Saturday, September 28, 2013

~ "Living in sin..."

Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God. Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin. (Rom 3:19-20)

The last time I was accused of doing something wrong, I reacted in total disbelief of what I was hearing.  I could not utter a word.  I was appalled at the comments being spit at me by someone who felt I "did him wrong" because I chose to not involve myself in a relationship with him.  I knew he was not sent to me by the Lord (because he does not know the Lord) and his idea of a relationship was co-habitation as opposed to marriage.  Even after I tried to explain to this man that this would not "work" for me, that I was committed to what the Father tells me is right and wrong, he persisted.  He could not seem to understand that everything that I do must be in obedience to God's word. I stopped taking his calls.  Recently, I felt bad that I had abruptly disconnected myself from him and called to try to explain (and see if maybe he's come to know the Lord in the time that had passed).  He called me a phony and a liar and felt that no pastor would tell me that what he desired for a relationship was wrong.  Still standing in the kitchen in shock, I hung up the phone.   Now the enemy had decided to taunt me with this.  He'd like me to believe that I was everything this man said that I was.  I remind him that God has forgiven me for anything I did wrong, but I do not apologize to anyone for my actions that uphold what He has decreed to be in accordance with His law!

The Bible tells us that we will stand hushed and guilty before God.  There will be no excuses or arguments left.  We must all reach the point with God where we are ready to "hang up" our defenses and await His decision.  We must admit our sins (as hard as that might be) to Him.  If you haven't accepted Jesus, do so now.  Stop and admit your sins, ask Him into your heart and begin to walk the path of the righteous.  Once that is accomplished, there is hope!

In verses 20 and 31 (Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law), we see the functions of God's law.  The law shows us where we go wrong.  The commandments remind us that we are helpless sinners and that we must come to Jesus for mercy.  The "moral code" we find in the law guides our actions.  We must uphold God's moral standards if we are to walk the path He's laid before us.  We do not earn salvation by keeping the law.  No one except Jesus ever kept or could keep it perfectly.  We please God when we conform to what He has reveal to us.  Jesus paid the price for our sins.  The price of sin is death.  We have been redeemed.  We have been found "not guilty".  God has wiped away our sins as though they never happened.  

If you continue to live in sin, how can you be forgiven?  You may be able to justify it to family and friends, but not to God.  It's time to make right the sins of your past and your present, acknowledge them, stop committing them and move forward with Jesus beside you!  Give God something to be pleased about in how you live your life!!!

(reposted from 9/2011)

Thursday, September 26, 2013

~ "For the husbands..."

Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers. (1 Peter 3:7)
Gentlemen, if you want your wives to be submissive, love them the same way that Christ loves His church (thank you, Donna).  Being considerate is as simple as remembering to put down the toilet seat...a very small action, but it means the world at 3am in the dark.  Those dirty clothes you took off before you showered belong in a little container referred to as the hamper, not in a pile on your side of the bed or a trail that leads from the front door to the bathroom.  We additionally do not save that little ball of lint that comes from your belly button, yet you continually place it on the sink; please throw it in the trash.  Do not start a project you can't finish in a few days and do not undertake remodeling the house if you haven't got a clue as to what you are doing.  

If husbands who do not treat their wives kindly, their prayers become ineffective, because a living relationship with God depends on right relationships with others.  The respect that you show your wives goes a long way as an example to others.  If you have no respect for yourself, you cannot possibly have respect for your wife.  People you interact with every day, your children, your friends, your extended family, take their cue from you.  Surround yourself with good, godly people - not acquaintances that just attend church on Christmas and Easter. There are 363 other days in the year in which the Lord requests your presence (and not in a building - at His feet).  Our heavenly Father expects you to lead the family, not sit idly by waiting for someone else to take the reins.

Jesus tells us that if you have a problem with a fellow believer, you must make it right with that person before coming to worship (Matt 5:23, 24).  This principle carries over into family relationships as well.  Additionally, if husbands use their position to mistreat their wives (through neglect, abuse, and isolation), their relationship with God will suffer.  You cannot have it all and then some.   

A husband who loves and honors his wife will protect (stick up for her when others try to tear her down), respect, help and stay with her (for better or for worse).  He will not expect her to work a full time job outside the home and a full time job in the home.  He will lighten her load wherever he can.  He will be sensitive to her needs, her "personal" issues (in sickness and in health), and he will relate to her with courtesy, consideration, tact and love!  

In Ephesians 5:31 we read that "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh."  The union of husband and wife merges two persons in such a way that little can affect one without also affecting the other.  Oneness in marriage does not mean losing your personality in the personality of the other.  Instead, it means caring for your spouse as you care for yourself, learning to anticipate the other person's needs, helping the other person become all he or she can be! (Life Application Study Bible).

Worship and praise Him together!  Share your thoughts and your dreams with her.  She wants only to see you happy, she wants only for your loving touch and to be by your side.  The material things are not as important to her as you may think that they are - YOU are what is important to her! Don't fail to give her that! Be the husband God has called you to be.  If you do what is commanded of you, chances are that you will not have to fear infidelity, abandonment and divorce.  Let God into your heart and let Him lead.  Let Him have control - put Jesus first in your marriage and it will be a long, healthy and happy one.  

(Reposted from 9/2011)

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

~ "For the wives..."

Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. (1 Peter 3:1-2)

Well, I know a few of you wives are going to have a problem with this posting.  If you truly want to walk the path of righteousness, you will need to learn that although society see you as "liberated" and "equal" - God still calls you to be submissive.  That was one thing I refused to accept (thus, part of the reason why I am divorced - yes, there were other reasons). My behavior was NOT reflective of what a good wife should be.  Take a lesson from my book.  When God is not first, when He is not the center of your marriage, it will fail.  

Knowing the word of God and living it is an example that cannot be discounted.  My only regret is that I did not come to know God as I do now before my marriage ended.  There were problems that could have been overcome, there were issues that could have been avoided.  No, I do not take responsibilities for the issues that led to my divorce...we both contributed to that.  I will say that had not made excuses for the issues that ensued and had I invited Jesus into our marriage early on, it would not have ended.  The statement I make when people ask me about my ex is very simple - I have never stopped loving him, I still love him - I just couldn't live with him any more.  Our life had become a nightmare - through the fault of both of us.  We no longer communicated and both fought to be in control.  I suppose there were issues I knew would be "issues" from the very beginning (from those pre-marital meetings with the Pastor).  I never assumed they would work themselves out, I just ignored them.  They were there, eating away for twenty years.  Being submissive to your husband is not slavery.  It is a respect afforded him through the bond of marriage. 

If you must be the example - then be the example!  You may be better "equipped" to serve as the head of the household, but it is not your place!  If your husband will not relinquish his role, you should not stomp your foot and be angry.  It is his God-given privilege.  He may pass some of those responsibilities off to you, knowing that you may perform better in those areas than he will.  Continue, regardless, to be an example of Christ's love and be obedient to God's word (yes, I know they took the word "obey" out of the marriage vows - it should have been left in there, it was there for a reason).  Start each day with loving words towards one another, set the example (if there is none) - set the bar high!  Pray together (and not just at church on Sunday mornings or a memorized dinner prayer) - invite Jesus into your marriage, into your life!  Make Him the center!!!

"That's easy for you to say, you aren't married to the man I'm married to".  No, I'm not - nor were you married to mine.  If I had the opportunity to do anything differently in my marriage, it would be just that - to bring Jesus into it - front and center!  I don't doubt that with Christ as the focus (and not the bills, and the house and a new car or a remodel, or any of the other hundreds of things we put first) we would still be married and living the "happily ever after" scenario.  It's not about you!  It's about serving God!  It's about following His commands and reflecting the love of Jesus in your marriage.  You made a decision "for better or for worse" - regardless!  

If you've made every effort, if you've followed the word of God throughout your marriage, if you've made every attempt to allow the Lord to guide and still make no headway, if all the prayers you've prayed have gone unanswered, if you are continually neglected and abused (be it verbally, emotionally or physically), then, perhaps the Lord HAS answered your prayer - maybe it is time to walk away...but not until you have exhausted every avenue of hope!  You will know, God will show you.  If you haven't - then start now!  Make the effort, follow His word, allow Him in and pray!  If you are hesitating in any way, there may still be a blessing to be bestowed upon your marriage.  Submit and be still!  Accept your place and honor the God who created you.  Be the example Christ calls you to be!  Win them over by your example...

(reposted from 9/2011)

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

~ "Birthdays..."

And now, behold, the LORD hath kept me alive, as he said, these forty and five years, even since the LORD spake this word unto Moses, while the children of Israel wandered in the wilderness: and now, lo, I am this day fourscore and five years old. (Joshua 14:10)

No, I am not 85...yet.  Some days it feels that way, though.  If I've learned anything in the past 56 years, it is that God keeps His promises!  

We don't all start out "faithful" and sometimes we fall along the way.  Caleb was faithful from the start.  He was one of the original "spies" sent into the Promised Land.  He knew God would help the people conquer the land because of his faith and because God keeps His promises!  God promised him an inheritance of the land.  

His faith was unwavering.  Like Caleb, we must be faithful to God, not only at the start of our walk, but throughout our entire lives.  We cannot be content to get by on what we've done in the past - our lives are a continued work in progress.  We should never become so complacent that we fail to do more each and every day we are here.  There is always time for praise, there is always time for prayer.  There is always time for God!

Monday, September 23, 2013

~ "Let LOVE be..."

Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. (Romans 12:9)

This verse reminds me that love is a good thing.  To have family and friends that truly love you and support you in your bad times as well as your good times is an amazing treasure.  I am blessed to still have my Dad, my sister and her family and some cousins, aunts and uncles, nieces and a nephew. I have four wonderful children who are my world.  I have the most adorable granddaughter.  I have a beautiful daughter-in-law and her family and their spouses, who have been part of my life for over 17 years.  Her mother may as well be my "other" sister.  I have some very close and dear friends who love me regardless, as I do them.  All of them have one thing in common - they love without expectation.  They do not keep score.  They are Christ-like - they are Christians - they are family!

There are also things (and sadly, people) who think nothing of others.  They lie, cheat and steal to get ahead, not even considering who it is they may be hurting in their quest for power or recognition.  There is evil in this world.  It comes in all sizes, shapes, colors, denominations and appeal.  It may be a movie, or a book.  It may be the worship of idols.  It can be disguised as "spiritual" when the spirit it is conjuring is not the Holy Spirit.  It can be the way people are treated.  It can be a lack of respect for God and His laws.  It can be obvious and it can be obscure...but it is still "evil".

So, what do we do about this?  We continue to love the sinner (as Christ does) and hate the sin.  If it is causing you to stray from that which you know is good - move!  Pray for those who would be unconcerned if what they have done has hurt you.  Turn your pain (and I know it hurts) into praise.  Lift your voice even louder to God!  Drown out the voice of the enemy.  Let the Lord heal your hurts.  Love.  Be an example of Christ's love.  No, you probably won't change the world.  You don't have to.  Just change YOU!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

~ "Understanding..."

Therefore my people will go into exile for lack of understanding; their men of rank will die of hunger and their masses will be parched with thirst. (Is 5:13)

We do not go through life alone.  We walk side by side with a partner, a guide, a mentor and a protector.  We have human needs and spiritual needs.  Some go through life surrounded by beautiful things and a multitude of friends and acquaintances.  Some go through life with nothing but the promise of a new day.  Too often those who reach out in their loneliness are met with the statement that they "are never alone".  In so much as this is true, for God is always with us, it does not bring comfort to the one who is lacking in human companions or a partner.  Sometimes we say things to others that do not help to console them, but they certainly bolster our own egos because we feel we've offered them a revelation into what is tearing at them - "I'm sorry for your loss" - very overrated.  I'm sorry to say that the same is true for the statement "you are never alone".

When someone says that they "feel so alone" - listen to the words, listen to the emotion behind the words!  They are not telling you that they think God has abandoned them; if they are a Christian, they know very well that our Lord walks beside them and has His arms wrapped around them.  What they are feeling has nothing to do with their faith, their commitment to God or their salvation.  It has to do with a human need.  We were not designed to be solitary.  We were designed to interact with others, physically and emotionally.  We were designed to give and receive love from one another.  

If you can't help a situation, don't hinder it.  Don't indulge in the favorite pastime of telling others you understand, when you haven't got the first clue as to what it is they are experiencing.  Maybe all they really need is for you to listen.  Maybe all they want from you is a hug.  Don't delude yourself into thinking that they do not know God's mercy - they know it better than you think!  They fight each day to live by God's values and standards.  They struggle to remain "honorable".  They are choosing not to turn away and be distracted by the enemy.  Lift them up in prayer, ask God to fill that empty, aching hole and bless them.  They are closer to heaven than they realize (thank you, Jesus) - they just need some love here on earth!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

~ "Good days and bad days..."

Trust ye in the LORD for ever: for in the LORD JEHOVAH is everlasting strength (Isaiah 26:4)

Some days are unbearable.  Some days it takes all the strength we have to trust in the Lord.  There are sayings we use to get us through sometimes: "One day at a time", "that which doesn't kill us makes us stronger", "this too shall pass" and so on.  I actually prefer this verse.  

When we trust in the Lord, we have all we need.  He IS our strength.  He provides us with the determination to move forward.  He provides us with the courage to do what others have not.  He provides us with the companionship of others.  He allows us to stumble and fall but fails to leave us there.  He allows us to be forgiven.  He gives us eternal life.

On the good days, it's easy to praise the Lord!  It those days that try our patience, break our hearts and push us beyond our human limits that we need to remember to trust Him - He IS our everlasting strength!!!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

~ "Overcoming being human..."

photo by Christina White
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. (Matt 11:29)
We have all heard the stories of the rich man who dresses in rags and spends his time in the company of the homeless and the poor to see who is truly a good person, to see who will is worthy to inherit his wealth upon his death. Not too far off from the story of Christ, is it?

Here is a KING, who came to earth in human form, worked as a carpenter, associated with the lowliest of souls and promised them riches beyond their dreams! He has found in us, those people who will inherit his kingdom. We are not worthy, but we are invited! Once we've accepted his invitation to belong to a greater order of being, we cannot turn from him, for he is a part of us, in spirit, in body and in mind. We can become corrupted by false teachings and false religions and beliefs, yet God has a way to wash away all the inaccurate knowledge and the wrong practices we've been brainwashed with. He can renew is us his spirit of love and faith and devotion without our even realizing it. It takes time, sometimes it is longer than we anticipated. The end result is a brand new outlook on his plan for us: where our physical life is headed, the direction of our heart and soul and the successful accomplishment of our trials. 

There is an Irish Blessing that reads like this: "May God give you...For every storm a rainbow, for every tear a smile, for every care a promise and a blessing in each trial. For every problem life sends, a faithful friend to share, for every sigh a sweet song and an answer for each prayer." We all look for that rainbow. We all have laughed through our tears. We know we are blessed by our trials (if we are patient enough). We seek out the advice of friends in almost all we do. Joy does fill our hearts when we accomplish what we think we could not. God does, in fact, answer each and every prayer ~ "yes", "no", or "wait". If we take on the burdens of Christianity, we will learn to become stronger in Christ. His gentle touch and love will be our comfort when our work here is done. Our souls will rest securely in his presence and that alone, makes the burden of being a Christian worth it. We were never told it would be easy - only that it would be worth it!

Monday, September 16, 2013

~ "Fact or fiction..."

No one has seen the Father except the one who is from God; only he has seen the Father. (John 6:46)

There are a few verses that for many years brought the thought "why would the writer put this in here; why would Jesus have said this?" With the skills of Satan, and the often deviousness of adults, "seeing God" can be used as a tool to take the Christian away from Christ. The realization that evil lives among us is something that many people do not comprehend. The power of the enemy and his wantonness to distract and claim as many souls as he can before his reign on earth is ended is also something so many take for granted. This is why we must know the Word of God - why we must read it and study it daily. Although sometimes comforting to have first hand knowledge of things unseen, it can be the most dangerous tool of all. Our faith is based on believing in what we have not seen, taking the Word of God as truth simply because it is. We cannot afford to let it slip away on the whim of madness. 

Part of our "punishment" for sin (the first sin in the garden) is absence from God. Yes, Jesus has secured a place for us in heaven, but we cannot enter that kingdom until we are dead (and there are questions surrounding that experience as well - paradise or soul sleep - but that's another post). There is also, as we know from the parable of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16:26, that there is "no going back" once you've entered - no exceptions! So why do so many believe and support the tales of Satan??? Simply because they do not know the Word of God. 

Beware of those who bear witness to having seen the Father. Beware of those who describe the Kingdom of God as having "seen" that as well. Be comforted in the knowledge that there is a heaven simply because it is written in the Word and told to us by Jesus. Remember that in the end times, the enemy will use every available ploy to pull souls away from God. Listen quietly for the voice of truth. If you are truly walking the path of Jesus, the bells and whistles of your early warning system will be activated and the verse of scripture that denounces what you are hearing will certainly flash across the viewing screen in your brain; however, the only way that can happen is if you know those verses. Read the Bible!!! Fill your brain with the truth that is contained within it. It could make all the difference in the world to!!!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

~ "Tears on my pillow..."

I am weary of my crying: my throat is dried: mine eyes fail while I wait for my God.  They that hate me without a cause are more than the hairs of mine head: they that would destroy me, being mine enemies wrongfully, are mighty: then I restored that which I took not away. (Ps 69:3-4)

David cried until he was exhausted and could cry no longer.  I am familiar with that experience.  It happens more frequently than it used to - yet I continue to lift up my eyes to Him!  I trust in God, as David did, to deliver me.  

Some of us are extremely emotional - we cry tears of joy and tears of sorrow without even having to think about it - they just roll down our faces.  Others never seem to shed a tear (alone or in public) - they seem to be hardened (and yes, many of them are, to the point that they view others' tears as a weakness, or irrational). Our tears are always justified - after all, they are an outward sign of an inward feeling (be it physical or emotional) - no one has the right to tell us they are wrong or uncalled for - NO ONE!!!

We all respond and react differently simply because we are all different.  What one person finds devastating, another will shrug off and move on.  Telling someone their tears are "ridiculous" is ignorant.  Don't get caught in the trap of thinking these people are full of self-pity - most often, they are filled with emotions they do not know how to express any other way.

If God did not want us to cry, He would not have equipped us with tears!  Jesus cried (He wept - John 11:35). Tears are nature's way of cleaning impurities from our eyes, and God's way of cleansing the soul.  There are no tears cried in vain - all are seen and felt by the Father!  As David was mocked, insulted and humiliated, his tears fell.  He still prayed.  We may feel completely beaten down, we may want to give up hope, we may sob into our pillows every night - but it's when our situation seems hopeless, God will hear our prayer and He will rescue us.  When others reject us, we need God the most - don't turn your back on your most faithful friend!!!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

~ "Weeping rock..."

photo by Sandra Darling
Some men brought to him a paralytic, lying on a mat. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, "Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven." (Matt 9:2)

We must be careful not to concentrate on God's power to heal the sick more than on His power to forgive sins.  God's power to heal our physical sickness should be our second prayer...our first should be towards the spiritual sickness - forgiveness of sins.

Too often I've seen people (myself and family members included) walk away from God, swear there was no God, and wander aimlessly because of the unexpected death of a loved one.  I've seen Christians question in total disbelief why God would allow sickness and disease to befall one of their family members.  

Often what I've been able to observe in those around me is the ability to pray for healing, receive a healing and continue to walk in the dark.  When God gives you a gift, accept it, rejoice in it and praise Him for it.  "But I did and she/he died anyway".  Guess what?  We are all going to die some day.  Don't blame God!  Yes, He allows all things to happen according to His design.  He also affords all the opportunity to come before Him and ask for forgiveness long before they go on to meet Him.  

Don't be afraid to tell your loved ones that NOW is the time.  Don't fall into the trap that God ignored your prayer, or that there is no God simply because you or someone you love has cancer, or alzheimers, or any one of a thousand other deadly diseases.  Using the rationale that "I have plenty of time" is ludicrous; today could be the last day you spend on earth.  

Ask Jesus to come to you now.  Open your heart and your soul to His teachings and His way of life.  Put the past behind you and walk forward.  Do not fear death - fear God, whose Son can walk you into paradise or refuse you admission because He never knew you.  Don't wait until you are on your deathbed to call for His mercy and grace.  Ask forgiveness for your sins, humble yourself at His feet and take His hand and finish your walk on this earth blessed. 

Friday, September 13, 2013

~ "Called to witness..."

My neighbors planted flowers in my planter...
For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are calledBut God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty (1 Cor 1:26-27)

I'm sure you have heard the expression "when God made you, He broke the mold".  We are all as unique and different as grains of sand.  Yet, depending on the beach you go to, sand looks and feels the same beneath your feet and as it falls through your hand.  If you go to another beach, the texture may be a little different, but still feels the same.  Then there is sand on the Islands of Hawaii that is black.  Looks different, feels different.  There are white sandy beaches in the Caribbean that are soft like baby powder.  There is sand on the coast of Ireland that is coarse.  Then there are the bags of sand you buy at the toy store that, in my opinion, don't feel like sand - just dirt.  If you've never been to the beach, you would have nothing to compare it to.  If you've only been to one beach, that is all you know.  

Each of us is given an opportunity to accept Jesus as our Savior.  Not just saying the words - feeling it in your heart and soul and KNOWING that His sacrifice was for you!  Some people receive a "calling" from the Lord.  A calling to perform a specific task for Him.  Some are called to preach, some are called to take His message to far off places, some are called to sing, some are called to write.  

We each have a job to do while we are here and that is to spread the word of God.  Sharing a prayer with someone, comforting those in pain, doing something to make someone who is down feel better, feel loved.  

God walks among us all.  He has a something special in mind for each of us.  Sit and listen, you'll know what He's asking of you.  Do whatever it is He's calling you to do completely!  Continue, even if you feel you are not seeing any results...He sees the results!  Do everything out of love for the Creator who made you and the Savior who freed your soul - do everything with the help of the Holy Spirit and you will succeed.  Even without a rainbow, there is a promise!!!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

~ "Patience..."

Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompence of reward. For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise. (Heb 10:35-36)

Did you ever have one of those mornings where you know what you want to say but can't seem to put the words together?  That's me this morning.

There is so much packed into these two verses that I don't even know where to begin.  

In our troubled times, our gut reaction is to run and hide.  We are scared, afraid, often traumatized.  Our faith is what makes us who we are!  Our faith in Jesus, in God, will sustain us!  Our faith is often what sees us through (for me, anyway).  Faith is resting on the promise!  It means resting on what Jesus has done for us, but it also means trusting in Him for what He has yet to do for us - and can do and will do if we continue to walk in faith.

Knowing there is a plan for each and every event in our lives can be overwhelming.  We know that sometimes there are hard roads and sometimes paved roads.  There are obstacles and there are pot holes.  There is rain and there is snow.  There are hurricanes and tornadoes.  Yet, in all of that, there is the Son whose brilliance shines down on us to warm us and the rainbow to remind us that God keeps His promises to His people.

Patience is key here - for all things happen in God's time.  Wait - He's not quite finished with you yet!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

~ "Wind Beneath My Wings..."

composite by Katie Costello
He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. (Psalm 91:4)
We wake up every morning not expecting the unexpected.  We go through our morning routine without thought, without hesitation.  Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined that the beautiful September morning 12 years ago would forever change my life. 

I can play it out - that scenario - over and over's not something I forget (or ever will).  Each hour of the day, the words spoken between my then husband and I, my children, my sister-in-law, my family  and my friends are forever etched across my heart.  Time has healed the wound, but the scar remains.  There were days when the pain of the aftermath was so intense, was nearly impossible to bear.  Chuck's death was the final blow to a marriage already on the rocks.  What I did not know, what I could not have known was that God did, in fact, have a plan...

A few years ago, while looking over the "Legacy" guestbook for my brother-in-law, I came across this message left on the second anniversary of that fateful day: 
Dear Chuckie - Well, it's been 2 years and I still have a hard time believing you've gone home. I still marvel at your faith in God and your patience with children and the devotion to your family and friends. I still feel your love all around me. You see, I was blessed - for 15 years you were a part of my life. You were best man at our wedding 16 years ago and you will always be best man in my heart. I never met my real brother - he never came home from the hospital. I did, however, have you - a brother-in-law who will always be my pathway to Jesus. Thank you for giving me back my faith. I will love you and miss you always. You truly are a HERO in every sense of the word. Love, Beth

Our Heavenly Father chose to take that man home to heaven. He will chose to take each one of us home one day. What we leave behind when we go will be our legacy. What I've learned in twelve years is that it doesn't matter who approves or disapproves of us, it doesn't matter what anyone else's opinion of us is, whether they like or dislike (or in some instances hate) us. It does not matter if we are different (quirky, odd, or strange). As long as you lift your hands in praise of the Father, as long as you walk a path of righteousness and offer prayers of thanksgiving, as long as you do your very best in everything that you attempt, you will leave a legacy of love!

God is our protector. We who have Jesus will be safe no matter what earthly catastrophe befalls us. He will cover us with his wings, like the helpless eagle at birth, protected by the wings of it's parent. He will shelter us from storms. We are invited to trust in the shadow of His wing of promises, protected from the "prey". Chuck Costello knew this, and he knew it very well. He held no judgment against anyone. He believed and he loved God with all his heart. He prayed daily. He prayed for others. 
God is an all knowing and loving God. I don’t profess that I understand all that he does and why. For I see life as a real challenge in many ways. Over the time of forty four years I’ve learned lessons, yet there are many, many, I’ve yet to learn or will never understand. I believe in both God the Father and his son Jesus Christ. I truly believe but for the Grace of God go I. Although I find life hard at times, and a struggle, I’m grateful for all that I have. Although I don’t show it at times or sound like a man of content, for the most part, I am. The meaning of human life to me is just plain learning to love. I feel learning to love is the key to all life, and yet I feel this lesson has been one for me where I still have a long way to go. My faith has taught me to believe in what I believe in. It has seen me through many situations in the past and I believe it will carry me into the future. (Chuck Costello)

Let the love of God fill you so deeply that there is no room for hate, no room for bitterness, no room for anger. Put all the past mistakes you have made and those made by others away. It's what He asks us to forgive, to accept, to comfort, to love - unconditionally. Allow yourself to be comforted by the security of His love for you, beneath His wing and you, too, one day, will walk where only angels 'dare to tread'...

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

~ "I think I can, I know I can, I will..."

In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory. (Eph 1: 13-14)

We have been redeemed! We are the purchased possession!  The price for our inheritance is death!

I saw a quote this morning that revisits the old saying "champagne taste and a beer wallet".  There is nothing on earth that is greater than what awaits us in heaven!  Jesus waits for us there!  What could be greater than that?

I've spent the last few weeks resting and recuperating.  As I noted yesterday, I wanted to just recycle posts, but God, as usual, has another plan.  His plan for me is to write - each and every day.  My resources come through the power of the Holy Spirit.  It demonstrates our true faith and that we are God's children. We are transformed and the joy in those quiet moments is just a small sample of the changes we will experience in heaven.  

Hold on to those moments of peace and joy - sometimes they are many; sometimes they are few - but they are, in fact, real!  We are the children of the King and therein lies our inheritance!

Monday, September 9, 2013

~ "Words..."

Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. (Eph 4:29)

In other words: Don't say anything that would hurt someone.  We all have been at the receiving end of hurtful words at least once in our lives.  It's not a fun place to be.  

I've realized that not everyone sees a relationship the same.  Each relationship is different.  One person may see it as a bonded friendship where the other see it as an acquaintance.  One person may truly be in love; the other just likes that person.  Sometimes two people are on the same page.  Get the picture?

The words we use towards others affect the way we feel.  We feel better having gotten that "off our chest".  The words we use towards others affect the way they feel.  That is why we are cautioned to temper our words with love.  Some people have a thinner "skin" than others and are therefore more sensitive.  

Once again, it comes back to living a life pleasing to God - being a Christian!  Choose carefully the words you use when communicating with others on every level, not just about what the Bible tells you.  Not everyone out there is a Christian, but that doesn't negate our responsibility to be a Christian towards them.  We are sinners, as are they.  Their judgement will come as will ours.  Walk the way of Christ in every relationship you have.  Be fair, be impartial, be kind and be loving AND expect nothing in return.  Do it because that's what we are commanded to do by Jesus!  Love one another!!!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

~ "There has to be a little rain sometimes..."

These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. (John 16:33)

A friend of mine posted a quote by Robert Browning Hamilton this morning about walking with "Pleasure" and walking with "Sorrow".  Having done both in my life, I understood immediately the hard reality one learns walking with sorrow. 

Loss.  We feel it pull apart our heart.  Sometimes it devastates us.  Sometimes we can work through it.  Eventually we have no choice but to accept it.  The truth is, we've all experienced loss at one time or another.  Some things are harder to let go of than others, yet in order to move forward we must leave the past behind.  

Jesus tells us that we will have sorrow while here on earth - "in the world".  He also reminds us that He has overcome the world and our sorrows WILL end.  His death and resurrection made the way for us to spend eternity with Him in heaven.  Our broken hearts and sorrow filled lives will be gone and we will be in a place that knows no pain or sorrow.  How amazing to think that one man took on everything for me!  He took on everything for you!  How blessed we are that one man felt we were worth something more than sorrow, pain humiliation and death!  He did all of that for each of us.  What are you willing to do for Him?

Saturday, September 7, 2013

~ "Listen..."

And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices: and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God. (Rev 4:5)

Final judgement.  Will we be here for the end or have already gone on?  Insomuch as I would love to see Jesus riding in on His white horse, I don't know that I'd want to be here for what will come next.

Living a life that's pleasing to God is a choice each of us make.  We all think we are doing our very best being good "Christians", yet some lie and steal from one another in order to come out ahead.  Some fight each other for better wages, for less work, better education which they don't use and hoard their "things" as if they were made of gold.  They don't share without a price, they don't give without receiving.  Yet they do read the Word of God, they do worship, they do attend a church and tithe.

No, I'm not pointing fingers.  I'm reminding each of you, as well as myself, that living a life that is pleasing to God comes with constant and continuous re-evaluation of ourselves.  We become our own judges - our conscience tells us if we are in the right place.  

If it is telling you to move - then move!  If it is telling you to stop - then stop!  Don't ignore that "still small voice" that will guide you in the right direction.  Listen...

Friday, September 6, 2013

~ "Outcast..."

These things have I spoken unto you, that ye should not be offended. They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service. And these things will they do unto you, because they have not known the Father, nor me. But these things have I told you, that when the time shall come, ye may remember that I told you of them. And these things I said not unto you at the beginning, because I was with you. (John 16:1-4)

I've considered recycling this morning, but the Lord won't allow it.  He keeps bringing me back to these verses.  

Outcasts.  That's what His disciples were.  They were through to be against God and that by killing them they felt they were making an offering to God.  How often have you felt like an outcast and no matter how you try to explain or even understand the reason for your being one, you just can't?  How often have you asked "is there something I've said or done to warrant this?"  How many times have you said "whatever it was, I'm sorry."  

Not knowing that we've sinned against someone hurts.  How do you ask forgiveness for something you are not aware of?  Jesus warned His disciples about further persecution.  He assured them they would not be left alone, but that the Holy Spirit would come.  He knew what lay ahead and He did not want their faith shaken or destroyed.

God wants us to know that we are not alone.  We have the Holy Spirit to comfort us, teach us truth and help us.  Even though we may be outcasts, we are still His children.  We still have a place in His Kingdom - we still have a place in Heaven.  Yes, we may suffer terribly while here on earth.  We may suffer physically, emotionally, mentally and sometimes spiritually - but we are not alone.  We may be outcast from one group of people and accepted into another in the blink of an eye.  We should learn from the mistakes we make that cause that in the first place.  Allow the Holy Spirit to enlighten you and take the steps needed to return to that place of security and comfort where God is, where Jesus is...where you know you need to be.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

~ "Miracles and faith..."

And had suffered many things of many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse, When she had heard of Jesus, came in the press behind, and touched his garment. (Mark 5:26-27)

Faith.  That is what she had.  Faith that just by touching the hem of Jesus' garment she would be healed.  

How many of us have that kind of faith?  Miracles do happen still today - I've seen them - I believe in them.  I believe in the power of prayer.  I believe in the Word of God.  President-Elect John F. Kennedy was once quoted as saying "you can believe in miracles but you can't always rely on them".  

For some, the miracle they seek is not part of God's plan.  Sometimes the miracle is not the "good news" that you might expect it to be.  Sometimes the miracle is something simple.  Sometimes the miracle is larger than life itself.  Sometimes it's as simple as a rainbow.  God's promise.  

We each walk a different path, but hopefully we are all headed in the same direction.  Don't look for a miracle, although one may occur...have the faith that God will give you exactly what you need - that in itself is the miracle.  

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

~ "Gone, but not forgotten..."

For ye have the poor with you always, and whensoever ye will ye may do them good: but me ye have not always. (Mark 14:7)

Just as Jesus reminded His apostles that He would not always be with them in the physical sense, He instructed them to continue on and do all the things He had done.  He left them behind (so to speak) to carry out His mission.  They knew someday they would see Him again and that homecoming would be so sweet!  Did they miss Him?  I'm sure they did.  Did they long to see His face again?  I'm sure they did.  Did they sit quietly still so they could hear His voice again?  The list goes on.

They grieved.  They missed their friend.  But they knew the work He had left for them to do was important.  They were to share His love and promise to everyone they could.  Generation after generation has passed on the love and promises of God.  Many more may follow.  

The enemy would like to distract you from the promises.  The question often is asked "why would God take this person now and not someone else?"  The answer is very simple, yet often is met with a rebuttal - "It was his/her time".  How wonderful to know that each of our stories have an end that we may or may not be ready for.  I am thankful that I had a mother who walked with Jesus and taught me how to walk with Him.  I am grateful that I have a father who continues to walk with Jesus and still, at the age of 83, reminds me that God has a plan.  I have friends who lift me when I'm down and rejoice with me when I am happy.  

God's plan for each of us is different.  Yet there is one thing in His plan for us that is the same - it is to spread the Gospel and the love of Jesus to others.  Heaven's call is a day closer than yesterday.  It may be today.  Are you ready?  

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

~ "Shouting praises to God for His goodness..."

Therefore it shall come to pass, that as all good things are come upon you, which the LORD your God promised you; so shall the LORD bring upon you all evil things, until he have destroyed you from off this good land which the LORD your God hath given you. (Joshua 23:15)

We know that Joshua knew the nation's weaknesses.  We know he reminded them to follow the Law of Moses.  He reminded them about keeping the line pure.  Joshua was dying.  He called the leaders of the nation together to give them their final instructions and encourage them to follow God's commands.

There are countless stories throughout the Bible to show that Israel had to suffer because they failed to follow God's commands.  God was loving and patient with Israel, just as He is with us today.  We shouldn't confuse patience with approval.  Not all things are what they seem to be.  

When we pray, demanding our way (as opposed to God's way), we may just get what we've asked for, along with all it's consequences.  This is where praying for God's will (not what we want or what we think we want) comes into the picture.  Praise and thanksgiving for all the things we have and for the things we don't lets Him know that we are doing our best to be obedient (although we will never be perfect).  

Our Heavenly Father will give us all we need.  He's promised that.  He will take care of us until He calls us home. Pray often.  Thank Him everyday.  Shout Hallelujah every chance you get.  Give Him the praise He deserves and He will bless you!