Friday, May 31, 2013

~ "'When I Must Leave You' and other assorted joys..."

Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” (John 11:40)

There is a beautiful poem by Helen Steiner Rice that I keep in a frame on an end table in my den. The first time I read it was after the death of a friend's mother. I do calligraphy as a hobby and back in high school (before you could buy the 'kit', I used the bottle of ink and the nibs) my friend asked me to write the poem out and attach a photo of her mom on the phone. 

I kept that poem trapped in my brain because it was too beautiful to forget. Many years later, I came across a sympathy card carrying the poem. Over the years it has become the one of the "helps" that gets me through grief. 

In my book, I do talk about the many lives I've had the privilege of interacting with over the years that have gone on to be with the Lord. More have left this earth since that book was published.

We will all get to see the glory of God if we believe. In this verse, Jesus is speaking to Mary and Martha and will show them God's mercy by raising Lazarus from the dead. Our time here on earth is short compared to the time we will spend in eternity! Each day is an opportunity of us to love, to work, to live, to share and to prepare! How ironic that this week's focus has been on not knowing when our time on earth will end! The gift of friendship is a wonderful treasure! Let Jesus be your friend and thank him for bearing your sins and grief!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

~ "On my knees..."

Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thes 5:16-18)

Pray continually...without interruption. Give thanks in all circumstances (no matter what - good or bad) - why - because God wants us to!

It's easy to pray when things are going smoothly, or when we are happy. The challenge comes when the road is narrow and filled with pot holes. 

We joke about the man in the car with his wife who will not ask for directions and is lost and late on the way to his destination. Isn't that all of us when it comes to prayer? We think we can "fix" or "figure out a solution" all by ourselves. How much easier it would be to pray! The answers will come; they do come! Only when we are on our knees, closer to God than we've ever imagined, can we fully experience all that he has for us! I know its hard - there are days that I just don't have it in me. There are days when I just want to exist alone and not reach out to God. Its only natural to want to turn to the logical solutions (and in some cases that is the answer). But we generally feel that when bad things are happening that God is punishing us ~ not so! He's asking us to reach out to him, so he can teach us something! If we draw closer to him in times of joy, how much easier it will be to draw closer to him in times of sorrow ~ praising him for ALL the things in our lives! 

The man in the car eventually gets where he is going, and he's usually late and harried. I don't think I want to be "late" when it comes to the Lord! Being late in that instance may turn out to be "too late"! Be on time - now - pray without ceasing and rejoice in all that he gives you!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

~ "Feed my sheep..."

The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. (John 21:17).

And I can see Peter now, rolling his eyes when the Lord asked him that third time "do you love me"! Following the rolling of the eyes would be the deep breath and exhalation of the words "you know I do"!

Christ asks us every day if we love him! And every day when we say we do, his response is the same to us as it was to Peter - "Feed my sheep".

Are we doing our part? Are we feeding the sheep of this world? A friend of mine has a quote published on her profile which reads: "GOD is looking NOT for great people BUT for people who will DARE to prove the GREATNESS of their GOD!!!" 

We are not being called to be in the news daily for what we are doing in the name of God. We are called to plant seeds and it is as easy to do as it is for us to plant the seeds of the virtual farms we played on social networking sites! One click and its done! And we don't have to harvest those seeds in 4 hours or 2 days - we just need to let people know God loves them and wants them to come to him! Be faithful to that alone and you've accomplished a great deal! Some of us are called to plant seeds, others are called to water them, even still others are called to pick out the weeds and fertilize the crops...the harvesting will be done by the owner, on the last day! 

Be part of the beautiful garden that that is his and you will be part of the most spectacular array of flowers imaginable! No two are the same and yet they are all beautiful and pleasing to the eye of the gardener! God loves us all very much - so much so that he sent his precious son to this once beautiful garden to fight off the weeds and that which destroys so that we may bloom!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

~ "Hearts on fire..."

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

Be so in love with God that you are "ready to charge hell with a squirt gun" (David Gray).
For days I agonized over whether or not I was doing what the Lord wanted me to do. Was I giving my all in all that I do? Could I be doing more? What exactly is my job here on Earth? The answer to that last question is "it's a Christian's job to take people to heaven with them".
In order for John 10:27 to be fulfilled (and it is every day), 3 things must happen.

First off - "My sheep hear my voice" - in order to hear something, we must be listening. How? Patience! I pray and wait on a answer (he's an on-time God - but it's in his time, not mine). He doesn't always give us the answer right then and there. And sometimes, the answer is "no". We have to be willing to act on his plan for us.
Part 2 - "and I know them" - he knows who we are by the mark our soul! He has tagged us with something set apart from other creatures. Like a rancher brands his cattle, so God has branded us!
Part 3 - "and they follow me" - Did you ever watch ducks on a pond? The mama duck swims out in front and all the little ducklings are in tow right behind her. They follow her pattern on the water meticulously -- they don't deviate from the path she's taking. When one of them does, it swims around in a circle and then finally figures out which directions she went in and then put the outboard motor on to catch up! Don't we as Christians sometimes do that as well? We are secure in our walk and then something catches our eye - and the distraction takes us off the path - when we realize it, we scurry like ducks on a pond to get back on the right track.
Be bold in your faith - be as believing and convincing as you possibly can! Try to take as many people to heaven with you as is possible! Its really not that difficult. Today I realize that I may be the only person in someone's life who can tell them who Jesus is. Their interaction with me may just be the one that is in God's plan for them!
While in Tennessee, we were soliciting donations for the American Heart Association. The employee who got the most "hearts" would win tickets to one of the amusement parks . I received many donations (if you donated, you got a paper heart to write your name on and it was taped to the wall) ~ most of them had my name on the back of them! I'm realized that it is as easy to ask people if they'd like to know Jesus, as it is to ask them if they'd like to donate to the American Heart Association. And if they say "yes", the reward is a lot greater than a paper heart and my "bonus" for recruitment will be realized in heaven!
Be bold for what you believe in! Be listening for your shepherd's voice and walk on the path he lays before you! Am I truly walking in the footprints of Jesus or am I making my own?

Monday, May 27, 2013

~ "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 your right to worship Him!  Honor what they have done, but give glory to the King of heaven and earth!!! He reigns forever!!! 

Sunday, May 26, 2013

~ Is your GPS working properly???"

...But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God, who has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. (2 Tim 8-10)

GPS - "God's Plan of Salvation" - are you following it? Are you on the right road? Have you updated your map recently? Have you keyed in the right destination? The only thing it won't give you is your estimated time of arrival - but be assured, you WILL be on time!

A decision to live ones life for the Lord can be as easy as programing your GPS! I do realize that for some of us, that particular task may present a few problems - especially if your GPS doesn't recognize all the destinations as you know them. Generally it's me with the misinformation and when I finally get it right, it will take me exactly to where I'm going - little flag at the end and all! The same is true with God! Sure, there are speed bumps and wrong turns and detours - but not because God's Plan of Salvation is wrong, usually because I'm not paying attention and miss a turn or think I know a short cut. All the information I need to have to get to heaven is in the Bible. It's not about how many times I go to church, how much money I throw in the collection plate, its about believing and living my life as Christ would have me live it! Its doing what is pleasing to God and following the commands. God's Plan of Salvation is very you believe that Jesus Christ came from Heaven to Earth, died on the cross for your sins and rose from the dead? Are you willing to let him into your heart and let the Holy Spirit work through you? If the answer is yes, you're on the right road! Your GPS is working properly and you will get to your destination. 

In my life, I've chosen to do more than just read the Bible and program my GPS for heaven! I've chosen to share the Gospel with others. In this day of "instant" messaging and "texting", God's word can be shared so much more quickly and powerfully than I ever would have imagined! Like Farrah Fawcett's commercial in the 70's for Faberge Organics Shampoo "I told two friends, and they told two friends, and so on and so on...." and the Good News can be spread to the four corners of the globe! So be a warrior for Christ - set your GPS for heaven and spread the Gospel - tell two friends that Christ died on the cross for their sins and lets see if we can't spread God's Plan of Salvation so we can ALL go home! God has chosen you, but will you choose Him?

Saturday, May 25, 2013

~ "Choices..."

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom 8:38-39)

In this verse, Paul reminds us once again that once we are Christ's, we are always his! No matter what happens in our lives, he will watch over us and guide us no matter what comes our way! 

Temptations follow us every day. They come in many forms from the simplest (getting too much change back) to the most serious (I'm not going to give an example for that one - fill in your own blank there). We all have them, temptations, that is. They are those little tiny moments when we say "no one will know" - but we resist because we know that GOD knows. But what happens when the temptation is so strong and our human nature gets in the way of our knowledge of what is right and wrong? If you're like me, you'll spend a day or two rationalizing it, then spend another day justifying it, and then another day wondering if you can change the situation so that it's pleasing to God. By the end of the week, you've spent entirely too much energy on a no win situation! And yet, you still sit there and contemplate doing it anyway!

I've said to myself many times "this was so much easier BEFORE I knew the love of God". It was easier before my conscience would rise up in me and stand firmly planted in my brain. Knowing the right thing to do doesn't always make it the easier thing to do. Our wants and needs are so strong sometimes that it is almost impossible to walk away. Not knowing God's plan for us only complicates the matter. "Is this what he wants for me?" 

Waiting patiently on the Lord is not one of my attributes. My friends will tell you I often act before I think things through. Then I scramble and try to "fix" the mess I'm in. I'm learning. Each day is another opportunity for me to do it God's way. Through prayer, fasting and meditation, I find the way that he's chosen for me. When I don't take the time to pray is when I run into the wall. It's the key to everything in my life. Without it, I'd still be living in the world according to Beth, miserable and in pain. 

To see God's hand in you life, you need to be able to look back at where you once were. Look to where he's taken you from ~ spiritually, not physically. He's taken this used up human being who had no direction in her life beyond that which was right in front of her. He opened her heart to what is good and pleasing to him, he marked her soul with the imprint of his love. He wants only the best for us ~ his best, not ours. Let your little temptations fall away and focus on his love for you. He'll help you through it no matter what it is. He truly loves you! Give him the opportunity to make you shine!

Friday, May 24, 2013

~ "Do NOT run with scissors..."

Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matt 5:11-12)

It is very difficult to live in the real world. It is hard to surround yourself with just Christians. At some point, you have to interact with those who do not think or feel about God the same way that you do. Some people will smile and nod when you talk about your love for the Father. Others will ridicule or curse at you and your God! Some people will accept your "faith" as fact, some will not.

While sharing with one of my daughters something God had removed from my thoughts, she looked at me like I had three heads and asked me if all I ever talk about is God. I thought about it for a minute - and the answer is that I can always bring God into any situation. Everything I have today is a gift from God. I didn't get it on my own and I'm alive today because of the grace of God. My life is a testimony to his power and mercy. I don't always walk a straight line, but I try very hard. I do what I believe he wants me to do and he blesses me. I don't always get it right, but he's there just the same. I am human. I make mistakes. I wander through this existence sometimes like a blind man. I bump into things and trip over things, I stumble and fall, but I get up and keep going. Some days I think I've been run over by a rather large truck and left in the road for dead, and then He lifts me up and brushes me off and I continue on. I'm learning to walk. Just like a baby learns, so do we.

Early in our "walk" with Christ, our footing is unsteady. As we grow in faith, our steps become more secure. But like a child who runs and falls and scrapes their knee, we also can get so caught up in the race that we too, trip and fall and scrape our knee! And there is the Father, wiping our tears and putting a band aid on it and telling us it's okay - we'll heal.

There is nothing that God can't do; nothing he can't fix. If we follow him, we follow truth! He lights the path on which we walk and keeps his word. If we choose to walk only partly in the light, we risk slipping and falling into the ditch. Be cautious and be safe. Don't take on more than you can handle! If you're unsure, ask for guidance and help from someone who is more knowledgeable than you. But don't give up! Continue to be an example to those around you! Let them see that Christ's love has changed you and made you whole!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

~ "Self-Inflcted Wounds - by Grammy Blick"

Today's devotional is brought to you by a woman I've never met, yet have found a true and lasting friendship with through the word of God.  Her understanding of His word and her ability to give one pause is uncanny.  Thanks for letting me share this with my readers (as you've said, "the whole idea is sharing God's word with everyone who will read it")

Mark Dohle’s blog left me with a question, his answer and some continued thoughts: 
What happens to our hearts when we mock, gossip and belittle others? It is a self inflicted wound that will only bleed and become more infected until the time we seek forgiveness and mercy for the damage done.
I thought first of those who do self-harm, most often cuts on their limbs. Not suicidal cuts, and pretty much defined as cries for help for a wide variety of reasons, too numerous to list here. That reminded me of the Bible story I’ve been reading through the last few blogs. 

And Miriam and Aaron spake against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married: for he had married an Ethiopian woman. (Numbers 12:1) 

It wasn’t about Moses’ leadership, it was because of his wife that Miriam spoke against Moses. We are not told why she became gossipy and backbiting about her sister-in-law. It may simply have been because she was Ethiopian.  Miriam's offence was sufficient that she, Moses and Aaron were called into the tabernacle.

And the LORD spake suddenly unto Moses, and unto Aaron, and unto Miriam, Come out ye three unto the tabernacle of the congregation. And they three came out. And the LORD came down in the pillar of the cloud, and stood in the door of the tabernacle, and called Aaron and Miriam: and they both came forth. (Numbers 12:4-5)

What did she think when she got the summons? That God would vindicate her? Did she still believe that she was equal to Moses’ calling? Did she expect accolades and honors? Or was she filled with trepidation, fearing – knowing – she had been wrong? Did she expect punishment for being so hurtful?

God explained to them that Moses was special. Others may hear God through dreams, but to Moses, He spoke face to face.  God did not chastise Miriam, did not call attention to her error, did not call out a punishment upon her. He simply left, and her self-inflicted wound was evident:

And the cloud departed from off the tabernacle; and, behold, Miriam became leprous, white as snow: and Aaron looked upon Miriam, and, behold, she was leprous. (Numbers 12:10)

Her verbal attack on God’s spokesman was without merit. She had taken an earthly desire, voiced it in front of God’s people and had to live with the consequences of going against God Himself. Her disease was self-inflicted, by her own mouth she was convicted and punished.

The consequences of our actions are often similar self-inflicted wounds. Some may be physically painful, but the spiritual wounding we do separates us from God. Prayer and a contrite heart brings us back to Him. We are not told that Miriam said anything – but Aaron cried out for her, as did Moses:

And Aaron said unto Moses, Alas, my lord, I beseech thee, lay not the sin upon us, wherein we have done foolishly, and wherein we have sinned. (Numbers 12:11)

And Moses cried unto the LORD, saying, Heal her now, O God, I beseech thee. (Numbers 12:13)

Seven days passed before she was healed and was able to return. How long will we wait before we will ask God’s forgiveness for how we wounded ourselves?

(reprinted with permission - ©Grammy Blick's Bible Reading)

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

~ "Healing..."

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! 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

~ "All the kings 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...

Monday, May 20, 2013

~ "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!!!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

~ "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 given us a 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 18, 2013

~ "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!

Friday, May 17, 2013

~ "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!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

~ "He called her name..."

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.  When the wait is over, the tears fall and a different set of prayers begin.

We "are as weary travelers passing through a waste howling wilderness" (Gill's Exposition).  Our Heavenly 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.  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.  We hit knees, sing His praises and offer our prayers.  He has promised to refresh our weary souls and replenish our troubled spirits.  He will not fail us - He never has.  While we'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.  He will take back what is His.  Take a deep breath and relax.  Although we will miss her smile, her gentle touch, her approachable persona - she's in great hands - he called her name!!!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

~ "More..."

"The Grandmas" Me, Janet and ALL
those little ones! LOVE!

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!!!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

~ "And faithfully I follow...

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)

Today marks an anniversary.  Three 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!!!

Monday, May 13, 2013

~ "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...