!  He re-wrote that law when His life literally hung in the balance been then and now.

We are reminded over and over not to change the word of God - not to make it "more convenient" to accommodate.  Under no circumstances are we to deviate from it, add to it or take away from it.  That command is for all people.  We are to worship no other god.  That command, too, is for all people.

What works today will work tomorrow.  Do not hesitate to point out discrepancies in what you see that is wrong, but do not shrink from hearing the criticisms for your own short comings.  If what you are doing is contrary to what the Lord commands, and someone calls you on it - thank them, accept their warning and work on rectifying the inadequacy.  Don't overlook the opportunity to better yourself.  

How far is the east from the west???  From one scarred hand to the other...

Saturday, May 26, 2012

~ "Even while we sleep..."

I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, [even] where Satan's seat [is]: and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas [was] my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth. (Rev 2:13)

The circumstances that surround our lives most often determine who we are.  God knows our "works".  He knows the the temptations we face, He knows our "human" condition.  He took all that into consideration when He sent His Son to die for our sins.  He knew, simply by our nature, that we could never atone for them, that we could never be truly free from them and because of that, He made a way for us to be forgiven.

Satan's seat is here, on earth.  Everything that is evil and ungodly is of him.  He wants us on his path, not our Heavenly Father's path.  He will do anything to bring us to his level of being (away from God, sinful and lustful).  He takes full advantage of those who have not been exposed to God's good graces and do not know His word!  He is not stronger than God (for nothing is), but he preys on those of weak mind and spirit.  Guard your heart and soul from him.  Know the name of your Creator and the one who has been ransomed for you - JESUS!  He, alone, will send the enemy on his way.  With the mention of His name, the beast must leave.  

It's very hard sometimes, to be in a place where sin and godlessness is ever present.  You can feel the "evil" around you.  Know that God is everywhere!  There are no "do not enter" signs that pertain to Him.  Satan has no hold over Him and if we place ourselves in His care, the enemy will have no hold over us!  Just as there is nothing that can keep a mother from their sick child, nothing can keep God from us!  He is beside us up until the end of our days - sometimes guiding us, sometimes waiting for those who have yet to accept His Son to cry out to Him.  He does not abandon us simply because of a "location".  Remember, Jesus entered the homes of "sinners".  He told his Disciples that He came "for the sinners, not the righteous".  If you look at that statement, you will realize none of us are righteous (at least not now anyway).  He came for all of us - each and every one.  He is where sin is - He is where sin is not!  There is no "holy ground" while Satan sits outside the fiery lake.  He and his hoard of demons wander the earth in search of victims.  God still walks beside them (even the worst of them) until the end.  

Don't fear the darkness in the night - no matter where you are, you are not alone.  You are a child of God and He has not abandoned you (although sometimes it feels that way).  He will call your name until such time as you are no more and come face to face with Him.  Find Him now, for tomorrow may be too late!!!

Friday, May 25, 2012

~ "Why do hospitals always smell funny???"

And it came to pass, that the father of Publius lay sick of a fever and of a bloody flux: to whom Paul entered in, and prayed, and laid his hands on him, and healed him. (Acts 28:8)

Jesus still heals.  He still guides the lost, hears their cries in the middle of the night, comforts them in their hour of need.  When your chest is heavy and the pain seems to be unbearable, He will be by your side to comfort you, to hold you and to love you.

When your child is sick and the doctors cannot figure out what is wrong, helplessness takes a hold of you.  You google their symptoms and seek the advice of your "medical" friends.  You rack your brain trying to figure something out...THEN you turn it over to the Lord.  Why do we do everything backwards???  Instinct causes us to pursue the "logical" and "written" answers as opposed to reaching out to the Great Physician.

Finding your way back to He who created you can often be fraught with false starts and failed attempts (in our own eyes).  We forget that we are human and burden ourselves with wanting to be perfect in His sight.  We distract ourselves with wanting to be "the best" as opposed to just being His.  He wants only for us to come to Him.  We need to bring Him our prayers and our praises, shutting out that which takes away from His purpose and plan for us.  The enemy is always at work, doing everything he can pull our focus off our Father, yet we fight out way through, finally reaching His feet.

There is nothing that has enough power to keep us from truly submitting ourselves to His care.  He waits for us there.  Fight back the beast that wants so desperately to keep us from Him.  Call, cry or scream out to Him - drowned out the voices of apathy that keep you company in your moments of despair.  Call on His amazing grace to see you through! 

Thursday, May 24, 2012

~ "All the king's horses..."

Then went Haman forth that day joyful and with a glad heart: but when Haman saw Mordecai in the king's gate, that he stood not up, nor moved for him, he was full of indignation against Mordecai. (Esther 5:9)

Outraged is probably an understatement of what Haman felt when, after feeling so superior because he'd just been invited to a banquet by the Queen of Persia (along with the King), he passed through the gate only to be reminded of Mordecai's refusal to bow to him as he passed.  He was bound and determined to get rid of Mordecai and all the Jews who refused to bow to him, or anyone else for that matter.  He went home and at the suggestion of family and friends, built a gallows to hang him from.  He'd had enough of Mordecai's insolence.  

Meanwhile, back at the castle, King Ahasuerus could not sleep, so he called to have his chronicles read to him and thus realized he'd never honored Mordecai for saving his life.  Oh, what a plot we have building here!

When we look at the events that took place in a matter of hours, we can see God's hand swiftly orchestrating every detail of what was happening.  We see the results of pride and the blessings of humility in one fell swoop.  We, of course, know how this story ends - Haman did not.  His pride so blinded him that he truly believed he was "all that and then some".  How sad that this man, who was so highly respected by the King, thought that he was as great as the King.  What he would learn as he hung on the gallows he had built for Mordecai was that you should never underestimate the power of God when the lives of his people are threatened.

Our heavenly Father protects all of us who come to Him and honor Him.  He's made a way for justice to be served and the humble to shine as bright as the stars He's placed in the sky.  He will not allow His people to perish from this earth before His appointed time.  He will cut down anyone who stands in His way - be it by the means of a gallows or plagues, earthquakes or raging waters.  His power is not to be tested.  In the end, He will be victorious!  He will set all of the records straight and the sentences He passes down on all people will reflect their level of guilt with regard to the entire matter.  Refusal to submit to His commands can leave an entire nation mourning.  Do all that you can do, to the very best of your given abilities to place yourself in the presence of the Father in a humble state.  Do not raise your head up at any time.  Listen for the sound of His voice in your soul.  He will justify you and vindicate you.  He will protect you and defend you.  Make your actions (or inactions) reflect His will for all people - not just the ones you like.  Remember, he loved Haman as much as He loved Mordecai - the difference was that Mordecai loved God - Haman loved Haman.

Don't get caught up in the "political" trappings of this world.  Pray for their conversion, pray for their acceptance, pray for them to use the power given them by God in a manner that shows honor to God.  They need our prayers now more than ever before.  Add their names to your daily prayer list and lift them up to the King of Kings!  They are passing through that gate where Mordecai sits...

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

~ "So how do I get to heaven???"

And if by grace, then [is it] no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if [it be] of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work. (Rom 11:6)

Confused???  I was too, until I re-read it a few times (and read some commentaries on it).   Paul always manages to get his point across without room for argument and with the deepest meanings.  What we need to remember first, was that Paul is using this particular verse to dispel the misconception that we are justified by obedience under the law.  He reminds us that it was by God's design that the Jews were spared before the coming of Christ.  If it were by works, it would constitute debt rather than favor in God's eyes.  "The idea of being saved by merit contradicts the very idea of grace (Barnes' Notes on the Bible)."  

We did not earn the cleansing blood of Jesus.  We do not earn our way into the Kingdom.  It is by grace, and the acceptance of that gift that we are made clean and become worthy to enter Heaven.  We could never pay the debt, so it was paid for us.  Yes, we are still obligated to live a life that exemplifies God, but we cannot master that life simply because we are human and we are sinners.  Our "good deeds" count for something, but they are not what gets us in the door.  Jesus gets us in - belief and faith in Him, and Him alone - acceptance of the sacrifice He made on our behalf.  Those "good deeds" or "works" we do, are the crowns we lay at His feet.  They are what we offer to Him as the smallest token of our gratitude for what He has done for us - His death freed us from the gates of hell, from a hold on our soul by the enemy.  His resurrection guarantees us, through the grace granted us by God, a place in His mighty Kingdom.  There's no other way in!

Once you understand and believe that it is by grace alone that you can enter, the desire to "outdo" the Christian next to you fades into the sunset.  Your jealousies and delusions of "being better than" the next guy become a fleeting chapter in your book of life.  The only person you need to be better than is the person you were yesterday.  You cannot "impress" God with your works - He knows you better than you know yourself and if your motives are, in fact, to impress Him - you just blew it!  Do what He calls you to do, live how He asks you to live - offer Him your everything and your nothingness and your gift will be accepted.  Do it for HIS glory, not yours.  Accept His gift (grace) and you will be saved from the torment of hell.  

So, how do you get to heaven?  Your journey starts at the foot of the cross.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

~ "Stop looking at what I didn't do and look at what I've done (or the second half of seven)..."


An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren. (Prov 6:18-19)

When we entertain wicked or evil thoughts, we cannot be also praising His name.  You cannot do good and evil at the same time...the bad always overshadows the good.  The same is true for our fellow man, our companions and our children.  When we look only at the negative (what they fail to do) - we cannot offer them praise (for what they do accomplish).  If everything you've ever done has been ignored and the focus has always been placed on what you have failed to do - the message you receive is that you are worthless...that nothing you ever do will be good enough.  In those instances, we can develop low self-esteem, and worse than that, we can fall into depression.  There is also the chance that we will cease from doing anything positive, since we only gain attention for the negative.

Our constant battle within ourselves to flee from troublemaking, lying and creating conflict in the lives of others can be overcome.  We can turn our own tables and eradicate the enemy's grip on us simply by turning to God.  Constant focus on His triumphs as opposed to our own defeats can bring about a change that will help us to see that although we may be sinners, we aren't all those things we've been programmed to believe we are.  There are certain "triggers" that cause us to react instead of walking away.  Perhaps it would be a good idea to limit our interaction with those triggers (or even people).  Sometimes we just need to call it a day.

Our hope lies in the cross.  That is where all the guilty sins (real or implied, true or imagined) should be laid.  The cross offers us the opportunity to ask for and be forgiven.  Once we have laid them there, it's time to once again, walk the path chosen for us by God, not those around us bent on watching us fail or fall.  Our success also lies at the cross.  With Jesus' mighty hand in ours, we can accomplish that which we set out to do through prayer and devotion.  We CAN move mountains.  Our faith tells us that (as does God's word).  When we finally come to the acceptance that the world around us does not dance to the tune of one, when we realize that all we truly have is Jesus - we can make a better, more enjoyable and practical journey  - ending our lives and beginning our eternal reward with the words "well done".

Don't play the game anymore.  Stop allowing yourself to be put down and discouraged.  When you know you've done good - own it!  When you know you've done wrong, own that too, ask forgiveness and move forward...but own it in your heart as well as your head.  God knows both and He knows your motives.  

Make your life one to be admired by others, make your path one to be walked in the company of the King, make your heart and your mind one that is pleasing to the Father. 

Monday, May 21, 2012

~ "He loves me, He loves me (or the first half of seven)..."

These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood (Prov 6:16-17)

Okay - so what does this mean???  When we constantly look down our noses at others, when we refuse to love our neighbors or tell the truths about them, when we cause the death or abuse of another person by murder, battery (or even abuse) - we are considered to be an "abomination" to Him.  

We are no better than others simply because we "believe" or are "Christians".  God loves all of His creations the same.  We are all sinners.  No one better than the next.  In the past few days, I have seen the hand of God, which has poured out blessings on families, lifting them out of their pain and suffering as a result of the prayers of His faithful ones, removed.  God blesses those who praise His name.  You cannot stop after your prayer has been answered.  You cannot fool God!  

He commands us to love one another, to look out for one another.  We are all in this together.  There is no greater or lesser person...only those who walk with God and those who don't.  Those who don't walk with Him  have the same opportunity as we who do.  They are no to be looked down at, lied about or even abused because of their "lack of faith".  They are to be prayed for.  It is not our place to judge them.  That privilege is reserved for God.  There is no justification for murder (of any kind) or battery or abuse (be it physical or emotional) - there is no justification for neglect or abandonment.  

The question "what would Jesus do" - heightened our awareness to the changing world we live in, and it is a good place to start on your journey to "fixing" yourself.  Did Jesus ever once look down upon anyone He encountered in His life on earth?  Not once.  He came as a servant to man.  He never turned His back on anyone who came to Him.  He never spoke an untruth or misrepresented the Kingdom of God.  He was beaten and executed for our transgressions.  He was gentle and humble, kind and loving.  He now asks us to use His life on earth as an example for our own lives.

Do not set yourself above anyone else.  You are no better (or worse) than anyone you may come in contact with.  By the same token, do not allow anyone to set themselves above you.  Walk away, pray for them and place yourself back in the company of the one who fights for you, defends you and loves you - Jesus!  Use Him as your template.  Define your life as He defined His - make it one of prayer, love, and humility.  Give glory to God in ALL things and at ALL times!  His way is the only way!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

~ "Sunrise..."

(photo by Celia Darrigo)

From the rising of the sun unto the going down of the same the LORD'S name [is] to be praised. (Ps 113:3)

"Today I will acknowledge my faith in God, my Father in Heaven!  I will confess to Him any resentments and bitterness over past life events and will renew my trust in Him for my present walk and future hope.  I will aspire to trust God unconditionally in all things, demonstrating a living hope even when I may not understand what God's plan is."  This is my affirmation for the week.  I do not fear where I walk, because I walk in the light, and I do not walk alone - wherever I go, God goes with me!

When I look back at what my life was, I praise God for bringing me through it!  If I had never lived in torment, I could never know contentment.  It takes some getting used to, especially when all you've known is verbal and emotional abuse and neglect.  I had come to expect it and didn't know quite how to react when treated with respect.  The positive side of life came only in short spurts and was overshadowed by the constant clanging of "the useless bell".  I know now that I am none of those horrible names and vulgar expressions that were used to describe me.  I am a child of God.  I loved and cared for by the greatest man to ever walk the earth - Jesus!  

We all have our "midnights".  We need them to appreciate the "sunrise".  When God shines His light in your life, you stand up and take notice!  He's not someone far away, too busy to hear your cry or wipe your tears away!  He comforts you in ways no human ever could.  He loves you unconditionally!  He's there, right beside you as you suffer; He's there right beside you in your moments of joy!  Have the faith in Him that He asks you to have - He CAN do anything...but He's given us "free will" which means He will not MAKE someone change if they choose not to.  Don't walk away from God, walk away from what is not of God!  There are many things that God despises - you are not one of them!!!  Thank Him for those nights - they tend to turn into beautiful days filled with joy and love from above!  He IS the sunrise - praise His name!!!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

~ "More..."

My soul [waiteth] for the Lord more than they that watch for the morning: [I say, more than] they that watch for the morning. (Ps 130:6)

The most amazing day for each of us will be that day that we have waited for all of our lives.  No, it is not the day of our high school graduation, nor is it our wedding day or the birth of our children or grandchildren.  It is a day that will bring with us the rewards guaranteed us through the death and resurrection of our Savior!!!  For me, it will be a moment in time where all the misery and sin that life on earth has brought me will be erased and replaced with complete joy!!!  To be in the presence of my Creator, to be standing with my Savior and to hear the words "She is known to me", followed by "Well done, my good and faithful servant".  

God loves us much more than we realize.  Over and over again He forgives us, reshapes us and provides for us.  He offers us more chances to serve Him.  He affords us more opportunities to reach out to Him.  He continuously gives to us, as undeserving as we are, more and more!!!  Our sinful nature does not prevent Him from offering us MORE!!!  

Listen to the words of Matthew West's "More" - our Heavenly Father does "spell it out" for us - He loves us more than anything He has ever created!!!  He loves us so much He came to earth to build that bridge that reaches across the chasm from our sin to His glory!!!  He has left the Holy Spirit to dwell within us - guiding us ever closer to Him!!!  

My soul waits...sometimes patiently, sometimes anxiously - but it waits!!!  I trust the word of God, I trust the promises of God.  I do not always understand Him, but I trust Him and I trust in Him!!!  My love for Him reaches beyond anything I could describe to you.  There is nothing on this earth I would not give up for Him.  I would gladly surrender whatever He asked of me!  He loves me MORE!!!

Friday, May 18, 2012

~ "Tick-tock-tick-tock..."

Then said he to Thomas, Reach here your finger, and behold my hands; and reach here your hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing. (John 20:27)

Poor Thomas.  We all have our moments of doubt and lack of faith.  We see by this example that even those who knew the Master and walked with Him in His earthly form also had their doubts.  When we doubt, we only need to remember His promises.

Many times throughout our lives, we are faced with "issues" we'd rather not deal with.  We experience pain that cuts so deep we don't believe it will ever stop.  We may often think the wound will never heal and that blessings will never fall on us again.  When we walk away, for what ever reason, and come back - nothing has changed.  His love is still as strong and as constant as it always was.  He waits for us.  He longs to hold us and tell us all will be fine.  In our "pitty party" we don't want to hear those words - we want to remain sullen and depressed and carry the "nobody loves me" banner higher than anything.  We want the world to know we've been hurt and that we feel deserted.  

We are never alone.  Our heavenly Father is never more than a heart beat away from us.  The Holy Spirit that lives within us feels our pain and hears our sobs.  I will tell you that He definitely has His work cut out for Him in my life!  The enemy has been making camp here lately and it's time to clean house!  

Are there things in your life that need to be put away?   Are there things that need to be tossed out to make room for the blessings?  Are you a hoarder in the sense that you hang on to every pain, every hurt, every memory (good or bad) and every emotion that you've ever experienced?  Do you constantly flip through that photo album in your mind and long to go back to that day when you were the happiest you can ever remember being?  

We can't.  It's not possible.  Time is the one commodity that slips away and never makes it's way back to us.  We can spend all our money, eat all our food, and it can be replenished.  We cannot turn back the clock and change the course of history.  We can roll over in our minds the decisions we've made and the acts we've committed but we cannot change them.  We cannot take it back and "fix" it.  The choices we've made define who we were.  We have the ability to change who we are!  We have the option to walk with Jesus.  He doesn't hold our past against us, so why do we?  Why do we listen to the dribble of the demons of our past?  

Today is the day to close the door to the past and lock it.  Walk forward with your head held high!  Look to Jesus to lead you and stand by your side.  He's the one person who will never turn His back on you.  He does not hold your past against you. He will not belittle you, nor will He abandon you.  He considers you to be worth something - after all, He died for you!  Cleanse your heart and your soul - let His love and that shed blood wash over you and relieve you of all your burdens.  Put the photo album in the trash can and leave it there (and don't go picking it up because of your fear of what's to come - allow yourself the opportunity to experience something new - you deserve it).  There's a reason why that part of your life is over.  God has a new adventure for you!  Go out and find it!  He's just waiting for you to put the lid on that trash can.  The clock is ticking...

Thursday, May 17, 2012

~ "A game of hide and seek (ready or not, here I come)..."

For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost. (Luke 19:10)

He did not come to earth to bring peace.  He came to save.  He is the righteousness we seek.  He is the truth we long for.  He is the authority we answer to.  He is the one we long to be like.  He is the one who sets us free.  He is the judgement we all fall under.  He is the light that brings us hope.  He is the King we worship.  He is the Lord we serve!

It's not as easy as it looks sometimes.  We have our moments of struggle.  We are forever being sought after by the enemy.  Why?  Because we belong to him.  We do our very best to walk that narrow road.  We have a conscience.  We have a choice.  Do you need to rededicate yourself to your God today?

Satan has a way of manipulating and distracting us from the truth.  He is constantly at work.  His "demon hoard" is always lying in wait, looking for any opportunity to sabotage us and take us away from the only thing  we know to be perfect, the only thing we know to be pure, the only thing we know to be real - Jesus!

Don't play hide and seek with him.  He can't win.  Reach out to the Father though Jesus.  Hide your heart and soul in His love and protection.  Draw your comfort from Him, knowing that all His judgements will be brought forth and you will be vindicated.  Let the love you have for Him shine brighter than His stars and His sun.  Seek His guidance.  Seek His blessings.  

Today is the day to rededicate your life to Him.  If you've made a mess of it (again) and you are afraid you are slipping away, ask Him to renew your life from within.  Ask Him to lead you.  Let Him find you right where you are.  No need to clean yourself up first, He will do that for you!  You are all He wants!  Stained and unkempt - He loves you!  Take yourself just as you are to the foot of His cross...He's ready to receive you!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

~ "Sorry, this one doesn't have a title..."

Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water. (John 4:10)

Yesterday marked an anniversary.  Two years ago, I began a task laid on my heart by our Heavenly Father.  Satan would rather I remain silent, but the Lord had other plans for me.  I looked back over some of the posts I had written and some of the songs I had posted as Sunday Worship Videos.  My posts have blossomed from a few short lines, into what you read today.  I thank God for the gift He has given me and for those who read them faithfully each day.  

Today's verse reminds us that we are all one family in Jesus.  It doesn't matter what nationality we are, where we call our earthly home, or even where we worship - if we believe that Jesus is the Son of God, sent here to take on all of our sins in one act of redemption, are, by that act, saved through His mercy and grace by faith in Him, then we are all in His will.  We are all heirs to His Kingdom.

When we come to the well of salvation and ask for a drink, we are given the living water of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  But we must ask for that water!  We cannot expect or assume that it will be given to us simply because of what we've been taught or what we believe to be true because we have heard or read it over and over again.  We still must ask Jesus into our hearts, make a firm commitment to follow and do our best (with the help of the Holy Spirit) to walk in the ways that He has given us.  Pornography, excessive drinking, gambling, foul language, psychic readings, praying to idols (statues and the like - actually, praying to anyone but our Father in Heaven, through Jesus) takes us away the promise of salvation.  It is a wedge placed there by the enemy to keep us from honoring and worshiping God!!!  God wants to hear our voices - not the words written by others over the centuries that purport doctrine and pledges to a building which houses the cattle of that denomination.  He wants to hear our earnest requests, our heart-felt praises and even though we may stumble over those words we utter, they mean more to Him than the ones you were forced to learn as a child.  

Make a decision today to invite the Holy Spirit to awaken within you.  Confirm with God, through Jesus that you want to follow HIS way, no one else’s!  Celebrate your new life with an offering of prayer to our Heavenly Father who tells you that you are HIS!!!  Who am I???  I am a child of God!  Travel HIS road!!!  You will not be disappointed and the opportunities and the blessings that will fall on you will be more than you've ever imagined!!!  Who am I???  I am one whom God has chosen!  Accept HIS offer!!!  You will be richer than all the earthly kings who have ever sat on thrones!!!  Who am I???  I am the one Jesus died for!  If I were the only sinner to ever walk upon the earth, He would have gladly gone to that cross for me!!!  That makes me important.  You, too, are important, because He went to that cross for you as well!!!  Don't walk away - drop to you knees and thank Him for that!!!  Why???  Because you, too are a child of God; you, too, have been chosen and you, too, are loved!!!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

~ "Crossing the bridge..."

Knowing therefore the fear of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences. (2 Cor 5:11)

We all have fears - some of us are afraid of the silliest things (at least they are silly to others).  I have my own quirky little stresses that wind me up and send my nerve endings into another dimension.  I also have a very healthy fear - fear of the Lord!   In all that I have to do in this life, I know it will end, eventually.  I am stressed today beyond what is "normal" for me - it's been that way for some time now.  The simplest little things cause me to want to crawl into a hole and pull the earth in after me.  I cannot.  I struggle and sweat through it knowing that one day this will all end.  Its very hard to explain that to someone who doesn't understand the simplicity of "routine" and the chaos it creates when it is disrupted.  

So many things cloud our consciences.  Everyday life often takes us to places we'd rather not go and creates in us feelings we'd rather not have.  Only through constant contact with God can we ever hope to be quieted in our thoughts and fears.  Sometimes that "constant contact" vanishes without warning - He has not moved - we have.  How do we get back there?  How do we return to the path we once walked?  How do we let go of everything that is pulling us away from Him?  How do we send the enemy on his way?  Very simple - we walk to the cross...

When you walk to the cross and lay your burdens down - leave them there.  You, unlike Pilate who washed his hands with water after handing Jesus over to be crucified, are washed in the blood - that blood is your salvation!  It didn't come cheap.  There is nothing else that will save you from an eternity away from Him!  It is not something you can buy, nor can someone get it for you, and you can't get it by any means other than acceptance of that one, life-giving gift!!!

Let that love that Christ showed that painful day on a hill outside of Jerusalem come to you and calm the storm within.  The judgement passed that day is what built that bridge between us and God!  Be secure in your footsteps - they are planted in HIM!!!  His love for you is greater than any other love you could ever know!  Let Him in - He's waiting!!!  Open your eyes and your heart to the beautiful gift He's giving you!  It's the most perfect gift of all!!!  Accept it - cross that bridge NOW!!!

Monday, May 14, 2012

~ "Get your souvenirs here..."

Lord, have mercy on my son: for he is lunatick, and sore vexed: for ofttimes he falleth into the fire, and oft into the water. (17:15)

The advertisement is for "Tour Israel" - the slogan is "What makes the miracles of Jesus more miraculous?  Standing where they happened."  I have to tell you that I was a little dismayed.  Making a pilgrimage to Israel because that is where the miracles of Jesus happened is, at the very least, false advertising.  Yes, I get it - I "get" the significance of walking on the very ground that our Lord walked.  Seeing the places I read about in my Bible come to life before my eyes.  No - I have never been and the truth be told, I don't really have a desire to go for the reasons the travel agents think that I should.  If I ever do go, it will not be on a site-seeing tour, looking for the plaques that read "Jesus Ate Here" or "On this site, Jesus gave a blind man sight."  

I have seen the power of God at work in those around me.  I have seen the sick healed (on more than one occasion, might I add).  I have experienced things that psychiatrists would deem as coming from a deranged mind.  I have felt the presence of God in my life more times than I could count.  

We are not "more blessed" if we journey to Israel and walk the steps that Jesus took to the cross so long ago.  We are blessed simply because we were there that day - we are the reason He came to earth in the first place.  We are the reason He preached.  We are the reason He went to the cross.  His stripes were put there for our benefit.  The nails that pierced His hands and feet were driven through his flesh by our sins.  That nasty crown of thorns has been replaced - He is the King of Glory and now wears a crown greater than any other.  

Each day, Jesus offers you His greatest miracle - the one many fail to understand, the one many believe is an inherent right, the one that cost the most - eternal life!  That miracle is performed (if that's an appropriate choice of words) each and every day, on every continent, in every nation, in every city and in every heart!  Don't allow the enemy to tell you that it's not offered to you - it's offered to everyone!  Grab a hold of it and don't let go!  You don't need a tee-shirt that reads "I've Been to Gethsemane" will be written on your heart forever.  

Make the pilgrimage that means something...accept the one miracle that is offered to you, personally!  Accept the gift of life from the giver of life and your soul will read:  "Jesus lives here!!!"

Sunday, May 13, 2012

~ "Family Tree...

For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. (Rom 6:14)

My life has not been an easy one.  It has been filled with heart ache and heart break.  It has seen death visit family and friends in the most devastating forms imaginable.  It has taken from me children I will never hold on earth.  It has taken the love of my life and turned it into a nightmare I could never have imagined.  I have watched as people I called my friends spew harsh and ugly lies and innuendoes about me.  I have witnessed the destruction of a family that I was once a part of with no real attempt made to salvage it.  I have experienced the most ungodly acts from the most Godly people.  The one thing I did not count on was that there would be a rescue made with such precision, that it would bring me to my knees and cause me to rejoice for all the pain that had come my way!

I enjoy the privilege of being a mother and a grandmother.  God has always had a plan for me.  Whether it was to be a single mother, a hard-working secretary, a friend, a bride, a wife or the resident of the great state of was HIS plan that has shaped me and molded me into who I have become.  I am blessed beyond what I deserve.  

Today, Mother's Day, is bitter sweet for me in many ways.  Today I will miss my own mother and recall that this was the last holiday I spent with her.  Today I will pray for a friend's mother who is in intensive care.  Today I will get to spend this day with family (my daughter-in-law’s family has been a part of my life for over 16 years - I’ve known them since they were very young - one even before he was born).  This month also marks an anniversary.  Five years ago I sat in a court room and watched as a judge terminated a vow taken almost twenty years earlier.  A vow to love, to honor, to cherish, to care for...a vow that was not taken in haste and a vow I thought could withstand anything.  

I praise God today that I do not fall under the law, but under grace.  I praise God today that I am forgiven for any real or imagined transgressions I may or may not have committed.  I praise God today that I have wonderful, beautiful and God-fearing people in my life who never cease to make me smile, or laugh when I want to cry.  I praise God for the four beautiful children he has entrusted to me (and although some will tell you that my ex raised three beautiful daughters - they did not live in that empty house, they did not see nor do they know the true story of this mother's heart).  I praise God for it all!  

Whatever "cross" you've been selected to bear, bear it with praise!  Know that whatever you have dealt with in life, it came to you through our Heavenly Father first!  He truly does not give us more than we can bear, and that which does not destroy us brings us in closer union with Him.  His grace IS sufficient!  My family tree may have a few broken branches on it, but the gardener can and will mend them if allowed.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

~ "AAA..."

In that day, saith the LORD of hosts, will I take thee, O Zerubbabel, my servant, the son of Shealtiel, saith the LORD, and will make thee as a signet: for I have chosen thee, saith the LORD of hosts (Haggai 2:23)

Once again, we find that God has ensured the line of which Jesus will be born.  He makes a statement to Zerubbabel that the Messiah will, in fact, be descended from him.  He makes a promise!  

Our Heavenly Father, no matter how skeptical or unworthy we are, continues to keep His promises.  No, we most certainly do not deserve the grace that has been given to us, nor to we deserve the promises.  Thank goodness we don't get what we deserve!  We weren't put on this earth to "be happy".  We weren't put on this earth to have a "successful career".  What we can have is a guarantee to "live happily ever after" in Him!  Acceptance of His word, adherence to His commands and acknowledgement of His power.  

When we "accept" what is written, without question and without trying to find some "hidden meaning" in it, we remain teachable.  That is precisely what God wants from us - to remain teachable and loyal to Him.  It is our unconditional acceptance that sets us apart from others.  The simplicity of the statement "God is love" rests in that belief.  

When we "adhere" to what He commands us to be and do, we are making the attempt to live as He would have us live, to do what He would have us do even though we cannot possibly do it with perfection, we are making the attempt to do it and do it right.

When we "acknowledge" His  power as the sovereign Lord, we acknowledge that He, alone, controls the universe, determines it's course and can and will protect us from that which seeks to destroy us.  We can call on Him to rescue us at any time, and He will stand between us and the enemy.  

Don't be afraid to allow Him into your heart.  Let Him take away the pain and guilt you feel and your failure will become a success.  When we allow others to interfere in the earthly performance of what His plans are for us, we can go to Him in humility, ask forgiveness and ask Him to set straight the path once again.  He wants for us to do that - He wants us to come to Him and confess our sins and wrong doings.  He wants us completely and entirely submitted.  

"Little lie - big lie" - it's all the same!  Don't feed into it.  Ask Him now for forgiveness, walk the line of truth and the way of the cross.  Carry your burdens with praise and your fears with joy!  He's placed them there for a reason.  Don't try to figure it out, just go with it!  He knows what He's doing even if you don't!  Do not allow Satan's army to infiltrate your camp.  Once inside, his destruction will consume you.  Send him on his way and turn back to the God of heaven and earth.  It is only in HIS light that you will safely reach your destination.

Friday, May 11, 2012

~ "I just don't know..."

Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and [why] art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him [for] the help of his countenance. (Ps 42:5)

Did you ever have one of those days where no matter what you do, you can’t seem to lift yourself up out of the depression that grows within you?  No matter where you turn or how hard you try, all you want to do is cry.  Sometimes you don’t even know what it is that has you so down.  When I get those days (which I do from time to time), trying to analyze why is futile.  The bottom line is I just don’t know why.  It could be something specific, but most likely its a combination of many little things that just seem to have attached themselves to your mind and won’t let go.

We live in a world we cannot understand at times.  Our hopes and dreams are cast by the accomplishments and failures of others.  We look on their lives and vow not to make the same mistakes they made or strive to be better than they are.  We tend to forget that the only person we have to be better than is who we are right now.  But how does our Heavenly Father see us?  Does He see us as the failure we tend to believe we are?  Of course not!  He sees us as His precious child and wants only the best for us.  He asks us to be patient and in that patience He is perfecting us for something better.  

Don’t fear the unknown.  Don’t worry about how everything will work out.  Don’t sob into your pillow because you feel you have been left or forgotten.  He has not forgotten you!  He’s right there with you, guiding your every step, molding and shaping your every experience.  Let go of your past - it can only cause harm.  Let go of the people who turn their backs on you - they are not who the Lord wants in your life anyway.  Forgive them, but move forward.  He has washed away all of your transgressions and given you the opportunity to belong to a greater circle of love and compassion - His private circle.  There is no pain in that circle that He cannot relieve.  There is no emptiness in that circle He cannot fill.  There is more than enough love there to satisfy your aching heart for all of eternity.  Letting go of the past is the hardest truth of all, because in letting go, you have realized the forgiveness you seek has come to you through Jesus.  Those who abandon you, those who mock you, those who assault you with their words and by their actions will be dealt with in God’s time, just as He has dealt with you!  Don’t question when or how His judgement will come to them...just know that it will.

Praise Him in all things!  He hasn’t abandoned you - as a matter of fact, He is the one holding you right now!